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!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Creations in Christ

Clay was baptized last Saturday. It was beautiful. It was an emotional moment for me as my first child was brought into the Christian faith, knowing at that moment that the Holy Spirit was descending upon him, washing him clean of all original sin. He was buried with Christ and rising to new life... the heavenly witnesses rejoicing!

I love the Sacrament of Baptism... and I love that it's more than a mere symbol. The misconception is that Catholics think the water is "magical". In reality, we know the water is a symbol of the grace of the Holy Spirit and the means by which the Holy Spirit pours out His grace. It isn't the water itself, but the act of baptism, by which the Holy Spirit causes one to be born again (John 3).

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.

All three of my children are now united to the body of Christ through baptism.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for pouring your grace upon my children.

"For everything must die - to rise again."

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Monday, June 25, 2007

A Very Busy Weekend

Saturday's move went smoothly and we are now living amidst an endless mess of boxes to be unpacked. It's quite an overwhelming task and, once again, this move proved just how big of a pack rat I am. The move took just about six hours and several trips to my new third floor apartment. But before any of that, I had to sign the papers.

When I arrived to sign the papers, I was informed that they were giving me another unit. This news was quite upsetting considering I had verified I'd be moving into that unit before I spent hours on the phone last week, working to have all my utilities switched over at just the right time. I was not too happy about this but what choice did I have? SO, because I refuse to sign papers before I actually SEE the unit, they hand me a key and send me on my way to take a look. I locate the building and climb the stairs to the third floor and when I arrive, I find there is furniture on the balcony... Free furniture? So, I give a little knock because I'm a bit nervous at this point... no response. Put the key in the door, give it a little turn and open it to find a coat hanging on the wall and more furniture! Close the door! Lock the door! Run down the stairs!

I returned to the office and told the girl, "Well, that unit is occupied! What is wrong with the unit I was supposed to move into?" She said, "Well, I don't know but I can't find they key anyway." (I had seen the key sitting on the desk when I came into the office.) I said, "I saw the key sitting right here when first came in." She located the key and freed me to check out the apartment. Everything in the apartment was fine except for some carpet damage that would have to be taken care of but which could be handled after I moved in. SO, I signed the papers for the original apartment and proceeded to move in.

Sunday, the day of the baptism, Clay woke up vomiting... I got all three kids ready anyway and after a lot of rushing around through my maze of boxes and newspaper, Damion, the kids, and I made our way to the church (barf-bags in hand). Clay decided he wasn't up for being baptized the way he was feeling and I definitely couldn't blame him, so I talked to Father Bob about rescheduling when he returned from Lourdes. No problem. Clay missed the whole baptism while he took a snooze in the pew!

But, despite the rough start, I was very pleased because my parents showed up! I'm not sure what got them there but I didn't care. It was wonderful that they came to share this day with the kids and that's all that mattered. My brother-in-law, a former Catholic, also attended. This is just as big as my parents showing up! In addition, Damion's dad came too! We also had a few from my work, some from my RCIA class and some other old friends. I'm truly blessed to know so many wonderful people and to have them share the special event with us. Thank you, also, to all those who were there in prayer!

Christian and Trinity are now baptized! Despite the oil in their hair, I couldn't bring myself to have them shower last night. I love the smell of the chrism oil and wanted it to linger on them today in remembrance.

After the baptism, I decided it was best to get Clay back home and in bed so we weren't able to celebrate properly. Perhaps, after Clay's baptism, we'll celebrate all three!

Until then, I'll be wading through boxes and newspaper...

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Return to the Eucharist

I found a great little site "designed to explain the Catholic faith from a Catholic perspective, clarifying and explaining the misconceptions formed by non-Catholic faiths". I found the site to be quite informative without giving a huge amount of information, causing one to be overwhelmed. This is a great site to point to our friends who would like an honest look at Catholicism from a Catholic viewpoint. (I will post the link at the end of the post.)

Often what our non-Catholic friends know about Catholicism has been learned from already misinformed people... This was the case with me and it wasn't until I learned about Catholicism from it's source that I was truly able to understand the teachings. This site might also be helpful for former Catholics who, for various reasons, have been led to believe that Catholics do not believe in the Truth and therefore left the faith. Nothing could be farther from the truth but many still hold on to the misconceptions they were told which caused them to doubt Catholicism and leave.

As I was sitting in Mass today, I thought, "How could anyone miss the Gospel or the truth if they were actively paying attention in Mass?" The Mass is entirely from Scripture: the readings, the hymns, the Eucharist... It occurred to me that if these former Catholics, who got "saved" only after leaving the Church, took the time to go to Mass and re-experience it, they would experience it with new eyes and new appreciation and they would come to understand just how beautiful the reverence of the Mass is... how spiritually renewing and how unifying to the body of Christ.

I pray that all Catholics who've been led out of the Catholic faith will take a serious examination of what they've been told by misinformed (but well-intentioned) non-Catholic Christians. I pray they will read the Early Church Fathers, dig deep into the Catholic understanding of Scripture (which is simply much more solid than anything else I've ever experienced) and see the truth that Christ is just as central to the faith as what they've experienced outside the Church, if not more!

If you are a former Catholic reading this post, I urge you to return to the Christ in the Eucharist! It is a wonderful gift that Christ has given his followers and you are missing out! The Scriptures are clear on this: Christ said if we do not eat his flesh and drink his blood, we have no life in us (John 6:53-54). What is this body and blood that we MUST have if not the Eucharist? A mere symbol does not give us life... but Christ's presence in the Eucharist does! (Why do you doubt this? Are not all things possible with God?) 1 Corinthians 11:28-30 says, "Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." Does this make sense if it's only a symbol? How can a mere symbol, taken unworthily, cause illness or death? Don't wait another day! You cannot be closer to the Lord than you can through the Eucharist!

Peace be with you!

Catholics: What do they believe? (I also put this link in my sidebar.)

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Reconciliation

I often hear many people say that what they look forward to upon entering the Church is the Eucharist. This is also true for me, but even more, at this point, I am looking forward to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. "Confession" used be my biggest argument against Catholicism. Of course, my issue was not with "confession" as defined by the Church but what I “thought” confession was. I thought, "Why does anyone need to confess their sins to a man when we can go straight to Jesus?"

When I examined the sacrament closely, and came to realize what the Church truly taught and why, I had this huge urge to go. I believed in the sacrament and its efficacy and I couldn"t wait. I wanted to get up right then and there at 11:00 at night and go! This was before I realized I even wanted to BE a Catholic. So, what does Bible say about it?

Jesus Christ was sent to us to forgive sins. We know that all forgiveness comes from Christ and that without Christ, no one would be forgiven. However, before Christ left this earth, did he give the authority to men to forgive sins?

Jesus said to the apostles, "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)

Paul also tells us, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:18-16)

These passages show us that the authority to forgive sin was given to the apostles, who were the leaders of the Church. It is understood that the forgiveness comes from God through these men.

James says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:16)

Here we see that we are to confess our sins to one another, so confessing to men is clearly not condemned in the Bible.

In fact, I'd be interested to know if there are any passages that tell us we must confess our sins straight to Jesus or to God alone. If anyone can find one, please leave a comment.

Reconciliation: the act of restoring friendship or harmony

Confessing our sin reconciles us to our Lord. Light cannot be in communion with darkness and sin brings darkness into our hearts and lives. When we repent with a truly contrite heart, we are forgiven and restore our friendship with God.

The Bible is so clear on this issue, it amazes me that I did not see this before. Of course, I still believe that we CAN and should confess our sins directly to Jesus but we are given the gift of this sacrament. I long to hear the words of absolution and to know that I am truly forgiven! I now understand that Christ is forgiving us through the priest, who was given this authority by Christ himself 2000 years ago to bind and loose, forgive and not forgive...

The Catechism states:
1441 Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, "The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and exercises this divine power: "Your sins are forgiven." Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.

1442 Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the "ministry of reconciliation." The apostle is sent out "on behalf of Christ" with "God making his appeal" through him and pleading: "Be reconciled to God."

1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops' collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

1466 The confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ. He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy.

I very much look forward to this sacrament... and the healing I believe will come from it.

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