Friday, May 30, 2008

Come and find out...

Are you new to the Faith?
Are you returning to the Faith?
Are you simply curious about the Faith?

We will be starting this DVD series at RECON
Sunday, June 1
5:30 - 7:30
At the Holy Family Shrine
Exit 432
Gretna Interchange

There will be a study guide available
and discussion following the video

Then please come and join us
and meet others who've come back or are currently
on their Journey Home
to the Catholic Church
Call or e-mail us with any questions:
Rich & Susie Melkus

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why am I Catholic?...

Some of you may want to know, Why is Susie a Catholic? Why did she return to the Catholic Church, when she was a happy little "independent" Christian, and was "born again" in 1974 on Feb. 1? Didn't she leave the Catholic Church in her 20's because of the 'rules' and that it was so traditional and "old fashioned?" Yes, I did, even though I was involved in the Charismatic Renewal, it still wasn't as 'hip' and "with it" as what I'd been used to for 3 months in California with a lively and gracious bunch of Pentecostals.

Yes, I wanted to leave the Catholic Church, after only having joined a year earlier, because I was "free" and wanted to roam to whatever fellowship 'floated my spiritual boat.' I chose Abundant Life Christian Center, and my husband followed, reluctantly. ALCC had the upbeat music and much more "interesting messages" being given than the boring homilies of "Father Snore." That's the way it is, here in America anyway. If you're not "being fed" you simply leave and go to where you can be where 'you're' comfortable, to where 'you're' theology seems to fit the mission and theology of so & so fellowship. Then if you want, you become a member, or you don't have to be a member. (That does mean "commitment" and in this society, that's not a 'comfortable' word. For pagans or Christians. I mean, what if the "feelings" aren't there anymore? What if I don't like the worship songs anymore? You know the drill.)

So you don't have to "belong" to a church. Why? Because it's "you and Jesus." That's all that really matters. So, you stay for a while at a fellowship, until things don't seem to "jive" with you anymore, and then all you need to do is move on to another "church." Not a problem. It's the Evangelical mindset. I guess, what I conclude from all this is that ultimately TRUTH doesn't really matter among many Evangelicals anymore. I don't say that with any rancor or "mean-spiritedness." Truth doesn't matter or there'd not be these splits. It's the only logical outcome of "church hopping." But I would ask: Since when does Truth not matter? Truth then, in the end becomes RELATIVE does it not? Truth ends up being subjective, to each individual Christian, and not objective. Even though these good, well-meaning, sincere Christians would say they don't believe Truth is relative. But it is, and that's the sad conclusion.

It's the mentality/spirituality of modern American worshipers, in the now "consumer-driven" society, be it Christian or Secular. What one believes can "change" over time, and so, the constant splits. The splits occurring and the amount of "church planting" going on is incredible! I have Catholic friends in many different parishes, but yet we're still in ONE CHURCH. That's a major difference. One UNIVERSAL CHURCH as opposed to "Rolling River Fellowship" meeting at a movie theater in a Mall. How does that little church ever become "universal" and who among those independent groups can speak for all of Christendom, as does Pope Benedict XVI? I can't see "Pastor Joe Blow" traveling the globe speaking on faith and morals when his faith and morals changed since he was a kid growing up in a denomination he left years ago. Do you see what I mean?

Sadly, the splits will continue and sect after sect will start and fade away. Many people don't have a problem with it since to most of those I know and knew, the "church" as mentioned in Scripture, isn't a physical structure at all. How that is even believed is incredible, when you stop to think about it. I thought so for years. The Church, to these good folks doesn't have a God-given Authority i.e. the Vatican, or the Pope. The "church" is only a mystical, spiritual church -- where one is free to go to where he "feels" led to go, for as long as he feels "led to be there." These folks go to where the "Holy Spirit" may lead him, which sounds right, but is it the Holy Spirit or their own whim? (I then have to ask: Did the Holy Spirit lead Jim Jones? Did the H.S. lead David Koresh? If not, why? Jim and David sure believed the bible was their "sole authority" too, and if they were wrong....well, says who??) By what authority???

Yes I answer, I was "born again" Feb. 1974, and it was a good thing, and a powerful moment and produced a positive change in my life. But what I didn't understand at that time, (I was 19) was that I was really "fulfilling my baptismal vows" and coming into another, deeper state of grace. A "confirmation" if you will. What I didn't realize was that I was made a Christian, brought into the family of God at the time of my baptism, as a baby. ( Interesting, some Christians believe that and some don't, but that's another discussion for another time.) Yes, God's grace was given me at that moment, when as a baby, I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a Presbyterian church in Lake Charles, LA. I was then raised Methodist and married a Catholic. Talk about ecumenical! So what about Baptism? To some it's only an ordinance or a symbol, and to some it's not necessary at all. In fact it's not necessary at all. But what does the bible say about Baptism? Find in the bible where baptism isn't necessary. I'd like to know where that is. Peter seemed to think it VERY necessary.

That "born again" moment for me the night on Feb. 1 1974 wasn't a once and for all commitment or FULL and complete conversion. It was not a one-time decision that stamped my soul for salvation, no matter what I would ever do the rest of my life. I was taught, by most evangelicals and Pentecostals, however, that it was. It was a "signed" and "Done Deal." Blessed assurance that I was indeed "Saved." I believed it, or tired to believe it for many years, too. However, along came the problem of my tendency to sin, being a sinner. With that 'bent' toward sin, it wasn't hard to sin again after my one-time conversion. When I would sin and wander away for days, months and even a few years in some cases, while belonging to a few certain fundamentalist/evangelical faith communities over the years, I would question if I was indeed "saved." Had I really been SAVED? If so, then why had I fallen into sin, and now for some reason, felt 'far from God?' Even "cut off" from God?

Some would say, "Yes, you were still a Christian, and you were saved in 1974. No, you didn't earn salvation, so you can't lose our salvation." But, yet there were some Christians who didn't believe that "once saved always saved" thing. Hmm. A problem. So according to some, I could lose my salvation. According to others, just as sincere, I could NEVER lose it. Some would understand that I needed to come to the "altar" again (which wasn't an altar at all but merely at the edge of a stage or just the front of our sanctuary) and RE-DEDICATE my life. Well, what did THAT mean exactly? Had I "lost" my salvation or not? If I had, I'd better get myself 'rededicated and be quick about it!' But if I hadn't lost my salvation, then what did it matter if I really rededicated my life to Christ or not? I mean, if you're once and forever SAVED your SAVED and logically speaking what I did, even if it was a sin shouldn't matter one whit in the end, right? That reminds me of a great book titled "Once Saved, Always Saved...until you fall away." : )

But why was I "cold" and why did I "feel" so "cut-off" from God if I was truly saved? I knew after choosing to sin, (and being a hot or cold person, I would sometimes choose to sin "big") I had to do more than just waltz up and "rededicate my life" to Jesus. I was unaware of it, but what I was doing at that time, in the only way I knew how, was CONFESSING MY SINS to God and to others. It did help me, as I was sincerely repentant and I did receive forgiveness by God, albeit imperfectly, meaning without the Sacrament of RECONciliation made to a priest in persona Christi.

Well, now that I'm Catholic, I understand the way Jesus set up the Sacrament of RECONciliation. Jesus laid it out for us, gave the authority to bind and loose, to forgive and retain specifically to priests, starting with the 12 apostles. How can they know what to forgive or retain if they didn't have people confessing their sins to them? Jesus told us how to RETURN to Him after we sin. It's called the sacrament of CONFESSION, or RECONciliation and it is JESUS HIMSELF, His presence IN AND THROUGH THE PRIEST who absolves us of our sins, if we are sincerely repentant and desire to not sin. That is the way we are once again "made right" with God. Don't believe it? Take it up with Jesus, for He is the One you don't agree with, not me.

This video is one of the best ever made and the most powerful clearly showing the Truth about the Catholic Church. This explains why I'm now a Catholic, a happy Catholic, a JOYFUL Catholic and why I LOVE THE CHURCH JESUS ESTABLISHED and why I want all my friends, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist and agnostic/atheist to COME HOME to ROME. Why wouldn't I want that for everyone? I don't want you to "think" like me, or "be like me", it's not about "me" at all. But I do want everyone I know to Come Home to the Catholic Church where the FULLNESS of TRUTH IS. I'm not alone, so does Jesus and so does his Mom, Mary. (another discussion for another time)

The Church of Christ, the ONE Church He built is not in some independent little faith community meeting in a house, or a storefront, or a movie theater or some a mega-church on t.v. They have only a part of the Truth, not all, or they'd be in ONE ACCORD and they're not (another discussion for another time) There are good people there, and many who love the Lord with all their hearts, but why "settle for less" when MORE and ALL TRUTH is in ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH? Come on, take the swim across the Tiber, least get your feet wet. You won't regret it. Jesus wants you back in HIS CHURCH, and so do I. Will you at least wade and LEARN "What Catholics Really Believe?"

We'll be showing the DVD Series by Dr. Ray Guarendi and Fr. Kevin Fete at the Holy Family Shrine, every first Sunday starting June 1. Join us at 5:30- 7:30 to learn about the CC and let the Lord Jesus, through these two bright and gifted Christians, dispel the myths you might have been taught and or believe. You can meet others of us who are curious, honest seekers. Some converts like me, and some "reverts" like Rich. Snacks will be served and discussion with a study guide will be shared after the 30 minute video. It's a "point counter-point" video, with Dr. Ray being the questioning Protestant and Fr. Fete being the good and brilliant priest that he was. Fr. Kevin passed on to his heavenly reward in July, 2006. God rest his precious priestly soul. He is our Patron for RECON. He was known for bringing so many souls back to the CC and into the CC in the diocese of Youngstown Ohio. He is still doing that, only from a larger parish without walls. Fr. Kevin, pray for us! Thank you!

IF you want to know about the Sacraments, Mary, the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, Purgatory, etc. come join us. 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 1 and every first Sunday. Now watch this and let me just tell you all, this is WHY I AM CATHOLIC.

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's not "Chesterton" but it's ok....

In defense of the Faith...

I just read this article today about Hillaire Belloc. I've never read any of his work, but have heard his name mentioned often on EWTN programs, and Catholic radio. Finally, with this Monday "off" when coming across this on another site, I decided to read the entire piece. He sounds like quite a man and very human, with a few rough edges, a bit of a temper, a passion for the Church and a keen wit. I like that.

Not said by Jesus...

H/t to Fr. Rick for this bit of brilliance.

Catholics Come Home...


Getting to know St Therese?...

h/t to Maureen for e-mailing me the link to her website It's a remarkable source of information about St Therese and her family.

Memorial Day...

Thank you to our servicemen and women for all you've done and are doing to protect our freedom. God bless you all, and God rest the souls of the fallen. You are our heroes. Words fall short of being sufficient. "Thank you" seems too small to say. God we pray for peace in this world. Mary, Queen of Peace, fill our hearts and bring an end to war. Amen.

Joseph Pearce is a genius...IMHO that is...

It's early on Monday morning, Memorial Day,2008. I'm watching an earlier episode of The Journey Home - Joseph Pearce is the guest. The man is so captivating to listen to, he really "knows his stuff." He is a former agnostic. He's one of the best biographers out there. He has said so many poignant things, I want to keep stopping the show, (we have DISH so I can do that) and write down almost every line he says! He quotes C.S. Lewis: "There are two types of people, those who do things to books and those who allow books to do things to them."

That made me think of what it is to be "anti-Catholic." People can read a book about the Catholic Church, or an article (or a blog) that might be quite well written and factual and true about the Church, YET, they still "don't get it" or see the Truth there, because they're reading it already through a biased lens, and their misconceptions about the Church. So either the Truth will call to them, and their eyes will be opened and they'll have the proverbial "Ah ha" moment, OR they'll read it with such a misguided belief, based on misinformation they've believed all their life, and just toss it aside, regardless of fact after fact. They'll cling to their preconceived notions because they're "foolish pride" (operative word being foolish) won't let them see the Truth. Their hardness of heart will remain, until they're ever humbled enough to let God speak to them about His Church. I know because that describes how I once was in my stubborness and my willful ignorance I held onto and had toward the CC.

"The fool says in his heart, there is no God." Psalm 14:1
I might add: "Another fool says in his heart, "God did not build the Catholic Church."

Both are foolish notions. Both are said by fools. I ought to know, I was one who thought for years. that the "church" is only "spiritual" not a physical, visible "institution" and certainly not the CC! But...Psst, the joke was on none other than me! Now, I grin with gratitude at my presumptiousness of so many years and say, "God, thank you for not letting me continue on that path!" I was one who thought Catholics or Lutherans, or Methodists, or the Baptists I knew might possibly not be and probably weren't really REAL "Christians" because they didn't talk about being "born again." I had come to know, through MY experience, that to become a Christian meant that it was a "decision" made in one fell swoop, announced at one point in time, Feb. 1, 1973 for me, that I "indeed gave my heart to Jesus and asked him to be my Lord and Savior." DOH! what a dummy! One articulated decision and I was a Christian who never had to ever worry about losing my salvation???? Oops. Some major WRONG theology there, kiddo! Blame it on semantics and pride...that goes before a fall and a fall it took! A fall off my "high-horse!"

If I may continue to DIGRESS:
I had the gift of faith to believe there is a God for most all of my life, only briefly doubting in high school, but never going down the agnostic rabbit trail of being a "smug doubter." However, it took a long time for me to lay down my foolish pride and admit and submit to the TRUTH and the FACTS of true history, staring me in the face, that God did indeed build and institute the Roman Catholic Church. HUH? GASP! "What?" "No way!" "He did not!" "We're free to roam about in any faith community we please, or to start our own churches, if we don't like what's being taught, or preached anymore where we are and where we've been for a month, a year or for decades. If the music no longer suits us, that's also a reason to "fly the proverbial coop" because we're free to go where we can "sing and dance" to our heart's content and to music "we like." Notice the operative force here? "We" or "I?" It seems to be all about me and for most of my life, it has been. If we have a bible (preferably an Ampflied one) and if we simply believe, we can understand everything we need to understand, all that the Holy Spirit teaches us." It's the Bible alone that guided me. Or was it? How can I be so completely sure, when it was also the bible that guided people like Jim Jones and David Koresh...? The bible is the Sole authority? Where does it say so in, say....the bible? (just askin')

Ouch. I had to swallow a large gulp of pride, for all of that is what I thought it was to be a Christian. Merely a belief, mental ascent and some 'good feelings' and an assurance that I was "Saved." Combine all that w/ a bible and it was "me and Jesus all the way, baby!" It didn't matter what I believed or the doctrines or dogmas of the CC or anyother "Mainline denomination" because, most of them were "tainted" in some way, being old and based on traditions of men. Little did I realize that I was following traditions of men in the evangelical world. Nope. We had it "more right" than most any other faith community, and especially more than those "mainliners" out there. They didn't even know what it meant to be "born again"....they, in some cases therefore couldn't be real Christian communities, (they didn't believe like I DID or speak like me. Just a tad bit of arrogance on my part that I was completely blind to, eventhough I felt pretty good and humble about being a 'real' Christian.) BUT I have digressed extremely here so back to Joseph Pearce.

Joseph also said, "Truth never has anything to fear from the facts." So very...TRUE! But lies and faulty theologies sure do! Lies that people believe and thrive on, and faulty theologies i.e. man-made tradtions we all cling to, have much to fear and bristle at the facts. People get angry and defensive when shown the facts, and if they're stubborn, like most of us are, it takes a long time, sometimes years to finally become docile enough (by God's grace) to the Holy Spirit, for there to finally be a crack in our hard shells to where the light can penetrate our darkened consciences or perceptions that have formed our faulty theologies or worldviews. If our consciences are poorly formed and molded, how will we come to 'truthful conclusions' about religion or God, or the Catholic Church? Many prayers were said for me, I believe, and are still being prayed before the throne of God, for me to now remain faithful to what I've been given. I don't know how it is that I became open and docile to the Holy Sprit and the Truth about Catholicism. It's a mystery. I am only forever grateful for the wondrous gift of faith to believe and a softened heart to receive.

People have read INTO books (or blogs) about Catholicism only what they 'want it to read' based on their own prejudices and likes or dislikes. As Joseph says there really aren't any "anti-Catholics" which gave me pause, so I listened more intently... and he proceeds: "When I was "anti-Catholic" he says, "I didn't hate the Catholic Church, but really only hated what I thought the Catholic Church to be." Which is the quote of Archbishop, Fulton Sheen.

I was in an internet exchange with a commenter a couple of months ago. He was persistent as could be. He is an ex-Catholic and had come across my blog. He had a whole litany of verses to
"throw at me" with the hope that I would read them, and "see the light" and the error of my ways, and see the Catholic Church for what is "is" (to him).... an idolotrous, deceptive, horribly corrupt religious system that has lured many into idol worship and is no doubt the "whore of Babylon." Although I don't know if he acutally called the CC that. This huge list of verses, all taken OUT OF CONTEXT to proove his own messed up and faulty theology and his hatred for the Church. Funny how my having been a "born again Christian" and my evangelical beliefs I held for nearly 30 years made NO DIFFERENCE to this man.

Nope, not one bit of difference did ANYTHING I say make to this man, so set in his bigotry toward any and all things Catholic. There was nothing I could say, no fact I could give that he would even consider. So, I ask you, what was the point in continuing this on line "debate?" It wasn't even a debate, because he was so entrenched in hatred for the CC that he couldn't or more correctly, 'wouldn't' debate at all! That's when I realized that it isn't me who will change this hardened heart, but only the Holy Spirit. It's NEVER us. We can't convert one soul. There comes a time we have to "leave the town and shake the dust off our feet" and in love....."let them go." I pray he'll one day go to the websites I gave him, get the free MP3's or c.d.'s and LISTEN when perhaps his theology begins to crumble as mine did 3 plus years ago.

This is all leading to my recommendation for any of you to go to search the archives -The Journey Home, with Joseph Pearce. I'd do it for you here and now, but I'm too lazy. But hey, I have the EWTN link there for you and that's a start. :) You'll be riveted to your tube for one hour, but it will be so worth it!

Now to get up and go to Mass. We aren't going to make it to 6:30, so guess it's 7:00 at Boy's Town. Have a great holiday today with family and friends. And remember to

THANK A VETERAN if you see one or know one.
They're our heroes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yeah, "Who the heck is advising McCain?"...

I was just taking a swim around in the blogpool, enjoying a nice Sunday splash, when I came across this brilliant post, over here. Thanks, Oso! This says it all about the current political ego stew we're forced to swallow this election year. It's worth a read. Good stuff, Oso.

Btw, I can see wearing Paul McCartney on a shirt, or Pope BXVI, but Rod Parsley??? Yipes! That is scawy....vewy, vewy scawy.

Gospel of St John and Corpus Christi...

I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

On this solemnity of Corpus Christi, I am only full of gratitude to have been given the faith to believe these words Jesus spoke to his disciples. I did not believe this for many years. It was a "hard saying" for me, and it didn't make sense. But you see, that's where we can't let our senses lead us, but a mustard seed of faith, when activated by grace, in a mystery unable to be articulated, can lead us...straight into the heart Sacred Heart of Truth. It's all grace, but to be humbled to believe, what a treasure and what a gift!! God is love. Let Him love you, be open to receive this wonderful gift of Life, to behold and partake in the Eucharist is to behold and partake of the body and blood of Jesus. It's not the priest, it is Christ, speaking through the priest who indeed performs this miracle of changing that wafer of wheat into His Body. That cup of wine, into His Blood. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good, and wants all to come and receive Him. As a priest I met recently said, "I have a mustard seed, and I'm not afraid to use it!" Use it! Let the Holy Spirit enkindle in you that mustard seed of faith that will move the mountain of disbelief that's kept you from coming Home to the Catholic Church. He did it for me, and He will for you. Come and eat, come and drink and receive the fullness, the ALL of Jesus, that he died to give to you. Don't tarry, run to Him. He's waiting for you in the Blessed Sacrament.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A eulogy for Gary "Fish" Tetrazona...

In memoriam

Today I lost my first pet. He was a "Tiger Barb" fish or Puntius tetrazona who looked similar to the stock photograph shown above. His name was Gary. Age indeterminate, he was the "Gray Lady" (though presumed male) of my fish tank, presiding of the other two fish with stoicism and a wizened visage. He wasn't wont to frolic and chase the others (Larry and Moe) around the tank. Instead, he preferred to hang out by the red plastic plant and just sort of float, pondering the greater things while those other two idiots flitted, mindlessly nipping at each other's fins. Yes, Gary liked to float.

I found Gary floating this morning--upside down. Did he die of a broken heart, separated from his true love in the community tank at PetsMart? Did he die of the general malaise that the insane possess and the genius lament? Did he die of the enigmatic fish disease appropriately known as "ick"? We may never know. But, what we know is that Gary will be truly missed. He was a calming presence in my four gallon Biorb fish tank. And though I had no idea how much to feed him, and was knowingly keeping him in a tank too small, with too many fish that were too big for the tank's filtration system, I know today was his chosen time to go, and that I had no role whatsoever in hastening his demise.

This was written by my son, Justin. This is what a lawyer does in his spare time. We share a genetic affinity for the "odd" and "bizarre." It's good to laugh and he makes me laugh like no other person I know. I'm proud to call him "Sonny-boy."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Protect Marriage...

Please visit here if you're in California, and help them for the November General Election!

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION for MARRIAGE, fighting to keep marriage and family the way God instituted it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One former embryo says...

Too controversial?...

Too bad.

2nd reading for today, Sunday May 18, 2008...

Reading II
2 Cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

What struck me like a Mack Truck was- "Mend your ways, encourage one another, AGREE with one another, live in peace..."
How are we agreeing with one another? How are 33,000 denoms in this country agreeing with one another? How do so many disagree about so much as concerning some lesser things, but also, sadly, about some very basic, truly vital core beliefs? How do we agree that baptism is only a ordinance, or not even necessary when Peter answered the question "What must I do to be saved?" with "Repent and be baptized." Pretty straight forward, don't you AGREE?

It brought to mind the Louis Palau Festival here last summer. When Mr. Palau was here last August, 2007, there were many faith communities present, and many more that didn't attend simply because he had met with Catholics and invited Catholics to the festival, for a day of genuine praise and celebration of our Lord and Savior and the many blessings we share by the magnanimous grace of God. Many Christian faith communities were NOT in agreement with Louis at all! They would not participate in loving Jesus and coming together as ONE, because...those "Catholics" were going to be there! Not much agreement among those who are to be "known by their love, one for another" wouldn't you AGREE?

Here we are today at Mass, being exhorted by Paul, (as he wrote through the power of the Holy Spirit, not only to the Corinthians, but to US!), to AGREE with one another. When, oh when will we all get a clue, become the people of God we're called to be and LOVE ONE ANOTHER. . . as HE HAS LOVED US? How long will we keep putting up barriers to communication with one another? When will we kill our pride, put it to death, so to speak, and let LOVE rule? TO be ONE, we must attempt, with true brotherly and sisterly affection, to understand and learn what the Catholic Church truly does teach, and dispel the myths and misinformation to the best of our ability. I say we need to learn the Catholic faith because it IS THE CHURCH JESUS GAVE US.

Catholics need to LEARN their faith! The faith handed down by the early Church that has stood the test of time and the attacks of hell. Cradle Catholics, reverts, and converts all need to study as much as they can, to be able to at least know where to direct honest seekers so they can find the answer if we don't know it. It would be great if we could learn all about other faiths, too, to be able to quickly point out the faults of erroneous doctrines, etc. rapidly and hopefully see the "closed eyes" open. But my gosh, I don't have time to do that! I have enough on my plate just to read the Catechism, which I've yet to do in its entirety. To be honest, I've hardly read any of it! I'll leave the learning of other religions to the 'expert' apologists and those who do that for a living. I need to learn the Catholic faith while there's time.

Also, as an aside, while we have the gift of daily Mass, I'd best be going if and whenever I can go because I need ALL OF JESUS as often as I can receive Him! I pray to be transformed and be made more holy by the Eucharist, because someday, we might not be blessed to have that opportunity anymore. We might have to be going underground and that is sobering. I think the American Catholic Church is going to get a WAKE UP call, loud and clear (it already has begun) and there's going to be no "SNOOZE BUTTON" to hit! You reach for the "snooze" and you're going to lose!

When sharing with others, in and with love, the Truth of the Catholic Church and her teachings, if all the gracious and sincere attempts fail, and they reject us, we cannot and shouldn't stamp off in a huff with anger (even if we feel it) toward our separated brethren, or even "dissident Catholics." What we need to realize and what we need to ACCEPT is that some ARE going to reject us just as they rejected our Lord, Jesus. The thing that gives me pause and sobers me most, is that some of "those" could very well be in my own family. That is frightening to me. Yet Jesus warned us of this, too. We're to count the cost before we "hop in the fishing boat, and follow Jesus." Love doesn't divide, it multiplies. Truth on the other hand, does divide. Truth divides the sheep from the goats, the chaff from the wheat.

They rejected Christ first. They hated Him and hated his "good news" because it wasn't what they "WANTED" to hear! Many don't want to hear what the Catholic Church is about or what she teaches, because their minds are made up, and no amount of gentle persuasion or firm clear-cut arguments are going change those minds and soften those hard hearts. Those that hated Jesus were for the most part, very "religious" and were looking for someone completely different to be the Messiah, as they were caught up in the politics of their day. They wanted freedom from Rome, not freedom from sin. They "didn't think they had any sin!" Sound familiar?

He who was PERFECT, the Son of God, Jesus, in his attempts to persuade all people, that God the Father loved them was hated beyond the pale. He came not to condemn the world, but to lay down his life and "Love the world" to Himself and to life eternal. Yet they would not see or believe, because political ideology blinded them from receiving that love, and kept them from knowing the Father who sent His Son for them. He came while we were yet sinners, and bled himself dry on a cross because He and his message were despised. Our sins put Him on that cross while love held him there. He embraced prostitutes and tax collectors, he healed lepers and blind and lame men and women. He raised Lazarus from the grave, and turned water into wine. He did EVERYTHING PERFECTLY and no guile was found in his speech. He never "lost his temper" and never was "impatient" because He was/is sinless. Those who were sick and knew how sick they were, knew they needed His forgiveness and healing. They embraced Him and followed Him with all their heart. However, those who denied their sickness, (sin) hit the "snooze button" and put Jesus to death. No Messiah of theirs would dine with tax collectors and hang out with smelly fishermen!
And surely no Messiah of theirs would touch a leper or hug a whore!

Jesus was hated, cursed, spit upon, and ultimately stripped of his clothes and his dignity, tortured and killed for being a... "perfect gentleman." But He spoke the Truth and that ruffled many feathers and stepped on many toes, and struck many nerves, in those who were too blind to see they needed Truth. Yes, there will be days when no amount of effort for honest discourse, no matter how congenial we are, or how gentle or gracious our attempts at conversing will be, it will be "shoved back in our face."

As best as we can be, we endeavor to live and be "at peace" with all. But, don't be stupid. Be watchful and sober. Don't fall into the traps of those who viciously hate the Church. It is not flesh and blood that we're fighting. Pray for those who accuse, and hate us. Beware that standing for Truth might cost us our reputation, our good name, or who knows, maybe even our life. Are we ready? Am I ready? I pray I will be and I pray that I am, because at times, I find that I've been way to sensitive, or "prickly" and thin-skinned. It's too easy to let anger toward people 'make the break' that needs to occur in some instances, when it should be genuine love that "ends a chapter" with some relationships. The hard truth from a real friend might hurt for a while, but the kisses of an enemy could very well destroy us. Love does have to be 'firm' and 'tough.' Love does indeed know "when to fold 'em."

I pray for the heart and courage of a lion, the gentleness of a dove, and the wisdom to know when to "shake the dust" from my feet and walk on to the "next town" figuratively speaking. God help me. Mother Mary pray for me, a sinner, that I may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Come and learn...

While visiting the blog, Defend Us In Battle, I found this article and thought it excellent and wanted to post it here, too. Why Protestants and Catholics don't see eye to eye. If you'd care to post a comment here regarding this, please feel free to do so, if you're Catholic or Protestant, I'd like to know what you think about this. I was once a Protestant, brought up Methodist, then became an Evangelical for over 26 years.

Now that I'm Catholic, I have come to see things from a whole new perspective, and one that fits, ultimately, what I was searching for all along my journey. To me, the Catholic Church is the complete fullness of Truth. That does not mean that Catholics are "better" people, or more "holy" than our brothers and sisters in other faith communities. I've tried to discuss this with some of my friends from our former Interdenom church and it seems they'd really rather not "discuss" things anymore. Maybe it's my zealous enthusiasm for the Catholic faith, that I can't seem to keep "bottled up," (but when you're in love with someone, he or she is all you have on your mind and all you want to talk about, right?.) Or maybe it's just that they are not willing to try to understand what Catholics really believe, because they think they already know? Or perhaps they don't want to participate in dialogue, because they believe Catholics are 'wrong' or worse, in an idolotrous religious organization, or... worse yet, they might believe the Catholic Church to be the "whore of Babylon." That is what I think some have been taught, which is very sad.

Christendom basically "at war" is not the unity Jesus prayed for for His Church. How long are we going to keep tearing the Body of Christ apart? One Church, one body,one faith, one Baptism...and yet some 33,000 denominations in the United States? What does that say to the world? These denominations keep splitting, further and further away from the One True Source, the Catholic Church. The further these factions get from the pure source, the murkier the "water" i.e. doctrines become. How is that unity? How do such contradictory opinions and doctrines ever mesh? Why does it not bother some folks that there are so many different teachings about ONE Faith out there? It bothered me. I kept seeing split after split and "church hoppers" abound. Why?

What is most frustrating is that some of my friends, (not all) simply don't want to converse about our differences. They want to "tear down walls" between the denominations, but yet, don't watch, or listen to Catholic t.v. or radio programs I suggest. What is it? Fear? Or having to admit they could be wrong about their long-held beliefs? Is it just an anti-Catholic prejudice? Or that they might have to consider rearranging their theology a bit or a lot? I had to do that. I had to see that what I believed about the Catholic Church was nothing less that false. I had it wrong. Now, I'm only too grateful for the lavish gift of grace that opened my eyes, for it was all God's grace! And such a gift of faith- to finally see the error of my theology and thinking about the CC.

My individualistic religion, "me and my Jesus" was incomplete. I longed for community, but never thought the CC was the "family" of God. All Christians are the family of God, all are his children. Yet, I was a "prodigal" in the sense that I'd left Rome for more "fun worship" experiences and what seemed to be "more truth" only to find the discrepancies and contradictions among these faith communities kept breaking up the family I was longing to find and keep. To come to understand this glorious gift of the Catholic Church,the God-given authority and apostolic succession that Jesus did indeed build, on the rock of Peter, has been the most beautiful thing to ever happen to me! It's not just an emotional revival of my soul, but a true gift of Life, the fullness of Salvation!

I sometimes wish we could talk about these spiritual things, like we used to discuss matters of a spiritual nature, but for whatever reason, they don't want to do that now. I am not fond of "fighting" and I'm not one to be argumentative for just the sake of arguing. Throwing scripture verses around back and forth isn't ever productive. But what I would like most is to find some "COMMON GROUND" and would only hope that these friends would be "open" to consider that they might be wrong about what they've believed and still believe about what Catholics believe, for in many instances, they're perpetuating misinformation, and that is what I would like to dispel, to the best of my ability with this blog and our apostolate, RECON. Which brings me to this segue:

Speaking of dispelling misinformation about the Catholic faith, we will be showing the video series, WHAT CATHOLICS REALLY BELIEVE starting the first Sunday in June, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Holy Family Shrine, exit 432 off I-80 (Gretna) Follow the signs and please come and learn the Truth about Catholicism. We welcome you all,whether Protestant, or curious Catholics who might have had poor catechesis and would like to know the faith better. It's a "point-counter-point" dialogue between Dr. Ray Guarendi and the late Fr. Kevin Fete. ** This 13 part series was aired on EWTN last summer and is to be aired again this month.

If you'd like to meet others who have been on a somewhat "meandering journey" back to Rome Sweet Home, come and join in the discussion and fellowship at this lovely, serene Holy Family Shrine, on the rolling hills of the prairie, near Omaha. You don't have to be Catholic, only honestly seeking Truth. For the Scriptures tell us to "seek, knock, and ask." That is what RECON is about. We hope to see you there.

~ Rich and Susie

Questions? call us: 402.330.3870

** Fr. Kevin is our "patron saint" of RECON, for he was known for bringing many souls back to the CC and new converts into the CC, in the diocese of Youngstown Ohio. A brilliant man and homilist who is missed very much by his parish, Little Flower, in Canton but who is still very busy in a larger parish and who's really only changed pulpits. A priest forever. Fr. Kevin, pray for us.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Father Rick's blog...

Please visit Father Rick at Mary's Anawim. I had the pleasure of meeting Father when I was in Wisconsin, and I met him at a Life in the Spirit seminar. I'd not been to one of those in about 30 years, so it was great to meet him and others in love with our Lord, His Church and His Mama!

Entrance to Hermitage of St Mary...

Hermitage of St Mary...Genoa WI

The benefactor's home on the way up to cabins.

Sr.Mary and her siberian husky, Icon.

The road to the Hermitage

Sr. Mary and me Sat morning...Still Life of a saint in the making

This is what I did going through an "emptying" of sorts. I ate some cheddar/claret cheese, drank a little homemade grape wine, (thanks, Char!) and wrote in my little notebook about the "stripping" of "things" I was clinging to, or that were clinging to me. God did a work in me. Thanks, Kris, for telling me to write, and to "hang in there" through those desolate hours of Friday, May 2. Oh yeah, the hummus was good, too, on my "Mary's Gone Crackers" crackers. Black pepper/sesame thins. Gluten and wheat free I might add, incase anyone's interested. I don't have a problem with gluten or wheat, that I am aware of, but some folks are sensitive to that or allergic, so I recommend them. They're great, and super crunchy and excellent with smoked salmon or if you're out of smoked salmon, they're yummy with hummus also.
Sr.Mary and me Saturday morning as we visited about my retreat and what went on for those hours of emptying. We talked for about an hour and a half. She then went to Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine chapel, in La Crosse. I had thought I would follow her there and attend Mass, but I decided at the last minute that I was ready to drive back to Omaha, and see my husband again...and my dog, Tigger. So she took the exit to the Shrine, and I headed up to Hwy. 90 going west out of La Crosses, across lower Minnesota. Then south on I-35 at Albert Lea and west on I-80 at Des Moines. It was great to be home again, but I want to go back, God willing, I'll be able to again.
My RAV at my cabin at the Hermitage of St Mary, Genoa WI.

Baby Jesus smiled...

Sister Mary Dawicyzk and me
in the Chapel of the Hermitage of St Mary, Genoa WI.
This statue of Baby Jesus is from Fatima. Sr. Mary says he "smiles all the time." When she picked him up, asking me if I wanted to hold him, she said "Look! Did you see that? He smiled!" And it is true. The lips curled very fast in a more definite smile than the one he always is wearing. It was fast, but I saw it. She saw it and sees him do this often. She has Mass at the Chapel every last Saturday of the month. Sr. Mary is always ready for new retreatants, so if you hunger for a place to find serenity for your soul, please give her a call. I hope to return some day and help her do some things at the hermitage when I will have a longer time. I hope Rich and I can visit her, or some of my "girl friends" and I can take a road trip and make a retreat there and offer her some assistance in whatever way we can.
You can reach Sr. Mary at: 608.689.2753

Only You, Lord...

I'm back from my trip/pilgrimage to Wisconsin. I returned to Omaha a week ago, Sat. May 3 around 6 p.m. It was a wonderful two weeks. I made many new friends, meeting very interesting people, good and generous souls who love the Church. I did go to the Hermitage of St Mary, as mentioned in earlier post. Sr. Mary is delightful, and so full of wisdom. It wasn't what I had expected, the hermitage, or what I experienced while there, through the afternoon and Friday night, May 2. She has two cabins, one where she lives with her sweet Siberian husky, Icon, and two cats. The other is a guest cabin. It was much more "plush" than I had anticiapted, but all quite serene and reverent. . . a holy place.

However, much to my surprise, I went through a "dark night" for a few hours not long after my arrival. God rather "stripped" me of every good feeling, every consolation, every "awareness" of His presence for some hours. From About 3:00 until the following moring, about 5:00 I went through a 'difficult' period or extremely dry prayer, and loss of "feeling"...a "lost feeling" was more how to describe it. An "emptying" as Sr. Mary later told me was what God had to do for me there. I had gone with this eager anticiaption of a "hermit cabin" rustic and no electricity, and not really knowing what to expect. I did find the surroundings lovely and very up to date, with t.v. (only for videos) and all other amenities, kitchen, running water, lights, beauty, 2 bedrooms, comfortable seating in the loft and 'living area.' A deck was great, but I was not able to go out on it, as it was pouring rain most of the time and cold and windy. Oh yes, April in Wisconsin.

I managed to utter prayers but feebly, with a few tears, though it felt more like ashes falling from my lips and blowing away in the cold wind. Dry, cold, lost. Not the adjectives I had thought would describe my visit there. BUT, I persevered, although tempted to leave, though not really wanting to do that. Sr. Mary went to the store and was gone about 3 hours. The place was "desolate" without lights at her cabin, the helper, Herbie gone, the other woman, Kim, gone. The dark cabin below, the benefactor's was dark. The back bedroom area was "cold" and not welcoming, and in fact almost an "evil force" it seemed lurked there. I didn't have a good feeling at all for the bedrooms, either one. I chose of course, the "little" one. With only a twin bed, for it seemed a bit more 'warm' but yet it was not. I finally carried a little table and small halogen lamp downstairs to place by my bed. You see, I like to read in bed, and there was not a nightstand or lamp by the bed, which bothered me very much. I told Sister later that evening, or Saturday morning that I'd done that, and she didn't mind in the least.

I also made a change in the flower arrangements. A small vase with 3 roses (significant to me) was standing atop a bookcase in the living/kitchen area, but much to small to be where it was. On the kitchen table was a huge vase with a large bouquet of flowers, and IMHO, too large for the diameter of the table. So I took liberties to change the places of these flowers. I took the roses down from the bookcase, and put the large bunch of flowers on the bookcase, and thus drawing the eye upward toward the high windows where one could see the clouds and glimpse toward heaven. The 3 roses were much more suited to be on the kitchen table, where they coule be seen, and not lost in the room as they'd been on the bookcase. All of this needed to be done for me to have some sort of 'comfort' or peace there that day/night. It was strange.

I've had dry spells in my faith, cold spots, and ups and downs, but this was something I'd never experienced before. I prayed to St Faustina during this time. I told her: "St Faustina, I know you had this 'feeling' much more than I am now. You suffered so much more with this desolation of spirit, this loss of consolation, this dark night of the soul, and even worse, you suffered it with TB and with sisters in your convent who ignored you. They walked right by your cell, without so much as a glance or to see if you needed anything. How much more terrible that must have been, than me, just going being here in this pretty, yet very cold and lonely place right now. I'm alone, though not alone. God hasn't left me, but he's emptying me for some reason. I don't understand."

I got through the night. I prayed, sipped a bit of homemade wine given me by a friend in Medford the night before, in a little bottle, enough for two glasses. Kris, my friend in Omaha and who produces and hosts Spirit Morning Show at KVSS called me about 4:00. You don't know how welcome her voice was to me! She talked me through and helped me, with encouraging words, telling me to stay, be alone with God, let him "do what he needs to do" and write. I felt helpless and didnt' think I could write at all, but I 'obeyed' her and did so. It flowed, and I ate a bit of cheese, some crackers and sipped my little bit of wine. It helped somewhat. Later Sr. Mary returned from her errands and I flagged her down to see if she could help me get the t.v. to work. She came in and helped eventhough we women were pretty techno UNsavvy. She found the manual power on button on the SIDE of the t.v. so I put in the EWTN video of Peggy Noonan with Raymond Arroyo. I'd not seen it in some time, and NEEDED to hear familiar voices. It is amazing how Peggy's voice soothed me, as I listened to her talk about her return to her Catholic Faith, learning to pray the rosary, and her love for JPII, as this was regarding her book, John Paull II the Great. I sipped some Peach tea and watched her, listening intently to her calming voice and gentle laughter. Peggy Noonan won't know how she helped this lonesome little soul, until I hopefully meet her in Heaven, but boy, did she help me! The interview over, I put in another video about St Louis De Monfort. After 45 mins, I grew sleepy and retired to my bedroom. With the table and lamp on I read a bit, listening to the wind whine through the windows and creaking walls, I finally fell asleep. I awoke at 4 or so, prayed a Divine Mercy and rosary, and then read morning praise, in my blue Benedictine Work of God book. It was powerful and within a few minutes, like a switch was turned on, the whole ambience changed! Once again a peace and "good feelings" came into my soul and flooded me with a newfound warmth and contentment. Part of what I read was on Page 95, Psalm 143 (142) "Let morning announce your love, for it is you I trust. Show me the right way, I offer you myself." That spoke volumes as did the rest of Morning Praise. Why it all changed in the blink of an eye, and what the desolation I'd gone through was for, I'm still not quite sure, but I trust it was what I needed.

I have not ever wanted to cling to gifts or consolations, and I've written somewhat piously about that. I've talked a good talk at times, but going through this was a completely different thing! I know at times in my life, I have clung to emotions, and "good warm feelings." But that is really a dangerous thing. We should be glad when they're there for us, but all in all, they're not GOD, only byproducts of doing or making a right choice. They may or may not be there for us. As a spoiled Baby Boomer child, I've never had to suffer much at all. I've had some suffering, being from a broken home, losing loved ones, etc. But all in all, I've been blessed beyone belief. I've had it "good" here in America. I've known ease of life, not much hardship. I do want to live for Christ and bring hope to others. That's what I hope to do in my own "little way." I pray to St Therese to help me live out my little way for souls. For I can't do much like some with degrees or influential positions. I can blog a bit, and welcome people at the Holy Family Shrine and help my friends at KVSS doing little jobs. I'm 'little' in this world and it's fine to be little. I am really nothing, little and nothing.

As Sister Mary told me, in the lovely chapel in the loft of her cabin where the Baby Jesus smiled at me when she picked him up and handed Him to me to hold. She said, "We're all God's icons." We are all God's "little nothings" and we must be nothing to be used by God. It's when we're "something" or think we're "something" that God is not free to use us, to give to us to give to others because there's no room for Him. When we're nothing, there's room for Him to be in us for others."

That is my desire now, to be nothing and little. When we're little, we don't have nearly as far to fall, when we do fall, and we will, as we're all weak. However, when we're "something" and proud, we've got a much farther way to fall and a bigger fall means more gets broken and the longer it takes to heal. Whereas if we're little babes, little tots in the Kingdom and we fall by our weakness, we run to Jesus, to Mary and get our booboos kissed and we're quickly on our way. We bounce right back up and keep going forward.

I need to cling to Jesus and cling ONLY to HIM. For all else will be taken, stripped and removed from our lives. Only what we do for, in and through Christ will remain. Nothing we do in and of ourselves will ever last, and the gifts are NOT the GIVER. HE WAS AND IS and IN HIM we live move and have our being. We won't feel his presence and I now know it, as I never knew it before. It's not that it was such a profound event, and I'm writing nothing 'new' to any of you. It was nothing compared to the long, dark night of the soul many of you have gone through and may be going through now. Certainly this was nothing like St John of the Cross, St. Faustina, St Therese, St Bernadette and countless other saints have gone through. Or, Mother Teresa, who for 40 years experienced complete and total loss of consolation and the "feeling" of nearness of God. She never wore that sense of desolation on her sleeve, however. Her face showed no fear or frustration, even if she felt it. No her precious, lined, wrinkled face projected or more like radiated the love and light of Christ to the afflicted on the streets of Calcutta. The poorest of the poor saw only her diligent love for them, nothing of self pity, nothing of fear, nothing of lonliness. Only her perseverence in the midst of her great "agony" you might say, of 'desolation.' God, give me strength to endure whatever may come in my life, to live FOR YOU, and not seek your gifts, or your good feelings ever more than seeking ONLY YOU, Lord, ONLY YOU.

Please visit my little shrine, dedicated to Our Blessed Mother