But never fear; the journey is not over, or even derailed, it's just taken a new turn. And it's that turn, over the course of the past year, that I now intend to write about. And so, this blog will, for a season at least, become a place for all those who want to know, but are afraid to ask. :)
In the early months of 2012, I began a new phase of spiritual growth. I've noticed over the last several years that I seem to grow in this area, as children tend to grow, in spurts of rapid growth and change, interspersed with spells of relative stability or "sameness." So, this was no particular surprise. The surprise was where the road would lead.
I had long been aware that I held certain disagreements with the Southern Baptist faith in which I was raised. It's hard to buy, for instance, that all alcoholic beverages are evil when Christ's first miracle was to change water into wine for a wedding celebration. And how does one justify an obstinate disbelief in things which science or even personal observation shows compelling evidence for? Let me be clear: my faith in God was never in question. But my belief in the teachings of the church of my childhood certainly was. For a long time, I was okay with that. These were, after all, relatively minor details. Surely one could agree to disagree. It was all about Christ, after all. As long as the correct core beliefs were in place, the rest was just icing. Right? I was a firm believer throughout most of my life that the main reason different denominations even existed was so that people could worship God in an atmosphere and a style that best suited each person. So, while I believed that my denomination's teachings held their flaws, I saw no reason not to stay put and, to borrow a phrase, bloom where I was planted. But, long story short, during this particular spiritual growth spurt, I was inspired with the desire to find the denomination, if such a thing existed (and I felt it must) where the full truth of Scripture was accurately taught. So, I searched, and I learned. I picked up some new nuggets along the way, but I was getting no closer to finding a denomination that didn't have its flaws. It became the focus of my prayers. "Lord, show me the truth. Lead me to the place You'd have me be." I entertained the notion that I might be meant to start a new church (laugh it up, ye who know me better than that), but that seemed like the craziest idea of all--which to be honest, was the only thing that gave it credibility, lol. God has a tendency to ask His people to do the
"We've been fishing all night, and we've caught nothing." "Throw your net out on the other side of the boat."
"These 5,000 people must be getting hungry. Let us send them home so they can eat." "Why send them home? Just feed them." "Uh, Lord? We don't have that much money, and if we did, where would we buy that much bread?" "What do you have? A kid's sack lunch? That'll do."
"Lord, if that's you, bid me to come to you on the water." "Come on."
Obviously I'm paraphrasing, but you get my drift. It seemed as if the church I was looking for simply didn't exist. God had given us His Word, the Holy Scriptures, containing everything we could possibly need to know, and we had screwed it up. No one out there was getting it all right. Now, of course I understand that we're human. In practice, not a one of us is always going to get it all right. But I wanted a church that taught it all right, and held the faithful accountable for at least striving to uphold Christ's ideal.
Remember how I said that finding that church had become the focus of my prayers? Be careful what you ask for. :) When God lifted the veil, the answer was the last thing (almost) I would have expected. I've likened it searching all over the house for your car keys, and finding them in the butter dish. Though with four boys, I suppose that's not as odd a scenario for me as it might be for others. :) I have found the Church of my prayers--and she is Catholic.
Now, as some of you scratch your heads in puzzlement, while others gasp in horror, I offer you these words of wisdom from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church.
There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church--
which is, of course, quite a different thing."
This sums up things quite succinctly, actually. The more I learned, the more I realized my preconceived notions of what the Catholic Church teaches, and what it means to be Catholic, were, to phrase it mildly, not entirely. . . accurate. Much could be said in this regard. Much has been, by others, but this blog is for a different, smaller audience. So, much will be re-said, here. Questions are welcome, and will likely become ideas for future posts.
Am I biting off more than I can chew here? Most likely. :) I'm no genius, or theology expert. And I'm still fairly new at this. Anticipate links to the writings of those who are smarter than I am. The potential certainly exists for this to become overwhelming. I recall my first months exploring the Catholic Faith. I went from swimming in a pool to being dumped in the ocean. Translation: I went from thinking I knew pretty much all there was to know about Christianity to realizing I had actually understood VERY little of the depth and richness that truly exists in my own faith. My desire is to eventually share some of that with you (after, of course, we get past the "But Catholics worship Mary!!!" humdrum), but I also fear that I will fail miserably at articulating the true beauty and complexity of it all. I am, you see, much better at learning than I am at explaining that which I have learned. :)
But, if you're curious, and willing to take a chance on us all sitting around twiddling our thumbs, come into my virtual living room, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice, but I recommend caffeine), and get comfortable. We have a lot to catch up on!