In this year of Mercy, I would like to introduce you to Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble and her story who like myself was an atheist and came to faith in Christ Jesus. However, she was a revert who came back after leaving the Church for 10 years.
She blogs on http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pursuedbytruth/ and is a member of the FSP order or Daughters of St. Paul.
When I returned to the Church after ten years of being away, I did not walk through the doors and ask to go to confession.
Some people do this, but that was not my story.
When I first walked through the doors of a Catholic Church again, I was still an atheist, living with my boyfriend. One day, with little to do, I walked by a nearby church while Mass was going on inside.
I stayed. I have no idea why I stayed but I stayed.
And I went to Communion.
Perhaps I went out of a habit that was ingrained in me as a child. But when I think back to how I felt, I think the emptiness inside of me was screaming to be filled, and I felt intensely drawn to receive Jesus, like a deer thirsting for running water. Was it right? I have no idea. But at the time if someone had told me that I should not receive because I was in a possible state of mortal sin, I most likely would have walked right out of that church and never returned.
A year later, I was living for several months in Costa Rica. One day I felt a pull to attend Mass. I had no idea why. Before long, I started to go whenever Mass was held in the little rural town. The priest never questioned my fitness to receive Communion. He was always warm, joyful, and open with me, although I am sure he wondered what exactly was going on in my life.
I am thankful for that priest’s stance of respect for where I was at. If he had tried to lay down the law with me, I may have run and stayed away from the Church for another ten years. I was not ready to hear Church law from anyone. I hardly believed in Jesus, let alone the Catholic Church. I did not consider myself Catholic, and I certainly did not accept most of Church teaching on all the hot-button issues.
And yet, I felt drawn every time Mass was held in that little country church.
My story continues, and you can read more of it in my book that is coming out. But suffice it to say that I was attending Mass for an entire year before I went to confession. I don’t make excuses for myself. My soul was not in the proper state to be receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, but it took time for grace to work in me in order for me to realize this. Finally, in the same way I was drawn to Jesus in the Eucharist, one day I felt an overwhelming urge to go to confession.
The rest is history.
Sister’s story is not uncommon. Unfortunately, she has received some attacks by Catholics who feel conversion must happen in a specific manner. These people are morons (with all due respect). Conversion happens how GOD wants it to happen. Who the heck is anyone to dictate the process? In this year of Mercy, we must learn how to meet people where they are at; not judgement and work with them to show them the way as the Pope has reminded us numerous times. Each person is different and their path is not identical to ours. We cannot impose on others the path that God is guiding us on for He is already working the path out in those others.