I love when people share how they became Catholic. I am always in awe of how God works in peoples lives. Usually, the story fits into 3 categories, 1. Cradle Catholic (they were raised in the faith), 2. Reverts (people who were Catholic, left the Church and then came back), or 3. Converts (people who were not Catholic and decided to become Catholic). In a strange way, I can claim ALL three.
I was received into the Catholic Church when I was baptized at 4 years old. I made my first communion when I was 7 years old like most cradle Catholics out there. However, if you came over to my house I don’t think you would be able to tell we were Catholic. My mom was Jewish and my dad was the Catholic one. We never prayed before meals, only went to church 2 times a year, there were no religious icons in the house, and I don’t remember Jesus’ name being spoken except when my father got mad or hurt!
It was confusing having a Jewish mother and relatives while I was supposed to be Catholic. We would celebrate the Jewish holidays of Hanukah and Passover with my grandparents. Since we practiced being Catholic just was much as we practiced being Jewish, I would proudly tell people I was 1/2 Jewish and 1/2 Catholic. Oh the funny looks I would get!
It was my parents divorce that put my faith in God, the Catholic Church and Jewish faith in turmoil. In the heat of divorce talks between my parents, my dad would make derogatory remarks about my mother being Jewish. On the other side my grandfather would make derogatory remarks about my “gentile” father. I ended up living with my mother and being much closer to my mother’s side of the family. One would think I would have ended up practicing the Jewish faith. Once my father was out of the picture, my grandfather tried to convince me to go to Hebrew school and make my bat mitzvah. At this point I was angry at God and hated everything to do with religion. I declined his invitation and rebuked anything to do with any God or organized religion. They were all all hypocrites in my opinion. The faiths preached love, but all I saw was fighting and hatred in the name of God.
So I spent middle school and high school devoid of God and any moral teaching. Amazingly though, every influential person in my life was Catholic (teachers, coaches, and friends). My reversion moment came the spring time of my senior year of high school. My best friend, who was Catholic, invited me to mass. It was Palm Sunday. I sat in the pew of a crowded church with my palm leaves in hand. The lector was reading the intentions and the priest spontaneously added his own at the end. My mouth dropped at what he said. I heard a Catholic priest pray for “the Jewish people at their time of Passover.” It was at that moment that I “got it” (God speaking to my heart). Religion wasn’t the problem. It was good. Unfortunately, my dad and grandfather used it as a weapon against each other. It was at the moment that I knew I was at home. I could be Catholic and pray for my mom’s side of the family. I didn’t have to be trapped between two religions. I have been attending mass on my own ever since. I had reverted back to my faith.
Even though I was a member of the church by my baptism and first communion. I quickly found myself feeling like an outsider. I don’t remember when I stopped going to CCD or mass, but I really didn’t remember much about it. I remember hearing the Nicene creed for the first time and thinking where did this prayer come from? Before the Gospel is read we make the sign of the cross on our forehead, lips and heart? Pre-marital sex is bad? Contraception is bad? The Church doesn’t support abortion? Oh, boy, I had a lot to learn about this place that was calling me home.
I left for college later that same year and was determined to find the Catholic Church and make my confirmation. Luckily for me, my university had an amazing and vibrant Catholic community right on campus. I ended up signing up for RCIA classes in order to make my Confirmation I loved the RCIA classes, because really my faith and knowledge was so infantile. That is how I feel like a convert to the faith. I made my confirmation at the Easter Vigil Mass one year after the Palm Sunday mass.
I ended up marrying a cradle Catholic who went to Catholic School his entire life. We met in college. I’m amazed at how much I still have to learn about the Catholic Church at times. I come home and ask him did you know…? He just looks at me shocked and says yes!
I love how God calls us individually. I love that he has made me a cradle Catholic, a revert, and a convert to His amazing Church.