I come from a traditional Taiwanese family. My grandparents believed in folklore religion. They were very pious, worshiping daily for various deities, including gods, spirits, ancestors, etc. – all who might possess powers.
Grandpa and Grandma could not correctly name their religion, however. Like any other person, they thought it was Buddhism, but it was not — I figured it was a mix of Buddhism and Taoism. The whole extended families worshipped with them on the most important days of the year.
I, too, worshipped along. I admired my grandparents’ devoutness. Nevertheless, something in my mind demanded an answer — Who was the highest or the most powerful deity among the many?
I began my quest in year 1999. I dived into Taoism and though I found the god – Actually, gods, I found three, and again, not a single highest or the most powerful one. I converted to Taoism behind my then-fiancée’s back, who is a born Catholic, and this almost cost my future marriage.
I devoted myself in Taoism for two years and told my wife not to interfere in my religious life, and I would not interfere in hers. For some particular reason, after the fervent phase, I concluded it was not what I was looking for but lingered for three more years.
I remember clearly that night in 2004. I was sleeping in the room and having a movie-like dream: I was walking in the desert with my wife and her siblings. Scorched and exhausted, we found a cave and went in for a rest. That was a deep cave with tunnels leading further down. My wife and her siblings settled in the exterior space while I decided to explore the cave.
I felt my way in one of the tunnels in the dark and before long reached the end. Strangely, I was able to see and saw a picture on the wall. It was a man’s profile portrait. I looked at him, and, all of a sudden, he turned his head to face me. Now I could see there was light coming from his back. I was more than awestruck. I asked (I either voiced it, or I only thought of the question in my head), “Are you the one who I think you are?” — These words were put into my mouth (or my thought); I could not have possibly scripted the line beforehand. — He answered, “Yes, I AM the one who you think I am.” I knew immediately He was Jesus, the Lord. I said, “I am Your disciple now.” He then handed me a sword, and I accepted it.
Taking the sword along with me, I felt my way out of the tunnel to the outer space where my wife and her siblings were resting. I announced to them, “I am a Christian now.”
Then I woke up in real life. I told my wife about the dream and announced (again), “I am a Christian.” My wife was in disbelief and testingly asked, “Did you watch too much TV?” She was asking very carefully and having her fingers crossed. I was more than certain and affirmed her. She in turn made a phone call the next day to her pastor who was a Franciscan friar.
Father Germano Cozzolino was knowledgeable in the Bible and in Catholicism, contemplative, humble, obedient, and kind. He was the best catechist a catechumen could ever have; he was himself a great model for me. Moreover, he gave me one-on-one weekly lessons before and after my baptism (my wife tagged along in these lessons).
I was baptized on Easter vigil in 2005 with our four year-old daughter (I had insisted that she should make her own decision when she grew up). My baptismal name is Paolo-Pasquale — Paolo because I had been a strong opposer and Jesus gave me a sword, and Pasquale because I passed over my old self and baptized on Easter vigil.
I am a reborn person being a Catholic. Looking back, I feel so blessed. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).” Now I have found whom I had been looking for, and He has always answered me.
San Jose, California
The above is an honorable mention winner in the California Catholic Daily writing contest, Late have I loved Thee.
The remaining winners will be published Thurs. – Fri. this week.