David Russell Mosley
12 February 2017
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire
Dear Friends and Family,
I address this letter particularly to those who know me, my friends and family. I am writing to tell you that after several years of considering this at least in the back of my mind, I will be received into the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on April 15th at St. Patrick’s Church in Nashua, New Hampshire. And so to the swim I mentioned in the title: I will be swimming the proverbial Tiber.
This may come as something of a surprise, if not a shock, to many of you, friends, family, and other readers. Some of you may be surprised that I am becoming Catholic. Others of you may be surprised that I am not currently Catholic. I want to try to offer some semblance of explanation. More than that, I want to open lines of dialogue. I’ve spoken with other former Protestants and many of them regret having kept their process secret as it caused confusion after the fact.
So, here we go. I guess you could say that my transition to the Catholic Church has had two main sources: one intellectual and the other emotional and experiential.
On the intellectual side, there is ten years of studying the Bible, the history of the Church, and systematic theology. I have dedicated myself to reading such figures as Athanasius, Augustine, Maximus the Confessor, Thomas Aquinas and others. Over time I became convinced not only by their thoughts about God, but about the sacraments, and about the Church. It got to a point where even in my first (and only at present) theological book, I was writing about the centrality of liturgy and even transubstantiation. You could say that my transition to the Catholic faith has been a process of intellectual integrity. After all, how I could I write and say the things that I have about sacraments or liturgy and yet not be part of a church that saw these things in the same way I did? I felt so dishonest, as if I was having to hide certain aspects of myself in order to fit in. I even feared the loss of my job teaching at Johnson University, a job I love, teaching undergraduates about theology. But, this kind of self-deception got exhausting, and so a change was needed.
On the emotional or experiential side, there has been my experiences at Catholic and other high church services. I have seen visions, had mystical experiences, and just generally felt at home in the Catholic church. Even Edwyn’s cancer treatment served as an drive towards the Catholic as I began to invoke St. Peregrine (patron saint of cancer patients), asking for his prayers, and attending the spoke Eucharist service at the Anglo-Catholic parish where we lived.
What’s more, some of my favorite authors were either Catholic (Tolkien and Chesterton) or catholic (MacDonald and Lewis). They saw the merit in Tradition and Scripture. They understood that reality is sacramental and what’s more, understood that sacramentality is tied to the actual sacraments themselves. And I long for the sacraments. I long for how they help shape what I think the proper way of understanding the world around us.
What it really comes down to is this, I am convinced by the Catholic understanding of reality and so must act accordingly.
Now, here is what this does not mean: I do not hate or bear any ill will toward the Restoration Movement or my protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. I love every single one of you. In fact, I am indebted to my protestant and evangelical upbringing. I learned to love the Bible from you. What’s more, I was introduced to Jesus Christ by you. This is not a fact I take lightly. Becoming Roman Catholic is merely an act of obeying my conscience and heeding the directing of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have agonized over this decision, prayed, sought council from friends and have made the best decision I can. I hope you, my friends and family, can respect that even if you don’t or can’t understand it.
This is my first time writing openly about this, so please forgive the scattered nature of this letter. Perhaps in the not too distant future I’ll be able to say more. In the mean time, should any of you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I will be happy to talk to you. God bless you, my friends.