Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Conversion as Christian Longing Fulfilled

By Aimee Milburn

Dave Hartline at Catholic Report has pointed me to another beautiful conversion story, thoughtfully told in a series of installments by a man who traveled many different roads of Protestantism, from charismatic Evangelicalism to Anglicanism, before finding his home in the Catholic Church. You can read the whole story here, but below are a few excerpts I particularly loved:

Though I probably read more than most converts, Catholicism is not an intellectual abstraction; all roads lead to the Mass, and the Mass is a physical, sensory, emotional, mystical, and spiritual experience.
. . .
Though I could not fully articulate my thoughts, I had reached the limits of Protestantism. Protestant churches can deliver rich flavors but never Christian fullness under one roof. I did not want to be part of a church; I wanted to embrace the Church. I did not set out to become Catholic; I marched forward to know God and was surprised by joy when I found Him among those people who teach seven sacraments, venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints, and organize more soup kitchens and bingo nights than tent revivals. . . . I was a lifelong Christian who was beginning to see continuity and harmony in the Church through her sacraments, authority, moral teaching, saints, prayer, liturgy, and history.
. . .
All my longings as a Protestant I found fulfilled in Catholic sacraments: intimacy with our Savior, Truth with a capital “T,” reverence for sacred scripture, discipline and beauty in liturgy, the regular celebration of the Eucharist, the experience of the Holy Spirit in tangible and memorable ways, unity in marriage, and charity for all. Yes, the Church has its many imperfections, but I was startled to learn from reading Church history that there is no problem in the Church today that was not present in every century. By the Holy Spirit, the Church keeps doing what Jesus ordained her to do. Priests, bishops, and laymen may let the Church down, but the Holy Spirit always gives the Church a holy shove in the right direction at the very moment that all the critics and pundits have declared her hopelessly corrupt and irrelevant.

For myself, I have found that to be the truth as well. There is a fullness of truth and a reality of unity here that transcends differences and heals over divisions again and again. I can only conclude that it truly is Christ, working in the power of His Holy Spirit, to protect, guide, and grow His One Church, as He promised He would do from the very beginning, always has, and always will.


P. Dion, STL said...

I read these stories and it is like an out of body experience. I have never been non-Catholic. I have never even been tempted to "stray". The stories of those who have searched and found never fail to fascinate me because they tell me my own story from a different perspective. The fulfilment of the gift of faith in its many facets never stops consoling me. The light of the burning love of Jesus stays lit all day and all night, no matter how stupid I get. The bible takes me down roads that always peak on a new horizon; the Eucharist never is able to bring me to the point of satiation. I see Jerusalem, Capharnaum, Lake Tiberias and Rome every day and I never make it the other side of the hills to Moab. I believe that I have entered eternity and I enjoy the infinite presence every day, even though as St. Paul says, "through a foggy mirror", or something like that. So, all you converts who have crossed the Tiber, keep telling your stories. Every time you do, another cradle, cultural Catholic sees the light more clearly and feels the heat more intensely. God bless you all.

Shaina said...

Good for people to know.