Monday, March 27, 2006

Finished Genesis

I have been reading every night before falling asleep. I find that some nights I am so engrossed that I read for 30 minutes or more. I really enjoyed the story about Joseph. Yes, I knew some of the basics like he had a coat of many colors and his brothers threw him in a well... and I had seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (great show by the way). But I never read the entire story. I have discovered that God seems to be very forgiving. There is a great deal of promiscuity, incest, lying, cheating and stealing; and yet God continues to bless many of those people. Since I will be going to my first confession soon, it is a relief to know that God is so forgiving.
I mailed my confirmation announcements this morning. I am thinking of going on my own personal retreat next weekend so I can spend some time in prayer and reflection. I just need some time away from home without distractions. There's always something going on. The t.v., the animals, Josh... I cannot take a private moment it seems. I didn't get to go to adoration this past Friday because I was at a speech tournament, but I hope to go this week.
Last night I was asked to be an attendant at a marriage blessing. Marty's sister-in-law (married to his brother) converted last year and finally got an annulment. Her husband's just went through as well (his was easy, he was Catholic and didn't marry within the Church). They are now planning on having their marriage blessed by a priest. I hope that perhaps her husband will consider coming back to Church at some point. He's like Marty and stopped going back in high school. I continue to pray for Marty and hope that he finds his way home one of these days.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I am fascinated

I really have been reading the Bible and it's really interesting. Those stories that I vaguely knew are coming to life and some things are making sense. And other things still aren't making sense, but perhaps will put that into another post. I am up to about Genesis 26 or so.
I have two students that are performing a duo that is basically a farce of the Bible. Sure, it is a bit offensive, but it is also quite funny if you look at it in fun. Some of the things they perform in it actually are funnier and make sense because I've been reading, like the scene involving the Tower of Babel. They do the scene twice... once in English and again in Spanish and now I finally get the joke.
I don't have anything else to report today... just wanted to give you a quick update on my progress.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Bible

I've been thinking about the Bible lately. Yes, my experience the other night was quite interesting, but it's not the first time it's happened. It may be the first time, however, that I am listening to God and really making an attempt to follow His will. I took some action related to the experience which was posted in my other blog. I'm not going to go into any more details about it here, but it was a relief to let go those things.
Some denominations claim that the Bible is the only authority. They feel that all of God's instructions are in there and it is all we need for living a Christian life. I feel the Bible is indeed a great tool for living as God wants us to and is inerrant, but I am not in agreement with the concept of "sola scriptura." But that is not what this post is about either. I won't get into those reasons against it in this post. (Perhaps another time.)
I have realized that although I have had some education in the teachings of the Bible through going to church intermittently, I truly do not know it as well as I should. When I was in third grade, however, I did participate in a Bible drill contest that was pretty fun. I know some of the basic stories that most people do like Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale, Psalm 23, stories of Christ and His parables like the Good Samaritan, and I can still quote a few verses here and there. But I have never completely read the Bible. I have not spent a lot of time studying it. I did briefly and have some copious notes in some of my other Bibles when I was attending church back in college, but most of it has now become pretty foggy. But since I have been going to Mass, I have heard much more of the Bible because of the readings each week. I have also enjoyed the adult faith formation class I have been attending as we have learned about the books of Luke and now John. But now I feel it is time for me to know more. Last night I decided that I am going to read the entire Bible. I know there are plans out there that take you through it in a year. I hope to finish it before then. Last night I began at the beginning with Genesis. I am not going to go into a great deal of analysis and study at this point. I simply want to read it like it was a novel and then later I can study various parts of it. Last night I was really captivated by it. I think for the first time, I will find pleasure in reading it. I didn't read long, but still managed to get to the point where Noah and his family was repopulating the earth after the flood. I am a little lost on some things and will research more at some point, but my goal right now is to read some of the Bible every night. Even if it is only a single chapter or a couple of verses.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

God Speaks

Sometimes He uses subtle messages to prod us in the right direction. But sometimes when we ask for His guidance, He directly points something out to us. Last night as I was sitting in bed and reading my daily inspiration and daily meditation, I asked God that if there was something I really needed to know, please point it out to me. So I then go to my Bible and randomly open it. The first thing I read was 1 Corinthians 12:1-3 which reads
  • Now in regard to spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. You know how, when you were pagans, you were constantly attracted and led away to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, "Jesus be accursed." And no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the holy Spirit.
I thought that was interesting so I randomly opened it again. This time Ephesians 5:5 is what struck me.
  • Be sure of this, that on immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolator, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

So I decided to try it one more time and went for something in the Old Testament. Here is the passage that I read from 1 Kings 11: 4-10
  • When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been. By adoring Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites, Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not follow him unreservedly as his father David had done. Solomon then built a high place to Chemosh, the idol of Moab, and to Molech, the idol of the Ammonites, on the hill opposite Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. The Lord, therefore, became angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice (for though the Lord had forbidden him this very act of following strange gods, Solomon had not obeyed him.)

Do we notice a pattern here? I thought o.k. ; Idols. Idolatry. I think what God is saying is that I am still letting other things come before him. So I contemplate on it a bit, say my prayers and go to sleep.

Then I go to Mass this morning. I get there early so I can spend some time in prayer and reflection. I read the first reading for today which is Exodus 20: 1-17 (The Ten Commandments) Imagine what stood out once again.
  • I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them worship them.

I'm starting to really get the hint here. And can you possibly guess what Father Phan's homily was about today? I am sure it is no surprise, but he talked about the necessity of God's laws and that by following our own personal laws and standards we are lost. He used the example of the Golden Calf (and idol) and how it represents our human desires to live according to our own rules. He says we may still have a "Golden Calf" in our way when we put other things before God. He said that if you look where your heart is, there is your God.

And I admit that although I am trying to get on the right path with God, I still have other things in my life that I put before Him. And I still struggle with that. Thankfully, Father also mentioned that the remedy for all this is simply Christ. We must continue to live according to the laws of God. Obey the 10 commandments. Have a spirit of the Beattitudes. I know what I need to work on but won't air all of my dirty laundry on here. I will pray for help and guidance in the things I need to do.

The Gospel reading today was about Jesus casting out the money changers in the temple. I enjoyed Father's analogy that Lent is a wonderful season to clean house. Like Christ cleansed the Temple, we can also cleanse our souls of those things we put before God. He closed with a prayer of Trust in God. I will pray this throughout the season of Lent that I might have full faith and trust in Him. This is from Thomas Merton.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I tend to think I am not very good at relationships in general. It's more than just my failed marriage and the fact that I haven't been able to maintain most other relationships. Family doesn't count because they basically are there no matter what in most cases. But when I honestly look at my relationships, they have usually ended in some way or simply fizzled out due to inactivity, I guess. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that I also haven't had a very good relationship with Christ. Of course I have come a long way in the past year. Now I am at least attempting to get things right, but I know I am still failing.
I have never been very good with prayer. I do pray daily, but sometimes it's just the same old thing and I haven't been too good at listening. It seems I am always distracted by something. Yes, I am supposed to find a quiet place, plan some time to spend in prayer, read the Bible. I know all this, but it just doesn't happen. I have heard Him in my heart before. When I was struggling to keep my last relationship with Marty alive, I felt like God was saying "Why can't you love me like that?" And it stung, because it's true. I spent so much effort an energy on trying to keep that relationship alive that everything else, including God was on the backburner. And I knew that I had to let go of my relationship with Marty. That is one of the reasons why I finally caved and decided to take the plunge in attending Mass. At first I thought I should start going to church to help ease the pain of Marty going to Alaska. Shortly thereafter is when we broke up. Then I went to Mass just because I knew it was right. I knew I had to fix my relationship with Christ before I should even attempt another relationship. I am finally getting to a place where I know the timing isn't right and I have to stop looking for love in all the wrong places. But it's still difficult. I don't think I am meant to end up alone, and I certainly don't want to be that way, but I do need to come to a peace within myself that it will be o.k. if I am.
I was hoping that at the retreat I went to last Saturday that I'd be able to get some soul searching done and spend some time with Christ and just figure things out. We spent a lot of time talking and sharing so it didn't happen. We did spend some time in adoration but I guess it wasn't enough to really pray and contemplate. The retreat was still very nice, but it didn't accomplish what I had hoped. Perhaps I will just go on my own kind of retreat and get away from all the distractions. Just as all relationships take work, I know I am going to have to do my part. At least unlike most relationships, I know that Christ will always be there with open arms and will forgive me when I fail.

Monday, March 13, 2006


It's going to be here in no time. I cannot believe how fast everything has been going. I have truly enjoyed this journey and am greatly looking forward to Easter Vigil. This weekend we had a retreat on Saturday that was very nice. Two sisters from a local religious institute came and spoke about the treasures of the Church. Although I didn't learn anything new, it was nice to just have the fellowship with them. We also prayed the divine mercy chaplet which was new for me. On Sunday I had the Rite of Continuing Conversion which was a very nice ceremony. Normally our Bishop performs the service, but he was out of town. The priest that did it made it very personal by sharing a bit of personal information about each person and then blessing each one of us individually. It was a nice experience. I continue to be amazed at how this journey has had an impact on my life. I know that I am still growing in the faith and in Christ, but it has been absolutely amazing for me.
Today I worked on creating my confirmation announcement. Some may think it silly that I want to send one to my friends and family given the fact that I am an adult, but for me it's a way to make it clear how important this is for me. They know that I am doing this and I haven't received any resistance in my choice (other than my Baptist friend) but I also haven't gotten a great deal of support other than a "That's nice." I'm not sure they are aware how big a deal this is for me. This is something that is more important than my wedding vows were. So the artist in me decided to do some playing in photoshop and I created an announcement card that I like. You can check it out on my website here.