Thursday, January 15, 2009

In the beginning

I came into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil 2005--meaning that this Easter, I will be four years in the faith.

I came to the barque of Peter as a refugee from the shipwreck that is Anglicanism. I had moved from a secure, orthodox, Anglo-Catholic parish in Florida to Tennessee on the eve of Gene Robinson's election as bishop. My husband and I spent weeks trying to find a hospitable new church home. Sunday after Sunday, our worship was marred by sermon after sermon describing the faithful orthodox as Pharisees, hypocrites, people terribly out of date who were either hateful or stupid and needed to , as one priest put it "Get with the program." After months of sitting in the pew every week and leaving angry and frustrated (and one memorable confrontation with a female priest that is the stuff of legends), I literally went down the street to the Catholic church, hoping they would take me in. My husband, bless his heart, wanted to stay and fight for the Anglican tradition we had loved for more than twenty years, but he came along.

I came as a refugee, just wanting a place of peace and communion, but I discovered so much more. There are days, many of them, when I want to kick up my heels and shout "Yippee, I'm Catholic!" I discovered that my journey of understanding and commitment only started at Easter Vigil when I made my profession of faith, was confirmed and received communion at long last.

In some sense, I feel an urgency to know all that I can know, experience all that I can experience, to make up for lost time. I have no Catholic grandmother to pass on her admonitions or her rosary. I have to make my own legacy, my own context. I am amazed, and more than a little annoyed, at "cradle Catholics" who don't understand what a wonderful treasure they have in their faith and who neglect it for themselves and fail to pass it on to their families.

My pastor once asked whether I thought I would have made my way to Rome had Gene Robinson not been elected bishop, or had we not left our comfortable, high-church, orthodox parish in Sarasota.

It's always dangerous to second guess the past. But knowing what I know now, I have to believe that I would have found my way home at some point, though it might have taken longer. As it is, I count my conversion to Catholicism as one of three events in my life cataclysmic enough to change its course entirely: my marriage, my children, and now, my faith.

Pew-spective is my chance to make some sense out of it all for myself and perhaps for others. It's what I have these days: a view from the pew that shapes everything I do. And thanks be to God!


  1. I have some reading to do to catch up. I always like how Scott Hahn describe it as a detective story, then a horror story and finally a love story. I was received in 03. My pastor told me that I was always Catholic I just didn't know it. I can relate in some ways to the refugee as in being away from home and longer to be allowed in (it took 7 years). I really felt robbed once I found out that I had a heritage. It's so strange that I loved the Lord for so many years and didn't even ask where the Bible came from. My Christianty only went back 500 years. Look forward to reading more of your post.

  2. My hostility stemmed from that Pope who refused to make Henry VIII confess his sins or excommunicate him alone, rather allowing him to take the whole country with him.
    Ireland is just now beginning to get over that ... a few Popes realized this tragedy and attempted to accept the branch which accepted the authority of the church yet were not accepted ... Scotland formed their own church ... wars were waged and protestanism began in the church ... the question 'why accept that which does not accept us' rang out yet the basic principles were maintained by the steadfast after all 'what's in a name, by any other name a rose would smell as sweet'.

  3. Barbara, pardon a comment on this older post but I couldn't help myself - yours is a beautiful story and, as a cradle Catholic, I must agree so many have no idea of the beauty and richness of their Church! Your blog will be highlighted in the St Blog's Parish Twitter/Facebook feed at noon on 10/14/13. +JMJ+ John