Introduction: John

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You can find my blog here.

At fifteen (sixteen in September), I may well be the youngest contributor to this blog. Perhaps my being younger will make my story more interesting, its certainly more complicated!

I was born as the first son of two more-or-less agnostic Anglicans (Mum's sort of a doubting Christian, no idea what Dad is..), but wasn't baptised until the age of four. Whether that had anything to do with me attending a CofE primary school the next year, I can only guess...

Religion at home was, and largely is, a taboo subject. My Mother's mild socialist and charitable example provided me with a good example of Agape, but this was a vague kind of do-good Christianity, perfectly pleasant and good, but not the fullness of the faith.

Well, if my parents were expecting a good, vague Anglican turn-up-to-church-on-Sundays-then-forget kind of son, they were in for a bit of a shock. Our Anglican priest, the then Fr. Peter Ramsden (He's now a bishop in Papua New Guinea), took me under his wing and had me confirmed at the age of eleven. His particular brand of quiet Anglo-Catholicism appealed to me, and before long I was serving most weeks at the Sunday Eucharist. Although "officially" a Protestant, Peter is the saintliest man I have ever met. Although at the time I had no real concept of vocation or the Sacred Priesthood, I had a vague desire to be like him.

Perhaps I could have been happy as an Anglican, but fate, or more specifically events in Rome intervened. Around the age of twelve (I think), I witnessed my first glimpse of Catholicism. Pope John Paul II, a vaguely recognisable celebrity of sorts had died, and the BBC showed extensive coverage of the funeral and the conclave.

One man stuck out, an elderly German called Joseph. Cardinal Ratzinger appealed to me somehow. Perhaps his quiet but forceful conservatism reminded me of Bishop Peter. Perhaps the speculation about who the next Pontiff would be captured my attention.

To cut a long story short, when, at the end of the conclave, he was elected, I felt a strange affinity to this previously unknown character. Now there was more than a vague desire to be like a priest, there was a desire to be like a Joseph!

Outwardly, Catholicism seems near identical to my High-Church Anglicanism, with the colour and devotion of liturgy and celebration. Somehow, the new Pope's aura of holiness drew me into a deep desire; to understand him.

I bought a few books on Catholicism (which greatly confused my parents!), notably Ratzinger's Called to Communion, which settled some of the doubts in my mind about the Papacy, and so on. I also became interested in Newman, a fellow Englishman, who had also had a vocation in the CofE, but who had gone over to Rome.

Could I do the same?

The short answer to that question is no, because I haven't managed yet! I did try earlier in the year to enrol in an RCIA course, but that just upset my mother. At the minute I'm stuck in Limbo, not quite an Anglican because I only rarely attend the CofE Church with my Mum, and not quite a Catholic, attending every Sunday but never able to receive or participate much. Hopefully I'll be able to come home to Rome later this year; please pray for me!

As with any big decision like this there are ifs and buts. The most common is, "Are you sure?" And to be honest I'm not. I'm a bit like the Apostle Thomas, believing, but not beyond doubt. So perhaps like him, I should ask what others might be to scared to ask; "Really, Lord?"

The next is "But you're too young!" If I had a pound for every time I've heard that... Well, scholars agree that Mary was very young when she conceived. John the Apostle is traditionally said to have been in his late teens. People older than me see the (nearly) sixteen years of my life as a short span, but obviously to me, that is a whole lifetime!

So with a little doubt, and a "tender age", would I really want to become a Catholic? What could possible make someone like me take that step? Leaving the Church of England would be heartbreaking, I would be leaving friends, relatives and many true Christians behind, (not to mention my usual roles in the annual pantomime!)

One thing still draws me towards Rome, something that seems irresistible.


I feel Christ calling me, like the boy Samuel in the Temple. Like Samuel, (and most people my age!), I have to be told something several times to take notice. Like Samuel, I seem to confusing the adults around me, who don't seem to know what's going on. Like Samuel, there is still a bit of doubt in my mind, wondering if its not just all in my head. Perhaps it is.

But also like Samuel, I'm ready to accept the Lord's call, as a vocation to the priesthood, and to full communion with Rome. Perhaps the delays placed in the way are to help me, to make my conversion smoother, without upsetting friends and family, and remove the last areas of doubt. Maybe I could even negotiate a part in that pantomime...


Post a Comment

Unacceptable comments include but are not limited to:

1. Posting Insulting, Derogatory, or Attacks against me or another commentor
2. Posting heretical or blasphemous comments
3. Posting obscene comments
4. Advertising or Self-Promotion (email such comments to me directly)
5. Writing a comment about something completely unrelated to the post you are commenting on
6. Linking to a video, article, webpage, etc. that I deem anti-Catholic or inappropriate
7. Posting a non-English Language comment. Use of Latin within is fine, but a message entirely in another language is not acceptable.

This policy is subject to change without notice.

Final decision rests with the author of this blog concerning the deletion of a comment.

Back to TOP