Born Catholic

I was born into a Roman Catholic

home in the early 1940's. My parents

were devout Roman Catholics and we were

instructed in the teaching of the church

and were taught that this was the one

true and infallible church.

At the age of seven I made my

first communion and from then onwards,

in the sight of the Roman Catholic

church, I was committing a sin if I

didn't attend Mass on Sunday and Holy


I was encouraged to go on

pilgrimages in atonement for sin, for

example--walking on stones in my bare

feet, whipping myself, fasting and

silences, which was the hardest for me

and which was often broken!

Having been in contact with

Protestant people my one desire was to

win them to the Roman Catholic faith

believing that outside the Roman

Catholic church people were doomed. If

often wondered in what way I could win

these Protestants to the true church.

After speaking to the priests

and nuns on several occasions they

encouraged me to go into a convent to

become a nun of the Poor Clare Order in

Antrim Road, Belfast. Not being content

to wait until I was eighteen years old,

at the age of fourteen I got permission

from the priests to go and work in a

Protestant factory off Donegall Road.

My parents were utterly opposed to this

idea but to them what the priest said

was law.

From the first day at work, as I

look back I can see the Lord's hand in

my life as He led me step by step to


The team of people over me in

that factory were azll believers, born

again of God. I was horrified at this

but was still determined to win them to

the Roman Catholic faith. Often I

visited the priest to ask for his advice

but all he could tell me was to pray

more to the different saints, put more

money into the church and I was always

told never to read the Bible and was

threatened with what the consequences

would be if I did, for example--my hands

would wither away or my tongue would

fall out--this to me would be a great

calamity! Never having had a Bible I

just thought this would never happen so

I didn't really worry about it.

A Christian friend at work often

read a book which she seemed to enjoy

reading. One day, out of curiosity, I

asked to see it and discovered it was

the Bible. Having asked for it I

couldn't give it back so I pretended to

read it. As I turned the pages I

stopped at John's gospel chapter 3 and

my eye caught the words in verse 16:

"For God so loved the world, that he

gave his only begotten Son, that

whosoever believeth in him should not

perish, but have everlasting life." I

was arrested by these words and felt

that I would like to read more so I

stopped again in John chapter 14 and

read the first few verses. There I read

about believing in God and in Jesus

Christ His Son, who said, "I am the way,

the truth, and the life: no man cometh

unto the Father, but by me."

Continuing to turn the pages my

eye caught the words in Acts 3:19,

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted,

that your sins may be blotted out," and

then again in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by

grace are ye saved through faith; and

that not of yourselves: it is the gift

of God: not of works, lest any man

should boast." I also read Hebrews

7:25, "Wherefore he is able also to save

them to the uttermost that come unto God

by him, seeing he ever liveth to make

intercession for them" and 1 John 1:6-


In these verses I found that no

priest could forgive sins and that Jesus

only could take our sin away by His

precious blood that was shed on Calvary.

Sadly I had to part with the

Bible, my lunch bread being over. I

tried to memorize the verses so that I

could communicate them to the priest.

When I confronted him with them he told

me I was not to accept them but to

adhere to the teachings of the Roman

Catholic church as the only true faith.

I was reminded again of what would

happen if I continued to read the Bible.

As I left the priest, I felt

very depressed for I felt that I had

been rebuked by him and that he had

given me no help whatsoever.

Wishing to know more of the

Christian faith, I asked my friend if I

could go with her to a place of worship.

First I thought it was my duty to go to

Mass after which I made my way to

Argylle Presbyterian Church, Shankill

Road. It was Childrens Day and through

the simple message and through

Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the

door, and knock: if any man hear my

voice, and open the door, I will come in

to him, and will sup with him, and he

with me." I realized I needed to be

saved and longed to give my all to

Jesus. Being under age, I thought at

the age of twenty-one it would be time

enough to become a Christian.

Longing to know more about Jesus

I determined to frequent as many places

of worship as I could. About this time

my parents found out that I was

attending different meetings and in an

effort to stop me they locked me in my

bedroom. Outside my bedroom window was

a drainpipe which I managed to climb up

and down and which was the means of my

getting out without my parents'

knowledge. When they found out what I

was up to the Legion of Mary and the

priest were informed and they had me

removed to another factory where the

Legion of Mary prevented me having

contact with Protestants, especially

Christian people.

In January 1957 I attended Great

Victoria Street Baptist Church where the

pastor emphasized the fact that "Today

is the day of Salvation" and then I felt

that good works and church attendance

did not atone for my salvation so, that

night, I gave Jesus my life, the burdens

rolled away and great was the peace that

filled my heart.

I was freed from my locked room

the following Tuesday and my parents saw

a change in my life. For the first time

I was able to take my stand for the

Lord, by telling them that the change

was wrought by the Lord Jesus who gave

His life for me at Calvary, and the Lord

would do the same for them if they too

would give their lives to Him.

The next Sunday I went to the

same church but I can't remember the

sermon but the text stuck in my mind and

even to this day I find it a great help:

"Fear though not; for I am with thee: be

not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will

strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee;

yea, I will uphold thee with the right

hand of my righteousness" (Isa. 41:10).

That Sunday night I realized my

parents were very vexed with me. I was

punished by being punched, kicked and

pulled up and down the floor. My

parents then wanted to know--"Was I

going to be a Protestant or a Roman

Catholic?" I told them--neither--that I

was just a sinner saved by grace. I

knew I had to leave the Roman Catholic

church as all its teachings were against

the scriptures.

The priest was brought on the

scene and told my people he would have

me blindfolded, kidnapped and put into a

convent. This they tried to do but I

escaped and found myself running to

Christian friends who were up at that

late hour asking the Lord to deliver me.

Praise God for the Evangelical

Protestant Society who helped to get me

to Dublin.

After a few happy months with

the Irish Church Mission my people found

out my whereabouts and I had to flee to

England. Still being under age it

wasn't easy, as there was press coverage

and other pressures, but I thank God

that He undertook for me by giving me

Christian friends.

At the age of eighteen I

commenced training to become a nurse and

after finishing this I went back to

Belfast to live. One night, when

returning to the nurses' home the Legion

of Mary bundled me into a cary saying

that I had got away before but I

wouldn't get away this time. I told

them my Lord would undertake. By some

miracle I was able to break the window

with the heel of my shoe and get hold of

the ignition key and throw it out of the

broken window. Some people passing by

took me to the police station in their


Just after this I was married

and the Roman Catholic church gave me up

as a bad job!

The Roman Catholic church would

like people to believe it has changed

but I KNOW that Rome will never change,

for even today my own family practices

the same teachings and superstitions in

which I once believed. In the words of

the Psalmist I can say, "The Lord hath

done great things for me whereof I am


--Mary C. Lynn, 1988

Women's Protestant Union

Sussex, England

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