Billy Kanga has spen the last 10 years as a youth minister and worship leader in the Protestant church but has recently made the decision to convert to Catholicism.
I began to realize that I was beginning to believe a lot more like a Catholic then a protestant. Many Catholics began joking with me that I was more Catholic then they were. There really was only theological reason I wasn't Catholic yet, the Papacy.
It was something I struggled with deeply almost viscerally. I couldn't believe the arrogance of the Catholics in claiming that they had a man that could declare things to be infallible truth. I read a lot about it and seemed to become more and more convinced that the papacy was totally and utterly wrong. I became certain I would never become Catholic.
Then something unbelievable happened.
In Lent 2011 I was taking some time to read more about the Catholic faith. My wife had bought this book about Catholic dogma by John Hardon and I was reading through it during Holy Week. I was particularly struck by a passage in the book that argued for the validity of the papacy by arguing that Christ intended the church to be a Universal reality (p. 217-218). Hardon used Matthew 24:14 as a jumping off point. In the passage Jesus promises that the Gospel will go forth into the world beyond Judea and into the gentile world before the end of the generation. He points out that Jesus' vision was for a truly Catholic Church in union, where all people could find a place, and no group was excluded. The Church is a collection of diverse and particular faith communities that are all in union in one Body. I loved that vision. One in which every culture could bring their own encounters with God and use them to help the Church see the mystery of the incarnation more clearly. In the protestant world we had been bitterly divided over ever conceivable issue. Diversity caused division. The same seemed to be true in the Orthodox world, where churches were so often divided along ethnic lines, and unity seemed almost impossible. Hardon pointed to the papacy as a center of unity around which diverse groups could truly voice their particularity while still being in union with those who were different them them. I had never read Matthew 24:14 as a vision for a global, but united church, but I liked it. It was the first time in years I had taken the idea of the Papacy seriously. I resolved to think about it more in the days to come.
The next day I went to the Easter Vigil at the Catholic Church where my brother had been received into communion with the Catholic Church in a journey quite separate from my own. (You can hear a bit about his wife's reception here). It was the same Catholic Church I had almost shouted down the Priest in 10 years before. This time instead of feeling anger during the Mass, I felt a strong conviction. I had an overpowering thought that God wanted me to join the Catholic Church.
My first response was to try to ignore it, but it wouldn't go away. By the end of the mass I walked out into the parking lot and started arguing with God."No! God don't you understand. I am a minister, that is who I am. I have not bled, sweat, and cried for my ministry and gone through eight years of education just to have you throw it all away on a whim. I'm sorry God, but NO!"
I prayed at God for about an hour like this, and he took it. At the end of it all I just gave up arguing and went home hoping the feeling would go away after I got some rest.
The next day we drove back home to Chicago and all I could think about on the way home was joining the Church. As we got in, I took my wife aside and told her that I thought that God was calling me to join the Catholic Church. I was so afraid. She smiled and told me not to worry about it too much, she knew God would make it clear in time.
The following night I resolved to take some more time to pray about this issue. I took my Bible and walked down the street. I stood under a lamp post opened my Bible and asked God to show me a passage that might help me know what I was supposed to do. I oppened to a random page, put my finger down, and was just about to start reading when a man ran around the corner (literally ran).He looked at me and said, "is that a Bible?"
I said "yep."
"Read Matthew 24:14 to me" he said
I opened to the passage and read it aloud.
"Thanks!" he said, and ran down the street (yes, he really just ran away).
I was left there wondering what had just happened. The passage that had sparked my first thoughts in years about accepting the papacy had just been quoted exactly by a complete stranger just as I was asking God for a verse to help show me the way. I was blown away. I had to take this seriously, it was just too big of a kick in my pants for me to ignore.
In one weekend my whole life was suddenly uncertain.
Do read the rest. Great stuff.
And pray for Mr. Kanga.
H/T to Mark.