Here is the account of my religious life to date. I was born to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. After being baptized and confirmed as a Catholic, I went to a fairly fundamentalist Christian school. Though I had been catechized, I only had a vague understanding of Roman Catholicism. At my school, I was faced with a variety of challenges to the teachings of the Vatican, challenges I did not have the knowledge to adequately answer. I managed to compound my problem of ignorance by being too stupid to ask the priest at St. John’s about the claims being made by my teachers. I began to drift away from the Church of my childhood, a process that would continue through the end of my high school years.
When I first arrived at Grove City College for my freshman year, I could probably be best labeled as a very nominal Catholic who had somehow picked up a fundamentalist bent. By and large, that fundamentalism did not survive first contact with other Christians. Calvinism slowly became my new system of choice during sophomore and junior year, but by the summer of 2009, cracks had appeared in this creed too. I retreated about half a star as a Calvinist, and began to wonder a little bit about Roman Catholicism again during my senior year. During my time at Grove City, I lost quite a few of the philosophical and cosmological beliefs I had espoused at my high school. If I had been wrong about those, could I have been wrong about Rome? I still could not get my head around many of the Catholic doctrines, but some of the challenges that had laid me low in high school now seemed inadequate. In any case, I didn’t have time to study theology. It was senior year, projects were due, and graduate school applications were sent out.
One of those graduate school applications landed me at UC Davis. While preparing to move across the nation, I searched online for churches in the area. I knew I had still resolved neither my objections to Calvinism (though these were relatively minor, and easy to ignore if one simple refused to think about them) nor my lingering questions about Catholicism. The nearest Orthodox Presbyterian church was on the other side of Sacramento, and I did not have a car. I am enthusiastically not a fan of the PCUSA, which left a few Baptist churches and St. James Catholic Church.
St. James was the church closest to my apartment, and though I did not understand and was not comfortable with the teachings of the Catholic Church, I still very much loved the church I grew up in. There is an order and majesty to Her, and a unity and authority I didn’t see in the Protestant churches, but I digress. I attended Mass on Sunday, though I didn’t take Communion with the congregation. Father Martin gave what sounded like his introductory homily. He told us his story of a nearly-crippling injury and his long and slow recovery. It was clear to me that God was working with him and through him. I am not really sure why I did it – I think I was operating primarily on the basis of emotion – I went to Confession the following Saturday. I knew I had to get my mind in order. The state of thinking the Catholic Church was fatally flawed while attending that same church was one I could not maintain in good conscience. I asked Father Martin if I could talk to him about this, and he said yes. The following Monday morning, I came to talk to him. We went through a list of questions I had put together, a shortlist of things I could not explain or work out. When we parted ways for the day, there were still some doctrines I did not understand, but I did know that the Roman Catholic Church was based on sound doctrine. Doubts had still lingered from the charges of Pelagianism and other evils leveled in high school, but those had now been swept away.
This exchange brought me two things: a measure of peace between my mind and my heart, and an idea. The idea was not only that Catholic doctrine might be Biblical truth, but that now I had both the time and the inclination to research it. I have done a lot of reading since then, and a lot of research. I do not understand everything, and I do not expect to understand all things. After all, men far smarter than I have been at this for well nigh two millennia. Day by day, I think I am becoming more and more convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church. This is not to say that all of the Protestants are mortally wrong, or that Catholics can learn nothing from them (perhaps our Protestant brothers and sisters can finally get us to read our Bibles?), but I think they are missing something.
In any case, I am home and where I should be. I know I will still wrestle with theological issues, as well as political and philosophical ones – having time to think has interesting consequences for one’s worldview. Many of those issues will appear on this blog. I love discussion and debate, and I think it provides one of the better methods of arriving at truth. On a lighter note, when one has time, one tends to pick up hobbies. I picked up cooking and baking. Some of those successes, failures, and ongoing experiments may show up here from time to time. Oh, I also do computer science. So expect a technology or mathematics oriented rant from time to time.
Father Martin is currently in the hospital. Please pray for him.