So now we have all been Catholics for just over a week! And as I said to our oldest son, D.today, I don’t ever want to loose the wonder and magic that we feel at having come into God’s Church! It feels SO right and also so wonderful and awe-inspiring that our Heavenly Father could have given us this special gift!
Last Saturday was such a special day for us. We went early in the morning to Confession. We were all so nervous that the car journey was rather an anxious one!!
What we hadn’t thought about was that in order to receive this sacrament we had to be members of the church, so privately at the same time as confession Father Aiken welcomed all those who weren’t, into the church. When C.whispered in my ear that he was now a Catholic I just felt all goose-bumpy and teary! And of course as each one came out each was welcomed by the rest of us! Sort of like our own private homecoming.
I forgot to say that Father A was just saying Confession for us at this time, so when another priest came up thinking he was supposed to be saying confessions he got a bit confused (he is rather ancient and just a little bit doddery…no disrespect meant though) So C.explained to him the special circumstances and then he had to welcome us and congratulate us. As he shook hands with C.he said” you’ll never look back you know”. Then the lady who had come to do the flowers also heard so she welcomed us too! (All very humbling for us shy types!)
Father A then took us to the front of the church and went through the service with us. We told him the saints the older three had chosen for confirmation. We are very lucky, we think, to have such a conscientious priest and also one who is not fazed when things don’t go smoothly to plan (as you will see later!)
Then it was a trip along to the florist who had made the girls’ hairpieces. They chose simple bands of white rose buds with dark blue ribbon to match their dresses. (Forgot to mention that I spent about an hour and a half plaiting the girls’ hair in about thirty plaits a-piece!!!
We arrived home to another phone-call from Anna and Mark to let us know they were still praying for us in our last few hours as protestants so of course we had to tell them with great excitement that we were now all Catholics!! I should say that these wonderful friends contacted us every day the week before Easter to encourage us and pray for us…I’m not sure who was getting the more excited as the hours went by!!
Needless to say no Cromb was very hungry Saturday afternoon, so rather than have our usual Sabbath meal we ate a bread and cheese snack and then slowly started to get dressed.
Here I should digress to say C.and I have different ideas about getting somewhere on time. When back in ’93 we went on a holiday to New Zealand my wonderful husband would have been at the airport the night before (!) to ensure we got there. I have a more laid –back approach, which I am beginning to see, is not always easy to live with either.
So back to those sixty odd plaits that had to now be undone and brushed out…. But I think we got to Mass almost on time and Father Aiken very graciously welcomed us and showed us to our seats, in the front row, that had been reserved for us. The boys looked so handsome in their black trousers and white shirts and ties (why Clive even wore a tie…and he hadn’t even done that when we were married!) and the girls too looked very nice in their navy-blue pinafores with cream long-sleeved blouses underneath. Even Toby had formal clothes to match his brother, complete with black bow tie and braces.
But I shouldn’t digress too much about clothes I know although I will always be grateful for advice to wear something special as it really did feel like we were honoring Jesus in this.
On our seats we found beautifully decorated candles for each of us. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble, with tiny sprays of flowers and golden ribbon. Again although he didn’t do them personally I’m sure Father A. was behind seeing all this was done. We next met Adam who would be coming into the church with us. Please pray for him as his family is not Catholic and although he says they have not been actively against his step it does make practicalities in a family difficult. How wonderful though to meet a young man so convicted to make this journey on his own. Very inspiring for our young boys also. Like us, speaking to him later, he knew it was a step he just had to make.
Then very shortly after this the Easter Vigil began. We have never attended this service before and although we had heard what was going to happen, and also although we had attended services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, it was the most moving service we have ever been part of. Speaking to C. after I likened it to our marriage service, one of those things you just want to live again and again.
I know I’ve already gone on long enough for an e-mail letter, so I’ll just add highlights that stand out a little more than the rest!! Having people we had gotten to know do some of the readings was special. Two ladies especially stand out as they had put on a beautiful afternoon tea when we had visited Father Aiken on the Tuesday. They are always so kind and thoughtful and seem to know intuitively how to make things nice.
I haven’t got all the parts of the service in front of me but I remember when we prayed the litany of the saints and we asked in particular those saints that our three children had chosen to pray for us that I felt a bit emotional and also had a feeling of the wonderful continuity of God’s church/the timelessness too of it that you just don’t get as a protestant.
All this time after a quick feed from me, T. had been asleep in C’s arms. But now he chose to wake up! I tried to calm him with a quick feed but nothing doing this boy was not going to be left out in our reception into the Church. Just before we were asked to stand I looked around for Anna to take Toby but she was out disciplining one of her youngsters! So unfortunately Adam had to say” I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God” over T.’s loud proclaiming and so did the rest of us until I was able to sit down with H.and C. while the rest of the family and Adam were confirmed.
That too was a very special point that I had to swallow hard when Father Aiken said to Duncan” Thomas Moore be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”, to our oldest daughter “Catherine Laboure be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” and to Andrew “Dominic Savio be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. To come from a very austere Baptist through to a symbolic only Anglican and now into His Church is to quote an over-used expression “AWESOME”!!
And then of course the culmination of all those months that looking back seemed to have flown by but at the time sometimes seemed very long, to receive all of us, each one of us our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: no more pretence in our Anglican waiting no more remembrance only in our Baptist waiting and no more blessings only in our months of attending Dulwich Parish. But Jesus, Himself really here now. I will never have words eloquent enough to do justice to this. For me that first time home it was just like as I said to Him “ Oh Jesus, now I know what has been missing in my life”, that He said to me “my daughter, I have been looking forward and waiting for you for all eternity, welcome home”
At the end of the service so many people came up and welcomed us and congratulated us. It was very humbling when they said “and all those Sundays when we watched you come up for a blessing, and now here you are”
Oh all those good people who had been faithfully praying for us coming into the church. One dear older gentleman quietly said to me “and as a mother you must be just so happy” ;that is something special I will treasure that a man could empathize like that.
Our friends had given us a beautiful crucifix as a welcome gift. And a young friend of theirs gave us a Catholic Bible. A dear little nun (I just mean she is small of stature) wished us welcome in a quiet sweet way. Several people expressed that they hoped they would be able to get to know us and were looking forward to doing so. One lovely lady said she “just counted it a privilege to have sat next to us a few weeks ago”(perhaps I should invite her to come stay with us to “really “meet us!! I think we must have been the last to leave, but as we floated back to our car Father Aiken called out cheekily “oh look at all those Catholics!” to which I responded “Yes isn’t it wonderful”!
We had invited some protestant friends back for a late supper and of course they asked a few questions. Actually they were pretty good really but having met with other friends since I know that many are finding it hard to match Clive and Alison who always seemed such Bible believing Christians with a church that as every good protestant knows involves so much superstitious mumbo-jumbo!
Easter Sunday we spent with the H’.s and their extended family. That was so gracious of them to include us in what they usually keep as a family celebration. We walked into their house to the “Halleluiah Chorus” and beautiful banners that welcomed us into the church. We all enjoyed a wonderful day.
Each day that goes by C.and I have to talk about this wonderful thing that has happened, and our children are just so happy to be Catholic. Caleb said a few days before Easter “oh I can hardly wait until Saturday” and then on the way home Saturday night he said again “isn’t it so absolutely wonderful to be Catholic at last”
Well I’m sorry that this description of our Easter seems so focused on us rather than on the Lord but we really are just about bursting with gratefulness for what he has done for us. We would love to hear about your Easter celebrations. Thankyou for your many prayers,I have really felt them!
Sorry if this is rather a long reply to your query, as you can see the answer is “yes”!