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Yes, that Easter Vigil had been a Holy Ghost moment for sure. After my experience, there was no turning back, and I knew it.
Accepting this reality didn’t come easy for me. Yes, I was convinced that God was truly in the Catholic Church. I undoubtedly felt the Holy Spirit very powerfully during that Easter Vigil Mass.
But, this experience didn’t make moving forward any easier. The reality I was struggling with was if I were to proceed forward and become part of the Catholic Church – didn’t that mean I would have to leave my beloved Pentecostal upbringing, which I knew and loved so much, behind.
Was I ready for that? My mind instantly went to the different life-changing experiences I had been privileged to receive within my short eighteen years of life.
Holy Ghost Moments
One of the first experiences I had of the Holy Spirit took place when I was in fifth grade and the church we were attending while living in Florida was very Spirit-filled. There was plenty of emphasis on receiving the gift of Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
Pentecostals and other close Protestant religions believe that in order for you to be saved, or the proof of it, you must receive the Holy Spirit and speak in other tongues.
I witnessed many people, young and old receive this beautiful gift. The sheer joy and peace that they also received was something I certainly did not want to live without.
I definitely wanted to be ‘saved, make it to heaven, and I wanted that gift.
So, I prayed and prayed and prayed. Finally after weeks? Months? I don’t really know how long, but I received the gift of receiving the Holy Spirit in a powerful way and was given the gift of tongues.
Meaning I received a gift to pray in a language of prayer that I cannot describe or explain. Like the Apostles, Mary, and others in the upper room.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.Acts 2:4
Through this experience, although I cannot fully articulate, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God was real. He was real and he loved me and wanted me to love him.
Not long after this, we moved again, and then again. It was in my eighth-grade year when we finally returned and settled in our home state of Maine.
During my high school years, even during difficult teenage stuff, I really experienced the move of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of those around me. Firey preaching and teary alter calls would always provide joy, deep surrender, and re-dedication of my life to God.
Baptism- My Choice
Within this time period, baptism with water was brought up. Up to this point, my sisters and I had never been baptized. In the Protestant world, baptism is only offered when a person is at an age of understanding and can make the decision for themselves. Infant baptism is not an option.
When my mother finally brought it up my sisters and I was excited to finally receive baptism. I had seen some people be baptized in the big baptismal tank at church before, but, my mother wanted us to be baptized in a river like she had been when she was a girl.
So, one rainy, cool Sunday afternoon after church, the whole congregation headed to a nearby brook. Our Great aunt stood on the bank of the brook playing her guitar and singing hymns.
One by one we waded down into the water where the Pastor was waiting. We were gently immersed fully into the cool water. I remember hearing the words “I now baptize you in the Name of Jesus“. (This is the formula Oneness Pentecostals use)
Then coming up out of the water, looking up and seeing the clouds clear leaving a circle of blue sky just above the brook and the sun brightly shining upon the water around us. I was overwhelmed by peace and joy. No doubt – a definite Holy Ghost moment!
Prophesy Isn’t For Catholics?
Not long after this, during one of these services I was blessed and received a prophetic word from a fellow churchgoer. I had heard him give these before to others and was always curious. In this message I received an answer to a prayer I had been praying for weeks and no one, but God and I knew anything about it.
But the message I received was definite, personal, and full of love. The God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob listened to a little fourteen-year-old prayer. The prayer and the answer I received are really not that important. Kid stuff really…
But, the revelation that God listened to me and then went to such great lengths not only to answer my prayer, but answer in such a clear and awesome way changed my faith forever. It is an experience I will never forget.
After thinking and remembering all that I had been so blessed in experiencing, I really had hesitation about the Catholic Church.
Would this mean I would have to leave behind and renounce all that I experienced as a Pentecostal?
Did Catholics even know what the Holy Ghost was? I doubted it and remember talking a little about it to my now-husband, Rod.
When I spoke of things such as prophecy and tongues he didn’t at all look dumbfounded or confused. He simply stated – “yes that happens in the Catholic Church too – their are many Catholics that have these gifts”…
Catholic, Holy Ghost – Can I Have Both?
What!? No way! I didn’t know much about the Catholics. But, I did know that we Pentecostals were some of the few that received and experienced the Holy Spirit in the way I had. I was sure of it.
But, once again, I was about to be challenged in my faith and my inherited beliefs.
It took a year before I inquired about enrolling in what is called ‘RCIA’. This is the Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults into the Catholic Church. It is about a year of study, group meetings, and instruction in Catholic Truth, Teaching, and Beliefs.
It was through my experience of RCIA that I really began to see and realize just what I did not know. My soul began to be awakened in a way that was joyful but also very painful all at once.
My family, especially my mother, would never understand or support my conversion. That was and still continues to this day, twenty-two years later, to cause hurt and friction.
RCIA – Learning The What, Why, & How
Throughout the year I attended RCIA. there were plenty of obstacles, struggles, and yes, many tears. It wasn’t a painless or easy process to unlearn and correct the wrong beliefs I held about the Catholic Church and then open my heart to a ‘new to me‘ beautiful & wonderful Truth.
I even remember getting into a debate with Rod about certain Church teaching on birth control (that was a big one!), Mary and even Adam & Eve. And refusing to hear what he had to say, using the same words my mother did so long ago – “I just know”.
But, the biggest, most comforting, and the most mind-blowing thing I learned was, I did not have to leave all of my youth-lived-faith behind. I could bring it along with me into this Church I have grown to love so much.
All those Holy Ghost moments I was able to embrace and bring along with me. I have continued to experience even more of them. I had begun my journey to grow into a Pentecostal Catholic.
Through RCIA all of my questions began to be answered in such a logical and profound way. My questions about the Catholic teachings on Mary, the Saints, the Pope, all were sufficiently and lovingly answered and became clear.
I experienced the profound feeling of heart and common sense of the mind coming together in a beautiful union.
At the beginning of 1998, I was preparing for my welcome into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil. It was months away but, I learned, that would require ‘another’ baptism…
Saying another baptism isn’t exactly “theologically’ correct. I was going to have to be baptized in the proper way. Obeying the 2000 year teaching of the Church of a Trinitarian baptism.
I was a little taken back. I had a wonderful and unique baptism story and at the time I really couldn’t see why I needed to it again. But, the Church’s teaching was clear and I soon learned the importance of obedience and how it will ultimately help you to grow in humility and holiness.
In that river submerged so many years ago, I had been baptized in “Jesus’ Name.” It wasn’t the trinitarian form. It was a beautiful experience, but I had to enter the “water of rebirth” in baptism once again.
I’m not going to go into why the Catholic Church teaches this and has stood by this teaching for over two-thousand years.
All I am going to say is that when I made the decision to become Catholic, I was all in. Even if I had questions not yet answered, I trusted and as a Pentecostal, intended to fully step into the Catholic Church.
In my next post, I will continue with my journey and share some specific teachings that I, yes, struggled with, but have come to embrace and love- including the sixth chapter in John that had bewildered me so long ago.
Read Part 2 of my journey: Here
Read My Post about How Birth Control Helped make me Catholic: Here
A Catholic mom of 10 & a Deacon’s wife.
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