Although my Grandfather was always Catholic, he truly realized the value of his Faith once he’d had a scare form a Heart Attack. Realizing he was a coffin dodger he started swatting for his finals & decided to get in the Game and become a really good Catholic! He was a fascinating man who held us children captivated with Giant Tortoise Story’s; marathon walks striding along the Beach; scientific quizzes as we rowed down the river, “What bird is that my girl?” his booming voice commanding an intelligent response!
Gran, an Anglican had a marvelous relationship with St. Anthony. Truly, if something couldn’t be found & St. Anthony seemed deaf to our pleas, Gran would be called to ask St. Anthony on our behalf & straight away a victory would be had! To this day she never ceases to impress all who ask her to intercede, now she is a part of the “cloud of witnesses” Heb.12:1.
My Mother anchored our family in the Love of God & His Church. Mum grew up Anglican since Grampa never went to Mass in the early days. Attending Catholic High School, Mum loved the strength of the Catholic position, firm & unwavering. When she asked the Anglican pastor about their belief in their ‘Eucharist’ she was told, “Well, if you are High Anglican you can believe it is the Body of Jesus, & if you are Low Anglican you can believe it is just a symbol, it’s up to you.” … this stand was unimpressive. Teenagers’ are great at recognizing a weak argument! On this ground Mum converted at 16 and was received into the Church. She knew this was a critical point. She knew she wanted to receive Jesus Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity in Truth, not ‘may be, baby’.
Born & Brought-up Catholic. I am the middle born of 3 girls. At around the age of 1, I almost died of infection & was in Infectious Diseases Hospital, isolated & strapped to a little cross for 3 months with a drip into my jugular vein. My teeth went back into my gums, & I had to relearn to walk & talk, I had been so ill. Mum had a wonderful spirituality& would teach us girls to give away our most favorite toy for the poor at Christmas and to value the pain of loving with our whole heat, of giving until it hurt, dying to self to give life to others. My favorite was my Singing Doll.
Dad converted to The Faith when I was a teenager. So, in the early days there would sometimes be a skirmish Sunday mornings, as Dad would be staying at home, whilst Mum tried to get the 3 of us to Mass. My sisters would often rebel & I’d give in, mostly because I felt sorry for Mum, not because I had discovered the infinite value of the Sacraments. I’ve always gone to Sunday Mass. & I’m sure my Mum blessed me for it! Her prayers & blessings overtook me one day. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I received Jesus in Holy Communion as a little thing, & was Confirmed at 11 years old. We moved a lot, & the new parish Confirmed school leavers. The Church would rather we were Confirmed before the trial of puberty, so as to be strengthened by the Sacrament before the battle. Mum wanted me to join in the Catechism Class. I’d miss the bus, take another route home & do my best to avoid going. She’d be upset & ask me why I was doing this… I explained that the Class was killing my Faith. It was like a coloring-in class, there was no real Church Teaching, it was horrid! I think many teens are in this boat & empathize with them. Church Teaching is so rich, & teens, even littlies can understand it, because it Lives! We must never withhold the strength & truth of Church Teaching from children or anyone, because it is beautiful & the Truth sets us free. The Bible says: “the pillar and foundation of Truth is the Church.” 1 Tim.3:15.
During my Nursing Training, I had some dreams of Jesus. These stirred me, although I was still under the impression that people who were mad for Jesus were “Jesus Freaks” … little did I imagine, I’d one day be at the top of His Fan Club ! One of the dreams involved a Large Boat or Ship or even an Ark, with Jesus on board saving people who were lost at sea & bringing them on board.
“I’m Catholic, BUT I believe in contraception” I cringe to recall claiming. I specialized during my training as a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife, Community Health Nurse& Psychiatric Nurse & then in Family Planning. My best results were in Family Planning! I mistakenly believed the Church was against reasonable spacing of little ones… which is not at all the case! Contraception & Natural Family Planning is worlds apart, the difference takes pondering, it is subtle. One goes with Nature, the other, against. I did not understand the danger of living this dual life, being in the Church but not 100%. Due to ignorance & lack of catechesis, I was receiving Communion yet was spiritually contracepting the life of grace God wanted to give me. I knew He loved me, but felt Him far away & imagined Him ‘very busy’.
Then a special thing happened & Jesus drew me into His Arms & held me close. I read ‘True Life In God’, & Jesus suddenly became a living breathing Person, not just a Spirit over up there somewhere. I could hear His Voice & feel His Breath, His Touch. The Teachings of The Church became fascinating & I bowed in humble submission to them all, in awe of the wisdom they held. I came to see the truth of Jesus words to Peter, Mt.16: 17-19 “it is not flesh & blood that has revealed this to you, but My Father in Heaven…” . Jesus was showing us that there is a wisdom, the human mind cannot grasp, it comes straight from God. A Hot Line… and this was the Rock He would build His Church upon, The Office of Peter. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom…” The wisdom of Pope Paul IV in refusing Catholics contraception, is becoming visible today. Science proves it time & again, from statistics of Divorce being around 54% in contracepting couples versus 0.002% among couples using Natural Family Planning, that’s 2 couples out of 1000 couples as opposed to more that half of all weddings among the contracepting group! Then the Pathology resulting from contraception is frightening, Cancer, strokes, heart attacks, death! God said in Deut. “I set before you life & death, blessing & curse… choose life therefore that it may go well with you.”
Church Teaching is proved, time & again… it was not “flesh & blood that revealed it, but My Father in Heaven”. But before it is proven, it takes faith, (…surprise!) & Scriptures tell us, “…without faith, it is impossible to please God”. Papal Infallibility is one of these faith tests. We can be like a little child, safe in the arms of our God & Mother Church, trusting & not worrying as long as we rest in this wisdom.
On Catholic Engaged Encounter, shortly after my interior conversion, my future husband, although not yet Catholic, & I were the only defenders of Church teaching against contraception. We were married at a Pilgrimage Shrine in the bush, Our Lady Tabernacle of the Most High. My beloved who was making Rosaries & defending Church Teaching, 9 months later would become Catholic. We got back from honeymoon, & a French Mauritian friend said to him (please do the accent, ) “ahh, I have a boooook for you!” I cringed as she brought out “Rome Sweet Home”, I thought, give the guy a break, that is so pushy! But to my delight, he loved it. He read it twice in one night, woke up & read it again, & said he was becoming Catholic. He entered the Church on Pentecost Sunday, along with our Brother-in-Law & baby nephew who was baptized. God gave a beautiful sign, that day, a triple rainbow hung directly over the Church in their honor.