Showing posts with label Conversion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conversion. Show all posts

12 Jan 2017

An Unusual Path to Happiness

The Call to Follow 

In August, 2014, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Church, during his first General Audience since June. He focused his teaching on how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament by giving a new teaching on mercy in the beatitudes.

Key Points:
1.)“John points to Jesus and calls us to follow him in repentance and conversion. The new law which Jesus gives in the Sermon on the Mount perfects the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai.”

In the Sermon on the Mount we are introduced to The Golden Rule – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (NRSV- Catholic Ed). What I find particularly appealing about this translation is the first two words – IN EVERYTHING.

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017

7 Feb 2016

Lent, Faith, and Ashes

(From U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian May, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Ash Wednesday celebration aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.)

Ash Wednesday comes this week, so I'll get ashes on my forehead and start doing my Lenten routines — along with folks around the world.

That won't include the usual fasting: I'm past the 18-to-59 age requirement for Catholics in my region, and diabetic to boot. We're called to holiness, not stupidity; common sense applies, or should; and I'm putting a 'resources' link list at the end of this post.1

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 Jan 2016

My Conversion Story

When I attended University, the only place alive in the Spirit was a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group.  I was confused how Catholics could be filled with the Holy Spirit but I assumed God simply tolerated their heretical faith and would soon show them the truth that they only needed faith in Jesus and the Bible. Period.
Yet God pulled a fast one on me. I decided to accompany fellow students to a University Mass and was so shocked by the power of the presence of God, I could bearly stand.  When I heard the priest say, “This IS the Body of Christ”, I wanted, no I  craved the Eucharist. Of course, my Catholic friends told me I could not receive Holy Communion but suggested I make an appointment with one of the young Jesuits the next day.

16 Oct 2015

Sharing YOUR Faith Story - DVD Review

Faith: a very personal word stemming from a very personal relationship with God, resulting in an inability to clearly articulate just what it means to you. Sound familiar? Are you like so many people who steer clear from talking about religion, let alone your own personal faith, for fear of rejection, confrontation, or appearing ignorant? Fear no longer! Your faith sharing story is your story. No one else can write it and no one else can articulate it better than you. Easier said than done? I understand. That’s why I am excited to share with you a new DVD by my friend, Nancy Ward, titled, Sharing YOUR Faith Story DVD.

In this three part DVD, Nancy tells of her... Read more...

22 Mar 2015

Scrutinies, Options, and "a Great Multitude"

Someone called my father-in-law, asking which set of Bible readings were were using this week.

It's a reasonable question. One set for this fifth Sunday in Lent is Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; and John 11:1-45. The other, labeled "Fifth Sunday of Lent - Year A Scrutinies," is Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 5:7-9; and John 12:20-33.

Having options isn't odd: readings for some Sundays include an abbreviated version — I'm not a big fan of those, since I like hearing Sacred Scripture, and my attention span doesn't time out quite that fast....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Jan 2015

It is GOD Who Converts

My words alone will not convince an atheist. Yes, Catholics need theology and apologetics, but these disciplines will  not convert  anybody, because Christianity is not primarily a moral theology or a philosophy, but a relationship of love. By focusing upon the reality of  our Christian experiences as they truly are, Christ becomes a living Messiah not only to us, but a visible light to others.
Photo Credit: Flickr/angelofsweetbitter2009
The contemplative learns about deep trust and complete abandonment to One he knows to be beyond all understanding.  The mystic does not have all the answers; he is not afraid to admit that he does not understand everything and he certainly does not berate or belittle those who are searching. The true mystic  experiences  God as unknowable, not an object nor a thing to be studied.  God cannot be boxed in, defined because He is a mystery. Such  experiential faith  reveals itself in the ground of our being.  This is where dialogue with atheists can begin, because God dwells at the core of our selves, atheists and indeed of all life.
Rather than allowing God to use us as a light, it is easy to become self-righteous, or defensive, when we feel attacked by atheists. However, indignant arrogant rants that bludgeon others with the ‘truth’ treats the unbeliever as an object and not an intelligent person who is also loved by God.  continue reading

9 Oct 2014

Telling your Faith Story by Nancy HC Ward

Several years ago, as I was on my way into St. Patrick’s Church, a man approached me. His eyes looked straight into mine, searching for something. Perhaps directions to some place in the neighborhood?
Then he inquired, “Let me ask you something. Why do you go to church?” Spontaneously, I answered, ”Because I love Jesus.” My answer surprised me. It sounded like a slogan from Vacation Bible School. Sometimes the Holy Spirit catches me with my barriers down and blurts out the truth.
The man smiled, and then leaned toward me intently. ”But why do you go to this church? He pointed to the church building in front of us. I shrugged, "This is where I live, and Jesus is here. If I lived in a different neighborhood, I’d go to a church there.” He nodded and slowly walked away.
That encounter came to mind as I thought about the many opportunities the Lord puts right in front of me to tell about my faith in God. My natural shyness prevents many of these occasions from making any impact on those around me. Who talks about faith in public?

13 Sep 2014

Chain of Command and a Simple Choice

When I learned who currently held the authority my Lord gave Simon Peter, recorded in Matthew 16:13-19, I didn't have much choice: I had to join the Catholic Church.

In a sense, I 'knew too much.'

I could either claim to follow Jesus and acknowledge the Son of God's authority, passed along in unbroken succession through the rise and fall of kingdoms, empires, and civilizations — or not. As Simon Peter said, it's a simple choice....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Aug 2014

Unbridled Grace by Dr. MIchael Norman, reviewed by Nancy HC Ward

Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Michael Norman answered a 2-line ad for a part-time job three days a week in a medical clinic to supplement his fledging private chiropractic practice in Carrollton. He managed all the medical clients and paperwork and his two bosses handled the office management and business accounts.
After less than two years this young husband and father received a subpoena to testify in a civil lawsuit brought by an insurance company against the two owners who were Taiwanese and Russian. Michael soon discovered their connection with the Russian Mafia. Shockingly, the network of multinational and multimillion dollar illegal businesses of check cashing, money laundering, staged auto accidents and insurance fraud involved hundreds of lawyers, businessmen and criminals. Michael’s signature was not only on all the medical documents but appeared on corporate documents as part owner.
He obediently testified against his employers at the deposition with the insurance company.  He agreed to gather evidence and testify against his employers to help clear his name.  For his cooperation he received a federal subpoena to testify in the hearing of a member of the Russian Mafia. This put him in great danger with the Mafia, but not as great as with the federal agents who soon framed him with a discovery of $300,000 stashed in a self-storage unit close to his own unit and near his private practice. He was further deceived into helping the friendly Secret Service and IRS agents allegedly on his side. They slanted his deposition as a full confession of his involvement in the Mafia crimes and warned him of a forthcoming criminal indictment: The U. S. vs. Michael Norman!

12 Jun 2014

So I was having lunch with Jen Fulwiler...

A picture's worth a thousand words, so when I went off to lunch with super-popular author Jen Fulwiler and 7 other lovely ladies I was dead set on getting a picture. Except then I forgot. "You've got to Photoshop something," one of my friends insisted. So with Jen's permission and the guidance of my 9-year-old daughter, I produced this expertly-crafted image, which proves beyond doubt that Jen and I were in the same room on the same day having lunch together. Who says old bloggers can't learn new tricks?

Jen and I lunching together. Clearly.

The reason I forgot a picture was because the conversation was so awesomely distracting. We started off talking about recipes, since women do cook. The equivalent for men would be something like "How 'bout those Mets?" The discussion quickly moved on from the genius of bacon-stuffed deviled eggs to who are you, where do you blog, and what was your favorite part of Jen's new memoir/conversion story Something Other Than God, recently released by Ignatius Press.

Read more here...

15 May 2014

Conversion: Driven by Thirst

Lombard artist (ca. 1520), Madonna and Child
Not content to live on the surface
Aware of a hollow within
Eating, drinking, shopping or buried in entertainment
Thirsty for more of God’s presence.
Searching for meaning.
Empty, even though  ’saved’
It drove me to

29 Apr 2014

Canonizing Two Thoroughly Modern Men: The Gifts of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to the Church

On this past Divine Mercy Sunday, two beloved Popes were canonized in St. Peter's Square -- Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Both popes believed firmly in ushering the Church into the modern world, Pope John XXIII by calling the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II by working tirelessly to implement those conciliar reforms in a way that did justice to the Church's past and her present. But Pope St. John Paul II will always be closer to my heart.

When I began contemplating conversion to Catholicism in the late 1990s, Pope John Paul II had already reigned for more than 20 years. The JPII generation was on fire with love for Christ and his Church. They were passionately devout, fiercely intelligent, and quoted passages from the original documents of Vatican II with the same fluency an evangelical might cite Scripture. John Paul II's Theology of the Body (or TOB), with its message that our bodies and sex itself were glorious gifts from God, was just becoming the rage. Steeped in this environment and surrounded by these deeply inspiring people, who wouldn't want to become Catholic?

Read more here...

15 Feb 2013

My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. ~Apocalypse 13:10
My Peace I Give You by Dawn Eden is a much-needed spiritual resource for those recovering from any type of physical or emotional suffering brought on by the lust, crassness or cruelty of others. It took a long time to read because I had to stop and take time to ponder and absorb, reading several parts of it over again. Not only is Dawn's book well-written but every contention is backed up by solid references. With modesty and restraint, she confronts a topic uncomfortable to many. The misuse of the gift of life-giving sexuality has scourged multiple lives and institutions, not the least of which is our Holy Catholic Church. Too often amid the scandals, the wounded do not receive the treatment which they need in order to heal. This book, coming from the long and painful recovery of a survivor of abuse, will be a grace for many who are hurting from similar wounds. Hopefully, it will inspire all who read it to take action to insure a safer world for the innocent.

While My Peace I Give You is written specifically for those who have experienced sexual abuse, it brought home to me that in this day and age there are few of us who have not experienced some form of assault upon our purity, at least psychologically. The public exultation of vice surrounds us with greater impunity than at any other time since the fall of the Roman Empire. It is impossible to go shopping or watch the news without hearing or seeing the effluvia of the intimate lives of others. In church, in school, in gatherings of friends or family, too often the natural barriers of modesty are breached by topics which are best left in the private realm. For instance, I think natural family planning is wonderful but must children hear the mechanics of it discussed in detail during Mass? Then there are the impure conversations to which the young are constantly subjected in many schools. It is desensitizing and can lead to a callous, utilitarian attitude towards male and female interactions, in which teenagers regard each other as playthings. The problem of emotional and physical sexual intrusion does not recognize the boundaries of liberal or conservative, rich or poor; it has totally infiltrated our entire society. A restoration of morals and self-control would help immensely, of course. In the meantime there must be a new recognition of propriety along with respect for the sensibilities and private sphere of others. It is not a matter of prudery but a matter refraining from invasive talk which might disturb or unsettle those whose inner struggles we cannot guess.

As for actual physical assault, Dawn uses episodes from the lives of various saints to show that such outrages are sadly nothing new. The story of the patroness of abuse victims, Blessed Laura Vicuña, is told. Blessed Laura was a young girl whose mother's live-in boyfriend made continual sexual advances upon her. How many weak-willed women today place their children in similar dangerous situations? Although the local nuns tried to protect Laura, the man's predatory obsession eventually led to her death. This and other accounts of saints' lives show us that sexual obsession is a demon that once let loose seeks only to devour and destroy.

The book offers the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as one of the paths of healing for those who are wounded by abuse. There is a discussion of the magnificent stained-glass windows in the Sacred Heart Chapel at Georgetown University, showing how sacred art can heal as well as inspire. The Sacred Heart devotion is an abyss of spiritual riches; the book helped me to deepen my understanding of it. To quote Dawn:
 Seeing St. John at Jesus' side, I imagine I am witnessing the moment in John's gospel when the Lord urged us to make the love of his Heart our own: 'I give you a new commandment: love one another' (John 13:34 NAB). And in that love he offers us the greatest gift of all: 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid' (John 14:27 NAB).

The verse takes me back to the time when, as a child, I first took a curious look at the gospels. I remember how the phrase jumped out at me: 'Not as the world gives.' Someone understands, I thought. Someone understands that there is something very wrong with how the world gives peace. The world gives peace only to take it away unexpectedly at any moment. What I longed for was true peace, a living peace­­­­­−a peace I could enjoy forever. (p.27)
As I tend to read more than one book at a time, I read My Peace I Give You in conjunction with Stieg Larsson's fictional Millennium Trilogy and Robert K. Massie's biography of Catherine the Great, all of which deal with the abuse of women on some level. Only Dawn's book offers the key to the exit door from the vicious cycle of abasement and promiscuity. While dealing with the physical and psychological repercussions which can be suffered by those who have experienced trauma, My Peace I Give You takes into account the crucial spiritual aspects of the recovery and healing process, aspects which tend to be ignored in our materialistic culture. Practical and ethereal, suitable for both prayer and study, it is the kind of book I want to hand out to everyone I know.

(More on Blessed Laura, HERE.)

St. Joan in prison by Howard Pyle

 (*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the author's representative in exchange for my honest opinion.)  

20 Oct 2012

Saint Pelagia - 'A Fragrant Rose Growing From Thorns'

Another repost from Costing Not Less Than Everything

Saint Nonnos preaching

From ‘The Life of St Pelagia the Harlot’ by Jacob the Deacon:

“Pelagia was the name given to me by my parents, but the Antiochenes call me Margarita (Pearl), because of the masses of jewellery I had earned through my sins. I used to be the devil’s jewel, and reckoned to be part of his work force.”…

On the second day, the devil appeared by night to Pelagia, the handmaid of the Lord, as she was asleep in the cell of her holy mother Romana, and woke her up. “Just answer me this, my lady Margarita,” he said. “Weren’t you plentifully supplied with god and silver? Wasn’t it I who decorated you with gold and precious stones? Tell me, what have I done to upset you? Tell me, so that I can put things right. Don’t make me a laughing stock for these Christians.”

Pelagia, the handmaid of the Lord, crossed herself and breathed at the demon.“My God has snatched me out of your very jaws,” she said, “and led me into his bridal chamber. He it is who fights for me.”

A tale for nos jours.  In this account, Saint Pelagia of Antioch was an actress and courtesan, for whom men would commit suicide when spurned.  She was raised in a pagan society that valued pleasure over all other things. Converted suddenly by the preaching of Bishop Nonnos, she gave up luxury for asceticism and hid herself away in prayer and fasting – in legend, on the Mount of Olives, where her house is reputed to stand.   It is also said that she disguised herself as a beardless monk and that, upon her death, the monks who came to bury were astonished to find that Brother Pelagius was, in fact, a sister.

From the Orthodox Church:

Troparion, Tone 4
Like a fragrant rose growing from thorns/ thou wast shown to the Church through thy virtuous deeds/ and wast a source of joy for the faithful./ Thou didst offer thy life in sweet-smelling fragrance to Him Who made thee wonderful./ Entreat Him to save us from every passion, O righteous Pelagia.

Kontakion, Tone 2
Thou didst wear out thy body with fasts, vigils and prayers/ and pray thy Creator for total forgiveness./ This thou didst obtain/ and dost show us the way to repentance,/ O holy Mother Pelagia. 

In other accounts, Saint Pelagia of Antioch was a fifteen-year-old virgin who leaped to her death rather than surrender her chastity. Authorities are divided as to the veracity of both versions but they both give timeless lessons and witness to faith.

Does Wealth Bring Contentment?