Jump ahead 15 years to the Autumn of 2000; as Lisa and I started our journey towards marriage, we started going to church with her Mom and Dad. Her family is Catholic, and she wanted to be married in the Church her family attended. She told me I didn't have to become Catholic, but she definitely wanted us to have some sort of faith base in our blossoming family. All it took was one time at Mass, and I knew, I knew that this, this was where I had belonged all along. I felt it in my heart. I had already decided -unbeknownst to Lisa- that I wanted to go thru RCIA, and so I signed up. During my journey thru RCIA, I made it a point to attend Mass at every Catholic church in our area, just to make sure I was where I should be. the church I came back to time and time again, was her parents, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Franciscan run parish.
Now, while I went thru RCIA, it came clear to me that I actually had been given "signs", so to speak. Maybe they were of my own making, perhaps they were divine direction, but I all of a sudden started putting together moments in my life that had gently guided me to where I was at that point. I could recall teaching myself the Hail Mary 16 years earlier. I had no reason to know it, but there I was, reciting it whenever I felt scared, anxious or concerned about something. I recited it when I drove past wrecks, or when ambulances raced by, hoping that it helped whoever was in need. I had no Faith basis for doing this, it just seemed ........"right". I even started to go to Mass a few times, but at the last minute left, thinking I was not fit to be in the church. I was ashamed of how I looked, that I was essentially homeless, and that surely I would be chased out. Even when getting my dog tags, when asked what religion I was, I for some reason said I was Catholic, despite the fact that I had been raised Methodist.
All this came rushing back to me as I stood before my RCIA class, trying to explain why I thought I wanted to be Catholic. It all came back (this & a few facts that I've left out for the sake of brevity), and I realized at that precise moment, I was still the good kid I had deep down always been, that all the rotten things that had happened to me, all this......."peripheral" stuff, was of my own making, because I had lost faith in God,not the other way around. It was a very profound moment, and it hit me with the weight and ferocity of a runaway freight train.
So, my journey as a Roman Catholic had started. I knew that from my journeys to other local churches that I liked the Capuchin friars best. Their down to earth simplicity appealed to me; I remember Fr. Martins teachings from RCIA, and one instance in particular. He asked us what we would do if approached by a man asking for money. Quite a few people said they would walk the other way, and one guy said he'd tell the guy to get a job. Fr. Martin said that we should give him money without question. the one fellow asked why we should give money to a bum who was probably just scamming us, and Fr. Martin replied that what the man did with the money was not important, but what was really important was the act of charity. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, and I have never forgotten that moment.
So I started to read up on St. Francis. I perused thru a few websites, and then tackled "The Little Flowers", and that did it for me. During this time, I came across a flier for my local Fraternity and made contact with them. I went to a few meetings, and at the time, it was very hard for me to commit to the meetings. My wife's work schedule means that I have to take care of my children when our meetings occur, so I have not been able to fully commit as of yet, but I read the books they work from, and have tried to keep some sort regimen towards becoming a Secular Franciscan.
Tired of me talking yet?