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.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

First Mass Away from Home

O.k. it's really less than a mile from my home Church, but since I wasn't able to attend Mass this morning, I went to the Catholic Student Center on campus. It was a little different, but interesting. Father Scott has a LOT of energy. I think he is a good person to be in place at the student center because of that. There were 3 Baptisms and a confirmation tonight. I was very happy for those coming into the Church.
I have some other posts I am pondering, but am just too tired to work on them right now. I have the day off tomorrow so I might post then.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Does it show?

I have been wearing my crucifix for over a year now. Nobody in the past year has asked me about being Catholic. Perhaps it has just been assumed. But I was in a craft store today and a girl that was working the register asked me if I was Catholic. I told her yes, that I actually just came into the Church. She said she had been thinking about being Catholic and wanted to know where I attended Church. She said the only people she knew that were Catholics were Hispanic and went to Mass in Spanish. I told her that I attended St. Ann's in Canyon and it was wonderful, but if she lived in Amarillo she might try St. Thomas. She said that she lived in Canyon. I then told her that St. Ann's was wonderful and she should visit. I didn't have much time as there was someone in line behind me but told her that they also had a website. I now wished I had gotten her name. I may have to go back there and give her a more personal invitation. I don't know her personally, but I love the fact that a total stranger asked me about being Catholic. Maybe it now shows on my face, but it is certainly in my heart.

I have been watching the show on A&E called "God or the Girl" and am moved by the stories of the men that are discerning the priesthood. I think that they have actually done a very good job with the show and have kept it very tasteful. Something that one of the guys said on the show moved me tonight. He said "sometimes God is a whisper rather than a phone call or a gust of wind." That has been my life in the past year. I still wasn't certain of my choice a year ago, but that gentle calling and soft nudges led me to know His will for me at this time. I am sure that He has other great things planned for me and I pray that I am able to do whatever He asks.

More on the sacrifice of the Mass

Jimmy Akin is a great Catholic apologist that really spells out much better than I an explanation of what the Mass is in regard to it being a re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice. You can read it here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I am Home

It was a wonderful evening. I can't begin to describe the happiness and joy I feel at this moment. It was wonderful from beginning to end. It was made even more special by the fact that Josh played his clarinet this evening. I also had some friends there. My friend, Kenneth, who is also Catholic came to support me. I was so happy to see him. He said he was going to go to confession so that he could participate in the Eucharist. And he did. And then my friends Patrick and Tiffany were there as well. I was so glad that they were able to come. It really meant a lot to me to have them there. My family was not able to make it. My brother had other plans and my dad and his girlfriend were sick. But I had the support of some friends and my new family of the Church.

If someone told me two years ago that some day I would be Catholic, I probably would have just laughed at them and said, "Yeah, right." I am in a completely different place, but it is where I am supposed to be. I absolutely LOVE the faith. I love everything about it. There seems to be a kind of special bond with Catholics... it's like something we just know. Even those that perhaps haven't practiced their faith in a while, there is just something about people that have been or are part of the Catholic Church. And I believe it is because of the grace received in the sacraments. Tiffany asked me tonight if I felt different and I said yes. It is not something I can really describe other than just knowing that I have come home.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

My Cup Runneth Over

I can't believe the show of support I have had as I take my final steps into the Catholic faith. I sent out announcements to family and friends. I didn't expect them to shower me with gifts or anything; I just wanted them to know what an important step this is for me. But many have been very generous. My aunt sent me fifty dollars and a beautiful wooden crucifix. Then there is the other aunt that sent me a rose scented rosary along with a wonderful letter and card. My friend Norma (Marty's sister-in-law) gave me a box that holds photos and two rosaries made out of rope that are quite unique. I received a card from my former mother-in-law with a note that said she wasn't sure if she would make it, but hoped to be there. My sister sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers today. I am in awe of the outpouring of support I have received.

I wasn't sure what the reactions of people would be when the learned of my decision to join the Church. I didn't make a big deal out of it, but I casually let people know. Almost everyone that learned of my decision told me how wonderful they thought it was and congratulated me. My online friend Summer just sent me an email letting me know she was thinking of me. I didn't think my dad was going to come tonight because he said he would probably be gone camping, but he called last night and asked what time it started. I think my brother may be there and I have a couple of other friends that said they would come. I only received dissent from one person, my friend Bret, but that was expected. And truth be told, he has probably helped me grow the most in the faith aside from my sponsor.

Well, it is just a few hours away and I am still quite excited. I have to say that this is the best decision I have ever made. I know that not everyone can share or understand a religious zeal, but once you really experience God's grace, you can't help but be joyous.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Moving along

I have to say that things are moving so very fast and a part of me wants it to slow down a little so I can really savor it. Tomorrow is already Holy Thursday. Josh will be playing the clarinet and I will be singing in the choir.
Today I got a package in the mail. Unexpected packages are always exciting! My aunt that lives in Indiana (who I recently found out is also Catholic) sent me a rosary that smells like roses. It is very beautiful. She also sent me a card and a wonderful letter that I am definitely going to respond to when things slow down.
I have to send out a special thanks to my good friend Bret. (The Baptist preacher) I love him to death. He and I have been friends for over 20 years now. He has gotten me through some rough times and I know he has prayed for me for many, many years now. Sure, we disagree in our respective beliefs, but we have never been ugly about it. I have to thank him for the fact that he has helped me grow even more strongly in my faith. It's probably not something he would like to hear me say, but as he has questioned things and shared his concerns, it has made me really learn what the Catholic faith teaches and believes. It's not so much a defense of Catholicism as it is understanding and perhaps just setting the record straight so to speak. I check his blog daily and oftentimes it will inspire something that leads to a post on here, perhaps a quick prayer or just some personal research. The other day he linked to another blog that had a comment about praying to the saints. I won't get involved in a response about that right now (but it is good blog fodder), but it just makes me shake my head a little and pray for those that don't "get it." Sure, I think that several things that the Baptists believe in are wrong, but I think that Bret is a very fine preacher and he is very sincere and devout.
Sometimes I wished that things had "sunk in" for me back when I did attend church, because now I am finally "getting it." I am understanding what a true conversion of the soul is. I understand how people can really change. It's not just going through the motions for me. It is really a change in my thoughts, my actions, my heart and my soul. Though I didn't have a grand "Come to Jesus" moment, I have finally allowed myself to really come to Jesus.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bible Reading

I am still working my way through the Bible. I have now finished the first books (Genesis & Exodus) and am getting into Leviticus. Right now it's not very exciting as it is going on about laws and the proper way to sacrifice and sin offerings etc. I am certainly glad that Christ came as the final offering and we no longer have to offer a goat or something for our sins. Otherwise my first confession would have been quite a bloody mess! Ha-ha! It is a bit gory to read about all the things that they had to do back then. But I am still enjoying it because you can still see a lot of what goes on in the mass in the descriptions from the clothing that the priests wear and in the annointings etc. It just reminds me of how excited I am about receiving the sacrament of confirmation in a few short days.

Ever since my confession, I feel that I am in a better place in relation to God. And it's really quite simple. When we have sin in our lives we are not in God's grace. It's like talking to Him with a bad connection. But when we are cleansed through reconciliation it's like the line just clears up and He is hearing us loud and clear. Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am for the Catholic Church? It is just amazing what this journey has done for me. I am in awe of the peace, the forgiveness, and the joy that I have experienced. And the thing is.. it is only going to get better. I am still lacking in the fact that I have not been sealed by the Holy Spirit. I can't imagine what things await after Easter Vigil! God is Great!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Lord's Supper

If you have read this blog for a while (all 3 of you) then you know that I have intermittently have had a dialogue about my choice to become Catholic with a good friend of mine that is a Baptist preacher in California. He has had his concerns and I appreciate the fact that he is worried about my soul. I know, however, that I am in the right place and it is not a decision I entered into lightly at all. I believe in all the things the Church teaches and grown so much as I have taken this journey.

Last night when I got home I checked all the blogs I usually read and found that my Baptist friend had moved his to a new location. I checked it out and found his link for his sermons that can be listened to online. He had a sermon that was titled "Proper Etiquette at the Lord's Table" that I thought sounded interesting. So I listened to it. All 44 minutes. It brought back a lot of memories of sitting in his church when he lived here. He has the same voice and same style. I think it's interesting that a Baptist congregation is participating in a semblance of the Lord's Supper, but am dismayed by the fact that it is greatly misinterpreted. He made a little bit of dig in his sermon regarding what he thinks the Catholic view of communion is. I truly wish that people who chastize the Church because of our beliefs would at least learn what we really believe rather than depend on misinformation that comes from non-Catholic sources. If you want to really know and understand, then ask a Catholic.

He claimed that Catholics believe that the Lords Supper is an act of re-crucifying Christ and that it confers salvation. So I would like to set the record straight as to what the Eucharist is.

First of all it is a sacrament. Sacraments are not merely symbols as many protestants may believe. By definition they "are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification." That means it is really something that is given by God especially the Eucharist because it IS Christ Himself. Grace is conferred by the sacraments. Grace is what helps us to act and live like Christians. So, yes, he is right in that it plays a part in our salvation. But it's not the only thing that saves us. It is just something that helps us on our path to salvation.
  • Just as food and drink delight and refresh the heart of man, so does this "Heavenly Bread containing within itself all sweetness" produce in the soul of the devout communicant ineffable bliss, which, however, is not to be confounded with an emotional joy of the soul or with sensible sweetness. Although both may occur as the result of a special grace, its true nature is manifested in a certain cheerful and willing fervor in all that regards Christ and His Church, and in the conscious fulfillment of the duties of one's state of life, a disposition of soul which is perfectly compatible with interior desolation and spiritual dryness. A good Communion is recognized less in the transitory sweetness of the emotions than in its lasting practical effects on the conduct of our daily lives. New Advent
The Mass is NOT re-crucifying Christ. He can only die on the cross once for us. The Mass is a re-presentation of the sacrifice that has already happened. Christ becomes present in the bread and wine... he doesn't die again. Participating by taking the Eucharist unites us with Christ and allows us to share in His saving act.

In his sermon, Bret made some good points about not participating in the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner as it is indicated in I Corinthians. If anything, most Catholics that are strong in their faith take this very seriously. One cannot receive communion if they are not in a state of grace. Having committed any mortal sins without reconciliation is a big no-no when it comes to receiving the body and blood of Christ.

Although I know protestants disagree with the concept of the real presence of Christ, I want to make the point that when Paul speaks about proper way to approach the Lord's supper in Corinthians, he was talking to people that were really the first Catholics that did believe in it and have believed it for over 2000 years.

In less than a week now I will be able to participate in my first communion. I am glad that I am in this community of faith that knows and understands the Eucharist.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I am sitting here crying. I think these are tears of joy in knowing that my sins are forgiven, tears of remorse for all the ways I have failed God, and simply tears of relief to have it over with.
It wasn't easy, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had my list, I went through it rather quickly it seemed. Father talked to me about God's grace and how it is amazing that I was even there. I can say that I am walking, breathing, living proof of the incredible power of God. Just when I thought I could live life on my own terms and I didn't need God, He gently takes my hand and starts leading me home. And I am home. In a little over a week, I will be confirmed in the Church and will be able to experience the grace of the Eucharist, but in my heart I am already Catholic. In this moment I feel such an incredible holiness. For the first time since my Baptism I am completely in God's grace. A huge weight has been lifted from my soul. I truly want to serve God, I want Him to use me for His purpose. Now it's time to really get to work!

Still Nervous

I am not sure that I am ready for my confession this evening. Part of me thinks I should have scheduled a specific private time with the priest. But then again, I really just want to get it over with. I know that it will be wonderful once it's all done... it's just getting to that point. I spent about an hour in prayer last night asking God to let me know all the things that I need to confess. Somehow I still feel that I haven't covered everything. I also know the things I will be telling the priest is nothing he hasn't heard before. It's just one of those things that I can certainly know that I will feel better afterwards, and know that I am not be judged by the priest, and know that it probably not going to be as bad as it seems, but it doesn't really make it easier. I am worried that my confession won't be complete. I am worried that I will take too much time. I am worried thatI am not feeling repentent enough. I do feel bad about my sins, and I know that they have separated me from God, and I am earnestly making an attempt to not sin any more, but somehow I feel it's still not enough. I can say, however, that since I have been going to mass, the urge to sin has greatly decreased. Lately, I am mostly guilty of venial sins. I just pray that things go well tonight. I pray that it will not be as bad as I expect it to be. I pray that I stop fretting over it so much. And I pray that God gives me the courage, wisdom and the words to make a truly complete confession.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


My first is coming up really soon. Tomorrow night in fact. I think I should have spent more time reflecting over my past sins than I have, but I am just overwhelmed with so many other things. I am, however, taking time tonight to get away and spend it in prayer and reflection. I do want to make a good, thorough confession. I am not sure if I feel nervous or if it's just the fact that I'm going to have to bear it all to another person. I know that priests have heard it all before and I know that it will be a great relief when it's over.... it's just everything leading up to it, you know? I have 27 years to cover. I know I can't possibly remember everything so I am going to sum it up the best that I can.
I was talking to my ex-husband last night and remarked on the fact that a great deal of the really big stuff was in the years that we were together. Things I am not proud of. Things that I thought I would have a hard time letting go. But you know what? I finally realize that I can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Go figure.
Tonight I am going to make a list of those things I can remember and take my "cheat sheet" with me tomorrow. I am not sure what my penance might be, but I am actually, almost, sort of.. looking forward to it. It's the whole cleansing and letting go of things. It is truly healing. I am ready for my soul to be healed and be in God's grace once again.