The very first time I visited a Catholic mass the reading of the day was when the Lord calls Samuel, from the first book of the Kings. Samuel was only a child, and he kept running to Heli each time he heard the voice of God.

Lord calls for the child Samuel

And the Lord called Samuel. And he answered: Here am I. And he ran to Heli and said: Here am I: for thou didst call me. He said: I did not call: go back and sleep. And he went and slept.

I was sitting as far back in the Church as I could, feeling both uncomfortable and curious at the same time. I was trying not to stick out to much. Standing up, sitting down, and hoping no one would notice me. I felt misplaced, even unworthy.

And the Lord called Samuel again. And Samuel arose and went to Heli, and said: Here am I: for thou calledst me. He answered: I did not call thee, my son: return and sleep. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither had the word of the Lord been revealed to him.

I started to get the feeling that someone knew I was listening. That someone saw me there in the back, in the old parts of the church, with the hard wooden pews and the great wooden Madonna. Not anyone in the congregation, they where all in front of me. Nor the priests, I was too far in the back.

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose up and went to Heli. And said: Here am I: for thou didst call me.

I was listening intensively.

Then Heli understood that the Lord called the child, and he said to Samuel: Go, and sleep: and if he shall call thee any more, thou shalt say: Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and slept in his place.

I had not, truly, been to a church since my confirmation (into the Swedish Lutheran Church) when I was 14 – almost 30 years ago. Later I have of course attended weddings and funerals and so forth, but never as a believer, and never at a Catholic church. It was very awkward for me: – Me, a Christian??? It can’t be!!! And still there I was, of my own free will, in a church, feeling the presence of God.

And the Lord came and stood: and he called, as he had called the other times: Samuel, Samuel. And Samuel said: Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

There it was:

Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

I was overwhelmed. It was as the whole reading for the day was directed solely towards me.

Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

This was what I had moving towards all my life, without knowing it. A year earlier I had started to read a little about the history of Roman Catholic Church, mostly to better understand some references in a book – than in search for a faith… Then one book lead to another. I found a forum for Catholic converts on the Internet, who helped me a lot with my questions, but it was here, in the back of St Erik’s Church in Stockholm, on a wooden bench, my year long investigation ended up and transformed into belief.

Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

There I was ready to listen to him, however strange it seemed to me, what ever my friends and relatives would think. I was ready to listen.

In fact, ever since then, more than a year ago, this is what I have devoted myself to do. Probably I’m not all that good at it, but this is solely the most important thing in my life:

– Learning to listen.

 

 

St Erik Catholic Church Stockholm
St. Erik’s Catholic Church, “Katolska domkyrkan” in Stockholm.
In mid January 2006
I sat on one of the back rows on the left side.

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