Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Journey as a Catholic So Far, Pt. 1: First Encounters

My favorite image of Our Lady.
My first encounters with the Catholic Church and faith were ones that a nervous animal, long cornered and lashing out, might have - here, a hand was holding food out to me, and I was starving.  For so long, I had rejected God, fought Him with every breath, did everything I could to run from Him, hate Him, and root Him out of my life.  But after a scare with what I thought was something terminal, I began to make my peace with God.

It may sound trite, but it was the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia that caused a change of heart in me.  When I saw Aslan, the character representing Christ in the story, going to his death, something in me changed.  I felt that signature "click" in my soul when one knows that something is true.

But I have told much of this tale many times, and here I want to begin my account of my life as a Catholic for the past nearly-six years now - I say as a Catholic in the sense of both unofficial (believing) and official (baptized).  In 2008, something drew me (and I cannot remember what, other than a pragmatic desire to "see" if it was all true - after all, how could 2 billion people be wrong?) to purchase a rosary and to pray it.  So, nervously, I did just that: I got the little pamphlet with the beautiful images of the Blessed Virgin on it and all the depictions of the Mysteries, and clutching my rosary as if my life depended on it, I embarked on what would be a long pilgrimage in my life.

My first days were ones of nervous embarassment, hiding my rosary in my closet behind all of my clothes, and apologetically explaining why I purchased a book on saints to my future wife as simply being something that was nothing more than "interesting".  On Sundays, I would pray the rosary in front of a computer screen, using an online rosary as a help (the sacred music that played along with it was wonderful).  I would even dress in nice clothes, because I felt that when I prayed it, I was truly in the presence of the Blessed Virgin and Our Lord, and I wanted to look somewhat presentable.  I know - such is the way when one is caught by Love: they do silly things perhaps.

I began to read all sorts of things online about the Catholic Church, and even met with a Catholic priest to speak about it all.  I asked him all the typical questions that people who are raised to believe the Catholic Church is the epitome of all things evil and un-Christian usually ask: issues of "faith and works", papacy, etc.  I received the answers quite quickly, reading verses in the Bible I had somehow "missed" as a young Seventh-Day Adventist.

To be sure, the former fears of my Adventist upbringing stuck with me to an extent, though I had so far repudiated all of that that my anger at it was enough to conquer the fears it had instilled in me.  Still, the incredible damage that Adventism had wrought in me stuck in my heart - the cloud in the East heralding the apocalypse, visions of the Pope as antichrist, Sunday laws and persecutions, Ellen White's frightening visions, and all the rest of it.  It took years to conquer and eradicate all of the damage that this religious sect had done to me. 

Still, I strode forth into a new light.  I wanted truth, and would stop at nothing to get it. 

5 comments:

  1. I like this story so much - reminds me of when I came back. I secretly prayed the rosary like you did - very similar stuff. The rosary is such a relationship it is hard to describe. I cannot pray it enough. It is a school of theology and contemplation - so much more. God bless you.

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  2. There is something so peaceful about saying the rosary, just holding it even brings that peace. You are in relationship with The Blessed Mother, who is so close to her Son, Jesus, and The Father and The Holy Spirit. They are all gathered with you, and maybe this is the peace which comes. God bless us all. Thank you for writing this lovely story.

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  3. Your story is a wonderful example of the mysterious and incomprehensible workings of God in a human soul that is willing to let him in.

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  4. What a cliffhanger. I thought I missed some paragraphs so I zoomed in and zoomed out, scrolled up and down and sideways...and yes, I will have to wait for Part 2. :)

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  5. God Bless you Jason, as He evidently is doing. Welcome Home. Been there ... done that. I pray that over time you shall truly let The Holy Mother Catholic Church be your home. Again, Welcome Home! As with the prodigal son, let there be rejoicing on Earth and in Heaven. I think, my friend, that you have made your Guardian Angel VERY happy! Rich

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