Around this time last year, Lent was starting. I was a few months out of college without any job prospects. I spent a lot of time in bed trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I decided to follow a strict fast for Lent to try and find some sort of clarity, some sort of direction.
Early in high school, I had considered seminary. I liked studying history and religion, so seminary seemed attractive. But I knew I wasn’t called into ministry, so I decided not to pursue seminary (or studying history or religion) unless I got the calling. Well, I didn’t, so I went off to college and studied journalism instead. But once that was over, the attraction to seminary crept up again. Seminary didn’t have to mean ordination. I could just be a religious scholar of some sort. But I still felt like I have to have God tell me go. So discerning whether to go to seminary or not became the focus of my Lenten fast.
But as I thought about a life studying religion, I started thinking about what I needed out of a faith, what beliefs were important and what practices brought me closer to God. I had always be attracted to the tradition and beauty of the Catholic faith; I crossed myself when I prayed and felt that kneeling was a good expression of humility, but I knew I wasn’t Catholic because of things like Mary and the saints and the fact that I just wasn’t. I was Protestant, period. I might jump from Presbyterian to Lutheran to Methodist in the future, but high-church Protestant was a given. So the secondary focus of my Lenten fast became to determine what specifics I needed from my faith, what practices, traditions, etc.
As the days went on, I found myself looking more and more at Catholic websites and blogs. Catholicism just made a lot of sense: the outward expressions, the Eucharist, the Tradition, the apostolic succession, the unity. The idea of seminary faded as I realized I didn’t need to go to school to delve into faith, I just needed a faith worth delving into.
It still took me a few months to take the plunge and admit out loud that I wanted to become Catholic, and I’m still trying to make sense of it all. But I do know that I went into Lent seeking clarity on two matters, and I came away with two very clear messages:
1. I was right to believe I shouldn’t pursue seminary without a calling from God.
2. I now know what a calling from God sounds/feels like, because He called me to the Catholic Church.