I’ve got no great conversion story to narrate; I probably can’t even describe a time I really struggled with the idea of keeping my Faith. What I can say is that I am consciously, confidently Catholic.
My parents are both converts. It’s a great blessing, really, because they were discovering things about the Faith even as they were teaching me and my siblings. They have always been devoted, pious, and committed to the Church they chose as adults. We grew up well-catechized and well-formed, though always with the knowledge that we were different. The world wasn’t somewhere we fit in.
I’ve never taken my religious and moral beliefs for granted – 4-H State Band weekends and band practice kept me grounded. There were plenty of people around me who just didn’t care. That being the case, I came very close to boxing up my faith and putting it on the Sunday-and-Holy-Day shelf.
For four years, I was dead set on going to music school; I planned to major in Arts Administration and minor in Trombone Performance. I was going to be a professional musician and make a living with my musical talent. Don’t get me wrong – I could have done it; I was good enough. That career track meant going to a secular university and basically not having time for God – although that didn’t occur to me at the time. Yes, I’d keep my faith (I couldn’t imagine life any other way) but that just meant Sunday Mass and helping with parish events.
What I didn’t realize at the time was my unutterable pride. I thought that my gift for music would take me wherever I wanted to go. I thought that I didn’t need to improve as a Catholic. I had it all figured out, right? Well, until I visited Christendom College.
After a few days of daily Mass, adoration, classes beginning and ending with a prayer, and the Catholic atmosphere that pervaded the entire school, I was hooked. I realized, deep inside, that I couldn’t leave that lifestyle behind. With the full knowledge that the decision meant abandoning my music and all the work I’d put into it, I chose the little liberal arts Catholic college over a music career.
What I didn’t realize then, and I do now, was the fact that this decision was more than just an education choice. It was more even than a career choice. It was an overt, adult decision to set my Faith as a priority in my life.
Four years later, I’ve repeatedly reinforced that decision with a conscious commitment to Catholicism. I’m convinced that it’s deeply important for every Catholic-raised young person to, at some point, choose their Faith. Childhood loves and joys don’t solve adult sufferings, and at some point, the challenges come.
Why do I stay? Why did I choose Catholicism for my life? What do I tell people when they ask me why I’m Catholic?
There’s more, when you’re Catholic. More to life, more to death. The world isn’t just a 2-dimensional, grey-shaded, boring yet scary rollercoaster ride. Look through the Eucharist, look beyond – it’s not even black and white, this world of ours! It’s glorious, 4-D, high definition, technicolor action. There’s meaning to every moment, truth in every word, beauty beyond the deepest, call of the loneliest mind. There’s order in all the chaos and a Good beyond all goods of earth to struggle towards and win. There’s solace in the most terrible of torments, and a Love to sooth the most restless heart.
That, dear world, is why I’m Catholic. I have the Key to goodness, truth and beauty, and He loves me.