In Need of Encouragement

I read a few amazon reviews of books aimed at “saving Catholics” who are sadly without knowledge of the gospel. It’s amazing how people resort to rhetoric snatched from the blurred edges of their memory, mindlessly repeated half-baked lies and flipping from one learned talking point to the next when challenged. I knew a girl when I was young who although her faith was sincere, she didn’t think about it much or question what she was told. She instead memorized and repeated “spiritual” language like a pro, neatly boxed up for every occasion. It really used to annoy me. When I read the lingo-ridden block paragraphs lamenting the dead faith of Catholics, flippantly deriding the Catholic “works driven” salvation, tossing a bone in the form of a half-hearted “God help them” prayer, the voice in my head is always the one of the girl I used to know. Bizarre.

I get discouraged when it seems like no one listens, no matter how many times you repeat that you do not worship Mary and the Saints and that the Pope is not the Anti-Christ (Seriously, have they read the Bible? Do they even know how the Anti-Christ is described?). I wish that I could explain things better and help people understand what the Catholic Church teaches and see her for the beautiful and spotless Bride of Christ that she is. I can’t stand the insults and blind hatred; people throwing her human failings in her face, abandoning her when she adamantly calls sin a sin, criticizing and deriding her. People call Catholics idolaters and morons. They call the Church at best an obsolete antiquity or at worst the whore of Babylon. A raging war is constantly swirling around the Catholic Church, and at times that’s all there seems to be. I feel helpless to even lift my voice in protest, since “they have ears but they do not hear”.

When your eyes have been opened, it’s hard to remember what it was like to be blind, and there’s no chance of forgetting the truth you’ve seen. Chris has told me, while I anguish over the attacks on the Body of Christ and the stubborn souls who lack understanding, not to forget where I was five years ago. It’s hard to keep in mind. My journey to Rome has been unpredictable and fraught with landmines. I was so stubborn, so lost, so ignorant and willful. Neither Chris nor I ever imagined my conversion, and the only explanation is the grace of God. I thank God that Chris obeyed Him and married me. I thank God for answering my desperate prayers throughout my life and showing me His truth. It truly was an act of God that my ears were opened, that I heard the corrections to my misconceptions after the five hundredth time.

I remember the flip in my mind, when I saw that succession from the Apostles was important, and I was angry that I had been wrong. I didn’t want to admit it, or listen further. I told Chris, “I’ll be so mad at you if you’re right.” and he said, “Why?? Don’t you want to be united as a family?” I didn’t really. I wanted to be right and for him to change his mind. But more than that, I wanted God’s honest truth. After so many arguments, repeated over and over, God touched me that I might hear, and there was still a long, hard road to go down, accepting the authority of the Church and its many hard teachings. What do I expect from my family and friends and strangers on the internet? Do I expect after I was so mired in the Protestant paradigm that they can easily hear the words “Catholics believe we are saved by grace and we can’t earn our way to heaven!!!”? (My mom has finally assented to that in conversation. Thanks be to God!)

Looking back, I wasn’t convinced of the truth in Catholicism, I was drawn into it. I told Chris I would marry him only three days after meeting him because his faith drew me. He was assured of its truth, but more than this I saw from the way he spoke that God carried weight with him. I knew Chris was someone who would seek the heart of God, face His truth, and follow His will. I wanted a husband like that. Chris continued to surrender to God’s will and live a Catholic faith that was attractive and very different than any stereotypes I had heard passed around. That was the reason I listened, and maybe that is all that we can really do. We can’t convince anyone with a good argument or change their minds by showing them how every Catholic belief has Biblical support. We can live a life committed to doing God’s will and allow Him to draw people through His work in us. Maybe that’s why Mother Teresa didn’t try to coerce anyone into converting. Doesn’t work anyway.

The battle rages and silent victories are won. Non-famous people join the Church in obscurity living quiet lives of servitude and piety. But I have to thank the commenters on this blog and writers of others for not being so silent about their faith. When I’m up against a wall of resistance, I am encouraged thinking of the evangelical professor who cared more about the truth than his career, the one wife who also listened to her husband, the other wife who prays for hers, the pilgrim who visits area churches with his daughter, the cradle Catholic who proves the stereotype wrong with a well-informed and fiery faith, and everyone who shares a glimpse of their Catholic heart for Christ. It’s good to know that not everyone is crazy and to witness these small miracles.

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13 Responses to In Need of Encouragement

  1. stirenaeus says:

    You’re welcome:) When/If I write my book, I’ll send you an autographed copy.

    I’ve gone nuts a couple times lately when I’ve heard people spouting ignorance about Catholicism. I remember myself, it’s about seeds: I don’t need to convert someone in the next 2 weeks. I plant seeds, and like happened with me, they’ll sprout, God willing, after some time.

  2. cyurkanin says:

    I’ve followed your journey from almost day one with you. You’re a fighter. You’ve been a rock against all attacks, even with your own uncertainties, and a rock upon which people in similar shoes as yours can lean. Congratulations and God bless you on the next step in your journey into RCIA. I understand that the “ministers” of these classes tend to gravitate in a certain direction and I hope that you might carry the example of Saint Thomas More with you as you go. My prayers are with you.

  3. lenetta says:

    I read this late last night and it made me cry! :>) Actually, I would do well to feel more of your frustration that people won’t listen to the truth. I tend to prefer sitting back with the comfort and knowledge that I know in my heart what is true and they can believe whatever they want, they’ll be accountable for it. (As an aside, I do believe that if you have Jesus, you’re going to heaven. You just might spend some surprise time in purgatory.) Anyway. Keep fighting the fight, and God will bless you richly. (Now you have me curious to hear more of the story of said professor!)

    And you’ll have to excuse me, there seems to be somthing in my eye again. *sniff* :>)

  4. Stacey says:

    Now you have to write it, Irenaeus, I love free books 😉

    Thanks, Christopher, that’s really nice to hear. RCIA will be interesting. I’m almost expecting anything, after all the stories I’ve heard!

    Don’t cry, Netta! Chris says something similar to you, that these violences toward the Church don’t really bother him, but serve to reaffirm its position as Christ’s Body, and he just knows there’s nothing he can say to change people’s minds, so he just lives his faith as best he can.

  5. Stacey says:

    By the way, Christopher, I took the photo of my new header myself. It’s my daughter holding the crucifix that Chris bought me for my birthday. I was rather excited I got her to hold her hand still enough that my crappy camera wouldn’t blur it all. I kept thinking of all the beautiful pictures you have on your blog. I’d love to get a good camera, and have set a goal of saving money for the next year to buy one. Any suggestions?

  6. cyurkanin says:

    Now THAT is an impressive photo (I’ve been sort of locked out of your comments for a while, don’t know what was going on with WP but it seems to be working now, but I tried to compliment you on it before!)

    Honestly, some of you are way too generous with the praise of the pics I post, I’m no photographer and don’t know anything about it! My camera is the cheap variety from Sears, just a little point and shoot Canon PowerShot. Not the cheapest but below the median price average that you’ll find on the rack.

    Here’s my little secret, don’t tell anyone: Don’t take just take one picture of something, take ten or twenty. One of them is sure to be decent!

  7. Tap says:

    Its is frustrating. I’d say the people repeating these diatribes are for the most part repeating what they’ve been told. I feel sorry for the one’s who know better, but because of “pride”, they proceed to lead people astray. You might be married to an Angel…look into it. Oh, and nice new header photo.

  8. Chris says:

    Tap,

    You might be married to an Angel…

    A grumpy angel of sarcasm and dirty jokes…

  9. Stacey says:

    LOL… that’s what I was going to say, Chris. I don’t know about angel. Definitely full of sarcasm and brutal honesty.

    Thanks for the compliment, Tap and Christopher. Your site has great photos, Christopher! You must have a good eye, if it’s only a mediocre camera you shoot with. I think it took me maybe 30 shots to get that one of the header! Good technique.

  10. teriann says:

    I don’t know what Saint or angel directed me here to this blog – but it was a miracle! I was looking on the internet to find if John Calvin had ever even read any other Church Father accept St. Augustine who is clearly Catholic and not Protestant/Reformed – and your blog came up.

    When I get here I see the encouragment post after the Calvin one I found here…because you just said what I am feeling at this very moment…this day.

    I am transplanted to a small southern town and two weeks ago I was actually called the whore of Babylon by Pastor Bubba in the Christianity section of Books A Million! Today I picked up one of those little pocket booklets at the grocery store about where we got the Bible and it was so full of lies I wanted to scream…but at who??

    I can’t believe the day would come when I would love the Church (Catholic) so much! 9 months ago I was searching for Him and for more of His love and truth… and by the most amazing circumstances…I’m in the RCIA process and wanting for the moment when I can finally share in the sacrifice with my “Bridegroom”…

    I was a good little Protestant lady…(with some weird tendency towards the mystics but keeping it secret)…everyone approved…I was such a great women’s Bible study teacher…so they said…I’m not sure. All I know is I was in love with Our Lord.

    I will never forget the first Mass my husband and I attended. I felt like I would not be able to hold in the sobs until I got out of there…I was at the foot of that cross…not wanting Him to die.
    I had to get past the individual personal Savior part because He belongs to me and to the whole world of the people who make up His body.

    I’ve gone on and on and I’m sorry. I was just thinking about moving my blog so none of my family of Calvinist could haunt me..now I’m not sure what I’m called to do. One thing I know…take up the cross..the cross where no one believes you and thinks you are a liar and persecutes you and you unite it with Him…you are the perfect Bride that way.

    Blessings for being “here” at this moment.
    Teri
    shraders2@gmail.com

  11. Stacey says:

    Hi Teri!

    Sorry for the late reply. It’s been a rough week! I love hearing from people who can relate, and are in the same place I am. My husband, Chris, is rather blase about most of these things, having gone through it years ago and no longer dealing with the same excitement and frustrations as I am.

    “One thing I know…take up the cross..the cross where no one believes you and thinks you are a liar and persecutes you and you unite it with Him”

    I love that 🙂 It’s so Catholic. So you said you have a blog, share the link?

  12. stirenaeus says:

    Hey friend. How are you?

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