I was raised in a Christian home. My Daddy was an ordained minister in the Christian Church, and God’s love was a regular topic of conversation in our home. From my earliest memories, I had a very sensitive conscience and a fear of being separated from God, coupled with a deep love for Jesus and a desire to know and follow Him. Often, I would be unable to sleep until clearing my conscience, which usually entailed waking my first confessors, my parents. At age three, I began begging to go forward for the invitation to ask Jesus into my heart. My mother, fearing that I did not adequately understand, prevented me from doing so, until I was 7.
While I had a tender heart that wanted to follow God, I also had a strong will that often demanded my own way. I developed an “on again – off again” sort of relationship with the Lord; wandering onto the path of my choice, then realizing, repenting, and rededicating myself to His will became an almost predictable routine. How much sorrow and grief I could have spared myself and those who loved me had I developed an undivided heart and learned how to say “yes” to God and “no” to self.
God gave me a wonderful, godly man who loved the Lord and together we have purposed to raise our children to love and follow the Lord. We did so, from the beginning of our marriage, in the only way we knew how, with what we had learned and come to believe. We were part of some really good Bible teaching churches, as well as some not so good, (one pastor confided in me that he didn’t really believe the story of the virgin birth, but don’t tell anyone!) and we experienced spiritual growth in one way or another in each of them. During a time when I had become comfortable in my faith, my husband began to question what he had been taught. These questions led to a very dark time, where he walked away from the church completely and abandoned all the fundamental teaching he had received. As scary and dark as this time was for me, it was a time of great personal spiritual growth, and deep dependence on the promises of God. Kevin eventually came around, but unbeknownst to me was on a quest for answers on a path that eventually would lead us to the Catholic faith. He tried to share this with me on various occasions, but I was not in the place where I was ready to hear any more of his journey. Having just walked through that dark valley by myself, I did not have it in me to hear any more of his questions. He continued his studies, I continued in my familiar ways.
After the death of my parents, I returned to the workforce in elder care. There were so many upheavals during this time when I should have been grieving, I felt like my world was caving in around me. For many complex reasons, we began a season of church hopping. We attended two or three different ones, but just did not feel at home in any of them. At this time, I was working in Assisted Living, and had become acquainted with several sweet Catholic ladies. Part of my job requirement was to make sure that the residents’ spiritual needs were being met. At the time, the facility had Protestant services offered once a week, but no Catholic services. I called the local parish, and arranged a weekly Mass for the Catholic residents. I even sat in on one or two, just out of curiosity. It seemed like for the entire year, I was drawn to these Catholic residents. There just seemed to be something about them. When I interviewed them for social histories, I began to accurately guess which ones would tell me they were Catholic. About this same time, my son began dating a Catholic girl, the Lord was putting Catholic people in my path at every turn. I made a flippant remark to Kevin one day that the next church we should try should be St. Mary’s. Unbeknownst to me, my husband was still on his quest, and it was leading him toward that very destination! I believe the Lord knows how we are wired and uses different means to draw His people to Himself. For some, it might be through the saints, or the rhythm of the liturgy. For me, it was with people and relationships, for Kevin, it was through his intellect; his insatiable desire for logic and knowledge.
He began to try to share with me again, some of his questions, and some of what he was discovering in his studies, and confided in me that he thought the Lord wanted us to convert to Catholicism. I laughed at him, reminding him of my previous suggestion, but agreed to visit with Fr. Joe and explore it with him. At supper time, we sat the kids down, and explained to them what we felt the Lord was telling us. The following Sunday, we attended Catholic Mass together as a family. The old testament reading was from Isaiah 43 and included the life verse that God gave me in 2003, the one about a new thing. We saw this as confirmation that we were on the path where the Lord intended us to travel. We started RCIA that fall, and on Easter 2010, we were confirmed into the Catholic Church, my husband, two youngest daughters and myself.
I haven’t arrived. I am still learning and growing. But this I know; I have never felt the Spirit of the Lord present in the way I have since becoming Catholic. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe he was there, I know He was, but there is a life in these Scriptures that I didn’t realize before. From our first time at Mass to now, nearly two years later, those Scriptures, arranged hundreds of years ago into daily portions are spot on relevant to what we are experiencing in our walk. Almost like Someone knew we were going to need that very word of encouragement and wrote it down and arranged it just so. And the celebrations! After our first Easter service, I overheard my daughter on the phone with one of her friends saying “they make a big deal of Easter at this church.” I had to laugh, we really had never seen anything quite like it before, it was quite the experience. We are settling into the rhythm of church life, liturgy, and seasons; while acquainting ourselves with several new old friends, the saints. It is a rich life, this new Catholic life of ours.