I’ve been on quite the spiritual journey for the last two years as I’ve studied the Christian faith. My studies led me to Catholicism, and I’ve been doing a deep dive into the faith and its teachings. This includes reading tons of books like the writings of the early Church Fathers, apologetics, and conversion stories. In addition to reading, I’ve discovered the awesomeness that is Catholic YouTube. Priests like Father Mike Schmitz and groups like Catholic Answers have answered so many questions I’ve had about the Catholic faith.
Not long ago, I discovered a YouTube video of a talk given by a man named Keith Nester. Keith was a Protestant pastor who had recently converted to the Catholic faith in 2017. In doing so, he left behind his church, his job, his livelihood, and even friends. If someone was willing to give up that much to convert to the Catholic faith, I figured his story must be worth listening to. It was!
I could relate to much of what Keith was saying. I started to search for more of his videos and, to my delight, discovered that he has his own YouTube channel! Not only does Keith offer incredible videos, but he recently published his first book, The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism: Your First Year in the Church.
Now, by the time I picked up Keith’s book, I was already well on my way to becoming Catholic. I had started RCIA classes (The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). These are classes you take to learn about the Catholic faith and prepare to receive your sacraments and enter the Church. People traditionally enter the Church (officially become Catholic) at Easter Vigil each year. This was my plan as well.
When everything shut down due to COVID-19 back in March, it was hard. The first month or so wasn’t so bad. I was able to live-stream the mass and still read the Bible and study my faith at home. But March turned into April and soon it was time for Vigil. But we couldn’t gather together and I couldn’t receive my sacraments or come into the Church. It was hard.
Before I knew it, April turned into May and we still weren’t back in church. As the saying goes, ducks need ducks. Months of being separated from my Bible study ladies, my parish community, and my RCIA class started to wear on me. So I picked up Keith’s book hoping to reignite the flame so to speak and keep my spirits up while I waited to return to mass and receive my sacraments. I am so glad I did!
The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism is an incredible book! It is an excellent resource for converts as well as cradle Catholics and those who are curious about the Catholic faith. Keith is very honest. He talks openly about his experiences, his initial objections to the Catholic faith, his first impressions, etc. He does not get preachy at all but writes in a very conversational tone. Reading this book was like having a conversation with Keith over drinks – something I’d love to do someday by the way! This book was relatable and humorous with chapter titles such as “Who’s in Charge? Why does he dress like a Jedi? Why does he sing that way?”
In sharing his Protestant background and explaining the Catholic faith, Keith shares some common Protestant objections to Catholicism and breaks them down. I love, love, love that Keith demonstrates just how Biblical the mass and Catholicism really are! I appreciated this so much as I often hear the argument that Catholicism isn’t Biblical (spoiler alert- it really is!).
Keith walks readers step by step through the mass, explaining common prayers and gestures. He makes excellent points about the mass as well, points that I appreciate as a former Protestant. For example, the pastor/ priest/ sermon is not – should not – be your focus during the mass. I loved this because I’ve been to so many Protestant churches where the pastor was treated like a rock star and the focus was more on the sermon than on worshiping and exalting God. It was like attending a motivational speaking event instead of going to worship. Of course I realize not all Protestant churches operate this way. I can only speak to my experiences. In Catholicism, the focus is on Jesus and His sacrifice, on receiving Him in the Eucharist. Speaking of the Eucharist, Keith beautifully explains communion in the Catholic Church and why it’s such a “big deal” for Catholics.
I really loved how Keith broke down the information into sections of “What You Need to Know,” “What You Need to Do,” and “What You Need to Not Do.” This was a great way to approach subjects like the sacraments which a lot of people – even cradle Catholics – are unsure about or unsure of what to do or not do in confession, etc.
All in all, this was an excellent read that I, as a recent convert, could relate to very much. Keith used a good combination of scripture and Church teaching to explain Catholicism. He touched on every subject – the mass, the Bible, the sacraments, even the “Mary Stuff”! I’m sure I will be returning to this book again and again and recommending it to others. I think it would be a great resource for RCIA classes. If you have questions about the Catholic faith, pick up The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism by Keith Nester. You can also visit Keith’s website, watch his YouTube channel, and check out his newly launched podcast, Catholic Feedback. The first video of Keith’s that I discovered – his conversion story – can be watched here.
Happy Reading and God Bless! – Kait