This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Did It

This weekend, specifically Saturday March 30 2013, on Easter Vigil I joined the Roman Catholic Church.

This has been a long struggle. Growing up I was progressively a nominal Presbyterian (ie as a kid my mom brought me to services here), a skeptic (I never QUITE moved to the atheist camp, but was so for practical purposes), a Christian (after a year's worth of investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus), a Lutheran (more sacramental than Presbyterian, plus my husband was Lutheran), a Missouri Lutheran (stricter and more conservative than the ELCA), and finally, as of Saturday, a Roman Catholic.

The hardest switch for me was to move from skeptic to Christian, a wrestling match with God in which I was quite angry for a long time. However, moving from Protestant to Catholic has been almost as difficult. An observer would have seen nothing -- my going about my daily life -- but inside two sides violently fought. I'd grown up believing that Catholicism was one step from voodoo, idolatrous and with sketchy theology. Conversations with an old friend, plus the support of another long-time friend, snuck past my prejudices to examine what, exactly, the Catholic Church believes.

I found that the Catholic Church was established from the beginning of Christianity. While there have been many problems, and famously during the early 1500s when Luther rightfully protested the Church's avarice and thus catalyzed the Reformation, still the Catholics have carried through the store of Christian scholarship and the practice of the faith. The two pillars that built Protestantism -- Sola Fidei, Sola Scriptura -- are not secure, as I'd always believed.

Little by little the ground for my resistance wore away.

Sola Fidei -- even Protestants recognize that someone going for an altar call when he's twelve, followed by a lifetime of non-Christian emphasis, is probably not a true conversion. Even though the Holy Spirit does the work, man's spirit must cooperate in order for conversion. The fruits of someone's life indicate what sorts of beliefs the person holds. In 1999 a Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification between Lutherans and Catholics agreed on the saving interaction of *faith* and *works*.

Sola Scriptura -- it came down finally, for me, to the issue of apostolic succession. As a scientist I learned to value the majority opinion over maverick interpretations. Yes, the maverick may be right -- look at Copernicus -- but in general, the group rules. Luther, for all his brilliance, almost singlehandedly decided what should and should not be included for worship. He wished to throw out books of the canon, and did throw out some of the sacramental understandings of Church worship. Within a generation at least four distinct understandings of Protestant Reformation schismed: Luther (Real Presence); Zwingli (not Real Presence); Calvin (predistination) and Knox; and Wesley who founded the Methodist Church. The English divide over Henry VIII's wives and the Anabaptists were also mixed in there. In present day there are over 10,000 Protestant denominations, each believing they are correct. So much for Sola Scriptura, since the interpretations of even basic doctrines (baptism, communion) are hopelessly noncompatible. I concluded there is a need for an authority to interpret our faith. I recognized that the Catholic Church was the only one that makes that claim.

Praying to Saints -- Although Protestants are not specifically taught this, the ones I know generally believe in an *impermeability* between heaven and earth: those in heaven cannot see what is going on on earth. In contrast, Catholics DO believe in *permeability* that saints see what we're doing on earth. We are surrounded by a cheering cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12). There is communion of saints: those in heaven with those on earth (Apostles' creed). Mary is a special case of a saint.

*Prayers* to saints are made in the sense of the Old-English definition: a request. "I pray thee listen" asks the person to listen, but is not a summons to a deity. Just as someone may ask a friend to pray for them, Catholics *pray* to saints as a request for them to pray for the person and pass this request onto God. Mary is not a goddess or co-deity, but rather the Queen Mother in heaven who also petitions God with requests she passes on from persons on Earth. Protestants, not believing saints can see us, have trouble with this concept.

Many wish to say that Jesus was a good man with profound teachings etc. etc. but nothing more. I respect this view but would like to add that if you are here, dig deeper into the life of Christ and the understandings of the Christians. You may be surprised. These studies changed my own life.

The Easter Vigil itself was long and beautiful. I was fortunate to be surrounded by those I love: my husband, our two children, and my parents. My sister in law and her husband who both converted last year were also there; my sister in law was one of my sponsors. Christa, a scholar who works for the archdiocese, was my other sponsor. She kindly agreed to work with me since I enjoy theological scrapping. Joining the Church that night there were twenty of us. Half were baptised, and then we all came forward to be confirmed in the Church. Finally, the Eucharist, the Real Presence. Lutherans believe in Consubstantiation in which God is present in the host, but Catholics believe that the host is transubstantiated. After studying John 6 I understand and agree with this interpretation, so could accept it with a clear conscience. It was an awesome thought.

I still smell the Chrism with which I was anointed. This is exciting.

Thank you for celebrating with me as I embark on a new phase.

1 comment:

  1. Your paragraph above quotes a common misunderstanding among non-Christians:

    "Many wish to say that Jesus was a good man with profound teachings etc. etc. but nothing more."

    You remind me of my favorite and most concise apologetic argument in response: Jesus essentially acknowledges his divinity to Pilate. So, either his IS God, or he is a raving lunatic who thinks he's God; there is NO middle ground. The position that he was just "a good man" is totally untenable!

    Your story is awesome. Have you ever watched Marcus Grodi ("The Journey Home") on EWTN? It is a never ending source of inspiration to see stories, like yours. They build us all up. Thank you.