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Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm a Cradle Catholic....So, This is What It's Like...

Those of you who read my blog know that I've be chronicling the movement of St. Aidan's in Des Moines, into Holy Mother Church.  This is the latest from the rector.  I have been a Catholic my whole life, THANK GOD! But, there is something very fulfilling for me to hear what a new convert thinks...it let's me know that through all the heartache, through all the trials, through all the abandonment, and through all of the sluffing of friends and family, because I'm too Catholic; it let's me know that it's all worth it in the end, as long as I listen to and understand what is being said.  The words of (Fr.) Jonathin Chori Seraiah;

It is taking some time for it to sink in, and I am not sure that it fully has yet. I am Catholic. I can say that in heart, mind, and body. I was received into the Catholic Church yesterday and I have to say it is a bit surreal. Not in a bad way at all--it is thoroughly wonderful--but it is difficult to describe the exact feeling. I have not been wearing my clericals for a few days now and that feels quite strange. My wife stared at me before we went to Mass yesterday and said "I'm so used to you in your clericals that you just look strange in an ordinary dress shirt".

When God tells us to give up something, we never know precisely what it is going to be like until we actually do it. It was not easy, but I fully welcomed the transition. No, it was not like Frodo's temptation in Mount Doom at the "end of all things", but it did feel something like saying goodbye to an old friend (and hoping to meet up with him again in the future). Growth and change are good things when they mean growth in holiness and change for righteousness' sake. We should never sacrifice unity for the sake of truth, nor truth for the sake of unity, but remaining in Anglicanism, I realized that we were sacrificing unity and truth. Truth without unity is only a partial truth, for it leaves out the truth that we are to be in union with the Church that Jesus founded on the rock of the Apostle Peter. We are called to communion, how can we refuse?

Standing there as we made our confession in the Cathedral, my wife reached over and grabbed my arm. Not only a gentle touch, but a clutch that says "I am filled with awe". There have been only two other times that I felt her reach out in that same expression of "solempne". The first was when we were saying our wedding vows twenty two years ago; and the second was a few years later when she grabbed my hand and told me that she was pregnant with our first child. Those major points in our lives were culminations of all that had happened before; they were natural developments and growths that will never be forgotten. Our marriage was the creation of a new family, and the conception of our first child was the fruit of that new family. Yesterday was the fruit of all our theological struggles.

I asked her the night before our reception into the Church if she wanted to back out. She looked at me with a look that said she knew I was joking, but that she wanted to make things clear. "After all that we've been through and seen, how could I not do this? We've taken this journey together and we finish it together; you and me forever." I knew what her answer would be, but I needed to hear it. As we grow and mature, we also find that some of the changes are harder than others. The one's that slide by easily are easily forgotten, but those that require personal sacrifice (as this one has done) are the ones that stay with us in more ways than the obvious.

This growth has led to my wife and I losing some friends, and yet it has also gotten us many new ones. The thing, however, that remains with me as I ponder all that has taken place is the fact that the very process itself (the waiting, the holding of the tongue, the forced trusting in God, etc.) is what shapes us. More than it being merely an annoying consequence, the years that we have waited to get this far (and we are not even at the end of the road yet) have been in themselves an aspect of our personal growth. It has deepened our love for the Lord and for one another. Some may want to complain, but I am thankful that it is taking time, for it allows us to grow and develop. A rushed project will usually result in errors. I am thankful for where I am today, and especially for the fact that God has been patient with me.

God surely is good.  And to be good is more than the human person can imagine.  God Bless the Seraiah's.

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