Tuesday, January 31

2006 Catholic Blog Awards

The Catholic Blog Awards are accepting nominations until February 3rd. If any of you that are reading this enjoy this blog, I'd love to be nominated for "Best New Blog." Because I'm new, I don't have many readers, but it sure would be nice to be nominated. I promise I'll get the IE bugs worked out soon, and the graphics and content will stay top-notch. :)

Ok, enough self-promotion. You should definitely also check out some of the blogs at St. Blog's Parish to see what other Catholic blogs are out there, and maybe you could even nominate one or two.

Victory Arts Center in Fort Worth

My husband and I live in a 100+ year old building that used to be a department store and offices, and has been renovated to be "hip, urban lofts." We love living in renovated buildings and we also love touring other lofts and renovated buildings.

When I heard about the Victory Arts Center in Fort Worth, I was just dying to see it. The web site has some amazing pictures of what the convent used to be.

So when my husband Dan and I were driving around in Fort Worth this past weekend, we decided to see if we could find this place and check it out. After much searching (and a little help from "Google" on our cell phones), we were able to find it. (HINT: To get there, take I-35W South to the Barry Street exit, drive down to about the 800 block, turn left and go two or so blocks, and you'll run into Shaw. They're at 801 Shaw.)

We ended up getting there just a little before midnight. While they have blocked off resident parking, there is just a simple low gate keeping cars from driving in. There is no security guard, no secure entry, no type of covering. We could have gone up and totally broken into the cars. The lack of security was amazing considering the fortress we live in. We were very surprized to find the front doors unlocked and with no security, so we were able to just waltz right in and had a run of the place.

While the finish out was very nice, there were very few reminders of the grandeur that the place must have been in its heyday. The chapel had been completely gutted and the stained glass that was in there was an obvious replacement over what had been there before. There were a few small architechtural clues that the building was old, but virtually none that prove it used to be Catholic, at least on the inside. I think they wasted a great opportunity to really feature this building.

While the building was rather unique, its complete lack of security and total waste of potential made it a huge disappointment as a "dream place" to live. There was a very small building next to the center, which I assume is the "Old Nun's Home" where the last of the OLV nuns live. I'd love to talk with them and hear what stories they have to tell about their building.

Daily Mass Possibilites

I am still looking for a place to go to daily mass. I don't have many options near where I live, because I live in downtown Dallas. There are two different daily masses in English within walking distance of my house, but they are both at Noon. Since I work in Grand Prairie (30 minutes away), I can't go to either of those. There is a mass at 7:30p at St. Peter's, which is a small Polish parish in Uptown. So the mass may be in Polish, or it may be in English. There is a 7p mass at the Cathedral each night, but it's in Spanish.

Going to mass near work only has a few options as well. There's a convent right on the way to work in Grand Prairie, but their masses are at 7a each day. That would mean I would have to leave for there by 6:20a each morning. I have a seriously hard time getting up before 7:15a, so this would be a pretty serious struggle for me. I went to a parish in Irving last Friday, and they have Communion Service M-W-F and Mass on T-TH at 5:30p, with Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7p on Thursdays. I think I could fit that into my schedule. However, the Communion Service is like Mass Lite - no priest, no homily, lots of the prayers removed, no Liturgy of the Eucharist and distribution of the hosts by a lay person. This just doesn't seem ... Kosher, as it were. The only truly positive point about the communion service is that they say a Rosary and a Divine Mercy chaplet after the mass is over, so the benefits of saying those every day would be good. Of course, that would also mean getting home even later than I already do.

Other than those two options, there's nowhere near where I work to go to Mass. If I want to get totally Opus Dei, I could to to the Latin Mass at 6a every morning at St. Thomas Aquinus, but again, remember what I said about not being able to get up early.

I already go to Saturday mass at St. Jude's, so I am going to Mass at least two times a week, and more often than not I go to both St. Jude's and the Cathedral on Sundays.

At any rate, I'll figure it out and post to all of you. I might go to the mass tonight in Irving.

Monday, January 30

Convalidation Saga - Part II

(Here's a letter that I sent to my RCIA teacher today)

I spoke with DD from the Diocese's Marriage Ministries office this morning to verify that Dan and I were enrolled in the Convalidation Prep class this Saturday, February 4th, and we are. DD mentioned that there was going to be a group Convalidation ceremony this Sunday at 5p and suggested that we would be good candidates for this. She said she'd be willing to help this week with the paperwork so we could participate. I'm willing and Dan's willing - does this sound like something you feel would be in our best interest?

I know the original plan was to see if Fr. C [from St. Jude's] could possibly do the convalidations, but he's going into surgery on February 7th to repair a herniated disk in his neck, and there's no telling how long his recovery might be. Plus DD said that she wasn't sure if that was something that they could do in the Chapel because they are not a parish. So this sounds like a very nice alternative to the original plan. DD also said that Bishop G would be there and everything, plus they'll even have a little reception afterwards (Free cookies!). Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

Has Deacon L gotten Dan's baptismal certificate mailed to him from Blessed Sacrament in Madison yet? If not, DD said she'd give them a call and see if she could get a copy faxed to her this week so that she can do the paperwork.

The only other issue about doing the Convalidation this week is that there is a rehearsal at 7:30p Wednesday, which is during our RCIA class. Would it be OK if I only went to part of the class this week?

Anyway, how does this all sound to you?

Super Swell New Template

If I told you how much work went into this new template, you'd think I was a weird gal. So I'll spare you the details. All I'm saying is that if you can ever figure the thing out, Photoshop ROCKS! I made the new logo (modeled after a cover of the Book of Mormon cover, in case you haven't seen one before) in Photoshop, and then textured the background to make it look like a cover. I formatted the text of the entries to look like entries in the Book of Mormon. And the links - well, I did what I could to make them not too scary.

I hope everyone likes the template. Now all I have to do is start producing some interesting substance, and we'll be in bidness! :)

Saturday, January 28

Catholics make good Mormons, but do Mormons make good Catholics?

I heard constantly growing up that "Catholics make the best Mormons". So something I've been pondering is, do Mormons make good Catholics?

Being raised Mormon, virtually all of my religious experience has been through the Mormon church. I've attended UU ceremonies 3-4 times, Presbytarian services 4-5 times (my uncle is a minister), and a charismatic church once. That was a hoot. I'd been to quite a few Catholic services in college, when I was considering converting to Catholicism back in 1992.

The actual Mass service verses sacrament meeting has many differences. For example, Jesus is mentioned multiple times in a Catholic meeting, whereas you hear a lot about how to be a good Mormon in the Mormon church. I've learned more about the stories in the Gospels in the 3-4 months I've been studying Catholicism than I did in years and years of being Mormon. And when we studied the Bible in the Mormon church, it was compared to the "truths" in the Book of Mormon more often than not.

There aren't a lot of "Sunday School" actities for adults in the Catholic church like there is in the Mormon church. You only have to be there one hour a week instead of three hours a week. But they do have RCIA programs for new memebers, which I'm currently enrolled in, and I am encouraged to participate in daily masses. They also have many different things like choirs and "third order" lay organizations that can help you learn more about your faith. I never got much out of Relief Society except in a social way. They mostly taught about prophets and how to be a good Sister, wife and mother. Well, I was single at the time, so it was completely useless for me.

Then there's the Day to Day Catholic vs the Day to Day Mormon. Mormons are encouraged to pray, but Mormon prayers are very into Thanksgiving and Petition prayers. You can tell a Mormon a mile away from the way he prays, the words he uses, and his stance when he prays (Mormons pray with their arms folded). Catholics can be as simple as a Hail Mary or Our Father, or they can pray personal petitions, or they can be as involved as the Liturgy of the Hours. While Mormons are encouraged to pray constantly, Catholics teach exactly how to do it. I have discovered the beauty of Common Prayer (prayers already written that are recited by members of the Catholic church). When I cook, I follow a recipe. When I do crafts, I follow instructions. Sometimes, after I've cooked a dish a while, I can make a similar dish that has some of the same ingredients, but has a distinct flavor, but I always go back to the recipe at times. For me, that is what Common Prayer is. It's a guide, from people who have done it before me. And it helps me so much, becuase being Catholic, I'm having to learn to pray all over again.

Another difference is that Catholics respect and venerate Saints, but Mormons have church leaders and prophets that they discuss for the exact same reasons. Any Mormon who has wondered about why Catholics venerate saints has never celebrated Pioneer day or experienced a Sacrament meeting dedicated to the birthday of Joseph Smith. I would venture to say that Mormons talk about prophets and leaders much more that Catholics would ever talk about Saints.

Then there's the day-to-day stuff. In the Homily, the preacher talks about how to draw closer to Christ by prayer, by following Christ's examples in his life, and by following the examples of the saints who have walked this path before us. But the Mormon church CONSTANTLY talks about ways to be a "good Mormon" You have to pray, morning, night, and with your family. Tithing 10% of your gross salary is required, of course, and you will be asked about this before being given a Temple Recommend. Scripture study is always good as well, and it is recommended that you read the Book of Mormon at least once each year. You have to attend church each week (the full 3 hour block), and accept any callings given to you by the church and fulfill them to the best of your responsibility. Oh, and don't forget to have your 72-hour kit. And you should journal every day. Oh, and geneology is very important so that temple work can be done for your ancestors. And only listen to uplifting music and watch uplifting movies, and be a good housewife and a good priesthood holder and ... it goes on forever. It's so HARD to be a good Mormon.

With the Catholic church, you get out of it what you put into it. If all you do is go to Mass each week, you will get benefit out of it, but not as much benefit as if you pray every day. There are so many ways to worship Christ and adore him and draw closer to him in the Catholic church. I never ever saw these things in the Mormon church. Even in the Temple the most sacred place on earth for Mormons, the talk about Jesus was kept to a minimum, and there was only one prayer in the entire ceremony. There is more prayer in the first part of Mass (Liturgy of the Word) than there is in a typical Mormon endowment ceremony. And the Catholic church encourages a daily examination of conscience and has the wonderful blessing of the Sacrmaent of Reconciliation. I was forever afraid that I was going to go to the Terrestrial Kingdom because I forgot to repent for a glass of tea I drank. Learning how to do this daily examination of conscience has been a great blessing to me. And having a version of it right there in Mass is also very helpful.

So do Mormons make good Catholics? So far, yes and no. I find it very easy to do the Catholic things, and learn about being Catholic, and read about Catholicism, and learn about the saints and Mary. Going to Mass one hour a Sunday seems like a pittance compared to the work I used to have to do as a Mormon. But sometimes it's hard for me to get my mind around the most basic Catholic concepts, specifically the Trinitarian nature of God. I'm over the culture shock, but there was quite a culture shock.

But so far, I would be willing to say that Mormons make great Catholics, as long as they keep an open mind about the Catholic teachings and take the time to not only focus on "being Catholic" (which is very easy to do considering all the time spent learning how to be a "good Mormon"), but to stop and pray the simple prayers, and ask for the simplest of things like to be closer to God. It's so simple - praise God and beg for his divine mercy. If the basics are followed, all the extra stuff is just gravy.

Thursday, January 26

I wrote the letter, but will I have the nerve to send it?

Written with much help from the Mormon No More web site

Member Records, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310

Dear Sirs:

This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs and “discipline”. As I am no longer a member, I want my name permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.

I have given this resignation considerable thought, and have done much research and contemplation to help me reach this very personal decision. I understand what you consider the “seriousness” and the “consequences” of my actions. I am aware that the church handbook says that my resignation “cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings”. I also understand that I will be “readmitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview”. (quotes taken from the current Church Handbook of Instructions) I will not be dissuaded and I will not change my mind on this matter.

Also effective immediately, I expect absolutely no contact from the church, with the exception of a single letter of confirmation to let me know that I am no longer listed as a member of the church.

For clarification, the definition of “no contact” specifically includes no home visits - no missionaries, no visiting teachers, no home teachers, no priesthood leaders, no Relief Society leaders - no members of the church at all should make an attempt to visit me at my home. I also expect no phone calls to my personal cell number by any of these people. I am fully aware of my legal rights and will not hesitate to procure legal aid if I am contacted in any way by members of the church or if my confidentiality in this resignation is violated.

My resignation should be processed immediately, and should be handled without the standard 30-day “waiting period”. There should be no delay whatsoever in processing this resignation from either the central administrative membership office or the local church leadership.

I expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect and with full confidentiality.



Leaving the Mormon church for good

The one and only obsticle of joining the Catholic church for me is getting the nerve to tell my Mormon mother that I have decided to become Catholic. My mother has been Mormon virtually my whole life, and still believes in the church. She's somewhat active, although she does take a Sunday off or two to do personal things with family and whatnot. She still smokes and drinks coffee, which are huge No-No's in the church.

I don't think she's anti-Catholic per se, it's just that TBM's (true-believing Mormons) believe that once you've gone through the temple, you're pretty much as committed as you can get. And I've been through the temple. I took out my temple endowments, which is a HUGE HUGE thing in the Mormon church. So for me to not only stop wearing my garments, but to completely renounce my Mormon heritage and convert to Catholicism would be quite a shock to her.

But I have to be baptized a Catholic. I feel very strongly that I have to do this. There's not a lot of Want involved in this - it's like a compulsion at this point. I have to do whatever it takes to be closer to Christ. I want to have my name taken off of the records of the Mormon church, but I fear that if I do, my mother will find out and be very unhappy. Plus if they find out that I am leaving the Mormon church to become Catholic, they might excommunicate me. Now, I don't mind that per se, as long as they stated on my paperwork that I was excommunicated due to herecy because I was converting to the Catholic church. But I fear they would just put Heresy on my records next to the excommunication verdict, or nothing at all, and my mother would find out and I'd have some questions to be answered.

Plus a lot of times, when you ask for your records to be removed, they send someone over from the church or they decide to hold a Court of Love for you (which is MormonSpeak for a group of men who are going to excommunicate you) instead of just taking your names off the record.

The closer I get to baptism, the more I want to get my name taken off of the rolls of the Mormon church. Maybe I'll go ahead and do it and to krunk with the consequences.

My Confirmation name

I have decided on picking St. Mary Magdalen and St. Jude as my confirmation patron saints, with a confirmation name of Mary Magdalen Jude. I like the story of Mary Magdalen, how she started life as a rich woman, but plagued with sin. When she saw Jesus, though, she annointed him with oil and begged for his mercy and was a pentient woman from then on. I've been reading Mary Magdalen: In the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, and it's a very interesting book. While I'm taking what is written with a grain of salt, I'm also finding it very interesting. I truly hope the things in the book to be true.

I also feel greatly indebted to St. Jude for my conversion. I feel he was my first "friend" I made during this Christian walk. Through him I have learned how to ask for intercessions from saints, and I go to St. Jude's Chapel for church every week. When I first went to church, and I found out that St. Jude was the patron saint of hopeless causes, I knew I was in the right place.

I think that the choice of the two speaks a lot about my conversion. I started life pretty wild, but as soon as I realized the truth of the eucharist and of the Catholic church, I became pentient and desired only to be closer to Christ. And I was such as hopeless cause, but with the support of Christ, and the church, and all the angels and saints, I do not have to make this journey alone.

Monday, January 23

My Convalidation Saga - Part I

I am married. This is the first and only marriage for both my husband and myself. I am in RCIA and my husband has always been told by his family that he is a baptized Catholic, although he has never been practicing and has never officially joined another religion or been confirmed in the Catholic faith.

I've been told two different things as to what has to be done for me. First, my RCIA teachers hav told me that I have to take a class from the diocese (costing $100!) to get convalidated, and I need to get convalidated before I can take the eucharist. I've also been told by Father C. at St. Jude's that while it is "irregular", I am not and will not be "living in sin" by being baptized but not being convalidated seeing as how it is a first and only marriage for both my husband and myself.

The main reason this concerns me is because I am attending two different churches, one because I want to (St. Jude's), and one because I "have" to as it is my local parish and has a formal RCIA program (the Cathedral). But I want to get convalidated by my priest at St. Jude's, where I will be a member after I get baptized. I've talked to Father C. and he's going to look into it to see the rules at my diocese for this kind of thing.

I have a slight issue with having to take a $100 class to be eligible for a sacrament. It's not the money, although it was a slight struggle to come up with it. The issue I have is that if I have to take a class for a sacrament, it should be paid for with the money that I paid in the CCA fund that went to the diocese. I thought that's what that money was for. I don't want to be cheap, but the paying for a sacrament requirement is just odd. While I'm sure that we will learn something, I don't think we'll learn $100 worth (or $60 worth if you take out our "continental breakfast and lunch" expense).

After much though, I decided to go ahead and work on making sure my ducks are in a row to get convalidated before baptism on April 16th. First, I went ahead and paid my $100 for the convalidation class on February 4th. My RCIA teacher says it's a blast, and I hope it is. But I figure we should probably go ahead and go.

The second big obstacle to getting convalidated is that we need to have Dan's baptism certificate before we can get convalidated. We started making some calls to Dan's relatives to find out where he was baptized, so we could call them and get a copy of his birth certificate. His mother said he was baptized one place, his father another, his aunt yet another.

We called virtually every parish in the Madison area, as well as the parishes where the grandmothers lived. Nothing. We started to make preparations so that we could get an Affidavit signed from one of his relatives to prove he really was baptized.

Today, Dan called back one of the parishes that he knew had not responded back to him, Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison, WI. They had found his baptism record! They had tried to call him, but had written his number down wrong or something because it kept giving him a Wrong Number error message. They said they could only mail the baptism record to a church, so we gave them the address of the Cathedral and the name of the Deacon leading our class. They should get the certificate mailed to the church sometime this week.

Yay! I'll keep everyone posted on how things go.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

I went to lunch with three sweet ladies after Latin Mass on Saturday. My friend L, and J and her friend S all went.

At 3p, J said, "It's 3 o'clock, we should pray." I reverently bowed my head but had no idea what we were supposed to be praying for. J looked at me and said, "Do you know what we were praying for?" and I answered "No, I do not."

She told me about the Divine Mercy, and St. Faustina and the the Divine Hour. The Divine Mercy website has tons of information on what exactly the Divine Mercy is, the history of St. Faustina, and how to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet.

I took the time at 3p to pray the chaplet. I'm definitely going to do more resarch on this.

Mormon 2 Catholic

Ok, I've realized something and am acknowledging it here. I have always based at least a small part of my identity on being a Mormon. Even at my most rebellious liberal days, I considered myself to be a "cultural Mormon" (different from a Jack Mormon. I didn't believe it, but I identified with it).

Switching a part of my identity is a struggle, and I find myself continuously drawn to support for my Ex-Mormonism. I will probably talk more about that on this blog as well.

I still have every intention of converting to Catholicism, and I still plan on talking about Catholicism in this blog. But I hope that Mormons converting to Catholicism might be able to find this blog and realize they are not alone.

Thursday, January 12

So many things to talk about

I really haven't meant to neglect this blog, it's just that I have so many things to blog about I don't know where to start.

So I guess I'll start here, with small bites of things. My husband had a back strain last week, so he went to the doctor and got some muscle relaxants. Becuase the medicine whacked out his sleeping schedule, my sleeping schedule got whacked up, too. Then I was so tired I missed the Breaking of the Word for the first time since I started going to RCIA. I found out last night that my sponsor was there and missed me. So that made me sad that I had skipped it.

I had gone to Saturday Latin Mass, and then a lesson at St. Jude's, then on Sunday I went to the 9:30a mass, so it's not like I missed learning about the Feast of the Epiphany.

Tuesday, January 3

EWTN Radio on Sirius

This morning, I got to listen to Daily Mass on EWTN Radio on my brand spankin' new Sirius receiver. It was quite a blessing! I am definitely going to have to get up early and go to work early so I can listen to it in the mornings.

I've been toying with the idea of going to daily Mass near work in Grand Prairie, but it's at a convent and I'm a touch apprehensive. I did e-mail there, and they said that it's a public mass so I should feel free to come. I don't know why I am nervous about going - it's church, everyone is welcome. I'm sure if I started coming on a regular basis that I would make friends and feel comfortable. The only major disadvantage is that it starts at 7a most mornings, except when school is not in session. I normally don't even wake up until 7:15a. Of course, if I went to bed at a reasonable hour, it wouldn't be an issue.

I've been getting to bed, and then praying a rosary and then some other prayers when I get there, so I don't actually get to sleep until 45+ minutes after I get into bed. But I feel better ending my day with some communication. It seems to help me sleep better. It feels very odd to pray still, but I think I'm getting better at it. I think.

Happy New Year!

My friend L got me a Magnificat for January, and I'm totally grooving on it. I am still learning how to pray, and the prayers listed in the Magnificat are very good. I went to Sacred Heart bookstore in Dallas over my break and got a nice leather cover for it, so that I can carry it in my purse. I'm definitely going to get a subscription for the Magnificat magazine very soon.

I had such a nice break from work this past week. I went to daily mass every day but today, because today I was feeling quite under the weather. I will miss being able to go to Mass every day, but since I have the Magnificat, I can at least read the scriptures from the Liturgy of the Word each day.

My husband and I have been so amazingly blessed this Christmas. Normally we're seriously broke, and something horrible has happened, like a death in the family or loss of job or all kinds of bad things. But this Christmas, we got LOTS of money from relatives, enough to take care of some pretty serious stuff (we needed tires and shoes very badly). We got a discount off of next month's rent, and I was able to be generous with my chapel so that we would meet our CCA goals so that our priest would not get transferred. Plus I've also had the resources to buy lots of books on Catholicism which have been very informative. Oh, and I was able to get a nice Gregorian Chant CD set. In our whole marriage, we've never been so blessed around the holidays.

RCIA starts up at the Cathedral this week. Joy! It's been forever it feels since I had a class. Of course, I've been devouring books this break, learning about all kinds of different things. I've also been praying the Rosary almost every night before I go to bed, and I can tell it is helping me with my other prayers as well.