2018 was a purely experimental year for this blog and for my writing but, I knew that I wanted to share relatable and encouraging stories inspired by my life. It goes without saying that my spirituality encompasses and is at the heart of every experience I have and everything that I do. The love of God and the many forms that it takes in my life is always my inspiration. I knew that this truth would come through some in the creative storytelling style of my writing. Maybe in undertones. Maybe even overtones. What I didn’t plan on exactly was God taking over completely.
If you knew me ten or even five years ago, you may be surprised to see my zeal for God and the Church. Back then I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I would be a holy water keeping, blessed candle lighting, novena saying, rosary wielding, joyful Catholic.
My faith life looked much different or, depending on how far back you go, wasn’t alive at all. But, marriage and motherhood have been nothing short of sanctifying. When we returned to the Catholic Church our family received sacraments in rapid succession. First was our marriage, a month later my oldest daughter had her first communion and we welcomed and Christened two babies in as many years. I truly believe that we have been showered with mercy and in response flourished spiritually.
Sometimes I feel like people would like me to stick to covering the Motherhood/Lifestyle subjects (which I also enjoy!) But, God keeps putting words in my heart and I can’t help but to share them. Though arguably, it would be easier in many ways not to. Writing candidly about faith takes vulnerability, humility and accountability.
Not only am I writing about my personal life and my innermost thoughts and prayers, but I am a people-pleaser by nature. I know that that the radical messages of the gospel aren’t always well received. Plus, when you call yourself a Christian people assume all kinds of things about you. They assume your political views, that you “hate” people with different lifestyles, that you don’t respect the beliefs of others, that you don’t believe in or value science, that you’re judgy and uptight or that you think your better than everyone else. That’s just not me.
Then there is the whole issue of being Catholic of all things. I admit that in the beginning of this writing journey I would downplay my Catholicism a bit. Not because I felt ashamed but because labeling yourself Catholic can cause division even in Christian circles. There are major differences in belief among the many denominations which become a stumbling block to understanding. I wanted to reach out and encourage everyone. I didn’t want to alienate non-Catholic readers.
Every week at Church we pray for unity and I feel all Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ and all non-Christians are created and loved by God (and me) just the same. I didn’t want the messages I felt compelled to deliver to be written off due to my Catholicism but also know that the depth of my relationship with Jesus and the fullness of faith that I live in today is directly because of my Catholicism.
This post isn’t going to be about my conversion (that deserves another post) but, rather my re-version. If you’ve been following me for a while you might have read that I grew up Catholic but lost faith as I grew into adolescence. I got Confirmed more out of duty than heart. When God “saved” me in 2010 (now I know I was always his) I wasn’t interested in going back to the Catholic Church.
Actually, it was the very first place I tried but in my immaturity I attempted to fling open the doors of my family’s old parish. To find “sanctuary” as if I were in some sort of movie, and they were locked. A puzzled priest did end up coming to open the doors for me and explained that it can’t be open all the time. But, I was overwhelmed with emotion and took that lock as a sign. My soul longed for God’s love but, I felt like I had been down that road before and that Catholicism didn’t “work” for me.
All I saw was scrupulosity, rules and regulations, a piety that I felt I could never attain and so didn’t even want to try for. I didn’t understand the stoic-faced saints. I didn’t understand the papacy and why these men seemed so much more important to God. Plus, the Catholic Church just wasn’t cool. It felt old and stodgy, not suitable for modern life. It was too comfortable using words that weren’t palatable to my rebellious tastes such as authority, and obey. I wasn’t sure about all that. All I wanted was God’s love.
So I decided that I would cut out the “middle man” and I went to a Baptist then a non-denominational church. I don’t at all begrudge my time in the non-denominational church however I do feel it was a little harbor on my journey home. I am not trying to diss any of those things because I met some amazing people that helped me to rebuild my personal relationship with Christ again. But in as many ways as my heart was softened towards Jesus, it was hardened against the Church. I even got baptized again. I was angry. I wondered why no one told me how easy it was to love God.
I felt lucky to have escaped such beliefs and to have escaped the rules and the hierarchy and the pomp and circumstance. I was enchanted by the passion and emotion-driven services. My husband to be on the other hand, was not. Though he hadn’t been practicing for many years he missed the reverent way of worship we had grown up with. (I now believe that unconsciously what his soul was missing was the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.) At this time our engagement coincided with my daughter coming of age to start catechism. Through the hearts of the ones I loved the most God called my reluctant soul back home.
I figured that any church with my family was better than one without and decided that I could attend the Catholic Church while still holding onto many of my “non-denominational” attitudes. Honestly friends, I was tired. I was sick of looking into all of the differences and details between the endless list of denominations and everyone thinking that theirs was the right way. My beliefs never fit perfectly into any one category anyhow so, I just gave up trying. I threw my hands up and took on a personal brand of Christianity that was me and Jesus and the Word, the Eucharist, and whatever parts of the mass I deemed appropriate.
I attended church when I felt like it and I didn’t read anything outside of the Bible. I still felt odd about fully identifying as Catholic and definitely did not feel fully unified with the Church on a heart level. I completely ignored the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the papacy. All the things I didn’t understand and therefore was suspicious of. Why did I need all that when I could simply go to Christ himself?
If you know me personally you know that I am not one to do anything half-hearted. The more we attended Mass the more intrigued I became. I recognized so much of the cherished Word of God in the service and my interest was piqued. I started to write down my questions and began looking into the faith of my childhood with the eyes of an adult believer. I prayed for guidance and researched the Church in an unbiased posture.
I was hungry to know the why and the how things came to be. My blocked and forgotten catechesis kicked in all at once and helped fuel the fire growing within me. I was moved by the depth and richness of the culture of the Church. The art, music, the musings of the Saints that named feelings I experienced but couldn’t put into words.
I started to feel at home before the altar. I began to enjoy the familiar prayers and hymns. I started to see the “stuffy rules” as loving safeguards. I stopped seeing “pomp and circumstance” and started seeing deserved reverence. I stopped seeing distractions and started seeing awe inspiring masterpieces carried out by the Holy Spirit thru his servants. I sopped seeing religion as opposed to faith and started seeing it as a tool of faith.
I was stunned when I realized how easy God made it for me to love him. I shed my shame in the confessional and felt drawn to adoration. The full truth of the sacraments absorbed into the deepest parts of my heart and wished I had given my whole life to them. I found that faith could go beyond emotions. It could be logical, intellectual even. I realized that the ordained give their lives in service to God and the laity and that I also had an important vocation myself in marriage and motherhood. I stopped taking for granted the merciful help Jesus left us in His Mother and the witness and prayers of his friends. Thinking perhaps even I could be one. I had never felt closer to Jesus. I knew that I was home. That I was born to live this faith.
That all being said I don’t claim to know everything. I’m not an apologist or a theologian. My faith is still a journey and my beliefs don’t always fit perfectly into any one mold. I’m not indifferent to corruption in the Church. I still have doubts and questions. There remains so much for me to learn and read and understand. There are truths that still linger in the doorway of my heart but, I believe in the love of God and I know that it changed my life! Now I want to be someone in the Church to tell others how easy it is to love and be loved by God. I never meant to be a Catholic blogger, or even a Catholic but I am surely staying both.