Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Beginning

The best place to start is always at the beginning so that is where I will start.

I was raised in North Texas by Southern Baptist parents.  I grew up going to church with my parents on and off.  They would drag me and I would hate it.  I grew up hating God.  God allowed my father to beat me and abuse me.  God allowed my mother to stand by and watch my father beat me.  God allowed my mother to beat me and emotionally abuse me after my parents divorced.  God allowed my best friend to die when she was 13.  God allowed me to be raped twice.  God allowed me to live after I tried to take my own life.  God forced me to suffer through my horrible existence.  God allowed my family to blame me for my mother's failings.  God allowed me to become an adult far too early, He allowed me to have to take responsibility for my mother and her failings.  For all of this I hated God, but I always believed in Him.  I always knew God was real.  I always knew He had a hand in my life; I just did not think He was keeping me safe from worse things or helping me to overcome the tragedies in my life.  I did not understand God or free will growing up, no one bothered to explain it to me.  To deal with all of this I turned initially to drugs and alcohol and cutting.  At 16 I tried to kill myself and at 17 I was at the same point again.  I felt hopeless, lost, trapped by my situation.  I saw no way out except death.  I realized that something had to change and I got sober at 17.  

During this time I had friends who were Catholic.  If I wanted to see them on Sundays I had to go to mass.  At first I thought mass odd and long, but the more I went the more I came to love going.  Mass was the hour out of the week I felt safe and calm and at peace.  I started learning about Catholicism. I read any book my friends would give me, often devouring the book in a day or less.  One day I went to the church my friends attended by myself.  I went to light a candle for my friend that had died years earlier.  I knelt down in one of the pews and for the first time in my life truly prayed.  My mind stopped, everything stopped.  For the first time I knew peace, serenity, calmness.  I knew what it felt like to be truly loved and comforted.  I felt someone holding me and comforting me.  For the first time in my life I knew that I would be alright, that I would do more than just survive.  I knew all my suffering and pain had a purpose; that I had a purpose.  I knew that God loved and cared about me.  I finally got up and left.  I got into my car and looked at the clock, it was four hours later.  I could not believe that I had been in there that long.  That feeling I had in the church lasted for days.  I called the church and found out about RCIA classes and started trying to convert.  I went to mass every Sunday and in mass and in the prayers I learned from the Church I found comfort.  I no longer hated, but loved God with all my heart.  I fell in love with the Church and God that day.  While attending RCIA my very Baptist parents found out and sent me away.  When I still was determined to become Catholic they stripped me of my possessions.  I left the house at 17 to be on my own.  I did not complete RCIA, but that is where my journey began.

I spent years going to mass and not taking communion.  I spent years ignoring my call to the Church.  I spent years living with boyfriends and all that implies.  I spent years ignoring God after being unable to convert.  I would still pray, but not really.

At 24 I married my ex-husband and was confirmed in the Catholic Church.  I was still ignoring God's call for me to attend mass and pray regularly.  After getting married I started college at a community college.  After a year there I transferred to a Catholic college because I adored the psychology program.  My husband and I divorced that year because he hit me.  While attending university I started going to mass regularly, started praying more and praying sincerely.  I started going to confession.  I started becoming friends with good Catholics; in fact I surrounded myself with them.  My spiritual life stalled out and one of these friends started teaching me to pray the rosary and pray novenas.  I started attending daily mass and adoration with him (I eventually dated him but we broke up and are still best friends).  Then in the course of a week I had multiple people and priests that I respect ask if I had ever considered religious life.  I replied that I had not.  I got the clue, so I started looking into it.  I fell in love with the Dominican Order.  I fell in love with their joy and their humor.  I looked at and discerned with multiple active communities and got a Dominican spiritual director.  With his guidance I worked hard on my prayer life.  My prayer life led me to contemplative communities.  I have a rather, shall we say, intense prayer life.  One that is not well suited to an active life.  I am now in contact with two contemplative Dominican communities.

This is where it starts.  The posts here will be my musings and thoughts and feelings about what is going on because I need to write and to put my thoughts and feelings down.  Pray for me and have fun reading.

Thomas Catherine

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