Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why I Am Becoming a Catholic

On May 19, I am going to participate for the first time in the sacrament of Reconciliation - Confession - and that evening, I am going to go forward, not with my arms crossed across my chest for a blessing, but with my open hands held out to receive Communion. I have a holy anticipation of this moment. I feel like I am engaged to be married again, anticipating my wedding day. I want to go shopping and take care to buy for that day a dress that I love.

Why am I becoming Catholic? Some of you who read this might think, Good! She's joining us! Some might worry that I'm being led astray from dependance on the free grace of God into "works salvation." Some might remember with loathing experiences they have had or impressions they have gained of what they see as a tyrannical, intolerant, overbearing organization. And of course some might not even care. (But then why are they reading this?)

I can't answer every objection people have to the Catholic church. Many of the common objections have certainly arisen in my own mind. But through reading I have done and through experiencing the Church for myself, they have each faded away and become inconsequential in light of the glory displayed there on that altar. It does not come with fireworks and spectacle. If you aren't looking for it, I don't think you'll even see it. But then suddenly when you are, when you do, there it is, right in plain sight, and it's always been there. I mean, He has always been there, in that homely little wafer and wine, His real presence. And I long to take him in. I hungrily and worshipfully anticipate that day.

At Mass, I feel I am leaning my exhausted head on my mother's breast. I have heard of the Church being our Holy Mother - in fact, that image is what first stirred in me to draw me toward her. I was  filled with a yearning to run into her arms.

To me, the Church is a pearl of great price, perhaps at times caked with the grime of history and hearsay, perhaps encrusted by up to even a mile of dirt. But under it, there it is still, shining and glowing, and I want it. A lot of the dirt, though, is, I think, an illusion. Someone once said that there are millions who hate what they think is the Catholic Church but not a hundred who hate what it actually is.  The only way to really know it is to "come inside."

That's what I'm going to do.