Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Healing

14 May

Father, Spirit, Jesus – heal me.

Take my broken heart, my tears, my long lonely nights of insomnia, my hours of holding my tongue as my mother speaks daggers into my life.

Take them – they’re Yours.

And in return give me a heart of strength, eyes full of joy, nights of rest, and days of uplifting words.

But if you can’t do that right now, help me to accept more of this cup of bitterness. Hold my head and my hand as I taste more of the things I do not want.

Help my parents. You and I both know that this isn’t just about me becoming Catholic – I’m growing up and that scares my parents. They need to feel needed. And I don’t need them the way that they want anymore. Give them opportunities to feel – and be – needed.

I trust You.

I asked for a place to live and You gave it to me two hours after I asked.

I asked for another job and You gave it to me two weeks after I asked.

You have provided and I trust You to give me the things that You know I need. I also trust You to withhold the things You know I don’t need – or to give me the things I need in Your own timing.

So whether it takes two months, two years, two decades, or two centuries – please heal my family. Heal my mother’s anger and my father’s disappointment.

Heal me. Love me. Take me. Mold me.

 

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Five Things I Want My Cradle Catholics Friends To Know

17 Apr

[I’ve joined a Bible study for Catholic young adults. I’m one of two converts in the group. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this study, and I’m so glad to have some more Catholic friends, but over the past few weeks I’ve definitely seen and heard some things that have made me cringe a little. I’m hoping and praying for the Holy Spirit to provide opportunities for me to share some of the following things with my new friends.]

1. I don’t get always get along or agree with my parents. Sometimes I need to talk about this. When I do, I want to be listened to and maybe even agreed with. I might even appreciate a healthy outside perspective on my parents. However, I don’t want to hear them bashed, I don’t want them to be put down or unfairly judged. They’re still my parents, after all.

I feel this same way when I find myself in the middle of a group of Cradle Catholics bashing on Protestant views and people. I know better than most that there are certain Protestant beliefs that from a Catholic perspective make no sense, justify sins, are just downright confusing, and that sometimes lead to people dealing with a lot of hurt.

But no matter what, the Protestant Church is my parent church. She raised me. She fed me as a child. She was who first taught me to love God and to love others. The bad situations and bad people I encountered in the Protestant Church will never cancel that out.

It’s easier for me to discuss Protestantism with former Protestants because they’ve been there. They’ve truly known her and been one with her. It’s hard for me discuss Protestant issues with people who just don’t know her that well, especially when the conversation has a very negative tone. Dialogue and discussion don’t need to put any person or group down in order to be useful.

2. I love the Blessed Mother and I love the Saints. I have absolutely been thrilled to recognize them for the beautiful and powerful people they are. What a blessing to be showered with their love, prayers, and examples!

Please know that I’m not hiding my devotion to them by praying the rosary or reading my book of Saints in my car instead of when I’m surrounded by Protestant friends, family, or roommates. I am not hiding them. I am keeping them safe from silly arguments and accusations. I would far rather not discuss them at all than hear comments about worshiping dead people.

3. It’s nearly impossible to make a blanket statement about Protestant beliefs or people. Between individual interpretation of Scripture and the vast number of denominations, it’s really hard to create a firm description of specific Protestant beliefs. Each Protestant is going to have different views on Salvation, Baptism, Communion, and the color the church carpet should be.

4. Some things about the Catholic Church are still hard for me to wrap my mind around. I’m still new here, so please be gentle and patient with me. I’ve had a year-long love affair with the Catholic Church in which the Holy Spirit has been hard at work healing old and broken ways of thinking. He’s not finished with me yet.

If I don’t understand something, speak your peace, let the subject go, and then pray for me. Jesus led me here so far, so let’s both of us trust Him to complete the good work He started in me.

5. As a child I learned three new verses every week. As a teen I read the entire Bible three times over.  I went to Christian schools where I had Bible classes. I’ve taken three Bible classes here at college. The Bible is very close to my heart. I seek shelter and comfort in it’s words. I even love the dry and uninteresting parts because they are as familiar to me as my parents’ house. Reading the Bible feels like going home.

I don’t expect everyone to think or feel this way at all. I know that as an English Major the written word is closer to my heart than for others. And I know that as a former believer in Sola Scriptura I will always have a soft spot for Scripture. But it absolutely appalls me to hear statements like the following:

“You should read about Saint Nicholas – you know Santa Claus. I’m pretty sure his story is in the Bible.”

“What book is the story of Noah in? That’s in Matthew, right? Matthew’s a book, right?”

“I don’t believe in reading the Bible on my own.”

I have loved being Catholic because it has freed from needing to read the Bible in order to be saved. At one point in my life I believed that my salvation rested on whether or not I was “in the Word.” I am so glad to be free from that type of guilt. But in saying that, if you’re a Catholic and you aren’t at least familiar with the basics of Scripture, you’re missing out! Scripture is beautiful and powerful. It is such a source of strength and comfort.

Not only that, but it’s a lot harder for Protestants to accuse you of not knowing Scripture if you actually know Scripture. The best part about it too is that you already know more than you realize. The prayers said in Mass come straight out of the Bible. Many of the songs are rooted in Scripture passages. And of course, the readings too!

As I came into the Church I recognized the Scripture immediately – it was honestly one of the most stunning experiences of my life. How beautiful would it be to encounter the Scriptures and recognize the Church immediately? The two are intricately intertwined in a beautiful, Holy relationship and I have a deep desire for those who don’t see that relationship to discover it.

Should I use contraception? Part 2

4 Apr

Back in the swing of daily life! I need to do normal stuff or I’ll just keep moping.

A few weeks ago I posted this.

Chances are, if you’re here you’ve probably already read and responded to it.

I’ve been thinking a lot, a lot, a lot about the responses I got.

The most recent comment I got included this: “As you know, the Church teaches that use of contraception is a mortal sin. Think about that! Would you want to discuss the pros and cons of stealing, committing adultery, purposely skipping Mass on Sunday, etc? No, because the cons are pretty dire.”

And it was as I read this that I realized the heart of the issue:

I’ve spent my whole life being told not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to miss church.

And I’ve spent my whole life being told that if I wasn’t ready to have a child, even as a married woman, then it wasn’t fair to that child for me to conceive him or her. Or that it would be wrong of me to have too many kids because kids need a lot of one-on-one time with mom. And I’ve always been told that contraception is the way to safely ensure that.

I don’t know if those statements are right or wrong anymore…I do see some truth to them, but I also see some selfishness. But most of all those statements are a part of me. They are built into my conscience and they resonate as strongly as my beliefs that it’s wrong to steal or murder. They are a part of my morality that I am trying to cut out of my heart.

No one ever told me that using contraception could be on the same “level” as those sins…for twenty (give or take!)  years I just assumed I would have 4 kids, because that was what I wanted. And then I met S and our desires matched up so it felt perfect. So do I go against my conscience and have more than that? Or do I go against my conscience and “plan” my family? I feel guilty just thinking about choosing either way.

I know that for my Cradle Catholic friends, and for my friends from big families, this seems like something that shouldn’t be as difficult for me as it is. But what if one day you found out that something you’d never thought was that wrong is really a sin? What if that thing or behavior you had to cut out was going to have the potential to completely alter your life?

This is going to take time and a lot of the Holy Spirit whispering words of wisdom and strength to me.

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.

Ick! Since when am I such a judgmental witch?!?

26 Mar

Here is my problem:

I’ve done a lot, a lot, a lot of thinking these past few months. (S says this whole conversion thing has definitely fed my love of over-analyzing stuff.) So I’m finding myself growing irritated with the people around me who I perceive as not really thinking about what they believe and why they believe it – especially because nearly every person around me is a Christian.

I am annoyed with people for not thinking about things the way I do. I don’t necessarily want the things they think to be similar, I just want them to put the same amount of time, energy, and desire for truth into their thought processes.

I am also kind of hurt with God for not giving people the same challenges…

I cannot describe the envy I felt when I watched a co-worker mindlessly pop her birth control pill. Then I listened miserably as she told the girl next to her about how she and her husband aren’t ready to start a family.

Later I found myself laying awake praying, “Seriously God? How is this fair? She’s a Christian too. Make her feel the things You have made me feel. Make her ask the questions I’ve been asking. Or at least make me feel like I’m not a horrible person for not wanting six kids.”

My school has chapel once a week, and the judgmental, heinous, witch that lives in my heart came out some more…

I watched the movie with challenging quotes cleverly woven interwoven with artful photos and the latest hit from Christian radio. I listened to the speaker’s emotional appeal for me to “rededicate” my life. Then I watched the popular kids on campus get up and sing/play their instruments/look really cool.

And the whole time I wanted to scream.

“God, why are you okay with this? Doesn’t this annoy You the way it does me? No one has even thought to mention You during this service. All that we’ve heard about is how we need to change our lives or go to Hell. Whatever happened to You changing our lives because You love us and want us to be with You and like You? Whatever happened to just reading the Bible, and talking about how wonderful You are? Surely You’ve got to be as irritated with this as I am.”

That was not a good day for me to walk by the classroom that was watching a video about how to convert Catholics to Christianity.

I’ll spare you that prayer because it involved a lot of me telling God how I would go in there and make fools out of them all if He’d let me.

I am struggling because I am seeing the ways God is calling me to be different. And I don’t thinks it’s fair of Him not to ask that of others. But I am also struggling because I am judging others because I see them as not being open to the Lord’s leading. I have searched for Truth and now I am angry because that Truth has changed me more than I expected. And I am angry because I feel like no one else has to change.

But you know what sucks the most?

Even now I feel the Holy Spirit asking me where my humility has gone. “Who do you think you are?” He’s asking. “You are certainly not the first person called to the life of a Catholic and you won’t be the last. And yes, you feel it’s unfair that I’m asking you to be humble, but you don’t know what I’m asking others to do. You struggle enough with figuring out how to obey Me in your own life. Why in the world would I let you in on My instructions for other people?”

Also as a post-script, I definitely feel like these feelings, thoughts, and doubts are the Evil One distracting and attacking me as I get ready to enter the Catholic Church this Saturday night.

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.

Another Old Something

21 Mar

[This is part of a post from my old blog. I wrote this years ago, and came across it last night. They’re interesting thoughts…especially after having made my first confession last week.]

I have trouble accepting forgiveness. I like to work things out on my own. I like to pretend that I can work out my salvation without the Holy Spirit. When I fall short, I plummet into a state of guilt that I won’t let myself out of. My life has been a constant cycle of failed attempts at flawlessness. I’ve spent years trying to convince GOD that I’m good enough to deserve Him. And yet, no matter how many lists I make, or how many books about GOD I read, or how hard I try to convince others of my spirituality, or how many Christian t-shirts, c.d.’s and knick-knacks I own, I’ve never been able to do anything more than build up my pride.

In The Gift of Forgiveness, Charles Stanley says, “GOD’s forgiveness does not depend on our confession, nor does His fellowship…Our fellowship with GOD is not restored by confession (because it was never broken); rather, our sense of fellowship with GOD is restored. When we sin, we withdraw our fellowship from GOD; He does not withdraw His fellowship from us. Forgiveness is ours as believers. The moment we received Him as Savior, He became our life. But our capacity to enjoy forgiveness – our capacity to enjoy a clean conscience – is based on our willingness to acknowledge and confess that sin”.