Monday, May 31, 2010

A Thank-You to the Converts

I am surprised by how many conversions I've witnessed in my little lifetime so far.  It is such a blessing.  What an inspiration you converts are to me!  You have no idea!  And you have no idea how much I need your inspiration.  Your inspiration is the vigor by which I am able to pick up and carry my heaviest cross each day.

First, it was my kindred spirit Becky who converted sometime around 2005.  God was stirring her heart, and I believe she said she knew for sure that she would become Catholic when we were attending Mass together in a beautiful, old, and huge stone church called Holy Trinity (although the picture I snapped here is of Sacred Heart Church).  Today I have the privilege of being the Godson of her firstborn son, my beloved David!

Then it was my longtime friend Scott who converted to the Catholic faith sometime around 2006.  Watching him go through the preparation process was so exciting.  I even got to stand in line with him as he prepared for his first confession, and hilarity ensued when I had to get back in line immediately after coming out of the confessional.  The priest, kind as he was, was also hard of hearing -- and he had cut me off just before I got to mentioning something significant.  I had tried to interrupt him, but he couldn't hear me, and thus he finished the sacrament, leaving me to wonder about the condition of my soul. 

And so, everybody saw me creep back into the line, and I'm sure many people thought that I must be a horrible girl or at least one shackled by the chains legalism.  Instead of saying his penance prayers, Scott was nearly laughing out loud at me while observing all this from the pew! 

And then more hilarity ensued again when I suggested that we ought to burn the little paper on which he had written down his sins, not only for permanent privacy but also for the cleansing metaphor by which such an action would provide!  We had a good laugh as the whole thing went up in smoke outside on the sidewalk!

I think it was sometime around 2007 when my dear friend and colleague Lija (who had previously been staunchly against Christianity) let her heart soften to the love and will of Christ Himself.  Her conversion was a beautiful process to watch unfold, much like the petals of a blooming flower.  She grew into one of the very most beautiful persons that I know!  Her heart is radiant with love for God and her fellow humans!  She beams with positivity!

Then last year my colleague Brooke became Catholic, and she asked ME to be her sponsor!  What a beautiful, spiritual journey I walked with her, and what an honor it was to be so close to her during such a special period of her life.  She grew so beautifully in so many ways that I could have never anticipated.  A few months later, her two precious children were baptized into the Church.  And this year, her husband (who had previously been anti-Catholic) joyfully joined us at the Easter Vigil.

And then it happened again! 

Just last week, my longtime friend and band mate John (who had been adamantly anti-Catholic) announced that he wanted to convert!  I suspect that his journey to the Catholic faith must have started back in the Winter when he joined a bunch of us for Theology of the Body classes at the little church across the street.  I remember thinking, "There's no way that his eyes and heart can be opened to the truth of Theology of the Body without also being opened to the truth of the Church itself!" 

But I kept quiet and asked him nothing, figuring that God would prompt him to speak when the time was right.  Before long, he was wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady that I had given him, he was asking to go to Mass, and he was a regular attendee at our Wednesday night young adult gatherings in West Chester. 

He said that a major part of the reason why he wanted to convert was because he never before encountered Christians who were so true to their faith!  He also never before encountered a young adults gathering that was so theologically rich, he explained.  He said he felt as if he was being spiritually fed at these meetings, and he appreciated how we continued to live out and speak our faith even when we went out to a public place to socialize afterward.  He even said that when he attends Mass he feels that he is participating in something bigger than himself.  Oh, just wait, John, until you actually experience the Eucharist!  :)

But was Mary, the mother of God, still an issue, I asked?  John had been particularly opposed to our communication with and veneration of Mary, not to mention our asking for saints' intercessions and praying for the dead.  Incredibly, none of it was an issue any longer, he said.  His mind and heart had embraced the truth gradually but fully.  And, as a saint once wrote, "You cannot un-learn the Truth once you have learned it."

Praise God for these conversions, and please join me in praying for John's entrance into the Church.  All of these conversions that I have witnessed are helping me to believe that conversion miracles are indeed still possible and that I may one day witness the particular conversion for which I am fervently praying!