Start Acting Like It

This was originally posted on my personal Facebook account. In light of recent events, I believe it’s a timely reflection on the state of the Church and what can be done about this deviant scourge in our midst. 

Some thoughts:

I am currently reading the grand jury report regarding the sickening Catholic clergy sex abuse case coming out of Pennsylvania. I’ve always been of the opinion that when it comes to convicted child abusers, ESPECIALLY sexual offenders, that the best justice is street justice. But, for better or for worse, we don’t necessarily live in that type of society.

In spite of all of this, do I plan to stay Catholic? Absolutely.

In no other church do I have access to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus through Holy Communion.

There will always be scandal, there will always be sinners, there will always be passively, polite people who stand by and let bullshit like this happen because they don’t want to disturb the (false) peace. That’s because people are people: that includes you, me, and everyone else kneeling on the rail on Sundays.

But…

You can speak out, stand up, keep going to Mass, keep going to Adoration, keep praying and praying, keep serving your parish, and making your voice heard when something doesn’t seem right. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “[right now on Earth,] Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet..but yours.

So start acting like it.

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.