This Catholic Journey
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Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

I am a 35-year-old single mother of three juggling church, work, kids and life in general.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Smiling

Mass was great for me this weekend. I went on Saturday and wasn't up for going when I did but I knew I needed to go anyway. In fact, on the way there, I almost turned the car around but decided that, with the mood I was in, going to church might help out a bit. So, I went anyway.

For the first time, there was a noticeable difference between how I felt going in and how I felt going out. I cannot say what it was, although the fact that my kids were angels for a change really helped out! All I know is, when I left, I felt at peace and I was smiling... I'm so glad I didn't miss it because it was just what I needed.

When the Mass came to an end, an elderly woman behind me told me I have a beautiful family... I swear, it was just what I needed to hear... Thank the Lord for her words. It's slow in coming but I am beginning to feel God tug at me in small ways. Sometimes, it's just a few words that someone says, something I hear on the radio, or some small passage I read when I suddenly feel like I "get it"... and something else becomes clear to me.

After church, I took the kids out to dinner and they continued to behave like angels. Perhaps they sensed the peace I was feeling?

I signed the boys up for religious education classes which begin in the middle of September. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to pay for them... RCIA begins Wednesday of next week (sooner than I thought before) and I'm looking forward to it.

I have been putting more thought into how I'm going to present this to my parents. Writing a letter seems like such a large task but it will allow me to accomplish what I want to accomplish without argument. It will allow them time, after I inform them, to settle the emotions down so that harsh words aren't exchanged... and it will also allow me the opportunity to explain everything I need to without being interrupted and confronted. Thing is, when I think about beginning the letter, it just seems overwhelming.

Perhaps I could simply email them the link to this blog? Nice and easy!

I wish.

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Today's prayers:
Deanna's husband - for his health
My sister and her husband - regarding the possible adoption
Damion

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Quotes by Saint Augustine

"Unhappy is the soul enslaved by the love of anything that is mortal."

"God has no need of your money, but the poor have. You give it to the poor, and God receives it."

"This very moment I may, if I desire, become the friend of God."

"I will suggest a means whereby you can praise God all day long, if you wish. Whatever you do, do it well, and you have praised God."

"God bestows more consideration on the purity of the intention with which our actions are performed than on the actions themselves."

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Please Pray

My sister and her husband are unable to have children of their own and have thought for some time about adoption. My sister knows a woman at work who has a pregnant friend who wants to give up her child for adoption. She previously gave up her two-year-old because she just didn't want to responsibility any longer.

My sister's co-worker mentioned to this girl a while back (before she'd decided to adopt her baby out) that she knew someone who was wanting to adopt. Yesterday this girl asked about my sister and wants to meet them. She said she wants to get everything figured out as soon as possible because the baby is due in December.

My sister knows all the horror stories about adoption, especially when you are approached privately, so they are going to be very cautious.

I'd like to ask everyone to please pray that this is legitimate and that this will be something they will be able to work out between them if it is the Lord's will.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Community

The sense of community in the parish I attend is very different than what I'm used to. Of course, since I am new there, and I have not yet gone through RCIA, I haven't had much opportunity to get involved or to dig and find out what they offer. I am hoping to find that sense of community within RCIA... I figure, since I'll be with others who have something in common with me, it will be a great opportunity to connect with people and build on that fellowship that I'll be missing from my former Protestant church.

It has always been a bit important to me to feel welcome in a church... and in fact, I think that some churches do better than others in understanding and carrying out ways of making new people feel welcome. One church I attended used to bring baked goods to the doorstep of all newcomers... This can be a huge task for a large church but it's one of many ways that help people to feel welcomed into the church community.

As a Catholic-to-be in a Catholic Church, you are automatically a bit of an outsider, I think... since you are not able to fully participate. Sometimes, especially when I am there without Damion, I wish that just one person would recognize that I am "new" and say something. But after Mass, most people just rush out the doors and to their cars...

I find that I want to linger around, like I always have... but for what? I'm out of place if I do such a thing. I think it's a little sad. I would think that more people would want to build relationships within the Church they attend since our spiritual life should be the biggest part of who we are.

Once RCIA begins and I am regularly attending the same Mass every week, I think things will be a bit better in this regard. I will then be acquainted with a few people and I won't feel so alone in the Catholic-to-be world.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conversion is a Process

The following was left in a comment by robk

If you believe what you said about the real presence, then you know that the Mass is the ultimate prayer, and there is no substitute. So what is it holding you back? What is it in your gut? You say, you are not converting because of feelings. The intellect and will are involved. But conversion happens in the heart as well as the mind.

EucharistIn response:

First off, thank you for asking questions because they challenge me and encourage my spiritual growth...

I do believe in the real presence on an intellectual level... and I understand that because of this, it is the ultimate prayer.

A couple of things must be kept in mind here:

1. Conversion IS a heart matter... as well as the mind and I understand this fully. But, my faith has been based very much on intellect for a long time. I have felt, likely due to poor life choices, that God has been very far away from me for a long time. I believe I have caused this distance... a hardening of the heart due to pain from consequences... but I've always known in my mind that God IS there and He does love me... It's a long story and difficult to explain... and also what has brought me into this search in the first place, which is why I know my heart is sure to follow if I continue to seek Him.

2. I was not raised a Catholic and the Real Presence is a completely new concept for me... I never even had much opportunity to oppose the idea because I didn't even know this idea existed until recently. I have always viewed communion as a symbolic act in obedience to God and nothing more. When I read John 6, I see that it is MUCH deeper than that and that Christ was obviously speaking literally about his body and blood in relation to communion. However, since I have not yet entered the Catholic Church, and have not yet had the opportunity to receive Holy Communion, my heart has not followed suit. I have faith that in time and before I actually do receive it, I will begin to have a great desire for it. But I cannot force a feeling that isn't there yet.

I have spent years allowing my faith to atrophy, not praying, not reading my Bible, not seeking God's will and being angry for my life circumstances. It is a daily struggle for me just to pray because I feel like my prayers go unheard and unanswered. Unfortunately, the only thing I really continued to do was attend church. The best way to describe all this is spiritual numbness. I feel nothing good or bad.

It's a horrible feeling and one I never wish to feel again. So, though I still feel very little in the heart, I am working with the intellectual aspect because I know that if I diligently work to grow in faith through prayer and reading, that my heart WILL follow. It's just not there yet. At this point, my heart is touched in small and fleeting ways. It's a progression and it takes time.

Imagine someone who's been incapacitated for quite some time, perhaps through an accident and has been unable to walk. Their legs have become weak due to lack of use. In order for them to walk again, it will take exercise, physical therapy and time. One cannot just get up and walk out of the blue. This is how faith is at times, when one allows their faith to waste away, when they don't take the time to work on their spiritual growth, it will take exercise and time to get things back on track.

This is where I am. But the exercise, until it becomes habit and I become a bit stronger, is painful and difficult. A daily battle...

So, what is holding me back? Nothing! In fact, for the first time in a long time, I'm finally moving forward. But growth takes time... and with that growth, I will begin to embrace with my heart what I am embracing intellectually.

In His time.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lessons in Faith

Today it occurred to me that I have spent so little time working on my faith throughout the last few years that I cannot now expect everything fall into place overnight. God is asking for my obedience... for a two-sided relationship. I realize how difficult it is for me to spend even five minutes with Him each day.

Why is this?

My faith has become what it is, in part, because I don't work on my end of the relationship. How can I expect to feel growth if I don't do anything? It is this way with our earthly relationships. I won't know anyone if I don't spend time getting to know them... so I MAKE time. In fact, in certain relationships, I demand time and feel unloved if I don't get enough of someone's time. Why would I think it would be any different with my relationship with God?

Admittedly, I have been improving in this area but I still feel so little. However, I realize I cannot base my relationship with God entirely on feelings. Even those close to God in the Bible, did not always "feel" as if God were near... yet, they knew otherwise and still praised God through it all.

This is what makes me see how little my faith is at times. If I don't feel Him, He must not be there. Not logical but this is how it is when you base it all on feeling.

God is there. I know this. And I know if I continue to seek Him and to seek His will for my life, He will be there always.

I have been praying that God will allow me to feel something... just to confirm that I'm going in the right direction. Sometimes I do think He's trying to let me know but then I wonder if it's just what I want to see instead of what God wants me to see. So, I ask for something bigger. Like lightening or something!

Yes, I know... Oh, ye of little faith!

So, this whole change is also an exercise in trust. Do I trust that God is leading me? It's a tough question to answer when He seems so distant. I trust that He CAN lead me... I simply don't KNOW if he is...

Which means, this is also an exercise in patience.

Faith.
Trust.
Patience.

And let's not forget listening.

Mass was very good this morning... it felt peaceful and I'm finally feeling comfortable there. I was thinking about the wonder of this whole past few months... and how I am finding myself where I never expected myself to be. I had definitely put God in a box. I remember writing several months ago that, though I wanted to follow God, I feared where I would end up if a totally surrendered. I am still working on that surrender and it's a daily mountain to climb, but I'm finding that with God I have nothing to fear and that wherever He takes me, I will not be alone in it.

Even when I don't feel Him, He is with me... always.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pride and Comfort

ComfortNo one wants to believe that what they've known their whole lives to be true is only true in part... and pride is WAY up there in justifying why you won't look deeper.

This described me only a few months ago...

Pride.

The Real Presence or a Memorial Supper?
Scripture and Tradition or Sola Scriptura?
Mary: Sinless Perpetual Virgin or only the Mother of Jesus?
"Not by faith alone" or "Faith alone"?
Visible church or invisible church?
Catholic or Protestant?

I never even KNEW these differences existed before a year ago... and finding out about them completely rocked my faith.

I was unintentionally ignorant and it caused me to realize how severely I lacked scriptural knowledge but what it really all boiled down to was pride.

I didn't want to be wrong...

I'm feeling much better today. God is really giving me encouragement through other people who have been in my shoes. I've read about them in books but it's nice to have access to real-life people.

In addition, I remembered this passage which has served to comfort me many times in the past and even moreso now:

Second Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Corinthians
Chapter 4

1 Therefore, seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not; 2 But we renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience, in the sight of God. 3 And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost, 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us. 8 In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute; 9 We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not: 10 Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

11 For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13 But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe, for which cause we speak also: 14 Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes; that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory. 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.
~Douay-Rheims Bible

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Difficult to Let Go

Yesterday, I suffered some doubts...

At this point in time, if the Catholic Church isn't "it", then I think I would be forced to be an orphan of sorts... and that idea terrifies me.

I suppose the doubts are normal.

I am still attending the non-denominational church with my parents as well as Mass with Damion. I am in a strange middle place, trying to get used to the idea that I have to let go of something I've loved for so long. See, some people don't like the "loudness" of non-denominational churches but it's all I've ever known and it saddens me to leave it behind. I don't hear "loudness" or a lack of reverence. I hear passion... and a great love for God. Thing is, Protestants love God no less than Catholics... just differently and they are unintentionally ignorant to the fullness of Christianity that is found within Catholicism.

I am not converting because of feelings. If I were, I would not be converting at all. I am converting because I am following God. This is, without a doubt, one of the most trying times in my life. I seem to go along just fine one minute but then I am brought to tears.

I don't have any particular attachment to the specific church that I attend, but rather an attachment to the WAY in which I've always worshipped. Catholic worship is so different and I'm struggling to "attach" to it...

I know eventually, over time, I will fully migrate over to the Catholic Church but I simply don't feel ready to let go of my non-denominational worship. Intellectually and theologically, I am no longer non-denominational. I do not participate in their communion anymore and I no longer hold to sola scriptura...

But I'm going to allow myself the freedom to slowly let go. I find comfort knowing that I don't have to give everything up completely. I love Christian music and though I won't hear the songs I've grown up with in church, I can still listen to them on CDs and on Christian radio.

I'm going to take my time... and I have faith that God will show me the beauty in Catholic worship and someday I hope to feel at home in it.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Elijah

Elijah

Sometimes we are Elijah and sometimes we are the hearth cake.

My faith had been seemingly lifeless for quite some time. Last May, I hit a bottom and questioned everything. I was no longer secure in the truth I'd always known. I knew it was "mostly" true but there were many holes. On more than one occasion, I wanted to just escape all of life's problems and questions and all the difficulties I'd brought upon myself through sin. I had very little desire left to follow God at all and He seemed SO far away. Unreachable.

So, I called out... "If you are who you say you are, please show me the truth. I cannot find it on my own."

Nothing changed.

At least not right away.

I realized all I had left was God. I could not, at that time, trust anything I was learning in church... Anyone can tell me anything but I only want TRUTH and I cannot settle for half-truth. But how would I know?

"Truth is truth even if nobody believes it, error is error even if everybody believes it."

This search for truth landed me on the doorstep of Catholicism. It was not a sudden understanding... but one by one the lights were coming on. Everything that I thought I knew about Catholicism turned out to be twisted in some way and I was surprised to find that those half-truths had me so blinded to the reality.

I would look at one theological issue, gain understanding and move on to the next. Information became my "hearth cake" and I soaked it up.

It amazes me that a few months ago, I would have argued with a Catholic for hours and now, the truth is so obvious to me, that I cannot see how others cannot see it as well. It only goes to show that most (but not all) of what I believed was only believed because it was taught to me that way...

Passages like Matthew 16:13-19 and John 6 now have a whole new meaning and depth. Though I have several months to go before I can enter the Church, I am already an intellectual convert... and I feel I finally have "food for the journey".

I feel my faith is finally on the right track and I trust that God will see me through.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

RCIA Changes

Thankfully, Damion came with me to RCIA last night so my nerves were a bit calmer but I was still fairly nervous. Nevertheless, the particular RCIA class that I attended last night was quite contrary to my understanding of RCIA. I knew a little bit going in but thought I'd check it out to be sure. I'm tentatively planning to go through RCIA at another parish that will start in the middle of September but since I've really enjoyed the Mass at this other parish, I thought I'd check out their program.

It's pretty much "open-door" to anyone (Catholic or not-yet-Catholic) and it's year-round. There didn't seem to be any formality or schedule of topics, no sponsors, no sign-up... I suppose this could be beneficial to some people but I've decided that this parish's style of presenting RCIA is not going to be very effective for me.

So, I have another month or so before I will begin RCIA at the original parish I was going to attend. I have to sign up at the end of August but they are already locating a sponsor for me. Also, this parish DOES have a children's religious education program that meets at a day and time that my works with my schedule... I suppose this is my open door. Though this was not the door I wanted, I believe it's where God has led me, so how can I argue with that?

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

RCIA

Tonight I will be going to my first RCIA class... I've been anxious and a little depressed lately. I believe there are forces working against my decision to enter the Catholic Church... making me uneasy.

I have a pit in my stomach.

This is, without a doubt, a very difficult journey.

Since I suffer from depression by nature, I expect to have some dark moments throughout this time in my life, although I am praying that the Lord will see me through them as He has in the past.

I am also in the process of trying to get my children into the religious education classes. It is possible that the only available time is at 4:00... an option not open to me as a single parent who works until 4:30. The church has a 6:15 pm class but it may be full already... I'd hate for them to miss out.

Please pray for the doors to open and for the relief of my anxiety.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Parents' Prayer

Heavenly Father,
Make me a better parent
Teach me to understand my children,
To listen patiently to what they have to say,
And to answer all their questions kindly.

Keep me from interrupting them,
or contradicting them.
Make me as courteous to them
as I would have them be to me.
Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes,
Or resort to shame or ridicule if they displease me.

Bless me with the bigness to grant them
all their reasonable requests,
And the courage to deny them privileges
that I know will do them harm.
Make me fair and just and kind.
And fit me, O Lord,
to be loved and respected
and imitated by my children.

Amen.

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The Popes

"Comments" have been fixed so you do not have to have a blog in order to leave a comment. Sorry if that setting prevented anyone from leaving one.

Last month, I was challenged by a Fundamentalist who came to the knowledge that I was joining the Catholic Church through another blog that I've maintained for four years... She came in gently... telling me subtle things about the errors of the Catholic Church. So, I replied... gently and with kindness. She then came at me full force with all the typical biases that non-Catholics use. I answered each one of her attacks point by point... and for some, I included links. She shot back at me that she would NOT read my links saying something about the devil and his deception in relation to following the links I posted... blah, blah, blah. She then posted SEVERAL comments with all these crazy anti-Catholic ideas. And when I did a search for a string of text, it took me to a website FULL of horrible lies about Catholicism...

So, I took one issue, the Popes, and took each false teaching from this website (in italics below) about Catholicism point by point...

I have cited my sources, but if anyone knows if I'm breaking any copyright rules or anything that may be in error, let me know... I certainly don't want to step on any toes.

All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Version:

Catholic teaching: The apostle Peter was the first pope who then transferred his authority to Linus according to Irenaeus.

History: The bishop of Rome did not receive the title of Pope until the 500's. Many of the early bishops prior to this time were called Pope or pappas in Greek which means father.


First off, the Catholic Church can trace the succession of the pope all the way back to Peter. Christ made it very clear that Peter was "in charge" of the church at that time.

Matt 16:13-19
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

18"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

19"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."


Christ renamed Simon, Peter (Kepha), which means "rock" and then he said, "and upon this rock I will build My church..." It would be pointless to rename him "rock" if he did not mean to refer to him AS the rock on which he would build his church. This makes it very clear that he appointed Peter in a position above the other apostles. Even Protestant scholars agree that this verse refers to Peter as the "rock".

"Another view common among some Protestants (Alford, Broadus, Vincent) is that Peter . . . is the rock." - Wycliffe Bible Commentary

"Some interpreters have . . . referred to Jesus as the rock here, but the context is against this. Nor is it likely that Peter's faith or Peter's confession is meant. It is undoubtedly Peter himself who is to be the rock, but Peter confessing, faithful and obedient . . . The leading role which Peter played is shown throughout the early chapters of Acts." - New Bible Commentary

"Luther . . . took his rejection of the Petrine office from his erroneous interpretation of Christ's saying in Matthew 16 . . . But today we recognize Luther's error and give it up. `Anti-Catholic polemic has done violence to the Lord's saying because it defines the Rock upon which Jesus builds His community not as Peter but as his faith and confession . . . What is spoken of, however, in Matthew 16 is the man to whom Jesus entrusts His work, (7)' writes the Protestant theologian Adolf Schlatter."- Richard Baumann


Peter's authority was quite evident throughout the Bible:
"Whenever they were named, Peter headed the list (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13); sometimes the apostles were referred to as "Peter and those who were with him" (Luke 9:32). Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28). On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7). It is Peter's faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and Peter is given Christ's flock to shepherd (John 21:17). An angel was sent to announce the resurrection to Peter (Mark 16:7), and the risen Christ first appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and he received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11). It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48)."
(Reference: http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_and_the_Papacy.asp)

Plus, in the passage mentioned above in Matthew, Christ himself gave Peter the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" with the power to "bind and loose", indicating authority... again, Protestants do not refute this either:

"In accordance with Matthew's understanding of the kingdom of heaven (i.e., of God) as anywhere God reigns, the keys here represent authority in the Church."

"In conferring upon Peter authority as head of the Church (Matt 16:19), Jesus uses the rabbinical technical terms `to bind' . . . and `to loose' . . . In rabbinic usage the terms mean `to forbid' and `to permit' with reference to interpretation of the law, and secondarily `to condemn' or `place under the ban' and `to acquit.' Thus, Peter is given the authority to determine the rules for doctrine and life (by virtue of revelation and the subsequent leading of the Spirit; Jn 16:13) and to demand obedience from the Church, reflecting the authority of the royal chamberlain or vizier in the Old Testament (cf. Is 22:22)."
- Eerdmans Bible Dictionary


"As the robe and the baldric, mentioned in the preceding verse, were the ensigns of power and authority, so likewise was the key the mark of office, either sacred or civil. This mark of office was likewise among the Greeks, as here in Isaiah, borne on the shoulder. In allusion to the image of the key as the ensign of power, the unlimited extent of that power is expressed with great clearness as well as force by the sole and exclusive authority to open and shut. Our Saviour, therefore, has upon a similar occasion made use of a like manner of expression, Matt 16:19; and in Rev 3:7 has applied to himself the very words of the prophet." - Adam Clarke's Commentary

"Most commentators . . . believe that the keys represent internal authority in the church rather than the power to open it up to outsiders. If this is so it would give Peter, and the apostles associated with him (18:18), not only the power to preach the `kerygma' [proclamation of the gospel] but also to formulate the `didache' [doctrine]." - New Bible Commentary



While the term "pope" may have applied to other bishops in early centuries, there is still a supreme succession in church authority, which was always clear within the Catholic Church and is indicated in the writings of early Christians such as Irenaeus:

"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to
reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." - Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2 (A.D. 180), in ANF, I:1415-416


Catholic teaching: The apostle Peter, who is claimed to be the first Pope, was not married.

Bible: Peter, also known as Cephas, had a wife.


The Catholic Church DOES NOT teach that Peter did not have a wife... come on... that would be a blantant disregard for Scripture and a ludricrous assumption!

In fact, just for entertainment sake, here is a quote from a popular Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, and his answer to the question, "Did Peter have a wife?"

"Apparently so, since he had a mother-in-law. It is customary that the two go together. Sometimes they even remain together, both staying at a fellow's home. This has been the source of many jokes and sad tales, none of which need be recounted here.

Instead, let's consider Matthew 8:14-15 and Luke 4:38-39. Both accounts say that Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Jesus rebuked the fever. It left her, and she got up and served him and his companions.

What about Peter's wife? She is nowhere mentioned. I always have found this strange. I can imagine the scene. There is the mother-in-law, lying on a bed and covered with a blanket. At her side, as one would expect, is her dutiful daughter--except that Matthew and Luke make no
reference to her daughter.

Leaving her out of the story seems strange. It is not the way a writer would be expected to handle the incident, since a daughter usually is the one most frantic about a mother's condition.

The story is tantalizingly brief, and maybe the Evangelists decided to leave out all but the most salient facts. Or maybe it was just an oversight. Or maybe it was because Peter's wife wasn't there--she already may had died. I think this is the most likely explanation for her non-appearance."


So, it appears that while there is no specific MENTION of a wife, Catholics are bright enough to understand that based on the scriptures, he was married!

Matthew 8:14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

Catholic teaching: The Pope is the head of the Catholic church

History: No single head of the Christian church is found in the New Testament. In the early church there was no clear distinction between clergy and laity. Each local area was headed by a local bishop or elder according to Paul and the writings of Ignateus. In the 200's the bishop of each Roman provincial capital gradually acquired authority over the other local churches. In 325 the Council of Nicaea gave primacy to the bishops of Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. The universal primacy of the Pope began with Pope Siricius in the late 300's.


Let's be CLEAR here... the First Council of Nicaea had nothing to do with giving primacy to bishops. The agenda of the council was:
1. The Arian question;
2. The celebration of Passover;
3. The Meletian schism;
4. The Father and Son one in purpose or in person;
5. The baptism of heretics;
6. The status of the lapsed in the persecution under Licinius.

Based on my previous scripture references above, it is CLEAR that Christ appointed Peter in a place of authority over the church so the above "history" statement is inaccurate.

Catholic teaching: The Pope is infallible. This means that the Pope is incapable of error in matters of faith and morals.

Bible: The Pope is only a man. The apostle Peter (claimed to be the first Pope) could make mistakes as he did concerning eating with Gentiles prior to being corrected by Paul.

Galatians 2:11-14 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because
he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?


To be clear, the Catholic Church does not teach that the pope is infallible at ALL times.

"The doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not mean the Pope is always right in all his personal teachings. Catholics are quite aware that, despite his great learning, the Pope is very much a human being and therefore liable to commit human error. On some subjects, like sports and manufacturing, his judgment is liable to be very faulty. The doctrine simply means that the Pope is divinely protected from error when, acting in his official capacity as chief shepherd of the Catholic fold, he promulgates a decision which is binding on the conscience of all Catholics throughout the world. In other words, his infallibility is limited to his specialty--the Faith of Jesus Christ.

In order for the Pope to be infallible on a particular statement, however, four conditions must apply: 1) he must be speaking ex cathedra . . . that is, "from the Chair" of Peter, or in other words, officially, as head of the entire Church; 2) the decision must be for the whole Church; 3) it must be on a matter of faith or morals; 4) the Pope must have the intention of making a final decision on a teaching of faith or morals, so that it is to be held by all the faithful. It must be interpretive, not originative; the Pope has no authority to originate new doctrine. He is not the author of revelation--only its guardian and expounder. He has no power to distort a single word of Scripture, or change one iota of divine tradition. His infallibility is limited strictly to the province of doctrinal interpretation, and it is used quite rarely. It is used in order to clarify, to "define," some point of the ancient Christian tradition. It is the infallibility of which Christ spoke when He said to Peter, the first Pope: "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven." (Matt. 16:19). Certainly Christ would not have admonished His followers to "hear the church" (Matt. 18:17) without somehow making certain that what they heard was the truth--without somehow making the teaching magisterium of His Church infallible.

For a complete understanding of the Pope's infallibility, however, one more thing should be known: His ex cathedra decisions are not the result of his own private deliberations. They are the result of many years--sometimes hundreds of years--of consultation with the other bishops and theologians of the Church. He is, in effect, voicing the belief of the whole Church. His infallibility is not his own private endowment, but rather an endowment of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, the Pope's hands are tied with regard to the changing of Christian doctrine. No Pope has ever used his infallibility to change, add, or subtract any Christian teaching; this is because Our Lord promised to be with His Church until the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20). Protestant denominations, on the other hand, feel free to change their doctrines. For example, all Protestant denominations once taught that contraception was gravely sinful; but since 1930, when the Church of England's Lambeth Conference decided contraception was no longer a sin, virtually all Protestant ministers in the world have accepted this human decision and changed their teaching."(Source: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/faq-cc.html).

Catholic teaching: Adoration of the Pope

Bible: The Pope is a human man and with the same temptations and problems as we. Peter did not allow others to bow before him why should the pope.

Acts 10:25-26 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."


I can't find anywhere that the Church teaches that anyone has to adore the Pope. Adoration is reserved for Christ alone.

Let's keep in mind that the role of the pope is to SERVE the church. If anyone is worshipping or adoring him, they are going against the teaching of the church, which is that adoration is for God alone.

The Catholic Catechism says:
"2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory," respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God. Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications."

So, in conclusion, if the church is founded upon Peter the "rock", how does this apply to Protestant churches today?

For those interested who would like additional Scripture references on this topic, here is a wonderful link:

50 New Testament Proofs for Petrine Primacy and the Papacy

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Spiritual Warfare

"Sleep well here on earth; a firey judgment awaits you should you fail to repent."

This is what a Protestant told me the other day when the subject of Mary came up. Though I do not pray to Mary, I understand and defend the Catholic view point...

"...you choose to deny the Lord Jesus Christ and pray to what you believe is the spirit of a dead woman, instead. You are beyond hope, in other words, and in direct violation of God's Word."

It floors me that I am judged and condemned this way by "fellow Christians" who do not even know anything about me or my faith.

Thing is, he got it wrong. He said what I believe is the spirit of a dead woman... but I don't believe she is dead. She is part of the body of Christ, and therefore, very much alive... in fact, more "alive" than I am! He also got it wrong when he said I deny Christ... I do not know ANY Christian who denies Christ!

Interestingly enough, today's homily addressed the issue of spiritual warfare. It is very real. I simply never imagine that the warfare would come from others claiming to be Christians... nor did it ever occur to me that Christians would be so blantant in persecuting other Christians.

I understand that we don't see eye to eye on many issues but I cannot grasp the lack of tolerance that exists in the Christian world today, which was always must more miniman throughout my upbringing.

There are websites devoted to the spread of lies about Catholicism and knowing what I know now, it is extremely disheartening to see such misconception being thrown at us in the name of the Lord.

I realize how much broader the warfare is... because not only must Catholics fight to spread the news of the Gospel, but we must also constantly be defending ourselves to those who should be WITH us!

The other day, when I told someone I was dating a Catholic, I was looked at with a bit of surprise when she said to me, "Oh! So you have some work to do!"

"What do you mean?" I asked... but I knew what was coming.

"Well," she said, "Not all Catholics are Christians."

"Yes, but neither are all 'Christians'!"

She agreed but she was quite surprised by my answer. She then informed me that she was raised in the Catholic church but never once was taught what Christ did for her... and neither were her parents.

"How unfortunate but you cannot blame the Church for that!"

Then I wondered why no one ever questioned the crucifix. The crucifix is displayed in EVERY Catholic Church I've EVER been in! How could she and her family attend Mass regularly and not know what Christ did for them?

At this moment I realized that one cannot simply leave the learning of the faith up to the Church alone. One must live it in their home and teach it to their children. They will not know it otherwise.

I thought it sad that she had such richness at her fingertips and somehow the entire family missed all the beauty and truth within.

Today was the fourth Mass my children attended. I've been working with them on the Sign of the Cross and it's so great to see them excited about it. My eldest son asked if he could pull the kneeler down before the Mass began so that he could pray. He is only seven and to see him kneeling there, hands folded, head bowed, and praying nearly brought a tear to my eye... and I thanked the Lord for it.

Entering the Catholic Church is not going to be a popular decision but if there is one thing I've learned, it's that doing what is right is NEVER what is popular.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

The Lord's Supper

People should not change denominations because it makes them feel good but because they feel the change will bring them closer to the truth and closer to God. I'm sure some may, in fact, do this... but it is not logical to do so.

I can attest to the fact that I am not becoming a Catholic based on emotion but rather because I find it logical. Everyone coming into the Catholic Church from an outside Christian faith, has at least one thing that they feel is difficult to accept about Catholic doctrine: the Real Presence, the Pope, Marian doctrines, Scripture and Tradition, and the authority of the Church, just to name a few.

I was taught and always believed that The Lord's Supper was merely symbolic. How could I ever have missed John 6:25-59?

25When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
26Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
30So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
32Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
34"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."
35Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
41At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." 42They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"
43"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. 44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.


Although there is a symbolic element, if this were merely symbolic, why would some of those who heard him speak turn away from him? He knew they were disturbed by his message and it would not have been logical for him to have allowed them to walk away if he were only talking symbolically.

On another note, if this act were only symbolic, why would it be so important for us to examine ourselves before partaking?

1 Corinthians 11:27

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

And how could we then be sinning against the "body and blood" of the Lord? This statement simply would not make sense if we did not take Christ literally.

It just seems all too clear that Christ is indeed present in the bread and wine during Holy Communion. I fully accept this on a logical level and I know with deeper growth, I will also accept this in my heart... This is my prayer:

Act of Desire
Jesus, My God and my all
my soul longs for You.
My heart yearns
to receive you in Holy Communion.
Come, Bread of Angels,
to nourish my soul and to rejoice in my heart.
Come most lovable Friend of my soul,
to enflame me with such love
that I may never again
be separated from You.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Family

Being raised in the non-denominational church, I learned all the basic anti-Catholic ideas about Catholicism. Although no one spoke horribly about the church in my family, it was thought that there were SOME Christians within the Catholic Church.

I even remember my mother stating that she believed her aunt, despite her Catholicism, was definitely "saved" because she had such an obvious love for the Lord. I suppose even I felt sorry that she was so devout in Catholicism though I never thought to ask her about her faith at all.

She is now ailing and there is supposed to be a family reunion of sorts in Southern California in September. I would *really* like to be able to speak with her, tell her about my journey and hear her own story of faith.

In fact, through the last few months, I find I am quite inspired by the conversion stories of others. I just finished "Suprised by Truth" by Patrick Madrid. I found myself near tears while reading it and realized how much I have in common with many of them. The light-bulb moments, as I call them... in which you gain a whole new understanding of a passage of Scripture that you previously had no explaination for and, therefore, ignored.

These are all things I wish to address through this blog... one day at a time.

When I finally approach my family with the announcement that I am entering the Catholic Church, I don't doubt that I will be asked a lot of questions about how I have been able to accept certain dotrines within the Church. But I am resting easy in this because the Lord is faithful. There is still so much to learn, so much to read, so much praying and studying to do. But I need to be prepared to answer as many of their questions as possible.

I want it to be clear that I'm not just doing this based on emotion. It is truly the last thing I ever wanted to do but I am constantly reminded to follow God and I see a treasure of beauty waiting to be discovered within the Catholic Church that I now long to be a part of.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

About Me

I was born in Reno, Nevada on December 20, 1974. For as long as I can remember, my mother brought my sister and me to church. I have fond memories of Sunday School: the songs, the lessons, and the friends. I remember listening to "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" and "Psalty's Kids Praise" tapes in the car wherever we were going. We'd all sing along together and it all instilled in me a love for God. I'm forever grateful to my mom for taking us to church and teaching us about God, even in the dark seasons of her life.

By the time I was nine years old, I had a huge passion for Jesus. I loved Keith Green and remember attending one of his concerts not long before he died. He was passionate for the Lord and it was something I could sense in every word he spoke and sang. I wanted to be a part of it all and I accepted Christ into my heart as my Lord and Savior. It's a moment many Protestant parents dream of: when their child makes this choice to be a follower of Jesus. Not long after that, I was baptized in a local public pool with my family and other church members in attendance.

It seems necessary for me to mention that my mother took us to church alone because my father was not a believer. My mother accepted Christ shortly after they were married and this is where her journey of prayer for my father began. I would be another 30 years or so before he would follow suit. He accepted Christ September 9, 2005 and was baptized on June 27, 2006... an occasion we'd all awaited for so long.

I continued to grow up in church. Over the course of my 31 years, I've attended eight different non-denominational churches. They were all similar in practice and doctrine and I never had any reason to doubt anything I was taught. I thought all Christians believed in the same essential truths but that some had practices that were not Biblical. As a non-denominational, I believed that included anyone inside a denomination, especially Catholics, which were likely farther from the truth than any other. I believed that while there were some truly "saved" Christians in Catholic churches, if they were truly saved, they would likely find their way out and when I would meet one that had a visible passion for God, I'd simply hope that they would find their way to a greater truth and leave the Catholic Church.

Through most of elementary school, I was a happy kid with a great sense of humor and passion for life. I loved Jesus and I didn't understand why anyone wouldn't. As I grew a bit older, I realized that my passion for God was something that separated me from the majority of my peers. I was called a "good little Christian girl" and though a part of me was proud of that, it seemed a greater part of me was hurt by it. I didn't want a label and I didn't want to be different. My status as a "good little Christian girl" did not get me in with the popular crowd and I spent much of my adolescence as a loner. I lost my happiness, my sense of humor and my passion for God.

I never stopped believing in God and I knew I loved Him and that He loved me (at least in my mind) but I was not bold unless I felt I had to defend something. In high school, I was miserable. I attended high school with kids I'd known most of my life who would not give me the time of day. Friends came and friends went but few stuck around for very long. I was depressed, cynical and pessimistic...

My senior year, I became friends with Damion. I can't remember how it came to be that I hit it off with a guy two years behind me but we were inseparable. We spent hours debating religion and just hanging out together. I finally felt I had a true friend and I fell in love with him. He liked me despite my pessimistic attitude and put up with all my moodiness. Like many good things at that time in my life, the friendship and all hope for a dating relationship came to an abrupt end that slowly began to be mended about the time I graduated from high school. Damion went to another school the following year and over time, we lost all contact with each other. But I never forgot him and he held a very special place in my heart.

Though I never stopped attending church, I spent the next several years making very poor choices. In short, I was married three different times, never to a Christian man and never with any thought about Biblical marriage. I just did whatever I wanted to do and lived my life any way that I wanted to live it in the moment, believing that no matter what I did, though it might have earthly consequences, I would be forgiven and my salvation was assured. The consequences of my poor choices brought three blessings into my life: my children.

My faith over the years had dwindled, at least in heart, and I no longer felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I still attended church regularly and wished that I would feel "something". The only time I'd pray is when I was so low in self-pity, I didn't know what else to do. I attended Bible studies and other small groups, always with the hope of being "grabbed" and regaining that feeling of faith that I had as a child. It never came. One day, I was informed that I should not expect to ever feel that way again. It broke my heart. If I would never feel passion for Christ like that again, why even bother with the whole thing at all? Yet, I continued to attend church and other small groups, still waiting and hoping to be grabbed but doubting it would EVER happen. Where is God? Why bother praying when it changes nothing?

In this time, I also found that I had a serious problem with depression. Counseling only took me so far and so I began to take anti-depressants. They helped... took the edge off the depression and anxiety and allowed me to be a calmer and more rational person in my everyday existence.

In late June 2005, I found Damion through an internet search and we decided to meet. I discovered, much to my surprise, that he was a Christian and much to my dismay that he was a Catholic. I thought I'd just pray him out of the Catholic Church and all it's error. He was "just a Christian attending a Catholic Church" and it would only be a matter of time before I could show him the errors and he'd leave.

Instead, when issues of faith came up, we did nothing but argue. I continuously found more and more things that were debatable ... things I never even KNEW were up for debate. I understood that Christ wanted unity with all Christians and especially in marital relationships and Damion and I both strongly felt we were brought together by God... But how could two Christians be at such extreme odds with one another? There were days when our arguments would cause me to doubt whether or not I even wanted to be a Christian at all. We got to the point where we could not discuss issues of faith at all and the subject was ignored for several months. Every time I heard anything about Catholicism I'd cringe.

What is truth?

If I am to believe that God exists, then there must be an absolute truth. He would not want us blindly following a false interpretation of his living Word. Between Damion and I, if we are supposed to be able to agree on issues of faith, then who has to bend? Could it be me?

Around the beginning of May 2006, I hit a very deep low point with my faith. It is difficult to reflect on those feelings adequately even three months later because the despair I felt was so painful.

On May 8, 2006, I wrote:

I absolutely struggle with the concept that God can fix, heal or solve anything. Thing is, even though I know he CAN, I always doubt that he WILL. I also know how little effort I put into believing that he will...

It is difficult for me to admit that my head knowledge does not often reach my heart. Easy for me to tell someone else to pray about something but when it comes to myself, I don't because I don't believe it will make any difference whatsoever. Prayer often feels like an empty one-sided conversation...

I read otherwise, see otherwise, know in my head otherwise... but cannot seem to apply it to my own life and problems... as if they are too big and God is unwilling... They aren't too big but I still don't know if God is willing. I cannot know if God is willing if I don't surrender it to Him... but to be honest, I do not know how to do that and on an even more honest level, I fear the response for such obedience.

I hate to admit it but I question my faith right now more than I ever have before and more than I ever thought I would. I almost feel that in the big picture, I nearly lack faith completely at this point... and although I want to turn it around, I feel like I lack something necessary... perhaps the faith itself.

I have never felt such self-loathing, despair, hopelessness and helplessness. I find joy in very few things. Perhaps He is breaking me... I feel devastation with nothing to feel devastated about except the lack of faith itself... it pains and saddens me very deeply.

But I cannot give up.... though I'd like to just cease to exist... to walk away... to push aside the reality of God and His great existence, I can't. I know Him to be True... to be unfailing, loving, sacrificial... the Savior. This life is not an accident. My problems, my doubts, my fears... they all serve a purpose. God has given them to me with a long-term purpose in mind... something I prayed for long ago. The only thing I have faith in right now is that I will not be in "this place" forever...

While sitting in service on Sunday, my faithlessness and all, there was a small and fleeting moment where the Holy Spirit touched me. I nearly burst into tears but quickly pushed it aside. It hurts... I don't want to be broken. I don't want to break. I don't want to feel the pain of it all... I don't want to face the reality... so I just keep ignoring it, pretending all is well. "I'll be fine."

I tell myself to just work it out on my own. "Don't tell anyone... no one will understand..."

But I realize I'm putting God in a box... limiting what He is capable of doing and His awesomeness.

God is infinite... indescribable, immeasurable, uncontainable...

This, I believe, was the start of an amazing change. I just wanted to know what was true with no doubts. Was I really saved? Was my belief big enough? Had I lost my faith? Would I never again feel the passion I felt as a child?

I joined a Christian online forum. Little did I know, but this forum was focused on evangelizing Catholics out of the Catholic Church. The debates were HUGE and argumentative and I found myself joining in and arguing against Catholicism with fervor though inside, I just wanted everyone to find something in common. On both sides, some posts were loving while others were spiteful and condemning. But one day, in the midst of a debate, my entire attitude suddenly changed. I suddenly wanted to understand how Catholics KNEW that the Catholic Church was the church Christ founded and how they knew that the early church fathers didn't mess it up. It was such a bold claim to make that I had to know what they had to back it up. One Catholic poster thought I was being sarcastic (the drawback of debating in writing) but I was serious and I made a request for a God-loving and kind Catholic to sincerely answer my question. One did... I could not fully grasp the answer at that time but I abandoned that forum and began to take a genuine look at Catholicism... not from non-Catholics but from Catholics themselves. I reasoned, "Would I want a Mormon learning about Christianity from other Mormons?"

I had to go to the source and I had to keep all my searching private for now. I did not want to be swayed by anyone close to me in any direction. I wanted to search for truth with the help of God alone. I began listening to Catholic radio and on the first day, I tuned in to the conversion story of Drake McCalister. I could not believe that I was hearing someone from a Protestant background who converted TO Catholicism. Weren't they supposed to leave the Catholic Church if they were true Christians? His story was amazing and since I could hear his voice via radio, I was able to hear the passion for God in his voice. He sounded no less Christian than any other Christian I had known.

Since then, I've been doing a lot of reading and have a lot more to do. But one thing keeps coming to mind:

Matthew 16:13-19

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?"

14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

What continuously sticks out at me is that Christ said he would not let the powers of death (or gates of Hades) prevail against His church. The Catholic Church traces its origin all the way back to Jesus Christ himself and they were essentially (with the exception of Orthodoxy 1054 AD) the only church for the first 1500 years.

Either Christ did as He promised and protected His church, or he did not. Did He lie to us? If Christ did not do as He promised, this would force me into, at most, agnosticism. On the other hand, if Christ kept his promise, then the only logical conclusion is to assume that the Catholic Church is his church. The term "catholic" was used as early as the first century.

At this point, I realize that I must either enter the Catholic Church or completely denounce my life-long faith in God, in which I find there to be too much evidence for His vast existence.

There are many other dogmas of the Catholic faith that I have come to accept... others, I do not yet understand. But I know that God will be faithful because this is where He has taken me. Many will not understand this decision and I anticipate the loss of many of my Christian friends, but I do not follow them, nor would it be right for me to do so.

Matthew 10:37-38

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me."

Saint Augustine wrote, "Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand."

For the first time since childhood, I am beginning to feel a little tug by the Holy Spirit, letting me know that I'm being obedient to God... There are so many other things that I have learned so far, I could not possible share them all on this opening page.

I invite you to read my blog and to come back often to share in my journey with me. I no longer believe that salvation is a one-time event but a daily and life-long journey. We are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).

I would also like to ask anyone willing, to pray for me and my family - that we would continue to grow in faith and follow God wherever He may take us.

In Christ,
Amber

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