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Converts of Old

alec vanderboom

Today's Mass Reading:

2 Kings 22: 8 - 13

And Hilki'ah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD." And Hilki'ah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, "Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD." Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, "Hilki'ah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king.And when the king heard the words of the book of the law, he rent his clothes.

And the king commanded Hilki'ah the priest, and Ahi'kam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micai'ah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asai'ah the king's servant, saying,"Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."

I sat in the pew with my squirmy toddler and felt a wave of comfort after the Lecture read this reading. What a story! They found a last book of "the Law." How could it be missing? How could the people forget? The King is struck with such horror that an entire book of holy rules have been "lost" and ignored that he tears up his clothes.

That's how I feel as a convert to Catholicism. How could my ancestors, the pious Protestants who sent their children to Vacation Bible School, and Wednesday Night Prayer services, and double church services on Sunday forget Mary? How could we forget to pray for the constant intercession of the Saints? How could we forget the crucifix, and confession, and the Sacrament of the Sick? How could we forget the real presence in the Eucharist?

The Protestant Reformation is nothing new. This is an old struggle that goes back to ancient Judaism. The struggle I have as a convert- who has to constantly navigate between duty to God and duty to honor my parents-- that ancient Jewish King and I could have a long chat about that issue. He'd tell me that while it seems impossible to turn your religion around on dime, the conversion process is fairly straight forward. First repent. Then study the "real" rules. Then pledge to live my life differently. He'd remind me that "God's mercy is shown to every generation who fears the Lord." That King would say, run your race and pray hard for your family. The change they see in your life, might be the very thing that gets them curious enough to read "that lost book of Laws" for themselves.

Today, I broke through 32 years of morning sleepiness to attend 6:30 AM Mass with my family. This is the gift our Pope gave our family. We started attending Mass together back in April as preparation for the Papal Mass. Now we can't image starting our day without the Eucharist. It's transformed, broken me open and rearranged so many settled, sinful parts of myself.

May we all have a blessed, holy day as fellow servants of the Lord!