Not only is it surprising to Scott that he would be up here sharing about the Catholic Church, it is also surprising to me that I would hear my husband present so eloquently and so beautifully his call from God to become Roman Catholic. When we dated, it was something that we disagreed on because he really didn’t believe that a thoughtful Christian could be Catholic. And I saw myself as rather balanced because I didn’t think we needed to trouble the Catholics. As long as they believed in Jesus, they where just fine where they were. I’m going to have a particular focus on sharing my part of the conversion story. I would really like to focus on what I would say is probably the toughest thing for Protestants, and that is the Blessed Virgin Mary. If any of you have Protestant family members or friends, or if any of you are still Protestant, probably you would say that Mary, Mary and Mary are your three toughest obstacles to being able to see the truth of the Catholic Faith. So I’d like to take this one particular thread that, in the fabric of this conversion story, was very knotted, and yet as I look back, I would say it is part of what makes one of the most beautiful patterns in this conversion.
Unlike Scott, I was raised in a very dynamic, Christ-centered evangelical family. My dad is a minister and my mom and dad love the Lord. They desired to establish a holy family when they got married, and they prayed for me from before I was born right up to today. They fed me the Word of God right along with my peas and potatoes. They bathed me in prayer as much as they gave me baths. They baptized me because they were convicted that they needed to impart their faith to me. I believed that God existed because I believed my parents, and they told me that God existed. They told me what Jesus had done. They told me I was His child, and yet I came to a point of decision that every single one of us has to make, which is, “Do I believe?” Because, it is true, they had mediated for a time, but now it was time for me to make a decision.
When I entered seventh grade, that was a time of raising questions. One particular weekend I had been involved in probably more sin that was external and I felt more guilty about it than I normally did, and so I was really ripe. I went to church and I heard the Gospel message. I realized that the sins I committed, those very sins were the sins that Jesus bore on that cross for me and that I needed forgiveness for them. I needed to say “Yes” to Jesus, to yielding my will to Him and giving my life to Him, and I wanted to. By the time they mentioned the idea of coming down to the altar, I was already flying down the stairs. I could not get up front fast enough. I said, “Yes, God, yes.” And I can tell you, there were dramatic changes from that moment on. I had a love for Scripture, a love to give my witness and testimony to others, and the Lord opened many doors in junior high and high school, and many ministries. I headed off to college with a lot of great ideas of what I thought God would do in my heart and in my life. Now growing up, I understood that Mary was Jesus’ mother. But in a typical Protestant home, Mary isn’t mentioned much more than any other person who’s been blessed. The idea of her being blessed was not really anything we saw having to do with her, but simply because Jesus came from her. I think maybe we didn’t talk about Mary much because it seemed liked Catholics talked so much about her. It was a way of sort of distancing us.
Two of the models that I would say were rather typical of my Catholic friends, I would describe as this: The first one is the “football player” model. Do you ever notice how whenever they interview the players or show the players after the game, what do they say when they get a chance to be on camera? “Hi, Mom!” You wouldn’t know that most of them have a father. You know, Mom is the only one who seems to get credit. And that’s how it struck me sometimes, that Catholics didn’t talk much about God the Father. I mean the whole image of, if you had to go to your father or mother, who would you rather go to? Or hiding behind Mommy’s skirts — that kind of thing. The other model I would describe with this little vignette. A man was painting a ceiling in a little chapel in Rome and he noticed an American woman walk in and he thought, “I’m going to have a little fun.” So from way up high he said, “This is Jesus.” There was no response, “This is Jesus.” Still no response, so he thought he’d do it a little louder, “This is Jesus.” She looked up and said, “Be quiet! I’m talking to your Mother.” Now, needless to say, had I talked to a number of you, you would have given me a faithful view of Mary, but this is the way my friends came across when I talked to them and they brought up Mary. I’m going to jump ahead.