I went to Mass for about 18 months before I received Confirmation and entered the Church. All that time I already knew I would become a Catholic. All that time I had a lot going on inside of me. I really had no human being to accompany me; those who had been instrumental in my conversion lived far away from me and I saw them very infrequently. Letters were our contact. God gave me a lot of graces in those days that I realize now were a little unusual. I also had heaps of pride and prejudice to work through, and no, there's no oblique Jane Austen reference there.
After I decided to become a Catholic, God really had only one directive for me: "Be going to Mass." I understood the Lord meant I should go to daily Mass, and I did, though it took me several months before I moved beyond Sundays only.
But even when it was just Sundays, I began to discover my first love. Liturgy.
There's that first kiss or first touch or embrace from someone you love that makes every nerve involved stand on end for a couple days. The physical memory seems indelible. I had those moments with the liturgy in those, my early Mass-going days. I remember how profoundly struck I was by the prophetic power present in the liturgical dialogue between priest and people. I was struck by how immanent heaven and all its treasures felt, and that I was being drawn up into it. I was amazed at how much work God could do in my soul in such a quick, efficient way, day after day. I realized that I had found my home and my family for the first time ever. I would come in sight of the tabernacle after my day at work and feel God's peace wrapping me up and drawing my weariness out of me.
But much of this mystical sensation was lifted from me quickly. The memory stayed, but my more regular experience was of my frustration over my own dullness and the lifeless way that seemed demanded of me, by general consensus, as this new Catholic family of mine celebrated liturgy. I had very serious struggles accepting the flesh and blood people next to me in the pews, and it seemed just as important to God that I learn to love them as Him. He always knows what He is doing as He leads His children.
I have come to a completely different place in my life now. I really have learned to love people. I have had some mighty lessons in that department.
And now the Lord calls me to remember my first love in the way He first introduced me. Maturity makes love make more sense, and there is always so much more room to grow both in understanding and in the actual action of loving.
I love the fact that no matter how long I have walked with Jesus, He is always doing something new with me, and I always feel I am just beginning to know Him.