A long and thoughtful essay by Philip Blosser, a convert from the Episcopal Church to Roman Catholicism.
Link: Philip Blosser - Scripture and Catholic Tradition.
Before I turn to those positive features of Catholicism that may assist in moving one toward the conviction that its claims are indeed true, I must spend some time discussing the negative things that may deter some from converting. Truth in advertising is important. Truth may be the sine qua non of religious conviction, but it is not the sum of religious experience. In fact, it is precisely because Catholicism is more than its theological claims that it's truth claims are so important, for without the conviction of truth, there would be little to sustain one's conversion amidst the avalanches of unpleasantness that may well await the convert on the contemporary Catholic scene. I want to be brutally honest about the state of disarray within the Catholic Church these days, which may not seem too inviting to the Anglican looking for a safe haven. It is true, of course, that if the Catholic Church is what she claims to be, we may expect to find her at war: she is not called the Church Militant for nothing. Given our recent history of rapid western secularization, it is hardly surprising that Christian communities all face challenges. Yet the significant difference, where religious confusion, chaos, heterodoxy, and heresy are concerned, is that Rome offers an inviolable doctrinal constitution beneath the chaos one may find at the surface level.
Here's an excerpt from his summary of Thomas Howard's booklet Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey To Rome. As I ponder my pastor's advocacy that the church should consist of a body of regenerate believers baptized as adults, I consider this and wonder.
The forms of faith one encounters as a Catholic are not always readily recognizable. This would be true for a newcomer from a Protestant background in large swaths of Christendom. As Howard observes, "your muttering Balkan crone in a babushka kissing the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan is not going to be able to convince a young North American evangelical, accustomed as he is to energetic Bible studies and 'fellowship' and expertise in extempore prayer, that she is, in fact, a Christian." In fact, "Her mute and perplexed response to his catechizing ('Are you born again?' 'Do you know Jesus personally?') will convince him that his worst suspicions have been correct, and that all of these peasants who are so numerous in Orthodoxy and Catholicism must be numbered among the superstitious rather than among the faithful."
Of course one needn't go as far as the Balkans: those who gather for Mass in any Catholic parish church on any day of the year will include anyone from wise and saintly souls to those whose conversation is laced with profanity and vulgarity, whose whole approach to life may seem to exclude even the smallest trace of anything that can be recognized as faith.
Where are these latter people--inside or outside of the pale of faith? Only God knows. The Church's task is to woo them, and to keep on in its pastoral efforts to fan any minuscule and lambent flicker of faith, and to keep offering them the gospel in word and sacrament. If they consciously and explicitly reject it all, then the Church can only pray for them: "Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy." If judgment must fall on any of them (or on me), the Church must accompany them all the way to the block, as it were, with the appeals of grace.
Some such attitude, says Howard, must surely explain why the Church has sometimes gone ahead and furnished Christian burial to, say, those Mafiosi who have been busy murdering their rivals on Saturday nights, as in the notorious Godfather films. Only God knows what seed of faith might still be alive in such brawny corruption. "The Church shares God's seeking of the lost," says Howard, "not his office as Judge."