Friday, May 16, 2014


Thanks to KEVIN BRANSON for this post at Journey to Rome.

Bro. Kevin Branson, a formerly member of the Reformed Calvinist Presbyterian, then Anglican, have recently and finally come home to the Catholic Church. His site is for family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers who may be curious, concerned, or confused about the Catholic Church, as well as those of you who know and love Her dearly. He wishes you Blessings and Peace from the Lord of Peace.

244. Do you say that the Protestant faith is false?

There is no such thing as the Protestant faith. There are hundreds of varieties of Protestantism, each variety containing some true things mixed up with its own particular errors. As religious systems I say that all Protestant sects are wrong.

245. How does Protestantism in general disobey Christ?

In general it says that Scripture is a sufficient guide to salvation, although Scripture says that it is not; it denies the authority of the Church established by Christ; it has no sacrifice of the Mass; it does not believe in confession; it denies Christian teaching on marriage; it rejects Purgatory, and very often its advocates refuse to believe in Hell. But I could go on almost forever. Meantime, if you give me any doctrine taught by one Protestant Church, I will produce another Protestant Church which denies it, save perhaps the one doctrine that there is a God of some sort.

246. Would you call Protestants heathens?

Christ said, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." Mt 18:17. He referred, of course, to a deliberate and willful refusal of a known obligation. If a man knows that the Catholic Church is the true Church, yet refuses to obey it, he will certainly be as the heathen before God. But Protestants who are ignorant of the truth of the Catholic claims, and who believe in Christ, trying to serve Him as best they can, would not be regarded as heathens. An exception is made in their case because of their lack of knowledge and because of their good dispositions.

247. Protestantism is not a protest against Christ, but against the Roman Church.

Christ promised that His Church would not fail. The Protestant Reformers said that it did fail. Instead of protesting merely against the bad lives of some Catholics, and even of some Priests, they went too far, and protested against the Church as such, asserting that Christ had failed to keep His promise concerning it. This was a protest against Christ, who had promised to be with His Church till the end of the world. Protest as much as you like against individual abuses in the Church, but no man has the right to set up a new Church.

248. But a re-formed Church is not a new Church.
Protestantism was not a true reformation of the Church. The identity of the Church is indissolubly linked with a continuous identity of doctrine, worship, and discipline. The so-called Reformation involved the abolition of essential doctrines, worship, and discipline, substituting completely different and humanly invented alternatives.

249. The Protestant Churches have as much right to say they have the truth as the 

Churches of the Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, etc., in early times.
You are supposing that the Protestant Churches have the same doctrine, worship, and discipline as those early Churches. But this is an unwarranted supposition. Those early branch foundations of the one true Church had the true doctrine, and were in communion with St. Peter, Bishop of Rome, who addressed his first Epistle to the Galatians and several other Churches. Protestant Churches do not hold the same doctrine as those early Churches, nor do they acknowledge the same obedience. Also, in all the countries where Protestant Churches exist, there exists also the Catholic Church which corresponds exactly with the Churches of the Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, etc.

250. According to you, Christ was a Catholic. All followers of Christ, therefore, belong to the Catholic Church.
Christ, as the Founder of the Catholic Church, was of course a Catholic. But your conclusion does not follow. Many profess to believe in Christ, but do not accept the whole of His teaching. They are mistaken. Certainly the Anglican does not believe in the correct doctrines of Christ if the Baptist does. The Catholic Church alone teaches the complete doctrine of Christ, and the only way to become a Catholic is to submit to her teaching authority and disciplinary directions.

251. Since Christ forbade divisions in the Church, you must admit that every Christian Church is a branch of the true Church. The Protestant Churches are but offshoots from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Protestant sects constitute a breakaway from the Catholic Church. That is their condemnation, for there could never have been a valid reason for leaving the Church established and guaranteed by Christ. In any case, branches of the Church must be living branches still retaining their union with the parent tree. The Catholic Church as established in England, or in America, or in Australia, fits in with the idea of living branches. But at best, the Protestant sects are branches sawn off, and without the true life of the tree. Protestant Churches are divisions from the Church, not co-ordinated parts within the Church, and making up one complete body.

252. You have no right to deny our claims. Christ meant Protestantism to be, or it would not exist.

On the same reasoning you would argue that because sin exists Christ meant it to be! Christ predicted that heresies would arise, but distinctly forbade men to abandon the Church and originate them.

253. God sends all for our good, and it is our fault if we do not make good use of Protestantism.

Not everything is sent by God. He permits some things which the perverse will of men causes, and He permitted the evil of heresy. However, He never permits any evil without drawing some good from it. There are many good Protestants despite the sin of those who began Protestantism. And it is undeniable that Protestantism occasioned the reform of many abuses among the members of the Catholic Church.

254. What right has the Catholic Church to arrogate to herself powers given by Christ, rather than any other body of believers?

None whatever. No body of believers has any right to arrogate to itself any powers at all in this matter, just as no ordinary citizen has the right to enter a court and declare himself to be judge. Yet a lawfully appointed judge has the right to act in virtue of his commission. The Catholic Church takes nothing upon herself, but she does endeavor to fulfill the commission given her by Christ. Historically she alone can possibly inherit the jurisdiction given by Christ to the Apostles, and handed down through tiie ages. All other churches exist because men arrogated to themselves the right to coin new doctrines and set up churches of their own.

255. We have the Creeds, Saints' Days, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion. These things guarantee that we are true Christians.
Some Protestants have those things, at least theoretically. Others have some of them. Others have none of them. But in any case they would not prove Protestants to be true Christians. At most they prove that some Protestants are attempting to do some Christian things. But a true Christian accepts the complete teaching of Christ, and does all that He commands. And all is accepted on the authority of Christ, not on the authority of one's own human judgment. A self-made religion built upon a personally approved selection from the teaching of Christ does not give us the Christian religion.

256. Anyway, there are Protestants as good as Catholics, and the Protestant Church is as good as the Catholic Church.
The idea that there are Protestants as good as Catholics has no bearing on the question. There are very good and sincere Mahometans, but that does not make Mahometanism true. And again, there is not a Protestant Church, there are dozens of different brands of Protestantism. Tell me which brand of Protestantism is as good as the Catholic Church, and I shall tell you when it started and who started it. Christ certainly did not begin it.

257. Protestants at least are allowed to think for themselves.

And when they do they end in chaos, or with no religion at all! However, the chief characteristic of the majority of Protestants is absence of thinking on matters of religion.

258. If Protestantism continues because Protestants do not think, is not the same true of Catholicism?
No. There is no really rational foundation for Protestantism, and if Protestants did reflect soundly upon the subject they would discover this. But there is a rational foundation for Catholicism. All Catholics at least know that their Church would not be so vast and united, not to speak of its mere existence, after centuries of misrepresentation, hatred, and attack, were it not for the protection of God. And if they give deeper thought to the matter they find many other solid reasons for their conviction. Impartial study leads a man out of Protestantism. It never leads a man out of Catholicism.

259. Just the opposite is true. Catholics remain Catholics because they have never developed any reasoning powers on the subject of religion.

You show complete ignorance of Catholic theological works, written by the cleverest men of the centuries. St. Thomas Aquinas had the Catholic Faith very deeply, yet wrote probably the greatest masterpiece of religious thinking the world has ever seen.

260. You are most ungrateful, for your own change from Protestantism to Catholicism was due to the very freedom of thinking given you by Protestantism.

You are in a quandary. Catholics remain Catholics because they do not think, yet thinking led me to become a Catholic! However, Catholics are free to think as much as they like about religion, and the more the better. The Catholic Church merely keeps them from thinking wrongly. Protestants are free to think whatever they like, apparently, with no safeguard against error at all.

261. If all that you say is true, why is the British Empire Protestant?

Because the ancestors of its present members rejected and left the Catholic Church, setting up Churches of their own. But must the religion of the British Empire be the true religion? Is that the infallible test? If Anglicanism is true because it is British, we may as well add, "and because it is not French, or Spanish, or Italian, or German, or Austrian, etc." In other words, because it is not the religion for all nations established by Christ.

262. But surely the majority of the millions of Protestants would realise their mistake, if indeed they are mistaken. They would on any other important subject.

It is not certain that men would realize their mistakes on other subjects. In political and national affairs men differ hopelessly, and absurd political policies seem ever to find followers. Yet, even granted that men would realize their mistakes in other matters, they would not therefore realize the falsity of Protestantism. In the first place, religion is very different from other matters. It is not here a question of a merely intellectual admission. The acceptance of Catholicism is a complex matter demanding adherence of mind, heart, and will, under the influence of God's grace. The absence of one or other necessary condition can mean a dimming of one's powers of comprehension. And until a man sees the truth of Catholicism, he is liable to rest more or less content with the religion he has. Again, Protestant prejudice is a real, if unrealized, force in those educated under the influence of Protestantism, a force blinding people to the defects of Protestantism, and to the merits of Catholicism. I remember a man who went through many forms of Protestantism, ending in Agnosticism, and who replied to my question as to whether he had ever studied Catholicism, "No. But Catholicism can't be right!" Protestantism had ceased to grip him positively, yet still left the negative poison in his system, "Rome must be wrong — I would not even consider it." Finally, and especially with Englishmen, the Protestant religion has been so blended with nationalism that it has become a matter of sentiment and patriotism. Its adherents go far more by feeling and emotion than by reason and true faith. Indeed it has been said strongly, yet not without a degree of truth, that when an Englishman enters his Church, he leaves his brains on the doormat. In other words, the average Protestant gives little real thought to his religious position at all.

263. That Protestantism commends itself more to men is evident from the fact that it is not attacked as is Catholicism.

The world is not afraid of Protestantism, which has always been ready to water down Christian obligations to suit it. But instinctively the world hates and fears the Catholic Church, which will make no compromise, but insists upon the fullness of Christian doctrine, comfortable or uncomfortable. She insists upon the intellectual obedience of faith; disciplinary submission of the will; the impossibility of divorce and re-marriage; the iniquity of birth-control by evil means; the inadequacy of a merely secular education. Her repetition of Christ's axiom, "Deny thyself; take up thy cross; and follow Me," interferes too much with the comfort of men. If Christianity demanded merely the admission of a few religious doctrines, men would not object to it. But since it imposes moral obligations difficult for human nature, I am not surprised that men refuse it in its original and austere form when they are offered a less exacting substitute with the assurance that it is just as good.

264. Are not the Protestant Churches at least working for reunion?

Not for reunion with the Catholic Church. Meantime, if they were to unite among themselves, the union would not last a generation. As long as men refuse to submit to the Catholic Church, they will insist upon the right to think for themselves and build up systems accordingly. If Protestantism grants the right of private judgment, it may secure the cry, "Good. I think Catholicism wrong." But it must be prepared to hear the words, "And I think Protestantism wrong also." Already-established Protestantism can say nothing, and the man sets up for himself. So it will go on. The Catholic Church alone can preserve true unity. Every year finds Protestantism splitting up into still further sects, and in the end it will fall, as must every house divided against itself.

May everyone finds the real One Holy Universal and Apostolic Church!
Only in one's heart the true church will be found... not in the mind.
For us long one uses his mind, the true church will not be found.
Jesus: "Judas, use your heart not your mind 
but open up your heart and your mind."
No man can come to meexcept the Fatherwho hath sent me
draw himand I will raise him up in the last day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


After reading Ms. Sandra Snowden Elam's conversion from 37 years of not believing in the existence of a Creator - Supreme Being - God, I feel compelled to share her story here in this blog and I hope you will share the same feeling. - Silent Crusader 

From Atheism To Catholism - 
A Beautiful Conversion Story

I’m Sandra Snowden Elam and I was an atheist until age 37. On this website, you can read what my life was like then and how my worldview changed 180 degrees after becoming Catholic.


I hope you will read my conversion story, the unusual story of how my daughter Teresa Benedicta came to be, and the miraculous story of how my son Ryan James was saved from death by the intercession of the Virgin Mary. (To read more about Teresa Benedicta and Ryan James stories, just click on the link above)

My Catholic faith is the center of my life. I look forward to the day when I meet my Lord Jesus Christ face to face.

From Atheist to Catholic

For 30 years, I was an atheist. I thought Christians were fanatical extremists. My soul was so dark, I couldn't understand why some people objected to abortion and euthanasia. I had never heard of the Culture of Death, although I was drowning in it.

I have only one childhood memory of attending church. When I was a child of seven, my sister Linda and I held my mother’s hand and walked into St. James Episcopal Church in Jackson, Mississippi. I don’t remember what the church looked like or anything about the service, because I was too busy admiring my shiny, black shoes.

Soon afterward, I overheard my mother and father arguing about God. My father said, “I forbid you to take the kids to church anymore.”

My mother said, “They need to learn about God.”

“There is no God,” he said.

Mother said, “Yes, there is a God.”

“There is no God,” my father shouted, “And if you take the kids to church, I will teach them to be atheists.”

From that moment on, there was no talk of God in our home. We did not go to church. We never prayed. Christmas was about Santa, not Jesus. I barely knew the story of the Christ child. The only time I ever looked at a children’s Bible was in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. As a child, I sometimes prayed to “Dear God or Jesus or whoever you are.” But soon I stopped this practice, no longer believing a Creator existed.

The Closed Door of My Soul

For thirty years, I did not attend church, except for a short time as a teenager, when I sang in a Presbyterian choir. Singing about the “good news” of Christ’s birth, the words were hollow and meaningless to me. Church was boring and the rituals empty.

When my high-school friend Kathy, an Irish Catholic, railed about the evils of abortion, I was clueless. I truly believed a person did not become human until the moment of birth. I remember saying, “It wouldn't have mattered if I had been aborted, because my soul would have jumped into another body.”

A vague belief in reincarnation hovered at the edges of my darkened mind.

Because I love history, I majored in ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval history in college. One day, I asked my Jewish professor of Roman history, “Did Jesus really live or was He a myth?” He answered, “Yes, Jesus really lived; there’s no doubt about it. Why don’t you read the Gospel of Matthew?” I did, but the Word of God fell on the closed door of my soul.

Another Jewish professor instructed me well in medieval history, otherwise known as the history of the Catholic Church. The historical significance of the Catholic Church as the original Christian church impressed me deeply. I once remarked, “Well, if I ever were to become a Christian, I probably would become Catholic.”

After graduating, my dabbling into the history of Christianity ceased. I became antagonistic to Christianity, refusing to let my Catholic husband hang a crucifix on our wall. I felt disdain for those who believed in God. I grew up to be a bitter, angry woman, always quick to judge others.

The Door Opens a Crack

My journey towards Christianity took two years, beginning in November 1995. It started, oddly enough, when I heard Charles Sykes, author of Dumbing Down Our Kids, explain why many kids can’t read or spell. He recommended reading Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolph Flesch.

Until reading this book, it never entered my mind that some people guess at new words and don’t know how to sound them out. Now I learned that most American public schools stopped teaching phonics (the 44 sounds in the English language and the 70 common ways to spell those sounds) back in the 1920’s and that millions of kids have been taught to memorize whole words rather than sound them out.

Determined that my children would be good readers, I began teaching phonics to Rebecca, then five, and Kevin, then three. Sure enough, within six weeks, they were reading. Now I was convinced of one truth—that phonics knowledge is essential to reading—and slowly, my mind opened to the possibility that there might be other “truths” out there.

I met many Christians in the education reform movement. Most of their words of faith fell on deaf ears. But a few words slipped through my defenses, especially those of Bob Sweet, founder of The National Right to Read Foundation, a pro-phonics organization. First through his actions and later with words, Bob planted the seeds of faith in me.

The first big step in my Christian walk came when my husband Tom and I enrolled our children in a phonics-based school in September 1996. The only phonics-based school we could afford was a Protestant Christian school. We were both worried our kids might become “religious fanatics,” so I carefully studied the Christian curriculum used at the school and was relieved to discover the textbooks were factual and rigorous.

The decision to enroll Rebecca and Kevin in a Christian school was significant, because as they learned about the Bible, so did I. My sister Pamela, a Christian for seven years, gave them an illustrated Beginner’s Bible, which I read cover to cover. I’m embarrassed to say most of the stories were new to me. My sister also gave me the classic Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, which was the book that convinced me that God exists.

For many months in 1997, I felt pulled towards church but I resisted. My husband and children were already attending Catholic Church each Sunday, but I stayed home. I liked sleeping late on Sunday mornings. And I did not like church, so I thought.

On Sunday, October 6th, 1997, I stopped vacillating. At the time, our children attended a Protestant Christian school, so I decided to try the evangelical Protestant church attached to the school. For the first time in my life, I felt something spiritual and uplifting while in church. The pastor’s powerful sermons and music inspired me.

The Door Flung Wide

I started reading the Bible as a historical document. As a student of ancient and medieval history, I felt the story presented in the four Gospels was compelling. What a revelation for me to read the Gospel of John, especially when Jesus says to Doubting Thomas: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me. If you had known me, you would know my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him” (John 14:6). As soon as I read these words, I wrote them down and memorized them. Now I saw the Bible is not just a historical document, but also the word of God. After reading the rest of the Gospel of John, I said to myself, “Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

But thirty years of atheism were hard to shake off. I was beginning to know God through the study of the Bible, but I did not love him and I certainly did not serve him. I was clinging to a ledge, afraid to let go. I wanted to surrender to God and His will, but I didn’t know how. I needed faith; I had heard the word, but I had never experienced it. One night, after hours of Bible study with my sister Pamela, I lay in the dark and prayed for the first time in thirty years, “Lord, send me faith. I want to believe in you.” I opened the door and God poured faith into my yearning heart. As Jesus promises us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Faith was God’s merciful gift to me. Without faith, how could I believe in things not seen?

For about six months, I attended the Protestant church attached to my children’s school. One Sunday, as I sat in Bible study class, my teacher began disparaging the use of commentaries, claiming the Holy Spirit reveals the true meaning of each Bible passage to each individual. I said, “Each person says the Holy Spirit tells him what a particular passage means, yet each interpretation is different. Who is right? They can’t all be right, since the Holy Spirit is God and God cannot contradict himself. Certainly in 2000 years of Christianity, others have already correctly interpreted the Bible. Why don’t we look at what St. Augustine has to say?”

My teacher responded, “St. Augustine is a little too Catholic for me.” These words revealed the anti-Catholic, anti-historical bias pervading his thinking. He thought he could discover some truth about the Christian faith that others had not already discovered centuries ago. I knew I was no match for the magnificent theologians—St. Augustine and so many others—who had spent 2000 years refining the Christian faith.

On This Rock

A Catholic friend, Janet, loaned me the book, Surprised by Truth, edited by Patrick Madrid, which describes the conversion stories of many who asked the same question as I: Who has the authority to interpret the Bible? The answer came in the words of Jesus as He gives His disciple Simon a new name:

“And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock, I will build my church, and the powers of Death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18 – 16:19).

The new name Jesus chose for Simon means “Rock.” The word “Rock” is “Cephas” in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. When the New Testament was written, “Cephas” was translated into Greek as “Petros,” which was later translated into English as “Peter.” So what Jesus said to Simon is, “I tell you that you are Rock and on this rock, I will build my church….” Jesus here is speaking about one church, not many churches.

In ancient times, a king handed keys to his prime minister to show he was giving authority to that minister over all others. When Jesus handed the keys to Peter, He gave authority to Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, over all other Christians. When Jesus gave Peter the power to “bind and loose,” He gave Peter the authority to make binding decisions.

Only one church has existed since Jesus spoke those prophetic words to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew: the Catholic (which means “universal”) Christian Church, with the Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, at its head. All other Christian denominations are splinters of the original Catholic Church, or are splinters of splinters. None of these denominations recognize the Bishop of Rome as its head. Once I realized Jesus made Peter (and his successors) the earthly head of His Church, I said to my husband, “I may have to become Catholic.”

I immersed myself in Catholic apologetics and theology. I listened to Scott Hahn’s tape series, Our Father’s Plan; listened to Father John Corapi’s catechism series, The Teaching of Jesus Christ; and read Karl Keating’s book,Catholicism and Fundamentalism. On Easter day 1998, we attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. During the processional, tears came to my eyes as I watched the priest swing the censer, for I remembered our prayers are like incense wafting up to Heaven. As we sang the glorious hymn Jesus Christ is Risen Today, love for God filled my heart until it hurt. For the first time, I understood what was happening during Mass. The Mass is not just a Protestant service with priests; the Mass is the hour during which Jesus Christ becomes present on the holy altar—body, blood, soul, and divinity—under the appearance of bread and wine.

I Was Blind, But Now I See

Each morning I opened my eyes, saying to myself, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it.” Through study, I was beginning to know God; through the Mass, I was beginning to love God. Now I wanted to serve God by keeping His commandments. As the scales fell from St. Paul’s eyes, so the scales fell from my eyes. I saw how corrupt my life was in the light of the 10 Commandments. I began a massive purge of music, videos, TV shows, and books that glorified stealing, lying, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, masturbation, secular humanism, and atheism. I enjoyed throwing away offensive items, especially music by the rock singer Madonna, whose song Like a Virgin is one of the most offensive ever recorded.

In the seemingly innocuous Disney video Aladdin, I noticed the hero is an unrepentant thief who lies; the heroine Jasmine is a rebellious teenager who disobeys her father and runs away. In the subversive Disney video Hercules, the heroine Megara works for Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, lying and tricking Hercules repeatedly. Why had I ever exposed my dear children to these twisted messages?

The immorality of most TV shows hit me like a sledgehammer. I stopped watching Seinfeld not long after viewing the notorious episode that revolved around which character could go longest without masturbating. I noticed other TV shows slyly using humor to desensitize viewers to the immorality of homosexuality. Nature shows I used to enjoy now assaulted me with blatant humanist messages: humans evolved from sea slime without the need for a Creator; humans have no right to intrude into the pristine world of animals. I set my TV to Mother Angelica’s EWTN Global Catholic Network in 1998 and generally stopped watching secular TV.
Any book I would not want a nine-year-old to read had to go. That included most modern romances, science fiction, and detective novels. But surprisingly, it also included a well-known set of history books by historian Will Durant. A friend had warned me Will Durant was an atheist; this became obvious when I read the chapter on the life of Jesus Christ in his book Caesar and Christ. Yet even an atheist like Will Durant observed that no event has had a greater effect on millions of people than the life of Jesus Christ. I vowed not to read history written by atheists. I saw history as His story for the first time.

Faith Precedes Understanding

After purging my possessions, I turned to the much harder job of purging my attitudes and habits. My sister Pamela loaned me a pro-life video showing babies in the womb—alive, kicking, and sucking their thumbs. When the tattered remains of an aborted baby flashed across the screen, I knew abortion was murder. But I still wondered why women who are raped or who are victims of incest must bear children conceived in those circumstances. But God spoke through the Catholic Church and taught me that no child may be aborted, whether conceived by force or not. After I accepted that life begins at conception, it followed that each soul belongs to only one body; hence, there can be no reincarnation.

The moral teaching I found hardest to accept was the prohibition against contraception. I read the Bible passage describing the sin of Onan, who spilled his seed on the ground rather than risk impregnating Tamar. God punished Onan with death. I was surprised to discover that before 1930, all Christian denominations universally understood this passage to condemn all forms of contraception, from withdrawal to barrier methods such as condoms. In 1930, at the Lambeth conference in England, the Anglican church was the first denomination to allow contraception within marriage. In the decades to follow, every other mainstream denomination followed suit—all except the Catholic Church.

I found myself wondering why the Catholic Church alone stood firm against birth control. What could be wrong with it? Then my husband Tom loaned me the Feminism and Femininity tape series by Catholic writer and professor Alice von Hildebrand. For the first time, I heard a powerful argument against birth control and discovered Pope Paul VI had prophesied in Humanae Vitae that birth control would lead to widespread sexual immorality, the acceptance of abortion, and the decay of the family.

Realizing what could happen if we accepted this teaching, I said to my husband, “I don’t want twelve children.” I was completely closed to life—I didn’t want even one more child (two were enough, I thought). I was afraid and didn’t understand why birth control was wrong, yet I wanted to submit to God’s will. Faith precedes understanding, as the saying goes. At age 37, I stopped using birth control in July 1998. Grateful that God did not convert me in my 20’s, I calculated that six was the maximum number of children I might end up with (assuming the “worst-case scenario” of having a baby every other year until I was too old). The months passed, however, and I did not become pregnant. As my youngest child began school, I began to yearn for another baby or two or three. I felt the irony of the situation, since God was not giving me what I now wanted.

God is Not a She

Excited about becoming a Catholic Christian, I enrolled in catechism classes at our Northern Virginia parish in 1998. The first day of class, I got a shock when the Religious Education director said we can refer to God as she and the Church as he. “But,” I said, “Jesus told us to pray to our Father, so we should refer to God as he. Since Jesus is a man and the Church is the bride of Christ, the Church should be referred to as she.” The Religious Education director reprimanded me for being intolerant.

I soon discovered many in the Catholic Church, including catechists and priests, don’t know the core teachings or they don’t believe them. I was desperate for traditional Catholic teaching, but I didn't know where to turn. In June 1998, Dick Black, a member of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Great Falls, Virginia, invited my family to a Latin Mass. As the priest chanted the prayers, I felt connected in a powerful way to the ancient Catholic Church, to the Mass of twenty centuries. After attending services at St. Catherine’s for a month, we asked for and received permission to switch to that parish. I continued instruction at St. Catherine’s under the guidance of Father Franklyn McAfee and Father Richard Guest, priests who teach the truth of Roman Catholicism.

After two years of studying early Church history and the Bible, I was convinced that the Roman Catholic Church contains the full truth of Christianity and that Jesus Christ gave authority to Peter as the first Bishop of Rome. On the vigil of Easter, April 3, 1999, I was joyously received into the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.

Snatched From the Gates of Hell

I’ll never forget what the priest told me after my first confession at age 38:

“You've been snatched from the gates of Hell.”

This was March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation. My 38 years’ worth of sins filled several pages.

When I got home, I burned the paper.

You can’t imagine what a blessed relief it was (and still is) to hear the priest say, “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Friday, May 9, 2014


Catholic Conversion Story of an Iraqi Muslim

"According to Islamic law, a Muslim who leaves Islam and becomes Christian should be killed along with those who led to his conversion."

[Story Source: American Society for the Defense of the Traditional, Family Property]

The fascinating autobiography of Muhammad Moussaoui, who narrates his conversion from Islam to Catholicism, shows miracles of grace and of human correspondence, on the one hand, and on the other hand the terrible harshness of Islamic mentality and persecution of Christians. The book’s title, The Price to Pay, summarizes well what this privileged soul had to go through in order to be faithful to the call of grace. After his conversion, he took the name Joseph Fadelle.[1]

A Muslim from an Important Family
Fadelle belonged to one of Iraq’s most important Shiite Muslim families, the Moussaoui clan. As head of the clan, his father was a kind of judge and solved disputes between clan members. He also had great wealth and prestige.

In 1987 Fadelle was drafted into the Iraqi army, then under the rule of Saddam Hussein, right in the middle of the war with neighboring Iran. By this time he was 23 years old and single.

Sent to a garrison on the border with Iran, he was housed in a room with a Christian. He became indignant on learning he was going to be lodging with a Christian, an insult to a born Muslim whose family also descended from the Islam’s founder Muhammad.

The Challenge: Do You Understand the Koran?
However, the Christian, called Massoud, was older than him and welcomed him with kindness, so that little by little his prejudices began to fade. Fadelle conceived a plan to convert him to Islam. One day, when Massoud was absent, seeing among his books one titled The Miracles of Jesus, he became curious and began reading it. He had no idea who it was, because in the Koran Jesus is called Isa; but he was delighted to read about miracles such as the one during the Wedding at Cana, and was attracted by the figure of Jesus.

Still intending to convert Massoud to Islam, he asked him if Christians also had a sacred book like the Koran. After being told that Christians had the Bible, he asked to see it, thinking it would be easy to refute.

To his surprise, Massoud refused to show him the Christian book and asked an even more surprising question: if he had read the Koran. This question was offensive to one who had been brought up in Islam, but he simply replied he had. Then came a new and rather embarrassing question: “Did you understand the meaning of each word, each verse?”

The future Christian recounts that this question pierced his mind like a fiery dart, since according to Islam what matters is not to understand the Koran, but just to read it. Seeing his embarrassment, his room mate proposed that he read the Koran again, but this time trying to understand each sentence; and then Massoud would lend him the book of Christians.

Disenchantment with the Koran And a Mystical Dream
Muhammad accepted the proposal that completely changed his life. Indeed, as he tried to understand the meaning of what was written in the Koran, he realized that much of it was absurd and meaningless. A consultation with an iman failed to solve his doubts and he became increasingly disenchanted with the book of Islam.

It was as if scales fell from his eyes and he began to see for the first time what the Koran really said. Having finished this keen, meditative reading, he came to the conclusion that this book could not be of divine origin.

It was then a mystical episode took place, which prepared his conversion. He dreamed he was in a meadow on the edge of a creek and saw on the other side a very imposing, extremely attractive man. He tried to jump to the other side, but remained still in the air until the mysterious person took him by the hand and said to him: “In order to cross the creek, you need to eat the bread of life.” Then he woke up.

Conversion Shock: Jesus is the Bread of Life
No longer thinking about the dream, he got Massoud to loan him the Holy Gospels. He happened to open the book on the Gospel of Saint John. He was totally absorbed reading it and felt a great well-being. At one point, he was deeply moved to find the mysterious words of his dream: “the bread of life.” The words of Jesus in the Gospel were clear: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger” (John 6:35).

Fadelle recounts: “Then something extraordinary happened in me, like a violent explosion that blows everything in its path, accompanied by a feeling of well being and warmth ... As if a bright light suddenly illuminated my life in a whole new way and gave it all its meaning. I had the impression of being drunk, even as I felt in my heart an indescribable feeling of strength, an almost violent, passionate love for this Jesus Christ of whom the Gospels speak!”

The Price of Conversion: Death
His conversion was complete, total and lasting. He wanted Massoud to help him become a Christian, but met with resistance. According to Islamic law, a Muslim who leaves Islam and becomes Christian should be killed along with those who led to his conversion.

At any rate, Massoud taught him to pray and the two spent their free time reading the Gospels and praying.

Massoud was released from the army while Muhammad was on leave and he did not find him on his return. Shortly after he too was discharged and returned to his parents’ house.

Years of Trial
For Fadelle, that was the beginning of a great ordeal that would last for years, requiring unparalleled loyalty.

As Massoud had recommended, he sought to conceal his conversion from his family, while avoiding, under various pretexts, to participate in their common Muslim prayers. At the same time he tried to approach the Christians, but they were afraid to accept him in their churches since they did not know him and were fearful due of the climate of persecution in which they lived.

Fadelle’s consolation was to read, covertly, the Bible he had received from Massoud, meditating especially on the Gospels. Finally he succeeded, through a Christian with whom he had made friends, to attend a church; but the eagerly awaited baptism had still not happened.

Time went by and in 1992 his father told him he had arranged a bride for him and that he should get married. It was a girl from the same social environment, and naturally a Muslim, called Anwar.

After his marriage and the birth of a son, Fadelle, who continued to attend church secretly, met a foreign missionary in Iraq who agreed to prepare him for baptism. But then something unexpected happened. One day, when he returned from Mass, his wife, who did not understand where he went every Sunday, asked if he had been going to see another woman. Caught by surprise and without thinking about what to say, Fadelle replied that he was a Christian and went to Mass every Sunday.

Wife Converts
His wife was totally shocked by the news that she was married to a Christian. Discombobulated, she locked herself in her room. Later, in the absence of her husband, she took their son and went to her mother’s house.

Fadelle then realized he was in danger. She would tell her family that he was a Christian and he would be sentenced to death. However, miraculously, his wife said nothing to her folks and agreed to go back to her own home. Even more, she asked Fadelle to explain what Christianity was. He employed the same method that Massoud had used with him. He asked her to reread the Koran trying to pay attention to the meaning of its words and the doctrine it expressed. As had happened with him, she was shocked, especially with the way the Koran deals with Muslim women.

After reading the Gospels, Anwar secretly began attending Church with her husband and taking religion classes with the missionary.

Threats of Death and Imprisonment
In 1997 an episode of capital importance took place in Fedelle’s life. His family finally realized he had taken a distance from Islam and became suspicious that something was afoot. When the couple went to church, his brothers searched his home and found the copy of the Bible. And when they questioned his young son, he crossed himself as he had learned from his parents.

The next day, at dawn, Muhammad was taken to his parent’s house on an urgent pretext. As he entered the main room, he was immediately beaten by his brothers and uncles in the presence of his father. The latter, furious with indignation, accused him of being a Christian. His own mother shouted, “Kill him and cast his body in the sewer!”

Although he was not killed on that occasion, Fadelle was taken by a cousin to one of Saddam Hussein’s political prisons to be tortured in order to reveal the name of the Christians who had “corrupted” him. For three months he was severely tortured, lost almost half his weight, and then was released. The family pretended it had all been a mistake, but put one of his sisters in his house to watch him.

Flight from Iraq, Baptism
Finally, in April 2000, after many vicissitudes, the couple and their two children managed to escape to Jordan, where he realized his longed-for dream of being baptized, along with his wife. He took the name John (but became known as Joseph) and she, Maryam.

Assassination Attempt
However, they were still unable to practice Catholicism in peace. When his family realized he had fled, they started looking for him and eventually found him in Jordan. In December of that year, four siblings and an uncle managed to lure him to a deserted place where, after a brief argument, they demanded that he apostatize from Christianity and attempted to execute the fatwa that condemns a person to death for leaving Islam.

Miraculously, despite being shot at point-blank range, the bullets narrowly missed him and he heard an inner voice telling him to run. Already some distance away, a bullet hit his ankle and he fell in the mud, fainting. His attackers thought he was dead and fled. Fadelle was taken by a stranger to a hospital and later treated by Christian doctors in his home, but Church authorities ordered him to leave Jordan in order not to endanger the Christian community. He took refuge in France, where he lives to this day.

The Beauty of a Righteous Soul
The way Fadelle was attracted by Catholicism shows how his soul had a profound righteousness and how his adherence to Islam was merely the result of circumstances of birth and family. He was actually prepared, once in contact with the truth, to accept it even at the cost of losing all the comforts and privileges of a high social position and suffering terrible persecution.

His and his wife’s conversions show how Muslims can convert and how many of them actually yearn, though unknowingly, for this “bread of life,” which is Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray for these souls and for Christians so harshly persecuted in Islamic countries.

1. Joseph Fadelle, Le Prix à Payer, L’oeuvre Editions, Paris, 2010. Unfortunately the book has not been translated into English.