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Archive for April, 2011


At last, I see the harbor…

It’s Sunday afternoon, the day has been long and eventful. The grill is heating up in anticipation for some hamburger patties, Karan is sleeping on the couch and Michelle and I are just being quiet for a while.

We are tired, physically and emotionally. The process to get here has been a long and winding road, with traps, hurdles and some dangerous areas. But with perseverance we made it through, the ceremony was actually overwhelming. I’m a little shell shocked, I mumbled my “and with you also” during confirmation, I didn’t sign the cross when I received the host, but I did when I partook of the wine. The sanctuary was warm, tie and a jacket had me sweltering. I smell like Chrism Oil, and I’m not sure just how I feel yet. It’s all a giant blur, It hasn’t sunk in fully yet. It will, I just need time to let it settle.

There was a reception, but by the time we got there I was on the way to a full shutdown. When I’m overwhelmed with people and attention in a small place, I want to hide. It’s how I’m wired, I really mean no offense. I would rather have a beer, some close friends and a good honest laugh, I hate being the center of attention.

All that being said, we got through it all. It’s official, we are now fully Catholic. The Eucharist didn’t knock my socks off, I think I was too worried about what to say, and what to do. But I’m so thankful for my sponsor and the people who helped us get here, I think the process could have been A LOT smoother. But it is, what it is, and I’ll take it.

I’m looking forward to a quiet Mass next weekend, our first true mass at our new parish. I think it will all hit me then. It’s been a good day, we’ve made some friends for life. We finally made it home to where we belonged, and over the next couple of weeks we will have some time to reflect. Michelle can’t even think about it right now, there was so much that happened that it’s going to take a while to come to grips with it all. Karan our youngest was there see the whole ceremony, and that was blessing. We haven’t forced her, she’ll figure it out, she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. I pray that God reveals to her, his plan for her life, and that she can follow that.

There will be more to come, right now I’m so overwhelmed by the whole thing, I need to time to fully digest it all.

But we have arrived finally!!!

Thank You God…


When in Rome…

We did our practice run today for the sacrament of confirmation, as expected it was chaos. They spent at least 5 minutes debating the process, it seemed no one had the plan. So the Father wanted to it one way, the RCIA director another, and I just sat and waited. It was like watching your parents fight over the best route to get somewhere.

Again we got herded and treated like schoolchildren, I just kept quiet and did what I was told. Walk here, walk there, be in line, stay in order. Once things finally settled down, it was fine, but there was so much focus on the non-essentials that I worried that the essentials would get lost. That’s really been my complaint all along, we focus on the things that just don’t matter so much. And there is a tendency to gloss over the critical items, a friend who is going through the process said essentially the same thing. Her sponsor ran RCIA many years ago, and has been frustrated with the lack of depth in the program.

I would have made an agenda, had agreement before anyone showed up. Handed out the agenda and then just do a simple walk through, it could have been handled so much better. But that’s me, I over prepare, and I like to be organized and work through things first.

A humorous moment, was when we all stood for confirmation and then went back to our seats. The order got wrong and that caused confusion, I watched amused as they tried to solve the problem. Finally the RCIA director gave up and said “just sit back down, it doesn’t matter!!”. To which I smiled and said “She Gave Up!!!”, she laughed and asked for my certificate back, I told her she, the Father and I would need to talk about that! We all cracked up laughing, it was a good way to add some levity to the process. Father Len was very lighthearted which also helped.

We are ready, everything is in place, I won’t drop the host. Or spill the wine, I know what to say, and what to do. I’ve done my confession, I’ve spent time with my sponsor to make sure he knows I’m ready. I’m not a ceremony guy, I don’t really like all the pomp. But I’ll make an exception here, if done with reverence, I might even shed a tear or two. It’s been known to happen from time to time :)

And then we will be done, and what I am looking forward too the most, is on April 30th, at 5pm. We will do our first Communion at our new parish, with our new family there. The Church won’t be packed, it will be the small crowd. Mass will be quiet and dignified, and then I’ll finally feel home. That is what I have been waiting for, I’ll no longer be an interloper. I’ll be able to finally celebrate, I can’t wait. I’ll reserve my tears of joy until that time.


Royal Order of the Water Buffalos


Michelle and I met with our sponsor this week, and had a fabulous get together. John and I are on different planets, but we both come from protestant backgrounds and in that respect are alike, we also both tend to be bookworms.

A funny conversation came up about the KofC, I asked John what he knew about them and if he had actually joined. Because if there’s anyone I know would would, join it would be John. Sure enough, he was approached and to use his words, “joined to make someone else happy”. But it didn’t last, he did the “secret” ceremony, attended a couple of meetings, and then just lost interest. He said he didn’t need a hat with feathers, or a sword, and that it just wasn’t for him, and he really joined for the wrong reasons.

I told him about my experience, and how that I just can’t help but think of the Flintstones every time I see a KofC member. Maybe it’s a sin, but it just happens. By his expression I don’t think it ever had occurred to him before and we all got a good laugh out of it.

Again another blessing on this journey, I wanted to meet with John for the simple reason that we had not gotten together and I wanted him to know our progress. The official RCIA rules clearly state that the sponsors job is to affirm that the candidate(s) are fully ready to be received into the church. Honestly, to this point no one asked. So I took it upon myself to make sure that our entry into the Catholic Church was fully honest and that we got all the pieces right, it’s important if I’m going to commit. But we got so much more out the meeting, it was good to share fellowship with someone who had been there, laugh some and finally come to peace with this process.

Its Good Friday, we both have the day off and are just resting (well we have lots of little chores to do), but we are finally ready.  Yesterday I read an amazing article written by Jeff Dunn over at internet Monk:

The Death Of Jesus

I was sitting at work at the end of the day and this piece brought everything together for me, I was very happy with our reconciliation experience. But it didn’t match up with what others had told me about, I know that’s a dangerous thing to do, but I’m human after all. But this piece nailed it straight into my heart, it finally brought the message of salvation, grace and mercy all into a neat little package. And showed that the Catholic Church again, has the right of an issue that so many protestants just don’t understand, or worse don’t want to.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a simple faith, simple belief, and simple worship. The Parish we are joining, is very modern and austere, and it’s starting to impact my idea of worship. I still love a good Gothic style cathedral, but there is a certain beauty in a sparse presentation. Growing up around the desert, my family always talked about how that the desert was God’s handiwork, it took me years to figure that out. But I think they where right, this is something I’ll elaborate on later.

I’m two classes away from finishing Philosophy 101, it’s been fun. I get up every Saturday morning at six, eat breakfast and we run off downtown to Boise State University. I do 3 hours of mind bending study, and Michelle does the weeks grocery shopping. I had a friend tell me I would hate Saturday morning class, but boy was he wrong. I LOVE it, I get to argue about God, Philosophy and some great thinkers. I jump sides and argue from the atheist position, and generally just have a blast. And it’s really effected the way I look at my thought processes, the tests suck, but I’m test phobic by nature.

But I’m looking forward to being off for a while and just settling down a bit, I need a nap now :)




Coming Clean

We did our first reconciliation last night, this was the thing I was the most nervous about, and caused the most apprehension. Our group did a standard reconciliation service, with everyone going together as a single event. We just didn’t really feel comfortable with that. So we set up a private appointment at our local parish (RCIA is run at a different parish, which makes things a little confusing sometimes).

We arrived to a dark and empty church, oddly quiet and still. Father Chuey was already seeing the few that came for confession, so we sat and waited. Out of nowhere a woman approached us and started talking about her experience, it had been a long time since she had done a confession and was so moved she wanted to share. I think it was divine providence, what better example for someone doing this for the first time, nervous, scared, than to have a soul who was overflowing with joy at feeling so clean.

It made the waiting easier, I told Michelle that we must look like the church information service, because we always get approached with questions (and we aren’t official members yet). Michelle was going to go first, because I was still stressing about doing this. But God intervened and I got invited first, so with fear and trepidation I went in. I was so befuddled that I couldn’t even recall everything I needed to. So I covered the big ones, we talked, and the father, insightful as always. Told me to forgive myself, do my penance and move onto serving God. I would not say I was glowing when I left, but I wondered if Protestants actually understood what they where missing. The whole sacrament allowed me to move on, to start letting go of things that where poisoning my faith. I did feel cleaner, and I intend to do this again. It will now be part of my normal routine, what a blessing, and next time I’ll know what to say :)

Michelle and I when younger made some mistakes that have haunted us for years, finally we were able to get those out of the way. It had a big impact on us, Father Chuey showed such compassion in his advice and understanding and gently guided us through the whole process. So now on the other side, I’m finding again the simple beauty of the Catholic orthopraxy (right practice), my sponsor mentioned he goes once a quarter to confession. I’m thinking that’s not enough for all the trouble I can cause, and I like that our service was quiet and allowed me time to reflect and just be still.

We sat in the car and shed some tears together, finally able to put behind us things that have been on our hearts together for a long long time. We both feel like we are finally coming home, I only wish my Protestant brothers and sisters would stop and actually learn what the Catholic actually teaches, and be open to the blessing it has to offer. We are now believers in what the sacrament of reconciliation can really do in the lives of believers.

Now onto Easter Sunday and our finally partaking in the Eucharist, it’s been a long time getting here. And the journey is just beginning….


Into the final stretch

It’s Palm Sunday, we are one week away from completing our journey to the Catholic Church. We studied the creed Thursday which was actually pretty good, I enjoyed the history lesson and the story behind both the Apostles and the Nicene. It was good have to a class that stuck to the basics. But the other parts of the RCIA have really started to heat up, we have been told now at least 10 times what to wear on Easter Sunday. The schedule is so convoluted and twisted that I just gave up, and Michelle is in charge of making sure I show up at the right time at the right place (at least I know what to wear!).

Had it not been for our discussion with Fr Chuey, I would have stopped this ride on thursday night and just given up. Michelle has expressed the same frustration with the process that I have, we have been treated like 10 year olds from the very start. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but I can count on one hand the times we actually learned something deeper than an RCIC class would get. I’m pretty sure that after about the 3rd lecture on what to wear everyone (who is over 18) would have gotten the message of what to wear on Easter!, seriously! perhaps talking more about the REVERENCE for the Mass, and WHY we are there would accomplish the same goals.

So today we go to mass (our last as interlopers! ;), then we have a ‘retreat’ that lasts most of the day. To give you an idea of our mindset at the moment, we are honestly thinking that this retreat will just be another “How does that make you feel?” exercise, and have nothing to do with what we do next Sunday. When RCIA becomes about the how, and NOT about the why, you start to lose people. Honestly, as bad as this sounds. We just want to get it over, so we can finally worship at the Eucharist. We have friends who feel the same, the RCIA process has become a circus of ceremony, and the middle we feel lost and alone.

Last week marked one year since Michael Spencer (aka the Internet Monk) passed away, I know this seems like an odd statement to make while lamenting the RCIA process. But go with me on this, I found Michael Spencer at the suggestion of a fellow theology student. At the time we where searching for a home church. When I started reading his works, I was floored. Here is someone who understands why I don’t trust ‘Church People’, who understands the pain of someone who doesn’t measure up to fundamentalist standards. Who saw the evangelical circus for what is was, and didn’t mince words. I found Michael too late, he was already sick when I ran across his site and he passed away before I ever got to meet him. Michael’s wife Denise converted to Catholicism a few years back, and it was his writings on the Catholic faith that made me curious. He could never leave his baptist upbringing, but he did find the same reverence that we have found in the normal Catholic services.

Neither Michelle or I, would be here at all. If not for Michaels ability to say it like it is, to express the pain and frustration that we went through. Our road to rome really started with a minister who himself could not get past infant baptism, or the marian doctrines. But he loved Catholics, the same that he loved any of the other faiths. I guess you could say our journey to rome, started with a baptist preacher. And that’s a pretty amazing thought, at times we have felt compelled to do this, while I am frustrated at this point of the RCIA process. I desperately want to be on the other side and be a full member. I want to sign up for the Eucharistic ministry, and spend some time server the Church. And more than anything else, I want to reach out to Protestants interested in the Catholic Church and show them the depth and reverence of what it means to be Catholic.

Thank you God, for your Grace. For your church, and for using men like Michael Spencer to show us a way out of the Post-Evangelical Wilderness. I just want this to all be over, so I can share in the Eucharist. We have waited a long time, we are parched and tired. Next Sunday cannot come quickly enough…



Remnants of the old world…

Friday we sat down with our Parish priest to discuss some issues that caused us to question our going through the final ceremonies to join the Catholic church. The Father was very kind, and had some great advice that we have taken to heart. We decided based on the conversation, that going forward and joining the Church is the right thing for us to do. So a little less than two weeks and we will finally be able to partake in the Eucharist, we are very excited. It will be good to finally be through the RCIA process.

We spent friday evening eating a meal prepared by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization of men who honorably serve the Church and their community. Everything was going fine, until I was approached to join the KofC. Not once, but over the period of a few short hours, multiple times. It was incredibly uncomfortable, to the point that I had a very negative reaction to being so aggressively sold on membership. Because there’s nothing more pitiful than a man, sharing a friday dinner with his wife and not being part of a fraternal organization. I have nothing against the KofC, like it was pointed out to me multiple times, they do great work for their community.

But here’s the thing… So do the Mormons, and all the other faiths. The KofC has no proprietary claim on doing good for the community, or their Church. Any good christian person (Catholic or not), can do the same deeds, membership isn’t required.

The whole experience felt so ‘antiquated’, from the aggressive nature of the KofC member who sat at our table. To the shiny badge he and others wore, to just the way they carried themselves. If I didn’t know any better I would have assumed they were masons!, and they do some great work as well.

But I have never seen the need to be part of a fraternal order, or any society that keeps secrets to deepen my faith. Both Michelle’s Father and Grandfather where masons, and to be honest the whole thing seemed like a bunch of men who felt the need to part of something important (and wear silly hats). Membership made you a better person, and unfortunately fed a sense of false pride. I was doing a little research today on the KofC and the one thing that I heard over and over from KofC members. Was all the good that they did, as if that cleared them of any wrong doing, and made them pure and untouchable.No doubt they are a great organization of men, but they do have their secrets no matter how much they deny it. They make the same exact argument that the masons and other groups make for the secrecy of their ceremonies, that is to say that if the information is publicly known. Then it detracts from the impact of said ceremonies. One can find all kinds of straw man arguments, begging the question, and inductive reasoning to defend the secret parts of their ceremonies.

For me, as a protestant converting to Catholicism. The last thing I’m going to do is join *any* group, no matter how much good they do, if they can’t openly and honestly share what they do. The argument from my side is not about the content of the secret, it may be just 4 little ceremonies. It is the fact that in our modern world, we are surrounded by groups who spend all their time doing good. While harboring secrets like this. Like it or not, that doesn’t bode well for groups like the KofC. In my view it is unwise to simply trust that the ceremony is a good thing, if you can’t explain it to me in detail before I get there, then I want nothing to do with you.

The same thing applies to the RCIA process, in our discussion with the Father friday he shared the reasoning behind some of the things the RCIA does. Why we had to find that out at the very end, is simply beyond me!. We have grown increasingly frustrated with lack of information about the RCIA process, and at times we have both felt like the RCIA leaders where keeping us in the dark for our own good. I have learned more researching online about the RCIA, than I ever learned going through the process.

And that is something that the Church is going to have to address, there is a whole generation of people out there who have been hurt by ‘Christianity’. They no longer trust any organized religion, they still believe but they don’t want to be hurt again. Catholics for the most part seem blind to this movement, and that’s a shame. Because we have found the depth, and reverence we so desperately needed in the Mass and teachings of the church. There have certainly been some sticking points, and there will always be. But the Catholic Church has so much to offer, it just needs to wake and realize whats going on.

I think our single biggest frustration has been just how inane some of the RCIA process has been, at time we have honestly just gone through the motions to avoid causing problems. At some point the current process needs to be revisited, more than once I was ashamed at how bad it was. If you take a group of protestants, who are already nervous about Marian theology. And instead of actually making a biblical and historical case for it (which one can do), have a member of the Marian admiration society talk who has no idea what to say, other than to prattle on about Fatima. And your going to start losing people, I’m surprised more people haven’t abandoned the process.

Pope John Paul II, in his last cyclical talked about bringing the church into the modern age of communications. Pope Ratzinger is meeting with a group of bloggers, the day after John Paul II’s beatification (fitting). And I for one think both John Paul and the Holy See understand that the Catholic Church needs to start adapting to the modern age. Not compromise the message, but like the current Pope is doing, reach across the table and show the love of Christ to the rest of the Christian world. Groups like the KofC are going to have a hard time as we move into this new age, there are a lot more like me who don’t want anything to do with secrets or silly ceremonies anymore. We want the real thing, give me the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Or go away…

Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea for a T-Shirt!!!.



In Support Of Atheism

The idea that I as someone who believes in God would offer my support of Atheists may sound a little out there, but given the state of the Evangelical church today in America, I find that many times I side with with the non-believers more than the believers.

The reasons for this are pretty simple, there are some amazingly stupid things that go on in the name of Christ in this country. In many cases christianity is represented by some of the worst offenders, theives and con-men to be found anywhere. Pat Robertson and his prattling on about Haiti’s pact with the devil, Kent Hovind (known young earth creationist, KJV only nutcase and money launderer now doing time in prison), Benny Hinn and his ‘healing’ ministry, Baker and his swindling people dumb enough to give to him. To make matters worse today you can go into any modern Evangelical church and hear people talk about the evil’s of evolution and atheism, Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort are two that spend all their time pushing their anti-darwin agenda and doing aggressive street witnessing. A couple years ago they made a mockery of serious christians with their lame attempt to take on atheism on ABC, they essentially went to a gun fight with a butter knife. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard well meaning christian’s repeat utter nonsense about atheism and evolution without having even the slightest clue as to what they are really referring too.

No wonder we have so many people leaving the churches, the faith that Paul preached is nowhere to be found in today’s modern church. Instead you find sychophants who repeat the drivel that passes for biblical understanding, it’s embarrassing and does not represent the church the Apostles started. If you have doubts and ask hard honest questions your seen as a trouble maker, or you run smack dab into a wall of idiocy where you have to take things on ‘Faith’, I know believers today who will tell you they believe in Calvinism but have not the slightest idea what it really stands for. Christ said that we are to love God with our Heart, Soul and MIND (Matthew 27), but today we have churches full of people who can’t even tell you what they believe or why.

They know nothing of church history, nothing of how to actually read their bible, they run from Theology and instead sit and repeat all the nonsense they are told.

This is not to say that all Atheists are that much better, there just as many atheists who are just as polemic and idiotic. But in many cases you will find that the strongest atheists started out as believers who had questions, doubts and concerns. When they didn’t get their answers or got shunned (or worse), they turned and walked away.

I very much understand their position, because I’ve been there. I walked away, I challenged on all things that I could not find in my bible. Getting a straight answer was next to impossible, even something as benign as which version of the bible I read became an issue. I used a ‘New King James Version’ for years, it was basically the same version from 1811, just updated to sound like *normal* english. I challenged two KJV only ministers on why my version was wrong, one couldn’t answer the question and the other gave me a book that called any translation other than the KJV a satanic version (not only that, but it never ONCE, ever, showed any verse from the NKJV that was wrong, instead it just made huge blanket claims of evil translations). Great well thought out responses, I finally just walked away from the whole circus, and for a time became agnostic.