Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Iowa Preacher's Daughter Becomes Roman Catholic (From PK to RC)

My journey from Protestantism to Catholicism is as complex and beautiful as the God who orchestrated it.

During my early childhood, my father was a Wesleyan minister. When I was eleven, Dad changed denominations and became a Presbyterian minister. Dad’s faith journey wasn’t easy. He had high regard for the Wesleyan focus on holiness and sanctification. But his scriptural study had given him a new appreciation for infant baptism and many other things which the early church held sacred, things spelled out in the Apostle's Creed, things that were more Presbyterian than Wesleyan. The importance of seeking God’s Truth at any cost was the most important faith lesson my father taught me.
In October of 2003, Dad underwent surgery for a herniated disk. Six weeks later, an MRI showed that Dad had developed a massive staph infection and sustained a fracture to his back. They began immediate intravenous antibiotics and put Dad in a back brace. Before the medication could work, Dad died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism. It had not been an easy death. He was only sixty and had spent the previous eight years battling a number of neurological disorders as well.

Following his death, I went on a quest for answers as to why the Lord of love and mercy would allow my dad to endure such suffering.

After a lot of seeking and searching, I found the answer in a book by St. John of the Cross. In his book Dark Night of the Soul, this saint explains that we should rejoice when we go through profound suffering, because God has not abandoned us, even if it seems like He has, but rather He is making good use of us (Starr translation 138). Protestants believe we are to pray for healing from our suffering or for strength to endure our suffering. Protestants do not subscribe to the teaching that they are to “contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1499). In other words, they do not see the eternal value for the Kingdom of God in simple or profound human suffering. To them, suffering for the cause of Christ is primarily limited to persecution for one’s faith. What about a sore throat or a herniated disk? Could those be crosses as well? Could they be united to Christ's suffering and somehow be efficacious for the Kingdom of God?

While my father’s life taught me to seek the Lord for answers, his suffering provided me with the question the Lord wanted me to ask. By asking that one question on suffering and by seeking with all of my heart for the answer, the Lord was able to lead me home to the Catholic Church.

When my father died, I inherited much of his personal library, and I perused those books in a quest for answers. Once I had exhausted his library, I borrowed books from Saint Louis University library and purchased others at a local book store. By June, I had read some fifty books, including Confessions by St. Augustine, Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross and The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila.

I suppose my life as a Protestant was over at that point. When a Protestant falls in love with the saints, there’s no turning back. That’s how it was for me.

That fall, I enrolled in RCIA classes and began exploring the tenets of the Faith. I learned that the Catholic Church places a high premium on holiness and sanctification, AND they hold firmly to all that the early church taught . . . because they WERE the early church. I had followed Truth, and I had found my way home. On August 14, 2005, in the Year of the Eucharist, I received Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in my First Communion.


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