|MORMON FINDS HOME IN CATHOLIC CHURCH|
born and raised in Utah, the oldest of two children. We were brought up in a
nominally religious home, and yet religion played a major part in our lives as
we were growing up. My parents were also born and raised in Utah in families
with connections back to the early Mormon pioneers who settled the Great Salt
Lake Valley in the mid-1800's.
Being raised a Mormon in Utah was not just a thing to be practiced on Sundays; it was a way of life. School, social activities, scouting, dancing, music, theater, sports and much more revolved around the church. My parents didn't go to church regularly but they were very adamant that my sister and I not miss out on anything the church had to offer. They would pay their Fast Offerings and welcome the visiting Home Teachers in an effort to maintain their ties with the church and thus stay in good standing. In those days, to be anything other than an active member of the church was to be ostracized by the majority. Approximately 77% of the population of Utah was Mormon and my parents didn't want me to become one of those unmentionable disenfranchised "others".
I joined the military and became inactive in the Mormon church about a year before I met Anne, a Catholic. We were married by a Catholic priest in Germany in 1971 and our two daughters were raised Catholic. For many years I attended Catholic Mass, often as a musician with the choir. We moved to Virginia in January of 1993, and I began attending Mass regularly. I joined the contemporary choir because I enjoyed the music and I thought it was a nice, neutral way to worship God. When I was asked to do a newsletter for the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign, I jumped at the opportunity to display my computer talents. It was during the preparation of the newsletter that I was first introduced to the Rosary and the special role Mary had in the life, suffering, and death of Jesus. I couldn't help but be touched by the things I was reading. I began to ask questions. Anne was, of course, excited about my interest and began dropping literature around the house for me to find.
In the early part of November of 1993, I asked Anne if she was trying to convert me. Of course she said she wasn't, because she had NEVER put any pressure on me to become a Catholic. For over 22 years of married life, I proudly proclaimed my Mormon affiliation. I told Anne that I had no intention of becoming a Catholic.
"I was born a Mormon, I was raised a Mormon, and I'm going to die a Mormon!" I exclaimed.
But something was happening to me. The power of all the prayers that were being said for me by Anne and by many others was having an effect. The Holy Spirit was hard at work on me.
I began reading and researching like there was no tomorrow. I read books on Mormonism, Protestantism and Catholicism. I listened to audio tapes and watched videos. I grabbed at anything I could get my hands on to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only true church on earth was the one restored by Jesus Christ to the "Prophet" Joseph Smith and his followers. Much to my chagrin, every direction I turned and on each point I investigated, I kept finding overwhelming evidence against the Mormon position. The more I researched, the more flaws I found with the Mormon doctrines I had been taught.
I found that the Mormon teaching of a great and total apostasy in the early Church established by Jesus Christ was simply not true. The overwhelming historical evidence available supports the Catholic teaching on Apostolic succession. This was first demonstrated in the replacement of Judas by Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). The chain has been unbroken from Peter to Pope John Paul II (Matthew 16:18). Without a great and total apostasy there is no need for a restoration.
Another truth I discovered is that there is only one God. I could no longer accept the Mormon view of a plurality of gods made up of flesh and bones, that God was once a man, nor that man can progress to become a god of his own world. Through the mystery of the Holy Trinity, I began to believe in the one divine nature of God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, I came to know the truth that God is the "first cause" of everything else and that our spiritual souls and human bodies are created at the moment of conception. No longer could I believe in the Mormon plan of eternal progression consisting of a pre-mortal existence where each person is born into this world according to their previous merits in the spirit world. I now believe that nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The next logical step was to realize that Mary was created as the most exalted creature on earth. She is the daughter of God the Father, the spouse of God the Holy Spirit, and the mother of God the Son. Through a better understanding of the virtues of the Blessed Virgin, we can more nearly follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
By Christmas, 1993 I was absolutely convinced that the Mormons were wrong. I was devastated! How could so many good people be deceived? What about all the sacrifices my ancestors had made for the church? How could I turn my back on my heritage, my upbringing, my family and my childhood friends? I wanted to pretend that I had never started on this journey. I wished I could go back to the way things were, but it was too late. I had found the truth.
On the 19th of February, 1994, I received the Holy Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, First Communion and validation of the Sacrament of Matrimony performed over 22 years earlier. It was a sacred day that I will cherish forever.
Many wonderful things have happened to me and my family in the short time since my Baptism. I consecrated my life to Jesus Christ through Mary and joined the Legion of Mary. But it has not been easy for my family in Utah. As far as I know, I am the first family member to officially leave the Mormon church to become a Catholic. We continue to pray for my parents that they will someday understand why I chose to leave Mormonism for the true Church established by Jesus Christ.
(Steve Clifford evangelizes on computer networks. He is active in Catholic apologetics and is an officer in the Legion of Mary.)
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