I Can See Myself Being Catholic

A few months ago I went to a really interesting young adult event hosted by the Diocese I work in where a former atheist talked about his conversion story from atheism to Catholicism. Not only was the speaker delightfully British (!) he was wonderfully engaging, humble and it was really helpful to get the perspective of someone not raised with any religion in the home.

I was very happy I attended for a number of reasons, but most notably because he said something that stuck with me about how he did not have a definitive moment of conversion. His story wasn’t Pauline with a dramatic conversion where everything changed, which I think is along the lines of what most people imagine when they hear the word conversion. Instead, he mentioned being a university student and a philosophy major and through becoming friends with Dominican friars (something I could relate to from my time in Virginia!) he could “see himself becoming Catholic.” Beyond doctrine and orthodoxy he was drawn in by fellowship, ordinary dinner conversation and prayerful peace and joy exuded by the friars themselves. Before he was drawn into a religion and a deeper relationship with God he was drawn into a group of Catholic friends united in their love for God and neighbor and the common destination of Heaven.

The speaker couldn’t point to one specific instance of conversion, rather it was a series of little moments over time that softened his heart and disposed it toward religion. He essentially went from “religion is for the ignorant” to “maybe it’s not so bad there might be something to Christianity” to “I could see myself becoming Catholic” until finally “I believe God is calling me and I want to become Catholic.”

As I was thinking of this I spoke to a dear friend of mine who is also in the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) program. He was raised Catholic but had fallen out of practice and never received the final Sacrament of Initiation (Confirmation). He said something similar to my former atheist speaker where when talking about his motivations to the group he mentioned first his relationship with myself and my family. Not that we did anything special and walk around with a light from heaven brushing our shoulders, we simply live our faith intentionally and from that extremely ordinary witness my friend could “see himself becoming Catholic” and is now in the process of doing just that.

It’s powerful testimony and useful to anyone involved in the New Evangelization to see how the Church that attracted the two new members I mentioned in this article saw not a mere institution but a living body of Christ.

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Wait for it?

So my brother and I fell into an interesting conversation this morning as we were commuting into the city of Pittsburgh. The song “Wait for It” from Hamilton came on his Itunes shuffle and my brother asked me, seeing as were both young adult professionals at the start of our respective careers, whether it’s better to be more like the relentlessly ambitious Alexander Hamilton who seizes every opportunity or more like the soloist of the song, the character Aaron Burr, who wonders “if there is a reason [he’s] still alive when so many have died” and is willing to wait to find out what that reason might be.

The answer to that question is tricky.

It’s tricky because it hinges on what you believe to be truth. As a Christian, I believe not only that God “formed my inmost being… [and] knit me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139: 13-14) but also that when He made me He had a specific and eternal plan for my existence that He reveals to me little by little in time and will be revealed in full in Heaven.

It can be hard to cling to that truth in what Fr. Michael Gaitley aptly calls the “darkness of the ordinary” or those days that feel so average they seem insignificant as you go to and from work, interact with your family, run errands etc. Nevertheless, in spite of the easy temptations to doubt that spring up in the midst of ordinary living, I still believe in God’s plan for my life and for yours.    

So, with this truth in mind, I see no problem in waiting to discover what you were born for but it does beg the question what does that look like for the every day?

Our more worldly counterparts usually chime in that this view is the enemy to “progress” and that the only catalyst to change is ACTION, championing causes, writing the congressman, running 5ks, getting lots of followers on social media, etc. The might throw a lot of secular quotes in your face from successful (read: wealthy) people encouraging you to become more like them.

However, I have always had a problem with the “utopia now” set because even if they achieved every social and political cause they took upon themselves to champion, even if the world was overrun with the wealthy, science-minded, culturally-elite, atheistic, innovative collaborators public schools seem to be aimed at creating, even if poverty was eliminated, wars ended, and perfect knowledge achieved still everyone in this dreamy existence would cease to exist. Every single person in utopia would eventually die simply because no one lives forever.

So all these attempts at creating heaven on earth rather than pursuing eternal life in heaven to me seem short-sighted at best. The Hamiltonian idea that greatness consists only in great actions that result in an impressive earthly legacy is one which I reject. I’ve never thought that Alexander Hamilton or George Washington gain any eternal happiness by knowing that they are featured in many statues, town names, and American currency and (as much as I admittedly studied a lot of history and really like George Washington). I believe that as time passes even they will fade into obscurity like the Roman emperors of old who sat on the thrones of empires and were likened to Gods but who myself or the majority of people living today probably couldn’t name.

Living with an eternal perspective lends not only a patience and calm to thinks that might seem otherwise devastating but as a Christian my hope stems from not just a vague idea of paradise or idealistic reflections of justice, but a firm belief that a life of union with God will satisfy my every desire for justice, peace, happiness, love, and mercy. It takes the anxiety, the “now or never,” out of the equation because I do believe I will see this in my lifetime it’s just that I don’t confine that lifetime to include only my temporal life on earth. So until that day, I found my ultimate answer to my brother’s question is that I too am willing to wait for it.

 

 

The Latest in the New Evangelization

Hi all!

So while this title like most of my titles past lacks inspiration creativity and pleases probably no one but me due to the ever so slight pun, it does capture my current emotion pretty well.

The internet gets a lot of flack for being the source of all evil in society and, as a millennial who grew up with the internet, I can see the validity to points of the argument. However, as I’ve been blogging and getting into the New Evangelization I think it can also be a really incredible tool for evangelizing and bringing people together who otherwise never would have met. For example, now you can even Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I really like blogging, so much so that a few months back I opened up a forum for guest contributions to absolutely ANYONE who felt they had something to say about their own faith journey and how it’s played out in their life.

It has yielded such amazing results including an awesome guest post from my very own amazing little sister A.C. Wilson which I am more proud of then I can say.

The offer still stands open to ALL and I am pleased to announce that there is now another guest post will be ready for publishing Thursday 2/23 at 6 PM eastern from Sr. Christina from the community of Dillingen Franciscan Sisters in North Dakota. NORTH DAKOTA. Points for the internet for making that happen. I’d never met anyone from North Dakota to that point.

I told her that my blog community is probably the equivalent of a loving small town like the ones I imagine are in North Dakota! (I will eventually get over it I promise) I also told her that posting wouldn’t get her a million views overnight or make the community an internet sensation. But I told her I do have something far better, at least in my mind.

I told her that those who read these blog tend to be the type that are seeking: seeking happiness, seeking to be challenged intellectually, seeking to be inspired but most of all seeking God in the everyday whether they have admitted it to themselves or not. The people that I know read this blog are my favorite kind of people, people that are open to letting things outside themselves touch their heart. Only in this environment can truth and beauty resonate.

So in the coming weeks I am going to post a short bio about Sr. Christina and her community. Then I will publish the beautiful piece she submitted to me. I encourage you all to read it and maybe even to check out their site because why not?

And lastly I wanted to thank you all for inspiring me with your readership, your thoughtful comments, and for making this blog possible in the first place. I am truly humbled that anyone actually takes the time to read it and it has given me such joy not only to share little pieces of my walk with God but especially in hearing about yours as well.

And in that spirit should you ever want to share in a more profound way I am posting the link for submission again here. (#shameless)

Have a blessed rest of your Thursday!