A Christmas Journey Home
Q: How old are you ? What do you do for a living ?
A: I am a 43 year old professional firefighter/paramedic in Texas.
Q: How old were you when you left the Church ?
A: Having been poorly catechized and brought up nominally Catholic, “the drift” began in my late teens. My sister was sent to an all-girls Catholic high school, but my Dad felt I was beyond the local Jesuits’ abilities and sent me to a military academy based on the United States Marine Corps. As a result, I was never confirmed, but I did perfect the “About Face” with which I would eventually perform upon my Catholic Faith.
Q: Why did you leave the Church?
A: I was drawn away from the Church by all the worldly pleasures: wine, women, song (not my own… I have a horrible singing voice). I entered the military and declared myself “Catholic”, but it was nothing more than a stamp on my dog-tags. I did not practice my faith in any way, shape, or form.
Q. Did you try other churches?
A. As I meandered through life in my 20’s and 30’s, I wandered from church to church in the Protestant world. The large city I live in here in Texas is chock-full of big box evangelical Churches, so I did what all the other young people did. I church-hopped, seeking the most entertaining preacher, and the best looking female attendees.
Q: Why did you return to the Church?
A: As I neared the end of my 30’s, I met a young lady and got married. We had our first child, a son. I had to do some soul-searching, some self-determination as to what sort of HUSBAND I want to be…what sort of FATHER I want to be. What sort of example shall I set, and what sort of legacy shall I leave behind ? Looking down at the little guy changed EVERYTHING. IT is said that having a child changes your world (I nominate that for “understatement of the year” !), and it most surely did mine.
Q. How did this happen?
A. One day at the fire station, having walked in that day without the slightest inkling of “becoming Catholic” again, I had a MAJOR reversion. Out of nowhere, as I was sitting in my room, I felt an inner call to action. It was profound and authentic. Over the next 3 hours, I had:
- Enrolled in my local RCIA
- Begun the annulment process for my previous marriage
- Ordered my sacramental records from the Archdiocese of the Military Services
- Ordered a stack of Catholic books from Amazon
Q: How did your family react to your reversion?
A: Boy, did I boggle some minds ! My wife was not thrilled about it, as her family is staunchly Methodist, with a light sprinkling of “but they worship statues” seasoning. My Mom was excited about it, as I was finally allaying her regret about not getting me confirmed. She is still a practicing Catholic. My Dad, however, is fallen-away and was a little more hostile to the idea. He grew up in Catholic schools in Philadelphia in the 50’s and then Villanova University but had completely lost his Catholic Faith along the way.
Q. How do they feel now?
A: Though my Dad was a little more apathetic towards my reversion, he has certainly warmed up to the idea of it now. He’s even expressed occasional interest in my current activities with RCIA sponsorship, Knights of Columbus, and my spiritual director who is in Opus Dei and a fellow Villanova man. I am trying to subtly but confidently witness my Catholic Faith to my Dad. Now THAT would be a reversion!!
Q: Where do you attend Mass?
A: Actually, I go to a Maronite Catholic Church. I love the Maronite Liturgy, so reverent and ancient — in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Q. You’ve taken a new interest in liturgy?
A. Yes, when time permits, I go to the local FSSP Parish, Mater Dei. The Latin Mass is simply AWESOME. The Novus Ordo parish I was attending had 30,000 parishioners and I just didn’t like the guitars, holding hands, and hugging across the pews. It was usually very irreverent, in my humble opinion. I find the Maronite Mass and the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass) to be AWE-INSPIRING. You feel connected to the Early Church Fathers in the “Mass of All Ages”.
People say, “But I don’t understand Latin. The Novus Ordo in the local vernacular helps people understand the Mass”. Well, my response to that is this: First I would hardly say people “understand the Mass” these days, as statistics show 75%+ of Catholics don’t even believe in the Real Presence. If people “understood the Mass”, they would not be dressing in beachwear for the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. And second, if you don’t understand Latin, do what Catholics USED to do: BUY A MISSAL.
Q. Do you have a Christmas message you would like to shout out to Regina readers?
A. Yes. I attribute my journey into Traditional Catholicism to surrounding myself by authentic Catholics who LIVE and LOVE their faith. I humbly thank them for guiding me Home.