Why did I become Catholic? A single blog post can’t contain all the reasons. God is infinite and eternal, and my words are so small. Perhaps getting to the point is more important than all the noise that comes with learning and wrestling with change. Even when the noise is good and true.
Why did I become Catholic?
When I had finally exhausted my last efforts at finding happiness and balance in this life, I only had enough energy left to breathe a few words.
Lord, show me how to do this for real.
That’s what my mouth said. But my heart said, I’m done.
I’m done going through the motions. Not just society’s motions, the Christian motions. Life is too short, time is too precious. If the Bible is true, then I feel false. And if God never changes, then I have to. I’ve tried so hard to make religion what I wanted it to be, and my version still doesn’t seem worth it. I surrender.
This is what God was so patiently waiting for. My true surrender. My honest request for reality. My willingness to accept and live out truth even if it wasn’t what I imagined it should be.
I didn’t recognize a direct, precise answer to my prayer right away. It happened in thousands of little miracles and signs raining down all around me, soaking me to the core. But looking back, I can feel the rhythm constantly humming through my life that is now beating so loudly it is capable of drowning out everything else. It’s as natural as a breath and as necessary as a heartbeat.
His Name, His example, His truth. It continues to draw me back like a beacon home.
How do I live out Christianity for real? Jesus.
What is the only answer to every prayer? Jesus.
Who is the only reason to keep searching? Jesus.
My version of Christianity wasn’t working. I had to get closer to Jesus’ version of Christianity. I started by asking the people who were there when He set it all up. The Apostles.
Acts 2:41-47 speaks of a time not long after His Resurrection when believers gathered together and shared everything in common. They sold their possessions and gave to those who needed anything. They broke bread in their homes and ate together, praising God. That sounded perfect. Simple kindness and fellowship. That sounded like Jesus.
I wanted to know more about the beginning of the Church. Church as I was witnessing it – with a different denomination on every corner, clearly divided by human preference and conflicting opinions on doctrine, yet all claiming Jesus as their own – seemed so far off track when I tried to line it up with what I was reading in the Bible.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ~Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)
Why aren’t we living in this harmony I read about in Acts? Why aren’t we living out one faith like Paul writes to the Ephesians? What happened after the Bible? After the Apostles?
I dug in for many months of history lessons. I set aside all of my learn-to-live-your-best-life-ever books and picked up ancient Christian writings instead. I’m not going to lie. This was like switching from cheese fries to broccoli. My soul wasn’t used to it at all! But just as my body is re-learning to crave the intense flavors of whole, natural foods, my soul is remembering to crave the passion inspired by whole, pure truth.
I was expecting to find simple, basic, and easy worship. You know, before generations of humanity muddied the waters with politics and power struggles. I was certain early Christianity held the key, but I imagined some sort of friendly potluck that would have flexible timing and casual picnic attire. I was so naive.
I didn’t get through the first quote from an early Christian before the reality I had prayed for slapped me in the face.
“And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone.” ~St. Justin Martyr, The First Apology, 155 A.D.
Worship for the early Christians was not a casual picnic.
Communion for the early Christians was not a symbol.
It was real. It is real.
One prayer. Lord, show me how to do this for real.
One answer. Jesus.
His blood covering our sins. Nourishing our souls. Even coursing through our veins. For real.
I have no other explanation for why I left the comfort of the sidelines and barreled head first into the spiritual battlefield. Jesus.
No other cause for giving up everything to continue the search for truth. Jesus.
There is no other reason that would even be worth my time or yours. Jesus.
This concept of the Eucharist, this form of worship the Catholics participate in, the idea that the bread and wine of communion is really His Body and His Blood…it’s either a horrible lie, completely insane, or the absolute truth.
Do you know who else was accused like that? Jesus.
To be continued…