Monday, August 31, 2009

Pro-Life and a View on the Kennedy Funeral

I have heard many comments since the burial of Sen. Ted Kennedy and the blessing given by the pope in light of Kennedy's record on abortion. I think those who are Roman Catholic politicians ought to sit up and take notice exactly of what happened in the exchange of those letters between Pope Benedict XVI and Sen. Kennedy.

Senator Kennedy wrote to ask for a special blessing from the pontiff with the consideration that he was gravely ill. In the portion of the letter that was revealed, we see a man who pleads his case and admitsfailing, even though he has tried to follow Church teachings. Now, we can never know Senator kennedy's confession, but we can hope that he repented of his stances on abortion and other stances that were contrary to Catholic teaching.

The fact is that Pope Benedict XVI did give his apostolic blessing. This is a significant blessing, indeed. I do not think that he would offer such a blessing unless he felt there was a genuine understanding of the sins commited and the repentence necessary.

If this is the case, then I think it would be important for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters involved in politics to sit up and take notice. If Sen. Kennedy sought and apostolic blessing, he must have come to the realization that he was out of line in that area of Catholic teaching. And like so many of us, he, too, sought to be made whole again in the Church.

Speaking from the perspective of a returning Catholic, I can admit that I did not follow many of the teaching of the Catholic Church, but when I returned, I also came to the clear realization that some of my stances were not in line with the teachings of the Church. I was fortunate to realize this while still healthy. I could repent of these failings and come to the Sacrament of Penance. I hope it was the case, too, with Senator Kennedy. Now I would pray that all of those who currently support the Pro-Choice agenda would re-consider their position in light of this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


One Thousand Apologies! I have been away from blogging since April! So much has happened since I last wrote a blog--I moved into a house! Following my divorce, I lived in an apartment for a couple of years, and then--miracle of miracles a nice little house with a good-sized yard went up for sale. The house needs only some minor cosmetic work/updating, but for the most part, it is gorgeous!

So, now, the Returning Catholic returns to blog. Let me tell you, when I got very busy I also had a somewhat "desert experience" spiritually. I still felt God was in my life, but I began to question my own journey. Specifically, I have been struggling to find a spiritual connection with a third order. I have researched and prayed and read and prayed and talked to people and prayed. Well, I am amazed how God works... God does act in our lives... but wow... I wish God would work in my time! Serious, though, I have been learning patience in these few months that I have been away from the blog. But, God has taught me alot in that time.

My life has been turned upsidedown in the past four years and I think I was looking for a "group" to help me settle down. Since I first heard about Third Orders or Secular Orders I have felt drawn to the idea of strengthening my spiritual walk, while becoming part of a community.

It was through quiet prayer and settling myself down that I realized I have been rushing myself to acheive MY IDEA of what a spiritual life should look like. I have a work-life that doesn't lend itself well to monthly scheduled meetings, and I then felt I would not find a community.

I started and stopped with an online community (which is very reputable) called the Confraternity of Penitents. As I started the inquiry stge with them, I felt a live community would be more helpful, so I became restless and looked for Third Order Carmelites and Third Order Franciscans and Dominicans, etc.

Then I got tired of my restlessness and I was about to give up all hope of this idea of a spiritual community. But, I sat down with God and took a long hard look at my life. I was trying to intellectualize everything about the spiritual and religious life. I also must admit that I was becoming obscessed with me. I was selfish... not a good sign. What did God want me to do? That is when my heart-to-heart with God transformed my focus. The question, "What is your rush?" came to my mind.

I returned to the Confraternity of Penitents, because that is where I felt at home and I was simplifying my life, while at the same time learning how to look for God's Will.

So, now I have a new home, a peaceful yard and a new and improved outlook on life.

If you are know to my blog, welcome! If you are returning to see if I am still alive, I am and welcome back!

God Bless!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

The week following Easter has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday. You may have noticed the banner I use for this blog. This is the Divine Mercy portrait that Jesus asked St. Maria Faustina Kowalska to have painted. The picture is a representation of how Jesus appeared to St. Faustina. Jesus one evening in her cell (bedroom). Jesus had one hand raised to give a blessing, while his other hand was touching his garment at the breast. From beneath the white garment there shone forth two rays of light. One light was red, which represents the blood of Jesus, while the other light was a pale light which represents water. Beneath Jesus the words "Jesus I Trust in You."

We are called by Jesus to trust in his most divine mercy which has its foundation in His perfect love for us. It is good that Divine Mercy Sunday should follow Easter since it is a solid reminder that dear Jesus, through a perfect and divine mercy, saved us and gives us eternal life.

Now, it is our responsibility in the world today to pray this Divine Mercy upon our world. When possible we ought to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at 3 pm each day. I try to do this when I can, but I don't often get the chance at that moment. Still, it is good to pray this chaplet when we can. If you are not familiar with the chaplet, I would recommend EWTN's site for Divine Mercy at:

Pope John Paul the Great made the Sunday following Easter officially Divine Mercy Sunday. This was announced during the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000. From my personal experience, I can assure you that God does provide a deep blessing when you pray the Divine Mercy chaplet. Divine Mercy will touch you for sure, as well as those for whom you pray.


I wish all of you a blessed and joyous Easter! Live with the Spirit of Christ in you and greet one another in the love Jesus the Christ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almost There?

The thing about a spiritual journey is's a journey. When I was young, and we were going on a day trip to the shore, my father would load up the '57 Chevy with blankets and some of our toys while my mother would pack sandwiches, snacks and something to drink. The four children would squeeze into the backseat and we'd all settle in for about an hour drive. Of course, when you are going somewhere fun, an hour drive might as well be a trip to Mars or Jupiter! And it never failed, about ten minutes into the trip, one of us kids would yell out from the back, "Are we there yet?"

Coming back to the Catholic Church was also my spiritual re-birth. That sounds strange coming from someone who left the Church and became a Protestant pastor, but it is true. The Catholic Church has such a treasure of spiritual life, that it is mind boggling when you stop and take a look at it. Within that great spiritual treasure chest lies many ways to develop a strong loving Communion with Our Lord. Coming back to the Church was another step on that journey to that holy union with God. Sometimes I stop and wonder how far I am on this journey and from time to time I want to yell out, "Am I there yet?"

I am not there yet. I get excited with anticipation of that full communion with my Lord and Saviour, but that also causes me to get frustrated now and again. Humans are so wonderfully made, and yet, so easily frustrated. I want what I want, when I want it! That is my humanity speaking. We travel on this spiritual journey through life and we think we know where we should be at any given moment. But, I think the journey to a full communion with God is more than just sitting and waiting to arrive. I believe the journey is also when we are given the time to become familiar with God.

When we got too antsy on our trips to the shore, mom would tell us to play a game along the way. One of those games was to look out the window of our car and spot something that began with the letter "A." after someone located that we would continue down the alphabet until we spotted something that began with the letter "Z." This was more than something to occupy our time until we arrived. This was also something to let us see the beauty of the world around us. This was to remind us that the trip to the shore included many wonderful sights of beauty along the way.

When I returned to the Church I discovered that there are many ways offered by the Catholic Church to develop a fuller communion with God. There are many routes within the Faith to forge a relationship with the Almighty. I have been inquiring into a few of the associations and third orders of the Chruch in the hope of finding a group that will help me see the beauty of God's world as I travel. I have discovered a path with the Confraternity of Penitents that uses the Franciscan Rule of 1221. For me, this association of the Catholic Church has opened my eyes to beauty of the journey on my way to Our Lord, while still reminding me of the place where our hearts will find perfect communion and rest.

How is your journey going? What do you see today that begins with the letter "A?"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Never Too Late to Confess

There is such a beauty in returning to the Catholic Church. I had been away for such a long time, I was literally overwhelmed when the priest I visited offered to give me the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For so many years that term "confession" frightened me. I grew up Catholic and I went to confession fairly regularly. I remember the queesy feeling as I approached the confessional. I remember feeling my heart pounding hard against my chest as I opened the curtain to the confessional box. Oh, and how could I ever forget the swirling of all those sins in my mind as the kneeler squeeked! When I was young it was so scary to spill out all of my sins to the priest.

But when I returned to the Church after twenty-four years away it was a matter of need. I wanted to unburden myself. I wasn't sure what to expect. There wasn't a fear of telling the priest my sins; the question was where to begin? I didn't know if I could possibly recall twenty-four years worth of sin. And here is where the priest is wonderful. The priest led me through the whole process. I did remember how to begin! "Please bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been twenty-four years since my last confession." After that the priest just listed groups of sins as they related to the Ten Commandments. I simply had to think about my past and answer yes or no to each sin that Father mentioned.

When Father finished the list, he gave me my penance and then gave me what I had absolutely longed for--absolution! Oh my! It is just such a great burden that gets lifted from one's shoulders when those words of absolution are pronounced.

In February, it was just three years since I returned to the Church. I have gained such a strong appreciation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation that I try to let no more than a month pass before I return to confession. There is an amazing spiritual strength a person gains with the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If you are just returning to the Catholic Church or perhaps just thinking about it, I would encourage you to talk with a priest about this sacrament. Ask a priest what to expect and how he handles the sacrament when a person has been away for a long time. A priest once told a penitent who had been away for a long time that the saints and angels were rejoicing at the foot of God's throne when the penitient returned. Imagine that! I hope if you are considering a return to the catholic Church you will speak with a priest and take him up on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I would love to know that the saints and angels are having a party because you are coming back!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Recollection and the Returning Catholic

I have been reading the autobiography of st. Teresa of Avila. She speaks much good about our need to recollect. So, I had been away from the Church for a while, but I never remembered hearing about recollecting anything! Needless to say, since St. Teresa mentioned it, I had to investigate. It is such a confusing word for such a wonderful life-giving exercise.

To recollect is simply to remind yourself of the presence of God within your life and within all that you say and do. Now, I shouldn't really say 'simply,' because recollection is a lifelong process of seeking God within your life and often requires effort on your part. The benefits, however, are legion. There are two degrees of recollection. The first is an active recollect in which we place ourselves in solitude before God and place our attention before Him. This requires only the ordinary graces God gives us. The second type of recollection is a passive recollection and this requires special graces given by God which places us before Him.

As a returning Catholic, I know that I need God's help to get through my daily life. I know what it was like to be without the feeling of God's presence in my life. I am not saying God was not with me, but I was not intentionally aware of God in my life. And this makes all the difference in the world. As I practice the presence of God in my life, I pay more attention to the needs of others around me--for the sake of God. I am not perfect, but I am certainly more aware of God drawing me in certain directions. I am also aware, more than ever before, of God's love surrounding me and protecting me in every situation.

Once again, I wish that I had know all these things years ago. I am just happy now that I did finally learn about it. Perhaps God will bless my years in the desert. Now I have the gift of recollection to get to know and love God on a new level.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


We live in a world of opposites. If there were no opposites, we would never be able to understand relationships. Would there be only good? Would there be only hot? Would there be only light? Our God has distinguished opposites to help us live find eternal life where we can experience the positive aspects of all that is.Can I truly appreciate a warm summer day if I did not have to experience the frigid winter? Could I ever really appreciate good health, if I had not suffered the pain of a herniated disk in my back? And could I ever completely appreciate the unconditional love and light of God had I not left His light and wandered in the depths of darkness and dispair?

Most certainly there is darkness in the world. That old addage of misery loves company applies to the darkness. Those who reside in the darkness I doubt like it, but they cannot see the way out and they do not want the loneliness of they will try to pull anyone they can into the darkness with them.

Think of being trapped in a dark cellar with no electricity. Someone upstairs discovers that you are down they and opens the door and you can see that there is electricity and light upstairs, so you walk toward the light, hoping to escape the darkness. Unfortunately there is no light switch for the basement, so you must stumble and you fall many times as you do not have enough light to escape. You fall so often that you tire out and get frustrated. You cry out that you want to give up trying! So, the person from upstairs gets a flashlight and comes down to rescue you.

From that crude analogy, I would suggest that if the person upstairs has no flashlight or avery weak flashlight as he tries to go down and rescue you, he might easily stumble and fall himself and be in te same predicament as you. But, if the person upstairs is wise he will be prepared and come to rescue you with a strong flashlight and guid you to the safety of the lighted upstairs.

My point in all of this is that if we are to combat the darkness and not fall into the pit is to prepare ourselves if we are to bring others to the light. If we don't have a flashlight (faith and love) that is strong enough, we cannot help another who has no light (faith and love) at all. We do need the Church, because the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, gave the Church that light to pass on to all of us. We need to strenghten and prepare ourselves in and through the Church if we are to be Christ for our world.

As we conclude a week that saw a change of power in the White House, a wonderful March for Life on Washington, D.C., and still so much darkness throught the world, let us let's us be about the task of strenghtening our light through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Preach It!

I have been studying the Order of Preachers (a.k.a. Dominicans) for a while. At first, I had difficulty warming up to them. One of their primary charisms is preaching. This seemed too intellectual and not spiritual enough for me. But, the more I studied them, the more I came to appreciate them and love the order. My problem was that I failed to understand the real depth of preaching! And I must confess that it was a failure I had when I left the Catholic Church and briefly became a Protestant pastor. I needed to expand my understanding of "preaching" to include both the verbal and non-verbal aspects of it.

There is a tremendous amount of deep spirituality involved in true preaching of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is meant to be for all Christians of every walk of life. Preaching must include how we preach with our lives. By that I mean we must express the gospel message of God's love for us through our daily living. Too often we can miss opportunities to share our faith with others by forgetting the object of our love and faith--God! How often have we maybe done the opposite and taught people that God is not real or with us?

Most people are very observant when it comes to how we react under many kinds of situations. If they know we are Christian, we are especially scrutinized. "Oh look! And that person says they are a Christian, but look how she/he acts!" When we are put into situations that are stressful or require us to be dilligent, fair, just, or compassionate, how do we respond? Do we just jump in and do what is expected, and if it gets too frustrating, do we pack it in and quit?

Do we pray about the situation and ask God to become a part of all of our actions? This requires lots of practice! Many of us do not initially think about God as we are confronted with a situation. Many of us wait until we are in REAL deep before we ask God for help. Usually, we have already become frustrated and ranted and cursed and created a scene that is anything but a gospel message. But, if we turn to God in all parts of our life and we pray to God and ask God to be in our lives, we can become a preaching moment for anyone who is having trouble with their own faith life.

Their is a very deep spirituality in this kind of preaching, and it is available to anyone who would simply include God and prayer in their lives throughout the day. For a returning Catholic like me, the Order of preachers has taught me a valuable lesson for my faith and how I live it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back in Action!

Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I have had a busy last few weeks. I hope everyone has had a blessed Christmas season. Epiphany has just past. Epiphany is my favorite day. Well, it's my birthday, too so I can always remember it. but there is more to Epiphany than my birthday. Epiphany has always been explained to me as the "Ah-Ha! moment" It is that realization that God is indeed among us. A saviour is born to us and it is Chrst, the Lord. For a returning Catholic, I have received several epiphanies over the past few years. The greatest is that I came to realize that the Catholic Church does, in fact, contain a richness of spirituality provided through the grace of God in Christ, Jesus.

Once back in the Church, my priest invited me to take my tim and get to know the Church again. There is such a tendency to want to jump in and experience everything that the Church has to offer all at once. Now, I don't know about you, but I want everything like yesterday. I am sure that I missed out on a lot in life simply because I wanted to rush to experience all that I could as quickly as I could. The advice from the priest was sound. In fact, it was because of his advice that I did some soul searching and discovered my need to find balance and simpicity in my life. And this is where the richness of the Church's spirituality came to the rescue for me!

I knew I needed balance and simplicity and, of course, God. With this in mind I began a quest within the confines of my Catholic faith. Sure enough, there was group that could support, encourage and help me in my quest. There were several possibilities and my struggle was in finding just the right fit. All of the groups I looked at were Catholic and were approved by the magisterium, but it is helpful to have the group that allows you to grow spiritually and have those epiphanies of God that help us develop a relationship with God.

For me, the Benedictine's have a lay group called oblates. This group has helped me to experience a structured way to live so that I could slow down my pace, seek God and simplify my life so that I could hear that still small voice that is God. There are many associations, teritery orders and groups within the Catholic Church that can accommodate many and varied interests.

The beauty of my life now is that I can relax in God. I know I am not perfect and I know that God is aware of this fact! But, now I have a place within my Catholic faith to slowly begin to reorganize myself. I would encourage you to explore the Catholic Church and all of its associations, religious orders, lay orders and organizations. See if there isn't something that you would fit your spiritual needs.

God Bless! Pax!