Friday, September 30, 2005

Finding Time

I got my rather large book that we are using in adult formation classes, but have yet to crack it open. We are going to be studying Chapter 9 about the chapter of Luke, but the priest said that if we haven't already read the first 8 chapters we should do that so we're not too lost. I am wondering when I am going to find the time to read that and the chapter of Luke in the Bible and deal with school and clean my house and catch up on laundry.

I'm not really complaining. It's good that my life is full because then I don't have time to sit and worry so much. But I really want to learn and am frustrated that I can't find the time to really sit and read. I took my book to the game tonight thinking that I could squeeze in a chapter perhaps, but didn't even get the chance to look at it. I should have spent some time on it this evening, but being already tired, I am sure it would have made me fall asleep and I am waiting for Josh to call for a ride.

I am disappointed by the number of people in the church that are not participating in the adult formation classes. One thing that people say about Catholics is that they are not well-versed in the Bible. And that is sad. I hope that I can become more familiar with it myself. One thing that we did do in the Baptist church was study the Bible.

I wonder if Josh is going to go to church with me on Sunday. I guess I should ask him tomorrow. I hope he does decide to go. I am praying for him daily.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

RCIA Week 3

I look forward to going to RCIA every week. Sometimes I can't wait until it's time to meet again. Our class is on the large size for our parish, but would be quite small to those parishes in larger cities. We have 8 or 9 people beginning the inquiry stage and most have sponsors now. They always have drinks and snacks for us since we are often rushed and can't always make dinner.

The class itself hasn't been very exciting and I haven't really learned a whole lot. The instructors are knowledgable, but a little dry in their presentation. I know that teaching is difficult to do; after all, I am a teacher myself. I do think it would be good to get other speakers involved, however. I think we can learn a great deal from others in the faith. I would like to hear other conversion stories and then perhaps those that can go in depth on other topics. Perhaps we'll have some of that later on. After all it is still quite early.

Last night we touched on the Nicene Creed. We talked about where it came from and then went over the basics of each statement and the general idea of the beliefs of Catholics. Of course this is stuff I knew and I already know it by heart as I've been going to mass a while. But I know there are others that still need the basic lessons. One person asked who Pontius Pilate was last night. I may not be fully knowledgeable about all of the Bible, but that's one name I do know.

I watched The Passion of the Christ for the first time this summer. Of course I had to make sure I was alone and had my box of tissues ready. It's not a movie I could share with someone else. It's too powerful and personal for me. I will probably watch it again as we begin the season of Lent.

So far my journey has still been a good one. I'm making a conscious effort to be steadfast in prayer. And I believe that my state of mind and the peace I feel comes from the effort I am making. I am truly thankful that I'm headed in the right direction.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I really feel blessed. I mean really feel it right now. It's not that I haven't been blessed throughout my life. I know I have, but for perhaps the first time I really feel and see the blessings and am truly thankful. I have been blessed with family and friends, good jobs, a house and the necessities of life, and in so many other ways. Although I've had my share of struggles, I can really see how God has provided and I am so very thankful. There have been times where I've wanted to shout at the top of my lungs "Give me a break!" And though I may have not shouted it, I have said that a time or two. And I've found that when I've needed it, the break comes. Something unexpected happens. I know He has been working in my life for a while now. I know God is listening. I've wondered for some time, but I think the problem was more with me than God. The thing is that I wasn't listening very well. But I am at least starting to hear and understand His will for me.

I have a sponsor for RCIA. Carol, the lady I first contacted about it and have connected with, has volunteered to do it. I am so pleased. I was talking with her this morning and had mentioned that I still needed a sponsor and she said that she had wanted to do it. I wanted to ask her, but thought that she might have been too busy with everything going on. But she said she really wanted to and she felt very connected to me. I knew God would provide and he certainly did. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful person to sponsor me.

I am enjoying the class on the Bible I am taking with Father Phan. I ordered my book that I need to read, but it hasn't arrived yet. We are studying the book of Luke and I am really enjoying getting into a lot of the background of the Bible and I look forward to learning more.

I think that my decision to join the Catholic Church has been so very wonderful for me. I feel that my life is finally headed in the right direction and I am becoming a better person because of it. I know that others still question my decision, but the fact is that it is mine. I do not regret it. And I've actually found much more support in my decision than I have dissention. Again, blessings abound.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

RCIA week 2

Went to RCIA tonight. We talked about faith and how we need to have it to have a relationship with God. Pretty much everything I already posted about, but it was good to hear others' perspectives on it. Next week we will be getting into what the Church believes and will be going over the Nicene Creed. I think it will be good to break it down, but it's something that I still pretty much already know.

I still don't have a sponsor. There is one guy that has volunteered and then another lady came tonight. I thought about asking the lady, but another person asked her first. The guy is one that went through RCIA last year and I guess I'm wanting someone that has been Catholic for at least a little while that might be more knowledgable. I think someone might have asked him to be a sponsor tonight as well. But I think I will find someone when I need to. Or they'll find me. Or we'll find each other. I know that God will provide.

I got a real surprise today. In the car when Josh and I were picking up supper at McD's he asked me how church was going. I said it was great. He asked me when I went and I told him. He then asked me if he could go with me sometime. I said of course. I would be glad to take him whenever he wanted to go. He said that he wanted to check out a variety of churches and see what's out there. He has friends that go to different churches and he would check them out. Sound familiar?? I am just so pleased that he's giving church and God and all of that some thought. As tragic as his father passing away was, I think it was a spark for him to just start "thinking." And sometimes that is all it takes. Of course I hope he finds the truth of the Catholic Church, but I am certainly not going to push him. It's a big enough step for him to just be seeking at this point. He has always been the type of kid that you had to prove things to him and having faith is something that will be difficult. But all I can do is try to live by example and answer his questions as he asks them. For a long time he has considered himself agnostic. Now he's taking a small step and I can't tell you how amazing that is to me. Well, really it's not if you think about the grace of God. He can and does work miracles when we least expect it. Isn't He wonderful?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Protestant Thoughts

I wrote a blog once about going to both a Catholic mass and a Baptist service on the same day. I noted the differences in the two styles of worship and my thoughts about it.

Today the funeral service I attended had a very Baptist flavor. I heard a lot of "Amens" shouted by those in attendance. And we heard the usual spiel about having a relationship with Christ and it is just so simple to do. I happen to know that a relationship with Christ is anything but simple. It is not simply saying a little prayer in your heart. It takes work to live and act like a Christian. And it is an ongoing process. And when satan gets involved (as he usually does), it's even harder.

That is why I stepped away from church a long time ago. It got too difficult. I saw a lot of hypocrisy. It got really old.

But I'm not dissin' the Baptists per se. There are some truly righteous (rather than self-righteous) people out there. I think my friend Bret is quite sincere and a true man of God. And he is a Southern Baptist Preacher.

And it's not to say that those who are not Catholic are not going to heaven or anything like that. But for me, I find more truth and history in the Catholic church. I also think that I am more likely to live more Christ-like as a Catholic than I ever would as a Baptist or any other denomination. I like the accountability of confession in the Catholic church. It does make me nervous to think about my first confession as I have a WHOLE lot to tell. But when you simply have to silently pray as one does in most protestant denominations, it's easier to keep sinning in the same way. It was for me at least.

I love the ritual of the Catholic Church. I love the fact that Catholics truly believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I keep hearing how amazing it is and I cannot wait until next Easter Vigil when I can take part in it. That is why Catholics kneel as Christ becomes present in the bread and wine. It is true adoration.

I've seen spirit-filled churches where people are singing and praising, jumping up and down, raising their hands and all of that, but to me it's just emotion. It's not to say Christ is not present because I am certain He is, but I feel that there is just as much if not more veneration going on in the solemnity of a Catholic mass. I have noticed that Catholics generally don't make a big show of their faith, but they do live Christian lives. I like the fact that if I meet a Catholic, they are not going to ask me about my relationship with Christ. They are not going to ask me if I have been "saved." My answer now is, yes, I have been saved and I am being saved and I hope to be saved. Because although protestants will disagree, I strongly feel that one can lose faith. I've heard the song and dance about how if someone was "saved" but isn't living a Christian life, then they either truly weren't saved because their faith wasn't real or how they have fallen, but they are still "saved" and will go to Heaven because nobody can lose salvation. To me, that's a bunch a baloney. I believe that as a Christian we must have both faith and works and that faith, indeed, can be lost or at least put on the shelf for a while. As I mentioned before, I have struggled with faith, but I find it growing stronger the more I attend mass and pray.

If I have offended anyone that is protestant, I do not mean to do so. These are just my thoughts and my reasons for choosing the Catholic Church. No matter what path each of us follow, if we claim to be Christian, we are at least one in Christ.

New Links

I updated the page on this blog with links to various Catholic sites on right. If you're visiting from COF and you're also new to the faith, you might find several helpful sites.

One that has been particularly helpful is the Guide to the Mass. It covers everything going on and it is easy to understand and follow. I printed it out to help me learn the responses within the mass and I had it down after a couple of weeks.

New Advent has a lot of great information and is a good starting point to learn things like how the pray the rosary, information on Saints, and genral questions about all things Catholic.

Though I have a while before my first confession, there are two sites you might find helpful which cover confession guidelines and a link to determine whether sins are considered mortal or venial.

I also have links to my home parish of St. Ann's.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

On Prayer

Prayer is something I have always struggled with when trying to lead a fairly Christian life. I still have troubles with it even now, but am starting to realize the great power in prayer. I now certainly believe that prayers are heard by God and answered... even if the answer is sometimes "no." Even when I was not attending church at all, I would still pray from time to time. But now as I'm getting involved again, I'm trying to pray on a more regular basis.

I find that I either forget to pray as I cannot seem to schedule myself to do it or when I am praying, I get distracted with other thoughts and sometimes fall asleep. I am working on it, but it will take some time before I can probably do it completely focused. So one more thing to ask is better focus in my prayers.

One thing I love about the Catholic church is the ability to pray to the saints. I guess it's not just being Catholic that gives one the ability to pray to the saints, but protestants generally don't believe in praying to anyone other than God/Christ/Holy Spirit. And just for the record, as a Catholic we don't ask the saints for our prayers, we ask them to intercede to Christ on our behalf. It's like asking a friend to pray for you. The thing about saints is they're already in heaven and they already kind of have an "in" with God.

And we don't worship Mary. We hold her in high esteem and show adoration to her. After all, she is the mother of Christ. And who better to intercede on our behalf, but the one who is closest to Christ? I made my own rosaries a while back and prayed it a few times, but got out of the habit as I got "busy." I'm going to try to start praying it more though. I find that when I have prayed the rosary, my day seems to go better and life is just more calm.

I know that some people probably don't care for the fact that the rosary is a series of repetitious prayers (Hail, Mary's and Our Father's), but it's really more of a meditative state when you can really focus on the greatness of Christ. It is still a little awkward, but like I said, I find that things are less stressful for me when I've taken the time to do it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

On Faith

The homework we got in RCIA deals with faith. That's a pretty strong word. It's an issue I've dealt with many times over the years in my struggle to find God.

I have general faith. I believe in God, in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe God is all-powerful and I know I should have complete faith him. But I admit I am weak when it comes to full-blown faith. And perhaps that is why those in some protestant denominations would say I've never really been "saved" because I have not had complete and total faith in God.

But I have learned that faith is a part of ourselves, yes, but more so it is the grace of God that gives us that faith. I know I have to do my part, but I think right now I just need to pray for more faith. In our homework lesson, there was a statement that really struck me. It said that trying to be in control of our own lives, selfishness, and anxiety are some things that can close us off from the gift of faith. And that is me right now. I always try to be in control of everything, I can be completely selfish and when am I not anxious or worrying about something?

But I'm going to try and that's all I can do. I will pray for faith. I will try to accept it when God gives it to me. Something else presented in the homework was that faith does not mean that we have all the answers; it means believing God has all the answers. So that's a good start for me, realizing the answers lie with God.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Basically it is the process by which a person (an adult) may become Catholic. I will be attending RCIA classes from now until about a month after Easter Vigil. My first class was on Wednesday.

I was happy to see that there were several others interested in the Church. I was worried for a while that I might be the only one. Our class by most standards is small with only about 8 or 9 people total, but I think it is just right. I didn't learn really anything new the first night. Of course I've been reading several books so I feel I'm already fairly educated. But I am looking forward to learning more and getting some questions answered.

I hope I find a sponsor that will be helpful. I'm not sure who to ask at this point, but I guess there is time. The person that has been wonderful and I feel the closest to brought me a copy of the Catechism tonight. I've been wanting one, but just haven't bought it. I'm really glad that I now have the opportunity to start looking into it.

I did my first bit of "homework" tonight. It was about faith and it gave me a lot to think about, but that will have to wait for another post.

My story continued

Once I started reading books about Catholicism my interest in the Church, God, and religion in general grew. I started simply thinking about going back to church. I wanted to see if there still was a place for me there. I wasn't sure if I could fit in again, but I decided to at least consider it.

I decided, then, that I would not only learn about the Catholic faith, but research the other protestant denominations and try to figure out who had at least the most right answers. I wanted to find the church that would "fit" me. Little did I realize that it's not a matter of a church fitting me. I ordered books that gave overviews of different denominations. I bought more books on Catholicism. I read when I could. I would have talks with Marty about stuff and he'd be surprised at how much I knew. The more I read about the Catholic faith, the more it made sense to me. I understood that it was the original Church founded by Christ. Now, I know there are protestants and perhaps Orthodox that may argue that point; but for me, it was the deciding factor in my consideration of all the denominations. A few months into my journey, it was no longer a question of which church, but how and when?

I did not know if I could get myself to go back to church. I wasn't sure if I could commit myself. I had fears of not being able to once again live up to the standards of being a Christian. But I still kept reading and learning. Throughout this time I believe that God was nudging me along the way. I cannot say that I had a single "ah-ha" moment where I just knew that it was the right decision. I simply opened my mind and finally my heart a little.

As my relationship with Marty progressed, we had a lot of problems that came up. Most of it was my insecurity and fears, but he was a part of it too. The distance of 1500 miles was hard enough, but then he was going to go to Alaska for a year. That's when I started giving serious consideration to at least looking into becoming Catholic. I thought perhaps if I did that, it would help me cope while he was gone. At some point I knew that things weren't going well in our relationship, but he wouldn't open up to me and I kept worrying about it. But I think I already knew that we weren't going to make it. I knew he had a change of heart, but I didn't want to believe it and he didn't want to tell me. So we continued in not so blissful ignorance. I decided then that even if we weren't going to be together, I would look into Catholicism because I felt it was the right thing to do.

From the start of my journey in September of 2004, I sent my first email to the church in my town inquiring about the RCIA process in February, 2005. I received a reply the next day that gave me the name of the lady to contact. It took me another month to call her. We had a nice long visit and I found out that she worked for the tribunal office and could assist me with the process of getting my marriage annulled. She said she would love for me to come to Mass some time. A week later I called to tell her I was interested in going to Mass. That was very difficult for me as I felt very awkward, but I made myself do it. And the first Mass wasn't that scary. There was a lot familiarity because I had attended several Episcopal services with my aunt. I was even able to chime in on some of the responses by the congregation. I knew I couldn't receive the Eucharist, but I did go up and get a blessing. That was Palm Sunday. I went to several more Masses that week on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. And since then I have gone every Sunday except for the one I was out of town. The more I go, the more it feels right and feels like home for me. Most of the awkwardness is gone. It still feels a little weird to cross myself sometimes. But I now know all of the liturgy of the mass... at least on the part of the congregation.

One of my concerns about joining the Church was the fact that I would HAVE to go to Mass EVERY weekend. I wasn't sure I could handle that. But I really haven't ever had a problem with it. It just seems like the right thing to do. I don't think I was ever this faithful when attending the Baptist church.

I've been looking forward to RCIA since last April and am very excited it has started. I'm still a work in progress, but I believe I will find my home in the Catholic Church.

Some Background

I actually started this journey almost exactly a year ago and right now I have just started RCIA. Before we get into that, you should probably know what go me here.It started with Marty. Marty was a guy I dated in high school. I hadn't seen him in almost 13 years, but he came back into my life in January of 2004. He found me through I was going through my divorce and he had been divorced for about six months. Despite the fact that he lived 1500 miles away, somehow we managed to develop a relationship. That relationship didn't officially happen until July of 2004. That is when we officially became a couple. In August that year, I visited him with his family in Austin. He told me he loved me for the first time there. In September, he came here to attend a family reunion in a town that is about 30 miles away. I went with him. And that's where the journey started.

Marty was born Catholic. His parents are very devout. Marty is what you might call lapsed. But going to his family reunion and meeting his large extended family was interesting. Marty and I began talking about his religious background. At that point in my life I was not what you would call religious in any way. I had turned my back on church in general for probably 10-11 years.

I wasn't raised in any church. I began going to the Baptist church because they had a bus that would pick us up and there was the promise of skating parties and lots of fun things to do. So I went. And I got "saved" and Baptized when I was in the third grade. I went somewhat regularly until about the sixth grade when we moved to the middle of nowhere. We lived in the country off of a dirt road. It was a miserable existence and I didn't go to church. I went again once in the ninth grade and got "saved" again. But I never followed through by attending church regularly. Later I went for a time in high school because one of my very good friends (and a boy that was a huge crush of mine) invited me to go and his parents would pick me up. But I didn't pay much attention to the sermons or lessons. In college, I finally got serious... for a while. We had what was a "party", but really it was a front for preaching the message of the gospel. And once again I was "saved". But this time I thought it was different and perhaps it was real. When they were calling for us to say the prayer and commit ourselves to Christ, I started shaking and couldn't stop. I wasn't cold, but I figured that was a sign. I started going to church regularly and going to Bible studies. I was Baptized again. I wanted to try and be a good Christian, but soon discovered just how difficult it was. And then I got pregnant. Not a situation that a good Christian girl should find herself in. I don't want to say it was a mistake because my son is the most precious thing to me. But I felt judged and somewhat of an outcast. And perhaps that was more in my head than what was really felt by others, but I couldn't really shake the feeling. But I still went to church fairly regularly. It was place that I tried to belong to. I'm not sure I ever did. I still tried to live a good life, but finally felt that it was too difficult to be perfect and that since I could never be that way, I might as well just be the sinner that I was. The kicker for me was the night that Kevin Banks got up in front of the church to share a message with us. He was a guy in band that had a reputation, but had turned his life over to Christ a few years before and had become something of an associate or deacon in the church. His message that night was the fact that he had realized that he had not been truly "saved." He said that he now was recommitting his life because he hadn't truly done it before and we needed to seek within ourselves and recommit if necessary. At that point I began questioning faith and religion in general. I had too many questions that I didn't like the answers too or just didn't have them. I wondered well... if he's not saved, then I must not be and how can we ever know if we are? I began questioning as to who among Christian denominations had the right answers. What made the Baptists right over the Methodists or the Episcopalians? So I eventually stopped going. For the next 10 years or so I just lived without much thought to church. I would still go once in a while, but any time anyone would ask me about my religious state, I would just tell them I'm not ready to commit myself to that right now. I still believed in God, but I didn't call on Him much and it seemed easier to live the way that I was. I did pray from time to time, but I wondered if my prayers were ever heard.

During my marriage to Richard, I went through a few wild stages I guess you would say. I never really drank much up to that point, but found that getting drunk was kind of fun. I became a much more interesting person when I was that way. We got involved with theatre. I was much more interested in sex and did things I never dreamed of. I went to a strip club with him and some friends. We visited the adult book store. Had wild parties. But then the marriage failed. As much as I liked some of the wild stuff, Richard was still too wild for me and I could never accept his wandering eye or his interest in pornography. We drifted apart; I fell out of love with him. We called it quits in October of 2003.

When we separated I guess I went on binge of sorts. I cannot justify my actions, but I wanted to feel sexy and desired and beautiful. So I had some one night stands and dated a few guys. Looking back, I'm not proud of that, but I thought at the time it would fill the void I had. And then Marty came into my life. It took some time though. Even after we started talking and after he visited for the first time in February, I still had a few guys that I was seeing. I went on a blind date of sorts by meeting a guy in Michigan. I dated Patrick for a while. I still had my ex-boyfriend on the sidelines from time to time. But eventually, Marty won my heart. And I am really thankful for that.

But how am I here now? During the time of Marty's reunion we began discussing his Catholic background. His mother had been concerned for his religious well-being, but he told her that despite the fact that he hadn't stepped into a church since high school, he did read the Bible. But it was not a Catholic Bible. We went to the bookstore one night and he was going to get one so his mother would feel better. At that point I did not realize there was a difference between a Catholic Bible and any other Bible. And I thought that maybe it would be interesting to learn about the Catholic faith. I was really just curious about it. So Marty found me a book about it and I started reading. And that is where my journey began.