The “Spiritual Not Religious” Person’s Catholic Conversion

For years, the only thing I would concede was that I was spiritual but not religious. I told myself I was too high-minded for any kind of “ism.” No, I didn’t need any sort of organized belief system, thankyouverymuch.

At the same time, I thought how nice it must be for the believers, with their faith and trust in God. Faith, it seems, did not come easy to me, and with a hint of jealousy for those who had it, I decided it just wasn’t anything I would ever really have for myself.

Over the years, “spiritual but not religious” was replaced by doubt; existential sadness grew where much more fruitful things could have grown. But even when I felt like life was a complete and cosmic waste of time and I wasn’t even sure I had a soul, I felt like I had to get my soul right.

As much as I ignored it for a time, it was an undeniable yearning, and I set off to ask some pointed questions and see if I couldn’t put this whole silliness to bed.

This quickly became something I wasn’t expecting. You see,I am a researcher by training and trade. Ethical research practices have been ingrained in me both academically and professionally. Good, sound research can’t serve as merely a confirmation bias. You’ve got to go where it takes you, even if it’s terribly uncomfortable. So I set out to learn, even if it was only to narrow it down to what I *didn’t* believe in.

At the beginning of my quest, I swore up and down that I could never, would never, accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. He might as well have been a certain public television giant dancing purple dinosaur for as much esteem as I held for Him. Nice guy and all, just not for me.

But remember that part about me being a good and ethical researcher? I looked at Christianity. I had to. And strangely, absurdly, I found more logic and reason there than I thought possible. And then I looked further still and came to a place I really never thought I’d willingly go and found even more logic, more reason, and I found the place where my heart felt at home enough to take that one final, crucial step – a leap of faith.

So it was, not so very long after I swore I’d never be a Christian and certainly, God forbid, not a Catholic, that I stood at the altar on this Easter vigil and was bathed in the baptismal waters of the Catholic faith.

Talking about religion is an awkward thing these days. At least, as a non-believer, it always made me feel awkward. But now that am I on the opposite end of the spectrum, religion is fascinating and the nuances and mysteries and apologetics of Catholicism are gripping me tighter than anything I thought possible, and I’m finding I can be, any one of us can be, spiritual AND religious, reasonable AND faithful, scientific AND God-loving. These things are compatible, given the proper framework, which, for me, is now Catholicism, to guide you.

I recorded a podcast with my husband, a re-convert to the Catholic faith, on The Catholic Mama podcast. You can download it directly here or head over to iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. and listen to Episode 1: Why I Converted to Catholicism.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Wow! Just….wow! Being a cradle Catholic has not always felt like a blessing to me…Sunday mass got in the way of family activities. As I grew older I knew I wanted Sunday mass and more. I frequently attended weekday masses. I taught religion & Confirmation classes. But, then my first husband died suddenly and unexpectedly, and I knew I needed to hang on to His garment hem for dear life. My faith grew daily as my only way through my grief, i attended daily mass and I was blessed, And had hope again. Covid took mass and the Eucharist from me and made me realize just how much I took it for granted. Today I treasure mass and the Eucharist even more. Today I treasure my second husband and extended family as gifts from God. I have so much peace. I surrender to Him all things.

    1. God can and often does use our suffering to bring us to Him. There’s a Fulton Sheen quote that I love: “The only way God can get into some hearts is to break them.” In our grief – whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of the Eucharist during quarantine – our faith is tested and strengthened. It sounds like you are a testament to that!

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