Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Because of the Ripples

My daughter Marian was received into the Catholic Church at Saturday's Easter Vigil. I have been incommunicado since we left for Chapel Hill, NC, early Friday, and this is why. At times like these, words fail. I snapped three quick pictures of the confirmation rite and the camera failed too: only one picture came close to coming out. In the shot below, Marian is the blond woman directly behind Msgr. John Wall, pastor of the Newman Center at UNC.

I've learned that there are times when even a blogger should shut up and thank God. I will say this: The miracle of the weekend was not that Marian is now a Catholic, although that is a beautiful story in itself, which my daughter can tell you when she's good and ready. The miracle of the weekend is not even that Marian's father did not cry. I didn't, and I am usually a basket case at such times.

The miracle of the weekend lies in a story involving another family member, a story I will not tell you either. But I will tell you the lesson it leaves me with.

Our conversions—and we are always converting—are not just for ourselves. When I was received into the Church two years ago this Easter, with my own father present, I had no intention of cajoling either of my daughters into following my example. Nor did I.

Please note that I am not saying that Marian "followed my example." Katie, her mother, made the very good point that if Marian had gone to her first college choice in Philadelphia or her second in Washington DC—instead of winning a full merit scholarship and following it to UNC and the Bible Belt—none of this might have happened. Marian's many, mostly Protestant friends at her sorority and elsewhere were probably more influential in her decision to take religion seriously than was her father.

Still, two years after my becoming a Catholic, my daughter is now a Catholic. A little ripple has gathered force. And Marian's conversion has already had a powerful influence on someone very close to her, which again is a story for someone else to tell. Ripples can become waves.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!