Thursday, 16 July 2009

Interesting story of a conversion in progress

Wordpress post from 7th June, here.

I have been reading an extraordinary story on one of the Catholic forums.

It concerns a young Jewish woman in her thirties who has been sharing some of her past and her current sense of being drawn to the church.

She initially posted on the forum because she was wanted to attend a Mass as an 'interested observer' but wanted to know if there was anything she should know about it beforehand. She expresses some reservations about the church, but says that here are some things she finds attractive also.

It has become a completely compelling story, as she has shared more, and others have commented on the growing thread to add their own thoughts, encouragements and experiences.

Especially poignant is her account of her homeless/transient childhood with her mentally ill mother. She doesn't know the identity of her father.

Together with her mother, she accessed the services of the Sisters of Charity who ran a soup kitchen in her city. The sisters were very kind to them and this has been an enduring memory for her. After her mother died, she was placed in foster care, but habitually ran away and turned up again at the door of the missionaries of Charity.

A visiting priest took an interest in her and arranged for her to go to a private school run by the Ursulines.

There she thrived and went on to carve out an extremely successful academic career. Having recently completed her PhD, she has started a new job in a new city. She regarded herself as agnostic, but has recently been feeling an inexplicable 'pull' to the church.

This is all in her introduction, but after this, the story just becomes more and more interesting. Her atheist, psychologist friend counsels her to avoid the church and seek couselling for her 'issues' instead. Her decision to go ahead and investigate her interest further has been a stumbling block for her friend, who has, it seems, shunned her.

It turns out that Mother Teresa had taken a special interest in this little girl and corresponded with her. She provides excerpts of some of the letters but prefers to keep most of them to herself. Those excerpts that she does share are extremely touching, and astonishingly mature, and even demanding, given that Mother was talking to a child.

This all leads into a very interesting discussion on the communion of saints and the efficacy of prayer.

Very early into the thread she does indeed go to Mass, and it turns out that one of the few individual in her new neighbourhood with whom she had made a friendly connection, was none other than the Parish Priest himself. This 'coincidence' makes a big impression on her.

It is fascinating to read her thoughts and responses to 'Catholic stuff' like Adoration and the Rosary.

It is very special to read a conversion story unravelling in 'real time'. There is a real sense of authenticity which I find can diminish somewhat with the passage of time, when a story is told in retrospect. Naturally enough I suppose, because it is told through the lens of the new found faith.

With this story, we see it all happening at once, the hesitation, the uncertainty and the wonderful lightbulb moments where something makes perfect sense.

If it piques your curiosity too, go and read it here . Be warned though, it's hard to stop reading, and there are 17 pages so far. You may find yourself up past midnight. I did.

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