To say the least, I have had quite the unexpected year that started with a conversation with a Catholic guy that grew into a full exploration of the Catholic faith and lead me to become a fully confirmed Catholic. And it feels like God punched me in the face (lovingly) and I am still reeling from the blow.
Sometimes I still think to myself “Wow, wait… Did I really do that?” I’m not exactly the type of person to make a huge stink about every opinion and belief I have- make no mistake, I stand proudly for Truth and Truth alone- but how did I end up making the decision to become part of the type of Christianity that makes the boldest and most controversial statements on just about every thinkable issue? Well, like I said, it all started with a conversation with a Catholic guy.
For most of my life, I have viewed Catholicism as the quirky superstitious Christianity- that as long as Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is “the way, the truth and the life,” they’re cool, but you just shouldn’t ask them too much about those weird crackers they think are God, the Pope who they think is almost God, Mary who they think is the female God, and the saints who they think are other cute little gods.
So when Andrew (my now boyfriend) started talking to me a year ago about my faith as a non-denominational Christian and we found that we actually agreed on a lot of points of Christianity, I thought that maybe there was something more to Catholicism. We kept coming back to interesting and deep discussions on many different topics and I wanted to know more about this side to Catholicism I never knew of.
I shared with him my questions and convictions of Christianity. He told me once “Wow, you sound like a Catholic.” I was a little taken aback by this because the whole time we had been talking I was thinking Wow, you don’t sound like a Catholic. He invited me to go to Mass with him, which I attended out of curiosity and expected nothing but an interesting cultural experience. The building was incredible but the mass itself was quite confusing and foreign to me and I was honestly more drawn to only discussing Catholic beliefs and attending a church with a style I was more accustomed to instead. We started dating and I began to grow deeper in understanding Catholic beliefs.
I began to attending mass at Annunciation Parish in the fall and even signed up for RCIA at St. Gertrude Parish to explore more. A few months later, I attended adoration with Andrew and a few friends at a parish I had never been to. I was amazed at the sheer beauty of the place adorned with dazzling stained glass from far above me that shone down on the flowing curves of the architecture, immaculate paintings, candles, icons, symbols, sculptures… etc. It was overwhelming and seemed to never end.
I began asking even more questions that further challenged Catholicism, trusting that God was leading me towards something important. And I cannot deny that with nearly every question or issue I had with Catholicism, within about a week I would hear some kind of explanation that struck me in either a homily at mass, at RCIA, or in a discussion with friends. But it never stopped. It still happens to this day and cannot be a coincidence.This was something God wanted me to know about.
The most profound example of this was in the winter when I had been frustrated with and seriously struggling with a lot of Catholicism and was feeling very alone in my circumstances and beliefs. I had just completed a class of RCIA with Andrew and my sponsor Kelly that I had struggled to pay attention in and was lighting a candle for prayer for my struggles that were weighing me down. As I finished, Andrew waved me over to where he and Kelly were talking to one of Dominicans of St. Gertrude. He introduced himself as Brother John Paul and explained that he felt called by God to come into the building after his evening prayer and started making small talk with Kelly and Andrew and reveled that he had actually gone through RCIA only a few years ago. Andrew, Kelly, and I immediately realized that this must have been another one of those circumstances where God answers my questions and struggles in the exact way that I needed at that very moment. They both looked at me and I laughed and went “Yeah, I know… Well this is annoying…” Brother John Paul proceeded to share with me his testimony that struck me deeply of how he was a passionate non-Catholic Christian en-route to becoming a minister or sorts when he was introduced to Catholicism and it seemed to fill the parts of his life he felt were lacking. He spoke about his testing of Catholicism in RCIA and how he now felt unique in his vocation as a non-“cradle-Catholic”. In a lot of ways, Brother John Paul’s story was just a male version of my own. At this time I realized that this isn’t something anyone should do alone, rather this was something God wants people to do together.
I felt compelled to close my eyes and close myself up until it was just God and myself. I waited for a few moments to clear my head when I realized that that was really what I needed more of- to clear my head and take what I have learned and figure out what Ipersonally believe. I opened my eyes and began to write down everything I believe about religion, myself, and how the two fit together. At the end of it, I found that most of what I had written was the same as the Nicene Creed and even further, my personal beliefs lined up with what the Catholic. I went home that night and stayed up late talking to Andrew about the possibility of getting Confirmed.
Then came the oddest moment in my journey of exploring Catholicism. There suddenly was a smile that grew across my face and I could not wipe it off. There was so much more that I wanted to confirm before I decided to get Confirmed. But God lead me to understand that you don’t have to understand everything perfectly to believe and that no such person exists. Rather, my desire to know Him is good and that all I have to do is look back upon the evidence he provided for me and those who helped me along the way. It was that moment that I announced I wanted to become Confirmed.
And that is what lead me to get Confirmed. To say yes. To become part of the people of the Eucharist. Peter Kreeft really spoke to me in his talk called “Socrates Meets Jesus” (link posted at the end) when he spoke about how “feelings are only the sugar on top”. I find that sometimes the most difficult part of searching for the most important truths in life is the feeling of the jumping off point. It doesn’t feel good to put yourself out there. But again, I think Kreeft found words that explain it perfectly: “One of the few things in life that cannot possibly do harm in the end is the honest pursuit of the truth.” It doesn’t always feel good, but truth most definitely outweighs the feeling. This is how I found myself to be Catholic.
Annie Elizabeth Therese Seiple