Seeking God 

Ugh! Here I am again

Hi all,
Thought I was feeling better, and then I got hit with another nasty bug. This one won't let go, but I think I am finally on the mend. REALLY thankful for modern meds, let me tell you!

Anyhow, so much has happened since my last post! I went to midnight Mass on Chirstmas Day with my best friend and her boyfriend and loved it! I'm really looking forward now to doing it next year too! I was sick on New Year's Eve, went to Vigil mass and ended up spending a good deal of time in bed off and on since then. All day yesterday in fact. UGH! I really don't like being sick. I am trying to offer my suffering, but I'm not always very sincere or concentrating when I do, so I am not sure how well that will work.

In other news, I really like Advent/ Christmas as a Catholic. It is amazing that I have never really appreciated Advent before, even though my old church has always done the candle lighting (though in the worng order; the pink candle is lite last, not third). I have also been really getting into MySpace. I like the sharing and debate. Hey, last night I even had an exchange with someone who was disheartened about the state of her current church and the hiding of sins, and she was curious about the Catholic Church! Not sure that she will do anything about that, but it was still interesting.

My only real solid resolution for 2006 is to pray more, trying to actually maybe establish a specific time to prayer, or trying to pray the Divine Office at least once a day or so. I also have been convinced that I need to restart my daily prayers for my husband. I stopped sometime before Christmas and he needs my daily support in that way more than ever. His tooth is till bugging him, and we don't have the money to get that dealt with yet.

I am also resolved to get my Sirius radio unit intalled and activated, so I can start listening to EWTN now and again, as well as the music and other things. I have enjoyed my Christmas gift to myself though, as far as Catholic things go. I got a one month subscription to, an online RCIA class that is really stretching and challenging me, especially as I am off work, and we have not had dismissal in two weeks. We start back tomorrow at morning Mass.

One other thing to mention. Last week I went to Vigil Mass, actually hoping I could go to Confession beforehand; I even had the provebial "list" of my sins. The priest that I talked with though, told me to first check with the RCIA director and/or our head priest. SIgh. Maybe in a few more weeks. I haven't been sensible enough this week to call the parish office or my RCIA director, and i am not sure that jus showing up at confession this afternoon would be a good idea. I am not even sure that I should go to Mass tomorrow, depending on how I feel by then.

Till next time, may God richly bless you.

Ah, feeling better

Sorry for the gap in postings again, everyone. This week I have been feeling rather out of it, and also my dear husband had a nasty infection in his mouth that has left him feeling listless as well, and so I have been caring for him.

This past Sunday in RCIA we began talking about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a topic that I have already done a lot of study on, and actually really am longing for ,just as each time I go to Mass, I long for the Euchrist. Easter Vigil cannot come quickly enough.

Also found out that When I go down for my Rite of Sending and Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathdral, I will be able to have my best friend from high school go with me! Yay! It will be the only Rite we will get to share, but we can celebrate on Easter Sunday together!

Two other things that are interesting have happened so far this week. The first is that I go my hands on a real-world copy of the Catechism and started reading it, along with a book full of probing questions about certain paragraphs, to get me thinking while I read. The online version of the Catechism is very useful, too, but I can't take it with me, and I don't like to read long things on the computer screen. So far I am only up to paragraph 30, but it has already grabbed my attention with the carefully chosen wording, and the description of how it was put together and how it should be used.

My second interesting thing is that I have started writing about my experiences so far. I don't know what will come of it, especially since it is already turning into a bigger work than I thought it would be. My original idea was to write a series of papers on my reasons for converting, what it means to recieve the sacraments, and all of that. However, my firstone, on why I am converting, is turning into a long detailed descrption of everything that has lead me up to this point personally, without my reasons in it yet, just my experiences, and it is getting ratehr long. Now I am thinking I might turn this project into a book, perhaps like the Hahn's book "Rome Sweet Home." Though I was thinking of something like "One Pilgrim's Story," or maybe "Confessions of a Convert" (since "Confessions of a Roman Catholic" is already taken. :D)

More soon. God bless and keep you all.

Some Catching Up

I know I know, it has been a couple of weeks, and a lot of stuff has been going on. Unfortunately one of those things has been missing Mass, though only once. Also, I have had more discussions about my new faith with my husband, though after some more of the "The Pope and the Catholic Church are the Anti-Christ" comments, I got the hint and just stopped talking about it. He wanted me to get rid of my rosary and my medals, and I didn't answer. He wanted me to stop reading anything Catholic, and again I didn't answer. He asked me why I was reading all of the Church's "hogwash", and I ..... did not give him a straight answer. I know, cowardly, but I just could not get up the guts to say anything. On the other hand, for the first time ever in a situation when something I am intensely involved in has been put down or falsely attacked by my husband, I did not get defensive, and yet I did not back down and give up my own beliefs just to pacify my husband and his ego. I know that was the Holy Spirit; no one else could have held my emotions in check so well and yet given me a bit more backbone, with gentleness, than I have had in delicate issues involving my husband in the past.

Also in interesting news, I attended the dedication of my parish's new building, and it was a very beautiful Mass. We bagan outside the sanctuary the doors still locked, and following a procession of the Knights from the area, our priests, some monks from the local abbey, and of course our local Bishop, Cardinal Roger Mahoney and his entourage, the doors were unlocked and slowly the crowd made its way inside. I say slowly because there were at least 1500 people at the Mass filing through the door about 3 or 4 at a time. First pleasant impression of the new sanctuary was the warm water in the font, followed by a bit of jealousy that the two men in my RCIA class who are getting baptized will have a warm dip! :) Oh well. There were supposed to be seats for 1400. but by the time that I got in, there were few seats, if any left. I ended up in one of the side rooms that will be for families with young children. A decent seat, but I did not get sprinkled with the holy water, and the insence smell did not reach me until the consecration. The baptismal font was blessed, then its water sprinkled on the people and the walls of the building. The Readings and homily were as usual with a bit more ceremony than usual, and an extra alleluia after the Gospel reading. Also the readings were each in different languages, or a combination of languages, to accomodate all othe parishoners. The first reading was in Spanish, the Psalm in a combination of Spanish and English, the Second Reading in Tagalog, and the Gospel in English. After this the alter was annointed in oil, then the building was annointed. THe Preists took oil and annointed the four major pillars of the building. THen the alter was incensed and the whole sanctuary with it, as young girls in festive dresses took bowls of incense and walked up the aisles of the church and made the sign of the cros with the bowls every few steps. Then the alter was wiped clean of the oil the remained, then it was dressed with white clothes edged in gold. A candle was lit, and blessed, then the slter candles were brought forward and lit, and the priests took candles and lit the various small candles around the room. The prayer of dedication was next dedicating the building to God's work, and then then began the Liturgy of the Euchrist, at which point I left.

Yesterday was also the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. For any of you Portestants out there, this is not a feast celebrating Christ's conception, as the timing should indicate. That is what I thought, until a few months ago, when I realized that the Immaculate Conception is that of Mary, who the Church teaches was concieved without sin, in order to be a fitting vessel for the Lord. This is still a doctrine I struggle with a bit, though I have to admit that the more I struggle with it that more I realize that it seems right. Why would God have His Son draw his human flesh from a person tainted with sin?

At any rate, it is late, and I just wanted to ctch you all up on the highlights of my absence. I hope to blog more regularly from now on...hope being the key word here. ;)

Till we meet again, may God bless and keep you all.

Telling a few and RCIA

Okay, so I mixed up the title words a bit this time. Ithought I would actually put the topics in the order I wanted to discuss them. What a concept, eh? :)

First a quick catch up from this last week. I told my weight loss support group on Tuesday as planned, and it went better than I expected. I even found that one of the groups members is a former Catholic; I'll have to get her story sometime. My mom told my dad sometime on wednesday, and at first he seem rather accepting, if not very enthused about the idea. Then on Friday, he lashed out a bit about of all things going to Confession on Saterdays, are non-Catholics saved, and celebacy of preists and the sex scandal with the Church. At the moment I am trying not to take it too personal, since my dad is dealing with a lot right now, or maybe I should say he is avoiding a lot right now. My conversion is at the moment the icing on a very bitter cake. He found out this past week that a sore that would not heal on his chest is actually basal cell carcinoma. He refuses to talk about it, or even read about it. Then I tell him I am becoming Catholic, a faith step he does not see as positive at all. Needless to say he is in my prayers.

I found it ironic that this Sunday's psalm was the 23rd, given that my parent's church has been studying it for the past 6 weeks in the light of grace. Our deacon ran the dismissal for the first time yesterday, and it was a bit funny, since he did not know what to do, but it was good in the way that we had a really good discussion about the readings that went a bit longer than normal, but it was worth it. Our discussion was to be on the liturgical seasons, but I had to leave early so I missed that part, although I took the handouts, and my sponsor stayed to be able to let me know what happened.

I went and saw Harry Potter with my husband as well, yesterday, and my in-laws went with us. We went to the biggest theater complex in town and ended up in the biggest theater there, but it was still a great experience. My favorite part was at the end when Dumbldore tells Harry that bad times are coming, and the dragons. I'm not going to post any more on the movie than that, for anyone who does not like spoilers....and because this blog is not about movies. :)

Then I went to a thanksgiving dinner for my parent's church that was really good as far as food went, and I broke my news to a few more people, including one that has been a spiritual brother to me for years, and me a spiritual sister to him. He has promised that we need to discuss it some, but he did not seem upset, if nothing else, maybe just curious. My mother also has been a bit curious. She occationally throws out questions about Mass, and has already agreed to come to my reception at Easter.

More on today, tomorrow! God Bless!

RCIA and a pleasant surprise

To start with, I can tell I am falling into a rut with my Sunday reflection postings, as my automatic fill-in program reminds me. I have been titling them "RCIA and....." But I like the format and will probably keep it.

Now onto completely new business. Thursday I was worknig at the school where the mother of my best friend in high school now works (the mother not the friend) and we got to talking and out of the blue she announces to me, "Did you know my daughter si converting to Catholicism? And her boyfriend is Catholic." To repeat a common sentiment in this blog, WOW! Of all the people I never suspected would be joining me on this journeey, at this precise time, it would never have been this particular person. We shared roughly the same educational and religious background, at least prior to me going to college. And yet through our differing experiences, God has set us both on the path home, and at the same time, which just blows me away.

In fact, I was so overcome, that I just blurted out that I was also converting, making my best friend's mother the first person outside of the parish I have told of my intention. I got so excited that I also broke one of my unspoken personal rules, of not going out late on a Thursday, especially if I have work in the morning. I broke this rule in order to meet up with my friend and her boyfriend at a local restaraunt at 8pm to talk ab out this whole becoming Catholic thing in both of our lives. We had briefly spoken recently, but she had not mentioned any of this to me, or anyone else, and in fact said that she was wondering how to tell me. It was great to have someone in a similar, though not same position to talk this over with, as well as have a cradle Catholic I could feel comfortable with and ask questions of (her boyfriend). I hope that we will be able to get together and talk again like that soon, especially since I have finally met my sponsor, and WOW! (I know I am being very repetative with this word, but it is perfect for what I am feeling, and so short it is easy to throw in. Maybe I will stop using it so much sometime after Easter. ;) )

Last night we had our usual dismissal, and as promised, the 3 of us who had not yet met our sponsors at last were able to connect a face with a name. My sponsor's name is Marta, and she is married to a convert and went through RCIA with him in order to be confirmed, so she knows roughly what is going to happen. And here is the Wow part: I feel really drawn to St. Monica, and am more and more convinced that I will probably take the name Monica for my confirmation, and Marta's patron saint is.....St. Monica! Just another one of those interesting coinkeedinks that are really showing me not only God's involvement in this process, but also his sense of humor.:P Anyhow, the topic last night was once again baptism, and also a review of what a sacrament is, and what an efficacious sign is. We also discussed how the process is going for us so far, and if we feel that the topics we have covered so far have been covered enough, andi f we have any difficulties so far. This session our focus in baptism turned to the Lord's baptism, based on the description in Matthew 3. We studied the signs present in His baptism, and what they signified to us, as well as watched a baptism from this past Easter in our own parish, and a video about the significance of adult baptism and its meaning to us as individuals and to the Church as a whole. We ran a bit late, but it worked out well.

Then today came my first major milestone in the "revealing my faith" mission. On Sunday in my Pres. church, the pastor talked about sharing the light you have been given, and being courageous and stepping thorugh the door of opportunity when it is opened and then opening that door to others. He made a special point of mentioning that you cannot open the door if others do not even know where you stand. That was another nudge from God to me, as I have been struggling with when and how to share my newfound convictions and conversion to the Catholic faith, and God clearly told me I need to start telling others. Today I told my mother.

I was going to do it over a nice relaxed lunch after we stopped by and talked with my friend at her place of work. After all I had already told her about my friend's conversion thoughts, and she didn't seem too shocked or horrified. Then work intervened and The leasurely day/lunch turned into just lunch, a little later than I had hoped. So I put it off until we got back to my parents' house and were waiting for my dad to get home. (I sometimes eat dinner there when my husband is working at night.) It took me a few tired but I finally got it out that I am converting to Catholicism, and my mother took it much better than I thought she might. Rather than be upset, she calmly asked me what was so attractive to me about the Catholic Church, and then asked if I would ever attend church with my parents again, and I think I managed to assure her, though we both agreed to wait to tell my dad until I have a bit more of a handle on how to say it a bit better. :) Then I invited her to be with me at the Easter vigil when I am received into the Church through First Communion and Confirmation. She seemed willing, and shortly after that my dad arrived, and the conversation on that topic is halted for the moment.

One other brief note before I sign off for the night: today I prayed the Rosary, and then spent another good while in prayer, jsut as part of the natural flow, and ended up spending about an hour straight in prayer, and boy did my day go well, despite the detours. I know it won't always be this way, but while it lasts right now, I feel like I am one a mountaintop, jsut like the retreats I went on when I was younger and I could really feel the presence of God in my life, only even stronger, since I am still in the midst of my everyday life while feeling this. Wow. God is sooooo good.

TIll next time, may God richly bless you.

Adoration and Novena

Tonight I took a chance and attended (or tried to attend) my parish church's wednesday night Euchristic adoration service. Unfortunately, I had several delays along the way, but arrived in time to pray the Mother of Perpetual Help novena part of the service, and it really gave me a sense of how Mass must have been before V 2. Deacon faced the alter the entire service, and incence was used liberally toward the end, things I am not used to seeing in Sunday Mass or even daily Mass. Yet it just added to the sense of reverance in the service, and made me want to return next wednesday, if I can.

One thing that threw me a little though, was after the final hymn, and after Deacon left, most of the people there, went forward and kissed or touched or crossed themselves in front of a portrait of Mary holding the baby Jesus. I understand that we honor Mary, not worship her, but I am going to have to do some research on this seeming reverence for a mere image of the Blessed Mother. Any comments on this would be appreciated, by the way. I myself went forward, and just touched the picture gently and crossed myself, the whole time wondering if God was going to strike me down for idolatry (not that it happened to anyone else, but the thought still went through my head).

Anyway, despite my discomfort at the end, the service facinated me, and I do intend to attend again, and hopefully arrive on time. :-) Also of note, afterwards there was a family outside selling inexpensive but beautiful rosaries, and I bought a regular rosary, and a single decade rosary, to help me remember to pray throughout the day, hopefully.

Till next time, God bless.

RCIA and Coming Home

As I have mentioned before, I am not only attending Mass, but also still going to services at my childhood church. This Sunday was no different, but yet it was. I realized this Sunday that a lot of the elements at Mass that are the most familiar and comforting are those that are very similar in the Presbyterian church I have attended for many years. For example, the colors used in the church for the various seasons are the same, and some of the words used for communion, including saying the words "The body of Christ" and "the blood of Christ" when the elements are offered. And of course the sermon....the homily at Mass.

Last night at dismissal we started a discussion on Baptism that we will finish up next week. Only one of of the people in our group last ngiht was actually not baptized yet at all, and he had done his homework, so we pretty much were able to talk through the whole list of elements that are present at a Baptism fairly quitckly, and frankly Ialmost wish I was headed toward baptism myself instead of just 3 days ago celebrating 3 years since my baptism in college; it just sounds like so much fun.... :D Next week we have to be there, and so do our sponsors/godparents, though I am not sure what the big deal is. I really am looknig forward to finally meeting my sponsor; the closest I came was 2 weeks ago when I was told by one of our leaders that she had seen my sponsor in Mass but she didn't come to our class after Mass was over. Sigh....well, if the roles were switched, I'm not sure I would be eager to meet me either, someone who is a bit of a spiritual mutt and knows absolutely no one who is Catholic well enough to sponsor me.

One last note to make tonight. This morning I unexpectedly had a delay in a job and was able to spend about 20 minutes praying in front the Blessed Sacrament. I really felt like things were better when I was done, and I certainly felt calmer. I then prayed the Rosary on the way to my office, and traffic was much easier to deal with, and my gas needle didn't move the whole way! Probably has to do with something mechanical I don't understand, but it was amazing, none the less. Anyway, my morning will be early, so have a blessed night, all.

All Saint's Day

Well, here is one day that rather snuck up on me. I actually did not realize until sunday that All Saint's Day is a holy day of obligation. Praise be to God, He gave me a wonderful late starting day at work so Iwas free to attend almost any of the offered Masses. And wow! I know I have been saying that a lot in this blog, but it is true.

The Mass I attended was also the Mass that was attended by the children of our parish school, many of whom were dressed as saints, a few in very elaborate costumes. Father gave a very rousing homily about how we are all called to be saints, and to follow i nthe footsteps of these individuals that the Church has recognized. It was a perfect accompaniment to our discussion at dismissal Sunday, and to m own quest for a confirmation name saint. (Though I am really feeling drawn to St. Monica now, since a good bit of her married experience seems to mirror my own, with the first major difference being that she was raised in the Church, and I will be a convert. The second major difference between us is that she had children to pray for as well, while at the moment I do not. However, we will see where God leads me.

Also, I will give a bit more info on my personal research into the Church today, just to catch everyone up. I searched out information for a long time (3 months) online before ever attending Mass. Then I attended daily Mass for over a month before venturing into Sunday Mass. Finally I answered God's call on my heart and began attending RCIA. Sadly, with in a couple of weeks of joining the inquiry class, my work schedule picked up and made attendance almost impossible. But God again opened doors for me, and I was admitted to the Rite of Acceptance and could attend Sunday dismissal. At about this time I discovered St. Mary's Press, an organization that provides free CD's of various materials, including a message by Scott Hahn about his conversion, as well as a CD of the Rosary. I have since read and listened to many other conversion stories, and even though it is not broadcast in my area, I download the archived broadcasts of Catholic Answers Live and American Catholic Radio. These programs have really developed my faith and quieted many of my doubts.

I am still pondering a question that was asked last week in dismissal by one of our directors. We were talknig about the Church being a sacrament, and by joining the Church, the person also becomes a sacrament. And then we were asked, "Why do you want to be here, and to take part in the sacraments?" In many ways I am still answering that question. I know a tiny part of it is curiositiy, and a good part of it, especially the last few times I have attend Mass, is a hunger for the Euchrist, but there is still a part of my answer that I cannot articulate yet. I'll keep you posted. :)

Till next we meet, may God richly bless you.

More lessons and some insight

Sorry it has been a while, all, but I umm......missed Mass last week due to illness. Anyway, yesterday's dismissal was awesome in more than one way. One way needs some background, though.

I am still a little shaky on whether or not I really want to do this, or if it is a fling, especially since my Dear Husband is so opposed to it. However, in order to try to get a little direction, I asked my weight loss group friends to pray for me, that I would get some guidance and/or discernment in "an important matter" (I did not come right out and say what it was)> I told them I need a definate open or closed door, or at least a door either moving closed or moving open. :) Yes, I am a bit picky at times, and sometimes stubborn. However, I also was praying specifically for guidance and discernment regarding my doubts and fears.

Then yesterday I had a "light bulb moment" during dismissal when I finally understood why the Catholic Church accepts baptisms performed by other Christians (within certain guidelines, of course). Our teacher for the session was going through an introduction to sacraments and the Sacraments, and when she touched on baptism she mentioned that the idea is that the Holy Spirit does the work through.....some word I can't remember now that means a sybol that stands for what is really happening through the power of God, like baptism. The reason this is such a big thing for me is based on something my Husband said a while ago about his own past when he said he hoped his baptism was good since he had since realized that the person who baptized him was part of a rather off-beat Christian sect that whiole passonate and harmless, had some bits of theology about their particular church that were wrong. I also have had moments of doubt like this, although I did not speak of them. To have God show me with great assurance that my baptism and that of my husband are valid because the validity does not depend on the actions and purity of the one baptizing (again, within certain guielines), but IT RELIES ON THE ACTIONS OF GOD! Wow!

Also we talked about preparing for confession and previewed next week's talk on the saints, and about our choosing a saint's name at confirmation. I was the only one who mentioned a specific saint that I was considering, though I am still looking. Anyhow, God bless everyone.

Back in the grind

Well, the high from my acceptance lasted till about Thursday, which was the day I got a set of CD's I ordered from the Mary Foundation, among them a CD of the rosary and divine mercy chaplet. Istarted praying those on friday, and I still feel really, secure is a good word for it.

I felt a little like I did before my wedding, while I was waiting for Father to let us into the church last Sunday. I was so nervous that forget having butterflies in the stomach, I had frogs hopping around in there. It was being nervous in the same way as before my wedding, as well. In both cases I knew that there was no rejection ahead of me; the nervousness came for the magnitude of the commitment I was making. In the case of my wedding, the vows I took on that day sealed me for life to the man of my dreams, for better or worse. At my Acceptance, I made a first commitment to the Catholic Church, also for better (I hope) or for worse.

And as with my marriage, the passing days and weeks and years pass, I find that I know more about my husband, and I learn each day to love him more deeply. In the same way, as the days pass, and I continue my searching of Church teaching with an eye toward conversion, I find morea nd more of my doubts and reservations falling away and leaving me with a greater love for God and His Church.

Yesterday evening was our first dismissal after our orientation one, last Sunday, and it was a bit less lively. Only three of us were there, but we really got into our study of the first part of the Mass, and even got to talking a bit about sacramentals and their value. God then worked what I consider to be a great miracle. Our session ran a bit late and I was worried that my husband would be upset that I was out a bit later than I said I would be. However, when I got home, I found that he was where I had left him: at his parent's house a few miles away, not even worried! (This is huge because my dear Husband is not so thrilled about my exploring Catholicism.) Praise be to God!

It is also encouraging to get commnets related to this blog! Please feel free to comment anytime,

One other thing. I did say that as I got more into the dismissal and being a candidate that I would be doing a bit more of a comparison with my background as opposed to what I am now learning, so here are a few observations. For many years I have acknowledged that faith (and believing and asking Jesus into your heart) are important, but baptism is needed for true salvation. However, as I am learning more about how one converts to Catholicism, I have to say that I think fewer people would drift from their faith, or have a poor knowledge of the faith they profess if they had to attend trianing like RCIA before being given the Sacraments. I think this is even true of cradle Catholics, who seem to take their rich faith heritage for granted, something that is very hard to do during RCIA, where one enters into deep study of the faith set before him, and must make a decision about it, and publically show that decision before a community of faithful.

I also think that fewer people would call themselves Christian if to do so, they had to publically participate in such things as a Rite of Acceptance, or the coming Rite of Sending, and if they had to have another person, one already initiated, so to speak, stand with them and take responsibility for their spiritual growth, and observe it regularly, as happens during RCIA. WOuld there be fewer "Christians"? Yes, but with the grace of God, perhaps those that would call themselves Christians would also look more like Christ.

Till next time may God bless you richly.

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