How to read a spiritual conversion story?

Father, I want to become a Catholic”, said Thomas Merton to a priest.

It’s taking me a long time to finish the book The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. It’s an autobiographical account of a Trappist Monk on how he, from being a self-confessed “atheist”, became a Catholic and a monk. I just borrowed the book from our teacher since he mentioned it class and I asked for a copy. It is 500-plus pages long and I don’t mind taking a leisurely pace in reading this book. You might accuse me of being lazy since I really am. The book has been with me since June and I have been able to finish a number of books ahead of Merton’s book. Whenever I feel like reading the book, I pick it up and just read it until I get hooked then just stop and reflect. When I read a spiritual book, I change my reading habit. In this book, though I read slowly, my interest doesn’t wane easily and I reread some parts and just ponder. It’s unlike any other books where I read them like I’m just listening to a song. With The Seven Storey Mountain, it’s like I’m reading poetry. Merton mentioned a lot of poets but I would like to focus on Gerard Manley Hopkins, a convert to Catholicism who later on joined the Jesuits as a priest. I think Merton, a self-confessed “atheist”, was inspired by the poems and the life of Hopkins that it pushed him to finally become a Catholic. I have yet to read what happens next since I’m only halfway of the book. I’ll be writing again once I got “struck” again.

Three ways on how to share our faith

I’m thinking about the Year of Faith’s challenge of New Evangelization, which means reaching out to the baptized Catholics who have become distant from practicing their faith. I admit that I have to be evangelized again since I’ve been away from the Church for years, just to go back to it with the help of my formation under the Marist Brothers. To promote New Evangelization, here are my three little ways of witnessing:

1. To be an example of an ongoing conversion

As a one who strayed from our faith, I hope that my life right now can be a living testimony for someone who got lost also. I’m still in the process of re-discovering my faith and I want to be in my journey with someone undergoing the same experience I’m going through. I start doing this with my friends, especially those in Manila.

2. To bring back at least one person who strayed away from Catholicism

It hurts to know that one of my closest friend, a former Catholic, is very vocal about his atheistic views. It’s ironic that he even graduated from University of Santo Tomas, a 400-year old local Pontifical University. I don’t know if it’s because of having weak roots from his family since I know that his family is not practicing their Catholic faith. I hope that I could spend time with him once I go home for vacation. I’ve been looking forward to meet him and just talk about his views and how he became an atheist.

3. To strengthen the roots of a Catholic child’s faith

The good memories of teaching catechism with the kids near the novitiate house during the Flores de Mayo last May still inspires me until now. As much as I want to do that again, I hope that I can nurture a child’s faith by my presence as a brother in the school, where I’m currently having my exposure. That’s right! The simplest and guaranteed way of witnessing for me is to be a brother. I hope to keep in touch with the kids of Flores de Mayo during Sunday masses once I get back there.

Question: Have you thought about how you can promote our faith?