Journey in faith 4

I Am Not Alone

My road to faith and spirituality has been a long one. Despite neither of my parents being religious my mother ensured I attended Sunday school and then sent me to a Church of England primary school. I recall the headmaster was a Deacon and we regularly had assemblies in the adjacent Abbey. A few years later I joined the Boys Brigade which was run through the local Baptist Church. I attended this church fairly regularly but it did not resonate with me and by the age of 14 I had left both Boys Brigade and church behind. I guess having no one around to guide and support me in my faith at this time is partly why this happened.

As I moved into adulthood I was constantly questioning Christianity, always looking for proof, examining the literal, thinking that was all that mattered. But then I always had an interest and I started to feel a gap in my life that I could not explain. Looking back the signs were there, I penned a couple of songs in my early thirties, "The Man Within" and "God Be There", neither premeditated, the words just fell out.

My introduction to the Catholic Church came through my wife, a cradle Catholic. We were married in church and baptised our three children. I attended Mass sporadically on special occasions, but I still didn't feel I belonged. Fast forward to the start of my forties and my wife discovered St Augustine's, attending Mass every Sunday. I decided to join her and soon discovered for myself why she was so keen. Fathers Peter, Josaphat and Marcus were each very different and each very inspiring. Their sermons full of meaning and delivered with engaging wisdom. This church did have something to say that was relevant to my life. I also felt how powerful communion was, something I had never been involved in. I wanted to be part of this church, so when the idea of following the RCIA to convert to Catholicism was mentioned, it was an easy decision.

The RCIA took place over 9 months with weekly meetings where we studied the Bible, the Sacraments and many of the technical specifics one needs to be aware of in the Catholic Church. Deacon Kevin, Father Peter and Father Marcus were superb teachers but when it came to faith they did not preach at me, or force me in any way, they simply opened the door and supported me as I discovered my own faith and made sense of it. As the weeks went by I started to realise that faith was having beliefs built upon experiences of the heart not of the head and that the less questions I asked the more my questions were answered. That unexplained gap I had felt for so many years had started to wane - my growing belief that we were not alone was filling it.

The RCIA enabled me to fully participate in the Catholic Church and consequently has brought me closer to God. I still have much to learn and much to do as I continue on my journey of faith. The difference this time is that now I know I am not alone.

Steve Ing