I was digging in a closet on Friday and I pulled down some letters I wrote my husband -- then my boyfriend -- in the fall of 1990. He was in the Navy, stationed in sunny San Diego, and I was in my last year of undergrad in the wintry Midwest. We wrote a lot of letters.
In more than one of the letters I was writing about my faith-- the BIble study I was leading, my thoughts on Catholic teaching about sex. If you had told me as I was writing those letters that I would actually be Catholic in less than 18 months, I would have thought you were out of your mind. It would have seemed as implausible to me in 1990 as if someone today told me I'd be Buddhist in the fall of 2014.
This morning at Mass I was thinking about all the gifts I didn't know were waiting for me. Lots of life's transitions are gradual, but that one is a bright line. Life with and without the Eucharist, life with and without reconciliation. I never even suspected what I was missing.
I didn't know how much I would appreciate the sense of continuity that the Catholic Church offers us. We don't have to get back to the purity of the church in Acts, any more than we have to return to our own infancy. I would have told you I believed in the communion of the saints, but the reality of real people who lived through real struggles and who really have our backs in tight spots was a gift I had not begun to open.
And this last one will sound weird to people who are not Catholic, but the word on my heart this morning as I listened to that beautiful description of the Holy Spirit's descent was "inclusive." It's not just Pamphylians and Phrygians these days: it's people around the world, in every station in life. The Church offers me role models who have been married, who have been mothers, who have been scholars. Many forms of service, one Lord to serve.
It's my 22nd Pentecost as a Catholic. I hope to be delighting in the red vestments and the lovely words of the Sequence -- and in the incredible reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit -- for many more.