Moving Forward

It’s been a while ProtestantInterrupted friends!

I wanted to write a bit of an update. ūüôā

After much consideration, I knew that I wanted to continue to tell the story of my Catholic faith. But it sort of seemed like the purpose of this blog- to find out the truth about the Catholic Church had been served. I’m no longer an Interrupted Protestant- I’m a Passionate Catholic! Shocking, amazing, best thing ever to happen…

But how to proceed?

That’s when JP and I started talking and considering a joint effort to write about our faith and how our lives are lived out within the Catholic Church. Ok, well, that’s when I approached him about the idea- but he was open to it. ūüôā

So, several weeks ago, we began the process of creating our own blog, together, from where we could move forward in this new way. It was very exciting!

And now I’m excited to share with you the fruits of that work, and to tell you that we hope to see you there!

If you’ve found this blog interesting, or helpful, I can assure you that my husband has more interesting things to say than I do much of the time. (haha) :). But, it’s truly a joint effort, and we would love to have you follow us as we continue to live out our Catholic faith together.

We can be found at www.thiscatholicfamily.wordpress.com

And also at www.facebook.com/thiscatholicfamily.

May the love and peace of Christ be with you!

Lorelei

The Call to Christian Unity

Christian unity was not something that bothered me much as a Protestant.

Even as someone who was Sola Scriptura, I didn’t see the issue there. But now, for some reason from the angle I am coming from now,¬†I can confidently say¬†the division among Christians that we see today is not Biblical. And I believe that the global Church has an obligation to do something about it.

With over 30,000 Protestant denominations globally (and counting) . . . I don’t think it’s possible that we are living in fulfillment of what Jesus said in John 17:21: “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Just let that sink in for a moment. In all of our divisions, we are¬†unable to follow a very clear statement of the One we believe to be our Savior in how we are to operate as His followers. This should be a problem for us.

thatwewouldbeone.jpg

I acknowledge that all who follow Jesus are in some way imperfectly united with the global Church. In fact, during my Confirmation, I was welcomed into “full unity” with the Catholic church- I had been imperfectly united with the Church my whole life by virtue of my Christian faith.

But the reality is that the Body of Christ on Earth, His Church, is currently, really, really fractured. We are supposed to be one body… so that people will believe in Jesus. From the mouth of God Himself.

The point of this post is to raise this as an issue of serious concern for all Christians. Many people have a vague idea of the issues involved in the Reformation… but don’t give them much thought. That was the largest and most significant split in Christianity’s history. The first official break of unity. We should seek to understand it, from both sides, and reconcile in any ways possible to each other. ¬†Serve together in any ways possible. Open dialogue together in any ways possible.

We should not hole ourselves up in our own network of like-minded people, reading books by only like-minded theologians, hanging out with only-like minded friends from our like-minded church. This is something that needs to be wrestled with and through. I don’t think it’s acceptable for us to be content in our own pocket. Scripture is pretty clear on that. We are called to unity. Isolating ourselves in our own safety-net of those whose thinking aligns with ours at some point falls in the category of disobedience in light of that call.

It’s been heartbreaking for me on a few occasions to find out that some people no longer deem me fit to serve alongside them in Christian ministry since becoming Catholic. Part of the heartbreak has been the personal joy I had previously taken in being part of the same Church as them, and serving alongside them through that Church, and then feeling in many ways cut off from friendship¬†and¬†ecumenical ministry opportunities together in one fell swoop. It was hard because the people who have done this fully admit to not having spent much time studying and understanding Catholic theology from a Catholic perspective (which, I will fully admit… takes a bit of a time investment. This stuff is deep). That’s difficult because they don’t even correctly understand what they claim to be objecting to so much that I cannot be allowed to serve alongside¬†them. It feels unfair. No only to me, but even moreso to the Body. To tell someone “I’m sorry, you’re wrong… so wrong in fact that I can’t serve with you in any capacity. And I have very little motivation to associate with you as a person at this point. And I also have no interest in understanding what you actually do believe.”¬†I cannot believe it brings pleasure to God when something like that happens. And the divide widens.

Now, that said, I have some wonderful, amazing friends in my life from several churches that I have the privilege to know, pray with, and some, to serve with (still!). Even though doctrinally we have some differences, we rejoice in our ability to be honest with each other, and talk things through, and, yes, serve together, even while we each pray for more unity as a global Church. These are people that know my walk with the Lord, and whose own walks I respect and admire deeply. And I have appreciated those relationships more than ever lately.

If we want to move towards Christian unity… where do we start? Some of the questions I have asked and continue to ask myself involve the Catholic Church and whether or not it corrected in the ways Luther objected to, and what his objections were, and the history of the Reformation and the splits that followed. I hadn’t even heard of the Jansenism heresy before becoming Catholic, and that has greatly informed my understanding of Luther and the Reformation as a whole. I wonder if Luther would have objected to the Catholic Church as it is today? ¬†I don’t think he would…

I also wonder how many Christians make it a priority to engage in dialogue with believers from other Christian traditions and churches, in an effort to move closer together.

I wonder what it would take to make that happen…

To stir up a heart for unity among all Christian believers… if Jesus said it was important, that it should totally be important to us. Let’s understand each other. Let’s open dialogue with each other. Let’s find ways to move closer together. I don’t have all the answers, but I know it’s important. So that the world will believe. Amen.

 

Embracing the Crucifix

When I was growing up in various Protestant churches, and in all the Protestant churches of my adulthood, one of the few symbols on display in each church was an empty cross. Usually inside the sanctuary, front and center.

Empty-Cross-with-Cloth-Draped-Outdoors-1.jpg
This type of image is familiar to many, but it hasn’t always made the most sense to me.

Catholic churches, as most probably know, are known for their use of the Crucifix. This practice is odd to some, and unacceptable to others outside of the Catholic faith.

This is why I have embraced the Crucifix.

To start, I would like to share why I’ve come to the conclusion that the empty cross is a less-than-ideal representation of our faith. I’ve been told a few reasons why Protestant churches display only the empty cross. One reason is the idea that Catholics leave Jesus on the cross because we for some reason don’t focus on His resurrection… and that Protestants do focus on his resurrection, hence not leaving Jesus hanging up there. And another reason is that the idea of making “graven images” is clearly forbidden in scripture.

I remember even as a little girl, thinking that the empty cross didn’t make a lot of sense to represent our belief in and focus on the resurrection. Namely, the fact that when Jesus was taken down off the cross, and the cross was indeed empty … he was dead. It feels like to me, wherever there is an empty cross, we are basically displaying an empty instrument of torture. The cross was used to execute many, many people over the ages, including 2 others at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion itself. The cross is how Jesus died, but apart from Jesus being on it, it is an execution device upon which many others died as well.

I always thought that some sort of symbol of the empty tomb, or the stone rolled away from the door would be more appropriate to represent the resurrection. If we want to reflect Jesus risen, let’s make a symbol of the place He rose from, right?! No one else rose from the dead under His own divine power like Jesus did. Lazarus, too, rose, but it was only under the power of Jesus that he did that. So the idea of the empty tomb symbolizing Christ’s resurrection, if that is the ultimate aim of those who leave Jesus off the cross, would probably be a better fit.

And then there is the graven images argument. In my new life as a Catholic, I am so enjoying learning about the Old Testament and how Judaism points to The Gospel in so many different ways. But, as I‚Äôve learned, when one looks specifically about God commanding the Israelites not to make graven images in Exodus, he’s telling them not to make graven images to worship. Not that they can’t make images ever. In fact, shortly after issuing that command, God tells the Israelites to construct two statues of angels for either side of the tabernacle. The Israelites were to make statues, or images of angels. They just couldn’t, and shouldn’t worship them.

Similarly, Catholics don’t worship the crucifix. What a crucifix does is help us focus our minds on Christ, and the love that he poured out for us in his redemptive suffering. Worship is reserved for God alone.

While I still like the idea of the empty tomb, I believe a cross depicting Jesus on it helps remind us of how great the cost of our salvation was. Especially in America, we are generally so comfortable. Many, though not all, of us don’t have a context for extreme suffering. And the cost for our salvation was so, very great. Every time I look at a crucifix I see the love of my Savior and I am so thankful.

And, honestly speaking, sometimes, also, the Crucifix is hard for me to look at. I don’t like picturing Jesus up there on the cross and knowing that he needed to do that because of my sin. I also believe that just because it’s difficult to look at doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be Mary, seeing her Son up there, dying, and staying by his side. Not even all the disciples were there with Jesus at the cross. I wonder if I would have had the strength to stay. When I pray through the Sorrowful Mysteries on the Rosary, the crucifixion is by far the most difficult decade for me to meditate on. But I also take comfort that Peter, who denied Jesus 3 times and likely was not at the crucifixion, was still the man God called to be the first Pope of the Church.

Even though it is difficult to look at, the Crucifix reminds me of the abundant grace of God then, and now, and forever. Seeing the Crucifix enables me to raise up my eyes and be willing to carry whatever cross I have before me during any particular moment of any particular day. It helps me think on God more. And it helps me grow in my faith and joy at what was accomplished on Calvary and 3 days later. All good, faith building and life giving things. Embracing the Crucifix has been another of the strengths of my Catholic faith.

 

Why I Love Confession

One of the topics I get asked about most often by my Protestant friends is Confession. So here is a humble attempt to explain what the Sacrament of Confession means to me.

Confession.jpg

Let me start by saying¬†I¬†love Confession. Love it. It’s awesome. More on that in a moment.

And then, let me also start by explaining a bit about what Confession is not to me.

To me:

Confession is not a guilt-induced act that is forced upon me by a strict and rigid institution.

Confession is not my only means of being connected with God, nor is it my only means, in most cases, of being forgiven by God.

Background

My history with the idea of Confession, in any form, was rather shallow. I understood that I needed to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins to commit to Christianity, but, honestly, I was a young kid and I didn’t really think much about what “sin” meant… not listening to my parents, spreading a rumor, being selfish… all things I knew were sin, but for the most part, I, personally, felt like I was doing pretty well overall. Also, many Protestant traditions believe that once you are a Christian, your past, present and future sins are forgiven. So I didn’t feel like there was a lot of motivation¬†to think about my sin.

Also, growing up in different Protestant Churches, most of them would have a time of private confession at some point in the church service. It’s where the pastor or whoever was leading that part of the service would have everyone take a moment and think about their sin, and then pray for and thank God for His forgiveness.

To be honest, in my experience, nearly every time that happened whoever was leading the confession didn’t even give me enough time to begin to contemplate my own sin. The pause lasted for like 5 seconds. And… 5 seconds is inadequate¬†for a true examination of conscience. So I usually just stood quietly and looked prayerful during that time. And still, I continued on not thinking much about my own sin.

I have since found out that the community confession time in many Protestant churches harkens back to the early Christians, but it isn’t really a full representation of what early Christians practiced. It’s more of a shadow of it. Though, I think most Protestants would agree that confessing one’s sins is important in some regard, the actual practice of it in many churches today doesn’t reflect the depth and purpose and history of Confession itself, or why it is important.

Sin

c743e096120810c85baf114d22c78c2a.jpg

This is how I have come to understand sin. I have come to understand that God is offering, every moment of my life, to come alongside me and walk with me. Everywhere. And all the time. He never will leave me. Sin is where in my heart and my actions, I block God out of my life.

In Catholic Confession, prior to going to Confession, it is most appropriate to process through an Examination of Conscience.¬†Many are based on the ten commandments, but there are others as well, for children, married people, single people, etc. It is a really thorough way to discover where I am not allowing God fully into my life. Even just the 1st Commandment examination… I reflect upon where in my life I am not putting God first. Where am I putting something or someone else in God’s place.

One thing I’m definitely not doing is ¬†sitting around with my head in my hands in hopelessness over how sinful I am.¬†It’s actually really helpful for me, and I can use those reflections to allow God into more of my life.

I’ve also come to understand sin as that which wounds our soul and our relationship with our Creator. God is there, all the time, but when I turn away from Him and do my own thing, it is bad for me… left unchecked, it will contribute to my walk with God becoming unhealthy over time… sick even. Many of humanity’s own classic tales reveal what happens when someone is overcome by sin in their own life. Ebeneezer Scrooge and his greed, the Beast and his lack of charity, the Grinch and his desire for revenge.

Sacraments

Sacraments.jpg

Catholics believe that Sacraments are ways that God makes tangible (something we can see, smell, taste, touch, or hear), something that is a spiritual reality. So, for example (briefly, because this is a whole ‘nother post), marriage is a Sacrament. It’s meant to be a tangible representation of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Something we can see, and, within the marriage itself, touch, that is meant to draw our minds towards heavenly truth.

Confession, is another Sacrament.

Confession Itself

Confession-8.jpg

This is where it gets good. This is the stuff.

I think it is easy for many to think about confession in a church service, or praying directly to God for forgiveness. Catholics also have a time of confession communally each Mass, and Catholics also can pray directly to God for forgiveness in most cases.

I also think it’s easy for Christians to acknowledge that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world around us.

When I walk into the confessional, I am walking in and talking to the Priest, who is acting as the hands and feet of Jesus for me. Instead of silently admitting my sins in private or at church, or to myself alone, I get to verbally share about the areas in my life where I am struggling to let God in. I verbally ask for forgiveness.

And then I audibly hear I am forgiven.

And that is huge. God knows we are both spiritual and physical. I love that this Sacrament exists, and I can hear the truth of my forgiveness time and time again, audibly, from someone who is representing Jesus.

But that’s not all. The Priest then spends a bit of time talking to me about some of my struggles, and prescribes penance. That word is one that may cause¬†someone who isn’t Catholic to go… Yikes! Danger! Or What is that?

Let me explain what penance is. Just as unrepentant sin can hurt our walk with God, and even make our souls sick, penance is a sort of medicine that helps me to turn back to God in the areas in which I struggle.

Example. If someone hurt me and I am struggling to forgive them fully, my penance for that might be to spend some time praying for those people. Penance is simply helping me turn back to God and let Him into more of my life, in the areas where I am blocking him out through my actions.

And I leave the Confessional full of the Holy Spirit, and so thankful for God’s redeeming work in my life. I leave with joy, and I always look forward to going. It helps keep me tuned into and focused on my Savior, and helps me be more aware to walk more closely with Him. More than ever before.

Summing Up

Here is what, to Lorelei, Confession is.

Confession¬†is one of the many ways that I can receive God’s grace.

Confession is a tangible representation of my forgiven and restored relationship with God.

Confession is a Sacrament of healing, and of helping me walk more closely with God.

 

And that, is why I love Confession. ūüôā

 

Never Knew You Looked Like That

Today we drove to a Catholic Parish in a nearby town to visit with our friend Nic. He had a speaking engagement in the evening, so we thought we would catch up in person since it’s rare for us to be in the same part of the same state at the same time.

As we approached the Parish, I noticed that there were 4-5 Christian churches within a 2 block radius of the Catholic Church we were going to. Several different denominations were represented, each with their own building.

We spent a bit of time inside the beautifully constructed¬†Catholic Church.¬†Each of the stations of the cross was a hand-made mosaic, along with several other pieces of art on the walls- including a beautiful Mary mosaic above the tabernacle. That, and the pillars, and the stained-glass, and the wooden pews… just everything was so beautiful. We spoke for a few minutes with one of the priests of the parish and ended up talking about how that kind of ornament in a church building used to be offensive to me as a Protestant, but now I find it to be so beautiful.

We talked about Kreeft, and how he argues that only belief in the True Presence built buildings like this. And also how, besides, desiring for Christ to have the best we have to offer, that having beautiful churches and Cathedrals helps to make up for the scandal of the manger. Besides the church itself being beautiful, the very idea of those things is, also, beautiful.

As we left and drove by all those other churches, so close to the building that houses the True Presence of Christ Himself, and yet far enough away that they felt like they had to construct their own buildings to worship in, I wondered how that made God feel… and I was reminded of a song from a little-known Christian musician that used to play in Green Bay when I was younger. He wrote a song called “Never Knew You Looked Like That,” which isn’t about the Eucharist, but is about¬†the many ways Christ shows himself to mankind, and how oblivious we are to it so much of the time.

But with all I’ve been through, I can’t help but see the connection to the Eucharist as well.

Some of my favorite lyrics:

“Does it make you sad that I never knew you looked like that? Does it make you laugh that I never knew you looked like that”

“There you are again, no matter where I turn. You wait for me to notice, wondering if I’ll learn.”

 

 

What does God think¬†about¬†those people who built those buildings, so very close to where he truly and really resides in a physical sense? Is he sad about it? Or does he shake his head and smile, much like I do when my son or daughter just doesn’t understand something that seems so simple to me?

How does God feel about the many, once including myself, that don’t recognize Him in the bread and the wine? I now believe it is no more shocking that God would appear to us as though he were bread and wine than it is to believe God was once a zygote in his mother’s womb.

But those buildings, so, so close to the Real Thing. And yet thick walls separate them. And there are so many Christians who desperately seek nearness with their Savior, too, separated by walls of disbelief in their hearts that His True Presence is here with us now.

Thank you, Jesus, for your True Presence in the gift of the Eucharist. And I pray that all Christians would be united to You, and experience the fullness of faith and life and joy through the Church you established. Please help us to all recognize you in all the ways you reveal yourself to us on this earth, including in the faces of the poor, the suffering, and in the Eucharist.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Confirmed!

Here I sit, a week after Confirmation, so very thankful!

First of all, the Savaryn’s turned out en masse for Easter Vigil. Another family member and I were both to be confirmed at the Cathedral of St. Paul in the Twin Cities, and the Savaryn’s nearly filled 3 pews. So much support.

I also didn’t know that you receive gifts upon confirmation. I am now in possession of some awesome Catholic Confirmation Swag… rosaries, books, CD’s, decorative pieces for my home. It was so lovely and so thoughtful of everyone. And it was so cool to just see the genuine happiness on people’s faces that had been praying for me for years.

And then to be confirmed by the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and to know that he can trace his lineage, as all priests can, to one of the original apostles… amazing!

IMG_0328.JPG
Me and Archbishop Hebda.

I can honestly say that the past several years have been exceedingly restless for me as a Christian. And I can also honestly say that after Confirmation, I looked around the Cathedral and at all the people there supporting us, and having this sense of being a part of something so much bigger than myself, bigger than time and history and Earth, and I just knew that I was home. I am restless no more. Thank you Jesus!

Good Friday Reflections

I started writing on this blog just 4 long/short months ago. That’s how long the “official” process has taken. But, looking back, my road to Catholicism¬†has been a much longer process. Some would say I’ve actually always been Catholic by virtue of my baptism, and that I’m only now just returning fully home. But in my adulthood, it was years of wondering things like what the purpose of Church was, the relevance of Jesus in our society and world, and a longing to understand how the Early Church practiced their faith. Years of questioning things like our tie to emotionalism in the American Church, and unknowingly longing for depth¬†and consistency and unity that none of my Protestant denominations could ever fully have, more than this, but even simply by virtue of the fact that they haven’t had the same amount of time to develop it. Years of frustration over¬†why so many were so focused on how church could serve them, while at the same time being so stuck in comfort and apathy in their day to day living, instead of¬†being focused on how Church could move them and challenge them and equip them to live more like Jesus.

images.jpg
This. Tomorrow.

Today is Good Friday. And this Lent, thanks to the tools that the Catholic Church gives to us I’ve spent this season more reflective than ever on our faith, and the sacrifice Jesus made, and how God can take this sin and brokenness in me and slowly and beautifully transform my own life into one that looks a lot more like my Savior. All the challenges and tears and even anger at times that I’ve had over the process of this transition all fade now as I am standing just one day away from fully uniting with the Church Jesus himself founded, and has preserved for over 2 millennium.

This feels like a huge deal.¬†Probably because it is. Here, in the Catholic Church, I find a place for not only deep answers to the questions that I have, and for so much Truth you almost don’t know what to do with it sometimes. Not only for¬†finding the beautiful Sacraments He has given us. But, also, and most importantly, here in the Catholic Church is where I find the tangible and physical Jesus. I think anyone, if they came to a point that they believed that to be true, that the physical presence of Jesus was to be found¬†on Earth today in the Mass, they would become Catholic in a heartbeat. What Christian doesn’t long for a physical, tangible moment with their Savior? How smart of God to give us himself in the Eucharist, to find a way to fold time onto itself and give us a piece¬†of that total satisfaction of our deepest longings while we are still here on this earth. Of course he would do it that way. Of course.

I could write for hours.

Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about a quote from this Peter Kreeft book, called Jesus Shock. I finished¬†it¬†his week and the timing was perfect.

He writes: “When an Evangelical Protestant becomes a Catholic, he rightly says, “I have fulfilled my Evangelicalism. I have become more Evangelical, not less. I have found the depth and center of Evangelium, the Good News. I feared the Church as an idol, a distraction from Christ, but I have found that it is more fully Christic and Christocentric than anything else in the world.”

And that about sums it up nicely.