Within weeks of beginning to attend Catholic mass, that old curiosity rose up in me. I began reading books on the Catholic faith trying to answer my own questions. After some research, it began dawning on me that this was, indeed, the church I'd been looking for. My whole adult life, I'd sought the church that was close to Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church's commitment to the traditions of the church had a plus for a seeker like me; it allowed me a glimpse into the church that existed closer to the time of Jesus. I found myself in regular email and phone exchanges with Father Sam, who eventually convinced me there was no shortcut to Catholicism, and I should join the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) class starting in the fall.
I enjoyed the class and learned a lot, but a lot of my questions had already been answered. Yet one niggling issue persisted.
A few weeks before the Easter Vigil where our class would join the Church, our RCIA leaders asked, "Are you ready to commit?" I said to the class that my biggest concern was about transubstantiation. I was just not sure that I could accept that the bread and wine truly became the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Father Sam was present for that class and he looked at me with a very open expression on his faith and said, "Some things you simply have to take on faith."
I was --of course -- unsatisfied with that answer, but I mulled it over each night as I was trying to sleep. "What does that mean? Why do Catholics always cop out with 'It's a mystery'? Isn't this too important to just "take on faith?"
One morning I woke up to read my daily readings and had an epiphany. There were many, many things in my life I'd taken on faith, countless things. My whole journey to Catholicism had been an act of faith. There was a certain irony in needing to know definitive answers in matters of faith. I decided to stop holding so tightly to my "need to know" and allow God to illuminate the path for me.
That decision changed everything. As it turned out, my annulment papers did not come through in time for me to join the church with my class. At Easter Vigil, I was in the pews as my RCIA classmates were baptized and welcomed into the church. As I watched them receive first Holy Communion, I knew I was ready.
For the next six months, I continued to stand in the congregation and watch my classmates receive the Eucharist as God finished preparing my heart. Finally, on the feast day of my confirmation saint, St. Therese of Li Seux, I called Father Sam. "Still nothing?," I asked, feeling impatience rise in me. "As a matter of fact," he said, "I was just looking up your number. Your annulment papers came through."
I joined the Church that weekend with a confidence I'd have never had -- but decided I did not need! -- at Easter Vigil.
Today's gospel reading sums up my journey to Catholicism well:
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. "
I am still a seeker, but now instead of seeking the perfect church, I'm seeking the perfect expression of my faith. I am committed to growing in perfection whilst knowing I'll never achieve it. But I will keep knocking.