Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spiritual New Years Resolutions

Don't we all have resolutions every new year? We probably should reviewing our lives every day in many respects. But, alas, the new year always makes us ask many questions of ourselves. 

Fr Robert Barron has some good advice for Spiritual New Years Resolutions.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Literal vs Literalist

I like to use analogies in life to teach to others and better understand them myself. The cartoon strip Frank and Ernest actually has several cartoons that are faith related. This one appeared recently and offers a great example of interpreting what is said by someone. It is not faith related, but relates perfectly to this discussion!

I must thank John Martignoni for his commentary on Literal vs Literalist interpretations of the bible. I've used it to explain many discussions relating to interpreting the Bible, with the most famous being "It's raining cats and dogs". Certainly, we have to understand what we are reading and what the author intended us to see. One certainly can't expect to pluck their eye out if it is causing them to sin, however getting to the root of the problem is a good idea...

Simply put, Catholics take the bible in a literal sense, which means how the author intended the passage to be taken. Many Christians, take it in a literalist fashion, which means that the passage is exactly how it is read in today's words.

More info on John's explanation here:

Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Reasons Why I'm Catholic...

10. The Catholic Church has an unbroken line of Apostolic succession - History, Bishops

9. The Catholic Church doesn't need to market itself - (Parody of Protestant Church marketing)

8. There is a Mass being held right at this Moment, somewhere in the world! I can go to a "Universal" (Catholic) church wherever I go: Because going to Mass on Vacation is Easy

7. The Sacraments - USCCB, Sacraments, Sacraments

6. The Church is One - and is "the Pillar and Foundation of Truth" -  (1 Tim 3:15) Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth

5. Chesterton says there are ten thousand reasons that amount to one -

4. Christ gave the church to us - "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.' - (Matt 16:18) (2 Tim 4:3)

3. Authority - What's your Authority? (Matt 16:19)

2. We have all 73 books of the bible. - Whose Bible is it, Anyway?, Seven more books?, Bible Compilation

1. The Eucharist! "For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" - (John 6) Presentation

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Catholics Come Home - Free Resources

    The Catholics Come Home is a great Lay Apostolate working to share the truth about the Catholic faith.

    Today, I realized they have three free talks available, one of which is on my favorites list. It's Jeff Cavin's "I'm Not Being Fed". You can listen here: I'm Not Being Fed!

    Tim Staples - "The Bible Made Me Do It"'
    Fr Larry Richards "The Truth"

    Their "Epic" commercial, which has aired on TV and radio stations is a great evangelization tool.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    The Catechism

    The Catholic Catechism was one of my first book purchases (along with a Bible) when I came back to the church. However, it took me at least a year to truly appreciate it. Unlike opening the bible, the Catechism allows one to look in a glossary for the topic that they are looking for. Certainly, it is an invaluable item when one is trying to understand the meaning of something inside the faith. The more I look at the Catechism, the more I see the depth of knowledge that lies within 2000 years of history.

    If you are new to the faith, returning, or have been Catholic all your life and do not own a Catechism, it will be one of the best purchases you can make to invest in your faith! Consider it the "Go-to" book when you need it.

    Fr Robert Barron Comments on Leaving the Church

    Fr Robert Barron has an immense amount of resources on this website, This latest commentary addresses a major issue in the Church today, where people are leaving for misguided reasons.

    His ministry is also working on a series called "Catholicism". Check out the following video

    The Beauty of Marriage and Catholic Faith

    I attended daily Mass yesterday evening. Aside from the fact that somewhere in the world, there is a Mass being held every hour of the day, I was reminded how the Church will stand always. But, last night reinforced what it stands for - proclamation of the truth, including the defense of the institution of marriage.

    The local parish has three (yes, three) Masses daily. I opted for 5:15pm yesterday to end the workday. Before Mass started, the wedding coordinator blocked off one pew, which was odd for a weekday right before Mass. Turns out there was a renewal of vows ceremony. A couple from Mexico had married 30 years ago. If I got the story right, they had their honeymoon in the area and returned some 30 years later with their family to renew their vows. It was touching to see how this marriage upheld the dignity of life with the children and family present to witness it. The couple even had their coins and chain/rosary which were used at their wedding 30 years ago. A powerful reminder that marriage is a life long commitment (till death do us part) amidst today's divorce happy society.

    I also thought how many non-Catholic churches usually exist while the pastor is alive or running it. That is, because the church is just that - 'A' church, not tied to an unbroken line of Apostolic succession. There is no Pope, no bishops, etc. The pastor is essentially his own Pope (CEO on the non profit paperwork). How many protestant churches marry people, then cease to exist (because the pastor dies or moves on) upon renewal of vows? I cherish the fact that I know the Catholic institution will be around till the end of time and that if I one day get married, there will be a Catholic church that I can renew vows in.

    Lord, thank you for creating your church!

    An Open Letter

    Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island sent out an "Open Letter" to many fallen away Catholics this year. I thought it was well written, and truthful.

    Full Article:

    "My dear Brother or Sister: In the spirit of the Advent and Christmas Season, and as the Diocese of Providence nears the end of its “Year of Evangelization,” I’m writing this letter to inactive Catholics of our Diocese – perhaps you’re in that category – to let you know that we miss you, we love you and we want you to come home to the Church. 

    The first dilemma I faced in writing this letter was how to describe you – an “inactive Catholic,” a “fallen-away Catholic” or a “former-Catholic.” I chose the first option.

    I decided against “fallen-away Catholic” for it suggests someone falling off a fence or out of a tree. The image isn’t helpful. 

    And there’s really no such thing as a “former Catholic.” If you were baptized a Catholic, you’re a Catholic for life – even if you haven’t been to Mass for years, even if you’ve renounced the title and joined another Church. Your baptism infused your soul with Catholic DNA – it defines who and what you are."

    Read the rest Here...

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Life is an Audition

    Social Networking & Christmas

    Had to pass this one on. Makes one think about how information passed 2000+ years ago, yet it also shows how to tell a story nowadays, using technology.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Three Year Anniversary of Coming Home

    "In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke15:10)

    December 24, 2007 is a date I won't forget. This upcoming Christmas Eve marks three years since I made the official decision to return to the Catholic Church after some 15+ years away. It was my conscious effort to follow Christ and his Church - my "Yes, Lord".  Beginning with several notable occurrences in the prior year, I made the decision to attend Midnight Mass by myself at the local Mission. I chose this place for several reasons. It was close,  I had been there for a wedding in 2006 and lastly, I was baptized there as an infant, so it is a special place to me. Why not a rebirth there? I had not been to a Catholic Church (outside of funerals or weddings) on my own accord since my confirmation in 1992. In fact, I more or less feared setting foot in a church as it wasn't something I was comfortable doing. Add to that comments from many and society's labels and it is almost taboo. When I would drive by a Catholic Church, my conscience always nagged at me, but I would tend to find some excuse. I had always known that I would return one day, however my answer was "later", "sometime", or "not yet". That time was now.

    You see, my return to the faith was because I asked for it. While I fell away from practicing the sacraments after Confirmation, through the grace of God I prayed every day since my catechism as a youth. The Lord was always subtly knocking at the door (Rev 3:20), but it wasn't until I asked in prayer that he revealed himself in powerful ways. Much of my return is due to private revelations and powerful experiences that I cannot explain with any reason other than faith. Essentially, I asked the Lord to show me he was real through the help of other individuals as instruments, and in return I would glorify him in everything that I do. Supply those instruments and events he did!  Then it was my turn to do my part, as I had promised.

    Part of my return to the church was through exposing me to 'Christians' who attended protestant churches (anything other than those in communion with Rome). Others brought me to Non-Denominational churches several times, which are truly what showed me what the Catholic faith has. While many of these churches promoted some truth in their teachings, I felt an emptiness the several times I went. Alas, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist they lack. Without experiencing events at these churches, I would not have researched the Catholic faith as much as I did and came home so powerfully. In fact, it lit a fire underneath me, because it became apparent that the majority of Catholics don't know their faith, nor can they defend it. I sought out to know, live and defend the faith. I wasn't going to be lumped in with the Catholics who said "I don't know, Fr Whatever told me". We're all called to be informed about our faith.

    My experience at Mass that Christmas eve is familiar with many others out there. I sat in the pews (actually chairs, will touch on that in a later blog post!), stood, kneeled and went along with everything that the rest of the laity did. But, I knew I could not receive the Eucharist. I needed confession first. I had made the first step that evening, saying "Yes" to God, but I still had to fully examine my conscience. At quick glance, finding a place to confess on Christmas eve was not that easy, nor was it likely a prudent idea. I had been looking at different parishes. Some offered confession at limited times during the week, others only on Saturdays or by appointment. One parish offered it before EVERY Mass. Yes, EVERY Mass. That seemed odd in comparison to the others in the valley, however that parish is where I had completed my sacraments.

    A week after Christmas, something happened at work that triggered me to call that local parish and inquire about confession times before heading over. I was literally shaking when I made the call and an elderly lady picked up the phone, welcoming me to the parish.

    "Hi, do you offer confession today as it says on the website?"

    In a scratchy voice "You mean the Sacrament of Penance, why Yes. A bit before Mass starts, a priest will be there".

    "Yes, Penance. Ok, Thank you very much".

    That was it. I got in my car, drove over to the parish and parked. After sitting in the car for a minute, I took a deep breath and went in, finding the line for the confessionals. It was like a time capsule. The parish had not changed much in 15 years. It was as I remembered it. In fact, it was 10 minutes before Mass started and I was worried I would not get in the confessional. I took "before Mass" literally thinking the priest would leave before Mass started. This "literal" lesson would later play into many experiences of understanding the bible. Luckily, the priest would offer confession until the consecration, so I had plenty of time.

    The Lord did guide me that day. The priest that I got for confession was perfect for my situation.  I mentioned it had been 15 years since my last confession and that I wanted to again receive the Eucharist, he mentioned excitedly, "God Bless you! Wonderful, I will remember you in all my Masses. God Bless you". After naming my sins and receiving some counsel, I heard those wonderful words "I absolve you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in Peace. God Bless you, I will keep you in prayer". At that moment, I know the Angels were rejoicing as Luke 15:10 says.

    I received the Eucharist for the first time in some 15+ years that day. It was an amazing moment to kneel at the altar rail and receive the Eucharist.

    Needless to say, I walked out of Mass that day with a new look on life and felt like the cloudy stain over my eyes was washed away. Sort of like cleaning a really foggy pair of glasses, or even the windshield on your car. This day started a wonderful journey.  However, little did I know what lie ahead. It was just the beginning of the Lord placing people and events in my life, not to mention the cleansing process of 15 years of worldly influences.

    As I reflect on where I have come from, I am reminded where the Lord has taken me in three years. I am scheduled to be the lector at Midnight Mass and a Christmas day Mass this year. Three years ago, I was a lapsed Catholic, returning to Holy Mother Church. Today, I attend Mass close to daily, I am helping teach Catechism at two parishes, give talks to youth at retreats, and are a lector at one of the largest churches in the area. I told the Lord I would glorify him, and indeed he has provided the opportunities for me to say "Yes" to. To be given the honor of teaching Catechism and proclaiming readings at Mass is nothing short of an honor.

    I recently found some pictures of my Confirmation in 1992 and then took a current photo in front of the same Mary statue after Mass. My, how much I've grown both physically and spiritually.

    Then and Now
    It is my hope with this blog to share with readers many of my experiences and resources that I have come across the past three years and share more of my story (there are MANY stories).  Some of you are out there in the same position as I was. Where do I start? How do I meet fellow Catholics and live my faith? What does being "Catholic" mean? Am I crazy with all these beliefs in today's world? What do I look for in a Catholic church? Etc,etc,etc...  But, as Jesus told the disciples when he walked on water "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."(Matt 14:27) 

    If  you are thinking about returning to the church, take that step and go to talk to a priest, visit a Mass and reflect. Most of all, Pray. They have heard it all, and would gladly welcome you home. In fact, take a visit to as this site has a tremendous amount of resources. One of the other great resources that popped up during my return to the church was local Catholic radio. Immaculate Heart Radio ( launched the month I returned to the church. I remember all the billboards that appeared and constantly reminded me to turn on the radio. Thanks to those behind these great ministries!