Saturday, March 31st, 2018, Brenda and I were confirmed in the Catholic Church ( see confirmation here ) and received the Eurcharist as Catholic Christians for the first time in our lives ( me at age 51 and Brenda at age 49 ). It has been a journey full of ups and downs, but I have NO DOUBT that I'm ( we ) where God wants me to be: I'm proud to be a Catholic Christian.
What a joyous time for Brenda and I to be officially at home in the Catholic Church on Easter Sunday, April 1st 2018 as I write this article on a beautiful Easter Sunday afternoon.
I don't know what background you have when it comes to faith or maybe you are an atheist, but I can tell you that I am excited about what the future holds for us as a Catholic couple. I hope that you will truly LET GO AND LET GOD in your own life. Be open to what God has in store for you even if that is becoming Catholic, reverting to your Catholic faith or renewing your Catholic faith to live for Jesus Christ like never before as not just a Christian but in the fullness of the Catholic Christian faith.
I am more focused on serving Christ and serving others. I have fought with self many times in the last 14 months as I really dove into understanding the Catholic faith. I'll share some of that with you in this article.
I had to DIE TO SELF to get through this journey. I'll share more about dying to self after the story below from Father Larry Richards ( huge impact on my life over the last year or so ).
“God, God please help me, help me. I can’t take this demon of lust.” So God sends an angel. And the angel says, “What is the problem?” He said, “It is this demon of lust. I can’t stand it. It makes me do these horrible things. I hate it. I hate myself because of this demon.” And the angel looks at him and says, “May I kill it?” And the man says, “Oh I don’t know if you want to kill it. Maybe you could just wound it a little bit. Or take the chain it has around my neck. Maybe you could just do something like that.” And the angel looks at him and says, “May I kill it?” And the guy says, “Oh that is not very politically correct you know to kill things nowadays. Maybe you could just do this.” And the angel says, “May I kill it?” And finally the man says, “Yes, yes, yes. Kill it!” And the angel reaches out and he takes that demon of lust and he crushes it and he kills it. And the demon is transformed into a beautiful white stallion. The man jumps on the stallion and the stallion takes him home to heaven." ( see PDF here )
All of us have struggled with something in our lives. In my journey to becoming Catholic, self was my worst enemy. I had MY BELIEFS. The ones that I held dear. Here are some paraphrase examples: "It's Christ on the cross with a simple plan of Salvation. Catholic Salvation is complicated." - "Many Catholics don't know their faith." - "I don't agree with the Catholic Church on this or that." However, I could accept some things about Catholicism. I just couldn't accept them all. Like many Christians, I wanted to pick and choose what DAVID WILLIAMS ( SELF ) would believe and would reject.
I, unlike some Christians, believed that Catholics were fellow Christians. I didn't think they worshipped Mary. I was NOT an anti-Catholic that thought Catholics need to leave the Catholic Church to really be saved. Although I didn't have those battles to fight, there were still plenty of barriers along the way.
Brenda and I attended our first Mass on January 21st, 2017. By then, I had about 3 weeks of pretty in depth time into Catholicism ( plus some time in late 2016 ). Brenda and I continued attending Mass pretty faithfully for several weeks. Then, sometime after Easter 2017 which fell on Sunday, April 16th, 2017 things began to slip a little. The demon of SELF raised it's ugly head and David Williams was bigger than the Catholic Church ( overstated to make a point about SELF ).
Brenda wasn't as on board as I was in those early weeks, so when I decided sometime around May 2017 that we were not going to continue the Catholic journey ( at least for the time being ), Brenda didn't fight me on it. For about the next 12 to 14 weeks or so, we took a break. I did minimal Catholic reading, minimal Catholic study, minimal Catholic radio and pretty well just about threw in the towel. However, I still loved Jesus. Honestly, I think that I overdid it by frying myself with information overload.
I estimate that I had about 200 hours or so of time invested by the time this 2017 break happened. That much time in a relatively short period can be a system shock to someone at age 50 with Protestant beliefs since childhood. For example, the Protestant beliefs of private interpretation of scripture and as long as we can agree that it's all about Christ on the cross and salvation through Jesus that it really wasn't all that important that we disagreed on a lot of other things as Christians.
But, thankfully, during this break, we were still on the RCIA email list and I got an email that got me thinking about Catholicism again. It was an email concerning the upcoming 6 inquiry sessions that were taking place. It was 6 sessions with a short break in between to make a decision whether we wanted to continue with the full RCIA class or decide that we would not continue on after the inquiry sessions. I decided to not say anything to Brenda for a few days. When I did, we both ended up agreeing that there was no harm in seeing what the inquiry sessions were about because there was no commitment to become Catholic.
This got me back on track of diving deep into Catholicism. I picked back up with consuming myself with Catholic media. The difference from earlier in 2017 was that I quickly got self out of the way. I needed to be open to trying to wrap my head around Catholicism and see if it was where God wanted me ( us ) to be.
Although we ended up only attending 1 or 2 of the 6 inquiry classes, it became more about diving into RCIA. I had mentioned to Brenda that there was still no commitment even if we attended RCIA. Brenda was willing to attend with an open mind and see if RCIA changed anything. I think the first official class was sometime in mid to late October of 2017 or maybe early November just to get you up to speed of a timeline. For me, I was in deep into absorbing information. I truly wanted to know that I know that I know that becoming Catholic was what Brenda and I were supposed to be doing.
If you think about the timeline above, by the time mid-October 2017 hit, there had been 41 weeks in 2017 and only 12 to 14 of them had not been part of our Catholic journey. So by the mid-October, we had roughly 27 to 29 weeks into Catholicism in 2017 with me spending hours and hours every week diving in through all types of media.
I was getting a desire in my soul to become Catholic. FYI, if you have not studied Catholicism from a Catholic view point, you should be open to understanding Catholicism from a Catholic perspective not an anti-Catholic ( what you might think ) perspective.
Brenda's position was that she'd attend the class ( RCIA ) and make a decision. This was a time of difficulty for us because I was so deep into what I was learning that my passion continued to grow for the Catholic faith.
I believe that it was sometime in early December 2017 that I came to conclusions on some key questions:
1) Was the Catholic Church the TRUTH or not? If it was True, I needed to be a part of it.
2) Was the Catholic Church bigger than David Williams? In other words, is there an authority that the Catholic Church has to interpret scripture and stand on a 2,000 history that I could not stand on as an individual trying to interpret scripture privately.
3) Could I accept ALL Catholic Church teachings and not be a Cafeteria ( pick what I want ) Catholic? If I was going to pick and choose, I might as well remain Protestant.
4) The most difficult one of All: Would I join the Catholic Church without Brenda? I had said many times that I wanted us to become Catholic together or that I would likely not move forward without her.
The answers to all 4 of the above were YES, YES, YES and a difficult YES.
I waited a week or maybe even two weeks to share with Brenda that I hoped that we can become Catholic together at the 2018 Easter Vigil, but that I had to move forward and become Catholic with or without her. Brenda appeared to take it well but wasn't ready to make a firm decision to become Catholic.
During the first week of January 2018, Brenda told me that she had decided to become Catholic at the 2018 Easter Vigil. It was a glorious time that my wife of 28 years was moving forward with me. God had a plan and it was coming together.
Although there were still some struggles, things went fast from Brenda's decision time to the 2018 Easter Vigil.
Brenda and I ended up being on the cover of NC Catholics Magazine for the March/April 2018 issue as seen below:
Holy week 2018 came quickly and we were part of the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 27th, 2018: I carried a 20 pound ( or so ) bottle of oil up to the front of the Cathedral with Brenda by my side. It was one of many that was blessed by the Bishop. We attended service Thursday evening March 29th at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral. We attended Good Friday service at the Cathedral at 3 p.m. with the veneration of the Cross which was amazing. Then, Saturday, March 31st, 2018 came around. It was the date of the Easter Vigil.
We met with other RCIA class members from around 9 a.m. to Noon. We arrived at the Cathedral early for the 8:30 p.m. Easter Vigil service and had time to greet our two adult daughters and a friend and his wife that drove all the way from the Atlanta area just to see us become Catholic.
Our sponsors, Barry and Liz, who have been a huge part of the journey were there with us as we were confirmed on March 31st, 2018. We received the Eucharist for the first time just a few minutes later.
BRENDA AND I ARE GLAD TO BE AT HOME IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.