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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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