Thursday, December 08, 2011

In Honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

A nicely done video looking at scriptural references and parallels to Mary.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Very Cool!

So I was browsing around on Etsy and much to my surprise, saw an article about Trappist monks who make funeral caskets!

"The Trappists‘ mandate is to live by the labor of their hands,” says Mulgrew. “They don’t fundraise or run schools or hospitals. They live a self-contained life of prayer. Making caskets is a good psychological and spiritual fit. Death is about moving on, going to a different place, and the monks spend a lot of time thinking about these things. These caskets reflect the quiet, simple life led by the monks and allows them to offer a part of their lives symbolically.

I especially loved this aspect of what they do:

The monks pray over each casket and urn before they are shipped, and for each one sold a tree is planted in the carefully managed monastery forest. The monks conduct a mass in remembrance of the deceased and each name is entered in a memorial prayer book.

Isn't that just beautiful? Read the whole article here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Blogging Convert

A little bird told me about a convert friend who recently started a blog of his own, so I'm sharing in hopes of supporting a fellow convert. :-) It's called Pure Catholic.

As I browsed his shiny new blog, this part jumped out at me:

The fact is, I was pretty much horrified at the prospect of becoming Catholic despite everything pointing toward that being the right thing to do. Since the decision, my life is improved in every respect.

Ha, sound familiar? ;-)

As the name of his blog suggests, he is primarily interested in promoting chastity, a noble endeavor indeed. Go check it out when you can!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Series from Fr. Barron - Catholicism

I just wanted to share this because it looks so cool! I think this would be a great series to watch with various groups at the parish level, I could definitely see having a series of movie nights to watch this at our little home theater. :-)

From the website:
"Catholicism" comes to U.S. public television stations this fall, with the first broadcast set for Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 8-10 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

WTTW-11 (PBS) in Chicago is the presenting station for the "Catholicism" series and will air four episodes on consecutive Thursdays from 8-9 p.m. CST beginning October 13th. PBS affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and over 75 other public television stations plan to broadcast "Catholicism."

I'll be keeping an eye out for sure!

This one is a longer version, almost 10 minutes. Looks fascinating!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Reader Asks - Part 3: Taking it on Faith

The Ecstasy of St. Paul - Poussin

This is the third and final question I was asked by a reader about my conversion.

A reader asks:
[I was wondering] what things, if any, you still wrestled with when you decided to take the plunge, and just entrusted to faith and time.
I think I have a boring and very typical-of-converts answer to this one, lol. I definitely still had some Mary-and-the-saints type issues (mostly just those residual feelings). As I said in answer to the first question, intellectually the theological and doctrinal arguments made total sense to me. They lined up with history and scripture when explained well, they even made a lot more sense of some parts of scripture! But...well...still some of the prayers just frankly rubbed me the wrong way. I'd bristle upon hearing such prayers, and that little voice in my head would say, "Um...are you sure about this?" Lol! But, with time and exposure to people who prayed these prayers devoutly, it became obvious that these prayers were somehow bringing them closer to Christ, through Mary. The Mother points us to the Son, always, and really what are the chances you're going to start loving Jesus' mom more than He does? I'd wager they're pretty slim!

Other than that, a fairly big issue for me was interpretation of scripture. I'd been raised with a strictly literal interpretation of scripture, being told our "interpretation" was so literal that it wasn't even an interpretation...we were just reading the words on the page and taking them at face value, no interpretation necessary! I saw scripture mainly as a blueprint, a rulebook, dictated by God and meant to be read as a manual, memorizing scriptural bullet points for each potential life issue to be spewed whenever necessary.

So, it was difficult at times to readjust my understanding of scripture, to acknowledge the human element of the authors, to realize that while they were inspired and always wrote truth and while the Church maintains that scripture is inerrant, they still wrote it through the lens of their own human time and culture. I came to understand that they did not write history then the way we tend to write history now, and that the Bible is not one book, but a library which includes poetry, allegory, parable, history, theology, etc. I had to come to terms with the fact that "true" is not limited to "strictly literal." Once again, I was wrongly associating two ideas and it was difficult for me to separate them in my mind.

Now, don't misunderstand, there are some scholars who go so far as to say Jesus didn't really perform miracles and they basically want to take the supernatural out of the scriptures. That's not what I was trying to believe myself. I was just so extremely literally-minded that even the idea that the Great Flood may not have actually covered the entire world, but just the entire part of the world the writers knew of was difficult to wrap my head around, just because of my flawed association of "strictly literal" with "true."

But, at the end of the day I was convinced that the Church was our Teaching Authority, that she compiled scripture, and thus she was the best interpreter of scripture, and I acknowledged that much of my approach to scripture had been flawed. So even though at first I still bristled and creased my brow at some new-to-me interpretations, over time I've come to appreciate the Church's explanations of scripture, especially those times when she acknowledges there is more than one way to understand many things in scripture. I do not feel the veracity or inerrancy of scripture is in any way threatened by this more flexible approach, in fact I see now that it is strengthened by it the way a large flexible branch is stronger than a rigid twig ready to snap.

One thing I have seen over and over again from converts who struggled with something and yet took it on faith is how great the virtue of obedience makes humility grow! I often find myself in awe of the humility I see in others who bow their will in submission to that of the Church's, and thus to God's will. It certainly reminds me how far I have to go myself!

I am also reminded of the wisdom of St. Augustine's famous quote:
"Seek not to understand so that you may believe, but believe so that you may understand."
It really is astounding how often something doesn't make sense until you accept it on faith and live it.

Thanks so much to the reader who asked these questions! To those readers who are themselves converts, I'd love to hear your own answers as well. :-)