But still we didn’t act. Daily we felt more distant from our Protestant faith and discovered that objections we had always had to the Catholic Church were dissolving as we actually learned what the doctrines meant. But making the plunge would require sacrifices that we weren’t quite ready to make. The toll a conversion would take on relationships with friends and family was too painful and overwhelming. For a year or so, we stayed in a strange limbo where we weren’t truly at home anywhere.
But, when I became unexpectedly pregnant with our first child, we knew the time had come. Our baby had to be baptized. There was no question. But, of course, the Baptist church we attended wouldn’t baptize an infant. And the faith we wanted to offer our son was that of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. After Benjamin was born, we started the RCIA program and prepared to enter the Church at Easter, 2010. I don’t know how long it would have taken us to convert if we had not been given the gift of our son to draw us closer to the Church. We praise God for his blessed entrance into our family.
As I write this, I understand why Evelyn Waugh doesn’t ever describe Charles Ryder’s conversion to the Catholic Church in Brideshead. Because how can I really explain? I can tell you that I trembled with fear and shame as I waited to give my first confession. And I can tell you that I came out of the confessional trembling at the grace and mercy of Our Lord. I can tell you that Holy Thursday and Good Friday are etched in my memory and that at the Easter Vigil the smell of the holy oil on my forehead, administered in the shape of a cross, was intoxicating. But I don’t know how to describe receiving the Blessed Sacrament for the first time. I didn’t have any sort of mystical experience at my Confirmation and first Holy Communion. I didn’t have visions or become suddenly super duper holy with never an unkind word to say of anyone. Not by any stretch of the imagination. All I can tell you is that everything changed in that moment. And that I’m still seeking to wrap my mind around what it means to be part of the Church and to receive the unfathomable grace of Our Lord himself, at every Mass, in the gift of his own Precious Body and Blood.
Daniel and I have pondered and tried to turn this new reality into words. We have said that it feels like floating on an ocean of Grace. Deep. Rich. Overwhelming. We are different. Our marriage is different. Everything has changed. Full of grace.
Don’t get me wrong. We didn’t convert to strengthen our marriage or to improve our lives, although both those things have happened. I recently had someone remark on our conversion, “Well, it’s great that you found the kind of church that makes you comfortable.” Nothing, nothing has made us more uncomfortable than the Catholic Church. We were drawn to it reluctantly and hesitantly. We didn’t convert for any reason other than we believed that the Catholic Church is the Church instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. That it is One, Holy, and Apostolic. That it is True.
We will never know who was praying for our conversion. But I know that we have arrived where we are only by the grace of Our Lord and the intercession of Our Lady and the Saints. And each day I am grateful. So grateful.