I have only recently converted to Catholicism. Before, I was a one time believer, who believed no more, an anti Christian, a quasi atheist. Once I was a Presbyterian with a faith that burned within me but as life went on I became a cynic who blamed God for everything. I hadn’t been to church for 45 years.
One morning I woke with a compelling feeling to go to church, but was confused about which church. I asked a couple of friends if I could go with them one Sunday, but for three Sundays sadly failed to find it. Was God turning me away, was it His way of telling me I was not to go? I went again, and this time I found it. I had parked right outside it for two Sundays and hadn’t even seen it! I wasn’t comfortable; there was a lot of loud praying and falling to knees, and I felt totally alienated. After two more visits decided that it wasn’t what I was looking for.
I was lost again, where could I go? I lacked courage to go on my own. In desperation, I asked my friends if could go to their Catholic church with them. I was uneasy. My fathers family were lapsed Catholics and as a child I was always told to stay away from THEM. I remember going on a peace rally in Ireland, there were thousands of people there. A priest got up to say a prayer, a short prayer, and of course recited, “In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit ” and thousands of people crossed themselves, all at the same time! I was frightened of the power this man held over these people.
It was strange walking into St Helens and waited with curiosity for the service to begin. We all stood to sing the first hymn. The priest and the alter boys and girls walked in with the cross raised high and I thought it somewhat ostentatiousness. After a lot of amening, crossing, kneeling and reciting of prayers and responses it was happening again…I was out of my comfort zone…but what to do? I needed church, so I decided to give it another go, and besides, I liked the singing. I decided to give it a few weeks, but my faith was long in coming and there seemed a struggle going on inside me. I decided to talk to the priest about it. We sat in his garden with him and I told him of my fears and my struggle with the faith I was desperately trying to retrieve. He told me about Satan and how he didn’t want me to return to God and that I must resist. I thought it was a load of nonsense, but when I got home and sat and thought quietly about it, something in my heart told me he spoke the truth, and if I wanted to go back to God I would have to be willing to fight for it.
I continued to attend my Catholic church but I was missing something. All the ritual at the altar was unreal to me. Was this what I was really looking for? Then one Sunday I was sitting in church watching the preparation for the Eucharist and the simplicity of the mass suddenly hit me, I was bowled over, it was a revelation, and at that turning point knew I wanted to become a Catholic.
I nervously joined the R.C.I.A. for two years of instruction. I thought two years! I could be dead by then. But the priest assured me if that was to happen he would give me a lovely Catholic funeral! I enjoyed the instruction with three others and after eighteen months I was received into the Catholic church on November Ist 2007. This was, by far the most gratifying evening of my life. I felt uplifted, empowered. I was part of the family of God. I was saved. I am still a new Christian and struggle with my faith, but I am comfortable with God. I am happy.
I have come home.