Lindy’s Blog: Where Mom is Always Right

January 4, 2009

It’s not all about me, Me, ME!!

Filed under: Catholicism,Religion — by lindyborer @ 8:30 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday morning.  It’s about time for me to put myself together and head out into the frigid temperatures to mass. 

Sometimes I long for the days when I was a protestant, and could deem a 0 degree reading on the thermometer as adequate justification to stay in my warm bed and forego church.  But, since I’m a Catholic now, I let the guilt consume me and in fear would drag myself through snowstorms to make it to mass. 

I am, of course, jesting.  I can with complete and total honesty say that I would never go back to my pre-Catholic days.  And, contrary to popular opinion, I do not generally feel large amounts of guilt.  I do notice, however, that since becoming Catholic feeling guilty is not necessarily a bad thing…There are reasons that God allows us to feel guilty, and provided us with consciences that sometimes promote feelings of guilt.  I take it as a sign that something isn’t in order, and I’d best have it out and perhaps repent. 

I’ve noticed, too, since becoming Catholic, that mass is not about the music, the church building, the people who lead the music, the pastor, the sermon, the lovely people sitting there, and is most definitely not about me.  It is so Christ-centered, and culminates with the Eucharist.  And most often it serves to remind ME that I’m there because I’m a miserable, imperfect sinner.  And that I receive in a very powerful, corporal way Jesus Himself through the Eucharist, which helps me become a better person.  It equips me for the purpose of getting it together.

The Christ-centered aspects of mass are especially apparent to former protestants who are Catholic converts.  I can recall feeling like a person afloat in a giant sea of denominations, drifting aimlessly from one to another, desperately reaching out for a solid piece of land, and finding again and again nothing but a flimsy piece of driftwood.  This process is often known as “church shopping,” and always struck me as rather horrifying, though at the time I couldn’t say why this was so.  But now I know…it was all about me, Me, ME!  “Try many different churches and see what fits YOU.”  For crying out loud, was I looking for Christ or a pair of jeans? 

I remember meeting David, and falling almost instantly in love with him.  (I have to remind myself of this from time to time.)  I remember finding out he was Catholic, and thinking, “I’ll have to stop THIS nonsense!”  And try I did.  But, although David, like many life-long, “cradle Catholics” wasn’t always able to provide adequate explanations of his faith (although I think Catholics in general know way more than they think they do), he WAS immovable in his annoying, pragmatic, and logical way, and exhibited a marked resistance to the fluff with which I was presenting him.  And carried off his defense of Catholicism quite well, actually.  Over the course of time, he represented a strong anchor in the sea of options, and I was beginning to envy his stability. 

This story is way too long for one post.  And the clock is ticking.  I’ll just say for now that the first thing that initially really struck me, and was, in fact, the thing that made me go from, “No way” to “Yes, absolutely” about Catholicism came down to one thing:  Authority.  I recall thinking how stupid 30,000 plus denominations make Christianity look to the world.  If the Bible is so easy to interpret, why are there so many people who see it so differently?  Unified, my patootey.  This lack of final authority is what allows people to start churches at the local pizzeria.  It just didn’t seem to me that THAT was what God had in mind for his Bride, the Church.  Surely God would have provided guidance and a final authority when it comes to interpretation of Scripture, etc…And he did.  But most protestants don’t know about it, or they don’t want to hear about it, or they’re absolutely confused about it.  (I was.) 

And then, history came into play, and the writings of the Church fathers, and the actual origins of the Bible, and the Reformation and its aftermath.  And I read about all this and realized that THIS was the way it was supposed to be.  And I realized how miserably I and others had mischaracterized the Catholic faith.  I was wrong, Wrong, WRONG! 

So, that was the beginning of my conversion to the Catholic faith.  And I keep finding out more and more.  It’s like opening a fantastic present, and finding that there are ever more presents inside, waiting to be opened.  It’s all there and more.  Perpetual Christmas morning. 

No longer do I feel adrift in the sea of denominations.  I can recall speaking to David about some non-denominational church, and him annoyingly (and accurately) asking, “So, is that a denomination?”   To which I responded by opening and closing my mouth several times in succession with no words coming out, rather like a landed fish.   Ahem.  Another check for the Catholics.

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7 Comments »

  1. Right on. Write on.

    Comment by Bridge — January 4, 2009 @ 3:04 pm |Reply

  2. Getting up to go to church reminds me of learning to float on your back in a swimming pool. It is easy to say you can, but demonstrating it is an altogether different thing. One has to actually do something by getting into the water. They have to trust in the principle of buoyancy, take instruction and then implement the instuctions. Sometimes the water is cold and it would be easier to say floating on your back is easy and demonstration isn’t required. But faith like floating on your back requires a fair degree of physicality and trust. Most protestant churches lack the infusion of faith and the physicality of faith; a proper balance, when struck, is like floating on your back.

    Comment by Dave — January 4, 2009 @ 3:54 pm |Reply

  3. Lindy,
    Do you think, as a former Evangelical, that it is possible to be convinced by a Catholic, through words/dialogue, that church (s)hopping is more about “ME” than about Jesus? Or do you think it is something they must find out on their own? I have friends who are doing this and wonder if they have any sense of it how you put it. Also, if you weren’t a reader, save for the Bible, do you think you would have become Catholic? You mentioned Church History and The Church Fathers. What if a Catholic talks to an E friend who doesn’t like to read much at all, let alone Catholic literature/history??
    I value former Protestants’ views so much. I just had no idea how some of these other “denominations” viewd the Catholic Faith. It helps when I talk with friends who don’t share my views.

    Comment by Ranell — January 4, 2009 @ 10:55 pm |Reply

  4. Ranell: I might have to think on those questions more.

    I think that, yes, it most often takes a dedicated, open, patient Catholic who is willing to provide information (when asked for) to provide the initial whys of Catholicism to non-Catholics. All the stories I’ve ever heard of Catholic converts who did it “on their own”, so to speak, WERE readers. They got into history, the Church fathers, etc… and finally arrived by logic at Catholicism.

    Most of the time, however, I think conversion starts when Protestants encounter a Catholic in their life who is willing to defend their faith in goodwill (who actually knows their faith well enough to defend it!) My case: Well, I met David, of course, and once I realized I wasn’t going to convert him, I felt that I should probably do some reading to understand him a bit more. But I did do a lot of reading.

    Hmm. I think any conversion always has to mainly come from the individual, himself, and the promptings of the H.S. The best you can do, I think, is be open, non-confrontational, and a wellspring of accurate information about the Catholic faith. Listen to me, I sound like the expert I am NOT.

    You’re right, though. Most Protestant/Evangelical churches are very misunderstood and vehemently outspoken against Catholicism. Sad, but true.

    Often times, (and we’ve talked about this before), it’s possible to point out that Catholicism CAN, in fact, be defended solely through Scripture. (To those who are sola scriptura).

    As for the poor plight of Protestant church shoppers: I think that there’s a 99.99% chance that most, no matter how desperate, would never even consider going to a Catholic mass in their search for a home. I don’t think it IS always about “ME” for many of them; they truly are seeking Christ, but have been so indoctrinated against Catholicism, that it never even enters their mind as an option.

    And, in the end, there’s the pride problem. It takes a large slice of humble pie to admit that what you have been railing against is, in fact, Truth. It’s never fun to admit when one is wrong.

    I share your frustration. The reading out there is so rich; it’s hard to not be able to share it with others who aren’t necessarily readers.

    Comment by lindyborer — January 5, 2009 @ 10:16 am |Reply

  5. …my two cents…when I called up our local Catholic priest and told him that I wanted to be a Catholic, his reply was, (humorously), ..”and I thought the Holy Spirit needed ME!” We laughed. For me, it was an agonizing 5 years of letting the Catholic Church speak for itself.I happened to have an Evangelical friend who converted who listened on the phone to my objections every Monday morning for over a year. Most of the time I thought I had won. My awakening moment was one day when I realized that one of the things I had previously disagreed with-(Mary as a type of the Ark of the Covenant) penetrated my dull brain as right on. It was then I decided I needed to listen to what the Church said about herself, not what others said it taught. Talk about an incredibly exciting journey!!! Until the day you realize that you’re going to have to actually become Catholic. Bummer! Then it becomes terribly painful. That would mean: My family will think I’m crazy (they do), it will devastate our parents ( I think it has), my friends will desert me (they have),I’ll have to change churches again (embarrassing)…I have to DO something! Previously, I only listened to the sound-bytes I had been fed for 50 years, and watched Catholics themselves. Sadly, no Catholic ever defended their faith to me, at least not well. We were blind, but so were most Catholics. No wonder the situation hasn’t changed much. To try to answer your question, Ranell, I think it helps tremendously to be a reader. I also watched EWTN continually. And listened to tapes…But a person who doesn’t want to give in and listen to the Church, can only be moved by the Holy Spirit and I’ve heard He will let you go your own way if you resist Him long enough. I guess someone was praying for us. We are eternally grateful. The best thing you can do is always be ready with an answer as the Bible says. If they only knew how great it is! I wish everyone could be a Catholic. It’s especially hard to share your faith because absolutely almost no one wants to listen these days. They think you’re being arrogant or self righteous…especially if you’re not perceived as a walking sermon, which we are not-we have a long way to go. Admitting we were wrong was only the 1st step.

    Comment by Dee — January 5, 2009 @ 10:53 am |Reply

  6. Being a “cradle to grave” Catholic I am always interested in a converts road to the Catholic faith. Our converts are one of our greatest gifts. They remind us of what we (Catholics) were given at baptism and usually take for granted. They have searched out and found the Church. Throughout the Bible God called others when His own people chose to “go their own way”. If His own wouldn’t listen He always welcomes those that will.
    Great post Lindy

    Comment by trish — January 6, 2009 @ 10:56 am |Reply

  7. […] my Google Reader and a few of the Catholic blogs really caught my attention. One of my favorites, Lindy Borer, wrote about some of the reasons she converted to Catholicism – the misconception of what searching […]

    Pingback by Cradle Catholic « An said what? A day in the life of An Huynh… — January 6, 2009 @ 5:53 pm |Reply


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