TWENTY YEARS AWAY The Real Reason I Came Back to the Catholic Church (by SES Alumna, Mitzi Fields)

SESunsubstantiatedIntroduction

There are several Catholic converts from Southern Evangelical Seminary that did not, for one reason or another, have their stories included in Evangelical Exodus. Some were for personal reasons, but most were simply unavailable at the time, or had not yet begun or completed their journeys across the Tiber. Some of these converts have reached out to me since the book’s publication, and I have asked any interested to contribute to this blog in the same spirit as that of the book. I hope you enjoy the continuing stories of this Evangelical Exodus.

TWENTY YEARS AWAY The Real Reason I Came Back to the Catholic Church

Mitzi Profile Pic 2

SES Alumna, Mitzi Fields

Leaving Home

“It was a boy. I had a crush on a boy in ninth grade and he invited me to church. So I went. It was an Evangelical Church; no one guided me either way, so there I stayed for 20 years.” This was my answer to a woman with whom I had worked in ministry when she asked what originally drew me away from the Roman Catholic Church. Over the years I have taken my shots at Catholicism; argued with a fair number of people; challenged my own father; began every testimony with “I grew up Catholic . . .” The truth is, I never stopped admiring the Church.

As a child my Catholic faith felt routine. Although, I am grateful to my parents for taking me to church every week and faithfully dragging me to CCD[1] classes. I didn’t care for CCD much. One night during a teaching on the Eucharist I thought the priest was Jesus Christ, and throughout my childhood I thought that all I needed to do is take communion to have my sins forgiven for that week. I suppose I was on the right track at least.[2] Church was a bore. The Rosary was hypnotizing. The priests—I was too shy to even approach them. My dad kept a huge, white, leather bound Bible near the coffee table. It must have weighed forty pounds. On rare occasions us kids would stick around after dinner and ask dad questions about God. I enjoyed those times. Once in seventh grade I remember sitting in Language Arts class staring at another girl’s shoe. It wasn’t her shoe that had me so captivated. I somehow slipped into a meditation on heaven. I kept thinking that there was some point in which we must die. But no! Dad says heaven is a perfect state of happiness. And God says we will live forever. But, it has to end at some point. No! It still goes on! Heaven is forever. . . and ever. I don’t recall what jogged me back to Language Arts class but it was a very pleasant few moments that God had given me.

When Justice (“the boy”) asked me to go to church with him I was thrilled. It was church, so not exactly a first date. And I knew it wasn’t a Catholic Church but I went mostly just to be around him anyway. I sat quiet in Sunday School. The worship was very lively—a complete band, banners waving, hands clapping. The pastor spoke for a while. Then more worship and closing prayer followed by a lot of chatter afterwards. I went back the next Sunday and kept going back. It became a social setting for me. I began learning about having a relationship with Jesus Christ. I began learning that the Bible is to be read and followed. For months I had asked my sister Holly to join me. Although hesitant, she finally did. One day, after many, many Sundays and youth events I was standing in a circle of friends when I mentioned to the youth group leader that my parents would always say the Rosary whenever we would go on long car rides. My peers were stunned with silence until one asked what the Rosary was. Spiritless, she answered that it was a Catholic prayer. I felt a twinge of an “us and them” attitude, but I quickly dismissed the feeling and carried on. Eventually, Holly went off to college while I led something of a double life during High School. I had to get the drinking and the smoking and the depression business all out of my system, but I still went to church. It was important to me because God was important to me. Even though the main reason I went was for the social aspect, I was there. And God was there. Finally, at 19, with the help of Holly and her husband, Jason, I was “saved.”

Navigating Life

After two years of community college I transferred to Iowa State University. Holly and Jason had become my mentors and, by this time, Jason had introduced me to apologetics as well as Southern Evangelical Seminary. ISU had a large, very popular parachurch ministry called The Salt Company; a ministry where I discovered several other students who took interest in apologetics as well. Although I quickly grew to like the subject, admittedly, I didn’t study it much on my own. I read a little bit here and there, I went to a few lectures, I sat in on discussions, I even went to several of SES’s National Apologetics Conferences. My pride had me acting like I knew more than I did (which is probably still the case) but anyway, I enjoyed learning about it. The various topics were intriguing and helpful—God’s existence, the problem of evil, relativism, and the like. However, I began preferring books like Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster—books that addressed the virtuous life and other spiritual aspects of Christianity. While visiting Holly and Jason at seminary one year we were all invited to spend the weekend with Dr. Norman Geisler at his cabin in the mountains. To many at SES this might have been a dream come true. I mean, what an opportunity for invigorating discussion! Jason encouraged me to ask questions, but, I simply had nothing to ask. I just could not seem to get quite as excited about apologetics as my zealous peers—even though I wanted too. I wanted to love it as much as they did. To learn how to reason and “win” the argument, pridefully. Still, I was more interested in stories about God’s redemptive love than I was in the Twelve Points that Prove Christianity. So what if I could mop the floor with my “opponent” on some apologetic issue? If I didn’t show love doing it then I’ve gotten nowhere! (Seriously though, how on earth did I end up spending thousands of dollars and six years of my life earning a master’s degree in the subject?)

After college I spent two years in St. Louis, MO living with Holly and Jason. For work, I taught young children at a very small (dying) Christian school. It was a miserable experience. For church, I attended The Journey—the one and only Evangelical Church in my twenty years that offered communion every week, and you walked up front to receive it. I had no real plans for my life. In fact, as a woman living in our times I’ll be brave and admit that all I ever really wanted was to be married and have a family. College came and went. St. Louis wasn’t permanent. So what’s a lapsed Catholic to do? Attend an evangelical seminary, of course. Jason took a teaching position at SES which meant Holly was moving to Charlotte. I applied and was accepted.

The Evangelical World

It was 2005. SES was a vibrant, lively place. I quickly made friends. I worked hard at my studies. I kept an active social calendar. By 2007 everything began unraveling. Southern Evangelical Church experienced a horrible split. I was laid off from my job. A relationship fell apart. If ever I wanted to rewind the clock it was that year. To solve the problems I had talked about scrapping it all and moving to Chicago. (Because that would have made things better.) But, I had to be a big girl. I wanted finish what I had started. I took a job at Calvary Church in South Charlotte working as an administrative assistant. Between work and school, I was completely immersed in the Evangelical world. I wasn’t thinking about Catholicism. It was rarely ever discussed and if it was it was usually about how off center the Catholics are in their beliefs. At work, prayer requests were taken in staff meetings and Wednesday morning devotions. My co-worker, a sweet southern lady, would usually open with, “pray for ‘so and so,’ she’s Catholic . . . “ The executive pastor, albeit a good man, made no bones about it, he was staunchly against Catholicism. One time he spotted a card taped to my computer monitor that had on it a picture of the Shroud of Turin; “Jesus. Holy, is His name! Trust in Him. Venerate His Holy Face,” it said. Upon discerning its Catholicity his face went sour and he commented that we do not venerate images. Before taking communion (every three months) the senior pastor carefully explained that we at Calvary do not believe that this becomes the body and blood of Christ. It is symbolic of Christ’s death on the cross. Some snubbed their noses at the Church, “Catholics think they’re the TRUE church. Ha! How arrogant.” Others made side comments in passing. I never said much. I wasn’t as interested anymore in combating Catholic claims as I was back in college. In fact, my admiration for the Church still held on tight. For a brief period of time I was writing letters back and forth to my aunt, Sister Margaret Ann who lives at a convent in Wisconsin. As I told her about my desire for marriage she asked me if I’d ever considered the religious life. I never told her that I had left the Catholic Church.

Looking back, SES did a lot for me. It taught me to think and reason. I learned how to defend the basics of Christianity. I learned about God’s attributes, the resurrection of Jesus, other religions and cults, philosophy, logic, how to somewhat navigate the problem of evil, tips on how to read the Bible, and even a little on angels. SES gave me something to strive for; something to be a part of; a goal to reach; a social network; teaching and speaking opportunities; ministry opportunities; knowledge and understanding; mentors; and eventually, a husband. During my time at SES, however, I struggled to maintain a strong spiritual life. SES offered weekly devotions, Bible studies, and professors with open doors. But for me, such a heavy emphasis on defending the truth left me struggling to figure out what to say to God when I hit my knees in prayer. At any rate, I finally finished and graduated in 2011.

Likewise, Calvary Church was good to me. I was quite satisfied with my job. I worked for two very godly men from whom I learned more about grace and patience with people than I did about assisting in ministry. And church was a joy! Calvary was a very active, cheerful place to be—something for everyone. There was a time when I thrived as an Evangelical. A time when I felt very close to the Lord and Calvary was instrumental in strengthening that devotion. I eventually hit a plateau, however, feeling like Evangelical Christianity had given all it had to offer. It was no longer enough.

Reconsidering Catholicism

Chase and I married in March, 2013. By this time Holly and Jason had moved home to Iowa. Holly had returned to the Church and Jason converted. In October of that year my entire immediate family gathered at my sister Kathy’s farm in Wisconsin. A rare occasion for sure. That weekend, Holly and I spoke at length about Catholicism as well as her experience upon coming home to the Catholic Church. Without remembering the details, one thing I remember well was her telling me the oft-quoted line of John Henry Newman, “To be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant.” And John 6. I remember discussing John 6; Jesus’ command to eat His flesh and drink His blood, otherwise you have no life in you. Hmmm.

I came back to Charlotte thinking about it.

Over the next several months I would talk to Holly (and sometimes Jason) about Catholicism. Specifically, we would discuss the parts of Catholic teaching where non-Catholics had been sorely mistaken, including them and including me. They were never pushy. They would simply point out verses in the Scriptures that I’d read before but never took time to clearly understand. ‘Wow!’ ‘No way!’ ‘That sounds so Catholic!’ ‘GASP. . . that’s what that means!’ God was turning up the dimmer switch. I began reading the Bible the way a Catholic would understand it. Chase and I continued attending church at Calvary but we would also discuss Catholicism. Chase is always fair to the other point of view and of course Catholicism was no exception. He would raise valid objections to many of the Catholic claims and give his thoughts on the topic. They were objections to consider but, even so, it wasn’t my mind that was drawing me back as much as it was my soul. Sunday mornings gradually became dry and dull. For six months I just felt “meh” about church. I thought to myself, ‘There just has to be more.’ Worship music started sounding like the radio; I just wanted to shut it off. And the pastor’s words morphed into the teacher’s “wah, wah, wah” language in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I nearly stopped listening. Church had become a bore. The sermons were hypnotizing.[3] Finally, I met with a priest. I hungered for something lacking but what was it? God was calling me home.

I resigned my position at Calvary Church after our first son was born in June, 2014. By August I was enrolled in RCIA[4] at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. I had one prayer: “God, if I can know you better and love you more by being Catholic then convince me it’s true.” I struggled a little in the beginning because of how it would change my life, but I think I knew early on that it was just a matter of time. Intellectually speaking, it really didn’t take much convincing. I am an apologist wanna-be, remember. The arguments were important but the conviction of my heart was far stronger than any argument. Although, I was not a total airhead either. There were a few exclusively Catholic claims that I began researching—some of the more controversial issues between Evangelicals and Catholics. The interpretation of John 6 was of most importance. It is true. Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (6:53). It’s pretty straight forward. Jesus is talking about His literal flesh and blood, commanding us to eat and drink. He says it again in John 6:54, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life . . . “ And again (Jn. 6:55), and again (Jn. 6:56), and again (Jn. 6:57), and again (Jn. 6:58). Reading this I didn’t find anything symbolic about it. In fact, Jesus is going to painstaking lengths to make his message clear! What stood out the most, however, was how the Jews responded. They weren’t exactly eager for Jesus to make cannibals out of them. So they left. And this after just one day before when they were gladly praising him as the “Prophet who is to come into the world!” (Jn. 6:14). Jesus was always careful to clear up any misunderstanding that his followers had but He didn’t do that this time. Here is one of the most important teachings that Jesus will leave with His disciples until the end of time, one would think He would have gotten it right! Why didn’t He clear up any misunderstanding? Because there was no misunderstanding. The message was clear. It was a “hard saying” (Jn. 6:60) but it was clear. As a result, Jesus sadly watched many of His followers turn and walk away. And there was no running after them. If it were anything less, such as symbolism or metaphor, not only would Jesus have been clear about it but given the interest and zeal of the Jews surely they would have had no problem with it! But it was and is nothing less. It is exactly the way He taught it: “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:55-56). “If it’s wrong it’s scandalous. We bow to bread and we worship wine”[5] as if it were God and God has let it continue in the name of Jesus Christ for over 2000 years and counting. Call it grace, but I just didn’t have a hard time believing it.

John 6 was my starting point, but there was more. As I kept reading I discovered the connection between John 6:52-59 and the Last Supper in Matthew 26:26. It was Passover. Jesus blesses the bread, breaks it, gives it to His disciples and says, “Take, eat: this is my body” (emphasis mine). He does the same with the cup. He gives thanks, gives it to His disciples and says, “Drink of it . . . for this is my blood” (Mt. 26:27-28, emphasis mine). Digging a little deeper I saw the parallel between this Passover and the original Passover meal in Exodus 12. God’s instructions were to take a male lamb without blemish, kill it, and eat it. They were also to dip hyssop in the blood and spread it on the doorposts. In doing this the angel of death would pass over the home. In the New Covenant, Jesus is the male lamb without blemish. He was killed; His blood soaking the wood of the cross; His body eaten, as established at the Last Supper (a non-bloody sacrifice). This is the Eucharist, my friends. One can only hope that Jesus’ followers who left Him that day might have stuck around long enough (if even at a distance) to more fully understand that He was not preaching cannibalism. Perhaps His death and resurrection won them back. We hope.

I took issue with Sola Scriptura as well. I just didn’t see it taught in the Bible. Some would say that it doesn’t have to be taught in the Bible for it to be true. But then I found it rather inconsistent to live and breathe by a “doctrine” that isn’t even taught in the very Book by which one is living and breathing. Surely it would have to be! Not only was Sola Scriptura not there, but the Apostle Paul kept referencing traditions and praising the people for sticking to them! In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 he encourages the people to stand firm, holding to the traditions they were taught either by “spoken word or by [his] letter.” He references tradition again in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 encouraging them to keep away from idle people who are not walking in accord with the tradition they have received. He also commends the Corinthians for maintaining the traditions as he delivered them (1 Cor. 11:2). Although I continued my research on the issue, this was enough to convince me that Sola Scriptura was an inaccurate teaching. It was just commonsensical that the Bible could not possibly contain every moral and ethical teaching, every possible practice, every historical and scientific answer for all times everywhere until the end of time. It is important, of course! And we do live by it. But my questions were many: ‘what do we do when the Bible doesn’t clearly settle an issue for us? Who makes the judgment call? And on whose authority? Left to ourselves we end up with multiple interpretations of the Christian faith. Speaking of tradition, Paul speaks of spoken tradition as if it were just as important to follow as the written word. So when did tradition end? And on whose authority? When people of good will see things differently whom do we trust? Surely God would have fixed someone in place to help His church navigate the tides of life!’ I also took into consideration Jesus’ words to His disciples just before He was betrayed. He said to them, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth . . .” (John 16:12-13, emphasis mine). Jesus still had more to say, so to ensure that they were given the truth He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide them. It indicated to me that the guidance of the “Spirit of truth” would last far beyond the time of the apostles; for the rest of time, in fact. I just didn’t believe that the Bible was the only way God communicated with His people.  Enter—the Magisterium.

It was a lightning strike to visibly see the oneness of God’s church. This realization struck me deeper than I ever thought it would. It continues to slap me awake from time to time. My thoughts unfolded: ‘If God has only one church then it must have a leader and a government of sorts. I mean, even the United States has that. How fitting would it be for God to provide His church on earth with some form of earthen leadership? Jesus is the Head of the Church, of course. There’s no debating that. But all throughout human history God has put into place human leadership.’ And questions came: ‘So who was the head of the Evangelical church? Every church I’d been to had its own leadership structure. What about leadership in the Presbyterian church? And the Baptist church? And the Methodist church? And non-denominational churches? And why do we have so many denominations of church anyway? Many Evangelicals believe the bread and juice is merely symbolic, whereas the Lutherans believe in some kind of presence of Christ. The Calvinists believe that Jesus died only for the elect but the Arminians believe He died for everyone. Some sects of Christianity accept homosexuality as permissible whereas other sects believe it is sinful. If God’s church is one then this should not be! Do we not have “one faith” (Eph. 4:5)?’ I was running after my thoughts as fast as I could chase them. When I began putting the puzzle pieces together I started realizing how crucial church unity is. I reasoned that it was good for the unity of God’s people to have in place a single leader; a leader that, when it became necessary, God would preserve from error in order to ensure that His people would know the truth (i.e. John 16:13). It just made sense. The Catholics were the only church that submitted to the pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth, which meant that the Catholic Church was united around the globe. Upon realizing this I was overcome by how incredibly massive God’s church is! It was awesome! I just could not believe how vast and wide! God’s church is truly ONE! Worldwide! Including the souls in purgatory and the saints in heaven. As an Evangelical I’d always heard that God’s church is one but I never visibly saw the structure of its leadership beyond the four walls of a building. And church unity consisted of unity within those four walls. In my observation, all of the discrepancies in Bible interpretation and a lack of noticeable church government over all of God’s people made for a severe lack of unity.

Catholic Church authority, specifically the pope, was a hotly debated subject as an Evangelical. While others would spend months and months studying the issue and ruminating over it, somehow it just wasn’t that problematic for me. My husband tells me that I believe almost too easily sometimes. I had an advantage, however. I had grown up Catholic. It wasn’t quite as scary for me to revert as it might have been for others to convert. But again, I just wasn’t interested in debating the papacy and all the historical controversy behind it. My soul was hungry. I knew there was more to learn, but one doesn’t take time to calculate the nutritional content of a chewy bar when he hasn’t eaten in twenty years. If he knows it’s food he eats it. I thank God for His mercy in helping me “gather my thoughts” and quickly return to Him in the Eucharist. I was convinced. I was coming home.

These discoveries and many others had me realizing just how Catholic the Bible is. I was seeing with new eyes! In RCIA we were encouraged to go to Mass. So one day I did, and soon after Chase joined me. It was beautiful and all so familiar. In a peculiar way, it was as if I had never left. Weeks later, without any idea of how to prepare or what to say I simply walked into the confessional. I had reconciliation at CCD a couple times as a kid, but it was never a regular practice. Shaking, crying, and barely able to speak, I told the priest, Fr. Winslow, that I hadn’t been to confession in over 20 years. He was very calming and suggested I just start with what I could remember. For all practical purposes, he walked me through my first genuine confession ever. In the weeks following, Fr. Winslow further helped me return to good standing with the Catholic Church. Mother Church is merciful to her children.

The Response

Simultaneously, while all of this discovery was happening I feared the subject being mentioned amongst my friends. My own husband was telling me to take courage and yet I couldn’t tell my friends. I knew people would talk. When it was finally out that I was “becoming Catholic” I got varied responses. Many were accepting and let it be, but with some people our discussions about Catholicism were riddled with intellectual arguments that left very little room for the mystery of God. I felt like I needed to know everything from the Vatican II documents to a thorough understanding of Sola Scriptura, to why some priests behave the way they do. I needed to be able to defend clearly from the Scriptures why Catholics believe the papacy began with Peter and that Jesus did not have biological brothers and that Mary was a perpetual virgin. Conversations consisted of such an adamant push for truth that when I mentioned a devotional longing it was as if they suddenly went deaf. I felt like the tone of the dialogue was screaming, “EXPLAIN YOURSELF!” Because I still had so much to learn I simply felt defeated. It was more exhausting than anything.

Shortly after being confirmed I stirred up the hornet’s nest by posting a well-meaning comment on Facebook about having learned more about living for heaven as a Catholic than I did as an Evangelical. Yep . . . on Facebook. After re-reading my comment I realized that it could have been said in a better way with a little less bite. Even so, the backlash was near shocking! It got a few “likes” and some were genuinely interested in interacting with the comment itself. One woman engaged discussion about why I chose the Catholic Church and not the Eastern Orthodox Church. But to a few women, it ignited a firestorm of cutting comments, false assumptions, and ugly opposition to hear anything good about Catholicism. I offer a taste of what they handed me not to play the martyr, but to illustrate how our experiences can leave our minds with skewed perceptions of what Scripture actually says, of what the Catholic Church actually teaches and practices as well as an unwillingness to budge from those perceptions. It also illustrates the utmost importance of understanding the truth.

“As an Evangelical, I am continually reminded that the Church is only the Church when Jesus’ Word is what grounds the Church and gives us life. We do not exist along side the Word but to exist because of the Word.”

“The Catholic Church did exactly the opposite for me. No love. Just works. No thanks.”

“I have no intention in reading anything that is not supported by Scripture that justify praying to the VIRGIN Mary, praying to and for the dead, the rosary, the novena, the idolization of the pope, the sacraments, praying to the saints, etc. In regards to the teachings mentioned above, I need to see SCRIPTURE reference. Book. Chapter. Verse. Anything else, just won’t do. I’m not impressed with research, history, traditions, lineage, St. Peter…..”

“I will never understand the teachings of praying to Mary for the souls of sinners, the Teaching of the Eucharist, praying to saints and statues, praying to get the dead into heaven, the idolization of the pope… My issue with the Catholic Church is not about the wrongs done to me by priests and nuns, it’s all about the teaching. Last I checked Scripture, none of them died for me. None of them are seated at the right hand of the Father. None of them intercedes for me. And none [of] them is coming back for me. I may not have a seminary education or be well versed in theological and philosophical matters. All I know is By Grace Alone. Through Faith Alone. In CHRIST ALONE.” 

“Everything the cc is based on is deceptive in it’s nature . . . How on earth can you justify the acceptance of [homosexuality] as the cc does? Don’t tell me the cc does not…i grew up in [City] and [State]…the cc was predominantly gay. Never was it addressed or talked about…it was considered status quo. Then there are all the laws. It is Judaism lite. Don’t get me wrong, I love and support Israel, but we are no longer under the law…you know all this! I am so confused by your choice.”

“In deception I mean, that you can pray to Mary and various saints and they will hear and answer your prayers. That you must go to Christ through a priest to ask for forgiveness, that the priest is the soul teacher of the bible, and rarely the OT. Rarely from the alter are you encouraged through a homely to open the book and study it yourself…to prove the priest approved. The rituals and laws one follow to peruse a relationship with Christ are works based. The notion of purgatory. Peter being the founder of the Church. The financial support for birth control to organizations who support abortion.[6] The list is exhaustive . . . [Homosexuality] is NEVER discussed as a sin and the need to repent and turn away. Those who come into the church feel welcomed and supported in their gay lifestyle.[7] If you do any study of the religion/cult Mitzi, you can see the evil thread. I am baffled over the deception you have missed . . . I think you may want to revisit those reasons…”

“I have to know, Mitzi, is what you taught to students something that you really didn’t believe in the whole time? Was it just words that had no meaning? I just want to know if it all was a lie. . . Talk about steering people away from a church by having a leader or teacher basically turn their back on what they taught and convert back?”

Painful experiences leave scars. Whether from the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church or otherwise we all wear them. Rather than ignore these women, I took it as an opportunity to help them. I also felt it my duty to defend the Church against such distorted understandings even with my limited knowledge. So for two weeks I spent hours engaging them (and others) in dialogue, meticulously writing up responses while trying hard to shoo away any of their misconstrued perceptions of me. I used the Bible, the Councils, quotes from the early Church Fathers, the Catechism, and other books to bring it all together. After all of this, final comments consisted of: “There’s absolutely nothing you presented that justified, or supported the teachings that concern me, nor any biblical precedence” and “God is not so complicated, Mitzi.” There was no changing their minds on Facebook. However, I was not only responding to them but also to the silent readers quietly following the dialogue.

It’s a hard thing to feel judged. Many converts that I’ve spoken with have had similar experiences. The constant reminder of ‘Truth! We must know the truth! Truth! Truth! Truth!’ was tiring because I already knew that—like telling me my name is Mitzi over and over again. Contrary to their beliefs, I had found the truth and I was trying to show it to them! Yes, truth is important; an absolute must in fact as the display of comments above has so clearly proven. But even with all the getting of knowledge, all the uncovering of evidence, all the acquiring of answers on how we can explain our world in light of God’s revelation; after the truth has been sought, discerned, tried, and tested, in the end, people are not sold on intellectual answers alone. When a person leaves the Catholic Church or converts to it, it is the whole person that does it. Their experiences, their pain, their desires and longings, their hopes, their burdens, their knowledge base, their influences all go with them. Truth alone is not enough. For there are people who know the truth and despise it.

I wonder sometimes how my life might have turned out differently had I not left the Catholic Church. Would I be closer to God than I am now? Further away? Would I appreciate the Eucharist? Come to desire praying the Rosary? Would I have considered the religious life? Perhaps I would have taken better care of myself as a teenager and stayed out of trouble. In any case, the past has passed. The twenty years I spent away from the Church has served to help me appreciate my Catholic faith to a much greater degree and in a way that I likely would not have been able too otherwise. For that, I have no regrets. The Salt Company, SES, and Calvary Church were instrumental in my spiritual growth. But there has been no sweeter reunion than when my Catholic Church family welcomed me home.

A Brief Note of Thanks

As with anyone finding their way closer to God there are usually those along the way that have made a great impact. I would like thank them: To Holly and Jason Reed for giving me a reason to reconsider Catholicism, for your time spent with me in discussion, and for your prayers. To my husband Chase for your encouragement, your patience, and always giving the “other side” a sincere and fair hearing. To Fr. Patrick Winslow for carefully leading me through my first confession upon reversion and for providing the necessary help that returned me to good standing with the Church. To Fr. Timothy Reid, my pastor, for your preaching on the saints, on redemption, on living a holy life, and especially for your grace, mercy, and counsel in the confessional. To Fr. Jason Christian for your time spent preparing and teaching RCIA, your time spent with me, and introducing me to the beautiful Latin Mass. To Fr. Matthew Kauth for exhibiting a life of deep knowledge and deep devotion lived harmoniously, and for teaching me to guard my spiritual life. Finally, to my Evangelical friends, thank you for your friendship, your forgiveness of my pride and pomp, and for challenging me to know my own faith.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; better known today as Faith Formation (for children)

[2] For clarification: When a priest offers Mass he wears vestments so as to cover up himself and, instead, act as in the person of Christ (i.e. in “persona Christi”). In this way, he is a Christ-like figure to the body of believers when offering Mass and other sacraments. As for taking communion; the believer receives many graces when receiving the Eucharist, but one’s sins are cleansed and forgiven during confession. I did not have a full understanding of these things as a child, but I believe I was at least “on the right track.”

[3] To be clear, none of what is said here is a reflection on Calvary Church, its music ministry or the preaching. This was my personal experience. I still maintain that, for an Evangelical, Calvary is a very fine church.

[4] Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

[5] The portion of this statement in quotations is borrowed from Peter Kreeft’s “Seven Reasons to Be Catholic” (Lighthouse Catholic Media).

[6] I asked her for the organizations to which she was referring and received no reply.

[7] This woman’s comment was made in reference to her hometown.

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