Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Travel Together Still

I will attempt to find the words to explain a major change that I have undertaken/undergone/experienced in the past, well, several months and even years. It would be even better to describe it as a change that happened without my realizing at all from childhood.

My faith life (I dislike that term, but cannot think of another to better express it) has been Christ-centered and wholly evangelical for all of my life. Praise be to God for blessing me with my loving parents who raised me in a Christian home.

I have, for years, been an adult who was active in my church, helping where I could and participating. I have read my Bible and tried my best to keep personal quiet time (less successfully as a young mom). I count Jesus Christ as my Savior and friend.

I wasn't looking for a change, but a change has found me. I wasn't looking for upheaval in my faith life (and thereby my social network and my children's lives, too), but it has come nonetheless. But God has been calling my lovely husband and I over the course of days, months, and even years to the Catholic church. And we could not ignore Him.

We have prayed countless hours, pored over the Bible, spoken with friends who have gone through the same, read many, many books (including The Catechism of the Catholic Churchthis church history tome, GK Chesterton, Thomas Howard's beautiful Evangelical is Not Enough, two books by Scott Hahn, some Richard John Neuhaus, and more) and spent hours and hours in discussion as a couple.
It started as a slow, gentle inkling that Chesterton describes in a lovely manner: The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. -Where All Roads Lead.

The gentle inkling slowly became a strong pull and eventually seemed inevitable. We would be Catholic. The Mother Church would be our home. It must be. 

We began to view the world with distinctly Catholic eyes, as if a curtain had been parted. Passages of scripture that I had read countless times to be sure seemed to leap off the pages: How had I not read it that way before? And eventually, How have I been away so long?  

It makes sense that Neuhaus would describe his conversion in an article entitled, "How I Became the Catholic I Was." I feel the same way, too. That I am going home to the Church that I have always been a part of, even when I knew it not.

It is an odd task to undertake, sharing the news that one has "gone Catholic." In this modern age of church shopping and jumping and changing, it seems that sharing such information is almost banal. And yet, I have longed to shout of this decision from the rooftops or wear an "I am (almost) Catholic!" t-shirt. I guess that blogging it quietly will have to do.

To my dear friends who already find their home in the Catholic church where I long to be, thank you for your quiet guidance, your loving welcome, your faithful prayers. I cannot wait to join you in the sacraments and share in the unspeakably beautiful full communion of the Church.

And though I am overjoyed at what awaits, I am simultaneously heartbroken to be leaving the weekly fellowship of the body of believers of our church of many years. Different than leaving to another evangelical church community, becoming Catholic seems to many like a permanent break-up of a relationship. Though I would beg my friends not to see it that way, I understand the root of the sentiment.  
I don't know exactly how to express my feelings on the matter or to give justice to the friendships I have formed, the bonds I have made at our lovely evangelical church. Richard John Neuhaus said it better than I ever could when he was received into full communion with the Church in 1990:

To those of you with whom I have traveled in the past, know that we travel together still. In the mystery of Christ and his Church nothing is lost, and the broken will be mended. If, as I am persuaded, my communion with Christ's Church is now the fuller, then it follows that my unity with all who are in Christ is now the stronger. We travel together still.”

To those of you reading this news for the first time, I would say it to you directly: We travel together still.

Neuhaus, who left the Lutheran church as a pastor for 30 years, also said in a statement:
I cannot express adequately my gratitude for all the goodness I have known in the Lutheran communion. There I was baptized, there I learned my prayers,  there I was introduced to Scripture and creed, there I was nurtured by Christ on Christ, there I came to know the utterly gratuitous love of God by which we live astonished. For my theological formation, for friendships beyond numbering,  for great battles fought, for mutual consolations in defeat, for companionship in ministry—for all this I give thanks. . . . there is nothing in that ministry that I would repudiate, except my many sins and shortcomings. My becoming a priest in the Roman Catholic Church will be the completion and right ordering  of what was begun all those years ago. Nothing that is good is rejected, all is fulfilled.

Though I am neither a Lutheran nor considering priesthood (obviously!), his words are the words I wish to share with you.  

 I look forward to beginning the lengthy learning process of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). I look forward to being a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I am grateful to God for His guidance, His leading, and His Church. I am so thankful to have undertaken this process in lockstep with my amazing husband whose spiritual guidance and leaning on the Lord have served as earthly leadership for 10 amazing years of marriage. I look forward to the next decade of our marriage and to what He has in store for our family.

Wow. If you made it this far, you deserve a medal. That's an awful lot of rambling. But I feel lighter having shared my heart with you. 


  1. What a moving post. May Our Lord richly bless you as you journey home!

  2. @Dr. Moye...thank you so much. Don't know if you remember or not, but my husband & I both had your class as sophomores. In fact, we met that semester. I remember learning about transubstantiation in your class, among many other things!

  3. Of course I remember! I hope you are both well--you have a lovely family!

  4. This was a wonderful post. My husband and I returned to the church a year and half ago, and like you, it took me a long time, and a lot of "fighting" before I realized it was inevitable that I would return home. We "church hopped" for many years and I now realize that it was a journey we had to take. We learned so much from the protestant churches, that actually led me to understanding the Catholic Church better, if that makes sense.
    So thank you for this meaningful, wonderful post. :)

  5. I AM you. LOL Right down to the laundry! I am reading my words in your post; walked these steps with our family and was welcomed into The Church this past Easter.

    God Love Your Heart! I nearly cried reading your words. I feel them; felt them; know them well. Welcome!

    Bless your heart! I'm so excited for you and your family.

    I wrote about my thoughts in many blog posts that culminated in this one. I hope you enjoy it.

    If you'd like to read the journey from the beginning, just click here.

    I cannot WAIT to read more of your posts as you Swim The Tiber! :o)

  6. Welcome home! A lover loves to hear the joy of those discovering his beloved for the first time.

  7. Beautifully written Nicole. I am so glad I saw this post. After a long day you have put a big smile on my face, what joyous news:) God Bless you and your family and welcome home!

  8. Thank you all for your kind words. I am having next day "I can't believe I clicked 'publish' thoughts," but I am blessed beyond measure in having been lead Home.


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