Recently a friend shared with me that her adult son, who has been searching for direction - for purpose - for God - had asked her directly one day out of the blue, why she had decided to become a Catholic. He had been thinking about all other religions and what they were all about.
This Mom had been praying for her son passionately each and every day, concerned for his soul, as did St. Monica for her dear son, Augustine. This friend told me that the best way she could answer her son was in the form of a letter. She shared her beautiful sincere words with me privately. I asked her if I could share her letter here at "Embracing Motherhood" to give others inspiration and hope and possibly the idea to pray for this son of hers and all sons and daughters who are out there searching in this big world of choices, mixed messages, and confusion.
Here is this Mom's private letter to her son with names left out, of course:
You asked me about me, so I will just tell my story. I know that you are you different from me, and your story is and will be different. I am going to tell it as "story", or rather as a narrative.
As you know, I started out as a protestant, and at some point in high school I felt I was coming up short, that something was missing. I went seeking. I didn't want to just go from church to church, and see which one I liked from the services and the people. I wanted to know first what they believed. Something made me interested in a Unitarian church in town (maybe a friend at school?). So I did a bit of research and found out they didn't believe in the Trinity, so I said: Forget that one, I believe in the Trinity (though I don't remember it actually being taught to me as such, but I knew it from a song we sang frequently at my childhood church: Praise God from whom all blessings flow...Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost." ). Well, after looking into that one church, I just drifted along with my church, and didn't really look actively anymore (I'd really looked hard, huh? :) ), but I remained kind of open.
Then one day my best friend told me she had hidden a Green Scapular in my wallet and had been saying the prayer on it for me, which was a little prayer to Mary, and she explained to me about devotion to Mary. When I was a younger kid, my Dad had made disparaging remarks about Catholics being devoted to Mary. Then one day, probably when I was about nine or ten, I was reading my Bible and I came across something interesting. It was Mary speaking to St. Elizabeth, "From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." I rushed out to show Grandpa that this was in the Bible! So when my girlfriend talked to me many years later about devotion to Mary, it made sense to me that if she is blessed, that we could go to Jesus through her, as well as to Jesus directly. I knew no other religion that honored Mary, and I also liked the idea of having a Mother with me all the time that I could look to for help and guidance.
The next day my friend told me that "the Catholic Church is the one true Church" and she showed me in a book how all the other churches broke off from the Catholic Church. I swallowed hard. It was very hard on my pride to think of "one true Church" after all those years - to think that I'd been taught wrong, and that I had been wrong. But I had learned in my own Sunday school when I was a bit younger that the Church Jesus founded took the name Catholic at some point. And as part of a Girl Scout project in junior high, I had even studied the history of my church, including where it had come from, tracing it back along a long line of splits from one denomination to another, seeing that each denomination was just a split from another denomination, and ultimately a few were splits directly from the Catholic Church. So, when she talked to me about the Catholic Church, I just started thinking: Since there is a Church which was originally founded by Jesus, why would I want to go with any other?
The third reason I chose to be a part of Catholicism was the Holy Eucharist. I can't say that I have always "felt" the presence of Jesus in an emotional type way every time I've ever been in a Catholic church. However, in general, unless something is in the way, being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is a peaceful feeling for me. Back when I was in high school, my girlfriend once took me to make a visit to a church, and I felt so much peace there. One day a few weeks or months later, I arrived at my church early for youth group, so I walked on over to the Catholic church again and went in. I felt again that peace. It was similar to the feeling of peace that I would find sitting on my nightstand watching a storm outside my bedroom window.
I had always felt close to God in nature, but when I learned that He is present in a special way in the Blessed Sacrament, it was a similar joy to realizing that He had founded a Church. It was where I wanted to be as often as possible...there with Jesus for a few minutes' visit or to receive Holy Communion. When I was young and single (and even married before children), I attended daily Mass...not because I thought I "ought to" but because I wanted to be there where Jesus was present in a special way.
So those are basically my reasons for choosing the Catholic Church rather than a protestant sect. My explanations aren't terribly intellectual, I suppose, but my reasons and feelings were deep enough to see me through and out of a cult (when I left it, a couple friends in xxxxxxx were surprised that I stayed Catholic. I was like, "Um, yeah, why wouldn't I??"). My reasons have been strong enough to see me through a lot of other things, as well.
Someone who has studied apologetics could probably tell you more about each of these factors in my decision, and others as well, but this was my story.
Let's say a special prayer today for this Mom and son and for all sons and daughters around the world who are trying to find their way. Families need our prayers, especially today.
Let's try also to hang onto our family times and be sure to insert the prayer - always. Pray in the morning, at meals, in the evening, and all throughout the day. Let's make our life a prayer and be an example to others, especially our children who are watching our every move and listening to every word. Our Lord wants us to raise all of our little saints to Heaven. Without prayer, we will fail.
Please dear Lord, look kindly upon families all around the world, families who are struggling to survive, struggling to find their way, families who don't know You or have turned their back on You. Please give us strength, an increase in faith, in hope, and in love, so that we may be an example to our own family, families out in the world, and to the society that mocks You. Dear Lord, we love You! Amen