Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saint for 2007

I was chosen by St. Francis de Sales

I will try to write more in blog posts later. I need to spend some time looking up information on him, but I do like this quote I found so far....

Some torment themselves in seeking means to discover the art of loving God, and do not know - poor creatures - that there is no art or means of loving Him but to love those who love Him - that is, to begin to practice those thing which are pleasing to Him.

Saint Francis de Sales

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Finding Faith

How does one go about developing their faith in God? Oh, I know you can pray for faith, but what happens when you pray and your faith seems to diminish? I know I probably don't pray enough or do enough to warrant an increase. I suppose desire simply isn't enough.

I do have faith in God. I believe in Him, His laws, and His will. I can certainly know that just because things don't go my way that it's probably not in God's will, but what happens when you have no idea as to what His will is? Why is it that you question your faith more in times of trouble and sadness instead of leaning more on it?

Sometimes I feel I'm still not doing enough despite going to Church multiple times a week, singing in the choir, and praying. Maybe it's simply that the "honeymoon stage" is over. Now I'm left with actually living out my faith, which I try to do, but it's difficult when you are questioning it. I don't question my belief in God or the Church. I just wonder if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I still feel that my faith is very limited. I feel like I'm overwhelmed with other responsibilities and I can't ever catch up and take the time to put more into it.

I don't expect answers and I know that I should pray more... the problem for me is the difference between knowing and actually doing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


We started our adult faith formation classes today. Well, it started last week, but we didn't have our books until this week. Today was a wonderful class with lots of discussion and examples and I probably talked and shared too much as always.

I noticed something quite interesting tonight. I was reading through our book that we are using for class and the author's name seemed familiar. His name is Mark Link which you may have heard of... but I never had before or so I thought. About a week ago, I checked out a book of poetry from our school library. It is an older book published around 1972, but there were several great poems in there that made me think along with scripture passages and such. I'd been thinking about posting some of them on here and sharing my thoughts about them, but you know how time just seems to slip by. Well, I knew the name was familiar and it turns out that he put together that book of poetry as well. It is a collection of a lot of poems by different authors, but he wrote some the verse as well. I thought that was really interesting. The book is called "In the Stillness is the Dancing." I think I'll try to order a used copy of it so I can have it for myself. I'll leave you with a poem that spoke to me.

I hope that I will always be for each man
what he needs me to be.
I hope that each man's death will diminish me,
but fear of my own
will never diminish my joy of life.
I hope that my love for those whom I like
will never lessen my love
for those whom I do not.
I hpe that another man's love for me
will never be a measure of my love for him.

I hope that every man will accept me as I am,
but that I never will.
I hope that I will always ask for forgiveness from others,
but will never need to be asked for my own.
I hope that I will always recognize my limitations,
but that I will construct none.
I hope that loving will always be my goal,
but that love will never be my idol.
I hope that every man will always have hope.

College student, quoted by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Salvation

I often joke with people when I talk about my journey into Catholicism that when I was a Baptist, I had been "saved" three times and Batptized twice. Regardless of my commitment to Christ and my "salvation" I always questioned it. The concept of predestination always bothered me. That is the idea that one is predestined to be saved or not. If a person had been already chosen by God to be saved, then it would happen regardless. If a person was not chosen, then there is nothing they could do to become saved. I often questioned my own salvation because although I had those moments of "accepting Christ as my personal savior" I still struggled with sin and the true desire to live a Christian life. I felt that although I wanted a relationship with Christ, I didn't know how to make myself become what I was supposed to be. I didn't understand how a person could be "saved" and still live a life of sin and still get to heaven. Protestants answer that by stating that "well, then the person probably really wasn't saved because they weren't sincere in their commitment." They contend that if salvation really happened for that person, then they will automatically live a good Christian life and have the desire in them. I know that there are often times where those "saved" take time to re-commit themselves to Christ because although they were supposedly "saved" they had moments of sinful struggles. Then there are those that realize that they were really not "saved" before but finally make the true commitment that they didn't make before.

My first experience with salvation came when I was nine years old. I was at a large Baptist church and the pastor had the typical "Alter Call" and I felt compelled to go up with the others and dedicate my life for Christ. Honestly I probably felt kind of scared because I was afraid of going to hell. But I went up and kneeled on the steps and waited patiently for someone to come talk to me... because that's what they did. And nobody came and I started to feel foolish and I think I started to cry because I was kind of scared and I didn't know what to do. Finally an adult came to talk to me and took me to a little room off the side. I can't remember really what happened exactly, but they probably talked to me about salvation and asked me if I wanted to be saved. I'm sure I said the Jesus prayer. I can't remember if it was the same day or another Sunday, but I was Baptized and I was happy that I wasn't going to hell any more. I enjoyed going to church, but eventually stopped going when we moved.

I was later "saved" again when I was 15 in high school but never made the commitment to actively attend church. Although my good friend Bret and his parents would pick me up and take me, I could never really get into it. Finally, for the third time, I was "saved" in college. For a brief time, I did make the commitment and really got into going to church. But like before, the feeling waned and I fell away from my commitment.

During that time I stopped going to church, I still believed in God but decided that perhaps I didn't believe in "religion." At one point I thought that maybe if I studied different denominations I could find one that better "fit" me, but I didn't get far with that thought. Finally after a ten+ year lapse I discovered Catholicism. Studying the faith gave me answers to the many gnawing questions I had. The more I read, the more it made sense to me. It was no longer a matter of finding a church to "fit" me, but becoming part of the one, true Church established by Christ.

A big factor in my conversion was the Catholic concept of salvation. Deep down I always had the belief that salvation wasn't a simple one time commitment, but an ongoing responsibility. The teachings of the Church confirmed that for me and I've found that I have far more confidence in my salvation now than I ever did before. To me, the protestant concept is like an easy out. One doesn't really have to work that hard to earn their place in heaven. Or it's an easy out in that if I'm predestined, then I can live however I like and then God will let me know when it's time for me to commit. I was worried that perhaps I wasn't called to be saved but am thankful now to know that all are called. The concept of free will was a big thing for me and I wrote two lengthy posts on it. If we have no free will, then what is the purpose of trying to be good? Without free will, we are merely puppets in God's hand and it won't matter how we live because he will take the puppets He likes up to heaven and condemn the others to hell. If we're supposed to build a relationship with God, we have to make the choice to do so. Even in the protestant denominations one still has to choose to be saved. And for the record, I do still believe that salvation is a gift from God, but as Father Phan said today, "We have to choose to accept that gift and keep accepting it." We can't simply accept it once and then put it on the shelf. I know that because I continue to accept God's graces, they are are working in my life. I know that my salvation is dependent on my choices and not a one time commitment. I know that for the first time, I am on the right track in building a relationship with Christ. I know that I still have a long way to go, but I am anxious and excited to be a part of the journey.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Simple, yet profound

I read this on a yahoo page that is allowing people to create and submit things for a time capsule.

"I believe that if those who proclaim to follow Christ lived their lives as Christ did the world would be at peace."

One of the things that kept me away from church and religion for many years was the great amounts of hypocrisy I observed in people that called themselves "Christian." The WWJD bracelets were a big hit years ago and I still see them from time to time. Just in case you're not familiar with the logo it stands for "What Would Jesus Do?" Wearing it was to serve as a reminder that one should live their lives as Christ would. They should act and say things as Christ would. They should live as examples for others. Yet, I was amazed at people wearing those bracelets or other jewelry that would tell about the sinful things they did on weekends and hear them talking down to others or wishing bad things on those they didn't like. I became very disheartened and I knew that although I was probably as sinful as they were, I didn't attempt to proclaim my Christian status to the world. I struggled with being "good" so much that I just gave up. Overall, I was a good, moral person, but there were sins that to be frank, I enjoyed. I look back and see it as selfish behavior on my part, but I didn't want to try to live a life that I knew I couldn't. It was too hard. I didn't like being hypocritical and be one of those Sunday Christians. So I stopped going to church. I decided that if and when it was time for me to return, God would let me know. Thankfully, He reminded me about two years ago and led me home to my wonderful faith.

I now see things through different eyes it seems. Sure, there are still those that have a fair-weather faith, but I also see a great many that are devout in theirs. Instead of judging those that I saw as hyprocrites before, I pray for them and realize they struggle with sin like all of us. For some the struggle is harder than others. I know. I've been there. But with the graces I've received from God, it's easier to deal with. I am finding that I can live more Christ-like with the graces I've received as part of the Catholic Church and I continue to thank God for it. I pray that others may find the same joy and peace that I have discovered.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nothing much to say

I apologize for my lack of posts here. It seems I haven't had much to say. Part of it has been the fact that life has gotten busy, but also, I have been feeling a bit down and haven't had felt inspired much. And just when I needed it, Father's homily today hit home. He talked about how negativity tends to feed sin. I realized that I've been kind of down and feeling a bit sorry for myself and I realized that isn't very healthy for me in more ways than one. I'm still focusing on things that honestly have been a distraction for me and I need to stop. I still have this trust issue that I seem to have had my entire life... or since my marriage... I'm not sure which... but it has rolled over into my trust in God. I can know that God will provide for me and I can believe in Him, but sometimes I still feel that I have to do certain things. I guess my impatience has been running rampant. I need to do some heavy prayer and ask for help in letting go of those things I still want to control. That is another area that I'm still not doing so well in. Father Phan constantly preaches about how important prayer is and I can know and understand that, but getting into it is difficult for me. Honestly, my prayer life stinks. I don't make time for it and when I do pray it's the same stuff over and over. When I try to make time for it I have a very difficult time focusing and my mind tends to wander into other things.
I still have no idea what God's will for me is. I guess he isn't ready to reveal that or perhaps I'm just not listening. I sometimes feel kind of aimless. I absolutely love being a part of the Catholic Church and I KNOW that I was called to be a part of it. Now I don't know what else I'm supposed to do. I'm taking part in the music ministry and attending RCIA classes again, but sometimes it seems that it's not enough. I want to learn more but I don't seem to have much time lately. I just pray that God at least gives me a few hints here and there or those nudges he gave me when I was first called to simply read about the Catholic faith. I know I've come a long way, but I also know that I have a long way to go.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I was late to RCIA class tonight because I made goodies for the class. I was happy to see that when I got there that the tables were all full. I counted 18 people there tonight. It is very inspiring to see others that are interested in learning about the Church and are giving serious consideration to joining it. I know there will be those that don't go through the whole process, but hopefully it will at least get them to start thinking about their own faith and belief in God. I wasn't able to fully get myself involved in class tonight because of being late and worrying about the food. It turned out the food was a hit so I was happy that they didn't go away hungry. I am starting to really feel like I am a part of the parish now. I know that might seem strange since I've been going since February of 2005. I've been in the choir and participated in Mass, but now I'm starting to feel like part of the Church. I am getting to the point where I know several others... slowly, but surely. When I drove up there tonight I thought about how good it feels to have a place that is like my second home and the fact that I have this wonderful family. I don't know where I'd be without such wonderful people like my good friend Carol or Mary the choir director or so many others that have been a part of my growth in the Church. I just felt so uplifted and inspired to be involved in such a great faith and a great community of people. I pray that everyone in the RCIA class this year gets to that point and feels welcomed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A long overdue post

I do feel bad that I haven't posted much. With school starting, it is so busy. I have kind of had the funks lately, but am coming out of that. I've contemplated my purpose and God's will and still haven't come up with answers. My friend Carol told me tonight that God is trying to teach me patience and I certainly agree... but haven't quite learned the lesson yet. At least I'm trying but should try a bit more I suppose.

I am still going to Mass and still love it. On labor day weekend, I was in Albuquerque (well near it) and I went to a mission church out there. It was kind of different, but interesting. The songs were sung in Spanish so I couldn't participate much.

Tonight I went to RCIA class. I know I just went through it, but I still feel the need to keep learning. I think this time that a lot of it can really sink in. I felt very inspired being there tonight. It was a pretty full room (well, full for our church) with about 17 people there. I feel excited for the people there and I really hope that all or at least most of the stay with it and join the Church.

After class I met with one lady that had questions about annulments. She was asking them of my friend Carol who works in the tribunal office, but was kind enough to allow me to stay. We had a nice long conversation and I am very excited about her enthusiasm. I see a lot of myself in her. I will be praying for her and that her journey is as fulfilling as mine.

I was disappointed earlier this summer to learn that our priest wasn't going to be teaching an adult faith formation class. I did learn tonight, however, that some other men of the Church are trying to put together an apologetics class and I am very excited about it!

Well, that's all the updates for now. Perhaps I'll be able to start posting more again with classes happening again. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Where else...

...but in a Catholic Church can you have such amazing services? But first...

I went to a great session on beginning apologetics. It was very inspiring, and I really wish I could take a regular class on it. An hour wasn't ample time to cover much in the session. I did get some ideas for some other books to get. I guess I will continue self-study as I have the time. I would just be more committed to it if I had a class. I was going to go to the RCIA classes again but choir practice is going to interfere.

Before I go on about the closing Mass, I want say that there is no other church that has the unity of the Catholic church. The Eucharistic Congress brought together all of the Parishes in our diocese. Every single priest within our diocese, along with other bishops and two cardinals took part in it. People from every parish came to the celebration. Would you ever find that in a Baptist church? One of the problems I had with protestant churches is the fact that there is no unity involved. They have no authority and can basically preach whatever they want. They claim that their interpretation of the scriptures comes from the Holy Spirit. If that is true, then how can they account for all the different interpretations that occur between different denominations and even within a single denomination? I am not saying that the Holy Spirit isn't at work within the churches, but it seems that if their interpretations were indeed correct, they would be one and the same. At that is what I can count on in the Catholic Church. The Church doesn't randomly make a decision on official teachings. The teachings are based on strict accordance with both scripture and tradition. It has never waivered on its teachings. It may clarify some at times, but it has never changed. What other church can say that?

I have a friend that used to be Catholic and left the Church for a non-denominational church that is (as she calls it) more spirit-filled. Her church may be more charismatic with people raising their hands with some hip music and firey preachers, but I can't understand why someone would think a Catholic Church isn't spirit-filled. What is more spirit filled than a place that has Christ truly present in the Eucharist? I have found that the Catholic Church has been far more holy than any other church I have been to. John Henry Cardinal Newman (who was a convert from the Anglican church) stated ""To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." I think if my friend truly realized what she had in the Catholic Church, then she would never have left it. I think that the reason why some people leave the Church is because they aren't properly catechized. They haven't been taught and fail to realize the wonderful gifts and blessings that are part of the Church.

Now with that being said, let me talk about the Mass. The opening song was called "Come O Spirit of God." It starts with a cantor singing the words in Latin. Then the basses and congregation come in and sing the words in Latin. Next, are the altos singing the same words in Phillipino & English, followed by the Tenors singing in Vietnamese & English. Finally the sopranos come in singing Latin. We sang the verse twice before cutting out. Then the tenors followed by the altos cut out. The song ended with the basses and congregation singing acapella. It was really beautiful. The choir then sang the song "How Beautiful" by Twila Paris. It is a gorgeous song. After that, the procession began. The brass played a fanfare as people carried banners in that represented each Parish in the Diocese. There were 50+ banners. Then the Knights of Columbus in their regalia walked in carrying their swords up high. Next, the priests from all the parishes entered followed by the dignitaries that included our Bishop as well as a few other Bishops from other areas and a Cardinal from Rome. As this was happening, the choir sang three songs with the last being a song in Latin that heralds the high priest as he enters called "Ecce Saucerdos." (Pronounced Et-cheh Sawchairdose) After singing all these songs in Latin, I think it would be interesting to learn.

The Mass took place in the coliseum which is a place that seats about 6,600. Although it wasn't filled, I would guess that we had around 3,000 people there since both sides were mostly filled as well as the floor area. It was an interesting Mass because although the major parts of it were in English, our responsoral songs were sung in Latin. The prayers for the faithful were said in English, Spanish, & Vietnamese. When the consecreation of the host occurred at the altar, all the priests went up and surrounded the Cardinal and extended their hands toward him and prayed with him during the process. I found it very moving. Then communion was distributed to all of the people present. While singing in the choir, we were getting concerned that we weren't going to get to participate, but we finally had a priest come over to our area. We sang the first communion song acapella which was called "At that first Eucharist." We then sang other songs and it took a little longer than expected so we sang an additional song that we didn't sing during the preparation of the gifts. That reminds me... during the preparation of the gifts, we had Vietnamese dancers that came up and performed a liturgical dance. They held mini flower bouquets that had a candle in the middle of it and long ribbons streaming down. The turned did a lot of mirroring of each other while in partners and made formations. It was quite charming.

The whole experience was really amazing. I wish I could have heard his homily better, though. The sound wasn't projected to our side very well. After the Mass, we were invited to a reception at a local hotel. They served fajitas which were really quite good. I am starting to meet other people within the Church slowly. I got home around 8:30 after picking up McDonald's for Josh. It had been a long weekend and so I just sat in my chair in front of the t.v. for a bit before I headed to bed around 10:30.

I am still very much happy with my choice to be a part of such a beautiful Church that is steeped in history and tradition. How I wish everyone could see it through my eyes. If you have ever had any inclination to visit a Catholic Church or have even thought about becoming Catholic, I recommend that you go to a Mass sometime. Most RCIA classes are starting this month and it is a great way to learn about the Church. You are not obligated to join when you attend classes, you just learn about the teachings of the Church and can decide if it's right for you. So don't be afraid to check it out. Catholics are really quite friendly and there will be someone that would be glad to take you through the process.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's been a while

I should be writing more, but life has gotten busy again. It really should't be an excuse. I just haven't felt inspired to write much. But some great things have been happening.

I still love being Catholic. I love going to Mass. I can't explain it and that is the beauty of it. It is truly the grace of God I receive every week in the Eucharist. I am still not even close to perfection, but I am in a much better place than I've ever been.

I have been singing in a Diocesan choir which is made of people from different parishes. It has been really cool to sing in such a large and talented group. We are singing several pieces in Latin and others that are in both Spanish and English. It's been fun but I'm probably stretching myself too thin again. We are singing at the closing Mass of the Eucharistic Congress. I am really looking forward to that. I will have the opportunity to attend a few sessions there and I am going to go to one on apologetics.

I am disappointed, however, that I won't be able to go to adult faith formation classes this year at Church. Our priest is being stretched quite thin right now and will not have time to teach it. I will probably attend the RCIA sessions again just to keep myself going and let the information sink in.

So that's all for now. It's bed time for me and I must be heading there soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Moral Compass

I've been doing some thinking about morals, values, ethics and the like lately. I think we all in general have a moral compass within ourselves. It does shift from time to time throughout our lives. During my marriage I think my moral compass was a bit more skewed; and now that I've come back to Church, it's found a new direction.

I have a few things I take passion in. I have a love for music, rollercoasters and learning. There have been many things, however, that I just simply haven't given much thought to... at least for a while. I wasn't sure where I stood on many social issues from time to time. I once thought that people on welfare were too lazy to get a job. But then I was on welfare and I realized that the system doesn't work to help people get off of it. I was a rare exception because I didn't want to be labeled and become part of that system. It wasn't in me to have to rely on outside assistance for survival. I used it while I finished school as a single parent, but when I was able to get off of it, I did.

I had never taken a strong stance regarding abortion or birth control either. When I found myself pregnant and alone in college I had to consider many things. Yes, abortion did have to enter my thoughts. The father of my child wanted me to have an abortion because it would be an inconvenience to him to deal with a child. (You see, I wasn't the first girl he got pregnant.) My aunt also suggested it. I took their opinions but decided I couldn't go through with it. Although at the time I felt that abortion was the right of other women, it wasn't right for me. I felt an obligation to face my mistake of getting pregnant. I did consider adoption for a while, but I decided that this child was my responsibility and I couldn't let someone else have raise him/her. It was difficult at times, but my child is the greatest blessing I could ever have. Now that I am facing some medical issues that may involve a hysterectomy, I realize that my son may very well be the only chance I ever had to have a child. So how could he ever be consider a mistake? Yes, I got pregnant in college without being married. But given the circumstances of my life after that, I never would have had the opportunity to have a child. The man I married had a vasectomy as well as several of the other men I dated. Now I am at age and with my health issues, I probably will not have any other children. If I had chosen abortion, I very well could have lived a childless life. For some people that may be o.k., but the joys and pain of motherhood are priceless. Given that idea, how can abortion ever be right? And how can birth control be acceptable? Yes, I realize that people today have sex and not all share such rigid, religious views. But if it's God's will for those children to be conceived and have a soul, then what right is it of ours to prevent it? We can be responsible and not have too many children we can't afford. We do have the ability to control our urges. There are also many people that would like to adopt children that are unwanted by their birth mothers.

I've always had a conservative moral compass in the sense that I would never steal, I can't lie (at least not very well), and I couldn't hurt or kill another person (or animal for that matter) unless my life or someone that I loved was in danger. Since I made the decision to become Catholic and be a part of this faith, I realize that my moral compass has shifted more to what I think God's desire for me would be and I am thankful for it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Taking time to pray

In the past year and a half, I have probably prayed more than I have in my life until that point. But it's still not enough. I'm guilty of often not having a regular prayer life. I'm am learning the power and need for prayer, but I still have work to do in that area.

Martin Luther has been quoted as saying “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Now I may not agree with some of his other thoughts and notions, but he knew the importance of prayer.

For me personally, I generally pray at night before going to bed. Yes, sometimes I fall asleep before I finish my prayers. But I have also prayed on my way to work in the mornings during my 30 minute drive. But this summer I've rarely had such drives. I do need to work on my prayer life, but more so, I need to learn to just be still sometimes and let God do the talking. I find that I'm always the one babbling on about things.

Father Phan remarked that people today are so busy. We often find ourselves with too many things to do and not enough time to do them. We tend to multi-task which isn't always a good thing - like driving down the road and putting on make-up, reading the paper or talking on the cell phone. (Or perhaps for some people doing all four at once!) When our heads are so full of other things and we're going 90 miles an hour to get xxxx done, we wear ourselves out. In order to function better, we need some down time. Even Jesus and the apostles needed it. The problem was that so many people were desperate to hear His words they hardly had time to rest. Even when they decided to take a break and tried to get away, they were met with more people.

Taking time to stop and pray is our way of recharging our body, mind, and spirit. It gives us unity and better focus. God isn't often on our to-do lists, but we need to take time for Him and remember Him. We are often overwhelmed with things and end up putting prayer on the same level as other menial tasks. We have to realize that in the scheme of things, very few things are really important. We tell ourselves that this, this, and this needs to be done and if I finish all of that, then I'll spend time in prayer. This seems illogical because we should take Martin Luther's stance, and say "I have so much to do today that I should spend some time in prayer beforehand." This way we might realize what is truly important and can ask for God's help in completing our tasks and make sure we're always mindful of Him.

The thing about prayer and talking to God is that we are tempted to forgo it because of a lack of concrete results. We often don't get answers for some time. Sometimes we pray for others and God's work in them takes time. Because we live in a world where we crave and desire immediate satisfaction, prayer is something that ends up on the bottom of our lists. But prayer should become a way of life and not a task.

Daily prayer must become a necessity for us. Prayer helps us receive God's grace and grow in His holiness. It helps us fight our temptations. It puts things into focus for us. We should strive to make prayer a routine habit. Of all habits to have, at least prayer is something beneficial.

So now that I've talked the talk, am I ready to walk the walk? I am going to make the effort to both begin and end my days in prayer. Instead of simply thanking God for getting me through another day, I will ask for His help in it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Trust Me

How many times have we heard someone say "Trust me on this" or how many times have we said it to someone else? Simple words but I've found trust is actually a complex issue. It was a huge part in the failure of my marriage. It has prevented me from accepting many people at face value. But trust is something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. Trusting other people can be difficult especially if you've been burned before. But what about trusting God?

You'd think that as Christians, we would be able to easily put our trust in God. Why do we often find difficulty in it, then? Is it simply our human minds and nature that prevents us from being able to trust in Him completely? Is it our sinfulness? The thing is that we might never have answers for it and that is where trust comes into play. It's the ability to have complete faith without having all the answers. For someone like me that has to know how scary movies end and always wants a happy ending, it's hard to deal with at times.

Sunday's Gospel told of the apostles beginning their journey to spread the word in their travels. They were told to take nothing with them other than their staffs and sandals. For all their other needs they would have to trust in God's providence. How many of us could travel so lightly and on faith alone? Today we can't go anywhere without a cell phone. Perhaps because the apostles witnessed the miracles of Christ first-hand their faith was so strong.

Before I can continue with my discussion of the concept of trust, you must understand that it goes hand in hand with faith. A simple definition of faith is "the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will." Many of us would like to say "of course I trust in God's will. I would do anything He asked of me." How certain are we really in saying that? Sure it's printed on our currency. In God We Trust. But honestly, do we put 100% of our trust in Him? What if He asked the same thing of us that he asked of Abraham, to sacrifice our own child? Would we question God's judgment? Would we question that it was God actually asking that of us? How many times have lunatics done things in the name of God or Allah that we know God would not command?

Fortunately, God usually doesn't ask us to do the impossible. He simply asks us to trust Him. How simple. In the homily on Sunday , Father Phan explained that trust is essential for our faith and without trust, our faith is incomplete. How true. We have to trust in Him to even begin our faith journey and there are instances along the way where sometimes our faith is tested. I liked the analogy that Father Phan gave. Trust is liking floating on water. If you fight it, you're going to sink; but if you learn to relax you just float on top. He also said that the greatest obstacle in our trust is fear. How true! I know I've been guilty of not having complete trust in God because things weren't going the way I planned or expected. We have to realize that what we may think is good for is and right is not what God has planned for us - especially those desires that are contrary to His will. Trust is abandoning our fear and leaving it in God's hands.

When I look back through my life I realize just how often God has provided for me. I often feel humbled because I certainly wasn't deserving of anything, but things always seemed to work out... even in my bleakest moments. When I found out I was pregnant in college, I wondered how I was going to manage having a child, finishing school, and pay the bills. But I managed and finished my degree. When I needed a teaching job on the step program, I applied at one school only and by chance a teacher left in the middle of the summer and a position opened up. I was always able to find affordable places to live, pay my bills, take vacations, have enough to eat, and have health coverage (or I stayed well when I didn't have insurance) etc. And God continued to provide for me even when I wouldn't give Him the time of day for about 12 years or so. Oh, I thought about Him every now and then. I even prayed once in a while... but I had given up on Church and decided I would live my life the way I want to. There were times when I called out to Him asking "Why is this happening?" or simply "Help me." Sometimes I felt I didn't get an answer, but it always came in some form. Sometimes it took me years to realize that He did indeed answer me...and sometimes it was simply "no" or "not now."

Now that I'm finally getting on the right track spiritually, I am amazed at how He provided for me despite my complete lack of faith and trust. I realize that I had to go through some of those hard knocks for a reason and all my experiences happened so that I might eventually learn from them or use them in some way. I do know that God will continue to provide for me and may continue to teach me a few lessons here and there... even when I have my doubts. I am still human and quite imperfect and when things don't go my way or when I want something that I simply cannot have, I sometimes find myself once again questioning "Why?" I hope and pray that my faith continues to increase as well as my trust in God. As Father Phan said, things may not always turn out as we want, but God knows our needs and in His divine providence, He will provide for them. So when God says "Trust me." Our answer should be a resounding "Yes, Lord!"

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Still Here

I'm still around. I'm still going to Mass weekly and I still love being Catholic. I just haven't had much to say about it. I did have an interesting experience yesterday, however. I had two Mormons come knocking on my door yesterday. They caught me at a bad time as I was getting ready to leave to go to the movies. I was kind of abrupt with them, but I really didn't want to spend time talking to them. I told them I was Catholic and I didn't share their beliefs and that they would be wasting their time. They went on to say something after that and I told them that I was leaving in a few minutes and I didn't have time to talk to them. They departed after that. A part of me wanted to be able to converse with them but only if I felt more knowledgable. I am confident in my own beliefs about the Catholic faith. I know I still have much to learn. But I feel that I should know more about their beliefs before I get into a discussion with them. I know a little... but not enough. I know there are books out there about dealing with those that come knocking at your door like the Mormons and the J.W.'s. I just haven't had time to look into them. Of course I had big plans to get more research done this summer and look how far I've gotten. I guess there will be time for that later. I do still wish there was a class I could take on apologetics. I do study on my own when I can, but a class would help considerably. I know there are online things out there, but I need something where I physically go some place and learn lessons and am assigned homework etc. I guess it's because I'm one that has always loved being a student. I was in college for seven years. (I had a baby and changed majors) But I enjoyed taking classes. Sure, I would often wait until the last minute to write my essays but I still made mostly A's. I never made lower than a B.

Our diocese is having a Eucharistic Congress at the end of August. I guess it's basically like a local Catholic convention with guest speakers and such. I would like to go to it but I have a conflict on the second day of it. I'm also thinking of singing in the choir that is being put together for it. It just depends on when the Mass will be held on that Saturday. I think it will be interesting.

Well, it's not much of a post, but just wanted my two or three readers to know that I'm still alive and kicking.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I know, I know

It's been a while since I've posted. I was gone for a week to the National Speech tournament in Dallas. Although I had my computer with me, the wireless internet was lousy and even if I had something to post, I couldn't do it.

I missed Mass last week because of being out of town. I looked into going to a service while in Dallas and found there was a Church less than a mile from the hotel but we had to leave too early to register for the competition and I didn't get to go. This morning I slept in because of not getting to sleep until around 2 a.m. I didn't go to the early 8:30 mass, but got up for the 11:15. A part of me didn't want to go. I felt tired and just wanted to stay in bed or in my recliner, but I made myself get ready. I knew that I would feel better after going since I always do. I was right. I was glad to be there and I especially loved singing. We had a different priest since ours is in Rome right now. He was difficult to understand as he spoke with a heavy Indian (I think) accent. I had a hard time paying attention to the homily as he seemed to go on and on and repeat himself over and over. I think the basics was that we are nothing without Christ.

I was glad to see my friend Carol afterwards. She has promised an evening in her hot tub praying the rosary and then having some wine. I am definitely going to take her up on that.

You know some people probably have issues with the idea that as Catholics we are required to attend Mass every weekend. Of course when it's impossible because of illness or other circumstances, it is o.k. and not considered to be a mortal sin. But if a person willingly makes a choice to not go to Mass, it is a major sin. I've said before how that was something I had to think about before making my commitment to join the Church. But I really "get" the importance of it now. I think that the more you are away from it, the easier it becomes to stay away. I also think that the more you go and participate, the more you grow in Christ. I now cannot imagine making an active choice to NOT go to Mass. I feel not only an obligation to go (especially on those days that I'm tired), but I want to go. It's difficult to explain the power of the sacraments to those that have never received them or to those that have received them but don't really understand what it's all about. The great thing about becoming Catholic is that it's something that you don't just jump in to. You have to study the faith. You have to be certain that you understand and can adhere to the Church's teachings. It's not a simple matter of saying a prayer and filling out a membership card. I'm still happy to be a part of this faith. I still want to know God's plan for me in it... and I do think He does have plans. I am trying to be patient. I still find myself .... perhaps concerned about my situations and I find myself praying for God to lift those burdens from me. I know He hears me and my prayers will be answered.... and in His time, not mine. It's just the time until He does answer that drives me crazy. Although I'm not ready for school to start back up again, it will be a bit of a relief since I'll be so busy that I don't have time to think about things so much.

Well, that's all for this post. I know it's not much, but I wanted to put something out there so you don't think I've fallen off the face of the earth!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Come to Jesus Moments

Most people have them at some point. I had it on occasion when I was going to the Baptist church. After all, I was "saved" three times. Many people have them when they have hit rock bottom of their life and perhaps when they end up in jail or something. My son's father did that briefly after a stint in jail. (Just so you know, I never married his father so that aspect wasn't a part of our lives.) I had my doubts, however, about his sincerity. Sure enough, it was short-lived. But do people have life changing moments when it comes to religion? I would have to say yes. For many, they have a sincere conversion and they truly live a good Christian lifestyle. For others, like myself on occasion, have good intentions and want to be able to be more Christ-centered, but it generally fades. And some, I'm sure it's all a facade and they're fooling themselves and others.

I watched a show on A&E the other day about Karla Faye Tucker. She was convicted of killing two people and received the death penalty. Many of you might be familiar with the story. After she started serving jail time she went through a conversion process after a group came to do a religious presentation of sorts. Was her conversion real? Probably so given the testimony of the people around her. Ultimately her appeals processes ran out and she was executed - the first woman in Texas in a long time. Did she deserve to die? I am not certain of that. I used to have a fairly staunch view that the death penalty was quite justified. After all, it's written in the Bible. But does a person that committed the crime under the influence of drugs and then later has a true conversion process deserve it?

But what makes a true conversion? How can one know if it's real? I think the only one with that answer is God, Himself. He knows what is in our hearts. Much of my questioning when I went through my religious moments was not really knowing if my salvation was real or if I could change like I knew I should. I'm not going to dismiss the Baptists and their ways of bringing people to Christ. Certainly good work is done in all kinds of churches. And many people in all kinds of denominations live Godly lives. I know for me, however, my true conversion didn't happen until I made the decision to become Catholic. It wasn't one of those broken moments where I had no where else to turn. It was a gentle calling. Everything just seemed to come together and for the first time it all made sense to me. Although some people that have known me a long time might not say that I've changed much, but I know what kind of change has happened in me. My thought processes are different. I value different things. My moral compass has shifted. I have a desire to grow in and learn about my faith. I want to live a life in God's grace. I think that by becoming Catholic, I have that chance. Although some people thrive in other denominations, it is often short-lived it seems. I know that the sacraments I have participated in have done wonders. It's nothing I can really explain, but I know that I am different because of them.

I was so worried about about having to change myself to come back to "religion", but I don't what I was thinking. I am still me. I am just a better me.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Usually after the weekend, I have Father's homily in my mind and in my notes that I usually take and it spurs a blog entry. But I don't have that. I went to the 5:00 service on Saturday which was the first communion for the second graders. It was a very nice service and I was excited for all the children, but there was no homily. I don't have any particular thoughts to share so I may just ramble in this particular post.

I have been in a bit of a funk lately and I'm not sure why. I found myself depressed last week and I couldn't shake it so I did what usually works and spent time in prayer, reading my bible and praying the rosary. It always seems to help me feel better. I still don't have answers that I'm seeking from God and I know that He has plans for me of which I am not aware. I am trying to be patient, but it has not always been my strong suit. I want to know His will for me. I want to know if I'm meant to spend the rest of my life alone or if I will ever find the person that is what most people call their soulmate. I want to know if I'm on the right track. Sometimes I feel that I'm feeling around in the dark trying to find my way. I know God is leading me, but sometimes I just wish He'd turn on the light!

You'd think that having summers off would mean that I could or would devote more time to God and my faith. I've had great intentions for a lot of things, but haven't gotten very far. I do want to spend more time in studying the faith. I may never be a great apologist, but I really do want to learn more and be more capable in defending the faith. I wish there was a class locally that I could take in apologetics. I'd even help with it if I could, but I feel as though I'm needing something. With summer here, there's not adult faith formation classes and no RCIA. I am missing my midweek lift. Sure I could go to Mass, but I want more than that. I know everyone involved in religious education at the Church, like my friend Carol, are glad it's summer and they have a break, but this is the moment I actually have the most time to spare.

I haven't spent time making rosaries as I would like to. I'm strapped for funds at the moment but hope to do some more after next pay day. I don't know why I like making them so much. It's just relaxing and I like giving them to people that appreciate them. I've thought about selling them, but I always second guess myself about it. I think that there are so many other places you can get rosaries, so why would anyone buy one from me? I do think that they're a little more unique that some others, but I just don't know if anyone would be interested.

Well, it's time for me to get ready for summer band. Maybe I'll ramble some more later. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Interesting Conversation

I'm posting an excerpt of a recent conversation I had with someone that left the Catholic Church for a more "spirit-filled" experience. There was more conversation before this but I cut and pasted where it started to get interesting.

michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:32:10 PM): I think i should have taken some kind of music business i find myself getting more and more interested in music
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:32:27 PM): i want to open a christian lable
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:32:41 PM): spead the word records......what do you think
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:33:04 PM): I love music, but it's a hobby for me. I play my instrument in the summer and sometimes in church. I also sing in the choir at church.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:33:13 PM): It's o.k.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:34:04 PM): coo
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:35:00 PM): i think music is so powerful that you can make a difference in many lives if the music is powerful and possitive
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:35:12 PM): it definitely is
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:36:52 PM): so what kind of music do you enjoy
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:37:48 PM): Classical, some Christian, some country, oldies (80's)... a little bit of everything except rap - which I don't consider to be music.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:40:18 PM): lol
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:40:50 PM): i mostly listen to christian i love 80's i listen to a bit of it all i guess depends on my mood
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:41:28 PM): some Christian is o.k. but I like more traditional music like hymns.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:42:06 PM): yeah we play those from time to time
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:43:06 PM): I just don't get into all the contemporary Christian stuff (no offense if that's what you're into). That's one of the reasons I converted to the Catholic Church. I like the solemnity of it.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:43:49 PM): that is cool
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:44:18 PM): i left the catholic church cause of the teachings it still has
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:44:31 PM): old testament type things
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:45:00 PM): That's funny because I joined it for it's teachings.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:46:14 PM): When Jesus died on the cross for us he made the way for us not to have to go to the priest to confess we can go to Jesus who goes to the father on our behalf
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:47:05 PM): i really just see it as we all serve one God why must we all be so divided
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:47:18 PM): I don't want to get into theological discussions. You're right that we can confess directly to Christ, but confession serves a purpose and has it's place. I feel it makes me more accountable.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:47:43 PM): I agree... but it's the protestant churches that created the division. The Catholic Church is the original church.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:50:25 PM): it is the original church
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:50:45 PM): Do you know how the first pope became the pope
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:51:06 PM): He was appointed by Christ... the first pope was Peter.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:52:12 PM): I won't say that the Catholic Church has not had it's problems and issues with previous popes and the problems with priests etc... but it has lasted the past 2000 years and has not wavered in its teachings. No other church can say that.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:52:54 PM): i understand that
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:53:10 PM): but the teachings is what gets me
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:53:46 PM): they're all Biblical. You may not like them or agree with them, but nothing is unbiblical.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:54:46 PM): and it's consistent... too many other churches will say that a passage in the Bible means this when another says it means that... there's no consistency.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:54:56 PM): are they teachings from the old testement
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 2:57:35 PM): some, but not all... the Catholic Church very much believes in the concept of Christ coming and being the new covenant which means you don't have to follow all the old "rules" of the old testament... like not eating pork... if you do, then you're probably Jewish. The Catholic Church relies heavily on the New Testament and it is revered... why do you think the congregation stands when the Gospel is read? The teachings of the Old Testament has it's place, but the teachings of the Catholic Church isn't based on it alone.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 2:59:37 PM): mmmm
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:00:36 PM): Does the catholic church practice the laying on of hands and healings
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:01:08 PM): Not that I'm aware of, but they do believe in miracles that happen.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:01:39 PM): so you would think benny hin was all a crock
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:01:49 PM): Personally, yes.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:03:10 PM): what about the prophets people who come to minister and speak into your life
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:04:15 PM): I wouldn't call them prophets... but I do have those that have been a part of my growth in my faith... what about them?
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:04:47 PM): do think that is real or a crock
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:05:44 PM): I don't think there are prophets today. I believe God works through people, however.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:06:26 PM): Have you ever been baptized in the holy spirit
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:07:40 PM): I was Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Baptist church when I was nine years old. When I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, I received the gifts of the Holy Spirit as the grace was conferred on me.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:09:23 PM): SO you dont like it when you are in church and the presence of the lord is so thick that people pass out or fall speak in tongues and recieve what is called baptized in the holy spirit when the holy spirit comes apon you .
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:11:05 PM): I don't believe in any of that... no. Speaking in tongues is a gift and if one speaks in a tongue, then there should also be an interpretation of what they are saying. I don't need what others would call a "spirit-filled" church... I find more spirit and holiness in the Catholic Church than in any other I have been to.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:12:40 PM): in the bible he reads that Jesus met with the 12 in something like an upstairs room and that JESUS breathed upon them baptizing them in the holy spirit
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:12:49 PM): yes
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:12:58 PM): and gave them the gift of tongues
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:13:03 PM): so they could understand each other
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:13:16 PM): if someone speaks in a tongue and nobody else understands them... what's the point?
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:13:26 PM): so why is it hard to believe in someone in church receiving the same gift
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:18:42 PM): Baptizing them in the spirit was to give them the grace they needed to spread the word and deal with the hardships along the way It was to speak the truth and live according to Christ's teachings. Speaking in tongues was given so they could go out and talk to others in languages that they weren't familiar with. Somebody babbling in a so-called "tongue" with not interpretation is not a gift.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:25:53 PM): Acts 2 The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost 1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:26:14 PM): I know the passage. It was read this past Sunday.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:26:14 PM): This happen then why no now
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:26:32 PM): Because it isn't necessary now
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:26:39 PM): why not
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:28:08 PM): The purpose of tongues was for UNDERSTANDING each other. If everyone in the room speaks English... there's no need for speaking in tongues. Speaking in some "unknown" language when the spirit comes upon someone is not the gift of tongues. It is babbling.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:29:09 PM): Look.. we obviously disagree on this matter... nothing you can say or any scripture you can show me will convince me otherwise. I'm certain that I will not convince you of it's absurdity either.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:29:29 PM): in acts every one in that room spoke the same language
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:29:37 PM): but they were doing it
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:29:57 PM): But they were to be sent out as disciples.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:30:12 PM): and needed the gift to spread the word
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:30:32 PM): aren't we all disciples
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:30:44 PM): shouldn't we all spread the word
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:30:52 PM): So when you speak in tongues, who interprets?
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:31:25 PM): Why do we need tongues to spread the word?
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:31:32 PM): I can do that without it
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:32:11 PM): when we enter in the spirit during praise and some one speaks in tongues there is some with the girt of interpreting the message
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:32:25 PM): Riiighhhttt.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:33:15 PM): I am not here to upset you we just have deifferent views
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:33:27 PM): So why go on about it?
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:33:35 PM): I just said that we're not going to agree.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:33:52 PM): I believe it's a bunch of hooey.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:33:58 PM): What does the book say about being saved
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:34:18 PM): Oh geez... I'm not ready to get on the whole salvation kick.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:34:51 PM): That's the major reason I joined the Catholic Church. I did not believe that "once saved, always saved."
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:34:52 PM): lol
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:34:59 PM): Just a quick question
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:42:14 PM): that's not a very quick question
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:42:34 PM): lol
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:42:41 PM): sorry i think i wil drop it
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:43:09 PM): we could go on forever i just find it interesting what other people think
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:43:40 PM): If you want to know what I think, you can read my Catholic blog. It talks about my conversion and several faith issue questions.
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:43:47 PM):
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:44:03 PM): awesome
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:44:08 PM): are you upset at me
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:44:12 PM): not at all
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:44:15 PM): i hope not
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:44:19 PM): ok good
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:44:34 PM): I'm just standing firm in my beliefs... as are you.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:44:52 PM): i am not knocking you i think you should hold true to what you believe
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:45:05 PM): I am, I will and I do.
michael alvarez (6/5/2006 3:45:24 PM): in the end we are all saved and we will all sing praises in his kingdom
coaster_lover_tx (6/5/2006 3:46:22 PM): That is true... if we live a life in God's grace and are deemed worthy when our time is up.

Perhaps this summer I'll write a post on my thoughts on salvation.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Acceptance of the Church's Teachings

Thanks to a new blog that I've been reading, I'm going to go on a little bit of a rant. I beg your indulgence in this matter.

The blog I read referred to this article entitled The Flaming Heart - Why should gays be denied the pleasures of Catholic guilt?

First let me say that I don’t have a problem with people that choose to be gay. I also agree that in some it could very well be a part of their genetics. My sister straddled the lesbian fence for a while. I have had friends and acquaintances that have been gay. I do not judge others for their sexual orientation. I don’t have to agree with their lifestyle. I can feel personally that it is morally wrong, but it doesn’t mean that I have to bash them or sit in judgment on them.

That being said, the article did not sit well with me. It’s not that I think that gays & lesbians shouldn’t join the Church. All are welcome. But when one chooses to become Catholic, I feel that they really have to examine the teachings of the Church and decide whether or not they can accept them. I didn’t say agree, but accept. I had to do a great deal of soul searching myself. I had issues, though generally small, to deal with.

My friend, Carol, laughs at me when I tell her how the idea of having to go to Mass every week was one of my biggest hurdles. Yeah, now it seems so miniscule, but I had gotten to a point in my life that I enjoyed my lazy weekends. I liked sleeping in. I wasn’t sure if I could make myself go. I discovered that I don’t have to do that. I want to go. I feel off when I don’t go. Even on those mornings when I’m really tired and I drag myself to Mass, I am always happy that I go. I didn’t have to change, a change happened within me.

There were several other things to consider in my conversion process. Papal infallibility and other doctrines like Mary’s virginity, the Eucharist, and purgatory to name a few. I didn’t have a problem with any of these. They were all very logical and made more sense than anything I’d learned before. I did have to pause to think a little about the notion of contraception. Reading the arguments for it made sense, and I agreed with them, but it was a part of something bigger for me.

S.E.X. (Carol, you might want to skip over this paragraph) I had to come to terms with my sexuality and a kind of lifestyle to which I had somewhat grown accustomed. But first, some background. I got pregnant in college. I had my son and raised him on my own. I had a string of different relationships over the years, all of which were sexual. I finally learned my lesson and went on birth control, but I never gave up sex itself. I liked it. Then I met my now ex-husband, Richard. He opened up a much larger world in terms of sex. He was overtly sexual. It was a big deal for him. It caused a lot of stress in our marriage and eventually was part of our breakup, but I did several things in my marriage that I now regret. I went to strip clubs with my husband and other things just to try to spice up our love life in my attempts to save the marriage. It was never enough for him and I realized that we had two different sets of morals that could not be compromised. So our marriage ended. Shortly after that I had some major self-esteem issues and went on a binge of sorts. I thought that I needed to feel sexy and desired. I went out on a lot of dates many of which became sexual. I am not proud of this and it is something that am now very shameful of, but I can’t change the past.

I won’t go into more details, but suffice to say, sex was something I was going to have to have a hard time letting go. It was a bit consuming for me. After I started going to Mass and broke up with my last boyfriend, I decided I was going to try to live a more chaste life because I felt obligated. I briefly dated another guy after that and I lapsed again. But I was more conscious about it. As I got more involved with church and studied more, I realized that I had to let go of this particular side of me. I also concluded that I couldn’t change myself; I had to let God work in me and give me the strength I needed. At one point earlier this year, I finally got it. I realized that much of what I was struggling with was really a kind of selfish attitude. My choices to participate in something that was not a part of a marriage was hurtful to God. So one day I made a commitment to let it go and continued to pray for God’s strength. And He has not let me down, thus far. I even went so far as to burn some pictures that my ex-husband had taken and threw away a lot of other things that I had. It was really quite freeing.

I was making a point with all of this; I promise. My decision to become Catholic means that I have to live an honest a Christian lifestyle. I have to make an effort to be chaste. If I should marry again, I have to adhere to the Church’s teaching on contraception and use Natural Family Planning. I had to get an annulment just so that I would be eligible to get married again. The point is that if a person chooses to become Catholic, they should feel obligated to live up to its standards. Of course it doesn’t mean that we will never sin again, but we should at least try to avoid it. Luckily we have the sacrament of reconciliation when we do fail. But it shouldn’t be used as a kind of get out of jail free card. Someone that sins with the idea that all they need to do is go to confession is guilty of an even greater sin – that of presumption. To be forgiven of sins, one must have a repentant heart.

Which leads me back to the article. The author first goes into why he even chose the Catholic Church despite its “gay bashing tendencies.” I’m sure there are those in the Church that are like that, but I have found that people in the Catholic Church are far more likely to be accepting of gays and lesbians than in many other Churches. We are taught to love others regardless.

He goes on to speak about his grandmother, horror movies, and his “crush” on Christ as part of his calling into the Church. As he goes into the eroticism of the Church, however, I am quite dismayed. The Church is not without its faults and has a not so shiny history, but I wouldn’t take quite as far as the author does. The notion of a sensual Church is not something that is appealing.

One appealing aspect for him is the fact that the Catholic Church has more numbers of gays in its ranks than other denominations. For me, that is a kind of “duh” in the sense that it’s the largest group of Christians in the United States and naturally there would be more in terms of numbers. Then he goes on to comment that he is called “to forgive the church as they have been forgiven by Jesus for the same propensity toward persecution.” I think he has a lot of gall to say that it is up to him to forgive the Church for its stance on homosexuality. Being able to forgive is certainly a worthwhile quality, but to go as far to say that the Church is wrong in stating that homosexuality is morally wrong when it has been condemned by God since the days of the Old Testament is outrageous. The Church is not perfect, but unlike many other denominations, it has not waned in its teachings for the past 2000 years. He goes on to comment that other sins like abortion, birth control, masturbation and the like are just as heinous in the eyes of the Church as homosexuality. He is right and there are those that call themselves Catholic and still commit sins on regular basis like using birth control. But just like anyone else, they are culpable for their sin and their forgiveness is dependent upon their repentance. Although Jesus is certainly forgiving and has abundant love for all of us, when we consistently choose to hurt Him with our sins and only ask for forgiveness for fear of damnation, we are really being hypocritical. Being a Christian, and most especially a Catholic, means striving to do the best we can, with God’s help and sincerely asking for forgiveness when we fail. I certainly agree with what my fellow Catholic blogger posted about this article stating “Very disturbing article that shows a total contempt for AND lack of understanding of the teaching of the Church.”

I recently posted my profile on again just for grins because I want my next relationship to be grounded in the faith and all that the Church teaches. (And there doesn’t seem to be any available men here locally.) I am still appalled by the fact that even those people that consider themselves Catholic put in their profile that they don’t agree with some of the Church’s major teachings. When a profile is filled out you answer seven faith questions. I find that several people put down that they don’t agree with the concepts of premarital sex, contraception and papal infallibility. I can perhaps see where a person is born into the faith and hasn’t had a proper upbringing might have issues with some teachings. But for someone that actually chooses to become Catholic by converting to have such problems like the fellow in the article it is quite disturbing. I don’t profess to know and understand everything about Catholicism. I am learning and growing, but because I have chosen this as my faith, I feel obligated to adhere to it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Page Updates

Now that I have had some time this summer, I am working on some page updates and my personal website. I have added a few new links on my sidebar of blogs that I enjoy reading. I also found a new group called "Catholic Converts" that I joined. If you're a convert, or considering converting, you might want to check it out.

I am also going to try to post a little more often here, but I can't make any promises. I have a lot of plans for this summer, but I'm moving pretty slowly on some of them. I do hope that I can now go to some daily masses.

So check out the new links in my sidebar and hope your summer is going well!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Missionary for Christ

One of the big issues I had with being involved in the Baptist church was their upfront protocol of knocking on people's doors and quite frankly asking them if they were "saved." I felt very uncomfortable in that role. Perhaps if I had truly been "saved" then I would have not had an issue with it and been excited to share the good news of Jesus Christ!! I really thought that it was in bad taste to interrupt people's lives in that way. And honestly though some people might have become "saved" in such instances, most likely it wasn't for real because we might have seen them in church the next Sunday and then they drift away again. I was an on-again, off-again Christian of sorts. For a long time I decided I really couldn't call myself a Christian because I couldn't or wouldn't live a Christ-like life and I refused to act hypocritical about it as so many others did. That's when I stopped going to church.

Today's homily was about our calling to be witnesses for Christ. I am glad that the Catholic Church isn't quite as overt as the Baptist church. Father said that one of the best ways to share is through our lives and how we live. When we are at peace in our spirituality and we are living according to values of the Gospel of Christ we are being witnesses to others. And at times other people may want to know our "secret." That's when we can share with them because they are open to reception. When we come uninvited there's already a kind of wall built up.

Father stated that we have been commissioned by the Lord to be missionaries of the Gospel. Certainly others are called to more bold in their service by going to places where they are in danger or doing different kinds of charity work. I am still not sure what God's will for me is, but at least my heart is finally in it. Perhaps it's no more than this blog. Maybe it will affect someone that reads it. Maybe not. Perhaps it already has. I don't know and don't necessarily have to know, but I write about my experiences because I do want to share how wonderful it has been for me.

The key in all of this is having a spirit of gentleness, humility and patience. That's a big step for some people and I certainly admit it has been for me. But I am finally in a place where I am garnering those qualities (at least some of the time.) I can say for a fact that I have really changed since I started going to Mass and since becoming Catholic. For the first time I have a true love for Christ and a desire to build a relationship with Him. I am living a more honorable and pure life. I love going to Mass every week. I sat in the pew today just smiling because I was there. Although I know that I'm still growing and learning, I continue to pray that others are able to see Christ in me. My sponsor told me that in a card she gave me and it was one of the best compliments I have ever received.

I know that God has already been working in me and I'm sure He will continue to do so. In the past two years, I have had more religious conversations with my son than I ever have in my life. And perhaps it will make an impact on him. Perhaps not right away, but I think a little sinks in. I think that although he still is in a place where he isn't sure about things, he has taken an interest in my journey and I've even gotten him to Mass a few times.
When I saw Marty last week he mentioned more than once that although he's not ready for any kind of return to Church right now, it is something that has been on his mind and he has been giving it some thought. Maybe I had something to do with that or not, but I will continue to pray for him.

I often can't explain how I ended up in the Catholic Church, but I am so thankful and happy to be home. I pray that I am able to accept and do God's will whatever it may be.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Today's homily was about love. In the past year, I have learned a great deal about what love means. I know about the love a mother has for her child. That is an instinctive love for most. But otherwise, I am just now learning about loving others and what it entails.
I grew up in a family that I wouldn't say was stingy about love, but it was not actively shown. We never said "I love you." I know that may sound strange to others, but it was to be understood through actions and not words. Today Father Phan said that people can show love either by words or actions, but it should be shown to those that need to know it. I grew up with some resentment in my family because perhaps I didn't understand love. I resented them for not always being at band concerts or supporting me like other parents did their kids. I realize now that they did indeed love me despite their own imperfections.
I thought perhaps because of my upbringing that I might be incapable of really loving someone because although I did learn to say "I love you" to people other than my family, I still always seemed to have relationship problems. I know that I did play a part in many issues, but there's always two sides to every story.
In the homily today, Father gave the definition of love being "sincere concern for the well being of another." I think for the first time in my life I am capable of loving others. I wrote a post about forgiveness and I think that it really goes hand in hand with love. Without the ability to love, you cannot forgive. I came to a point with my ex-husband after our divorce that I had to forgive him. I wrote him a letter apologizing for the hurts I caused in our marriage and told him that despite everything that I appreciated having him in my life. It made a huge difference in things and we are now friends. I understood what forgiveness could do.
Now I'm learning that love is really a matter of being unselfish. This something that is quite a blow for me because although I hate admitting it, I have been very selfish when it came to relationships. I was in my marriage and I certainly was in my last relationship with Marty. Although I know that I had love for him, I think I didn't really love him the way I should have. I would get upset when things didn't go the way I planned or if he did something that upset me. There were many times that I look back (hindsight is always 20-20) and realize how selfish I was. He was going through so many things and I should have simply done what I could for his benefit rather than my whims. Now, I'm not saying that I was to blame for the breakup, he had his own issues to deal with. He too, didn't love me in the way that he could have. So now I accept that it wasn't meant to be for us. But the great thing is that it was our relationship that brought me in to the Church.
I am almost in a state where I am reprogramming my mind. I am learning to not have a selfish attitude. (Though I am still working on that matter.) I am learning to love others although they may be people that have hurt me or those that I don't particularly like. I have student that tends to drive me crazy in class. I find myself praying for him quite often. I pray for Marty on almost a daily basis.
It boils down to the fact that real love takes effort. It's not that happy-go-lucky feeling that happens in the beginning of relationships. It is something much deeper and if it's real, it lasts. Some things that Father Phan mentioned in his homily struck home. First, we have to realize that love is the measure of where we are in being in a state of grace. Having love for all people, even our enemies means that we are living the way that God expects of us. When we have hatred for others, we are missing the target.
Without love, we are nothing. Our love of our neighbor is what leads us to God. We should remember that it takes just as much energy to hold grudges as it does to love. We are better off simply loving as much as it may seem to hurt us in a moment. The thing is that moments pass, life goes on and we are so much better when we love rather than harbor ill will. As Christ commands, "Love one another as I have loved you." How many of us can honestly say that we have lived up to that standard?

Monday, May 15, 2006

A surprise

I was with my class in the library today when another teacher came in. She is a friend of mine and she asked about this one student that we both have. He's a really good kid and she kidded by asking if I send him to the office every day. I said, yeah, he's so awful that I gave him an award for the class. (which I did, but it was an outstanding award) She then asked me if I knew what his future career plans were. I said that I didn't know and then she told me that he was thinking about becoming a priest. She then had him come tell me himself. He said that he had gone to adoration in Amarillo and it was something that just struck him. I thought that was wonderful. He's only a freshman and fifteen years old. I know that he may not end up going in that direction, but I will certainly pray for him and I think he would be a wonderful priest. I don't know if any of my readers watched the A&E series "God or the Girl" that was on a few weeks ago. This kid reminds me a lot of the character "Dan." He was the one that had dark curly hair and carried the cross for twenty miles. I think this kid's personality is kind of similar. Well, I just wanted to share that with you today.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Abandon Ship!

Not really. I just have had a lot going on and haven't had time to do much posting. Although I try to stay fairly regular with my other blog, this one needs more thought so I may not post for a while. I do plan to post more regularly in the summer when I can do more research and planning. So please don't give up on this blog yet. I will return. Now that I'm officially Catholic, it is certainly not the end of my journey. I just have to get through the next few weeks at school. And yes, I am counting down the days!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Still Joyous

I went to the 11:15 Mass today. I decided to sleep in since I spent 6 hours on yellow dog (school bus) yesterday. While in Church today, I kept thinking about my previous post and the people that think Mass is too long. Normal Sunday Masses in our parish run about an hour and fifteen minutes. Is that really so long? I know many people can't see the joy in a Mass where it's the same thing over and over but I still think it's because they don't understand the sacraments and the work that they do in our lives. I couldn't help but sit and smile in the pew. I love being Catholic. I love being able to tell someone "I am Catholic."
While I was at the tournament this weekend I was talking to some other coaches about flowers and I mentioned that my sister had just sent me some. When asked why, I told them it was to congratulate me on my confirmation in the Catholic Church. Another coach wanted to ask me something kind of personal she said. She wanted to know if I had a problem with the concept of confession. I told her that although it was kind of hard to do, I didn't have a problem with it. I can understand why other people have issues with it, but I know first hand the power and peace of it. She told me that she no longer went to the Catholic Church, but had been Methodist for many years. She said this past year at Easter that she very much wanted to go to confession for some reason. She said that she is now thinking about going back. I told her that she would love it if she did and that she should just go to Mass some time. While there, the secretary of the church (our tournament was held at a Methodist church) said that she couldn't help overhear and commented that she was Catholic and attended another church in town. We then talked about some other things about retreats and such. It is so nice to have these conversations just pop up. I still have yet to get into a discussion with anyone that has had a major problem with Catholicism. I've discovered that many people tend to be curious about it. It has been quite refreshing. And you know what? I've really had a desire to go back to confession. I haven't committed any mortal sins, but I think it would be nice to really get the venial sins out and to continue to get comfortable with the process itself.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Wisdom of a 15 year old

My son isn't into church. It is my fault really. I didn't raise him any church because of my own issues with religion. He now considers himself agnostic. He doesn't necessarily deny the existence of God, but he isn't certain of it either. The thing about him is that he is very much like me in that things must be proven to him. He relies on logic and reasoning. Fortunately, I have always had a belief in God, I just put Him on the shelf for a number of years. Although he isn't "religious", we have had some interesting discussions and I am not sure that he will stay that way. I think something profound may have to occur before he can see God's work, but I have hope and I pray for him daily. Last year he surprised me by asking if he could go to church with me some time. His father's funeral seemed to have an impact on him and I believe he is at least curious and perhaps searching to some degree. He decided he would like to visit a variety of churches and just see how they are. He has since visited Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, and Episcopalian churches. I have never pushed him about going, but thankfully his piano teacher (who happens to be the choir director at my church) has been getting him involved in playing his clarinet. I think I have influenced him to some degree because I have answered his questions about what the Catholic faith teaches compared to other religions. He tends to agree with my viewpoint and he has commented about Catholic and Episcopal services being more reverent and holy.
He asked me the other day if people ever complained about the length of their church services. I said that sure, some do. I said that is probably why several people didn't show up to the Easter Vigil service. He said that some girls had been complaining about it being so long. Sure, it was a little over two hours, but it didn't seem like it to me at all. It was so beautiful and special. Josh then said, "Isn't going to church about worshipping God?" I replied, "Yes." He then continued, "So why should people complain about the length of their service?" I told him I didn't know. And when you think about it, it really is a good point. I think that if you're worried about how long the service is, then you're not fully participating in it. It becomes rote. It becomes a resentful obligation in some cases. And I find that sad. Is God asking too much that we give our Sundays to Him? I used to worry about whether or not I could make the commitment of giving up my Sundays for Church. I enjoyed my free time on weekends and I didn't know if I could make myself go every week. But as I started going, it has never felt like an obligation. I want to go. I feel off if I don't get to go for some reason. So now I look back and laugh because that was my only major stumbling block about coming into the Catholic Church. It now is such an insignificant thing. Josh may not be involved in religion, but he seems to get it.