Conversion of St. Paul

Yesterday was kind of an important day for me because it was the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, my patron saint. It was a kind of day of conversion for me as one of my friends pointed out a huge thing about me, that being the extreme disrespect I have been showing towards Protestants lately on my blog. I realize that I have been showing a lot of anger towards non-Catholic Christians, especially those who were close to me during my time as a Evangelical. It makes me seem angry, it makes it seem like Catholicism has sucked the joy out of my life, rather than filling me with joy.

I have made a huge mistake. I have destroyed friendships that I wish I had never destroyed. People think that I hate them, when I really don’t. I fully understand now the reality of the damage I have done. So I went to Confession today and spilled it all out about the way I have treated my friends. I don’t know how I will undo it all, how I will fix it, but I know it will be alright. This great sin has been forgiven and we can all move on.

A Can of Worms

 

little_rock_desegregation_19571In my lifetime, I know of very few people who have chosen to join the Catholic Church. It is just something that doesn’t happen, or so it seems. In my day to day life I meet many Protestants and I meet many Catholics and become friends with people on both sides of the division. Typically, though, there is little spoken or expressed antagonism between the two groups, at least in the more local aspects. Though, there are instances where antagonists from either side, of which I was once one, start something, unprovoked. But now, with my conversion becoming public amongst my friends, it seems like a can of worms has been opened. I found out at lunch today that two of my friends, one Catholic, and one so opposedly not, got into it over whether or not Peter was the rock that Christ spoke of. Obviously it is a contentious subject because the truth of the matter either confirms or denies the Church’s authority and therefore denies or confirms Protestantism’s validity. I can’t help but think that this argument would not have occurred if my friend did not know I was becoming Catholic. From what I heard there was a lot of closed-mindedness from the non-Catholic side and it makes me apprehensive because sooner or later these arguments are going to reach me and I will have to deal with them face-to-face. A huge part of my cannot understand why some people are being so closed-minded about the idea of the truth being found in the Catholic Church. Then I remember, that six months ago, no, probably even five months ago that was me. I wonder how in the world I overcame the my own locked-up heart. All I did was pray. I prayed that my friends would see the truth, and that I would see it as well. Then it was all God. God was the one who opened my heart. There is nothing I can do to make my friends at least open their minds to the possibility that Catholicism could be truth. Only God can do that, can overcome their pre-conceived notions of the faith. And as sad as it is making me to know that I cannot get them to look at Christianity from the Catholic view, I am utterly thankful that God has opened my heart and allowed me to see it from the other side, the pre-Reformation view.

I also had a friend send me a facebook message saying she wanted to talk to me about my idea of the Authority of the Church and some “discrepancies” she has found in my views. I find it kind of ironic that she is dating the guy who got into it last night with my Catholic friend. Anyways, from what I have heard, she is more anti-Catholic than she has portrayed herself to be to me, so I am really really bracing myself and preparing myself for this conversation this weekend because when she returns next week, there is no telling when she is going to bring this up. It is with deep regret that I look back and realize that this is how I was before. I am just beginning to see how it feels to be a Catholic, persecuted alongside all Christians by non-believers, but than doubly persecuted against by non-Catholic Christians.

Our Heavenly Father,
I appeal to you for guidance. I appeal to you for the words of truth. I appeal to you to set the Spirit of God on my lips and on my heart. Lord, prepare my heart for the battles that will surely come. Help me to prevail over the stumbling blocks that others will shortly begin to throw in my path. But Lord, above all, open people’s hearts, give them the opportunity to get their misconceptions of the Catholic Church be turned to dust, to ash. Lord, let them hear the sweet song of the Church that I heard. Let them see the beauty that I saw. Let them feel it’s warm embrace. God lead as all in truth. Let my security and my fear over this matter be my greatest Lenten sacrifice. God help me to use this season of sacrifice and deep reflection to bring an open mind to my friends.
In the holy name of Christ I pray in unity with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rite of Welcome

 

Yesterday, at Mass, at St. Joseph’s, I went through the Rite of Welcome. It served to show me just how much I still have to learn. Even after all that I have read regarding doctrine, and morality, and history, and sacraments, I still know very little (I feel) about the Catholic Church. After Mass was more eye opening for me though. For the first time, I actually talked out loud with Megan and Andy about my decision. For the first time I was really able to share my real apprehension about telling certain people in my life about this choice. It’s a big choice and it DOES have consequences, sacrifices, meanings. I know that there are people in my life who are not going to agree with this choice and are going to be vocal about it. I know because I have been on the other side. I know what it is like to misunderstand what it means to be Catholic from a lack of educated direction. Even more I know that it takes a real open heart and an open mind to even move close to being able to understand. I know that it is nothing I say that will bring them around to acceptance. It was nothing that Megan or Andy said to me. It was me deciding to be willing to find the answers. It is a scary thing to look for something you are against. It is scary to say, “I will look for the answers,” because in your mind you like your own answers and there is a fear that maybe, the answers you find will be right and then what? You must change. I know that fear because it has been very very real to me. I was so afraid of what was happening to me because in my mind, being Catholic was bad and I did not want it to happen to me, but the answers I found changed my mind. I know what my friends are going through (or will be going through). But we must all stand up and look our fears in the face, we cannot cower back and avoid it. If I had, I would not be here, at this point. God called from within my fear and I finally said, “Here I am. Your servant is listening.”

Anyways, all I can do, is inform them of my decision and pray for them. Not pray that they would all become Catholic, but just pray that they would seek answers. I trust them to God. And whether or not God shows them the answers they seek, I pray that he will allow them to accept my decision for the following the answers that God has shown to me.

First Meeting

 

I actually had to meet with the woman who does RCIA last night instead of tomorrow. I was pretty nervous the whole day and I’m not sure why. But it I enjoyed it. We talked about sacraments and what they are. The Catholic Church celebrates seven sacraments, which are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconcilliation, Annointing, Matrimony and Holy Orders. We discussed what they are and what all of the symbols in them, especially baptism, mean. I will be going to to RCIA classes with Andy now up until Easter. It’s exciting, but I do have two problems, which are more schedule/transportation issues. You see, I’m on duty Easter weekend which is when I will be baptized/confirmed. That is my own fault though, because I switched duty weekends so that I would have an excuse not to go home for Easter weekend. I’m not really sure why I did that. But even if I did get that weekend off, I would not really have a way to get to the Church. I trust though that all of these things will be worked out.

Anyways, as a result of the meeting I missed The Office. When I got back to my room, one of my friends started talking to me on facebook, wondering what I thought of The Office and then wanted to know why I missed it. Then she wanted to know about why I came to choose Catholicism and so I got to have a good conversation with her about that. It was very encouraging and gives me a little more confidence to talk about it with other people, which is good, because now I really cannot hide this at all.

P.S. As I continue to explore the Catholic faith, I found this great testimony. You should read it.

Final Decision

 

This is something that I wrote yesterday as I was pondering Christ and his birth.

December 25, 2008
I think that it is time for me to start taking RCIA classes and get baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. There is not much else to wait for. My eyes have seen, my ears have heard and my heart has been opened. I have learned about the ones I had persecuted, and like Paul, I met Jesus. When I look back over this year, I realize what a huge year it was. From TCX and the courage I got to follow God to southern California, to the renewed commitment I made to God in San Diego, to the strong trust I have built on Jesus, to my interest in the Church and decision to convert, 2008 has been the greatest year of my life. As 2009 dawns, I see hope, new light, and endless grace as I dive into the holy and apostolic catholic church and the communion with all of God’s saints.

At the same time that I feel like I should join the Catholic Church as soon as I get back to Fargo, part of me feels like I should wait. I feel like maybe I haven’t given it enough time. It has only been three months, and the change has been so big. Yet, I feel God leading me this way, so what excuse do I have not to abide? Why should I wait? Along with this thought and decision comes the very real “issue” of talking to my friends about this major decision. I know that there are two people at least who will be supportive, but there will also be people opposed to it.

Then there is this deep fear in me that perhaps I am only choosing to be Catholic to “impress” Megan and Andy or because I want to do the unpopular thing to look good, or because I like the extreme structure and rhythm of the Church, not because I believe it is truth. I mean, I am fairly confident in it, but should I be? I need to remember, though, that if I cannot trust the Catholic Church then I cannot trust any church. And if I can trust the Catholic Church, all other churches are sub-par and are missing something. If Christ is not powerful to protect the Catholic Church and lead her in truth, then he surely isn’t powerful to protect the Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, or any other church that is out there. Logic leads me to the Catholic Church, scrutiny of their beliefs against the Bible, and trust in my precious Savior confirms it.

So, when I return to Fargo, I will return with the intent to become Catholic, the intent to initiate the process. the intent to talk to people in church, to fend off the attacks of friends, and drink in the support of those who will. Most importantly I will submit to the Holy Spirit, to my Savior, and to my Creator. God was wise enough to make me, loving enough to save me, and great enough to guide me. What really helps me to set aside fear and doubt is the comfort of knowing that I will spend the rest of my life as a member of the longest standing institution of the present day, partaking in the rites of hundreds of generations of Christian believers. This is the biggest, most important, and best decision of my life.

Wow!

 

So Megan gave me this link. It goes to an article about the conversion of a Presbyterian minister to Roman Catholicism. When I decided to read it, I honestly didn’t expect much, but….

…it was far more interesting than I thought it would be and all of a sudden it made me really excited. I don’t know why. What is God doing? I can’t say for sure, but I am going to approach my question writing in a different light. Rather than asking shallow questions and then try to attack the answers, I just want to ask deep questions and not respond, just let it soak in and let God lead me to truth.