Monday, November 28

Cleaning out my closet

Yesterday, my husband did some rearranging of the furniture in our loft. When he did, I realized I had a huge section of one of my small bookshelves with different copies of LDS literature, plus a couple of small books. I ended up throwing the small books away, and putting the scriptures in with my journals.

I replaced the books with my copy of the Catechism, and my bible and my Sunday missal. It felt good to do that.

I find myself identifying with being Catholic more and more as the days go by. I wish I could go to Mass more, I wish I could go to more classes to learn about the church. But for now, I will go to RCIA and go to mass on the weekends.

I am really enjoying being a Catholic. I don't know how to describe it actually, except I feel like a different person. I don't know if my countenance has changed, as the Mormons would say, but I do feel different. I don't think my husband minds the changes in me.

I wish I could have more of an Opus Dei type attitude about things (not that I have any desire to join). I wish I could see the sacredness in everyday activities. For example, I wish I could see the sacredness in cleaning my bathroom and scooping the litter boxes. I would love to be able to find spiritual motivation in doing the mundane tasks of everyday life.

Missing church

This past week, there was no RCIA class, and I was at my mother's house, so I wasn't able to go to Saturday mass like I usually do. I seriously missed going to church. I did make it home in time to go to the Sunday mass at St. Jude's, but I didn't go to the second mass at the Cathedral because there was no RCIA gathering.

I feel so comforted when I go to church. I feel like I could pray for hours there.

My friend L wasn't at church yesterday, I imagine she was probably traveling for the holidays. We had a substitute preacher, who was very fun to listen to. He's not a native English speaker, and he had a fun accent.

Tuesday, November 22

Coming out of the Catholic Closet

This whole process of converting to Catholicism so feels like I'm coming out of the closet ...

"I've always known I was Catholic. Even growing up in a Mormon church, I felt an attraction to St. Thomas Moore Catholic church up the street. I was fortunate to grow up knowing a Catholic or two, but my parents always made sure I knew that being Catholic was wrong.

When I got into college, my parents moved into a town that had a gorgeous cathedral in a monk's abbey. I never had the nerve to go in, but I drove by, and even bought a rosary, although I never showed it to my mom.

In college, I experimented with Catholicism a lot. Not more than most kids experimenting with all kinds of things in college - Baptists, Church of Christ ... it was some crazy times. I even went to a few RCIA classes. Of course, it was all on the down-low. I never told anyone. There were a few people who were openly Catholic, and I truly envied them.

Once I got out of college, I started focusing on my career and my social life, and religion got put on the back burner. But when I'd go to a Catholic wedding, or drive by a gorgeous Catholic church, I could feel something stir inside of me.

When I moved to where I currently live, I knew there was a Catholic church, just down the street! In the same block! For a long time, I fought my attraction to it. But after going to yet another Catholic wedding, I could no longer deny my feelings. Once I admitted to myself the truth about my feelings and first entered the little Catholic church on my street, I knew I was home.

So I'm coming out. I'm Catholic. I can't deny it anymore. I'm going to RCIA classes. I carry a Rosary. I pray. I go to mass every Saturday and every Sunday. I'm no longer going to deny a part of me that I've been hiding for most of my life.

I'm here, I'm Catholic, get used to it!"

Daily Mass

I wish that it was fairly convenient to go to daily Mass. I wish that there was a place around here where I could pop out during my lunch hour. Or go after work, around 5p.

I really enjoy the mass, even when I can't participate fully because I am only a catechumenate. There is a noon mass at St. Jude's, but since I work in Grand Prairie, it's not feasable that I go to it. Maybe I'll do some research and see if there's a chapel in north Arlington. I know there's a convent in Grand Prairie pretty close to here, but they have morning Mass, and I'm pretty sure that's just for the nuns and not for the lay person to attend.

I'm looking forward to going to mass at St. Jude's on my vacation, because I can go every day, and meditate before and after Mass if I need to or want to. I can even say the Rosary if I want in the little chapel. I might actually do that.

Road Block

It's really easy to be religious when everything is going well and everything is wonderful. It's harder when life's little baubles get in the way.

Long story short, I have a job, but my boss said that due to some impending company changes, there's a good chance my job is going to go away, and I might want to look around the company to see if there are any other positions I might want to have. I should be OK for at least six months, and I may have a job for up to a year. But once we change the inventory system to be compliant with the parent company, the reporting functions that are my current job are going to be incorporated into the financial end of the company, which means that there won't be enough duties to justify my position. I'm not being laid off or fired, I'm just being encouraged to take the next step in my career before the decision is made for me.

I was planning on going back to school to get my MBA in the Spring while staying in my current position while I get my degree, and then in 2-3 years, taking my MBA and getting a financial job with another division of my company. (There are some advantages for working for a big multinational company). This change has totally derailed my life plans for the next two years.

It's not a bad thing, it's just that my plans are shifting.

Now, I know that there will be advantages. I will probably get a raise when I move, and there honestly isn't anywhere for me to move in this business unit of my company. This is why I was planning on pursuing my MBA, so I would be more marketable in different divisions of my company. I've been in my current position for over four years, and honestly, I'm ready for a change. My position has gotten stale, and I've known that I'm ready to move on. While I'm stressed about the change, I'm not really that sad.

There is also another major advantage of going into a new job at a new location. At this job, many of my friends know me as the agnostic uber-liberal. I've been terrified of "coming out" to anyone here about going to RCIA classes. I doubt I would be judged, but it's still a situation that makes me nervous. If I end up at a new job, I can feel free to at least tell people I'm Catholic, and feel comfortable wearing a cross necklace or something.

I was set to be able to handle RCIA classes and college at the same time. But I can't handle college and a new job. Plus I don't want to take out a 401K loan for college tuition and books, and then end up taking a job with another company and owing all that money and taxes. So basically, going back to school is on hold.

This is very frustrating to me because the whole reason I want to go back to school is to take my career to the next step. I want to do something different, more challenging. And now it looks like I'm going to be doing the same thing as I was doing (Administrative work), only at a different division of my company. Plus I'm going to put off doing the one thing that's going to allow me to do what I really want to do - going back to school.

The whole situation has me really frustrated. I've been praying about it, and I truly feel that things will end up the way they're supposed to end up. But this feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop has never been one that I've liked. Having job insecurity is about the worst feeling in the world.

The point of this whole experience is that it's hard to be spiritual for me when I'm scared like this. It's hard to want to focus on church and on RCIA and on prayer when I'm not sure where I'm going to be working. I want to pray about my own personal spiritual growth, but this job situation is forefront on my mind. Again, this job situation is derailing my plans. And it really irks me.

Monday, November 21

Rite of Acceptance

It was a very nice weekend as far as going to church goes. I spoke a while longer with Linda after Sunday mass. Come to find out, her family is Seventh Day Adventist, so this is definitely going to be a shock to them when she tells them about converting to Catholocism.

I followed along a bit more during the Latin mass on Saturday. It is a very lovely mass.

During the Sunday mass at St. Jude's, my allergies were just going bonkers because of the incense. I called in my allergy medicine refill today, so hopefully my nose will not be as runny next week. But I do want to bring an actual handkerchief to that mass from now on just in case my nose starts running like a faucet. The paper tissue gets everywhere when my nose runs that much.

The Rite of Acceptance was very beautiful. My sponsor ended up not being too bad at all. And my husband joined the service, which made me feel better about things. I don't necessarily want or need him to come to church with me every week, but it's nice when he comes to the big thing. The Rite of Acceptance ceremony was very beautiful and moving. The blessing was sung by the priest and there was a band playing musing along with it, so it made it a very neat experience. After the ceremony and the biggest part of the mass, we went to a separate room and had a meeting called Breaking of the Word. Most of us were pretty quiet in there, but it was still worth my time.

It's so different going to the cathedral compared to going to St. Jude's. St. Jude's seems to be a small family, but the Cathedral seems so large. It's very beautiful though, ornate and what you would expect a Catholic church to look like. They both have their strong and weak points. I like the priest a lot better at St. Jude's, but I love the ceremony of the Cathedral. I'm thankful I have both of these options.

L is seriously considering being a Carmelite nun or a Dominican nun. Both of those orders are "cloistered" orders, which means she signs up and doesn't leave again except for doctors appointments. She would spend her days learning and praying. Currently she goes to bed at 8p and wakes up at 1a and starts praying. That's dedication for you right there.

I bought a rosary on Saturday. I don't know if I'm ready to pray the rosary on a daily basis, but I do know that it comforts me to have it with me. It's like proof of my efforts, if that makes sense.

The more I learn about this church, the more I feel like I'm doing the right thing. Maybe it's what's been missing that I've been looking for. I don't know for sure. But I feel better and better with each day that I pray and read.

Wednesday, November 16


The day started out pretty lousy, and it keeps on getting worse. I need sleep. I'm going to talk to my boss and see if I can get out of here early. I feel pretty lousy.

RCIA Tonight

I'm anxious about going to RCIA tonight. I'm hoping I can sneak out of here early and take a little nap before class. I get to meet my "sponsor" today, and that's pretty exciting. I hope I don't end up with some fuddy duddy. I'll work with what I get, though.

I feel under the weather today, which is why I want to take a nap so bad. I hope I get feeling better soon.

Monday, November 14

Understanding sin

For the most part, for the past few years or so anyway, I've been living what I consider to be a "good" life. I'm married, so no Naughty sins, I don't drink much, I don't do drugs, I don't steal. That kind of thing.

But over the past few weeks or so, the more I learn about the Catholic church, the worse I feel about "sin." There are principles that I've learned about the Catholic church where my mind is having a serious wrestling match. My uber-liberal mind is going, "Ok, now you know that's silly." But my Catholic mind is saying, "Ok, but it also makes sense in quite a few ways. Isn't it possible it's not all right (or all wrong)?"

It's even embarrasing for me to admit how my mind is changing. I feel like my outside is still the same, but my inside is doing a 83 degree turn (not quite 180, but still making changes). It's odd because I feel like I'm almost having a secret life, away from my co-workers, my friends, even my husband to some extent. I've only told three people I'm going to a Catholic church - my husband, my best friend, and a good friend at work. That's it. And only my husband knows about RCIA and my intentions of learning much more about the church.

I feel so comfortable at church. I really enjoy hearing the homily and going through the rituals at Mass. I even like the Latin mass they have at St. Jude's chapel on Saturday, where I'm not totally sure what's going on. But I'm trying to learn.

I've seen some argumentative things about the church (pre vs post Vatican II, for example, and the Tridentine vs Novus Ordo). But it seems to be within the Catholic church, and all seem to still support the Pope and the Catechism, even if they don't support the changes. Other than those minor problems, I've had an excellent time learning about things.

I only hope that my change is not so drastic I start to scare the people who I care about the most. I know if any of my closest friends had made the changes I'm making at any point, I'd be seriously concerned. Well, I say that, but my best friend and his boyfriend have started to go to church every week, and there's pictures of Christ and crosses all over his house now. Of course, his church is MUCH more "liberal" than the Catholic churches I have been attending. I'm just happy he's found a church where he feels happy. And his boyfriend seems to really like the church, too.

Sunday, November 13

Saturday Mass

Saturday's mass was very uplifting. During the homily, the priest talked about how prayer works, but you have to help yourself at the same time. God can answer your prayer, but sometimes he has to work through other people.

After the mass, I met the lady who sits behind me. Her name is L, and she is a catechuminate like I am (or will be). After she receives her baptism and eucharist, she is going to become a "consecrated virgin". In other words, she takes this becoming Catholic thing VERY seriously. She seems to be a nice lady. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.

Thursday, November 10

RCIA - Day 1

I finally managed to get a hold of someone at the Cathedral down the street. I asked them when the RCIA classes would start, and they said to come on down at 7p last night. So I did.

The parking lot was crowded, but I made it before the classes start. They have a bilingual gathering before the group splits into English and Spanish classes. (The Cathedral has a very large Spanish-speaking part of their congregation). The class had about 12 or so people who were not baptized, and a few couples where one spouse was getting baptized. There were a few who were going for all three sacraments (baptism, confirmation, eucharist), and a few who only needed confirmation or eucharist.

The teachers are a Deacon and his wife. I got to find out what a Deacon was, and quite a bit about the conversion process. They are going to do a Rite of Acceptance for our class on November 20th, a week from Sunday. That means that I will get a special blessing that will set me aside as a catechumenate, or a person who is in the process of learning about the church.

After I become a catechumenate, I will need to go to mass every Sunday at noon at the Cathedral. I will sit at the front of the chapel with members of my class, and after the homily, I will receive a special blessing, and depart the church with my group. We will then learn about the Word of God that was read in the church earlier.

Next week, during the RCIA meeting, I will receive a sponsor, a special companion during my journey to entering the Catholic church. Kind of like a Godparent or "big sister".

During the process of learning, I will have a few more rites, and if everything goes smoothly, I will be baptized as a Catholic during an Easter vigil.

I really like the RCIA teachers. I like that I have plenty of time to learn and think about this before I commit to baptism. I'm very grateful that my husband is being understanding about my desire to take this spiritual journey. I'm super grateful that I was able to sneak into the class right before the Rite of Acceptance was administered, so I can stay with the class during almost the entire process.

I can still attend St. Jude's chapel on weekdays and 9a Mass if I really felt the need. And once I'm baptized, I can start going there as my "home" church. But I'll definitely need to be going to the Cathedral every Sunday as well. I still want to be able to keep a presence with St. Jude while I'm going through this process, as the energy and spirituality that I feel at St. Jude's is one of the big motivating factors of me wanting to learn about becoming Catholic.

Monday, November 7

Letter to local parish

I wrote a letter today to the Cathedral parish. I basically gave them the run down about my past, and asked a few questions. I really would like to start RCIA classes, and start actually talking to a Catholic about all of these questions that I have. We'll see if the e-mail address is still good. I got it off of the Catholic Diocese page.

Sunday, November 6

Sunday Mass

Today's mass was I guess what I should expect from most masses at St. Jude. It was a nice mass, great homily, kind of quiet. I knelt during the eucharist prayers and at the end my knee didn't hurt. But I kind of sat back, and it seemed to relieve the pressure on my knees.

I talked to the father about RCIA classes, and sure enough I have to go down to the big downtown Cathedral. I'm worried because their RCIA classes are on Wednesday night. I am going back to school in the spring, and it's entirely possible I'll have to take a class that night. If that happens, I'll see if I can get permission to take RCIA classes on Sunday from another parish.

Saturday, November 5

Saturday Mass - in Latin!

I decided to go to noon mass today at St. Jude Chapel in downtown Dallas. I like to get there a little early because that way I have my choice of where to sit.

I got a little scared when I walked in the door, because I saw a sign that said that the noon mass was going to be in Latin. I have enough time following what's going on without having English as the language. But I decided to go in anyway. There were about 10 people or so in there already, praying a Rosary. I sat quietly down and listened to the rosary being prayed. Once that was over, there was about 5 minutes of just total silence. It was very nice.

The service itself was not as confusing as I thought it would be. They had a little book that had the service in English and then in Latin right next to it, so I could follow along. The scripture readings and homily were in English. The priest talked about the scripture where you cannot serve God and Mammon (money). I really like his homilies. They're clear and consice and don't get too preachy. Then the rest of the mass was in Latin, but I just listened to what was going on and enjoyed the serenity.

There's a lady that has been there a couple of times who sits in the back corner, who looks like she may be a nun or a nun-in-training. I like sitting where I sit because I can hear her say the people's part of the mass very clearly, so it helps me know what's going on.

Friday, November 4

Catholic Blogs (aka "The religion is great, but the people ...

Out of solidarity for my fellow bloggers who might be Catholic, I decided to seek some of them out and see what they had to say. I was very saddened by what I found. I like looking at the religion sites, talking about the love of God and Christ, and the beauty of the eucharist and liturgy, and the tradition of the 2000 year old church. But when I go to Catholic blogs, all they talk about is homosexuality and abortion and super conservative rants.

I can understand why they would believe that both of those things could be a sin (although I don't necessarily agree with it). But it's sad that so many people worry about the speck that is in their neighbor's eye without taking into consideration the beam in their own eye. I know I'm not perfect, but I don't see the need to be pointing out the imperfection in others and not worrying about my own problems.

Yes, we are taught to teach others the way of Christ, and to teach them good from bad and whatnot. I also remember a part about judge not lest ye be judged. But these Catholic blogs just don't seem to understand that part.

I imagine it's hard to talk about the lessons learned in everyday life, and it's much easier to talk about their happiness of the new SCOTUS nominee (who is Catholic) or the new Homosexuality laws on the book.

But what attracts me to the Catholic religion is the simplicity and the fact that they talk about Jesus and God, and the fact that the church is in pretty much the same form as it has been for many many years (Vatican II not withstanding). I love the tradition and the unity of the members during Mass.

But if this is the attitude of most Catholics, I'm going to have to be a rather solitary worshipper.

Thursday, November 3

Knee problems

What does a person do who wants to show respect while in church, but has a bad knee? I've been having knee problems this week. Maybe I should pray for my knee to be healed so I can kneel at church.

Wednesday, November 2

The Journey Begins

This past Sunday morning I woke up bright and early, eager to experience religion live for the first time in quite some time. I decided to try the two different Catholic churches downtown. First, I decided to go to St. Jude, the small chapel about a block from my house. The chapel is actually really neat. They've got these sweeping ceiling inverted arches - almost like the Atari logo - it's hard to describe. There is a huge tile mural of Jesus behind the altar, and the chapel was small enough that I got many good whiffs of incense. The service's focus was on St. Jude, the patron saint of the chapel. When I heard that St. Jude was the patron saint of lost causes, I figured I was in the right place.

The people around me all seemed to be very into the service. I enjoyed that quite a bit. At one point, I got kind of lost with what was going on, and the man next to me handed me a piece of paper which had the St. Jude prayer they were reciting.

It was espcially neat because they talked about how the church had been around for 30 years, and how most of the priests there were kind of new, but they were doing the best they could. Everyone was so reverent, not quiet, if that makes sense. There were a few families with small children, but there were also many couples and a few older people.

I really enjoyed that service. There was a lot of latin in that service, and most of the crowd seemed to be participating reverently yet enthusiastically. The parents impressed the importance of reverence onto the kids, and many were wearing the giveaway plaid that made me realize they were getting a Catholic education. The man doing the reading during the service was very passionate in his reading, and the homily was really great, full of impact, and yet not too long.

To get a feel of what a different Catholic church might be like, I hiked up to the big Cathedral a few blocks up the street. I walked by First Baptist Church and First Methodist Church, and thought about the other churches downtown as well. I know there's a First Presbytarian church downtown, and a few "Gospel Ministries" as well who minister to the homeless people.

I got to the Cathedral at 11:30a for the Noon service. The earlier Spanish-speaking session was not over, so I waited outside. The service was so packed that there were people spilling out into the entrance foyer. Finally, the service let out and I could get into the chapel. The chapel was very beatiful, with stained glass windows and carvings of the stations of Christ. It's got to have an 100 foot high ceiling at least. The seats were not padded and were very uncomfortable. I sat by myself, but it seemed as if there were people in every pew, even though they weren't packed in there were lots of people.

The service started differently than the other service because they had a ... I know it's not Cantor, because that's Jewish, but a lady at the front who led the singing and conducted the first 10-15 minutes of service with music. They had two separate priests, one who did the big Jesus reading, and the one who did the homily. The homily was very over-the-top. The priest definitely knew he had to preach to a large crowd. He told stories of when he first became a priest, and loosely tied it into the reading from Malachi at the end.

I didn't want to sit through the Eucharist ceremony again, as my butt was hurting from the wood pews and I had already decided I liked the small church much better. So I left right after the homily and went home.

I feel very comfortable in that little chapel down the street. I checked out what kind of bibles they had, but I think for now my little King James Version from the Mormons (free, and having no footnotes or concordance) will work just fine. When I was at Half-Price books last night, I got a book on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so I can read about what the Catholics believe and why. I have the Bible to read and to use as a reference, but apparently the Catholic bible has a few extra books that the Protestant bibles don't have so eventually I'll probably have to get one.

I definitely want to go back next week. I'm slightly concerned because I don't think they have RCIA classes there (basically sunday school for non-members who are considering converting), and I think eventually I'd like to learn more. Not necessarily convert, but learn more. I'll go to church a few times, and if I still feel I want to learn more, I'll talk to the priest about it. He seems like a nice gentleman.

My Religious Life Thus Far

I am a 34 year old married Reporting Analyst from Dallas, TX. I have suddenly been smacked over the head with the desire to find God. So far, no luck. But I'm trying really darn hard.

I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons or the LDS church. I was LDS until I was about 21. Although I had not put a whole lot of thought into it, I was pretty certain it was true. Then, long story short, I got a hold of some "anti" literature, read anti literature like a fiend, and became "inactive" in the church.

After my inactivity in the church, I started going to the Catholic church and attending RCIA classes. I never had any formal initiation into the church, nor did I go to classes for very long. But I knew I was drawn to the Catholic church.

For whatever reason, I can't remember what (it probably involved my social life), I stopped going. I got out of college, and dabbled in Wicca for about a year or so. While I never joined a coven, I read like crazy about it. I also attended a Unitarian Universalist church for a while.

When I hit 27, I decided to give the Mormon church one more try. Just one. I went to a singles ward, paid tithing, prayed constantly and fervently, held callings, and even went through the temple to receive my endowments. This is a very serious commitment for any Mormon to take. I did this for three years and - nothing. No validation of God, or of Christ, or of the truth of the church.

Soon after my final bout of inactivity, around 2001, I met my husband. We dated, we got married. He's a baptized Catholic, but never went to church, and was only baptized to appease his grandparents on his mother's side. As a couple, we've only attended church maybe a dozen times, to my parent's Mormon church, to a local Mormon church (during a time of extreme crisis), and to a couple of Catholic weddings. We did try to go to a Unitarian church, but that didn't work at all either.

Over the past year or so, I've been doing a fairly active search on religions. I've researched Buddhism, which I still like theoretically. But I thought I'd try going to the little Catholic church down the street from where I live first.

This is how my story begins. I'll blog about my journey, my thoughts and my actions in this blog. Thanks for listening.