Our 6th Anniversary In The Catholic Church
Tomorrow we will celebrate the 6th anniversary of our return to the Catholic Church. What started as an un-expected moment of surrender to God in a darkened theater has led to my re-establishment of communion with the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.
In the early spring of 2004, while watching the Passion of the Christ, for the first time I saw how much Christ had suffered for me. It was as if my eyes were opened anew despite years of having read the gospels. I had always believed it but not until I saw his suffering displayed so graphically did I finally say: "Ok God, since you did that for me, I will do anything for you." "Anything?" He asked me in the quiet darkness. "Yes, Jesus" I said back to him with hot tears running down my cheeks trying to contain my sobs. "I will do anything you ask of me." My next thought was "I'd even become Catholic!" One of the most contrary things I could think of at the time.
- I would even surrender MY IDEA of what a church should look like.
- I would even surrender My RIGHT to understand the Bible my way.
- I would even surrender MY PREFERENCE of worship styles and practices.
- I would even surrender MY BITTERNESS against the Church of my youth and my parent's religion.
I hated the thought of returning to the Church, and with my old pride rising up within me, I decided not to tell my wife that I had this "moment of surrender." Instead, I started to quietly listen in when she had EWTN on the TV. I then asked her if she could buy back some of the books I asked her to dispose of years before. I started reading Steve Ray's Crossing the Tiber, and discovered the writings of the early Church fathers for the first time in my life. I couldn't put it down. That was it.
I knew I had to return to this Church that always believed that Jesus was truly physically present in the Eucharist as the Early Christians practiced and wrote about. Here I was for 31 years trying to get close to Jesus and he had been there all the time! I was so angry because no one had told me and yet so happy at the same time! This was that "crazy missing part" that Keith Green sung about in Love Broke Through so many years ago in my teen years.
In a few short weeks, Deborah and I were sitting in front of a young Catholic priest spilling our guts and a week or so after that I was on my knees in a chapel one evening having just received Jesus, soul, body and divinity for the first time since I was a kid. The one I had been searching for my whole life was now closer than I could ever come to Him on this earth. He had been there all the time, waiting for me.
It all started with His grace leading me to a moment of surrender.
In a little eastern Pennsylvania town called Emmaus, I recognised Him in the breaking of the bread. Thank you Jesus for not giving up on me.
And thank you Deborah for your patience and love.