Saturday, February 25, 2017

144 Months

I was organizing some boxes in the garage & ran across an old journal going back to 2005. This was when I had seriously started to consider Catholicism. Since the 5 year anniversary of my confirmation is coming up this Easter, I thought I'd take a look 12 years back...

March 6, 2005
In my search for a more “true” Christianity, in light of the Catholic Church & it's call for holiness among it's members, in light of what I've brought with me from the Assemblies of God & it's teachings, I've discovered being a Christian is truly a hard road. For Catholics (devout anyway), Mass is central. Prayer is central. Repentance & confession are central. It would seem that Christ is ever before them, behind them, within & without. Is Christ ever before me? No. How sad that I even have the gall to consider myself a Christian. I think in the coming months, I will be going to Mass & incorporating some sense of ritual into my life. And in the fall, when RCIA starts, I'm going to see where that takes me. Perhaps this time next year I will be able to call myself a Catholic, as scary as that sounds. 

Being a Christian is still hard... and I've discovered that my view of Catholicism was kind of idealistic back then. I suppose it is what you make it. But in my experience, many Catholics see Mass only as an obligation... Corporate prayer seems nothing more than a mindless & speedy recitation of memorized words & the lines to the confessional are often very short if there's a line at all (unless of course, it's Lent, when everyone comes out of the woodwork in preparation for Easter). I never went to Mass that year- I was too scared. I didn't go to RCIA either. The priest scandals shook me pretty hard.  I wouldn't attend my first Mass until August 15, 2011, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

March 7, 2005
I was listening to a show on Catholic radio... "Eucharistic" Jesus is not a symbol only. One who receives the Eucharist is one with Christ in the Eucharist & one with the church. The Eucharist exists to make each of us part of the body of Christ. It transforms us. It is the tangible representation of Christ in us. Re-presentation= remembrance and remembrance is not a passive act. It's a participation. Wow.
If there's no purgatory, one must be “perfect” when they check out of this life... Purgatory is the mercy of God. What is the protestant take on all this? I've noticed many of their interpretations don't make as much sense as the Catholic doctrines do.

I don't remember ever hearing the word "Eucharist" used in the Assemblies of God. The idea of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was an entirely new concept to me... If communion was no longer merely symbolic, what would that mean for the one who partook of it? It would have to be pretty amazing, right? That's what I thought, anyway. The first time I experienced the Eucharist, I didn't feel much. But there were also times I was so overwhelmed that it was all I could do to get back to my seat so I could put my head down & cry. The feeling was like being swallowed up in warm water. Everything faded away for a few moments & I felt... love. That never happened with the grape juice & oyster crackers. As for purgatory, the Catholic view confirms what I had always secretly believed & it still makes sense to me.

March 9, 2005
I'm considering conversion more & more... I wonder if others will experience fear about it when I tell them. Can it be real for me? Will it hold life for me a year down the road, 5 years, etc? Or is it just something different to explore... a passing fad of sorts?

I talked to a couple friends about converting back then... and they effectively talked me out of it. 144 months later, those around me have accepted my choices, even though they don't understand why I chose Catholicism of all things. I still get impromptu "sermons" from family members, but for the most part, there's no condemnation. Has conversion been "real" for me? I think so... I'm challenged daily.  Does it still hold life for me 5 years since my confirmation? Absolutely. In fact, I think Catholicism actually saved my faith.  I can't imagine living without the help of the ancient Church, of Mary, the Saints & angels... The idea that they're out there- a cloud of many witnesses that watches over & intercedes for me- gives me hope. And because of that, I don't despair as much as I used to. Because of that, it's not just me & the "armour of God" (see Eph. 6) out on the battlefield.  It's me & everyone who has gone before me. We all go into the fight together. Honestly, Catholicism feels like the completion of what was missing in my life prior. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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