The short answer to that question is merely, “Because I was supposed to.” That’s really the best answer I have. Until I was 18, I faithfully attended a Baptist church, but as I entered adulthood, I had been burned and while I said I was open to finding a new church, I certainly wasn’t looking. No, no, instead, I was out looking for love in all the worst places, as if I were trying to prepare the most scandalous confession ever. At this time I was very curious about other denominations, but there was one I was definitely not going anywhere near: the Catholic Church. At the same time, I was undeniably drawn to the beauty of the Church. Not the inner beauty, mind you, the outer beauty, but I certainly wouldn’t admit to it.
When I was 23, I moved to Norman, OK to start a new life for myself. I was still in my wilderness years, but I had taken my wild behavior down a notch or twenty, and while I prayed a 30 second prayer every night, I made no move to find a church or really do anything. That’s right: I was the dreaded “more spiritual than religious.”
Things started to change on April 2, 2005, the day that Bl. John Paul II passed from this world. I had been in Norman for a month, and was still in training at my new job at a call center. I was getting some coffee in the break room when one of my trainers walked in. I immediately went into shameless flirting mode.
Me: He-eey: How are you doing? *big, flirty smile*
Mr. Hottie: *obviously down in the dumps* Oh, I’m alright. It’s my birthday.
Me: Oh? Well, Happy Birthday! You have any big plans? *please say you want to go out and celebrate tonight but you have no one to go with you*
Mr. Hottie: Nah, it just sucks because the pope died today.
Me: *slightly horrified* Oh… Well… Are you Catholic or something?
Mr. Hottie: No,… but,… you know. It’s the pope.
At which point he walked off, downtrodden. I was so confused. I had seen in the news that Pope John Paul II had passed away, but I had pushed the story aside. What did it matter to me or the rest of the world that wasn’t Catholic?
Two years and five days later, April 7, 2007, Mr. Hottie (who is better known as Mr. Scottie-too-hottie, my darling husband) and I were confirmed in the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil.
How did that happen?
Scott’s sister had converted a year or two before, and her husband is a cradle Catholic. Through his sister, Scott had been to Mass a few times, and a few weeks after we started dating, in November 2005, we attended a Mass together.
My first Mass was awkward of course! I wasn’t sure what I was doing–sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel! I was absolutely enthralled. The Creed, the choir, the columns–I had never seen anything like it before. If I had been asked to explain it, I would have said it was a conversation between God and His people. I didn’t know any of the words, but I longed to recite the Creed, and sing the Gloria. There was one part of the Mass I was able to participate in, however, and that was kneeling during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It was so good and so right to kneel before Almighty God. Of course, I didn’t believe in the true presence and I wouldn’t for for some time, but my soul felt it and was at rest. I don’t know how to convince someone to accept Catholicism, because I didn’t convert to an argument or a theory or a dogma. I converted to 10 minutes a week where I could kneel before God and be at peace, and at home.
As we were leaving, an older woman stopped Scott and I as we were leaving and exclaimed, “I just love a Mass!” I smiled at her and nodded, barely acknowledging her, but in my heart, I couldn’t have agreed with her more! That day, I knew I’d come home. It would take a lot of time for me to be able to admit to it, though!
For the next year, Scott and I went to Mass off and on, but neither of us was comfortable with admitting our love for the Church. We also attended services at a Baptist church and a Methodist church, but we weren’t ready to commit to anything just yet. After we got engaged the following August, we realized we would have to become members of a church so that we would have a place to get married. After a heartfelt one-on-one, we agreed that we were both the most comfortable with the Methodist church. Scott’s parents are Methodist, as is his mother’s entire family, and my grandmother was, too, so it felt like the most logical route. Just like that, our decision was made: we were going to be Methodist.
A few weeks later, we started RCIA at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church without any further discussion.
I know, I know. That has got to be the worst conversion story ever. No fanfare, no big moral dilemma that came down to the wire. There was this little tug inside me, and once I got a taste of the Mass, it pulled me the rest of the way. Don’t get me wrong, I had some major issues; all the usual Protestant fare: Mary, the Saints, the Eucharist, and such, but none of my qualms were any match for the longing I felt for the Mass. To be perfectly honest, blind faith is not like me at all, and I have the unfortunate heart of a skeptic. However, I was given this gift of grace through my conversion that pulled me through for the simple reason that this is where I was meant to be. For that, I am literally eternally grateful.