We ended up having to leave France after only one year and went back to California. Six months with my grandmother, where I gladly went back into the routine of going to All Saints. Then 6 months in Montgomery Alabama, where once again we didn’t go to church. Then we moved to Massachusetts. By this time I was in the 8th grade. We lived on Hanscomb AFB. My parents still didn’t go to church, but I would pack up my younger brothers and sisters on Sunday morning and walk them to the base Chapel for the Protestant service. Sunday evenings I would go to the Youth Group. I never lost sight of Jesus but this church stuff was getting to be confusing to me. So I embarked on a journey. I was going to find the TRUTH with a capital T. What did God want from us, his people? I did what I usually do when faced with a puzzle – I researched. I went to the library, I talked to people, I tried to learn. It was not an emotional search, I was looking with my brains and with logic.
I never had any doubts that there is a God. And the only God that made any sense to me was the God of the Jewish/Christian tradition. I actually looked very closely at the Jewish tradition – I babysat for a year for an Orthodox Jewish family and I learned a lot about their beliefs and practices. Ask me about that sometime if you are interested. However, I became convinced that the evidence of history and scripture proved that Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, was indeed the Christ, the Messiah, the everlasting son of God. What is interesting is that along the way God sent people into my life who probably didn’t realize just how God would use them to reach me. For example, the Jewish family I babysat taught me about the Maccabees and the meaning of the Hanukkah celebration. I learned that this was not in the Bible that I had been raised reading, so I found a Catholic Bible and read not only the books of the Maccabees but also the books of Judith and the extra sections of the books of Esther and Daniel that had been deleted by the Protestants of the Reformation. A boy I dated in the 9th grade was attending a Jesuit High School, and I made some off-hand anti-Catholic remark (not even realizing just how spiteful I must have sounded). He calmly and gently told me that I needed to know the facts before I could be qualified to have an opinion, and gave me a book to read.
After 2 years in Massachusetts, we moved back to California and ended up in a house less than a mile from the church we had attended all those years ago. But still my parents didn’t want to go to church, and I learned that the parish had gone through many scandals. And by that time I wasn’t so sure that I could still be an Anglican. I was still deep in study. I knew that I was Christian, that I knew Jesus was my savior and that His death on the cross was the means of my salvation. I knew that the Bible was and is the inspired inerrant word of God. I knew that. I wasn’t always living it, but I never doubted that it was true. I hung out for a while with the Jesus Freaks – I hung out with the druggies, I hung out with the jocks and the nerds and every kind of group that existed in my High School. I went to non-denominational church youth groups (great music, boring theology), I went to services at all kinds of churches, I even went to a Hare Krishna event with free food. I dated an Anglican guy whose parents had also quit going to church, then I dated a guy from a Catholic family who invited me to go to Mass with them. By then, the Mass was in English and despite the lousy music and the somewhat irreverent behaviour of the congregation (I mean, I couldn’t believe that so many people came in late and left early! That would never have happened in my Anglican churches), I felt at last like I was home.
So, one day, I found myself knocking on the door of the local rectory. I was 16. I asked the person who answered the door, “What do I have to do to become Catholic?” It was another couple of years before I entered the Catholic church, because my parents would not consent. So I was rec’d into the church on my 18th birthday.
part 4 conversion (way overdue to post!)