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Converted by Our Lady | perseverer's Blog


In 1975 I was fourteen years old and miserable.  We lived in an attractive modern home in a middle class Sydney North Shore suburb.  Materially, life was reasonably comfortable.  We were fed and clothed, lived in a good area and had plenty to do.  But spiritually and emotionally I felt like I was living in a black hole.

I am not going to whinge about my dear family, and they are all very dear to me.  In those days, we didn't have our act together.  Any one of us could look back and say, we could have done things better.  We could have had more time, more understanding, more consideration and more respect for one another.  I would go so far as to say that in those days we were dysfunctional.  We are not now.

My father was a virulent atheist.  His contempt for any expression of religious belief stifled religious enquiry.  My mother was brought up a Catholic and she is a splendid Catholic nowadays.  But while we were growing up she was not practising.  She was nevertheless a superb mother.  She and my father didn't have the warmest of relationships; they ended up separating.  Other relationships in the family were similarly complicated and places of solitude and refuge were highly sought after.

Both my parents had a modern idea about freedom of choice as far as religion was concerned.  For this I am grateful.  They decided to give us kids a taste of religion by sending us to the local Methodist Sunday School; after that, we were going to be allowed to make up our own minds.

In those Sunday School days of the mid to late '60s we were living in a smaller home set on bush acreage, which I loved to explore.  Alone among the manferns growing along the creek I began to yearn for union with the beauty and harmony that was my environment in those precious moments.  I would come home from Sunday School having been asked to open my heart to Jesus, go down to the creek and the ferns, and pour my heart out to God, begging Him to come into it and make me one with Him.  I don't know what I expected to happen.  But I felt it ought to have been something tangible and personal.  In fact, when nothing seemed to happen, I would burst into tears, go back to my bedroom and keep asking God to hear me and answer me.

This religious devotion was very short lived.  One Sunday, when I was 9 years old, I refused to go to church.  There were other things I would rather be doing with my time and since my parents didn't go, I didn't see why I should have to go.  And I didn't have to.  I very quickly forgot about my longings for God and became caught up in more material pleasures.

By the time I was 14 my main interest was football, to be precise, Rugby League.  Football-wise 1975 was a good year for me.  My team, the Roosters (then called Eastern Suburbs) were doing well, and that year they won the Premiership.  I had a souvenir T shirt signed by every player and was photographed wearing it when my family moved to Tasmania in 1976. 

I am mentioning these years and associated evidence for a reason.  Something extraordinary happened to me in 1975 and it is important for me to be able to prove that it was 1975.

I already mentioned that places of solitude were highly sought after.  The best place for me to be left alone was in front of theTV on a Thursday night when the Amcal Cup replay was on.  This football replay was screened at 9:00pm and I was allowed to stay up and watch it.  As no-one else in my family liked football, I had the whole room to myself.

One Thursday night in 1975, while waiting for the Amcal Cup replay to come on I was watching the show that came immediately before it, a show about religious controversy called, "Everyman". 

Everyman was showing the BBC documentary about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Garabandal.  For those of you unfamiliar with these events, in 1961 four young Spanish girls began to receive a series of apparitions that were well filmed and documented.  The documentary interviewed one of the seers, gave a synopsis of the events, showed clippage of the seers in ecstacy and displayed the messages asked to be delivered by them to the world.

Well now, I had never heard of it or anything like it and I was riveted, but I can tell you, I didn't understand a word of it.  It might as well have been done in Chinese, it was such a foreign language.  I'd never heard of cardinals, bishops and priests.  What was the Blessed Sacrament?  The Eucharist?  Penance?  The messages were only shown for a few seconds, not enough time to grab a pen and paper and copy them down for research in those pre-PC, pre-internet days.  And I knew I would never remember the words.

And yet, I will never forget how I felt, hearing something so alien and yet so divine.  And seeing those girls in ecstacy, doing their ecstatic walks and falls.  I was deeply moved and deeply stirred and I badly wanted to know what it was all about and what it all meant.  I'd never felt so frustrated.  What could I do?  To whom could I turn for help?  There was just one thing to do, so I did it.  I prayed.  I prayed for the first time in at least five years.  "Dear God, if this truly comes from you, let me see it again, and let me understand the messages, please." 

Well, again, nothing seemed to happen and the BBC documentary on Garabandal was soon forgotten.  The following year, my family escaped the rat race and bought a 6 acre farm on the banks of the picturesque Huon River in Southern Tasmania.

Fast forward three years and I was attending an Easter Sunday Mass with a friend, who is now my husband.  We came late and St Joseph's in Hobart was packed, so we went upstairs and sat in the choir loft.

I was 18 years old and searching.  For this purpose, I was enrolled in a Religious Studies course at Elizabeth Matriculation College.  Our required reading for the unit on Christianity were the Gospels.  I also felt it was time to subject the anti-Catholic vitriol I'd picked up from some of my various protestant encounters to critical analysis, and I had been hoping to find something that explained the Catholic Faith.  Tim, my boyfriend, carried rosary beads in his shirt pocket, so I asked him if he had anything suitable.  He gave me his brown and green catechisms from high school.  So in conjunction with the four Gospels I was reading the Catholic Catechesim.

This all struck a major chord with me.  It was so consoling to me, in fact, that in my mind I likened it to letting a chocolate melt in my mouth.  There was just one thing that was not like a chocolate melting in my mouth, but rather, like a bone stuck in my throat, and that was the Catholic emphasis on Marian devotion.  Like Tim's rosary.  Why say such a repetitive prayer?  Surely that was lacking in thought and effort?  And why was Mary (St Mary as I thought of her; I had never heard her referred to as, 'Our Lady') called the Mother of God?  Yes, Jesus is God, and yes, she is His Mother, but divine maternity seemed to imply she was something more than human, like she was His Mother from all eternity.  I didn't like it; I couldn't gel with it, and Marian devotion did not become a feature of my prayer life.

I had also been wondering about which church to join upon becoming a Christian.  I had been attending an Anglican Bible Study class but did not think of myself as actually belonging to that church.  I was trying to figure out which Church was the church founded by Jesus Christ.  Was it really the Catholic Church with its unbroken succession of popes from Peter  to John Paul 11?  If so, then how did one reconcile this awkward thing called Marian devotion?

These were the questions perplexing me as I sat alone in the choir loft while everyone else was down below receiving Holy Communion.

Just at that moment, a voice spoke to me, interiorly.  I didn't hear it with my ears and I didn't see anything, but I knew it was St Mary herself speaking.  She said, "Do not be afraid to do what you know to be right.  I am your Mother and I will protect you."

You know what?  It didn't feel extraordinary.  It felt like hearing from someone who was very dear and familliar to me that I hadn't seen or heard from in a long time.  It was joyous and challenging.  I knew what she was telling me.  She was telling me to convert.  

All the long way home to the country I thought about it.  On the one hand, I knew that authority from Christ was conferred upon the Catholic Church.  It stood to reason.  But on the other hand, there was this emphasis on Mary.  And although I badly wanted to get it, I just didn't. 

Walking up the long driveway I thought about it some more.  Maybe I needed to stop concentrating on my problem with it and just think about Mary, since she had spoken to me.  From my reading of the Gospels I knew that the Angel Gabriel had visited her and told her that she would become the mother of the Saviour.  And - aha! - she asked, "But how can this be, since I am a virgin?"  It suddenly occurred to me that she didn't understand everything either, but she believed and consented.  In this, she was setting me a poignant example.

So I said, "OK, if everything else in the Catholic Faith is true, this must also be true since it comes from the same authority. I accept and believe."  And with that, my doubt vanished.  Suddenly and clearly I understood that Mary is called the Mother of God because of the union of Our Lord's divine and human natures.  It is in this sense that she is called the Mother of God.

Filled with certainty, I announced my decision to become a Catholic to my amused and skeptical family.

That was 31 years ago and I often wondered how it was that such a grace came to me.  Did some distant ancestor pray for it?   Was it the fruit of the Prayer of the Faithful? Or did Our Lady just cast a glance my way and decide to intervene on my behalf?

With my lack of referential background I did not know what a privileged grace I had in fact received.  I assumed that such experiences must be commonplace for Catholics and I even told off my Catholic friends and acquaintances for not telling me.

But more.  I did not realise until last year what a privileged grace I had received by seeing the BBC documentary on Garabandal on Everyman in 1975.  You see, that documentary was not even filmed until 1980.

Put yourself in my shoes.  What would you make of it?  Well, I will tell you what I have made of it.  Seeing that documentary caused me to pray to understand the message delivered to the world by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Garabandal.    Three years later the Blessed Virgin Mary herself prompted my conversion to the Catholic Church by delivering an interior message, or locution.  And should you be wondering if this in fact wasn't a case of suggestion, having seen that documentary in the first place (I know I would be thinking this if I was the reader of such a story as this) I can only assure you that nothing like a locution was ever conveyed.  Of such matters I was completely ignorant and made a fool of myself by disclosing it to others in the mistaken belief that such things must of course happen all the time to Catholics. 

What I believe is this.  We have a powerful advocate in Heaven called Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.   His dying wish on the cross was, "Behold your mother."  As brethren of Christ we might ask why He asked us to behold HIs Mother instead of Himself at that critical time?  And we can find the answer in Luke 1:47 in words spoken by Mary herself.  "My soul magnifies the Lord."

Now, I have shared with you the story of my conversion to the Catholic Church, and not in the "I Am A Catholic Convert" group but in my blog.  That is because the purpose of my writing this is not to present the story of my conversion nor to present apologetics for the Catholic Faith.  It is to share with you what I have come to understand about the Message of Our Lady of Mt Carmel of Garabandal.  And to do that I felt that it was necessary to explain how I became caught up in this story.


to be continued...


This Blog Entry's Comment Board (6 comments)
1-6 of 6 Comments   

wolfkelishian
Posted on 11:55PM on Nov 16th, 2010
When GOD told John to "Behold, your mother" it was for the purpose of comforting them and giving them a needed family connection that would help them in their lives after THE LORD was resurrected and ascended to glory, not to worship or pray to or do rituals for or make statues of Mary.

If elder sister Mary were here she would tell every catholic: "Repent! Worship GOD alone and cease from idolatry!"

The context of the scriptures is clear, everything outside of that context is demonic false doctrine and deception.
perseverer
Posted on 12:29AM on Nov 17th, 2010
Thank you for your comment. Though there were other holy women standing by the cross, He took notice of none but His mother, teaching us by this what we owe to our parents. For although it is our duty to disown them when they place obstacles in the way of our salvation, yet when they do not thus impede us we owe everything to them and must prefer them to all. We learn also here what should be our respect and confidence in this Virgin Mother, so highly honoured by her Divine Son.
wolfkelishian
Posted on 01:18AM on Nov 17th, 2010
Mary is simply a good servant and child of GOD, that is all. THE LORD made a provision for her as all sons should do for their mothers, but don't forget, she is only the mother of HIS body, not of HIM because HE IS her CREATOR. HE was simply doing what is right and leaving a good example. Also, she is not a virgin anymore, she and her husband had a bunch of kids after YESHUA was born. Catholicism is in defiance to the scriptures and places "Mary" as an object of worship, rituals and prayer and that is WRONG. It is pagan roman goddess/demon worship and it is not from GOD and neither is all the rituals, the pope, the prayers to saints, etc. etc. Catholicism is a false doctrine and a cult. Repent and adhere only to the WORD of GOD, nothing more and nothing less.
perseverer
Posted on 01:44AM on Nov 17th, 2010
What you are claiming to be Roman Catholicism is nothing of the sort and you misrepresent our beliefs.
perseverer
Posted on 03:13AM on Nov 17th, 2010
Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is human and divine. He has a human nature and a divine nature. As a human being, he has a human body and a human soul which is hypostatically united to His Divine Nature. Christians throughout the ages never referred to Christ as a human person but only as a Divine Person. To speak of the motherhood of Mary in terms of the body of Christ as if it is something separate from His soul or His Divine Nature is nonsense. The two natures of Our Lord are inseparable.

A couple of other comments. First, both scripture and Tradition are the Word of God. The fact that the Bible was not in its complete form for three hundred years after the Resurrection testifies to this, as does the Bible itself.

Second, it was the constant teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that both St Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary retained their chastity after the birth of Our Lord.

Third, Catholics do not "worship" Mary. They honour her and ask her to pray for them.
nellkellicus
Posted on 05:19AM on Nov 17th, 2010
I believe as you do Perserverer - the Catholic Church ALONE can prove unbroken authority as the true Church of Christ from His time on earth to the present.
Tradition MUST be taken into account, as the Bible was not written for so long after Christ's Resurrection.
All other Christian "churches" were initiated by MEN who for various reasons disagreed with the authority and teachings of the Catholic Church. This does not change the fact that the Catholic Church remains the one begun by Christ, blessed by Christ, and protected by Christ.
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Towards Understanding the Message of Garabandal Chapter 10: BEFORE THE CUP WAS FILLING UP, NOW IT IS FLOWING OVER, posted December 2nd, 2010
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