This is what I feel when I go to confession…once I am in there. Prior to the moment in the picture above, it can feel like a fight for my eternal soul (at times). I usually go to confession aka the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least every two weeks. I feel better when I do. I’m human. I make mistakes. I sin….fairly often. So do you….but that really isn’t my business most of the time.
Going to confession can feel embarrassing. Especially when I end up confessing the same things over and over and OVER. Not long ago, I ended up in the confessional a train wreck of guilt and shame. I was confessing the same thing, AGAIN. It hurt, I was ashamed, and I really did not want to talk about it. (Side note: I prefer face to face confessing. It is an option, even in the confessional. One side, you go behind a screen. The other side is an extra chair and you are face to face with a priest.) Back to the story at hand…
I was a ball of pain, pity, and agony. I asked Father Jim one question. “Why should I confess this sin and that I am contrite when I KNOW at some point soon, I am going to do this again?” I’ve been confessing this sin(s) for quite a while. It gets frustrating. The nice thing about going to confession face to face with the same priest is that you can build a relationship with him. Fr. Jim knows me pretty well. He looked me in the eye and said, “Do not presume to understand the depth and breadth of God’s mercy. Keep confessing, keep avoiding the occasion of sin.” He said some other things, but I want to keep those little treasures close to my heart.
I cannot begin to tell you all the wonderful things about going to confession. I can tell you one thing I have learned though. The former Catholics, the fallen away, the “recovering” Catholics, the angry ones, and the ones who grudgingly admit they were raised catholic seem to have one thing in common. They are hostile towards the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I understand and am not judging them. I cannot let my struggles guilt and shame me into staying away from Christ. The struggle can be difficult. Once I am in the confessional, my fear slips away. I am able to admit my faults and mistakes. I am truly sorry and regretful. I detest them. I am human though, and very frail. I screw up. All. the. time. I don’t do it on purpose, knowing I can confess it later. That would be a blessing in a way. No. I wake up, do my best, and fail. Everyday. I believe that when I confess my sins to the priest, that Christ is standing there. The absolution given by the priest only has worth because Christ gave it to the priests, here.(John 20:23)
Prior to any sacrament of reconciliation it is customary to examine ones conscience. There are numerous guides, checklists, apps, and suggestions for doing this. All of them have one thing in common. They only work as well as the person doing it is willing to be honest. I have used several. I was recently given a different one called, “A Contemporary Adult Guide to Conscience for the Sacrament of Confession” by, Fr. Richard J. Rego. Its brevity belies the wealth of information it contains to help one on their journey to reconciliation.
Here is a quote I would like to share with you
…”Frequent reception of Holy Communion without the practice of frequent confession leads to a sterile and ritualistic reception of the Lord Jesus. these two great sacraments ought to go hand in hand. In reality, the more on receives our Lord in Holy Communion, the more he should realize his own unworthiness and his own inner need to be cleansed in the Sacrament of Penance…The more we receive the Sacrament of Penance the more we understand our own helplessness and human weakness..our complete dependence on the Savior.”
This is proving very true for me. I realize more as each day passes, just how much I need Christ in my life.
If you have been avoiding going to confession, I urge you to go. Lent is coming. That is a great time of year to go. If you are scared to go, take someone (me) with you. You can also call your (a) priest and make an appointment. I pray that you go.
Lord, teach me to laugh again, but don’t ever let me forget how I cried.
I’ve lived with that quote most of my life. I first encountered it when I was six years old. It was a favorite of my mother’s. Eventually it became one of mine. Where and how I encountered it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the truth encapsulated in it. This quote has truly saturated my being, who I am. In the last 5 years, I have had enough stressors to freak out the calmest of therapists. I have lost both my parents, left a controlling group, fell down in moral degradation, soaked in a mire of self-pity and hatred, fallen in love and married, only to be unceremoniously dropped like I was worth nothing, and more.
Hindsight truly is more clear than the sight of present and future. I remember going through RCIA very well. I remember our faith formation leader, Jon, holding up a bible and saying, “This book, is God’s plan of salvation for you, me and the whole world.” With that frame of mind I look and begin to see hints of God, Christ, His mother, and the Holy Spirit slowing working me. The entire time, I’ve been malleable clay. Even when I have thought I was in complete rebellion, and full flight from reality, God has been carrying me to a different place. A place of trust, service, and holiness. Even now, even understanding just a fraction, it is not easy or comfortable.
As always, people see the progress before I ever do. I am grateful for that. It helps keep me humble. It keeps me grateful. I truly believe that gratitude is an action. I am grateful for the Sacrifice Christ has made for me. Because of that, I honor His sacrifice frequently. I am grateful for the Church, so I contribute to her regularly. I am grateful for people in my life. Therefore, I strive daily to serve, if only in a small way. These little things have slowly amassed into something beautiful. Me, an integrated human. Who really would have thunk it?
For years, I craved discipline. Now I have a little. It gets me where I need to be, and keeps me focused on taking care of my body, mind, and spirit. I am not perfect…not by a long shot. I fall and fail miserably with regularity. Thank you, Jesus, for the sacrament of reconciliation. I can come broken and hurt, a sinner, and find comfort.
Some days I laugh, only because I don’t want to cry anymore. Some days I laugh, because I don’t want either of us to cry anymore. I do my best to remember where I have come from. In so many ways, I do not want to go back to that in my life. I like simple. I like kindness. I am even starting to really like boredom.
Somethings are hard to share. Think about it. How many times have we heard that, “A pain shared is a pain lessened.” Or, “Talk about it, it will take the power out of it.” This is true not only of negative or painful things is our life. This is true of every good thing as well. I hesitate. I don’t want what I have discovered to lose its power in my life. Jesus. Thankfully, His power is as endless as His mercy.
That is my challenge to myself and others who read this blog. Share those things you are most grateful for with somebody…anybody…everybody. Whether it is a top ten list of things you are grateful for, or a simple special thing…share it. Share it here, share it on Facebook. Share it with friends and family. Hell, share it with a complete stranger. Don’t hesitate and don’t over think it, just share. I will work on mine and post it here on the day before Thanksgiving.
Your friend in Christ,
Observations on the Eucharist
The source and summit of the faith IS the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ. Of all things Catholic, this understanding of Christ’s sacrifice is one of the most important to me. I remember the first moment when I recognized the Real Presence. I was attending St. Michael’s in Bedford, TX. I was kneeling like everyone else. Many people seemed intensely focused on the communion wafer. I tried to use my head to reason it out. Needless to say, that didn’t work. I recognized that I was drawn to it, and that it meant something important. By God’s grace, a reason…a truth, bubbled up in my heart. People were kneeling because they were in the presence of the King! I have no idea why I was allowed to understand this. I had received no catechesis or formation. At this particular point in my journey, I had only minimal exposure to the Catholic Church. I don’t think it was a grace or privilege that I deserved. It created in me a desire, a longing, and a spiritual hunger to experience Christ at a much deeper level. It is a large part of what helped push me through RCIA when it seemed like it would go on forever. I am not an expert on Catholic doctrine. I am not an apologist or a defender of the faith. I am not involved in faith formation of any kind. I do have a deep love of the faith and want to understand it more. I share these things because I want you to know it is OK to not take me seriously. I do not claim any theological expertise on catholic dogma. For my non-Catholic friends, please do not take what I say as authoritative. It isn’t. These are observations from my experience and my personal studying of Scripture and Sacred Tradition. If you have questions, please feel free to ask! If I don’t feel equipped to answer them, I will at least point you in the right direction and we can find the answer together. I have spent a great deal of time learning about the Eucharist. From reading the Bible, early church fathers, the personal lives of saints dedicated to it, Sacred Adoration, prayer, and contemplation I have a deep desire to understand and respect the Eucharist more. I would like to share with you some observations that I have stumbled across.
It may be helpful to define a few words:
Eucharist– 1. The sacrament of Holy Communion; the sacrifice of the Mass; the Lord’s Supper. 2. The consecrated elements of the Holy Communion, especially the bread. 3. The giving of thanks; thanksgiving.
Transubstantiation– 1. The changing of one substance into another. 2. (From Theology) the changing of the elements of the bread and wine, when they are consecrated in the Eucharist, into the body and blood of Christ.
Prefigure– 1. to show or represent beforehand by a figure or type; foreshadow. 2. To picture or represent to oneself beforehand; imagine.
I believe that the Bible is God’s plan of salvation for man. Explicitly and implicitly, it reveals to us how we have related to God, and God has related to us. It seems that there have been events or writings that have alluded to God’s plan in the Eucharist long before Christ was born. There is a type of symbolic symmetry between the Old Testament and the New Testament that points to the supremacy of God’s plan of salvation for the entire world. I ponder it often. Christ did not die for me. (Rather, me alone.) Christ died for everyone, everywhere. In all of time, from beginning to end Christ made a complete and perfect sacrifice for every individual and every sin committed in all of creation. I can be a self-centered person. I do enjoy contemplating the personal nature of what Christ accomplished on the cross. However, when I consider the totality of Christ’s accomplishment at Calvary, I am struck with an unfathomable sense of awe and wonder.
The book of John, chapter 6 is probably one of my favorite chapters of the entire bible. Rather than post the entire chapter, I will include a link here. Chapter 6 starts with the feeding of 5000. I can see a direct correlation implying that what Christ gives us in his body and blood is enough, more than enough. In fact, in feeding the 5000, there was enough left over to fill 12 baskets. Jesus tells the people that they followed him not because of miracles they had witnessed, but because of what they had eaten. (v26) They had consumed bread that had been blessed and transformed by Christ. This is a pre-figurement of the matter (bread) appearing as it always had but its essence completely changed. He goes on to say (v27), “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”
There is food that never spoils! It comes from Christ himself, the Son of man. The son of man is God’s chosen vessel to save mankind. Further in the same conversation, Christ reiterates that when the Israelites were wandering the desert, that it was God who sent bread (manna) from heaven, to feed his people. (v32) Christ reminds those listening that the bread of God comes from Heaven and gives life to the world. (v33) Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (v35) This causes some “murmuring” amongst the Jews listening. (v41) They do not like the title, “bread of life”. Again Jesus says it simply, “I am the bread of life.”(v48) He then connects all the dots for those present. The Israelites ate manna and died. Christ assured those present that those who eat the bread of life shall not die. (v50) Again, Jesus refers to himself as bread-living bread. (v51) Again, Jesus says, “…if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (v51) At this point the Jewish people gathered are not murmuring, they are arguing among themselves. (v52). With extreme patience (I think) Christ tells them AGAIN, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (v 53-54) Have you noticed a pattern yet?
If not, look at verses 55-58:
“For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.
In four consecutive verses, the same message is repeated. Eat and live, eat and live, eat and live forever. After saying this multiple times in different ways, the apostles responded by saying it was a hard saying. (v60) Why would this be difficult for the disciples? Jesus knew that the disciples had murmured at it, and possibly found it offensive. (v61) Later, it says that many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. (v66)
The internal question I ask myself again is, “Why?” It may seem strange that I started here, with these verses. Pointing to an allusion doesn’t work well if you don’t understand what is being allude to, or perhaps prepared for would be a better way to put it. Remember when I said the bible was God’s plan for salvation? What I mean is that the bible documents God’s plan.
This plan was played out in history. It started long before Christ ever walked the earth. When Cain killed Abel, the Lord told Cain, he could hear Abel’s blood crying from the ground. (Genesis 4:10) We know from reading this that God hears and sees everything. The blood of Abel was precious to God. In the book of Hebrews we are reminded that Christ’s blood is more gracious than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:24)
Melchizedek was a priest of the God Most High and king of Salem (Genesis 14:18) He brought forth bread and wine to Abraham. The translation of Melchizedek’s name is King of Righteousness and King of Peace. (Hebrews 7:2) It is interesting to note that this is what a priest does at Mass today. He brings forth bread and wine that has been blessed. There is an interesting parallel between Exodus 24:8 and Matthew 26:28. In Exodus, Moses threw the blood of a sacrificed ox on the people saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you.” At the last supper, Christ said, “This is my blood of the covenant.”
Another interesting pre-figurement is in looking at the Jewish sheaf offering. (Leviticus 23:12-13) During this offering a lamb without blemish is offered, along with oil, grain flour, and wine. In 1 Kings 7:48, King Solomon prepares a golden altar for the bread of the Presence. He did this because God commanded it in Exodus 25:30. This bread of the Presence was always to be there on the altar. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “I am with you always.” In Matthew 12:1, Christ reminded his disciples that David had eaten the bread of Presence (1 Samuel 21:6), and then tells them, “…something greater than the temple is here.”
In both Judaism and Catholicism, sacrifice is the highest form of worship. A sacrifice to God can only be offered by a rabbi/priest. In this way their roles are similar. Lamb was an important sacrifice in Old Testament times. The lamb as a sacrifice did not resist. This is paralleled in Isaiah 53:7. Isaiah foretold that our sacrifice would be like a lamb. Did you know that the priest would always ask, “Do you love this lamb?” to the family making the offering? If the family said no, there was no sacrifice. In John 21, Christ asked Peter the same question 3 times. “Do you love me?” I also like to think that in this way, Peter’s answer in the affirmative negates his triple denial of Christ, later.
Jesus and the Eucharist were pre-figured in Passover. Here are a few way:
Exodus 12: 5-6– Lambs killed in the evening.
Matthew 27:45– Christ was crucified in a dim light.
Exodus 12:8-13– The sacrificed lamb was eaten and its blood was sprinkled around doors. In this way God passed-over his chosen people and only killed the first-born of those not under the protection of the blood of the lamb.
Matthew 2:13 – Herod commanded the death of every Hebrew male infant in Bethlehem, and yet death passed over Jesus.
There are many beautiful facets of faith and nourishment by looking at the Seder celebration. There is much that has been written about the parallels and metaphors of Passover and the Seder. All of it is written much better than I ever could. I do encourage everyone curious to read up on this very interesting topic.
Remember the feeding of the 5000? It pre-figured Christ nourishing all of us. In 2 Kings 4:42, Elisha miraculously fed 100 men with limited resources. To me it looks like the pre-figurement pre-figured Christ pre-figuring his ability to nourish the whole world! These are just a few that I have learned about. I am sure there are many more. I know there are many more parallels between the Mass and Judaic ceremonies. Please feel free to add some of your own Old Testament observations in the comments section.
Heading back into the New Testament, equipped with this deeper understanding of God’s handiwork, it is good to look at Christ and his words more deeply. Often, Christ teaches the disciples through metaphor. Sometimes he tells parables, and sometimes he uses hyperbole. This is important to understand. When Christ teaches uses hyperbole and metaphors, his Jewish audience accepts it and moves forward. When Christ spoke of himself as a door (John 10:9) or a vine (John 15:1), nobody asked how Christ could be made of wood, or if he was a plant. However, when Jesus insisted that his flesh was food and his blood was wine, capable of granting eternal life-the audience freaked out. They did not just freak out a little. Some people got up and left. It is no wonder that this happened. Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:10 make it very clear that God’s chosen people do not consume blood. There is a strong consistency between all three Gospel narratives regarding the Last Supper.
- Matthew 26:26-27 – “This is My Body.” “This Is My Blood…”
- Mark 14:22 and 14:24 – “This is My Body.” “This is My Blood…”
- Luke 22:19-20 – This is My Body.” “This…is the New Covenant in My Blood.”
The Eucharist was celebrated by the Apostles.
I’m not sure what else I can say. I believe that I realized these things and *modestly* understand them because of God and being called by Christ. (John 6:44) I hope to understand them more. If you have made it this far I would ask you to make one more big push to finish this post. Rather than anymore commentary from my tiny brain, I would like for you to read John 6 and a few verses from Leviticus. I cannot repeat how closely I hold John 6 to my heart. That is why I am repeating it here.
22 On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However, boats from Tibe′ri-as came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Caper′na-um, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; 39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” 41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among you. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, which a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread[c] which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”[d] 53 so Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper′na-um. 60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom we shall go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life.
God bless you. Thank you for reading.
A few days ago, I decided to start talking some about my experience with the new evangelization. Upon pondering this idea, I realized that multiple posts would probably be a better idea. I am always amazed at the length of some blog posts I read…until I am only half way finished and exhausted, or bored, or, or or.
The first thing I would like to point out is Catholicism and TV. Now, some people are very lucky. Catholic TV is a local or broadcast and is reachable on any TV. Many cable providers also provide access to EWTN or Catholic TV.
I cut the cord from cable about 5 years. I purchased a ROKU. You can read more about it here. A ROKU is a streaming device that hooks up to your television. With broadband or wireless internet, you can download and connect to channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and more.
Early in my searching for faith, I stumbled across EWTN and Catholic TV as ROKU channels. There are now 10 other channels available to Catholics and those interested in Catholicism.
I wouldn’t want to leave out my friends of other faiths. There are 405, “Religion & Spirituality” channels on ROKU. 12 are catholic. There is a handful of Jewish and Messianic Judaism channels, possibly a dozen. There are 2 channels for Muslims, and 1 Buddhist channel. That leaves 387 channels for my protestant brothers and sisters. Metaphorically speaking, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I must tell you- this does seem an adequate representation of religion today. Maybe I will expound on it at a later date.
I am going to list and expound on each channel available on ROKU. I would encourage all Catholics with a ROKU, or other streaming device to investigate what Catholic options you have.
Here is the complete list:
• EWTN- Irondale, Alabama
• Catholic TV- Boston, Massachusetts
• Newman Connection
• Shalom TV
• Catholic Life Television
• Vatican Channel
• Divine TV- Muringoor, India
• Saint Anthony Catholic Church
• FNDTV (Fraternity of Notre Dame Television)
• Basilica of St. John- Des Moines, Iowa
• Our Lady of the Visitation
• My Prayer Channel
EWTN– It’s the obvious giant. The channel itself started in a garage in the 1970’s. It is now broadcast worldwide. I think this channel, more than anything, drew me close to investigating the Church. It was in my home. Nobody knew what I was doing or considering. I fell in love with Mother Angelica, the founders of EWTN. There are hours and hours of her back catalogue to enjoy. Enjoy them I did! With humor, grit, and compassion, I listened to Mother Angelica teaching the faith. Another favorite show of mine is, “The Journey Home.” It is a straightforward talk show. There is usually one guest and one host. The guest is always a convert, revert, or a convert that reverted and needs converting again. (I’m being cheeky, did you figure it out?) There are numerous news channels. One of my favorites is, “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo. There is also a current selection of homilies, mass celebrations, Devotions, and special events to stream. The Canonizations of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul the Great are available to watch. Other devotions available to observe/participate in are The Rosary, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, The Chaplet of St. Michael, The Litany of the Holy Name, The Litany of the Sacred Heart, and The Litany of Loreto. There are also many hours of kids programming on EWTN. I don’t know how much exactly, you will just have to trust me.
Catholic TV is based out of Boston, MA. I love this channel. At one point, they had a kid’s quiz show that was all about the Catholic faith. This was my secret weapon during RCIA. I watched every episode and learned a ton!
This channel has some teachings from a few Bishops. I really enjoy these. Each “episode” is usually no longer than 5 minutes. It will pose a question and an answer. For Example:
Q- What is the Real Presence? Why do Catholics believe in it?
A- The real presence is the teaching from the Deposit of Faith that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist when we receive. See John 6. (With a little more explanation, and usually it is tied in to church Tradition and the early church Fathers.)
Catholic TV has its own News, Talk Soup, and learning shows much like EWTN does.
One of the big plusses to me about this channel is that the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is sung.
The Newman Connection is a campus ministry in the USA. Many public colleges have a Newman Center for their catholic students. This is a very simple and straightforward channel. It has one prayer, the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. It is beautifully rendered. There is a 20 part class on the Theology of the Body. Best of all is a 26 episode broadcast of teachings from the YouCat. That is a catechism for youth. It explains the catholic faith in a simple way, for a simple mind like mine.
Shalom TV- is based out of Canada. The ROKU channel has different commercials for the programming it has. If you download this channel, pay close attention. The commercials advertise the date and time of each specific show. The only option for watching shows on Shalom TV is the live stream. I haven’t watched much of this channel. I prefer the a la carte streaming of other channels, and I rarely live stream. If/when I watch more of it; I will post an update about this channel.
Catholic Life Television-Baton Rouge, LA, Saint Anthony Catholic Church-Lakeland, FL, Basilica of St. John-Des Moines, IA, Our Lady of the Visitation-Cincinnati, OH
Each of these channels is based in a parish here in the United States. Each of them has Mass to watch. Some are recorded, others can be watched live. I don’t suggest these as a replacement to going to Mass. They are fun to watch when I have some free time from which I can drag myself away from Netflix!
The Vatican Channel-This is actually a travel channel. It does contain some wonderful information though. There are several programs on the history of Vatican II. The travel tidbits are interesting and make me long to go.
Divine TV- Muringoor, India
This channel is predominately live streaming of retreat talks.
This is the channel of the Fraternity of Notre Dame. FNDTV is a television network for the family which promotes Catholic Tradition, Christian Unity, Religious Freedom, Human Rights, News, documentaries; religious ceremonies; films; cartoons and more. Like other channels there are various stand-alone programs and 2 live streams. There is a live stream for both America and Europe.
My Prayer Channel– has a prayer for each day of the year. Each is about a two minutes long. There is also a devotion to the Stations of the Cross. There is also a children’s version of this very beautiful prayer devotion.
As a catholic, I can certainly tell you that each of these channels has helped me in some way. I think that another way these channels are helpful is for the new and curious. I watched several Masses before I stepped foot in a Catholic church. I didn’t really know what to expect and did not want to go in unprepared! Only God knows what would happen if I did that!
So for my catholic friends who need a little edification this is the place for you to watch and learn. For my non-Catholic friends who cannot figure out why in the world I became catholic, this is the place for you to watch and learn.
Next week I will share with you some of my favorite Andriod apps, that I use to study and stay connected to my faith.
**Streamspot is a hub for many religious groups. Catholics, protestants and others use streamspot to stream their religious services via ROKU.
Two years ago, when I started my journey towards the catholic faith, I did not really know anything about it. I had been raised nominally protestant, and had studied or practiced several other religions, but never Catholicism. I have written about some of that extensively in my first one or two posts.
In April 2012 after my darkest night of the soul, I began to seriously consider Catholicism. I knew very little about it. As a child I had been fascinated by the Virgin Mary. I remember watching a movie with my mother about Our Lady of Fatima. Cathedrals mystified me with their grand architecture. In the 7th grade I read, “The Pillars of the Earth”, by Ken Follet. This was my entire faith formation in regards to Catholicism until I was 36. A book, a film ideal (from the 1950’s) of motherhood, and a building-that’s it.
I spent some time reading online. It was difficult. After my DNOTS, I had a hard time paying attention while reading. Depression and anxiety will do that to you. I had read online about the catholic television channel EWTN. (That is Eternal Word Television Network.) It was started in the 1970’s by a short, yet portly nun lovingly referred to as Mother Angelica. During my scavenging of EWTN’s website, I discovered that they had a ROKU channel. Having owned one of these devices for several years, I was happy to hear this, and quickly downloaded the channel. For those that don’t know what a ROKU is, you can click here.
I have had prior experience with Christian television broadcasting. From CBN, 700 club, and TBN- I was used to hucksters trying to pawn off cheap knick knacks and begging for donations. I’m sure that seems a little harsh. Often times, I still feel that way when I try to watch it. It always seemed like a mixture of make-up, Christian music, fund-raising, and some self help or motivational shtick. I’m sure there is some redeemable programing there. I’m just not willing to sift through all the chaff to find a few grains of wheat.
Alone in my house, I encountered all things catholic for the very first time. I devoured every bit of programming I could. The various types of shows fed different parts of my very anemic soul.
I would like to do several posts over the next week or so. I would like to share with you and maybe review the different media sources that have contributed to my conversion experience. I will do a post on TV, Radio, and Internet and Mobile. I will post links in each blog post for those that would want to explore further.
Early in my RCIA formation I met with our parish priest, Fr. Jim. You can read up on it here. At the end of that meeting, he gave me a small book titled, “The Divine Mercy, Message and Devotion.” I thumbed through the book and put it away. During many of Fr. Jim’s sermons he has mentioned St. Faustina Kowalska and her personal revelation of Divine Mercy.
Having heard about it so many times led me back to that little book. It definitely piqued my interest. Back in February, I was surfing EWTN on my ROKU and encountered The Chaplet of Divine Mercy being sang. It was breath takingly beautiful. It moved places in my heart that I don’t think I had recognized earlier. Here is a link to the EWTN Chaplet of Divine Mercy here. Later, I discovered another version in song, that moved me as well. I posted it several weeks ago, here.
At the time I was encountering this chaplet, I was seriously considering to stop smoking. I decided during Mass one day that I would stop on Good Friday, March 29th, 2013. In the following days, I knew I need a plan in order to be successful. I decided to use the patch. Even with that, I knew that I was going to have to shake up my normal routine greatly. I am a very addictive type, and am also very habitual. During another Mass, Fr. Jim mentioned that the parish would be praying the Divine Mercy Novena starting on Good Friday. I quickly saw this as a plan to do things very different. I made the necessary arrangements with work to take off. (Gotta love paid time off!) For those who are unfamiliar, novena means “nine days”. It meant that every day, I would follow the outline of personal revelation of St. Faustina. Yes, I had my personal intention of stopping smoking. With this novena, each day has a specific group to pray for: sinners, priests, children, non-believers, etc. I have learned from experience that praying for others while dealing with difficulties can be very helpful. This is what drew me most to the idea of making this committment. I believe by praying for others, I receive in return, God’s help with my own difficulties.
This also marked a big change in routine for me. I tend to be somewhat of a lay-a-bout. Actually, I am pretty lazy. To pray this novena at church I needed to be out of bed a 6 am. It didn’t allow me time, to ponder and suffer on being a non-smoker. So, every morning, bleary eyed, I showed up at SMG with my book and my beads. The only day I prayed at home was Easter Sunday. That is only because, the parish did not meet specifically that day to pray the novena. Another added benefit was being able to receive the Eucharist every morning (except Good Friday, I hadn’t been confirmed yet.)
What a blessing this Novena has been to me. I have become very attached to the prayers, and the chaplet. YES! I am still not smoking too! I haven’t been cured or zapped holy. In those moments when I really want to go get a cigarette, I can pause and say, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Or, “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.” It really does help.
Another moment of providence (because as a catholic coincidence is moot), came after confirmation. After the Vigil we all gathered in the Holy Life Family Centre to chow down on some sandwiches. One of the RCIA sponsors came up with a gift bag. Mind you, I had no clue I would be getting a present from anyone, I was just happy to be Catholic. One of the books, Shelia gave me was, “Revelations of Divine Mercy.” It is a year-long devotional! How sweet and how neat. I’ve made St. Faustina’s personal revelation of Divine Mercy a big part of my studies for this year. It won’t be the only thing I read about, or the only prayers, I will say. It will be however, my anchor.
You see, I am a bit of an arrogant and pompous ass much of the time. I can be about as judgemental, rude, acerbic, and condescending as the love child of Bill Maher and George Carlin. I need to be more merciful and kind. I am grateful I have this awareness right now, and these tools available to me. I hope that this will add the strongest elements to my Catholic faith.
For some, it may be a little confusing. Personal revelation is also known as particular revelation. It isn’t a church teaching. It does not conflict with a church teaching in any way though. Blessed Pope John Paul recognized the power of St. Faustina’s personal revelation and helped to increase people’s awareness of it. The Sunday after Easter is designated as Divine Mercy Sunday.
I can share something else with you. You don’t have to be Catholic, or even own a set of rosary beads to pray the chaplet. There is nothing in the Divine Mercy Prayers that go against the grain for protestants. ( I hear people mumbling about prayers for souls in Purgatory.) That is part of the Novena, not the chaplet. (Someone just said there is a Hail Mary in there.) Look at it this way, the Hail Mary is entirely scripture. The only thing you are doing is acknowledging her place as the Mother of Jesus, and asking her to pray for you. If you are feeling stuck, or want to try some new prayers to get things moving, I have the basic instructions here.
Bio, Catechism, Catholicism, Christ, Christ-like, Communion, community, conversion, Eucharist, Faith, Forgiveness, Formation, God, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus, Passion, prayer, RCIA, Real Presence, sacraments of the church
For those of you that didn’t already know, I tried to cut my finger off on Monday. I had already started working on this post. I had to stop because I couldn’t type. Sorry for the delay. Here it is.
I am not sure words can describe what the last 3 days have been like for me. I am not even sure that I should attempt to, lest I not capture the full glory of what I was allowed to experience.
There are so many memories crammed into these last few days though, I worry that if I do not put them down indelibly, that I could forget; or that they could possibly lose the power they have wrapped my heart in.
Maybe the best thing to do is share with you all, some of the things that I know I will never forget.
I will never forget veneration of the cross. During this time a simple wooden cross is held up in front of the sanctuary. People come up and kneel, or touch, or kiss the cross. A very simple gesture of faith and belief. That is, until I was asked to hold the cross. When I first heard Fr. Jim ask me to, I thought he could read my mind. I wanted nothing more than to throw my arms around that wooden cross and hold to it for dear life. Standing there, so close to people in their own rapt love of Christ and all He did, was almost as unfathomable as God’s mercy. At the end of the Mass, there was a solemn procession. Christ (the blessed sacrament) was removed from the tabernacle and taken to the Altar of Repose. Ours was in the Family centre. To see hundreds of people on their knees in worship, elicited the same feelings of mystery and mercy to me.
Joy coming from sorrow. As I sat and listened to the reading of Christ’s passion. To recognize his humanity and how humble he was. It was sorrowful. It had to come to pass. If there was no death, there would be no resurrection. Though every ounce of my finite human compassion would will it not to happen…it was inevitable. Christ willingly came to earth fully man and fully God. He experienced everything human kind can. He did it with no sin. He loved his mother, father, his disciples, and others. He experienced hunger, pain, and anger. In all things, including temptation, He remained sinless. After experiencing all of this, and after seeing humanity and its capacity for love, its depth of depravity…He willingly entered into his Passion. He allowed himself to be offered up as a perfect sacrifice, for all of mankind.
And then He died.
If there was ever a day I have longed for! From the moment of personal revelation that the Christ was really in the Eucharist, to every Mass I went to with my hand over my heart, for the waiting for 36 weeks, and all the longing to experience Christ fully…this was the day I truly prepared my entire life for. Memories of the last 9 months would file through my mind, along with remembering all the things that had brought me to this point.
Mass was LONG! The wait before Mass was LONG! I think there is enough symbology in this one celebration to ponder for a lifetime. As we entered into the church in complete darkness (except for the flame of candles), I did feel the weight of my own ignorance. Slowly we read through God’s plan of salvation for all of mankind.
As the story culminated to its conclusion, the church was fully illuminated. The tomb was empty, Christ was alive, and salvation was available to me, you, my family, your friends, and the whole world.
It seemed that the entire congregation, the priests, the angels and saints, and God himself, had turned their attention to the front four pews on the St. Mary Altar side, of St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church. It was such a blessing to see so many people baptized. It was amazing to see Fr. Jim do it with such joy and love. Fr. Larry’s gentleness and kindness touched my heart. Fr. Larry had many of the women with pretty hairdo’s. He was very gentle in his pouring. What Fr. Larry had in gentleness, Fr. Jim had zeal. After they were baptized and given their baptismal mantle, they were welcomed into the Church as its newest babies, with applause. Yes, applause.
Then, us candidates were up. In the moment it seemed to happen in slow motion, and looking back it seemed so fast. We made the profession of faith, and then one by one were sealed to the church. My confirmation name is Francis, as in Francis de Assisi. I may have picked the most common, but to me it is most special. With a love of animals and plants, child-like zeal for God, and a need to be more humble; I can not think of a better person to emulate. Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do.
As I sat in my seat, confessed and confirmed, it truly began to soak in.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
Lamb of God, grant us peace.
Christ was here! The Eucharist! The thing I had longed for the most was going to happen. Nobody was going to stand up and say, “Everyone except Roy.” Nobody would block my path. I was going to be able to experience Christ on a level I never had before. By eating his flesh, and drinking his blood I was going to receive an impartation of Grace that only Christ can give. I have many friends who simply do not understand why the Eucharist is such an important thing to us Catholics. Maybe in a later post I will haltingly and poorly try to explain The Eucharist. For now, we can leave it as the source and summit of the Catholic Faith. There was no lightning, no angels to be seen. There was however, reverence. Sacred reverence for Christ, King of the universe my Savior and redeemer;living more fully inside of me, than I had ever allowed before. Afterwards, I did begin to detect, and still do, a sense of peace and strength. I am sure there will be days when I don’t feel it. Hell, I’m sure there will be days that I am convinced that it is gone.
You see that is one reason why I have been writing this blog. I am human. I need reminders to guide my future. I am weak. I forget when I have had strength. When I sin, I need to be reminded that there is grace. This has always been to help me. I am blessed to have so many friends and fellow bloggers that read this. It is truly a blessing. I’m not really interested in being well-known or famous. Sometimes though, I look at the world map on my stats page and pray that somehow, something I have said has helped someone else in the world.
My name is Roy. I’m a Catholic. Those are words that I never considered in my first 36 years of living. I’m hoping that in the next 36 years, it will always rank as my #2 or maybe #3.
What would be my #1?
Jesus, I trust in you.
I can share with you one of the greatest gifts Catholicism has given me. (So far.) You can take it, use it, quote it, steal it and not give me credit. It is yours to do with as you will.
The greatest sin in life is not the deed done, or what we failed to do. The greatest sin is believing that whatever deed was done, or whatever we failed to do, is so big, that it cannot be overcome by the ocean of mercy, that is Christ Jesus.
Peace be with you.
It really isn’t always a good thing for me to do. It leads to worry and fear. I get easily caught in a circle of doubt, worry, and fear. It is the chief culprit of squandered time for me. Sometimes it is over big life decisions. At other moments it is often petty resentments that I succumb to replaying in my head. Some days it is both in cooperation with each, those are the hardest. Those are darker days for sure. I simply cannot shut it down.
Then the irony sets it…
Presented with the perfect solution that is always available, I balk. That solution of course is Christ.
Do I pray? No
Do I read the bible? No
Do I call, email, or talk to someone? No
Do I go to Sacred Adoration? No
Do I go to a daily Mass? No
I keep myself isolated sometimes. Can you tell? I’m not the most disciplined person I know either. I’ve always wanted a more disciplined life. It has proved rather elusive.
Do I dare pray for discipline? There is that irrational side to me that thinks, “Oh, but what will I lose if I do that?” Silly, I know. If being undisciplined is not fruitful, why not embrace the willingness to become more disciplined?