My Conversion Story

To read my conversion story, I have posted it in .pdf format available for download.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Advent Season - It's more than presents and Santa

A very good article on the celebration of Advent, something that the secular commercial celebration of Christmas has largely pushed aside.

When I was growing up as a Catholic, I had heard of Advent, but to me it meant the same thing as Christmas Day. It meant presents, and Santa, and going to Mass, and taking down the tree practically the very next day.

My wife was also raised Catholic in a much more devout household, but they also celebrated Christmas pretty much the same way I always did. Perhaps it’s a regional thing, but I don’t think so.

When I came back to the Church many moons later, I was surprised to hear that at least in some parts of the U.S. and the world, Advent is a SEASON not a DAY. (I found out the same thing about Easter. I knew of Lent, but I had never heard of an “Octave of Easter”).

Historically, Catholic households would begin celebrating Advent four Sundays before Christmas. Most of the celebration of this time has to do with anticipation of the coming of the Lord.  The Christmas songs that were sung were mostly about Christ about to come (O Come, O Come Emmanuel) rather than the moment of his coming. Using an Advent calendar forces you to focus on a different aspect of the season every day, keeping you focused.

The decorations and the tree would only go up during the day or evening of Christmas Eve. If you had a manger scene, you could put it up early, but you wouldn’t put the baby Jesus in it until Christmas morning.

And the decorations didn’t come down the next day. They came down on Epiphany, Jan. 6, or maybe later after The Presentation of the Lord on Feb. 2.

Perhaps we should go back to celebrating it this way. It might help to force us back into thinking of Jesus at Christmastime, rather than merely buying presents. Although that means that if you want a real tree, buying it in Christmas Eve will guarantee you a Charlie Brown variety. But that's not so bad. Charles Schultz was not only a good cartoonist, but a philosopher, and a poet. The symbolism of that humble tree is significant.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Divine Mercy prayer for "the Katies"

Michael and Katie McDonald

Katie Arnson
Katie McDonald, my daughter-in-law; and my son, Michael, need your prayers. I cannot go into detail as to why as it is too personal. Most of the family members and close friends are aware of the situation. If you do not, please respect their privacy. The Lord knows fully what is going on, and just what He needs to do physically, spiritually, and psychologically to aid them. Katie Arnson, my wife's second-cousin, is very sweet young woman who makes friends with everyone she meets. She has recently received her Associate degree in one of the Nursing disciplines at Davenport University, where her mother is also an adjunct instructor.

Katie has had a lot of physical difficulties during her life, including a liver transplant at only four months of age.

Katie has recently been diagnosed with Indolent Lymphoma. At the time of this writing, she does not know the prognosis, although she may need surgery to remove some lymph nodes, and to see just how bad it is.

All three, Katie, Katie, and Michael really need your prayers. They all very much need to have the Lord shower them with his Mercy and Grace.

Will you please commit to saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for all of them, over the next nine days? Let us always remember how great a salvation He has provided to us, through his suffering. They are all going through a very difficult, trying time right now and they all desperately need the Lord to intervene in their situations, and to more fully perfect them.

If you are not Catholic, or are uncomfortable saying the prescribed prayers, just pray in your own way for God's Mercy for Katie, Katie, and Michael.

If you don't have a rosary, you can count on your fingers.

God bless you for your concern and prayer.

Say once per day, beginning Monday, June 14 to commit them all to Jesus' Most Sacred Heart through June 22.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Opening Prayer
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and an ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.  O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelope the whole world and empty yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us.
I Trust in You!
  • Next say the Sign of the Cross, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
  • Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
  • On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).
  • Conclude with (three times):
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Closing Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless
and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible,
look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us,
tht in difficult moment we might not despair
or become despondent,
but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will,
which is Love and Mercy itself.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Communion of Saints and Prayer

I left this comment this morning on the Divine Office website:

A few posts ago someone was asking whether this website was intended for individual or communal prayer. I just wanted to tell you that although I had been raised as a Catholic, I left the Church at age 17, and became a Baptist for 27 years before reverting almost five years ago. I was raised very nominally Catholic and had never heard of the Divine Office before going to a silent retreat about four years ago. There we prayed the Office at every opportunity for a whole weekend. Shortly after this, I discovered this website and made the Morning prayer part of my daily routine.

Since reverting back to the Church, I understand fully the Communion of Saints, but it was more of a mental assent to the fact. I would pray to the saints but after so long believing that it was not possible to do so, it was hard to make this transition.

Until two nights ago at my parish. After our last fish fry for the Lenten season I went into the sanctuary to wait for time to do the Stations of the Cross. I was about 45 minutes early, so I brought my Kindle and decided that was was going to do the Evening reading silently. But I wasn't the only one who had that idea. There were a couple of other small groups there praying the Rosary in different areas.

I went over to where we have a kneeler before a beautiful painting of St. Philomena, next to a statue of St. John Vianney, our parish patron. Never have I had a so much of a sense of the presence of the saints. For so long I had been taught to never prayer to the dead. But THEY ARE NOT DEAD! I prayed the Office aloud asking St. John Vianney and St. Philomena to pray with me. Even though human eyes would have seen only me, I knew that I was not alone but surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses all praising our God together. And coupled with the other two groups praying the Rosary, it truly was a house of prayer.

After the Reading I sang, quietly (not silently) “Per crucem”, the version that is sung by Melinda Kirigin-Voss that is often posted here for Morning Readings. When I finished it was nearly time to start stations. The other two groups were also just finishing with the Rosary. The priest came into the sanctuary, not quite ready yet as he didn't have his robes on.

Our parish has been going through a very trying time lately with a former employee who had to be terminated and turned over to the police for embezzling a large amount of cash. It has been hard on everyone involved.

When Father came into the sanctuary and saw three different groups of people all in prayer all on their own, you could see how uplifted he became. With the eyes of faith he could see all the incense from all of our individual prayers coalescing into one and rising up to the Throne.

Praise God! This is a very long way of saying, “yes” this is a communal prayer. Even if prayed individually, the Saints in heaven are praying with you, and there are saints on earth praying with you too, even if you never meet them before we all meet together in eternity.

Let us worship together!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Queen, My Mother

Morning Consecration to Mary

My Queen, My Mother, I offer myself entirely to thee.
And to show my devotion to thee,
I offer thee this day, my eyes,
my ears, my mouth, my heart,my whole being without reserve.
Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own,
keep me, guard me as thy property and possession.
There is so much that I am grateful for since my return to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. Since I have become Catholic, I have finally begun to break the chains of certain sins that have plagued me for years. I still have a long way to go, but I have had more victory over sin as a Catholic, than ever as a Protestant.

One of the many graces I have received is due to the intercession of our Mother in Heaven. I re-dedicate myself to her several times every day by saying the prayer above.

Some of my Protestant friends probably look at a prayer like this and think it sounds like worship. Why do I think this? Because that's what I would have thought. It was prayers like this that drove me from the Church in the first place back when I was 20 years old. I thought it was placing too much emphasis on Mary, if not downright worship.

But look at this prayer again, and substitute the references to Mary (My Queen, My Mother) to the name of your spouse (My wife/husband, My Love). Does it still sound like worship? Or does it sound like a bride and bridegroom exchanging wedding vows? Do you worship your spouse? This is a prayer of dedication, not of worship.

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