Have I mentioned that I love being Catholic? It's exactly where I know I'm supposed to be.
I grew up with a nominal Catholic foundation (one day I'll go into that more), so I became a Protestant at the age of 15 after meeting someone who showed me how much Jesus loved me. For 18 years I was passionately in love with Christ as a Protestant. Then I was called home by the lover of my soul. Now I am passionately in love with Christ in the Church that Jesus gave us to guide us. That's not to say the Church has been perfect, but it has been guided by the Holy Spirit amid any attacks from the gates of Hell.
I like to get the background out of the way so that you know where I'm coming from.
Being Catholic has been very difficult in so many ways. I've had the chance to take a deeper look at myself (and while that's good, it certainly is ugly), and I've had to stand strong to people who oppose my move. I haven't known very many passionately Catholic people in my life. Honestly, most Catholics I know don't even seem to know what they believe or why they believe it. And most Protestants I know have had the same experience with Catholics. They are baffled when they see someone who is a Bible-believing Jesus freak moves back to the Catholic Church. They are speechless. I can feel the speechlessness.
I constantly feel like I am fighting from the inside and from the outside.
But I didn't expect anything about my conversion (reversion) to be easy, so I'm OK with it. I was prepared for it. I have been silently letting the Holy Spirit build things in me that should have been built in me in the first 15 years of my life. I've held these things close to my heart.
During the end of 2011, I felt God telling me it's time to speak up. Time to stand up. Time to be a light for His Church. All for His glory, not mine. All for His people, not for me.
This is the thing about me - I don't like to go against the crowd. I don't like to stand out. I don't like to speak up. I don't like to be the odd one. I've always stood firm in my convictions, but I've resisted being outspoken about them. I like to stand in the corner and watch life from a safe place. So I pondered what I kept hearing and tried to explain it away. Surely that's not what God is telling me.
The Time Square ball dropped and 2012 was here. I still wrestled with the message I felt like I was getting from God. The message I felt like I was getting from Him to go and stand out for Him, which is an absolute paradox to my personality.
January 20, 2012. Obama announces that he is not giving any religious exemption to his HHS mandate. Catholic institutions will have to violate their consciences and pay for birth control and abortion-causing pills or suffer large fines. The Bishops speak up. They stand firm. They stand for the teachings of the Church regarding contraception. A teaching that many - including Catholic and Protestant Christians - feel is antiquated. Religious liberty is threatened and the Bishops are not caving. The drama begins. Suddenly the Church and her 2,000 years of teaching on contraception is shoved into the limelight. People start asking the question - why does the Catholic Church teach against contraception? A teaching that was long considered old-fashioned and irrelevant is suddenly being discussed everywhere.
Something in me has changed. Now I'm ready. Time to stand up. Time to speak up.
Am I the only one who feels like there's something happening? I can't put my finger on it, but there is something in the air. Israel and Iran (and China and Russia) are getting ready to go to war. Religious liberty is being attacked by our government. The Bishops are finally standing firm for something. People are flocking back to the Catholic Church, spurred by a deep desire to get to firmer ground, beyond themselves and their own opinions about the Bible. Deep, thoughtful Christians are making the move more and more. Why?
I think a major reason is because God needs unity in His people. Something is happening in the world, and Christians would be stronger against evil if they were united. Unity is also necessary to reach the lost in the world. On the night before He died, Jesus prayed for all Christians to be in unity.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23
This passage never meant anything to me before I started taking a closer look at the Catholic Church. Now my heart echoes Jesus's heart when he prayed this. He knows he's about to die, and he is praying for us to be united. I feel like screaming, "Doesn't this mean anything to anyone?!"
It's time to reach the lost, and we cannot reach the masses without unity.