Journeys Home

Journeys Home

On New Year’s Eve of 1993, out Baptist friends had us over for two reasons: to usher in the new year and to try and save us from our lunacy. We had been studying the early Church for months now and they saw the effect it was having upon us. They wanted to talk and talk we did. In the midst of the conversation I stood up and asked my friend, “Do you realize that if you and I had seen Jesus crucified and risen from the dead we would have never read the Gospel of John?” He retorted, “Why not?” I replied, “Because it wasn’t written until about 100 AD and we would have been dead long before that. Jim, how did the first Christians live and practice Christianity without the New Testament?”

On the way home I was quiet for a long time. Janet asked, “What are you thinking?” I said, “This is getting very scary; the more we argue against the Catholic Church the more I realize we are backing ourselves right in the front door!”

The next day was January 1, 1994. It was a delightful day with no phone calls or business. We had no interest in football either. At this point we were consumed with our quandary — what is the Church? What does God expect of us? Where did the Bible come from? Could the Catholic Church possibly be the Church Jesus founded and promised to build?

We had tackled all the obstacles one at a time: the Pope, Maiy, purgatory, priests, confession, the Eucharist, faith alone, Bible alone and many more and it was all coming to a head. We had books open all over the living room floor. We were asking questions and reading passages aloud to each other. Then it happened: I began to sob. I closed all my books and sat on the floor crying like a baby. With great concern my wonderful wife asked, “Steve, what is wrong?” I responded through my tears, “Nothing is wrong... I just realized, I am a Catholic” She responded, “Oh good grief” but she said the same thing as I did less than twenty-four hours later.

I called my friend A1 Kresta (the same person I had called stupid a year earlier) and said, “Happy New Year, Al. Guess what? I’m a Catholic!” There was silence on the other end of the phone. “Al, are you there?” “Yeah,” he replied, “but I don’t think I heard you correctly what did you just say?” After I explained he replied, “You are the last one I thought would ever say that!”

Then he asked me a question for which I was certainly not prepared: “Steve, tomorrow is Sunday, how would you like to go to Mass with us?”

I stopped dead in my tracks and froze. It had never dawned on me that if I would read my way into the Catholic Church I would have to some day go to a Catholic Mass! Old sentiments die hard and I had lots of them about the Catholic Mass.

I covered the phone and related to my wife what Al had asked. She responded as cool as a cucumber, “Tell him we will go but we will leave the kids at home, we want to get there late, sit in the back row and leave early.” (People have jokingly told us we were real American Catholics from our first day.)

Al did not keep his promise and we ended up arriving at Mass early and we sat in the front of the church. I will never forget that morning. Tears welled up in my eyes for the second time in two days as I watched an apostolic man process up the aisle. I had never seen a priest up close before, but I knew exactly what he was. Janet was weeping too. We wept at every Mass for the next six years and still do.

On Pentecost Sunday, May 22, 1994, Janet and I, along with our entire immediate family, were received into the Catholic Church. We have never looked back.

The complete story of Steve Ray’s journey to the Catholic Church can be read in his book,

“Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church ’’published by Ignatius Press.

To learn more about Steve’s work please visit his website at www. CatholicConvert. com