I was born and brought up in Malta, an island that is "more Catholic than the Vatican". Some days after I was born I was sprinkled with "holy water." By this ceremony I was supposed to have been made a Christian. I was sent to the nun's school just before I was three. I used to be stood upon the nun's table and called to recite in front of the class. Not only could I recite the "Hail Mary" but also the much longer "Hail holy Queen." The sister would make the class tell me "bravu" (good boy). Pride was pouring in.

One day came the "Dun" (the honourable title of Maltese priests) and I was called to recite in front of him. Forty-five years later I still remember them talk that I should become a priest. An aunt was persuaded that I should become take holy orders and accordingly bought me a toy altar, a leaden cross and a set of candlesticks.

The candles burned out in minutes and the leaden candlesticks were first misshapen and then used to make graffiti on the walls that my father had labouriosly white-washed with lime. The box-like toy altar imprisoned a hapless baby gecko, some ladybirds and woodlice.

For this unseemly behaviour I was taken to a much-loved pious priest called Dun Gorg (who recently became the first Maltese to be canonised, that is, declared a saint by the pope). He granted them their wish -- he laid his hand upon my head and prayed. Many years later I was to become one his disciples.

At this point I want to make very clear that although the actions of these people were totally against the Word of God, they were acting in good faith as children of Rome. I am sure they were doing their best for the good of my soul in accordance with the teaching of Rome and the culture of the Maltese nation. They are very dear to me and I pray daily for them that if it is God's will He may save them.

I went through the state-school system, Catholic to its core. By the age of five I was attending mass, garbling in Latin without understanding. Then I passed the examination for my First Holy Communion and received a certificate and a "Bravu" for parroting the question and answer of the Catechism (by the Italian Gasparri) notebook which was translated into Maltese many generations ago. I was then led to "Confession". I had to confess my personal sins before my First Holy Communion the night before and had to be extra good lest I sin and would not be able to receive Holy Communion.

The first Communion is a momentous event in the life of the Maltese. Each family spends a small fortune for each child -- the girls in splendid miniature bridal costume and the boys in immaculate white. Even though it was hot June I wore a frilled shirt, a white jacket and short trousers, white gloves, socks and shoes. All adorned with the medal of the "sacred hearts" of Jesus and Mary. A beautifully embroidered armband with golden tassles depicted the Bleeding Sacred Heart, a golden Chalice and the host and ears of wheat and black grapes. O what a contrast did these make with the white apparel! No wonder that an aunt "who knew how" came to dress me up early in the morning. Then I was escorted to church. The fashion parades of the parents and their relatives, the priestly festal robes of gold and purple, the candles and huge crystal chandeliers, the red carpet strewn with red and white carnations and roses; then the church bells, the fire-works, the church organ, the Latin choir, the smells of incense, crushed flowers and herbs mixed with that of cordite from the fireworks.

Truly I believed that Jesus had come to me on that day and I felt very happy. Soon I was whizzed in a car to have my photo taken. My great-uncle, a professional, made a splendid job to make me look so angelic reading a little white children's missal....Then off to a party at home where I was met by numerous relations who bestowed upon me more little white missals, fonts for holy water, rosary beads of every weight shape size and colour -- some already blessed by a priest and some others still awaiting the needed blessing at my next confession -- various statues and pictures of saints, angels crosses and even pictures of our Lord. The new toy candlesticks were hastily removed from sight as my pyromania was to be feared.

Can you imagine what a powerful influence Romanism has on a child's mind? My experience was not exceptional but average for a working class family. Poorer families would have borrowed so that their children would not be at a disadvantage. I shall thus not elaborate on Confirmation the following year at the age of seven. Rome believes in "catch 'em early and you've got 'em". Suffice the sight of the mitred archbishop, his escorts, his Cadillac, pearls, purple, scarlet and gem on his ring underneath which I was told lay a splinter from the Lord's cross. And then he approaches and "confirms" and anoints the lad with a fragrant ointment. I still remember the slaps on my cheek, a token that henceforth I was to prove myself a "soldier of Christ".

Indeed I was soon enrolled in the "Milites Christi Regis", the soldiers of Christ the King, a branch of an organization called Catholic Action. There I learned to defend the pope and his magisterium while playing billiards. But we also played a brutal game called "harba," part pitched battle, part rugby without a ball and part wrestling on stones. I lost blood, skin and clothing but still have my front teeth. If the pope needed us we were ready -- we were so reckless...

Our enemies were no longer the legendary Turks but the Russian Communists and the notorious Protestants. We were told to pray for them but never to have anything to do with them. When Kennedy was killed we were told to mourn because he was one of us -- a Catholic. I concluded it was either Russians or Protestants who killed him.

One may conclude that life in a " Catholic" country was blissful. At the time the Maltese seemed "truer" than most people but as I grew I learned more and more about treachery in politics, in business as well as in private and public life.

During secondary school I could have been carried away by the currents of worldly and devilish evil. Some of my mates were already fornicating, stealing what they could, fouling with their mouths and going to the cinema for X-rated films. As it happened a disciple of Dun Gorg persuaded me to attend the lessons of the Societas Doctrinae Christianae (Society of Christian Doctrine), also known as MUSEUM. The offer was attendance at catechism classes with football following. I lied about my age so that he'd put me in a class with older boys. I also intended to scorn and taunt and I was successful.

Although they preached nothing but Catholicism they used Scripture, and they used Maltese not Latin. The Lord used them to teach me His word and I love them very much and pray to see them saved. I learned to resist the temptations of the self, the world and the devil. I believed revelation came from the Bible and the Tradition of the Church of Rome. I was a devotee of Mary and other saints. I swore blind obedience to the Pontiff and to his teaching. All the same I realized that I was sinful and sinning constantly.

Sinning constantly left me in fear of losing my soul. One lustful look at a girl out of a bus window on the way to school condemned me to Hell. Weekly confession was not enough. I applied self-mortification intermittently and prayed as often as I remembered. I was getting frustrated with the Lord who was not making me the saint I wanted to be. I played football as hard as possible and ran or cycled to exhaustion so that at night I'd be so tired that evil thoughts would not come to me. I found solace in the rituals of Rome but at other times I found them meaningless. I was paying lip service but my heart was away from the Lord.

Come what may, I had to earn my salvation. Jesus did his part. Now I must do mine. I must start working. So I thought. But how do I placate Divine Justice since His Word says "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31).

I tried harder. In my late teens I started teaching younger ones. What better sacrifice can one make than giving up one's right to marriage and lead a celibate life, just like the priests? My mentor often said "a great reward demands great work." If this was a ticket to heaven it was still cheap, and I could fortify myself with harsher self-mortification. I decided to have full membership in the "Society" despite my inadequacy. This demanded celibacy. For me it wasn't a problem to be misunderstood even by parents, some priests and fellow Catholics. I was persuaded this was my vocation, the cross I had to bear to follow Christ.

I was happy. The disciples met daily to study Scripture and theology, for prayer, rituals and devotions and for convivial conversation afterwards. We were a brotherhood and all I know from them is brotherly love, sincerity, mutual support and a desire to bring upon earth God's kingdom by preaching the Gospel. We then planned our teaching campaigns under the guidance of the elders and ensured that we were totally obedient to the hierarchy of the church. Some carried the mission abroad. Having to separate from them was a big wrench in my heart, but I had to leave Malta to continue my medical studies in London. The government of the day had closed the medical school.

I remained faithful to the Society as long as possible but lonely and starved of fellowship I was very vulnerable to the devil. The hectic life as a medical student and worse as a junior doctor made it very difficult to pray. I was not made of steel. I understood I had no vocation for celibacy, not any more anyway.

In contrast to the Roman priesthood, my celibacy was voluntary. In tears I wrote my resignation from the Societas Doctrinae Christianae. I married a good Catholic wife in the church at Hamrun.

I was now spiritually comfortable, even smug. I was "not bad" and far less aware of my sinfulness, I performed the rituals and did some good "for God." I became more tolerant and more humanistic and accepted a lot of moral relativism in others. I felt mature. God was so good He'll save us all if we were genuine. Prayer was limited to a residue; occasionally interspersed with some fervour in times of need. Sometimes we said the rosary. We never missed Sunday Mass. God was at a safe distance had not my wife started searching in Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. She was also fond of Dun Gorg, founder of SDC. We left Malta and came back to England in 1990.

In ways which only the Lord can bring up she started questioning the Scriptural basis of the Roman Catholic religion and was finding it wanting. If not wanting, at least it was replete with man-made additions. You can imagine how angry I got and for weeks we argued passionately. I had reason to get angry because despite my intensive teaching I could not rebut that which is contrary to Scripture. I was relying on "Tradition" to persuade her that the Roman religion was true.

One Sunday morning she told me, "I will come to mass as your companion not as a believer." Two Sundays later my son, then aged eight, said he will not come to a Roman Church anymore. I was in tears. I was hale, wealthy, successful and was bringing up the family reasonably well. Why did the Lord let me down? This was seven years ago. My parish priest was unhelpful, he could at least have consoled me and no one could understand. I went on a retreat to ask questions and pray with the monks at Ampleforth monastery.

After some years a truce was established in the family. We were settled as long as we did not talk about religion. But once again the Lord was at work. While arguing with my wife and son about their denial of evolution I found out that not only was evolution (as taught to me by Jesuit biologists and philosophers) anti-Biblical but also very bad science. With time the Lord showed me that there is no logic and no Scriptural basis for purgatory, that works do not save, that there is only One Mediator and only One High Priest and that the Scriptural basis for the "Sacrament" was dodgy and subject to speculation.

Even with these strong fallacies of Catholic teaching I clung even more firmly to Rome. I forced myself, if it was ever possible, to will myself to believe that the host given to me at communion was truly the Lord Jesus. I tried to force myself to believe that at Mass our Lord is truly sacrificed as a re-enactment of Calvary. I got involved with ecumenism even when I could see it was a deceit of Rome and the devil. I kept saying "Rome says so, it must be true". Thus I actively resisted the Word of God to cling desperately to Rome.

While on holiday in Malta I took my wife and my son to the Evangelical church that met at Hal Luqa. I had already made it clear that I was a fervent and convinced Romanist and I was there only as a companion to my wife and son. However, at the end of the service I went to take issue with the preacher who was Paul Mizzi. Rather then rebut my arguments, Paul simply said, 'Just take and read the Scriptures. Then decide what is TRUEST to the Word of God:- What you have seen us do and heard us preach OR What you see Rome doing and preaching ?'

Months of troubled searching in the Scriptures showed me clearly that the Roman Catholic religion is ALIEN and at times AGAINST the Word of God. To be true to my conscience I had to leave Romanism. Yet till the Lord took hold of me I clung to Rome with all my might.

One evening I went Nicodemus-like to Dr. Joe Mizzi while on a week's holiday in Malta. I was not humble though. I wanted to argue my points in favour of Rome. As an evangelical believer he patiently explained the Scriptures. I saw the point but resisted. Likewise I discussed with Mr. W. H. Molland and Mr P Nutkins of North Road Chapel in Bideford, Devon; with Mr. D. Blanton of California and with Mr. R. Lentzch in Malta. They gave me passages of Scriptures to read but I refused to read them. I read The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church instead. But I was not satisfied with the explanations of the catechism. The "two-edged Sword" proved much more powerful. At mass in church I was now a spectator praying to be convinced that I was re-enacting Calvary. My soul was a black hole. The Lord persuaded me to go and read the Scriptures I feared, Romans 3 and the epistle to the Hebrews. It was so clear. I read the Bible more and more, trying to clutch at straws. I found none. Purgatory, Marian devotion, indulgences, salvation by works, infant sprinkling, Peter going to Rome, Sacraments....I found NONE, none at all. Was the mass anywhere to be found? It is so central to Roman Catholicism. Did I find once an exhortation to go to Mass? No. Not once.

Instead I found out about sovereign election by free grace, the ONCE ONLY Sacrifice of the ONE and ONLY Saviour Jesus Christ.

When I saw what the mass really meant, I knew I was excommunicated from Rome ipso facto. Rome fell down upon me with an iron hand. I found myself desperate and bereaved without consolation. I felt that sin was of my very substance. I knew I was abhorrent to God and was going to Hell as I deserved. For many days I endured this state and would have died in it had I not cried, "Lord, what should I do to saved?" The answer came in Acts 16:27-33, so simple as to be a stumbling block, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"

By the grace and mercy of God, I was quickened by the Holy Ghost who brought me to repentance. Then I stepped over that stumbling block: I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and now I am saved.

I thank and praise the Lord for saving me in His appointed time. Hallowed be His Name!


Dr Abraham Cutajar