The question recently arose as to why I became Catholic. I think there is an important unstated second aspect to that question: “instead of remaining Protestant.”
That second aspect is really the crux of the matter. Before I became Catholic—before I even contemplated the possibility of doing so—I ceased to be Protestant. It wasn’t that I became convinced of the arguments in favor of the Catholic Church and so left my Protestant home. It was that I became convinced that Protestantism’s epistemology does not work, and so I knew that I could not remain Protestant. At the outset I was flatly opposed to the idea of any movement towards the Catholic Church; it was the furthest thing from my mind. I simply knew at that time that I could no longer remain what I was. It was only later that I began to investigate the Catholic Church’s claims for itself, and only after prayer, and thousands and thousands of pages of reading, and months and months of investigation, that I concluded that I did indeed want to become Catholic.
So it wasn’t a question of swooning in the face of smells and bells (although those are nice, as I later found out); it wasn’t a question of the music (which is terrible in most parishes I’ve visited and in my own parish) or the general atmosphere (I’ve attended Mass in parishes where it is very good, but my own isn’t really anything special) or anything else that led me to think something like “Golly, our Protestant services can’t compare to this!” No. I wasn’t lured away by the attractions of the Church. Rather, I walked away from Protestantism because of its defects. I didn’t think that the Catholic Church had any attractions then; at any rate, it certainly didn’t attract me at the time.