From Seeking to Certain — Part One
Part one of the interview with Ben Albanese. The story of how he researched and investigated the Catholic Church, and ultimately came to be confirmed into the Catholic Church.
Published August 11, 2018
Duration: 12 minutes 12 seconds
[Patrick]: Hey! Welcome to Catholic NC TV! My name is Patrick Ginty, and today we’re going to be interviewing Mr. Ben Albanese; he’s a convert to Catholicism, and he’s going to be entering into the seminary this fall. So we’re really excited to have him and here he is Mr. Ben! Hey, Ben how’s it going?
[Ben]: Fine! Nice to meet you Patrick!
[Patrick]: Nice to meet you… Well I think we’ve met before, but that’s nice!
[Ben]: Once or twice.
[Patrick]: Well, it’s nice to have you. Well basically, I mean, you have an incredible story, I’ve heard it before but not everybody has. Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? How did you get here? You know… um you know, basically, where are you coming from?
[Ben]: Well, I got here by God’s grace, of course. I grew up as a Protestant, and I was raised as a kind of non-denominational, charismatic sort of thing going on there. So I was always raised as a Christian and that was… I thank all the pastors who ever taught me in the faith, in the right way. However, there was a certain point in my life when I decided I had to start owning my faith, and it wasn’t like I went to some, you know, nice retreat or something and got a great feeling, what happened was it was actually an intellectual spur. I was watching, I believe it was February 4th, 2014, I started watching the Creation vs. Evolution debate with Bill Nye and Ken Ham, and I actually thought Ken Ham lost that debate, but that spurred me on to do the study for myself to see what I could find, and later I got into the general issue of atheists versus Christians, and well, then I started debating with them, on the internet mostly, and that was where I learned a lot of my religious, you know, very basic philosophy. And one of the things that I encountered was that there were many atheists who are saying “there’s no absolute truth” and I thought that was preposterous, how could you say that? Like, doesn’t there have to be an absolute truth? So they would say “Well it doesn’t really matter which religion you are, it doesn’t matter if people have spiritual differences,” and I said, “Why would you think that doesn’t matter if there’s a God, wouldn’t it matter what we think about him? Wouldn’t it matter what He wants us to do? Wouldn’t there be a true religion? Wouldn’t he reveal himself in some way?” And they said, well you know they had various ways of trying to explain that, but none of them were very satisfactory, and I found them to be very inconsistent. So then I got to looking at the Catholic Church, but that was, you know, shortly after I’d stopped looking at Islam. Eventually, with atheism, you get to the point where, you know, it just makes so much more sense to remain a theist.
[Patrick]: So, but you’re, you would consider yourself a Christian, like you’re going to Christian churches; are you convinced that you know Christ is real and that Christianity is the true religion?
[Ben]: Yes, I was totally convinced. I watched debates by William Lane Craig, who’s a great Christian apologist, he’s Protestant, but he had excellent arguments for stuff like the resurrection; but I wanted to start debating atheists, you know, kind of more in person. But you need practice to do that so I thought, you know, I had started attending a Lutheran Church, which was much more liturgical and traditional than I had been used to. It was it was a totally different atmosphere. The first time they baptized a baby, and they gave me scripture for why they baptized a baby, and I was like, ‘Huh’, I didn’t think, ‘Oh the Lutherans are right,’ I thought ‘Huh, the Catholics were right about something. What else are they right about? And then it all went uphill from there! But, um… I started one night, I was laying on my bed and I started looking. I was like, ‘You know, where would they ever get the idea of the Pope? Where did the Catholics get this? And I stumbled upon a Catholic Answers article, and, well, they had evidence for that in the Bible in Matthew 16:18. And there were other things like, Mary and the Eucharist, of course.
[Patrick]: What would you consider, like, your, your biggest stumbling block to to Catholicism: was it the Pope, you already mentioned that, was it Mary?
[Ben]: Mary was a pretty big one, but she probably might not have been. She was probably tied with another one. I thought that the Catholic Church was evil. I didn’t, it wasn’t the idea of the Pope itself, but I thought that there was reasons to believe that the Pope was the Antichrist, and they were part of a satanic organization, you know, like an occult thing.
[Patrick]: Probably watching too many YouTube videos? Watch out for those YouTube videos!
[Ben]: But later, uh, like I got a little bit tired of hearing atheists say things like, ‘Easter is pagan’, so if you look at, you know, is Easter really pagan? You’ll start to see that lots of these other things that fundamentalists will actually claim as pagan in the Catholic Church aren’t pagan either, or at least even if maybe they had some sort of a pagan influence they’re not anti-christian in any sort of way, like a Christmas tree or something. So as I looked into that stuff, that started to deconstruct, but then Mary was left. So I had to study Mary. And I found in Revelation 12 that she was the Queen of Heaven, and I would try to explain that in various ways, you know, it’s Israel, it’s the church, but at the end of the day it’s still depicting the mother of Jesus as the one who, you know, is the Queen of Heaven. So that was probably, at that point I really wanted to accept Mary. I just wanted to have enough evidence before I did so.
[Patrick]: So this is really, it’s a very intellectual journey you’re going on?
[Ben]: It was mostly intellectual. My whole Christian faith is mostly intellectual. So I had met someone on the Internet, I met a few people on the internet, but one person in particular, he was a he was a religious seminarian, and he explained everything to me really well, I never lost debates if I knew my stuff, but I kept getting totally defeated and crushed in Catholic versus Protestant debates, and it was very humiliating. But it was humiliating in a good way, and I actually started to like losing, because this Catholic faith ended up being more beautiful than my own religion. But at a certain point I said, ‘You know, it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you believe in Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you have, you know, slight spiritual differences and you know, differences in church government.’ But I was like, ‘Wait a second. I said that already!’ And they said, ‘How do you know?’ or they said ‘Why do you think that God doesn’t care about that stuff, you know, wouldn’t he care if he revealed himself in a religion?’ And I realized they answer with the same way I would answer to my atheist friends when they were telling me that, you know, it didn’t matter if people had a different religion, just let everyone, you know, be themselves. So I was like, I’m just as much of a relativist as they are, or maybe within some parameters, but I’m still a relativist.
[Patrick]: Is that what you think, that that spirit inside of you that’s saying, ‘Oh it doesn’t matter as long as you love Jesus,’ you know, where do you think that, what does that come from? Is it just that relativism is so ingrained in our society? Or is it that you just you know converting to Catholicism was too big of a hump to get over? You know?
[Ben]: No, because I, it wasn’t that Catholicism was too big, because actually this was my first objection, because Catholics would keep saying, ‘Well the Protestant churches are all different, they all teach different things.’ But I thought, I just learned, as a Protestant, it doesn’t matter if we have differences, because I mean, it’s so, you know there’s differences as a Protestant there’s no hiding that.
[Patrick]: It’s just, you accept it as a part of the faith.
[Ben]: Yeah it’s just normal. There’s no reason to think differently. But I’d even been told that they could be advantageous if the church ever went through a persecution, because the persecutors might not know which ones were which Christians to persecute. But now, looking back on that, I think they would just persecute anyone. But yeah, I think it is because relativism is so ingrained in our society that I didn’t even notice it, that I was being relativistic. But that’s a big thing that everyone kind of goes through. Even, I think, even many Catholics have that mentality, that it doesn’t exactly matter, you know, the Catholic Church is nice and all, but it doesn’t matter which church you’re a part of, as long as you love God, and some people even say that about, you know, all different types of religions, but it really does matter because you can know, knowing God better is not something that doesn’t matter, and if you preach a different gospel, St. Paul says you’re accursed, and I was starting to realize, “Okay, we preach a different gospel than Catholics do, and Catholics preach one different than us, so who’s wrong? Because I don’t want to be the one who’s accursed.”
[Patrick]: Yeah, that’s not a good thing.
[Ben]: Yeah! Tends not to be. So I learned that, you know, I got this mentality that, well, I was looking at some of the things I’d seen in my own churches and this does not apply to every Protestant, I want to make that totally clear, but some were saying that, you know, once you believe, you know, if you made your profession of faith and you truly meant it at the time, you know, it doesn’t matter how many things you mess up on later, it doesn’t matter how many times you sin, you know all that matters is that you still have that faith, and if you don’t have that faith or if you stop having that faith at a certain point, you never were saved. And I thought, ‘Wait a second, how can I ever know if I’m saved?’ You know, I have to wait until I die before I know that, you know, because it’s like a set thing, like you’re either saved or you’re not saved, or you’re deceived and you think you’re saved but you’re really not, and how do I know I’m not deceived?
[Patrick]: So what I see here is, it’s kind of like not only you’re kind of, you know all the intellectual barriers to Catholicism are falling away, but also, now you’re starting to look at the faith that you held and say, well, this this isn’t coherent at all, you know, so… It sounds like eventually you come to this intellectual understanding of, ‘Okay, this is the way it’s going,’ but you still have to like actually come to like, Catholic Church, and you know, figure out what we do, and become Catholic. What was that like?
[Ben]: Well, the first time I came to a Catholic Church, this one in particular, it was very interesting. It was not what I expected. I expected there to be a little bit more Mary worship. I think Mary got several mentions, but it wasn’t anything I could accuse them of necessarily being blatant worship. But I came to this church, and they had incense and it smelled great, the music was really interesting to me it was, you know, now I might look back at it and think, that’s too new, but it was, it seemed, really, uh, I don’t know, I really liked it. It was really catchy. And then afterwards I came up to the priest, and I just stood there and I bombarded him with questions, and then other people came to help him and like, another priest was there, and he answered all my questions pretty well, very calmly. There was no you know, disrespect or anything from my side, or definitely not, none from his. So everyone answered our questions really well, and as soon as I came to the church and we started Mass, I just thought it was so cool that they, the servers carried the cross in, and I just thought, “I want to be here! This is home!” But you know, I still had a long way to go!
From Seeking to Certain — Part Two
Part two of the interview with Ben Albanese. The story of how he researched and investigated the Catholic Church, and ultimately came to be confirmed into the Catholic Church.