My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. – John 10:27-28
Lizzie Estella Reezay is a 23-year-old cradle Protestant and graduate of the prestigious Pepperdine University. Lizzie is a YouTuber phenomenon as the host of Lizzies Answers boasting in excess of 34 million views since 2011. Most recently, to her own astonishment and that of more than 197,000 subscribers, she has just been received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
“I want everyone to know that I hated that this was happening. I fought so hard to get out of this intellectually. I did not want to be Catholic. Not only did I think Catholicism was wrong, I just didn’t like the vibe of Catholicism. I wanted to be anything but Catholic.” – Lizzie Estella Reezay
A CHAT WITH LIZZIE
CM: Lizzie, on behalf of CatholicMom.com, Holy Cross Family Ministries, and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, I am thrilled to welcome you home!
Lizzie: Thank you! I’ve felt so loved and supported and welcomed home by the Catholic community! I’ve been blown away by the amount of support and encouragement from my YouTube subscribers and people who have recently found my channel. I’m so excited that I am now fully part of the Church.
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” – John 6:53
CM: The Eucharist is the greatest of the sacraments in the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324 states, “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit’ of the Christian life.” How did you come to embrace the fullness of this objective truth as a Protestant who “hated that this [conversion] was happening”, who “did not want to convert”?
Lizzie: Objective is one of my favorite words! I think the greatest threat to Christianity in my generation is the culture of relativism and rejection of absolute truth. For me I had an exact moment when I began to believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. It was the night before Easter of 2017, exactly a year before my acceptance into the Catholic Church. I had begun to read the Church Fathers and one night one of my subscribers sent me a resource that had this long list of Church Father quotes from the first and second century, blatantly defending the theology of Real Presence. After that I read through all the Communion accounts in the Synoptic Gospels and in 1 Corinthians and finally John 6. When I got to the Bread of Life discourse in John 6, I immediately believed and I started sobbing.
I realized in that moment that I would have to convert into the Catholic or Orthodox Church. I was scared and confused, but also amazed and so grateful to God that He had finally allowed me to see this. I thought of all the times in the Gospels when Jesus talks about people who see and hear, but don’t understand and I thought of the weeks before how I had been reading through John for my devotional readings, and had been reading through the Bible my entire life but never grasped the Real Presence meaning.
And here we say, that although Mary, now in heaven, can no longer command her Son, nevertheless her prayers are always the prayers of a Mother, and, consequently, most powerful to obtain whatever she asks. – St. Alphonse Liguori, The Glories of Mary
CM: Contrary to popular argument, Catholics do not worship Mary. We understand, as CCC 970 states, that “Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power … flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.” Your thoughts, please.
Lizzie: Christianity is intrinsically mediational. Jesus created the Church to be collectivist, about God’s people as a community growing closer to God together. Only a heavily individualistic culture could interpret the Bible as being about someone’s individual relationship with God. 1 Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is the one mediator between us and God, but three verses before that Paul tells us to intercede for each other, to pray for each other! “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.” So clearly praying for each other does not diminish Christ’s role as our mediator.
Throughout the New Testament we are commanded over and over again to pray for each other and to ask others to pray to God for us. “The Great Cloud of Witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1 speaks of people in the Faith who have come before us, who are fully alive and in Heaven with God and looking down from above. In the early Church it was understood that these people are as real a part of the Church as people alive on earth and that they can also intercede for us and pray to God for us.
In John 2 when Jesus performs the first miracle of turning water into wine, Mary intercedes at the wedding between the people hosting the party and Jesus. She comes to Jesus and tells him they are out of wine, and then at Mary’s request Jesus performs the miracle. Mary’s role as a mediator would have been obvious to a first-century Jewish culture, because the Queen of the Monarch was the mom of the King, and her entire job was to bring the requests of the people before the King. In this sense, it is obvious that if Jesus is King of the Kingdom of Heaven, then Mary is Queen of Heaven.
Having a communal understanding of Christianity is true to the Early Church and makes me feel surrounded and encouraged and so much stronger. It is amazing realizing that 2,000 years of Christians are up in Heaven with God right now and are intimately a part of God’s work on earth. For years I’ve felt a lack of spiritual mentorship in my life and a lack of guidance. With the writings and prayers of the Church Fathers and Saints and Doctors of the Church, I feel that I have a stronger spiritual foundation and so much wisdom and love and spiritual direction in how to live and how to pray. I ask my friends to pray for me all the time and I love praying for people who I love, so asking Christians in Heaven to pray for me is the most beautiful concept. It makes me feel so loved and supported and understood.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
CM: You are courageously and inspirationally transparent regarding the cross of your depression and bipolar disorder. Such suffering, as with any chronic illness, without faith, can lead to despair though you have told the world that your ilness was instrumental in your journey into the Catholic Church. Please tell us how God used your illness — your suffering — for your greater good to lead you home.
Lizzie: Having bipolar disorder and especially experiencing severe depression episodes for years showed me the weaknesses in evangelicalism. There is not a robust theology of suffering in the Protestant churches I was a part of, and experiencing depression pushed me away from believing in God. There is too much emphasis on emotion and not enough time spent in studying the Old Testament. Often people would tell me to pray my mental illness away; I would often receive YouTube comments telling me to not take medicine and that my mania was demon possession. I’m not at all claiming a majority of Protestants are against mental health treatment, but this is merely the result of not having a robust theology of suffering and not having enough emphasis on the crucifixion.
Catholicism teaches that suffering can bring us closer to Jesus and that we are to unite our suffering with Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Learning about the “Dark Night of the Soul” has been extremely helpful and I’ve even learned that the greatest spiritual growth happens when we have no feeling in our relationship with God. In Catholicism faith can never be confused with a feeling, because works and faith are the same thing. Faith is manifested through sacrificing our thoughts and words and lives for God. On days when my bipolar is really bad, looking at the Crucifix at Mass — and understanding that Jesus fully lived out the experience of feeling far away from God and separated from Himself — that is extremely comforting knowing that through Jesus’ emotion suffering on the Cross, I am fully understood. I’m reminded of Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet was without sin.”
…I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. – The Apostles Creed
CM: Catholics draw profound life lessons and inspiration from real people who have lived before us in the history of Christianity. They are all a part of our family tree known as the Communion of Saints. We are encouraged to choose a particular canonized saint for the sacrament of Confirmation who will intercede for us and spiritually accompany us on our earthy journey to heaven. Who is your Confirmation saint and why?
Lizzie: My confirmation saint is Irenaeus, because in reading through portions of Against Heresies I realized I was a heretic. He was defending the Church against heresies that don’t even exist anymore, but his emphasis on Real Presence and Jesus coming down as a physical being and him describing Mary as the “New Eve” made me understand that the beliefs of my Protestant Churches would have been declared heretical by the Early Church.
CM: Any final thoughts?
Lizzie: I have a vivid memory of when I was a junior at Pepperdine, reading through John 17:20-26, where Jesus prays for all future believers and for Christian unity, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, just as you are in me and I am in you.” I remember reading through Jesus’ prayer and crying, realizing that because there are tens of thousands of denominations of Christianity, we are completely divided and that we ruined Jesus’ vision for the Church. I felt hopeless then, because I saw no solution in moving forward and bringing about unity.
My conversion into the Catholic Church is my response to this prayer of Jesus. I’m only one person, but I’m doing my spiritual duty in uniting myself with the original Church, uniting my intellect with the Dogmas to be one in mind and I pray that I can live and love and speak in a way that is ecumenical and brings about unity even among all the different denominations. I’m so excited for Heaven when we will all fully be one with Christ. As the Creed says “I look forward to resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”
CM: Thank you, Lizzie! Once again, welcome home!
Copyright 2018 Brian K. Kravec