Saturday, June 09, 2007

Coming Home...

My name is Ren (short for Lauren) and I’m a revert to the Catholic faith. I was brought up in a minimally Catholic family. I attended Catholic school from K-8th grade and started at a Catholic High School. However, during my freshman year I became extremely sick and only attended school sparingly, doing most of my school work at home. In 11th grade the school asked me to leave; they felt unable to meet the special needs of my health. I ended up bedridden for much of my high school years and therefore was unable to participate in the sacraments. My only spiritual outlet was a Protestant radio station, and because of my inadequate Catholic catechesis growing up I quickly became anti-Catholic. During my junior year of high school a friend brought me to a Presbyterian Church. I loved it! The congregation’s love for Jesus was evident in their worship service, something I didn’t see in the Catholic Church. The pastor of the church gave me the Presbyterian catechism and I decided to join the church. However, when I approached God in prayer the answer was a very blunt ‘no’. This distressed me because I longed to be part of a family of believers, not having found that type of community within my biological family or childhood church.

Freshman year of college started and I wasn’t attending any church services. A friend and I began to speak of Christianity, and she brought me to the local Methodist Church. Once again I asked God if I could join this church and once again the answer was simply ‘no’. Frustrated, I dove into bible study, became involved with the college Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Club and decided that since the Bible was the only authority I would keep its precepts as literally as possible. This led me to a local Baptist Church and the extreme religious beliefs of 24/7 headcoverings for women, long skirts only, women as homemakers, etc. However, during this time I also formed ‘my’ moral theology. This moral theology included things not found in the Protestant Churches I was looking into – anti-contraception, anti-abortion, anti-divorce.

Slowly God softened my heart towards Catholicism, and I could feel Him guiding me gently to re-think Catholicism. Disgusted by the apparent lack of love for Christ, I began to attend Catholic Mass early on Sundays and then join my friends at the Baptist Church. This happened for quite a few weeks until I received an email. The email was from a lady who must have seen one of my emails from a listserv I belonged to. She told me that she felt God lay it on her heart to email me and answer any questions I may have about Catholicism. Ordinarily, I would have ignored the email, but because God had been speaking to my heart about Catholicism, I replied. Through many emails she helped me work through my poor catechesis and false understandings of Catholic doctrine and discipline.

What happened next I can’t explain. The conversion of my heart was by no means a mere matter of being convinced intellectually, nor any merit of my own. God simply broke down the walls of my heart and opened my eyes to the truth. I stopped attending the Baptist Church, I fervently searched for more information on the Catholic Church, and finally on June 21, 2006 I went to Confession for the first time in over six years. It hasn’t even been a year since my re-entrance to the Church, and this time has been so amazing. I am so thankful to God for rescuing me from ignorance and bringing me back to the beautiful Catholic faith.

How did I end up with the Missionaries of the Eucharist after less than a year back in the Church? I met Vicki at a Catholic Underground in NYC, and saw the pictures of the MOE Summer 2006. I also met some of the Missionaries at a New Years Mass in Newark, NJ and then again at a Philadelphia Underground. But that doesn’t explain how I ended up here this summer, it only explains how I discovered these amazing young men and women. I thought that this summer would be relaxing for me; I’d get a job and continue my personal devotions. However, Less than 2 weeks before training began God laid it on my heart to come! I’m here first and foremost because it is God’s will. Personally though, I’ve felt the pain that comes with the Culture of Death, and since my reversion I’ve made it my personal mission to “proclaim the beauty of the Catholic faith” (which just happens to be our new slogan this year!) After being trained by Christopher West at the Theology of the Body Head and Heart Immersion Course in January, I was so excited to have found the answer to humanity’s most basic and fundamental questions about life and living….but I couldn’t figure out how to share the treasure I had found. Missionaries of the Eucharist does this, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

I will be with the Missionaries from the beginning of training until June 21 at which time it is God’s will that I return home. I will be volunteering at the Sisters of St. Joseph Retreat Center in Cape May, NJ for a few weeks before entering my aspirancy with the Dominican Nuns of Our Lady of the Rosary Monastery in Summit, NJ (July 21-August 11…pray for me!)

God bless,

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

What an amazing, whirlwind story! When God calls you back, he sure is loud.

Who we are?

Every summer we, the Missionaries of the Eucharist, are walking from Lewiston, Maine to Washington, DC to proclaim the beauty of the Catholic faith to everyone we meet, specifically through the Theology of the Body.

Conversion begins in our own hearts,which is why prayer is so important to our ministry. For this reason, everyday of our ten week walk begins with daily Mass. By receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are given the grace to be the Love of Christ not only to those in our community but also to those we meet in the streets.

We walk throughout the day to be a witness of love. We are grounded in prayer-we pray with our lips, our hearts, and our bodies. In walking an average of twenty-five miles per day, we offer our fatigue as a gift of love to Christ and the people we meet. Our walking is both sacrifice and prayer.