Lorelei Savaryn reflects on the Christmas that marked the journey of her conversion to the Catholic faith.
"Something has changed within me... something I can't explain."
Those are some of the first words from one of my favorite Broadways songs, "Gravity," from the musical Wicked. And that about sums up what happened for me seven years ago on Christmas.
On Christmas Eve 2015, we went to the service at the Evangelical church we called home at the time. The stage was set with wrapped gifts, and tulle, and lights, and a huge wreath in the center. The pews were packed. We listened to and sang with many wonderfully talented singers and children and celebrated with some lovely Christmas songs, followed by a sermon. We heard a call to salvation, with the emphasis on the need to make a decision ... the Grande Moment in Protestantism when one becomes a Christian, salvation as a one-time event, without comment on what that means for the lifetime that follows after.
On Christmas morning that same year, we went to Mass. We sat as a complete family in the pew, my eyes drawn upward toward the stained glass, and forward toward the altar. The pews, again, were packed. We participated in the celebration of Christmas as it has been practiced by the Church for 2,000 years, with a depth and richness to each and every moment. We heard a call to live out a holy Christian life, by imitating God and showing all people, even the ones that are difficult to love, that God is love through a life lived faithfully ... a rich answer to the question of "I believe ... so now what?"
At the Christmas Eve service, I sent my daughter to another room where she was lovingly cared for and taught Bible stories, but I was not an active part of it. At Mass, I sat next to my daughter as she began to respond with the congregation. I realized how much truth about God we could impart to her through Mass each week. "Honey, see that up there- that's Jesus come to meet with us here. We kneel because we are in front of our Savior;" "Do you notice the words we are singing? We are singing the same songs the angels sing in the book of Revelation;" "This creed is how we remember what all Christians have believed ever since Jesus came."
That Christmas seven years ago, I caught a glimpse of that conversion process. In Protestantism, you hope that one day your child will make the decision to pray a prayer to accept Jesus into his/her heart and life. In the Catholic Church, God's grace comes to us beginning at Baptism and increasing in measure as we grow in our walk with the Lord. Salvation isn't a one-time event. It's a life-long, eternity-filled process.
As I continue on my faith journey, each year at this time especially, I am filled with gratitude for the richness of the Catholic Mass. For all the tradition that has come before us and that carries us now. From that Sunday on, we could be found at Mass.
That Christmas set me on a path that I never thought I would find. Leaving our Evangelical church was, at many times, a painful and lonely process, but I have never looked back.
In the end, it was the path that led us home.
Copyright 2022 Lorelei Savaryn
About the Author
Lorelei Savaryn joyfully joined the Catholic Church in 2016 after many years as a Protestant. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, four children, and dog named Saint. She writes about her faith and family life on ThisCatholicFamily.com. She is also a children's author. Her debut novel, The Circus of Stolen Dreams, released in Sept 2020 from Penguin Random House/Philomel.