All Roads Lead to Rome (Eventually)
Sometimes I need to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming when I realize that I am now Catholic and have joined the Church that I was so set against for so many years. I love to hear the stories of other converts and what it was that brought them to the Catholic Church, almost as a way of reassuring myself, I suppose, and also to help me not feel like such a "fish out of water". But let's face it: Catholicism, lived out as Christ intended is definitely counter-cultural. Not only in the secular world, but in the evangelical world as well. Try getting on a Christian chat room and you'll see what I mean. The fires of the Reformation that ripped Europe apart in times past can still be fanned to a hot flame very quickly today in cyberspace! At any rate, a recent letter from a new convert below affirms for me that this phenomenon of Protestantism to Catholicism is not so unusual. Note how the Eucharist was a real turning point for him as it was for so many of us reverts and converts. His discussion of the Sacraments is so eloquent I had to print it.
" Briefly, I would have to say that it is the Catholic view of the Sacraments that "kicked me through the Goalpost of Life". The Catholic declaration that Christ Himself initiated each of the seven Sacraments raises their significance to that of Heavenly Revelation. When I considered this claim, I reflected as follows. For years before I became Catholic, (....) I had taught children that the Authority of Christ begins with the fact that He is the God who made all things. I taught that Genesis 1 leads us to John 1; which teaches that "The Word that made all things has become Flesh and dwelt among us". This would explain the amazing things that God and Mary's Son did and said. As C.S. Lewis said, "If you can swallow the incarnation, the resurrection is cake". The Apostle Paul grasped this significance as he pointed out in his first chapter of Romans, that "if you look at the things God has made, that you will see His Character revealed as well". Hence, all created things, like water, wood, blood, flesh, bread, wine, and light reveal Christ's character. The Catholic Church is not at all reluctant to elevate the meaning of these simple substances found in our physical life. Take the bread and wine used in the Eucharist, for example.It would then follow, that the Transubstantiation of the Eucharist is a Catholic doctrine that quite unapologetically equates the Bread and the Wine with Christ's very own Body and Blood. This "Doctrine of Transubstantiation of the Eucharist" quite brazenly and wonderfully points to a meaning that really is, "trans-substance"; "beyond what a substance appears to be". I believe that the authority of these Sacraments flows from Christ Himself, not just mere man-made tradition.How could I resist an Organization that glorifies the Incarnation and Sacrifice of Christ in such an audacious, child-like and literal fashion? "This IS my body broken for you". The Catholic Church does not limit it to a mere meal; nor a tool for evangelization, nor a mere symbolic joyful meditation; nor just a celebration of community. As the reality of the Eucharist hit me full-force, it follows that I was logically impelled to consider Christ's authorship of the other Sacraments, and the way they "hang together" and function together; as a "Sacramental Orchestra", if you will. As this Truth dawned upon my soul, (particularly the sacrament of Holy Orders), I had to fall on my knees and repent of my Protestant ignorance and rejection of Christ's initiation of Apostolic succession. Simply put, I had to consider the fact that there has been two thousand years of Catholics that have gone before me....."
I suspect that the "ancient/future" church movement that has been growing lately is really an attempt to fill the sense of void left by "de-sacramentalizing" the faith. They are starting to reconsider what the "Lord's Supper" means and are rediscovering the doctrines and practices of the early church through the Church Fathers. All roads eventually lead back to Rome.