Well well well. I was wrong. I’m converting to Catholicism. You should do that too.
There were many times when I was writing this blog over the years when I thought, “I’m really only trying to convince myself to stay LDS. I’m trying to rationalize my continued activity in the Church.” And I think I did a pretty good job of that. Some of the reasons I listed are pretty good.
But now that I’ve found Catholicism, none of my reasons are good enough. So I’m leaving.
It took nearly eight years, but it finally dawned on me that my position (staying LDS despite my non-traditional testimony) is not sustainable, generationally speaking. I tried to imagine myself in the future sending my kids on missions. I knew the questions were going to come up. “Dad, do you really believe in the Book of Mormon?” “Dad, do you really believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet?” “Dad, do you really believe that only temple marriages will last forever?” And, in order to keep the commandment which prohibits lying, I would have to say, “No. But the Church is still good, so I hope you continue with it.”
Well, look, that answer just isn’t good enough to keep a religion going. If all the members of the Church had my beliefs, or lack of beliefs, or whatever you wanna call it, the religion might last a generation or two, but probably not three, and certainly not four. Devotion and fervor and passion and supernatural graces are what fuel religions.
Still, I told myself that I was going to continue staying LDS, and continue staying silent at church, until God opened up another path for me. And He did open up another path for me, a path that lead straight to the Roman Catholic church.
I’m going to tell you the story of how God led me to Catholicism, but first, I’m going to make a few statements that might get me excommunicated:
The Book of Mormon is fictional.
The First Vision never happened.
The current leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are being deceptive.
Pope Francis is way better than President Nelson.
And, to support my bold statements, I’m going to put up a link to Mormon Think and a link to the CES letter. And a link to Catholic Answers.
I know those statements are going to upset some people, but, hey, sometimes the truth hurts.
And the LDS Church is hurting me! The lies coming from the LDS Church really hurt me. I understand that Catholic clergy have lied a lot. But they don’t lie the way that Catholic leaders lie. Catholic leaders are lying about who they had sex with and what they did with the money. Mormon leaders are lying about the true nature of God.
And just last General Conference, President Nelson lied about marriage. He said that only marriages performed in LDS temples will continue in the next life. The truth is, no marriages continue into the next life. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 22:30.
By the way, I’m not going to delete this blog, or even this particular blog post, or change anything I’ve put on this blog in any way at the request of Church leaders. I live in America, I’m protected by the First Amendment, and I should be able to say whatever I want about religion, which is the most important subject in the world.
OK, OK, OK, now it’s time for me to tell you the story of how I found the true church, the Catholic church.
In Easter of 2019, the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, was on fire. The images on my computer screen of that beautiful building in flames really moved me. I almost cried. It was kind of strange, because I wasn’t Catholic, or French, and I’ve never even been overseas. There was really no reason why I should be emotionally connected to that building, but the Holy Spirit must have been working in my heart.
I spent hours researching the history of the Notre Dame cathedral. I read with great interest the reports of the crown of thorns and other relics being saved from the flames. And I kept thinking, as the cathedral was burning, “We’re really in danger of losing western civilization.”
See, I do believe that, in a complicated way, America, and much of western civilization, is built on Catholicism. That’s the thesis of Timothy Gordon’s book, Catholic Republic. And I believe that the accomplishments of Europe and the British Empire throughout history are largely attributable to Catholicism. (I understand that the British Empire was mostly Protestant, but Protestantism is the child of Catholicism.) I believe that wherever Catholicism is planted, peace and order prevail.
I know I’m generalizing a lot, and I’m not a historian or a scholar. I’m just a blue-collar worker trying to get to Heaven.
After l learned about the Notre Dame cathedral, I started researching the history and teachings of the Catholic Church, and, gradually, I converted. It was an intellectual as well as a spiritual conversion.
I watched a lot of Catholics on YouTube, especially Dr. Taylor Marshall. He’s a conservative, smart Catholic author, and he has a great YouTube channel.
I went to a Catholic bookstore, and I bought The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I read a lot of it. (The theology in there is so good! Catholic theology is so refreshing. It’s deep and intellectual and based on Scripture and sacred tradition and etc.!)
I heard about the rosary on Catholic radio, and also a lot of the Catholic YouTubers talked about the power of the rosary, so I decided to try an experiment. I decided to buy a rosary, pray the rosary every day, and see what happened in my life.
I heard from Catholic acquaintances that I should get my rosary blessed, so I did. After mass one Sunday, I asked the priest to bless my rosary, and he did. He made a cross motion in the air above the rosary as I held it in my hand, and he said some words I don’t remember. It was good.
I’ve been praying the rosary daily for about seven or eight months now. I think I missed one day. Maybe two. I don’t know.
Praying the rosary felt weird at first. I’ve never been raised to pray in the Catholic manner. But I just kept doing it, over and over and over, until it felt familiar. Now I love it. I believe my prayers are efficacious.
Last spring, I attended mass, and the first time I went in the church and sat down, I felt good. I felt like I was in a holy place. I also felt awkward. I didn’t know how I was supposed to act.
I’m talking a lot about my feelings now, but I’ve also come to understand that we shouldn’t rely too much on our emotions. God gave us brains, and reason and intellect, and we need to use those to determine truth.
So… I guess this story isn’t very organized, but, yeah, I’m glad I can say now that I believe in the Catholic Church and I consider myself a Catholic. Technically, I’m not Catholic yet. Being received into the Church takes a long time. My first RCIA class is next month.
But my conversion to Catholicism didn’t really start last Easter, when the Notre Dame cathedral was in the news. Looking back on my life, I can see that, even when I was young, God was calling me into the Church that He founded. There were at least five times that God called me into Catholicism.
When I was a senior in high school, I had a friend invite me to mass and a Catholic youth activity with her. I said yes, and I went. (By the way, I had a lot of friends in high school who went to other churches, but for whatever reason, she was the only one who ever invited me. Is that a coincidence? I no longer believe it is.)
I went to mass, and I thought it seemed a little strange, but nice. It’s hard to remember that far back. That was twenty years ago. But I do remember the youth activity that really touched my heart. There was a short skit in which a teenage girl knelt down and said her nighttime prayers really fast. It was the Our Father (Protestants refer to it as “The Lord’s Prayer”). Then a lady on a microphone, acting like an angel, or acting like God, said, “wait. Do you realize what you’re saying? Slow down.” And she explained what the words meant. The girl said her prayers again, more slowly, and with more faith. It was a great little play.
Then for the next part of our activity, we were told to all go off by ourselves and write a letter to God. All the letters were supposed to be put in a time capsule and opened in 10 years, I think. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember feeling really close to God at the time. There was something both therapeutic and holy about writing a private letter to God. Writing that letter in that setting was perfect for me at that time of my life, when I was a little bit of a rebellious teenager, when my Mom was my early morning seminary teacher, and my Dad was my priesthood quorum advisor, and I felt smothered by the LDS Church.
After I got home from mass and the activity, my Mom said, “Well, what did you think?”
I said, “It was really nice.”
My Mom said, “Well, the Catholic Church might have been nice, but it’s not true.”
When I was on a mission, I met a nun. She was a really happy, nice old lady. I think she offered my companion and I cookies and juice, which were yummy. She listened politely to the first discussion. I remember thinking, “Wow, maybe this lady doesn’t need the LDS Church. She’s happier than I am. That’s for sure.”
Another time on my mission, my companion and I took a break in a Catholic Church. The church was open, so we just walked in there and looked around. I think we were the only ones there. I felt like I needed to be reverent in that building. In my head, I believed in the Great Apostasy and I believed that the Catholic Church was the “abominable church, which is the mother of harlots” (1 Nephi 13: 34). In my head, I believed that the Catholics who die believing in infant baptism were headed for the telestial kingdom, because that’s pretty much what it says in Moroni 8:14. I had read and believed in The Great Apostasy by James E. Talmage. That was actually one of the books that missionaries were supposed to read on their missions, when I served from 2002-2004.
But in my heart, as I looked around at the statues of Jesus and Mary and angels, I felt that the Catholic Church was somehow good.
I remember in the lobby of the church there was a poster on the wall that said that there was a priest shortage, and if you think God might want you to be a priest, you should call some phone number.
In the summer of 2017, I think, my wife and I took a vacation together, without our kids. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in a small town, and it just so happened that the people who ran the bed and breakfast were Catholic. My wife and I were looking for things to do, and so we thought, “What the heck? Why not go to the Catholic Church with these nice old people?”
So we went, and it was really good. My favorite part was the homily. The priest commented on some aspect of Jesus’ life. I don’t even remember what it was about, but I just remember thinking, “This priest is really smart, and this church service is really focused on God.” I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
This wasn’t a specific event, but, for many years, during my commute to work, I would listen to Catholic Radio. It was called Immaculate Heart Radio, and now it’s called Relevant Radio. I enjoyed listening to the radio hosts defending their church’s teachings and arguing with people about gay marriage and abortion and other social issues. And I loved listening to Catholic Answers Live. On Catholic Answers Live, anybody can call in and challenge the talk show hosts on matters of history and doctrine. Difficult issues, like the crusades, the Inquisition, limbo, the Marian dogmas, and papal infallibility, are discussed openly and honestly, live, on the radio, for anyone to hear.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints doesn’t have a radio show like that. I don’t think they ever will.
A long time ago, I read In the Silence of the Heart by Mother Theresa. I was overwhelmed at how spiritual and righteous Mother Theresa was. I remember thinking, “It’s too bad that Mother Theresa never found the true church. Hopefully her temple work has been done for her.” But it didn’t make any sense to me that someone could be so close to God, and yet not be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
During my conversion process, there have been three miracles that have confirmed to me that I’m headed in the right direction. Skeptics will call these things coincidences, but I think they’re miracles. They’re not as big of a deal as Moses parting the Red Sea, but, I still think they qualify as miracles.
One Sunday last summer I really wanted to go to mass, and for some reason with the way my family’s schedule worked out, I wanted to leave the LDS church early and go by myself to the Catholic Church. Our LDS church started at 8, and the Catholic mass was at 9:30. I taught in a nursery class with another great guy, and I didn’t want to tell him why I was leaving church early. I also didn’t want to lie. So, I thought, “if this other guy asks me why I’m leaving church early, I’ll just tell him that there’s a friend from out of town who I really want to see.” That’s technically not a lie, because my “friend” is Jesus, who is really present in the Eucharist, and Jesus really is from out of town.
Well, my family got to church, and as soon as we walked in the chapel, we noticed that it was really hot. It was July, or maybe August, or maybe June. I can’t remember. But it was summer, in Arizona, and the air conditioning in the building was broken that day. Now, in my thirty-six years of church attendance, this has never happened. So, the bishop stood up at the pulpit at the beginning of sacrament meeting and said something like, "As you can tell, the air conditioning is broken, so we’re going to modify church today. It’s going to be really short. We’re not going to have any talks. We’re just going to sing two hymns, partake of the sacrament, and then go to our separate Sunday school classes. The Sunday school classes will be shorter, as well, so we’ll wrap up church entirely in an hour.”
Holy cow! I looked at my wife and said, “Do you think this is a sign from God?”
And she said, “It’s not not a sign.” We were amazed.
I had plenty of time to get to mass that day.
About two months ago, I wanted a cross necklace, and so I did the normal thing, I looked on Amazon. I wanted it to be Catholic-looking, and I wanted it to be masculine, and I wanted it to have an adjustable chain, so I could wear it like a choker if I wanted to, and I wanted it to be inexpensive. I spent a lot of time scrolling through Amazon and various Catholic websites, but I couldn’t settle on one.
Then, a few days later, my wife had me drive thirty minutes away to go pick up a scooter off of Facebook Marketplace. It was a Christmas present for one of our kids. As I was driving there, I remembered that there was a Catholic bookstore very close to the house with the scooter. So, I decided to buy myself a Christmas present. I went into the Catholic bookstore and found the prefect necklace. It was exactly what I wanted. I’m wearing it in the photo of me that I posted below.
Later my wife told me that we could have gotten a brand new scooter shipped to us from Amazon for only three more dollars, so she regretted me driving all that way just for a scooter. So it was a funny coincidence (or was it a miracle?) that the house with the scooter was so close to the Catholic bookstore.
I hesitate to use the word “miracle” to describe this next anecdote, but… whatever. The timing of this story is just bizarre. I choose to believe that these events were orchestrated by God.
During the seven years I attended church without a traditional testimony, I was in Primary. Primary is actually a good place for Mormons with non-traditional testimonies, because they don’t have to sit through Sunday school. My attitude in Primary was, “I don’t mind teaching these kids about Santa Claus, so why should I mind teaching them about the Brother of Jared?”
During 2019, I taught nursery. Near the end of the year, my companion teacher got released, and so my wife was in there with me for a little while until they could call somebody else. But then what happened is 2019 turned into 2020, and there were fewer kids in nursery altogether. The Primary Presidency decided to combine nursery classes, so that there was only one class instead of two. So, I wasn’t released, technically, but, basically I didn’t have anything to do. It was as if God was telling me, “It’s OK. You can leave the LDS church.”
I only made one New Year’s Resolution this year, and this is it: Be Catholic. And it's just funny that at the start of the new year, the LDS church stopped asking me to serve in a calling. Starting on January 1st, when the nursery classes were rearranged, I was no longer responsible for showing up to teach a nursery class.
As I leave the church, I want to say a few parting words.
I know the news that I’m Catholic will seem sudden to some people. But my conversion was not at all like Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. It didn’t happen overnight. My conversion took years. I’m making this change only after much prayer and study.
I want to say that I will always be thankful to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Church has given me so much. It’s given me a fear of God, and in a way I feel that it’s given me my wife and kids and my job. (I heard about my job through people at church.)
And so as I change religions, I’m not doing so in anger. Sometimes my wife says that when I talk about the church, I sound angry. Well, I'm sorry if I sound angry. But my emotions aren’t that big of a deal anyway. In my mind, the big questions are: “Did Joseph Smith really have the First Vision? Is the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham true? Does the LDS church really have the priesthood authority it claims to have?”
Other important questions are “Is the Catholic Church true? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Was Jesus God in the flesh? How should we live our lives? How do we get to Heaven? How do we avoid Hell?”
You know what question is not very important, in the grand scheme of things? “How does misterfake371 feel about the church?"
The truth is way more important than how we feel about the truth.
Again, I want to say thank you to the LDS Church for all the great things it’s done for me. I still love the hymns, and Family Home Evening, the stories of my faithful and brave pioneer ancestors. I’m thankful that the teachings of the Church kept me off of drugs, out of jail, and so on. There were many, many times in my life when God was working through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Read my older posts. I still agree with most of what I wrote in them. But I was wrong about reason # 16: “None of the Other Churches Are True, Either.”
In short, I hope we can still be friends.
Where am I right now? Technically I’m still a member of the LDS church in good standing. Maybe this post will change that, though. I'm going to post it anyway. I’m tired of staying quiet about my beliefs, so if I get excommunicated for this post, so be it. And I’m tired of being anonymous. So I’ll say that my real name is Ben and this is a picture of me:
Transitioning from Mormon to Catholic is incredibly difficult. It might be the biggest change I’ll go through in my life. I’ve had so many hard emotional times during this process. I know I’m breaking a lot of hearts and I’m confusing my kids. I know I’m going to lose friends, and that my reputation will be damaged, but I have to be brave and put my trust in God, and follow Him where he leads me.
But as hard as my faith transition is, it’s nowhere nearly as hard as it was for Christian converts in 200 AD in the Roman Empire. Those guys had real faith. They knew that converting to Catholicism put their lives at risk. They were thrown into a dirty arena with hungry lions.
Modern Americans don’t have enough respect for what the early Christians went through. (And the early Christians were Catholics, by the way, not Protestants.) We take it for granted that we can go to whatever church we want without being persecuted. To get some perspective, we should read about the Christian martyrs. I’ll quote here from The History of the Church by Eusebius, the Penguin Classics version, page 211, under the heading “Martys who suffered at Alexandria and elsewhere”:
First they seized an old man named Metras, and ordered him to utter blasphemous words; when he refused, they beat him with cudgels, drove pointed reeds into his face and eyes, took him to the suburbs, and stoned him to death. Next they took a female convert named Quinta to the idol’s temple and tried to make her worship. When she turned her back in disgust they tied her feet and dragged her right through the city over the rough paved road, bumping her on the great stones and beating her as they went, till they arrived at the same place, where they stoned her to death… Next they seized the wonderful old lady Apollonia, battered her till they knocked out all her teeth, built a pyre in front of the city, and threatened to burn her alive unless she repeated after them their heathen incantations. She asked for breathing-space, and when they released her, jumped without hesitation into the fire and was burnt to ashes. Serapion they arrested in his own house. They racked him with horrible tortures and broke all his limbs, then threw him down head first from the upper floor.
Compared to these early Christians, I’m a coward.
I’m so grateful that I don’t have to face persecution for my conversion. I’m glad to be part of a community that believes, “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege. Let them worship how, where, and what they may.”
Oh yeah, I have some other big news. My wife is pregnant again.
Some people have asked us what we’re having, and I say, “Well, it’s still pretty early on in the pregnancy, so we don’t know yet if the baby is going to be Mormon or Catholic.”
Ha ha ha!
Whether the baby is Mormon or Catholic, he or she will bring my baby total up to five.
In conclusion, I hope this blog has helped you on your journey towards God. And, I do think you should be Catholic. I'm serious about that. I think the whole world should be Catholic.
To aid in the conversion of the world, I often recite the following prayer, which I found in a book called Catholic Prayers Compiled from Traditional Sources by Thomas A. Nelson.
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe For the Conversion of the Americas and of the World
O Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who as Our Lady of Guadalupe didst aid in the conversion of Mexico from paganism in a most miraculous way, we now beseech thee to bring about in these our times the early conversion of our modern world from its present neo-paganism to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of thy divine Son, Jesus Christ, starting in the Americas and extending throughout the whole world, so that soon there may be truly “one fold and one shepherd,” with all governments recognizing the region of thy Son, Jesus Christ the King. This we ask of the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ His Son Our Lord and by thy powerful intercession-all for the salvation of souls, the triumph of the Church and peace in the world. Amen.
See you later.