Thursday, April 28, 2005

How I Became A Catholic

I was baptized at a little Episcopal church in Long Beach. When I was four, my dad got a job as the choir director at St. Gregory's Episcopal church, and so I grew up there. My mom was the soprano soloist at a Presbyterian church, so it was generally just my dad and me on Sunday's. I was an alter server. I was confirmed. I was also very frustrated.

I went to church with wonderful people. But God didn't seem to be a big part of their lives. I went to youth functions and God was never even mentioned. I didn't see the Christian faith as an actual part of life. Add to that the fact that I'm a huge part geek, and I hung out with geeks, and a new path became clear.

When I was 14 I became heavily involved in Wicca. Wiccans saw faith and life as so completely intertwined, and with the lack of a moral center (besides the incredibly vague "harm none") it allowed me the freedom to do what I wanted without the pesky guilt of organized religion. Of course while trying to "harm none" I harmed many including myself and my parents.

At 17 I went to Northern California with my parents. There we went to visit the mission at San Juan Batista, and while I was there I found myself on my knees before a statue of Our Lady. I had always been drawn to the tradition and beauty of the Catholic church. But as a practicing pagan, I couldn't fathom why I was praying. I bought a rosary there which I still have.

After that experience I found myself listening to Christian radio, or watching EWTN, quite without understanding why. Eventually I called my friend Jennifer and asked her to take me to a bible study. I was going to prove once and for all that the bible was false. I was surprised when I found myself believing more and more. Scripture won me over. Well, the Holy Spirit won me over.

I looked for a long time for a church home, without much luck. Eventually I went back to the Episcopal church, and my first two children were baptised there. But when Dominic and I went to the mission at San Juan Capistrano and split up for a bit, we had the oddest experience. We'd each found a separate place to pray and felt as if Our Lady was asking us to raise our kids as Catholics. We each went to find the other excited by the idea. Call us procrastinators, but we didn't do it right away.

When we moved to Minnesota we didn't go to church much at all. Then I heard about the issue with the homosexual bishop in the Episcopal church. Now, I watched the debate on TV, and it bothered me. Mostly because one side was arguing that the church had to change with the times and the other side was arguing scripture. The priest turned bishop himself made statements that made me wonder if he was a Christian, which really made me wonder why he was being considered for the bishopric. I realized that I wanted a church who wouldn't change with the times, but would be that solid foundation. Public opinion is too shaky a ground on which to build church doctrine. I decided it was time. I had to become a Catholic. I read everything I could, and began RCIA classes.

The road was hardly straight. I can look back and see a thousand ways that the Lord was drawing me to the Church, but it took me a long time to get there.

The Catholic Church is home. I came home. And I'm so grateful.

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