"I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen." - Martin Luther
It was late. Both kids were soundly sleeping in the next room. I was sitting on the bed, book in hand, bawling. Between sobs I told my puzzled husband, "I think I'm going to be a Protestant!"
I was reading -- muddling through, really -- a book of Christian history that was far over my head. It was written by a Lutheran theologian, it so happens. I got to the part about the Reformation. To my great dismay, I was rooting helplessly for the reformers.
After much soul searching, I decided that the only thing my conscience would allow me to do was to begin worshipping in a Lutheran church. I wonder if anyone not raised Catholic could understand my great sorrow and reluctance. The world had been divided for me long since into Catholics and non-Catholics, and now I was non-.
My reluctance never abated, but I acted in obedience to what I believed then -- and believe now -- to be a call from God. For seven years I lived as a too-Catholic Protestant. Today, I am a too-Protestant Catholic.
Religion is how I have always understood and defined my faith. Rote prayer and spontaneous. Lectionary and Bible. Tradition and scripture. Authority and freedom. Alpha and omega.
Today, I have to face this solemn and painful truth: Neither the Catholic nor the Protestant iterations of religion has encompassed my lived experience. The rhythms of the mass resonate to my core. The scriptures do too -- when I study them and come to my own understanding of them as history and story and truth. Sacrament embodies the reality of the Risen Christ. But I am saved by grace through faith.
Nine years ago I became willing to abandon my Catholicism as a way to respond radically to God's call. I received in return nothing less than Christ, who can never now be taken from me. Am I willing today to abandon the desire to fit into a single religious mold, Catholic or Protestant, and discover what I may receive from God in return?