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.