Charting the trajectory of my spiritual journey into the Catholic Church is
somewhat of a daunting task. It is one that admits of many detours and
rest stops. Although a sense of spiritual disorientation and malaise
proved to be a constant traveling companion (one with which I contented
myself to make friends), retrospectively, I clearly discern the providential
hand of the good shepherd inexorably leading me to the one flock to
which all men are enjoined to unite themselves. Like a Jew who grows
ever more confidant in the Messiahship of Jesus due to the insidious
accumulation of prophetic pointers, my conversion to Catholicism owes
itself to a myriad of tributaries that in time presented themselves as a
great mosaic.

Reared as a second generation Jehovah's Witness, the theology that
came to govern my worldview was fundamentally an uncritical adoption
of my parents' beliefs. Thrice weekly meetings served to firmly fix the
bold line of demarcation between "Jehovah's Organization" - believed to
be God's people found solely within the parameters of the Watchtower
Organization - and "Babylon the Great", an entity that allegedly
comprised all other religions and their adherents. The Watchtower's
controversial literature presented the religions of "Christendom" as a
great whore whose most visible incarnation was the Catholic Church, she
being most execrable and culpable due to her preeminence and
antecedence. Watchtower iconography cemented this notion in my
consciousness with depictions of a meretricious woman astride a fierce
beast, imbibing blood from a chalice (presumably the blood of the holy
ones), bedecked, bejeweled, lost in ecstatic reverie as she obediently
writhes in concert with the wicked nations of the earth who corporately
are identified by the bestial symbol found in the book of Revelation.

Advancing that end yet further was a wholesale censorship on all
literature of a religious nature excepting that published by the
Watchtower Society. What little understanding I had of other faiths was
refracted through Watchtower articles. The same applies in reference to
my understanding of Christian history. This sectarian prismation of
historic data led to conclusions that logically followed, even necessarily
followed. A tiny hermeneutic circle thus governed my research. In time I
would come to learn the importance of premises in epistemology - But
more on that later.

As a boy I recall with fondness the religious milieu in which I was reared,
the sincere zeal for scripture on the part of my co-religionists as well as
their equally sincere expectation of the well-nigh consummation of God's
Kingdom on earth. The promise of a "new heavens" and a "new earth"
was not a mere pie-in-the-sky eschatology. It was a palpable reality, the
leitmotif of our daily conversations and activities. Many were the
Saturday mornings wherein we would load the car trunk with apocalyptic
literature as we set out to canvass surrounding territory in an effort to
avert our neighbors of impending woe. One of the objectives of mid-
week meetings was to train us in the art of dialectic and Christian
apologetics. Mock-dialogues were run with the express purpose of
preparing us to identify conversation-stoppers and artfully
circumnavigate them, to upend objections, to simplify into byte-size
format complex topics requiring great learning and nuance while facilely
teasing out the conclusions. At the time I believed Jehovah's Witnesses
to be invincible as far as biblical matters were concerned. And the
ignorance and seeming indifference of each householder my parents
encountered as I accompanied them in door-to-door ministry only served
to cement this perception.

The sense of certitude, however, did not eradicate the cognitive
dissonance I experienced. Between the image of Jehovah’s Witnesses –
the one for public consumption as portrayed in the sect’s literature - and
the reality of the dynamic of my congregation and the ones I regularly
visited in my many travels, there was an unbridgeable chasm.
Watchtower literature presents Jehovah's Witnesses as a happy people,
a united people who love their neighbors (i.e. Non-Jehovah's Witnesses)
and their spiritual brethren with a love that knows no national boundaries
or racial partiality. Yet even as a young boy I knew the reality of the
Watchtower dynamic to be something wholly other. Gossip was
normative within what can only be described as a pressure-cooker
environment. Apart from incessantly judging "the world" as evil and
worthy of God's wrath, Jehovah's Witnesses routinely judge each other -
these judgments being meted out on the scale of one's ability to
accomplish organizationally prescribed works. At the age of fifteen I
became personally aware of this when I became the recipient of such
judgment in virtue of my decision to pursue a career in the performing
arts. It must be noted that given the Jehovah's witnesses’ view of the
perennial nearness of Armageddon, extraordinary secular ambitions this
side of the veil are construed as a sign of a disordered hierarchy of
values. My desire to attend conservatory in the hopes of emerging as a
budding opera singer was enough then to render my congregation a
hotbed of gossip and, in some instances, open slander as far as I was
concerned. A "special needs" talk was given in which pursuit of "worldly
goals" was maligned and roundly discouraged. Disconsolate, I
discontinued attending meetings and lived my life in a way not dissimilar
to most non-religious youths.

By the age of twenty-three, I reassessed my spiritual life. The "Law of
Undulation" in my own moral constitution concerned me. Like St. Paul, I
recognized that the very things I desired to do, I failed to do - whereas
the things I did not wish to do were precisely what I did. Knowing God's
law and perceiving this inherent moral anemia startled me from my
spiritual slumber. The judgment awaiting me at the Kingdom Hall owing
to my career choice led me to search for spiritual direction in the private
study of scripture. Since on the Jehovah's Witness view only 144,000
enjoy the benefits of the Christian covenant presented in the New
Testament, and given that I did not declare myself as a member of said
class, I did not believe the message found there was my spiritual
patrimony. Hence, for the next two and a half years I immersed myself in
the Old Testament, reading it through three times. When I finally did
journey through the gospels and Pauline epistles I remember remarking
that, on their face, the preachments of Jesus and the apostles would
never lead me to conclude that the Watchtower had distilled the genuine
Christian message. In point of fact, the entire literary experience of
reading scripture led me to conclude, as did John Henry Newman when
he wrote:

"Surely then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to
us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge
and standing expositor of its words is imperative. It is antecedently
unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in
parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places,
should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority;
as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its
inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are
private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is
historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is
literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated
formally and what occurs "obiter", what is only of temporary and what is
of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too
exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many
countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed.
The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility."

Work with the San Francisco Opera Company occasioned my
encountering a Jehovah's Witness "elder" who befriended me and who,
in light of my passion for scripture and desire to live a Christian life,
encouraged me to get baptized into the Watchtower faith . Up to this point
I had largely remained a lone-ranger Christian. But at the behest and
loving admonition of my "elder" friend, I established a "book study" with
a Jehovah’s Witness "elder" in Connecticut upon my return and was
baptized six months later at the age of twenty-five.

My well-rooted habit of daily scripture reading, however, would agitate
the theological waters within a year's time leading to a “born-again” type
experience and a conscientious objection to many Watchtower
teachings. Now focusing primarily on the New Testament corpus, I came
to realize the impossibility of a two-class Christian paradigm wherein the
first class stands to inherit heaven (the one-hundred and forty-four
thousand) and the second class (“the other sheep”) stands to receive
everlasting life on a paradise earth. That two classes of people are
presented was irrefutable - those who are in Jesus Christ, set free from
the law of sin - and those who live according to the sinful nature and have
hostility with God. The message, as I read it, simply did not allow for a
third category of faithful un-anointed Christians who were the putative
"friends" of Jesus but not his spiritual sons. I simply could not bring
myself to teach something which I did not believe. My heart could not
rejoice over what my mind had rejected as false. And at the time, my
heart was rejoicing in knowing Jesus. I decided to quietly discontinue
attending meetings. Three years later, however, I would be summoned
before a Watchtower judicial committee and excommunicated for
apostasy. This resulted in the wholesale loss of my friends, associates
and my good name. There was, though, a paradoxical beauty and
sweetness in this dolorous period of my life. I knew in my heart that I
stood up for what was true, that my intentions were pure. My heart was
filled with love for the Lord as I united my suffering to his cross.

The next three years were spent reading scripture, Bible commentaries,
listening to as many Christians voices as possible on television and
radio, attending house Churches, Protestant Churches of every
denominational stripe, frequenting their bible study groups, their prayer
meetings as well as holding a Bible study in my home. The joy
experienced during this period of my walk was palpable. Appropriating
the New Testament message revolutionized how I worshipped God. The
one hope in common shared among Christians united me with the body
of Christ in a way previously unknown. The skewed view I had of all
Christian bodies outside the Watchtower Society was quickly discarded
for the lie that it was. True Christians were to be found in all these
communities, I came to learn. The ‘in-the-flesh’ experience with
aggregates of people once believed to be doing the will of Satan and now
discovered to be genuine and sincere taught me an invaluable lesson
about the blinding power of misguided ideology, its ability to take a
figural notion and deify it in the human mind.

The joy of knowing Christ as a member of the new covenant and
relishing in the hope of ultimate reconciliation with God was dampened,
though. My romp through Protestantism (while edifying and horizon-
widening) presented me with a disconcerting reality that I could not
square with scripture. The lack of concrete ecclesial authority and the
interpretive free-for-all of the Bible resulted in a hodgepodge of doctrinal
ideas and a fissiparous network of Churches - a state of affairs nowhere
found in the New Testament. Some Christian groups emphasized the
sovereignty of God to the point of contending he had eternally
preordained some to hell and others to heaven before their respective
births. Other Christians argued that we were to get out there and win as
many souls to Christ as possible since the salvation of man was
contingent upon his hearing the gospel. Many Evangelical Churches
preached that praying the "Sinner’s Prayer" was all that was needed to
be saved, that any and all actions subsequent to said prayer did not
weigh in against the ultimate outcome of one’s particular judgment. Still
others, however, argued that Christian works were indispensable, that
intellectual assent to Christ as savior did not suffice. Should infants be
baptized? What is baptism? Is it necessary? What does it do? Do
supernatural gifts still exist? What of communion? What is the Church?
How does one follow the scriptural exhortation to submit to those taking
the lead if each person has the right to privately interpret scripture and
determine its meaning? If it is on the basis of scripture that orthodoxy is
established, and if the private interpretation of said scripture leads to an
infinite number of contradictory conclusions all attributed to the guiding
power of the Holy Spirit, then of what benefit is scripture? Is it not then
the source of the problem? If sin is the source of the problem, then is it
the most holy who possess the truth of scripture? If so, where was this
haloed community? If scriptural truths are found dispersed among
various denominations with no concrete way of knowing which truth
resides in which denomination, then where is the “deposit of faith” for
which Christians are exhorted to contend? Furthermore, if the task of
truth-discernment falls to the individual, then what are the implications in
terms of the principle of normativity? Put another way, if I could correctly
deduce from scripture the deposit of faith both entirely and inviolately, of
what benefit is it to the world field of mankind? Fundamentally, it would
die with me and cease to be everlasting good news. Scripture, though,
presents the truth as abiding in a great body of individuals within one
corporate Church. St. Paul taught that "the Church" was the pillar and
ground of truth, and Jesus promised that he would lead "the Church" into
"all truth" and be with her till the end of age. What truth? Which Church?

The hundreds of extensive online dialogues I had with Protestant
Christians revealed that self-styled theologians were legion. The lights of
Protestant scholarship could not settle the matter either given that some
of the most radiant minds remained at theological loggerheads, the most
gifted exegetes at odds with each other on fundamentals of faith and
morality, etc. If the truth cannot be known wholly as a system of thought
with its respective parts correctly configured to the whole, then the
alternative must be one of several things, I mused:

1) Theological truth is unknowable
2) Theological truth is knowable in part.
3) Theological truth is relative to the person.
4) Theological truth is unimportant.

In order for the first idea to be tenable, I thought, one would have to
impute imbecility or titanic corporate delusion to the entire Nation of
Israel, the Christian Church born of her loins and the countless brilliant
luminaries who expounded upon the revelation. One would have to cut
oneself off from the common ground of the people of God and chalk the
whole thing up to superstition. But on what grounds should I pit my word
against theirs? To follow such a benighted course would not be
objective, but dismissive. It would necessitate my rejecting all the data.

The second postulate posed a problem in that I did not know with
certainty which theological truths were knowable. Who is to say which
parts are knowable and which are not - and by what authority? To argue
that the evidence determines the knowability of a thing is equally
pointless since what counts as "evidence" is a thorny and endless
dispute.

The third thesis was solipsistic and cancelled out the notion of truth
altogether. If theological truths are not true in themselves as realities
existing outside the human mind, then neither are metaphysical truths
real or knowable. The statement "theological truth is relative to the
person" is a metaphysical statement. It is abstract. It is not like a piece of
furniture against which one stubs ones' toe. Hence, its credibility is called
into question on the very same grounds. It too can be "relative" to the
person and thus not a veridical reflection of reality. With this argument I
would be sawing the branch off underneath myself.

The fourth notion eviscerated Christianity of its inherent strength,
reducing it to a platitudinous and amorphous moral code of sorts. This
view, I thought, really reflected the Zeitgeist of the day. It led to a Humpty
Dumpty use of language wherein the individual infused words with
personal meaning, creating - as it were - his own lexicon. That is to say,
men could agree on a string of words formulated into statements, say,
“Jesus is head of the Church” while allowing the meaning and application
of those words to differ from one group/individual to the next. Men are
thus united in the vacuous assent to slogans while being deprived the
cognitive-reflex of his species – that is, the dignity to explain what he
means by his words. This laissez-faire doctrinal ethos greatly
undermined Protestant history wherein one finds men pitted in sincere
battle over doctrinal issues considered to be of great consequence. To
argue that it is unimportant would be tantamount to saying that our
Christian forebears were all engaged in a theological cavil.

What I've discussed thus far remains within the pale of "Bible-believing"
Christianity. But what of the soi-disant “progressive Christians” who
viewed the gospels as men making sense of the world from their limited
sociological perspective? These Christians asserted that miracles, a
virgin birth, resurrection, etc., were the product of a mythologized
message, a narrativization of theological insights, that the real message
is found by purging the mythological and theological detritus
superimposed upon the “Jesus of History.” An honest consideration of
the smorgasbord of views evidenced that each one in its own right was
perfectly plausible and logically cohesive. One need only establish an
interpretive template with a set of given presuppositions and then
systematically argue to the logical conclusions thereof. But is truth
coherentism, I asked? It was high time to choose a paradigm, to chart my
course. But against what does one measure the orthodoxy of a paradigm
if the genuine message of Christianity is the very matter under question?

Studying History

Since studying the history of the Watchtower Society greatly helped me
in understanding the movement within its historical context, I set out to
do the same in re: of Christianity. I purchased Philip Schaff’s eight-
volume magnum opus on the history of the Christian Church, a dozen or
so other history books, Jarislav Pelikan’s volumes on the history of
theology, books on the formation of the Bible canon, and delved into any
and all extant extra-biblical writings by systematically plodding my way
through the Patristic corpus. What I encountered shocked me. The
modern-day doctrinal chaos with which I was contending was not
reflected in the early Church. Writing in the latter part of the second
century Ireneaus speaks of the unity of the Church as follows:

"The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although
scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one
house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine]
just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she
proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect
harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the
languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is
one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in
Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in
Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor
those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central
regions of the world. ... Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches,
however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines
different from these (for no Reflections on Book 1, Chap 10)

And:

"True knowledge is [that which consists of] the doctrine of the apostles,
and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and
the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the
successions of the bishops [episkopos], by which they have handed
down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto
us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a
very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor
[suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists
in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and
diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger
and without blasphemy; and [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift
of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than
prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God]." -Book 4, Chap 33,
Para 8

I then fell upon a line in reading Tertullian that totally won me over for its
sheer trenchant logic:

"Grant, then, that all have erred; that the apostle was mistaken in giving
his testimony; that the Holy Ghost had no such respect to any one
(church) as to lead it into truth, although sent with this view by Christ, and
for this asked of the Father that He might be the teacher of truth; grant,
also, that He, the Steward of God, the Vicar of Christ, neglected His office,
permitting the churches for a time to understand differently, (and) to
believe differently, what He Himself was preaching by the apostles,--is it
likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray
into one and the same faith? No casualty distributed among many men
issues in one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must
necessarily have produced various issues. When, however, that which is
deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the
result of error, but of tradition. Can any one, then, be reckless enough to
say that they were in error who handed on the tradition?" (The
Prescription Against Heretics CHAP. XXVIII)

Tradition? This was a largely connotative term for me as a Protestant
Christian. After all, Jesus admonished his followers to steer clear of the
traditions of men that nullified the word of God. But I also noted that St.
Paul himself commended the Corinthians for having remembered him by
maintaining the Traditions he delivered to them (1 Cor. 11:2) and that he
even exhorted the Thessalonians to stand firm and to hold to said
traditions whether they be by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Thess. 2:15).
On this score, and many others, Philip Schaff played a catalytic role in my
conversion to Catholicism. His treatment of the ante-Nicene Church did
not align with his presentation of the first century ecclesia. His
arguments for the catholic nature of the ante-Nicene Church - both in
constitution and belief - seemed porous and explanatorily strained.

On Tradition Schaff writes:

“Besides appealing to the Scriptures, the fathers, particularly Irenaeus
and Tertullian, refer with equal confidence to the "rule of faith;"that is,
the common faith of the church, as orally handed down in the unbroken
succession of bishops from Christ and his apostles to their day, and
above all as still living in the original apostolic churches, like those of
Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome. Tradition is thus intimately
connected with the primitive episcopate. The latter was the vehicle of the
former, and both were looked upon as bulwarks against heresy."

"Irenaeus confronts the secret tradition of the Gnostics with the open and
unadulterated tradition of the catholic church, and points to all churches,
but particularly to Rome, as the visible centre of the unity of doctrine. All
who would know the truth, says he, can see in the whole church the
tradition of the apostles; and we can count the bishops ordained by the
apostles, and their successors down to our time, who neither taught nor
knew any such heresies. Then, by way of example, he cites the first
twelve bishops of the Roman church from Linus to Eleutherus, as
witnesses of the pure apostolic doctrine. He might conceive of a
Christianity without scripture, but he could not imagine a Christianity
without living tradition”;

In speaking, for example, of the three-tiered ministry of the Church he
writes:

“The idea and institution of a special priesthood, distinct from the body of
the people, with the accompanying notion of sacrifice and altar, passed
imperceptibly from Jewish and heathen reminiscences and analogies
into the Christian church. The majority of Jewish converts adhered
tenaciously to the Mosaic institutions and rites, and a considerable part
never fully attained to the height of spiritual freedom proclaimed by Paul,
or soon fell away from it. He opposed legalistic and ceremonial
tendencies in Galatia and Corinth; and although sacerdotalism does not
appear among the errors of his Judaizing opponents, the Levitical
priesthood, with its three ranks of high-priest, priest, and Levite, naturally
furnished an analogy for the threefold ministry of bishop, priest, and
deacon, and came to be regarded as typical of it. Still less could the
Gentile Christians, as a body, at once emancipate themselves from their
traditional notions of priesthood, altar, and sacrifice, on which their
former religion was based. Whether we regard the change as an apostasy
from a higher position attained, or as a reaction of old ideas never fully
abandoned, the change is undeniable, and can be traced to the second
century. The church could not long occupy the ideal height of the
apostolic age, and as the Pentecostal illumination passed away with the
of the apostles, the old reminiscences began to reassert themselves.”
(HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH* CHAPTER IV)

Here Mr. Schaff attributes the imperceptible development of a threefold
ministry of bishop, priest, and deacon to “old reminiscences” of both the
Jewish and pagan system of worship. So potent were they that this is the
universal constitution of the Church by the middle of the second century.
But if such pagan and illicit Jewish notions could so easily impress
themselves on the Church, I thought, who is to gainsay the Jesus
Seminar when it contends that the Gospel stories are on par with the
fanciful mythologies of Mithras? Why not, by logical extension, view
Israel's sacrificial system as a borrowed Canaanite superstition?

In regard to justification we read:

“The doctrine of the subjective appropriation of salvation, including faith,
justification, and sanctification, was as yet far less perfectly formed than
the objective dogmas; and in the nature of the case, must follow the
latter. If any one expects to find in this period, or in any of the church
fathers, Augustin himself not excepted, the Protestant doctrine of
justification by faith alone, as the "articulus stantis aut cadentis
ecclesiae" be will be greatly disappointed. The incarnation of the Logos,
his true divinity and true humanity, stand almost unmistakably in the
foreground, as the fundamental truths. Paul’s doctrine of justification,
except perhaps in Clement of Rome, who joins it with the doctrine of
James, is left very much out of view, and awaits the age of the
Reformation to be more thoroughly established and understood. The
fathers lay chief stress on sanctification and good works, and show the
already existing germs of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the
meritoriousness and even the supererogatory meritoriousness of
Christian virtue.” (HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH* CHAPTER XII)

What an odd entity, I thought to myself. On the one hand the Church is
presented as putatively fickle and feeble, capable of losing fundamentals
of the true message, possessing assimilative powers that corrupt its
ecclesiological constitution in all of a few years. Yet, on the other hand,
she very obviously had a retentive potency given that these alleged
'false beliefs and practices' remain with the Church to this day. How odd,
I mused, that one entity should prove so pathetically chameleonic and
inflexibly immutable at the same time, that the very body of the Lord who
defined himself as the way, the truth and the light should jettison truth
and enshrine error. As Chesterton wittily noted about the disparate
accusations leveled against the Church, it’s as if the entity in question is
guilty of being too tall and too short, too fat and too thin.

Unlike the doctrinal chaos and indifferentism I encountered among
Protestant bodies, the early Church enjoyed a doctrinal homogeneity. It
was not attributed to the strong-arming of clerics, either. Early Christians
viewed it as a genuine sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church. In
sum, doctrinal unity was the divine symphonic harmony that acted as a
foil to the theological cacophony of the Gnostic heresies.

Singing In the Catholic Church

An opportunity to sing in the Catholic Church providentially coincided
with my systematic study of Christian history as mentioned above. Little
did I know, I was about to step into the historical Church of Christ for the
first time in my life. Justin Martyr’s depiction of a primitive Eucharistic
celebration perfectly dovetailed with what I encountered as a Catholic
cantor. Week after week I found myself falling in love with the liturgy,
mouthing the words in tandem with the priest, responding with the
congregation, longing to receive the Holy Eucharist, the medicine of
immortality. The reverence, the beauty, the symmetry of the message,
this – and a myriad of other aspects of the church’s life and worship –
drew me up into a spiritual reverie as heaven and earth met before the
altar of the Lord.

It now became apparent to me how it was that the Church remained one,
whereas all other bodies could not but divide. The sacred liturgy acted as
a divine template uniting man to his forebears and ensuring the inviolate
perpetuation of the faith to his successors. Holy Mass was not a place
wherein to polemicize against other Christian bodies, to defend her
doctrines against gainsayers, to argue against dissenting voices. She, as
Mater Ecclesia, is there to feed her children in the sacraments, coddling
both sinner and saint to her breast. With orthodoxy established and
historical precedent precluding the potential reversal of centuries-old
debates, the church gets on with the simple proclamation of the word.

In time, the mere thought of returning to the Protestant mode of worship
became unthinkable. I found the physicality of Catholic worship to be
perfectly tailored to the human soul, harmonizing the posture of the body
with the inner spirit of man, lifting the mind up to God via the senses.
Often times emotions would fill me to the point of tears. As a cantor, this
was especially true after the Memorial Acclamation. To watch from the
altar as three generations of Christians genuflect in adoration of the Lord
as he becomes present in bread and wine is a sight to behold for those
with eyes of faith!

The sanctity of the mass, the predictability of the liturgy, the role of the
priest as an alter christus echoing the words of the Lord during the Last
Supper, the reflection of heaven in every word and gesture as the Church
perpetually lives out the life of Christ throughout the liturgical year
placing before the faithful the heroes of the faith, the reality of
worshipping God in the company of all those who have gone before us
marked with the sign of faith – these and many other beauties - enriched
my spiritual journey more than any praise song or scripture
memorization could. The sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharist -
the source and summit of our faith! – gave me the power to shuck off
sinful shackles that had enslaved me for years. They filled me with love
for mankind regardless of creed. In short, the Catholic Church made me
universal. Entering her was like stepping out into the bright light of the
firmament.

Today I live with a fresh and clean soul, one that is absolved of its sins
and feeds regularly on the bread from heaven in the very Church Christ
founded as his instrument of salvation. The Catholic Church has given
me a holistic worldview that fits reality and gives meaning to all that is.
Before me is a treasure trove spilling over with the integrated wisdom of
her doctors of divinity, the holy insights and disciplines of her celebrated
saints, the existential profundity of her astute philosophers, and the
unmatched universal perspective that only she can possess as a living
organism continuously riding the wave of humanity for twenty-centuries
and counting.

The journey has been long, arduous, and at times lonely. But I would not
trade it for the world. It's been a beautiful journey.
hitcounter
A Beautiful Journey-The Conversion Story of James Caputo
by James Caputo