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Friday, 08 March 2024 13:29

Bailey Tramm: Slow and Steady tracks to the Sacraments

RCIA Elect, Bailey Tramm’s seven-year venture into Catholicism has brought him out of a life masked by virtual reality and into a life guiding and inspiring others to live life to the full — and it all started with sibling rivalry.

Now working in education while he completes his education studies, Bailey says he loves life. “God has given me gifts that I need to use, knowing that I can help to bring out something better in someone else – it’s just the coolest thing,” says Bailey.

Listening to Bailey describe his faith journey, it’s clear he is a critical thinker. An analytical quest for proof of the existence of God, led to a belief in the existence of God and then, to his great surprise, a spiritual encounter which “hit him like a tonne of bricks”.

Describing his teenage self as a “staunch atheist”, Bailey says his faith journey began with an analytical search for meaning and truth, and an emotional need to understand the world and to find purpose. “Most of my childhood I felt that anything I do makes no difference to the world, so what’s the point? Why am I in Australia living this privileged life? Why do I have to feel this guilty?”, says Bailey reflecting that his wrestles with such thoughts meant he lived life with a somewhat ‘empty heart’.

Bailey’s mother and his two brothers are now Christian, yet Bailey was not brought up in faith. His father was “Catholic by name” says Bailey and his mother became a Pentecostal Christian when he was in his mid-teens. “I gave her so much smack for that! And I really didn’t like it when she played evangelical music in the car! … I remember Christmas 2018, Mum forced us to go to her Church Carol service. I didn’t like the leaders because they were overly joyous, It was just too much happiness for me to cope with – happiness that just doesn’t exist. I still had a hardened heart.”

Bailey’s initial delve into Christianity was sparked when his brother Keian returned from a holiday in America. “He went camping in a three-season tent, in the one season his tent wasn’t made for, and in a moment of crisis found himself praying to the Lord,” said Bailey. “He returned to Bendigo fervent that I was wrong, and that God did exist. We’d always had a brotherly rivalry but there was something different this time; it was outside the realm of our normal banter. He was so authentic – it bugged me; I was challenged.”

So, Bailey started probing: “The more I delved into philosophy, I realised that a materialist view of the world is ultimately flawed because you can’t have moral objections to anything … but there is clearly order and a moral underpinning to things,” says Bailey describing his reluctance as he realised that his search to prove his brother wrong was opening a world of possibilities for him.

On becoming open to the idea of God, Bailey then started reading books exploring evidence that Jesus existed. He concluded that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure but was not convinced of his divinity.

After reading ‘More than a Carpenter’ by Josh McDowell, subtitled “A hard-headed book for people who are sceptical about Jesus’ deity, his resurrection, and his claims on their lives”, Bailey says he became very confronted. “I was like, Nooo, this cannot be!”

Accepting the evidence before him, Bailey’s logic-based reasoning moved him from believing God was a possibility to believing God was a reality. Yet, he still didn’t feel he was a ‘believer’. Unlike his brother Keyan, or his brother Noah, there had been no spiritual encounter for him. Until one day –

“I was out the back at work, I hadn’t had a great day. So, I asked – ‘Lord, if you genuinely exist, if you can do something good with my life, by all means do so’ – this is before I read the bible; I wasn’t aware of the Holy Spirit. I had only looked into the existence of Jesus. I felt the presence of three people. I heard, ‘You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Which is a paraphrase of Matt 3:16-17 KJV.

It hit me like a tonne of bricks, I started crying, I thought I must be crazy, totally nuts. I told myself I’m either going insane, or this experience is out of the ordinary in terms of materialism.

Within a week, I woke up and everything was beautiful; I couldn’t think about meaninglessness; I could see the beauty in everything; I could see creation in God’s eyes – as I would say now. It was one of the best days of my life. Just being able to see what God saw.”

Bailey and his brothers all came to Christianity in the same year, and all were baptised in the Pentecostal Church at the same time. Bailey describes their lives before this time. “We were all kind of ‘wasting away’ because we didn’t have a sense of purpose. I was wasting time gaming, because life wasn’t interesting enough, I didn’t know what else I was meant to be doing.”

Bailey says he thinks many people today self-medicate to escape a reality they don’t want to face. “It’s a dopamine life system – gaming; drugs; and so on – it gives us some sense of happiness, but God shines the light on it, giving us something to contrast it with.”

Bailey believes his spiritual encounter has changed him so much that his younger self would not recognise the person he is today.

Bailey Tramm Ron Peacock

“My younger me would be swearing at me right now. For example, I’m teaching and loving it. Teaching is the last thing I thought I’d be doing; my Dad is a teacher so the old me, jealous of the time he spent with his students, would resentfully think – “Why would I want to do that?” Which is ironic, because I’m now teaching because of him and because of how God brought this vocation into my life … I’ve witnessed my Dad in his area of expertise, I’ve seen what he is able to give to others, that was a gift from God. I couldn’t see it before.”

Bailey fully participated in the Pentecostal Church serving in various ministries, including Youth Ministry for three years, where he discovered how much he enjoyed teaching and guiding children and young people.

His call to Catholicism was, amongst other things, again in reaction to one of his brothers, this time Noah, who had been baptised in the Catholic Church (and is now discerning life as a Benedictine Monk).

“Noah is a quiet person, so when he started talking about Catholicism, I started listening. I gave him a lot of push-back, and I became very frustrated because he clearly articulated valid points that destroyed my understanding of Christianity. Again, I thought – ‘I’m going to research this and prove you wrong and you will come back to the correct church. But, the more I delved in, the more I realised that I needed to be part of the Catholic Church.”

Bailey continued to participate in worship at his Pentecostal Church while making efforts to explore Catholicism and “get to the bottom of things.” Catholicism, to his surprise, was not what he thought it was.

“I became angry with Noah, I just couldn’t deal with my understanding of God and faith community crumbling in front of my eyeballs! The truth was leading me to where I didn’t want to go!” So, Bailey chose not to go there, at least for a while. He stopped looking into Catholicism and reinvested his energy into his Pentecostal Church community and friendships.

Over time, Bailey again found himself searching. “I felt the status quo was emotionally motivated and not God-motivated. I felt life was – ‘how can we make the music suit you?’ Not – ‘how can we point to God? …” says Bailey.

“I started attending Mass with Noah, to see the difference, and it really bothered me how much scripture was there. Protestants are told Catholics don’t read scripture, but the whole Mass is scripture, and then it ends in prayer. I thought – this is ridiculous; I couldn’t believe it,” says Bailey.

“For me personally, I was struck by the fullness of the Catholic understanding of the Holy Spirit, balanced with praise and adoration. We need the contemplative aspect of faith, to be quiet in God’s presence. The idea that God doesn’t shout at you, seems to me a Catholic understanding and one that reflects my own experience of God. So, I kept going to Mass with Noah while I was still part of my Pentecostal Church.”

Christmas 2022 solidified what faith looked like for Bailey and what he wanted his faith to be like:

“Every Church promotes Christmas; it’s a way to bring people in. Christmas Day just happened to fall on the Sunday, so I was pumped about a great Christmas celebration, but Church leaders decided not to have a worship service on Christmas Day so members could enjoy Christmas with their families. What scandalised me was the fact that Catholics care enough about God to stay up at midnight to go to Mass and worship him. The Lord is honoured before anything else. When you put the Lord first, everything just flows.”

Over time Bailey says his sense of faith became more and more in line with the Catholic faith. He says he was intellectually convinced that Catholicism was for him before last Easter but felt that his heart wasn’t completely there.

Fr DJ reassured me; “slow and steady” he said. This perplexed me, then I realised that Catholics want us to know why we choose to become Catholic, they trust that God is in that, so there is no need to rush. There is a focus on consideration, discernment. The Pentecostal Church is different, initially I thought, what’s the point of taking it so slow, I know what I want to do – just dunk me in and send me off”. Now I understand the wisdom of taking things slowly.

Last Easter, I felt sad that I couldn’t join in God’s communion when I felt I should have but it was my fear of what I might have lost from the other church which stopped me stepping into the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program as quickly as I could have. The RCIA has forced me to slow down, forced me to do the things that are really important, to be in that position of humbleness, that position of being guided by the priests. Even having Godparents or sponsors, that concept is a beautiful thing. We’re not going to send you in alone, we’re going to make sure someone is there for you.”

My understanding of faith is growing, I’m not losing any of the good from any other Christian denominations, it’s the culmination of all of it, it’s that plus more, the whole of what is beautiful is encapsulated in the Catholic Church: quietness with God; praising; silence; proper understanding of repentance; works towards good; cause and effect of good and bad; what do you want to do with the gift of salvation God’s gift you?”

Bailey says he still has love for the Pentecostal Church. However, their approach to communion with God is very different. “Once I realised that, there wasn’t much more to it,” says Bailey. Bailey recalls visiting St Francis’ Church while participating a Pentecostal conference at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. “I was exhausted, I spent thirty minutes in St Francis’ Church, in silence, praying the rosary and listening. That was the contrast, that perfect understanding of God. God is physically there in the eucharist, you can just sit there in his presence, you don’t’ have to do anything, or say anything. The experience was epic, it was spiritually and emotionally calming and soothing,” says Bailey.

Soon after this experience, Fr DJ messaged Bailey saying the RCIA Program was about to commence. “I texted him straight back, “I’m all in,” said Bailey. Bailey believes the Holy Spirit, through his brother Noah, directed him to a good priest to assist him on his journey and this, in turn, to his sponsor Ron Peacock.

“It’s interesting how God has used both of my brothers to speak to me, and of course my mother has been the quiet backbone of my faith journey. Her one prayer has been that her sons would come to know God. God has now answered her prayers. That’s a humbling thing.”


Return to Sandpiper e-News 71 (8 March 2024)