Testimony of a former Roman Catholic
I'm a former roman catholic now for 17 years and can surely testify about the lies I was taught as a roman catholic, comfortable and appealing lies. Hard for those not raised catholic to grasp how anybody with common sense can really place any faith in the traditions and rituals of Rome, but I'll tell you, Tracy, the average roman catholic is downright ignorant about the roots of Catholicism and what it teaches in writing, not to mention biblically ignorant! I say that charitably but honestly, it's just plain willful ignorance and laziness and refusal to move from that comfort zone.
My own family is still primarily catholic, and I've shown them time and again factual secular writing (and catholic writing) and history about their beloved catholic church that doesn't even faze them; they just refuse to believe the truth and sputter and get mad... Myth and tradition have a terrible hold on people, and God help you when you attempt to get through that to show someone the truth.
I'd say I had a "normal" catholic middle-class upbringing and family. I'm 45 now and the oldest of three, and we all attended parochial school. My folks were hardworking good people, not overly involved in church activities per se but in church on Sundays and holy days, and I was blessed with a happy comfortable childhood. I vividly remember my first communion and confirmation ceremonies, the May processions in honor of "our lady", my Girl Scout troop (where we worked on our "Marian award," a special project for Catholic Girl Scouts - don't know if that still exists!), etc. I truly have nothing but good memories of my years all through grade school. Our parish was building a new church building, and we had a beautiful big pipe organ, and I loved being in the choir and like most other little catholic girls went through a phase of wanting one day to be a nun. Back then I never questioned what we were taught and happily accepted what the younger nuns would tell us about this new pope John (this was back in the early 60's) and all the "new changes" he was bringing about in the catholic church. I remember what a big deal it was when the mass went from Latin to English and the priest began to face the people. In particular, I remember being so fond of a little nun who would tell us about "our lady's" childhood and read to us about her from a book (more about this later).
I know now I lived in a closed world, really, in a basically catholic town and suburban neighborhood where everybody we knew and associated with believed the same way so that I never had much exposure to different ways of living or thinking (and certainly never once heard a single testimony from a real Christian in all those years!)
This began to change for me when it came time to go to high school. My folks had both gone to a business/trade high school and had instilled in us kids the desire to "get ahead" by working hard and getting more of a practical education, so unlike most of my grade school classmates who went to the suburban catholic high school, I attended the aforementioned high school where my folks went. I still went to mass on Sundays and holy days and to the CCD classes once a week (for catholic teens not attending catholic high school). I began to meet kids who had had different upbringings and for the first time found out that not everybody was catholic (but strangely enough also had "good morals"!) I should say I was never afraid to think for myself (despite the fact that I knew the catholic church would prefer we Catholics not read those books not having the catholic "imprimatur") and was a voracious reader and liked to write and keep a journal,
I started to get antsy at mass on Sundays, wondering why in the world the different priests I would listen to never seemed to have much of a lesson to teach in their sermons, and it seemed strange to me that most priests I ever heard would not even teach much about catholic doctrine but would tell football stories or make jokes (I was always more on the serious side, and this really bothered me). Once I learned to drive, I began to visit different catholic churches on Sunday, hoping to find a priest who had more of a message, one who would stick to one topic and teach me something as I was sure not getting much from the rest of the mass and could not seem to "feel" the way I used to as a kid. My high school years passed this way as did my early 20's - I'd find a mass nearly every Sunday or holy day and attempt to "feel holy" during the service, pray the rosary and long litanies to "our lady" and other saints, give money to the church, do volunteer activities but was always hungry for something more substantial and that made sense, some straight answers. I'd talked to a nice older priest I admired, but he seemed embarrassed when I'd asked him questions about hell or other topics and would more or less pat me on the head and tell me not to be so serious, that I was a good person and just to continue doing what I was doing.
One Sunday (16 years ago now) I got brave and walked into a little independent Baptist church. By this time, on my own, I had collected some different bibles but had not truly read much from them. I had enough sense to walk into that church with one of these bibles (don't remember if it was my King James version I had that day) and for the first time, I heard a man in a pulpit who spoke with authority and who had a book open in front of him. I was so impressed with this, the fact that everybody in the church had the same book and could follow along as he read and expounded on the verses, and I thought this was wonderful. It made so much sense to me. When he asked if there was anyone there who had never really asked Jesus to be their personal Saviour, I had no trouble walking down that aisle, I just knew I was hearing what I'd been hoping to hear for years and that I was in the right place.
I began to get more even more serious about what I read and couldn't get enough of my King James. One of the first things I remember doing was trying to find that story about "our lady's" childhood and being puzzled about why there wasn't much in my bible about Mary. I remember being shocked that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters and that there was nothing in my bible about Mary ascending into heaven! I was given some of Matthew Henry's commentaries and also began to read more secular and factual history, what an eye opener. I got a hold of Hislop's "Two Babylons," and that one really changed my way of thinking about roman Catholicism and its origins, especially regarding the mother and child depictions, sheer paganism! Oh, and I also found a little book that I believe my favorite nun had read from concerning "our lady's" childhood in the public library one day a few years ago (sorry, can't remember the name of this one, but it was obviously not bible!)
For me, one of the saddest things the catholic church has done and still does is to make Mary something she is not and to take the focus off our Saviour. I recently tried once again to witness to an old friend of mine, a very devout elderly catholic who has a special devotion to "our lady." She also remembers the stories we were told as kids about Mary's supposed childhood and got furious with me when I told here those stories were nowhere in the bible. So you see where a great deal of difficulty lies, that people would rather hang on to their happy childhood stories and memories and traditions than to hear, read and understand the plain literal truth of the Holy Bible, and how hard it is to tear people away from their love of entertainment and passivity.
My prayer is that those of us who have been saved by His grace out of the whore of Babylon can learn to witness effectively to those still caught up in the old stories and myths of Catholicism.