Well, looks like it is going to happen. I am joining the Catholic Church on November 1, All Saints’ Day, with conditional baptism and first confession on October 31, an ironic date.
It is happening so “quickly” because I went through RCIA last year and have talked with the local priest a few times. He knows where I am coming from and is content I know what I am getting into. He and I are going to grill steaks soon and we’ll talk some more.
There are still many things I don’t understand about Catholicism but I have discovered enough to be convinced for myself, even if it isn’t convincing enough for others. But we shouldn’t be expected to understand everything before a decision is made. One doesn’t perform 100 pushups from the get go. One starts with 5, eventually moves up to 10, then 20, and so forth. The famous saying from St. Augustine is fitting; “Believe that you may understand.” This is not blind faith leading to a false understanding. It is reasonable faith rooted in something strong which will grow into greater understanding.
The final decision was due, in part, to the realization that this process has been two very intense years (even longer for the roots of some issues). Life needs to move on and it cannot move on so long as I am stuck in paralysis. Paralysis and indecisiveness has only drained my joy and even driven away people I cared for. Paralysis will only continue to haunt and hurt unless a decision is made. The lines in the sand must eventually be draw and so far Catholicism still seems the best option. The soldier in battle who freezes when the bullets fly is in the worst danger. It would be better for him to shoot back, run for cover, or at least run away as a coward. But freezing in one place will only destroy him and probably also hurt those around him. That’s kind of how I felt.
So I figured the best remedy for indecisiveness is to make decisions and Catholicism is still the most reasonable option available. And I must say, I have felt peace beginning to return, not in an overwhelming way, but like a gentle touch of God easing me into my decision. Laughter is also coming easier, and I love to laugh. There is still some residual frustration and lack of understandings about the way things played out in my life this past year but even that is subsiding into a calmer acceptance. (After all, anything I went through is small potatoes compared to what others are currently facing around the world right now and throughout history. Who am I to whine when life is still so good?)
Another thing that revealed how far I was along the trail was my brief consideration of atheism. While grilling a steak I wondered, “Is this whole Christian thing even true? Maybe I should just give it up.” These were short lived thoughts but they shed light on where my soul was; either Catholicism or give up Christianity altogether. And it seemed lame to give it up. After all, how could chance give us something as delicious as steak? There must be a God, right?
Two people have asked me if I was happy with my decision. It is a natural question to ask. We all want to be happy. But it was my father, a protestant minister, who raised me up to follow truth and to do what is right, whether we like it or not. Happiness may come with the territory, but happiness cannot be the litmus test. C.S. Lewis enhanced this theme in Mere Christianity: “In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”
The Bible talks much about joy, but it also talks about “taking up your cross.” Christianity is life and life includes both laughter and tears. I have hope that the grass truly is green on the other side but that cannot be the standard of my decision.
So I have been eyeing an 18 year bottle of scotch and waiting for the appropriate occasion. This is as fitting a time as any to buy it . If anyone else wishes to raise a glass too, I would love to hear about it.
God bless and peace be with you all.
By the way, while there is no need to end the blog, since the name is still fitting to the Christian life, this will also mean I will probably take a break from blogging. I feel the need to settle and gain roots into my new faith. I will probably post here and there but they will probably be few and far between.