Friday night I sang for a group of new Catholics at the annual Neophyte Mass. The attendees at this uplifting liturgy were grown men and women who had made a prayerful choice to walk towards God, to study and conform to a new set of tenets many of us take for granted or have long neglected. The neophytes sang, they prayed, and they worshipped with a fervency I don’t often see at Mass anymore; it was enervating to be in the presence of such faith-filled people.
For all you wordsmiths: the dust-coated dictionary on your shelf will tell you that “neophyte” is Greek for “newly planted or newly converted”. A click of your computer’s mouse will yield the synonyms “apprentice” and “greenhorn”. Ah, there’s familiar terminology! Though the people in the pews Friday night were not faded celebrities competing to work for a rich man with a terrible comb-over, nor new deckhands grappling with a crab pot on the turbulent Bering Sea, their zeal and intensity were just as strong. (Oh, please, don’t judge me: you know you watch reality television too…)
After the homily, a number of the newly initiated shared their personal journeys of faith. The details differed from one neophyte to the next, but the common thread throughout was each man and woman finally heeded God’s call. “Everyone has a faith story,” the celebrant said. “What’s yours?” That question got me thinking: maybe it’s time to share mine.
As you might suspect, I am a “cradle Catholic”. My parents made the decision to bring the infant me to the Baptismal font and enroll me in the community of believers. As you might not suspect, my practice of the faith hasn’t always been steady. As I got older and became a parent, I eventually became a “Boomerang Catholic”: someone once firmly in the Maker’s hand, then flung away by choice or circumstance, but awaiting a reason to come arcing back to the Source once more. In my late 20s, I was largely absent from the inside of any church; I still loved God but was waiting for Him to call me back to Mass and active worship.
It took me two years and a traumatic family event to heed His invitation. It wasn’t quite as electric as the passage where Saul was struck by a lightning bolt (Acts 9:1-20), but instead was tailored just for me: a bit humorous and reverent at the same time.
It’s cliffhanger season on television, so in keeping with that theme, I’ll write one of my own: I’ll detail my personal journey back towards God and His Church in my next post.