My Catholic Life to Becoming a Priest
I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church when I was only two months old. And, I remained fervent and zealous Catholic until a little over three years ago (2015).
With the exception of a couple of people, my family is mostly Catholic. I was raised to be completely convinced that the Catholic Church was the one true Church, which Jesus founded on Peter. As a little boy, I passionately fell in love with the Catholic liturgy, the Pope, the saints, and above all 'Mary.' I believed in God (the Trinity). But I felt closer to 'Mary' in my heart.
Though I prayed to God, a part of me felt that He was distant. Instead, 'Mary' appeared to me as more relatable.
My love for 'Mary' was deep. I defended Marian practices and doctrines with all my strength. I was particularly fascinated by her apparitions: at Lourdes, Fatima, and Garabandal. By the time I was fourteen years old, I had read The Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. Though I believed (intellectually) that 'Mary' was not God, yet for all practical purposes, she was my "everything."
I formally consecrated myself to her Immaculate Heart. From
that day, I renewed my consecration to her every day, saying, I am
all yours, my Queen and Mother. And all I have is also yours.
I prayed the Rosary nearly every day. I wore my scapular faithfully in honor of Mary. I even joined the Universal Living Rosary Association of St. Philomena. On March 25, 2000, I formally consecrated myself to her Immaculate Heart. From that day, I renewed my consecration to her every day, saying, I am all yours, my Queen and Mother. And all I have is also yours. I knew little about the Bible then, except the Bible readings at Mass.
I didn't pay attention to the allegations of idolatry leveled against the Catholic Church. If anything, these accusations only strengthened my resolve to be a faithful Catholic. I didn't know what it meant to be born again, though I had heard the expression. I knew I had to repent of my sin and confess them to a priest, obtain absolution, and repeat the process as often as I sinned.
I believed that adherence to the Catholic sacraments and the Church's
teachings would help me go to heaven, especially the Sacrament of Confession, the Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick (and Viaticum, Holy
Communion for the dying), and devotion to Mary. I prayed that God would
deliver me from sudden (unprepared) death and grant me the grace of
receiving the Sacraments before my death. Like most Catholics, I dreaded
Due to a strong desire to do God's work, I became
a Catholic priest and served for over seven years.
But the Catholic Church offered some hope in the form of Indulgences. So,
from time to time, I tried to obtain as many indulgences as possible (both
plenary and partial indulgences), through attending Mass, praying the
Rosary or spending time before the Blessed Sacrament (i.e. the communion
bread in the Catholic tabernacle). Moreover, Mary had made several promises about salvation for all who prayed the Rosary and devoted themselves to
her. I did my part to avoid mortal sin or at least confess them if I
sinned. In my mind, the combined effect of the above practices gave me hope
of making it to heaven. Due to a strong desire to do God's work, I became a Catholic priest and
served for over seven years.
I Started Questioning My Catholic Doctrine
One day, I came across a sermon by ________ on grace and justification (based on Romans 5). That made me look critically, for the first time, into Catholic doctrine
. I started examining every Catholic dogma or doctrine in the light of the Bible. What I discovered was shocking, and it sent me into a crisis. The Mass, the Priesthood, the Confession, 'Mary,' the Saints, Purgatory, the Papacy
, were all proven to be false according to the Bible.
Strongly convicted by the Scriptures, I could not ignore the evidence in
front of me. Fear came upon me. It was the fear of having committed
abominations, blasphemy and idolatry in the sight of God. I immediately
stopped praying to Mary or any saint; I gathered all personal religious
objects in my possession (rosaries, images of 'Mary,' etc.) and put them in
the trash. By the grace of God, I obtained the strength to leave the
Catholic Church. I felt so free.
I was free from the deceptions in the Catholic Church, but little did I
know that I wasn't out of the woods yet. Because of my exposure to Joseph Prince's teachings on grace, I fell for the doctrine of eternal security. Though I hardly used the expression eternal security or once saved always saved, in principle, that is what I believed.
In and Out of Eternal Security Doctrine
At first, it was exciting. But over time, something about it didn't feel right. I
noticed that many people who believed this teaching were desensitized to
sin. I didn't see the fear of God or the zeal for holiness in them.
overarching message was along these lines: No one can keep God's Law
perfectly, and that is why Jesus fulfilled it for us. Just rest in Jesus'
finished work. And grace will give you the victory. Don't try to add works
to what Jesus did. Eventually, I, too, began to relax in my attitude
toward sin, repentance and holiness. I noticed that most of the messages
based on this doctrine only soothed my conscience, but it didn't address
issues of turning from sin or decisive victory over sin.
The more I studied the Scriptures, the more I realized that the doctrine of eternal security was a snare. Since the latter part of last year, the Lord showed me mercy by leading me to the biblical truth about sin, repentance, judgment and the free yet conditional nature of eternal salvation. He helped me to grasp the necessity of crucifying the flesh through self-denial (being dead to sin once for all, Rom 6:1-11; Gal 5:24; 1 Peter 4:1-2), in order to become free for righteousness.
The Lord has helped me to directly confront sin in my life, repent with godly sorrow and tears, and to cut ties with all things that pollute the spirit and body (2 Corinthians 7:1). I thank God for leading me to this place of truth and real freedom. I thank Him for delivering me from the deceptions within Catholicism as well as the snares outside Catholicism. It hasn't been long, but I know this is where the Lord has always wanted me to be. And I am happy to be here, walking with Him in obedience and submission, guided by the light of the Scriptures. God bless you, Stephen.
The Mythical god of Eternal Security
Eternal Security Dripping With a License To Sin
Audio Testimonies Of Former Eternal Security Advocates
Peter's Primacy, Apostolic Succession and Mt. 16:18
Papal Encyclicals On Salvation Through Mary
Evangelical Outreach Alphabetical Map
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