YouAreRock.com

A Catholic Convert talks about faith and life

What is the deal with the website name?

YouAreRock.com.  Where did that come from?  Well, back in around 2005/2006, I didn’t know it yet, but my faith journey had just begun.  I met my wife Emily in 2005, and as I mentioned earlier she was the catalyst for my conversion.  Also, I had a few people in my life who were talking to me about God, Jesus, Church.  Topics that I really hadn’t given much thought to since I was a little kid.  In the midst of all of this I happen to hear of some interesting books by Dan Brown – The DaVinci Code, and Angels and Demons.  Now these books were really something!  They taught me all sorts of interesting facts about the life of Jesus, the history of the Catholic Church, and the inner workings of the Vatican.  Almost all of these things I later learned were false, but it made for great reading none the less.  One thing stuck with me, however.  There is a point in Angels and Demons where Dan Brown uses the line from Matthew 16:18 where Jesus says “You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my church”.  He then tells us that Peter is buried beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and that literally Peter is “The Rock”.  For the next three years this was probably the only quote I knew from the Bible.

So, when 2009 rolls around and I begin my investigation of the Catholic Church and its teachings, this line came back to me.  What did it really mean?  Now, most of what Dan Brown had “taught” me had gone up in smoke through some other research I had done after reading the books, but what about this one.  Is Peter the rock that the church was built upon?  I can’t explore the entire depths of this here in this short article, as Catholics and protestants have been arguing about this for about 400 years.  But to me, the most convincing arguments came from the Catholic prospective.  The one that really got me was the fact that if we truly translated what Jesus said to Peter (Simon) it would be “You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my Church…”.  He changed Simon’s name to Peter (Petros which means rock).  It is this phrase that is the basis of the Catholic belief in Papal authority, this along with many others.  Like everything in the protestant/catholic debate it’s not quite that simple, but the Catholic perspective is the most convincing.  If you would like to read more about it click here.  As a result, since this is probably the first Bible passage I ever knew, and I believe it is the very beginning of the foundation of The Church, I found it appropriate to use for a website where I would talk about how I stumbled my way into The Church.  What do you think?

Why would I have a blog?

Good question.  After converting to the Catholic faith, I was just kind of sitting around for six or so months.  I guess I thought God was just going to appear to me and say “Go do this”, and I would do it.  But, after hearing nothing from God, I heard something from my wife.  She said “hey, my coworker is part of this Catholic men’s group that is having a retreat in February, maybe you should go.”

“Sure”, I said.  Little did I know that God rarely shows up and speaks to us directly, he uses others.  In just the same way that he used others to write the holy scriptures, lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, and many other tasks throughout the ages.  Well, it turns out that the retreat was a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) weekend at a Catholic parish right by where I work.  If you haven’t been to one, I would highly recommend it.  It changed my life. When the weekend was over, I decided to be on the team to put on the next retreat weekend.  My involvement in this required me to do a bit of writing, and when I shared it with my wife she said “you should be a writer”.  Now, I have never written anything other than school papers, and didn’t particularly enjoy that too much.  So I told her “no way, I’m not a writer, I don’t like writing, and I don’t have anything to write about”.  She wasn’t buying it.  A couple months later she asked what I needed to get started doing my writing.  Eyeing my opportunity I answered that I needed a new laptop, I knew that would put an end to the discussion.  There was no way I was getting a new laptop.  Well, much to my surprise, I came home from golf league one night and my wife gives me a card that says “Now get to work”, followed by a big box with a brand new laptop inside.  I guess she called my bluff.

Now, what to write about.  The only thing that I am truly passionate about these days is the Catholic faith, so the topic was easy.  But, what format?  I don’t know enough to write a book, I don’t think my life is interesting enough to write an autobiography, so let’s try this blog.  I’m not sure if anyone is going to read it, but I hope they do.  I’m not sure why yet, but it seems as though the Big Guy wants me to do this.  Maybe it will help others, maybe it will help me, maybe both.  There’s only one way to find out.  As my wife said – Now get to work.  I hope you enjoy.

Introduction

Hello World!  My name is Matt Shewell and I am a recent convert to the Catholic Faith.  I was received into The Church on July 31, 2010 and have been trying to learn as much as I can and figured maybe a blog would help to open a dialog with others.

First, a little background.  I am a 39 (soon to be 40) year old Electrical Engineer who lives in  the metro Detroit area with my wife, and catalyst for my conversion, Emily.  I lived most of my life as an atheist/agnostic constantly wavering between “there is no God” and “there might be some kind of higher power, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the God of any religion”.  Emily, on the other hand, was a baptized, never confirmed, non practicing Catholic.  One day after being married for a little over two years, Emily and I are sitting in the living room and she tells me “I want to bring our marriage into the Catholic Church”.  I actually agreed pretty quick, as long as I didn’t have to become a Catholic to do it.  I “knew” some things about the Catholic Church, and I knew that I wanted no part of it.  Emily asked me why I would not become Catholic, and I started listing some things that I knew:

  1. The Church does not allow for any form of birth control
  2. The Chuch says that no abortions can be performed, even in cases of rape and incest.
  3. Catholic Priests have been abusing children for years because The Church forces them to live an unnatural lifestyle that causes perversion
  4. The Church wants 10% of all your money

Emily’s response – “No one actually believes any of that”

My response – “Exactly, and that is the problem”

So, Emily made an appointment with a Deacon at our local Catholic Church and I agreed to go.  I found out that I was going to need to get a declaration of nullity, I had been previously married for a very short time.  And, if we wanted to become Catholic we would need to attend RCIA starting in the fall.  I wasn’t too thrilled about any of this, but I agreed because it meant a lot to Emily.  However, I told Emily that I couldn’t go through with the RCIA part because I knew that I would not become Catholic.  I told her I could not “join” a church that I did not believe in, and I was never going to believe.  She said that she was going to attend the RCIA classes and receive the sacraments and would like for me to do the same, but she understood if I could not.  So I made a promise that I would look into the Church and make an honest effort to figure out why the Church teaches what it does, but I could not become Catholic if I could find fault in any of the teachings.  One bad/All bad.  That I knew in my heart.

Much to my surprise, the more I tried to shoot down the Catholic Church’s teaching on things like contraception, the more I learned that they were right.  Not only on that but everything that I investigated.  Abortion, marriage, celibate priesthood, donating to the Church, pretty much everything.  I had come to the conclusion that if there was a God, and  if Jesus Christ was His Son, then this was his Church.  Only one problem…I still didn’t completely believe in God, or that Jesus Christ was His Son.  Of course, I knew that Jesus existed, the historical record proves that beyond any shadow of a doubt.  But the Son of God?  That was going to take a bit more convincing.

Needless to say, through some major life changes that occurred along the way, I did come to believe in God, Jesus, and the One True Church.  I won’t get into the entire story here, but as the blog goes along I’m sure that everything will come out eventually.  All I know is that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and I’ve never been happier than since I turned my life over to Him and His Church.  The Church that is currently governed by an 84 year old man in Rome.

Thanks for reading, and more to come later.