I visited a “come and see” retreat this weekend at the local Catholic Seminary. A major thing to know before I make my remarks is that I am what is called a “neophite”, I’m new to the Catholic Church, despite having lots of experience in theology, apologetics, and church history. I often have to explain to Catholics what their faith is, why it is that way, etc.
I had a wonderful weekend, seeing a beautiful place where my faith could flourish amidst other dedicated Catholics. And let me be clear, my faith does not flourish on my own, whether in my old Christian faith or my new Catholic faith. My Catholic faith has certain strengthened my faith to higher points than ever in my life, but I reached a plateau a bit after I converted. I’m very much on an island in my church. My desires to find those who seek theological answers as I do and speak about theology in modern life is largely met with odd stares and spaciness.
Anyways, I was told I couldn’t possibly attend this next year, as I’m too new to the faith officially. I have mixed feelings about this, and mind you, I realize my feelings are irrelevant in the big picture, and what God calls for me.
I understand how this “buffering period” can be reasoned as just a good process, to “take the time” to process wearing the cloak of being a member of the Catholic church. I was told how nearly any bishops around the country would obstain from allowing a new Convert into the seminary (I’m not certain if that’s true, it’s just what I was told). Mind you, I spoke to no Bishops.
I understand my pride and ego in this equation. My conversion wasn’t the ordinary process. I went sobbing to my local priest after realizing my soul death within the Lutheran Church, and felt my mere pleas to God for forgiveness weren’t good enough. I craved the sacrament of Confession. I had hooks of old sin dragging me down with every step. I was amazing blessed to give my first Confession that very day in June, and was also gracefully allowed to forego the process of RCIA. I’m not sure if my knowledge of my faith allowed that, or my state of mind. It’s not the normal way it’s done, and I’m not deserving of it, but I gladly accept it.
I understand much of what the church has to offer. While I was raised in a Lutheran home with a father who is an ordained Lutheran Minister and a devout Lutheran mother, my brother converted to Catholicism years ago, attended Duke Divinity school and achieved a masters in Bible and Theology. Needless to say, I had a crucial resource to inform me about my protestant misconceptions about the mother church. We had many long talks over long periods of time.
I suspect it can make an institution feel good to make people wait to be Catholics for a bit before they would enter the Seminary. As I suggested before, there’s some head-nodding sense there. At the same time, I would offer that it’s certainly putting a halt to my progression in my faith, as my need for a community of believers who are beyond mere attendees is paramount. Being pushed to pray 3 times a day, and attend multiple masses throughout the weekend. To share a common goal in the most important aspect of my life with other people. This doesn’t exist in any Catholic church, or any church in general, I’ve ever gone to. Church is mostly filled with those who want to clock in for their hour on Sunday, and then get on with their week.
Speaking of someone’s week, I have no true career. I work in special education at an elementary school as an assitant teacher. It doesn’t pay enough to live alone, so I live with my parents at age 33. There is no way in any way do I want to go back to college to finish my education degree. I’ve ventured into multiple forms of it, art education, history education, special education, but have been met with nothing but frustration in dealing with the whimsical idealists who make up academia. There is only one thing I would go back to college for, and that would be for my faith. I’ve said it for years now. I’ve worked my dead-end, mildly fulfilling job for years now, which offers its rewards, but isn’t where I’m supposed to be. I know this.
So after this weekend, where an opening to such an institution would offer a supercharge to my life in its most important aspect, I’m told to wait, to go back to my bland, unchallenging, life of ashes, not fire.
Now that this option has eluded me, I wonder where I’ll go, because I can’t keep doing what I’m doing. I just can’t.
Anyways, thank you for reading about my weekend and my thoughts.