I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic parochial school (St. Emydius), then Catholic high school (Archbishop Riordan). The Catholic faith was emphasized in the parochial school but not at all in the high school, when one’s childhood faith must start the transformation into an adult faith. Instead it was left to wither, and I didn’t object because I was starting to find it (the faith) boring and restrictive.
So I spent the next 30 years living without any faith but just being a “good person” (nevermind that I broke every commandment in my “good person” days). During that time I married a serious Catholic woman who was a church music director. I kind of faked being Catholic enough so she’d marry me, went to Mass about half the time, still didn’t believe it. Then we started having children and I used the kids as an excuse to stop going to Mass again (“too much work, too disruptive!”).
Anyway, my wife, who had become more and more disenchanted with the disasterous state of Catholic music, decided she needed to form a Catholic choir to help remind our part of the world of the heritage of great Catholic music. I thought, fine, sounds like a good hobby for you. So she went out, rounded up singers, rehearsed them and got some sacred concerts set up in local churches. Of course I had to be there to show support. That first set of concerts was the turning point in my life. I sat there, crying, hearing a faith that was larger than life, instead of the dumbed-down grade-school faith that seemed to take over the Church after Vatican II. In this music I heard a faith that serious adults could take, well, seriously.
I came home from the first or second concert thinking “I have to read something about God!” and remembered I had bought a C.S. Lewis compendium volume years ago, and had never cracked it open. So I found it and started reading “Surprised by Joy”. Well, was I surprised! Here again I found a serious adult who had come to serious faith, and what’s more, I recognized in his description of Joy the exact same experience I had been having in my own life (and like him, it has since subsided - those who have read the book will know this is not a bad thing).
So that was it. The sacred music of the Church (a treasure of inestimable value, as Vatican II describes it) and C.S. Lewis brought me home. I never doubted that if one is to believe in the Judeo-Christian God, one must be Catholic. I could see that Protestantism was neither fish nor fowl, a strange and incoherent mix. So I came home, driving down to the cathedral on my lunch hour to say my first confession in three decades (lots more tears). Yes, I got back from “lunch” late.
I only had one moment of doubt a few weeks after I “came home”. Was this all just wish-fulfillment (even though I hadn’t been wishing it were true before)? But that weekend we went to Marine World and I went into the butterfly house. Those butterflies told me it was all true. No natural explanation can account for the world of butterflies. They are simply an artistic outburst of God. I’ve seen many other such outbursts since then, but it was the butterflies that cemented the deal.
So now I’m Catholic again, until the day I die (and even afterwards). I found the Truth, and it is much, much better than we have any right to expect. Where before I never saw God anywhere, now I can’t go anywhere, do anything, without seeing Him. That is one of the most amazing lessons of the faith. He is everywhere, but you have to have eyes to see.