I want to back up a little and tell you about my observance of the Roman Catholic Faith as a child. The first time I remember it being mentioned is in regard to the crucifixion of Jesus and the ripping of the curtain in the temple. It was presented to us as verification that we no longer needed a priest. Well, as an Adult, this proved to be untrue as it most definitely mean the Hebrew priests and there is a world of difference between the doctrine of the Children of Israel quired a priest to roll back their sins looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. This ripping of the temple veil signified the end of the "old covenant" and the beginning of the "new covenant".
Yet, another time, one of my Sunday School teachers told about a friend being given a set of Rosary Beads. Supposedly she wore these bead to bed that night. I'm wondering how that happened as I've never seen a set that would go over anyone's head and there isn't a clasp as they aren't meant to be worn. We were then told that the person woke up with the devil trying to choke her with the rosary beads so we should never touch a set of them. Hmmmmmm..... Beware the Roman Catholic Church with a scarey illustration, especially to a child.
The next time I gave any thought to the Catholic Faith was when I was around 12-13 years old. I remember checking some books out of the library on different denominations as I just wasn't at all sure that the Baptists were telling me the truth. I found these books too complicated for me to really understand and soon lost interest in this pursuit.
When I was 17, I attended summer school at our local University. One of the girls offered to give me a ride home one day and I noticed a very large crucifix in her car seat. I said something like, "It's really pretty, are you Catholic?" She answered that she was and nothing else was said.
I remember, even though I taught Sunday School, Training Union, Girl's Auxiliary Classes, that there still remained questions regarding "security of the soul" as taught by our church. I had long conversations with various pastors regarding this, always with the same results, "Laquita, if you have a question about your salvation we can pray now and end these questions." Ended in prayer for salvation and assurance that had I not been "saved" that I was now. I never doubted that I had been saved at age 9. It was that that salvation continued as I sinned from day to day that I questioned.
In 1970, when I went to work at the Department of Human Services, I became closely acquainted with my first Roman Catholic. We Baptists tried very hard to get her saved. Hard enough that we agreed to go to Mass with her if she would attend a Revival at a rural Baptist Church with us. In complete faith, no one really thought that she would want to attend a mass again after being "saved". Well, it didn't work out that way and I was the only one that kept my word and went with her to Mass. We went on a Christmas Eve and it was the most beautiful service I've ever attended. I thought...could the Baptists possibly be wrong? These people are really worshiping God and His presence is so real.
I asked her if there were any books I could read to learn about the church. She brought me several books and told me she would answer any questions and if she didn't know the answer she would ask Fr. John. I read the books but wasn't too impressed. One did explain about the rosary (remember I was scared of the rosary) yet was fascinated by it also. I memorized the "Hail Mary" prayer and was surprised to learn that the first part of it was a quote of scripture.(Luke 1:28) I thought, their Bible must not be THAT different than ours. Now this part sounds silly but one night our dishwasher was loaded and rolled over to the sink and then would not fill up. My husband tried to work on it and I prayed God would show him how to fix it. Finally, exhausting everything he knew, he gave up. I was just about to take the dishes out and wash them by hand when I remembered that Mary was suppose to help us when we had a problem. I thought "What the heck, I'll try it!" I said, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thou womb Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." The dish washer immediately started filling with water and we never had another problem with it. Did this change my mind? No, frankly, I got what I wanted, my dish washer fixed. Figured it was some kind of coincidence and let it go at that.
Two years later, my husband became very ill. After several weeks in a local hospital he was transferred to St. Paul's Catholic Hospital in Dallas, Texas. The nuns came by every day and told him that they were praying for him but they didn't bother us Baptists. He became critical with a thyroid storm from which I later learned the survival rate is "nil". Even in the very, very rare instance that one survives the condition they are usually institutionalized as it has affected their brain in such a way that they can no longer function. That morning, I was giving the latest report to my aunt by telephone and the nun made her rounds. I looked over and she had laid one hand on his arm and was reading from her prayer book. He was unconscious so was not aware of what was being said or done. I thought, "That's nice, she's praying for him." She left the room without my even speaking to her and he woke up, completely well. The following morning, two of the doctors met me in the hall very excited about the miracle that God had preformed. I looked at her and said "Are you crazy?" She went on to explain the critical condition he was in and that this turn around was not humanly or medically possible. He went home a couple of days later.
I had to face that God still is taking an active part in the lives of his Children and that there was a reason for a miracle of this magnitude as doctor after doctor kept telling us what a miracle it was. I hit my knees telling God that I wanted to know Him better...while still living my daily life for myself. and not for Him.
After this, I experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and started attending Women's Aglow and Full Gospel Business Men's meetings. We learned that God still heals today and a lot of things I didn't really know or understand prior to this. My walk with God became much closer (well, frankly, I became and unbearable fanatic). My Mom was diagnosed with Pre-senile dementia (probably would be called Alzheimer today). This was almost unbearable for me, as an only child. She was my Rock....and she was no longer able to be that for me. I found comfort in relieving the Eucharist at St. John's Episcopal Church. At a Women's Aglow meeting, I met a wonderful Catholic Nun who ministered healing of the memories and made an appointment with her. She helped me and my daughter with many things through counseling, prayer and meditation.
Approximately 5 years later, my husband was told he must go on the artificial kidney machine or die. We went to the VA Hospital in Dallas, Texas hoping for some financial help as the cost was totally outside our budget. Even 20% of it was more than I earned and there was no guarantee that he would be able to continue working. The only way they could help us was with home dialysis training. We immediately asked for it and were taken to talk with a couple that was completing their training that week. We there met Ginger, who was to train us. Later we learned that Ginger was Roman Catholic. One of her patients died and she witnessed to Paul of the need to always be prepared to meet God as we never know when He will call us home.
In 1984, Paul went home to be with God. He had become so close to God that he longed for release from his sick body. He had overcome a Thyroid Storm, a diagnosis of lung cancer (which disappeared). He had dual paralysis of the diaphragms which would cause a normal person to be in need of either an iron lung or a respirator and he still was able to function normally to the extent that he taught a 12 years old boys Sunday School Class and sang in the church choir, also doing solos at the Abundant Life Temple, a local Pentecostal Holiness Church that God had led us to attend. When he broke his leg, no one really thought much about it, but Paul knew he was going home. He planned his funeral to the last song before going to surgery. He died 5 days later.
After Paul's death, I returned to St. John's Episcopal Church but I wasn't faithful. I really went through some heavy depression and God was the last thing on my mind. This was a very "black time" in my life. My Dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I was loosing everyone I loved. How could God do this to me? (Now I'm wondering if He wanted to be the one I LOVED MOST!!!)
About 2 years after Paul's death, a friend introduced me to Bill (well, this is sorta a funny story but I'll save it.) Bill's wife had died one year before about the same time of year that Paul had died. We were kindred souls. I think I loved him from the first time I met him but we dated for almost a year before we started considering marriage. Bill was a member of the Church of Christ and started talking to me about the need to be baptized for the remission of my sins. I told him that was what we believed in the Episcopal Church. This was so important to Bill that I agreed to study with his pastor. After hearing the teaching, I understood that this was indeed much different than what I had learned as a Baptist. It was not only important to be baptized for the remission of sins, but also to receive communion to renew that covenant that was made with God and to live a life pleasing to God. After submitting to the second immersion, I felt only guilt. I felt that it was like saying God didn't do the work at my first baptism. I was never comfortable in the Church of Christ mainly because they did not believe there was salvation outside their body of believers. They also didn't believe that God still did miracles today and I knew that he did as I had witnessed several. After a couple of years, we quit going to church.
On a particularly trying day, I decided to hunt a church to attend. I drove past the Episcopal Church and realized they would be in the middle of their service, too late to go there. I couldn't decide where to go so decided to just drive and talk with God. I looked up and there was the Roman Catholic Church and the service started at 11:00 a.m. I looked at the clock and it was 11:00 a.m. There was a parking place directly in front of the church. I whipped in there and slipped into church on the back row. I immediately felt peace. I told Bill when I got home that I had really been blessed in that service although no one spoke to me before or afterwards. He agreed that we needed to be in church and we agreed to go back to St. John's Episcopal Church where we could take communion as we both felt that to be very important.
If you have read anything about the Episcopal Church recently, you will know why we just did not feel that we belonged with them. They are wonderful people, the priest ministered to me in a very special way...yet, there was something that was missing.
I signed on the Roman Catholic list and started watching the messages. I felt free to share the wonderful things that God had done in our lives and they were accepted by most and I was treated as one of them--only not in full communion in that I couldn't partake of the sacraments that they did. At first, this really didn't matter as I could partake of the same sacraments at the Episcopal Church. Bill decided he wanted to attend the Inquirers class at St. John's. We were interested is learning exactly what Episcopalians believed. We learned that there are no beliefs other than your conscious. Well, I'd been that route and fully realized that my conscious could be seared to the point that I didn't recognized sin because of my own sinful desires. We learned of the History of the Church which was purely Roman Catholic. We started wondering if we should not learn what the Roman Catholic Church really taught as we were learning from the Internet that we had been taught that they believed many things that they did not believe or that were backed up by scripture.
Answers to our questions were received and we both were confirmed on July 26,1977. It was one of the most glorious experiences I have ever had. I now know that I am Home where I have belonged from the beginning of my salvation. We were married again in the church on July 27, 1997 and began a new life in Jesus Christ and together.
For more information regarding the questions we had and the answers we found you can contact me by clicking on my name below or visit my web page at http://www.isc-durant.com/lbaa
© 8-8-97 by Laquita Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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