Sunday, March 17, 2013

Discovering the Real Church

This post is a continuation post about my story of reversion/conversion into the Catholic Church. You can catch the beginning of the story HERE.

At this point, I was still plowing through "Biblical Revelations" by Anne Catherine Emmerich, I had begun to "pray" in the only pathetic way I knew how to, and call out to God for help, and I began to listen to, and join in a little, with the religious conversations going on at work. I had a general understanding that my friend (who was attending a Latin Mass) was a different kind of Catholic than I had ever been exposed to, and was curious about this. I knew my only daughter was 2 and that continuing to live the selfish and gluttonous and carefree life that my husband and I were living was not right. We were not practicing any religion, and hadn't for years.

I was a contractor during this time, and my work load was very reduced. The projects I were assigned to had excess funding and a lot of downtime, and the client wanted me "available" (and paid me to be "available") but I personally did not have a whole lot to do. There were many days when I would be sitting at my desk for many hours waiting for files to be transferred, or waiting for someone to check in a software update, or for a script to complete which could take all day to run. Sometimes the boredom was overwhelming... but I didn't mind it one bit. I used every single spare moment during this time to surf the Internet and read about Catholicism. This went on for months. I was blessed with the opportunity to get paid a lot of money to sit at my desk and surf the Internet for the majority of my day looking up anything and everything about the Catholic church. I do believe this was the Holy Spirit at work providing me this avenue to enter back into the Church. Because, Our Lord only knows, there was not one religious influence that I, nor my husband had, amongst all our friends, family members or neighbors that we knew or were exposed to, that could have brought about this transformation. We were 100% secular in every way, and so was everyone else whom we associated with at home and in our neighborhood. He (God) had to take me a whole city away, to a job that I didn't want, in a field I didn't want to be in, in a situation that I was very uncomfortable in, around people that I didn't quite care for, quiet my mind, isolate me, humble me, and open my eyes and my heart so that I would finally hear. I just had no idea... So I began to surf the Internet. I found traditional Catholic sites and read and read and read. I realized that I really knew very little about the faith of my childhood. I remember being very floored that "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" was really that - an actual sacrifice. (And not just a memorial symbolic re-enactment of the last supper.) I mean, growing up "Catholic" I understood that the Eucharist is "really the body and blood" of Jesus, but I never understood. I never internalized it. I don't think I really ever thought about it or appreciated what this meant. I definitely took it for granted. Why didn't anyone explain this to me? I was confused. And I continued to surf the Internet all day. I read about the Saints. I read documents from the Council of Trent. I researched Papal history. I read about angels. I read private revelations of the Saints about Purgatory. And Hell. I researched Exorcisms. I read about Eucharistic Miracles. I read about the Marian Movement of Priests. I read about Garabandal. I found the Dimond Brothers website. I read Catholic prophesy. I found the fisheaters website. I read St. Bridget. I read the SSPX website. I read about how to pray the rosary. I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on, without really the ability to discern what was real and what wasn't, because it was all very new to me. I was beginning to understand the new term called "Eucharistic Adoration" and was curious about it. I became drawn to experience this "Eucharistic Adoration" and to see Jesus in a "monstrance". (I knew what a "monstrance" was - but only because it was on the cover of the book about the Real Presence that I mentioned in the prior post.) I had never seen one of these items before in my life. I felt robbed that here I was, 34 years old, and nobody had ever shown me these things before. If this was so important, than why didn't I know anything about this? Why the hell not? An unexplained hunger began to grow in my soul to experience this mysterious "Eucharistic Adoration" that I had never ever heard of before. I began to actually yearn in my heart to find the Real Presence of Christ in a monstrance! I barely understood what I was asking for, but the desire was there. And He had to be in a monstrance. It sounds so silly, but this desire was definitely there.

I found out the local suburban parish down the street was doing a "Eucharistic Adoration" night. I was excited and nervously, I decided to "check it out" on a Monday night after work. Even though I hadn't been to a church in a very long time. I went and was very disappointed to find a small gathering of older ladies singing some patriotic "God Bless America" and doing some devotion on rosary beads that I had never heard of before. It felt alien and uncomfortable to me. (It actually was the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but I did not know what this was at the time.) It just seemed very strange. And the most disappointing thing of all was that this "Adoration" was just the same old tabernacle in the same old 70's church. There was nothing exposed, no monstrance. It wasn't anything like what I was looking for, in my mind and felt a little creepy. There really was nothing there to Adore. If felt like a senior citizen prayer session in a dark empty church. It was a let down. I left that night feeling very confused. My friend at work who went to the Latin Mass had made some inferences about how the "Novus Ordo" or "New Mass" was highly inferior to the Traditional Latin Mass - which is how all Catholics celebrated the Mass prior to Vatican II, when Latin was replaced with the vernacular and a whole lot of other changes were implemented, like the priest facing the people instead of God, and the tabernacle no longer being placed in the center of many churches, and changes to the words being said during the Consecration. I had no deep understanding of these things - but perhaps he was right? I stopped going to church years ago because I was not getting anything out of it. It was boring. The sermons were bad. Was something indeed missing here? I was very very confused.

*** To Be Continued ***

Friday, March 15, 2013

What's going on with the kids?

I thought it would be fun to let my readers know what has been happening with my little ones. This is not a typical post topic for me, but I am still trying to find my "grove" in blogging and this is not something I have to really think about before I write, I can just write. :-)

So... It's been a busy month. My oldest, Lauren, turned 7 on March 8th, and my middle daughter, Layna, turned 3 on March 9th. Last year I spent way too much money and threw a big "fancy party" at Paintbrush Pottery for my 6 year old. It was a lot of effort and very expensive. We had to invite everyone from her public school kindergarten class, and everyone from her daycare after school class. I just felt it was too much. This year, we took the girls (just our little family) to Chuck E Cheese and then to Skateword. Ahhh, how low stress, and fun, and overall much better. I picked up a cake at Kroger's and we sang happy birthday at Chuck E Cheese. I didn't give them any presents, and they didn't even care. They had a blast roller skating - it was Layna's first time on toddler skates and she was so darn cute. They have been begging me to go back all week.

Layna, finally, FINALLY, is beginning to potty train. She has been tinkling in the toilet just great! How exciting. I really thought we would never see this day. However, "going #2'... well, that is presenting some challenges. She's just not ready. She has made a complete mess in multiple public places now 2 times in the past 24 hours. This evening we were having a family pizza night, and we had to bolt out of the restaurant... (no diapers on hand, no change of clothes) We had a leakage issue (very very bad) and we had to take off all her clothes in the parking lot and do a full body wipe down and buckle her in her car seat in her birthday suit. At this point, we just had to laugh, because the situation was a little out of control. We all jumped in the shower when we got home.

Lauren has been losing teeth like crazy. The tooth fairy has been busy. I can't believe my "little girl" - and she is very much still an innocent little girl.. is growing so fast, and getting too big to fit in my lap. I love the young lady she is turning out to be, but it also makes me sad because I know this stage is going to fade quickly and soon enough we will be approaching those "tween" years... 

Leah, my baby, is getting ready to turn 1 next month. She is my most spoiled baby yet. I have created a "little monster" (as my husband likes to say). I'm still letting her sleep in our bed, which definitely has its pros and cons. She is very very close to walking. I am exciting about her taking her first steps.

Well, that's a quick update on my end. What about you? What fun things do you have to say about your kids or grand kids or nieces & nephews today?

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Have you gone through a time in your marriage where things just were not going well? We were there about 5 months ago. I was profoundly unhappy due to my circumstances at work and how they were negatively affecting my ability to parent and interact and be there for my children. You know, it's the classic glass half full / half empty scenario... and while I should be extremely thankful for the wonderful job that I have, the roof over our heads, the excellent school district and neighborhood we live in, the wonderful things we are able to do with our children, and the fact that we are able to make ends meet and to keep our little family together, sometimes instead of counting my blessings, it is easy for me to fall into a state of despair over it all. The bottom line is that I want to stay at home with my kids - at least while they are little. Unfortunately, it's not something I ever discussed with my husband before we married because at the time I just took for granted that I would always be career oriented. I've always worked hard at whatever job I could get my hands on ever since I've been a kid. I grew up in a family where much of our self worth was based on the answers to these questions: Are you successful? Are you debt free? Are you making a lot of money? Do you have an impressive title? The thought that I might want to stay at home for a while and not work just never really crossed my mind or seemed like a viable option. I really regret that now, because I have changed, and my priorities have changed, but we have already spent the last 12 years crafting this life together that is not so easily changed.

Five months ago, I think my mild discontent developed into a full blown depression which felt an awful lot like a black cloud always hanging over my head and could send me into a crying fit at any moment. My husband and I were constantly arguing over this. During this rough patch, I hate to say it, but we were fighting so much, and were so miserable, many of our fights would end in an all too familiar "I'm leaving!" or "I wish I could just leave!" or "I want out of this relationship!" On many occasions I would sit crying in my car, and thinking that it was my Catholic faith, and that alone, that was holding us together, and barely, it seemed. If we didn't have that, (and our children) it would have been tempting to run away.

Thank God I am in a better place for now. Part of what helped us get out of this horrible funk, was finding our "dream home" out in the country. My incredible husband was willing to move far away from his job, friends and family, to try to reduce our mortgage and taxes so that I could get one step closer to staying at home or working less hours so that I could be with my little ones more than the 2 hours a day that I get during the stressful workweek. How I have been praying for this to work out! After 5 months of dealing with bank negotiations, things have fallen apart. This is due to the bank's realtor not submitting the proper paperwork in time. We are disappointed. I don't quite know what direction to turn next. I am trying my best to trust that God is guiding this process for us.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Seven Suicides in the Bible

A week and a half ago I completed Session 10 of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Timeline Study... and I'm rather behind in my bible reading, so I'll be pulling a late nighter tonight to try to catch up for next week's session. Last time, we completed the book of Judges. Rather rough reading. It is a time in Israel's history when they have fallen away from God and "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes". It was the ultimate moral relativism! (Hmmm, not too far off from today, actually... in light of a lot of our recent legislation...) But back to the point... The story of the Concubine's wife in Judges 19 is perhaps one of the most harrowing old testament stories I have ever read. My jaw actually dropped as I read it.

And then there was the intriguing life of Samson... the most well-known Israelite Judge. Samson's colorful life is chronicled in Judges 13-16. His death by suicide is one of the 7 suicides mentioned in the Holy Bible and after praying to God for vengeance for the loss of his eyes, goes like this:

Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life. (Judges 16:30)

The other 6 out of 7 suicides in the Bible are as follows:

Abimelech in Judges 9:54 - Then he called hastily to the young man his armor-bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, 'A woman killed him'" And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

Saul in 1 Samuel 31:4 - Therefore Saul took his own sword, and fell upon it.

Saul's armour-bearer in 1 Samuel 31:5 - And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword, and died with him.

Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17:23 - And he set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the tomb of his father.

Zimri in 1 Kings 16:18 - And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house, and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died

Judas in Matthew 27:5 - And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

Samson's death was different than the rest of these. He prayed to God as he committed this act and Samson is actually praised in Hebrews 11:32, so to me it is very doubtful that he would be in hell right now. (Judas, may be another story, however....)

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about Suicide:
"We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. (CCC 2283)"