Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Reintroducing Logic and Reason to the Age of Sentimentalism

Confirmation

All of the posts under the "Confirmation" category.

Bishop Cozzens Celebrates Extraordinary Form Confirmation and Solemn Pontifical Mass

Bishop Andrew Cozzens celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Faldstool in the Extraordinary Form on Saturday October 11th 2014 at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Minnesota. This is the first time in over 50 years for the Traditional Latin Mass to be celebrated at the Cathedral. Prior to Mass, Bishop Cozzens confirmed about 40 or so teenagers using the Extraordinary Form rubrics. The FSSP was there as well to assist Bishop Cozzens.

Pontifical High Mass with Bishop Cozzens 2

The average age of those in attendance seemed to be somewhere between the ages of 35 to 45. From what I could tell, most of these people still had their natural hair color. The Traditional Latin Mass is a Mass which hasn’t been said for about 50 years. I have to ask: “how come a Mass which wasn’t said when these people grew up is gaining so much traction?” These Catholics are on fire and passionate about their faith. They just don’t go around bragging about it. On top of it, these are the Catholics who are having large families. I couldn’t tell you how many young families were there with young children, not because I couldn’t see any, but because there were so many.

Pontifical High Mass with Bishop Cozzens 4

Last week I went to the Rediscover Catholic Celebration the Archdiocese put on. Throughout the entire conference, it was never really mentioned at all going back to the traditions of Catholicism in order to draw people into the beauty of our faith. Archbishop Coakley did make some mention of it, but it was very subtle and if you were not paying attention you would have easily missed it. Instead, Jeff Cavins kept mentioning the new “Amazing Parish” program which is a “Rebuilt” clone. It takes the emphasis off of the Mass and the Liturgy, as well as the traditions of our faith. It looks to Protestants as models for “attracting” people. The vast majority of those at Rediscover were in their 50s to 60s. The direction we need to go in as a Church, I would argue, is passing on and practicing the traditions we have inherited from our ancestors in the faith. The parishes where the sacred traditions are kept and upheld are the healthiest of parishes, both financially and spiritually. I did not rediscover anything Catholic at last week’s conference, but I rediscovered Catholicism here.

Pontifical High Mass with Bishop Cozzens 3

When the organ began playing during the Te Deum, the entire Cathedral shook. One could sense the Cathedral was beginning to awaken after her 50 year slumber of not having a Latin Mass said within her walls. The sung chant and organ when combined reverberated off of the massive dome of the Cathedral. This Cathedral was built for the Solemn/Pontifical High Mass, and it is heartbreaking to think it could possibly be a number of years before another Mass of this caliber will be celebrated within her walls. By the grace of God, perhaps Bishop Cozzens would be kind enough to celebrate this beautiful Mass more often? Even if not a Solemn or Pontifical High Mass, perhaps a Low or High Mass? Maybe Archbishop Neinstedt and Bishop Piche can celebrate them too?

Pontifical High Mass with Bishop Cozzens 1

People were intrigued! The Cathedral is a tourist destination. I witnessed many people who were stopping in just to see what was going on. After Mass, my friend and I were approached by a woman asking what it was she had just experienced. We told her and she was interested. Non-traditional Catholics tell us the days of tradition are over in the Church because nobody cares for it, or people are turned off, or whatever excuse is popular for the day. As a convert I find these excuses lacking as it was the traditions of the Church that really drew me in. Catholicism celebrated as it has been given by Christ and His Church¬†should draw people in with it’s beauty and pomp. Not with novelty, distractions and noise.

Jeff October 12, 2014 5 Comments Permalink

Extraordinary Form Confirmation and Solemn High Mass at St. Paul Cathedral

It has been brought to my attention that this Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10am, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis, will be confirming about 40 children using the Extraordinary Form. After the Confirmations, with the assistance of the FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter) a Solemn High Mass will be celebrated.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens

This will be held at the Cathedral of Saint Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is the first time in over 50 years that the Traditional Latin Mass will have been celebrated in the Cathedral.

The faithful are encouraged to attend this historic event. If you live in the Twin Cities, or even possibly near by, I highly recommend you go. The Cathedral of Saint Paul is a beautiful and stunning Cathedral. It was made for the Traditional Mass.

Jeff October 7, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink

Celebrate Your Feast Days

As Catholics, we have a lot to celebrate: Baptisms, Confirmations, Anniversaries, Saint Feast days, and of course, the many Holy Days that are attributed to our faith.

Celebratorial Balloons

But, how often do you actually celebrate your Baptismal Day or your Confirmation Day or even the Feast days of your favorite Saints or Confirmation Saint?

We really should get in the habit of making the time to celebrate these days. If you are married, you celebrate your Anniversary, which is a Sacrament. If you are ordained, you celebrate your ordination day, which is a Sacrament. Likewise, we should begin to celebrate the days in which we were Baptized and Confirmed.

Baptism is a day to be celebrated, as it is the day in which you were washed clean of the stain of Original Sin. God marked you as one of His own, one of His children. If you do not know the day you were baptized, you can call the parish that you were baptized at, assuming they have good record keeping. If that doesn’t work, you should be able to contact your diocese as they usually keep track of this as well.

Confirmation should be celebrated as it was the day in which you reaffirmed your baptismal vows and promised before God and those in attendance that you would continue walking the Catholic faith. Similar to above, you can call the parish or the diocese to find out the date.

If you are married, I won’t even bother mentioning why you should celebrate your anniversary, especially if you are a guy. Likewise, if you are ordained, you should celebrate as well.

The Saints are great examples to us, as they have lived a life here on Earth, and have gone before us into Heaven to intercede for us. It is wise to celebrate your confirmation Saint and any other Saints that you admire.

There is much to celebrate in our faith. Enjoy your “feast days” and celebrate your faith. There are many hard days out there, so enjoy these days so that you might one day grow in Holiness and intercede for those here on Earth.

Jeff April 15, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink

6 Ways To Eliminate Drive-Thru Confirmations

It is estimated that within 5 years after getting confirmed, about 85% of then high-school students will leave the Catholic Church. Yes, that’s right, a whopping 85% are gone. How many of them come back? Very few. As someone who has taught Religious Education for students that are getting confirmed, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering how we can better get these teens involved in their faith, and get them to have that desire to stay Catholic, after all, it is the Church of Jesus Christ.

Now, these are only ordered partially, but, I firmly believe that if these are implemented properly, we would be on a huge striving gain for not only getting legitimate confirmations (instead of the drive-thru Confirmation services that we currently have, in which most of them pretty much throw their faith right out into the trash the second they walk out of the Church), but, bringing that 85% down to a minimal 10% or even lower.

 

1. Parental Involvement is Necessary

Parents need to be involved every step of the way. I teach 10th graders. In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Confirmation occurs at 11th grade. By the time I step into the picture, most of my students have had 15 years of life lived. By now, they have 15 years of bad habits that have occurred, as well as guidance (or failed guidance) from their parents. Now, I know, this is not the case with everyone. There are some outliers on both sides, you have the Saintly parents who practice their faith and teach their faith to their children, and the children still leave the Church. Likewise, you have the parents who don’t or barely practice their faith and their kids come out to be Saintly. However, the average Catholic kid will turn out similarly to how their parents are. If your family is very Catholic, generally, you will come out very Catholic. If your family isn’t very Catholic, you will come out very not Catholic.

From what I have witnessed, the students I teach have as much interest in the class as their parents do. Some want to be there, and those are usually the ones that I see at Mass on a weekly basis. Some don’t want to be there, and those are usually the ones I never see at Mass (unless its required by the class).

When the parents actually want to be practicing their Catholic faith, the children, by default, generally want to practice this faith. If the parents are just going through the motions, “gotta make sure Susie gets confirmed”, but doesn’t practice, then why are we surprised that Susie doesn’t want to be in class, and leaves the Church the second she gets her drive-thru Confirmation? This ties into number 5, let’s not confirm students that do not want to be confirmed.

 

2. Move Confirmation Before First Communion

A long time ago, Confirmation was given to kids when they reached the age of reason, or about 7 years old. This way, the Holy Ghost would descend upon them, and make His mark on them. This way, they have those extra graces working within them while they are going through religious education and they get more out of that education. Kids would also receive the Sacrament of Confirmation before receiving their First Communion. It also showed how much more serious Confirmation was and made sure you were on pace for living a life molded within the Church.

Now, when we wait until the students are much, much older, they wonder what the point is. It then becomes an attitude that Confirmation just means that “you are an adult by the Church’s standards and can do whatever you want” or “its Catholic graduation, once you’re done, you don’t have to practice anymore”. I have lost count how many times I have heard lapsed-Catholics say these quotes. It shows how the Church has failed these Catholics.

If they are confirmed early, they will understand the faith more as they grow up, and will have all of those extra graces working in their favor, as opposed to not having those graces and not understanding the purpose of their faith.

 

3. The Liturgy

The Liturgy of the Mass is the most important aspect of Catholicism. It is when Heaven and Earth collide during the consecration of the bread and wine made Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is Catholicism 101. Yet, too often, the Masses are said without passion or meaning, the presider barely wants to be there (yes, some priests do not want to be up there celebrating the Mass or at least give this impression). Other times, the homilies are washed down to convey the idea that being a good person is all that really matters and they do not challenge us to be better Catholics or to practice our faith. Many times we hear music that is more fitting for a rock and roll Praise and Worship concert than an actual Catholic Mass. And unfortunately, a number of other liturgical abuses (yes, they are abuses) that make the Mass and all other Liturgies we celebrate, appear to be a joke, and rely completely on emotion that only lasts for as long as it is occurring.

The Liturgy is the foundation of our faith, it is where Catholics all congregate once per week, to worship, to be inspired not only by their pastor, by the music, by the awe inspiring that is Catholicism, and yet, we reduce it to nothing. Catholicism requires sacrifice, which has all been left out. The Liturgy needs to be restored (and no, I may be a Traditional Roman Catholic, but I’m not advocating a reversal of what has been done) to the reverency and beauty that it demands. Until this is done, nothing else on this list will even become accomplishable. Once this has been done, the following not only become achievable, but easy.

 

4. The Religious Education

Religious Education, CCD, Catechism, or whatever you want to call it, is rather poor. The lessons are good, but inappropriate for where most of the students are at. Before you get all upset and throw a fit, let me explain.

Most of the material that is discussed is out-dated, in that, it is full of the “Spirit of Vatican 2” mumbo jumbo that is all about talking about how merciful God is and how He really likes us and that really, it’s all about loving Him. There isn’t much substance to it. See, most of these kids have been hearing this being taught since they were in Kindergarten. The education is still a Kindergarten education while they are growing throughout their academic careers, and then we wonder why they have no interest in learning more. Well, we don’t challenge them. They go to school (public, private (Catholic) or home-schooled) and are learning all types of high-level subjects like Calculus, Trigonometry, Biology, Physics, College-level courses, but then they go to Religious Ed (you know, the only subject that matters in the end) and its the same lesson “God loves you!”

I’m not arguing that the education is wrong, because it isn’t, but it isn’t challenging what-so-ever. As a teacher, its absolutely annoying and almost enraging when the questions that we ask the kids are so dumbed down to the point that each kid knows the answer is “Pray more”. “How can you be better close to Jesus?”, I ask. “Pray more” the kids repeat in a monotonous tone. And, how could I forget, the personalism in this!? How about we teach them more about Christ’s actually teachings, like “Go Forth and Sin no More!” or teach them about various aspects of, I don’t know, their Catholic faith? They don’t know much about why we as Catholics believe this, but, we talk non-stop about having a “personal relationship with Jesus”. Tell me, can you imagine St. Peter, or St. Paul going around preaching “Hey! You need a personal relationship with Jesus!”? Absolutely not. This is a Protestant mentality.

At one of my lessons, we somehow got onto the point of Purgatory. I and the other teachers noticed that the kids perked up, they seemed interested. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so I asked them if they’d like to know more. More than half the class raised their hands. I assume (yes, I know assumption is dangerous) that most of them have no clue what Purgatory is, or why we believe it. We should be teaching kids about why we are Catholic. That way when they go to college and get approached by every single other religion (who know why they believe what they believe) they aren’t left like a deer in headlights, looking confused, feeling awkward and are able to defend their faith.

Let’s find out what the children know, and teach them what they should know. I have found that many people, those in religious ed and those outside, do not know the details of their faith.

 

5. Confirming Students Who DON’T Want Confirmation

(This probably won’t be an issue if we implement problem 1). This one is going to be one where I’m sure we’ll get lots of disagreement. But, there are a number of students who do not want to be confirmed. Yet, we go ahead and let them because “that’s what we’re supposed to do”. Now, I ask, how effective is a Sacrament, if you are forced into it? If you go to Confession, and you aren’t sorry, you are just going through the motion, is it still valid? The Church teaches that if you don’t have a contrite heart, if you aren’t sincere and truly repentant, than your confession doesn’t do anything. The Church teaches that if a spouse had no intention of getting married and just went through the motions, we are told that that would be valid reason for an annulment (a true, valid marriage never took place). How about Communion? Don’t you have to actually physically walk up to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord?

This isn’t at all like Baptism, in which the baby is unable to decide for herself because she is not at the age of reason. We are talking about teenagers. Teenagers who are fully competent to know what they do or do not want (whether or not what they want is good is another topic). What is the meaning of the Sacrament if we are giving it forcibly to those who do not want to receive it? When we are Confirmed we are promising to everyone and especially GOD that we are going to be faithful to the Church. If my intent is to, say, stop practicing once we leave the Confirmation Mass, I am lying to God, to those in attendance and to myself. Yet, we go ahead and let this occur.

Besides, most of the time those that do get Confirmed rarely come back to the Church. I think it’d make more sense that if they want Confirmation, then they should go through RCIA when they are older. This way, they are actually wanting that Sacrament, and then, on top of that, we see that they are actually going to practice their faith and be on fire for it. That’s what we want right? Let’s confirm those who are wanting to be Catholic, and those that will just use it as an opportunity to bad-mouth the Church later, you know the “recovering Catholics”, we can leave behind.

Frankly, we should bring back the days in which the Bishop would quiz each student, before receiving Confirmation. If the student got the question incorrect, they weren’t allowed to be Confirmed. When you practice anything, whether it be your faith or anything, you should at a minimum know why you are doing it. This point ties into the next.

 

6. No Accountability For Learning

Currently, in most parishes, there is absolutely no accountability if the student comes to class or even pays attention or learns anything. Why? If little Thomas is skipping class every single week, it is clear that he has no intention of coming to class. If I assign homework, and nobody does it, I can’t give out zeros and then hold them back a grade. We have set up a catechesis class in the Church, that in short, emphasizes that it isn’t important. If I flunk my math class at school, I don’t pass, I have to redo it. If I flunk my class in Religious Ed, I’m moved along to the next grade not having learned anything and become a distraction to those who want to be there. We in essence are subtly teaching our classes that it isn’t important, that our academic schooling is far more important. We are teaching them subtly that the world is where they want to conform to, and that religion is just a minor thing you practice if you care.

We also, like mentioned in point 4, do not teach them what they need to know. Sure, we can say that having a personal relationship with Jesus is important, but we are all flawed humans and we can subject our own views onto this said relationship. If you do not know who Jesus is, how can you even have a relationship? If I do not know what He teaches, how do I have this relationship? Let’s actually teach the children who Christ is, what He taught and what His Church, His Spouse teaches.

Implementing these ideas would be a great start in bringing back passion to those getting Confirmed and allow them to grow in their faith. Let’s make Saints, not allow them to stay as sinners.

Jeff December 12, 2013 1 Comment Permalink

My Conversion Story

For the sake of the blog and the internet, I am going to keep this as the short version. My conversion story is incredibly long (I’ve told the whole story in about an hour and a half), so I will not bore you with all of the details.

Growing up, I didn’t really practice a faith. My parents were of two different faiths (mom grew up Methodist, dad grew up Jewish), and so they never really raised me anything. Luckily for me though, they did teach me morals while I was growing up. They did teach me to basically follow the Ten Commandments.

When you are a little kid and you celebrate both Christmas and Chanukkah and then Easter and Passover, it is super cool. You are unique because you get to see two sides. Now, I never went to church growing up, in fact, I think the only time I ever stepped in one was when I went to an aunt’s wedding, but, I was about 3 or 4, so I don’t really remember it.

Through most of my life as a kid and teen, I didn’t really think I needed to be in worship of God. I believed in Him of course, but I had to fill in some of my beliefs with what I saw on movies and TV. I got a lot of my beliefs from the Simpsons (I know, great catechesis there) and then a whole slew of different things.

As I got older and into middle school, I started listening to society and how society tells us we are to live within the world. Having no proper moral catechesis, I fell deeply into the trap.

When I got into high school, I really didn’t care much about religion. Though, I was a freshman when 9/11 occurred, and I became really intrigued about religion. In my social studies class, we began learning about various religions around the globe. I recall spending much time on Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, though I recall very little on Christianity and Judaism. For a little while, I thought Buddhism was the way to go. The idea of meditation really appealed to me. I told my mom one day while we were driving that I wanted to become a Buddhist. She laughed at me and told me that, no, I really didn’t, and then that was it, I no longer wanted to become one.

The following year as a sophomore, I had decided that I was going to start my own religion. It was going to include what I liked from Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. I still really liked the whole meditation aspect of Buddhism, so I was going to incorporate meditation in my Christian/Jewish religion. Ironically, looking back now, it is obvious that I was looking for Catholicism as we are fully Christian, with our roots in Judaism, and we meditate when we pray. Needless to say, I did not start my own religion (and thank God I didn’t).

As a Junior, we took a quiz in our government class to find out where on the political spectrum we fell. I scored 100% conservative. I realized that because I now stood out from my peers at school, that I needed to start having solid talking points in defending my beliefs. I started reading more, watching the news and just started getting good at debating. It was something I really enjoyed and was successful with it. I had many liberal friends that thought I would make a good president.

During this time I became more hostile towards Christianity and began publicly denouncing Jesus Christ as the Son of God. My logic was what I thought simple. God created Adam and Eve. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Thus, we are *all* sons and daughters of God. To some extent this is true. However, I now know that Jesus is THE Son of God, a direct line of God.

When I entered in my last year of high school, I met a girl in my class who I really liked, and began questioning what she would think of me. This led to deep reflection of what I personally believed and such. I wanted her to like me and I actually cared more about my actions.

I began talking with my friend Stephen on a very deep level about faith and religion. I knew he was Catholic and teased him all the time about it. Whoa, you’re Catholic? That must suck, you can’t do anything without it being a mortal sin! (How little did I really know). He took the teasing in stride, truly very humble and charitable. How many times do I get over somebody’s case when they tease me about being a Catholic?

One thing I used to do was go on websites that talked about haunted houses and ghost stories. It was very addictive and also very demonic. Looking into stories like this, you are inviting Satan and his minions to come and torment your life. Needless to say, this would be the turning point of my conversion process.

Stephen and I were talking on AOL Instant Messenger one day and he told me he was reading about Marian Apparitions.

“What’s a Marian Apparition?”

Stephen came up with a reply that really surprises me to how open he was to letting the Holy Spirit sink me in. “Its when the ghost of Jesus’ Mother comes and talks to people.” Hook, line and sinker. Yes, we both know that this is not truly correct of what a Marian Apparition is, however, Stephen took me where I was at, and gave me what I could understand. Conversion is after all, a step by step process.

We talked a lot about Mary and Stephen lent me a book on Our Lady of Fatima. He said it was a short read and it would take only a few hours to read it. I said okay. I also asked him some questions that I was personally struggling with. He pulled out the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read out exactly what the Church taught. I was floored. The answer I heard was the answer that I knew was right deep down into my heart. It rung of Truth. The Catholic Church was right about something. My thirst kept growing and I wanted to know more, but, I of course fought it, after all, who wants to be Catholic?

A few days went by and Stephen asked me if I had read the book. I told him no, I hadn’t had time. Another few days went by and again Stephen asked if I had read the book. Again, I told him no, but was planning on it. Finally a few days came by and sure enough, Stephen was wondering if I had read it. Again, the answer was no. He then asked me if I was going to read it and if I wasn’t then he would like it back because he wanted to read it again. I told him I’d read it and felt like a jerk for taking so long (since it was such a short book). That night would change everything I previously thought.

Our Lady of Fatima

I was just coming down with a cold, and when I was growing up, my colds lasted at least 2-3 weeks. I read the book in about 4 hours and was absolutely amazed by what I read. Never before had I heard that we could offer up our suffering for those in need and not only that, but we could pray for others. The common theme was, if we pray for others, we can prevent them from going to Hell. I found this very admirable. I can save others from Hell, just by praying for them.

The next morning, I awoke, and realized I had just had a miracle occur to me. My cold, which was only 2 or 3 days in, was completely gone. I gave Stephen a call and he agreed, that sounded like a miracle.

Over the next few months, Stephen and I talked more about the Catholic faith. Stephen was incredibly patient with me and slowly allowed me to realize how much Jesus and I shared in common. He would more or less show me a Bible verse here or there on what Jesus actually said. The twist though, was that I would always agree. Stephen knew me well enough that He pointed out what Jesus and I had in common, so that Jesus and I became close and had similarities. I even began praying at night before going to bed, something I had never done before.

Stephen took me to a Mass one Sunday. On the way to Mass, Stephen gave me a Rosary, informed me that it had been blessed by Pope John Paul II and gave me a card that taught me how to pray. The Mass was very interesting to say the least. I had absolutely zero clue as to what was going on, so I watched Stephen the entire time. I felt holier just by being there, like I was a part of something sacred.

At this parish, the priest was from Sri Lanka, and I couldn’t understand anything that he said. However, during the consecration at communion, I noticed his voice changed. Every single word became distinct and clear, and his voice to me had changed. It was like someone had taken over. Stephen informed me that I couldn’t receive communion because I wasn’t Catholic and that I could either approach Father for a blessing with my arms folded, or I could stay in the pew. I asked if he could stay with me, but, yeah, that wasn’t happening. I went up for a blessing and felt weight come off my shoulders.

For me, it was incredibly difficult to accept Jesus as my savior. I had absolutely no problem with Mary as she is my mother and loves me deeply. I had no problem saying the Our Father, the Hail Mary or the Glory Be. Even the Fatima prayer (O my Jesus…) was of no problem for me to say. What was difficult for me was saying the Creed. When I got to the part though, when we say “And I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord”, I immediately panicked. I didn’t know what to do.

The next day I talked to Stephen, and he basically told me that he couldn’t understand how after everything we had talked about thus far, that I couldn’t make this claim. I felt bad. I had no problem accepting God the Father or even God the Holy Spirit, but accepting Jesus as the 2nd part of the Trinity was difficult.

That night, I really wanted to pray the Rosary for Mary. But, perfectionist me wasn’t going to skip the Creed. It was either all or nothing. Before I prayed the Rosary, I knelt alongside my bed and said the following to the Father.

“God, I’m not sure if you are going to accept this or not, but, I’m going to say the following words. If you are not approving, I am really sorry and I will stop. However, if you want me to say the words, allow me to know.” I said the creed, specifically “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son…….Our……..Lord…….” and immediately, felt a peace come over me. So, I continued.

Stephen and I kept talking more and more about the faith. We went to another Mass where Father must have been in his late 20s or early 30s. He seemed pretty cool and made it feel that being Catholic was actually really cool. This inspired me more. I watched Stephen like a hawk to make sure I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Again, at the consecration, Father’s voice changed. Every word was distinct and clear and his voice was not his own. I knew something was happening when these words were spoken, but didn’t understand what.

After Mass, Stephen went to confession with Father and asked if I wanted to go. We had talked about confession before, and yes, I wanted to go! My sins get forgiven??? Heck yes! As a disclaimer, Stephen didn’t know that you had to be baptized in order to go, and I didn’t tell Father that I wasn’t a Catholic and I thought Stephen had told him. Needless to say, I made an unsacramental confession and Father went through all of the steps. I felt all of the weight come off of my shoulders. Even though my sins weren’t absolved due to the confession (because I wasn’t Catholic) I felt as if I had and knew that confession was real.

I went home and told my parents (remember, neither of them are Catholic) and needless to say, they flipped out. They couldn’t figure out why I would tell some strange man my sins. I was feeling such a high, that I just told them that he has the ability to forgive them, and I want that.

About a few weeks later, the travelling Fatima statue of Our Lady was in town. This is the statue that is said to have been seen crying during times. Stephen and I went and I was blown away. Her eyes were so life-like and I had never seen anything like this. How can a statue’s eyes look so real, that is, how does it look like she has tears in her eyes? It was incredible. Afterwards, Stephen introduced me to a family friend of his, his friend David’s mom. She welcomed me with such love and tenderness that I was amazed that a stranger could feel this way towards another stranger. I told her a bit of my story, up until that point, knowing that she wouldn’t judge me, but rather encourage me to seek deeper.

statue-of-our-lady-of-fatima

That summer, I met Stephen’s friend David and his parents (though I had already met his mom). We started a weekly catechetical class where we learned more about Catholicism. Each week I desired more and more to be Catholic. Eventually, my younger brother joined in and was learning more as well. David’s parents taught RCIA at the parish that I first went to Mass at, and since I was learning so much from them and they were able to answer all of my questions, I knew that that was where I wanted to go. I was concerned that some of my beliefs (though many were changing over to Catholic) would prevent me from being a Catholic in good-standing. They told me I should go through anyways and that I would learn more and my desire to want to be in accordance with the Church, would help me get there.

That Fall, I started up at Michigan State University studying Computer Science. Stephen had started up college out of state and David went back to college out of state. I was alone. Luckily, David’s older brother Jonathan was wrapping up his final year at Michigan State also studying Computer Science. We clicked really well as Jonathan was learning more about his faith and was able to teach me more.

I started up in RCIA and was learning a lot. I had several spiritual warfare episodes throughout my conversion, that I will tell only in person. Describing them would take too much time and this is a long story for a blog.

Jonathan and I became increasingly close as friends. He got me to pray the Rosary daily. He helped me grow so much spiritually that I still remember some of the fun conversations we had at his apartment, not to mention how I learned much about the faith and the issues that I was struggling with were aided by really good answers. He got me introduced to a Young Adult group from the area and they also assisted with good answers and great fellowship. I know it was Jonathan and another friend Julie who helped me to realize why contraception was not part of God’s plan.

I was finally received into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2006 (tax day in America, yuck). This was truly the best day of my life. Yes, I am married, but I can honestly say that choosing to follow Jesus Christ was the smartest thing I have ever done (I wouldn’t have my wife if I hadn’t). I was baptized, received confirmation and first communion at the Easter Vigil. It was powerful.

Every step of the way, my friends who all aided me (Stephen, David, Jonathan, their parents, Julie, and a few others) were incredibly patient with me. They were never judgmental, condescending or impatient. They constantly took me where I was at, and guided me to where the Truth was. For this I am eternally grateful. If you enjoy this blog, you can thank them with prayers.

In closing, I really do enjoy telling my conversion story. If you would like me to tell my conversion story (there is much more detail I left out for the sake of the internet), please don’t hesitate to contact me. This story isn’t just about me, but rather, how God, in His infinite love and mercy, can rescue the most unworthy of sinners, and bring them home to His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Jeff August 21, 2013 4 Comments Permalink

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