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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Catholic Converts Widget

I found this cool little widget. If you would like to place it on your blog just click the "Get Widget" button at the bottom. It includes installers for all the blog tools or you can just click on "Get Widget Code".

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Welcome to the blogroll

Welcome to:

Christie at 'Tis but a Season".

Kelly at Answering the Call. Kelly has also asked to be added to the RCIA prayer list.

Les at Postcards from Home. Les also shares a conversion story.

Kim: My Conversion Story

Kim from Dispatches from the Northern Outpost has joined the blogroll and shared her conversion story which is included in this post.

I grew up going to church every Sunday. My grandfather, Superintendent
of Sunday School for a Methodist church for 30 years, took me with
him. I went early and put the offering baskets and metal globe-shaped
banks for the missions in each classroom every Sunday morning. It was
a somewhat dull but oddly comforting weekly ritual. Our pastor was by
no means exciting but he was a kind man with a big, cheerful family. I
remember once being in his office and he showed us a vial of water
that he'd filled in the Jordan River. He said he put a few drops of it
in the baptismal font every time someone was baptized. I remember
being absolutely fascinated by the idea. A foreshadowing of my
fascination with holy water? Who knows. I grew up your typical youth
group attending, church-camp-in-the-summer Methodist kid. I had an
official 'accept Jesus into my heart' experience on December 6th,
1985, at a Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart Concert at Faith City High
School in Delaware. (Hollaback if you have ANY IDEA who that is!)
I graduated from high school in 1988 and went to Messiah College. I
went to school with the intention of being a pastor. I'm thinking it
was less of a genuine call and more because my then boyfriend was also
going to be (and is, actually) a pastor, but I enrolled with a Bible
major and quickly discovered two things; my lack of aptitude for
ancient Greek and my disinterest in reading hundreds of pages written
by long dead German theologians. I had a roommate who 'used to be
Catholic' but left the Church for a non-denominational church with an
awesome sound system. Failing Greek, I changed my major to the
slightly more nebulous 'Christian Ministries'...whatever the
difference was I was off the hook for serious exegesis and dodged the
language bullet. (I was looking at three more years of Greek and two
of Hebrew.)
Then a funny thing happened. My tambourine-shaking roommate went back
to the Church. She said she had an overwhelming desire to find her
Rosary and pray, some time after a friend gave her a rattly, much used
copy of the Conversion of Scott Hahn cassette. She invited me to a
study at St Joseph's Church in Mechanicsburg PA on Alan Schreck's
'Catholic and Christian: Commonly Misunderstood Beliefs of the
Catholic Church'. I agreed to go. I read the book, said 'that's
interesting', and stuck it in a box. She transferred to Steubenville
and asked me if I wanted to come too. I laughed at her and said, 'Why
would I do that when I'm not Catholic?'. Another year went by, and one
night I was sitting in the library at school and I was overwhelmed to
distraction with the desire to find that Schreck book and read it
again. All I knew was I needed to leave right then and go and find it.
I dug it out of storage in the basement of my dorm. I still smile when
I hear the story of St Augustine hearing a voice say 'take and
read'....because it was like that. I don't know how else to explain it
all except to say that when I read that book a second time I KNEW that
it was true. I called St Joseph's, and I said, I don't know what is
involved, what I have to do, or whether you'll let me, but I need to
be Catholic. I was lucky; the woman who answered the phone was a
convert too. She didn't think I was nuts. I had no car, so she brought
me to church, where I met Fr. John Trigilio. (This was before Fr. John
was on EWTN, or co-wrote 'Catholicism for Dummies'--our best
apologetics discussions were had over a large pie, half mushroom, half
pepperoni.) Since I was on a college schedule and lived 125 miles
away, conventional RCIA wasn't going to work. He agreed to COME TO
SCHOOL and instruct me, which was a lot of fun in a school of 2400
Protestants of various flavors and 5 (FIVE) Catholics. We'd meet in
the library. Fr. John is a cassock-wearing guy, he adds the wool cape
and 'Bells of St Mary's' hat in the winter. He used to joke that he
was worried the students in the library would give themselves whiplash
looking at him when he came in.
November 22, 1991, Christ the King Sunday, I was received into the
church at Saturday evening vigil Mass. No family, no other converts,
my witnesses were a pewful of Protestant friends and one Catholic
friend who drove all the way from Steubenville to be there. I have
never been so sure of anything in my life, than that God wanted me
there, and brought me to that place. For the first time faith was not
simply an activity I had chosen to engage in. It was a relationship
with the One Who sought me, and found me. In the sixteen years since,
I've had struggles, but no matter how dark the road has seemed at
times I know He is still holding on to me.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that foll'west all my way,
I yield my flick'ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Writing Opporunity for Canticle Magazine

I received a message from the editor of Canticle Magazine: The Voice of Women of Grace. The editor, Heidi, has a blog on the Catholic Converts blogroll and is looking for someone to write an article for the next issue. Here is her email in part:

I'm the editor at Canticle magazine, and I have a last-minute (paying)opportunity for someone -- preferably but not necessarily a woman -- who can reflect in 1000-1100 words about Lent from the perspective of a convert. The details are here: I need this Monday, and will pick from all the submissions I get by the end of the day Monday. Winnergets $150

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A new poll

With Advent nearly here, I thought this would be an interesting poll question.

Do you keep an Advent Wreath in your home?
See Results

New blogroll members and conversion stories.

Let's start off by welcoming Jordana at Curmedgeonry. Her conversion story may be found here.

Heather has moved her blog, Doodle Acres.

Next, give Miss Climpson a visit at Steward's Folly.

For another conversion story visit Tara at Loved Sinner.

Next we have Home is Where the Army Sends Us. Also, please keep this family, and all military families, in your prayers as their husband and father is deployed.

Then head over to Catholic Wife and Mother to give CMerie a visit.

Also, we have a new member on the "Friends of Catholic Converts" list: A Nawty Mouser Thots

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Is Becoming Catholic Enough?

Fellow convert Randy Hain has been kind enough to share the following article with the Catholic Converts blog. Many thanks to Randy.
Is Becoming Catholic Enough?
By Randy Hain

If you are a convert to the Catholic Church, currently in the RCIA program or considering joining the Church, what is Christ leading you to do with your faith? As a recent convert to the Church, I have frequently asked myself that question over the last few years. I have humbly prayed for discernment, wisdom and revelation coupled with a passionate desire to follow Christ’s will and not my own. I have also spoken countless times with our priests, deacons and other members of the Church for guidance and help. The two key points that have emerged from prayer and discussion are very simple: 1) Your Catholic faith is a lifelong journey and 2) Get involved, make a difference and do something with your faith.

Anyone who makes the decision to join the Church realizes the enormity of the commitment they have made. The hours of study in RCIA, exposure to new ideas, risking alienation of friends and family and embracing the Church are all components of what is one of the most important decisions in your life-entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. I have met many converts (like myself) who come from backgrounds with little or no faith whose decision to join the Church clearly reveals God’s grace and plan for our lives. So, if we can agree that our decision to join the Church is Christ’s will and we are committed to follow Him and the teachings of the Church, I ask the question: Is becoming Catholic enough?

This article is meant to provoke some critical thinking and prayer around the question of what we do with our Catholic faith after we join the Church. This is an important question and one that needs to be answered. It would be a terrible waste to join the Church and then……do nothing. The Book of Revelations tells us, "I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth." -Revelation 3:15-6. A new world has been opened for us and Christ has expectations of us as Catholic Christians in terms of how we worship, live and spread His message. Our Lord says in the Book of Matthew, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” -Matthew 5:13-14 and 16. Our challenge is to answer Christ’s call, be good examples to others and glorify God.
I would respectfully ask you to consider the actions suggested below as ways to live out the points made in the first paragraph: Continue your lifelong journey in the Catholic faith and get involved:
Show humility and put Christ’s will before your own
Glorify Christ and give him thanks for every grace and blessing. Put Him first in your thoughts and prayers and His will is more likely to be revealed. "The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." -Matthew 23:11-12
Develop a Prayer Life and have daily devotional time
Daily prayer is essential to every aspect of our lives. Humbly thanking God and praying for guidance, wisdom and help every day is critical to our spiritual well being. Carve out time daily to read scripture and other books to more fully experience the lessons God has for us.
Commit yourself to following the teachings of the Catholic Church
It is also critical to follow the teachings and rules of the Church and the Magisterium. Why invest the time in becoming Catholic only to reject the teaching and guidance of our Church? Christ promised to protect the teaching of the Church: "He who hears you, hears me; he who rejects you rejects me, he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me” - Luke 10: 16
Go to Reconciliation……frequently
Frequent confession is one of the best ways to continue receiving God’s graces and avoid sinning. A thorough examination of conscience cleanses you and lifts your spirit. It keeps God’s commandments firmly planted in your mind and becomes a road map for living a life that helps us to get closer to Christ. “He said therefore to them again: Peace be with you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” -John 20:21-23
Strive to Integrate Faith, Family and Work
Do we think about Christ throughout the work day or only during the mass? Are we living out our Catholic faith at home? Striving to integrate the 3 areas of our lives where we spend most of our time should be easy, but it poses a significant challenge for many. Put Christ first….and everything else will follow.

Become a lifelong student of our Faith
We have countless opportunities to continue our education as Catholics beyond RCIA. Our parish has a wonderful website ( that is rich in learning resources-go to the Catholic Links page for a number of excellent website links. The amount of information may feel overwhelming, especially if you are new to the faith. View it as a marathon and not a sprint-we are dedicating our lives to knowing Him better and you will never learn everything (and that is ok!). Take a catechism class. Participate in adult education classes like apologetics or bible studies. Read from the extensive number of books available on our Catholic Faith from authors like Scott Hahn, G.K. Chesterton, Jeff Cavins, Thomas Howard, Peter Kreeft and others. C.S. Lewis is also a wonderful author on Christianity in general. "For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God." -Colossians 1:9
Get Involved!
Be a good steward of your time and talent. There are countless ministries that desperately need our help. One of the best ways to live out our faith and honor Christ’s words in Matthew (3rd paragraph above) is to selflessly help others in need. Pray that Christ will lead you to where you are most needed. "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." -1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Go to Eucharistic Adoration
Please find time every week to pray, reflect and meditate in the true presence of Christ in the Adoration chapel. Even better, become an Adoration Guardian-this fulfilling ministry requires guardians 24/7 for the Eucharist except during mass. It is a service to Christ, the parish and you that is incredibly rewarding.
Charitable giving must be more than just a tax break
Being a good steward of your treasure is also important. Too often we look at charitable giving as a way to save money on taxes and not as a gift to those in need. If we can all act more out of charity, make necessary sacrifices and give meaningfully to the charities in need of help, we can begin the journey towards detachment and away from materialism that can be a daily struggle for all of us. Consider Christ’s observation of the Woman and the Two Coins in Mark, “He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." -Mark 12:41-44
There is a wealth of information and teaching on guiding Catholic adults on their faith journey. One especially helpful source of guidance is the 1999 Conference of Catholic Bishops which issued a pastoral plan for adult formation in Catholics titled, “Our Hearts Are Burning Within Us”. The Bishops highlighted 6 dimensions that are critical to being an adult Catholic:
1. Know your faith
2. Participate actively in the liturgy
3. Make good decisions in your life
4. Pray
5. Participate actively in community life
5. Reach out to others

With striking clarity, the Bishops help us understand our basic and yet critical responsibilities as Catholic adults.
No matter where you are on your journey, I prayerfully hope these thoughts are helpful and inspire you to do something with your Catholic faith. We have the opportunity to encourage each other when ever possible on this journey and give Christ and the Church the best we have to offer. Thank you and God Bless you.

Welcome to the Catholic Converts blogroll

Karen at Growing Up joins the blogroll and shares her conversion story.

Stop by and give Carl a visit at One Pilgrim's Progress.

We are also joined by Little Scribe at Our Lady's Little Scribe who shares this conversion story. Little Scribe has also added our badge to Concordia Ministries: Why Catholic.

Finally, William at Fish in a Barrel has shared his conversion story.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out for a few days

I will be out of town until Tuesday, Oct. 23rd. I'll only have access to the internet via dial-up so I won't be posting anything or adding anybody to the blog roll until I get back home.


I missed adding one new member to the blogroll last night.

Please give Debra a visit at Debra's Random Thoughts

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I have . . .

. . . got to do a better job of keeping up.

Welcome to the Catholic Converts blogroll:

Cortney at A Funny Thing Happened.

Chad at Chad Is Not Enought.

James at Ad Silvem Ibimus.

TQ at From Burke to Kirk and Beyond . . . " TQ also shares his conversion story.

Krissy at Sometimes I Think.

John at John C. Walker.

Mark at Suicide of the West.

Peter shares his conversion story at The Truth Will Set You Free

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Some stats

The Catholic Converts blog has received 19,032 page hits since it started in May of 2006. No one really noticed the blog until February of this year and over 18,000 of those hits have came since then.

There are no 68 blogs listed in the Catholic Converts blog roll and the blog roll has been displayed on this or other blogs that display it 23,342 times.

If you would like to help spread the word please consider adding the Catholic Converts blog roll to your site. The code can be found here.

Welcome William and Stephen

Please welcome two new members of the Catholic Converts blogroll by giving them a visit.

William at Fish in a Barrel

Stephen at Proud to be a "Catholic" Convert

Stephen is also in RCIA so please offer up a prayer for him.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Catching up

I've gotten really behind on keeping up with the Catholic Converts email account. I'll try to catch up here.

New to the blogroll:
Chris at Home2Rome

Chris also shares his conversion story: How the Saints Helped Lead Me Home and The Challenges and Graces of Conversion

Also give Sarah a visit at sarah-naded.

And be sure to stop by Suzanne's blog at Out of the Looking - Glass World.

We also have to more to pray for as they participate in RCIA this year.

Chris at Cow Bike Rider

And Amy at Leap of Faith

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Welcome Jack

Please give Jack a visit at Pentecostal to Catholic (via solipsism).

New Poll

Have you ever attend a TLM (or Extraordinary Rite Mass)?
I want to ASAP
See Results

Heidi and Heather

Please visit the two latest members of the Catholic Converts blogroll.

Heidi at Streams of Mercy

Heather at Doodle Acres

Baronius Press


Baronius Press announces the publication of a new edition of The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the Breviary of the Extraordinary Latin Liturgy, as permitted by Summorum Pontificum.

“The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been a corner stone of Catholic devotion, for both priests and lay people, throughout the centuries. We hope that by publishing this new edition, people today will discover the fruits of these beautiful prayers to the Mother of God” notes Dr. John Newton, Editor of Baronius Press.

Of particular note is the inclusion of the complete Gregorian chant for the Office in this book. The music for the Little Office has never before been gathered together in one volume.

Fr. Berg, Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter warmly welcomed this new publication: “Devotion to Our Lady is part of the spiritual life of the Church, and fulfils her words that all generations will call her blessed (Luke i.48). The Little Office will help the Faithful to pray with even greater devotion to Our Blessed Lady. ”

This publication is published in cooperation with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, A Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right founded with the approval of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1988, for the formation and sanctification of priests in the framework of the TRADITIONAL LITURGY of the ROMAN RITE and their pastoral deployment in the service of the Church.



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Baronius Press, the London based Catholic book publisher, has seen a doubling in sales of Extraordinary Rite Missals, since the motu proprio Summorum Pontifum was announced two months ago. “It would seem that Summorum Pontificum, has generated a considerable amount of interest and excitement in the traditional Latin liturgy among the Catholic laity”, commented Dr. John Newton, Baronius Press’s Editor.

As the only publisher in the world of a Church approved 1962 Latin Missal1, Baronius Press has received media attention around the world, including features on Vatican Radio and EWTN. The Baronius 1962 Missal, which is being reprinted at the moment, includes the full text of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum at the front (in Latin and English).

“We felt it was important to include the full text of the Summorum Pontificum in the Missal, as a continuous reminder of the Holy Father’s generous permission, for all the Catholic faithful, to freely participate in the Extraordinary form of the Mass” concludes Dr. Newton.

This publication is published in cooperation with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, A Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right founded with the approval of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1988, for the formation and sanctification of priests in the framework of the TRADITIONAL LITURGY of the ROMAN RITE and their pastoral deployment in the service of the Church.

For further information please contact us via our website

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Welcome Karen

Please give Karen's blog a visit here.

And check out her conversion story, I Was Blind and Now I See

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Are you in RCIA?

I would like to start a list here on Catholic Converts of those who are in RCIA this year . . . sort of an RCIA prayer list if you will.

If you are in RCIA this year and would like to be added to the list. Please leave a comment on this post. If you have a blog, please feel free to share the link.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A new poll

How often do you receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
A few times a year
Once a year
Less than once a year
See Results

Monday, August 06, 2007

We're back

I am finally moved and back online. I'll start with catching up on some of the going-ons since I've been away.

Jonathan has retired his blog Ancient and Future Catholic Musings and is now posting on A Deo et Rege

Danielle at my anticipation has joined the Catholic Converts blogroll. She is blogging her conversion experience as it happens.

We have also been joined by Valerie at There is a Season. Be sure to give Valerie a visit sometime.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Updates for now

Please pay a visit to the newest member of the CC Blogroll, Rachel at Little Toe in the Tiber

Also, Rebecca at Thre-fold Cord is ready to share the conclusion to her conversion story.

In other news, I apologize for not posting much lately. I've been taking a break from blogging. I'm am in the process of moving out of my apartment and preparing to move into a house that I am renting. However, I'll be crashing on a friends couch for a couple of weeks and won't have access to my personal computer. So don't expect any blog activity for a couple of weeks. I will still be checking me email however.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Randy's Conversion Story

Randy at Purify Your Bride has shared his conversion story here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Welcome Nicholas

Welcome to the Catholic Converts blogroll!

Visit Nicholas at Musings of a Scottish Catholic Teuchtar

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Welcome John

Give John a visit at Prodigal's Rest

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Byzantine Forum

I have found a interesting messsage board for those interested in learning about the Eastern tradition of the Catholic Church.

The Byzantine Forum

Rebecca's Converstion Story Part 2

Rebecca has posted the second part of her conversion story. Part three is on the way.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Welcome Randy

The newest member of the CC Blogroll is Purify Your Bride. Give Randy a visit.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Welcome Matthew Kelley

The newest member of the blogroll is Matthew Kelley at Papist Forever.

Matthew has the distinction of claiming the 50th blog to join the Catholic Converts blogroll. There's no prize involved except for a big God Bless!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Catholic Rites and Churches

As a reference I thought it would be nice to list the different liturgical rites present in the Catholic Church today. There is a good outline available on EWTN. Since my interest has been peaked somewhat I may try to look at each of these rites in it's own post, probably on my other blog though.

Western Rites and Churches

ROMAN or Latin Rite

Roman: 1969 Missale Romanum

Missal of 1962 (Tridentine Mass)

Anglican Use: Anglican forms, doctrinally corrected. In use since the 1980s

Mozarabic: Rite of the Iberian peninsula; Rite of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Toledo, Spain and six other parishes. Known from at least the 6th century.

Ambrosian: Rite of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy

Bragan: Rite of the Archdiocese of Braga, the Primatial See of Portugal.

Dominican: Rite of the Order of Friars Preacher

Carmelite: Rite of the Order of Carmel

Carthusian: Rite of the Carthusian Order

Eastern Rites and Churches


West Syriac

Maronite: Never seperated from Rome; Maronite Patriarch of Antioch

Syriac: Returned to Rome in 1781; Syriac Patriarch of Antioch

Malankarese: Returned to Rome in 1930

East Syriac

Chaldean: Returned to Rome in 1692; Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans

Syro-Malabarese: Returned to Rome in the 16th century


Armenian: either it's own rite or and older version of the Byzantine rite; returned to Rome at the time of the Crusades; Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians


Albanian: Returned to Rome in 1628

Belarussion/Byelorussion: Returned to Rome in the 17th century

Bulgarian: Returned to Rome in 1861

Czech: Organized in 1996

Krizevci: Returned to Rome in 1611

Greek: Returned to Rome in 1829

Hungarian: Descendants of Ruthenians who returned to Rome in 1646

Italo-Albanian: Never separated from Rome

Melkite: Returned to Rome at the end of the Crusades; Melkite Greek Patriarch of Damascus

Romanian: Returned to Rome in 1697

Russian: Returned to from in 1905

Ruthenian: Returned to Rome in 1596 and 1646


Ukrainian: Returned to Rome at 1595; Patriarch or Metropolitan of Lviv


Coptic: Returned to Rome in 1741: Patriarch of Alexandria

Ethiopian/Abyssinian: Returned to Rome in 1846

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rebecca's Conversion Story

Rebecca at Three-fold Cord has started writing her conversion story. Here is Part I

A question from a reader

I'm pulling this out of the comments for your input.

If one comes to the decision that protestantism/evangelicalism doesn't work because one is always having to decide what one is to believe based on one's own personal interpretation, and that one should be therefore either Catholic or Orthodox, how does one *decide* whether to be Catholic or Orthodox, when the whole point of leaving protestantism/evangelicalism is to give up the burden of having to *decide* what to believe?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Catching Up

Well, I'm back from my week on vacation. I had a great trip and was able to spend a lot of time with family.

While I was away . . .

Blogroll additions:

The Three Massketeers
minion of the pope
Three-fold cord

Conversion stories:

Tom: My Journey to the the Catholic Faith
Russ: My Personal Conversion Story

And some very good advice stemming from the earlier posts concerning an agnostic spouse courtesy of Jen as "Et Tu?"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In case you are wondering

I'm out of town this week visiting my family and spending a lot of time with my 7 month old nephew! This also means I'm limited to dial-up access. I'll be back on Sunday. There have been a couple of bloggers request that they be added to the blogroll. I also have a new conversion story to post. Have a good rest of the week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Apostolic Succession

I received the following question a couple of weeks ago:
Your article nicely articulates the importance of Peter and even his primacy. However, it's the successor part that seems largely contrived. there seems to be no Biblical backing for Peter passing on the role he played in the infancy of Christ's Church.

And this seems a rather important aspect.

Before I decide a single man can accurate determine how millions of Christians should believe, I would need a bit more evidence that this is how God intended his Church to operate in the days beyond Peter.
I apologize for taking so long to come up with a response. The last few weeks have been pretty busy. I have attempted to answer this question from a bibical view only. I think it is important to note that the succession of Peter is part of the overall concept of apostolic succession applied to the office of bishop including the office of Bishop of Rome held by Peter's successors.

As always, if anything in this response is incorrect please let me know so that I can correct it. Also, if there is anything that you would like to add, please leave a comment or send me an email.

When considering the question of apostolic succession I think it is important to consider the example set forth in the Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament we are presented with a series of earthly patriarchs leading God’s people. We begin in Genesis 5, which traces the generations from Adam to Noah. Here we also see that Shem was the first-born son of Noah. Then moving to Genesis 11: 10 – 26 we see the line from Shem to Abram. We are presented with our first example of God changing the name of a patriarch while establishing a new covenant in Genesis 17. God says to Abram, “My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram; you name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations.”

After Abraham’s death Scripture tells us that, “God blessed his son Isaac” (Gen. 25: 11). From here we move to Genesis 27, which tells us of Jacob’s deception of his father Isaac. Jacob obtains his father’s blessing and succeeds him instead of his brother Esau. In Genesis 32: 29 Jacob’s name is changed, “You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” After Israel’s arrival in Egypt and as his death nears Scriptures recount for us his last message to his sons. We see that Israel blesses Joseph, calling him, “the prince among his brothers” (Gen. 49: 26).

Looking in Exodus 3 we find God calling Moses to lead his people. Upon Moses’ death, after leading Israel out of Egypt, he is succeeded by Joshua. “Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands upon him; and so the Israelites gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command to Moses” (Deuteronomy 34: 9). “After the death of Joshua the Israelites consulted the Lord, asking, “Who shall be first among us to attack the Canaanites and to do battle with them?” The Lord answered, “Judah shall attack: I have delivered the land into his power.” (Judges: 1: 1 – 2). Here we see the return of one of the son’s of Israel as patriarch of the Israelites. Looking in Matthew 1: 1 – 17 we see the genealogy of Abraham, through Judah, to Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary.

The Old Testament genealogies are important in that they record the continuity of the bloodline establishing the house of David to which the messiah was promised. They also describe for us the succession of the patriarchs. There are also several other interesting things to be found in this record.

Twice we are presented with examples of a patriarch’s name being changed. We come across this scenario again in Matthew 16: 18 when Christ says to Simon, “and I say to you, you are Peter.” Throughout history there had always been an earthly patriarch in place to lead God’s people and to communicate His Word to them. It was upon these patriarchs that God had built the nation of Israel. Immediately after giving Simon the name of Peter Christ says, “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16: 18 – 19). Here we are presented with the record of Christ establishing the first earthly patriarch of the New Testament Church.

The next interesting thing from the Old Testament is Joshua’s succession of Moses. Scripture says that Joshua was, “filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands upon him” (Deuteronomy 34: 9). In Numbers 27: 12 – 23 we read of the moment when God designated Joshua as Moses’ successor. Moses said, “may the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, set over the community a man who shall act as their leader in all things, to guide them in all their actions; that the Lord’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27: 16 – 17). In the verses that follow God instructs Moses to transmit his authority to Joshua by laying his hands upon him. There are two important connects to New Testament scripture here. First, let’s look at laying on of hands.

In 1 Timothy 4: 14, Paul tells Timothy, “do not neglect the give you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.” Paul reminds Timothy of this again in 2 Timothy 1: 6 when he says, “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” If Christ had not intended for apostolic succession to take place there would be no reason for Paul or anyone else to formally transfer authority to others in this manner.

The second interesting thing is Moses request of the Lord, “to guide them in all their actions; that the Lord’s community may not be like sheep without a shepard” (Numbers 27: 17). Obviously Moses is concerned that after his death the people would go astray without a leader. This offers a striking connection to Jesus’ discourse to Peter shortly before his Ascension. This exchange is recorded in John 21: 15 – 19. In verses 15 – 17 Jesus says to Peter, “feed my lambs”, “tend my sheep”, and “feed my sheep.” Jesus has set Peter over the community to “act as their leader in all things, to guide them in all their actions” (Numbers 27: 16). Christ does this so that his people on earth will not become like sheep without a shepard.

As we have seen, Scripture suggest that apostolic succession was expected with Paul’s transference of authority to Timothy. Scripture provides further evidence of the intention for this succession to continue after Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3: 1 – 7 Paul give Timothy instructions concerning the qualifications for bishops. In 2 Timothy 2: 2 Paul instructs Timothy, “and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.” Obviously, Timothy was expected to transfer his knowledge and authority to others in order to preserve and spread the Gospel.

Acts 1: 15 – 26 also serves as an example of apostolic succession. Judas, though he turned away from it, was allotted a share of the apostolic ministry. After his betrayal and subsequent death the apostles deemed it necessary to fill his office with another. If the apostles’ offices were limited to their own lifetimes, there would have been no reason to do so.

When we consider all of Scripture we find a wealth of information testifying to the validity of apostolic succession. The succession of Peter and all the bishops is necessary to ensure that the faithful do not become like sheep without a shepard. I decided to stay in within the bounds of the original question and not include any non-Biblical sources in this response. However, there are important writings in existence that speak of apostolic succession, especially the succession of Peter, from as early as the first century. These writings are vital to understanding the early church. Many of the writers from the first few centuries likely had first or second hand knowledge of the apostles and their acceptance of the idea of apostolic succession is an important part of understanding this topic. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to address this topic in light of those sources in the near future.

Related Article: Papal Infallibility

Welcome Jonathan

First, let me say that I was raised in a house with no spiritual upbringing. My father was raised a strict member of the Methodist Church of North America (Free Methodist) which he rebelled against after he joined the Navy. As a result, my conversion story starts in 1985 when attending World History class at South Grand Prairie High and studying medieval history. Upon further review of Catholicism I went to my local Catholic church which was meeting at the time in Zavala Elementary. Upon meeting them, I felt a kinship that I had not felt from anyone outside of my family. The parish priest, Father John Fowler instructed me in RCIA and made me feel this was the place I belonged. As a result, I was received into the church on 16 March 1986 in a baptism ceremony that was held in the school's office. I also received first communion and was confirmed on that day. Ever since that day I have been a Catholic. One of the first major things I did was go to San Antonio to visit the Holy Father in 1987 with the majority of our parish. I was always strengthened by the words my pastor first told me,"Scandals and troubles will always come and tempt to leave, but if your fervent in your faith and example you willnot leave." Thank God I have not. To paraphrase St. Peter's reply to Jesus, "Lord were else would we go?"
Scrappy Conservatives

Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome Rick and Jason

Rick shares some of the icons that he paints on his blog flesh and blood.

Jason at Always Jason also joins the blogroll and shares his conversion story.

A note about comments

Comments are good and welcome. Being argumentative is acceptable. However, comments should be coherent. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.

If you have different beliefs and views on a topic it is fine to express them here as long as you do so in a respectable manner. If you personally attack another individual, regardless of their views, your comment will be deleted. I really don't want to have to turn comment moderation back on so please be respectful.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Any former agnostics or atheists out there?

A reader has submitted a request for conversion stories from former agnostics or atheists. The reader isn't looking for intellectual or academically argumentative stories, but rather ones of a more personal nature. If you have a story to share please post it in the comments section or email it to All names and email addresses will remain anonymous. Here is the reader's original question with non essential information deleted by me.

I have been attempting to find some stories of people who have come into the church from an agnostic or simply apathetic conscience. . . All atheistic conversions seem to be those of the intellectual bent, those do not interest me as much. The reason I am searching is that I am a recent convert and my wife is not a believer. I am hoping reading some others experiences will help me on our journey together, that I may ultimately help her come into the fold through her own desire.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mary's Children Rosaries

This is a little off topic for this blog, but . . .

I want to draw you attention to Mary's Children Rosaries.

If you are in the market for a new and unique rosary, Stephanie may have just what you are looking for. I believe she also takes custom orders. I haven't bought one of Stephanie's rosaries but I did have her repair mine that had broken. So, I am confident to say that she does quality work.

Courage to be Catholic

Heidi at Streams of Mercy has written a great post titled Courage to be Catholic.
The post makes several points about having the courage to enter the Catholic Church and having the courage to share your experience with others. This is definitely a good ready for anyone considering converting or anyone who has converted.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Charles and Jackie

Charles is a convert of 15 years and is now a religious of the Franciscan order. Pay Charles a visit at a minor friar.

Jackie is a cradle Catholic who has added us to her blogroll. Visit Jackie at Catholic mom of 10

Monday, May 07, 2007

Welcome Paula

The newest member of the Catholic Converts blogroll is Paula at Receiving Light

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Intercessions of St. Augustine

I thought this was an interesting example of the power of intercessory prayer. Back on January 24th I asked St. Augustine for his intercessions in helping this blog to grow. In the few months since we've gone from having 3 or 4 blogs on the blogroll to 40. And check out this graph showing the page visits since the blog's first day on May 23, 2006 through today.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Catholic Converts Poll #5

The Holy Spirit moves around and through us in many different ways. He often uses other people whom we come into contact with to influence our lives. This poll hopes to take a look at who had the most impact on your decision to enter the Catholic Church.

*UPDATE* For some reason the poll didn't seem to be registering votes. It should be working now.

Who had the most profound impact on your conversion?
Family Member
Religious Brother/Sister
TV/Radio Personality
Total Stranger
See Results

Friday, May 04, 2007

What I said 5 years ago and how I understand it today.

This is a mirror of a post that I made on Calling Rome Home tonight. Since it deals with my conversion experience I though it would be appropriate to post it here also.

For no particular reason I pulled up my old LiveJournal, don't ask because you won't get the link :-), and started reading through it. Check out the first part of a post from April 19, 2002

I've thought about this quite a bit lately....and it really bothers me how people are all about how you should go to one church and not another....and how they can be so critical about it I think as long as you are going to worship God it shouldn't matter what church it is. baptist, catholic, methodist, non-denominational...whatever C.

This was during my junior year of college and a few months after going to my first Mass and by that time I'd probably been to Mass three times. It was also at a very low point in my life when I was looking for some sort of affirmation anywhere I could find it. Well actually not "anywhere". Even though I was thinking about church and God I really wasn't looking to God. Even though I knew he was calling me somewhere and I gave in and went to church a few times I think I was for the most part trying to hide from Him.
It took another year or more before I reached a real turning point and really asked God for his mercy and guidance. It was at that point that I at first slowly, and finally enthusiastically, set out on the path He had been calling me down all along. That path led me home to the Catholic Church.

I read those words from 5 years ago now and realize that my thoughts were very "me-centered". "As long as it's somewhere that you feel comfortable and you are able to worship and have fellowship with God", how much more self-centered can you get? Even though I used words like worship and fellowship the "you feel comfortable" is obviously the operative phrase. At the time I didn't feel comfortable at the Southern Baptist church I had been to in town but did feel comfortable at the Catholic Church. At the same time I felt pretty comfortable at the Southern Baptist church that I had spent my teenage years in whenever I went home from college. I remember thinking that whenever I moved again I would just have to shop around for a church that I felt comfortable in.

Sometime after this things started happening at my old church back home that made me start to feel uncomfortable with it and over the course of time led to my ultimate disenfranchisement with Protestantism. I guess while I was spending all that time trying to find something that made me feel good, God was slowly guiding me to where he wanted me. Even though I was almost completely focused on myself God used whatever bit of true desire that I had for Him to draw me to Himself.

I think this is a pretty good example of God's grace working in our lives. Even though I was very self-centered and looking out for myself alone, some part of me still had a desire for God. This small part was there because it had to be. God created man for Himself. God implants on the heart of every person a desire for Himself. It is by God's grace that no matter how loud we shout or how far we run we can never completely drown out or get away from this inherent desire for God by which he calls all mankind to Himself.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just some housekeeping

The Catholic Converts blogroll reached a new milestone today. We now have 40 blogs written by converts to the Catholic Faith on the blogroll. We also have 15 conversion stories linked in the sidebar. There is always room for more, so keep those stories coming so that anyone who finds this site looking for such things will have a lot to choose from.
Also, please keep in mind that I am always open to allowing others to have posting privileges on this blog. This blog is all about being a resource for anyone considering converting to the Catholic Faith and I've long thought it would make a good group blog. So if you think you would like to contribute, please let me know. If you write something on your own blog that you think would be helpful to anyone looking for information about the Catholic Church and would like for me to post a link to it, please let me know.

Welcome Sara

I'd like to join your blog roll. I converted nearly 15 years ago (WOW!
I didn't realize) and will post my conversion story soon. Thanks for
the consideration.

The Estrogen Files

Sara Carney

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Conversion Tipping Point

Runningmom left this comment:

Would you consider doing a poll asking what it was that finally drew folks in to the Church? What was it that finally made them complete the swim? I think it would be fascinating.

I thought about a poll but I think that the options are too many and I dont' want to limit the discussion on this topic. I actually tried to get a conversation started on this about a month and a half ago. Below is a reposting of that post along with the 2 comments that it received.

Are you able to identify anything that acted as a tipping point during your conversion? When was the moment that you moved from unbelief to belief? Was there something that caused the wall of your objections to crumble? Please join in the discussion in the comments section.I have mentioned before that I had several objections to the Catholic Faith including but not limited the communion of saints, the Virgin Mary, and the Real Presence in the Eucharist. One night I was watching EWTN when a priest who was a guest on one of the shows mentioned the story of the Road to Emmaus in Luke chapter 24. I took out my Bible and read the passage. I had read it before but that time it really struck me and was suddenly sure of the Real Presence of the Eucharist. From there all of my other objections were easily dealt with. This was definately a big tipping point in my conversion.

13 And behold, two of them went, the same day, to a town which was sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, named Emmaus. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that while they talked and reasoned with themselves, Jesus himself also drawing near, went with them.
16 But their eyes were held, that they should not know him. 17 And he said to them: What are these discourses that you hold one with another as you walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleophas, answering, said to him: Art thou only a stranger to Jerusalem, and hast not known the things that have been done there in these days? 19 To whom he said: What things? And they said: Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in work and word before God and all the people; 20 And how our chief priests and princes delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
21 But we hoped, that it was he that should have redeemed Israel: and now besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea and certain women also of our company affrighted us, who before it was light, were at the sepulchre, 23 And not finding his body, came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, who say that he is alive. 24 And some of our people went to the sepulchre, and found it so as the women had said, but him they found not. 25 Then he said to them: O foolish, and slow of heart to believe in all things which the prophets have spoken.
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things that were concerning him. 28 And they drew night to the town, whither they were going: and he made as though he would go farther. 29 But they constrained him; saying: Stay with us, because it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent. And he went in with them. 30 And it came to pass, whilst he was at table with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him: and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures? 33 And rising up, the same hour, they went back to Jerusalem: and they found the eleven gathered together, and those that were staying with them, 34 Saying: The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.


Mark said...
For me it was not so much a first-time conversion, because I was educated in Roman Catholic primary schools. Instead, it was like a home-coming.

But Priests did it for me. Firstly, the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI brought me back to Church, and the "realness" of Catholic Priests brought me from Anglicanism back to Catholicism.

Anonymous said...
Hi! My name is Heidi, and I entered the Church in 1994. Basically, my "tipping point" was my pastor, who left my Baptist church to become Catholic -- he seemed so happy to be losing his home and his livelihood, I had to find out what had gotten into him! It's more complicated than that, of course ... you can read the whole story on my blog on a post called "Church Girl Runs Home" on my blog
Happy reading ... and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Back up to speed . . . (almost)

The dinosaur computer just wasn't cutting it. It was getting slower by the minute. It took me forever to post over here today. Since buying a new computer isn't an option right now I decided to risk it all tonight. I determined that the hard drive was the problem with my computer and I really don't want to invest in a new hard drive at the moment. So I took the hard drive out of the dinosaur computer and put it into the newer one. After what has seemed like forever installing drivers I'm back up and running. Obviously I'm still on Windows 98 which does create some issues, but at least I have the benefit of a faster processor and a better graphics card which was also wrecking havic with the dinosaur.

I can do just about anything else that I need to do on my computer at work. But I don't think they would take too kindly to blogging. Being able to keep up with my blogs was the main priority for the home computer so pray that this hard drive holds up.

Welcome Emile-James and Russ

Christ is Risen!hello, from Canada,as a convert ten years ago, from Evangelical-Protestantism, . . .mine is a Video Blog with a collection, some self made, of 35 catholic Videos, mostly vocational , inspirational. keep up the good blogging. PAX! Emile-James


I left the CC at 14 and was a Jesus Freak/Evangelical/charismatic/methodist then came home 2004, 30 years later!
I feel like a convert!
God bless

Crossed the Tiber

Monday, April 23, 2007

CC Blogroll Members: We've Been Tagged

The entire Catholic Converts Blogroll is hereby tagged for a meme.
The Favorite Saints Meme.

Favorite Saints Meme

Leave Your Head At The Door

The parameters are:

Your four favorite saints

Your favorite blessed

One person that you think should be a saint.

This is a pretty tough meme. If you participate it would be great if you left a link to your post in the comments section.

Welcome Kacy

Hey, I'm a Catholic convert who entered the Church March 25.

Meandering Home

And my conversion story is here:Kacy's Conversion Story

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Still here (if not much slower that before) and wondering about veneration

In the most recent Catholic Converts poll veneration of relics/images/etc is taking about 50% of the vote. This is very interesting me. Partly because this is an area that I have very little knowledge of. To be honest my first real life encounter with the topic came during this past Easter Triduum with the veneration of the Cross. I admit that I was actually somewhat uncomfortable at the time and I'm still not real excited about the whole idea. Therefore, I intend to try to educate myself. I will also try to pull together some of what I find for a post here since it seems to be a common issue among converts to the Catholic Faith.
That being said, I don't know when I'll get it done. My researching and blogging is vastly slowed by the dinosar computer that I am now using (see post below). I haven't tried to open a pdf on this machine yet and I'm afraid that it is going to be difficult. I'm having trouble enough with the content of today's webpages that has so vastly evolved since this computer was last in regular use.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Computer Issues

Things may get really slow around here. My computer seems to have died. I'm waiting on my computer guru brother-in-law to call me back to see if there is anything that can be done. In the mean time I've pulled a dinosaur of a computer out of the closet. Right now I'm running Windows 98 and boy is it slow! This thing hasn't even been plugged in for almost five years (yeah, I know I'm a pack rat). Just pray that this one doesn't go do too since I can't really afford a new computer at the moment.

New Addition to the Blogroll

Here is the latest addition to the Catholic Converts Blogroll

the Wacky Wannabe Musical Monk

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Natural Family Planning

In response to the earlier posts on Contraception (Contraception and Contracpetion Part 2) a comment was left here refering to NFP and More as a good online resource.

I wanted to pull this out along with some other NFP links provided by a poster on the Defenders of the Catholic Faith Forum

NFP and More

USCCB: Natural Family Planning

One More Soul

Couple to Couple League

Friday, April 13, 2007

Catholic Converts Poll #4

Time for a new poll. Thank you to everyone who voted in the last one.

This options in this poll follow no particular theme. They are topics picked out of the index of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Which aspect of the Catholic Church was/is the most difficult for you to understand and/or accept?
All Male Clergy
Priestly Celibacy
Infant Baptism
Veneration of relics/images/etc.
See Results

Blogger's Choice Awards

In the "Best Religion Blog" category the top 4 are Catholic blogs with the top 5 being rounded out by an atheist blog.

Jennifer at Et Tu, Jen?, a Catholic Converts blogroll member, is in the top ten!

Two more convert blogs . . .

Look up to the Heavens! is a blog dedicated to the life and works of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and her daughters in religion.

Epiphany of Faith is the blog of Terri who was just received into the Catholic Church at this year's Easter Vigil.

Contraception part 2

Yesterday I received an email requesting a post discussing the Church's teaching on contraception. I posted a reply in the post titled Contraception

Radical Catholic Mom has done what I am unqualified to do and submit a reply to this question from a first hand perspective.

Here is the question again for reference followed by Radical Catholic Mom's response.

At 46 going on 47 years old with the last pregnancy in my late 30s ending in a painful and emotional miscarriage. My husband and I decided it was time not to have any more. I am at a loss on the church’s teaching on no contraceptives. So what is the church’s teaching on this and is there scripture to back it up?

I should also state that my husband and I are on different prescribed mediations for our health that affect unborn babies for the last several years.
I believe that God has taken this issue from me and my husband. My heart is at peace and with my recent conversion I feel that God is strongly leading me to do more for the Catholic church than just sit in mass.

I would like to say "Congratulations" on your entry into the Church. Welcome Home! The good news is that you have joined a Church that refuses to bend in the face of the world. The bad news is that you have joined a Church that refuses to bend in the face of the world.

I am also a convert to the Faith and my own conversion regarding contraception took a period of years before I could finally accept whole heartedly the Church's position. What it takes is an open heart, a desire to do God's will, and a desire for true Joy. I think the very fact you wrote the email you did, reveals you are uncomfortable with where you are at. You want to justify yourself, but I think you yourself are not even fully satisfied with your own explanations.

I would like to add to what Chris wrote. You may have read what he wrote and said, "I agree," but you still may not understand what the big deal is.

The big deal is this: We are not gnostics. We do not believe that there is a separation between the soul and body. We believe they are inherently linked, even our fertility. The non-Christian world says, "we own our fertility". The Catholic world says, "no we don't." We believe our fertility is an integral part of who we are.

It is so integral that the Church says every single sexual act HAS to be honest. And what is honesty? Honesty is not going into a sexual act preparing for war. That's right. Every time a person uses a barrier between herself and her partner, whether it is a physical barrier or a chemical barrier, and chooses to have sex, you are saying with your words, "I love you and give myself to you" but your body is saying "Except for this part of me." The Church demands Her people not split body and soul, but rather unify them as God willed them to be unified. Even if you and your partner don't Say its "war" your bodies cannot not lie. You are placing a barrier between yourselves that IS a real barrier.

By its VERY definition, "CONTRA-CEPTION" is negative. You go and have sex and use something negative. "Against Conception." Our secular world calls this "protection" or "control." So a child no longer is a natural, logical outcome, but rather a "thing" to be planned and a "thing" to be ordered. This is so serious the Church calls "Contraception" as a part of "The Culture of Death." Those are some hard core words, don't you think? Not convinced yet? In its 1992 ruling in Casey vs Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court sounded like the Catholic Church when it said that contraception has changed the very nature of sex. People have sex and don't want a child. So when a child is conceived, it no longer is a natural, logical product of two loving people, but a thing or a "product of conception" that MUST be destroyed if the parent so chooses.

I really encourage you to reading Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, Janet Smith's "Contraception Why Not?," and John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." Google these and you can begin to read.

For me, I began my own change towards believing in Contraception for two reasons. 1) I was active in the pro-life movement and I began to understand that ALL hormonal contraceptions are abortafacients by nature. Since I believe that life begins at conception and not implantation, I knew no pro-life person in good conscience could justify using them. 2)I met real, open, authentic Catholic people living their faith in concrete ways. I met a Catholic couple who was using Natural Family Planning and they showed me that NFP works, it is good for a marriage, and it most importantly respects God's plan.

If you want to read on NFP I wrote a whole section on it with all the footnotes in January of '07. Go here to read if you like. Since you are nearing menopause, I recommend the Billings method since you can use it for all stages of life.

I hope you have the courage to read on this, challenge yourself and your actions, and are open to change. The fact you have converted means you are all three. Keep it up. God's way is hard, scary sometimes because it means we are going to do something unique from most people, but at the end of it, you receive Peace and Joy knowing you are not offending God, you are loving your husband the way God wants you to love him, and you can participate by receiving the Eucharist.

Radical Catholic Mom

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I received the following question, in italics, in an email from a reader and recent convert to the Catholic Faith. I offer the following article in an attempt to answer the question. Please, if I have missed something, or misspoke in any way, let me know.

At 46 going on 47 years old with the last pregnancy in my late 30s ending in a painful and emotional miscarriage. My husband and I decided it was time not to have any more. I am at a loss on the church’s teaching on no contraceptives. So what is the church’s teaching on this and is there scripture to back it up?

I should also state that my husband and I are on different prescribed mediations for our health that affect unborn babies for the last several years.
I believe that God has taken this issue from me and my husband. My heart is at peace and with my recent conversion I feel that God is strongly leading me to do more for the Catholic church than just sit in mass.

The issue of contraception must be understood in context of the covenant marriage ordained by God. Scripture teaches us that marriage is both unitive and procreative. These are both essential elements contained in God’s divine plan.

In Genesis chapter two, verse 23 Adam said of Eve, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” Verse 24 explains, That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” In Genesis chapter one, verse 28 God blesses Adam and Eve and tells them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”

Christ echoed this in Matthew chapter 19, verses four through six, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that in marriage a man and a woman, “establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life” (CCC 1601).

Scripture reveals to us that it is God’s plan “from the beginning” (Mt. 19: 4) that man and woman should through marriage, “become one flesh” (Mt. 19: 5), for “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2: 18). “The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself” (CCC 1639).

Over and over again we are presented with this idea of union and oneness: “become one body”, “become one flesh”, “partnership of the whole of life”, “give and receive one anther”. Man and woman are called to give themselves totally to the other in marriage. The pinnacle manifestation of this giving and receiving, or consummation, is the conjugal act.
Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.
This conjugal love has as its natural end the gift of a child. “Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment” (CCC 2366).

Here I will follow momentarily a tangent concerning infertility. The Church recognizes that the inability to have children causes many couples to suffer greatly. (CCC 2374). The Catechism later says, “a child is not something owed to one, but it is a gift” (CCC 2378). “The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity” (CCC 2379). It should be noted here that the use of techniques such as surrogates and artificial insemination are not morally permissible. For more information please see CCC 2376 – 2377.

God established marriage as the means by which man and woman would give and receive of themselves to enter into this “partnership of the whole of life.” Through our sexuality, properly ordered for the bond of marriage, God gives us the awesome ability to share in His act of creation. This is a gift that we should embrace and cherish.

The use of contraception closes this ability to share in God’s act of creation. What more, it removes the full unity found in marriage. The use of contraceptives does not allow the spouses to give themselves fully to the other. Sin is the rejection of God’s will and divine plan. Therefore the Church rightly teaches that the use of contraceptives is morally illicit.

Pope Paul VI says in Humanae Vitae, “to be excluded . . . is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.” Scripture provides support for this in Genesis chapter 38. Verses 6 – 10 tell us that Judah instructed his son Onan to take the widow of his brother Er as his wife and to father children in order to preserve Er’s line. Verse 9 states, “Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brothers widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother. What he did greatly offended the Lord, and the Lord took his life also.”

In some circumstances it may be desirable for couples to regulate the birth of children.

“It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:
When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.
“By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood.”

Periodic continence, this is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.
Pope Paul VI summed this up nicely in Humanae Vitae saying that couples who refrain from sexual relations during periods of fertility, “make legitimate use of a natural disposition.”

In summary, the Church’s teachings on contraception must be understood in context of the marriage covenant established by God the Creator. In marriage man and woman are called to give of themselves totally to the other, becoming one flesh. This giving to each other naturally is conductive to the creation of new life. The conjugal act is the supreme manifestation of the marriage bond. Marriage is both unitive and procreative. As this is the natural design of God it is unacceptable to reject either aspect as they are both necessary and equal in accordance with God’s will. Contraception acts to block the procreative aspect of the conjugal act and is therefore illicit. Abstaining from sexual relations during periods of fertility is acceptable because it remains open to the possibility of the creation of new life is seen fit by God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Joes at The Breastplate of St. Patrick was kind enough to write this post concerning the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. I would also suggest that you check out Joel's post Protestantism Is A Lifeboat On Stormy Seas. Even though that post isn't directly related to this post, I think it is a good read.

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary was always a hard sell for me too. It wasn't until the last 6 months or so I started to get a handle on it. There are a few reasons why I feel that Mary needed to be a Perpetual Virgin and I will share them to the best of my knowledge and ability, however if I am off track or I contradict the Magisterium, please let me know and I will conform my opinions to those of the Church. Without further ado, the reasons are as follows.

1) Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant.

If you remember the Ark of the Old Covenant, it contained the 10 commandments (Word of God), the manna from the desert (Bread of Life) and Aaron's budding staff (Pastoral Symbolism). We also know that the foreshadowing of the Old Testament always takes a new form: the Word become flesh (John 1), the Passover Lamb becoming human, circumcision becoming baptism (Col 2:9-12). Following this vein, we can see that Mary was foreshadowed by the Ark of the Old Covenant having in her womb the Word of God, the Bread of Life and the Good Shepherd. What other reason for the Old Ark was there? It went before the Israelites through the wilderness and was the first into the waters of the Jordan, thereby allowing the Jews of the second generation to go through the waters as if in Baptism into the Promised Land. Please note the allegory of the Christian life found in the Exodus story. First in slavery to sin (Egypt), set free by the blood of the Lamb (passover), through the waters of Baptism (Red Sea) into the wilderness of the world where we are aliens on our pilgrimage to Heaven (wandering), fed with the Bread of Life and quenched with water from the Rock, given spiritual formation and training in holiness (Sinai and the 10 commandments), fighting against evil forces (defending against tribes in the area), and finally coming to the Promised Land, again through Baptism. The Ark led the way the whole time. So how does Perpetual Virginity work into this? Well, if you touched the Old Ark, you died. It was holy and set apart for God and God alone. It was a beacon, an object of adoration and a declaration of God's favour and provision. Mary likewise then was holy, set apart for God and God alone and is a beacon, object of adoration and a declaration of God's favour and provision. There is a strict "look but don't touch" rule in effect.

2)This was explained to me by my RCIA leader when I was but on my way to becoming a Catechumen because the Perpetual Virginity was high on my list of grievances with the Church.
The Jewish concept of marriage was a little different than what we have today. Anyone who has seen "The Nativity Story" has seen that when a couple became engaged, they were actually married at that point, but until the ceremony they were to refrain from what led to family so the marriage would be pure and there would be no doubt about the bride's virginity. We can see this in the Church today as the Church is the Bride of Christ, but the Marriage feast of the Lamb is spoken of as a future event. However, if the woman became pregnant, the Groom would marry her anyhow (if he knew the baby was his of course).
When it was announced to Mary that she was to conceive God's Son, she was under no illusions as to what that meant. To have someone's child was to be married to them. In her 'yes' Mary agreed to become God's 'spouse'. This makes sense also if Mary is to be the foreshadowing of the Church itself who is to be Christ's Spouse. Joseph therefore was told to take her into his house anyhow so that the baby would have a father and so God's Spouse would not be put to shame. Having said this, Joseph was a devout man the Gospels say and as a devout man, how could he in good consience have sexual relations with someone else's spouse? Mary had no other Children and remained a Virgin Perpetually because she became God's Spouse, prefiguring the marriage of Christ to the Church.

The question of Matt 1:25 came up to me also. It says:
"but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus."
What about the word "until"? I asked my Priest this question and he answered me thusly: In modern English the word until is used conditionally, that is to imply that whatever condition existed before no longer existed after. The original use of the word did not have this connotation of condition to it. Simply understood, when the author says 'until she bore a Son', he is trying to emphasize that she did not have relations with anyone, not even her own (earthly) husband so there would be no disputing that the child was of divine origin, not to imply this situation changed afterwards. I am quite satisfied with that explaination.

3) In the Garden of Eden, the Man was given the job of heading up the human family (which is more of a curse than a blessing if you are reading this as a feminist). If you will read Gen 3, you will find that Eve cursed herself and the relationships she will have as a result of being tricked, but since Adam chose sin over God, the whole of creation was damned. Sin entered into the world through the man only. This is one of the reasons that the Jewish faith is passed through the Mother only, because Original Sin is passed through the man. This is also the reason why Christ did not have an earthly father in a biological sense. He could not be scarred by sin in order to be our spotless sacrifice. Having said all this, Mary was the new Eve. In Gen 3 Adam named the woman Eve because she was the mother of all living. Likewise as the mother of all living in Christ, she is the new Eve. Therefore she is subject to Christ alone as he is the new Adam (1 Cor 15:35-50). To have sexual relations with anyone else would be to submit to or to put herself into subjection to the body of sin.
I was reading D.G.D. Davidson's conversion story at yesterday, and I noted specifically his ponderings on birth control. My wife asked why we don't allow barrier methods as they do not abort or cause medical complications. I referred to Gen 38 and the story of Tamar, the wife of Judah's son. Judah's son Er was struck down by God for being evil, so his brother Onan was told to go and 'raise up offspring for his brother' by making Tamar his wife. It is said then that Onan practiced the 'withdrawal method' and spilled his seed on the ground (every time it says). God struck him dead for this also. Why? because he refused to give of himself to the woman, he only took. It was the ultimate way to use and mistreat the woman in his day and age. Likewise, barrier methods of birth control have in fact perfected this feat of using, abusing and demeaning by now allowing the man to 'complete the act' without in fact giving of himself at all. Barrier methods allow men to steal more effectively from women. What does this have to do with the Perpetual Virginity of Mary? Well, if denying the gift of himself is evil, then a man does good by giving of himself, by giving of his flesh to his wife if you will for the purpose of creating a new life within her. Since the sacrament of marriage is a foreshadowing of our marriage (in the Church) to Christ, and Christ always does what is good, he gives of his flesh to his bride, the Church, for the purpose of creating a new life within her, both collectively and individually speaking. Finally, as previously mentioned, as the foreshadow of the Church, Mary accepts "the Flesh of God" as the creation of a new life within her. To accept another flesh less than that of God after this is unthinkable and unnacceptable.

4)Like Divine Revelation, the doctrines about Mary are trinitarian to a certain degree. They are Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity and Assumption into Heaven. Mary was Immaculately conceived as I understand as a singular grace given in advance for what Christ was about to do (and had in fact accomplished as he is Divine, outside of the bounds of time and therefore everything is now to Him) so redeeming her also. If she did not receive this grace, Perpetual Virginity and Assumption would be impossible. To be without stain of Original Sin meant that she committed no actual or personal sins. This meant that she was without concupicence or tendency towards sin, and therefore capable of remaining pure in every sense. This also means, since the wages of sin is death (Rom 3:23), then she was free to be assumed into Heaven because she had no sin to be paid for.
What this all means is that if you attack or deny Perpetual Virginity, you then also deny the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. By saying she did not remain a Virgin is to say that she was capable of sinning, and that means she was not born free of concupicence, and therefore not born free of Original Sin. What this also implies is that she had sinned and therefore was capable of dying. Even farther, if Mary sinned, Christ was also marked by sin and could not be our sacrifice for sin, and this would make his death useless and deny also the resurrection due to the fact the resurrection relies on the assertion that Christ was in fact sinless.
There is a good reason that the Church declares these things Dogmas of the Church; because if you deny one of them the whole of the faith unravels and is left a sham.

1 Cor 15:17-19
17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

I hope this has helped you out! I had a lot of fun writing it, and putting it all together on 'paper' helps me solidify my own view.

In Christ Jesus the Risen Lord