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A Brit Crosses the Tiber

Tiber_River_(Rome)

It started with a phone call from my son one summer’s evening.

“Mum, do you mind if I become a Catholic?”

I was taken aback but quickly gathered my senses and replied, “Well, it’s really nothing to do with me. It is your decision. Yours and Samantha’s.” I put down the phone and began to ponder our conversation. Being an Evangelical Christian at the time, I had received some negative teaching over the years about Catholicism, and yet my heart was at peace when I heard the news that my son was about to dive into the deep waters of Catholic spirituality. I would never have guessed that several years later, I, too, would be plunging into the same waters.

My own upbringing had not included church, neither was there a Bible in the home. It was only after a serious illness at the age of twelve that I was sent to a convent school. My time there as a teenager was a positive one and the Catholics that crossed my path were good, kind people who lived their faith. As the old saying goes, “they preached the gospel at all times, and when necessary, used words.” At school, I never went to Mass and, in retrospect, I think that perhaps my mother had forbidden it. I remember receiving a scolding when she found a veil in my satchel, and I had to apologize for sneaking into the school chapel. This was something that I did on a regular basis, as I was drawn to the peaceful Presence that lived there. I would venture in alone during the lunch break and pray. It was strange that my mother was against the Church, as her best friend was a devout Catholic. Even when I became a born-again Christian in 1971, she was displeased and showed no interest in religion.

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