Humbly, I start this series of posts…Perhaps, a little background is in order.
I spent years as a Protestant (a hybrid of Lutheran/Methodist) and feel blessed to have had a wonderful Christian upbringing. I had a family devoted to prayer and attending church. I felt close in my relationship to Christ and felt this guided me into my career as a physician. During my youth, Catholicism was little more than an “alternative denomination” to me. It had more to do with Saints, Mary, Rosaries, and enormous churches, while my faith had more to do with social justice, hymns, and potluck picnics. It was when I met my wife, a Catholic, that some latent biases emerged – biases that I never realized had crept into my consciousness from a childhood exposed to “subtle” digs, jabs, and insults toward the Catholic faith. After discussing, debating, arguing, and fuming over issues ranging from Mary to the Eucharist, from the Saints to Purgatory, from the Pope to Confession, my wife and I declared a truce (or a stalemate) and split our time between a Lutheran and Catholic Church. So time would pass…and from 1996-2009, 14 years, Something dramatic happened to me.
Every other week I attended a Catholic Mass that, in time, imperceptibly changed me. I had come to realize how wrong I was about Catholicism. Although I fought against it, I was transformed by the holiness of the Mass, the reverence for the Eucharist, and the utter devotion of Catholics to the Creed – the narrative – of man’s dignity, man’s sin and suffering, and Christ’s redemptive grace. Having been shaken from my proud foundations, I began to dig deeper. Reading biographies on and writings of the Popes, imbibing the gleeful writings of G.K. Chesterton, pondering the wisdom of Flannery O’Connor and Georges Bernanos, finding myself peacefully adrift while praying the Rosary. The more I explored, the hungrier I became. The more I encountered, the more convicted I became. This Faith is so diverse and yet so united in Truth. It is so intellectually overwhelming and yet so childishly approachable. It is so filled with remarkable paradox (a God who became Man, a treasonous fisherman becoming “the Rock”, sinful man who is God’s most dignified prize) that it could only come from God – these are not the stories that men tell. In reading, Chesterton’s “The Catholic Church & Conversion”, I felt like he was writing about me when he named the stages by which a person comes to convert to Catholicism (I will write about this in an upcoming post). In sum, I was blindsided by the Faith I had so haughtily criticized. I was humbled and it has been the best experience in my life. In 2009, I participated in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and was accepted into the Church on Easter Vigil, 2010. I have since taught as part of the RCIA team, given lectures locally and nationally on G.K. Chesterton, and teach a Youth Catechism class to high-school young adults.
One of my favorite quotes is from G.K. Chesterton in which he says,
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
Let us not be found guilty of finding Catholicism too difficult and thus opting not to try it. It is too important. With prayer and study, with thought and quiet, join me on the journey that is Catholicism. Please also feel free to follow me on twitter @thinkercatholic.
By the way…my wife was right.