This is a free preview of part of the introduction to my new book: “Contemporary Catholicity: Three People Find an Ancient Faith in a Modern World”. This is a short book but it carries a big punch.
“When I first met my priest, I told him to fuck off and mind his own damn business. It wasn’t really one of my good days and it’s certainly not how I recommend meeting someone. He had shown up in the wrong place at the wrong time when I was angry at someone else. God has a sense of humor though I suppose because six months later that same priest would become my priest. Obviously I wasn’t a prize choice for a new church member and he knew it. My priest was very gracious to me.
That day was my first brush with anything Episcopalian; it was that day that I actually noticed that the church was across the street from my ex-husband’s house. It wasn’t long after that that I ordered The Book of Common Prayer off of Amazon, thinking that it was a book with prayers in it, not knowing it was a service manual for the Episcopal Church. When I received it in the mail, I was disappointed it wasn’t what I thought it was, and I put it aside to return because I wasn’t interested in it. Before I actually got off my lazy butt to return it, I flipped through it some more and realized how beautiful it was, and that’s how my exploration into liturgy began.
We all come to God differently. Growing up I was taught there was only one way to God but now I know that’s not really true. Just as each of us is a unique creation, our journeys are unique. This books talks about three historic Christian paths, three different travelers, all journeying to the same destination via different routes: Anglicanism (Episcopalian), Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The main part of the book will be from my perspective and as such Episcopal in content, however Lydia and Louis’ stories are woven into mine at some point because we all began this journey around the same time and all converted around the same time.
Lydia, Louis and I all began to be dissatisfied with what evangelical Christianity here in America had to offer, and so we began to seek a more ancient path. Intellectually and instinctually we knew there was something more than what evangelicalism had to offer us. We didn’t want a cutesy sanitized religion, we wanted faith. We all began to crave the liturgy which is one of the things that brought us all to our respective paths.
The interesting thing is that we all confirmed our own individual paths all around the same time. I was confirmed Episcopalian in November of 2015, Lydia was chrismated Orthodox in November 2015, and Louis returned to the Catholic Church in October of 2015. Louis and Lydia’s journeys have intersected with mine which is why I have combined all of our stories into the one book. Lydia began her path to Orthodoxy right around the same time I started desiring the liturgy, which I found in the Episcopal Church.
I came to the Episcopal Church because of a mistake. I’ve come to a lot of good things in life through mistakes. I also came through another mistake, the mistake of practicing witchcraft for a few months, and of course the mistake of cursing out the priest who to his credit didn’t try to lecture me or calm me down he simply put up his hands in surrender and backed off.
One day, a woman named Sara Miles walked into an Episcopal Church out of curiosity and certainly not out of any desire to become a Christian. She was after all a reporter, this would be one more interesting thing to add to her list of experiences. Except that what Miles experienced that day changed her life forever. She took communion that day although as an unbeliever she had no real reason to do so. But once she took of the bread and the wine, she realized she had consumed Jesus and her life was changed (Miles, 2007, p. xiii and pp. 57-60).
I was baptized (the first time) when I was ten and at the time I didn’t understand that it was a sacrament and that I became a Christian that day, so I suppose I became a Christian quite by accident. My church believed that baptism was something a person did after believing; as a public declaration of faith, rather than conversion itself. It would be twenty years before I understood what happened to me the day I was baptized, and I got baptized another two times in between. My first experience with communion in the Episcopal Church was similar to Sara Miles’ experience. When I put the bread and the wine in my mouth, I experienced Jesus.”