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“Ask a Priest: As an Atheist Drawn to the Eucharist, What’s My Next Step?”
Q: So I was baptized Anglican as a kid but have never been practicing and have been an atheist for about 20 years. Long story short: I stumbled across an article about the Real Presence a few months back and ended up in my local Catholic cathedral at exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The hour I was there felt like five minutes, and I keep being drawn back, once or twice a week. I’ve been to vespers and Mass (but don’t go up for Communion) as well as praying the rosary at home. I’ve also been reading a lot — Chesterton, Dante, Barron, Aquinas — and finding out that a lot of people that are a lot smarter than me have believed without sacrificing reason. In short, I’ve realized that the Catholic tradition is so vast and deep that I hardly know anything about it. I’ve kind of thrown myself in at the deep end with this for no other reason than realizing that I was probably wrong all these years. If God is giving me grace, then the least I can do is try to respond. On the other hand, this is so far outside of my experience that I am having serious doubts. How am I supposed to know if this is just my own thoughts sending me down what is likely to be a very difficult road? What do I do next? Take a step back from going to church and maybe see if I can figure it out in my head? I’m not in contact with any practicing Catholics, have no religious friends and haven’t spoken to a priest or anyone about this. Any help or insight you can offer would be appreciated. – S.G.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It sound as though the Holy Spirit is nudging you closer to the Catholic faith.
You are on a journey, and journeys take time.
It also helps to see the example of others who have been on a journey. Here, the Surprised by Truth books might be fruitful reading.
Also, you might consider joining an RCIA program. You could contact a local Catholic parish about such a program.
The RCIA would give you instruction in the beliefs and practices of the Catholic faith, in preparation for your possible entrance into the Church.
The program usually runs over the course of a few years. This would give you time for lots of questions and for lots of prayer.
You could read more about the RCIA on Internet.
In the meantime, it would be a good idea not to take a break from the Church. This is precisely the moment to keep feeding your soul!
And by all means, take advantage of being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and praying the rosary. Our Lord will guide you.
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May God bless and keep you.
I understand much of what you are saying. I too have recently found my way to a journey into the Catholic faith. I was raised by an atheist. A few years back my Grandson at the age of 5 made a comment that because I had never been baptized that when I died he’d never see me again. It was disturbing to me to see his pain. I thought long and hard and last year approached one go the priests at his Parish and voila, I was baptized, received my 1st communion and confirmation. It was incredibly moving for me. I never considered myself an Atheist rather,I considered myself spiritual. I have always talked to God since being a small child. I never realized until last year that it was Jesus working through me. Making the decision is very profound and I am so grateful and blessed to realize what this means. I might suggest that you approach one of the Priests at the Parish that you have been going to. They will guide you and help you decide what is right for you. There is a site I belong to called My Catholic Life which has been extremely helpful to me, as well as a site called Formed.org.
I hope this helps you on your unique faith journey.