This blog has been brewing in me for quite some time. The reason it hasn’t been written till now was because I have been afraid: Afraid people wouldn’t read, afraid of reactions, afraid of offending people. But, this is my blog and if I’m unwilling to reveal and share who I really am, then it ceases to be my blog. I simply can’t be afraid of reactions, because to hide this part of me is hypocritical. I cannot on the one hand say I am in love with being Catholic and then on the other hand, not bring it up for fear of reaction. I’m certainly not here to offend anyone, but if someone is offended by what I have to say, they are free to feel that way and I have no control over it. I have not always been Catholic. I was not raised in the Catholic faith. This blog is my conversion story.
I was raised as a Protestant. I am so grateful and thankful for the loving foundation in Christianity that my parents laid. When I look back on my upbringing at the Disciples of Christ Church in Bonner Springs, Kansas, I recall it as mostly a positive experience. One of the holiest men I have ever known, was our pastor, John Walker. For nearly all of my most important early life events, he was an active participant: My baptism, my marriage, and the blessing of our first daughter, Rhianna. When asked who is a major player in my religious formation, I always say his name. He is such a good, loving, Christ-like man and I am blessed to know him.
During my childhood, the only exposure I had to Catholicism was through my best friend, Annie. Every once in a while, when I spent the night at her house on Saturday, I would attend Mass with her family the following morning. It seemed to me, as a young child, that Catholics liked to exercise–I had a hard time keeping up with all the kneeling, standing, and sitting. I didn’t get too involved as I was told that Catholics were a cult, that they worshiped Mary and statues, and that they didn’t let their people read the Bible. I didn’t fully understand these things, but through idea osmosis, I adopted these beliefs. But, God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He? At 21-years old, I deemed myself all wise in Protestant and Catholic departments. I believed there was nothing new anyone could teach me–I knew all. Yet, “If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise.” 1 Corinthians 3:18.
So, I went and fell in love with a Catholic. When we were first together, I gave it no thought. In college, both of us had fallen away from going to church and we didn’t really speak about it much, so it was a non-factor until we married. Having Rhianna started to change our lukewarm hearts and we felt the need to go to church. But what church to go to? Dustin wanted to remain Catholic, I wanted to remain Protestant. And so, we fought. Correction–I fought. I spewed out all the things I thought were true about the Catholic Church at Dustin and he remained calm, patient, and loving. He countered every single one of my baseless untruths. Soon, there was nothing I could say. He had an answer for everything. I was so frustrated, but I refused to concede. That would mean that I was wrong. That would mean that I had believed in untruths and that thought was humiliating. Pride is a strong sin.
So, we tried church shopping. One week we would go to a Protestant church, the next week a Catholic church. This grew old quickly. Eventually, I made a deal with Dustin, since it was so important to him that he remain Catholic. I agreed that we could attend a Catholic Church, but I would under no condition convert. So, in Ohio, we started going to St. Helen’s.
It took nine years into our marriage for me to desire to become Catholic. Believe me, the desire became overwhelming. Never once did Dustin ask or pressure me to convert. The changing of my heart came slowly, but now looking back I can see how little-by-little God chipped away at the hard barrier around my heart. I learned that everything I had once believed about Catholicism was wrong. Sadly, I had never taken the time to really explore the truth. I had just gone along with the tidbits of misinformation that I had picked up in my life. It was a very real lesson in the importance of striving to search for truth. It was embarrassing to know that I had been so very wrong, but I am grateful for the humbling experience.
There are three main reasons I wanted to become Catholic:
1. It is the first Church. The Church that Jesus built upon Peter. The history is there and I can’t dispute it. If this was The Church founded by the apostles at the very beginning than that is where I want to be. The history is rich, intriguing, mysterious, and supernatural. Again and again, I am left in awe as I continue to explore the only Christian church that has been around for over 2,000 years.
2. It has ignited a flame in me. The beauty of Catholicism has brought me closer to Jesus in numerous ways. Never before have I engaged myself in a relationship with Jesus to this degree. I see now that I cannot simply limit this relationship to Sunday mornings at church. Where once I thought the call to holiness was lame and outdated, I realize that it is God’s will for my life. It is the greatest challenge in this life and it gives purpose.
3. The Eucharist. Mass is not about the homily. It’s not about the singing. It’s not about who’s there or who’s doing what. It’s all about that moment that I come forward and get to be united with Him. It provides my strength for the week. I can tell when I have missed it. It is why, when on vacation, I cannot miss church. When I was a Protestant, attending a Catholic Church, I couldn’t partake in it and I longed to receive it. There is a difference. Trust me, as a Protestant who used to receive communion as a symbolic gesture, to a Catholic who now receives it as the body and blood of Jesus, there is a difference. It is supernatural, life-giving, and my food for the journey.
The intent of my blog is not to convert anyone. But, in order to be true to myself, I must write in the voice of who I truly am. I realize that this may lose me some readers, but if that is the case, so be it. One of my favorite Catholic writers says often, “There is genius in Catholicism.” I couldn’t agree with him more and I am therefore compelled to share it. There are three major events in my life that have changed me for the better: The births of my children, marrying Dustin, and the day I became Catholic. So this is me dropping the veil. Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy).