In my article "The Mother of My Lord," I had basically determined to "have" Mary while remaining Protestant, convincing myself that I could practice Marian devotions at home while worshiping in a church that doesn't acknowledge them. Then the very next day that prospect seemed like madness! What happened? I think that by giving myself permission to be devoted to Mary within the Protestant tradition, I opened myself up to a full Catholic conversion. There is more to Catholicism than Mary, but she is integral to understanding the faith and practicing it.
A series of events that day lead me in this new direction. First, I had searched the internet for Eastern Orthodox churches and their beliefs. They "have" Mary too, but I would have to drive over an hour to attend one of their churches. They have Sunday school, but can one really be part of a church home so far away? Still, they don't believe in purgatory, so that seemed promising. But they also don't pray the Rosary, and I just love the Rosary.
Next, I sat down and did some reading from a Catholic For a Reason series book on the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Also, another book came in at the library from this series that day. Truthfully, I have learned more about the Bible through Catholicism than I ever have in Protestant churches. This makes sense, since the Catholic Church is responsible for putting the Bible together in the first place! I began to realize that I would miss being Catholic. Catholics love Mary. Do I really want, in my heart of hearts, to sit in a church that doesn't love Mary as Mother? I do not.
Perhaps the clincher came in the evening, when I heard this on youtube, from onetruefaith.tv:
"The Holy Trinity chose this woman from all eternity, and you think she's just some door into earth... This one beautiful thought alone, that she existed in the heart of God, closer to God than any other creature from all time--that should be so deeply moving that somebody would want to become Catholic immediately just on that thought alone." And my soul sang out, "Yes!"
Even before I heard that, I read something on the internet about the Protestant belief in "total depravity," that humans are entirely lacking in holiness and are in fact inherently evil due to the Fall. Luther described the human soul as a pile of dung that is covered over by snow. In opposition to total depravity is the Catholic doctrine that people are inherently good! These two things together, the veneration of Mary and the teaching of the essential goodness of humanity, must place me squarely on the Catholic side. Like I stated in my previous article, belief comes first, and then understanding. I learned from my dad not to do things "half-assed" (love this phrase of his!) and to "shit, or get off the pot." My dad is right.
I will not be able to begin my process of Catholic initiation officially until September, but my daughter will start her religious education classes tonight! As it looks now, the path is leading to the Catholic Church, calling me home.