In my latest entry over at The Catholic Thing—“Then I Confessed, I Can Do No Other”–I share some thoughts on my return to the Catholic Church, on the cusp of the five year anniversary. Here’s how it begins:
On April 29, 2007, five years ago this Sunday, I was publicly received into the Catholic Church at St. Joseph’s Parish in Bellmead, Texas. My wife, Frankie, stood beside me, as we both faced Fr. Timothy Vaverek, who presided over the brief ceremony between the homily and the recitation of the Creed at Sunday Mass. Frankie was received as a candidate, since, unlike me, she had not been baptized and confirmed as a youngster.
Frankie could not wait to become Catholic, and thus she thought it a bit unfair that we reverts had a loophole we could procure. All I had to do was partake in the Sacrament of Confession. Fortunately for her, Fr. Timothy gave her a private crash-course RCIA, which culminated in her reception the following August.When I went to confession on April 28 at St. Jerome’s in Waco, it was the first time in over 30 years that I had partaken in the sacrament. My younger brother, James, had emailed me earlier that week and volunteered to assist me in recollecting my sins.
When I entered the confessional, I sat face-to-face with Fr. Rakshaganathan Selvaraj (or “Fr. Raj”). I closed my eyes, made the sign of the cross, and said, “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. It has been over 30 years since my last confession. I’m not sure I can remember all of my sins.” Fr. Raj, in his thick Indian accent, replied, “That is alright. God knows them all.” “I was afraid of that,” I quipped. Fr. Raj then heard my confession and granted me absolution. My penance, if I remember correctly, consisted of one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary.” When I told this to Frankie, she thought the priest had let me off easy. She was right. She knew my sins.
You can read a fuller account of my spiritual journey in my contribution to the book Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism (Zondervan, 2012) as well as my 2009 memoir, Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press)