I am Catholic. Not only am I Catholic, I am Byzantine Catholic. How wonderful it is to say those words! I thought that my journey to the Catholic faith was a recent beginning, but after writing this article, I realized that I have been heading toward it for many years.
Of all the different denominations of Christianity out there, why would someone choose to become Byzantine Catholic? When I was growing up, I went to different sects of churches. My family did not attend church, and they had no problem with me going where I wanted. So, if friends or extended family members offered to take me, I'd go. I went to a Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Non-Denominational, and a Roman Catholic Church. The church that had the biggest impression on me was Holy Trinity Church in Barberton, Ohio. There was a Hungarian family that lived behind me, and they would go to the Hungarian mass on Saturday evenings. Sometimes I would go with them. I didn't have a clue as to what was being said by the priest, and I wasn't allowed to receive communion. But I loved sitting there and watching everything that was going on around m e. I loved smelling the incense, and looking at the candles and watching the 5:00 p.m. sun shine through the stained glass windows.
The extent of my knowledge at that time of what Catholics did consisted of them crossing themselves a lot, kneeling in the pew, genuflecting, and going up to the priest to get something to put in their mouth after a lot of praying was done. Oh, and confession. I had heard stories from my friends about how you had to go into a little boxed room, with the priest on one side, and you on the other, and a little door between the two of you. Supposedly, your parish priest didn't know who you were, or so one of my friends had told me. Knowing what I now know of confession, I find that hard to believe.
So while I visited many churches during my early teenage years, I never became a member of one. I had a faith in God though. I was baptized in 1989 at a local church. I felt the Holy Spirit in me after that, but that church just was not the right one for me. I eventually quit attending, and I didn t go back to a church for 14 years.
Five years ago I was experiencing a great deal of upheaval in my life. I had literally gone to bed one night one night a few days before Thanksgiving in 2003, healthy, and woke up at 4 a.m. with double pneumonia and was hospitalized for 4 days. It took me several weeks to recover. A few days after Christmas, my nephew, who has Asperger's Syndrome, as well as other issues, was placed with us through Children Services. It looked like it was going to be a permanent placement. We started construction work to build an additional bedroom, as well as other projects that needed to be done on our house. My life, as well as my family's, was in an uproar. My nephew doing whatever he could to cause strife between my children and me didn't help things.
About this time my husband, Jim, had started going to a local Roman Catholic Church to pray the rosary at noon, and occasionally I would go with him. Some evenings, we would go to the church and just sit. I think Jim knew that I needed a break from the tension in the house. I never thought that I would be sitting in a church again, praying to God. I was convinced that I had committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit many years before, and that God would not listen to me again. Praying seemed pointless, but I tried anyway.
One night, after a really bad day, Jim and I went to the church. I remember getting on my knees in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, and sobbing.