Imagine for a moment that you had taken the most extraordinary, unlikely journey – one you never anticipated and still can’t believe actually happened. Now imagine you wanted to write a book describing the experience… how would you begin?
Here’s what I would write.
Here’s something I believe: If Catholicism is true, then it should change us. In fact, it should change everything about us. Here’s something else I believe: The Church actually does have the capacity to effect change and in a way that is unique to her. And while we’re on the subject of things that I believe, here’s another: The evidence for the Church’s ability to change us is everywhere. Throughout the ages, countless individuals have seen their lives transformed through their Catholic faith. For those who choose Christ and His Church, a lifetime of adventure awaits. Not the kind of adventure we see in movies but rather one of faith, a faith that grows until it permeates every aspect of our being. As we embark on the adventure by placing our lives in the service of God and others, transformation inexorably follows — the kind of transformation we were meant for.
A lifetime journey into faith and faithfulness in the Catholic Church may sound daunting, and perhaps it is, but it is also overflowing with meaning. The ultimate goal of such a life is nothing less than total conversion, which is another name for the transformation of which we have already spoken. To undergo conversion is to undergo a change; and in some form, this change is necessary for all of us, whether we come from another religious tradition or from a family that has been Catholic since before the death of the last apostle. To undergo conversion is to become different, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that it is to be made different. It is the start of the process of becoming a saint, for that is the ultimate point of conversion and God’s goal for each one of us.
Becoming a Catholic — entering the Catholic Church — is often dramatic and frequently involves trading in our worldview for something that can seem foreign. It’s seldom linear, and can involve taking one step forward, and two (or three) steps back. In my case, the seeds of Christianity were planted during my Presbyterian childhood. I made a decision for Christ during my pre-teen years, backslid a good bit subsequently, went to a Catholic college, and after some trial and error (mostly error), finally wound up coming into the Catholic Church. I was a true convert, by the way, since I had never been baptized (odd but true). Only after my baptism did I stop and look around, winded and breathing hard, and realize that I wasn’t at the finish line.
I was only at the starting gate. My transformation — my conversion — had just begun.
But it had begun.
I should probably tell you right up front that getting to the starting gate was not easy for me. My conversion was neither the most straightforward nor the quickest one on record. I was good at resisting change, and before I took the plunge I stood at the water’s edge for a long, long time. But I finally jumped in, and I’m here to tell you that the water’s beautiful. I’ve been a Catholic for more than twenty years now — practically half my life — and from what I can see, the Church is what she claims to be: the specific road that Christ gave us to walk as we approach Him.
Well, as you may have guessed, that’s what I did write. It’s an excerpt from the introduction of my new book. For those who have never given the Catholic Church a second thought, maybe it’s worth the time. All I can tell you is that despite all my kicking and screaming along the way, it was worth all that and more. I invite you to join me in the adventure of a lifetime, that led – despite my waywardness and abject stupidity – to embrace the gospel with open arms through Jesus Christ and His Church.
To order Kevin’s new book, here’s a link to the Amazon page – and if you want a second opinion, check out a new review by author Theresa Thomas on IntegratedCatholicLife.org. Thank you!