Monday, July 30, 2012

My turn! Sharing my story...

I am very happy to join Angela here on this blog, which I hope will be a place to share ideas about all things Catholic-and-Miss-Mason!  And I'd love to share a bit about my conversion.  Like Angela mentioned, I too am a convert from Protestantism, and our journeys share many of the same features: the influence of Catholic forums and radio, families that don't share our beliefs, friends making the right comments at the right times.  In most other ways, though, our stories are quite different.  Mine began much longer ago and was a longer road.

Twelve years ago, I was a college sophomore spending my summers in missions and youth group work with my "Bible church" and my school days training to be an English professor.  Then I met my now-husband.  He was clever, funny, and handsome--but he was Catholic, which made him everything I wasn't looking for in a spouse.  I come from a family of fallen-away Catholics and had grown up believing that Catholics' souls were seriously at risk.  After all, Catholics worshiped Mary.  There were so many man-made rules keeping them from the simple truth of Christ's death on the cross for sins.  They were more concerned with following the Pope than with accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  I was trying to convert Catholics, not date them.  But he was smart and charming, and against my better judgement, we started to spend time together and hit it off pretty much right away.  

I challenged him with pretty much every question in the book, and his responses were measured and thoughtful, not at all the knee-jerk answers I was expecting.  If he didn't know the answer, he had a calm confidence and said he would find out--and he did.  To be honest, he was the first faithful Catholic I had ever met--I didn't know any other Catholics that knew and accepted Church teaching.  I began to open up to the Faith, to think through his answers.  And there was always an answer.  I began researching apologetics on my own time, hours in front of the laptop in my dorm room.

And thus the stages of my conversion began--it feels quite long ago now, but certain moments of my journey still stand out with clarity.

:: Listening to Scott Hahn's conversion story on audio cassette, so surprised that someone who actually read and knew the Bible could be a Catholic.
:: Praying a rosary for the first time, alone and cross-legged on the bed in my dorm room, nervously fingering the beads while I read the words of each prayer from an online print-out.  
:: My first Mass, where at the words of the Consecration, the Eucharist suddenly did not seem so crazy after all. 
:: The evening I sat with that cradle-Catholic boyfriend and told him I was going to start RCIA.
:: Daily Mass at the university chapel, longing for the day I would be able to receive my First Holy Communion.
:: Easter Vigil 2002, the smell of the Chrism, the new year's candle burning, the succession of readings reminding of the Tradition I was entering into.
:: Celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony the next year with the man who had first introduced me to the Church--a sweet moment indeed.
:: And then that Tradition coming more alive and true than ever before at our first Latin Mass.  The church was being renovated, so it was celebrated in an auditorium with carpet swatches for kneelers.  We were completely lost but completely hooked.
:: The "big white vans" lining the parking lot of the traditional chapel, suggesting that perhaps our plans for family life needed re-thinking.  
:: A summer off from graduate school spent praying, day after day, to know God's will for me.  Time before the Blessed Sacrament, at daily Mass, on my knees in our little apartment.
:: The moment when, after many mentions over many months, homeschooling finally hit my radar and I suddenly realized it was the perfect fit for our family.
:: Tentatively asking my husband if maybe, possibly, he might consider homeschooling--and his immediate, laughing response that he was completely in support.  
:: Sitting in my car in the university parking lot after turning in my master's thesis.  Whispering the hymns of the Divine Office to myself, thankful and relieved to be leaving school and ready to start my life as a mother and homemaker.

That point was six years ago.  Not everything has gone as planned since then.  Month after month of infertility followed, along with heartbreak and uncertainty.  But that all taught me to wait on God's timing--my six beautiful children are a testament that the timing of God is not our own, but that His plan is perfect.  Since then I have also learned a deeper love and respect for the traditional Mass, and our family has embraced that Mass and its traditional style of devotions as our own.  And I have learned--and am still learning--to be a wife who tries hard to serve her husband and to make those little sacrifices that reap so many spiritual rewards.

Like Angela said, my ten-years-ago self would not recognize the woman I am today.  Rolling on the floor laughing at the prospect, for sure!  And truly, my conversion isn't over--good thing growing in holiness is the work of a lifetime!  But that is how I got where I am now, and I have never been surer that I am exactly where God wants me to be.

And now, on to our dealings with Miss Mason, yet another step in our journey to the mothers we are today...I do hope you'll share, Angela!  I am eager to chat about this homeschooling adventure the two of us have just begun with our little ones!


  1. Such a beautiful story. I savored every word. Thank you.

  2. I enjoy reading your blog, and find your insights about a Charlotte Mason education refreshing and insightful. However, I find the use of labels such as "Catholic" and "Protestant" to be off-putting; there are faithful, Bible-believing followers of YahShua Messiah or Jesus, who are neither Catholic nor Protestant. We do not convert to a religion, we experience a conversion of the heart as we return to the Lord.

    1. I do not aim here to represent the experience of every Christian -- only my own. <3 I find the terms useful because they do describe my own religious journey, but I recognize there are plenty of other groups that claim Christianity as their identity and I don't attempt to be exhaustive. And although I experienced a deep, true, God-given conversion of heart when I became a Catholic, I also converted into a Church -- and religion -- as well, founded by Christ and made up of his believers, sharing one catechism and a common journey. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts -- wishing you blessings. <3