Double Miracle: The Breech & The Turning, Conclusion

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment of Cari Donaldson’s conversion story.  You can find the first installment here; the second here; and the third

*****

Here the story moves along so quickly that I know I will skip things, either on purpose or accident.  In my desire to get to the happy ending, I have the urge to, in the words of Prince Humperdink, “skip to the end,” and thereby gloss over some pretty important, but pesky details.

I won’t.

I’ll pick back up where I left off—with two overwhelming questions that were gnawing away at me:

1.  Why bother going to church at all?  Why not just take my newfound comfort with Christ and Christianity and just be at peace with it?  What did the act of going to church provide that couldn’t be obtained in other, less organized, areas?

2. If there was a reason for consistent church attendance, which church should it be?  Which one was right?

With growing misery and irritation, I returned to the intergoogleweb to try and find answers.  I started with the denomination of my youth, Presbyterianism, but immediately came up against not only the issue of Predestination, but the fact that Presbyterians themselves couldn’t agree on what it meant.

More confusion.

I halfheartedly sifted through what the Lutherans and the Methodists and the Baptists understood about themselves and God.

It just got worse.

Chick Tract

Chick Tract

One day, I ran into the first anti-Catholic Chick Tract of my entire life (a happy little number called Are Roman Catholics Christians?).  I’d never seen anything like this.  Flipping through the pages, I remember feeling both repulsed and physically dirtied by contact with that thing.  The reactions were so strong and so unexpected that the incident is firmly fixed in my mind.

Growing up, I had friends who were Catholic.  My godfather is Catholic.  Our neighbors were Catholic.  I’d been to Catholic funerals and Catholic weddings.

None of it was enough to inspire me to learn about Catholicism.  In fact, I had myself a nice, smug little set of preconceived notions about the Church that I summed up in one of my favorite phrases, “The Catholic Church is going to crumble under its own bloated weight.  Maybe in our lifetime.”

Oh my gosh, readers, can you imagine what it takes for me to admit this?  How vicious and gleefully ignorant I was about an institution that I never bothered to learn about?  I figured I knew everything I needed to know—the Church hated women, sex, non-Catholics, and science.  In fact, despite my growing appreciation for Mary’s faith, Catholicism never even appeared on my radar during my spiritual searches.  How could it?  How could I possibly consider a religion that was so out of touch with the world, so angry, so patriarchal?

And yet, reading through that ugly little tract, which vomited a level of hatred for the Church that exceeded my own stupid complaints, my reaction was one of indignation.  I was offended, on behalf of a Church I knew nothing about, but still cared nothing for.  For no other reason than to disprove the wild accusations of a poorly executed religious comic, I found myself turning my internet searches to Catholicism.  Not to explore the possibility that it held answers to my questions, but simply to stick it to Chick Publications.

The first thing that comes to mind was learning that the Catholic Church understood two things about religions in general and itself in particular:  one, that all religions contained some aspect of the Truth.  Even if it was nothing more than a memory of a shred, there was still some Truth there.  Two:  that the entirety of what God has revealed about Himself to human beings has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.  They even had a phrase for it; “the Fullness of the Truth.”

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Cari Donaldson

By

Cari Donaldson is the author of the upcoming book Pope Awesome and Other Stories . She stepped through the looking glass when she married her high school sweetheart in a Presbyterian ceremony back in 1999. Since then, she and her husband have found themselves the parents of six children, and on the corporate gypsy trail, with transfers moving them from the Midwest to the deep South to New England. The most startling developments however, have been the conversion to Catholicism in 2006, and the discovery that blogging provides an excellent creative outlet. You can find Cari on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/clan.donaldson and Twitter at @CariDonaldson and here on Catholic Exchange.

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  • Micaela

    I am a complete weeping mess reading this. Seriously. That was just beautiful, Cari! Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. For those of us who were fortunate to be born into this Faith, it is easy to forget those time-slows-down moments. But they have happened to me, and many other people I know.

    I praise God, thank Mary, and rejoice with all the Saints in heaven that it happened to you. And especially that you heard the call, and ANSWERED it.

    P.S. I still get weepy about JPII. What a guy…

  • Azab1

    Wow.  Thank you SO much for the obvious effort you put into your long, sometimes painful search for truth.  I’m a convert myself, so I can relate to some of your struggles.  Your story gives me hope for my kids (my daughter is almost exactly your age), that God will continue to knock at the doors of their hearts until they answer – in His time (which is often quite different from *my* time).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donald-Hudzinski/100000103743602 Donald Hudzinski

    Yes, the Eucharist is our Incarnation, and like Mary says the following so do we. I know no man, it is only bread and wine. Every Lamb’s supper is an annunciation and we say with Mary, “Be it done on to me according to your word”. This is what makes the bread and wine the Body and Blood of our Lord. This is the Real Presence. We recall the words of the angel and our priest, the messengers of God, when they say, “the Holy Spirit will come upon these, so the One born shall be the Son of God”.

  • Myra DSouza

    This has to be one of the most moving and beautiful conversion stories I have read.  Welcome home Cari!  Myra

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JTPEOSRPKWHMS2KQTOQZFQ4ZME Missouri

    Cari!  I’m adding my “thanks” to you!  It’s very timely, as I am being blasted by anti-Catholics and some “personally opposed but” Catholics” (you know, the “but” Catholics!) for defending Fr. Marcel Guarnizo.  I REALLY enjoyed your article!  And, also already said, “Welcome Home”! 

  • chaco

    Rejoice Queen Mother, your Son Our God has gone into the depths of darkness and illumined it with THE VICTORY OF DIVINE MERCY. It has penetrated the hardness of our selfish-vanity and softened our Hearts into praise & thanks for God [who longs to share His GLORIOUS LOVE with us.]

  • Victoria

    Praise God. I also experienced a strange emotional reaction, but it happened when I heard of the election of our present pope — knowing nothing about him, I burst into tears of joy. I figured God must know more than I did about him, and the Holy Spirit was rejoicing.

  • Chrism

    I’m glad to know somebody else wept over this beautiful story!  Thank you, Cari, for sharing this piece of your journey.  May God bless and guide all of our loved ones Home.  And may He continue to be patient with all of us who are “Home” and so often act like we aren’t grateful. 

  • The_Monk

     Great gobs of fun!  I’m a sucker for do-or-die 4th-quarter drives with no timeouts and the quarterback acting like he planned it this way – and for great conversion stories like this.  Thanks loads, Cari Donaldson!…

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Ok, how dumb is it that *I* get weepy when I read the part about JPII?  In my own piece?!?!  I can’t wait to meet him.  I’m going to give him a big hug.

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    I’ve never heard it put like that, Donald.  Thank you for giving me something to think about!

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    One of the lines I cut in the story talked about never ever doubting that prayers for conversion were working on the hearts of our loved ones, even if we can’t tell.

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    You’re welcome!  Now I’m going to ask my football-loving husband to explain your analogy.

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    I feel the same way, Chrism.  Sometimes I think about all that He did for me and I can’t believe that I ever allow a moment of lukewarmness in my soul- which I do, so I’ll join you in that prayer for patience with us.

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Thank you so much, Missouri.  I love thinking about the gigantic family I’m now part of.

  • Bernadette Bernardy

    Great uplifting story. Wonderful humor. Loved your responses to Mary and JPII. We all wept with you – he is wonderful.  Interesting time frame with Terri Schiavo -she must have been batting for you as well. You gotta love it. I think I’ll share this with my precious daughter-in-law. Baptized Catholic but totally against organized religion. You give us hope Cari. Thank you for lifting my heart -another Mom now a Grammy – MomB

  • chaco

    I’m almost numb from a”THANKSGIVING OVERLOAD”. God is sharing His exuberant ecstacy of having a lost sheep come home - with all of us. SWEET  tantalizing Hors d’oeuvre before the Sumptuous Heavenly Banquet. [" Holy-Holy-Holy..."]   Donald Hudzinski,  I’m sure that if I don’t meet you “Here”, I’ll meet you “There”. Until then, just a comment on your comment; “This is what makes the bread & wine the Body & Blood of our Lord.” I  believe that even a mouse getting into the Tabernacle is receiving our Lord but without all the Graces which our understanding brings. If we don’t accept this, we may be promoting Luther’s assertion of “Consubstantiation” ;  that it is one’s belief that causes The Presence. 1 Cor. 11: 27 refutes Luther’s claim by stating that we receive Christ, even if we don’t believe.  But it does the opposite of benefitting us if received “unworthily”.  [I like to think that "Transubstantiation" prevents us from being separated from The Rock / Church's guidence.]  Your comparing our Eucharist to The Incarnation is Priceless. 

  • drea916

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who was crying. The bad thing is, is that I was at work. I kept having to stop reading and do something else, and then come back. I love converts, they give me a fresh perspective on the Faith. They also understand my passion for my Faith. Whereas most of my family probably things I’m a little weird because I take it so seriously. Welcome home, Cari!

  • Nfriemel

    I love this! I have been reading it while at work.  ( slow day) I went home on my lunch hour just about to burst!!  I cried and so thankful for you Cari for telling your story. I sent my sister a text that read ” I love my Catholic faith and so blessed that we were graced to receive it!” Our parents raised 10 Catholic children. All but one are still practicing our faith. The one..my brother married into a non- denominational family. Since then he has no need for Mary or our Catholic faith.  Your story Cari gives me hope for him. Thank you, thank you.   

  • http://twitter.com/xJeffJungx Jeff Jung

    Its the best conversion story I have heard so far, one that got me (21 year old!) into tears :) For all that there is, the best part is Pope JPII had so much influence on the world and when I read that how such our Blessed influence many including myself (from the stop of communism in Poland, Theology of the Body esp to youths, words of inspiration), in this case, your life albeit afar with minimal connection. 

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Thank you!  Sorry about the crying at work thing.

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Though I’ve “upgraded” to a nicer version of my MM, I still have the original one.  I hope it becomes a family heirloom, reminding all my future relatives of the great graces bestowed on us through the warrior-like prayers of Our Lady.

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Wow!  Give your parents big hugs and have them write a book immediately giving the rest of us tips on instilling the faith so well in our children!

  • chaco

    This whole Mary – JP II “sort of background radiation thing”(Car’s words) is making me picture a Gloriously vibrant bed of  petunias on a sunny spring day. Have Ya’ll heard about “THE New Springtime / Period of Peace” (promised at Fatima 7/13/1917) ? The eye witness; Sr. Lucia said; “This peace does not refer to civil peace.” It is God’s own peace (Jn 14: 27) which is beyond all understanding (Philippians 4: 7). JP II said; “People are to prepare… by renewing their hope in the definitive coming of the Kingdom of God, preparing for it daily in their hearts in the Christian community to which they belong, in their particular social context, and in the world history itself.” [Things could get a little "Wild" but take the "Tiger by the tail" and enjoy the ride (remembering Divine Mercy Revelation; "Jesus, I trust in you"). ]

  • chaco

    Whew !  Miraculous Medal is really “TOOTING it’s HORN” here. One of the neatest things I remember about the revelation is Mary being asked;”Why aren’t some of the rings on your fingers shining ?”  She replied;  “Those not shining are Graces that haven’t been asked for yet.”  So ASK AWAY ! [ Imagine the possibilities ! ] 

  • Michaela

    Cari, I must tell you I have heard many conversion stories in my 19 years of life–from Scott Hahn to St. Augustine to speakers at Steubenville conferences. However, your story made my jaw literally DROP. Usually a person comes to Marian devotion well after he/she has been Catholic, not beforehand!!! And it’s crazy that you cried about BJP2, that was so grace-filled! Contrary to what you may think, your humility is overflowing throughout this story. That is the mark of a true Christian. Also, your perseverance in seeking truth in the midst of so many obstacles is truly inspiring and a grace from God. I’m printing out copies of your story, so I can share it & re-read in the future…and I’ll have tissues on hand next time :) Have you had the chance to do De Monfort’s Marian Consecration? I have a feeling you would love it, if you haven’t already. Welcome home, Cari. Be assured of my prayers for you and your family.  

    p.s. My parents both read your story and LOVED it! My mom told me yesterday that I was breech as well, into the 8th month. Then, unbeknownst to her, I had flipped by her next doctor appointment. She never felt a thing, and she wore a Miraculous and a St. Michael medal her entire pregnancy :)

  • chaco

    As this whole Faith- phenomenon seems to be “settling” (like a Thanksgiving dinner during the nap afterwards), I think we’re feeling a tinge of what the apostles felt at the Ascencion (Acts 1: 9).  Thank God Jesus said to The Father; ” … that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn. 17: 26). Otherwise we might  despair every time something *Beautiful* may seem to be ending. [ Felix Colpa; "Oh happy fault of Adam" which has brought us to know the *Depth of God's Love*.]

  • momBryan

    Okay. So I’m almost six months pregnant with my sixth child. So, I can chalk this up to hormones, like you often did. But your “Apropos of absolutely freaking nothing…” brought tears to my eyes. I am a cradle Catholic who tried to resist, but God brought me home anyway, against my will. Then I married a Baptist, convinced it wouldn’t matter, and now, with the looming faith formation issues of all our children (they’ve been baptized in the Church, but my husband said he would encourage them to be baptized again, of their own decision, if they desired). I pray for this change that happened to you to happen to him. I wish Jesus and Mary would come here to my house and slap my husband across the face and tell him to let go of his stubborn pride and just BELIEVE in the True Presence already! Of all the thing I have ever read (and I’ve read A LOT), your story causes my heart to ache. In a good way. Welcome home, I am so happy that our Blessed Mother listened to you and brought you home. =) Great… I’m crying again… 

  • chaco

    momBryan, Your aching heart(“in a good way” ) is synonomous with Hebrews 5: 7 “..with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save him…”.  I also recall Rom.4: 17 that urges us to ask for “things that don’t exist as though they already exist”.  Dear sister, we gotta love the “Journey” – not just the “Gettin there”.  Our trusting intercession is the “Sweet Nourishment” that sustains us. It causes Hope (see 1 Pet. 3: 15) that will draw hubby to the Truth in you. [And know that our hearts are moved to asking "God's Smiling Grace" to console you.]

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com/ Cari Donaldson

    Congratulations on lucky number six!  My heart aches with you- I’m always so thankful that Ken converted with me- but believe that if Christ can remain a gentleman AND convince a head case like me to come home to Him, He is working His same gentle “magic” on your husband.  No divine smackdown necessary!

  • Mary

    Beautiful story, tears streaming down my cheek as I’m reading it as fast as I can. I love conversion stories, especially with a miraculous twist! It helps hearing the impressions and views from the before time.

  • chaco

    Our sister Cari sure can share an experience, can’t she ? I’ve shared this with countless aquaintenses since she spilled her heart for all to see. My favorite part was when she claimed; “Time slowed… I looked at Ken’s eyes reflected in the rear view mirror… I opened my mouth to speak. “So. I think I want to become Catholic.” (pg. 5 of 10) [ I'm sure I've heard it somewhere but I just can't find it - even with my concordance; Somewhere in the Bible it says; "See how these christians love one another !" ]

  • Blobee

    You know what? The minute you said you got the Miraculous Medal in the mail, and that the baby was breech, I KNEW that baby would be born normally. I knew, the way your story was going, that God was going to SHOW you. I wish, I pray, every single person in the world would have a similar experience and come to God.

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