Conversion Story {Part II}

Blessed Sacrament, Providence, RI
Blessed Sacrament, Providence, RI

Welcome back to the continuing story. If  you haven’t read Part I yet, you can do so by clicking here to get caught up.

As I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post, we were kinda just bobbling along. In August of last year, I heard about the RCIA class at the Roman Catholic parish where we had also sporadically attended. I mentioned it to Jared, and was met with a “Maybe we can do it. I’ll think about it.” I ended up forgetting about it, life kept getting in the way. But I felt a growing sense of unease week after week not attending anywhere.

In November of last year, I again was thinking about joining the Church. I was going back and forth in my mind though. I really wanted to go, and actually going wasn’t the problem. It’s easy to “sneak into” or just go to a Mass. If you know the prayers you can participate and follow along just as well as anyone else. And if no one asks, than there isn’t any reason to tell that you’re actually not Catholic. But I didn’t want to “just go”. Not wrong in the sense that I would receive communion in a Catholic church and not be Catholic. But wrong to hide the fact. I didn’t want to be an “almost” or “mostly” Catholic. I wanted to “BE” Catholic.

Once I came to this decision internally, I decided to go for it. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I was going to start. Somehow. I didn’t come to this decision through deep meditation or great spiritual readings. I just had this huge desire to join. I remember reading a blog during this time and seeing the joy that was coming from living and being Catholic, and it felt like I was on the outside of a house looking in. And I wanted to be on the inside.

~ In hindsight, this is probably where I made another mistake. Jared and I were on a rough patch of our marriage, and I didn’t talk to him about this. Mostly because of the response I had received before when I mentioned wanting to join. So, for better or worse, I decided to do this on my own. ~ {end side note}

The Sunday before Advent, I went to the parish right down the street from our house. Immediately I didn’t like it. It wasn’t the service so much as the location. It was held in the basement of the church building. And it just felt so… depressing. There was no life there. I had decided to try that church one more time (I’d attended before and felt the same thing), because it was so close and I wanted to be sure before I went to the parish where I’d attended a few times before and LOVED!

The next Sunday I attended St Patrick’s (where I attend now), and it was during the procession, we’d been there maybe a full four minutes, and I was so overwhelmed with how at home I was. I knew it, at that moment, that’s where I belonged.

So obviously, at this point, I realized I was going to encounter a slight problem. RCIA had started mid-September (it was now beginning of December). I decided to call up the rectory anyways and explain where I was at, and see what could be done. After I called the rectory and stated my intent, I told Jared I was planning on joining the Church.

We ended up Both meeting with the priest. He decided to come with. And with that meeting it was decided we could just jump into the classes starting the next Sunday, and we’d work in whatever “make-ups” were deemed necessary with the teachers. I think they figured based on our extensive religious background, having both been raised in church, we knew the basics of what was being taught.

In theory, yes. That was true. I knew basically what they were teaching. But I hadn’t had the Catholic slant to it. After the first class we attended, which was on the Ten Commandments, I knew that Jared would never be able to sit through the classes. He has the type of personality that just can’t manage to sit through things he’s already very familiar with. Fortunately the teachers of the class realized that too, without either of us even saying anything. We worked out that we would meet outside of the classes to discuss anything we had questions on, and that would be Jared’s class, I continued attending the classes. I enjoyed them for the most part. They were very basic, but I liked hearing things from a new perspective.

I enjoyed the outside of class discussions we had with the teachers even more. They sometimes turned very debate-like, Jared’s very much like that, me, not so much. But still they were super informative. I think maybe what was most helpful for me was seeing a couple who had lived their entire lives being Catholic. Seeing what they really believed and how they lived were very helpful to me to see that this was something we could do.

It was still very hard between Jared and I though. We would have long drawn out arguments about different points of view (purgatory for example). The main issue, I think was that he felt I had rushed into becoming Catholic without actually thinking about it or without really knowing what I was “getting into”. In a sense he was right. I didn’t know all the details, or finer points about being Catholic. But I knew that I wanted to do it. I had decided to accept the Church’s teachings on things that I hadn’t really considered before and make peace with them. Maybe that’s not the way to do it, but it’s what I’ve done. It’s an ongoing process, I try to keep up reading and studying on the teachings of the Church as best I can, and I’ll probably keep doing that for a long time, if not forever.

 

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story…

~Ruth Anne

Conversion Story {Part I}

Blessed Sacrament, Providence, RI
Blessed Sacrament, Providence, RI

I have been thinking for a long time about writing our conversion story. But it seems like such a daunting task, nevertheless I want to give it a go…

Firstly, let me say, I’m kinda uncomfortable with the term “convert” or “conversion”, because to me it seems that “convert”/”conversion” means completely changing from one religion to another. And I don’t feel that I’ve changed religions. I have changed how I “practice” my religion (Christianity), but I haven’t completely changed religions. But, that’s the term that’s used, so I’ll stick with it, just wanted to clarify how I feel ’bout it.

Second, want to say that this will primarily be My story. Jared and I did do the actual First Communion and Confirmation together, but I don’t want to speak for him as to his feelings leading up to this. I’ll bring him in as best I can, but this will primarily be My story.

Now, where to begin?

I guess at the beginning…

I was raised in church. The never-miss-a-Sunday-no-matter-what kinda household. For my first 16 years we were non-denominational Evangelical, then we joined a Charismatic Episcopal Church. At the time we joined, I was having a difficult time with it all, mostly because it was so completely different than what I was used to and probably because of the circumstances under which we joined (the church we were attending was pastored by my dad, and for reasons that never really were made clear, to me at least, the church closed.)

After about six months, I grew to embrace the church and it’s customs and for a while, several years at least, I was pretty happy with it all. Somewhere towards the end of my college years (maybe when I was 20 or 21) the priest retired and a new one came to take his place. When that happened thing started changing. At first it was OK, then things started changing to the point where I wasn’t liking it. The church was becoming more Evangelical, and while there isn’t anything wrong with an Evangelical church per se, it wasn’t what I wanted from church.

Eventually I stopped going all together. Which in hindsight may not have been my most brilliant idea (if you take a look at the page “Katherine’s Story…” that’s about the end result of where “not going to church (or not really caring about church)” lead.

After Katherine was born, we wanted to have her baptized. We still believed, but didn’t really have a church we were comfortable with. (She was baptized at Jared’s home church in GA.) Those feelings pretty much continued, along with sporadically going to the CEC church for a couple of years. I remember feeling at the time, “the kids need to be in church. I may as well go there than anywhere else.” At the time I really didn’t have anywhere else to go. I definitely didn’t want to go to a Protestant church, but the Catholic Church didn’t seem to be in reach either. Mostly I was afraid to go by myself*.

I don’t know where exactly the “need” came from, but I want to end this evening’s beginning by sharing a quote from Thomas Merton’s book The Seven Storey Mountain (which I’m actually reading now, but I think this quote sums up what I meant at the time)

If I did pray… it was probably only one of those… movements of nature… which certainly show that the need to worship and acknowledge Him is something deeply ingrained in our dependent natures, and simply inseparable from our essence.

Tune in tomorrow for Part II!!

~Ruth Anne

*When I say by myself, Jared was feeling much of the same things I was feeling in regards to the CEC church, but this is where our paths diverge a little. I wanted to go to church, not the CEC but A Church. He was more along the lines of waiting to see if things would change at the CEC church (but not ready to go somewhere else in the meantime).