A few posts ago I began the story of my Catechism with Fr. B., a young Traditional Catholic priest who immediately took me in and began teaching me after so many had discouraged me. At our first meeting, I began studying the excellent book, "My Catholic Faith," reading chapters for homework, reading Papal Encyclicals and other assigned articles and, every few sessions, taking tests, either written or oral, to verify the depth of my slowly accumulating knowledge. At home, I used the Baltimore Catechism books as quick study guides, and every time Father B. announced a "little quiz" coming up, I'd spend hours studying as if I were suddenly a young girl preparing for her first Holy Communion. With every page of homework, with every meeting with Father B., I began to see the world around me change.
At our third or perhaps fourth meeting, Father B. greeted me, we prayed, and then before he sat down he walked to the library window. It looked out on a rolling lawn that led on one side to a lake and on another to a path that meandered down to the huge white Church. Near the window, close to the priory, a yellow tarp flapped and lifted in the autumn wind, revealing a stack of newly cut wood. Father B. and the other priests had been busily preparing for the winter.
"Does the world around you seem to look different now?" Father B. asked me, turning back from the window. I was surprised. Had he read my mind? "Yes," I said. "And it's a very uncomfortable feeling." After only a few lessons, I felt as if blinders had been removed from my eyes, allowing me to see the world not from my accustomed secular vantage but from a new place, one that considered God before all other created things. Suddenly I was aware of how people spoke, acted and dressed, with little regard for God or for themselves; how television and magazines encouraged the worship of money, possessions and "what was right for me"; and how I myself failed to honor God in so many ways in the course of a day. Seeing "through the eyes of Christ" was an awesome and disturbing thing. I wondered if St. Paul, going about his business of persecuting Christians, was also shocked when he suddenly saw with this new clarity. Like St. Paul, I now felt called upon to change course, to make pleasing God--and not simply "fitting in" with the world or the people around me--my final destination. I knew, in my heart and soul, that becoming a good person would not be an easy task. I understood, for the first time, that the gate we must pass through to reach God is indeed narrow. And yet, at the same time, it is open to all.
Slowly, slowly, I began to change my life. Thanks be to God for Father B.
Because I want to move now more quickly to the present, because I want this blog to be not just the story of my conversions but also the story of how I am trying, day by day, to be as holy as I can be, with all my limitations, I'll summarize in a few sentences my "adventures in becoming Catholic." As my friend M. said, "You'd think the Church would be so eager for converts that they'd give you a trip to Italy and a matched set of Libby glasses!" Ah, not so! But anything worthwhile is worth waiting
After my nine-month Catechism with Fr. B., he was transferred to another Church in another state. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to become a Catholic and so had to take the next step, enlisting a priest to help me straighten out my marital situation with the intervention of the Catholic Tribunal. I attended, in the meantime, an RCIA program with other adults awaiting conversion. But at the last minute I learned I couldn't join them as they were welcomed into the Church on the Easter Vigil--my paperwork had not been completed, and wouldn't be for another 8 months. All in all, my conversion--from the time I was called to Catholicism to the moment of my First Holy Communion, Confirmation and the blessing of my marriage in January of 2007--encompassed more than than five years.
At last I am, happily, at home.