Well, here’s a little story about how I got from being a semi-agnostic to a Christian.
I guess my first experience with anything Christian came from my mum’s colleague, who actually re-converted her to Catholicism. To me, she talked about the Baptism and how it would take away any sins I had committed, and also about the importance of the Eucharist as being truly the Body and Blood of Christ. Of course, I didn’t really deeply comprehend any of that at the time, but it remained a catalyst for my later conversion.
Besides that, around about the same time, I found in the bookshelf a book about the Marian apparitions at Fatima, which made me realise how real and serious all this was. I recall also seeing a documentary earlier about the same apparition, where the seers (3 children) were shown the vision of hell. The seers were all recorded on film during their vision, and it was pretty scary seeing the faces of the seers and hearing about the dire warnings from the Virgin Mary about the consequences of the world failing to turn away from sin.
Now, I’ve always had a strong conviction regarding justice. In my primary school, we were shown a couple of films about discrimination; one about disabled people, and one about the treatment of Korean prisoners during the War. Also in my final year we, the final year students, travelled to Hiroshima. We heard from the survivor of the atomic bomb, and visited the museum which brought home to us the true horror of what human beings are capable of doing to one another. So, I knew that “sin” existed. Vaguely. This was made much much less vague upon being shown the kind of horrible acts committed by the Japanese soldiers during their invasion of China and other countries. These are unmentionable here, but I hold that they were worse than the Nazis because of the kind of utterly beastly things that went on (the Nazis were fairly sterile in comparison). So, it was obvious to me that there’s such thing as right and wrong, which wasn’t a man-made concept.
Anyway, back to me. In University, a friend of mine introduced me to a bit of philosophy. Ever since then, I’d been obsessed about finding this thing called “truth” that philosophers keep talking about, because I didn’t want to live a life following something else.
Actually, there are three things that’s driven this in my life:
1. Marriage: Having come from a broken family where I’ve never seen my father, I wanted my marriage (if I was to get married) to be a lasting and stable one, which meant that I’d have to shape my character before I was “worthy” of being involved in such a relationship. This, I’d perceived, had to do with conforming myself more and more to the truth about right and wrong, and perfecting my character.
2. Mid-life crisis: I didn’t want to live half a life, then say to myself, “what’s all that been for? Surely, there’s got to be more to life than this”. Otherwise, I’d be wasting a whole lot of time. And I don’t like wasting time. 😛
3. Deathbed: I didn’t want to live my entire life, then say to myself, “Oh, I shouldn’t have done this and that, etc. etc. etc.”. I wanted to be able to look back, without regrets, and see that I’ve tried to stick to the priorities that truly mattered.
So it was at University that I’d come to the truth of the Catholic faith, which to me was so perfect. Love was her summum bonum (highest good), while she embraced justice without compromise. The most beautiful expression of love to me was mercy, which could only be understood when one realised the gravity and seriousness of sin. It was during this period that I’d decided to get Baptised in order to receive this mercy; by this time, I knew that I was not exempt from committing sin and that I needed Divine forgiveness, or face a just consequence in eternity outside this space-time. Besides, I figured, atheism is a terrible gamble. As the scriptures put it so eloquently, “what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Present life is so insignificant and minuscule compared to Eternity that, if it does indeed exist, it would be the single most stupidest thing I could do not to act on that knowledge (It turns out that Blaise Pascal (yup, the mathematician/physicist) had come to the same conclusion centuries ago).
So, it’s been almost 3 years since my Baptism (Easter 2003). Being a Christian and Catholic has totally changed my life; and I can say this with no exaggeration what-so-ever. The way I see the world has changed; everything seems so beautiful, as they should, because I realise now that they were created out of love, and for us. I now see that every single individual is unique and have a worth beyond my capability to imagine, because they are all made in God’s image – and therefore the seriousness of sin committed against them. I no longer have the need to resort to showing off or inflate myself (OK, I do sometimes, but then I realise it’s stupid it is) because my self-worth does not depend on these things, but in the fact that I was created out of love in the image of God, redeemed with a great sacrifice, to fulfill certain divine purposes. Life is no longer meaningless, and suffering is redemptive because we can participate in the work of redemption; thus, even in suffering (and in my imperfections and sinfulness), I can trust and hope that “in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
So, that’s the brief record of my journey. I hope it’s been helpful for someone out there, and most of all I pray that it may direct your gaze toward eternity (take no risks!), and make you realise in your heart the need for Divine mercy.