Thursday, September 15, 2005

My story continued

Once I started reading books about Catholicism my interest in the Church, God, and religion in general grew. I started simply thinking about going back to church. I wanted to see if there still was a place for me there. I wasn't sure if I could fit in again, but I decided to at least consider it.

I decided, then, that I would not only learn about the Catholic faith, but research the other protestant denominations and try to figure out who had at least the most right answers. I wanted to find the church that would "fit" me. Little did I realize that it's not a matter of a church fitting me. I ordered books that gave overviews of different denominations. I bought more books on Catholicism. I read when I could. I would have talks with Marty about stuff and he'd be surprised at how much I knew. The more I read about the Catholic faith, the more it made sense to me. I understood that it was the original Church founded by Christ. Now, I know there are protestants and perhaps Orthodox that may argue that point; but for me, it was the deciding factor in my consideration of all the denominations. A few months into my journey, it was no longer a question of which church, but how and when?

I did not know if I could get myself to go back to church. I wasn't sure if I could commit myself. I had fears of not being able to once again live up to the standards of being a Christian. But I still kept reading and learning. Throughout this time I believe that God was nudging me along the way. I cannot say that I had a single "ah-ha" moment where I just knew that it was the right decision. I simply opened my mind and finally my heart a little.

As my relationship with Marty progressed, we had a lot of problems that came up. Most of it was my insecurity and fears, but he was a part of it too. The distance of 1500 miles was hard enough, but then he was going to go to Alaska for a year. That's when I started giving serious consideration to at least looking into becoming Catholic. I thought perhaps if I did that, it would help me cope while he was gone. At some point I knew that things weren't going well in our relationship, but he wouldn't open up to me and I kept worrying about it. But I think I already knew that we weren't going to make it. I knew he had a change of heart, but I didn't want to believe it and he didn't want to tell me. So we continued in not so blissful ignorance. I decided then that even if we weren't going to be together, I would look into Catholicism because I felt it was the right thing to do.

From the start of my journey in September of 2004, I sent my first email to the church in my town inquiring about the RCIA process in February, 2005. I received a reply the next day that gave me the name of the lady to contact. It took me another month to call her. We had a nice long visit and I found out that she worked for the tribunal office and could assist me with the process of getting my marriage annulled. She said she would love for me to come to Mass some time. A week later I called to tell her I was interested in going to Mass. That was very difficult for me as I felt very awkward, but I made myself do it. And the first Mass wasn't that scary. There was a lot familiarity because I had attended several Episcopal services with my aunt. I was even able to chime in on some of the responses by the congregation. I knew I couldn't receive the Eucharist, but I did go up and get a blessing. That was Palm Sunday. I went to several more Masses that week on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. And since then I have gone every Sunday except for the one I was out of town. The more I go, the more it feels right and feels like home for me. Most of the awkwardness is gone. It still feels a little weird to cross myself sometimes. But I now know all of the liturgy of the mass... at least on the part of the congregation.

One of my concerns about joining the Church was the fact that I would HAVE to go to Mass EVERY weekend. I wasn't sure I could handle that. But I really haven't ever had a problem with it. It just seems like the right thing to do. I don't think I was ever this faithful when attending the Baptist church.

I've been looking forward to RCIA since last April and am very excited it has started. I'm still a work in progress, but I believe I will find my home in the Catholic Church.

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