Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, y’all, I’m Genie. Said like “Jenny.” I share it with my grandmother and great great-grandmother, who hail from behind the pine curtain of East Texas where the common rules of pronunciation don’t apply. I’m a homeschooling mom to 7 wee ones on earth: 5 sons and now 2 daughters from 10 years to 2 months old. My husband and I will be married for 11 years this May. We used to be urban homesteaders in Dallas, but now, since our 10th anniversary, we live on a farm in a tiny, rural North Texas town of about 600 and raise bees, chickens, ducks, and Tamworth bacon hogs. In college I was trained as a Classical Soprano, but in this season of life my song repertoire consists of lullabies, and Catholic hymns to help other families also live liturgically through music.
Tell us how you became interested in Catholicism.
After 5 long years of waiting, I was received into the Church on September 19th, 2011, the Feast of St. Hildegard. There was no grand celebration or cake, it was just a quiet Saturday morning after Mass with my parish priest, husband, and two toddler sons.
My Anglican husband was the one who introduced me to the beauty of the Catholic faith during our college courtship. I attended the traditional services that his conservative branch of Anglicanism held and was moved by the reverence of the liturgy and historical music I’d only previously heard as recordings. This was especially true when I attended the Paschal Triduum observances.
My love for the Church was nurtured more and more as I learned about church history and the liturgical year in the Christian education class (the equivalent of RCIA) at our parish. But the reformation, especially the teachings of Luther and Calvin that some parishioners believed, never sat right with me. Also the lack of what I soon learned to be the Magisterium was a great void. This was made clear to me through both the diversity of accepted opinions on pro-life issues and whether or not there was the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Within the Anglican Church, even in the most conservative circles that refer to themselves as Anglo-catholics, there was nowhere to look for the final word.
What were some of the barriers you had and struggles you faced on the road to becoming Catholic?
Lack of transportation, night hours, and childcare for my 2 young sons were the biggest impediments to me attending RCIA and being received into the Church sooner. For most of our marriage we’ve had only one care that my husband used for his commute to work. Additionally, some clergy that I met with told me to wait for my husband in order to be received, and that became a convenient excuse to do nothing. Fear of the fate of Protestant family relationships and losing Anglican friendships was another internal hesitation.
In the end I had to say a prayer, take a deep breath, and dive in because I believed there is nothing more important in this life than securing the way of salvation for ourselves and the souls of our family. A dear friend in another city, Dr. Mary Moorman, set up a local babysitter to come to the church so I could make my first confession before my profession of faith. I would not be Catholic without her friendship and help with the logistics. She is the author of the beautiful book Indulgences: Luther, Catholicism, and the Imputation of Merit. (not an aff link)
Was there a defining moment or series of moments that cemented your decision to convert?
Yes, Anglicanism holds many things in common with the Catholic Church. It’s so close if it were a snake it would have bit me, but Anglicanism is not a part of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In Pope Leo XIII’s papal bull, Apostolicae Curae, he confirmed that all Anglican ordinations were null and void, meaning there was no true Body and Blood of Christ for me to receive at the Anglican services. That was a devastating blow. The words of John 6:53-54 weighed heavy on my heart: “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” While my intention is not to hurt those who do not share these beliefs, I must convey the truth. My prayer is for unity, that we will all be in communion someday soon.
What was your experience with RCIA?
I did not attend RCIA. When I inquired about being received at my TLM (traditional Latin mass) parish where I attended during the week, I simply met with the priest a couple times to discuss my knowledge of the faith.
How has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic? Your relationship with yourself? With others?
I feel the grace of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist has been such a gift and bolsters my relationship with Him. Even without fanfare surrounding my reception and some negativity from others, there has never been a lack of joy in my heart knowing I am home in the true Church of God.
Tell us your favorite Catholic book or author and why.
If I had to pick just one Catholic novel, it would be Evelyn’s Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited for its portrayal of different vocations, and the way its narrative reveals each to be representations of love.
What would you say to someone who was thinking of becoming Catholic?
Despite the trials of our time, there is so much truth, goodness, beauty, and joy to experience in the Catholic Church, and I long for all to share in it.
Genie Shaw is an author and speaker. She blogs about Liturgical living at Barefoot Abbey where she shares “simple, inexpensive ways we live out our Catholic faith.” You can find out more about her here: Website | Facebook | Instagram