Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Start of a Conversion

I'm a vert. Not a convert but a revert. I was raised a Catholic but public high school did it's number on me and by the time I left the University of Missouri I was a full blown heathen. However, through the grace of God I found myself, a decade later, yearning for Him.

I had an old college chum feeling the same yearnings. After weeks of talking about it, we finally set a date to go to Mass together. It was a big deal. Neither of us had seen the inside of a church in years so we figured we better get there a half hour early. After all, we had a lot of praying and reflecting to do before Mass.

On that fateful Sunday, my friend showed up at my apartment and we got into my brand new Nissan Maxima that didn't even have 1,000 miles on it yet. We pulled out of the parking lot and the car died. It wouldn't start for 5 minutes. We went a few feet and it died again. It wouldn't start for 5 minutes. We went a few feet and ... you get the idea. It died 4 or 5 times on the way to the church. Each time, we had to wait 5 to 10 minutes to get started again. We got to the church just as Communion was finishing up.

The church was 1.6 miles from my apartment. My car drove home just fine. It never broke down again.

I don't know about you but I saw it as a message. A very clear message. This going to church thing was so important that someone was trying to keep me from getting there. I knew I had to keep going.

What about my friend? He wasn't moved by the experience and is still away from the Church. As for me, my conversion was Petrine not Pauline. The car thing didn't knock me off my horse and I didn't find myself immediately on fire for all things Catholic. It was a slow journey but that day was the beginning of it. I did finally find myself fully and completely reconciled with God and His Church, but that's quite a long story.

One final note. I shared this story some years ago at a Catholic homeschooling conference that just happened to be held in that very same church. I was giving a talk to teens on choosing a vocation and job search skills. When I got to the part about leading a virtuous life so that you can clearly hear God's call, I told this story. It was an emotional moment. There I stood on the podium awash in tears. It was embarrassing to cry in front of a room of teens but I think they'll remember that it's a lot better to stay on the straight and narrow path. When you get off of it, it's really hard to get back on as it was for me. Sometimes, like for my friend, you never get back on.

And if it weren't for the fervent prayers of loved ones, I may not have got back on either.

1 comment:

Domenico said...

Thanks for sharing Maureen. I'm always interested to hear the "revert" stories of others being that I too fall in that class.

I was raised Catholic, high school and certain "friends" drew me away, and started to feel a need to return to the church when I entered the University of Florida. It also was a slow journey until I met my wife years ago. Since then, I was on the "fast track" if you want to call it that. Not sure exactly when I gave up my "cafeteria Catholic" status, but I'm so much happier being in full communion with the church.