Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Conversion Story Part 1

I suppose I should explain the unlikely story of my conversion.  But then again, it also makes perfect sense.  I was actually baptized a Catholic when I was an infant.  I had my First Communion, First Confession, and then a lot of things changed.  My parents’ business started to fail, and my dad became involved in a circle of friends who shared some very charismatic Christian perspectives, including some very anti-Catholic claims.  He stopped going to Mass, and started taking my sister and I to his newfound Assemblies of God church.  For a while my sister and I would sing along with the Hallelujah shoutin’ Evangelicals and listen to a long fiery sermon, and then be scooped up just in time for Mass at noon with my mom.  Between the financial hardship and the sudden split in religious views, it was a tremendously difficult strain on my parents’ relationship.  Eventually my mother stopped taking my sister and me to Mass, as she had little argumentative power against some of my father’s outrageous claims and sensationalist information.  Additionally, the loud and enthusiastic praise service and the unapologetic sermons in our new church led me to believe that the Assemblies of God churchgoers had far more fervent passion and enthusiasm for Christ.  Eventually the solemnity of the Catholic Mass represented to me dull, senseless religiosity and empty man-made traditions.  In short, a dying Church. 

Of course, since returning to my Catholic roots have I ever met such genuine and intelligent friends, devoted to excellence and classy in their everyday work.  Friends who share my faith are unafraid to admit their struggles, trusting that God is bigger and they are a work in progress.  Virtue and character are a major part of their faith formation, and their passion and determination to live in such a way automatically exemplifies itself as authentic, which has been much more attractive to me than the most charismatic and Bible-thumpin’ Christians I’ve met.  I will never say that I regret the time I spent growing up with the Evangelicals, nor will I ever express my gratitude that God “saved me” from such a background.  The truth is, I never would have wrestled so long and so hard with Catholic doctrine had it not been for the fire and urgency for Jesus that I encountered in the Assemblies of God.  But I will admit that I believe becoming (or returning) a Catholic is God’s Will for my life, and I have never experienced His grace as I do living my newfound (or newly re-found) faith. 

Conversion part 2 coming soon…