For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12


"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Monday, February 9, 2009

It Takes A Bishop

Many of you may have noticed that for some time now this blog has taken on a kind of...Catholic flavor to it. There is a very good reason for this: I'm in RCIA classes. That is, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, for those joining the Catholic Church.

Although I was baptized Catholic years ago, I never received my first communion in a Catholic church, nor was I confirmed. For years my soul drifted aimlessly with no church and no real knowledge of God, nor did I have any real interest for a while. More details can be found HERE if you're at all interested.

In 2000 one of my cousins died at age 29, and I traveled 2 days by car to his funeral which was held at an Episcopal Church called St. Monica's. For those who don't know, St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine and the person who brought him back to the church. The pastor invited all who had been baptized to come up to the alter to share in the Lord's supper, so I did just that --my first ever communion at any church. That was the moment that pointed me in the right direction, though I would have many more hurdles to jump before reaching the point of no return. That's the point at which you know you now-and-always-will belong to Christ.

Since then I could never quite get myself to join any church. I was then only shopping among the Protestant ones, and although I found many I liked, I never found one where I felt at home. Plus I still had the habit from my childhood of oftentimes making the sign of the cross before and after prayer which put some protestants off, especially the Baptists.

There were many influences which lead me back to the Catholic Church: my friend and blog partner, Kevin, whom I alienated years ago and who took me back as a friend in 2006 (God bless him); Laura Ingraham (whom I've bumped into a few times) and her radio show with frequent guest Ray Arroyo of EWTN; Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia whom I have also bumped into a few times with similar results (I don't believe in coincidental encounters); an encounter with a short, old, diminutive nun at St. Patrick's in Manhattan; and Pope Benedict XVI when he visited (no I didn't bump into him) and was impressed with what he had to say.

Mainly it was the position of the Catholic Church on the life issue that drew me in. Most of the Protestant churches consider themselves pro-life on abortion, but if you visit their websites and read their stand on the issue it's rather weakly supportive. Most say they are against abortion BUT refuse to call for an all out ban, or they say abortion is bad but also understand a woman's right to kill her unborn child. For these positions I believe organized christian religion is losing its cred. So I've never felt at home in protestant churches.

The tipping point came with this ad last November from CatholicVote.com:



I kept getting goosebumps every time I'd watch it (over and over again) and see the words: 67 million Catholics in America. Every time I saw those words I knew I was, always had been, and always would be a Catholic; so at the end of November I decided to stop putting off the inevitable and make it official --I started classes.

This Easter Vigil I will receive the Sacrament of the Eucherist for the first time in a Catholic Church, and at Pentecost I will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation which until now I have put off for three decades. I should point out that most RCIA candidates will be confirmed at Easter Vigil shortly after receiving the Eucherist. But since I am a prodigal sheep (a Catholic returning to the church), the Bishop himself will have to shepherd me back into the flock. My long time friend Kevin will be sponsoring me, and my confirmation name will be Augustine. At long last I will have returned home.

5 comments:

Paul said...

A very moving and sincere account of the return of a prodigal Catholic, Matt. Welcome back home, good friend.

Meanwhile, as the recently departed Father Neuhaus (RIP) demonstrated, there are many issues where Catholics and Evangelicals can find common ground, especially including abortion and same-sex marriage.

Find joy in every journey said...

Congrats! My husband was brought or loved into the Church last Easter! Enjoy your journey!

Kevin Gleeson said...

This is the answer to many prayers, my first of them being about 25 years ago!

Joshua said...

We at CatholicVote.com are humbled that we were an instrument used by the Holy Spirit, the author of all conversions.

And welcome to the Catholic Church!

Sincerely,
Josh Mercer
Director of Communications
mercer@catholicvote.com

Matt K Cassens said...

Thank you, everyone! It's great to be home...finally.