Thursday, February 2

"Burning in the Bosom"

Every Mormon missionary in their course of their six discussions to their investigators discusses the uniquely Mormon concept of "burning in the bosom." Here are a couple of scriptural references from Mormon canonical scripture [emphasis added]:

    Moroni 10:3-5
    3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
    4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

    Doctrine & Covenants 8:9
    8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

What it boils down to is that these scriptures say that if a person prays sincerely and in the name of Jesus Christ, that they will have a "burning in the bosom", which is the manifestation of the Holy Ghost telling you that what you are asking is true. In essence, it is personal revalation on the truth of the LDS church.

Now, here's the problem I'm running up against. In leaving the Mormon church, I slowly came to realize that the Burning in the Bosom is a bunch of hooey. Seriously. Hooey. I realized that I had that "burning" when I saw a cute boy, or drank a particularly strong cup of coffee, or became really anxious about something good coming up in the near future.

Ok, so the "burning in the bosom" litmus test to whether something is of God or not is out the window. Um ... now what? I do feel strongly and warm and fuzzy when I'm at the Catholic church, but is that enough to become Catholic? Certainly not. I've done research and learned enough about what I am doing so that nothing catches me by surprise.

But right now I am mostly going by faith. While the warm fuzzies are nice, they're not enough to make me make such a life-changing choice. It's hard to go by simple faith. I want it to be true, it feels very good thinking it's true. It seems like such an odd thing - you'd think that faith would be the #1 thing that a person would know in their heart when converting a religion. I enjoy the prayer and the masses. I feel incredibly serene around the Eucharist, but then again we're bringing "feeling" into it, which is awfully close to the "burning in the bosom" thing I'm trying to avoid.

I want the Catholic church to be true, and I believe it to be true. But my whole growing up, I "knew" the Mormon church was true because of my "burning in the bosom." This feeling sustains millions of Mormons all over the world in believing they made the right choice.

The reason that I have heard more than any that a person is converting or reverting to Catholicism is because they feel like they're "coming home" I can understand that feeling. But a lot of people get that feeling when they come to the Mormon church, or the Buddhist church or other religions that are gaining a surge of new adult converts.

It's scary to me sometimes to think that I'm committing to this religion. It's even scarier to think I'm doing it because, and this is the honest truth, I just can't stay away from the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But it's a feeling I have when I'm near Him when he's present in the hosts. Warm and fuzzy. Serene. It's no burning, though.

While I in no way feel I am making a mistake with my conversion, I wish I could find more reasons than that for wanting to convert. Then again, maybe it's just fine that I'm starting small. If I knew everything, the rest of my life would be incredibly boring, I think.


At 3:53 PM, Blogger C S said...

It's a tricky place to be in. What you seem to be saying is that you want to believe with your head before you believe with your heart. However one can arrive at faith from both directions. Mormonism can make your heart burn because it applies to emotion, but when you search it out intellectually the truth fails. In the same way the Catholic Church can make your heart burn with emotion, and when you look to back it up, you will find, and I think you have a solid foundation based on scripture and tradition. If the holy Eucharist makes your heart burn, embrace it, afterall as Catholics we believe that it is Christ actually present among us under the appearance of bread.

I guess what I'm saying is that the steps are similar to those of Mormonism, but Catholicism has a solid foundation, Mormonism doesn't, that's the difference.

Above all, keep doing what you're doing, trust in God, He will not lead you astray.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger David said...

The best advice I can give to you is to direct you to St. Ignatius' Rules for the Discernment of Spirits. While they're a part of the Spiritual Excercises, they're a good rule of thumb for looking at the movements, inclinations, stirrings, etc. that come up in prayer.

A decent link:

Hope this helps!


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