Before I converted to Catholicism, I believed my life was the way it was supposed to be.
My life revolved around what I wanted for me, not taking others into consideration. Relationships had no sincerity. In my 23 years as a police officer, my experiences with tragedies hardened me professionally and personally. I felt as if I could not show any weakness and always needed to be strong for others as their rock. About half way through my career, I met my wife, who is Catholic. Many years later, she confided in me that she prayed for my conversion. But that would happen through a long journey to the faith for me.
When our daughter was born, we baptized her because that is what you are supposed to do when you have a baby, right?
We enrolled our daughter in a Catholic school and started to go to church every Sunday. I would go to satisfy my wife and daughter. When my daughter began to sing at an early age during the Mass, I became more interested in attending.
After she graduated from Catholic school, I continued to attend Mass. Over the years, I met a lot of men in the parish who had something about them that I could not put my finger on, but I liked it and wanted to learn more. Through the pastor, I learned about compassion, prayer, the importance of the Eucharist, confession, and how you should live your life for Christ. The more I attended Mass, the more I felt at ease and intrigued.
When I entered into the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, I did so with an open mind. Every Sunday, my enthusiasm increased. I wanted to discover more about Catholicism. But there were also times I had doubts. There were times when others in class talked of the tragedies in their lives that drew them to the Catholic faith. But I felt my life was normal. My family was healthy. Why I was being drawn into this? I came to realize God had been looking after me my entire life. My skills that had seen me through difficult and dangerous situations were a gift from God and there is no such thing as luck, just divine intervention.
During the months I spent preparing to become Catholic, I learned about the faith, the significance of the Mass, how to live my life by the Church’s teachings, how to pray, and how to live in a community of Christians. I was confirmed in 2008.
However, it was after I was confirmed that I learned of the power of prayer- through the birth of my grandchild. My daughter lost one child early on and was told there were problems with her next conception. Unbeknowst to anyone, my wife prayed to St. Gianna for help. When my daughter gave birth to a little girl, she named her Gianna. She never knew my wife was praying to St. Gianna. She just liked the name.
I am now an instructor for a federal agency. The skills, knowledge and experience that God has given me can now be shared with others. I now teach these men and women, knowing they are not out there alone-Jesus will be strong for them.
When I became a Catholic I felt as if the missing pieces in my life were put into place. The road that I travel on today is completely different and more rewarding. To be completely dedicated to Christ and his way is a full time commitment and a struggle every day. With the help and guidance of the Church, family and friends, hopefully I can make a better mark on this world.
Bob Arscott is a parishioner at Jesus the Divine Word Parish in Huntingtown, Md.