Before we begin. Let me tell you what you can expect from this post. This is not a post explaining why you should be Catholic. Nor is it a post explaining Catholic theology (although I will touch on it some). This is just the story of my conversion. And really it’s only the story of the beginning of my conversion, I am being converted everyday.
Have you ever read a sentence that changed your life? That was how my conversion happened. Remember that boy from the bus stop? He was at a Seminary, studying to be a priest. During this time, he and I were emailing arguments back and forth. He, trying to convince me to be Catholic, and me, trying to convince him that he’s crazy. Not much of our conversations were really sinking in. He didn’t have a convincing argument, in my opinion. I had been a christian for 7 or so years. I loved the church that I attended regularly and didn’t see any reason to trade it for the stuffy, legalistic Catholic Church. So I went merrily on my way unaware of the complete change that was about to occur.
I was reading John 6. Around verse 51 Jesus starts talking about how He is the bread of life, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (New American Standard Version, John 6:54). I had read this line many times. That boy and I had discussed it a few times. My conclusion was always, Jesus wasn’t speaking literally. How could he be? This isn’t the line that changed my life, it’s what happened afterwards. “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” ” (John 6:60). And later, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” (John 6:66). Why would His statement be difficult if He wasn’t speaking literally? Why would His disciples leave? Why would he let them? This is the point when I realized that there may be more merit to the Catholic Church than I had previously supposed. Slowly, this message started sinking in. I was not receiving the blood and body of Christ in the church I was going to. I was not receiving Life. I needed to receive Life. I needed to be Catholic.
I was suddenly interested in the Catholic Church. All of those (what I thought at the time as petty) arguments suddenly had importance. I started reading anything I could find on Catholicism. I started listening to conversations I normally would have avoided. Although I had realized that Jesus was speaking literally, I didn’t know what to do. There were so many things that I didn’t understand still. I decided to take a leap of faith. I didn’t understand the Church completely, but I knew that it was what God was calling me to.
I announced to my family and friends that I was going to enter the Catholic Church. It must have been a shock to them. I hadn’t been sharing my thoughts with anyone, including the boy who started all of this. I regret not talking more to my family and close friends. But my conversion came on me so quickly that I am not sure that I could have shared it with anyone. One day I knew the Catholic Church was “not for me”. The next day, seemingly, I had resolved to join it.
Remember that leap of faith? I went into the Catholic Church with a lot of things unresolved but with the belief that they would become clear in time. One of them was their view of Mary. I understood that Catholics do not worship Mary. But don’t they put a lot of importance on her? After all, all she did was say, “Yes” to God. How many people in the history of the world have done that? Is it that big of a deal? The verse that changed how I saw Mary was in Revelation, of all places. In Chapter 12 the birth of Jesus is described. Satan (the dragon) doesn’t get to eat the baby or the mother and is furious. “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17). Do I keep the commandments of God? Then I am the offspring of Mary which makes her my mother. This made everything make sense. Although if I hadn’t had a loving relationship with my mother perhaps this would have just made things make less sense. I now saw the veneration of Mary as a way for a child to show their mother they love her. Just like my own children make me pictures and give me hugs.
It has been 10 years since my conversion. I have had many more revelations. I continue to grow in my understanding of the Catholic Church and in my relationship with God. There have been times of disillusionment and inconvenience (going to Mass with children is really hard). Thankfully there are people who understand the theology behind the Catholic Church really well and can explain it. Like Catholic.com run by the people at Catholic Answers. I’ve also enjoyed listening to conversion stories. You can find many of them on youtube or The Coming Home Network.