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Rending My Heart – My Continued Journey From Pentecostal to The Catholic Church
A true conversion of any kind is usually a timeless process. Yes, sometimes, there are those who experience an immediate change of heart or total conversion right on the spot. But, that has not been my experience.
It was Easter Vigil April 11, 1998. And it was just as beautiful of a Mass as that first Vigil I had attended just two years before. The last two years had been spent experiencing and truly ‘rending my heart’.
I remember standing there in the Church at the Baptismal font with my two young children as we were eagerly awaiting our Baptism. This itself was an experience that I will never forget.
All three of us were about to be baptized and received into the family of God, the Catholic Church. Even though in my mind I was ‘all in’ and accepted all that the Church held true, I didn’t fully realize that while being confirmed Catholic would take only moments, my heart’s conversion would take much longer.
After we were baptized, I was confirmed and received Holy Communion, the Body, Blood, Soul, and divinity of Jesus, for the first time. My heart was beating rapidly and tears streamed down my face…
My heart was fully rejoicing, loving deeply most of what I knew about being Catholic… but my mind would not embrace everything all at once.
But, the true deep head and heart together conversion would, unknown to me at the time, be an ongoing & lifelong process.
Rending My Heart Always
This is the only way to accurately describe my conversion process. Rending means ripping or tearing into two or more pieces. And the truth is that, at times, it is exactly what my journey felt like – my heart being torn apart.
My misconceptions and some theological teaching I had learned during my childhood would have to be ripped apart and put together again, rightly, by the healing hand of the Holy Spirit.
There were plenty of tears and times when I just couldn’t handle hearing this new to me truth anymore. I grew up ‘knowing’ what I was told was the truth. And when that was challenged it was very hard. It cut to the core of my heart many times.
In The Beginning
Like I have mentioned before. I loved being Pentecostal. And I never would have ever considered that there was any other way of living my life for Jesus.
If you would have known and had seen me as a young girl, in curls, a frilly dress, and headed to Sunday school Bible in hand, you would probably never have been able to imagine me as a practicing, devout Catholic, and loving everything about it.
But, many years later here I am.
This season of my life I am in came about in little, hard to see, baby-steps of the heart. My heart has literally been torn up and then carefully put back together again.
During RCIA (Rite Of Christian Initiation for Adults), many seeds of truth were planted. But, it is still a process of fertilizing, tilling, weeding, and watering. I did, and still do, get to enjoy the fruit little by little, one ripened realization at a time.
Communion Before The Reality of John 6
As a Pentecostal, we did participate in what was called communion. This was celebrated one to a few times a year.
We would pass around little cups full of grape juice and we would be given a piece of bread or cracker. This was for the re-enactment or symbolic remembrance of the Last Supper where Jesus Himself gave bread and wine to the Apostles.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you
28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.Matthew 26:26-28
The Pastor would then read this passage of scripture as we all simultaneously would eat the cracker and drink the juice.
There was not any talk of the Real Presence or the True Body & Blood of Jesus. It was understood that this was a ‘symbolic rememberance’
I remember my mother explaining to me that if you were sinful and your heart wasn’t right, or you were not living in a way that glorified God, you should not take part. She obviously had this right!
With the thought that ‘communion’ must be something really special for very holy people, I think I received it twice in my whole childhood. As I said, it was rarely offered.
John 6 Begins To Become Clear
It never occurred to me that the communion I had witnessed during my childhood would somehow be a small, cloudy window into what I was about to learn and experience fully one day.
That question I had asked my mother so long ago about John Chapter 6 and Jesus speaking about eating his body and blood was always just under the surface of my mind.
And as I dove deeper into learning about the early Church and Catholicism the dots began to connect.
Once I started to learn about Catholicism, my eyes and heart began to see, receive, and learn the true teaching of what Eucharist and communion really were.
What Is Eucharist?
The Eucharist is the consecrated host (wafer) which Catholics believe is the actual body of Christ.
The Catholic Church also holds that when communion is received we are receiving the true Body and Blood of Jesus. Communion is the act of sharing the host among the congregation.
I was listening to many cassette tapes about the Catholic Faith, birth control, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Eucharist.
I was also reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and many different books about the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) and what the Catholic Church taught about John Chapter 6.
53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
54 Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.John 6:53-56
Eats my flesh and drinks my blood?
This was an area that caused me much questioning in my heart for years. Every time I read it I had questions that I pondered in my heart. What did Jesus mean? And why such language?
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
So, the Catholic Church holds that Jesus meant what he said. At the Mass, we are doing exactly what Jesus asked us to do.
During the consecration, the bread and wine that the priest offers to God during the liturgy of the Eucharist are literally transformed into the body and blood of Christ.
Still, in the physical form of bread and wine, it has been transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. True food and true drink for our soul here on earth.
One book that really opened my eyes was The Lamb’s Supper by Dr. Scott Hahn. He brings the early Church and the early Church Father’s into the forefront and explains and leads you into a deeper knowledge of what is truly taking place during the Mass.
I was brought to tears many times while reading this book. One of my favorites for sure. It just simply and completely answered all the questions I had.
Scripture & Tradition
Tying Tradition, scripture, and the teaching of Jesus and the early Church on the Mass to the Book of Revelation throughout.
Then demonstrating how the Mass is truly “Heaven on Earth” – right now was a new way of seeing it all. This book offered a deeper understanding for me that blew my mind and changed it forever.
To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.John Henry Cardinal Newman
This quote is so true and after much rending of my heart, mind, and soul I realized I could not be and was no longer Protestant. I could no longer ‘protest‘ the Truth of the Catholic Church.
It wasn’t a quick and easy process though. When your heart is confronted with a real Truth that you had automatically and formally dismissed, or even understood wrongly, it can be painful!
I cried many tears.
Mostly for the reason that I felt so humbled that God had called me, a little Pentecostal girl, into the beauty and fullness of His Church. And to His Table where I can now receive His true body and blood for my unworthy soul.
Why me? I can’t answer that…But, I will take it! I will say though, I was also a little upset with God for taking twenty-seven years to do it.
One thing I still hold in my heart is the words of my Pentecostal mother from so long ago -“If you are not living as you should be – glorifying God, you should not partake”. She was more right than she could have ever imagined.
This is a perfect example of how I am a Pentecostal who has fully become a Catholic – part of the Universal Church.
Rending My Heart To Mary
The Eucharist, Holy Communion, and the true presence of Jesus was easier for me to reconcile my heart with than with the whole teaching & idea of honoring Mary.
Holy Eucharist was there and obvious within the words of Scripture. But, how could one find any biblical backing for honoring or asking Mary to pray for me?
The Catholic teaching surrounding Mary, the Mother of God, was a steep and hard climb for my heart and mind. I will dive deeper into that whole ‘heart understanding’ process in post #5 of my conversion story…
A Catholic mom of 10 & a Deacon’s wife.
A Christian who lives an intermittent fasting lifestyle, my days faithfully begin with prayer & black coffee.
I want to encourage women to realize their life’s purpose, share their faith, embrace God’s Word, grow in confidence, and commit daily to reclaiming overall health while living a life dedicated to their vocation.