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!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sirach 4:28

"Even to the death fight for truth, and the LORD your God will battle for you."

I love this verse.

So often it is difficult to stand up for the truth, especially when society has become so relativistic. But God calls us to fight to the death for the truth if necessary. In doing so, we know that God will join us in the fight and that, in the end, the truth will always win.

It is the search for truth that brought me to the Catholic faith and I've had to work hard to defend my decision to follow God into what many call a "dried-up, man-made, religion of rules". How so very wrong they are... as it is none of these things! In fact, the Catholic faith challenges me to grow in Christ, to study more, pray more and love more.

I love my faith and want to grow in the desire to fight for the truth, whatever the cost!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Acts 2:42

Acts 2:42
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


There was a time, when I was just getting "soft" on Catholicism, when my mom asked, "Is the Catholic Church the church in Acts 2:42?" At the time, I really didn't know. I was just beginning to set aside my misconceptions about the Church so I could learn what they actually teach instead of what I'd been led to believe my whole life. This question, of course, nagged at me for quite some time.

Is the Catholic Church the church in Acts 2:42?

Well, let's take a look...

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship...

For one, it's interesting to point out that this does not say they devoted themselves to Scripture. The apostles at this time weren't necessarily writing down everything they were teaching. They didn't say, "Hey, you can't believe this until it's written in Scripture!" The passed on the teachings orally and the early church devoted themselves to these oral teachings. Today, the Catholic Church devotes themselves to Scripture AND Tradition (the teachings passed on by the apostles')... the word of God comes to us through both means. We see this in other passages like 2 Thess 2:15 where it says, "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."

One cannot sit through Mass and not hear the word of God throughout! The entire Mass is a prayer of thanksgiving! More Scripture is read in Mass than in any other church I've attended... In fact, the entire Mass is based in Scripture. How could anyone say we're not devoting ourselves to the apostles' teachings? They simply cannot!

Fellowship is an association of people who share common beliefs or activities. Catholics gather together every day of the week throughout the entire world. There isn't a time when a Mass is not being said. It's like one continuous prayer making it's way to heaven without ceasing. This was prophesied in Malachi 1:11: "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty." At the time this was written, God's name was not great among the nations. What other church today has incense and a pure offering (the representation of Christ's sacrifice) in EVERY place, from the rising to the setting of the sun?

...to the breaking of bread...

Every Mass includes the breaking of bread! Holy Communion is offered at every Mass throughout the world. Malachi 1:11 also applies here. This is the pure offering as we continuously remember Christ's sacrifice... It isn't once a month or once a week on a Wednesday... It's EVERY day throughout the entire world! We're definitely not leaving out the breaking of bread in Acts 2:42!

...and to prayer.

The Mass IS a prayer. And within that prayer we say more prayers! Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of repentance, prayers of praise, prayers of song!

Growing up, I'd have a symbol only communion once a month or so. We'd usually have an opening prayer and a closing prayer for each service. We'd sing a few songs and then a pastor would discuss a topic, read a few verses and give us his interpretation of them, which I generally accepted without question. But how could I know that his interpretation was correct? or that it matched what was taught by the apostles and the earliest of Christians? I often wonder why it never occurred to me to find out if what I was being taught was historically understood the same way.

So, is the Catholic Church the church of Acts 2:42? Without a doubt! In fact, it fits this description more fully than any other. I am so thankful to be Catholic!

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me into the church of Acts 2:42 in all it's fullness! Amen.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

I Still Have Jesus

One of the biggest misconceptions many of my Protestant brothers and sisters have is the false idea that Catholics don't "have Jesus". Listening to Francis Beckwith on Catholic Answers the other day, he hit this idea on the head! In my conversion to Catholicism, I did not have to give up Jesus. In fact, I have a greater understanding of Him now than I did in all my years prior. Some, I'm sure, is due to all the studying I did. One cannot study about Christianity without growing in understanding about Jesus. But, as many of us converts discover, we not only learn more about Jesus but we learn more about the Church he established, the Scriptures and how God uses ordinary things to bring extraordinary grace into our lives.

Every good thing I believed as a Protestant came with me into my Catholic faith, including the most central message of the gospel. I didn't give up my relationship with Christ; it was strengthened. I didn't have to deny who Christ is as the Son of God; I grew closer to Him. In the process, I felt (and still do) a beautiful connection to the Church of history, to the saints in heaven, and to the body of Christ. I feel like I'm a part of something bigger and more beautiful than I ever imagined as a Protestant.

Conversion was a painful process. Not only did I bring into question the theology I'd held as truth my whole life, but I slowing began to realize that the theology on the other side of the fence made more logical sense... that it put the supernatural back into play and that Christianity was NOT just as simple as "Jesus and me". These ideas rocked me to the core and I honestly began to question Christianity entirely. I begged God to show me truth because I had suddenly realize how relativistic Christianity was... all these Christian churches teaching opposing truths and only ONE truth to believe. I couldn't accept the idea that Christ would leave us with such opposing truths to decide for ourselves what to believe while my own church implies, "we know the truth better than the 'other guy'", "agreeing on the essentials" while "disagreeing on the non-essentials"... all using the Bible as their sole infallible rule of faith, yet coming to completely different interpretations as to what we, as Christians, are supposed to believe.

I spent many nights anguishing over truth... God was speaking to me and I was arguing. Why in the world would He want me to be Catholic? Would that mean I'd have to give up Jesus for some sort of legalistic religion? "Religion" was always a bad word growing up... it was a bunch of "man-made" rules and regulations. In short, I found I did not have to give up Jesus at all... and the rules? Jesus, by His authority, established a Church with the authority to bind and lose. It was right there in black and white in the pages of my own Bible. I only had to find the church that has that same authority today. An accurate look at history revealed that the Catholic Church was and is the longest-standing Christian church in history. It was founded by Christ himself! That's not man-made!

Jesus was waiting for me in the Catholic Church, arms open. I remember my anti-Catholic days when I criticized Catholics for keeping Christ on the cross because "he's alive". True that He is, but without His death, we would not be alive in Christ and Paul says to "preach Christ crucified". So, there He was, frozen in time, a reminder of what my sin did to Him. And He was there with open arms to greet me into the same Church he established 2000 years ago when He rose from the dead!

It was a long and difficult journey that still comes with many challenges but each moment with Him at Mass brings me that much closer to Him. I followed Him there in obedience when He was all I had left to cling to in my despair over Christian disunity. I love Him... and though many have tried to argue with that, the fact remains that, even as a Catholic, I still have Jesus... without Him, I'd be lost.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Crossing the Jordan


The LORD said to Joshua,
"Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters."

So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
"Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank."

The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
disappeared entirely.

Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.
~Joshua 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17~


This passage is one I had never heard before today. When I heard it, I just thought, "How amazing is that?" These people had to have a tremendous amount of faith and trust in God… I can see the priests standing there motionless and holding the ark of the covenant while all of Israel passed through and a wall of water was collecting upstream… the Jordan river going dry beyond this solid mass of water! Incredible! And what a privilege to carry the Ark and yet how scary to be standing there solidly holding the Ark and waiting for all to cross. Were they afraid? Or did they keep their focus on God?

Sometimes I feel as if I am facing that wall of water… as if it could break and take me over at any given moment. But I must keep my focus on God. He wants to see me safely through to his kingdom. I must learn to trust Him to lead me where He wants me. I can’t keep my focus on my problems but instead must remember that He is in control and that He is passionately pursuing my attention despite my problems. He wants to forgive me, love me, comfort me and draw me nearer. If I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, though I am undeserving, He will faithfully keep his promises. His love NEVER fails!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First Reconciliation

As I knew He would, God provided someone to watch my kids so I could meet with my priest yesterday. So I went down to the parish at noon. He asked questions about my background and baptism. I explained what I remembered and what my mom had told me and he concluded that I would not need a conditional baptism. This was a bit of a relief for me. I figured while I was there, I'd ask him a few more questions... It's not every day I have a priest to speak to on a one on one basis about the little things that linger in my mind so I took advantage of the moment. He was wonderfully patient and thorough.

 

He then agreed to listen to my first confession. I was quite nervous and somehow missed the Act of Contrition, which he said I could say as I leave, if I so wish. Prior to giving me penance, he said some wonderfully encouraging things. Specifically, I should try each day to be better, not perfect. To strive for perfection may only lead to disappointment every time I fail... but to strive to daily be better will allow me to continue to grow closer to God. Every day, pray a little more, read the Scriptures a little more, be a bit kinder than the day before, etc. In areas of wrong-doing, strive every day to do a little less: be less angry than the day before, less judgmental, etc. This was very encouraging since I often feel overwhelmed when I try to eliminate a negative behavior (or add a positive one) in one swift attempt and end up falling flat on my face in the mud.

 

I left with peace. I felt inspired to continue growing closer to God. I am working with a clean slate and I feel much lighter today... much less burdened and better capable of accepting God's merciful love for me. What an absolutely wonderful sacrament!

 

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." ( John 20:21-23 NIV)

 

Forgiveness came to me from God through the priest. As I received absolution, it was not the words of the priest I was hearing, but Christ's forgiveness, mercy and love.

 

Thank you, Lord, for giving us a real and tangible way to receive and hear your forgiveness. Amen.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Why Do I Follow Jesus?

The website Catholic Call posed a great question in the reflection for today's reading:

Why do you follow Jesus and are you willing to endure hardship for the sake of the gospel?

I really wanted to stop and give this question an adequate answer. If a non-Christian asked me this question, what would my response be?

Why do I follow Jesus?

The short answer: He's the Son of God and He took on human flesh to die a horrible death so that I could be with him in heaven if I choose to live my life in faith and obedience to Him.

But what lies at the heart of it? Why do I, personally, follow Jesus? Well, who better is there to follow than the one who created me... the one who knit me together in my mother's womb and who knows me even better than I do myself? Who better, than the one who thinks of me every second of everyday, inside and outside of time? Who better than the one who would have died the same death even if it meant He would only save me, because His love is greater than anything I could ever fathom.

Am I willing to endure hardship for the sake of the gospel?

This part of the question seemed a bit more difficult to answer than the first part. I believe this is because it touches on what I avoid... hardship. In fact, I spent years running from surrendering to God because I feared He would ask me to do something difficult... because I feared the hardship that may come with obedience to Him.

Some days, I feel strong... capable of boldly standing up for the Truth. Other days, I feel weak... unable to find motivation even for life in general. In writing this, I realize this is something I should pray about.

Lord, change my heart. Make me bold for Your sake... willing to endure anything that comes my way. Teach me not to be afraid. At any price, let Your will be done and see me through. Amen.

I have been blessed thus far in that I haven't had to endure too much for the sake of my faith. When I ponder the awesome greatness of God, my Creator, I see just how small and petty those hardships might really be... Nothing is impossible with God.

Many have tried in the last few months to pull me down... Many have told me I could not possibly be following God. The enemy has worked to try to cast doubt in my mind and division in my family. But at every turn, if I keep my eyes on Jesus and I continue to follow Him, I return to a sense of peace...

I know why I follow Him.

Who better?

None!

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Following God

Well, those last few posts turned out to be a lot of "work" but I learned a lot from them! By the end of the first response, my friend no longer wanted to discuss it and prefers to just agree to disagree. I sent two more after that anyway because I simply want to clear up the misconceptions about the Catholic Church. My purpose was not to convert him but to show that this website where he's getting his information about "those Catholics" is completely faulty. In fact, I saw some horrible comments made about the Catholic Church. The writer indicated that God speaks to her and that He wants her to deliver people from Catholicism, which He [God] "hates". While they may have been "kind" in their approach, they took everything out of context and argued against the typical straw man attacks...

*shrug*

I am amazed at how my faith grows and I become more certain of the direction God has taken me every time I research these topics. But in the midst, I came to a realization that I have a difficult time with.

It seems that non-Catholic Christians don't "believe" that God is leading me into the Catholic Church. They have no trouble believing that God leads them but they indicate indirectly that they don't believe He is leading me. Perhaps they believe I'm simply being ensnared in a trap of the "lie of Catholicism". I believe that God knows what He's doing. I believe that God is possibly NOT going to lead people into the Catholic Church and I believe that our all-powerful God uses all denominations to speak to people. He meets us where we're at and loves us. He's taken the "wrongness" in the disunity and used it for His purpose and His good. So, I don't need to worry about convincing or converting others, because that's God's job, but I cannot just sit back and allow people to continue to believe and propagate the lies!

Perhaps those of us who are led by God to leave non-Catholic Christianity are to be the little bridges of unity... called to shed light on the truth of Catholicism, to be examples of "those Catholics" who are truly Christians so that we can start a process of unity! And in the process, we will provide the seeds needed for those who God IS calling to the Catholic faith.

I have purposely avoided tell many people for fear of rejection and to save my parents from all the questions. I have no idea how many people my parents have told and I never know how much their friends "know" when I see them... but I've decided I'm ready to tell the world. I am convinced that I am moving in the direction that God has called me and I'm not going to keep it to myself anymore. I am ready to give an explanation for the hope that is in me, regardless of the cost.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Salvation through good works?

A very dear friend of mine, a Protestant, has asked me to respond to the "Salvation" section of a website used to show the errors of Catholicism. I will be posting my response to these four main attacks on Catholicism regarding salvation for anyone else who may seek the answer to these questions. The four main points are salvation through: good works, baptism, Mary, and the Church. I have already explained Mary to some degree but further clarification will likely be necessary.

Here is my explanation on "salvation through good works". Keep in mind that the original response was via email:

One thing I notice when talking apologetics is one topic can generally lead right into another. This makes it difficult, at times, to stay on topic. Sometimes, in order to understand the Catholic teaching on one thing, it is essential to understand the Catholic teaching on something else.

Based on the four main points of salvation that you sent me, I am going to have to begin with the "good works" part. This brings us to the Protestant doctrine of sola fide. Before I begin, I want to make it very clear that Catholics do not believe in "faith alone" or "works alone" or that we earn our way to heaven by our good deeds (whether works of the law or works of faith). We believe, and I'm sure you'll agree, that without Christ's work on the cross and the blood he shed for our sins and without his grace given to us, that we would not be saved at all. It is a gift:

CCC 1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

We will also both agree that in order to receive the gift we must do something. First, we must have faith. The Catholic Church teaches this:

CCC 161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. "Since "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"

Protestants claim that salvation is by "faith alone" and there are several scriptures used to back up this viewpoint:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 6:28-29
Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"
Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Acts 16:31
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.

Acts 26:18
...that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me...

Romans 1:17-18
Therefore the just shall live by faith. The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

Romans 3:28
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.


Notice here that he says deeds of the "law". Catholics agreed completely!

Romans 4:5
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

Romans 5:1
...having been justified by faith...

Romans 10:9
That if you shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

Romans 11:6
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Romans 14:23
...and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

WAIT! First works are condemned but then we are created in Christ to do good works? (More on this below)

Philippians 3:9
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."

Galatians 2:16
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Again, a distinction made to "works of the law".

Galatians 2:21
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

I say, "AMEN!" to all of these verses. Catholics believe all of these 100% and do not disagree with them at all. BUT, none of these verses say faith "alone". Catholics believe that salvation comes first from God's grace and that we are saved by cooperating with this grace with faith AND works. (It is important to note here, that Catholics are NOT talking about works of the law as often spoken of by Paul. Paul condemned the Pharisees for observing the law but not showing love. Catholics are speaking of works of "faith" such as obedience to God, love, service, etc.)

1 Corinthians 13:13
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Notice here that the greatest is not faith, but LOVE...

Galatians 5:6
6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.


Works of the law have no value. But works of faith (love) is the only thing that counts.

1 Corinthians 13:2
2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

John 14:15
15"If you love me, you will obey what I command.


Matthew 19:16-17
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

1 Timothy 5:8
8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Ephesians 2:10
10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

James 2:14-26
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[
d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

WOW. The only place in the Bible where "faith alone" appears is to say "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." And note the parallel drawn between the body and spirit and between faith and deeds? Just as you cannot separate the body from the spirit, you cannot separate faith from deeds!

This is why Catholics believe that you cannot separate faith and works. They MUST go together or your faith is a dead faith. We are not talking about our own works or that our works EARN us eternal life... but that, by the grace of God, we act in faith working through love to cooperate with the gift of grace and gain eternal life.

In the link you sent me, it quotes from the catechism (837): "...Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved."

I'd have to agree with this in light of Scripture because one who is not charitable or does not show love, according to the Bible, does not have a saving faith and does not inherit the gift of eternal life.

In addition there are several verses that tell us we are judged according to our deeds.

2 Corinthians 5:10
10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 11:15
15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

1 Peter 1:17
17If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;

Colossians 3:24-25
24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Revelation 20:12-13
12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

Note that none of these verses indicate we are judged based on our level of faith? So, in short, it is not faith alone, nor works alone (as many *think* Catholics teach) but faith AND works, as the Bible clearly teaches.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Burning Desire

I listened to this on the radio this morning and it made me realize that this is why it has been so easy for Catholics to be lured out of the Catholic Church...

With a Compelling Desire

Could it be that poor catechesis could cause Catholics to be easily lured into Protestantism? Almost every Catholic I've ever heard who converted to Protestantism, has done so because they claim they never heard the truth about Christ and what he did for them until they met a Protestant who boldly claimed the gospel. Once they heard the gospel and began a real relationship with Christ, they were convinced that this does not happen in the Catholic Church... and every other aspect of Catholic teaching was misrepresented, causing them to believe that everything about the Church must be wrong... Their ears were tickled with the falsehoods propagated by good intentions and ignorance.

This is exactly how I used to speak to Catholics... "Do you have a personal relationship with Christ?" or "Have you ever accepted Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior?"

Catholics should be able to answer this with an emphatic, "Yes!" If any Christian is doubting the answer to these questions, there is something wrong... Faith is deeper than attending church on Sunday. It's not just something you do because you've always done it. It has to be done with purpose and understanding, growing in your relationship with the living Christ.

We must speak the gospel of Christ to all people...our friends, our family, our children... at work, in our homes, in our churches. We cannot assume that everyone has a vital relationship with Christ just because they are sitting in the pew next to us.

Even within the Church, we must be sure that everyone has a true understanding of the gospel and what Christ has done for us... We must be sure that Catholics (especially our children) are encouraged to have a burning desire to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength... so we are not Catholic only by name but in practice! Others must be able to see the love of Christ and the fruitfulness of our faith.

What can you do to ensure that those around you truly understand the message of the gospel?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why should we listen to the Church?

If I listen to the Church, is the Church manipulating me or am I obeying God?

On a society level, we all understand the purpose of laws. Why do we have laws? To keep people safe and healthy. We all have a sense of right and wrong and when we see something wrong, we want justice.

What I find interesting, is there are people who are perfectly willing to follow the laws of our government, but when they enter a church, they say the "rules" are trying to impose some sort of control over them. They want to be "free" from the guilt of sin and they don't want anyone telling them what they can and cannot do. But why are these rules established? To keep our souls safe and healthy.

Christians often focus on the warm-fuzzy aspects of faith while ignoring the more unpleasant aspects... or at least what they view as unpleasant. God is love. God is Truth. God forgives. The reality is that we are sinners and we do things daily that greatly grieve our Lord. The rules are not the Church's. They are God's rules. The Church has the authority to execute the rules. They are not meant to manipulate us but to bring us closer to the Lord and to keep us reconciled in the sight of God.

As Christians, we are not free to do whatever we want. Sure, we CAN. But, we are called to a higher standard of living and to fully devote ourselves to the purpose of God. We cannot just sit around. We also cannot throw out the rules we simply don't think we should have to obey for whatever reason. We have to obey God, love others, be kind, gentle, meek, practice self-control and strive to be perfect. The Church is there to help us move in the right direction... to guide us closer to God. So, do we condemn the Church for their standards? If we reject the Church, we are rejecting God. If we reject God, we are going to end up living our lives in sin. When we listen to the Church, we also listen to God and his commands. This does not take away our freedom but encourages our growth in faith and brings us in closer relationship to God.

Luke 10:16
"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Faith is a Journey

"In the Book of Acts faith was for each believer a beginning, not an end; it was a journey, not a bed in which to lie while waiting for the day of our Lord's triumph. Believing was not a once-done act; it was more than an act, it was an attitude of heart and mind which inspired and enabled the believer to take up his cross and follow the Lamb whithersoever He went."
- A.W. Tozer - Born After Midnight, 16.


Not a Catholic author but definitely Catholic thinking. One thing I recently embraced is the concept that faith is a journey and that salvation is not a one-time event. Salvation may begin with a prayer and "acceptance" of Christ but the act itself without true faith and obedience, does not save. I spent the majority of my life believing that my actions had little consequence... that I could be a "basically good person" and my faith "alone" would save me. This concept was gravely unhealthy for my faith and years of this kind of thinking kept me from praying, reading my Bible and truly seeking God's will for my life.

Understanding that faith is a journey has called me to change my attitude toward God and to desire to renew my heart and mind for Him. I don't want to have a lukewarm faith. I don't want one moment in time to be "it" but rather the beginning to a growing faith in God. I want my works to be a reflection of my faith... so that others can see the hope that I have in Jesus.

Old habits are hard to break, but slowly I'm pushing myself to pray and read my Bible. I'm pushing myself to try to keep my mind focused on God instead of the things of this world. Every day, I have to ask God to help me live my day for Him and to ease the anxiety that so often invades my life. It is a struggle but we are called to work out our salvation in "fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12)... and to proclaim the love of the Lord... I can no longer think that my faith without obedience to the Lord is sufficient. He calls me to be perfect (Mt 5:48).

"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24)

I must take up my cross daily and follow God, wherever He takes me. Christ accomplished it all on the cross, and without that, nothing would save us. We must cooperate with God's gift of grace by following Him in faith and obedience.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Thanksgiving and Prayer

Pray for a Rose by Imolly on deviantart.comPhillipians 1:1-11
Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus,
to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi,
with the bishops and deacons:
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you,
praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the Gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right that I should think this way about all of you,
because I hold you in my heart,
you who are all partners with me in grace,
both in my imprisonment
and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel.
For God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.


I love the part above that states, "I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it..." This gives me encouragement that if I put my trust in God, He will help me finish the race. I am expected to increase in love and to grow for the glory and praise of God. I cannot live my life with an attitude that says, "I have faith and so I can live my life any way I see fit." I must renew my mind daily to follow Christ in obedience and to share his love with others, even if they reject me. And I must never forget to thank the Lord for his presence in my life...

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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 29, 2006

"Former" Catholics

It seems the most difficult people to inform about my conversion to Catholicism are those who were "raised Catholic" and are, for various reasons, bitter against it. I encountered this last night at my Bible Study when I informed them that I was becoming a Catholic but would like to continue attending the study, if they would be okay with it.

One gentleman was not out and out rude or anything but he told me that maybe my calling was not to enter the church but to attend in order to bring people OUT. As graciously as possible, I said, "No... Actually I AM being called to enter the Church. I've done a lot of reading, studying and praying and this IS where God is taking me." He then made some comment like, "Well, if during the study you ever felt led to stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down... (ha ha)" I said, "No, no... when in Rome..." I could sense his "horror" at the idea that I was becoming a Catholic. He announced, "Well, we will need to be praying for YOU then!" I responded, "Thanks! I appreciate your prayers and I ask that you do not pray that I will leave Catholicism but that I will follow God's will because that is what we should ALL be doing... following God's will for our lives."

Other members of the group said they have enjoyed my insight up to this point and that they will enjoy hearing my perspective of things in the future... This was wonderful to hear. One of the guys said, "I only hope you'll continue to be comfortable with US!" I said, "Absolutely! This is what I've always known. This IS my comfort zone... I love the people of that church and I love the pastors. I simply don't agree with all of the theology but it doesn't mean I want to end all my relationships with the people."

Overall, the reaction, though not positive, was not really negative and I left feeling good that I was able to let them know where God was taking me without being condemned on the spot. I told all of them that if they EVER wanted to discuss with me the various doctrines or question the things they believe the Catholic Church teaches that they think are in error, I'd be more than happy to plan a time to meet with them or talk with them on the phone. I let them know that I realized many would not understand this decision without an explanation and that I completely understand because I would have thought the exact same way less than 6 months ago!

But back to the original thought... the most difficult to talk to are the ones who left the Catholic Church... I think it's horribly unfortunate that their experience left them with animosity toward the Church since that is never what the Lord would have wanted.

There are also those who have had one bad experience that formed their opinion of the entire Church as well. My dad, for example, went to the funeral of a friend when he was much younger in which the priest condemned to hell the guy who'd died stating that anyone who lived like him would also end up in hell. This one experience gave my dad the impression that ALL priests do this... HORRIBLE! But I told him that this is NOT normal nor allowed and that one cannot base their entire opinion on one bad experience. If one has a bad experience at a grocery store, do they stop going altogether? At the doctor's office? The dentist? The car repair shop? They don't blame the entire industry! They just find another one within the industry where they have better customer service...

It saddens me when I hear someone was "raised Catholic" and they claim to never have heard about what Christ did for them... about a personal relationship with Christ. How could they look year after year at Christ crucified and not have an understanding of what Christ did? Why does the term "personal relationship" used in Protestant circles with Catholics make them think they didn't already have a personal relationship just because that term hasn't been used?

This makes me realize how much I must ensure that my children grow IN the faith... with a deep understanding of the faith so that when they grow up, they will never doubt that they DO have a personal relationship with Christ and have a full understanding of who Christ is and what He did for us. My hope is to raise my children to love God and the Church that He established so they will not be a "bitter former Catholic" who simply missed all the beauty and truth within Catholicism.

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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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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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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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