(Brendan and his sister at Christmas time)
My Catholic faith is a gift from God, and I'm not alone in this thought. Many Protestant and Evangelical believers have come into The Catholic Church, especially in recent years, and I always find it fascinating to see how God has done it. Our Heavenly Father is drawing all men to Himself and His Church--a million every year. Here is Brendan L's story.
TFC--Brendan, describe your life as a Christian growing up. In my heart of hearts, I believe I have been Catholic my whole life. With that said, here is my Christian faith background🙂. I was taught to believe in God and Jesus but never had a Church structure in my life; I rarely, if ever, went to church because my family didn't attend. However, my mother was raised Catholic and expressed that I was Catholic. (Note...my Mom is a lady of the finest caliber. While raised Catholic, I don't remember, besides my First Communion, the last time she attended Mass. My dad was baptized Baptist and would read the Bible from time to time. So yes, my parents did teach me faith in God and Jesus, but it was casual).
I would pray and always feel the necessity to please God. In high school, I found myself periodically going to the Catholic Church down the street from where I lived. I never recall really knowing what was going on during Mass but did my best to go with the flow (which can be frustrating). My understanding of the Catholic Church came from what I picked up culturally, as I never did any CCD or anything similar. In my 20's, I would periodically go to other church denominations and, during my late 20's became a regular attendant at Red Rocks Church in Colorado. I enjoyed Red Rocks Church; the sermons were fun, and I got to "rock out to Jesus." I was an attendant at Red Rocks until I ran into an acquaintance at the Buck Recreation Center in October 2017 (see the next answer)🙂. Possibly a good summary of my Christian faith was that I was told I was Catholic and taught to believe in God and Jesus and to pray, but as mentioned, I only went to church from time to time, and I was alone. After bouncing around from church to church, I became a regular attendant at Red Rocks Church for about three years. I played in Red Rocks sports leagues, volunteered with Red Rocks, and was somewhat of a known face. All this time, though, I was being prepared to become what I was always meant to be, Catholic.
TFC--When did you realize something was missing. What did you think it was? And how did you find that missing part in Catholicism?
I will frequently circle back to being Catholic in my heart of hearts my entire life 🙂 . In high school (and the foundation for my life moving forward), I based my life around popular TV shows, even though some of the shows seemed counterintuitive. That 70's Show, Laguna Beach, and other TV shows actually molded my mindset about living my life during high school and beyond. In my 20's I had girlfriends who told me directly they did not believe in God, but I just shrugged my shoulders and was like, "Well, this is what everybody does" (to be where I thought I should be romantically). So I just went along with the relationships until the relationship ended (either I ended the relationship or vice versa).
I did end up in "Christian" based relationships in my later 20's when I frequented Red Rocks Church, but still, those relationships were always lukewarm. Romantically struggling (in my mind), friends making three times financially what I do, a childhood friend already being a professor and married with 3 kids, I was looking for something deeper than the superficial rock band churches I had come to know. I knew I was looking for God but did not know much beyond what I had absorbed culturally about Catholicism, and the red rocks type of churches had become ho-hum to me. So in my late 20's, I was still attending Red Rocks services from time to time but just kind of like, "whatever-- I guess this is my life" (not that my life was bad). Then in October 2017, I was at the Buck Center working as usual and conversing with a frequent patron. I told the gentleman that I go to Red Rocks Church services, and I am a Christian. In conversation, the man said to me, "You know the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus Christ started." And that is all it took because, for some reason, I had never been told that fact, but it made complete sense that Jesus Christ started the Catholic Church. I reckon God put this person in my life to kick me in the butt😎 and get me where I needed to be with The Faith.
So after having that epiphany, I was in RCIA, I believe, within the week. I guess I'd been ready to become Catholic for a long time, and all I needed was that above"tidbit" of information about Catholicism.
Since RCIA and receiving my First Communion, I have not looked back. Relationships, life struggles, sin, and pretty much all aspects of my life are based on Catholicism. I find Confession, Adoration, Catholic romantic relationships, and more all organic and consistent with who I have been since a child.
For example, it all made sense and seemed natural to me when I started RCIA and learned more about being Catholic. My first confession and the penance was natural; my first time in Adoration was comfortable, and so much more have all been pleasant such as praying to The Saints and the Rosary. So many people bounce around from church to church looking for the right pastor or someone who preaches to their lifestyle, but what is there to look for when the answer is so apparent: The Catholic Church is what they need.
TFC-- What wisdom has God given you during this journey?
😎. In my previous responses, a key foundation to my becoming Catholic was that Jesus Christ started the Catholic Church and me not knowing that for some reason. My wisdom is in what I consider a simple but powerful sentence..."The Catholic Church has given me a feeling of peace only attained through the Catholic Church." Specifically, the biggest peace/gift God has given to me through His Church is not getting hung up on "life status." If I am at the mercy of God/created by God/God has a plan, then it is then disrespectful for me to become upset with where I am in life.
To be sure, I am a proactive person who prays and listens to God (I don't just wander around asking God to make things happen. Instead, I pray to God and ask him to give me the prudence and strength to act on His wishes). For example, I have been interested in a lady for a while, and finally, the time was right to ask for her phone number. She told me she could do more for God, which caught me off guard as I had never heard that before. I can fairly confidently say it's not that she wasn't interested in me, but her interest was in pleasing God, and she believes she can do that better as a single woman. This just happened recently, so maybe I planted a seed that will get her to change her mind (through prayer). Anyways that night, I knelt before my Crucifix and listened to the Rosary on youtube, and just smiled while looking at Jesus on the Cross. I was brave to ask for her number and was satisfied that I asked for the lady's number as a Catholic gentleman. I will keep up Adoration and prayer and take advantage of the opportunities God puts in front of me with a smile (rather than in a "life status worry").
TFC--Has becoming Catholic meant lifestyle changes?
Yes, I am now actually accountable for my sin. The Church Jesus Christ Started is intended to make your life easier, but not through shallow sermons or a "do whatever you want, God forgives mentality." It's diabolical because the Church makes life harder, but life becomes easier through growth in the Church. Make sense? Sin can plague or does plague everyone's life, and the only way to rise above sin is to actually be a part of the Church started by the Person who forgave us for our sin. An example that I connect with is as follows...I grew up playing baseball and was never told by my parents "as long as you did your best" after a bad game. I spent more time in the batting cages, more time playing catch, and doing stuff to make me a better baseball player. Sure my parents pushed me to stay motivated, but the principle is the same. Catholicism wants you always to do your best, and I reckon that is all Jesus can ask for but did you really do your best if you skipped prayer for some lesser reason? I live with the mentality and approach that I can always do more for God🙂. Even when I do fall short, I never can rest, just like in baseball, but I should always spend more time growing in the Church.
TFC---What advice would you give to others seeking a deeper faith?
Jesus Christ gave us The Catholic Church. That is where the searching ends, for if you believe in Jesus Christ, why would you disrespect him by not being a part of the very Church he began? Catholic-bashing literally started the day Jesus Christ died for our sins, so are we to be afraid? The Catholic Church is not a fad or a new fun and hip church, but truth begun by Our Lord. I could go into all the arguments I have encountered defending/supporting the faith by non-Catholic Christians, but why be anything but Catholic at the end of the day?
TFC--Is there something else I'm forgetting to ask?
I don't do things in moderation, and neither did Jesus. If I am to be a true follower of Christ, I can't do so halfway. Not being a part of His Church would literally undermine everything else I do in his name.
TFC--Finally, have any frugal tips for all those Frugal Catholics out there?
Smile and laugh, not in a comical sense, but to the fact that life is fleeting, a small moment in time knowing that life with Jesus is forever.
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John 12:23, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
(Jesus knew he was about to get destroyed (crucified) but looked on it as a privilege for the people he loved so much. Brendan L )
Martha Wild King, M.Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.