Friday, December 20, 2013

Our First Reconciliation

First off, apparently everyone was surprised that it was my wife and I's first reconciliation the other evening. Apparently, everyone including our now retired priest had though we had done it already. We were under the understanding that we needed to be closer to our annulments being finalized. It wasn't until we asked about it when it was time for two of our kids, that we found out that we can and should be partaking in this particular sacrament as well; and could

I'm getting ahead of myself. Last evening was the first reconciliation for our 15 year old son, and 10 year old daughter. Since the entire family is new-verts some of my kids have some catching up to do; just like us parents. The kids had their rocks and were nervous but ready. Thankfully, for my wife and I, our priest who was still helping with our annulments (now retired from the parish) was one of the priests hearing confessions. So we stood up in line and were likely just as nervous as the kids.

I'm sure I'm not describing anything that any cradle Catholic hasn't already experienced. Sadly, I had anticipated the huge long lines and extremely busy priests trying frantically to hear all the pains of the parish. It seemed to fall short. I'm not saying the priests were not doing their diligence, on the contrary they were there in droves. No, it was the "us" -- the sinners that seemed to fail. There were not nearly the number of parishioners I expected. Nor, was there anyone beyond the staff that I even recognized.

We have a medium sized parish. Reconciliation takes place every Saturday about an hour before mass. Sadly, the room is rarely occupied. Thus my disappointment at the mass confession last night when I thought I'd see people in droves and be like right out of a movie. I had really anticipated many many more participants. Perhaps it was just me and my background in another faith tradition. The way I see it, here is fantastic sacrament that seems more like medicine than anything remotely religious and the lines aren't out the door. My whole life there were things that God may have forgiven of me but I couldn't. I got to lay those bare last night and be forgiven; it was really powerful. Why wouldn't a Catholic want to get rid of this burden? Is it because it's personal? It should be. Painful? All illnesses are, even with medicine. I just didn't get it and walked away from the evening concerned for my fellows more than being anxious or even embarrassed.

For me and my family, it was a joy to partake and honestly, I'm still in a haze. It was so easy and didn't seem alien, scary nor unnatural. On the contrary, it seemed to be just about perfect. We all had a profound sense of release. I'd always been taught that God can forgive us if we ask -- He is that powerful and filled with grace. That said, I'd been carrying around a lot of sin-baggage. It was a huge relief to know that even if I'd struggled to forgive myself, that He had. In my previous faith tradition, I'd always been taught that a Pastor/Minister was always there to help. I honestly don't see any difference except it seems more "natural" to have the forgiveness actually be a sacrament; a process rather than simply a spot on someone's calendar. To me the event needs to be holy.

Bless me for I have sinned but I feel a world lighter since my first reconciliation. Thank you for that holy sacrament. Amen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Marriage -- A Fine Sacrement

Today's post is going to be about marriage. I like so many people are knee deep in Christmas. If just so happens that nearly halfway in the month of December I married my first love. It was a hard and difficult road for the two of us to find each other again. That said, I've never been happier. Thanks to the gift of her love I have four great pre-fab kids, as well as a beautiful little daughter who just hit the six month mark.

So what the heck does this have to do with my new-found Catholic faith? Nothing, and everything. Nothing in that currently we are both working on getting our annulments done through the Church. Before then we were both married outside the faith and based on the outcomes you can easily say it was less than happy or successful. So why does it matter? Marriage is a sacrament and thus an "institution" that needs be be taken seriously. For me, that's why I stuck in a marriage longer than I should have the first time around -- I took my promise very seriously even if the marriage was literally poison. Without going into specific details, there were lots of failures. Chiefly was taking God out of the equation and yet staying in the failing marriage BECAUSE of Him.

When I met up with my wife, it was about 25 years after some damn fool teenage boy dumped her for another girl. On Valentines Day. Two days before her birthday. And yes. Here soon, that too will be included in my first Reconciliation; one of the many things that I haven't forgiven myself for much less felt that God has either. At the time, I was separated, and living on my mother's living room floor. I was going back to church at a local Baptist church and everything was going as well as one could expect. It took an act God to leave my ex-wife, and it took another to meet much less talk to my current wife. However, once I did I knew. Thankfully, with a yes on Thanksgiving 4 years ago so did she.

I cannot begin to express how blessed I am. This is the one Sacrament that I, excuse the pun, "brought with me" and one that I hope very soon to get cleared up. It's likely at least partially because of this marriage that I explored and learned about the Catholic faith (my father-in-law passed and the funeral was Catholic) and expressed a desire to become Catholic, only to find that it was also the wish of my beloved wife as well. She was searching on her own, while I was listening to local Catholic radio.

There's a ton of blessings wrapped up with marriage. You get a partner that you can trust, that God gave you for a reason. You get support, you get a ton of things. The trick is to GIVE and that's the part that we all struggle with both in and out of marriage. I thank the Lord for my second chance to be with my soulmate. I just wish I had listened to Him and my heart in the first place, rather than being a scared kid who happened to have hit the jackpot early.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis named Time's Magazine Person of the Year!

Time magazine names Pope Francis person of the year!

A great choice for all the reasons mentioned.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Sickness of Sin

Children are a blessing and I've learned a great deal about how God sees me (one of the reasons I look at marriage much differently now). I don't believe that I really understood until my precious daughter was born. Just this week, she came down with a cold. I couldn't help but think that God must feel similar to the way that I feel with my sick daughter. Except I think He doesn't suffer so much from the hopeless factor.

Likely the theologians will think me way off base, and others borderline blasphemy. But is it possible that the Lord feels this bit of helpless sadness? You give humans the precious gift of free-will and we constantly use it poorly. Making us sick with sin. Like a helpless parent, God watches as us, his children, continue to wallow. Sure some of us stray off the path but we don't ever forget the map so to speak. We pick ourselves up, turn around and try again.

I find myself looking at this precious child and instantly want to keep her in a plastic bubble. I don't know that I could have ever allowed for free-will. That's a love I don't understand. I'm a bit of a control freak. You can add this to the list of things that I want to understand when I come into heaven. That and the whole dinosaur thing.

So we get sick with sin. In my old faith tradition, I need only ask for forgiveness in the comfort of my closet and it was given. Now for many this works. For me it always seemed to be lacking. Especially in those circumstances when I couldn't begin to forgive myself. In those instances, and I still have them today, that lingering guilt hangs. That's one of the things I'm looking forward to with my first reconciliation -- that forgiveness and accountability.

I realize that I could take that sacrament, but I'm waiting on the results of my annulment. Still, I'm surprising looking forward to the process. I have a lot of sin sicknesses that I'm looking to start treatment for so to speak.  There are many Catechumen that won't partake in the sacrament. That seems really weird to me. Sure there is the public pronouncement but that seemed to me like taking a home-brew fix for something that only takes a simple shot to fix. Perhaps I'll feel different afterwards but I doubt it.

So if you have a sin sickness, seek God and repent! Truly offer it up to God. He's given us the sacrament of reconciliation as a tool to help heal ourselves. Stop, drop, pray. Then get yourself to confession and hold your healing accountable.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful for Dad

Today, sadly represents 12 years since the good Lord called my father home after a horrible battle with cancer. It was a horrible last month and during that period of his life I'm glad he no longer suffers. That said, I've missed him ever since.

Like many sons, the relationship that I had with my father was not the best. At best it was strained. From what I've learned since that day, it seems we rubbed each other wrong more-so because we were too much alike. Not a day has passed that I hadn't wished to ask him or get some wisdom. As now the oldest male in the family I'm struck with the loneliness.

Course this year things were different yet again with my daughter being present at the Thanksgiving feast. In 2001, we lost my father on this day 11/29. It was an extremely hard holiday to be thankful of anything and well, with the rest of the holidays lined up behind the only remarkable piece was his absence. This year that bittersweet feeling came back with a vengeance.

I'm thankful that I can see things a little clearer now. I can also claim to be a dad, and work towards being a father. My father was far from the perfect man I saw him as. I disliked him for his order, for his strictness and even his talents. He seemed unflappable and even a little detached. I'd still give a fortune to have my father hold his grandbaby and tell me that in this particular instance I "did good". It's one of those haunting regrets.

Since my father's death, I've escaped a horrible marriage, found and married my first love. Became a father to four fantastic prefab kids and now the proud poppa of a beautiful baby girl. I've even converted and become a Catholic awaiting a final ruling on my annulment. All the while I'm desperate to remember every ounce of wisdom, every lesson from my childhood that my father gave me. He wasn't a perfect man by any means. I am very thankful that he was my father. Thank you Lord for the gift of my earthly father.

It's with that thanks, that I remember that my Father in heaven does wonders for me every day. He wants nothing more than a relationship with me if I just turn towards him. There are days that, like my earthly father, I cannot possibly want or need that love. It is on those days that we need to embrace and run to him. I need him. We all need that love, and we have if we just accept it. Just allow his presence in our lives. If we do we would be those earthly wonders of love. Beacons even.

Baby at 6mos
As I hold my daughters small, small hands I think I see a glimpse of of what God feels about us. We are but children and are so fragile, so ignorant of the strong hands that can guide us if we just let it. I just wish that we could see the miracle the blessing that are children (planned and otherwise) and accept that chance blessing. Sadly, people have a time seeing those miracles. They will damn near bash down the doors of Walmart of Target to get a cheap flat screen but likely many of those same people will reluctantly accept the Eucharist at Mass as well as leave early. We certainly have things reversed. We'll push and shove for material goods we can't take with us but we can barely keep from yawning at the gift we accept at Mass. I'm ashamed for all of us.

This first Sunday of Advent, take a moment to reset your priorities and focus. Take a minute to focus on what matters; and if you are of good fortune -- hug your father as your Father hugs you.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Death Penalty of Death

With my Catholic new-vert status I've taken a very hard and different look at a couple of things I used to simply take for granted. Sadly, the biggest difference is my reevaluation of life in all forms.

Previously, in my Southern Baptist tradition it was sort of an unwritten rule -- Pro-life but on the other hand Pro-Death(penalty). You were against Abortion, but it was okay to prevent conception artificially. You were always praying for the souls of others, but rooting for the murders to die like a modern day linching. Jesus said to love but there are just simply some that don't "deserve" that love.

As I've grown in faith, love, and understanding. I've come to realize just how wrong; how hypocritical things were taught. It seems in Catholic circles there are those that refer to Cafeteria Catholics or Half-Caths had very similar views. Maybe it's age, maybe it's the recent birth of my daughter, maybe a gift of insight but I've come to look at this a whole lot different.

After my divorce, one of my List Goals was to simply come to realize that I would never have children -- a carrot that was held over me for a decade. Well years, and a happy marriage later I'm not only father to four fantastic pre-fab kids, but as of five months ago the father to a fantastically beautiful daughter.

But why would all of that change my views on life, death, artificially birth control etc. Frankly, because until I became a father I simply didn't understand. I never really knew now fragile, precious, tenuous and beautiful life is wrapped up all in one package. Sure, there are some people that literally drip with evil. There are people whose morality is forever challenged. That doesn't mean that we get to play God. On the contrary those are exactly the people we should be praying for and spending some time with; not to drag us down but to show them just what a gift we are enjoying and how awesome it is.

What about rape? What about that twelve year old that was raped by her father/uncle/brother? Wouldn't abortion be "justified" in that instance? The answer is a sad, no. We cannot give values to life or we begin down a very slippery slope. One of which we currently find ourselves on. We need to stop assigning mortal values to "valid" pregnancies and babies.

Back in college I was party to an abortive pregnancy. That child would have turned twenty this year. It was unplanned and the child's mother and I broke up about a year later. The death that I caused weighs very heavy. I certainly wish I could forgive myself but like many instances that followed it was one of several bad decisions I made.

If I could put a pretty little bow on this I would simply say that human life, any human life is precious regardless of the value that we or society want so desperately to append to it. Even if we don't value a pregnancy or a criminal Someone does, and that Someone will ask us all why we did or didn't do something to protect, love or keep the life. What are we going to say? It was a burden? It was too hard? All the while looking to our Savior who died so painfully on the cross. Oh what children are we.

Pray for my forgiveness.
Pray for the soul I lost.
Pray for the souls lost to indifference.
Pray for the souls forgotten or deemed beyond saving.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Evangelization: A Continued Need Among Catholics

It's simply interesting how this seems so alien a concept to my Catholic family. I was struck by this and found it almost humorous. Raised strictly Protestant and Southern Baptist to boot, it was almost a rite of passage to be able to defend, and communicate about the Faith.

So as a Catholic, what does that mean. Well, most importantly it means meeting people where they are rather than dragging them by the hair to where they need and should be. Let me explain and give you some background.

As a youth in my Baptist church, I was instructed on how to approach members of other faiths (even Christian) and to dissect and show through scripture how they were wrong and going to hell. Of course, this seemed very powerful and intoxicating at the time. Looking back, I have a profound sense of guilt regarding this. How many souls did I poison away from His will and through my brutishness pushed towards Hell rather than greeted towards grace. Certainly, with years under my belt, I've come to realize that opening a conversation, instead of thumping with scripture is a much better tact.

That said, we as Catholics have a way to go before we are ready to open any conversation to explain our beliefs. Heck, according to a survey with the USCCB and CARA, only 23% of Catholics in 2008 attended Mass once a week, but 77% were proud to be Catholics.  Our God doesn't ask very much of us, and with the patience that only a parent can begin to fathom, He accepts us regardless of our selfish ways. We as Catholics need to step up our game, understand our faith (and that does mean attending Mass) and understand why we do what we do and believe what we believe.

My excuse is pretty lame -- I'm a newvert. That said, I'm trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can in order to fix that shortcoming. Learning is a lifelong process. I'm thankful that I was never a cradle Catholic, only because I feel I have so very much to learn. I do have fear that my infant daughter, who will no nothing other than this faith, may have to overcome this shortcoming. Catholics need to step up, and take the evangelization mantle back. Now!

Straight from the USCCB website, this prayer for Evangelization:

Heavenly Father,
Pour forth your Holy Spirit to inspire me with these words from Holy Scripture.
Stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News.   
Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others.
Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.  
In moments of hesitation, remind me:
If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel?
If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed?
If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim?
God, our Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call of the New Evangelization to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Failure of Faith

I've talked about my rather loud bible-thumping ways in my past. Sadly, whatever I used to enjoy in that or the power I used to tap is all but gone it seems. This last Sunday, I was confronted by a Protestant friend of mine challenging two "items" in the Catholic church. Specifically, baby baptism and Saints. I failed to uphold my beliefs because, at it happens. I wasn't prepared on these fronts near as well as I would have thought or hoped.

I'm writing this more as a public flogging than instructional. To have a belief system we need to not only have faith, but a fundamental understanding. Sadly, it sometimes takes questions by those intent on breaking us down, before we ask similar questions. I've never had a problem with either of these uniquely Catholic traditions or sacraments. My big problem was that I was grossly unable to defend much less explain.

As any Catholic knows, Baptism is a sacrament. What fellow Catholics may not realize is that for the most part Protestants do not do this at birth or even near birth. Speaking strictly from my Southern Baptist tradition, I was not Baptized until I was 16 -- knowingly accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior and THEN I was baptised. This process is more "ordination" than sacramental. You will, however, notice how closely my "acceptance" of Jesus closely mirrors the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation. Not so alien as Protestants would like to believe or have believed. For me, I still find the process of Baptizing my infant daughter as strange. And having to put off the baptism until she is nearly 6mo of age is, to my fellow Catholics, horrible (her God mother works for Amazon so she cannot get out of work during the holidays without a toe-tag). So we patiently wait.

The other item I was grossly unprepared to defend. The Saints. I don't believe that I ever disregarded the elevation and appreciation of Saintly people by the Catholic church. I do believe that there are very genuine and holy people here on earth. If the Catholic church can find, identify, and celebrate these individuals for what they accomplished -- so be it. It's almost with a hint of the venom of jealousy that non-catholics hate/dislike/make fun of saints and the process by which they are determined. Course, they'll forget and sing all sorts of songs about Saints but I digress.

I suppose I need to approach the issue of Saints with another question -- "How should it be done." Perhaps then I'll gain some insight on how the question is broached or the origin. My fear is that it is rooted in an inability of people to day to reward much less accept exceptionalism. It is a said state of things to come, but it always appears that we ignore those with talent, waiting only for a chance to watch them tumble or to even take them down ourselves. Not very saintly for the rest of us to be sure.

So as I continue to learn about my Church, and all the mysteries and history that it has I am likely to have stumbling points like this. I'm much happier to not take the offensive but to act as a learning experience towards future/past Catholics learning about the wonders that are the Catholic church.

I pray that thru the intercession of my patron Saint Thomas Becket (pray for me), 
That I may remain steadfast like him in the face of heresy and attacks on the church. 
That my strength and resolve not be a hinderance but a beacon to others to join with me in fellowship with the Catholic faith. 
Holy Mother, comfort me in my failure and pray for me to your Son that my strength be renewed. 
In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Pray for me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Never Wait to say I Love You

Throughout my life I've been very fortunate to not be in an accident that caused serious injury much less hospitalization. If fact, the worst one that I was in was a multi-car accident. It's sad, but I know what I would say in my come to God moment. I was surprised as anyone that it didn't include colorful words.

Footage of Accident from local TV
A friend of my son, his father, was in a very serious accident. It gave me a moment to think and what would happen to me and mine. I even took that thought a step further about how I treat my Father in heaven.

We always regret not telling loved ones we love them, or other things after they are gone. Lamenting for years about the lost opportunity. For myself, I never had a great relationship with my father. Looking back on things I believe it was more because we were too much alike than the opposite. There were a ton of missed opportunities. That said, I have no doubt that my father loved and cared for me, even at those times that I wondered.

As a new step-father of 4 and now father of a newborn, I have a much different perspective on things than I did in my previous flawed and childless marriage. For those of you with children the feeling of "anything for my child" is nothing new. In fact, you probably have gotten past that and it's simply your way of being. To me it was like having my world flipped and turned. I don't believe that I truly understood how our God could love us and our faults (much less the individual hairs on our head). How he could possibly love us even when the love wasn't returned. I think I have a much better understanding. I find myself holding my daughter, and simply marveling in her beauty. It's helped me appreciate all my kids much, much more.

In our rush from here and there day to day. We sometimes forget to say the simplest of thank you's to our God. The easiest way that I can can think of to say thank you for x, y and z and to encompass all of the days wonders and gifts? I take a quiet moment, whenever I can and I tell my heavenly Father I love him. That expression of feeling does a much better job of expressing everything than I seem to be able to sometimes. Not to mention, depending on the particular day or client the list can get really large.

Don't put off telling your Father in heaven that you love him and thank him. Here's a prayer that I found on the website:

The Prayer "Thank You God"

For all You have given,
Thank You God.

For all You have withheld,
Thank You God.

For all You have withdrawn,
Thank You God.

For all You have permitted,
Thank You God.

For all You have prevented,
Thank You God.

For all You have forgiven me,
Thank You God.

For all You have prepared for me,
Thank You God.

For the death You have chosen for me,
Thank you God.

For the place you are keeping for me in heaven, 
Thank You God.

For having created me to love You for eternity,
Thank You God.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Old is New -- Venerable Bishop Sheen

BpSheen.pngSo, as a newvert I'm just starting to dive into the vast pieces of understanding and information that sadly, many fellow Catholics take for granted.

As a person who grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition I was very familiar with the famous Evangelical ministers -- Falwell, Baker, etc. Unfortunately, I wasn't even aware of the Catholic ones much less Bishop Sheen who, by all accounts came first in a televangilist sort of post.

As I continue my Catholic journey I'm rabid to ingest as much information as I can find. Unfortunately, with my schedule reading is at a premium. Thus I've switched gears. I listen to the local Catholic radio (which had helped me coming home to the Catholic Church). It was after one such program that I found the mp3 files of Bishop Sheen where I could listen in total. Wow, what speaker.

I'm learning and trying to absorb all the information like a sponge. There's so much, even in the small half-hour increments. Truly an engaging orator.

I'd encourage anyone who is interested in the Catholic Church, questioning faith in general, or simply wanting to learn about the Christian faith. There is so much to learn from Bishop Sheen. I can definately say that the more I've learned, the less I realize I know about the Christian faith (much less my Roman Catholic one). It is a sad state I find myself in, but I'm getting there.

I leave you with a bit, from a recording I was listening to this morning. The very famous "The Hound of Heaven" poem by Francis Thompson. We've all fled those loving footfalls, it takes a faith to turn around. Your cross may have overwhelmed you. You may be one that never accepted it in the first place. I ask and pray that you take another look. Forget the why, embrace your faith and He will help you back.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Question 1 -- Vote Yes for "Independent Minded" Catholics

Podcast --

I sure wish I could find the response by a group that supports the measure. But before I get into that let's explain a little of the background. The county where I reside is deciding on a sales tax to fund medical research. 50% of the proceeds would be given to Children's Mercy Hospital, the remaining 50% would be divided between St. Lukes, and UMKC (20% each) and the remaining would go to an educational slush-fund (which I'm sure will be well managed; insert sarcasm here).

As a conservative I take immediate issue with government funding research. I, like the Diocese here in KC, am concerned that the research will leverage or utilize embryonic cell research. Thus making Jackson County a mecca of death -- more so I suppose than it already is.

Believe it or not that's not even what has me up in arms. What's really chapped my hide is the response tag at the end of story (sadly missing from the audio link). There was a response from the proponents of Question 1 that hoped that "independent minded Catholics would decide for themselves". Not refuting that there could be research on viable humans or even abortive tissues, just that it hoped that there were independent minded Catholics. I presume that could be applied in a broader sense to Independent Minded Christians. Sadly, I was once one of them. More a menu Christian; I'll take that Commandment, that understanding, hold that one and I'll just pretend those couple don't exist. Is that really what we are called to do? Can we really except the cross then to complain about how it drags or how heavy it is. We need to understand that those that are asking us to be independent of our moral compass are really inviting us to damnation.

It is sad that there are organizations out there that can identify and flat out appeal to those of us that are week or even that want to more progressive as it were. It was frightening to me listening to the radio on the way to work and hearing the call for Independent Minded Catholics. The only thing that I heard was "here, take a bite of the fruit..."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There is No Vicar of Christ for Me! -- Protestant Rejections of the Pope

Many "Catholic-want-to-be's" will often argue against the Vicar of Christ; the Pope. This is grounded in the patron saint, speaks of the head of the church and his importance:
general Protestant belief of Sola Fide. This has been argued through the ages. I believe that Bishop Sheen did a fantastic job in his "Life is Worth Living". Even my patron saint chimed in:

"Many are needed to plant and water what has been planted now that the faith has spread so far and there are so many people... No matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what is planted is the faith of Peter and unless he agrees to his teachings." -- St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr; Feast – December 29

I'm going to strictly speak from, again, my own faith past. As a recovering protestant, I've see faith traditions
that were very "fly by the pants". I can speak that this is reckless, scary and in cases of the extreme eternally deathly. We as Catholics have no idea how important, useful, and down right special it is to have something like the Catechism. Have a question of faith or tradition? YOU HAVE A REFERENCE TOOL. Just like this powerful tool, the Chair of Saint Peter is equally powerful and right. There aren't thousands of interpretations or leaders of the Church. There is one.

I'm not going to say that man isn't wrong and that the church hasn't struggled. Not in the least. But for me, it was a huge comfort to finally no longer get 8 answers to the same question. To not have a Pastor at my church preaching differently than the same denomination down the street. To not have a youth minister preach love and kindness and then to have meetings on what was wrong with other religions. That wasn't love nor universal.

There are some that will just steadfastly refuse the meaning of the our Lord and Peter's conversation. So be it. All we can do is try to educate; even if that agreement is to disagree. That said, we as Catholics should be thankful to God for our blessed Church, our Blessed Father and all the wonderful rules, traditions, and history from which we can richly take spiritual nourishment. Never be ashamed! Share often and widely.

Before I close I wanted to add another prayer I found while looking up various St. Thomas information. As a citizen of the United States, and with my patron I leave with a prayer of intercession to Saint Thomas Becket. Join me is praying for our nation as it struggles with it's current crisis:

Gracious Father, Saint Thomas was famed for his opulence and his status as the most powerful man in England second to the king. Everything changed when he became a priest to be consecrated archbishop. He completely turned his life around and began to live piously. He was soon opposing the king to defend the Church's rights. I ask him to pray for the conversion of our politicians today. O Lord, give them motivation to turn away from the love of money and prestige and to begin serving Your kingdom more than their earthly domains. Forgive them their sins and lead them to heaven. Saint Thomas, pray for us. Amen. --

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Church is a Meanie!

The US Catholic Magazine had an interesting tweet and survey that I just had to comment on. I'm often dogging on my previous faith tradition, this time I turn towards our fellow Catholics that seem to be leaning a little to far towards entitlement with regards to the sacrament of Holy Communion while ignoring the few things that they are supposed to adhere to.

In an effort for fair reporting I need to mention, that I am ineligible to partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Even though I've been going to Mass for the past year, and I often am asked at Mass why I only receive a blessing, I understand there are rules and why we have those rules. Just because I completed RCIA, have been baptized does NOT mean that I can jump up for the free food. On the contrary, I have way more respect than that for the Sacrament or any of them for that matter. So why throw a fit and stomp ones foot when a parishioner is denied the sacrament by their priest?

Perhaps it is truly that there are those that feel entitled because, regardless of where they are in life, they don't feel that they need to do things by the rules. Perhaps it is because there are those that are willing to make poor decisions and life goals; but don't feel the stain of sin directly (hello pro-abortion Catholics).

Let's use an analogy. Take for instance amusement park rides. We don't argue how tall we are when we measure against the sign? Why? Because everyone can plainly see how tall you are? Because it's the rule? Because of safety? I'd argue that the same is true regarding Holy Communion.

Everyone can see how tall you are in your Faith. There's a certain air we can sometimes get from people. You just know when they are good, loving Christians. There are others that seem to fall just short of the mark. Add to that Catholic politicians that willfully go against Church teachings and that seems to extremely straightforward. Not to mention, there are ways to fix it (i.e. Reconciliation).

Rules. We have them all over. Why on earth (heaven) should we believe that certain "rules", especially concerning the church could be ignored or swept under the rug? Honestly. Sure, I could walk into a different Parish with my family. Yes I could receive Holy Communion. But what have I done? Beyond the whole sin thing, I've cheapened it. I've made it simply a ritual that everyone can partake in. I've taken the commandment of our Lord and walked all over it. Thus why when my family and I walk up to receive Holy Communion there is only our two children that can receive. Myself, my wife and our two youngest all receive blessings and have for the last year. And you know what? That's okay. It's makes the blessed sacrament that much more sweet.

Safety. When one breaks the rules there are always consequences. Why should we expect less. Sure, the likelihood of a lightning bolt hitting you squarely in the forehead while receiving a sacrament you shouldn't have is likely pretty low, do not think for a minute that you won't have to answer for it later. You know that's something that sounds like a child. I caught my then youngest once sneaking and into my stash of Skittles. She was hiding in her closest. I let it slide the first time. The second, I confronted her in her closet. I made her spit it out. Was she mad and upset. You bet. But she also knew what she had done was wrong and that there would be consequences. Why, as adults, would we think it would be any less?

Modern day people seem to think of certain sins as simply bad things that go into a savings account that they will atone for later. It's really sad and you see it all the time all around. I've had to do some serious realignment of late; truly forgiving those that hurt me and offering that suffering up for his glory. I've really come around to a Christ centered life, rather than a Christ filtered one. We all need to try harder, be better, and EARN the graces and love He wants to gift us. We need only turn away from sin, follow the rules, check our height and get on the ride. It's a glorious one.

I leave you with St. Alphonsus Ligouri's prayer before the Blessed Sacrament prayer:

My LORD Jesus Christ, Who because of Your love for men remain night and day in the Blessed Sacrament, full of pity and of love, awaiting, calling and welcoming all who come to visit You, I believe that You are present here on the altar. I adore You, and I thank You for all the graces You have bestowed on me, especially for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given me Your most holy Mother Mary to plead for me, and for having called me to visit You in this church.

I now salute Your most loving Heart, and that for three ends: first, in thanksgiving for this great gift; secondly, to make amends to You for all the outrages committed against You in this Sacrament by Your enemies; thirdly, I intend by this visit to adore You in all the places on earth in which You are present in the Blessed Sacrament and in which You are least honored and most abandoned.

My Jesus, I love You with my whole heart. I am very sorry for having so many times offended Your infinite goodness. With the help of Your grace, I purpose never to offend You again. And now, unworthy though I am, I consecrate myself to You without reserve. I renounce and give entirely to You my will, my affection, my desires and all that I possess. For the future, dispose of me and all I have as You please.

All I ask of You is Your holy love, final perseverance and that I may carry out Your will perfectly. I recommend to You the souls in Purgatory, especially those who had the greatest devotion to
the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I also recommend to You all poor sinners.

Finally, my dear Saviour, I unite all my desires with the desires of Your most loving Heart; and I offer them, thus united, to the Eternal Father, and beseech Him, in Your name and for love of You, to accept and grant them.