Can I do Catholic-lite?

When I looked into becoming a Catholic, I thought that I could do Catholic-lite. I wanted to take the parts which were most similar to the Protestant tradition, such as the Gospel teachings, and leave out the uncomfortable extras such as saints and devotion to Mary. It was a bit like choosing a diet version of a cheese spread which claims to have half the fat, and expecting it to have all the taste and goodness of the full fat version.
In the last few months, it’s become increasingly clear that Catholic-lite isn’t an option, as I’ve been gently nudged towards the things I find most challenging.
A few months ago, I was browsing a Catholic blog on the internet and was astounded to find out that the Rosary contains a series of meditations on the Gospel. That might seem obvious to people brought up Catholic, but I didn’t really know anything about the Rosary apart from a vague idea that it had something to do with ‘praying to Mary’.
The same still voice which had planted the desire to become Catholic now made the suggestion that I should learn to pray the Rosary. By this time, I knew better than to argue with this voice, even though this idea was very challenging for someone brought up in a very reformed tradition. I tried to compromise. Acquiring Rosary beads was just a step to far, they were just too Catholic a symbol, but I would learn to pray the Rosary.
I began meditating on one mystery a day, praying while I was walking the dog, or at night when I couldn’t sleep. I used my fingers to count off the prayers. I was surprised, and even slightly embarrassed, to realise that I found this method of prayer comforting, and not in the least repetitive or boring. As a Protestant, I hadn’t given much thought to Mary’s role in the Gospel story. Because I was saying the Hail Mary, it seemed natural to imagine some of the Gospel scenes from her point of view, and I gained new insights. I also realised that I have sometimes viewed Christ as a vague divine figure who floated around first century Palestine with his feet hardly touching the ground. Praying the Rosary has helped me to consider Christ’s humanity as well as his divinity.
Although I began to see all these benefits, I still resisted getting the Rosary beads. However, they came to me without me even trying. My husband was away on a work trip and the night before he came back, I woke up in the night with a very strong image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It was so vivid that when I got up in the morning, I looked up the passage in John 10 about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. That evening, as my husband unpacked his bags, he tossed me a plastic case with a brightly coloured picture of Pope Francis on the top. Inside were Rosary beads and on the crucifix was a tiny image of Christ carrying a lamb with a flock of sheep behind him.
I laughed, with joy because I realised that I was finally ready for these beads, with humour because my husband had probably deliberately given me the most Catholic-looking symbol he could find, and with thankfulness for the image of the good shepherd which seemed to be God’s way of saying that it was okay for me to pray the Rosary, even if I had been brought up Protestant.

3 thoughts on “Can I do Catholic-lite?

  1. blmaluso May 3, 2017 / 7:17 pm

    What a wonderful and amazing story! The Holy Spirit opens our hearts to Mary and the Rosary, and then Mary, Our Blessed Mother, leads us closer and closer to Jesus. May God continue to bless you, and lead you on your journey to Him, through His Church:-)


  2. canach May 4, 2017 / 11:08 am

    Thank you. When I look back, it was a strange, intense period. Shortly after, I unexpectedly received a book on praying the Rosary (runners up prize in a competition!) See It helps to remember these things when I get bogged down by doubts and wonder if I am on the right track. Canach

    Liked by 1 person

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