Because I Never Saw This Coming

Last Thanksgiving, let’s see…yes that was on November 26, 2009,— I received an e-mail from Webster Bull asking me if I would consider sharing my conversion story with the readers of this blog. I had been pointed towards YIMCatholic from either Patrick McNamara’s blog, or Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog (I don’t really remember which one), and I enjoyed what I had found here. 

I was a new(ish) Catholic myself and I had started poking around in the blog-o-sphere looking for kindred spirits. You know, guys like me who had been Protestants once and who had become Catholics. I knew there were a few of us around though, because I had found Francis Beckwith’s story in the Washington Post, see, when

I was considering the unheard of idea (to me anyway) of converting to Catholicism. And I knew that Anthony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the UK, was converting to Catholicism too in the same year I was. And as it turns out, that is when Webster had joined the Church as well.

As Webster reported, I had e-mailed him saying that I enjoyed his blog and that if ever I could help him out, I would be glad to do so. I didn’t think anything would come of it, really.  Sometimes my comments weren’t even published ( the nerve!), but I had sent him a few things I thought he would find of interest and that was about all I figured would result from my e-mailing him. And then on Thanksgiving Day, he asked me to share my story. 

That first 2BFrank post hit the blog on November 28, 2009 and thanks to the grace of God, I’ve been here ever since.

I never really thought I would be, you know. Writing my conversion story wasn’t my idea of a good time. It never, ever occurred to me to start my own blog, for example, and if Webster wouldn’t have asked, I would not be here now.

I had no idea that in one year, Webster would no longer be here blogging away with me. On other fronts, I had no idea that Allison would be here. Nor had it ever occurred to me that one day (it could happen) I might be the only person still writing here at all.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t know why I was called to join YIMCatholic as Webster’s first partner. Aside from term papers and essays in college, I had never written a word for publication in my life. But called I was, and that calling is what keeps me here sharing my experiences, as well as what I have found about the Catholic Faith that I think you may appreciate, or enjoy, or find comfort in.

So to all of you, and to Webster and Allison too, I say thanks for having me, and for taking a few minutes out of your day to stop by and visit here.

And I want to thank my wife, with whom I shared Webster’s initial request and who has steadfastly supported my efforts here. I pray that I am able to continue serving the Lord in a manner that I believe He finds favor with.

I also pray that you may find your visits here to be, as St. Anthony the Great would say, profitable.

“For often (Anthony) would ask questions, and desired to listen to those who were present, and if any one said anything that was useful he confessed that he was profited.”

Because, although I never saw this coming, blogging here has been a gift to me. A gift that I don’t believe I can ever repay. Pax Christi

Seal II (Music for Mondays)

A while back, I wrote a post about my Mustang’s harmonic balancer. It turned out that my own “harmonic balancer” was out of whack too.  When my pony sat fallow for all that time, the album that I’m about to share with you sat inside the cassette player. It, just like the car, sat there the whole time.

During the waiting period, I did a lot of work on my house. I did a lot of reading too. I was thinking about becoming a Catholic, but wasn’t committed to the idea…yet. It was the Summer of 2007, and I turned to the task of fixing my car. As I recounted in the post above, I took the ‘Stang to some pro’s. They had her fixed in no time, and on the way home from the shop, I put the top down, and turned the stereo on. And the following tunes began to play.

I had never really listened to the whole album before. I mean, not to the lyrics.  I was that fellow in the Pink Floyd song who was “comfortably numb,” see? But when these songs started playing, they hit me like a ton of bricks, lyrics and all.

I had always liked a couple of the songs, and sang them like a crazy man, occasionally, when blasting around the freeways of Los Angeles in the ‘Stang.  But after my readings and reflecting on my faith, and realizing whose harmonic balancer was really out of whack, coupled with hearing Seal sing these songs on this album, and in this order…well, let’s just say I crossed the “line of departure” and there was no turning back.

Does God work through the secular? I don’t have any doubt about it. After all, it is His world, you know.

Bring It On. This is the first song. You can go to YouTube directly for the lyrics too(for all of the songs below). I’ll just get out of Seal’s way now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wl_FsEc_Gk?fs=1

Prayer for the Dying. You don’t have to have AIDS to be one of the dying. This is all of us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btl5PYdpcNs?fs=1

Dreaming in Metaphors. Why must we dream in metaphors?
Try to hold on to something we couldn’t understand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FWvIlQqcko?fs=1

Don’t Cry. I thought to myself, who is singing this? Our Lord, Our Lady? Both? What has the world done to me…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mte99L-oOSY?fs=1

Fast Changes. There is a time to wait, and a time to act. For me, it was time to act.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mJvcM37qbg?fs=1

Kiss From A Rose. I wrote a post on this one earlier here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeVOy4dMlx0?fs=1

People Asking Why. I mean, I was certainly asking this question, for a long time.

How do I get to where I’ve come from, now?
How will I paint this garden I’ve destroyed, green?
Can I get back to where I’ve come from?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPzFXMJaIo?fs=1

Newborn Friend. I remember thinking, Christmas in July!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mm8lSqnr8o?fs=1

If I Could. I would explain it all if I could. Some things just can’t be put into words.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daRMiPsmdTA?fs=1

I’m Alive. I heard this and the part of the lyrics you see here? I must have rewound that tape 20-25 times to make sure. Yep, I heard that right.

Your hands found me.
Blood on the cross,
And it changed my life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwwnxpBxiRo?fs=1

Bring It On(Reprise). Right back where we started. Get thee to RCIA!

Because of Catholics Like Raymond Lull

For the longest time, I just knew that I was too smart to be a Catholic. I mean, I wasn’t a cradle Catholic, born into the Church or anything. I just figured that being born into the Church was really the only way that anyone would become a Catholic. Surely not via God-given free will, because no one with a brain would willingly submit to the Church and all those wacky “man-made” doctrines and such.

Ahem, we all know how that turned out for me; I swam the Tiber. (more…)

Because of a Call . . . or Not

Yesterday’s post—a question really about why you have converted, fallen away from the Church, reverted, or are considering any of the above—drew detailed responses. I offered the hypothesis that many YIMC readers find themselves near the banks of the Tiber, and throughout the day yesterday, people were shouting back and forth across the river!

This leads me to imagine a new function for this blog, as a forum for those moving in and out of Catholic Land, a sort of virtual brochure rack for those waiting for the ferry, in either direction: “Vatican City on $25 a Day,” “The Papacy for Dummies,” and so on. (Don’t know about you, but I can imagine this movie poster thumb-tacked to the wall of the ferryman’s shack.)

YIM Catholic began last August as a personal soapbox for yours truly. I was uncomfortable standing outside my church shouting conversion stories, so I took my soapbox on-line. If anyone wants a good summary of why I converted, it’s right here. Frank joined up in November, and his personal story of trying to prove the Catholic Church wrong—only to find that it is right—continues to unfold in the series “To Be Frank.” Chapter 1 starts in the oddest of places, the Harvard Five-Foot Shelf of Books. Most recently, Chapter 7 credits a more common conversion link, Thomas Merton’s The Seven-Storey Mountain. For Frank’s story, click on “2BFrank” in the list of topics to the right.

By the time Frank was on board, I had begun to develop a new phase in my own YIMC writing. I was moving beyond answers to “Why RU Catholic?” (I mean, how many reasons do you want from me?!) to an ongoing meditation on my daily life as a Catholic: what I heard at Mass this morning, the crazy things guys said at men’s group, the innocence and eagerness of my fourth-graders in CCD, books I’m reading, stuff I want to share—always through the lens of the fundamental question, why Catholicism makes sense.

To go through your day, every day, pondering just why you are Catholic is a blessed exercise, as I am finding.

But now a third chapter in the life of this blog suggests itself: While remaining a double-wide soapbox for Frank and me, it can be a forum for you as well. At least, that’s the message I take from yesterday. Your comments suggest so many interesting questions that concern and sometimes plague “Tiberians.” So, beginning right here and right now, I’m going to begin tweezing out some of these questions and posing them to the YIMC community at large (we few, we happy few).

Michael Halbrook wrote:

I’m intrigued by a question you didn’t mention, that I see my father (born, raised, and still Southern Baptist) wrestling with as he considers coming into the Church: How do you finally discern ‘THE CALL’? That’s his biggest hangup right now. He feels he WANTS to be in the Church, and he is at peace with the doctrinal and liturgical questions, but he says he’s still waiting for a bolt-of-lightning-like call. Did one or both of you have that moment when you really felt the call? Or was it a slow evolution that eventually made the need for the bolt of lightning less important? How did your discernment impact you, and vice-versa?

I’ve got to run to early Mass, so I’m going to resist the temptation to answer this question now. (You know I could.) I will comment later today. As I hope Frank will. And you . . . ?

To Be Frank, Part 1, “From the US Marines to the Harvard Classics”

This blog has put me in touch with Catholics worldwide, many of them converts. One of these, a retired U.S. Marine named Frank, has become a regular correspondent of mine. Recently, I asked him to consider writing his own conversion story. He agreed to do so. Until further notice, I will post one installment each weekend. The series will be indexed under the topic 2BFrank.

Pinning on the Rocker..
Pinning on the Rocker..

On a spring day in 2005 in Southern California, I convinced my wife to move back to my hometown in Tennessee.  The arguments were: better schools, cleaner air, slower living, proximity to grandparents and relatives. It was a monumental sales job because my spouse, though born in Quezon City in the Philippines, is a California girl at heart.  Her family had arrived in Los Angeles after the Marcos regime’s imposition of martial law. The government shut down the radio station where her mom was a broadcaster, and the entire family miraculously obtained visas (mom, dad, and three children) and moved to Hollywood where my future spouse entered the sixth grade. (more…)


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