Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Deeper Conversion

Amanda over at Worthy of Agape is having a conversion story link up and we all know I am a sucker for link ups.  I actually have guest posted this over at The Recovered Catholic  so this is just a repost here on my own blog (read: chronic lazy linker (CLL)).  Can't wait to read everyone else's.
I like to call my story a deeper conversion because it really isn’t a conversion or a reversion.  I am only 21 [update: now 23 but who is counting], but already the Lord has taken me on such a beautiful journey.
I grew up in a Catholic family.  I was baptized as a baby at Parish A (names aren’t necessary for the story), went to Catholic grade school, and received my first communion in 2nd grade.  We said our prayers before meals and went to Mass most Sundays.  But that was it.  We didn’t really talk about Jesus much and my parents pretty much left my faith education to my school.  However, in 8th grade for some reason (I can only credit it to God) I decided that I could only make my Confirmation at Parish B.  This was complicated by the fact that my mom had just accepted a job at Parish A as a business manager.  So she now had to go to her new boss and tell him that her daughter wanted permission to receive her Confirmation at another parish.  She did, he said yes, and I began my sacrament preparation at Parish B.  It would make all the difference.
I didn’t know it at the time but Parish B is a vibrant, faithful parish.  The pastor commonly preaches the Truth about controversial issues including contraception, gay marriage, and abortion and isn’t afraid to do it.  The many round growing bellies, snuggled babies, and young rambunctious children are evident of the common thought among the parish that children are a gift from God and the number of them should be left up to God.  The LIFETEEN, the popular Catholic Youth Group program, was large and alive.  It was that LIFETEEN program that drew me deeper into the faith, and along with me the rest of my family.  By being led by God to make my Confirmation at Parish B, doors opened to LIFETEEN, and in the end my whole family was drawn into the life of the Church.
My life in high school was LIFETEEN.  My three best friends and I met there and it was there my faith seeds really started to grow.  I was exposed to Truths and traditions I had never been taught and probably never would have been otherwise.  I attended a national youth leadership conference, went to March for Life all four years, and attended numerous different retreats.   Now I am not trying to say any of these things equal faith, but just some signs that my faith was growing.
Not only was I being drawn into my faith and parish life but so was my whole family.  We began to talk about faith.  My dad joined Knights of Columbus, both of my parents went on a Christ Renews His Parish retreat, and my brother went to middle school youth group.  Although we went to Mass most Sundays before, now it was never an option and we joyfully filled the pews each Sunday.  God wasn’t just drawing me deeper into the faith but also my whole family. [Update: Sadly apparently it is now an option to go to Mass and my brother has fallen away from the faith.  Please keep him in your prayers.  I trust in Our Lady's intercession and that he will come back to the Church.]
The deeper conversion didn’t all happen at once.  I vividly remember first hearing about the Church’s teaching about contraception.  I decided I just wouldn’t agree with the Church on that issue.  However as a I began to learn the beauty and logic behind the Church’s teaching I couldn’t help but love and accept the teaching into my life.  I draw attention to this story to say how important it is to be ok with questioning your faith, but not stop there.   It is normal to question faith.  If you think it is abnormal then the minute your heart starts to question the faith, there is a good chance you will abandon the whole thing.  However, when you question it is important to not just cross your arms and turn around.  Instead, when questions arise seek out answers from the Bible, prayer, Catechism, Church Fathers, Saints, and faith-filled people around you.  I promise you, if you come to KNOW the Church, what the Church really teaches, you won’t be able to help but LOVE and SERVE the Church.
So where am I now?  I am a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville entering into my senior year [update: victory lap aka 5th year] and will graduate with a Theology minor (nursing major doesn’t really allow time for a double major!).  I attend Mass nearly daily, regularly spend time in spiritual reading, have gone on a couple of mission trips, prayerfully discern my vocation, am committed to daily Rosary (though how often I fail on this!) and hope to make teaching God’s Truth about marriage and family part of my life work both professionally and by living it myself.  If you would have told me this 8 years ago, I wouldn’t have even known what you were talking about.  Yes, some of this is because of youth, but most of it is because of the deeper conversion that the Lord has drawn me to.   I don’t deserve it; none of us deserve the Truth He has given us.  But I am eternally thankful (literally) for the conversion that the Lord has lead me on.   I pray that you, your family and friends, and our whole nation will have ears to hear God’s voice and be led into a conversion closer to His most Sacred Heart.  God Bless!

My three best friends and me (second from the right) our junior year of high school. In this picture we are at the dedication of the new church building for Parish B.

My family and me at Easter Vigil Mass at Franciscan. It is an incredible Mass that fills the field house, takes hours, and erupts in celebration after each and every individual receives their sacraments for the first time.

That’s me in Haiti with some of the orphans at Kay Mari. The orphanage was started by Moving with the Spirit and Shawn Forrest, a Christian music artist. [update: The first time I went to Haiti.  Oh how much the Lord has blessed me that I have gone twice]
About this guest blogger…
My name is Natalie and I am currently a nursing student at Franciscan University of Steubenville.  If you ask me what I want to do with my degree, I will give you about 6 different possibilities I am considering including midwifery, missionary nursing, dialysis nursing, NICU, etc.  I trust in the powerful intercession of Our Blessed Mother and seek to love the Lord more each day.  Please check out my blog at
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