Today, I just want to put up a link to a story I wrote for the Coming Home Network.
The story is about how I went from Highland Presbyterian, to atheist, to agnostic and before eventually returning to the church and became Catholic. Most of all, it’s a story of how ‘I fled him down the nights and down the days’. My journey has taken me from being totally unable to believe in God’s love and mercy, towards beginning to trust that God is love.
Because of this, and maybe also because I’m writing from a female perspective, I’ve tried to put the emphasis on how different events or phases in my life caused me to move towards or away from God, rather than on theology.
The story is called Discovering God’s love and is here.
I can’t speak for other people, but in my case becoming Catholic has felt like finally finding my spiritual home after much wandering. That’s one reason why the title of the Coming Home Network appeals, although I didn’t discover them until recently through a link on another blogger’s site (thank you Charles Johnson).
I’ve enjoyed reading other peoples’ stories on the Coming Home Network and about their journeys from one place to another spiritually. The journey still continues. Joining the Catholic church isn’t an arrival. It’s more like boarding a boat that’s going to help you travel into deeper water and new destinations, using the wisdom of others to guide you into new ways of prayer. Rather than stumbling forward alone, I have the support of others on this journey and the Communion of Saints. One of the amazing things about being Catholic is being able to ask someone like Mother Teresa of Calcutta for her prayers.
When I read other about other peoples’ journeys, I see the spark that’s set them alight, the sense that something’s taken hold of them which can’t be explained logically and which won’t let them go.
I recognise that spark. Sometimes I ignore it, muffle it, forget it for a while, or even rebel against it, but I will never be able to say I haven’t seen what is the aim of my life, what I’m longing for.
It’s the pearl of great price, which a merchant sells everything to buy, or the treasure hidden in a field. Once someone discovers the treasure, they go off, sell all their possessions and buy the field (see Matthew 13:44-46).
The Coming Home Network
The Coming Home Network offers resources and support to people who are thinking of becoming Catholic or who are converts. My only quibble is that there is a heavy bias towards American men, and particularly pastors, among the conversion stories. That isn’t surprising considering that the network was originally set up to support Protestant clergy, who had a lot to lose by becoming Catholic.
However, it’s only a small complaint and I’ve enjoyed and learnt a lot from the written stories and videos. Here are links to two of my favourite videos which feature women:
Sr Miriam Heidland, a Catholic revert. I love what she says about our need to be healed.
Another video I really like is an interview with Thomas and Lovelace Howard. Thomas Howard is author of ‘Evangelical is not Enough’, which he wrote after discovering the liturgy through the Anglican church. The title says it all. He isn’t saying that evangelical is wrong, just that it isn’t enough. Reading this book was an ‘aha’ moment. It helped me understand why I felt more comfortable in churches with structure and liturgy. Further along his journey, Thomas Howard became Catholic. However, for me, the real star of the video is his wife.
In this video, the Howards discuss with Marcus Grodi, not just people who go from the Protestant to the Catholic church, but also the flow in the opposite direction. They acknowledge that both are due, in some mysterious way, to God’s grace.
Yes, it matters which church we’re in, or even if we’re in a church at all, but right down at the most fundamental level is our relationship with God. Sometimes God calls us out of a place we can’t see Him properly into the wilderness or into another place so that we begin or deepen that relationship.
I appreciated reading about your comprehensive journey of faith, from the Calvinist beginnings through the agnostic university years and then the slow homecoming starting with your marriage, or when you said yes to that retreat. I especially liked your metaphor of the fish becoming aware of “the medium called water.” How life is like that when we realize it is God all around us! I too have had some hesitancy with Mary or “Our Blessed Mother” as the good Catholics revere her. I just spiritually don’t feel that connected with her like I do with Christ and the Holy Spirit. But about a week ago I had a short vision of Mary and how she is the only part of God who can crush Satan, what I so often want to do when the devil torments me making me believe his transplanted thoughts are my own. It is the strength of Mary that is violent enough to conquer this persistent enemy. That vision is not something I can forget and so I have been trying to know Mary like I do the other persons of God through meditation. Thanks Canach. Your friendship here over the past few years has been a blessing.
Thanks Gospel Isoceles. I have also enjoyed the pithy way you have of putting things. How to see Mary has been a challenge for me. I have only once felt a connection (near Our Lady of the Isles, a statue on South Uist). In fact, I have felt much more connection to the Communion of Saints. But maybe that’s part of it. Maybe she helps us with our prayers but also wants to be in the background. Shortly before I became Catholic, I felt drawn to the rosary (https://scotinprogress.com/2015/02/08/can-i-do-catholic-lite/) and it has helped me feel more peaceful and more turned towards God and Christ.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That was a long, hard journey for you, Christine, and you say it’s not finished yet. Thank you for sharing – it was very moving. There are many ways God shows his love: the important thing is for us to know how much he loves us and find a place we can worship him in, and encouragement from others.
Thank you, Lynden. It has been and still is a struggle to believe in God’s love, but I have made a lot of progress. Still a lot more to go, I’m sure. If you had met me when I was agnostic, you would realise how much of a miracle it is that I have come back to Christianity as I was very opposed to churches. I even hated taking my kids to a toddler group in a church hall! It’s taken me a long time to find somewhere to worship God, but part of the reason I didn’t find a church earlier was that I wasn’t ready and had too much baggage.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for taking the time to read it, Lynden. If you had met me in my agnostic phase, you would realise how much of a miracle it is that I’ve returned to Christianity as I really hated churches. I even hated the idea of taking my kids to a toddlers group in a church hall. I thought that religion was as harmful as smoking. The other side of that is that I understand what it feels like to be outside church and religion. I’m glad, though, to have found my way back to faith.
LikeLiked by 1 person