Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Conversion Story

I have been considering whether to write an entry this like for a long time. It has sat uneasy with me as I did not wish to stray beyond matters of the Faith, theology, Church life or spiritual meditations. Yet, I believe that it may bring about some spiritual good to myself and to those who stumble across this piece. I wish in a few simple words to offer a reflection on my own life as a Catholic and its trials, worries and confusions. I hope to do this without the usual pretentious attempts of erudition that frequently appear in my writing, or the various half-jumbled up from memory, scriptural quotations.
 My 'knowledge' of the Catholic Faith before 2005 was limited a recognition of suspicion towards those followers of the pope and that the father of a friend spoke a funny language (I would now assume that it was Latin). I was completely oblivious to anything of true substance of the Catholic Church. Of course I had seen some foreign footballers enter the pitch by touching the ground and tracing a cross upon themselves, yet the purpose and importance of such acts of faith were beyond me, even though I had until the age of around 11 attended a Protestant church.
 The first contact I had was an intriguing one, the usual starting point for the telling of my conversion story. In 2005 I was on holiday to Mallorca with my mother and grandmother and since the only English channel that was available to us was the news, I became engrossed in the last moments of the life of H.H. Blessed Pope John Paul II and the sentiments of love and emotion that he evoked from my soon to be brother Catholics. I will pass over in silence the various criticisms of his pontificate that many in the traditionalist movement may make. Suffering was in fact the reason I stopped attending my church, along with, I suppose, a general indifference. Modern liberal Protestantism is hardly a faith to sacrifice for. My auntie died when I was around 11 and it hit me hard. It was probably the first death that I had experienced of a close family member. I mention this as it can only be inspiring to see a man remain steadfast to what he believed God had called him to do and be even when great suffering overtook him. To him (a fellow Charles) and His Master, I can only say thank you. My first proper correct with the Faith was a positive one that will remain with me for the rest of my days.
 I will leave out here the process of R.C.I.A. and my reception into communion with the Catholic Church and offer some considerations I have had.
The Christian life is not easy. It has been a struggle these 4 years with many ups and downs, with great enthusiasm and much lukewarmness. The beauty of Christianity is that it is not merely exterior, a cloak to wear but by the action of the Holy Ghost man is truly renewed and made like to the Son. Many can claim to be Catholic or Christian yet many in the mind, in the heart are untouched by the reality. I have found my greatest difficulty here. I hold the Orthodox Faith with a decent knowledge of theology, yet I could never say with honesty that I am what I believe or know. Hypocrisy is a charge frequently launched at believers (although often such an accusation is an attempt to destroy any intelligent discussion) and I know the problem in my own person. I know my sins, they make me shiver at times.Too often waves of memories of some sin attacks me and disturbs me in spirit. On the outside, many are impressed with me, I can act with piety with devotion and serving at Mass. A cert for sanctity, probably by means of the priesthood. It would be reckless and foolish for me to truly believe them. I can often receive the feeling that I am living insincerely which at times is probably correct.
 However, on the whole, I can only be grateful and filled with joy that I was given the efficacious grace to convert when I did. I wonder in what state I would be today if this had not been given. Huge errors, false beliefs and missteps have occurred since the night of the 22nd of March, 2008. Very frequently I feel that very little progress has been made and it does shame me. I can only recognise that the Faith is a greater treasure than I knew before 2008. It is even more profound that I could ever imagine and I pray that I will remain true to it until my last breath.
 These words are sombre, a sinner's words. I am certain that many have felt the same and have taken the necessary steps in grace to overcome them. I am heading in the same way as many of my brothers today and in the past. May I continue this journey with greater sentiments of faith, hope and charity until He comes.

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