C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian apologists, turned to Jesus because of a late night conversation with his friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. Scholars debate the exact timing, but the influence of that evening is undeniable. A conversation with friends changed his life.
Of course, Anglicans are quick to point out that Lewis chose the Anglican Communion and not the Catholic Church. If Anglicanism was good enough for Lewis, then why should anyone bother with the rules and regulations of Catholicism?
Despite Lewis’s preferences, though, his writing drew me closer to the Catholic Church. I loved reading The Great Divorce in high school, and I found his views on purgatory to be fascinating. Lewis’s vision of heaven and hell in The Last Battle(from the Narnia series) was more Catholic than Evangelical. It resonated with me, especially his themes of choice and free will, instead of predestination. In his essay, “The Weight of Glory,” he said that, next to the Blessed Sacrament, the most holy thing presented to your senses is your neighbor. That was a truth that I believed, but didn’t see even among High Church Anglicans. I saw it only in the Catholic Church.
“The Catholic Church is great if you need a lot of handholding,” my husband, David, once said. “But if you have the grace of faith to walk with Jesus in a personal relationship, then the Catholic Church is a hindrance.”
What David said didn’t sit well with me, because deep down, I wanted a lot of handholding. Try as I might to find my sufficiency in Christ alone, I knew I was lacking. I remembered my Catholic grandmother clutching her rosary as she wept over my grandfather’s death. I thought of my French teacher in high school boldly talking about her conversion to the Catholic Church and her need for the Eucharist. I remembered our Catholic neighbors saying how much better they felt after going to Confession.
As I drew closer to the Church, I began to think that Tolkien was right when he lamented that Lewis’s conversion had been incomplete.
Nevertheless, our family’s journey to the Church was a long one. It involved a lot of reading and conversations with David and friends. We went through moves, and we changed churches several times. We homeschooled four of our children. There were a lot of struggles for us as a family.
Then, on May 30, 2014, the Feast of St. Joan of Arc, I had an appointment with a Catholic priest. We were supposed to talk about a homeschool dance, but that topic didn’t last long. Instead, we had a conversation that changed my life.
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