Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths.
awestruck, Bio, Catholicism, Christ, Christ-like, Communion, community, conversion, culture, Easter, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Formation, God, Holy Spirit, Holy Week, Hope, Jesus, prayer, RCIA, Triduum
I truly believe that this is the day I have been waiting for. Maybe it is the day I have been preparing for. Its been a day 37 years, 23 days, 20 hours, and 45 minutes in the making.
More realistically it started 1 year ago, today.
Here is what I posted on FB:
What a difference 1 year makes. 1 year ago, I made the hardest decision I have yet faced in my life. I made it a bit more difficult by announcing it over FB as well. That decision was to give up everything I knew, and everything I thought I knew, for something that was real and had depth. Immediately after that decision, I was plunged into what I refer to as my “dark night of the soul”. It lasted several months, actually. I went from someone who practiced native ways, to an agnostic, to atheist, to full blown crazy. Now I sit here on the eve of Easter Vigil. One step away from being in full communion with the Catholic Church; it is probably the most misunderstood, ridiculed, and despised institution on the planet.
You see though, Christ was hated. And he was misunderstood. Then He was crucified, died, and resurrected after 3 days. So if you don’t like my decisions, or how I live my life, or how I reconcile myself to my religion….
Mind your own business. I’m happier than I have ever been, and owe no-one an explanation.
If you haven’t read my bio it is here. It is hard to believe that it has been a year. I started RCIA 36 weeks ago. I distinctly remember how far away today seemed. Now, in about 12 hours I will step into a darkened sanctuary waiting for the light of the world. By the end, I will be in full communion with the Catholic Church.
Can you imagine me speechless? There are so many things I want to say and share. Holy week has been overwhelmingly beautiful. Somehow, at some point I will try to post all that I have seen these last two days. Then of course a post about the Easter Vigil!
More than anything, I just want to say thank you. I thank God for allowing me to make poor decisions and suffer the consequences. I also thank him for loving me as the prodigal son again…and again…again. I want to thank my RCIA sponsor Debbie Thomson. I know it has been a long road for you too. I hope this journey has increased your faith too. Thank you to Jon Cox and the entire RCIA Team. Every single person on the RCIA team has touched my heart in a very special and unique way. Amanda, you know. And I know you know…thank you. At the weakest moment when I wanted to run and hide in shame, you helped me stay. Thank you to Awestruck. You guys encouraged me to blog. Very early on in my walk, I had to narrow my field. I haven’t been able to come and visit as much as I would have liked. Your staff has been remembered in my prayers. Thank you to Fr. Larry for your help, encouragement and counsel each week at our RCIA class. Thank you for the homilies and blessings at 9 am dismissal each Sunday. Thank you to Fr. Jim for hearing my lengthy confession. Thank you for your always “brief” homilies. And thank you for the additional lessons that always pop up at the perfect moment. Thank you to everyone who has commented, followed, and encouraged me with this blog. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to every person who scoffed, rebuffed, or rebuked my decision to go to RCIA and join the Catholic Church. Each of you drove me deeper into prayer and study. I have grown strongest and learned the most from you.
Thankfully, today is not the be all and end all. Today is definitely climactic. After this I have a few more weeks of RCIA to look forward to. A period called Mystagogia. And then of course, there is always the lifetime ahead. The opportunity to spend each day with Christ, growing in his image and likeness.
Killing two birds with one stone. Both of these posts were relatively short. I reworked and edited them into one.
That’s what friends are for….what? What are friends for? It is a question I ask myself often. I have few friends. 3 of the people I am closest to live several hours away. They are heavily involved with different things with their families, so friendship takes on a different dynamic. The calls are less frequent, but oftentimes more intense. I have a host of acquaintances. People that I know and see regularly. Work, and other places, people I have met along the way of life. I consider myself lucky. I get along with 99.9% of humanity. Just because I get along with someone though, does not mean I share a lot of me with them. Part of what makes friendship so difficult for me is that I am decidedly single and most people I know start a family at some point. So I get presented with the opportunity (again) to make another friend (or two), that usually lasts 2-4 years. I’m not whining. I just gets a little old. Check that, I get a little old. The older you get, with a new friendship, the more foundation there is to cover. (For both people, of course.) I have a few friends that know me inside and out. I can trust that if I ever need them, they are a phone call away. On a day-to-day basis, there is pretty much just me. It does not bother me most of the time. I treasure my alone time. I even enjoy doing things alone like movies, dinner, museums, etc. I do miss the days of calling up a BFF and drinking coffee at IHOP till the sun came up. It is a quandary. I have had difficulty connecting to my fellows in RCIA. People have families, children, and responsibilities. I have free time. Tons of it. One of the blogs I read is The Lonely Pilgrim. I understand that title. Considering the “season” of life I am in, I don’t think there are supposed to be a lot of people hanging around. Writing this helps me to remember to be grateful what I do have. A myriad of acquaintances I get along with quite well, a few trusted friends a phone call away, and the hope a few more as I encounter Christ.
I am learning just how family oriented catholics are. Marriage is a covenant and a sacrament, and new life is the product of that. Though, as I become a catholic, I do indeed become a part of the Body of Christ. Quite literally a family that numbers in the billions. Catholics are a little different though. The difference starts with Church. In a protestant church there is a certain openness and welcoming. At Mass, it is much more reverent before. There is fellowship afterwards with coffee and doughnuts. I make myself stay afterwards and endure the awkwardness. I usually latch onto a fellow RCIA person or a team member. After a short conversation or two, I go home. It isn’t bad. I guess it is a little uncomfortable because I know so few people there. It is a slowly widening circle. I guess I still need to practice a little more patience. Er, maybe a lot more patience. I am much more a do(er) than a Be(er).
My gut says that this post should be filed under, Holy Spirit on the move. I will not try to put you to sleep with too many details. The short story is this:
In February 2010 my mom passed away suddenly. It was a very painful time for me. I don’t know many people my age who have had their mom pass away. At the beginning of June my biological father passed away too. I had not seen him face to face since I was 8. Because of both parents idiosyncratic behaviours, I was separated from knowing and having a relationship with 3 of my siblings for more than 2 decades.
Our reunion was a few years before our father passed away. It never included “the father” as Terri liked to refer to him. When the imminence of his death became apparent, I encouraged my siblings to go quickly if they wanted to see him alive again. I had no real need or feeling to. I had spent many years attempting to bridge the gap between my father and I. It never happened. After several years of writing to him, I received one letter. It basically said go away. I was crushed, but I did. I eventually grew from situation. As I did, my feelings of loss and grief were acknowledged, felt, and expressed. For me, it was as if he had already died long ago. When, a few years before his death, my bio-dad called looking for “absolution”, I told him that I couldn’t give him that. He never once said, “I’m sorry” or, “I apologize.” It was a demand and an expectation to meet his needs. I don’t regret telling him goodbye or hanging up the phone. Sometimes people want those dramatic reconciliations. I can assure you from experience, those are mostly fantasy.
Right, back to “The Father’s” death. Terri and Gary rushed to Kentucky. I stayed back until after he had passed away. I arrived the day after he had passed away. I went with some idealistic notion of being a supportive brother. What happened could not have been further from the ideal. Still grieving the loss of my mom, it didn’t go well for me. For my siblings, grieving the loss of their father, it didn’t go well for them. It quickly spun out in misunderstanding and me, leaving Kentucky. From June 2010 to August 2012 there was no communication between us.
Soon after I began attending Mass, I wrote to both of them in an attempt at some sort of reconciliation. Terri responded quickly. It took Gary a little while but he responded as well. We actually saw each other face to face this last Saturday. It was a good start. I try not to place unrealistic expectations on our dynamic. We are bound by blood that was very cruel and abusive. Its kinda of a day by day thing. I will probably spend a day in Waco for Thanksgiving. They will spend a day up here for Christmas. It is definitely a good start.
I think for me it can and will work better for me by staying grounded in The Church, the bible, and being attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I cannot say what our relationship can, or will be. I can however shape how I want to be and who I want to become. I think the option of more “Christ-like”, is always the best option.
I can’t really say I was expecting it. I have a handful of readers and some lurkers who like to scoff at what I am doing in my life and on this blog. I was nominated for the Liebster blog award. Many thanks to Joseph Richardson for nominating me. He blogs here on Word Press at The Lonely Pilgrim.
Towards the end of this post, I will be answering some questions that go with the Award. It is a way for readers to learn more about the blogger. Before I do that I would like to nominate a few fellow bloggers that I read often. The only “rule” so to speak is that they have less than 200 followers. I supposedly have 254, however I am aware that a large quantity of those are people who I am ostracized from. I probably have more like 60-70 readers, going by my stats. Here are the three bloggers I would like to nominate:
Servus Fidelis who blogs at Servus Fidelis: the faithful servant. This is my go to blog when I want to dive in and immerse myself in different doctrines. Hopefully as I mature as a blogger, my blog will be as articulate and well laid out as his.
The Whole Gang over at Team Orthodoxy! This is a group of 9 catholics blogging together. I take extreme delight in arfink’s. Spiritual Life for NOObs cartoons. They make me smile over and over. The blog also covers a wide range of topics pertinent to this day and age. Thank you, guys. Your blog is “the one” that actually inspired me to start my own.
Thanks to all 3 of you for making a deep impact on my life. For you three, here is what is next:
Here are the instructions for reposting:
My turn to answer the questions.
1. A book that changed your life? The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. I was bored and unchallenged in 7th grade. My english teacher launched a paperback version of this book at my head. She demanded a full book report after Christmas break. Oddly enough, this book was my first introduction to Catholicism. The story centers around 1 family and their life during the building of a Cathedral. Historical fiction at its finest. It also taught me patience. I had to wait 2 decades for the sequel.
2. Your favourite author/writer? Tad Williams. He writes epic fantasy novels like no other. Simply brilliant.
3. Pet and its name? The main reason I delayed writing this post. I just brought home a new kitten this week. His name is Qwerty. Why Qwerty? His first foray from hiding under the coffee table involved skittering across my laptop while I was chatting with my sister. I also own Brutus. My beloved boxer showed up on my doorstep underfed and terrified. I don’t classify myself as a dog person. I spent a month trying to locate his owners to no avail. By that time I had fallen in love. I wish I was half the man that dog thinks I am. I also own 4 bettas. Mr. Darcy, Samson, Delilah, and Putnam. Coming soon….a full blown fish tank.
4. Craziest thing you have done? You aren’t a priest and this isn’t confession! But I did get a little fluffy in the Las Vegas Airport one time. Well, I was tipsy. Ok, ok. I was drunker than Cooter Brown. I somehow had the bright idea to climb upon the trams that run to the different concourses. They travel inside and outside. The view of Vegas was amazing. LVPD, however, was not amused in the slightest. By some amazing act of God’s grace they allowed me to sleep it off in the airport.
5. My best friend? Other than my dog? I don’t really have a best friend right now. I have people who I am close to. They feel more like family though. I would love to have one and probably need one. Good place for a shout out to my RCIA sponsor Debbie. The bestest RCIA sponsor a candidate could have.
6. A childhood prank? My 7th grade teacher ate pot brownies I made for the last day of school. Thank God for the statute of limitations.
7. Favourite music artist? Impossibleto answer. I have a favorite of every genre. I also have a favorite for every mood. I listen to classical, pop, jazz, rock, heavy metal, new agey stuff and everything in between. Right now I am entranced by Mumford and Sons.
8. A place you would love to visit? Rome of course. However, before I go there I would like to go to Barcelona, Spain. There, I could visit Basilica Sagrada de Familia. (The link is a virtual tour. Be amazed.)
9. If you had just 5 minutes left to live what is the one thing I would do? Other than the last rites? I would hope to have my wits about me enough to enjoy my last moments with people who care about me.
10. Favourite sport? I don’t really do sports. How about olympic Netflix watching?
11. How do you define love? I’d rather experience it than quantify it.
12. Who’s your favorite saint? Hildegard Von Bingen. Simply amazing, multi-faceted. Have you ever heard of The Canticles of Ecstasy? She wrote them almost 1000 years ago. Listen here. St. Hildegard was recently made a Doctor of the Church.
13. What is a subject you know little about, that you would like to become an expert in? Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic. Or maybe The Saints. Or maybe the CCC. Or or or……
Many thanks again to Joseph for nominating me.
Saved by faith
Faith the size of a mustard seed
It is a subject I have great difficulty talking about. It is a confusing concept for me to grasp. I can extrapolate abstract ideas and make them concrete, make them happen. It is something that I can do very well. I struggle with the unseen, and it remaining so. I see people faithfully pray for rain during a drought. 100 days later when it finally rains, they point to faithful prayers and an answer from God. I truly believe I was a greedy man when God handed out skepticism. (And sarcasm, but that is probably another post.) Abraham had faith, he was going to sacrifice his son to God. It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t Abraham. I would have said, “Hell no, have a nice day.” Job was faithful and during his trials never once cursed God. Let my computer slow down and watch what falls out of my mouth. I’ve seen people latch on to “prosperity teachings” like starving children, only to be later bewildered and broke. Add a super sized dose of laziness, waiting for things to be handed to me, and presto! If I had a monastery named after me, it would probably be called, “Our dudes with perpetual conundrums.”
During the RCIA retreat, I heard the best description of faith and how to attain it.
…– faith is not something you find, it is not something given to you. Faith is a deliberate movement of the will. It is moving your will to align with God’s will. This is a continuous, deliberate and conscious choice that you make.
Oh! I never really thought of it that way. You mean, I can’t just show up to Mass and have it pop into my head? Bummer.
Faith also requires several things of us.First, it requires revelation, which you each have experienced in different ways, or you wouldn’t be here. And God willing, that revelation will continue throughout your life in what I like to call your faith journey.
Second, it requires submission of the intellect and will to God. Again, faith is a deliberate movement of the will.
Next, faith requires obedience. Now, obedience is a word we don’t like to hear these days and in this world. Obedience has become synonymous with following rules and being told what you can and cannot do. However, true obedience is a product of love, not coercion. Think about the things you have faith in – for most of us, we have (or at least had) faith in the love of our parents or other family members. We couldn’t prove it – couldn’t put our finger on it or hold it in your hand, but you just knew. You knew those people loved you. I think about this with my kids – even my son with autism who has a real hard time with understanding emotions, even he knows I love him even though he doesn’t know why. The same is vice verse. They may not always act like it, but I freely submit to the truth of their love for me.
Lastly, faith requires trust. Trust is another word that is loaded with meaning in this world. Some of us are actually taught to not trust anyone else, to trust only yourself. Not only is this no way to live, you can’t have faith in God without trust in God…
When I heard this, it was like hammering the final nail in my coffin. I don’t trust anyone, ever. These things just do not happen in Roy’s world.
Or do they?
I did believe before I stepped foot in the Church, that it was where I needed to be. I experienced the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist without any prior understanding of what that was. I’ve continued to go, listen, pray, and learn. It is changing who I am at the very core of my being. I took a leap of faith when I asked Debbie to be my RCIA sponsor. I trusted John with some of my deepest pain. I trusted Amanda when that pain spilled over at the retreat. I trust my fellow RCIA’ers when I share during dismissal. Am I trusting these people, or maybe Christ within them?
All of the sudden, maybe seems like a wonderful place to be. It also seems a million miles from where I started this faith journey. If I had 1 wish granted, it would be that someday, the light of Christ would shine from my eyes as it does from these individuals.
*** I would like to thank Domini for allowing me to use her talk about faith as a background for this post***
This really doesn’t fit in another post and is deserving of its own. In the short time I have started this blog I have encountered much love and support. I have also seen bigotry, rudeness, and judgement.
For ALL of the love, support, tissues (Amanda), kind words (Debbie), for challenging me to learn and study and experience more (John Cox), for the smiles and encouragement for this blog (Domini), for friends at work (Perla, Cathy, Lori, Esther, Lolita, and many more),for my protestant friends that are just happy I have encountered Christ (Charlotte and Doug) thank you from the bottom of my heart. Each of you, in some way, has shown me who I can become.
To the people who tease me, scoff, judge, rudely invade my privacy, question me and my motives…thank you from the depths of my soul. The harshness I receive reminds me of my own arrogance. It allows me to experience what I have sown in other people. I have found that harvest to be void of anything good. When I get asked very personal questions and I can’t formulate an answer because I am embarrassed, or don’t really know….you push me to my knees in prayer, to scripture, and to a reliance on the Holy Spirit for answers. All in all I would say that those who love me show me who I can be, and the haters are helping me get there!
Whoever you are, wherever you are, please don’t stop being you. I need every single one of you in my life, to be the man I want to be.
Most people won’t remember this song, “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till it’s Gone)”, by Cinderella. Did you ever have a friendship that you didn’t recognize as really important until after it was over? I met Charlotte a few years ago. She is a nurse, and worked the same floor I do. Bright, bubbly, and painfully pretty. The only thing more beautiful than her looks, is her love of Christ. We worked together, laughed together, talked and talked AND TALKED, too. I would get in her business when she pulled the princess card. Likewise, she had no trouble reminding me when I was acting like asshole. Her husband Doug would bring her lunch to work when he wasn’t offshore. (*rolls eyes* Newlyweds.) Sometimes, time permitting at lunch, we would all chat together. More often, I let them go off and enjoy lunch together and run interference when a particular nurse would want to intrude. (hush co-workers, we all know who.) What mesmerized me about both is how truly kind they are. It shows in how they treat people. It was a wonderful time that passed entirely too quickly. The day came last August for Doug to finish his education.
A half world away, Doug went to university in Scotland. This event created a tectonic shift in my life. For years, I have been friendly with coworkers. They come, they go, and life goes on. When they left (Charlotte especially), it literally felt like most of the oxygen was taken out of the room. What in the hell?!?!? was really going on? Without realizing it, I had made a couple of true friends. That isn’t to say there are not others in my life, there a few. I was intrigued by the void left. I really didn’t want to try to tell either of them that. I actually haven’t really now. I knew that Doug was in school, and Charlotte was young and in Europe. We would Facebook a little, email a little. I mailed Charlotte pancake mix, she mailed me bouillon cubes. After school, the trekked across several countries in Europe. Last week they come home. Doug with a degree, and Charlotte with a job interview back at our hospital. She has been reading the blog, and been very supportive and kind.
Last week she came to the hospital to take care of some pre-employment details. It was a joy to see her. I abandoned my post at work (sorry about that) and we ran off to the break room to chat. She does this twirl and is hold a precious little box. Very pretty, inlaid with mother of pearl, she opened it. On their trek across Europe, they stopped in Rome and Vatican City. The box contained a beautiful rosary. The gift came ready to use. The Rosaries made there are all blessed by The Pope! Now yes, this is an amazing gift. What makes it even more precious to me is that Charlotte is protestant. Now, many protestants don’t bash Catholics. The gift, its meaning, its symbol, and the support I have been given…all wrapped into one makes it priceless. With my struggles, failings, and insecurities; to be heard and acknowledged is priceless.
Today I really wanted to try to express all of these things to them face to face. We went and had lunch. It was great. I don’t think I did a good job of telling them all these things. Its ok though. The evidence was all over the place in our conversations. The ease and flow of it. The banter, wit, and jokes, the non-judgemental exchange of ideas and experience, the security and trust of it, all indicate common ground and true friendship. I look forward to being able to spend more time around two very special people. I’m not sure I can ever express how fundamentally important they both have been in my life, and my walk of faith.
Its been a while since I posted. I don’t really think I have had much going on that is “blog worthy”. I mean, if I post about the mundane and mediocre, I suspect my readers might fall asleep.
Since my last post though, there are an accumulation of things that have happened that I can share about.
My sister called. (The one I haven’t seen since June 2010.) My brother (who I have neither seen nor spoken to since June 2010), has bought tickets for all three of us to go see TSO. Oh, sorry….Trans Siberian Orchestra. I am very excited. I’m also very happy. I hope to see and talk to both of them before that event (Dec 23rd), and at least begin to bridge our gaps. None of us have really had it easy, and I haven’t helped them much either. It is a step in the right direction. I’m sure the point of my conversion will come up in the conversation at some point. I guess now is as good a time as any to start praying for the best words to say.
I made a lateral transfer at work. It is much-needed and about a year late. I have had the same job for 6 years, and the same schedule of mostly weekends for 3 years. It is in the same hospital, just a different floor. I look forward to the change. I really look forward to not working every weekend. Plus, it enables to me to not stress so much about attending RCIA meetings, and making Mass regularly. Less stress is always a good thing for me.
This week our RCIA meeting covered Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Deposit of Faith, and the Fullness of Revelation. It was interesting to go through and see how each of God’s covenants embraced a larger group of people. Quick list of Covenants:
Covenant with Adam and Eve
Covenant with Noah
Covenant with Abraham
Covenant with Moses
Covenant with David
…..and more. I’m not a teacher I don’t want to err. It really was obvious though that with each new covenant the reach of it grew. Of course the covenant we operate under now embraces the entire world. It doesn’t really get bigger than that. We spent some time in scripture and the Catechism reading about each of these covenants. I’ve noticed a trend in the class. Each day we are given hand outs. This gives us the opportunity to focus and read more about the Catholic faith between meetings. I need to step up my studying over the next few weeks. The are lists of Scripture and Catechism passages that talk about Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Deposit of Faith. (p.s. The Deposit of Faith is ST and SS combined.) Jon FINALLY answered my question this week. “Why do they ring the bell during Mass?” The short answer is to draw people’s attention to what is going on during the consecration of the Host.
Next week, we get to tour the Church and ask questions. It should be fun. Any non-Catholic knows there is a ton of stuff inside a Catholic Church. Now we get to point and ask. The week after that is rehearsal for the Rite of Welcome. Just a little over 2 weeks away, I will have the opportunity to formally express my want to learn even more about the Catholic Faith. The only committment is to come and learn. The Rite of Welcome is not entering the Church. It is another step towards it.
If you haven’t noticed, I have been slowly adding links to my sidebar. These links are different sites that I have visited to expand my understanding of the Catholic Faith. If you are interested in learning more, I would suggest checking them out. I will be adding more soon.
Curious about what Catholicism is really about? Thought of joining? Maybe you were and want to come back. This is a promo video of the social network hub, Awestruck. It has a massive amount of information and you can connect with people just like you. Check out the video. If you want to learn more go to Awestruck.