Anatomy of a Conversion
Paula Huston on Becoming a New Kind of Human Being
During Thanksgiving dinner at our house, eaten outside in the sharp, rain-washed, brilliant air you can only find in California on a perfect fall day, I had a conversation with someone I barely knew, a young man of thirty, a husband and father of two, handsome, out of work, very likely despairing but hiding it under a practiced if weary smile (years in the “hospitality industry,” as he put it). The only thing I knew about him prior to our talk was that his three-year-old son and baby daughter had just been baptized into the Roman Catholic Church—this, despite his not being Catholic or even able to say whether he was a believer.
I told him I found that both admirable and puzzling. Why had he agreed to do it? He admitted he never would have thought of it on his own—he’d been raised like most of his generation, without religion—but he himself had at least been baptized as an infant and it seemed important for him not to stand in the way of his wife’s desire that their children should be, too. “But the whole thing was nice,” he assured me, still sounding surprised though the event had taken place some days ago. “Really nice. I’m glad I was there.”
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Paula Huston is the author of two novels, short fiction, and seven works of spiritual non-fiction, her most recent title being One Ordinary Sunday: A Meditation on the Mystery of the Mass (Ave Maria). She is also an NEA Fellow in Creative Writing, the president of the Chrysostom Society, and a Camaldolese Benedictine oblate.
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