Its been a while since I last posted, and in the meantime, my Spiritual battle has intensified. I have said that I will post my conversion story, yet I'm trying to find a new word that better describes my condition. Conversion as it is, is a lifelong ongoing process, a relationship with the Lord whereby Grace is freely given and we(the recipients of that Grace) must freely choose to co-operate with Him.
I grew up in a Catholic home. My background is of Italian/and Scottish/Irish descent, so the chances of me not being Catholic were slim to none. My maternal grandmother lived with us and from my earliest memories would retire to her rocking chair to mumble stuff. (As a five year old, little did I know my grandmother would meditate upon the salvific mysteries of the Rosary, the second most powerful prayer right after the Mass itself!) Sunday Mass was always the norm, yet once into my teens, my parents never forced me to go, thus began my flirtation with secularism which would eventually mushroom into a full-blown relationship. What is interesting was at this time, I was attending a private boys school(Catholic) and my friends and I already were beginning to notice that different priests held different notions. The idea of objective truth was far from their radar screen, so most of the time we were taught to be socially conscious while not being afraid to question our identity. Don't get me wrong, as I think back there were some good and holy priests including one that I reconnected with at a good friend's wedding.
Upon graduation, I believed myself to be a good person, well as good as one can get without grace. I led a healthy balance between sports, education, friends and girls and began contemplating a career. It was at this time that my involvement in prowrestling began. My areas of study in university were political science and religious studies. (BTW, a sure way to lose the faith is to take these courses from professors who have a very subjective viewpoint.)I began to work in the municipal elections campaign which led to my departure from the wrestling scene(it had signed on with a porn company as a backer)because I would not risk my candidate's chances. University hit me with a double blow which led to a series of very unusual events. Political Science gave me an interest in philosophy(unfornately Descartes)and religous studies gave me a huge interest in Jesus of Nazareth, and so began my quest for the historical Jesus. (sorry Albert Shweitzer...)
My library at home consisted of numerous works on philosophy, (Spinoza, Descartes, Rousseau..etc) and my thirst for religious studies was nourrished by the likes of Hans Kung, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan...etc. To me, my authorities on Catholicism included Fr Kung, but also Fr Richard McBrien to name a few, not exactly known for their fidelity to the Magisterium, little did I know. I still considered myself a Catholic, it was a nice place to be, but we need to implement the changes of Vatican II (the Spirit of Vatican II) ...ohh yeah, almost forgot, I haden't even read Vatican II!!!!
Fast forward, one day I'm perusing a local Christian bookstore, in my familiar section lined up with dissidents and liberal thinkers. I notice a priest (a young dude!) looking at books. Questions filled my mind, for instance, ..is this guy brainwashed? Why is he a priest? he's too young and looks normal. Doesn't he know that Paul is the real founder of this pseudo-Christianity? I should tell him....
To preface what happened, I should let you know that I'm just under 5'9 and about 200lbs of muscle, I have done a lot of martial arts, wrestling, hockey etc...yet what this priest did was let me plead my case, then in rebuttal deliver to me the biggest intellectual ass-kicking of my life. That day God taught me some humility,..and after it was over, I felt more battered and bruised then ever before. The priest took down my number, and to this day still keeps in contact. Religous studies were coming to an end and I found myself looking at other giants of the so-called historical-critical movement, people such as Claude Tremontant who proposed the Matthian first principal. I also learned of a new philosopher, yes I knew Aristotle, but never knew his metaphysics,...know I was about to read St. Thomas Aquinas! May God have mercy on my soul....
Now I know you're probably wondering why I titled this entry with a quote from St. Augustin, well, like most newbies, grasping the faith intellectually was easy, living the faith requires sacrifice, and for myself struggling with issues regarding the Churches teaching on contraception, sex outside of marriage and masturbation have been hard. I am a sinner. I need Christ.