Tag Archives: Church

Current Reading

13 Apr

Somehow I’ve managed to compile a mile-long reading list!

Websites

A Guide to Being Catholic – this has been a fantastic resource for me! I haven’t read all of the pages the author has up, but everything I’ve seen so far has been really good. Everything is written at a basic level so I don’t find myself having to google words or phrases. This website pretty much covers everything – from devotions and prayers to the foundations of the Catholic worldview.

Don’t Let Problems in the Church Steal Your Peace – my mom has been throwing fits about things she’s read about the Vatican, so I went on a mission to find a way to be okay with problems in the Church. This article was an answer to prayer! Even though it’s written by a Catholic for Catholics, it’s perfect for Protestants wanting to defend their faiths as well. Sadly enough we live in a culture where “bad” people in our Churches steal our peace about our faiths – but Jimmy Akin’s explanation of why that shouldn’t be soothed my heart and mind, and hopefully it will yours as well!

Books I’ve Recently Purchased

If Protestantism is True – I will be honest…I’m slaving through this book. The concepts are really, really good…but I’m really not a fan of Devin Rose’s writing style. I find myself having to read with a notebook because he crams really huge concepts into tiny sections. He also jumps from topic to topic fairly quickly, which causes some confusion. However. I am determined to get through it because he really does have some amazing stuff to say. I also find myself thinking a lot as I read – which is exactly what I want out of a religious book. (Also the kindle version is only $2.99!)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood – How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” – I love, love, love Rachel Held Evans. I loved her as a Protestant and I love her even more as a Catholic. She’s one of those people that just has a beautiful soul. Her words are full of truth and beauty. In this book she spends a year following the Bible as literally as possible. It’s a very light-hearted yet serious book – she’s really good at making you think and laugh all in one sentence.

Books I’ve Recently Been Loaned

(I don’t have any comments on these because I haven’t even looked at their back covers yet!)

A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In The Liturgy – Edward Sri

Sinners Welcome: Poems – Mary Karr

Rome Sweet Home – Scott and Kimberly Hahn

Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots – Scott Hahn

 

 

 

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10 Apr

The world does not consist of 100 percent Christians and 100 percent non-Christians. There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so.

– C. S. Lewis

Feelings

30 Mar

When I was growing up I went to a lot of churches who were out to make me cry. I went to churches who existed to evoke emotion – to make their congregants feel something.

In a culture where we are constantly in touch with our feelings, sometimes it’s difficult to actually feel. Emotionally driven books, movies, TV shows, Facebook and blog posts, songs, and pictures bombard us. People respond to emotion, so those who want to be heard appeal to our feelings – and while it works for a time, eventually we become desensitized.

We’ve felt  so much – and our hearts need a break. Years of exposure to emotional appeals leave us needing time away from feelings – a repose from the ups and downs. So we allow callouses to form on our hearts. We allow them to become hard.

I think this is why I’ve seen so many churches that wanted the attention of my feelings. It’s good to feel. It’s good to have catharsis – to purge our emotions. It’s good to be excited. It’s good to have a nice long cry. Churches know this – and they also know how to evoke feelings. They know how to stir up our hearts and get us excited, or how to make us feel as guilty as Hitler, or how to reduce half of the congregation to tears.

And while those things aren’t bad, per se, I’ve seen a lot of churches who made evoking emotion their main goal. If people weren’t running or dancing or crying or expressing some extreme emotion by the end of the service, then the church had failed.

The problem is that when we focus on creating a feeling, we’re not focusing on God.

This Holy Week I’ve found myself feeling. I have felt joy at the grace of God, I have felt uncontrollable sadness over the pain of Christ, and I have felt overwhelmed by the love and goodness of the God I serve. But no one set out to make me feel those things. Rather, in meditating on the Lord and the things He has done, I found those feelings flowing as a natural result.

And you know what? If I had felt nothing it would have been okay – because God doesn’t command us to have a feeling. He blesses us with feelings, but He only commands that we obey Him.

In her book Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, Mother Angelica says, “Spiritual dryness is a gift from God, because it removes the soul from the emotional level and puts prayer on the level of the will, where I am a child of God who does the things of God because I decide to do so, not because I am depending on emotions outside of me.”

These past few months I have been a mess of feelings. (S is worried I have a hormonal imbalance.) I have spent Holy Week weeping for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I have wept for the pain of the Blessed Mother, and I have wept for the sins of humanity. And I am absolutely overwhelmed with excitement for when I enter the Church tonight.

But I know that in a little while these feelings will fade. The dailiness of my spiritual life will take over. But that’s okay. Feelings are not the goal. Jesus is the goal, and feelings may or may not be a result.

I am a Catholic now.

26 Mar

I go to Mass on Sunday – it’s in a church, but I call it “Going to Mass,” not “Going to Church.”

I have become friends with the Church Fathers – when I have a question about Scripture I turn to Sacred Tradition and the Catechism. What a joy to be free from the chain of Sola Scriptura!

I rest in the knowledge that Jesus never disinherited my Church or my faith. In spite of all the flaws of the Catholic Church, she has never once been abandoned by God.

I have the Eucharist instead of Communion. I have Jesus’ actual body and blood instead of a symbol. No more “snack-pack” or “self-serve” Communion services – instead every Sunday I honor Christ’s commandment to eat His flesh and drink His blood in remembrance of Him.

I have the liturgy. If I faithfully attend Mass on Sunday, within three years I will have heard the entire Bible read. Never again will I have to endure a three year sermon series focused on one book of the Bible. Now I can look forward to partaking in every part of the Word of God.

I have rest and peace. I used to leave Protestant churches feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted. It was a challenge for me to endure the ups and downs that often accompany Protestant services and sermons. I also often found myself being asked to clean the church kitchen, work in the nursery, teach Sunday School/Children’s Church, and usually afterwards there was something else to clean, someone who needed a meal cooked, or a Youth group project to plan. While ALL of those things are good things, they were what I focused on when I went to church – and I often missed out on having time to spend with Jesus. I don’t miss that.

I have a rosary. I still cringe a little before I begin to pray, but afterwards (and throughout) I am filled with an indescribable peace. What a joy to meditate on the lives of Christ and His holy mother, and to think on the glorious things the Father and Spirit did through them!

I have more books in my Bible. Honestly this was the most exciting part of becoming a Catholic for me! I’ve flipped through them but haven’t had time for a sit-down read. I absolutely cannot wait to dive into these new books.

I see the Holy Spirit helping me to work out my Salvation with fear and trembling. I find myself falling into the habit of examining my conscience and making peace with God, others, and myself. It’s a beautiful (but still rather painful) process.

I love the Cross more than ever. I love Jesus so much, and I am more in love with Him than ever. I cannot describe for you the joy I have always found when I fall at the feet of Father, Spirit, Jesus. Becoming Catholic has increased that joy ten-fold.

Six Things I Didn’t Learn In Church (That I Wish I Had)

22 Mar

1. There are a lot of really good people out there who don’t go to church. There are also a lot of really horrible people out there who go to church every time the doors are open. Don’t write off the non-church-goers, and don’t automatically trust the church-goers.

2. Sex is powerful. It is binding. It is an irreversible choice. Once you squeeze all of the toothpaste out of the tube, you can’t put it back in – it’s out there, and it’s going to stay out there.

3. Everyone makes mistakes – there is no one so good that he or she can’t do evil things, and there is no one so evil that he or she is incapable of doing good.

4. Eventually prayer will stop feeling like something you know that you need to do, and you will see it as something that you need to do. One day the act of praying will no longer feel like a chore, and you will find yourself slipping into doing it without thinking. All of a sudden commands like “Set your mind on things above,” and “Pray continually,” will feel like blessings instead of curses.

5. Follow Jesus where He leads. If you’re faced with a difficult choice, obey the Lord and rest in the knowledge that if you obey Him you will never choose wrongly. Even if that means that He will lead your devout Protestant heart straight into the Catholic Church.

6. God doesn’t let you know things if He knows you can’t handle them yet. Could fifteen year old Ellie have handled knowing she would one day be Catholic? Nope. If you had known then where you would be now, you wouldn’t have had the courage to leave your bed. But Jesus fed you teensy bits of God’s will as He knew you could handle it. So stop trying to figure out the future. You probably can’t handle it at this point.

Quote

My hope is built…

15 Mar

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

One thing I miss from being a Protestant – the way once a month on a Sunday night we would all come together and have a sing-a-long from the hymnal. Some of my most favorite memories were made on those nights. I always get excited when I’m at Mass and a song from my childhood is included in the service. Those moments are some of the few times that I feel at peace with my past, my present, and my future. For the few minutes of song, I don’t feel torn between two disparate worlds.

Quote

The miracles of…

14 Mar

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

Willa Cather