Happy Thanksgiving


"P-4," my artist

has just painted himself and his crib bedding with poop.

This day is not getting better.

Pray for me.

Five Ps (pray for me)

Well, after my emotional highs of this weekend, reality and the enemy have come crashing down on me like a ton of bricks. I am down. Really down. I'm fighting a cold, I'm physically exhausted, my toddler has entered the realm of intentional disobedience (isn't it fun?) and at my yearly checkup yesterday I found out I currently weigh as much as I did at nine months pregnant with my son.

I feel like a failure in every area of life. My one bright spot yasterday was receiving Holly Pierlot's "A Mother's Rule of Life" in the mail yesterday. But even that was short lived. I read half of it in a single sitting, and realized that 1: I am failing in every area of the "five Ps" she talks about in the book (prayer, person, partner, parent, provider), and 2: Her way of climbing out of this hole may not work for me because my son is too little for me to be able to implement most of her suggestions.

Nevertheless, I'm starting with the first P, prayer, as it seems that's the only thing I can do. I can't aspire to her lovely way of rising before the kids and praying in solitude (my son is an insanely early riser and, as I've mentioned before, I'm useless before 9 AM). But I can certainly sit down to morning prayers over coffee while my son is occupied with his banana and cereal. I can't have the baby do a "quiet time" or send him outside to play alone, but I can use his naptime to do my specific praying.

As for the second P, person, I clearly have to do something about my weight gain. I haven't exercised (other than hauling around the baby) since my son was born in 2004. I eat for pleasure, not just nourishment. No one who saw me would call me fat, but I am 20-25 pounds over where I know I can be, and 15 over where I probably should be. My blood pressure is elevated, I feel sick and tired all the time and I am just generally not in very good shape. So the first plan is eating better. I'll get to exercise when I get the food under control -- right now I have nowhere to do it anyway and it's too cold to go outside.

And the last 3 Ps. Oh, boy. Well, those will just have to wait. Not in reality, but at least for the purposes of this journal, because my son just woke up and I must go attend to "P-4."

Pray for me.


Mass (a musical weekend)

It's not like I'm normally given to poetry or song. I'm very analytical, technical, and logical. Creative license has not often been my thing.

But this weekend, when I've set my mind to write about the Mass, words fail me. Essays don't seem to do this subject justice. When I sit down to write about this subject, all that springs to mind is song, joyful song. And though I risk losing face and being ridiculed for my inadequate lyrics, pentameter, whatever, I write these songs down anyway. Because after all, this is a journal more than a blog, and if you happen to be reading, well, remember that you're spying on an unfiltered mind.


On my knees
On my feet
Sitting in my seat
Leaning forward just to hear

Your Word
Read aloud
For us to listen
while the stained glass windows glisten

And there
You are
Your blood
Your body, set before us now

What have
we done
To render ourselves
Worthy of this cause?

Thank you Jesus
For your sacrifice
And for Eternal Life

Thank you for your mercy boundless . . .


Scattered Thoughts on Mary

Mary didn't earn her sinlessness under her own power, God (her son) gave it to her as a gift. That's Catholic teaching. Basically, Jesus saved her, too, but He did it "ahead of time" since God is not limited by time. Remember, Jesus is God. And Jesus perfectly fulfilled the commands of the law. The best way He could "honor His mother" was to save her perfectly and from the moment of conception, because He could do that, because He is God.

To be honest, I still don't "get" the Mary thing completely. I don't yet understand why it's so important. However, I see this issue as totally secondary to the issue of Church Authority. If the Church tells me that all of this is true, can back it up with scripture and tradition and it doesn't actually contradict scripture, then who am I to disbelieve?

I have prayed two Hail Marys in my whole life, just to see if God would strike me dead. He didn't, of course. But I still can't get into it yet. And that's fine -- I think God gives us the grace to work these things out in His own time. For whatever reason, though, a sinless Mary no longer bothers me. In fact, she's an inspiration. She went through all the trials of motherhood (though having a sinless son must have made for a sweet toddlerhood with no tantrums!) and came out without sinning.

Now she is in heaven, with perfect clarity of thought, and truly knows what is best for us through her own experience and hindsight as well as the perfect knowledge that surely comes with being in God's presence. So her prayers to God on our behalf are perfect, where ours are limited by our own lack of perspective and sinful ways. I have started offering up, in conjunction with my own prayers to God, the occasional quick entreaty to Mary to lift the prayer up in a way that I am simply unable to do. I've also been talking to St. Monica lately. If I get to pick a "confirmation name" (don't know if they do that for adults), I will probably pick her. Her dealings with her stubborn son are a little more relatable to this mom of a strong-willed toddler than Mary's experience with a son more holy than she.


More fun with RCIA

My second class was last night. I think I'm the "problem child."

I'm having a hard time clarifying the questions I'm asking. I'll ask the Priest where the doctrine that Mary is the "New Eve" comes from, and he starts making assumptions about why I'm asking the question, and starts answering as if I am a run-of-the-mill, rather uneducated protestant who just can't get past "the Mary thing." He doesn't know I'm a theology junkie and that I have already made the hurdle into accepting, more or less, the doctrines of the Church about Mary and everything else. What I want to know is where those doctrines come from. The doctrine of the "New Eve" had to have started somewhere, and since it is not explained in Scripture, I would like to know which Church Fathers nailed it down, so to speak, so I can read their conclusions in their own words. I want to have more than a blind faith. I want to know how the Church came to the decisions it did. Not so I can reject them, but so I can understand them.

Likewise, it's frustrating to me that everyone else assumes I'm starting at the beginning (though I know that's a natural assumption in RCIA). So many people keep asking me "Have you read Scott Hahn?" YES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I HAVE READ SCOTT HAHN, I DON'T LIKE HIM, AREN'T THERE ANY OTHER CATHOLIC FORMER-PROTESTANT AUTHORS YOU CAN RECOMMEND?!!!!! I have had visions of taking a Scott Hahn book with me everywhere I go and using it to whomp the head of the next person who asks me if I've read him. I don't know why Catholics seem to think Hahn's writing is some kind of "magic bullet" that no protestant can resist. I find other authors (Patrick Madrid, Mark Shea) much more persuasive. Scott Hahn doesn't explain anything! His conversion story is (paraphrased): "I went to Mass thinking it was Satanic, but it was Biblical and then I realized that the Eucharist really IS Jesus." No further explanation necessary, apparently, as to how it is Biblical or what made him realize Jesus was present. Oh well, I'm sure it makes perfect sense to him.

On the bright side (and I hate to even say anything because I am afraid of jinxing it), I think I may have found a friend for life in the RCIA coordinator. She's about my age (mid-to-late twenties), a former protestant who converted last Easter, and used to attend a church that is a like a smaller clone of my old mega-church. She's also a theology junkie like me! After class, we were standing outside with another woman who is a religious neophyte. We were going on about consubstantiation vs. transubstantiation, NAB vs. RSV and Evangelicalism vs. Catholicism and this poor lady is looking at us like, "Whoa, what have I gotten myself into?" We started comparing the height of the stacks of books beside our beds, then started comparing titles -- we're definitely two of a kind. I haven't had a conversation that enjoyable with someone other than my husband since I-don't-know-when.

She scared me a little, though, when she told me that her small group from the evangelical church literally sat her down and had an intervention when she confessed she was joining the Catholic church. They had Bibles open, pointing out different things, begging her to reconsider. I see this in my future, too, especially from the ex-Catholics in my group. But my new friend told me that even after her conversion, she is still close to those women and she's hoping to convert them. That was reassuring.

Anyway, I'm meeting one-on-one with the Priest on Wednesday evening. In the interest of not monopolizing any more class time than necessary with my overly specific, esoteric lines of questioning, I will hit him with as many questions as I can in 45 minutes. He seems like a genuine guy, and one who isn't afraid of questioning. I am amazed at all he does. He's the parish's only priest, and he does everything. RCIA, other classes, Masses, visiting the sick, counseling, marriages, baptisms, confessions, one-on-one meetings with the likes of me. He gets up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning to pray. Masses, meetings and other responsibilities keep him booked from 6 am until 11 pm. Plus he has a mom and siblings to think of. God's grace must be with this man, or else I can't imagine how he survives (well, other than a veritable IV drip of Diet Dr. Pepper, which he guzzled throughout RCIA last night).

This is really long, but I have to address one last thing: some of you were wondering how Mass went on Sunday. I think I'll save it for a separate post. It was awesome. Truly. But I think I need to go again before I can really write about it. There's a lot to absorb.

Thanks for reading and praying for me.


Well, there is one thing in common...

The sacrifice of an innocent.

Planned Parenthood's national chaplain (yes, apparently they have one) on the lack of enthusiasm among other clergy for getting involved with the abortion group: "The closer Jesus got to the cross, the smaller the crowds got. This is pretty close to the cross because people have to take derision, ostracism, all that."

Says the same chaplain of abortion: "I don't think it's a sin."


A Quiet Peace

Well, I've fallen into a period of quiet peace, which, unfortunately for this blog, is not the same fodder for musing as my angsty search for truth was. I'm working on an entry trying to lay out some of the things that brought me to my understanding (which grows daily) that there is Truth to be found in the Catholic Church. I'm starting with Peter. But the going is slow, because frankly, I'm still trying to absorb all that I have learned, process it, and put it back out in written form in a way that does it justice.

What's funny to me is that I think this change of course may solve some of the problems I've written about before on this blog -- my lack of discipline and my lackluster housekeeping, to name a couple. I have always been an information junkie, and my religious life has been no different. So I often spend a few hours on any given day debating and discussing religion on various internet forums.

Well, as of right now, there's nothing to debate. If Catholicism is true, than many of the issues I used to go 'round and 'round about have already been settled. And those that haven't suddenly seem less important. So, while habit dictates that I sit down at the computer and hit the forums, my heart isn't in it like it used to be. I find myself bored and wanting to go read a book or something. And once I stand up from the computer and survey my surroundings, I realize there's a lot I could be doing with the time I used to spend arguing with my Christian brothers and sisters online. Who would have thunk it, eh? But all is not lost -- I'm sure as time goes on, I will find plenty of new arguments to get into with my new Catholic brethren. Especially political ones. The Catholic Church is not nearly as homogenous as my Bible Church was.

I went to the Catholic bookstore the other day and picked up Mark Shea's "By What Authority?" I read the whole thing in two short sittings, only to find that he came to the exact same conclusions I already did in the exact same order I came to them. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun. I think I'll hold onto it, though, and give it to my dad if he ever sincerely asks what changed my mind about Catholicism (assuming, af course, that at some point I find the nerve to tell him I plan to convert). Mark Shea lays it all out there in a way that is easy for a protestant like me to understand and appreciate (if a bit dry). I like his style a lot better than that of Scott Hahn, whose books my mother-in-law has been bombarding us with since she found out my husband left the church. Mark Shea seems to remember why he used to be protestant. Scott Hahn, not so much. Mark Shea remains charitable to and patient with his protestant brethren.
Scott Hahn ... well, anyway.

Another thing I picked up was a couple of prayer cards. You know, those little laminated cards with a prayer on one side and pictures of Jesus, Mary, or a Saint (or something else applicable to the prayer) on the other? One was a "Parent's Prayer" that sums up perfectly how I want God to help me parent. The other was a "Night Prayer for Healing" from past wrongs and hurts, including those I may have inflicted on other people. I always viewed these cards (as all things Catholic) with a certain amount of suspicion, but as I browsed the racks of them, I realized they are my prayers, prayers I've been saying for years, only worded more adequately than I had ever been able to accomplish on my own. And the artwork is beautiful. And they make really great bookmarks in my Bible. (I'm going to have to get a Catholic one of those, aren't I?)

Well, the baby is napping and the day calls, so I had better get on with it. It's a cool, windy fall day and I, for one, plan to enjoy it with some hearty food, hot coffee, a fire in the fireplace, some cuddle time with my husband and son, and the Word of God on my lips and in my heart. I'll try to flesh out my thoughts on Peter and get them posted before I attend Mass for my first time as a wannabe Catholic on Sunday. That should give me something to write about!


How was RCIA?

I'm exhausted, so I have to keep this short. I just got back.

It was okay. Nothing life-changing, at least not tonight. Usually, the priest teaches the class, but tonight, the youth pastor did. He is . . . easily distracted. I'll leave it at that. Suffice it to say, I feel like we touched on a lot of different things, but barely covered the intended topic for tonight, which was Jesus: His Person and Natures.

One interesting thing we discussed was that Jesus, as God, was omnicient even in the womb, i.e. He was fully aware and still creating life while He Himself was being knit inside of Mary. That's sort of mind bending, isn't it?

Other than that, most of the ground covered was not new to me, and until the class moves more into Catholic theology and less into basic Christian theology, I'm not expecting that many surprises. Interestingly, the woman sitting next to me was a 45-year-old cradle Catholic who has attended church her whole life and still doesn't know a thing about scripture or the faith, which is why she signed up for RCIA. She was shocked when I knew the answer to why Jesus said "My God, why have you forsaken me?" on the cross and which Psalm He was referencing. "How do you know all that?" she asked incredulously. "Bible Church," I replied with a shrug. I'm guessing eleven years of Bible-saturated fundamentalist Protestantism will either make me teacher's pet, or the problem child.


Well, I'm in. The RCIA coordinator e-mailed me back and I can start classes tonight. I e-mailed her back and said I'd be there. Eep.

I guess tonight is as good a night as any, right?

I Made the Call

Well, I did it. I called my local parish to ask about RCIA. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, which as far as I can tell is something like "Catholicism 101" and a prerequisite for confirmation. I just took a deep breath, dialed the number . . . and got a machine! "Press 1 if you know your party's extension, press 2 for mass times, press 0 to reach the operator . . ." I don't know why I found this funny, but I did. I pressed 0, got the operator, and asked if it was too late to sign up for RCIA classes. I fully expected her to say yes. But to my surprise, she said she didn't think so, and gave me the home number and e-mail for the lady in charge of RCIA.

I sent an e-mail and I'm waiting for the reply. At this point, I'm hoping I can still slide in under the wire -- the class started a month ago, but I'm a quick study, I think I'll catch up. It's just that I want to start learning NOW! Not next fall. What would I do with myself for a whole year in the meantime? Aside from that, starting RCIA now would give me the option to take first communion this Easter as opposed to Easter 2007. I don't know if I'll be ready to do that by then, but I don't want to be in a situation where I am ready and then have to wait another year. That, to put not too fine a point on it, would SUCK.


A Wrench in the Works, part II

Wow. Just wow. Where do I begin?

There was a time, not so very long ago, that I thought "I could never be Catholic." Apostate, corrupt, deceitful, distracting . . . these were all adjectives I'd used to describe the Catholic Church. I was a daughter of Luther -- someone who loved his faith so much he was willing to die for it, and who believed his church had gone astray. He did what he could to save it from within, then left when he realized he could only keep his faith from without.

Luther was a good thing. I still believe this. I love his heart, his courage, his commitment. And he did what he set out to do -- in the end, the Roman church reformed itself on the matter of indulgences-for-sale -- which was the crux of his grievance from the start. It was only later, after the bitterness of rejection and persecution had clouded his vision, that he made many of the changes he did in his own theology, and by extension, the entire protestant world's.

But therein lies the rub. Luther's actions were never meant to start a new religion. He didn't intend to split off from the Catholic (universal) church. That he ended up doing so is an accident of the Roman church's slow reaction and Luther's own human frailty.

Where am I going with this?


My husband went out of town this week. I had a lot of time to think, pray, read, study, etc. And somewhere along the way, God smacked me upside the head with His truth -- and I'm pretty sure He told me it's found in the Roman Catholic Church.

Oh, my God, my parents are going to kill me.

The website I have listed at the right, Scripture Catholic, was the final straw, so to speak, though at the time I thought it was nothing more than a catalyst. But I say it was the final straw because looking back, God had been setting me up for this all along. How did I not see it? The desire for liturgy. The longing for Holy Communion. The constant whispered reminders that if I truly believe, my WORKS will tell the story. The searching online for a Crucifix to wear, because I felt like I needed to remember Jesus ON the cross and what He did there, and not just the fact that He had risen.

At the appropriate times, He placed little treasures in my path, things I didn't even know my heart was pondering until the full truth of them hit me all at once like an avalanche. There was a little article that mentioned in part how protestants were like Pharisees and the Church like Jesus: these upstanding religious people wailed and tore their garments at the sheer arrogance and audacity of an entity that would call itself the one true way. It cut me to the core at the time, but I ignored it. Then the article about infant baptism -- backed up with thorough Greek scholarship and exegesis. It was enough to make me want to barge into my toddler's bedroom at 1 AM and baptise him myself, only I didn't know if it would be considered valid.

And then I saw the citation at the bottom of the article: Scripture Catholic. I spent hours at that site, Bible in hand, poring over text after text . . . only to find that, when read in light of Catholic theology, Holy Scripture simply CAME ALIVE. I have always envied Beth Moore for her sheer joy in reading the scriptures. She is on fire for the Word of God in a way I always thought I could just hope to be. But as I read the Gospels with the mind of a Catholic, I had the same passion. Peter was real. Jesus was real. Paul was real. Mary was real. Not that I didn't believe in them before, but they always felt so far away. But I suddenly I felt kinship with them, and a real sense that they were right there with me, saying "See? We've been there too, and we have so much to offer you if you will only come fellowship with us!" And I knew that the way to do that was through the Communion of Saints, found in the Catholic Church.

I'm not there yet. There are still too many questions. But here I stand, on the edge of the Tiber, and suddenly it doesn't look so cold, deep and shark-infested. Suddenly it looks like I could walk on that water like Peter did. Straight across into the arms of my Savior.


Fear of the Lord

I have been thinking of the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 23:17). I keep thinking that if I really feared Him, I'D DO WHAT HE SAYS!

When I was young, I knew if I disobeyed Daddy I was risking a belt to the bottom. I knew he loved me, and I loved him, but he didn't mess around when it came to discipline. That said, my daddy is a mere man. How much more should I walk in respect and trembling fear of the God of the universe? How terrified and in awe should I be that He knows my name, knows who I am, and cares about how I behave?

Yes, His mercies are infinite, but that doesn't mean I'm entitled to them! I have to work out my salvation in fear and trembling, like the Bible says. I'm reminded of President Reagan -- "Trust but verify." I trust that I am saved by the blood of Jesus, but I want to do everything I can to verify to God that I am truly trying to follow His Son in the way of righteousness.