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.

Monday, October 14, 2013

One and Done - Baptism

Coming from a Southern Baptist background, we love to dunk and redunk. So after my conversion I was a little disappointed to learn that with my conversion there wouldn't be a rebaptism for either myself or my wife (my children, however, were). It was with this revelation that I noticed a couple other odd things or interesting differences that I wanted to comment on as a new-vert.

No redo. This was an interesting little hiccup I hadn't even thought about. Because I came from Baptist background and because we had been Baptized in the Trinity we were done with that sacrament according to the Catholic Church. See in my previous faith tradition, you receive baptism as many times as you want or think you need; thus I just naturally assumed that I'd be "re" dunked as part of the conversion process. Of course after the first it is to "reaffirm" in Southern Baptist tradition and we had mentioned that Catholics do renew their Baptism - just very differently. Now this may sound bizarre to my Catholic audience but remember you're doing it every time you dip your finger in the font. It was good to learn that Catholics had a reaffirmation process too as that was something that I often looked forward to (albeit I never actually got re-Baptized). Even if most didn't know it. Thus I got burned twice -- once for previous Baptism and the second for previous marriage (annulment). That of course is an entirely different topic for another time. I applaud the Church for it's openness and acceptance of other traditions, just sometimes it's a little disappointing.

Second oddity I noticed is the idea of infant Baptism. While my wife and I both are waiting on our annulment rulings, we are planning on having our infant daughter Baptised at the same time. Apparently, it's not well looked upon to do anything other than to get a child Baptized ASAP. While nothing like my patron Saint's Baptism, there is a general distress by those we have talked to. It's certainly a different culture and I understand it. I want her Baptized as soon as possible too, however, her God Mother cannot arrive till January (she works for Amazon so you see the reason) and it looks like we are going to be waiting at least that long on our annulments as well. We aren't worried, only because we come from a different faith tradition where Baptism was part of the accepting Christ and NOT done at birth or infant. I wasn't Baptized until I was 16. Regardless, I want my daughter to receive the Holy Spirit just as quickly as possible. I know I could have used that when I was younger and I'm lucky to have made it as long as I have (Thank you Guardian Angel!).

It's just really interesting watching the reactions and whatnot with a different perspective. As a parent and having a fundamental understanding thanks to my continued studies AND RCIA I'm actually more worried about Confirmation than I am about the Baptism. Hopefully, here soon we can get everything taken care of and continue to grow as new-vert Catholics.

God Bless!

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Uninvited (Not Unwanted) Guest for Supper

Who should partake in the Eucharist? Insight from someone who can't.

Just the other day there was a posting on another blog talking about the implications of allowing versus not allowing people to partake in sacrament of the Eucharist. I wanted to explore this particular topic since, right now, I'm one of those people who cannot.

I've always taken the view that the Mass is a celebration with a meal -- a birthday party of similar celebration. Birthday may be too giddy; lets say a family's graduation party. There is the family, each has participated in the family unit, each has a seat at the dinner table once the meal arrives. What do you do if you have uninvited guests? Say a mix of other relatives (Christian brothers and sisters) as well as friends (non-family; non-Christian). Well, if you were raised right you'd make due and share. However, this is where my analogy breaks down -- this is special dinner. Mana if you will.

Now, we don't want to exclude our extended family or friends. On the contrary we want them to have a seat, listen and eventually be so moved as to EARN that seat at the table. I'm one of those "special cases".

I, like my wife, have been in failed marriage before our own. The two of us were married before we even started RCIA. Thus we do not "qualify" to sit at the table. Do we sit at home and pout until we can? Could we waltz up and receive it? Sure, but what does that say to our convictions much less reverence. It says that we'd much rather live in a relationship and receive the Eucharist unlawfully, than play by the rules. 

I'm sure there are many, many people that skirt these rules. Whereas my wife and I decided to NOT live as brother and sister in Christ, we also accepted that until our annulment and marriage blessing was finalized we'd be unable to ALLOW OURSELVES, to partake. And that's okay. We have now, three of our five children Baptised and two are even receiving Communion. The rest of the family? Well we cross our arms and receive our blessing (except the infant; if we are lucky she's sleeping when blessed).

I guess the entire message I'm wanting to convey is this -- good things are worth waiting for. If you honor the "rules" regardless of feeling out of place, it will make the reward that much more worth it. That said, it may turn out that neither my annulment or that of my wife is accepted and we will be living in sin. It is the sad truth but certainly a possibility. Just get right with the Church's teaching, get right with God and above all else don't assume that no one is looking. He knows.

And more more thing before I go. Get to Mass on time, don't leave early! It's not Fast Food and if it was a particularly important relative inviting you to supper you certainly wouldn't act that way, don't treat your Parish that way either. I'll get off my soapbox now.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Weird Necklace, Statues, and a Pregnant Teen

I wanted to take a minute to get back to differences that I've enjoyed since coming to the Catholic Church. One of the most interesting changes that I've had is that of the praying the Rosary, the vast history, and how the church treats Mary.

There are only a few things Catholic that cause most Protestants to be VERY reluctant with even believing Catholics are bound for heaven much less are are Christian. Those three things are:

  • Saints/Statues
  • Mary, mother of God
  • Rosary

Last year at this time I was only just starting my RCIA class. This came after my father-in-laws funeral and both my wife and having an urge to at least learn more about the Catholic church. The funeral service was at St. Peter's Cathedral here in town. Beautiful old Cathedral and exactly what a little Baptist like me would expect -- marble, statuary, and lots of statuary of unfamiliar dead people. As the son of an architect I've been blessed with an appreciation for buildings and their history. Every chance I got, I would steal away to read the plaque under a statue. Then, like the history geek I am, google or look them up on It was very neat to read the history, much less to actually see these Saints that we protestants vaguely mention in songs -- usually around Christmas time.

This is a big deal with Protestants -- "worshiping/praying to Saints". Firstly, I never really believed that to be the case even when I was trained to attack Catholics and other denominations in high school by my old youth minister. As a Southern Baptist I was ALWAYS asking for this person or that to "pray for me". Why would any Christian believe this to be contrary to anything. Seriously splitting hairs, but likely just jealous. I mean when you split off from the rest of your family, you loose that rich and interesting history.

I'm going to combine the last two -- Mary and praying of the Rosary. It's October, and October is dedicated to the Rosary. For my Protestant brothers and sisters, it's the prop you nearly always see lay Catholics have in media to represent their faith should a Priest of other obviously Catholic vocation not be available. It's funny. I could easily tell you what the Rosary was but never what it was for. Throughout my early faith years, the only thing that I was able to figure out was that the Rosary must have something to do with penance from confession since the "Our Father's" and "Hail Mary's" are associated with beads or something. Silly now that I'm looking back. That said, if you are taught that someone is bad or lost, why even begin to engage, ask, or learn.

While it does have the Our Father'sand Hail Mary's, the Rosary is more than that. It is a beautiful prayer, a beautiful method of meditation, a beautiful method of adoration -- it's all of these things. My previous faith belief always seemed to relegate Mary as a poor teenage girl who was mystically "knocked up" and nearly divorced because of a divine surprise pregnancy. I always thought this was about the worst thing that Protestants seem to do regarding the beginning story of Jesus. How can you possibly have respect for the son, with such a cast-away, and basically shameful view towards the mother?

I mentioned in my previous blog post, that it's all very new but all seemed very natural. Lifting Mary to the role of Queen of heaven makes much more sense at least to me. If she is Queen then certainly Jesus is and must be exactly what we believe. Don't get me wrong, it's still very new and seems a little different. But when I stop to think about it, the process of intercession, prayer and adoradtion of the Mother of God seems right and just (if I can borrow the phrase from Mass).

Praying (with) the Rosary, I've found that I calm and concentrate on the message the words, and leave the world behind -- it's my special prayer time and my pitstop between Masses. In times of supreme trouble I try to at least hold my Rosary like I would my mother's hand when I was a child. We have a spiritual mother who is there for us now and we shouldn't fear to reach out to hold her had. She wants us to use her and become closer to her son, our Christ. We as Catholics have a wonderful tool, weapon, and shield. We need to use it more and not be afraid.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Year Into Our Journey

It has now been a year since my family started our Catholic journey. It has sure been a rewarding, thought filled, and fun ride. I have met so many very good people on the way. In that time I've seen three of my step-kids receive the sacrament of Baptism, and the Eucharist. I've seen the birth of my beautiful daughter and I've found out that my spouse is just as enthusiastic about the church as I am.

As a Southern Baptist convert, I have a lot of work to do. Thousands of years of history to learn, and customs that many Cradle Catholics take for granted (for instance, Advent and the various obligation days).

I'm sure that many of my family are not pleased with our decision. Frankly, they may not be pleased but not a one has been really surprised. I do tend to still be all bible-thumpy and for that I beg your prayers and forgiveness. That said I've brought a TON of good habits to my parish. I always arrive at least 10 minutes before Mass begins and I NEVER would dream of leaving before the Mass has ended (that means the song of sending too folks). That said, I need to worry about the plank in my own eye.

In this year I've had the good fortune of having my first Priest retire and a new Priest come into the parish. Both men are extremely, exceedingly good. Honestly, the only thing either was missing was an Irish accent. Both Priest were quick to point out they are sinners, but both were eager to give you a word or even to talk. I praise God for my luck, and ask for his blessing on both these fine priests.

There are things that I'm still working on even today. Mainly, the Rosary and other "oddities" that I'm still getting used too; the stuff that was truly alien to a poor protestant. Whereas I had no trouble picking my patron Saint or praying for intercession (we Baptists always ask for others to intercede for use; and my patron Saint Becket was always a favorite of mine), the other "stuff" I'm still learning and enjoying -- even the challenges. It's strange but I truly feel God's will and "push" on several projects; to the point it is surreal. I'm just hoping that I can assist the Church a portion of the amount I feel it has helped me and my family.

If I may be vulgar to ask for your prayers for myself and family as we continue this journey. I cannot begin to explain how rewarding, nor what a strength it has been for us but it is only a matter of time until Satan tries to separate us from Christ.

Saint Becket, pray for us.
Saint Matthias, pray for us.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us.
Jesus Christ have mercy on us, and on the whole world.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DEBUNKING - Catholics don't, aren't allowed, or are generally discouraged from reading the bible.

A good friend of mine was talking about things he had learned from his history professor including that Catholics aren't allowed or encouraged to read the Bible. Nothing could be further from the truth. That said, I understand the confusion. It is sad but Catholics as a whole seem to have given up on "owning" the very tome they helped create. Even though Catholics are far from Sola Scriptura, having a parish that is woefully unread with regards to the Sacred Scriptures is sad to say the least. Not only that, but when you're Catholic you get MORE TO READ (e.g. Apocryphal books)!

I digress. One of the most significant things that I noticed when I became Catholic was the readings. Three, whole passages read from the Bible. Often two at least really interconnected; you don't need a powerpoint to get the connection. Of course, it doesn't take a skilled Priest long to mesh them all. That said, it was immediately refreshing to have a pastor NOT cherry pick passages to reach a specific conclusion; jumping around so badly that you had to be taking at least a piece or two out of context. It has always been a stumbling block of my early faith that if I looked hard enough, long enough I could justify almost anything. That has certainly gotten me into more trouble both spiritually and otherwise than had there NOT been a bible. Sadly, based on my personal spiritual journey I'm certain a great deal many protestant churches are very much in that vein.

As a recent convert to Catholicism, I can tell you that scripture is key. Heck, the very first thing we were given in RCIA is not only a packet of material that will be covered, but also a BIBLE. Course, I went out and got a Catholic study bible. I felt that I needed to be serious about my Catholic education, and with a house full of young children I had to become that lead of the household on all things Catholic -- and quickly. I had to become an overnight expert on traditions that were not only alien but all at once, ours!

Suffice it to say, that Catholics seem to have given the Sacred Scriptures to the protestant evangelicals. Being the religion that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, helped compile the book that all Christians use. To say that Catholics don't read, or aren't allowed to read the bible is false. And if you are a Catholic that has been neglecting their reading, I encourage you to get back in. So my protestant brothers and sisters with a grin, the next time you bible bash remember that the Catholic has one too. Hopefully, as those coming to the Catholic church continues to increase we can get a couple more of us evangelicals in here to help spread the Word!

God Bless.