I’m Catholic

April 5, 2010

The deed is done. They let me in 🙂

My brother ended up coming to Easter vigil. It was nice to have family there, but of course it caused a few odd conversations and unfortunately I’m not one who quickly thinks of good responses, unless you include sarcastic comments in the category of good responses. I don’t quite understand why my family feels the need to “evaluate” our church after mass, but my parents did it when they came and my brother did it this past Saturday. I get the phrase “Well, the only things I didn’t agree with was x, y, and z.” I wonder if they would do the same going to church with my Baptist aunt.

The list of complaints from my brother were odd to say the least. He wanted things to be in Latin. Strange for someone who’s used to rock bands on Sunday mornings. He thought those who got baptized shouldn’t have wiped the holy water off themselves. Very strange for someone who doesn’t actually believe in the power of the priesthood to bless things in the first place. When my parents came, they had complained that people didn’t take both the bread and the wine. I don’t understand why they would have that problem when they don’t even believe Christ is present! They only believe it is symbolic. They protested that it is the Blood of Christ that offers us forgiveness. I think that it’s taking the literal reading of the Bible too far to believe the Body of Christ doesn’t offer us forgiveness. I tried to explain that we believe the Blood and Body are present under both species, but it only got blank stares.

And my brother, of course, didn’t like the litany of the saints. I think the issue of prayer to the saints deserves a post, because it seems like that will be the first thing on everyone’s list against the Catholic Church that I will have to defend. Most Christians don’t know much about the issues of justification or fine lines between grace and free will. It’s the practices that stand out as strange to them. As a Biblical “proof” against praying to saints, he quoted when Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So I asked why he thought asking the saints to pray for us was an attempt to get to the Father without Christ when we ask each other for prayer already. In his usual acerbic manner, he said he didn’t ask people to pray for him and instead focused on the saints being dead. I said he believes the dead can see and hear (he didn’t contest “hear”) and they’re in the presence of God, why would they not be able to pray for us? No good answer, but obviously Catholics are wrong and weird.

Later he settled in to just asking questions. He asked why I became Catholic and I told him:

Me: “Because I believe what the Catholic Church teaches.”

“Everything?”

Me: “Yes.”

“So do you think people who aren’t Catholic are going to hell?”

Me: “No.”

“Do you agree with other churches?”

Me: “What do you mean? Not everything of course. Mom and dad don’t even agree with everything their church teaches.”

Surprisingly, he told me this is why he stopped going to church over ten years ago. He got tired of pastors saying things like, “The Bible says such and such, but…” Apparently the untrustworthiness of pastoral teachings was too much for him.

I told him Catholics believe Jesus is really present in the bread and wine, which he called weird and left it at that. It is weird, really, but unchallengeable by any reasonable person either by logic or the Bible.

On the whole it was a nice night. We got a sitter for Chris Jr. and Isabel was on her best behavior. She loved the candle lighting and watching everyone get their “special baths”. She kept asking when mommy was getting the “special oil”. We forgot the camera, but a friend standing next to me had her camera person take pictures for us. Afterward, Chris and Isabel gave me my special surprise – a beautiful large crucifix for the prayer table I’m trying to set up. My favorite parts: praying after communion with the knowledge of the gift that Christ had just given me, and the smell of the chrism still on my forehead the next morning.

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Easter Gift – Book Give Away

March 29, 2010

Easter is only six days away now, and it serendipitously falls on my birthday this year. My first birthday as a Catholic will be my first day as a Catholic. My journey to enter the Catholic Church has seemed so laborious and fraught with indecision. Although I think that anyone looking back, even at my very first post, will see that I’ve spent the last year and a half only coming to terms with what I already knew I was supposed to do – become Catholic. And now my first Communion is imminent. I have a lot to look forward to this week in the three days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. (And I just realized that I forgot the last Stations of the Cross this past Friday, which I meant to attend. Oops.)

I’m beginning to absolutely love Catholic liturgy. Passion Sunday was fantastic. How better to remember what Christ did than to hold blessed palm branches to lay down for our King and to read our part in His death He died for us? They’ve thought of everything to remind us of all the important Christian truths, events, and their meaning, if we only listen as we go through the motions. Honestly, much of the time it’s fairly difficult for me to focus, and I’m disappointed that I feel rather distracted and ill-prepared for my entry into the Church. So I’m extra thankful for all the liturgical aids that keep re-directing my mind and heart to focus on uniting myself with Christ in His death on the cross giving me hope in the resurrection.

On the subject of preparing for Easter, three weeks ago I had my first confession. I brought my list on which I wrote nice and small to get it all on one side of the paper. I cried. I burned it afterward. Chris and I celebrated with queso and chips. It wasn’t particularly difficult for me to say my sins out loud. As Chris had told me it would be beforehand, it was the least judgmental conversation of my life. Telling a priest your sins isn’t hard at all. It’s calling them to mind, realizing what you have done and being sorry for them that is difficult. Then there’s the beautiful prayer of absolution at the end. I’m not sure if this is the one my priest used, but it’s lovely:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son
has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I was surprised to actually feel better after my confession. I honestly wanted to do better, to behave as Christ would in my life, and was more patient with the kids. It has slipped away over the weeks, but gives me a hint of the grace available through the sacraments.

I’m a little concerned about the logistics of Easter Vigil. There’s a practice session early in the morning, during which I hope the RCIA class will provide babysitting, otherwise we’ll have a very loudly protesting, rampaging two year old boy destroying our ability to figure out what where we’re supposed to stand. Later that night, we plan on bringing Isabel with us, but getting a sitter for Chris Jr. We think she’s old enough to handle the late night and maybe even get something out of it. Hopefully. My family won’t be there to help, since they’ll be out of town, so we’ll have to haul her along with us the whole way. In a way, I’m glad I won’t have an entourage of opposition there. I’ll be more able to immerse myself in what I know is going on instead of explaining what I believe and why Catholics do what they do (and why that’s not un-Biblical or unreasonable). On the other hand, I very much want to share this with my family because it means so much to me, even if they have no idea that it does.

Another practical concern for Easter Vigil is they are not reserving seats for us candidates and the catechumen. I can’t think of good reason why they aren’t, since this mass is integral to our entrance to the Church. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except our church is massive. With six weekend masses, we still have a packed church with standing room only, and the traffic to get in and out of the church backs up for blocks in either direction all Sunday morning. It’s like that on normal Sundays, and we all know there are those know there are those who come out of the woodwork twice a year at Easter and Christmas. If we don’t get there at least an hour early, I may not have a seat for my Confirmation and I’m sure Isabel would handle that rather poorly. I’m sure we can work it out alright, but it’s an added stress.

So that’s where I stand, on the verge of becoming one of those reviled by the world at large, deemed un-Christian by some of our close Protestant brethren, and despised as a mind-controlled fool by non-Christians, but utterly resolved to give up my self as Christ has given Himself to me.

Book Give Away

In recognition of this great gift that I am about to receive this Easter, I want to offer a choice of gifts to those who would ask. For a while now, I’ve wanted to offer a free copy of Hilaire Belloc’s The Crisis of Civilization to up to 10 people (limited since I don’t have infinite resources). I chose this book because it puts the entire Christian civilization into a long term historical perspective in a readable manner, and it’s eye opening. I was ignorant of much of history, and this book does much to describe the organic nature of the Catholic Church and how Christianity shaped the world. It’s of vital importance to have this perspective, since those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

I would like to offer alternatives, if you are interested in something else. I’m happy to substitute any of Hilaire Belloc’s books, particularly The Great Heresies, which is also a nice Catholic history of the Church in relation to those who have separated from her teachings. I’d also like to offer either of my chosen Confirmation saint’s works, The Catholic Controversy and Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales. I personally believe that The Catholic Controversy is the finest work of counter-Reformation apologetics ever written, and I can’t help but think St. Francis prayers for reconciliation in the Body of Christ were in part answered in my own conversion. Finally, you have the option of choosing Adoration: Eucharistic Texts and Prayers Through Out Church History if you are more inclined to strengthen your faith in the Eucharist through historical and contemplative reading.

If you want to take me up on this offer, shoot me an email at soimarriedacatholic@gmail.com with your name, book choice, and address and I’ll send it off as soon as I have a moment!


The First Lashes

March 10, 2010

And so it begins. I had a feeling that the reason my parents took my joining the Catholic Church so well is that they didn’t realize how Catholic I am. Today, I was telling my mom that we will most likely put our kids in the Catholic school of our parish. It’s a good school that even Catholic-shy Protestants send their kids to. It doesn’t cost much more than public school and I’ve been really unimpressed with public schools lately. She wavered and stalled, then confessed she doesn’t like the idea of Catholic schools because they teach the kids things she disagrees with, like “praying to the saints and doing rosary beads for forgiveness.” I told her there are things she disagrees with that they teach, but Chris and I agree with them. It’s like I slapped her and called her ugly.

She stuttered, “You believe in things like praying to the saints????”

“Yes, mom. Why do you think I’m joining the Catholic Church this Easter?”

“But Jesus is our only intercessor!”

“He is our only intercessor in one way, but even you ask others to pray for us.”

“People who are alive and in the body of Christ!”

“Those who have died are still in the body of Christ.”

“There’s nothing in the Bible that tells us to pray to the saints.”

“There is the cloud of witnesses. If they can see and hear us, and they’re with God, there’s no reason to believe they can’t pray for us. They’re not spiritually paralyzed!”

“We’re supposed to pray directly to God.”

“I do pray directly to God. And I ask you to pray for me, and Chris to pray for me, and the saints to pray for me.”

“You are such a chameleon. You change your beliefs according to who you’re with.”

The last several weeks, since Fat Tuesday actually, I’ve had this tension headache/neck pain from stress. It gets worse when I’m more stressed. Right about this point in the conversation, my neck hurt. There’s really no reason for my mom to suggest that I just conform to those around me. There is never an instance in my past when I have changed my faith, let alone changed it to agree with the multitude of strange ideas from people I’ve come across. I’ve dated atheists (one who was “Catholic”), Catholics who believe everyone goes to heaven, a multiple personality ridden Protestant, and one guy who actually thought he was God, but I never changed the beliefs that I was raised with. I’ve been surrounded by nihilistic attitudes, scientism, “spirituality” rather than “religion”, and other religions. The most I had in common spiritually with any of my friends in college was with a Muslim friend of mine who agreed that science and religion are not at odds! And yet my own mother now thinks that despite all this resistance and adversity to my beliefs that I’ve gone through, my faith is week enough that I’ve just passively absorbed that of my husband. I’ve never changed my faith for anyone, and I still haven’t. I’m not becoming Catholic for Chris. Neither am I just becoming Catholic in the same way that my parents join different churches. I am Catholic.

She changed the subject a bit, “You believe in praying rosary beads for forgiveness?”

“That’s not why people pray the rosary, mom.”

My faculties failed me while I attempted to explain the power of forgiveness in confession. I recounted Christ breathing the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and telling them what sins they forgive are forgiven and the sins they retain are retained. She answered, “I’m not sure where you’re going with that.” I considered going through the whole Apostolic succession through the laying on of hands thing. The words that Father Andrew said last week at the RCIA class on confession ran through my head, “Well, how can they forgive sins if they don’t hear them?” The look on her face stopped me. Instead I ended it with “Oh look, Isabel wants to watch Star Wars.”

I think my mom accused me of being a chameleon because she was rather shocked, and couldn’t think of another way to explain the fact that I believe in praying to the saints. Unfortunately, all this came after a bad day in which I was rather frustrated and annoyed with the kids, perfectly demonstrating how Catholics shouldn’t act. I’m holding my breath, waiting for the phone call from my dad. And bracing myself for the next barrage of challenges to Catholic beliefs.


Out of the Closet… Mostly

December 13, 2009

Today I told my parents I was joining the Catholic Church. In the smoothest way possible, of course. I was very casual, choosing my words to match their image of church-going. We all attended mass together so we could watch my daughter’s Christmas program. During mass some leading questions were posed by my dad, which made it an opportune time for exposing my Catholic intentions. Afterwards, I said I was becoming a member of our church at Easter and they were welcome to come. My dad responded only that they’d love to come, and they’re happy to be there for all our big occasions. The conversation smoothly glided over this, and I almost wish there had been a bigger response so I’d know where they stand. But, I suppose, I do know.

My parents, like I did when I was a Protestant, view the Catholic Church as another denomination. They think there are Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, charismatic non-denominationals, Presbyterians, Calvinists, Catholics, Episcopalians, etc. Granted, they disagree with a lot about the Catholic Church, but then, they disagree with a lot about the current church they attend. Quoting my mom, they believe there “is no perfect church or perfect people”. In a way, I agree. There’s no perfect human side of any church. But I depart from their view in that I believe there is one perfect divine, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. There is no way for them to understand that I believe this based on me telling them that I’m becoming a member of the Catholic Church. In their experience, people join churches and leave them. Membership is fluid, negotiable, and non-committal. You retain your ability to pick and choose your beliefs and disagree on particulars with what they teach.

Although I haven’t told them the extent of my Catholic-ness, I know they’re starting to see it more and more. Today, they attended a regular mass with us for the first time, in order to see Isabel’s Christmas program. They have been to mass with us before when Chris joined at Easter vigil three years ago, but that was a largely different experience with candle lightings to distract them from things like the consecration. Today, they saw me ask Blessed Mary ever-virgin to pray for me. They saw me profess belief in one Church and one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. They saw me genuflect on entering and kneel in the liturgy. When my dad asked why some people took only bread and not wine, my explanation told him that I believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist. He responded by jokingly saying he was conflicted about these weird things – the whole Body and Blood thing, he can’t take communion, I’m not taking communion and I’m not a member of the Church. He said he didn’t know what to do about it, and I told him he doesn’t have to do anything about it. My mom and he were snickering that they had to pray hard for me. I told them thanks, I need it, I pray hard for them, too.

There’s comments like that, and like later at home when my dad said (again jokingly) that he felt ostracized because of all the pointing and staring at him that the Catholics did. I told him it was probably the neon sign blinking over his head, to which he added “saying ‘heathen'”. Chris piped in that maybe he wanted to go take a shower after spending time with all those dirty Catholics, but my dad said some of their sanctity wore off on him, he was probably okay.

Maybe this tells me a little their real problem with the Catholic Church. It professes to be the true Church, Christ’s Church. They know they’re on the outside, and as I get in on it, they know I see them this way. Maybe this idea I have that they’re not exactly pro-Catholic comes from the knowledge that I’m not exactly pro-Protestant. I’m afraid to let them know how I feel about what they believe and how they raised me, and less afraid to tell them what I do believe now.

I’ve been so afraid to tell them that I’m becoming Catholic. I’ve built it up in my mind with a lot of accompanying anxiety. I don’t think I was giving them enough credit. Obviously, they’ve said things to show they disagree with and are uncomfortable with some things Catholic. This is no different to them than any other church, though, and of course it’s going to get under their skin that Catholics believe they have the truth. Although they’ve made negative comments, they’ve also praised the bishops for their public stance on the health bill and Pope Benedict for his stalwartness. I think this has softened their view of the Catholic Church along with our various discussions over the years. Their improved view of the Church, the fact that I’m a big girl and they know they can’t control my decisions, and that I’ve become increasingly obviously Catholic, helped my big reveal become a rather small reveal. I was prepared for more, but I think this was what I was expecting. No big deal, just some sarcastic comments as issues come up. And I expect that I’ll have that for years to come.


Personal Jesus

November 16, 2009

My grandma’s funeral was yesterday. My uncle, who is a pastor, ran the service, and my dad gave the eulogy. Although the two of them are different as “chalk and cheese”, they both did a nice job remembering my grandma. But both of them made me feel ragingly and compulsively Catholic. At every prayer I wanted to cross myself. When my dad spoke of my grandma praying for us all “right up to the end”, I wanted to add “why not now?”, especially since we all hope and believe she is a part of the great cloud of witnesses. Why would the witnesses be limited to only viewing? Why not hearing and praying for us? Why would souls who have gone to be with God not be able to speak to Him?

Please don’t think I was just sitting and criticizing the Protestant run funeral. I’ve had my time of mourning, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the spontaneous Catholic feelings that sharing time with my Protestant family has brought on, and me trying to sort them out afterward.

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Protestant prayer and preaching and it brought on some reactions that were kind of hard to pinpoint. The way my uncle was talking about Jesus and praying to God was familiar to me. It was warm and personal, and I like it and have missed it. There’s also something about it that makes me uncomfortable and feels a little off. Last night I was asking Chris what this difference I was noticing might be, and I think maybe we’ve figured it out.

My uncle quoted a song by Misty Edwards called “See the Way”, which says “God is a lover, looking for a lover, and so he fashioned me”. This is such a lovely, personal view of our relationship with God. It’s attractive, but it’s not quite right. Maybe the reason there are so many evangelicals who believe Catholics don’t have a personal relationship with Christ is because Catholics don’t have a personalized relationship with Christ. This song, and the prayers I was listening to yesterday are very individual. They’re about me and Jesus.

In the Catholic Faith, it’s not about me and Jesus, it’s about us and Jesus. It’s always, always about the corporate Body of Christ and God’s loving relationship with them. Our prayers are said together, our confession is made in unison. Like Chris says, the Catholic view of the universal Church has a way of beating down the “ego” and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

While Catholics are prevented from saying “me” instead of “us”, they are also prevented from viewing Jesus in whatever way they want to. Although Jesus is personal, He is not personalized. The Church reveals to us who Christ is in a non-negotiable way. Then we must change, with God’s grace, and conform to His image. As a Protestant, my view of God changed as I grew and got to know Him better. Of course, that’s always true to some extent, even for Catholics. At least for me, the difference is that as a Protestant my image of God changed. As a Catholic, the image remains the same but my understanding changes, because it’s not just me trying to figure out who God is.

It’s hard to explain, but that’s the best I can do. It’s strange experiencing this world I used to belong in, feel a draw to it, but at the same time feel completely separated from it. There’s no going back, even for the things I enjoyed, because I see everything differently now. It’ll be nice when I officially join and belong in the corporate Body of Christ.


In the Midst of Cradle Catholics

October 19, 2009

I’ve been a member of the mom’s group at our church for a little while, and recently joined a Bible study with some of the women. We had our second session yesterday and I was struck, as I was at the first meeting, by the strangeness of being the “voice of orthodoxy” in a group of Catholics, when I’m not even Catholic yet. All of them are cradle Catholics, and it’s really strange the questions I was getting asked.

The first session, we were sharing a little of our background, and when it came to light that I was in RCIA I was asked, “What’s the difference between Protestants and Catholics?” This completely stumped me! I mean, where do I start? I muttered something about there’s a lot of differences and we even use the same words in a different way. When pressed, I gave a brief synopsis of “saved by faith through grace” meaning different things for Protestants and Catholics. What I should have said was something along the lines of acknowledging the authority of the church through the anointing of Christ on the Apostles and their successors vs. believing that the Bible itself is our only authority. The question took me too off guard though. It’s good practice for my coming out.

At the second session, I was more used as a different perspective. This time I was asked, “So why did you convert? What made you believe the Catholic Church was the true church?” The real clincher for me was that the Catholic Church possesses the authority of Christ through Apostolic succession. I got it right that time, and thought I’d said something common to the group. Until someone said, “What do you mean? How is that different than any other church?” Uh… I tried to explain as concisely as possible that Christ instituted the church at the Last Supper, and sent the Holy Spirit to guide His Church in all truth, that the Apostles laid hands on their successors to confer the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that there is a direct line of those they’ve ordained from current priests and bishops going back to the Apostles and Christ. I felt like I was speaking a foreign language though.

The conversation took a weird turn, in which she said she couldn’t defend being Catholic at all. Her husband is not Catholic. She doesn’t know why she should be Catholic, other than she is and she won’t be anything else. Kudos to her for sticking with what she knows is right, even if she’s not sure why it is. That was always a problem for me when I was young. If I wasn’t as clear on my reasons, people could talk me into their perspective. This woman said she’s heard something to the effect of: Catholics just trust other people to figure things out and follow along uneducated and unquestioning. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to say that obedience doesn’t equal blind following and that we have to understand the rules of the faith if we want to grow in our faith at all! At least I had a chance to tell her, when she pointed out how screwed up the leaders of the church can be, that this is one reason the Catholics have it right. Everyone’s screwed up. We can’t let people we elect direct our faith because they’re so holy and smart. They’re not good enough. Man’s best is not good enough. That is why we trust that God is able to do His will and the Holy Spirit will direct His church through fallen and faulty men. Otherwise, we are just like the rest of them.

I wonder how common this is for cradle Catholics. I worry that not everyone who lacks apologetic prowess will be as resilient as the woman I was talking to against the reasonable sounding wolves that will question their faith. It’s a real danger for people not well educated in their faith, that someone will come along, point out a few difficulties (not inconsistencies!) of belief and *poof* they’ll turn coat faster than Benedict Arnold. It’s easy enough to see how it could happen. Chris has been scouring Out of the Labyrinth, a book “disproving” Catholicism which was written by an ex-priest who ought to have known better! It contains so many just plain wrong representations of Catholic beliefs, it’s no wonder people can show them to be unbiblical and persuade believers to turn Protestant. If you don’t know enough about what the Church teaches to point out the flaws of their arguments, what defense will you have except plain old stubbornness?

Chris thinks every parish ought to have a basic apologetics course available, on top of RCIA, since RCIA really only describes Catholicism in its most basic form. It’s a good idea. Until then, here I am, explaining orthodox Catholic beliefs to people who have always believed them but don’t know why. The leader of the group says she’s glad to have my perspective, thinks converts make the best Catholics, and says she’ll ask me many more questions. I hope I can do the Church justice. I’ve already found myself having a typical over-reaction against anything that smacks of my Protestant experiences, even when they’re alright for Catholics. The Bible study is focused on the Holy Spirit, and of course, there’s a lot of run ins with charasmatic Protestantism which I usually run from screaming. I have to watch myself and try not to let the pendulum swing too far off center. So pray for me, that I will say what God wants me to say when the time comes.


In Need of Encouragement

September 11, 2009

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.