Embracing the Church that speaks to humanity

| Jeff Hensley | January 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

People pray during Mass celebrated by U.S. bishops at the border fence in NogalesComing back home to my Christian faith was a gradual process. I had walked away from the strong faith I’d had through my late teen years as my church attendance dropped to nothing. I’m not so sure I ever rejected faith so much as I simply let it die from lack of attention.

But it didn’t stay dead for long. It started to come back as a result of late-night conversations with a friend whose own faith was being rekindled.

Reading Scripture nurtured the spark in my own life. Plus, I got a nudge from a neighbor down the road in rural Arkansas where we were working in the local schools as VISTA volunteers. She was a nun who had taken time away from the convent to care for her aging mother.

Sister Mary Herlinda loaned to me a book, “The Cross and the Switchblade,” by David Wilkerson, and invited my wife and me to take part in a little prayer meeting she had organized among three or so of our neighbors. It was a beginning.

When Susan and I returned to Fort Worth, Texas, we continued our sporadic church attendance at the closest Catholic church, and in time I began to take inquiry classes.

This was before the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults existed, and these classes outlining the basics of the Catholic faith took place over a period of six weeks in the parish library.

As I came to know more about Catholicism, I discovered that the Church spoke to all aspects of humanity — holiness, personal relationships, family life, social justice, the economy and issues of war and peace, among them.

This new understanding likely played the largest role in my conversion to the Catholic faith.

The Scriptures for Feb. 1 remind me of that spiritual reawakening.

Speaking about Jesus, the Gospel reading from Mark explains: “The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”

And so I found the Church.

She, the successor of Jesus, the embodiment of his teaching authority on earth, taught with authority. She still does, and I’m still glad I became a Catholic.

This CNS column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

Sunday, Feb. 1
Fourth Sunday in ordinary time


  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

Have you struggled with the teaching authority of the Church? How have you resolved those struggles?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures