Well, graduation has come and gone. Only four days past the day and it already feels like it was ages ago. In that time, I have learned a few things from my daily studies, both in “The Catechism Explained” and in my occasional viewings of “Adventures from the Book of Virtues”, including the virtue of faith; diligence; and keeping promises. I would also like to share with you some hopes–and some possible progress made– in regards to my post-graduate life.
In the Catechism, I have been reading about the virtue of faith: about the motives of faith, the absence or loss of faith, and the duty to confess our faith, to be particular. These have all been very enlightening. As you can probably gather from the title, “The Catechism Explained” goes more in depth on each topic. It is not in a question-and-answer format like most catechisms, but rather goes by section and subsection, exploring each topic in precise but simple terminology, giving examples, metaphors, etc. I will share with you some insights I gathered from these topics.
On the motives of faith, I learned that miracles and prophecy are the chief external motives of faith. Miracles are like a stamp that God puts on His work to show that they are really from Him. Miracles are divided into two classes, first and second: the first being those that ‘altogether surpass all the powers of nature’. An example of a miracle of the first class would be raising the dead to life. A miracle of the second class is something that might very well be done in the course of nature, but the time or circumstances that usually come with it are not present. Two examples of this type of miracle are the healing of a sick man with just a word, or the gift of tongues like that which we read of in the gospels at Pentecost. Prophecy is the telling of events that only God would be able to know in His omniscience. So, to put it simply, prophecy is a miracle of God’s omniscience, while miracles are miracles of His omnipotence. The Catechism also stated that God sometimes reveals things to wicked men or uses them in working His miracles, such as the writing on the wall presented to the evil king. But it did say that in most cases, God will use His own servants to use as instruments in His miracles or prophecies.
One of the most interesting things that I learned from the catechism on faith is that those who are of good will and life find their way to the truth, for it is the truth they want, and whatever they hold to, they hold to it because it is the closest thing to the truth they have been able to reach. Such was the case with me as a Protestant. I don’t know if you could call a Protestant ‘devout’…but if there was such a term, I suppose that might apply. I wanted the truth and I thought what I had was the truth. I loved God and I wanted to live a life pleasing to Him. The sad part of that story was that I did not have His grace, being outside the Church. I could only do so much, and what I did do was on the part of God’s mercy to bring me to the truth. Unfortunately, I was trapped in a spiral of mortal sin that was out of my control, because I did not have the fullness of truth; therefore, I did not have the fullness of God’s grace which was the only thing that could pull me out. I wanted to turn away from it and after committing the sin each time, I beat my breast and cried out to God. “Why do I keep doing this?” Then I found the truth one day because of an overheard conversation. If that was not a direct reply, I don’t know what was. “Protestantism is a false religion.” And if it was a false religion, that meant I did not have the truth or the helps of God to get out of this deadly trap. As a matter of fact, I was a slave to the devil and did not have the means–belonging to the Church and partaking of the Sacraments–to break free. But my will was good. Somehow, amidst all of that sin, my will was good. I did not do it, because I cannot tell you how it happened or why. All I know is that God preserved my will and brought me to the truth.
After that overheard conversation, I confronted the Catholic who’d said those dire words and demanded that he explain himself. He showed me, on a nice evening overlooking the parking lot on campus, all about the Catholic faith, and even had to explain to me then about the errors of Vatican II (which I had unfortunately tried to rely on to convince him that I could be a Protestant and part of the church as well…wouldn’t that have been unfortunate, to be on the brink of converting to the truth and then read the errors of Vatican II saying, “Stay as you are, it’s okay?” Thanks be to God that I had my Catholic friend to explain this error.). I went away from that conversation still pigheaded in my desire to prove him wrong, but my thoughts had been opened. I began to research fiercely, digging through Scripture and comparing it with the bits Catholic teaching my friend had been kind enough to impart to me that evening.
And somehow, one day as I walked through the cafeteria on campus, a revelation seized upon me. “If he is telling the truth, I am damned.” I knew I couldn’t let this ‘sleeping dog’ lie, because in reality it was a ferocious wolf that would seize me the moment I turned my nose up at the prospect of looking into it. This inspired more research, more conversations with the friend, more explanations and more miniature conversions in my own heart and mind. I even let my friend teach me how to say the Rosary (because, I reasoned, if this is to one day be my faith, I ought to learn its practices). I began to say the Rosary each night and for some reason a devotion to it, even as a Protestant/catechumen, seized me and I couldn’t give it up. I wanted the truth, no matter what it was. If it was this new faith, so be it. If it was the old, so be it. Whatever it was, that’s what I wanted. My salvation was at stake, along with my relationship with God (little did I know that it was only beginning after four years of being a Protestant!). I had to find out at the peril of my soul. What was the truth? I had to have it!
Well, after a lot of catechesis, 8 months worth of hearing Sunday masses, devotion to the daily Rosary and many discussions with my wonderful pastor and with my Catholic friend (now my future husband!), I was baptized as a Catholic. By the grace of God, the spiral of mortal sin that was dragging me to hell in chains was broken (and is to this day!). All because of a God-given, vehement desire for the TRUTH! He never fails those who are devoted to seeking Him. We must always have faith in this God Who rescues those who are damning themselves, opens the eyes of the blind and opens the ears of the deaf. All He asks is that we desire Him, for He is Truth. We cannot afford to be indifferent to the Truth. It is worth any price we may be asked to pay. For me so far, it has been close relationships with family and friends and my reputation (people think I have been brainwashed!). But in return I have gained the only true gem to be found in this world: the Truth, the holy faith of our fathers, membership in the true Church of Christ (not to mention a brand new family of fellow Catholics, a best friend/future husband, and a holy and wise spiritual father!). God is never outdone in generosity. Whatever we give up willingly for Him, He restores to us, whether here on earth or in heaven, manifold.
I know I was going to get to some other things on this post, but I feel it is too long already (haha!). But I thought my story might be worth sharing. I may try to discuss some of the other things I’ve learned in another post this week. Thank you all for reading, and may God bless you all!