Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WHAT!!!!! CHARISMATICS DON'T BECOME CATHOLICS!!!! (or do they?) PT6

Wow.....So the doctrine of Sola Scriptura at that point was no longer valid to me, I knew that it was no longer a valid basis of my Christian faith. At this point I know that many people who read this are screaming HERESY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I well can understand, I was there. But is it REALLY???? What is the foundation and basis of our Christian faith. As we are followers of our Lord, what did he tell us? What did he leave us? Did he give us any hints, any direction upon which to base our faith, since the Scriptures weren't even around yet? I do believe that he did and this is where my faith took the next step. I remember each time I would run across a new fact, a new teaching (new to me, not a newly revealed teaching, as there is no newly revealed doctrines) I would keep Laura up till all hours of the evening or morning telling her--explaining the truth that I was learning. The Eucharist, the Sacraments, Confession, they all began to make sense. For years growing up I had these nagging questions which I couldn't answer, as a matter of fact I couldn't even define them as questions because I didn't know. I would just say that I felt that something was not "centered", that is the easiest way I can explain it. But it was all coming together like pieces of a mystical jigsaw puzzle .

The only problem was that more than one person was starting to see it come together...mainly Laura. With all the reading I was doing, she knew something was up, but she had no idea. I still remember one Sunday Morning before we had moved to McIlwain, and before I had been scared away from the Catholic Church I went to visit a Mass at Our Savior Catholic Church here in Pensacola. I remember getting ready and Laura told me "Don't you get any ideas, now....we aren't going to become Catholics!" Neither of us had any idea what was moving before us. I politely told her that I would NEVER become a Catholic, I was just interested in going and seeing as I had never done so before. Now, years later my view had changed. Mentally, I was moving very quickly....more quickly that I ever could have imagined. There was one night when Laura and I were laying in bed as we always do...talking until hours that we shouldn't and she asked me the question: "You are going to become a Catholic, aren't you?" Silence was the only thing that I could offer her. "I don't know" I responded. The problem was that I did know. Our Lord was calling me from the innermost part of my being...calling me Home and I knew it was going to effect us. The next words out of her mouth (as Laura has never been one to mince words) were: "You do know....tell me" Gulp....what was I was going to say to her? The only thing I could do is try to put it off as long as possible. It worked for Scott Hahn, maybe it would work for me...it was worth a try. "I might", I told her, "but it will be at least 3 or 4 years, never anytime soon." That seemed to hold for now.


In the meantime I suddenly found Catholics all around me that I never knew were there and if they weren't there, I sought them out. My buddy that I was working with at the car dealership with at the time was a "quiet Catholic". It is hard to be a loud Catholic in and of itself, but it is even harder when you are living smack dab on the buckle of the Bible Belt. In a town where Pensacola Christian College and Pensacola Bible Institute co-exist and in a city that was rocked by the Brownsville Revival, being Catholic is not the easiest path to take. When you blend in the fact that the Catholic Church had just itself been rocked by it's own problems and scandals, this was not the best time to pull into a Conversion situation. It is very strange, but when the Lord calls you none of that matters anymore. Every distraction is eclipsed by Him and that is what was happening. So Shawn and I would talk almost daily about our faith as he himself had come to the Church from a Lutheran background, yet he was still amazed that a "Bible Thumper" as we were all called down here, would come to the Church. I would call my buddy Stewart and talk to him incessantly (as he was the one who got me into this situation). I remember a distinct conversation that we had and he told me, "slow down....ask the Holy Spirit to guide you....you have just discovered the World's Largest Onion and you are trying to digest it in one bite!" How true that is. " A God that we can comprehend is not a God that we can worship." All of the sudden I was coming to see in my life the width, the breadth and the depth of our Lord. That our God is an Eternal God with Eternal facets and no matter how much I read, how much I studied, I would never be able to understand his ways, his precepts and his reasoning. I just had to slow down...take it easy, rest in Him and that is really what I was trying to do, but I still had to have answers.


The first thing that I did other than my conversations with my buddies was to call the local Diocese office. I was moving to the point that I had to visit a parish, but I had no idea which one to visit. When I called I wound up speaking with Sister Margaret Kuntz, who I would find out later was in the Department of Christian formation in the Diocese. She told me that what was happening to me was that God was calling me...and I needed to follow him. It was shortly after that conversation that I decided to visit my first Mass in 3 years...this time it was serious. I had read some and was continuing to read on Doctrines, and I needed to find out in person. I had the perfect plan. I would simply do the same thing I did before, sneak into the back pew, sit, watch, and if I liked it, I would find some way to connect with a Priest. So Friday afternoon, on the way back home from work, I found the closest Parish to my house and this happened to be the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

I knew where it was and I couldn't wait for the next morning. Early Saturday morning I went to the Parish and pulled on the huge wooden doors with the twisted brass handles. I was nervous and scared...filled with expectation of what was awaiting me inside. I knew that I was going to have a new encounter with our Lord, one that I had not had before. Only one problem. The doors were locked. I could not believe it! I had come all this way and now the doors were locked. This really was supposed to happen differently. On my way back to the car, a very nice lady stopped me and directed me to the side chapel where Mass was being held this morning. SIDE CHAPEL!!!! I walked through another heavy wooden door with another twisted brass handle and I all of the sudden became very scared. I was going to have no place to hide. All of the sudden I was the only Protestant in a room of about 15 Catholics. If you have never been to a Mass before and you are attending for the first time, believe me, you will stick out like a sore thumb, and I did! But I was touched that morning in a way I never had been before. I was not distracted by lights, music, shouting or waving. What I heard was the Scriptures, very straight forward and I heard the Gospel proclaimed not in a way that was one persons interpretation, but a simple Gospel, a Gospel that literally changed my life. Then came the Eucharist.
Now at this time, I had little idea of what I was witnessing, but what I saw I new was real. What I saw was the priest elevate the Host and I knew something very special was happening. I knew Jesus was there, but in a way that I had never felt him before....stronger than I had felt him before. Now I understood what people meant by the "Real Presence". Our Lord was there in that Eucharist and I knew it. On the way out, I met a man who probably played the biggest parts in my conversion, Msgr. Michael Reed. He very graciously greeted me and asked me a few questions. After I explained my plight to him and asked him if we could chat sometime, he agreed. Too bad he had no idea what he was getting himself into.........

1 comment:

Hattigrace said...

Oh yes we do!!! You are an excellant writer. This takes me back to my own conversion time. So exciting, so scarey. . . and I never tire of hearing the stories.

Keep writing.