Time to bring this series to a close . . . . Here I was . . . a few months away from becoming Orthodox, now experiencing a bit of confusion regarding Roman Catholicism. Quite honestly I was disillusioned by the cacophony of opinions among Orthodox Christians concerning a myriad of topics – most especially ‘the West’ in general and Rome more specifically.
It was also during this time that I fell into the deepest period of darkness I’d ever known. This wasn’t due to my theological confusion, but my spiritual weakness. I allowed an old enemy to win a major battle, and the fallout was devastating – so much so that the whole war seemed over. Depression wafted over me, and I half-heartedly tried to regain my footing. Then Katrina hit. It was the perfect excuse not to make the effort to drive two hours to the Orthodox parish, so I didn’t. Soon I wasn’t attending whatsoever. Soon I gave up and built a wall of anger out of my failure and self-loathing.
This condition lasted for months. I remember thinking when the end of the year rolled past – “I should have been Orthodox by now.” Yet I wasn’t. Not even close. My marriage, my sanity, my future – they seemed to be in the perpetual proverbial balance. Then I took a business trip. On this trip I was able to spend some time alone and think. And finally to pray. On my way home, the floodgates opened as I was pouring my heart out to God. Somewhere between Atlanta, GA and Mississippi, I found solace in God’s grace.
So, I came back home a ‘new man’. I started attending church with my wife. I was still not the ‘old Rusty’, and others could tell I still had reservations about a lot of things. However, I kept my opinions to myself and I tried my best to live a life of dedication to God and family. Yet all that I had learned, all that I had come to understand about God, the Church, history – I couldn’t shove it in some bin and forget. So, I started showing up at the daily masses held at the local Catholic church. It really felt wonderful. I attended these quietly, not making a big deal about it to my wife or anyone else. Finally I began RCIA and entered the process of becoming Catholic.
I am four weeks and one day away from Easter vigil. That is the day where I will finally receive the body and blood of my Lord in the Eucharist. That is the day where I will enter communion with Thomas Kempis, John Paul the Great, Thomas Aquinas, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome of Palestine and Rome, and a great cloud of other witnesses to the glory of the Catholic faith.
Today I was at daily Mass and meant every word when I said, along with the congregation, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only speak the word and I shall be healed.”