Skip to comments.Shower of Roses-- An Independent, Fundamental Baptist Becomes Catholic Through Mary's Intecession
Posted on 05/06/2008 5:10:41 PM PDT by annalex
My entire conversion story is dedicated to my Blessed Mother, through whose constant intercession I rely on for help. I also thank her for the countless roses she has showered my life with, most particularly, her gentle direction in my life which allowed me to become Catholic.
Where does ones journey truly begin? I believe it begins in the mind of God, who knows, through our own choices, the paths that we will take and the consequences of those actions. I also believe that God gently allows particular events to happen in a way which is quite miraculous when all the pieces are fitted together. When I look back across the timeline of my life, I see all of the Catholic pieces to the puzzle, and can clearly see the Hand of God. And thus, my story begins.
My birth was a miracle to my parents, who were told that they would never have any children, and when my mother found out that she was carrying me, she immediately dedicated me to the Lord. I was born in late August of 1982actually, the feast day of St. Augustine, and in a town which is dedicated to his patronage, although I wouldnt know that until much later. And, from the moment I was born, I was showered in roses. When I asked my mother about this fact, in a light hearted manner, she grew thoughtful and said, For some reason, I always associated you with roses. Perhaps the most significant rose during my early childhood was a christening gown embroidered in roses. Although my parents, who were devout, conservative Baptists, did not believe in infant baptism, my mother nonetheless clothed me in this garment for a dedication ceremony at their church. Indeed, it seemed a foreshadowing of things to come.
I was always a serious child. At the age of 3, I remember asking my mother how we knew God existed. I was filled with questions of a religious nature and wore out my Sunday School teachers with my inquiries. However, I never seriously began questioning my faith until High School.
When I was a Junior, I was blessed to be able to switch from my public schools to a private, non-denominational Christian school. It truly was a blessing to be able to talk about Jesus openly, and to incorporate God with Math, Science, and English. My teachers opened every class with prayer and taught us, more by every-day example, how to live a dynamic Christian life. I grew a lot there and thank God for that experience. However, more and more, my inquisitive mind began to ponder things, and a great thirst in my soul grew. I wondered, if we are all Christians, as my teachers and classmates clearly were, and we used just about the same Christian lingo and believed almost the same way, then why did we all have different names above our church doors? Why were some Pentecostals or Lutherans while others were Baptists or Methodists? Where did these divisions occur and who were we originally? Other, more doctrinal questions, also loomed.
One day into the middle of my Senior year of High School, I was at Barnes and Nobles and was scanning the Christianity shelves. A books title caught my eyeRome Sweet Home, by Dr. Scott Hahn. Being a fan of funny, clever phrases, I was immediately intrigued. I picked up the book and did not put it down againsave for purchasing it, smuggling it home, and sleeping, until the next day. I read it at home, before school, covertly during free time in classes, and finally finished it after school the next evening. I was hooked! So many of my questionssuch as where we got the Bible, why our church services were structured a certain way, and several passages of Scripture that had always boggled my Baptist mindsetall suddenly started making sense to me! Subsequently, I spent several months reading everything Catholic that I could get my hands on. I was so excited about what I was learning that I began to defend the Catholic position in my classes, wherever it came up. My locker, too, became a shrine to Mother Theresas quotes. One day, a girl asked me, Are you Catholic? That single question gave me great pause. Where, exactly, was this journey leading me?
I knew that if my parents found out about all of this, there would be a huge confrontation, and the consequences would be dire. The only thing that got me through that time was praying the rosary. My very first rosary was actually a simple little make-shift strand of beads Id created from various odds and ends I had found lying around the house, and which I kept hidden at all costs. (Praise God for a dear lady who sent me my first real rosary for free by mail! May she be blessed with thousands of graces for her charity!) I prayed the Rosary every day, laboring over the prayers that I had printed out, and believing that I would never be able to memorize it all. Nevertheless, from the moment I uttered my first Haily Mary, I took her as my own mother, and in turn, she began leading me closer to Jesus.
That summer, my mother had a semi-serious surgery and had decided to spend several weeks with my grandparents at their vacation cottage while recovering. Those weeks afforded me the freedom to visit my very first Mass. I remember sneaking away one Saturday afternoon to a small parish in my home town, trying to be inconspicuous, lest anyone recognize me. The Mass began and I was transfixed. During the consecration, I looked up at Jesus, fully present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and cried. I believedI truly believed! I believed it all, down to the smallest point of Catholic doctrine, and I knew it was going to change my life forever.
I wish I could say that it all became very easy after that, but it grew harder. Nevertheless, Gods mercy was so amazing during that time. I was going to daily Mass, had found a great group of Catholic women who ran a Catholic bookstore, and God also allowed me to find a newly ordained priest, Fr. Larry Farrell, who met with me once a week and was preparing to baptize and confirm me at the end of my instructions. However, with each passing day, I was faced with an almost overwhelming anxiety. I literally shook, trying to figure out how I was going to tell my Anti-Catholic parents that I did not want to attend the Bible College that I had been accepted to, and wanted to become a Roman Catholic instead. In the end, I gave into fear.
In the fall, I went to an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Bible College in Indianapolis, Indiana. My plan was to take that year to get out on my own and to use my spare time to study, study, study so that, at the end of that year, I could come home and give my parents a power-point presentation on why I had to become Catholic. One year became nearly two, because I still could never find an opportune time to tell my family that I wanted to convert. However, Bible College only succeeded in making me even more Catholic! The university, unfortunately, had a very strong Anti-Catholic bias and not a daysometimes not even a classwent by without a slam to the Catholic Church. This was a school which firmly believed that the Catholic Church was the Whore of Babylon and that its rituals and sacraments were sending millions of souls to Hell. But, for every negative or misunderstood statement made, I thought to myself, No, they dont have it right, and would think of the appropriate apologetic argument, although I did not dare say it out loud. Eventually, I left the school on my own volition. I was very disheartened. I was no longer Baptist, but not formally Catholic.
After I returned home, things moved very quickly in succession. I found myself sneaking back to daily Mass at every opportunity. At the Ash Wednesday Mass, I was even asked to bring up the gifts. My mind reeled at this! I wanted to ask if it was allowed, since I was not even Catholic! However, that service to my Lord gave me a profound grace. A few days later, I went to my parents and laid everything out on the table. They were shocked, and as I had anticipated, outraged. At the end of that very long conversationI remember it ended at nearly 3 in the morning, my parents gave me an ultimatum: Stay Baptist and remain under our roof or become Catholic and leave.
It was the hardest decision Ive ever made, but several weeks later, after much soul searching, being toted to various Baptist pastors, and being under a virtual house arrest, the day finally came when I had to leave my parents, little brother, and the home I had spent my childhood in to pursue where Christ was leading me.
I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, which I quickly found out had a vibrant Catholic community! I was instantly immersed with the YAMYoung Adult Ministry events, parties, and volunteer work at my new parish. I remember going to Mass the first Sunday after Id moved. Bells were chiming and happy people were filing into the parish. The fact that I was at a Catholic Church for Sunday Mass, without fear of discovery or panic, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, blew me away! I began RCIA classes and looked forward to the Easter Vigil. God, however, had slightly different plans.
During the summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta. One of the guest speakers was none other that Dr. Scott Hahn! After two years since picking up his conversion story, it was a blessing to be able to hear him speak. I even had my copy of Rome Sweet Home signed by him, and was able to briefly share my journey with him, which was due in great part to his story. A month or two later, there was a Revive event which built upon the earlier conference. That night was a defining moment in my Catholic pilgrimage. At the end of the events, I was hanging out at the back tables with my friends, who were talking about their wonderful experiences at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Scott Hahn joined us, as he remembered one or two people in our group as his former students. I remember at some point making a remark about how I wished that I could study there. Dr. Hahn looked at me and said, very seriously, You should. Apply and if its Gods will, He will make it happen.
That thought never left my mind. I ended up applying to Franciscan University of Steubenville and, to my surprise, was accepted! Before I knew it, I was in Steubenville, unpacking my few belongings into my new dormMarian Hall. It was everything that I could have dreamed of and more, Best of all, I was finally going to become Catholic at the Easter Vigil!
However, there was one last hurdle. During Holy Week, I became very ill. So ill, I was admitted to the local hospital and it was uncertain whether or not I would be able to attend the Vigil. I prayed my heart out during those days, and early every waking moment was spent praying the rosary and both versions of the St. Therese Novena. Let me just say thisif you pray that beautiful novena and are praying for something that is Gods Holy Will, you will be answered! Over the next week, I was showered with roses. One friend brought a card with roses and another gave me a small, plastic holy card with a rose petal in it. That gave me tremendous hope, and so I prayed all the more earnestly. On Good Friday, I was released from the hospital. My parents, who had come to see me, helped me to the car. This proved to be an amazing grace, because they were going to stay for my baptism the next day. My heart was so full already, but when we got into the car, it overflowed. The strongest smell of roses I have ever experienced filled my nose, and I knew it could only be a sign from Our Lady. I kept quiet, not sure if I should say anything, if either of my parents knew what was going on, but I couldnt help smiling when, a minute later, my father remarked, Wow, someone must have spilled some perfume and rolled down the windows.
The next dayat the Easter Vigil Mass of 2004, I received the Sacramental Grand Slam. I was baptized, confirmed, and given my first Holy Communion all within a couple of hours. My parents, who still did not fully approveand left right after my baptismhad nevertheless been in attendance. My friends were cheering. Dr. Hahn, his wife, and family were even present at the Mass. The night could not have been more complete. I was now not only a Christian, I was a Catholic! After growing up talking about a personal relationship with Jesus, I had finally found the means to having that tangible, very real personal relationship with Him through the Sacraments and the One, Holy, Apostolic Church.
Out of thanks for Our Ladys intercession, I chose Mary to be my Baptism name: Mary Our Lady of the Rosary.
Mary has continued shower upon us the roses we so ardently desire. Now, four years later, I am married to a wonderful, Godly, Maronite-Rite Catholic man. When Adam and I met and began courting, we prayed the rosary every night together. When our friendship became more serious, I began a novena to St. Therese to know if he was the man God wanted me to marry. Adam, knowing nothing of this, began to send me many things with a rose theme. The clincher was a beautiful picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with gorgeous roses floating around her heart. Not surprisingly, we chose our wedding date to be the 13th of Maythe feast of Our Lady of Fatima (who later identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary). My husband and I currently live in Rochester, New York, and are waiting upon the Lord's timing for the blessing of children. In the meantime, I am finishing my bachelor's degree in Religion through Liberty University's Distance Learning Program, which allows me a wonderful opportunity to share the Catholic faith to my classmates in a very quiet and gentle way. Adam I also have an apostolate together, visiting homes and groups, taking a large replica statue of the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
Gods abundant grace has also healed all wounds with my family. My father, who ardently refused to give his blessing for my hand in marriage to a Catholic man or to walk me down the aisle in a Catholic Church, ended up doing both! My mother and I are close again, calling each other frequently. My parents have come to realize that my choice to become Catholic has not taken me away from Christ-- indeed, it has made Christ more real to me than ever before! While far from becoming Catholics themselves, they now appreciate Catholicism and are friendly towards it.
If I had been told years ago that my life would have ended up here, I would not have believed it. Nevertheless, it has been a journey of epic proportions, and I am truly thankful to the Blessed Mother for lining my path with the roses that would lead me to a closer relationship with her Son.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!
Last edited on Mon May 5th, 2008 01:05 pm by Joslyn
Happy Easter. Christ is risen!
Anti-Catholicism, Hypocrisy and Double Standards
Hauled Aboard the Ark
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part I: Darkness
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part II: Doubts
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part III: Tradition and Church
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part IV: Crucifix and Altar
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part V: The Catholics and the Pope
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part VI: The Biblical Reality
His Open Arms Welcomed Me
Catholic Conversion Stories & Resources
My Personal Conversion Story
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
Catholics Come Home
My Journey of Faith
LOGIC AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF PROTESTANTISM
"What is Truth?" An Examination of Sola Scriptura
"Have you not read?" The Authority behind Biblical Interpretation
The Crisis of Authority in the Reformation
Our Journey Home
Our Ladys Gentle Call to Peace
A story of conversion at the Lamb of God Shrine
Who is Mary of Nazareth?
Mary and the Problem of Christian Unity
Why I'm Catholic
A Convert's Response to Friends
Courage to Be Catholic
Finally Catholic! My Conversion to the Catholic Church
Southern Baptist Pastor Leaves Everything for the Eucharist
The Short Version (the Way International convert)
Now this, Alex, is a wonderful conversion story! Not all converts suffer from “crazy convert disease”!:)
I kind of liked the previous one, too. They are both written “in the first person” — with simplicity and sincerity of an overwhelming irresistible change.
Beautiful! God bless you! Ave Maria!
That makes 2 Baptists.
Alright!!! The Maronites are very devoted to the Blessed Mother. Immediately following Baptism, the godparents carry the child, accompanied by the parents and family members and led by the priest, in a candlelight procession to the statue of the Blessed Mother, chanting a beautiful song of dedication to Mary.
Thank you, Annalex, for posting this beautiful thread!
Many more blessings to you!
Our Blessed Mother seeks only to bring us closer to her Son.
Scott Hahn strikes again! I wonder how many converts he has helped “get started” on the WAY. I know I was one—though lots of others contributed.
I can't count myself among converts, but he was certainly one of the influences that helped me start to take the Faith seriously. For every convert you can count there's probably a revert or someone like me.
I would not say Scott Hahn started me on the road to conversion, but picking up his book was the first active step I took towards Rome. And it opened the floodgates. I mentioned to my husband, after reading Scott’s book, that I felt the Lord was drawing me to Rome. After a moment of apoplexy!, he started reading the Church Fathers, and then HE was encouraging me. We came in that next Easter Vigil (2005).
Thank you for posting this sweet Baptist’s story.
I was already 90% there and Scott Hahn just helped me put my decision in stone.
BTTT! What an intriguing story about keeping everything hidden. I also wonder how many ‘Christians’ receive such and indoctrination during their college years at a so-called ‘Christian’ college.
Glad to be back.
** During the consecration, I looked up at Jesus, fully present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and cried. I believedI truly believed! I believed it all, down to the smallest point of Catholic doctrine, and I knew it was going to change my life forever.**
Says it all in two sentences!
I am very happy to see you back on these pages, Salvation, after your surgery.
How are you feeling?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.