When Catholicism is in Your Bones

When Catholicism is in Your Bones

Since we moved to Minnesota, my family and I have been meeting a lot of converts, many of them my husband’s colleague at the Catholic university where he is a professor. It seems that more of them than not are converts. The other day a distinguished colleague asked my husband, “You are a cradle Catholic, aren’t you?” After my husband assured him that he was, his friend said decidedly, “Then it is in your bones.” Every year I live, I realize more and more how Catholicism really is “in my bones.” There is something about being Catholic from infancy that takes over one’s whole life, and the further one is from one’s conversion to the faith the more time the Catholic sense has had to set in. One of our convert friends, Brantley Milligan, wrote a piece for Alethia about 4 Things that Catholics do that Rightly Scandalize non-Catholics. It seemed to me that his first point on how Catholics don’t talk enough about Jesus missed something genuine about Catholicism. Mr. Milligan says that, “Even among otherwise faithful Catholics, it sometimes seems we can spend a lot of time talking about the Church, the clergy, the Pope, the Mass, moral teachings, the Sacraments, and yes, Mary and the saints – all important things – but hardly ever mention Jesus.” I would disagree and say that by talking about these things, Catholics really are talking about Jesus. At a recent play date with other Catholic moms, they singled me out as the only non-convert in the group. For a moment I agreed and then I looked at the eight children...
A Confession about Confession (A Book Review)

A Confession about Confession (A Book Review)

I have a confession to make.  It’s something I’ve learned about myself over the last couple of years of having children who have reached the age of reason: I’m terrible at going to Confession.  Over that last two years, I have managed to prepare two of my children to receive their first Penance and First Holy Communion. I have made sure that they have attended Mass every Sunday for most of their lives, let alone since receiving these sacraments.  However, I realized recently that I have basically dropped the ball in respect to helping them make frequent use of the sacrament of Confession.  In my efforts to not take over their own relationship with God and tell them when they need to go to Confession, I ended up leaving them with no guidance whatsoever.  Catholic parenting fail, part 1. Realizing our failure in this area, my husband and I decided to make more of an effort to attend the sacrament more regularly.  We’ve been “meaning to” for weeks and finally did this past Saturday.  Unfortunately, when helping the boys prepare, I realized that they had basically forgotten the entire thing.  Catholic parenting fail, part 2.  I panicked for a minute, and then remembered a great little book I just received (for review) the other day.  A Little Book about Confession for Children by Kendra Tierney is a delightful little book that is just as helpful to parents as it is to children.  In attempting to prepare her own son for Confession, Tierney realized that there was more she needed to know to be able to answer his many, many questions,...
One Baptism to Rule Them All…

One Baptism to Rule Them All…

In 2004, I attended the annual FOCUS conference as a Junior in college.  The conference was held in Denver and was filled with amazing experiences from bumping into Jim Caviezel in the hotel elevator (and having a 10 minute conversation about my vocation) to Eucharistic adoration with 2,000 fellow college students. One of the breakout sessions featured Jonathan Reyes who spoke about the requirements of being a baptized Catholic.  In discussing the difficulties that necessarily come with baptism, he recalled a scene from The Lord of the Rings in which Frodo, deep in the underground bowels of Moria, is distraught at the calamity that follows him, the carrier of the One Ring.  He looks to Gandalf and says, “I wish this ring had never come to me.” If one truly understands the spiritual requirements that come with baptism, the higher responsibility, the gravity of failure, the Catholic might find himself in a similar situation saying, “I wish this baptism had never come to me.”  It’s a human aversion to selflessness – not necessarily selfishness.  Baptism requires humility and selflessness in every aspect of life with the inclusion of serving kids, spouses, the needy and infirm.  Oh yeah, and being patient while 15 running and/or screaming kids at a birthday party distract haggard bloggers… Of course, like Frodo, a baptized Catholic is called to move beyond the seeming impossibility of their trialsAdd a Tooltip Text and keep moving.  We aren’t left alone without God’s grace, but are supplied and supported by his love until the end. We also don’t have to throw our baptism into a huge...
Only the Penitent Man Will Pass

Only the Penitent Man Will Pass

This past week, I found myself watching a rather politically-inflammatory video that was prefaced by an advertisement for a book about the end of the world.  What I gleaned from the 30-second clip was that in Isaiah 9:10, there is a prophecy that foretells the collapse of a powerful empire – and that empire is THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!  [Order the book and two DVD set for $49.99 to find out for sure!  Operators are standing by]. Curious, I looked up the verses of Isaiah 9:8-11: The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will light upon Israel; and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.” So the Lord raises adversaries against them, and stirs up their enemies. Isaiah continues discussing how the Lord will “devour Israel with open mouth” in the following verses.  Naturally, God is not pleased with a people who refuses to repent and who even seem to double-down after He had already brought destruction against them.  Similarly, people see God’s forgiveness as a thing to be had, not something as an influence in their lives.  Three things are needed for full contrition within the Sacrament of confession: sorrow for one’s sins, acceptance of penance, and a firm purpose to amend one’s life.  If you weren’t aware of this, don’t worry – they are all mentioned in the Act of Contrition you say every time...
Are We Using Religious Education and Confirmation As a Stick and Carrot?

Are We Using Religious Education and Confirmation As a Stick and Carrot?

Growing up in a faithful Catholic family, I received the sacraments at the ages regulated within the Dallas diocese – the same ages more or less seen around the country.  Naturally, my baptism occurred about a month into my life and I recall nothing – life changing graces received.  I received my first communion sometime around the age of reason and didn’t like the taste of the host, but it wasn’t a big deal because my CCD teacher worked at the bowling alley and that was cool – life changing graces received.  Confirmation was when I was a sophomore in high school, 8 years after my first communion.  I tried, I tried, to find some sort of meaning in it; though I knew of the importance of a sacrament… I was 15 years old and generally more concerned with keeping oil off my forehead than having a stranger add to it – life changing graces received. The age of fifteen might have been old and I have since found that confirmation is more common around the 8th grade rather than 10th, but even so, why would the sacrament be received so many years after the other sacraments of initiation? Bishop Aquila from Fargo, ND has recently been in the Catholic news cycle for the affirmation he received from Pope Benedict in regards to restoring the “proper order” of the sacraments (emphasis mine): “I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist,” said...