This Catholic Journey
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Name: Amber
Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

I am a 34-year-old single mother of three. I am a convert to Catholicism and came into the Church on April 7, 2007. This blog is a collection of thoughts and things I learn in my journey of faith. All comments are welcome!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I'm a Catholic!

The first thing I thought when I woke up this morning was, "I'm a Catholic!" In a flash, the moment I had longed for came and went. Here I sit, nearly 24 hours later, and I can still imagine the scent of the oil. I can still feel the touch of my sponsors and the hands that Father Joseph placed on my head. It's almost surreal.

There were two who were baptized and seeing them up there brought about reflections on my own baptism... I was overjoyed for them! How awesome is the work of the Holy Spirit as He cleanses a soul of it's sin! It's a much more moving event having the understanding that baptism actually does leave a mark on the soul. I only wish I had the same understanding when the Holy Spirit was at work during my baptism as a child.

After the baptism, it was time for Confirmation. Upon the calling of my name, I walked up with the others. Damion and Ruth stood behind me with their hands on my shoulders. I stood there, trembling with nervousness and excitement. I kept thinking about my journey and how far I'd come in such a short time. I was thanking God for bringing me into His truth, for showing me the beauty in the Catholic faith and for finally bringing me to this moment in time.

When Fr. Joseph placed his hands on my head, the weight of his hands surprised me at first, but I felt peaceful and it was almost as if I could feel his faith. Deep. Sincere. He then anointed me with oil and said, "Elizabeth Ann Seton, be sealed with the Holy Spirit." And we exchanged the Sign of Peace.

We were then dismissed to our seats to prepare for the Eucharist. I already felt as if I could burst with joy and I hadn't even had the Eucharist yet! We were called up, the ten of us, to receive our First Holy Communion. One by one, we ate the body and drank of the cup. We then returned to our pews to allow everyone else to partake in communion. For the first time, I was able to receive communion with Damion, a moment I had long been waiting for and one which I feel has brought us closer together.

The entire Mass was beautiful... and it didn't seem nearly as long as it was. In attendance on my behalf were: Damion, Ruth, Holly, Patty, Lindsey, April, Heather, Carrie and Trevor. I was deeply moved and blessed to have them there to witness one of the most meaningful and important events in my life. From Ruth, I received a beautiful crucifix necklace, which I have proudly worn ever since and will treasure it for many years to come.

I feel different today. I feel content and free of anxiety. I feel ready to continue growing closer to God and I am anxious to receive Him again in the Eucharist!

I love Jesus. I love the Catholic Church. I love the Catholic faith.

I'm a Catholic and I wouldn't want to be anything else!

Thanks be to God!

*Thank you to EVERYONE who prayed for me! I received generous comments on my blog along with a few emails and I took to heart every single one of them!*

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Looking Ahead!

Luke 9:60-62
But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

This verse spoke a lot to me last night. (Thanks, Dub!) I realize that, since I am following God, I cannot look back and there's no point in allowing my family, or anyone else for that matter, to take away the happiness in coming into Christ's Church. Each day, I find I am drawing closer to God, learning more... growing.

The Rite of Sending on Saturday was beautiful... My sponsor said that she sees how Jesus has been made real in my heart and my mind... It was wonderful to hear what each sponsor had to say about their candidates or catechumens as we were being "sent" to the bishop.

The Rite of Election was equally beautiful. Damion was there with the kids... Having them there to share in the event with me was great. I was amazed to see all the people in the diocese who have been moved along a similar journey to mine... some stepping into Christianity for the first time and others making their way to full communion with the Catholic Church... each one following God where He's led them. I do not know the numbers of those who stood up there, but I was filled with a sense of awe as I realized I was a part of something much bigger. All over the world, men and woman were coming forth in preparation for Easter Sacraments, celebrating God's presence and work in their lives, growing stronger in faith, and waiting with anticipation to partake in the Eucharist and become one with the Body of Christ.

It's moving to see how God has shaped people and moved them to the point where we could all come together like that. Beautiful!

After the rite, I had a picture taken with the bishop and then Damion, the kids and I went out for dinner. There was a nasty snow storm on our return trip to Reno and we feared we wouldn't make it back... our half hour drive turned into about 2 hours but we made it safely back home.

Now, I am looking ahead to the Easter Vigil! In less than six weeks, I will be in full communion with the Church established by the Lord himself!

Lord, keep me from all temptation and do not allow those around me to discourage me from following You. Keep me focused on Your will and help me forgive those who hurt me because they do not understand.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Upcoming Rites

Tomorrow, I go through the Rite of Sending and then the Rite of Election on Sunday. I've invited my family but have not heard whether or not they will attend. These rites are exciting because they bring me that much closer to Easter Vigil! Please pray for me as I go through these rites. Please also pray that if my family comes, they will see the beauty in the Mass and feel God's presence... that their ears, eyes and hearts will be open.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Confused about the order of things

I added a chat box through Meebo... If you see me online, don't be shy! I appreciate the private messages I've received when I've been off-line as well... I thank those of you who've left messages, for your kind words of encouragement and your much needed prayers!

Based on the fact that I have no record of baptism, that the church I was baptized in no longer exists and the fact that my mom is terribly reluctant, if not unwilling, to sign a piece of paper stating that I was validly baptized, it has been decided that I will be conditionally baptized. What troubles me is that I was told I would not need to attend First Reconciliation prior to the Easter Vigil. And from what I can tell, they expect to conditionally baptize me AT the Easter Vigil Mass. From what I've read, this is contrary to the way it's supposed to be done.

For one, if my first baptism was valid, then I think this conditional baptism will have no effect, which means, I will still have sin on my soul and should not partake in communion until I have gone to reconciliation. (If this takes place at Easter Vigil, I won't have TIME to go to reconciliation beforehand!) I have also read that conditional baptisms are to take place in private. When I talked to my RCIA Director about this, she seemed surprised. She is bringing the following questions to the parish priest:

What are the effects of a conditional baptism if the first baptism WAS valid? (I believe I know the answer but I wanted the RCIA Director to ask since she wasn't sure.)

Does the conditional baptism need to be done in private prior to the Easter Vigil Mass?

Is reconciliation required before (or after) the conditional baptism and prior to receiving First Communion?

Based on what I've read, I should be going to reconciliation BEFORE First Communion. Some say I should receive a conditional absolution. Some say there is no such thing.

I'm a bit confused by everything at this point. I am 99.9% certain that my first baptism was valid and I would not be comfortable NOT going to reconciliation. If I am told something that conflicts with this, I'm going to make an appointment to meet with the parish priest.

It seems the RCIA Director doesn't have a clear understanding of the National Statutes for RCIA. It also seems, according to these statutes that while I'm permitted to go through RCIA, I could actually have been received into the Church at any time since I have lived my life as a Christian and have an understanding of Catholic teaching etc. I have also read that there are certain rites I am not, as a baptized Christian, supposed to be doing in the same way that catechumens are, such as the scrutinies. My RCIA Director talks of these things as if we will all be doing the same thing. I'm not sure, at this point, if I should just go with the flow and follow their directions or what?

At this point, I certainly don't mind waiting until Easter, since I believe the anticipation has been good for my growth, but I don't want to be taking part in the aspects of certain rites that are supposed to be reserved for those who are unbaptized... and actually, I'm not even sure if there ARE any in my class who are not baptized already. I supposed I'm just going to have to talk with the RCIA Director about what I've read... but I have a feeling that anything I say will be trumped.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rite of Acceptance

The rite was beautiful. I wanted to post all the details but I really think it should remain a surprise for those who have not experienced it so I won't spoil it here. I believe I will have to write it elsewhere though just to keep it fresh upon my mind.

(Thank you, Cindy, for your prayers!)

I finally know who my sponsor is. She's a wonderful lady named Ruth. I can just feel the love of God coming through her. What I think will be best about my pairing with her is that she seems to be so in tune with the "heart" aspect... where I am lacking. She does not seem to be the intellectual/apologetic type. I think this will really help me to put the intellectual conversion together with the heart conversion.

On a completely different note, I have three past marriages going through the annulment process. There is some paperwork I have to get together which has caused me to rely on other people. Being patient is difficult. One person is a friend and for some reason, she is not being helpful. It's a matter of getting to a fax machine and she simply hasn't "gotten around to it" for several weeks now. It is frustrating... I am also relying on a county clerk's office in another state. They haven't gotten back to me and it's been about 6 weeks. I really just want to get the process back on track but it seems I've hit some walls. What's worse, the paperwork that is most difficult to attain is probably the most essential. Any prayers for me in this area would be helpful and appreciated.

Last night, my five-year-old prayed: "Dear Jesus, thank you for the day. You touched my heart. Please keep our tiny treasures safe with you... Amen."

Today's prayers:
Damion
Marshall - joy
Richie - teen with cancer... there is nothing more they can do for him
Anna - steeped in new age and other anti-Christian activity
My family - for understanding and openness of heart
My children - to grow knowing God's love for them

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Joy will be restored...

I've been reading "Rome Sweet Home" and I cannot begin to express how great this book is. I can relate so well with Kimberly Hahn.

"Lord, the joy is gone. Who are you? I've known you all my life. I thought I understood you but now I don't understand anything... I'm so confused."

Joy. It is what I've longed to have restored to me. I desire to feel God's presence in my life again... like I did when I was a child but with a greater thirst and a more mature heart. I no longer want to be a child in my faith. I want to be where God wants me to be. I want to do what God wants me to do. I don't want to just get in the boat, but I want to be in the center of the boat... I don't want to make excuses and I don't want anything to hold me back.

Last night, on the way to RCIA, I felt so content. It was a feeling I cannot recall feeling before. I mean, I really felt GREAT! I knew this was the last class in the Inquiry stage and I was anticipating the move to the next step. On October 21, 2006, I will go through the Rite of Acceptance and become a candidate. Though I have had people come at me from all sides, God is keeping me firmly planted. I have no doubt that I am obeying God and coming home to the Church He established.

Some of these good feelings are so foreign to me that I don't know what to do with them and I try to push them away. It seems strange but I have to focus on NOT pushing them away... on letting God just work on my heart. I know now that living my life they way I have, has caused more damage than I imagined to my heart and to my spirit. God is pulling me out of the miry clay and setting me upon His truth. But there is still a lot of work to be done in order to heal all the damage.

Joy. It is what I've longed to have restored to me. And the more I surrender my will to the Lord, the more joy I feel. Last night, I thanked the Lord for breaking me and for bringing me into the fullness of truth.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Beginning RCIA

I haven't had much time to write lately. I've been really busy at work and with life in general. RCIA began on Wednesday night. I enjoyed it and I'm really looking forward to continuing through it.

I finally finished "Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic". It was another great book that I'd recommend to anyone exploring the Catholic faith.

There are so many books I want to read, it seems I'll never get through them all, especially since school has started and I now have a class to read for as well. I'm lucky if I can sneak in two or three pages during breaks at work!

Though I feel I am still struggling with my faith a bit, I'm seeing little things happen that remind me that God truly is in control. The first night at RCIA, they handed out a prayer and it was one of the prayers I found online that SAME day that was SO perfect for what I am going through.


The Road Ahead - Prayer of Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


What a wonderful prayer and a great reminder that I am not alone!

Another thing... I've been having a lot of anxiety lately but every time I begin to feel it, I simply pray that the Lord will take it away and He does, until the next time and then I just give it to Him again. Every morning, I thank Him for another day and ask for help to live it for Him.

Now, if I can just find the words to start that letter to my parents!

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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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