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!

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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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, July 03, 2007

Peace be with you!

Today is the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle!

John 20:24-29
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”


I can recall moments in my life when I begged to feel the presence of God... moments when He felt so distant, I began to wonder if He were really there at all. It is in looking back that I know that God was there all along, perhaps even closer than I realized... but, for whatever reason, God did not permit me to feel his presence at that time.

I love this gospel reading... I love how Jesus just appears before them, the doors locked, and addresses Thomas right away by telling him to do the very things Thomas said he would have to do in order to believe. Jesus wasn't present when Thomas said those words. Can you imagine being Thomas? I love that, in this short passage, the rest of us were also addressed: "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

When I struggle in my faith and I feel God is far, I can think of this passage. Jesus didn't condemn Thomas for his unbelief. Instead, He helped him believe. Even while Thomas was doubting, Jesus knew Thomas' heart and mind. Jesus knew that believing without seeing would be a struggle for many... So, when I doubt also, Jesus knows my unbelief and He does not condemn me. Instead, He helps me believe!

"Peace be with you." I love these words spoken by Jesus. Can you imagine? Thomas... in his unbelief, hearing Christ say "peace be with you" and then having his eyes opened to see that the Lord was standing right there in front of him?! Each week, we say to each other during Mass "peace be with you". I wonder how many people feel touched by this simple exchange of words. The words of Christ spoken to one another: to the hurting and the joyful, the doubting and the believing, the loved and unloved, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor. For that one moment, we are all in that room, Jesus reaching out to us and helping us believe!

Jesus, thank you for your peace and for helping us in our unbelief. Thank you for your patience and unconditional love. Amen.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Quite a Year!

It was just a bit over a year ago when I began my journey into Catholicism. I cannot begin to express the amount of growth I've experienced in that short amount of time. God broke me, brought me into himself and showed me that my pride had caused me to be blind to the reality that a truth existed that was fuller than what I had blindly accepted for so long. What I experienced a year ago was a very painful and lonely experience, one I wish I could have avoided at times but for which I am also very thankful. Without it, I may never have come to know the joy of being Catholic... of knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that I'm right where God wants me.

Though it's often difficult being Catholic where the rest of my family is not, I have to say I feel very blessed that God chose to open my eyes to the truths of Catholicism. It has strengthened me in so many ways and it has brought my relationship with Jesus to a deeper level. I'm still far from where I want to be in that relationship but I know that each day is a day I grow closer to Christ and His Church.

A year ago, I sat in a row of chairs with my family at church. Now I sit in a pew in another church, obedient to God's call to bring me into the Catholic faith, yet separated from my family... the picture of disunity that brought me to the state of brokenness to begin with. One day, I want to sit in a pew with my family in church, fully united as the body of Christ in ONE faith... the way God intended.

According to my great aunt Sue, my mom's family comes from a long line of Catholics. I hope, one day, that our Catholic roots will be restored... may God use me for this purpose if He so wills it.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing me into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I was lost, but now I'm found... I was blind, but now I see. It is only by Your grace that I am where I am. Please pass this grace on to my family and allow them to experience the fullness of faith you desire for them as well. Amen.

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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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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday Reflection

At the reading of the gospel today, I was impacted by the statement in which we all joined in to say, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" It was a horrible thing to be saying it and my initial thought was, "I wouldn't be saying that! I don't want to say that!"

Then I realized, every time I sin, I am, in essence, saying those words. My sins put Christ on that cross. Every single one of them. Though I did not utter those words in person 2000 years ago, I utter them in my heart every time I choose sin over His will for me.

Thank you, Lord, for forgiving the sins of mine that put you on that cross.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Living Water

Living WaterJohn 4:13-14
Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."


I can think back to times when I’ve been thirsty... when I’ve been parched to the point where I’d do just about anything for a cup of water, a soda, or anything. I can think back to how wonderful it was to quench that thirst with a drink... relieving the dryness in my throat.

It’s ironic that Marie brought up this passage just the other day and there it was yesterday, being read in Mass, during the First Scrutiny...

Knowing thirst on a physical level helped me be able to see a deeply spiritual meaning in this passage. So often, in the past, I’ve felt spiritual thirst and ended up trying to quench it with temporary things: friendships, material possessions, spending money... These things would make me feel better for a while but, in the end, I was always more thirsty that I was before, like when I try to quench my thirst with a soda. It’s nice when I have it, but once it’s gone, I’m no less thirsty than I was before.

Of course, the only thing that will actually quench my spiritual thirst is the living water of Jesus’ love and truth. Each time I turn to God instead of looking to the temporary things of this world, my thirst is quenched and my relationship with God grows. With each drop, I desire more, not due to thirst... but because the water is simply so refreshing, renewing and uplifting. Only if I spend time with him in prayer and in His Word, will my thirst be fully quenched. This is not to say that friendships are not important or that material possessions are wrong. These things are important and necessary in our lives but never at the expense of our relationship with God!

When my thirst is quenched with the living water, a “soda” can be had not for quenching thirst but for enriching my life... and hopefully, I’ll be able to share the truth of God’s living water with others I encounter along the way. I never again want to feel parched in my spiritual life...

Lord, thank you for your living water. Thank you for your love for me. Help me daily to do your will. Quench my thirst and do not permit me to crave the temporary things of this world but to keep my eyes focused on You. Amen.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Get Simple

Luke 16:19-23

"There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom.

 

How often do I act as the rich man, forgetting those who are hurting or who are considered outcasts by society? I often forget to think just how much God loves them... no less than me. I've come to realize that many of my possessions weigh me down and hold me captive... I really want to simplify my life, to own fewer material items and grow in appreciation for having less. In short, I want to "get simple".

 

I am a bit of a packrat. The problem is that the thought of throwing things out actually causes me a lot of anxiety. What if I regret it? What if I throw out something I need or want later? (Silly, I know!) But I'm reaching a point where it's causing me more anxiety trying to hold on to so much stuff! I've been improving, trying to let go of things that just sit in boxes. I desire to get more organized but the task of doing so is overwhelming in and of itself...

 

I've been much more aware lately of how my money is spent as well... When I think of the material things I'd like to have, I often think about those who don't even have the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, clothing, or even adequate water. I rarely buy bottled water because when I do, I feel terrible for those dying from poor water, who would live if they could only drink what comes out of my tap.

 

Get simple.

 

I believe this is going to be quite a process for me but it's my goal to simplify my life by parting with all the material baggage I have. By this time next year, I want to be free of the anxiety I feel from carrying around so much "stuff". I want to re-train my mind to keep only what is important or of high sentimental value and toss the rest. I believe this will help me see the needs of others in order to help them. The Lord wants us to be ready to drop everything to follow him. The more I have, the more difficult that will be and I don't want to be hindered by materialism.

 

Lord, help me to know what is truly important so that I may follow you with all my heart, mind and soul. Let me not be burdened by materialism and ease my anxiety so I can part with the things that weigh me down.

 

Prayers:

v      Damion and kids

v      My parents

v      Jill – that the Lord would give her some Christian friends and strengthen family relationships

v      Bill – that he continues to recover from illness and that he regains the strength he needs quickly

v      Ruth – that her husband would come to understand the Catholic faith

v      Renee and children – that the Lord would give them strength and peace in this time of tragedy

v      Jose and Amy Lopez – for the repose of their souls

v      For the Lopez children and family - dealing with their loss

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Personal Relationship with Christ

It’s amazing to me how many people assume that Catholics do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, I’ve been told personally that this is “not a Catholic term” and that this term “is often mocked by Catholics”. I cannot begin to express how far from the truth this thinking is! First off, my RCIA class is constantly talking about our growing relationship with Christ, encouraging prayer and the reading of Scripture. At Wednesday’s class, they had a panel of married couples who stressed the importance of keeping Christ in the center of the marriage. This is also a continuing topic I hear on Catholic radio... Every morning, I listen to “Food for the Journey”. This show is about our growing personal relationship with Christ... about maturing in our faith, trusting God, reading His Word, praying, and loving others. Isn’t that what a personal relationship with Christ looks like?

 

Even the catechism stresses its importance (with the same term):

 

2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.

 

No one can tell me that Catholics are not encouraged to have a personal relationship with Christ. Every Mass encourages this relationship through reading of Scripture, prayer, worship and, at the deepest level, when we partake in Holy Communion. I have found no deeper personal relationship than what I’ve experience since I decided to come into full communion with the Catholic Church and I imagine that it will only grow deeper and better as time goes on.

 

Catholics DO have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ... anyone who says otherwise is not taking a fair look at the Catholic faith.

 

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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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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Re-focusing

Philippians 2:1-4
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.


This is a passage I need to spend more time contemplating in my life. I so often get caught up, as many of us do, in looking to my own interests. I do this in all aspects of my life... even with my own children.

It seems that the more I work on building my faith, the more I am attacked by the world and the more it seems that the evil one tries to break down what the Lord has built up in me. Yesterday was particularly difficult. I was irritable all day, easily frustrated and annoyed by my children. I woke up this morning with a prayer on my heart to seek ways to get over that frustration and subsequent negative reaction I give my children.

Their lives are so precious and I have them only for a short time. I want to show them my best but it seems they often get left-overs from me and I don’t want that for them.

Lord,

Please give me patience and the energy to focus more on them and less on myself. Please show me ways that I can encourage faith in them while they are still young so they will grow to be firmly planted in a relationship with you. Do not let negativity flood my relationship with them, but give me an abundance of your love and patience so I can positively encourage them in all aspects of their little lives.

Amen.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blessings

I find it utterly amazing how much I've grown in the last few months... With all I've learned and all the Lord has shown me, I am truly blessed. I can even look back to the time I told my parents that I was going to join the Catholic Church and see how much of a "baby" I was then compared to now.

Upon reflection, I definitely would have handled it a bit differently. Not that the way it went was wrong or anything... just that I think I could have been more effective if I had been ready for the attacks they threw at me. Of course, there was no way of knowing which way they would take it until I actually approached the subject anyway.

The Lord has blessed me tenfold with other Catholics and others who are also joining the Catholic Church. I receive emails on occasion from others who are searching for truth and asking questions. Many are sincere and non-confrontational. I like this because it tells me who is actually seeking truth and who just wants to attack for the sake of winning an argument or because they believe I'm "going to hell" for becoming a Catholic... Yes, I've actually had people condemn me, as if they are The Judge.

This doesn't make assurance of salvation very assuring, however. After all, I've believed I was saved since I was nine, along with every other Christian in my family. Funny how many will bow out of this dilemma by merely stating I must not have been saved at all. But, like I said, how sure of salvation can one be in that case?

But I'm not taking this entry in an apologetic direction.

If you had asked me one year ago if I'd ever even consider being a Catholic, I would have scoffed at the idea. This was the very last place I ever thought the Lord would lead me, and here I am!

I can recall the devastation I felt when I realized what a decision like this would mean. I remember how alone and abandoned I felt and the anguish of nearly losing my faith. Today, I have made some wonderful new friends, mostly through the internet... and God has made it clear through them and in many other ways that I'm following him in obedience. I thank the Lord for each affirmation!

Thank you, Jesus, for coming into the world in such a humble manner in order to feel what we feel and show your undying, unconditional love for all sinners.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me into the fullness of truth that is found in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Thank you, Jesus, for revealing yourself to me through others who love you so deeply.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving your Mother to us in your dying words on the cross.

Thank you, Jesus, for making your presence known in my life, taking my mustard-seed faith and growing it into something I can share with others.

Today's prayers:
Damion
My children
Cindy
Brian and his wife and their journey
Melissa as she continues to seek Truth
M.V. who is also seeking Truth but finds it difficult to accept some teachings of the Church

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thanks be to God!

"The Almighty has done great things for me."

As a single mother of three, I have been blessed beyond measure. I don't often take inventory of the blessings I've been given. Today, I'm going to take a minute to reflect on all that I have to be thankful for. This is a very random list:


  • First and foremost, faith in God

  • Jesus' death which atoned for my sins

  • A good job that allows me to stay out of the welfare trap

  • Three beautiful and healthy children

  • Youngest son overcoming his speech disorder

  • Oldest son coming through neurosurgery (7 years ago)

  • Daughter overcoming her asthma condition

  • A roof over my head

  • The ability to turn on the heat when I'm cold and not worry about the expense

  • A car to drive that fits my whole family comfortably

  • The bad relationships which allow me to realize how blessed I am to have Damion in my life

  • The Lord guiding me to the Catholic Church and all the people that have since inspired me to be a better Christian

  • Catholic radio and all it's programming

  • The brokenness that is bringing me healing

  • Friends who care unconditionally

  • My family

  • My great-aunt Sue - a strong Catholic who gives me encouragement

  • Plenty of food and good water to drink

  • Being born in a free country


The list, of course, could go one forever... but these are a few things that came to my mind today.

What great things has The Almighty done for you?

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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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Monday, October 30, 2006

"Master, I want to see." / Letting go...

Reflection on Sunday's gospel reading:

I spent some time thinking about how my life relates to the story of Bartimae'us. The first thing that jumped out at me was when Bartimae'us said, "Master, I want to see." I thought about the boldness of this request. Never having sight, Bartimae'us had to have a bit of fear as to what it would be like... to see for the first time, physically and spiritually. For me, asking God to open my eyes to truth does have a small element of fear. What should I expect? What will God ask of me?

Despite that fear, this journey has led me to be bolder in my request for God to allow me to "see". I don't want to be half-blind to the truth but I want to understand all the fullness of God's truth...

Secondly, Bartimae'us was rebuked by those around him as they told him to be quiet. But Bartimae'us persisted. He believed that Jesus could heal him and did not give up calling out to Jesus. For me, this was a picture of what I'm going through with the friends and family who do not understand the journey I'm on. They are telling me how wrong I am from all sides... but I know that if I persist in following Jesus despite their rebuke, Jesus will be faithful to me. I cannot let those around me keep me from calling out to the Lord.

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A while ago I posted that it was going to be difficult for me to transfer from Protestant services to Mass... that I was really going to miss what I had always known. I remember several times, especially before I informed my family, trying to let go... and saying goodbye. I thought the transition might take a long time...

It took a shorter amount of time than I thought it would. I went to my Protestant church for the last time this Sunday. I actually had only gone once in the last several weeks and as I browsed their website last week, I stumbled across a video of one of their services... I began to watch it and realize that I could no longer sit through another service. The biggest reason? I can now hear the subtle digs at the Catholic faith (or rather what they THINK is the Catholic faith). I feel that sitting through these services do not benefit my growth in faith any longer.

This week, the music pastor, made a comment. It went something like this:

"We're having a Harvest Party this week to take the place of trick-or-treating. Please bring family, friends and neighbors. Everyone is welcome. What often happens is that new people will come into the church... they expect to see an organ in the corner... Instead they see drums and think, 'Hmm... looks pretty cool... I might have to come back and check this church thing out!'"

How sad it made me to think coming to church wasn't "cool" without a set of drums... that churches without rock music and a coffee cart were somehow "less than"... Even sadder was that I used to think the same way. They've turned church into a cool "hang-out"... that isn't worthy of our attention otherwise. Sad.

I love the music in my former church... but to take that music and make it a reason to come to church, is wrong. We're there to worship, with drums or without, with an organ or without. I believe too many churches have replaced an altar for a stage...

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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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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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