In the early 1990s, I was an employee of Georgetown University. My life was highly unsettled at the time, and a Jesuit I met there saw that I needed a friend and took me under his wing.
One day I mentioned that the recurring nightmares about snakes I had had all my life were again plaguing me. They were so vivid and terrifying I often woke up afraid to step out of bed, even though I knew there were no snakes in the house.
Father Dan's eyes and mouth flew open as if he had experienced a brainstorm. Then he told me I must pray to St. Patrick.
At that moment, I realized how protestant I really was. I was surprised to be shocked at the suggestion, but my puzzlement and intrigue by what relationship St. Patrick could have to my nightmares won.
I think he caught my reaction, but he plunged ahead. "St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and there are no snakes in Ireland," he said.
As he finished, I realized that God did not want me to have dreams about snakes. I could not bring myself to pray to St. Patrick, but nevertheless the dreams stopped. A few weeks after I realized the dreams had stopped, the thought crossed my mind that there might be more to Catholicism than just another flavor of Christianity, and that it may not be as wrong on some things as I had thought.
In the nearly 20 years since then, I have never had another of those nightmares. During those years I sporadically studied and rejected Catholicism until I finally became disillusioned with the protestant churches and denominations in general and spent a year looking in detail at everything I thought I knew about Catholicism.
I learned that Catholics really and truly do not worship either Mary or the Saints, that every distinguishing feature of Catholic worship has its basis in the Bible, and that there is room for reason and personal conscience. As my objections were proven unfounded, I started to experience the richness and comfort of the faith.
Are there nasty, indifferent, arrogant, unfriendly Catholics? Of course. Are there willful sinners in the Catholic church, even among the priesthood? Of course. Are those sinners sometimes protected instead of removed? Of course. Catholics are people, and the Catholic Church is an organization of people.
Like every protestant denomination, there are sinful people and bad decisions. The Catholic church is much larger and more monolithic than most protestant churches, however, so sins that come to light within it are associated with an entity about which most people have some passing familiarity. Only a portion of those people, however, are familiar with with that one protestant denomination, and even fewer are familiar with that one congregation in that one city. Thus, a problem anywhere in the Catholic church reflects on the entire Catholic church around the world.
Catholicism may not be right for you, but if you are here, you are seriously interested in it. This site is dedicated to providing information and resources that may be useful on your journey. Welcome!