Thursday, February 9, 2012

Being a Seeker - Conversion, Part 4

Today's scripture readings are about how the faith  Solomon and an unnamed Greek woman affected their children.  Solomon's faith affected his son because he began showing an interest in the false idols of his foreign wives' religions.  The Lord did not take the kingdom from Solomon because He had made a promise to Solomon's holy father, King David.  Instead, these measures were applied to Solomon's offspring.  Conversely, the Greek woman had such faith in the ability of Jesus to heal her daughter that the very proclamation of that faith inspired her healing.  Jesus says, "For saying this, you may go.  The demon has gone out of your daughter (Mark 7:29).   It's an interesting "God-incidence" that today's reading should be about the faith of parents since I am in the middle of a 10-day focus on my family. 

I think my protestant parents would be surprised to learn how much a hand they had in my conversion to Catholicism.  When I look back on how I was raised, my choosing this particular path of faith had a certain inevitability. 

When I was very young, only my mother went to church but she went regularly and took us children with her.  By the time I was in 2nd grade, we'd moved to a new neighborhood and only 3 blocks from where they were building a new United Methodist church.  At that time, my Dad began attending church with us.  Though Methodists do not have a "Sunday obligation," they took us to church every week.  I do not remember either of them ever complaining that they did not want to go.  I remember my dad being a seeker.  He read a great many books on Christianity and faith; he had many conversations with the young and faithful pastor of that congregation. That pastor baptized my dad and brother (then probably about 5 years old).   Their joy in their faith was always apparent to us.  You see, neither of my parents grew up going to church; they were raising themselves in their faith as they were raising us.

My dad is a physicist and I think it's fair to say that being such means his bent is about 1/3 mathematician, 1/3 engineer and 1/3 scientist.  He is a lifelong student and he looks for evidence.  He and my mother are both avid readers and our house was always full of books.  The one way in which we were "spoiled" as children was that my parents always bought us all the books we wanted, and it worked.  All four of us love to read.

This seeking, this curiosity, this search for truth affected me profoundly.  In my long career as a United Methodist, I never stopped seeking.  My particular search was what I would call a seeking out of the "true church."  I was always looking for the method of living out my faith that would bring me closest to what Jesus intended.  I wanted that experience of being around the table with Jesus --an experience of true discipleship -- and that seeking was borne out in me growing up as I did.

As I read these passages about Solomon and the Greek woman, it reminded me how seriously we who are parents must take our responsibility to rear our children in the faith of our family.  We have a responsibility not only to teach them to seek the truth for themselves, but also to be faithful disciples ourselves. Our joy  (or lack thereof) in our faith sets the stage for our children will feel about the Church. The ways in which we live out or faith -- or don't -- has an impact far beyond the span of our years.

As start a cold and gloomy February day, I see my focus brightening.  Today we will make some more preparations for St. Valentine's day, but I will also be telling my kids about faithful St. Jerome Emiliani, the patron saint of orphans, an important saint in a household of 5 adopted children.  Today, I will strive to let the joy of my faith shine out as an example to my kids and be sure that I am more "Greek woman" than Solomon.  And there you have it!

Part One of my story
Part Two  - Midnight Mass
Part Three - Crucifix Ephiphany
Part Five - Signs and Wonders
Part Six - Annulment
Part Seven - Taking it on Faith

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