Tag Archives: Lord

Struggles

20 Apr

The dailiness has set in…the shine of being Catholic has worn off a little bit for me. It’s still as beautiful of a part of my life as ever, but it’s not new anymore. I knew deep down that this day was coming, but I really wanted to pretend that I would be permanently excited about my faith.

Thank goodness for my sponsor and her family – I would be really discouraged right now if I didn’t have them. I also found out that a guy in one of my classes is Catholic. The joy in his eyes as he asked me about my Confirmation and First Communion revived my spirits a bit. I also got the chance to talk to S’s mom about joining the Church – she’s really happy for me and had tons of questions. Actually she acted exactly the way I wish my own mother had…

I found a beautiful version of The Litany of the Saints and a couple of songs by Libera and those have been pretty encouraging. I’m trying to get through my reading list, but I haven’t picked up anything but a textbook this past week. My sponsor and I have also started doing this Bible Study by Scott Hahn.

But I’m struggling.

I am finding more and more things about being Catholic that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. And the people who’ve pointed these things about to me haven’t been particularly gentle. I’m balking. I’m resentful. I’m confused. I have no problem obeying God and the Church, and but I’m struggling with some of Her followers who’ve taken it upon themselves to tell me that I need to buy a veil, set up an elaborate altar in my (very small four-person) apartment, and buy certain medals and other religious objects.

Those things are all really nice, and maybe at some point they’re things the Lord would ask me to do, but for right now I think He’s okay that I don’t wear a veil to Mass, especially since I always make sure that I’m dressed modestly enough not to distract anyone. And I think He understands that the little cubby in my desk that contains my Confirmation candle, crucifix, and a couple prayer books are the best I can do for an altar right now. And I definitely think He knows that I don’t have the money or the space for religious objects that I’d just end up having to get rid of when I move after graduation anyways.

I love being Catholic – but I feel like all of a sudden people are bombarding me with extra rules and traditions. And while I can see the value of those things, I just need some breathing room. This is a lot to take in. And quite honestly all the extra stuff is a bit of a stumbling block for me at this point. I’m struggling because I feel like I’m not Catholic enough, like I’m just not good enough or smart enough or patient enough to handle what everyone else seems to be able to manage like second nature.

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5 Things I Want My Protestant Friends To Know

18 Apr

[These are all based on personal thoughts and feelings about my dealings with Protestant friends these past few months. No arguments, or anything like that!]

1. Some of you have been absolutely amazing throughout this special part of my life. I cherish you and the beautiful, kind souls within you. Your support, prayers, and words of advice, encouragement, and honesty are worth more to me than I can describe. My relationships with you give me hope – hope for myself, hope for you, and hope for a day when Protestants and Catholics can be at peace with one another.

We have agreed to disagree – and that’s okay! We have spent so many wonderful nights sitting at our coffee tables and talking about Jesus. We didn’t always share the same beliefs, but we shared the same risen Lord – and He is the true heart of the matter. Thank you for showing me Jesus within yourselves, thank you for seeing Jesus in me, and thank you for letting Him be what is important.

The rest is for everyone else:

2. I cannot explain my faith in a ten minute conversation – especially not with you standing there grilling me. If you want to discuss the Catholic Church, you’re going to have to pick one topic at a time. It’s really confusing when you ask me about confession and then when I’m in the middle of answering your question you ask me about Mary. And then in the middle of that you ask me about two or three other things.

If you really want to know what’s going on with my faith then feel free to sit me down and ask any and all questions you want. I love talking about Jesus and I love talking about what I’ve learned in the Catholic Church.

If you’re just looking for ways to twist my words and argue with me then I’m going to stop you as soon as I realize that. I do not like to argue and I’m not going to debate you.

3. So help me if you hand me another another anti-Catholic pamphlet I just might throw it at you.

Have you even read those yourself? As an English Major most of those things are an insult to my intelligence. They’re full of grammatical/spelling errors and poorly constructed sentences. Most importantly,  the arguments in those things are not really true because they take things out of context or they twist things around

4. Trust Jesus. I know that watching me do this has scared you. It’s made you angry. It’s maybe even filled you with doubt. Know that I am simply obeying my Lord. I became Catholic because I knew that’s what God wanted of me. I trust God and His direction. Won’t you please do the same?

5. The Catholic Church is beautiful. I can’t sum her up sufficiently. Just know that as Protestants we were all taught a lot of lies. We were taught to hate, and that was wrong. We were taught to slander, and that was wrong.

Before you criticize me, worry about me, or argue with me, go to a Mass. Most Churches have Mass on Saturday nights so then you can still go to your own church on Sunday morning. Don’t worry about anyone trying to convert you, Catholics don’t really worry about that the way Protestants do.

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

9 Apr

[This is yet another old post. I wrote this my very first semester of my freshman year. How beautiful to look back at the fears, worries, and doubts I had then, and see how the Lord has completely eradicated them. I feel so cherished by God when I think about how He knew even then that I needed to understand the sweetness of trusting Him.]

~~~

Deuteronomy 1:19-46 records how the people of Israel refused to obey GOD and enter the land that He had provided for them. After a journey through a “great and terrifying wilderness” you would think that the people would have been glad to find a place to rest in a new land, but instead of conquering it as the LORD commanded, the Israelites reacted with fear because those who occupied it were mightier than they. They even decided that the LORD hated them and wanted to destroy them.

GOD had promised these people that He would help them and be with them. He would have delivered the land into their hands if they had obeyed Him. Instead they were forced to wander in the wilderness for forty more years. Later in the book of Joshua, it’s recorded that the children of these disobedient people conquered the land for themselves with the help of the LORD.

When I first read this, these people and their fears seemed so silly. Why couldn’t they have just trusted GOD? He had never failed them before. He had delivered them from the Egyptians. He had led them through the wilderness, providing for all of their needs along the way. He had proved His love and faithfulness to them over and over. Because they chose to disobey GOD, they cheated themselves out of His blessings. The LORD then accomplished His will through the next generation.

Then I realized that I doubt the LORD in the same way. When I see others’ lives going in different directions than mine I question Him. So many people know what they want to do and where the LORD is leading them to go with their lives, and I don’t. I barely even know what I’ll be doing a week from now let alone in ten years. The hardest part about that is that I’m the type of person who plans everything. I have two calendars and three legal pads full of lists and plans for the future.

I love knowing what’s ahead. So when people tell me their plans for the future, I start to worry about my own future. I worry that I won’t get a good job when I talk to someone who’s studying to go into business. I worry that I’m not spiritual enough when I talk to someone who wants to be a missionary. I worry because I’m not ready to be in a relationship, let alone married, when I talk to someone who’s engaged. I worry that I’ll regret studying English in college when people ask me what in the world I plan to do with it.

But in light of the Israelites and what the LORD did for them, my worries seem silly and insignificant. Why can’t I just trust GOD? He’s never failed me before. He’s delivered me, led me, and provided for me. He’s proved His love and faithfulness to me over and over. He knew the end of the Israelites’ story and He knows the end of mine. For now the next step for me is this: trust and obey.

~~~
Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus is one of my favorite childhood hymns. The lyrics are as follows:

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Hardest Day of My Life…

27 Mar

At 10 PM last night someone at my school made a website where you can anonymously submit a post. It was supposed to be a secret admirer thing or something. But it turned into a place for people to say all of the racist, sexist, cruel things that tend to come out when anonymity is involved.

I was furious when I heard some of the things that my Christian peers were saying – that they wished someone would get divorced so they could have her, that they wished someone would die, that they it would be funny if the deaf kid walked out in the street and couldn’t hear a horn honking and therefore got run over.

I was also ashamed to be counted as a student here.

This is Holy Week. This is the week when we’re supposed to be honoring what our Lord did for us, and instead I felt like I could only hear echoes of Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

There wasn’t a thing my school could do about it.

So five of us decided we were going to take this website on. We started with posts of our own – about our desire to be a group of people who love others and who desire to respect and be respected, about the need to use humor appropriately and at the right place and time, and about how this is not what Jesus wants.

Our posts were answered with taunts – those directed at me were of course about my conversion.

Then we began to pray that people (especially the site administrator) would think about the things we had said.

And at 4 PM this afternoon, the site was deleted.

I’m happy that the battle is over…but the damage is already done. Over 1,000 posts were made on that site in the 18 hours it existed.

How does our campus begin to heal now?

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.

The Blue Madonna

19 Mar

I was twelve the first time I saw her in a museum in Florida. I had no idea that the woman I was so enamored with was Mary. I just thought she was a beautiful, serene, sad woman.

Carlo Dolci, The Blue Madonna, 1616-1687, oil on canvas 21” x 15.25”

I loved the painting so much that I bought a copy from the gift shop. I took her home and kept her in the package. I was worried that if I left her out that my siblings would tear her up or get peanut butter on her. Eventually I realized that my beautiful lady was Mary, and she ended up on the top shelf of my closet because I felt guilty of idolatry. And she waited for me there for several years. Until today.

It’s funny because looking back, I can see how the Blessed Mother made little appearances in my life – especially when I was in my very early adolescent years. Which makes sense – she would understand better than most the importance of saying ‘Yes’ to the Lord early in life. I always found myself drawn to the Blue Madonna – I wanted to be like her. I wanted her seeming sense of inner strength and piety.

And now I find that I crave that quiet, serene strength and obedience more than ever.

The Gift

3 Mar

I’ve never struggled with loneliness the way that I have been these past few weeks. Right now I’m in different spiritual, mental, and emotional places than the people around me are. Not that the place I’m in is better or worse…it’s just different.

This morning at Mass when I walked in I had no clue what was going on. It hadn’t started yet, but everyone was praying prayers I don’t know yet and I was really struggling to follow along. Usually I don’t have this problem, and today it was really discouraging.

I sat there thinking, “I don’t fit anywhere. Not here in this place, and not there in the place I’ve come from.”

So I looked up at my Christ on the cross and I prayed the only words that would come to mind: “I can’t do this. Help me do this. Please.”

When everyone got up to take Communion the lonely feeling persisted. I know it’s only a few weeks away now, but I haven’t taken Communion in a really long time and I miss it. I miss the feeling of being one with my fellow believers. I miss knowing that I’m partaking in Christ’s body and blood.

Then the woman sitting next to me got up to receive the Eucharist. As she walked past me she stopped and touched my arm. When I looked up at her she took my face in her hands and just smiled at me. Then before the tears that had formed in my eyes slipped out, she was gone.  I don’t know if she knows the gift that that seemingly tiny gesture gave me.

I sat there and for the first time in weeks my soul was quiet enough to hear the still, small voice of the Lord. He said to me, “Don’t you think the cross was a lonely place for Me? I have felt the feelings that you are feeling. You are not alone.  I have surrounded you with people to love you and encourage you and pray for you. Not only that, but even if you were the last person on earth I wouldn’t leave you by yourself. I will always be with you. Always.”