How My Protestant Boss
Inspired My Catholic Faith
“You people of the Catholic faith go out and sin all week. Then you pay five dollars on Saturday, for forgiveness, so you can have a clear conscience on Sunday.”
The above is just one example of the kind of chiding I would get from my Protestant boss, on a regular basis. This type of comment is regular fare, when you are surrounded by those who somehow believe they know more about Catholicism than the Catholic faithful. Of course, poorly catechized Catholics also contribute their own brand of faith. In their lack of understanding, they agree with and add to the myriad misinformation. As the cycle continues, the false beliefs are cemented into the caustic folklore surrounding our Faith.
From The Beginning
As a child, I was a German citizen, living in a multigenerational household. Our hometown was populated by many Catholics and following the faith an expectation we didn’t have to explain. My great uncle played the pipe organ at St. Paulus Catholic Church, right across the street. Mass attendance, sacraments, and catechesis were not optional. As a result, my upbringing was deeply Catholic and my faith is woven into the fabric of my being. Although I wasn’t always perfect in living out my faith, my conscience was well formed.
When my mother met and married an American, she experienced the canonical aspect of remarriage without an annulment. No longer able to benefit from a sacramental life, she made sure that we children never missed an opportunity to fully participate in our Catholic faith. This was a model of faith, albeit an imperfect one, that gave me a deeper look into the commitment to faith.
Dad adopted me and our family flew to the USA to take up permanent residency. We found, however, West Kentucky was not filled with many Catholics. Yet my catechesis continued as our family joined a small mission parish in our town. This was the first time I experienced anti-Catholic sentiment, driven by many misunderstandings of our Faith.
Many years and an annulment later found Mom and Dad married in the Church. Faith and persistence won out. After Dad converted, we were a fully Catholic family.
“The Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon because Catholics worship Mary”, read the headline. I encountered this on the cover of a magazine on the coffee table of my boyfriend’s grandparents. My face flushed, yet I was able to maintain my composure. My mother had warned me about dating someone who was not Catholic. The rampant misinformation cut like a knife but I knew my Faith and never questioned its Truth.
Later this same high school sweetheart and I delved deeply into Catholicism. We later married; he converted, and have spent forty-six faith-filled years as husband and wife. He is now an amazing head of our domestic church and we pray, attend the TLM, and study the Bible together daily.
Fast forward to later years. After our children started school, I began a part-time job with the aforementioned Protestant boss. His little jibes, delivered as jokes, didn’t really bother me. My childhood in the small town had inoculated me, years ago. The way I look at it, if a person speaks out of ignorance, I’m presented with an opportunity to evangelize. It’s a God wink from the Holy Spirit.
So, Boss and I fell into an almost daily back and forth. He would question or pose a piece of misinformation and I could easily, but gently correct it. Even the owner of the company joined in occasionally. I rather enjoyed it and yet…I found that while my answers easily satisfied him, I wanted more. On a deeper level, my soul was hungry. Hungry for more details, more soul searching, more Truth. This search resulted in online research, book reading, and seeking.
Although Boss never realized it, he had pushed me into more deeply delving into my own Faith. We kept these conversations going during my entire employment period and remain friends to this day. Although I will never convert him, or his deeply engrained Protestant family, I like to think that we both benefited. And the banter continues:
“I’m going to send your daughter a card, blessed with Holy Water”, I tell him. “She, and the rest of your family, will instantly become Catholic without even knowing it.” Then we both chuckle.
God bless him and his. May we all one day be one.