My conversion story begins on Palm Sunday, 1992. My parents had me baptized and christened “Mary.” My Mother in heaven was watching over me long before I knew.
G. K. Chesterton describes the first step of conversion as “discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable.” After the attraction comes the denial, the kicking against the goads. It is hard to admit the authority of the Church. The haughty heart must learn to say, “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” The person journeying into the Church must follow Mary’s example: Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum / Let it be done unto me according to Thy word.
My journey into the Church came about through a deeper understanding of the Incarnation. If God became man, then we should make icons of Him. If God became man, then the Eucharist is real.
The Catholic Church preaches the fleshly nature of Christ. St. John Damascene writes, “Now that [God] has made himself visible in the flesh and has lived with men, I can make an image of what I have seen of God . . . and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face unveiled.” In the Incarnation, God condescends to our senses. He deigns to be touched, to be seen, to be heard, to be felt, to be tasted.
Reception of the Eucharist is the ultimate Act of Faith. “Sight and touch and taste here fail. / Hearing only can be believed. / I trust what God’s own Son has said. / Truth from Truth is best received.” He has the words of eternal life. Where else are we to go?
When we offer our body, blood, soul, and humanity to God in the Eucharist, He offers in return His body, blood, soul, and divinity to us. He wills that we imitate Him and become partakers in the divine nature. We participate in the love of the Trinity. God loves us as He loves His own Son.
Through Mary we learn how to love the Trinity as a daughter, as a mother, and as a spouse. She is the Chalice that holds the Blood, the Tabernacle that holds the manna from heaven. “Through her we may see him / Made sweeter, not made dim. / And her hand leaves his light / Sifted to suit our sight.”
I can only echo Blessed John Henry Newman and Saint Augustine to describe my conversion experience: “Too late have I known Thee, O Thou Ancient Truth; too late have I found Thee, First and only Fair.”