12/01/2005

My Feet Are Freezing

I told my parents last night.

My mom won't even speak to me, and my dad is, to say the least, not thrilled (though he took it better than I thought he would). I spent two hours in heated discussion with my dad, and I don't think we're any better off than we were before.

In the eyes of my parents, the Catholic church is evil. Evil, as in "tool of satan, whore of Babylon" evil. The pope is the antichrist, priests and nuns practice witchcraft, and Mary and the Saints stand as an impenetrable barrier between us and Christ.

My dad said I have to speak to my mom eventually about this, but she said she didn't want me to talk to her this weekend because it's her birthday and she doesn't want it ruined. Ouch. And here I was going to tell her first, because I thought she'd be more open to this. Guess I don't know my mom as well as I thought.

I hate this. I hate hurting them. And my own confusion about things is muddying the waters, as well. I went to a mothers' prayer group though our parish yesterday, and some of the prayers were to Mary. I was even asked to read one aloud. I sucked in my breath sharply and read the prayer with incredible detachment. I literally felt like someone else was saying the words. I just can't grasp the Mary thing yet. I get it intellectually: Ark of the New Covenant, New Eve, Mother of God, and all that. But it doesn't make me love her. It doesn't make me want to ask her for help. I still cringe every time her name is mentioned during Mass. Obviously, I'm not "there" yet with my Catholic faith.

I've been feeling like I should go talk to the pastor of the megachurch about all this (if I can get an appointment, that is). Maybe I've been rash. I don't know. When I do the research, it all lines up and points to Catholicism, but I'm not completely "feeling" it yet. And when I pray, I feel oddly distant from God all of a sudden. I see Him working everywhere in my life, but I've lost some of the intensity and clarity I had when I prayed as a protestant.

I want to honor God. I want to do the right thing. I believe in my mind that Catholicism is true. But do I believe it in my heart?

9 Comments:

Anonymous cjmr said...

Ouch! I really feel for you. I've been avoiding telling my mom, too, because I'm expecting a similar reaction. I can't really help you, there, maybe time will be on your side with her.

I identify with you on Mary, too. I've gone slowly (over the course of a couple of years) from not saying the Hail Mary when it is said as part of Mass, to saying the words in a detached fashion without really meaning them, and am only now starting to actually mean them when I say them. I surprised myself the other day by ordering a book (the one Anne mentioned on her blog) about saying the rosary. And I find myself wanting to actually have a rosary, which I would never have said just six months ago. Not wanting one enough to buy one for myself, but sort of secretly hoping someone will give me one. It's a gradual process. One of the mentors in my RCIA class who is a cradle Catholic says that she thinks of it this way--because she personally thinks of God as being male, sometimes she has petitions and requests that she would rather talk over with another female, so those are the ones she addresses through Mary, sort of like how one might ask a mother if her son might be available to take one's daughter to homecoming because it would be uncomfortable to ask the son directly. I think Mary is a tough issue for most adult coverts, because we just haven't grown up with her.

I'm not really sure if I'm a heart-convert trying to become a head-convert or vice versa, but I can tell you that the process has taken me years. You seem to be doing things much more quickly. Give yourself some time and space, I guess. You're in my prayers.

Cheri

12/01/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Ouch is right! I'm SO sorry that your sharing your spiritual growth with your parents was met with such hostility. I will keep praying for you, and for cj. Remember this was (and is) hard for YOU to adjust to and God has lead you here. It is even harder for your parents as they don't have the 'vision' you have been given. That doesn't make it any easier I know... try to offer up the suffering you are experiencing due to their reactions and ask God to guide you in your dealings with them.

I experienced much the same with having head knowledge but a lag time for it to 'hit' my heart. Like cj, it took time for me to come to honestly embrace veneration of Mary. Some things that helped or prepared the way for me might help you as well. My favorite Christmas song for example, Breath of Heaven sung by Amy Grant. It is sung from the perspective of Mary and I SO identify with that song and her feelings portrayed in it... it also helped me to 'see' Mary differently. Another thing, oddly enough, that helped me 'see' Mary was Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. I knew the Passion story and it was difficult to watch, but what jumped out at me were the way Christ's relationship with Mary was portrayed... and her reaction to His flogging, the Via Dolorosa, and the crucifixion. I identified with her as a mother, and all of a sudden she metamorphosed from the detached incubator of Christ that I had known as a protestant into a mother like me and yet so much more. Remember, regardless of the 'words' used, the RC does NOT advocate Mariolatry (the worship of Mary) but rather veneration of her, with worship reserved only for God. Recently in an RCIA class, a leader used the phrase 'praying THROUGH the saints' and that is a beautiful way of thinking of it. We don't pray TO Mary, we ask her to pray FOR us, WITH us... regardless of whether or not they say 'pray to' what they MEAN is 'talk to'. I'm sorry you were asked to do it before you were ready. The detachment is TOTALLY understandable and remember, you don't HAVE to pray through the saints if you don't WANT to!

Some quotes from books I’ve just finished reading or am currently reading that might prove helpful…

…in the Catholic and mediaeval terminology ‘worship’ (latria) belongs to God alone, and it is clearly distinguished from the devotion or veneration (hyperdulia) paid to the Virgin Mary. Peter Milward, quoted in the book C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church.


Also, C.S. Lewis said (in regards to praying for the dead which I think could be viewed similarly to praying through)…

‘Of course I pray for the dead’, he states… He hardly knew how the rest of his prayers would survive ‘if those for the dead were forbidden’. ‘At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?’ At this juncture… it is tempting to ask why God would make those that HE loves best unmentionable to Him! C.S. Lewis in quotes, J. Pearce also quoted.

I am also reading The Teachings of the Church Fathers and it is hitting me about as hard as C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church did. My children are upbraiding me for writing in the books! Almost every page is marked up. Anyway… some from that text that I thought might help are as follows…

St. Augustine wrote ‘It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers.’

St. John of Damascus wrote ‘We adore only the Creator and Maker of things, God, to whom we offer latria since God is to be adored according to His nature. We also adore the holy mother of God, not as God, but as mother of God according to the flesh. We also adore the saints, the chosen friends of God, by whom we have easy access to Him.’

Both of these books have been incredible reads, and I can’t tell you the joy that has come by reading the Church Fathers and realizing that I am now worshiping (as a Catholic) exactly as they did so long ago and so soon after Christ’s ascension.

I so wish I could give you a big hug, or call and encourage you. Be patient with yourself, this is no small change God is leading you through. This disjointed time between head knowledge becoming heart knowledge is hard, and dealing with negative familial reactions at the same time must be overwhelming! God be with you dear one, strengthen you, comfort you, and continue to draw you closer and closer to Him. Remember, there are others out here like you, and we are here if you need to talk.

Anne

12/01/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't tell you the heartbreak & upheaval it caused in my family when they found out I was converting. In fact, I dropped out my first time through RCIA because I couldn't handle any longer hearing the "rightness" of the Catholic Church on the one hand and hearing the "wrongness" of the Catholic Church on the other hand. You absolutely have permission to NOT go forward, you know! All in God's timing! For me, the 2nd time I went through RCIA, I had to do so secretly -- I didn't tell my parents until a month before Easter Vigil. Within days I had a HUGE packet of anti-Catholic material in my mailbox. My family has never been happy about my being Catholic but now, they accept it. In fact, a couple of years ago, someone asked my mother what she thought about my being Catholic? She answered, "Well, she sure makes a better Christian as a Catholic!" Progress, one baby-step at a time.
I'm a facilitator in RCIA where I live and one of the men who is coming into the Church still does not "cross" himself. We are each on a journey and we're all on a different timetable for coming to understand these things.
Don't get hung up on the Marian devotions, they're a side issue. Look, instead, to what the Church teaches about Mary -- she is the Mother of God; she was Immaculately conceived (she had to be, to be the Tabernacle of our Lord) and she was Assumed into Heaven (not, as you know, contrary to scripture). That's really it. If you're uncomfortable saying a Hail Mary in a prayer group, say so. No one will judge you.
Your cold feet are definitely part of the process!

Praying for you.... RB

12/01/2005 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DO NOT BE AFRAID!...

the mantra and prayer of christian martyrs throughout the centuries. And, make no mistake... as much as your parents love you, they are putting you through a "white martyrdom" (a non-bloody martyrdom). YOU see it (the Truth)... YOU know where you are and what you need to do about it.

I have to say that it is particularly hard on parents when their children act in unexpected ways. It is very hard not to take that personally, kwim? But, you are a parent yourself, so you know that what you really are... *really are* is STEWARD of these souls. Your parents cannot drive your soul anymore than you can drive your own childrens' souls. So, in the famous words of JP II's last days...

DO NOT BE AFRAID!

<>< JC

12/02/2005 12:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out this article by Mark Shea - How I Changed My Mind About Mary: http://www.mark-shea.com/HE10.html

RB

12/02/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a cradle Catholic and a friend of Cheri's. I'm not sure how much help I was when she was dealing with these issues because I don't have the background to understand the gut reaction Protestants have.

I can tell you what a cradle Catholics absorbs about Mary. Mary is not God. Mary cannot do anything by herself, just pray for us to God.

Mary was fully human. That makes her a good example/role model for us. She said "yes" to God, immediately after saying she did not fully understand. She said yes to God, although what she was agreeing to could have exposed her to condemnation from family and friends (what if Joseph hadn't listened to the angel and had put her aside quietly - or even publicly).

Mary is a mother, and Jesus gave all of us to her and her to us and mother and children. Like any mother, she cares for her children and prays for them. In fact, everyone in heaven (not just Mary, not just the recognized saints) prays for those who aren't yet there. This is the communion of saints - death does not sever Christian from Christian because Jesus conquered death.

I have always liked the prayer that is one of the alternatives for the Penitential Rite at the beginning of mass.

I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.
[a rather comprehensive list, and the "what I have failed to do" always gets me thinking]

And I ask Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.[no distinction among the body of Christ - we can all pray for each other whether on earth or in heaven. But note, all we are asking of those Christians already in heaven is prayers - the same thing we are asking from our brothers and sisters physically present]

I don't know if this helped. I pray it didn't hurt. It is not an easy thing you have undertaken and it would take time.

Marie

12/02/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger C.C. said...

Marie,

That was more helpful than you know. Thank you. And thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post. There's some amazing stuff here.

-C.C.

12/02/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love you, can you tell?

RB

12/02/2005 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anne~VA said...

It can be hard doing what you need to do and pleasing your parents.
I'd still bet that this will work out for the best.

12/05/2005 06:12:00 PM  

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