Myths of a Different Kind: Two Falsehoods I Used to Believe About Catholicism

Solemnity of the Ascension // Our Lady of Fatima // Mother’s Day, 2018

It’s very common for inquirers about Catholicism to arrive in their RCIA classes or local parishes with misconceptions about the Faith. Often warned by well-meaning acquaintances about the dangers of the Catholic faith, those curious about Catholicism often have to work through this emotional and cultural baggage before (and sometimes after) receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.

For those who convert from an Evangelical Protestant background, some “myths” run a common thread across denominational lines. Some of these common myths include the idea that Catholics worship Mary, Catholics must earn their way to Heaven, Catholics believe they can “just go to confession” (and keep on sinning), and that Catholicism rejects Biblical teaching in favor of man-made traditions.

For me, the experience was a little different.

Many Protestant groups teach that one only has to “accept Jesus” in order to secure salvation. Often, it is taught that salvation can never be lost, regardless of what the person does. Other groups teach that salvation is eternal, but if you continue to live a life of sin after acknowledging Jesus, then you probably weren’t really “saved” to begin with. Baptism is often presented as something one does as a sign of obedience after salvation, not as an act necessary for salvation.

Contrary to this dominant theology in Protestantism, my denomination taught the necessity of baptism for salvation and that eternal security is not a Biblical teaching. Since the Catholic Church teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation and the rejection of eternal security, I had no issue with this during my formation period.

However, there were other myths before my conversion that I carried with me into RCIA. Thankfully, these myths were resolved and I was able to understand more clearly what the Church teachers and how she operates in our world. While I’m not a professional theologian, hopefully I can help you untangle these misunderstandings and any other misunderstandings you may have, too.

Myth #1: Catholics Don’t Evangelize. A few months ago, I read an article (title and author I have since forgotten) about Catholic evangelization. Essentially, the author stated that helping  someone enter the Catholic faith was once almost unheard of. He mentioned that inquiring about Catholicism was like if a non-Italian walked up to someone of Italian descent and said, “I’d like to be Italian. Can you help me do that?” In case you didn’t know, you can’t change someone’s ethnicity.

I imagine, that at one time, Catholicism was easily viewed as a family tradition, rather than a relationship with God (which happens even today in all faith traditions to a degree). Often, for those born into a Catholic family, the idea of conversion may seem foreign or even odd. At one time, I thought people only converted to Catholicism because they were going to marry a Catholic. On reason I carried this belief was because I thought that Catholics simply did not evangelize.

However, when I was in RCIA and upon my confirmation, I discovered that this was farther from the truth. For example, the Saint Paul Street Evangelization creates street teams to encounter passerbys in public spaces in a non-threatening way. These teams often pass out medals, rosary beads, pamphlets, and Bibles to those who are interested. On a smaller scale, many Catholic parishes have envagelization teams. For example, my parish hosted a Discovering Christ and Sharing Christ sessions for those interested in telling their story of faith in social settings. Catholic evangelization is alive and well, even if you don’t see it shouted on your local street corner.

Myth #2: Catholics Don’t Care About the Bible. This myth is rampant, especially in some (but not all) Protestant churches. The accusations are varied: Catholics say a priest forgives you. That’s not in the Bible! or Catholics drink blood each Sunday. That’s not in the Bible! or Catholics observe Advent and Lent, plus they baptize babies who can’t consent. That’s not in the Bible! My personal favorite: Catholics don’t even read the Bible. They’re not allowed to! 

Unfortunately, many of these statements about Catholic doctrines not having a Biblical foundation are based on myths within a myth. Perhaps someone had heard a Catholic family member describe a faith practice incorrectly. Or, maybe someone has encountered a former Catholic who is angry with the Church (and is often poorly catechized), and is determined to spread their own understanding of Catholic teaching.

While I don’t have time to delve into the Biblical basis for Catholic teachings, I can say that Catholics have a strong reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God. If you attend any Catholic Mass, you will notice that the Mass is absolutely soaked in the words and story of the Bible. There are multiple readings: the Old Testament, a Psalm, often a second reading from the Epistles, and always, always, always a Gospel reading. That’s a reading from each part of the Bible each and every Sunday! In a three-year liturgical year cycle, a Catholic will have heard the entire Bible read. How awesome is that!

Another example, before receiving the Eucharist, Catholics say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only the say the words and my soul shall be healed” (Matthew 8:8). So, each time we receive Communion, Catholics are reminded that though we are not worthy of God, He comes to each one of us in the Eucharist. There are so many ways that Catholics reverence the Bible, just in the Mass alone. In fact, Pope Francis admonished Catholics to carry our Bibles just like we carry our smartphones.

Food For Thought

If you’re a convert to Catholicism, are there any myths that you believed prior to your confirmation? If you’re a cradle Catholic, did you have misunderstandings that were cleared up upon further study? Are you a non-Catholic who may have a misunderstanding? If so, I’d love to hear your stories below. It’s important that we always promote the truth in charity and love. I look forward to reading your comments and stories. Have a blessed Sunday!

 

 

Trust Issues: Divine Mercy for Every Moment

Patience, prayer, and silence – these are what give strength to the soul.

– St. Faustina Kowalska

Trust issues.

Whether you know it or not, you have a trust issue. If you are human and you are not sinless, you have a problem with trust. You may think, “What? I don’t have a problem with trust. I trust my family and my spouse. I trust God, too!” As someone striving for holiness, I often thought the same about myself: I did NOT have a trust issue. In my mind, trust issues were for bad marriages and cutthroat workplace environments.

During Lent, I read Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine MercyDivided into 33 readings for 33 days, Merciful Love not only tackles the wonder of Jesus’s mercy, but it also exposes our own shortcomings as sinners. In the first few readings, Fr. Gaitley claims, in essence, that all of us have trust issues because we sin.

Think about it for a moment.

Origins of Distrust 

Adam and Eve sinned in the paradise of the Garden of Eden. Ultimately, they chose not to trust in the goodness of God and to respond to Satan’s lies instead. As a result, they were banished from the garden and the scourge of Original Sin remains with us even today. In a way, sin is when we decide to trust our own instincts instead of God’s truth. When we sin, we say “I know what’s best for my life and I reject God.” To sin is not only to miss the mark, but also our own way of saying that we don’t trust that Jesus knows what is best for us. Likewise, when we worry and fail to relinquish our cares to Jesus, that’s also a lack of trust. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

I think about my own personal life and issues. At every turn, I work to justify my actions and my sin. I say, “Well, I wouldn’t have done this, had that not happened.” Also, “If I don’t worry about something, that means I really don’t care about the issue at hand.” The hard truth is: I feel like if I don’t worry and fret over an issue, I believe that I have lost all control of the situation. Talk about a trust issue!

Wisdom from Scripture 

Jesus, many times in the Gospels, admonishes His followers not to worry. Here are just a few examples:

  1. “Do not be worried,” John 14:27
  2. “Take courage!…Don’t be afraid,” Mark 6:50
  3. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” Matthew 6:34

In many of the New Testament Epistles, the Christians of the era were also taught not to fret:

  1. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Phillippians 4:6
  2. “Leave all your worries with Him,” 1 Peter 5:6

These are just a few of many examples from the Bible regarding the unnecessary act of worry in the life of a Christian. Yet, so many of us fret and worry each day. We sin, we worry, we lack trust. For many, myself included, it’s a cycle repeated each and every day. I keep holding on to what I imagine I can control through worry and anxiety. I don’t trust that God can actually bear my burdens for me. In fact, it makes more sense for me to worry. In the end, however, my faulty logic fails and I accomplish nothing.

A Source for Developing Trust 

It may seem as if I think not worrying is as simple as saying, “You know what? Today, I’m not going to worry. I’m going to let the Divine Mercy of Jesus wash over my life and relinquish all of my troubles to Him!” 

If only it were that easy.

One way I tackle my own issues of trust and sin is through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. While I won’t go into the history of the Chaplet here, the prayer (often prayed on Rosary beads), is a devotion centered on the infinite mercy of Our Lord. Devotees pray “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” and conclude by saying “Jesus I trust in You” three times.

Pray this with me: Jesus, I trust in You. 

Four powerful words, packed with infinite meaning. To simply pray, “Jesus, I trust in You” is to say that you trust that the King of the Universe can handle all of your cares. It says, “I reject my fear and my doubt, my own abilities, and I trust in God.” There are some days it is much easier to pray this prayer. On other days, it’s all I can do to say it through gritted teeth. But, like exercising, the more we proclaim our trust in Christ, the easier it becomes for us to receive His grace.

Today, and the next few days, I challenge you to tell Jesus that you trust Him with your life. This can be scary. It’s essentially to say, “I give up everything I am to You and I know You can handle it.” Yes, we have trust issues. But, with the grace of Christ, there is nothing He cannot do within us.

 

 

 

Living Lent After Lent

It’s been nearly 20 days since Easter Sunday, and still, I feel like I’m living in the season of Lent.

Lately, life has thrown a lot of me. It’s not anything negative, but the simple busyness of life has come at me fast since Easter. I always feel like I’m running from one place to another, running on little sleep and 2-3 cups of coffee with Cinnabon creamer per day. My prayer and devotional life has suffered, and some days, I think, “I haven’t prayed, or I’ve prayed very little, today.” On these days, life is unsurprisingly more difficult.

But, today I forced myself to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. When I say “forced,” I don’t mean that it’s a requirement for Catholics to pray the Rosary. Rather, it’s totally optional, but a totally optional practice I had slacked on for the past few months. In the past, I had a habit of praying a Rosary every day, and it’s no coincidence that my life was better for it. In the busyness of Lent and Easter, the practice fell away. It was more difficult to get up in the morning for 20 extra minutes.

I let hustle take over.

But, today, I calmed my mind and I prayed. As this week has been yet another busy week for the books, I felt calmer and more at peace than I have for a while. It was as if a load was lifted from my shoulders. Just 20 minutes is all it took to achieve a noticeable peace in my daily life.

So, my advice to you is this: When the season of Lent is over and you still feel like you’re in Lent, take time to pray. Say an Our Father or say something in your own words. God is not seeking perfection, He only wants to hear from us. He knows what’s on your heart, but He wants so much for us to reach out to Him through prayer.

As this week draws to a close, think of how you can spend more time with God. Maybe it’s reading from the Daily Readings or simply sitting in quiet. No matter what that time is, it will never disappoint you.

Have a happy weekend!

 

 

 

For Everyone New: An Introduction

Hello everyone! Welcome back to the regularly scheduled programming.

At the beginning of Lent, I had a great idea. I thought that I would abstain from all social media, including blogging. In my mind, I imagined that this time off would help me recharge and revamp my writing ministry. As it turns out, the idea to fast from writing was not one of my brightest ideas. Since Easter, I’ve sluggishly turned to my keyboard, only to find myself staring at the blank screen. As it turns out, writing is a lot like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the easier, and better, it becomes. Conversely, the less you write (or exercise), the more difficult the task is. So now, eight days after Easter, I’m finally writing to you.

Surprisingly, during the Lenten season, I picked up a few followers not only here on WordPress, but also on Facebook and Twitter. This post is for those who are new to Quelpart. However you ended up here, I am grateful. I hope my writing brings you the joy of Christ in your daily life.

What’s a “Quelpart?”

You can read more about the story behind my blog’s name HERE. In short, Quelpart is the French name of the island I lived on while teaching in Korea. But, the name means much more than that.

About Me

I’m Sarah. I was born, raised, and educated in Kentucky. I worked and lived in South Korea for a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved looking at and reading maps. My heart is always in East Asia. In the early morning, I rattle my rosary beads. By day, I’m a teacher. At night, I read books, write, and drink coffee. When I’m not working or reading or praying, I collect designer handbags. The wildest thing I’ve ever done is travel to Tijuana, Mexico for bariatric surgery.

If I’m not jetsetting or scouting New York City’s Flushing Chinatown with my Long Island fiance, you can usually find me at my parish’s adoration chapel. I’m a convert to Catholicism, and my only regret is that I wish I would have done it sooner. I love the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy. I am devoted to our Blessed Mother, especially under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

About This Blog

Around here, I blog almost exclusively about the intersection of the Catholic faith and “real life.” Occasionally, I may mention my travels. But overall, this is a blog fascinated with the wild and sacred adventure of life with Jesus. I try to blog twice a week: sometimes more, sometimes less. Regardless, I pray you’ll stick around and keep reading.

to Him through Her,

Sarah

 

GUEST POST – On Choosing a Nun’s Life: The Road Less Taken by Christina M. Sorrentino

Welcome to the Fifth Sunday of Lent. I pray your time of reflection and sacrifice is bringing you closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we progress through the weeks, I pray that you have found my Lenten series of guest posts to be a blessing in your spiritual walk. Today, it is my pleasure to host Christina M. Sorrentino, a digital friend and fellow blogger. Christina is an aspiring nun and she’s sharing her vocation story today. May you be blessed by Christina’s witness to the faithfulness of Christ.

“And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”

-Luke 1:38

Growing up I had never been around religious sisters as my entire education was in the public schools, and it was not until I was an undergraduate in college that one day while walking to class I happened to turn around and there behind me was a Daughter of St. Paul. I remember how seeing that sister in her blue habit bought a smile to my face that day while I thought to myself, “What are the odds on a public college campus there would be a religious sister”? That is the first time that I remember ever encountering a religious sister.

The thought of becoming a nun never entered into my mind until I was in my early twenties and met a young seminarian who was joyful and zealous about his vocation to the priesthood. I recall sitting with one of my friends at dinner one evening and admitting to her that seeing this seminarian preparing for his upcoming ordination inspired me to begin thinking about my own vocation, and I said, “I think I want to be a nun”. I was terrified at such a thought and pushed it right out of my mind almost immediately after I made the statement. Where would such a thought come from, me a nun? How could I give up my dream of becoming a teacher, a dream I had worked so hard to attain my entire life and instead enter into the convent? I was only a year away from a bachelor’s degree and having a career, and I was not ready to be open to the will of God at that time in my life.

Fast forward after several years of teaching, and having the experience of a lifetime in my dream career I started to think about becoming a religious sister again, and a gentle nudge to consider the convent came back to me. Now in my mid-twenties I finally felt that I had reached a point in my life that I could be open to God’s plan for my life. I loved my job, and I knew that I could go about living the rest of my life working and living a normal life like majority of everyone else, but I felt I wanted more in my life. I had this burning desire to not only be happy in my life, but to have this deep feeling of being content, and ultimately living a life of complete and total satisfaction and fulfillment. There was a moment for me kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament after mass one Sunday when God confirmed for me that I need to be open to His will, and I felt content with such a feeling, although scared of what this meant for me, and how others would respond to this choice.  But I was overcome with this strong desire to want a more intimate relationship with Christ in a way that could only be between a religious sister and her divine spouse. I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me and found such a deep sense of peace in having a call to religious life. I am also blessed to have received support and encouragement from the priests in my life, and through their vocation I have been continuously inspired to fulfill my own vocation.

I will be entering Marycrest Convent with the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, a contemplative-missionary religious community, on September 8th, the Feast of the Birth of Mary. How beautiful to receive a date on a Marian feast day! I first learned about the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate from the Council Superior of Women Religious website and the magazine of the Sisters, The Parish Visitor, given to me by one of the

Religious Sisters

Imagine Sisters

priests at my parish, which further confirmed for me I needed to visit this community. The Sisters help fallen away Catholics to have a deeper relationship with Christ and to find their way back home to the Church. Such a charism of imitating the Good Shepherd and striving to bring the lost sheep home truly has touched my heart. They have a devotion to Our Lady and pray the Rosary daily as a community, and each day also have holy mass, Eucharistic adoration, meditation, and pray the Liturgy of the Hours together. Their life of prayer being centered on Jesus that expands out into to their apostolate missions makes them contemplative-missionaries, and searching for a community that is both contemplative and active was an important part of my discernment journey. I hope as a religious sister to be able to help others to come back to the Church and to know the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Christina M. Sorrentino is a millennial, cradle Catholic who is an aspiring religious sister, and a blogger and writer in Staten Island, New York. She is the author of Called to Love A Listening Heart – A Book of Catholic Poetry. She has contributed to Blessed is She, Pursued by Truth, Pilgrim – A Journal of Catholic Experience, Leonie’s Longing, Catholic New York, and the Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals. She blogs about faith and discernment at “Called to Love a Listening Heart”. You can also find Christina on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

GUEST POST: The Captain and the Cross by J.D. Bentley

Welcome to the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Week-by-week and day-by-day, we are inching towards the glorious morning of Easter. As we make our way through the wilderness, may we always focus on the light and triumph of the Passion of Our Lord. Today, I am happy to share another guest post from fellow Southerner and writer, J.D. Bentley. You can find more of J.D.’s writings at the link below. I pray that you, especially my male readers, will find the wisdom in today’s post applicable to your relationships.

The Captain and the Cross

Marriage has taught me not to care about my marriage. From the masculine perspective, caring about the marriage itself is a self-obsession that obscures the absence of substance. If I care about the marriage itself, it means I haven’t directed us towards any mission. I haven’t laid out a vision and pursued it with brute force. Which means I haven’t inspired my wife or myself to see anything beyond ourselves, anything to which we aspire.

What marriage has taught me to care about is the Cross—both Christ’s and my own–and the adventure. My wife and I are companions in a shipwreck, as Tolkien so eloquently wrote, and Paul lays it out even further:

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (EPH 5:22-23, RSVCE)

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her…” (EPH 5:25, RSVCE)

Pairing these verses with Tolkien’s description of a shipwreck better illuminates our roles in marriage. I am the Captain of a shattered vessel and she is my First Mate. This means, for all things, the responsibility supremely falls on me, and that is the most important lesson for a man to learn in marriage.

Growing up as a boy at the time I did indoctrinated me (and many of us) with the feminine imperative. It seeks to be inclusive and free of conflict and it does so by encouraging fairness and equality. The feminine imperative is valuable and has its place, but not among men. But this feminine imperative is so engrained in men that it is ruining marriages.

It’s a mindset of “I fixed the sink, why didn’t she clean up the kitchen?” It seeks to assign jobs—equally—and divide responsibilities—equally. Ironically, seeking harmony in such a way sows the seeds of disharmony. This isn’t the kind of thing men were made for and it’s not the kind of thing women want.

They want the Captain. The Captain sets the course, he provides the vision and steers the ship. More importantly, if anything goes wrong he’s the one who answers for it. If the ship is being thrown about in turbulent waters, he’s not thinking about what he can do to make his First Mate more comfortable and more happy. He’s thinking about the boat, the mission, the present situation and how to overcome it.

Which, of course, is what ultimately makes the First Mate more comfortable and more happy.

If the Captain sees something crucially wrong, he fixes it. He doesn’t whine and complain that the First Mate should have done it or was supposed to do it or agreed to do it. After all, it’s not the First Mate’s ship, it’s his.

In the running of the house as with the running of a ship, the husband should seek to put order to everything, to tame the chaos, to make it run efficiently. Dishes in the sink, wash them. Trash needs taken out, take it. Faucet is leaking, fix it. Sink is backed up, go outside and dig up the drain pipe.

The Captain doesn’t wait for anyone to do what they should, he cares only for his mission and overcoming whatever gets in the way of it. That is why his First Mate, his wife, is called to submit to him. Sub and mit. “Mit” from the Latin mittere, which means sending out, which refers to the mission. “Sub” meaning under. The wife is under the mission of her husband.

That means he better have a damn good mission. Submitting to anything is a voluntary act. It doesn’t mean you’re coerced into it, it means you’re sold on it.

Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. You remember Christ, suffocating on wooden beams, mocked and maimed, bloody and bruised, impaled with a spear. That’s our calling.

Did Jesus create a covert contract with us to divide up the work of salvation so we could all “do our fair share” in the crucifixion? Was He thinking, “Oh, wow. I did all those miracles and they still wouldn’t get up on this Cross? Do I have to do everything around here?”

Of course not. Jesus knew his mission. And he showed us his mission. And through his definitive sacrifice we believed and we followed and we submitted to His mission. We took his mission on for ourselves, not because we were coerced into doing so but because it was the least we could do for the God who loved us.

And that’s the work of a husband, the Captain.

J.D. Bentley writes at Blood & Bourbon on the study and practice of masculine tradition.

 

GUEST POST – Marian Devotion: A Testimony by John Church

Welcome to the Third Sunday of Lent. I pray your Lenten disciplines are drawing you closer to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord. Today, I am happy to share with you a guest post from fellow writer and friend, John Church. If you enjoyed John’s writing, please visit his blog at the link below. I know you will be blessed.

Marian Devotion: A Testimony

[Firstly I’d like to thank Sarah for being so gracious as to put my writing on her blog; I am honored. I am also honored to talk about Our Lady. I hope it is of benefit to anyone who reads it.]

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Steps to a Charitable Lent: How to Observe a Fast Without Going Nuts

Hi everyone! In case you didn’t know, Lent begins on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018. This year, I will abstain from social media and blogging. This will be my last regular post before the Lenten season begins. I wanted to let you know, not because I am seeking outward affirmation, but because I connect with so many of you on social media. I don’t want you to mistake my temporary absence for ignoring your comments and messages. On Sundays, days when fasts are relaxed, I will check in to my blog and maybe even write a short post. The same goes for any social media accounts. Thank you for your support! – Sarah

I love rules. I believe rules offer us an ordered and polite society. Rules are like the high fence on the side of a cliff that keep you from falling off of the side. You can run, skip, and hop within the confines of the fence because you know you won’t topple to your death. There’s freedom in restraint.

So, when Lent rolls around, I become giddy with excitement…and dread. I like the idea of Lent on paper: abstaining from something good in order to grow in Christ. What’s not to like? I’ll tell you what: abstaining. I’m all about the rules of Lent: fasting on Monday through Saturday (Sunday, too, if you’re a hardcore Catholic) and no meat on Fridays (except Filet-O-Fish in the drive-thru). Do you know why I’m all about Lent until it’s time to actually do Lent?

Because I make up too many rules for myself.

Thanks, Mom!

Holy Mother Church isn’t a tyrannical rule creator out to micromanage every bit of your life like many believe. I’ve heard it said this way, “The Church is like our mother, in that she just wants to know what you’re doing and wants to make sure you’re well.”

That’s why the Church gives us guidelines for fasting: people ages 18-59 are required to fast during Lent, with Fridays as a day of abstinence. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we are to fast and abstain: one regular meal or two meals that do not equal a full meal. Of course, this excludes women who are pregnant and nursing, young children, the sick, and the elderly. We are all given the same guidelines with reasonable exceptions. Moms are understanding.

How to be Charitable

But, if you’re like me, you think you have to go above and beyond the guidelines set for you. In the past, I equated how severe my fasting was with the effectiveness and holiness of my Lenten season. But, through severity, I often found that I was often doing more damage than good. That’s why it’s so important to practice our Lenten fasts with charity. Here are a few ways you can practice charity and fasting during Lent without driving yourself nuts.

  1. Follow the Rules: Fast on Monday through Saturday and abstain from meat on Fridays. Anything else is a bonus. Unless you feel convicted by Our Lord to abstain on Sunday, remember that it’s not a fast day. It’s the Lord’s Day! In Matthew 9:15, Jesus asks, “How can they fast as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Rejoice in the day set aside for the worship of God.
  2. Be Reasonable: Be reasonable in your Lenten commitments. If you have to use your phone frequently for work, maybe it’s not a good idea to give up using it. Or, if you have a health condition that requires an increased protein intake, maybe you don’t need to give up meat (or maybe you can substitute with fish). Find what works for you and go from there. In my experience, when I ask what I need to abstain from, God always answers that prayer.
  3. Understand Others: Perhaps one of the best teachings I heard on Lent was years ago during my college years. This individual, a non-Catholic from a liturgical tradition, recommended that our fasts should be as private as possible as to avoid becoming like the Pharisees and hypocrites Jesus warned us about (Matthew 6:16). For example, if on Friday your non-Catholic co-worker invites you to a burger joint for dinner, it may be in your best interest to go. That interaction may open his or her eyes to the beauty of Catholicism. As the old saying goes: You may be the only Bible that person reads. I’m not saying for you to throw out your fast at every invitation or opportunity, but be understanding. It’s not necessary to say with a loud, pious voice: OH NO I CANNOT PARTAKE OF THIS BEEF AS IT IS FRIDAY AND I AM A DEVOUT ROMAN CATHOLIC WHO IS FASTING SO NO WAY PLEASE STEP ASIDE. Other tips include suggesting a seafood restaurant or choosing a vegetarian option.

I’m not a professional theologian, but I do know that our God is a merciful God. This Lent, you will probably mess it up. You’ll cave into the coffee craving or you’ll sneak a peek at your Facebook timeline. Been there, done that. Remember, learn from my experience, and don’t create extra regulations for yourself. Be charitable to everyone, even you. Listen to the Church and Our Lord, and you’ll find yourself headed in the right direction. I pray you have a very blessed Lent and I look forward to chatting with you on Sundays during Lent and after Easter!

Steps to a

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Back to Basics: Learning More About the Catholic Faith

I have met many Catholics who have said, “I want to know more about the Faith, but I just don’t know where to start.” Or, “I’ve read the Catechism a few times, but I still can’t sort a lot of it out.” Even though I attended and went through a fantastic RCIA program that taught me quite a bit about Catholicism, there are still odds-and-ends questions about the faith I’ve had over the course of this year. And sometimes, when a Google search doesn’t quite cut it, you need a live person to help you sort out any questions you might have.

This is where Twitter steps in.

I’m a frequent Twitter user, and I believe it’s no accident that I encountered Larry Ford, AKA “Joe Sixpack,” a self-proclaimed “every Catholic guy” who just happens to be a Marian Apologist, author, and creator of the What We Believe…Why We Believe It bulletin insert series. Like so many of us, Larry is a covert to the Faith and he has a passion for sharing it with others. However, Larry’s work is not only confined to Twitter. He uses his own apostolate, Joe Sixpack Answers, to evangelize anyone who will read or listen about Catholic teachings.

A Digital Outreach

In a increasingly secular society where up to 80% of Catholics deny the reality of hell around 75% deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, effective evangelization is needful. In my personal experience, Catholic evangelization is often non-existent or it’s weighed down with terms and phrases that complicate already complex doctrines.

As an “every Catholic guy,” Larry’s Joe Sixpack Answers helps eliminate many of the barriers to Catholic evangelization. The most important part of Larry’s work, I believe, is that he makes Catholic teaching accessible to anyone while remaining faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Two Tools for the Sixpack Catholic

  1. One service provided by Joe Sixpack Answers is free webinars each Sunday afternoon. For the past four weeks, I’ve attended each webinar live or I’ve watched the replay on Larry’s YouTube channel. The webinars have ranged from the use of sacramentals by the faithful to the proof of the existence of God. As previously stated, the teachings of the Church are presented in an easy-to-understand, but not watered-down, format. In the event that you reach the end of the webinar, Larry takes and answers anonymous questions. He also answers email after any webinar (and responds quickly!).
  2. Joe Sixpack Answers also has an FAQ page with questions ranging from the morality of contraception, the origins of humanity, and consecration. You name it, Larry probably has an answer for you. If not, an answer is an email away!

It’s also helpful to add that Larry is not just a random guy on the Internet, posting what he thinks the Catholic Church teaches. Rather, he is affiliated with the Marian Catechist Apostolate, an organization under the supervision of Cardinal Burke.

How Can I Help?

Evangelization is tough. It’s even more daunting to think about starting to evangelize your friends and family for Christ. I believe that the first step to effective evangelization is to know what you believe. While many of us, myself included, think we know it all – odds are, we haven’t scratched the surface. It’s important, that when asked, we have an answer to those inquiring about our faith. Joe Sixpack Answers is an excellent resource to help you get started on a path to not only knowing more about Catholicism, but sharing it with your friends and family. Let’s get back to basics!

You can learn more about Joe Sixpack Answers by clicking here.

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Thanks for reading today! Soon, Ash Wednesday and Lent will be upon us. While I will take time off from social media and this blog during Lent, I will begin work on a new e-book project. The theme will focus on Seven Sorrows of Mary. If you have a story about how the life of Mary has helped you draw closer to Jesus, please email me at sarahquelpart@gmail.com. I may use your quote in my project. God bless! 

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GUEST POST: Marian Book Review by Katie Hendrick

Today I am very grateful to have fellow blogger Katie Hendrick as a guest writer. She has reviewed many great titles about our Blessed Mother, which will make for perfect reading this Lent. You can visit Katie at her blog Stumbling Toward Sainthood.

Despite being a “cradle Catholic,” my relationship with Mary is pretty weak. Being the bookworm that I am, I decided to start reading more books about the Blessed Mother (as well as introducing some Marian prayers into my life). In doing this, I have found three books that can help anyone connect with Mary as Christ made clear we are to do.

Mary by Tim Staples

What It’s About: Staples provides “biblical evidence for Marian doctrine and devotion, answers common objections to Catholic teachings, and guidance on how to imitate Christ – which we should do in all things – by loving and honoring his mother.”

The Good: This book draws from a number of different resources (Scripture, Early Church, etc.) and covers a wide array of the common misconceptions about Mary. I also felt what made this book especially beneficial to readers was Tim Staples’ perspective as a Catholic convert. Because he came from a Fundamentalist background, he was able to address the concerns about Mary more effectively than someone who always felt close to Mary.

The Opportunities for Improvement: The only thing I didn’t like about this book was some of the Bible verses got repetitive. Though they were still relevant, I think a simple verse reference would have sufficed.

Why You should Read it: If you want to grow closer to Mary, I think you first need to get rid of all the misconceptions surrounding her. There is so much misinformation surrounding the practice of honoring to Mary, and this book provides clear responses to correct this. If you start turning to Mary with uncertainty or fear fueled by misconceptions, it will be a much more difficult road. Starting by learning will make the path smoother, so this book is a great place to start.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-mary/

 Mary: Help in Hard Times by Marianne Lorraine Trouve

What It’s About: “No matter what challenges we may face in life, Mary is always there to help us….Let the prayers and real-life stories of how others have experienced Mary’s intercession open your heart to the care she can provide for you.”

The Good: This is probably the second best book on Mary I have read (only overshadowed by the last book I will recommend). It starts by addressing who Mary is, moves into people’s experiences with the Blessed Mother, and concludes with different practices to connect with Mary. I thought the level of detail was fantastic, and this book was very encouraging.

The Opportunities for Improvement: This is such a small criticism, but I did not like the Bible translation they used for The Annunciation because the explanation of it referenced a different translation.

Why You should Read it: If you only want to read one book on Mary, this is the book to pick; it is a good blend of apologetics and devotions. This book was also very practical. For example, when discussing the personal experiences people had with Mary, it didn’t lean heavily on miracles; instead, it focused on how dedicated prayer brought about fruit. It’s also a great starting point for Marian prayer if you have no idea where to start.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-mary-help-hard-times/

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri

What It’s About: “Do you struggle with praying the rosary: finding time, fighting distractions, worrying about your mind wandering? In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri offers practical suggestions that come from the rosary’s tradition and, most especially, St. John Paul II. These helpful tips will make the rosary a constant companions through the different seasons, moments, and challenges we all face. These tips serve as easy on-ramps for those who don’t pray the rosary regularly motivate avid devotees of the rosary to go deeper with the Lord.” In the interest of transparency, I want to make it clear that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Good: This book was very intelligently written without being intimidating. Whether you and Mary are BFFs or you just got past the “Catholics worship Mary” falsity, you can find growth from this book. Though the beginning of the book was solid with its blend of apologetics and history, what really made this book special was the beautiful rosary meditations. If you think that the rosary is boring, these beautiful mediations will change your mind. If you fear that the rosary focuses too much on Mary, the explanations of the mystery in the context of Scripture and Christ’s salvific plan will also change your mind. This was my favorite book from 2017.

The Opportunities for Improvement: This is an even smaller criticism than before, but there was one graphic in the book that was blurry. I really had to dig to find something wrong with it.

Why You should Read it: This book is just beautiful. It’s hard to articulate how much I loved it. The rosary seems like an outdated prayer, but this book shines the spotlight this amazing spiritual practice. It’s hard to read this book and not feel some kind of change.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-pray-rosary-like-never/ 

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Getting to know Mary can be intimidating, but these books lay some groundwork. Mary gives you the most basic information you need about our Blessed Mother. Mary: Help in Hard Times reassures you of her love for her children and gives some steps for growing closer to her. Praying the Rosary Like Never Before will lead you to fall in love with this incredible prayer. Though there are many great books about Mary out there, you can’t go wrong with starting with these three.

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Kate Hendrick lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two cats. She works as an engineer full-time. Kate writes on her blog, Stumbling Toward Sainthood, which discusses the challenges we face as we strive to live authentically Catholic lives. When Kate isn’t sharing her love for Christ and His Church online, you can find her reading, crocheting, or playing nerdy board games with her friends. You can also find Kate on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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