Thursday, June 2, 2011
I am becoming Catholic on Sunday, June 5, 2011 (Lord willing of course) and I have just been pondering the magnanimous Beauty of it, so I felt an urge to let my hodgepodge musings be posted. They are in no order and are filled with my finitely infantile pandering. So, be forewarned: the following may cause you to scratch your head or bang it against a wall; or even worse, the following may cause a severe desire to simply ignore it and hit the delete button…
I am coming into the Church not so much because of a decision I made, but rather as a response to a choice laid before me by a Loving God, Who has a real passion for intimacy.
I am not leaving the "Proddy" (Protestant) world because I have some grand grudge or axe to grind or because I loathe all the emotionalism and “Jesus and Me” mentality.
Simply put: I love God with a wild passion. And I love the Catholic Church. And if truth be told, I have always had a somewhat sordid affair with Her, one that always left both my "Proddy" and Catholic friends scratching their heads (but for different reasons). I had a profound conversion experience to Christ when I was 17 years old; I even remember the date – August 5, 1985 (8585!) – and it was a moment when the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to me in such a holy and complete way that all I could do was give Him my feeble but firm “Fiat.”
I knew then that this ‘conversion’ was not some historical event, but rather it was an initial threshold crossing, whereby Jesus revealed Himself to me and I put my hand in His and said, “Yes, I accept Your invitation to follow You (not the other way around) and to learn to trust wherever it is You lead me, knowing all of this is done in divine love.”
Then a dear friend explained to me that Catholics believe (with mucho support from Scripture) that Christians ‘were saved (past), are being saved (present), and will be saved’ (future) and that it is a lifelong journey of almost daily conversion.
Yes, that’s what I signed up for…although there are many years in the last 25 where if you told people I was a follower of Jesus they would have laughed right off the bar stool.
Which leads me to another reason I am becoming Catholic: the Catholic Church is the human face of Christ on earth and home to slobs, sinners, ragamuffin reprobates, Republicans, Democrats, heck even Green Party Socialists, lefties, right-wing nut jobs, old school (that would be Pre-Vatican II) and new school (that would include post Vatican II, the Charismatic Renewal folks, the Hippy Mass people, and a few others). Yup. All of them…um, er…us, I mean. All of us are living under one roof – the Holy Church – and I’ve said it before, only the Holy Spirit could ever bring together such diversity without mass murder occurring.
I love the Church that Jesus Christ Himself established. Plain and simple. Fifteen years ago I would joke with a dear friend of mine (who happens to be a Catholic priest) that like Luther I chime, “She may be a Whore, but she is still my Mother” (with regard to the Church.) Now I’ll defend her as I would my real mother (and let it be known I am a Momma’s boy – all 6’ 2”, 200 lbs. of me with a scrappy, streetwise background…so I’d tread lightly when mocking my Mother…Church, that is).
The Eucharist is another reason I am becoming Catholic. Because 25 years ago when I first said yes to Jesus, I read in St. John’s gospel, the 6th chapter, when Jesus said that “unless I eat His body and drink His blood, I [would] have no life.” Or where He said that His body and blood are real food (not just metaphorical morsels). It also says in that chapter, that many, MANY, stopped following Jesus because those words were too hard to handle and scandalous in a blasphemous pagan-like cannibalistic kind of way. I love the Reality that I will be fed by Jesus literally every time I partake of the Bounty of the earth and Fruit of the vine.
The sense of Sacred Tradition is another reason. Quite simple: it is Sacred…and it is historical Tradition. It has roots – deep, fecund roots that are the very trunk of God’s life on earth and not merely the flimsy branches.
Another reason: almost every denomination of Christianity has been started because of an ego-based megalomaniacal disagreement; very few branches of Christianity were started for any other reason. But the Catholic Church is 2,000 years old and still the “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic” face of Jesus Christ on earth.
And She is about to receive another child who has wandered and traversed the spiritual world of seeking, finally coming Home to rest in the bosom of the Lord’s Bride. It is here, in the Church, that I get more and more of Jesus (and He in turn gets more and more of me) day by day.
Instead of losing, I am blessed with even more ways to know and love Jesus: the Eucharist; the Liturgy; the ‘universal’ Body globally dispersed and eternally connected; the Sacraments; and a rich and rooted Tradition steeped deeper in Scripture than any lover of Jesus could ever dream.
And as the days become hours before this fated, wonderful day, I tremble in awe and humility before the holiness of it all…and I can hear the faint whisper of the voice of Mother Church saying to me in the sacred silence: “Welcome Home, son.”