Why did you do it? Three Reasons I Became Catholic.

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 9, 2016

Why did I do it? I was asked this the other day by a post church of christer married to a catholic post church of christ… I don’t think I answered the question. You’d think after 3 years I would have my answer all worked out. I just met this person. My words?

“It was a slow burn…”

“The community…”

“I don’t know if I could have done it outside of Boston, the Jesuits, etc…”

Even though I wrote in the last post that the reason was to do the denomination thing and liturgy–totally true. It’s a copout for the more mystical answer, that is, the Eucharist.

Why did I do it? The Eucharist.

There is something indescribable that happens. And in trying to explain it, I would only ruin it for myself or someone else. That’s what Mike McHargue says in Finding God in the Waves. To sit and to be and to experience the ritual – everyday, any hour, in any language, all across the globe. There are not many (if any?) churches that can say they do this.

I love communion in church of Christ and I continue my adoration in the Catholic church.

Why did I do it? Universality.

Like in the above–I can go anywhere in the world, and be at home. The Catholic church is so huge and so small and homey at the same time. Then there is this sort annoying paradox of “universality” and “exclusivity.” How can something so huge actually be exclusive? The only exclusive part of being Catholic, is that you choose to commit. Is that too much to ask? Is that any different from any other church?

I understand the issues many have with the Catholic church (particularly on gender and sexuality), but it is still in dialogue. I appreciate this. Leadership in the church is like parents fighting over what they think is best for their children. They want the best, we’ll turn out ok…

Lastly, why did I do it? Conversion.

Because I believe in a God of conversion. If you are born and raised Christian, are you really a convert? Where is your heart blocked off from God, because you don’t believe you can be converted, changed, transformed, healed, forgiven, forgiving, or reconciled. That’s what God is after. Just because I was confirmed Catholic does not make God any less after me. Regrets? No. Issues with Mother One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? Of course.

If I can believe in conversion for myself and others, I can believe for the same for any religious institution that is made up of myself and others.

What Is Assumed If I Become Catholic?

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

January 1

It is the new year. What do I want in the new year? How was the old year?

January 4

I’m working on my sermon for a week from now on Jesus’ Baptism. Last night, I dreamed that I was asked to preach at a church of Christ and Catholic church on the same Sunday, and I didn’t want to do it on the same day because I like attending one (relaxing) and preaching at another (stress).

January 5

At church today, church of Christ, I felt distant. Awkward. I don’t know why. Probably because it’s been two weeks since I’ve attended. I chatted a little after services, and that made me feel better. I was invited to go out to eat. I said no. I already had plans to go grocery shopping. This is my usual excuse, since I walk two miles to church, then another to the farmer’s market, then two back home. This makes for an exhausting Sunday. But maybe I’ll go out with them next week?

All that to say, I was so hungry that I immediately regretted saying “No” to the social offer. I knew I needed some social time. I just didn’t want to spend money or eat pizza. Lame-o. And even in my awkwardness this morning at church of Christ, I’m also skipping Mass today because I have work to do! In all likelihood, I’ll be at Mass bright and early tomorrow morning anyway.

So here I sit, feeling lame towards the Church of Christ, and absent at Catholic Mass. One day I’m thinking “No” to the Catholic church and considering quitting RCIA, and the next day I’m back again ready to confirm. And I still am not sure why.

The sermon at Brookline today was bold. Also, a little weird, I’m not quite sure what he was going for. It was part Paul defensive, part “God thinks this” [well, Paul says God thinks this], and part anti Christ. Anti Christ meaning that he wanted to emphasize God and what God does through Christ. I can appreciate that, but it was still a little strange to me. I think he was reacting to people’s emphasis on Christ’s humanity and less on being God. He really needed to tow the line though, because at one point it almost sounded like Christ was less than God (which is heresy). I don’t think he meant that, but he never once mentioned the incarnation (Christ is God), or that usually when people talk about Christ it is synonymous with God.

I’m sorry to say, I don’t think people got what he was going for because it was overshadowed by sort of human Jesus bashing. I was just glad someone commented by saying, “As soon as someone says they know what God thinks, they’re wrong.” As in, “Dude, leave a little room for mystery.” Because the boldest thing he went for was saying what God thinks, but we do this all the time in one form or another.

While some of the meat was a little hazy (it is the toughest part of the sermon to write!), his main point was to remember what God is doing/does.

I don’t even know how he got through that sermon without mentioning the incarnation or the Trinity! Chances are, just like me, there were about 1000 things in his head and he couldn’t mention them all.

In the meantime, I’m kind of at a loss about how to structure my sermon. I think I know what I want to say in the beginning, and I think I know what my final point is, but how I get there? I don’t know.

I keep going back and forth about becoming Catholic… If ever in the future, there is an audience for my writing, I imagine they will be thinking, “Poop or get off the pot!” For whichever way their sentiments lie.

I’ve gone years with all my Catholic buddies joking about me becoming Catholic. Then when I’m nearing taking the plunge, everyone is a little nervous. When I ask Steve about it, what he usually tells me is along the lines of, “I’ve always felt like you were a part of it.” And that is that. Whether I’m confirmed or not, that is how he feels, and he is happy with that.

And I know that getting confirmed is hardly the end. I’m not going to have any less existential crises, but then again, maybe I will have less. Because at that point, I don’t have to worry. In a sense, I would be choosing the Catholic church as my “priority church.” Not that they would like win out in an argument every time, but they would be my main community, and main place I would choose to serve.

I searched in Google for “churches that are growing and shrinking” hoping to find something. It didn’t really work. I was looking for basically what churches are growing and which are shrinking, but I don’t think it really matters. I found this instead:http://www.gallup.com/poll/125999/mississippians-go-church-most-vermonters-least.aspx.

It’s the percentage of people by state that attend church. What’s more interesting is that only a little less than half of Americans attend church. This bodes well to a theory that spirituality is like a normal curve, and maybe half of those people are the church attendees and half not, and it fluctuates. I wonder what the other half of people do on Sunday. I hope they do good things. Weekends are precious. Though, it is likely that many of them are working. Looking at the numbers, it looks like the Catholic church has declined since the 1950s and Protestants have just stayed the same.

I keep saying that I am leaning more towards getting confirmed than not. Today, I thought about what it might look like to apply for a non-Catholic job and actually being Catholic. I guess it’ll be similar to applying to Catholic jobs and not being Catholic.

I thought about what people might assume of me having actually chosen, in adulthood, to become Catholic. They might assume I’m just naive and brainwashed. They might assume I did it just to get married and be with my bae spiritually. They might assume I’m a glutton for punishment, or to stroke my own ego. They might assume I did it to be in line with my parents’ Catholicism. They might assume I hate the gays and want to save all the fetuses. They might assume I was just jumping on the bandwagon with Pope Francis.

Maybe not everyone will assume that. What I want is to jump this stupid 500 year old fence between Catholics and Protestants. Is there a gate somewhere that I can walk through? I think people on both sides want this. The grass is always greener effect. It takes a lot of commitment to jump fences than stay on your own safe side. You might get trapped on the other side! Or who knows what will happen? You only know that you won’t be able to control it. What is “it”? The Spirit.

I’m five days into the new year and there is so much to do. Who needs another spiritual memoir? Those people are such narcissists. Maybe I am. I mean, I’m not writing for anyone else, just myself. Free therapy. And maybe it’ll help someone else, but first and foremost, it is mine. Maybe that’ll change. Preaching is essentially the exact opposite. While I might be preaching to myself, it’s not exactly for me… or it is, it’s just not me? I don’t know.

This Catholic Conversion is Fishy

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

December 13

The priest this morning at Mass talked about the gospel reading. Jesus basically says, regardless of what you do, if someone isn’t willing to change or be receptive, or they just don’t like you, then they’ll always have something to criticize you about. It’s a weird lesson, but a good point, considering it was written a while ago.

I don’t know what was for me in it. I guess to be attentive to the places I need to be attentive. Look at my reason for resistance before I resist.

Someone confessed their leeriness of my Catholic conversion. Yes, my timing is kind of fishy, considering my super Catholic boyfriend, but it’s not like I planned it this way! I’ve been on this journey for five years now.

It is something I need to consider in myself, “Would I be doing this if it wasn’t for Steve?” I don’t actually know. I don’t know where I would be. I’m reasonably sure I’d still be going to Mass. I did that without Steve, and I told my buddy that. He knows. He gets it. But he explained that his girlfriend kind of hates the idea of anyone actually choosing to join the Catholic church. I was surprised, like, what does it matter. What am I supposed to do? It’s not like all the Christian churches are in some competition to get the most members and whoever has the most wins. No. No one is ever going to win that competition.

I’m playing the game and breaking the rules. The competition is a joke, and I’m just enjoying the ride.

It’s like, so I become Episcopal. So what? I decide on Lutheran. Okay. I get confirmed Catholic, and I can be involved with them all. I’m super Catholic, but I’m not Catholic at all. Quintessential both/and.

All doctrinal issues aside, it doesn’t really matter. No one person in a church is in complete congruence with that community. That’s impossible. If every church was perfect, there would be no need for church(es).

What Does It Mean to Fully Commit to the Catholic Church?

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

December 11

I met with Sr. Mary who runs RCIA. Sometimes I thinks she thinks I’m crazy. But I have to give her some credit, it is very difficult to know someone with only maybe six hours of interaction spread out over six months. That’s kind of the way our situation is. I look at her and I think she is amazed, confused, and unsure of me. She knows I feel very deeply, think very deeply, but can also have a very pessimistic and silly outlook and understanding. Like maybe she thinks I think becoming Catholic is some kind of joke, not that serious, and not that big of a deal. Yes and no. I do see it as serious. I wouldn’t be writing all this if I didn’t think it was serious. I wouldn’t even be trying. I wouldn’t be thinking, waiting, or discerning.

Today, she kept asking me about what I get out of RCIA and daily Mass. It’s kind of funny, because I feel like there is this movement in “Catholic training” to experience God almost in the sense of Protestanty “personal relationship with God.” And I see that as happening in RCIA with the catechumens. Listening to God and the experience. While I emphasize the community—togetherness and the beauty of that. That’s my draw, the community, how the community speaks the word of God, and not just me sitting and listening and reading my Bible by myself.

This is beautiful to me.

Not all Protestanty evangelical churches are all about the “personal relationship with God.” There are plenty of closer to Catholic interdependence (episcopal, lutheran, i.e. those following a lectionary). And perhaps I could go to one of those, but no. Rome and I are going on six years together, and I practically feel raised here.

Sr. Mary said how it would be a shame to find out a year from now that I don’t want to be Catholic. I had not really considered this. Well, yes, I have in the form of the question, “Where else would I go?” When I run, I run to the Catholic church. But I hadn’t really considered, “In what scenario would I not go to or avoid the Catholic church?” Assuming I am confirmed….

It would hurt if something happened to my relationship, that might make me avoid the Catholic church. But I didn’t get involved because of him. He’s supportive, but I do plenty of Catholicy things he doesn’t do. It would be more hurtful if the Church made some substantial changes that I really couldn’t deal with, that would hurt more. And, let’s be real, this happens in churches all the time. They are human institutions, with human failures.

I could decide to be a minister or priest somewhere else. I don’t think I want that. There isn’t anything pulling me anywhere else. Part of me is open to work for any church. Actually, I told my mom how great it was to go to Mass after preaching—no responsibility. Maybe that’s who I am. I need a community to work and one to rest.

“Fully committing to the Catholic church.” That is the phrase Sr. Mary used. Like I’m not enough already… I’m not sure I know what she means, and I’m not sure I would agree with her, or maybe we would agree. For me…

Fully committing doesn’t mean never ever going to another church again.

Fully committing doesn’t mean working to convert all the Protestants.

Fully committing doesn’t mean never taking communion anywhere else ever again.

Fully committing doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong.

Fully committing doesn’t mean all the gays are going to hell and contraception is from Satan.

Fully committing doesn’t mean that any host of Catholicy things that Catholics don’t even adhere to…….

Is it not obvious? Well, that obviously gives away the type of Catholic I’m going to be. Not the good kind, but instead, an above average kind that actually goes to Mass.

Every person I know who has gone either way, Catholic to Protestant, or Protestant to Catholic, or whatever to whatever (barring legit cults), seems to feel the same way: Free. It’s not easy to go either way. To cross the threshold of difference and otherness. Maybe transcend? Transform? Convert? To change. Whoa.

In some ways, being Protestant is much more difficult than being Catholic. And becoming Catholic is much more difficult than becoming Protestant.

In my experience, Protestants expect you to do something at church: lead, mission, communicate, hang out, go to small groups, etc etc etc. Catholics—just show up to Mass. Catholics go through a rigorous annual process to becoming Catholic (RCIA, confirmation and all that).

Protestants: You believe? You’re pretty much in. I know some groups have a confirmation process, but you still get to do and be a part of all that the church does and life without confirmation in a Protestant church.

I like both! I want both! I know that you can have both at both, but it doesn’t seem to naturally turn out that way because of historical grudges.

Incognito Catholic

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

Karl Rahner is the one who talks about the
Karl Rahner is the one who talks about the “Anonymous Christian”

December 3

This morning, I was thinking about how unfair it is that Catholics can go to Protestant church and it be no big deal incognito, but not vice versa. It’s not fair. I suppose that, depending on the Catholic, they might feel awkward participating in the rituals of a Protestant church, but they aren’t unwelcome to it. This is, in part, how I justify my potential “conversion” to Catholicism. Conversion. It shouldn’t be called that. My friend Kate said, “You’re thinking about ‘coming into full communion’ with the Catholic Church; it’s not like you were atheist or Hindu or something.”

This is true, and way more the way I think about it, but I still dislike the unfairness. I’m a rare bird choosing to become Catholic while also holding onto my roots. Not really letting either group have full grip on me, because it shouldn’t be that way. There are all kinds of born and raised Catholics who continue to claim it and participate in other churches. That’s what I want to be! One of those Catholics! But I’m not born and raised, I’m a noob.

More Complex Millennial Expectations

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

September 24

Five days from preaching, and I’m going to assume that since I haven’t heard anything serious back from my friends who I shared my sermon with, that there isn’t anything drastically wrong with it. That’s good.

Today is one of those days where I feel a bit lost. It’s a usual thing, asking myself questions like, “What am I doing?” “Where am I going?” “Why am I doing it?”

Last night, I was talking to my mom about Gen Y (Millennial), and a HuffPo article about our expectations being way higher than previous generations, and thus, leaving us unfulfilled and unhappy when we don’t meet our “change the world,” “have a successful non-profit,” “live overseas,” “be paid to do nothing” expectation.

Then, I thought about my own life, and what I expected from it growing up, and where I am. And my teenage dreams where/are kind of boring. My life plan was pretty basic, you know, get a job (either as a doctor or teacher or something), and get married, and live the life somewhere.

Now, I think I’ve highered my expectations. My expectations have become more complex, and are less dependent on my job and marital status. My expectations are day to day: help people, listen to family and friends, express myself, be honest, be good, love…

Do I wanna preach?

[Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.]

August 28

September 29,

That’s when Clint asked if I would preach. And I would like to reiterate from August 26th, “Is he crazy?” He doesn’t know me. I don’t know him. The church doesn’t know me. I don’t know them. I’ve been attending less than a month! Well, I suppose in a broader sense, being from the CoC, I do know them, and they do know me. It has been barely three days, and I’m on the preaching circuit (if I want).

On the first day of creating my spiritual habits (Mass, CoC, and RCIA), I asked myself, “I wonder if they’ll let me preach.” I got that answer quick.

Last year around this time, in my spiritual life, I was simply seeking grounding, discipline, comfort. This year, I’m issuing for a challenge, and in three weeks, I have it. RCIA hasn’t even started. So, “Do I want to preach?”

If the answer is “No.” Excuses being, well, I’m not that Church of Christ. I’m a bit of an imposter. I’m kind of more Catholic (but not really). I’ve never preached before. I’m not smart enough. I won’t do a good job. I don’t know what to preach about. I’m not going more than 20 minutes. I never ever planned on being a preacher(ette?). Nothing will come of it. I’ll preach a couple times, and be done. Probably just give up on the CoC again.

If the answer is, “Yes.” Reasons being, well, the Church of Christ needs it. I was asked. I have the education. I have the background. I like to rock the boat. It’s in my blood. Being Catholic really makes no difference here. Having a pastoral degree, being a woman, being Church of Christ, and attending a Church of Christ I’m kind of asking for it. I want to?

I can’t honestly say I want to or not, because it was never an option for me growing up. No one asks the little girls, “You want to be a preacher when you grow up?” Not even in a joking way. I could be a NFL referee or a construction worker before preacher. So, how can I know?

Now that I think about it, I have no idea how women in the CoC end up being on the payroll (outside of secretary). Like, how? Linda Truschke has been Campus Minister at Pepperdine for about 15 years—how did she get that job 15 years ago? Same with countless ladies representing in the CoC. It couldn’t have been easy.

It’s been a fight for them. But me? I’m just asked randomly on a Sunday morning, “Want to preach?” No weirdness. No fight. No question. Just a matter of fact need for a woman. And here I am.

In my opinion, every woman there is capable of preaching. It’s not like the CoC has some standard (obviously), except maybe being church of Christ. In my experience, the males aren’t even jumping at the opportunity to preach (or pray, read, pass communion plates). I never really understood that.

Then there is this form that I need to fill out to be “a member” of the Brookline CoC. I was hesitant about this too, but then I remembered that I’m planning on attending all year… So, I guess that’s fair then.