Embraced by God, Part 4
Brandon Vogt is a 28-year-old Catholic husband and father. He is a blogger, public speaker and author. In May 2011, he was one of ten Americans invited to the Vatican to dialogue with Church leaders about the use of new media in the interest of the mission of Christ.
In the spring of 2014, Brandon joined “Word on Fire,” Father Robert Barron’s very relevant and successful ministry.[i] He is now internationally known for his expertise fostering faith through modern digital communications.
Brandon began to grow in faith in his first years at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
He was at FSU with Kathleen Floegel, a devout Catholic. They were sweethearts in high school. It wasn’t just puppy love—they are married and parents of a growing family.
At the university, he began worshipping at the FSU Wesley Foundation. It was there that he began to develop a personal relationship with God. Vance Rains, the Methodist pastor at FSU, was instrumental in Brandon’s spiritual development.
Brandon says, “For most of my life, I never met a rigorous God who made any sort of demand on my life. And I never encountered an intimate God who ravished me with deep love or an epic God who waged war against evil for my sake. The church I grew up in cared for me deeply. It encouraged kindness, and presented the basic, biblical stories to me. But I never really experienced anything transcendent.”
He began to hear God’s word in worship; the Scriptures took on new and deeper meaning. He discovered that “God was a Lover on a relentless pursuit” – the total surrender of one’s heart, mind and soul to God.
At FSU Wesley Foundation, Brandon found a “resurgence of classical spirituality” and discovered Catholics like Augustine, Chesterton, Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day.
As he read and studied these authors, he “couldn’t avoid a nagging theme: the Catholic tradition lurking behind” the inspiration of these writers.
“How,” Brandon asked himself, “could Chesterton and Augustine be so right about everything but their religion?” He discovered that the Eucharist was an echoing theme in all of these Catholic writers.
The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and the unity of the people of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
CCC, No. 1325, from Eucharisticum mysterium , 6
Brandon said, “The Eucharist really catalyzed my probing. It was an unavoidable hinge. Many of the holiest saints claimed the Eucharist as their fuel.”He discovered that the Catholic Church proclaimed the Eucharist as the “source and summit” of her Faith.
He didn’t want to believe in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Jesus – his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. But the “earliest Christians believed in the Real Presence, as did the great saints and many of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual masters of today.”
He said that once he found that the Catholic Church “had the real presence of Jesus pulsating at the center of her Faith, I was hooked.”
At the Easter Vigil In 2008, Brandon Vogt was received into the Catholic Church. Present were Kathleen and his Methodist pastor and friends from the FSU Wesley Foundation.
Looking back, says Brandon, without God’s constant pursuit and what he learned and experienced along the way, without the community of faith, the sacraments, the saints, and a big dose of Divine Providence,” God for him would have always been a “declawed kitten.”
And now, he says, “I’ve been caught by the Lion who has always been in pursuit.”