When my Episcopalian parents became Catholics in 1963 and brought their five children along, I had just turned six. I have a vague memory of standing in the stained-glass light of a church vestibule, my neck tight with the unfamiliar feel of a buttoned collar and a clip-on tie. It was a private ceremony. As each family member stepped forward and the priest poured baptismal water over our heads, I had the feeling something solemn and momentous was happening, and I acted accordingly. When we had lunch at the bishop’s house later that day, my parents tell me I embarrassed them by hiding under some piece of furniture and refusing to come out.As an altar boy I used to pray for a tangible sign from God that he existed. I read of a priest saint who saw the species of wine turn to actual blood at the consecration, and I began to pray for the same miracle. At the offertory, as I handed the celebrant the glass cruets and he co-mingled the water and wine, I would stare hard into the chalice as if I could will the amber liquid to bloom into blood. In like manner I would gaze at the host elevated in consecration, half-expecting to see it become a fragment of human flesh. Disappointment was the subtext of my boyhood experience in the sanctuary.Like many of my peers, in my young adulthood I stopped practicing my faith. It wasn’t an intellectual failing—I had little doubt of the truth of Catholicism—but a moral one. As a college freshman I read Augustine’s Confessions and took his young man’s prayer as my own: "O Lord, give me purity—but not yet."My love of music was the thin lifeline that kept me tethered to the Church. I attended Mass because I enjoyed playing guitar and singing in various folk groups. (Now it’s called the "contemporary choir," though most such groups sound neither contemporary nor choir-like.) I rarely took Communion and went to confession even less. But at least I was in church and receiving unwitting grace from proximity to Christ in the Eucharist. I became a "revert" when I married the right woman and we began having children. Responsibility for shaping your children’s eternal souls is a powerful motivation to finally begin trying to answer God’s call to holiness.In the church where now I attend daily Mass with my wife and our four small children, the rising sun shines through a yellow-and-orange stained-glass window directly behind the altar. Once early this fall, the tilt of the earth and the time of day were such that at the moment of consecration the raised host was back-lit and shone like an orb of gold hammered to wafer thinness. The priest held it long, as if he too were transfixed.That night during family prayer, a bright light through the window of my daughters’ bedroom drew my gaze into the dark sky. The full moon hung in elevation, round and pale gold and translucent. In that sudden unity of images—host as Christ sacrificed, moon as part of the universe redeemed—I found my altar boy prayer for a sign answered in a way I could not have imagined.