Guest Post: The Way Back – Finding Faith by Kyle Howatt

I want to send a special thank you to Kyle Howatt, a digital friend who has graciously offered his time and talent to my blog. Please consider subscribing to Quelpart for more posts on Catholicism and daily living.

I’ve spent the better part of my now nearly 30 years in this world largely outside of religion. I was born and baptized into the Catholic Faith, but outside of attending funerals, weddings, and the occasional first communion, my baptism was the only experience of mine in any Church at all. Until now, that is, as I’ve begun a journey to find Faith and build a relationship with the Lord that has been absent in every facet of my life thus far.

I’m apprehensive to admit that in my late teens and early twenties I considered myself what is called an Agnostic Atheist. For those who don’t know what that means, I generally referred to myself as a believer in an unknown power or deity that is not God or a God-like being – essentially, I believed in a higher power that is unbeknownst to us as human beings. I say apprehensive to admit so because I now look back and think that holding such a belief was childish – childish to believe that there isn’t a God.

I used to be one of those people that “needed the proof”. Show me the facts and prove to me logically that God exists and I would change my mind. I fault this largely on the premise that I was not raised religiously. But I’ve since grown. I’ve changed my perspective insofar as that to believe that we as human beings are capable of understanding everything that has existed or ever will have existed is nothing more than arrogant and egotistical thinking. I’m not ruling out that there are still other powers or sciences we have yet to even scrape the very surface of, but to dismiss that there is a God because no hard scientific evidence exists to prove otherwise is absurd.

He is out there – in one way, shape, or form. Perhaps in other ways we haven’t thought possible yet, too. Perhaps he’s even walking among us at this very moment in time. I no longer need any hard proof.

My grandparents on my Mother’s side were devout Catholics. If anything, they serve as a consistent reminder to me of all that it means to embody Faith, Tradition, and a life lived in service to the Lord and to all in good Faith. I recall that in the twelve years they lived in Florida in their retirement, going to Mass was an everyday occurrence for them. I’ll always remember them telling me this on family vacations to Myrtle Beach. If only they were still here so I could talk about my own journey in finding God with them. I can’t do Mass everyday myself just yet, but I can certainly go every Sunday.

They also always dressed their best, too – with no exceptions – for the purpose of not only showing their greatest respect for the Lord and the Church at Mass, but also to show respect and order in all that they did and valued in their lives. I’m sure my Grandfather’s military career and upbringing had a lot to do with their life approach. If there’s one improvement I could suggest people make at this moment, especially Men, it is to dress better for Church. I suppose it’s a respect thing for me. Regardless of the Churches I’ve attended – with the exception of one over the last four months – I always showed up in a suit. We can all do better with this, I think. I’m not picking on a single Christian denominational Church here either, I’m simply speaking for them all. The standard has got to change.

My Mom, raised Catholic, decided to break away from the Church when she was 18. My Dad is non-religious. Nonetheless, my Mom was adamant that my brothers and I were all baptized Catholic. Again, though, my participation in the Church thereafter, and consequently, my brothers’, was very little. No Sunday masses, first communions, confirmations or anything seriously involved with the Church or Faith. My Mom decided that she wanted for my brothers and I to find faith on our own, if we so chose to do so. And that is where I am now.

While my own personal history is rooted back to the Catholic Faith, I didn’t rule out other denominations of Christianity – at first – as a place to call home. I started out attending my local Catholic Church back in early May, and I’ll be honest, I felt right at home. Structure, order, and a beautifully conducted Mass. All of which, I believe, are lost arts by today’s measures. At least the former two of the three things I just mentioned are – people have very chaotic lives and often construe structure and orderliness with unimportant busywork and non-meaningful obligations. I figure with any sense of the word, going to Church time after time will bring more true order and structure to my own life in the Traditional sense. Massive change begins one by one, after all.

I’ve also attended my local Lutheran and Episcopal Churches in addition to a nearby Christian Community Church that a friend of mine goes to – in case you were interested in where else I’ve explored.

After I attended my first Catholic Mass in my local town back in May, I met a kind gentleman by the name of Brian who proceeded to refer his contact information and encouraged me to reach out. He is part of an organization affiliated with this Church and was interested in talking to me more about the Faith and God. I have yet to do this, but the more I progress through the different Church denominations of Christianity, the more and more I am leaning to Catholicism. While yes I was baptized there, it is more the whole concept that all of Western Civilization was founded upon the principles and morals of this Faith. And with the current state of society being where it is, I find I am being drawn back to the roots of where it all began. It’s now probably time to give Brian that call.

Some of you might be wondering what kind of a crazy person would want to join the Catholic Faith now in light of the most recent and currently ongoing sex abuse scandal(s). To that I answer that Faith is much more than corruption. Society, and the Catholic Church, are both in dire need of help, and it’s going to fall on my generation’s heels to correct the course of action – for both. I see it as an opportunity to not only worship on Sundays by attending Mass, praying for those in need, and building my own relationship with the Lord, but also as a means to help a hurting entity. A hurting Father. A hurting Mother. A hurting child. A hurting family. Hurting believers. To help those who want to believe but just can’t find the courage right now. To help restore the very foundations in which a strong civilization and society can stand. I’m taking my own leap of Faith to show that, even in a time that would seem said restoration consequently impossible, there is still hope for a better tomorrow.

As an aspiring Traditionalist, I know that I can not truly live out the capacity of the Traditional lifestyle if I have no relationship with God or have no Faith. I need to find a way to incorporate the religious values a Traditionalist holds near and dear into my own life to meet this goal if I have ever a prayer of living by example. But I have to show the way first before others will follow, and while there are many other ways in which I live out my life Traditionally right now, this is an area I need to fix, build, and expend into daily practice. It’s an area of my life that I need to bring into reality. Once I do this, I can then offer my help and show the way for others. And are we ever in a time now where we need more people to step up, take that leap of Faith (if they haven’t), restore Faith in those who’ve lost it, and show the way – the right way. I want to be an example of this kind of person, and while I do believe that this, too, is what God wants for me, I have to do my part in fulfilling this mission. So long as I’m willing to serve, I know the He will be by my side.

Hebrews 6:10:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Next Sunday I go back to the Catholic Church here in my local town. And this time, I believe, I will be there to stay.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post about my journey to find a relationship with the Lord. And thank you to Sarah for allowing me to write a guest post for her blog. I am grateful to you all.

Please feel free to share insights, tips, and your own practices for living your best Catholic life in the comments below. Much change is still on the way for me, and I wholeheartedly welcome your input as I transition. Thank you.

 

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.

Another Miracle on 34th Street

One week ago today I moved to New York State and on July 5th, I moved to 34th Street in Manhattan, New York City. Somewhere between the Hudson River and the flagship Macy’s store, I am now home (if but for a temporary time). Because I am not adept at cultural references, the 34th Street name did not strike a chord with me. But, for many friends and family, it did. One favorite response to my newfound address? Look out for miracles! And looking out for miracles, I have surely done.This past Sunday, July 1st, the Gospel reading at Mass recounts the story in Mark chapter 5 of Jesus, a synagogue official named Jarius, and Jarius’ daughter. In short, Jarius begs Jesus to heal his daughter who has been sick for a long period of time. However, in the time it takes Jesus to respond to the desperate father, people from Jarius’s house arrive bearing bad news: The little girl is dead and Jarius should trouble Jesus no longer. However, Jesus turns to Jarius and says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jesus goes to Jarius’ home, where He informs everyone that the girl is not dead, but merely asleep. Jesus then takes her hand, and says talitha koum, meaning “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”How many times in our lives have we been like Jarius? We’re desperate and at the end of our ropes, only to see the death of someone or something in the form of a dream or hope die. Or, maybe we’re paralyzed by fear and we can’t bring ourselves to believe in the words of Jesus when He says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jarius is a lot like all of us: scared, worried, and troubled by circumstances that we can’t quite understand or comprehend. We can barely function, much less “arise” like Jarius’ daughter.I don’t believe in luck or coincidences, but I do believe that God speaks in mysterious ways. Before I moved on Monday, I was terrified. I wondered if I was making the right decision to leave Kentucky and a life that was calm, even if it was boring at times. Yes, I wanted to move to the city. Yes, I wanted to live closer to my fiance. Yes, I was ready to mix up my teaching career. Everything had fallen into place from the job offer to securing housing right in the heart of Manhattan. Yet, I was very afraid that I had made the wrong decision and that everything would be a sure disaster.But, the Gospel of Mark spoke to me in a profound way during Mass.When reading the Bible, I try to stay away from reading each individual verse as if it’s written to and for me. I understand that Scripture has a context for a time and place. While Jeremiah 29:11 was written for Jews suffering the Babylonian exile, it doesn’t mean one cannot derive some comfort and courage from the verse. Similarly, while I am not Jarius’ daughter, I too can also sense the freedom that Jesus offers when He says, “Little girl…arise!”The day before my move, when I heard this Gospel reading, I was filled with hope. I knew that with Our Lord, I had nothing to fear in my new transition. Will it be tough? Yes, sometimes. Will I sometimes fall prey to anxiety and weakness? Yep. But, each time, I can remember the words of Jesus when he says “Little girl…arise.” It is in Christ that you and me and everyone else can persevere, rise to sainthood, and enjoy the wonderment of Heaven. We just have to rise up day after day and trust that God is always with us – whether we live in secluded cabin or we’re looking for miracles on 34th Street.–Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please consider liking this blog’s Facebook page. Also consider subscribing through WordPress or email. I look forward to connecting with you! 

Roamin’ Catholic: USA Edition

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post regarding all of the Catholic places I’d like to visit. Sites included the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France. All of these places are wonderful, holy sites that can enrich our faith. But, when you live in the United States and hopping a plane to Mexico City or continental Europe on a whim isn’t an option, it’s favorable to check out the holy places in your own backyard.

Below is a list of a few places I would love to visit, especially in the near future when I move to New York City. Certainly, I will miss some worthy places, so drop a comment below and let me know where I should visit.

Roamin’ Catholic: USA Edition

  1. St. John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.
  2. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
  3. Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL
  4. Shrine of St. Therese, Darien, IL
  5. Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, WI
  6. Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, CT
  7. Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, WI (The only Vatican-approved apparition site in the USA)
  8. St. Kateri National Shrine and Historic Site, Fonda, NY
  9. Shrine and Parish Church of the Holy Innocents, New York, NY
  10. Shrine of Our Lady of La Sallette, Altamont, NY
  11. Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Philadelphia, PA

Where are places you’ve traveled? Drop a note below!

GUEST POST: Delight Yourself in the Lord by Allison Gingras

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I am excited to present a guest post from another digital friend and fellow Catholic blogger, Allison Gingras. May the joy of the Lord be your strength!

Delight Yourself in the Lord

Well, that seems easy enough. Though, I am not sure which intrigued me more when I first read it?  Whether it was wondering how one delights themselves in the Lord or which desire of my heart I longed to have fulfilled?

Continue reading “GUEST POST: Delight Yourself in the Lord by Allison Gingras”

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.

 

 

 

This Week: April 29-May 5

Love overcomes, love delights, those who love the Sacred Heart rejoice. – St. Bernadette Soubirous

I’ve always liked Mondays. It’s a new week: my emails are answered more quickly, the day is fresh, and it’s everything new. I pray your Monday is beyond blessed and you’re finding the joy of Christ in every moment.

What I’m Reading: At the start of the weekend, I finished Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman’s Guide to Forgiveness by Genevieve Kineke. Gevevive graciously sent me a copy of her book after reading my Catholic Stand article regarding the Feminine Genius and secular feminism.  Her book is a great study about as women, we can learn to forgive offenses from the smallest to the most horrendous. I highly recommend it. This week, I’m working my way through the Take Up and Read Rosary study, Ponder

What I’m Praying: This week, my fiance and I are going to re-start our habit of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The Chaplet is a beautiful prayer with a special focus on the mercy of Jesus. In addition to my daily Bible study and prayers, I try to pray a full Rosary or at least a decade. The struggle has been real lately!

What I’m Wearing: This week’s handbag is the Coach Saddle 23. Dusty rose leather, gunmetal hardware, classic silhouette, and crossbody fit: it’s my new favorite purse. I love you, Coach.

What I’m Hearing: The highlight of my Sundays (or Monday morning) is listening to The Coaster. It’s a fun and lighthearted oasis in the world of Catholic podcasting.

What I’m Writing: This week I’m working on an article for Catholic Stand about St. Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes. In the past, I’ve written about Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Therese, and my conversion experience. During Holy Week, I was featured over at The Catholic Woman. This week, I hope to write a blog post about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Follow These Fine Accounts on Twitter: @DeanAbbott, @CatholicCoaster, @CarmeliteNick

What I’m Up To: Earlier this month, I was hired by a major charter school network in NYC. My new job starts this July and I am looking forward to the change. I will miss my family (especially my newborn nephew!) and wonderful parish family, but I am very excited about the opportunity to work in a new state and to live closer to my fiance.

Where I’m Going: In June, my mother and I are going on the Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises. My last encounter with Europe was 12 years ago on a 12 hour layover in France on a return trip from Israel. Like any 16-year-old, I drank a Diet Coke at midnight at the Eiffel Tower and thought I was very cosmopolitan. This cruise will take us from Switzerland to Amsterdam and I’m so excited!

Stay tuned and may God bless you this week!