September 19, 2006

2 Books that "Saved" me or Random Conversations Over Gravy

I'm tired. I mean really tired. All this Catholic blogosphere talk of blasphemous plays, 3rd secret of Fatima, and Papal danger are enough to send me to my fainting couch with my tonic and salts. Being the liberated woman that I am, I don't mean lavender aromatherapy and Victorian Smelling Salts. No, I mean Cuervo Especial and Kosher Salt.

Now back to my story....

At one of my big holiday gatherings a few years back, I was standing at the stove with a long-time friend of my parents. He is married to my late Mother's best friend. BB, as I'll call him, and his wife are life-long devout Catholics. I, honestly, don't think they've ever strayed from the truth of the faith.

BB is an adult education instructor at a Catholic parish in Twin Cities area.

He's also a VERY good cook.

Anyway, I allowed him to help me with dinner by stirring the gravy (I don't like people in my kitchen so I mean it when I say: "allowed"). I don't even remember what holiday this was. It was either Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving as those are the holidays where I may invite WAY too many people over for a big homemade dinner. I don't like to exclude anyone. As a result, my small bungalow ends up being stuffed with people.

Well, back to the gravy. Gravy in my family is a serious business. Women, do you feel me? I think an Eastern European nation was probably invaded because someone was caught using canned gravy. Woe, to the female in our family that uses a canned or a bottled gravy and one of the Crones catches you.

BB is helping me by stirring the gravy and somehow the conversation gets around to Catholicism. Don't ask me how because I was in the thick of dissension at this time so I certainly did not bring it up. Now, BB has known me my whole life and he knew what parish I was in at the time. He did not approve but he was restrained about it.

Seemingly, offhandedly, he asks if I've ever been to Leaflet Missal? Nope, never heard of it, said I. Well, he goes there a lot. He's surprised I've never heard of it and he knows I like to read. It's a good bookstore. Catholic materials only. But, they have a great video library, lots of art. Really, I should check it out. It's not far from you. Hmmm, I said and let it go at that.

BUT, I never forgot about it. See, BB, clever guy that he is knew me well enough to appeal to my love of reading. He did not push anything. Just mentioned the existence of the book store and let it go.

So, one Saturday I found Leaflet Missal Company on Minnehaha in St. Paul. I probably spent 3 hours in there. It became apparent right away that this was NOT Present Moment (a New Age store in Minneapolis) or even St. Patrick's Guild (another Catholic book store). I could tell that Leaflet only stocked Magisterium approved material. Nothing by Kueng or Armstrong on these shelves.

SOMETHING induced me to buy two books that day. Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" and Kevin Orlin Johnson's Why Do Catholics Do That?: A Guide to the Teachings and Practices of the Catholic Church To this day, I have no idea why I chose those two items.

I read Johnson's book fairly quickly. I remember I felt like a dummy. Prior to this time, I had no idea why Catholics genuflected. I remember being amazed by him saying we really should attend Mass at our neighborhood parish. I was driving across town to go to "Mass". There was a lot in the book that I had never heard before. I spent most of my time in CCD signing "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" (Oh, if anyone can explain to me where in the Bible or Tradition St. Michael is rowing a boat ashore, please let me know.)

Keating's book FLOORED me. I think it took me a month to read it. I'm a very fast reader but I was so stunned that I frequently had to put it aside and reflect. If you are not familiar with Catholicism and Fundamentalism, it is an Apologetics book intended to be used to refute Fundamentalist attacks against Catholicism. I might as well have still been an Evangelical (I was at one point in my life) because I did not know 1/4 of what Mr. Keating was talking about anyway.

Both of these books planted a seed of reversion in my heart. It still took me over a year to totally come back to the Church. But, it was a seemingly random moment while cooking that started it all. It was also the actions of an evangelist for the faith. Just a regular guy, a working man, helping a friend finish dinner helped start it all.

When I was an Evangelical, Evangelizing was REALLY important. Evangelicals are very good at it. I remember walking around the Mall and going right up to people and inviting them to our church. We, as Catholics, need to channel some of that "fire in the belly". I don't think you need to chase people down on your bike (like the Mormon Elders) or knock on your neighbors' doors on weekday afternoons (like the Jehovah's Witnesses) but you do need to look for opportunities to express your faith to others. You may be rejected, but, then again, perhaps not.


Blogger Ray from MN said...

How did the gravy turn out?

It looks like you turned out just fine!
Great post!

September 20, 2006 12:16 PM  
Blogger Georgette said...

Great post, Cathy! I love your description of that gentle evangelical cooking moment-- isn't it neat how God works like that? If it had been any less subtle, you'd have had all your guards up!

God bless!

September 23, 2006 3:14 AM  
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April 14, 2007 11:28 AM  

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