Just for Catholics - Testimonies

Discovering the Wonder of God's Love

By Mary Ann Collins

I was raised a secular humanist. When I went to college, through the influence of a friend, I started investigating Catholicism. After two years of intense study I became a Catholic.

I was zealous. I kept studying the lives of the saints and the teachings of various prominent Catholics. I often went to Mass several times a week, and sometimes every day. I transferred to a Catholic college in order to take classes in religion.

I entered the convent for several reasons. I wanted to be closer to God and to serve Him more whole-heartedly. I wanted to learn more about God and spend my life being more intensely focused on Him. And I believed that God wanted me to be a nun.

The convent was not a healthy place either spiritually or emotionally. Our self-imposed penances and mortifications and other attempts to make ourselves more holy actually encouraged self-righteousness. We were not allowed to have friendships or to be close to any human being. We were supposed to be emotionally detached. We were taught to love people in a detached, impersonal way.

This is not Biblical. When God said, "It is not good for man to be alone," He was referring to more than just marriage. The Bible encourages close relationships. Our example of the perfect human being is Jesus. He was unmarried but he was not at all emotionally detached. He wept publicly. His heart was moved with compassion. He made many statements that showed strong emotions.

I left the convent after two years, before making vows. I was still a novice, undergoing extensive training and "spiritual formation" in preparation for taking vows.

After I left the convent I was frustrated with the local Catholic churches. I did not see strong faith or zeal for God. Some of the priests preached things that were so contrary to Scripture that they were acutely distressing to me. One time it was so bad that I left in the middle of Mass and stood outside in the street, weeping. But I came back into the church in time to take communion.

My parents had become Christians and they were members of a Protestant church. I visited their church and found that I was hungry for the bible-based teaching. So I started doing the splits. For years I went to early morning Mass and then went to my parents' church.

Eventually I left the Catholic Church and joined my parents' church. And I finally found the personal relationship with God that I had been looking for all my life.

I used to be all tied up in rules, regulations and rituals. But now I have found a wonderful, vibrant, personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, who loves me. And with Jesus Christ who loves me so much that He died for me. And He has put a new song in my heart...

JESUS, YOU'RE THE LOVE

Jesus, You're the Love who'll never leave me.
You're the love who'll always understand.
You will not forsake me or deceive me.
You'll stay by my side until the end.

When I'm afraid, You'll wrap Your arms around me.
You're the faithful friend who's tried and true.
No matter what the troubles that surround me
You will find a way to get me through.

Your love is strong; it's deeper than the ocean.
It's higher than the moon and stars above.
When earth and stars are gone and time has ended,
I'll still live, rejoicing in Your love.

Email maryanncollins@juno.com
Website Catholic Concerns