You can read Part One here.
After a series of unlikely events softened my heart and lead me to accept that Jesus was real and that He was God, I started looking for a spiritual home. I didn’t know where to start, and how could I with so many denominations. So, I began to study what each denomination believed, and why they believed it.
I have a very wonderful friend who is a non-denomination Christian and so very faithful. She lent me several books on Protestant doctrine and a lovely study Bible (friend, if you are reading this, you know who you are: I still have your books. And a soup bowl. I should return these things to you). I tried to study the Bible under various lens. And, eventually, with no community and fellowship, my faith grew cold.
A few days after Christmas in 2011 my Gramma passed away. She was dying of cancer, but I convinced myself that she would beat it. She would always be around. I took the loss very hard. But, one source of comfort was that in her last days she began reading the Bible and reading devotionals. Seeing that she was comforted by the Word of God lead me back into study, but I was still going at in alone. We attended my husband’s friend’s church. Service was nice. The music was great. The preaching was great. But, it just didn’t feel like home.
And, I was struggling with some teachings. I didn’t see a clear logical place of authority in the church, so it was easy for me to dissent on things I felt very deeply about—coming from a secular society, those things were controversial social issues. This put a strain on my faith and lead me away from church. I tried to continue to read, pray, and study. But, I was still missing that essential fellowship.
We had just moved into a new neighborhood and our son was getting close to preschool age. I was looking for a nice school in the area, and I happened upon Saint Marks Catholic School. It was very cute, and local. My husband grew up Catholic, and he felt more comfortable in a Catholic Church than trying another denomination. I felt certain I just couldn’t be Catholic, but maybe we could go so that Felipe could attend school. I could make it work. I didn’t have to become Catholic.
We attended Mass a few times, and it was awful. My son is the most high energy child on the face of the earth. He had never been to church, and here I was trying to keep him quiet and still for an hour. But, my husband finally felt at home. And, even though it felt awful, it also felt welcoming. It pulled us back in despite the struggle. And, the pastor, Father Humberto Palomino, was so warm and so perfectly pastoral.
On April 25, 2012, I met with Fr Humberto at the Parish Center at the Church of Saint Mark. On the Feast Day of Saint Mark. Of course, I had no idea (Thank you Facebook “Memories” app for revealing this to me), but looking back, such beautiful divine intervention. A few weeks later, we attended the Parish Festival at Saint Marks, and even not knowing a soul there, I instantly felt at home.
I wish I could tell you that it was only up-hill from here. But, it wasn’t. Mass was hard to get through with our rambunctious little one. And, I was still struggling with certain teachings. And, though my husband felt more at home, he wasn’t ready to commit. And it feels so nice to be in bed on Sunday mornings. So, we stopped going to Mass. And, I actually stopped reading the Bible, and even stopped praying. I think I knew I found the truth, but I felt unworthy, and it is scary to confront that in yourself. Especially when you are mostly going at it alone.
I fell into a bit of a pit. I was sad, for no real, tangible reason. And one night I eeked out the only prayer I had in me. I begged God, “God. I am just so tired. Please, Lord, give me rest.” The very next day, my friend who’d lent me the Bible and doctrine books, whom I had not spoken to in months, reached out to me in a text message. She was inviting me to her church for service, and bible study, and fellowship. I knew that God was calling me into a community, into fellowship, and as much as I loved my friend and admired her faith, it didn’t feel like it was where I was being called.
So, I picked up studying again. My husband was still more comfortable with the Catholic Church, despite still not being ready to go to Mass regularly. I devoured apologetics blogs (Meg’s especially) and books by Scott Hahn and by the end of 2012 I was convinced that the Catholic Church was the true church founded by Jesus. I knew that Jesus founded his Church upon Peter, and though Peter and the apostles He founded apostolic succession; the Catholic Church had retained the fullness of revelation. I had some issues with Marian devotion, and social teachings (contraception and homosexuality being key), but I was convinced that the Church was correct even though it was difficult to understand.
And then, Pope Benedict announced he was retiring. It was a whirlwind of excitement for me. I followed conclave intently, and had a Pope Watch alert on my phone. And finally, Habemas Papem. I watched CNN coverage all day long when Pope Francis was announced. I listened to translations of his speech and was so moved by his wonderful, pastoral humility. And, that sealed it for me. I made sure to attend Mass that Sunday and did my best to not ever miss Mass again.
I contacted Fr Humberto again and got set up with the RCIA director. My son started preschool at Saint Marks that fall and my husband and I started RCIA. It was a wonderful journey. We had our son baptized in February of 2014; I was baptized and confirmed at Easter Vigil and my husband was confirmed. We were then married in June and were blessed with twins 9 months later.
And there you have it. Our story thus far, complete for now, while still being written.