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A Day to Celebrate

Hello, Sports Fans.

Looking at the date of my last posting, I am shocked and embarrassed to learn that I have let this blog lie fallow for 9 whole months.  Lately, a couple of things have happened to drive me to dust this baby off and reboot it, albeit with a new attitude.

Shortly after I realized that Our Lord was calling me into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, I joined a forum sponsored by Catholic convert and apologist Stephen Ray.  I went there as a place to discuss my journey with fellow travelers, and I have learned much.  The forum is made up of all types–converts, cradle Catholics, lapsed Catholics, and non-Catholics.  We even have a self-avowed atheist who posts on occasion.  Sometimes the members engage in witty banter, other discussions are cerebral, and yes, some even get contentious.

Today, I entered a discussion in which a Baptist asserted that he had personally observed something that is a common fallacy among non-Catholics–worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I felt compelled to respond — after all, it IS Mother’s Day, and he was talking about the mother of God.  I’m amazed at how easily the words flowed; it’s as if she was guiding me all along.  I’ve decided to share, albeit edited to make the post more suited for a general audience.  In other words, I took out the pseudonym of the original poster.

One other thing:  I limited my compare/contrast to the Baptist church only because that was the point of view of the person to whom my comments were addressed.  I’m not trying to single out the Baptist church.  He’s Baptist, and I used my past experience and knowledge to keep the conversation limited to terms and concepts we had in common.  Meeting on common ground, as you will see in my closing.

Happy Feast of the Ascension, and Happy Mother’s Day!

 

As a former Baptist, I know what you THINK you have seen and do not dispute it and would not brook to argue with you on it. But as someone who also had to have the divine hint to embrace Holy Mother Church applied with a sledgehammer, I ask you to consider the possibility that what you observed was not what was actually going on.

Remember that our Catholic faith is over 2000 years old. There was no Internet. No cell phones. No telegraph or telex. Even the written word was a luxury appointed only for the wealthy, the powerful, and the occasional slave whose job it was to write or teach it. How then, to get the masses to understand the Mass? Imagery. Remember, paper was a luxury, but clay was literally at your feet. Hence, statues of the saints. They were comparatively inexpensive, easy to produce, and effective in their purpose: to teach the people the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and how to live a life honoring Christ.

In the book “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”, we read that a saint is “…a member of the Church [who] has been assumed into eternal bliss and may be the object of general veneration.” Notice the definition uses the word “veneration,” NOT “adoration.” Adoration is solely reserved for the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. “Veneration” means that a person is worthy of respect and emulation. The saints are people from whose example we learn how to live a life pleasing to God. Catholic apologist Gus Lloyd compares statues of the saints to a family photo album–images to remind us of those we love, respect, and desire to honor.

When I kneel before Our Lady (or the statue of some other saint) and pray the Rosary or some other prayer, I am not praying TO her, but WITH her. To an unknowing eye, it may APPEAR that I’m “praying to Mary,” but I’m not. Her image is there to help me focus. In this too-hectic, multitasking world, I need all the help I can get to stop for 20 minutes a day to contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of our risen Lord. Mary herself, at the wedding at Cana, told the servants “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you.” Always, always, ALWAYS her attention was on her beloved Son.

You may also have difficulty understanding the Catholic’s reliance on the intercession of the saints. In truth, it is a very Baptist concept as well; it’s just that the concept is not carried through to completion. In the Baptist church, the congregation prays for others all the time–every altar call, every prayer group, every Sunday School Bible study is highlighted by the prayer request. Baptists, like Catholics, believe that although the body dies, the soul lives forever–either in heaven or in hell. Those who are in heaven spend their days in worship and adoration of God. How? By praying without ceasing! The only difference between Baptists and Catholics here is that we Catholics don’t stop asking our loved ones to pray for us and for others just because their physical bodies have died. On the contrary, those whom we know to be in heaven–the saints–are like a signal boost for our prayers. 

Please don’t take what I just said to imply that I meant that our prayers aren’t necessarily as effective as a saint’s. That’s not what I meant at all. What I mean is that at some point in our day, we have to stop praying. We have to work, to eat, to sleep, to meet other obligations. The saints, however, are free from all earthly impediments to worship, and so can pray for us without ceasing. Remember that Scripture also tells us that in order to receive, we must ask. So we ask the saints to join with us in bringing our supplications before the Throne of God.

And that is what makes the transition from Baptist to Catholic so natural–the realization that we aren’t so different after all.

But Will They Respect MY Choice???

America is in the midst of the fight of her life right now.  The Obama Administration has drawn a line in the sand in the name of “reproductive rights.”  Yesterday at the Texas state capitol, protesters on both sides of the issue clashed.  Backers of Planned Parenthood clashed with supporters of the Texas Legislature’s decision to end state funding of the Women’s Health Program rather than be forced by the Federal government to deal with Planned Parenthood.

The supporters of the symbolic face of abortion in America have the audacity to call themselves “Pro-Choice.”  Well, I’ve made my choice.  I double-dog dare you to show half the respect for my choice that you demand I show you for yours lest I be branded “oppressive,” “outdated,” or that ever-reliable liberal epithet hurled when one can’t construct a coherent thought, “bigoted”.

I’m a woman who came of age in the 70’s:  the time of the ERA, Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be You and Me, and bra-burning.  No, my sex and birthdate were not choices of mine; I merely include them to provide context.  I didn’t learn about feminism and “women’s rights” from a history book.  I lived it.

These, however ARE the choices I’ve made, based on objective and comprehensive study of all sides of an argument, tempered with my own life experiences.  It’s how I was taught to report on an issue in those ancient days when journalism was based on the model of Edward R. Murrow.  ERM, not TMZ.  It’s how I mediate disputes in my daily work.  It’s how I make my own decisions on issues.

  1. I choose to be Catholic.  I wasn’t born that way, and it took me over a quarter of a century of waiting and desiring to get where I am now.  I’m just under a month away from the culmination of 8 months of preparation and study–the Easter Vigil, when I will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and will receive the Eucharist for the first time.  I’m as excited as a kid at Christmas about it!
  2. I choose to be Pro-Life. Why is killing a baby whale, a baby seal, or any other baby animal so horrific, yet killing a baby human is merely a “choice”???  Why is your choice an “enlightened right,” but my choice an “oppressive enslavement”?  For those who argue that abortion is necessary to prevent the birth of unwanted children, I will counter-argue that there is an alternative that is safer, more effective, and a helluva lot cheaper than abortion. It’s called “the word ‘no.'”  You’re a woman; you have the power.  You just need to use it. Be prepared to back it up with your feet–either walk out the door or plant one in his groin AND THEN walk out the door, depending on how insistent he is.
  3. I choose to hold fast to the belief that the end does not justify the means.  If you want stem cells, arrange to obtain unclaimed placental or umbilical blood.  Don’t create a person (which is, after all, what an embryo is) just to harvest his cells.  People will sell anything else (Don’t believe me?  You haven’t been on ebay or craigslist lately, have you?); there’ll be a market for “clean” stem cells.
  4. I choose to hold fast to the belief that the Founding Fathers knew what they were talking about when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is timeless. 
  5. I choose to take a stand and boldly and unashamedly proclaim that Timothy Cardinal Dolan has a better understanding of the First Amendment than Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, who seem to conveniently overlook that government may not “prohibit the free exercise” of religion.  I was privileged to have studied First Amendment Law taught by Dr. Henry Lee, one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment in the country.  It was one of my favorite classes in college.
  6. I choose to express my beliefs at the polls.  I will vote my conscience.  I expect nothing less from any American, even those who don’t agree with me.  If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.  You abrogated your right when you chose not to vote.
  7. I choose to make my opinion public.  I’m not saying anyone else has to, nor am I saying that anyone has to agree with me.  That’s the beauty of living in a country that is still, at least for now, free.  If you DO choose to disagree with me, however, please demonstrate that you can construct a valid argument consisting of a modicum of brain synapses.  If all you can spew are obscenities and bad grammar, don’t waste pixels here.  Try huffpo.

I Can Take a Hint–When It’s Applied with a Sledgehammer

It’s funny how you make up your mind to do something, get sidetracked, and then put it aside until years–or decades–later.  Recently, a life-changing decision I had made early in my adult life, then shelved, has come back to the forefront;  this time I am determined to see it through.  The Good Lord has made it clear that it is high time I follow through and join the Catholic Church.

I’m not posting this to seek acceptance or debate/debunk any tenet of any religion with anyone.  My announcement is probably going to shock people who thought they knew me well because this is something I, like Mary, kept and pondered in my heart.  This is my own personal journey, and I know in my heart of hearts it is the right and proper thing to do for me and my relationship with God.  I’m just here, as with every other (albeit too-rare) blog post, to tell my Tale.  I don’t tell y’all when I have issues with your own churches (if I do); please respect my decision.  If you can’t abide it, just ignore this post.

If you’re still here, either you’re interested to know what motivated me after more decades (and I don’t mean the rosary kind) than I care to admit, or you have a near-morbid case of boredom.  In any event, here’s my story.  As a child, I was raised in the United Methodist church.  I liked going to church–that is, I liked the services.  All the kids my age went to school with me and we couldn’t stand each other, so that was a minus.  But I digress.  As I grew up and became more spiritually aware, I realized that the shift the Methodist church had taken in the 70’s was so unBiblical that I could no longer abide going there.  Of particular affront to me was the appointing of women not only to the pastorate, but to be bishops as well–a direct rejection of Scripture.  Just before I entered the Air Force, I told my parents I wanted to join the Catholic Church–a decision they supported. (There is a branch of my family who is Catholic; I even have an uncle who recently retired as a Monsignor).

Before I could enter RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults–the “101” class, as it were) though, I met the man I would eventually marry.  By the time he was a teenager, he had rejected the Catholic upbringing of his childhood, and he sternly forbade me to pursue my interest in Catholicism.  We never could agree on a church; it was one of many bones of contention throughout the 24 interminable years of that failed marriage.

Fast forward to March of this year.  I met and began dating the most amazing man.  Butch calls himself  a “sweet, innocent Catholic boy.”  Half is Gospel truth, half is with tongue firmly in cheek.  You decide which is which.  His faith gave me reason to reassess my own.  It wasn’t until last week, though, that I was prodded to finally quit dilly-dallying and act.

You see, Butch became ill.  As in, too sick to do anything.  He needed medical care, stat, and it was the one thing he wasn’t getting due to the morass of his health care system.  You see, it just wasn’t convenient for his doctor to see him, and the system wouldn’t let him seek other options.  Bastages.  So Butch got sicker.  I was doing everything I could for him, but the one thing that really gets to me is to see people I care about suffering.  At work one day, I went to lunch and received a text that told me just how much Butch was suffering.  I was in tears of frustration at his suffering, my inability to help, and the indifference of his doctor.  With no other action left, I began to pray.  Thinking of Butch’s faith, I prayed the Rosary, which I had learned all those years ago.  I got halfway through when my lunch break ended and I had to return to my desk.

When I got back, there was an email from Butch awaiting.  His doctor had found an opening for him that afternoon!  I took it as a sign that this is what God wanted me to do.  I mentioned it to the lady who occupies the other half of my office and who is also Catholic.  She was surprised to hear my story, she though I was Catholic all along!  Still, she informed me that her parish church (near where I work) announced that RCIA classes would be starting soon.  I’ve got her looking into class times there; I also spoke with the parish near my home.  Depending on several factors, I’ll be attending one of them.

This time, nothing (and no one) is getting in my way.  The Lord is merciful and infinite in patience.  For that, I am thankful.

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

All I have to say is:  YGTBSM


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