By Koa K. Bartsch |
I was raised as a member of Kohala Baptist Church, a small congregation in my hometown of North Kohala, Hawaii. It was a church full of faithful, genuine Christians who sought to follow Christ as best they could and I am greatly thankful that my parents raised me there.
It was there that the seed of faith was planted in my heart, a seed that grew and blossomed into a deep desire to know, love and follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, strength and mind.
This desire was the beginning of my journey.
The decision to become Catholic was by no means an easy choice for me. It was something I reached only through lots of research, contemplation, discernment and plain, honest conversations with God.
As a Protestant I was never opposed to Catholicism. Most of my friends were Catholic and, while I respected their faith, I held that many Catholic beliefs were wrong. Of course, that was to be expected because of the differences between the Catholic and the Evangelical traditions.
Even though I believed that some Catholic teachings were wrong, the one thing I was drawn to was the beauty of the liturgy. Liturgy was something new to my Evangelical sensibilities.
I was fascinated with the divine ceremony of worship that was carried out with the utmost care and reverence. I didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on, but I could undoubtedly sense the tradition and holiness that it radiated.
I thought to myself “At least Catholics got something right!” The liturgy was the hook, the crosier that pulled me. Its grip was tight and I couldn’t escape.
I eventually resolved to learn more about Catholicism not from a Protestant perspective but from a Catholic one. It only made sense to let the Church tell her own story.
My desire to explore beyond what I had been taught about God and faith grew and grew. I sought to validate the things I had been taught about Christianity and to gain a greater understanding of the things that I may have missed in church.
While I had never questioned the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus or the infallibility of the Bible, there were some doctrines and beliefs of my Protestant church that I wanted to clarify and to explore more deeply.
I embarked on an expedition to learn more about Catholicism and to eliminate my prejudices. Throughout this process I was in constant contact with God through prayer. He was always there and I turned to him when I needed help.
After discovering overwhelming evidence in support of the Catholic Church and being constantly pulled by God in that direction I finally decided to give Catholicism a try, and it worked.
The most powerful evidence that led me to my decision to join the Church was the discovery of the real presence in the Eucharist.
The Bible and the early Church fathers both support the idea that the bread and wine truly become Christ’s body and blood upon consecration. He is present body, blood, soul and divinity. Just as food nourishes the body, through Holy Communion, Christ nourishes the soul.
To me, the Eucharist is the pinnacle of the Christian life on earth. Many claim that Catholics don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. To those who believe this I ask: What can be more personal than receiving him through the Eucharist? It is, to me, the most valuable aspect of our Christian faith and God’s greatest gift by which he invites us into personal relationship and eternal life with him.
Koa Bartsch is a freshman history major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.