Looking over the Edge

I blog more about my positive experiences than any negative ones. That’s what I like to focus on, or I’ll indulge my own tendencies to whine in self pity too much. But in the interest of honesty, I ought to include some more struggles into this narrative as well. After all, we all have them.

In my search for the truth, I’ve relied heavily on intellectual evidence, which is not to say that I don’t use my intuition as well. Intuition plays a vital role in answering the unanswerable questions that pop up in life. But I’ve spent a lot of my time this past year reading and debating books on faith, apologetics, logic, and philosophy. The danger that I’ve encountered in this type of thinking is that I get lost in the path of my own reasoning, and come to wonder how I got where I am. That’s another reason for my blogging–to retrace my own steps.

When I do lose my step, I have moments like the following. I was praying the rosary and focusing on the glorious mysteries with Chris, and we came down to the fifth mystery. The coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. This is a lot harder for me to connect to than the other mysteries, since not only is there no Scripture reading to go with it, but I don’t really understand what is going on. Then I have a five second panic attack wondering, “Can this really be true? How does the Church know that Mary was crowned queen? What if they’re wrong? There’s no going back to the lost in the woods faith of Protestantism for me anymore, I know that. If the Catholic Church is wrong about this, then the whole of Christianity is blown. Which means that my entire worldview is wrong, and all the actions of my life are based on lies.

I’ve always put my own beliefs under the microscope, and checked them over to make sure everything’s as it should be. I became a Catholic convert by checking my Protestant beliefs and finding holes. I think I do it a little too much though. Instead of just operating on decisions I’ve already made, I second guess them, and not just when new information presents itself. Chris doesn’t seem to have this problem. He’s been rather solid in his certainty of Catholicism since he first understood the Eucharist. It made sense out of life for him in the way nothing else ever could, and he hasn’t really looked back. But I have fought every inch for my understanding, and with all these baby steps it can be hard to find a definitive “aha” moment to look back on in certainty. At least I’m in good company:

“I think the trouble with me is lack of faith.  I have no rational ground for going back on the arguments that convinced me of God’s existence: but the irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of this age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address.  Mind you I don’t think so–the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so.”

– C.S. Lewis

Never fear. Although I have these mini-moments of existential crisis, I also have an antidote. When I creep up to the edge of reason and look down in a whirl of terrifying vertigo, I can pull myself back and I don’t jump. Here’s why. Other than the existence of my own mind, one of the only things I am absolutely certain of is the existence of good and evil. There are horrors in the news every day, tragedies and depravities that beg the definition of sin. There are also unimaginable heights in this world, the saints who spend their entire lives devoted to loving the poor or trade their own life for another, or even small sacrifices where your friend volunteers to watch the kids even though you know she has way too much to do. People are capable of good and evil in the most profound sense. The definition of good and evil must come from outside of us, and must come from the Christian God. In brief, Catholic truths are the only ones that make sense out of good and evil, love and hate. I plan on expanding on this in another post, but for now it’s sufficient to say this is what I think. This above all else makes me certain of my beliefs.

So while I may not be the poster-child for a steadfast faith, I’m hoping that I will get there someday. I’m hoping that in praying the rosary daily, focusing on God, and asking Him to always work through me, that I will become infused with faith so that all of my daily actions flow from faith and are done for God. Right now I struggle, and more often than not wish that I could just go off somewhere to write or choose not to make dinner instead of serving my family and patiently answering all the three year old questions that I’m perpetually peppered with. I’ve a ways to go. Until then, I’m not going to just chuck my new beliefs no matter how many moments of crisis I have.

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4 Responses to Looking over the Edge

  1. Teri says:

    Stacy,

    I thought of you the other day and just now remembered my password to get into WordPress! Have you commented or read any of the Called To Communion guys? The website is of course Called To Communion Reformation Meets Rome.

    One of the brilliant theologians there asked me about working on a wikipedia cite for RCIA and I thought of you. How great you have all of your subjects in order.

    E-mail me if you get a chance. I have a “blog” on here before I became a Catholic Convert – RCIA Process. My husband and I are having our Rite of Welcoming with alot of other Protestant who are already baptized this Sunday. I am so excited!

    But everytime I read your blog…like today…I think to myself that Our Father knows exactly what we need.
    I have been thrilled all week and then this morning I was seized with “fear-panic” that the Church is teaching we have to pray through Mary. I understand even the Queen part having listened to hours and hours of Scott Hahn studies as well as others and reading everything I could get my hands on!

    I think, after looking at the post below this one where you say you feel strange because you know more about the Catholic faith than cradle Catholics is true for a million reasons. It scared me at first too. Actually at RCIA 2 weeks ago, Fr. Tim did the presentation on Revelation, Sacred liturgy, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and I was the only one that answered any questions!!

    My RCIA Director said Fr. taking my lead in understanding went way over all the others in the class. I love Fr. Tim and he loves St. Thomas Aquinas and so since he started out asking questions I had heard before I went along with him.

    In a nutshell…me, being in RCIA and a cradle Protestant was the only one in the room that could hang with Our Priest and also our seminarian.

    Those who are cradle Catholics coming back in or coming to RCIA with husbands or wives do not have a clue!

    Your husband is right – We desperately need apologetics because where we live now in the south – the Bible only Christians could pick them off one by one. The only thing is most have been lost in the woods of Protestants.

    Please if you have time – contact me about the wikipedia and also about your journey!
    shraders@gmail.com

    I will be out in California – SF visiting my daughter all of next week, but I can check my e-mail at least.

    I’m also having my website/blog updated now and issues with keeping the old blog address because of family that wants to stone me (Calvinists with rocks 🙂

    May the peace of Christ be with you,
    Teri

  2. Stacey says:

    Hi Teri!

    Yes, I’ve visited and commented on Called to Communion. It’s a good blog site, I really like it. Unfortunately though, I don’t keep up with it well (or any blogs really, there’s a few I go through from time to time) because of time issues. My youngest is going through a climbing/jumping stage that interrupts my work every two minutes during the day, makes it hard to read or write anything! It sounds like you have a real opportunity to help others along in their understanding at RCIA. Good luck with the rest of the process and with your family! I hope God helps them come to understand and accept your decision.

  3. lenetta says:

    “Lord, I believe . . . help my unbelief!” I think it also ties in with the dark night of the soul stuff. Praying the Rosary daily? Go Stacey!!

  4. Stacey says:

    I don’t think I’m… holy enough for it to be a dark night of the soul thing! 🙂
    I know, going from never to every day in no time flat. Crazy stuff, huh?

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