So, marriage has been a rather hot topic of late in the Church, what with Amoris Laetitia and Pope Francis’s recent comments that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.” So, rather than attack the question of nullity head on, I’d like to step out of the particulars and simply tell you a story and talk about ignorance, intention, and Grace.
I’m a convert, if I hadn’t mentioned it before. I converted the fall semester of my freshman year of high school, and I received the Sacrament of Baptism the following spring when I was fourteen.
Before converting, I practiced my faith as a Protestant in a few different denominations growing up, including Baptist and Evangelical, with a smattering of Presbyterian thrown in to make things interesting. Notably, none of my denominations performed infant baptisms. For these denominations, as far as I knew, baptism was more akin to becoming an adult in your faith than to the Catholic understanding of it as the removal of original sin. At thirteen, I decided I was ready to be baptized, and my parents encouraged me to thoughtfully consider my faith and where I wanted to formally enter a church. While weighing my options, I happened to read The Great Divorce, the book of Tobit in a New Jerusalem translation of the Bible, and a Catechism of the Catholic Church Mom’s friend had given her. I was really weird at thirteen, but let the person who wasn’t weird at that age case the first stone.
After doing all these readings, I made the following conclusions:
The idea of Purgatory solved the problem of stealing a candy bar being as bad as the Holocaust scrupulosity.
I was in theater and couldn’t believe my gay friends were going to hell for their inclinations because then God made them just to damn them, and that didn’t make sense of the whole God is love thing. The Catechism said inclinations weren’t the sin, what we did with them was, and so being gay did not mean you were damned. This seemed more right to who God is.
If Jesus said “this is My Body,” and we took that literally, then it was His Body. And it seemed better to share in His Body with actual bread and bowing because it was God than it did to share in His Body through goldfish.
I had a rosary. Catholics had rosaries. I had a medal of St. Therese who said she wanted to spend her heaven doing good on the earth, and she was Catholic. I wanted to do that too, so I should be Catholic.