I’ve long intended to share how I “came around” to Catholicism because it truly shocks me utterly to the core! It’s not that it was some huge, dramatic moment, but the simple fact of me becoming Catholic is nothing I could ever have imagined and would have argued with you about vehemently had you told me it would happen.
While exposed to different churches growing up, I always felt most comfortable in a spiritual, but non-religious environment. I spent many years studying various New Age philosophies and always believed in God but not religion as a requirement to get to God. However, through all that, I never felt like I was given a solid, specific path to self-improvement. It was all wishy-washy, try this, do that and disorganized, so I never got very far on that path. Read my post on Catholicism as a specific, proven path to self-improvement.
Right about Christmas 2011 is when I experienced my “calling.” I don’t even know what words to give this. I’ve heard “calling” and “conversion of heart” but to me, it’s like I was suddenly given the eyes of faith. Never before was I willing to believe in Jesus as the son of God because my very logical mind would not accept it. But once I was given the “eyes of faith,” it didn’t need to be “proven” to me; suddenly, I could just “feel” how right it was.
It started some years before that when I began to feel a very faint desire and interest in revisiting the place where my husband and I spent our Catholic marriage retreat. I felt “pulled” or “drawn” there is the best way I can describe it. It was deep in the recesses of my mind or perhaps it was the stirrings of the Holy Spirit I was feeling.
I ignored it for a couple years, though did a few things like looking up the retreat house on the web and learning more about it. I would eventually go back to the retreat house and spend a silent retreat that led me to this blog. All of a sudden around Christmas 2011, I began to feel more strongly that I’d like to try going to Catholic Mass. So we packed up the whole family and off we went.
My husband is a cradle Catholic, though has not been engaged with the church once he no longer lived with his parents. Never had I been interested in Catholicism and in fact was turned off by it (read more in my blog here about my misgivings about Catholicism). But when I went this time, it didn’t seem so bad. In fact, if I dared admit it, it felt kind of good.
We came back for Christmas Eve Mass and sometime thereabouts I decided to give it my full effort, kneeling, singing and reading the responses. The first positive feelings I experienced besides “not so bad” were complete and utter peace, something I really feel was lacking in my life as the mother of two young boys and owner of my own small business. This simple respite of peace once a week was delightful. The positive feelings grew from there into a great “thirst” and unquenchable desire to learn everything I could and attend Mass as often as possible, and then complete and utter “joy.”
I feel like perhaps this happened at Christmas, because this is when we celebrate Christ’s conception and coming into the world. I feel like the Holy Spirit allowed Christ to be conceived in me at this time.
I think after Christmas Eve Mass 2011 I never missed a Mass before confirmation. And it was less because I was obligated to go as a future Catholic and more because I couldn’t stand to miss.
To me, this is utterly a miracle and I can explain it no other way. I still stop and say “is this me?” and begin to question myself a bit, but when I go back to the feelings I receive when in communion with the Lord, I “get it” again and again and again.
As for advice for those of you considering Catholicism, pray that you experience a “conversion of heart” like I did and that you are given the “eyes of faith.” I am not sure why I was called now and suddenly given this gift; I suspect I had some people — both on earth and in heaven — praying for me :). Open your heart, participate in Mass, read about Catholicism and see where it leads you. I hope it leads you to the place of peace that I have found.
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