After returning to work from my week off, I was not sure what to do. I didn’t know if I actually had the will to make the break, although in reality, it had been more than a month since I started cutting Christ out of my life. But on Sunday I did not go to Mass. And I did not go to Confession either. Then I did not go to Mass the next Sunday as well. Then I skipped a Holy Day and then skipped Mass regularly. The break was complete. I did not know what to do about my friends though. I surely could not do this forever without them finding out and I really did not want to to tell them that I had fallen away. But I knew they would eventually figure it out when my Catholic images started disappearing from my apartment, or the day my Facebook status changed to being in a relationship with a man.
After about a month of this new start, serious questions and problems emerged in my soul. First of all, there was a fundamental issue with polytheism and the remarkable unity expressed across the known universe. Either all of the gods, each having a special niche of the universe over which they had dominion, got along mysteriously well for some unexplainable reason, or they themselves were subjected to a higher law. From what I knew of the personalities of my new gods and their interpersonal dramas and childishness, the first theory was highly unlikely. It seemed more and more, then, that my gods were subject to many limitations. I realized that they were no more divine than I was. They created nothing, they only shaped whatever previously existed. Their powers may have been on a larger scale than mine, but even I could shape things that already existed. What made them worthy of my worship? This was not to mention that my pantheon was not the only pantheon. Either all of the pagan pantheons were simply cultural appropriations of the same gods (i.e. Týr and Mars and Ares are really one god, just appropriated differently in different cultures) or there were literally thousands of sun gods, war gods, etc., etc. Did all the sun gods from each of the pantheons get together and help create the sun? And if each pantheon created the humans that were the ancestors of each culture, how come we are all one race, how did each pantheon come to create the exact same species?
I realized that logic and reason was leading me back to a first unmoved mover. Even if my Norse gods existed, they themselves had beginnings, and according to the tales, would have an end at Ragnarök. So what was before them? From what law of nature had they arisen? And where did that law come from? I found myself coming back to the fundamental truth: there is one unmoved mover, the source of all things that exist. This mover relies on nothing for its existence, it simply is, it is existence itself.
And if this totally self-sufficient mover has chosen to move and create, that this mover must be love, for it has created the other out of its own generosity. Such a mover would want to know and be known by its creatures. Reason had a cascading effect. A mover who would reveal itself. A mover of mercy, who would not forsake itself and its will and its generosity. A mover who would woo creation back to it should creation stray. A mover who would itself enter creation and sacrifice itself for the good of its creatures. A mover of pure and total self-giving love.
But I also was struck again by the self-evident reality of my own biology. No matter what I felt and desired, it was clear that whether I was formed by the Father or by Odin or by no god at all, the things I was doing with my body went against its purposes and designs. I knew that no matter how tightly I squinted my eyes and stomped my feet, it would not change the fact that my reproductive system was not made for the end of another man’s digestive tract. Neither God nor the gods of my people nor even chance made me that way.
So it was these two truths: the unmoved mover and biology, lead me to return to Confession, to return to the Catholic Church. My first communion with Christ after having despising him for most of that summer was so sweet and beautiful and merciful. My time away from Christ might not seem like it was very long, but each day suddenly seemed like a thousand years in that moment.
Since that day, things have not always been easy, I don’t want to give the illusion that they have been. My cross is a daily challenge, a challenge that I often fail to meet in a thousand different ways. Sometimes I find myself backsliding into bad behaviors. But we have a merciful God, a God who loves us because he created us from the depths of his very being. We are real reflections of his soul, and it is his will that we should not be lost, but be purified and made perfect as he is perfect.
My journey with Christ has truly been quite the adventure, and when I look back, it is a miracle that I am even where I am today. But I firmly believe that even at my darkest points, that in worst of the worst of my sins, Christ has brought good from them and taught me lessons that have made me a far better man. And that is why I’ve shared my story with you. I’m nothing special. I’m a huge sinner. My heart and soul are weak and lukewarm. I go to Mass everyday, but I do not live it, I turn my back on God every single day and plenty of ways. And yet, God has pursued me, never given up on me. And he doesn’t give up on you either. You couldn’t possibly be more unloving and uncaring and selfish than me. If God can help me, he can certainly help you.
Thank you for taking the time to read my (long) story. I pray for God’s blessing on each one of you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.