Recently, I had a conversation with someone about a tweet I made. This person gave me a compliment regarding the subject covered, which got me thinking deeper about what was said in the comment. In the process of me over analyzing, I started reflecting on my faith journey.
Honestly, I planned on being somewhere else than where I am today as a Catholic. Thankfully, God has greater plans than my shortsighted intentions!
Let me explain.
All my adult life, I had a desire to be a pastor. As previously stated in another post, my uncle was a large influence on me. This goal stayed with me throughout college, and even after I became “born again” in February 2013.
After this profound encounter with God, over the course of about 3 years, many aspects to equip me for ministry began to align. I found myself stockpiling on various books on Protestant and Reformed theology that I could find at bookstores. In my composition notebook, I had lists of topics from individual studies I completed on matters of systematic theology and life-application topics. I listened to theologians speak on free courses supported by various apps. In addition, my pastor and the associate pastors of my former church were aware of my desire to become a pastor, so I had their blessings, support, and guidance.
At one point in 2015, I had a potential teaching role at a new non-denominational church in Houston. I met with the pastor one-on-one for lunch and was totally convinced by the opportunity. My wife and I attended his launch party too. Eventually, with the guidance of my wife, I realized that this position appealed to my pride rather than God’s will, so I declined further interest in the position.
Like all great teachers I listened to, the logical next move was to earn a master’s degree in some form of ministry. As a result, I applied to a prominent seminary to earn my masters. I even got my pastor to sign off as a pastoral recommendation for the program. However, after careful consideration, I decided not to attend the university because I didn’t think it was the best fit for me.
Yet, I persevered with this belief in becoming a pastor for quite some time.
In the beginning, wrestling with Catholicism was difficult. I had, what I thought for certain, was a promising career as a pastor ahead of me. I was very skilled, self-taught, and a bright young man. Along with Catholicism making 0 sense, I found it easy to be unwilling to open myself to the truth of the Catholic Church.
Then, one Saturday during October 2016, I gave up my battle against the Church. Upon hearing EWTN’s “The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy” on my local Catholic radio (I was an ardent listener of Catholic radio while Protestant), I surrendered my heart to the Church. Never had I heard a Christian song like it. The lyrics were about an immeasurable love of Jesus that I never heard before. “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and all the whole world,” echoed in my mind. This was very serene to me!
Eventually, in the months that followed, I was left with the decision to abandon my own path of being a Bible-teacher for the guidance of my conscience into the Catholic Church. Literally, all I worked, studied, gave energy into would be lost. In some way, I thought about what I would gain rather than lose. There would be far greater benefits, eternal and earthly, than cons. Most importantly, I would receive truth which is the basis for life. That’s what mattered most!
As I look back, I have always summed up my conversion in the words of St. Paul that I remember from my old Charles Ryrie New American Standard Bible (NASB) Study Bible, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Phil 3:7).” When I used to actively remember quotes, this was one of the courageous verses I internalized. Now it has a new significance. Since Jesus is inseparable from the Church, and there’s no salvation outside the Church, I marched without looking back.
Now that I am Catholic, I often wonder how God will use my skills. I really would like to assist and one day lead RCIA/faith formation at a parish, but I have to take baby steps. Maybe I will reach out and be more proactive the next term for adult confirmation. As always, I will pray about it first!
I am in the process of writing a book that combines excerpts of The Catechism of the Catholic Church along with entries on fundamental topics anyone in RCIA or converting needs to know. Ultimately, by the time someone finishes the book, they’ll be on the pathway to Confirmation with sound knowledge about the Catholic faith or well-read to enter RCIA beyond introductory teachings.
I am starting graduate school in a few weeks to earn my M. Ed. in Family, Marriage, and Couples Counseling. Hopefully, I can integrate my faith with this degree to address behavioral/emotional concerns from men, women, and children.
Lastly, I have Priestly Passion. It’s a podcast where I interview priests in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston about what it means to serve their vocation. I have two episodes so far, but I am waiting on many responses! I enjoy learning about their upbringing and what makes their service to God unique. Hopefully, someone becomes inspired to the priesthood by listening!
Already, God has opened more doors and ways to extend grace than ever! I have no reason to look back.
Follow me @Menny_Thoughts