To become a Catholic Christian after a decades of being an active evangelical Christian was an unexpected step in my Christian pilgrimage.
Becoming a Catholic Christian as a mature adult happens more often than one might guess. See Evangelical is Not Enough, by Thomas Howard, or Catholic Matters, by Richard John Neuhaus, as examples. But neither Thomas Howard’s Christian pilgrimage nor Father Neuhaus’ are mine.
My journey into the Church involved seven very specific reasons: certainty, history, unity, authority, liturgy, community, and sacramentality. Ironically, four of these (certainty, history, unity, and authority) were identified almost a decade and one-half ago by a protestant theologian writing to explain why protestants were converting to Catholic Christianity — before my journey into the Church began. In the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2002, Scot McKnight wrote, “From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic.” Dr. McKnight’s article was perceptive. By this I do not mean to imply that Dr. McKnight would endorse my conversion to Catholic Christianity. Rather, I am saying that he saw some broad trends in Christian faith and practice very accurately; trends that influenced me.
After entering the Church, my list of five increased to seven, including community and sacramentality. Some of the richest blessings of Catholic Christianity only become evident when seen from inside the Church. On a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI illustrated this by comparing the Church to the cathedral’s magnificent stained glass windows. They can only be seen at their best from within. The importance of community and sacramentality became apparent in the same way.
You’ll find several posts in Christianity Richly about community. Click the link in the previous paragraph and then follow through parts 2, 3, and 4. You’ll find the basis of sacramentality’s importance here, stemming from God’s design of our own human nature. We are enfleshed spirits. The seven Sacraments of the Church are uniquely suited to communicate God’s grace to such creatures, through matter and form (water, bread, wine, oil, and more). More on this topic at the highlighted link.
Now, for readers who care about details while browsing Christianity Richly, the Bible texts cited are mostly from the New American Bible (NAB), along with the English Standard Version (ESV). For the Psalms, The Grail translation used in The Liturgy of the Hours will frequently appear. Occasionally I use the Jerusalem Bible (JB). At times, you may even find a verse from the King James Version (KJV), with which I grew up and memorized scripture, or from the New International Version (NIV). For those of us not well-studied in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, it is helpful to read references cited in multiple English translations, to get the clearest possible sense of the original text.
Finally, soon after Christianity Richly was launched, I received a comment from a reader that helped me realize guidelines for comments would be helpful. Since this is a moderated blog, I want to be considerate of your time. Comments that emphasize the joys we share, rather than points that divide us, will have a greater chance of being published. Read my slightly longer post to the blog titled, On Posting Comments, if you have questions about this.
My daily prayer is that the richness of life in Christ will be manifest here on Christianity Richly, and be an ongoing encouragement to us all.