This writing is dedicated to the grace of our Lord God and the Holy Spirit whose love led me back to the Church.
For all of us the journey of faith, or our spiritual journey in Jesus Christ, begins differently, depending on our parents. In my case my father, an orphan at 12, who became a ward of the Assumption College Priests in Wooster, Massachusetts, decided, along with mom, to baptize me soon after birth. The fact that I was baptized at infancy in the Catholic Church put an indelible mark on my soul which was my parent's choice. My early baptism in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit of the Church, or the Trinity, seems strange to me now because neither mom nor dad darkened the doors of a church to worship, to my knowledge. They are long since deceased.
My early Catholic formation began in parochial school in N.Y. City and Cleveland Heights, Ohio for eight years. The Sisters of Mercy and the Ursuline Nuns have branded me forever. I did not know that until I rejoined the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil, 2007.
Upon completion of grammar school our family moved to rural, Thompson, Ohio, about 60 miles outside Cleveland. From that time on I forgot about God being a part of my life. I indulged in secular vices all of my life, in other words my moral and spiritual conscience was dead. And, not until my second wife and I were faced with raising one our grandchildren, did I consider joining a church.
So, from age 14 to 61, or forty-seven years of life, the Holy Spirit did not take hold of me. I believed a divorce and my disobedience would keep me from returning to my Catholic roots. As most wives are prone to do, mine went out and found us a church to attend. I was clueless about what I believed and how to proceed.
We joined the United Methodist Church and my spiritual journey restarted. In nine years as Methodist's we studied the Bible for four years in a Methodist program called, "Disciple" Bible Study, were active participants in our faith and supported the church everyway we could.
Now a series of unrelated events in our lives merged a confluence of the Holy Spirit and the mystery of our Baptism working in our life, by leading us to study, discern, and reexamine what the fullness of faith was.
What were these events?
Well, my wife visited The Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama with a tour group; sometime later we subscribed to Dish Network; we began listening to Catholic programming on Mother Angelica's, Eternal Word Television Network; we attended the E.W.T.N twenty-five year celebration in Birmingham, Alabama; and my twice baptized wife said to me one day: "You know, I think I could become a Catholic." "Really," I said.
Listening, daily to E.W.T.N., became a way to stay in touch with Christ and since there are no commercials on this Christian Catholic station there are no secular distractions. There were several shows that captured our immediate attention: Fr. Corapi, a revert to the faith, and an inspired teacher of God's Word; Mother Angelica, the Nun, who founded, built, created, and led relentlessly the 28 year success of a 24/7 commercial free monument to Christ that we have today; Mother is still kicking, but suffers the ravages of a stroke, now well into her 80's. Fr. Groeschel's Sunday Night Live and Marcus Grodi's Journey Home show are just a few of the inspirations that drew us to the Catholic Church, along with our Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Long before my wife's memorable, "You know, I think I could become a Catholic," statement, we had begun reading about apologetics and the early father's of the Church. I became attracted to a regular diet of faithful teachers on the E.W.T.N. network. Part II of the journey will be about the impact these readings had on my joy and discovery of Christ's love that I had been missing most of my life.