By: Nathan Deg

I’ve often heard people tell these amazing and moving stories about their faith.  How they first met Jesus, how they came to know Him.  These stories are always moving and inspiring.  My story isn’t anything like that.  There’s no big life-changing encounter with God, or some moment where I suddenly became Catholic and changed completely.

I was baptised as a child and raised in the Catholic church.  As a family we went to church on Sundays and said grace at the supper table.  When I was a bit older I went to Sunday school and all that sort of thing.  Where I grew up, Sunday school ended in Grade 9 when we were confirmed.  The thing I remember most about my Confirmation was that I had the attitude that I was graduating church and that I wouldn’t need to go anymore.

Obviously that attitude changed over the following years.  But I can’t tell you exactly when it changed.  Like I said, there was no single moment or single encounter that changed my attitude.  That change was gradual, over a long period of time.  However, there are moments in my life where I’ve been privileged enough to see how much I’ve changed.  I think of these moments like signposts along the highway telling me how far I’ve come.

I saw one of those signposts during my first year of University.  By the time I went to University I had come to realise that I should go to Mass.  You see, during high school, I reluctantly began to participate more at my Parish.  First my Mom insisted I become an altar server for a year or two.  Then she decided I should help out with a youth group and go on a retreat or two. By the time I finished high school, my parish had a Lifeteen program and a youth Mass.  The way my parish celebrated Mass was actually a lot of fun.  The music was great, the priest gave some of the best homilies I’ve ever heard, and a lot of my best friends were there. Then I graduated.

For my first year of University I went to a completely different city where I didn’t know anyone.  I wasn’t aware of where any nearby parishes were or anything like that.  But, by this point in my life I knew that I should go to Mass.  So I went on a walk one day to find a parish…and I did.

The parish I found was a big old Cathedral parish.  I went and sat nearish the back (like all good Catholics 😉 ).  The church was fairly empty so I was sitting by myself.  The choir there started singing, and, well, God Bless them they tried.  As for the priest there, I can’t remember a single homily he ever gave.

So here I am, in this church, far from home, listening to a forgettable homily and some very mediocre music, and I had this strange feeling.  I felt like I was home.  Beyond all those things that would normally turn me away, I wanted to be there.  I wanted to be at that church and at that Mass.  Not because I was going to meet my friends, or because of some fun program afterwards.  Not because of amazing and inspiring music or powerful preaching.  I wanted to be there because  I wanted to receive the Eucharist.  I wanted to encounter Jesus.

When I walked home afterwards I realised that this was the first time I could definitely say I went to Mass for Jesus.  Yes, I was going to Mass to meet Jesus, but I was also going with my family, spending time with friends, listening to great music and amazing preaching.  This time, the only thing I had was Jesus.

For me, that’s one of the signposts in my faith journey.   In the four years between my Confirmation and the first time I went to that Mass I had changed.  I don’t know when or how, but in those 4 years I found my faith.

That’s not the only signpost I’ve seen along the way.  I’ve continued to grow in my faith and my relationship with God. I’m not saying that my faith is particularly strong or that I’m a good Catholic or anything like that. I have a long, long way to go.  But I do have a relationship that I never had before.  I know that knowing God has changed me in hundreds of subtle and not-so-subtle ways.  I know that my faith has and still continues to improve my life.

I don’t have some conversion story.  I don’t have a moment like Paul had on the road to Damascus when he met Jesus.  There’s no moment in my life where things suddenly clicked, that I knew that Jesus loved me personally (which is the core of Catholicism…Jesus loves you personally!).  My faith journey is just that; a journey.  A long slow and steady walk.  But every so often there is a signpost on the way.  Pointing me towards my destination and showing me how far I’ve come.

Maybe you have a conversion story.  If so, I’d love to hear it, because they are always so inspirational.  But maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you’ve been on the journey for a long time or are just starting out.  Whatever the case, I hope that when you sit back and reflect you can see those signposts in your life.  See where you are now and where you were before.  I can promise you there’ll be more.  And when we meet each other in eternity, I hope you’ll show me the pictures you’ve taken of those signposts.

About Author: Nathan DegVersion 2

I am an astrophysicist working as a post-doctoral fellow at UCT.  I obtained my Ph.D. in 2014, and am currently studying barred spiral galaxies, stellar streams, and the Milky Way.  I enjoy way to many video games, books, movies, and tv shows and have a deep and abiding love for real (ice) hockey.