Christmas Day and What Now?

Sunday, April 18, 2021

close view of lighted Christmas tree with decors

”…in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…”

-The Confiteor

"YOU are?"  

This was my eighteen year old sons response to me saying I was becoming Christian.  As we sat around the table on this Christmas Day, eating our Christmas Dinner, I had cautiously declared that I was changing everything my family had always known about me.  

While I had not specifically raised my children as little witches or pagans, I did raise them to have 'open minds' and be tolerant of all religions.  *Or at least, I thought I had. (As I write about my conversion, I have a feeling you are going to be seeing a lot of those, 'I thought I had' statements.) * I did however expose them to all that;  New age ideas, pagan and wiccan practices, divination.  On this Christmas Day, as joyous as it was for me to have had the epiphany I had been gifted with, just a few hours earlier, I also had another thought.  This thought concerned my children and it was in regards to what I had exposed them to over their lives and that thought was simply: "Oh my God what have I done?"

The usual activity of the day continued.  We exchanged gifts, had our dinner, watched Wonder Woman 1984, and ate WAY too much dessert.  Soon the day would settle into a lazy quiet night.  Which was exactly what my mind both needed and didn't want.  I had gone over to my little office area in our house and took in all the trimmings of my former faith.  I had chakra related things everywhere, I had books about witchcraft and paganism on my bookshelf. On top of the bookshelf I had a small altar set up for prayer and magickal working.(no that is not a typo.  Wiccans and witches add the extra k to differentiate from what they do from stage magic.) 

Now, remember, I had thought of myself as a pantheist so it had been years since I kept god and goddess statues around.  Saying that, I did have traditional wiccan tools such as an athame (sharp double edged knife meant for directing energy) and a chalice (usually a goblet like cup meant to represent the mother goddess or 'divine feminine') I had four rocks that I had gotten off a beach in Bray, Ireland.  They were each a different color and I had used them to represent the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.  There was incense and tea light candles and a bell.  Near to this altar I had a buddha statue, wolf statues, Himalayan salt lamps and other similar items.  Among all of that I also happened to have a plaque with an Irish blessing and Saint Patrick on it.  Let's not forget the Saint Francis of Assisi Statue I had that was carved out of olive wood from the Holy land.  Both signs of times past when Catholicism had reached out to me.

In my desk drawers I had several decks of playing cards.  I used to offer readings using a method known as 'cartomancy.'  It is like Tarot except you use a common deck of playing cards instead.  My maternal grandmother is the one who got me interested in this.  Ironically, she was also the only relative in my life who had taken me to church.  Actually now that I think of it, there was a brief period of time when my parents got into watching Robert Schullers, 'Hour of Power.'  They even sent money to his ministry when he was going to build what was to be known as the, "Crystal Cathedral."  We visited this place a couple times when it was completed and it was amazingly beautiful.  Did I mention that everyone who contributed to this got to have their names etched on a piece of the glass that made up this structure?  One of those pieces of glass supposedly contains my parents names and my name.   Years later this ministry went bankrupt and the Cathedral was sold.  Ironically, it is now the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the Christ Cathedral Campus.  Anyway, I digress.

As I surveyed all this stuff, I wanted it cleared out of my office area the same way it had fallen away from me the night before.  Most of it was going to be easy to get rid of.  Saint Francis could stay and so could Saint Patrick and the paintings my daughter made me. No way was I getting rid of those.  Yet, the content of many are wiccan, pagan or new age related and a sad reminder of how I had mislead my kids over the years. In times past, I would have defended my actions.  I would have told you all about all the good things I encouraged them to do via new age ideas and wiccan practice.  I would have told you stories that involved, 'love and light' and how we didn't believe in Satan. There are many long detailed reasons I could have given you about all of that.  None of that was any comfort to me.  I now knew how wrong I was and how wrong I had been to have any of these things touch anyone's lives, let alone, that of my family.  

"Oh my God, what have I done?"

That prayer ran through my mind frequently in that week leading up to new years day.  By the grace of God, I was able to get myself moving in a positive direction that might move me forward.  I started googling everything and anything I could about Catholicism.  I started watching Catholic Youtubers.  I was hungry for everything I could get my hands on that would lead me into Gods embrace and into the Church. All of that included me getting rid of the aforementioned items of my former faith.  My husband was supportive, my children were perplexed.  I think all of them were somewhat flabbergasted to be honest.  On the night I was clearing out my collection of playing cards, my husband asked why I would get rid of something I enjoyed so much.  I told him I hadn't really used them in a long time anyway and that I truly, no longer wanted them.  I added, "How exactly do I become catholic while practicing witchcraft?"  He got quiet and didn't say much after that.

That made me think back to a time when we were first together.  I had been taking a correspondence course of some sort relating to Irish paganism.  I needed to go into a metaphysical store to get some things to complete one of the lessons.  My, then boyfriend, later to be husband, didn't want to come inside. "We don't believe in that."  He was polite and I knew he meant as a Catholic, he didn't go in for this type of thing.  I was fine with that.  I never wanted to force my beliefs on anyone.  After a few minutes, he did come into the store.  He hugged me and said he would support me and didn't want anything to come between us.  He has done that all these years too.  Thankfully he had the good sense not to follow me down the crooked path I was treading. 

As I mentioned before, there were things that challenged my husbands faith over the years.  While I was there with him and comforted him through those difficult times, I never encouraged him to get reacquainted with the Church.  I suppose I thought it was none of my business and that it was up to him to do that if he wanted.  After all, I wasn't Catholic, he was. How thoughtless of me.  I was seeing first hand how the Church was helping and supporting others in his family during those difficult times.  I regret not at least suggesting he seek comfort and guidance through the Church.

Now, look.  Rationally I know, that all of the problems that might be part of my family are not all my fault.  However I will say, that I was now clear on how I had possibly put challenges in all our lives by way of my spiritual leanings and practices.  With every day that passed I was becoming more aware on what I needed to change or get rid of.  As this happened a new prayer began to fall from my lips:

"Oh my God, please help me to mend what I have broken."

By Laurie O’Driscoll
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