David Ancell's Virtual Home

They Knew Him Not

  /   Saturday, December 31, 2016   /   Comments(0)

We are nearing the end of the Octave of Christmas, and on January 1st we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Church gives us the reading of the first chapter of the Gospel of John for the day. What struck me was something that I see as a reflection of the saddest aspect of human society. The Gospel mentions that the world was made through the Word who is Jesus Christ, but despite this, the world did not know him. He even came among his own people, but they did not receive him.

If anyone is considering what is the greatest problem facing our society today, I think the root of it is simple. Today, we live in a secular society. That is nothing really new. As far as I know, as long as the Church has existed, there have been both the temporal rulers of society, and the bishops in the Church. The problem today is actually called secularism. It’s the running of our society and the going about of our lives as though God did not exist or, if he does, as though he doesn’t really have any effect on our lives.

Some people treat the very thought of God with contempt. You can see this is the angry atheists of our day who have bought into the absurd notion that this entire universe came about by itself. It’s also visible among the media people who mock Christians. Others just don’t give God the time of day. They just go about their business every day without it ever having seemed to occur to them that there is a greater purpose beyond what they are doing every day. Concerns about what would be the will of God or whether a certain act is sinful give way to a supposed “real life.” Some such people have really never thought about the matter. Others assume that we really can’t know the truth, but somehow they insist that they know we cannot know the truth. They never bother to try and find out. Still others are actually people who say they believe, and even go to church, but their belief is superficial at best because it hardly weighs in on the decisions they make on a daily basis.

It has always seemed strange to me how someone can really say that they believe in God, but not be ready to base every aspect of their lives on what he has to say to us. This ain’t small potatoes! I also cannot fathom how anyone can just ignore the question of God entirely as it were of little matter. Don’t they need to find out the truth? The fact is that we are all going to die one day, and we will leave behind whatever we had on this earth. One may wish to spend life doing good for others, and indeed we should. However, everyone whom we have helped will die one day no matter how much good we have done for them. Then, how will we have helped them? The good we do must have behind it a greater purpose.

In society today, we as Christians, and especially Catholics (as we have the fullness of truth), have a mission. We must evangelize. The atheist, of course, needs to be evangelized, but he may actually be better off than the sleepers who don’t seem to think it matters. The atheists, at least, are actively arguing and perhaps could be convinced. However, many times the problem that causes unbelief is a moral problem. There is some sinful behavior that they aren’t willing to give up that is at the root of their unbelief, whether they understand it or not. Still, if it becomes know to us, helping them to see another way to live may be what is needed.

The people whom I really think will be harder to believe are what we may call the “sleepers.” They are the people who go through life without much thought of God, as though the question were a topic of interest to some like science fiction. Unlike the atheists, they have to be convinced that they need an answer in the first place. Such people may see very little wrong with their lives. Yet, God wants to call these people to himself as well. We must pray that they come to know him before it is too late.

I’ve never liked the saying that we should “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Contrary to popular belief, St. Francis of Assisi did not say it. The saying can easily become an excuse not to preach the Gospel and not to use words when needed. However, we who follow Christ really do need to examine our lives. In a secularized society, we can easily fall into the trap of living at least some aspect of our lives as though God didn’t exist. Does Christ rule over everything . . . how we act, how we dress, how we run our businesses, how we raise and educate our kids, how we choose entertainment? We’ll never convince the world if we appear to be unconvinced. This doesn’t mean we wait until we are perfect to preach the Gospel or that we should appear perfect. This might actually discourage people who live troubled lives. Rather, we need to give God everything, and this also means that we need to learn to tell people about Christ, his Church, and his love for us.

Our societal problems won’t ultimately be solved by government leaders, though we do need good ones in office. They won’t be solved by some new product developed by a corporation, though they can be of assistance to us. They won’t be solved by education, though we need to be educated. They won’t even be solved by social justice and welfare programs, though we are obligated as Christians to help those in need. We must get to the root of everything, and to do so, we need to put everything under the reign of the King whose birth we celebrated almost a week ago.

Category: Catholic, Response, Spirituality


Preparing for Eternity

  /   Saturday, December 17, 2016   /   Comments(0)

In life, we know there are things for which we must prepare. If we are in school, we prepare for exams. If we want a good grade, we don’t write a term paper at the last minute. In the business world, we prepare for an important meeting, appointment, or presentation. Even a theatrical performance or a baseball or football game requires practice in order to prepare for the performance or game.

We in the Catholic Church don’t just carry out business as usual and then one day say “Oh, hey, it’s Christmas today” or “Oh, I guess today is Easter.” We have this season of Advent now to prepare us to celebrate the coming of Our Lord at Christmas. In a fairly short time, we will have the season of Lent to get us ready to celebrate Our Lord’s resurrection at Easter, or, really, the entire Paschal mystery in the Easter Triduum. Both seasons have a penitential aspect, with an emphasis on repentance of sins. We want to be holy in order to fully celebrate the great feast days. We don’t let these great and holy days sneak up on us.

When the day is over, we don’t just go right back to business as usual either. We celebrate the Octave of a Christmas and the Octave of Easter, and then we have a season in the Church afterward. In fact, the season of Easter is longer than Lent. We know that these days are not ordinary days in our lives. They are the celebration of the central events of our eternal salvation. The secular world, trapped in endless restlessness because its heart is not resting in God for whom we were made, just moves on.

Really, though, with the stores having Christmas stuff available just after Halloween, or even before, you’d have to live under a very heavy rock for Christmas to be able to sneak up on you. There will be plenty in the secular world – Christmas music, parties, gifts to buy. None of it is bad in and of itself. We just need to be careful not to be distracted from living the season of Advent for what it is.

Perhaps this Advent we can take a look at how we prepare for the daily things in life so that we live them out on purpose, and we live them for the purpose of serving God. If we don’t do some kind of preparation, we open ourselves to the possibility of just drifting along and/or being knocked in every direction like a pinball. How do we prepare ourselves for the day ahead of us?

Do we wake up promptly for our duties of the day? I can’t recommend the heroic minute enough. Do we pray in the morning and offer our day to God? Some people may do their daily prayer in the morning. For me, it’s the only time possible. Others may make a morning offering and save their main time with God for later.

There are a lot of moments while getting ready in the morning that you can stop to say a quick prayer. Take a look at Fr. Thomas Dailey’s excellent book Live Today Well for suggestions. This book has a lot of good rules to use for keeping the presence of God all day.

A particular area to look at is how we prepare ourselves for Sunday Mass. Is it the center of our Sunday, or is it just one more event on our agenda? Sunday Mass is the most important thing we do all week and needs to be treated that way. Do we pray about what we are to participate in? Do we make an effort to dress properly for it and arrive promptly (really, a few minutes early)? Do we keep reverential silence in the church before Mass starts? It is hard to keep little ones quiet, but I am really referring to not having unnecessary conversations in the church so that people can pray.

What are we doing in the morning before we head to Mass? God commanded a Sabbath rest on Sunday. We need not pray the whole time before or even a large part of it as we need to have breakfast, get dressed, and get to the church. Sometimes the kids don’t cooperate with keeping an atmosphere of preparation for Mass (or even getting there when we’d like). However, if we are conducting our usual business first and then rushing off to Mass, almost as though it’s an afterthought, something is really wrong. Also, what are we doing with the rest of Sunday? Remember the Sabbath rest, and beware of activities that interfere with the nature of Sunday. There are some things you may have to do because they are unavoidable or even because you enjoy them, and some jobs are essential (or people have no choice). However, there are a number of other things that can be avoided with, yes, you guessed it, appropriate preparation for Sunday.

All of this preparation can serve as a reminder to us that this life is a preparation for eternity. How we live now determines how we will be forever. It will determine whether we spend eternity forever in the presence of God in Heaven or separated from him in Hell. Even if we are saved, we won’t be all equal. Read Matthew 5:19 to hear what Jesus said about some being great and others least in the Kingdom. The sanctifying grace in our souls can be lost, but it can also be increased, making us able to experience more of the beatific vision. We need to strive to be as holy as we can be.

Category: Books, Catholic, Spirituality


An Important Part of Preparing the Way

  /   Saturday, December 10, 2016   /   Comments(0)

I’m writing this here in the Second Week of Advent. The reading from this past Sunday was about St. John the Baptist. He tells us to prepare the way of the Lord in a very certain way – by repenting of our sins. On Monday, the Gospel was about the man whose friends came through the roof of a house to bring him to Jesus, and the first thing that Jesus did, before healing him physically, was to forgive his sins. On Tuesday, he Gospel reading was about how there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 who have no need of repentance. Jesus said he did not want anyone to be lost. On Wednesday, Jesus told us to come to him and rest because his home is easy and his burden light.

In a world where many seem to think that the whole Gospel can be summed up by being completely nonjudgmental, talking about sin isn’t fashionable. However, sin is a real obstacle to being close to God. When we sin, we go against our very purpose in life and offend the one who is holding us in existence. It is a really heavy burden to carry. The good news is that God really wants to forgive our sins, not because they are no big deal. They are a huge deal. God wants to forgive because his love is great. I want to suggest that this Advent, in order to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts, we need to go to Confession!

So you say … “I’ve done something that I could never tell to the priest.” Well, remember that the priest is there to represent Jesus and to forgive you in his name. Jesus already knows your sin. The priest is there to help bring to you the love and mercy of God in a tangible way. What seems like a big embarrassment to you is probably something he has dealt with many times, and he will be grateful for your courage in acknowledging what you have done so that he can bring you God’s mercy. Having to acknowledge the sin you committed can help you to see what love and mercy God is showing you and to love him in return.

So you say … “I keep confessing the same sins over and over again.” If that’s the case, then please don’t be discouraged. Would you rather be committing new and different sins all the time? Often times we do have things we struggle with for a long time and need to keep trying. Keep fighting the good fight. If you fail, hurry back to God and try again. The Sacrament will give you the grace to carry on the struggle, but do struggle against your sins. Never accept your sins as things that are just a part of you. Resolve to never commit them again, and if you do, know that God is full of mercy and compassion.

So you say … “I would only be confessing out of fear of Hell.” It turns out that if your motivation for being sorry for sin is fear of Hell, that is sufficient to receive forgiveness through the Sacrament. It’s actually called imperfect contrition or attrition. You can think of it as a good starting point, but of course, you want to grow into being sorry out of love for God. It may be that knowing that God loves you and has forgiven you is what will help you learn to truly detest having offended a good and loving God.

So you say … “I am not sorry for my sins.” Well, you may have me there, but first let me be sure. Being sorry for sin is first and foremost an act of the will. You choose to repent. This means that you can choose to be sorry for your sins even if you don’t feel the sorrow. Maybe your sorrow is weak, but it is there. The grace of God is at work, and so is his forgiveness. Just meditate on how much he loved and forgave you, and it can help bring you to a deeper sorrow.

However, if you are really not sorry for a mortal sin, then don’t go to Confession. The absolution won’t work, and you will commit a sacrilege. This has the effect of making you a worse sinner than you were before you entered the Confessional. However, let me remind you that only God can bring you true happiness in this life and the next. You may think you are enjoying the pleasure of your sin, but in fact it is placing a major obstacle between you and the source of your ultimate happiness and fulfillment. This obstacle, if not removed, will separate you from him for all eternity. Why remain there a moment longer? Be sorry for your sin, and turn back to God. Prepare the way for him to be in your heart.

Category: Catholic, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Please Don’t Say This When I Die

  /   Sunday, November 06, 2016   /   Comments(0)

Death is never a pleasant subject. It was not part of God’s original plan for the human race, but it came into the world because of the sin of our first parents. When someone dies, it’s only natural to look to give or receive some consolation in light of this terrible reality. However, I don’t believe in trying to give comfort by compromising the truth.

November is the month of remembrance for the faithful departed in the Catholic Church. The first day is All Saints’ Day. The second day is All Souls’ Day. Often times, when someone dies, people say “He is not suffering anymore.” or “He is at peace.” This is especially tempting when a loved one has suffered a long illness. I ask that you please do not say these things if you are still here and learn of my death or are at my funeral. You may be doing me a great disservice.

I’d be afraid to meet someone who would not hope that I would be saved and be with Our Lord. It is a real possibility that I might not be. If that’s the case there is nothing you can do. However, the best thing to do is hope for the salvation of those who have left this world but realize that they may have to undergo their final purification in Purgatory before being admitted to Heaven. In fact, the primary purpose of a funeral Mass is to offer the Eucharist for the soul of the departed.

The souls in Purgatory are in fact suffering more than the worst suffering in earth. The magnitude of all sins committed and graces spurned by them is seen very clearly at this point. However, the Church teaches us that the purifying fire is altogether different from the punishment of the damned. In fact, such souls, though suffering, will never experience the punishment of the damned. Once a soul is in Purgatory, he or she has avoided Hell forever. There is nowhere to go from there but to Heaven. This is why we refer to the souls in Purgatory as holy souls.

Although I would love to be one of the souls who can go directly to Heaven, there’s a good chance I will need your prayers and other offerings for my soul. Your other departed friends and family will appreciate the same. It will mean far more to them than merely trying to comfort yourself with thoughts or statements that they are not suffering. It will mean more to you, too. After all, do you think that those whom you helped will forget you once they reach Heaven (or even before)? No way! You will have gained a grateful and powerful intercession for yourself before Our Lord. So, take the opportunity to pray for the faithful departed, and help them to reach the place where there truly is no more suffering and no more tears.

Category: Cathechesis, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Reflections on Young Adult Ministry, Part 2

  /   Sunday, August 24, 2014   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I wrote about some wrong ideas that I’ve heard when people talk about young adult ministry.  In the second part of my reflections on young adult ministry, I want to talk about what young adult ministry should be like.  Young adult ministry is both very difficult to maintain but very important, and I do wish that parishes and dioceses would put more effort into it.

In order to talk about what a young adult ministry should be, I want to talk about why it’s needed.  We are in a period of time now where we are recovering from problematic faith formation.  The problem has gotten better, but I think it still exists.  My own passion for helping people learn the faith came from seeing the widespread ignorance that exists about the Catholic faith, even among Catholics.  While the Internet was very helpful to me, young adult ministry also helped me to understand what I was missing.  Something needs to be done to reach those who weren’t shown the fullness of truth as the positive good that it is.  Although many life decisions may have already been made or at least started, young adults are still in a position where they are charting a course for their careers, marriages, and other aspects of their lives.  The longer we go without reaching them, the more life choices they will make without a full understanding of what God wants for their lives.

Since I’m a big believer that helping people understand what not to do helps people understand what to do, I want to start by talking about some of the things worst things that someone can do while running a young adult ministry.  Here they are:

A well-done young adult ministry should have spiritual, catechetical/formational, service (with at least some being geared towards evangelization), and social aspects, and people who participate should be strongly urged to participate in all aspects of the ministry.  Prayer and devotion are essential to ensure that people have an encounter with Jesus Christ and not just an academic experience.  After all, God is a person who loves us and wants our love and a relationship with us.  Eucharistic Adoration, even if it just means spending some time before the tabernacle in the church, is essential.  The parish or diocese should have an annual retreat or conference (maybe both) for young adults to spend a period of time in the presence of God and in the presence of other Catholic young adults trying to live out their faith in the world.

Cathechesis is necessary to help everyone learn and understand the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith.  If young people are bored with the faith, it most likely isn’t because too much doctrine is being taught but because doctrine isn’t being taught.  Some formation programs have been little more than the sharing of our own feelings and experiences without reference to the truth that sets us free.  In fact, some people object to teaching concrete doctrine under the well-meaning idea of “meeting people where they are.”  People should be taken where they are and be treated with the love of Christ, but that means that we should not leave them there.  Young adults will vary widely in what they know about the faith, and many will learn important aspects for the first time and say things like “Why haven’t we heard this before?”

With this in mind, though, people do need to see concrete examples of a lived experience of the faith.  So, faith sharing informed by the Gospel is essential, whether it’s a group discussion or some people talking about what Jesus has done in their lives.  The Faith has definite doctrine because God has revealed himself, but this is something to be lived, not just an academic subject.

It’s also important to mention that cathechesis shouldn’t be the only aspect of a ministry.  Just remember that we are in a culture that is heavy on entertainment, and having something purely catechetical can easily foster an “entertain us” mentality.  The expectation to be entertained is very pervasive in the younger generations, and the faith must be something lived, not just a form of entertainment.  That form of entertainment won’t hold up well when living the faith becomes difficult.  Without aspects of service and evangelization, you can easily fill a ministry with people who expect to be entertained all the time and have little commitment to the ministry or to outreach.  At that point, the young adult ministry is already on life support from whoever is doing the work and is pretty much guaranteed to die once that person is no longer willing or able to continue.

Therefore, service activity is a must.  At least some of the service activities should be geared towards evangelization.  Young adults need to reach out to others to share their faith, especially other young adults who may no longer be going to church (or who may barely be still there).  Of course, service to those in need is important also.  However, even that service should be geared towards bringing others to Christ.  Also, some of the service events need to connect the young adults with other ministries in the Church.  The young adult ministry should not be the exclusive participation in the life of the parish for its participants.

I want to say just a little more about forming people to evangelize.  Service can include service within the ministry itself.  Some may be willing to help catechize the other young adults.  Forming leaders who are witnesses and who are willing to be speakers and teach the faith to the others is essential.  Young adults from the group should be doing a good part of the teaching and could even be available to be speakers at other events in the parish or diocese.  They will be a great inspiration to others, especially older people who are concerned about the faith of the younger generation.

Of course, there should be a social aspect of the ministry.  It is essential, but it should not be central.  In fact, social events that do not precede or follow a spiritual, service, or catechetical event should be few and far between.  We do not want the ministry to turn into a social club.  Having an annual picnic or baseball game or something is good, but, other than that, the social time should be, for example, right after a Holy Hour or a speaker.  The social time is essential to help form the community and give the sense of belonging that is needed, and care should be taken not to let the group turn into a cliche.  Also, any onlookers should notice the Christ-like manner in which the group interacts.  The social time is a great time to develop that sense of Christ-like socialization.

Of course, reaching out to young adults can be very difficult.  They tend to be super busy, and sometimes other aspects of life get in the way.  However, this is Jesus Christ and his Church that we are talking about, and people are hungry for the truth.  Greater commitment to both the Gospel and the generations of people who never knew their faith is necessary.  In fact, the results may be discouraging at first.  If a group is started, a certain time commitment (at least a year) before giving up needs to be established.  Be sure that there’s a web page that people can go to.  If you have the technology and capable people available, you can even have a site with articles about the faith and even downloadable MP3s of previous talks available.  All of these things will help reach people who will be eternally grateful.

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


Profit from Your Faults

  /   Thursday, January 16, 2014   /   Comments(0)

Sometimes I need to post something because I myself need to hear it.  This one is a tough one for me.  I try to avoid sin in my life and certainly don’t relish those moments when I find myself in it.  However, God does allow evil.  He allows it so that he can bring about a greater good.  In this case, he can even use our sin to bring us closer to him.  This doesn’t mean that we should be careless about sin.  In fact, this will really only work for those who wish never to offend God but fall into sin anyway.

For a good primer on this, take a look at this article from Catholic Exchange. For a longer treatment, try reading Scepter Publisher’s How to Profit from Your Faults by Joseph Tissot.  The main thing to realize is that we should not be surprised or upset by our faults but should trust in God’s mercy and hurry back to God when we sin.  I’ll summarize here what can be gained from our faults:

  1. We can grow in love for God when we realize the great mercy and love he has for us despite our faults.
  2. We can grow in our determination not to offend God again by our contrition for our sins.
  3. We can grow in humility.  We realize what we are and will do without the grace of God.  We learn to distrust ourselves and depend on God.
  4. By growing in humility, we will be more understanding of the faults of others around us.

Definitely read the article I linked to above.  It’s one of the best, most concise treatments I’ve read and something that will be a great help to every struggling Christian.

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


How Can a Good God Permit Evil?

  /   Saturday, May 11, 2013   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I wrote about why I was going to raise my children to know God. However, there is one thing that deserves special attention, especially in the light of the recent shooting at the school in Newtown, Connecticut and the Boston Marathon bombing. The author to whom I was responding stated that God does not protect the innocent, and this was a reason why she didn’t believe in him. Back when the Newtown school shooting was news, I saw some Facebook postings about how the existence of such an evil was the “most deadly argument” against the existence of God. While there is no way I can make definitive statement on why God allowed any specific thing to happen, I can offer some reflections that I hope will be helpful.

First, let’s keep in mind that God created the world and everything in it. In other words, God made all of those scientific laws that it has taken man thousands of years to discover. What does this mean? It means that God is far, far, more intelligent than we are. He is infinite. We are finite. This also means that God can and will do or allow things that we won’t be able to understand. We need to be careful not to make the mistake of not believing just because our human minds cannot understand something.

Now, the world God chose to create is a real world. We are not puppets in the divine puppet show. We have the real ability to choose, and the choices have real consequences. Ultimately, God gives us the ability to choose to love him or reject him, and he will allow us to get what we choose. If we choose the good, the true, and the beautiful, we will possess it forever in his presence in Heaven. If we choose something less, then we end up separated from him in Hell. God’s judgment is nothing other than the choice we made in this life. This applies to other choices as well. If a husband and wife do not cooperate in helping him bring new life into being, it won’t happen. If we don’t do our job at work, either it won’t be done, or someone else will have to do it. The work God gave us to do in this world is real, and we have the freedom to choose to do it or not. This is also how we have the capacity to really love. We could only have this if we had the ability to choose not to do so.

God’s gift of free will does also mean that our choices can affect others. Let me explain that I firmly believe that God is infinite goodness. He never does evil, but he does allow it. He allows it only to because he can bring some greater good out of it. How can that be? Well, God’s perspective is eternity. He is looking for what can bring about our eternal salvation in the end. In the end, his justice will win. In the end, good will win because God, who is infinitely good, will win.

Let me give an example, but, before I do, let me qualify this by saying that this is only speculation. We cannot know for sure in this life what God has brought out of any event unless he definitively reveals it to us. In 2007, I was in a serious car wreck that could have killed me. The other driver (who slid across the median of an interstate in front of me) was killed. A priest whom I knew told me that it was possible that he was allowed to die because, if he died now, he would go to Heaven. God may have known that, if he had lived on, he would have rejected God and gone to Hell. Remember, we don’t know this for sure, but it is a possibility. Of course, there’s the humbling possibility for me that I might not have made it to Heaven if I had died then. God may have spared me only because I wasn’t ready for Heaven. It’s equally possible that God left me on this earth for some other mission. After all, the circumstances of that wreck also led to my vocation of marriage and family. So, does this mean that God caused the wreck that I was in? No, but he did allow it to happen. Then, he took it and brought good out of it.

We have to remember that this world is passing away and that our true home is with God in Heaven. God’s ultimate desire is for us all to get there. There is no suffering in this life that can be greater than the joy we will experience of seeing him face to face in Heaven.

Category: Catholic, Response, Spirituality


A Window to God’s Love for Us

  /   Thursday, May 17, 2012   /   Comments(0)

Blessed John Paul II, in his talks that became known as Theology of the Body, brought forth the understanding that marriage is an image, though an imperfect one, of the Holy Trinity.  The Father and the Son love each other, and that love between them is so powerful that it is actually another divine person – the Holy Spirit.  As some apologists have said, the love between a man and his wife may have to be given a name nine months later.

However, I haven’t seen quite so much written that goes beyond that.  It seems that this fascinating creature who now lives in our house can give us a window as to how God sees us, loves us, and longs for us.  I’m not in a hurry for little Simon to grow up, but yet there are things that I long for him to be able to do.  God, who is beyond time, patiently waits for us, but yet he wants for us to be able to live the abundant life he wants to give us.

There are certain things that I long for Simon to be able to do.  I am looking forward to him crawling or walking to me as I come home from work.  I want him to be able to talk to me and tell me what is on his mind.  I am waiting for the day when he’ll give me a hug when he sees me.  I’m sure he’ll also want to climb all over me and wrestle, and yes, I am excited for that as well.  However, I’m perfectly willing to wait for it because seeing him grow little by little is far more fascinating that I could have imagined.  Besides, I also know that, as he gains more ability, there will also be the need for more discipline.  Let’s also not forget that I’ll have to be more and more careful of what I accidentally teach him.

Certainly, our Father in Heaven wants us to run to him all the time.  He longs for us to talk to him in prayer.  He wants us to walk with him in our daily lives as we perform the duties of our state of life.  He wants us to know and love him even more, much more really, than I am longing for my son to know and love me. He waits for us with that longing. He sees us grow little by little in that love.  Sometimes, he has to push us back on to the right path, and we may well “wrestle” with him.  Still, he waits patiently, but with a love for us that we can’t even imagine.  As I think of those things that I really long for my son to do, I just have to think that this must be how God is longing for us.

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


Confession

  /   Sunday, August 28, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Recently, I was in the Confession line at a very large parish.  Well, actually, I wasn’t really in line.  There wasn’t one.  This parish has only a thirty-minute time period for Confession, and I found out why.  After one more person, there was no one left.

As much as I hear about no one going to Confession anymore, I don’t find it to be completely true.  I was actually surprised by what I saw at this particular parish, but then again, there are other signs that something isn’t quite right.  At my parish, there are often long lines for Confession.

Regular Confession is one of the greatest things we can do for our walk with God.  When we examine our conscience, we recognize how our lives are not in line with what God wants.  We have to admit that to the priest.  When we receive absolution, we not only receive forgiveness of our sins, but powerful grace to help us to avoid sin in the future.

It doesn’t end there, though. As we get closer to God, we learn more and more how we are falling short.  We bring those to the sacrament, and more grace is poured forth.  More and more of what is not of God is stripped away , or at least we get a second chance to work on what we weren’t able to accomplish since our last Confession.

It’s sad to see a large parish in which people are not taking advantage of this.  There is great grace available.  All one needs is a sorrow for sin and a resolve not to commit those same sins again. If we do fall in to the sin again, go back to Confession and try again.  God is ready to take us back and give us the grace.  Take advantage of it.

Your sorrow doesn’t have to be some totally altruistic motive either.  Even sorrow for sin because of fear of Hell is enough to receive the grace of the sacrament.  After all, Hell is separation from God, and if you don’t want to go there, you don’t want to be separated from God.  You will either go to Confession or Hell, so go to Confession.  Of course, you will want to get to where you have a pure love of God, but this is much more easily accomplished when God has forgiven your sins.  Then, there is not eternal punishment to fear.  So, let God give you the grace he so badly wants to give you.

Category: Cathechesis, Catholic, Spirituality


Twenty Years a Catholic

  /   Sunday, April 24, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Alleluia!  He is risen!  I wish a most Blessed and Happy Easter to all of my family, friends, and anyone who is reading this.

As we were getting up this morning, my wife reminded me that this Easter marks twenty years since I became Catholic.  I was baptized on the Easter Vigil in 1991 as a sophomore in high school.  Somehow, this had slipped my mind.  Good thing I have a wife!  This is one blogging occasion that I don’t want to miss!

Truly, I am thankful that God has led me to the Catholic Church.  It has become so much of who I am that I cannot imagine being anything else.  Nothing compares to being able to be fed, sometimes daily, with none other than the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, whose resurrection we celebrate this day.

This doesn’t mean that it was always easy, nor have I always felt the way that I do now.  When I was in college and pharmacy school in Mississippi, I was jealous of the Protestants.  They seemed to be happy in their faith.  At the time, I knew of few Catholics whose love for Jesus Christ was so visible.  Campus ministry wasn’t too helpful either.  I tried to accept what I was being taught, but something didn’t seem quite right.  It probably didn’t help that I was also somewhat anti-intellectual at the time.  Well, actually, that may have been the grace of God at the time as I might have fallen for who knows what.

However, something sustained me.   To explain this, I need to go back to the time before I became Catholic.  When I was about three or four, I have a vague memory of being in church and watching someone put something in my aunt’s mouth.  I remember thinking “I want one of those.”  This never left me, and I would later come to know just what it was that I wanted.  It was nothing less than the Holy Eucharist, God himself, and I believed in it!  While I was preparing to enter the Church, I longed to receive him.  During the last few weeks before the Easter Vigil, I was really counting down the days, tired of watching people receive what I so badly wanted but could not yet receive.  The thought that I would get to join the Church the night before Easter Sunday really appealed to me.  It was one less day I had to wait to receive him.

It was that total self-gift that God has given us in the Eucharist that sustained me during years of kind of “wandering in the dessert.”  I was always at Sunday Mass.  No matter what others had to offer, I knew that only in the Catholic Church was I receiving Jesus himself in the Eucharist.  Despite sensing that something wasn’t really right (though I couldn’t put my finger on it), I wasn’t leaving the Church.

Shortly after graduation from pharmacy school, I reached the stage where I learned that the things that didn’t seem right really weren’t right.  In many cases, this wasn’t really the fault of those involved.  However, now I was being fed with the authentic faith.  I came back to my practice of praying before the Blessed Sacrament that I had kind of fallen away from.  The result was a transformation that would still be a difficult road, but now I realized I had a purpose.  The things I discovered about the faith shortly after graduating from pharmacy school started me a path of falling in love with the Church all over again.  It became clear that there were many people who were near my age may never have had a chance to know what I had learned.   I figured out what had been bugging me.  I wanted to do something about it.

What would I do?  This would take years to fully develop.  The seeds were actually planted while I was in pharmacy school.  There were web sites being put out by people defending the teachings of the Church.  I had rarely seen people defend the teachings, and I must admit that I didn’t like them at first.  Still, I had my own web page and did some of the same stuff.  Later, when I was working and had money, I would buy some Catholic teachings on tape.  God was telling me that I could do this on a local level.  So, I began recording RCIA talks into my computer and making CDs (later MP3s).  A couple of years later, I joined an RCIA where I was allowed to give some talks, which I also recorded.  God was using my desire to teach, my media hobby, and my geekiness for his own purpose.

Things have continued to change.  I am learning more about the faith, and especially about liturgy.  Yana and I will have our first-born son this September.  I am going to be working in my own domestic church. Don’t get me wrong; I never want to stop working however I can in evangelization and the use of new media.  I don’t think God called me to it just to take it away completely, especially since I still have the desire.  However, I do know that my ultimate responsibility will be for the souls of those whom God has entrusted directly to Yana and me.  I thank God for all he has given me these past twenty years and pray for his continued help for me and my family.

Category: Catholic, News on My Life, Spirituality


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