Monday, January 14, 2013

Sharing

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Hello, dear readers!  This morning I would like to share something very personal with you all.  If you're new, I hope that you'll leave a comment letting me know you stopped by.  I hope everyone leaves a comment letting me know you stopped by!

A priest, a minister, and a seminarian walk into a bar church...
I was raised as a Christian in a Christian family.  I happened to attend a Presbyterian (USA) church from before I was even born until I got married and moved.  (And a Methodist one when I was in university.)  I've always had a very ecumenical attitude and a great understanding of many denominations.  Three of my four grandparents were Catholic--my dad's parents and my mom's mom.  My mother grew up going to a Dutch Reformed church and chose Presbyterian churches as an adult.  My dad was Catholic and chose the Church of Staying Home for some time until he realized he wanted to set an example for his son.  When I got married I married a Catholic man and my brother (a not-yet-ordained Presbyterian minister by then), my pastor, and my husband's priest all officiated.

Going to church
During the first year of our marriage, I very seriously considered converting to Catholicism.  As most spouses in "mixed" or "interchurch" marriages, we both considered the idea that being members of the same denomination would make our lives easier, completely aside from theological beliefs.  I saw how difficult it was for my husband to connect with Protestant churches and traditions of various denominations (Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal) and saw that he was a good Catholic.  I had a better ability to see church as church and I had a greater comfort level with Catholicism than I could ever imagine him having with any mainline Protestant denomination.  At one point I asked my brother if he thought that me converting for the sake of things being easier would be wrong--I thought it would be.  In true minister style, I got a vague answer about personal faith and individual situations.  My interest waxed and waned until around the time of our second anniversary when I felt I had given the matter a reasonable amount of consideration and prayer.  I told my husband that I had come to the conclusion that I was pretty sure I would not be able to become Catholic.  I explained that while I agreed with much of the theology and the parts I didn't were minor to me, I could not get past the fact that I was not invited to communion until I was actually Catholic.  I still feel that if I was invited warmly to commune, I would likely decide to convert very easily.  Brice did not express any problems with this, just said that was fine.  He said that he knew church was very important to me and basically that he would defer to me in the decision about where we attended.

Recently, a couple of different very small events in my life triggered me to begin thinking about Catholicism again.  One was a reconnection with a strong Christian friend.  Another was a Christian movie.  Another was randomly stumbling upon a Catholic blog, which led to a few others.  I found myself opening up a book I thought I had closed.  I began to think about my reasons once again for why I was not Catholic.  There was my issue with communion.  But I also had other reasons, including a poor situation with the priest involved with our marriage prep.  To be honest, becoming Catholic would feel like letting him "win".  I think it's important that I admit this reason because I am fully aware that it is selfish and petty and has no relationship to faith.  Another reason I felt remaining Protestant was the right choice was that it meant we remained an "interchurch" family and could be an example of the ecumenism in which I so strongly believe. I have been a part of an international online group of interchurch families for a number of years now.  As part of this group, we all feel that our marriages, our witness to Christ's relationship with the church, are strongly needed to show the unity possible among the various denominations.  I had come to the conclusion that as difficult as it was, our marriage was needed to help others.

It was this last reason that I began to consider more deeply.  And suddenly, I had a realization: the purpose of marriage, whether you believe it is a vocation, sacrament, ordinance, covenant, calling, or simple choice, is for the building up of Christ's church.  For the purpose of service and evangelism.  To be Christ's example to all, but most of all to your spouse.  I realized that maybe we weren't meant to be an example of an interchurch couple because that wasn't something my husband was really able to do.  Maybe what he needed was someone to walk with him in faith much more closely than I had been doing.  Maybe I was not putting his needs for encouragement in faith before the needs of fellow interchurch couples.  As his wife, the person with the most influence on his faith and the most responsibility for his soul, I should recognize what his needs are and put them ahead of others, for our strong unity in faith was better for others anyway.

All of the above happened last year while we were living in Germany.  Once I knew where we would be moving back to in the US, I contacted churches in the area about RCIA (this is the class and process of joining the Catholic church as an adult).  I had gone through the class while I was attending university simply for educational reasons and to be better prepared for our marriage.  This time, I am fairly certain I will be "joining up".  (No one can hold me to it until the day-of!)

As a Protestant to Catholic "convert" (I use quotes because I feel convert should apply to actually changing religions, not denominations), I would like to have some posts in the coming weeks and months that will promote knowledge-sharing among the denominations.  I'd like to clear up some myths, alleviate some  misunderstandings, and do what I can to promote ecumenical dialogue.  If you'd be interested in participating in this by either writing a guest post or joining in a link-up, please let me know.  If there are any particular tenets of either Protestantism of Catholicism that you'd like to see addressed, please also let me know.

For a sort of "Part II", see this guest post.

This post is also now part of a link-up at The Pearl and the Pilot called My Catholic Journey.

My Catholic Journey
 

25 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I am a new follower--and a Catholic. Welcome home.

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    1. Thank you, Rita! I'm glad you stopped by and said "hello".

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  2. I will be praying for you during this time.

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  3. I have a friend who went through something similar when she married a Catholic man. I will share this post with her and see if she wants to write about her experience!

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  4. I'm glad to hear the good news. If you ever have any questions about anything, don't hesitate to ask....chances are I won't know either but my students or co-workers will have a very knowledgeable idea. (I'll admit I read this post at first thinking that you and Brice were planning on having a kid based on the "interesting news" you have to share...)

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    1. Thanks, Kyle. I actually find that most of the class time is superfluous since I did the class the first time at the Newman Center and it was really good. The same people certainly don't do it there anymore, but that was when I met your friend Chip :-) I think 2 rounds of RCIA are probably going to result in me being one of the more knowledgeable lay-people out there.

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  5. Exciting news! And I still owe you an email. Just waiting for the time for a reply that will do justice to your good questions! Hopefully by this weekend :)

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    1. I appreciate that, Haley. Take your time--I know you are busy!

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  6. I am so excited that you are most likely going to join the Catholic church! Amazing news! I am looking forward to reading your upcoming posts! :)

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  7. Wow, Kelley, what big news! Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to hearing about your journey over the next few months and thoughts about faith, commitment, communion, etc! Our dear friend Josiah was confirmed in the Catholic church on Easter last year, and it was a beautiful experience to be able to walk through "with" him over the course of six years or so. Exciting :) -(cousin) Megan

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    1. and PS you and Brian are so stinkin' cute in that picture!

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  8. Kelley, I'm so happy for you! I can't believe my blog had anything to do with your change of heart, but if it did, I am so happy. Welcome to the Church! You have many friends here already!

    To be honest, I had no idea you weren't already Catholic, most of the people who follow me (or at least the ones that comment often are) so I just assumed. Maybe it was just wishful thinking?

    Can I just tell you, I have tears in my eyes.

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    1. I'm glad to be able to share that with you. It was funny the other day when you asked how people found you. Your comment on Alicia's blog triggered a long series of events (finding Conversion Diary through your Quick Takes and then NFP & Me, etc.). Thanks for your part of the journey.

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  9. Welcome! My (previously Protestant) husband converted last Easter and the process of watching him come into the faith during RCIA was one of the coolest things I've ever witnessed. It actually changed me from a cafeteria Catholic to an actual practicing-everything-She-teaches Catholic! (So who led who to the church?) :) So excited to hear about your journey!

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    1. Hi Stacy--I think I have visited you before or I at least remember reading something from you in the young marriage series maybe? Glad you stopped by!

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  10. Yay! I'm converting this year in a few months! I'll be praying for you!

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  11. Hi! Blogger friend of Mandi here. I'm so happy for you!! Praise God!

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  12. (my name is Jen... Nej is a nickname. Just wanted to clear that up!)

    Congratulations! This is very exciting!!! I am visiting from Messy Wife... although, I read something from you the other day and I am not sure what it was. Your very cute pics above are familiar. :)

    I pray for many blessings on your continued journey! As you go along with the process please know that at some point everyone struggles with the teachings/traditions/etc of the faith... we all have. But, the Church is patient and has a TON of amazing and holy people that are willing to discuss things with you. Also, there are a crazy amount of books. Read them. I think there is a book on every topic of Catholicism. It's awesome. :)

    And, don't be discouraged by the annoying, Catholic not-excited-for-you-to-become-Catholic (b/c unfortunately there are) people out there. Whomever it may be... priests, friends, old people. Ignore them. It's easier to get upset and think about them all of the time, but there are wayyyyyy more people excited and happy for you! For example.. all of the Catholic young women bloggy friends that you either know now... or will at some point.

    And, I wrote a book. All this to say... YAY!!! Welcome.

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    1. I appreciate the time you took to write your book! It's lovely to see such enthusiasm and support from people I know only through typeface on my screen. I will take all of your advice to heart :-)

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  13. Wow, I'm rejoicing for you...not necessarily because you are joining the Catholic church (although that's great!), but because you're seeking God's leading (and finding it!) in your life and in your marriage. I almost didn't become Catholic after completing RCIA almost 12 years ago, but I have never regretted the decision to go through with it. I'm also part of the interchurch families group you mentioned (though I haven't been able to keep up with the listerv since the twins were born), and I've often wondered about our situation and whether we'll feel called to stand in the gap between our denominations forever. (We just might...but it's not easy, as you know.) I'd be happy to write for you. My husband is Mennonite (ordained, though not currently pastoring a congregation) and I'm his non-Mennonite wife. Thanks for your beautiful, well-thought out comments on ecumenism (especially the bit about the word "convert")...it's not something that everyone "gets," and I'm so glad to find that you do.

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Thanks for visiting! I love to get comments and feedback on my posts so thanks for taking a minute to say hello!

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