Rome Sweet Home - Becoming Catholic

I didn't grow up Catholic. I grew up in a non-denominational, Evangelical church, where I learned that the most important thing in life is loving Jesus with all your heart. I still believe that, but I've found that the best way to do that is within the Church He founded. I received the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion on Easter of 2010.  I've never looked back, and it's in the Catholic Church that I am learning how to love Jesus in a deeper way than ever before.

I can't remember a time when I didn't know about Jesus. My parents instilled a deep faith in me and my two younger sisters, and for that I am eternally grateful.  During high school I grew in my faith and became active in my young group, and began to learn more about the faith. A friend and I prayed at the flagpole of our school every Friday morning during our Junior and Senior years. I wanted to follow Jesus with my whole life.

While I was attending Wheaton College in Illinois, a wonderful Christian school, I had a chance to study the Christian faith more deeply.  As I learned more and more, there were several questions that began to bother me: Why did we Christians have so many denominations, so many different groups claiming that they believe only what the Bible teaches while at the same time differing so radically in many fundamental beliefs?  Why do we believe in Sola Scripture when there is hardly any scriptural basis for it? What was the early Church like, and why did it seemingly change so radically between the Ascension and Martin Luther? Does God care how we worship him, or is it just up to me and my preferences? And if he does care, where is His Church?  And most disturbingly, why did I keep coming across passages in Scripture that seemed to flatly deny the once-saved-always-saved theology I had always believed? After all, the only place in scripture that the words "faith alone" are used together is in James 2:24; "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." It became increasingly important for me to find the truth, as the pillars of the reformation seemed to weaken.

I was attending an Evangelical Anglican church, and I began to fall in love with the rhythm of the liturgical calendar and the beauty of the Eucharistic liturgy. I was introduced through that truly beautiful community to some of the teachings of the Catholic Church (the Theology of the Body, the Sacraments, Apostolic Succession...). And the more I learned about Catholic theology, the more I came to see it's beauty and consistency. I had a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic Church and it's teachings, and every time I learned something knew, I was continually surprised by how deeply Biblical it was.  But the biggest shock came when I studied St. Augustine, and I realized that he was very, very Catholic. It might sound obvious to someone who is Catholic, but as a Protestant reading Catholic theology in the writings of someone who was fairly early in the history of the Church, it shattered my notions of an Evangelical early Church. I had to face the historical fact that before the reformation, Christians were far more Catholic than they were Protestant. And the church I grew up in would have been unrecognizable to the early Christians, in belief and practice. It wasn't long until I became convinced that the Catholic Church is truly is who she claims to be - the very body of Christ on Earth. 

After I graduated from college, I began seriously considering whether God was asking me to enter the Church, and two years after I graduated I came into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 2010, at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Boulder, Colorado. It was truly the best decision I have ever made, and I am grateful every day that the Lord brought me into the fullness of the faith that I've found.  Joining the Catholic Church, I felt like I had been going down a stream, and suddenly came across a wide, broad river, whose depth and breadth I could never fully plumb. I was overwhelmed by the richness of the history of the faith, in all its many lived forms.

Life with the grace of the Sacraments transformed me, and I began to grow more deeply in the faith than ever before. I found an amazing group of Catholic friends who helped me to grow in the faith and to understand the things that I hadn't learned as a cradle Catholic. And I will always thank God for bringing me home to His Church.

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