I originally wrote this for my parish’s bulletin last year. With Easter approaching I feel it appropriate for me to post it here.
My journey to the Catholic Faith has been one full of false starts, wrong turns, dead ends, and finally a seat in a classroom every Tuesday night for the past 4 months. When I first walked in to speak with Father Wehmann about taking RCIA classes I was tempted to see if there was a test I could take instead of taking the classes. Growing up the son of a Lutheran pastor I spent the better part of my youth surrounded by the church and as a result I felt I had a pretty good handle on what religion was all about. Thankfully there is no test that one can take in order to become Catholic, the journey that God puts you on when you make the decision to convert will far exceed anything you can ever image.
During the past few months God has placed many obstacles in my path to the faith. These obstacles started out as the ones most people struggle with, closed communion, transubstantiation, confession. I was struggling with the typical problems many people have with the faith. I was doing my due diligence in trying to come to an understanding of each of my struggles. I was reading the Catechism and Papal Encyclicals, praying and meditating on my struggles and each day I would come a little closer a better understanding of what I was struggling with. God was bringing into the faith slowly but surely.
As I began to release some of my struggles, things that I once thought impossible were suddenly not only possible but they were happening on a daily basis. When my wife and I were married we were told to pray together. At the time I was told this I thought to myself I have no idea how I am to pray with my wife. We both believed in God when we were married, we just did it privately. The thought of praying together was something that both of us found to be slightly embarrassing. It was simply too personal. I viewed a strong prayer life with my wife as something that was impossible. Well I have learned that with God all things are possible including praying with your wife. This once impossible task is now taking place on a daily basis and a result my marriage is now stronger.
My journey to the faith was going along wonderfully, I was seeing the impossible become possible. I was seeing the grace of God for the first time in a long time and then on January 22 God placed something on my path that would shake my beliefs to the core. It was on this day that my brother in law was killed in a snowmobile accident. It was because of his death I began to seriously question my belief in God once again. It seems that every time in my life I get close to God, tragedy strikes. When I was confirmed, my parents divorced and now when I am on the verge of conversion, my brother in law is tragically killed. I was struggling with this issue as I drove myself home from the hospital and as I struggled with this issue I heard a voice say to me “Are you not glad I am with you?”. It was a voice that came out of nowhere and it left as quickly as it came, but it was one that has forever changed me.
After the voice faded in my head, I realized that I was truly glad that God was with me during this time of loss. Before my brother in laws death I always viewed a strong faith in God as a type of shield that would protect you from tragedy. I have since learned that a strong faith in God does not offer a shield against tragedy, but what it does offer is God’s healing graces when tragedy does strike. God does not prevent tragedies from happening, but God does offer a shoulder to cry on and words of consolation when it does.
My journey to the faith had been a long and winding road and I know that my journey towards a deeper understanding of God will continue to be full of twist and turns, false starts, and dead ends, but I also know that I no longer walk down this path alone. I walk down the path surrounded by God and his graces. I am sure I will continue to struggle with some of the teachings of the church, but it in those moments of deep struggle that I know I will also find a better understanding of the faith and of God. I now know that God will not always give you what you want, but he will always give you what you need. I am incredibly thankful for the RCIA program here at St. Bridget, it is through this program that I have started to come to my deeper understanding of God and as a result my life has been enriched beyond what I have thought to be possible. If my belief in God can be so dramatically changed in 4 months, I cannot wait to see what happens to my faith over the rest of my life.