Monday, May 29

MAILBAG - DaVinci Code and Mormons

I received an e-mail from Larry that says:

I was wondering what is the general view of Mormons to the Da Vinci Code. While I have not read the book, I did get some of the details from "EWTN Live" last Week.

Some of the facts asserted by the book are exactly what I was taught as a Mormon. For example: Jesus is not God. That he was married to Mary Magdalene (at the wedding
Feast at Cana). That they did have children as Joseph Smith was a litteral decendant of Jesus.

I've been meaning to respond to this e-mail for a while, but I've been having problems finding a whole lot about the Mormon church's "official" statement on the church.

However, I did this link on the SperoNews blog. This is an article written in the Salt Lake Tribune. I'm pretty sure that it's tongue-in-cheek, but then again, I too went to Seminary early in the morning, and I too was taught that Jesus was most probably married and that Mary Magdalene could have been his wife. So take it with a grain of salt, and enjoy!

Living History: Debunking 'Da Vinci Code': Christ's kin live in Utah

By Pat Bagley
Salt Lake Tribune Columnist
Salt Lake Tribune

Dan Brown, author of the phenomenal best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, (currently also a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, as if you didn't already know), was sued recently for plagiarism. A couple of angry authors thought Brown stole their idea.

The book in question, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, is not a thriller, not a romance, not even a heart-rending memoir that will later turn out to be a pack of lies. It is a book which marshals dubious documentation and tediously footnoted arcane citations to argue that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, they had children and, after the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' family to France.

It's all nonsense, of course. Even the British court agreed. Without even a single reference to homicidal papist albinos, Holy Blood, Holy Grail is nothing at all like The Da Vinci Code. The case was thrown out.

And besides, everyone knows Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' children to England and, later, the descendants emigrated to Utah.

Full Text

Sunday, May 28

Being Catholic - Week 6

So I started the weekend with the big plan of confessing. That was the one thing that I wanted to do this weekend. I took a nap on Saturday afternoon, and by the time I got up, showered and to St. Thomas Aquinas, it was about 3:35 or so. STA has confession from 2:45p-3:45p with Mass starting at 4:00. When I got in line, there were about a dozen people ahead of me. I waited in line until finally the priest had to leave so he could do the Mass, about 3:55p. There were about 5 people ahead of me and 2 people behind me when the confessions ended. I was quite disappointed.

But I had a Plan B. I checked, and made sure that there was confession at the Cathedral on Saturday afternoon, and there was - from 4:45p-5:15p with Vigil Mass at 5:30. I drove over there and got there about 4:10p. There was a Spanish-speaking wedding going on, so I knelt in front of the Tabernacle and prayed and got ready for my confession. At 4:30p, I went and sat near the door where people wait for confession. This is the first time I've been to confession there. I waited and waited and waited, and finally about 4:45p the priest that was officiating the wedding came out. Now, there's one small problem with this priest. He's Columbian and knows pretty much two sentences of English - "Do you know Spanish?" and "I don't speak much English." There were quite a few of us waiting in line to confess and I was #4.

We all stood up and got in line, and then Guy #6 decides this is a good time to make some buddies. Here, in line for Confession. That's not a *normal* thing I hope, is it? He kept chatting up the guy right behind me, who was obviously in a contemplative mood as I was. It was just ookey hearing this guy say, "So, do you go to church here often? I've been going here a few months now ..."

I go into confession and hear "Do you speak Spanish? I only speak a little English" from the priest. I said, No, I don't speak any Spanish, sorry. So he pulls out these English "cheat sheets" and starts reading from them the basics about confession. I said the Bless me Father thing, and then confessed my sins, but I'm really not sure if he understood what I was saying. Then he read the Absolve you part of confession off of our little English "cheat sheets" and I read my "I confess" prayer and I was done. I was given Five Our Fathers for penance.

It was quite awkward. Didn't I need to do more than just five Our Fathers for a month's worth of sin, one of which was a Mortal sin? I wanted to ask the priest about my situation with my friend, and receive good solid Catholic guidance on how to support my gay friend without being in a state of sin, but this priest didn't know any English and barely got through the absolute basics of sin. It was really awkward. Should I find an English confessor and confess again?

Vigil Mass was good. Deacon Charlie gave the homily, and it was a good one, about the Ascension and faith. After Mass, he blessed my St. Benedict rosary with the St. Benedict blessing, so now I feel like I can use it.

Ok, I forgot to tell you about last Saturday's mass. We had a substitute priest at St. Jude. I tried to get him to bless my new St. Benedict rosary, but when I went to go talk to him, he was really busy and didn't notice that it was a St. Benedict rosary and fired off a very basic "May the user of this rosary be blessed" 10-second blessing before running off to defrock. Yeah, it was annoying. But I finally got it blessed.

This morning, in honor of Pope Benedict's tour of Poland this week, I decided to continue my Tour of Churches with a visit to St. Peter's parish in Uptown. It's right off of Woodall Rogers just outside of Downtown, and is actually a Polish-ethnic parish. But they do have an English Mass at 9a. So I went to it. The church is simple, but also has some really great elements of beauty. Above the altar is a gorgeous replica of the Our Lady of Czestochowa portrait from Poland. I was actually given a holy card with this portrait from my friend Nancy, one of the sponsors in my RCIA class.

It was interesting to me that the congregation seemed predominantly African-American. The next thing that I found was very cool was that the person sitting in front of me turned around, extended a hand, and said Hello! In all of the parishes I've been to, this is the first time I was greeted by a parishioner as I sat in the pews. There were maybe 50 or so people at the church. I have a feeling most of the parishioners of that parish come to the 11a service.

They have a very small choir - 4 or 5 women, 1 man, all African-American. And the music was BEAUTIFUL! I knew many of the songs that they sang (the Gloria, the Holy Holy Holy, etc.). But this small choir sang them so beautifully. They also had this Kyrie that started in English, then the next verse was in Greek, then they sang on top of each other, kind of like In The Round. It's hard to describe.

The service was also very solemn. The bells were rang during the Eucharistic Prayer, and the altar children were very reverent and solemn.

They did a Rite of Welcoming into the Community for a small baby. It had been in dire health when born, so the mother did an emergency baptism for the baby at its birth. The rite was very similar to a baby baptism, and they did the candle and the bib and the chrism oil.

The priest is a good priest, very reverent and obviously spiritual. I enjoyed the homily quite a bit. The only problem I had during the entire service is that I was sitting directly in front of a large family whose son kept touching me, which I found to be very distracting. But they were quiet for the most part. It was good to see so many people who obviously cared for the well-being of each other. The parish is so small that people seemed to know everyone that was there. Even the priest shook my hand and welcomed me in a tone that seemed like he knew I was new, but was happy to see me.

I might just have to return to St. Peter's. I really liked it. I liked that people know each other, and that there is a small community where the priest knows the parishioners, and I *LOVED* the music! The people that were there seemed like they were really there for the right reasons.

Friday, May 26

For those looking for a blood pressure monitor

Normally I wouldn't be a shill for the Man, but I found a screaming deal last night at Radio Shack. Apparently, they've discontinued their LifeWise™ Wrist-Cuff Blood Pressure Monitor. We were able to pick one up for $16.97 plus tax at the Radio Shack at Forest and Greenville Ave. in Dallas, but I'm sure that they're on sale at Radio Shacks throughout the country.

Normally a blood pressure cuff like this will run you at least $50. We know because my husband has high blood pressure and we've been looking for one for months. If you need to monitor your blood pressure, this is a good way to go.

End of commercial.

Thursday, May 25


I tried to go to confession last Saturday, before the Vigil Mass, at the Chapel. But apparently there was a guest priest who didn't make it into the Chapel until 5:45p or so and we weren't able to do confession.

Today I tried to go to the only place I know of that does weekly confession at night outside of business hours - St Thomas Aquinas. I left Grand Prairie at 4:55p and drove into Dallas via 183 and Loop 12. I parked my car at 5:50p. There were a LOT of cars there, but I figured it was something to do with the school. I was partially right. I walked into a very crowded chapel, and there were no confessions happening. Instead, a bell choir was playing, and there were people everywhere. Apparently it was some kind of service for graduating Seniors, maybe a graduation Mass or something. I ended up turning around and going home because I was so disappointed about not being able to confess, plus the crowds made me nervous.

I really do want to confess. I think I'm going to have to break down and go on a Saturday afternoon, which is seriously inconvenient, but the only time most parishes offer scheduled confession. The Chapel runs confession every weekday, but only during the lunch hour so I can't participate because I'm in Grand Prairie working. At the church where I go to Daily Mass, Holy Family, the only time they do confession is Saturday afternoon. Same with the Cathedral - only 45 minutes worth of confession before the English-speaking Vigil Mass on Saturdays.

Ugh, I wish they offered Confession at more times during the week than they do.

Lord hear our prayer

Please keep the family of Steve and Cindy P. in your prayers. I've mentioned them before - they are the family whose father is having serious heart problems, and whose son was recently in the hospital due to seizures. The mother and father (Steve and Cindy) and their two sons were in my RCIA program, and we all were confirmed and/or baptized together at Easter Vigil.

Our RCIA class mailing list received this e-mail from Steve:

Keep praying for our 3 grandkids; The mom has run away with the children we have not heard any news of there where about or condition. There mom is Bi-Polar and Skisa franc? We are really concern for the children the police has put a ALL POINT Bullent to attempt to find them, Child protective services has been working along with the Police.

I e-mailed them yesterday to see if there was any progress, but the children have yet to be found. Please pray for a safe return of those children to their family.

Also please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Tom Reitmeyer, one of the bloggers from the St. Blog's Parish and the author of the blog "A Son Becomes A Father". Amy Welborn relayed news of his death in her blog and posted a link from News 8 Austin about the personal watercraft accident that took this priest's life.

Happy Friggin' Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my fellow Dallasite, Julie D. over at Happy Catholic!!!

Because it makes me laugh

From Toothpaste For Dinner

My first heaping helping of Catholic Guilt - but not in the way that you'd think

Ma Back over at the Ward Wide Web posted something interesting recently:

Every single time you stand in the line to receive Holy Communion, you're making a statement to the world.
This statement includes the following:
  • I believe in every single item of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.
  • I believe 100% in what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality.
  • I believe 100% in what the Catholic Church teaches about contraception.
  • I believe 100% in what the Catholic Church teaches about capital punishment.
  • I believe 100% in what the Catholic Church teaches about Euthanasia.
  • I believe 100% in what the Catholic Church teaches about abortion.
  • I believe in the Papacy, and I believe in the succession from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.
  • I believe 100% in the mystery of transubstantiation, and I believe in the Church's teaching that in order to receive our Lord in Holy Communion, my soul should be in a state of grace. For all but the most heroic of Catholics, this probably means Confession at least once a month.

I take receiving the Communion Host EXTREMELY seriously. I don't take it lightly, and I've been known to refrain from taking a host when I know that I'm not worthy. I've already been to confession a couple of times and I was just baptized at Easter, and I'm planning on going to confession tomorrow after work. My soul feels gunky.

It's easy for me to say, "I'm not going to commit X sin." For example, I'm not going to use a condom or have an abortion or help someone with assisted suicide or live an actively homosexual lifestyle. But my most difficult struggles have been how to be supportive of people in my life who are openly sinning according to the precepts of the Catholic church. According to their (often Christian) church, they are not sinning.

For so much of my life, I felt judged by the fact that I had no God, no church, no religious affiliation. I hate ... for lack of a better way to put it, imposing my beliefs on other people. Who am I to say that my God is right? I barely have a belief system of my own, how can I expect others to believe the same way? They don't attend church, or do but don't attend Catholic church, or are lapsed Catholics. It's hard. I'm not ready for that yet, and I feel like a failure before God for feeling this way.

I know that taking the communion means accepting these beliefs 100%, which I am willing to do. I can take care of myself, but I am not ready to be burdened with the sins of my friends, of my relatives, of my spouse. How can I find that spot between faithfulness to my fledgeling religious life and support of my friends out of love?

This relates, to some extent, to a post that Julie D. wrote on her blog Happy Catholic. She talks about having a "healthy serving of guilt":

Would bringing back guilt help keep these things in check? It is an interesting question, even if one could accomplish such a thing, which is an interesting question in itself.

Please note that I am not advocating shame here. I am talking about guilt. It seems to me to be similar to making the jump that we all managed from years ago when a drunk at a party was an amusing spectacle who was often left to weave his way home ... to the attitudes of today where alcoholism is treated seriously as dangerous to everyone but the alcoholic person is viewed with compassion as someone who needs to be helped. Part of that jump is accomplished for the alcoholic by knowing society's views and how he or she is expected to make a serious effort to control those dangerous impulses. As The Anchoress says, we are sometimes dealt a stinking card in life but we still must live with it the best we can. How much easier is this when society lends a helping hand without empowering the destructive impulses?

I understand that sometimes a bit of guilt, a bit of collective conscience, can be healthy for many different situations, the afforementiones alcoholism referenced above being one of the situations. But making that leap from some sins to others is hard. I could jump someone up one side and down the other for smoking pot and the illegality of it and how it is a gateway drug without any kind of guilt or hesitance whatsoever. But what about my married friends who use condoms and the Pill for contraception? What about my friends in a committed heterosexual relationship, who are not only having sex out of wedlock but also living together? What about my best friend, living with another man in the state of "holy union" and commitment? Why am I so hesitant to share my moral thoughts with these people? Can I identify with them more? Am I afraid to hurt feelings, or lose friends? Or is it that in my mind, some sins are more easy for me to pass judgement on than others? Or is my mindset of "Who am I to judge these people" so strong as to reign back my religion in their presence? I also constantly think of the scripture that states "He who is without sin cast the first stone." I do not feel comfortable telling people about sin that they know good and well that I participated in, nor do I feel that I am in any way perfect. I am still trying to pull out the mote in my own eye, so who am I to tell a person about the splinter in their eye?

The guilt is hard to carry. If I had a priest I could talk to, and could confide in for guidance, I would definitely take advantage of that. But I barely know the priests at either the Cathedral or the Chapel, and it's hard to go up to a stranger and start dumping personal problems in their laps.

Wednesday, May 24

Persistant missionaries

This is a very cute video about some of the crazy tactics that (Mormon?) missionaries will resort to to win your soul to Jesus. Theoretically.

MAILBAG - Catholics dating Mormons

I received this e-mail from C:

I'm just a regular 16 year old Catholic girl. I dated a 17 year old Mormon boy, whom I loved very much. We were great together, but sometimes I couldn't figure out why he loved me back. After all, I wasn't Mormon, and he told me that he "would love to convert me, but wouldn't force me." He even got me a Book of Mormon for Valentine's Day (romantic, I know). One time, he talked about marriage and how he would want to be married to me forever (which scared the crap out of me. Who at my age thinks about marriage? I guess Mormons do). Besides that, things were great until his parents forced us to break up after 3 months of going out. Apparently, the prophet said that continuing a relationship after 3 months was dangerous. This was the absolute first time that my Mormon guy had heard this, and resisted his parents. I won't go into all the things his parents did to make us break up, but once they hacked into his email account and threatened to blackmail me, I couldn't go through all that pain anymore. We were both very depressed, angry, and confused (his parents labeled me as a "dangerous" girl, which I am totally not at all). So I began to look things up on the internet about Mormonism. I read both "pro" and "anti" Mormon matieral. I read ex Mormon stories. And I cried when I concluded that my ex boyfriend whole heartedly believed all the lies in the Church with his "solid testimony".

This whole experience has made me closer to and more appreciative of my Catholicism. I guess I'm one of those crade Catholics who've "reverted", right? Anyway, I think I said some things that offended my ex boyfriend after our break up. He didn't seem very pleased when I asked him, "Is it true that you guys have special underwear?!" or when I told him, "I'm never dating a Mormon again." He has definitley become colder towards me. The whole point of this email is, what might be going through his mind about me because of these comments? Why is marriage so important? Why were his parents so controlling after reading what the prophet said? Why did he want to convert me (I mean, I was fine with him being Mormon until I found out all those lies...)? can I help him find the Catholic Church?

Unfortunately, I can't really tell you what goes on in a 17-year old's brain, nor can anyone I don't think except for maybe another 17-year old boy. But you did bring up a good question - why is marriage so important to Mormons?

When I was growing up, from the time I was old enough to know about boys (about 12), I was in a program called Young Women's Association. In these classes, taught every Sunday for one hour, I was in an all-girls class and taught about things that "girls" should know. I was taught that virtue was the most honorable trait a girl could have, and that a woman should allow herself to be killed before losing her virtue (actual quote from Spencer W. Kimball). I was taught that motherhood and being a wife were the greatest and most honorable callings a woman could have. I was taught to only date Mormon boys, as only they would have the same virtues as me. I was also taught to save myself for my husband, and to prepare myself to be a good wife and mother.

Now, the part about virtue was, and is, a very good teaching. I know that chastity and virtue are taught in the Catholic church, and one of the most pious things a woman can do in the Catholic church is to commit herself to perpetual virginity as a bride of Christ. It's the marriage part that makes things tricky when it comes to the Mormon church.

From the time teenagers are old enough to start paying attention to people of the opposite sex, they are taught to be virtuous and to only date Mormons and to remember the blessings of marriage even while dating in high school. This culture of marriage is brought about because of the Mormon teaching of Eternal Marriage.

Eternal marriage is the concept of being married in the Mormon temple for "time and all eternity" as opposed to Death Do Us Part. It is a covenant, similar in that aspect to a sacramental wedding in a Catholic church. The "catch" about this teaching is that it is taught that all must be "eternally" married to go to Heaven. This progression is part of what is called the "Plan of Salvation". Our road on this earth has been mapped out for us (here's another chart that I actually have in my home that was given to me as a child), and the only way we can be with our Father in Heaven, according to Mormon teachings, is to be married in the temple for time and all eternity.

The goal from this progression, being in the Celestial Kingdom, is to become Gods of our own worlds as God is the creator of ours. We will, with our eternal companion (and all of his other wives) be given the blessing of creating our own worlds with our own children, and progressing throughout eternity as God has continually progressed. A couplet that was said by Lorenzo Snow goes "As man is, God once was, as God is, man may someday become."

And yes, this concept is VERY MUCH opposite of the concept of the traditional Trinitarian God that the Catholics (and most Protestants) worship. Catholic Answers has an interesting page called Mormon Stumpers that has more information about Mormon teachings from a Catholic perspective.

I hope I have answered at least some of your question. Mormons put emphasis on an Eternal Marriage in the temple because for Mormons, the only way to complete salvation and living in the presence of God throughout eternity is through Eternal Marriage. Without marriage, a Mormon cannot be in the presence of God's full glory after his death.

Carnival of the Veil

This week we have quite an interesting mix of posts for the ExMo/ PostMormon "Carnival of the Veil". Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: For my Catholic readers, just a reminder that these blogs are ExMo, but not necessarily pro-Christian or Pro-Catholic.

Gunner, the originator of this Carnival, talks about God - the man behind the myth. He specifically discusses the attributes of the Mormon God and sees which attributes he dislikes the most, with Mormon scriptural references to back up his claims.

Natalie Collins from "Trapped by the Mormons" brings to light some interesting comments made by a a Salt Lake Tribune journalist about the DaVinci Code.

Exmoron from the group blog "Sons of Perdition" presents an interesting argument describing the way that the Mormon church makes attempts to "mainstream" its beliefs.

JLO, one of my personal favorite ExMo blogs , described (with vivid detail) yet another interesting experience he had while in the mission field - watching the locals butcher a Brahma bull.

Cr@ig, from "Cr@ig in the Middle", relays his experience while viewing the Joseph Smith movie, as well as many of the "whitewashing" contained within.

Doug from "Eight Hour Lunch" presents his newest personal War of Wits, the Weenie Awards and discusses the reasons for the nominees.

Diane from "The Thought Spot" graduates!

Trixie Granny
of "Shallow Thoughts" gives an interesting thought about Near Death Experiences.

Equality from "Equality Time" discusses her feelings on the Billion Dollar Mall being built with LDS funds in downtown Salt Lake City, UT.

Monday, May 22

All's Quiet on the Western Front

I apologize for the absense of posts over the last few days. That pesky thing called "real life" has totally gotten in my way this week. Not only have I been swamped at work (where I usually get a good post in or two a day), but my personal life has also been super busy. While aggregating posts from other blogs and web sites is a great, easy way to fill up a blog, I would like to not rely on that system so heavily in the future.

I have a whole bunch of posts in my head just waiting to happen, as soon as I get time to devote to creating them. I'll work hard to posting some of those ideas soon.

Thursday, May 18

Because some things are too silly not to blog about

There's a very interesting article in the New York Times this week called "This Season's Must-Have: The Little Black Roll" The article discusses the new trend of having black toilet paper in bathrooms as a design element. Here's a very interesting quote from the article:

"In a design sense," he wrote, black means "irreverence, maybe touching a bit on the core nature of art, which is to break rules and set new ones.

"Culturally, deep down, Renova Black invites people to break down whatever might be limiting as common sense ideas," he wrote.

I'd love to wrote an in-depth thought-provoking paragraph about this TP, but honestly, the only thing I can think of is that some people really have way more money than sense.

Carnival of the Veil - Week two

Carnival of the Veil is up for Week Two!

Next week, the Carnival will be hosted by Yours Truly. I'm really glad that Gunner is putting this resorce together for exmo/Post-Mo blogs. I know that this blog is read primarily by Catholics, so it might not be understood what a milestone a resource like this truly is. Most exmo's are anonymous, in hiding and suffering through the loss of a religion in a very personal way. Exmo's who choose to blog about their experiences, though few and far between, are finally beginning to form a network of support for each other. Now, if we can only get a St. Blog's for exmo bloggers, we'll be in business!

My obligatory " 'The DaVinci Code' Blows" post

Nothing is more entertaining than reading the reviews of a movie that is being universally panned by the critics. So far, this is my favorite opening line from any review read so far.

You know a movie's a dud when even its self-flagellating albino killer monk isn't any fun.

John Beifuss,

Tuesday, May 16

Opus Dei - The new Kabbalah?

MSNBC has a very amusing tongue-in-cheek article online called Forget Scientology, how about Opus Dei, suggesting that Opus Dei might be the new trendsetter religion. Here's an exerpt:

Style watchers are tired of the same old fringe faiths. We cry out for our celebrities to adopt a hip new opium — something to fill up entertainment magazine side-bars, launch accessory trends, and inspire prime time investigations. But what group could possibly have enough hype and heft to usurp behemoths like Scientology and Kabbalah as the next great religious movement of the rich and famous? My money is on Opus Dei.

Full Article

EDIT: I just wanted to make something clear. I don't think this article is funny because Opus Dei is so wacky. I think this article is amusing due to the fact that it pokes fun at the nature of Hollywood's elite and their tendancies to flock around the Religion de Jour.

One of the good things about "The DaVinci Code" coming out as a movie is that it has forced Opus Dei to come out into the open to explain itself as the pious, and rather boring, entity that it is. As far as I can tell, while there may be some abuses in the system as there is in any institutionalized organization, there is in no way any murdering Albinos or any other activity going on that is way out of line with Catholic teachings. It is simply a basic path of fellowship and action, filled with piety and direction towards God.

Because I'm all about the Industrial Look

Gerald Augistinus posted this very interesting picture of a monstrance, which would be appropriate in a chic urban loft as well as a steel factory:

Borrowed lovingly from Julie D.

This quote really addressed some issues that I have been dealing with lately, so I thought I'd blog it and share.

If someone has wronged you, you are not required to think they're wonderful for doing it. You can despise what they did to you, and tell them so. You can tell them it was lousy and that you feel lousy and that you forgive them in spite of all that. The Lord asked us to forgive, but He never asked us to feel like forgiving. You must decide to forgive, just like you decide to love. None of this has to come naturally, and if you are expecting to develop the natural inclination to forgive, you're going to wait a long time.

As Christians, we don't forgive someone because it makes us feel like a nice person or because its sweet, but because its hard. The very difficulty we have in summoning true forgiveness out of our hearts makes us resemble Jesus.

Mother Angelica

Catholic Carnival

Go check out the Catholic Carnival for this week!

Monday, May 15

Just call me Sloth

Greed:Very Low
Gluttony:Very Low
Wrath:Very Low
Envy:Very Low
Lust:Very Low
Pride:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

All Things Benedict

This weekend, while at Sacred Heart bookstore to buy a cross for a wedding gift for the convalidation we attended this weekend, I also bought a few cool things for myself. As most readers know by this point, I have this special affinity for the St. Benedict jubilee medal. Well, the bookstore had a rather nifty little St. Benedict rosary (like the one in this picture), so I had to get it. It's very cool - I love the black beads. The only thing tricky about getting anything with a St. Benedict medal is that I have to get it blessed with a certain prayer that is specific for St. Benedict jubliee medals. And it takes a bit for the prayers to be said. But it's worth it to have these sacramentals as part of my devotions.

I also got my very own copy of the hot-off-the-presses book "Decoding Mary Magdalene" by Amy Welborn. I figure it was a slightly better way to spend my money than to see The DaVinci Code this weekend. I've read quite a bit about Mary Magdalene since deciding to pick her as one of my Conversion saints, and I am looking forward to getting to read even more about her, especially from an established Catholic author.

Finally, I was able to procure a copy of the new Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So far I really love the layout, but I'll have to give you another review once I've gotten through the entire book. I love the prayers in Latin in the back. I'm trying to memorize the Anima Christi, so that I can say it during my post-communion prayers in Mass. It's my favorite prayer in Latin.

Mass Confusion

Well, another journey in trying to find my Catholic home has been taken. I went to St. Thomas Aquinas today for the 11a Mass.

The reading today for the Mass was about how Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The priest at STA kept talking about community and unity within the church, and how we are all stronger when we are united in our church.

I was feeling pretty grody because of my allergies, and decided to go to the Cathedral about mid-Mass. My nose was runny and I was achy all over, and in all honesty, I was feeling kind of "homesick", for lack of a better word. I'm pretty sure it was the STA homily that made me think of my "community" back at the Cathedral. So, after the Homily at STA, which was great btw, I left the STA Mass and drove over to the Cathedral and attended the Noon mass there. I actually braved the Cathedral parking garage, and it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I ended up sitting with my friend Nancy and my sponsor.

I talked with Nancy after Mass, and she told me that she will most probably switch to attending St. Thomas Aquinas very soon, after she settles a few things in her personal life. She loves the homilies at STA, and she also loves that there are so many programs there for English-Speakers. She had hinted that she might transfer parishes to STA in earlier conversations, but from the the tone of our talk today, it sounds like it is definitely going to happen in the near future.

I've been so torn with going to the Chapel vs the Cathedral vs St. Thomas Aquinas. Each group has its benefits and its drawbacks. All benefits are good for each church. It's so great to be able to walk down the street for church at St. Jude Chapel, but on the other hand, there's not much opportunity for me to be active in the church except for to show up for Mass. I could probably become a lector or something, but other than that I'm out of luck. I'm sure that if I attend St. Thomas Aquinas a few more times that I'll feel more comfortable there and really get into the groove of things. I even have a blog friend who attends there that would like to say Hi to me the next time I go to mass there. It's odd to me that the main motivation for me to go to STA is because, for lack of a better way to put it, it's an "ethnic" parish geared towards English-speakers. I don't think it's wrong for me to want access to multiple programs in my Native language. Why does that feel so un-PC, though? I just seriously dislike that there's not many opportunities to be active at the Cathedral parish since I don't speak Spanish.

I've been praying for discernment as to where I need to go on Sundays. Maybe I should just continue to jump around for a while, get the feel of things and decide what to do from there. Maybe I'm just being unduly influenced by my friend who is feeling the calling to go to another parish. Maybe I'm not giving the new rector of St. Jude Chapel enough credit.

It's a hard thing to decide, and it's really been troubling me. I struggle daily to find my place in the church, in a parish and in the diocese. I really want a church "home" that I can commit to with my time, my donations and my energy.

It just occurred to me - this feels an awful lot like what happened to me when I went back to the Mormon church from about 1997 to 2001. I started out my reactivation in the Fort Worth Singles ward, but felt awkward because I was so much older than most of the people there. After about a year in the singles ward, I transferred to a small inner-city family branch in Fort Worth. After being in that ward for less than a year, I ended up moving to Grand Prairie so that I could look for jobs in both Fort Worth and Dallas due to a buyout of my company and an expected lay-off (which indeed happened a few weeks after the move). Once relocated, I first went to the Grand Prairie family ward, but after three miserable weeks there, I transferred to the Dallas South Singles ward. It was a nice group of people, but the church was 30 minutes away, and I was beginning to lose faith and motivation to go to church at that point anyway.

I don't know quite what I was searching for exactly then, and I'm not sure what I'm searching for now. On the up side, this time instead of having to decide between the better of two evils, I'm trying to decide which is the best of three great choices. It's like someone going up to you and saying, "Ok, here's three ice cream cones - Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. Which one is best?" But they're all good, you know?

I think the biggest question that I need to answer for myself is which church is going to bring me closest to God, and at which church will I be able to serve the members of the church the best? I have no doubt the desire to serve is from my previous "callings" as a Mormon. But I also want to meet people, to get involved. It's important for me to feel like a contributing part to a community.

I have no idea which church would bring me closer to God, or if any of my three choices have a clear advantage over another. I think my journey to God at this point is mostly between me and God. I think at this point that as long as I am going to church on a regular basis, if I can simply go with a contrite heart and spirit, that any church experience will do the trick. I just wish I could find a home and commit to it, and be satisfied with my decision.

Tridentine Mass vs Novus Ordo Mass

I found an interesting web page that I thought I'd share. It is a page that compares the contents of the Tridentine Mass to the contents of the Novus Ordo mass.


I would like to attend the Tridentine Mass again, but before I do I want to hunt down a 1962 missal (Or at least the little "red" missal I've heard some people use). And a hairpin for my veil. I was paranoid about wearing my veil this last time when I went because I wasn't sure if it would stay on my head.

Sunday, May 14

The weekend thus far

My weekend thus far has been rather eventful. I went to Mass both Friday and Saturday at St. Jude Chapel with the new priest, Fr. John. He's Ok. He's no Fr. Celio, but then again I seriously doubt the chapel will ever get that lucky again. He said in the bulletin for the week that his goal is to build up the congregation and make the chapel a more comfortable and welcoming worship place.

But ... I still want to to go to St. Thomas Aquinas. I know it's a drive, and I know it's not my parish, but I really feel drawn to go there. So today I'm going to be at their 11a mass. I want to go to that mass because that's the mass where their main choir sings. I love music. I'd love to join a church choir in the Fall, whether it's at the Cathedral or STA.

I also went to a wedding yesterday at the Cathedral, a convalidation of a couple in my RCIA class that has been civilly married for quite some time. It was a very beautiful mass. It was the first Catholic weddding I have been to since becoming Catholic, and it was amusing to see the people who were obviously Catholic verses the people who were obviously not. At Catholic weddings, I used to be one of those people trying to figure out what was going on, and now I'm one of those people who actually knew what to say, and was able to go up and receive communion during the wedding mass. I found it quite a cool experience. The wedding was planned and executed just like a regular wedding, down to the 10 bridesmaid's dresses and all the matching suits of the groomsman. The reception was in the West End in downtown Dallas. We took the train down there, but it was such a beautiful night that we just walked home. We got to see the Cichlid tank at the Dallas World Aquarium and also some rather interesting graffiti. I love living downtown, have I mentioned that lately?

Friday, May 12

Jimmy Akin on Mormon Baptisms

Jimmy Akin has posted a very informative blog post about the validity of Mormon Baptisms.

Pastoral Consequences Of The Mormon Baptism Decision

(Jimmy Akin)

A reader writes:

My wife came into the Catholic church somewhere around 2000 before we were married in the Church. She had been a baptized Mormon before then, in which the Deacon teaching her RCIA class said the church recognized as a valid baptism. I never thought to double check his assertion on this, and there's the possibility he flat out just misunderstood or lost record of her telling him this. Whatever the case, she underwent the Preparation for Christians, instead of the Preparation for the Unbaptized. We regularly celebrate the sacraments together now, and I was wondering the validity/invalidity of her confirmation into Catholicism? Would you please shed some light on this for us?

This is a very delicate question, and I want to compliment you for asking it. It shows a willingness to confront potentially unpleasant or disturbing matters and to follow God's truth even in the face of potential difficulties.

What the deacon told you was probably based on a correct understanding of Catholic practice at the time. Prior to 2001, it was generally assumed that Mormon baptisms were valid and thus that Mormons who became Catholic did not need to be baptized upon their reception into the Church, though many were given conditional baptisms just in case.

Full Text

Blessed Imelda


The Dominican cloistered nuns at Moniales OP posted a beautiful story about Blessed Imelda.

The Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation have prayers for the intercession of Blessed Imelia.

Deborah Kay tells a beautiful story about how she chose Blessed Imelda as her confirmation saint.

Thursday, May 11

Mormon Baptism and Communist Bishops

I found a very interesting post about the comparison of the Chinese Bishops being ordained on the blog of Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD(by way of Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz's blog). It discusses the intent of the Chinese government, and then compares it to the intent of Mormons who baptize. Here's an excerpt:

The excommunications consequent to the illicit episcopal ordinations (1983 CIC 1382) staged by Chinese Communists are so obvious that few commentators have mentioned them. Here I raise a different question: In the face of some sacraments being so obviously celebrated with no discernible pastoral sense and, in fact, driven by little besides a "let's stick it to the Catholic Church" animus, has the time come to step back and ask some hard questions about the canonical validity of such sacraments?

I have suggested that the most theologically significant decision reached by CDF under Cdl. Ratzinger was its 2001 declaration that Mormon baptism is invalid, despite eligible ministers and recipients, and despite proper matter and form. Reopening a debate that seemed settled since the time of Sts. Augustine and Cyprian, Mormon baptisms are invalid apparently solely on the basis of intention, that fifth, and in many ways most elusive, of the factors impacting sacramental validity.

Is it too much to wonder, then, whether Communist episcopal ordinations have crossed a similar line? Just what is a Communist's understanding of and intention in confering, of all things, holy orders? Remember, until a few decades ago, similar questions on Mormon baptism seemed unthinkable, and until a few years ago, everyone assumed they knew the answer.

Full Text

Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz adds to the discussion by contributing some of his own personal experiences while in Salt Lake City.

I had first-hand experience with this. I spent a year as the Director of Education and Formation at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, about three blocks east of Temple Square. One of my duties was to be an advocate for those who petitioned the Diocese of Salt Lake City for a declaration of nullity in regard to their marriage. This meant I had to have some quick tutoring in canon law, and was ably assisted in that by Father Robert Moriarty of the diocesan tribunal. One of the things we discussed was the validity of Mormon baptism. That this was even a question was a surprise to me, but he explained that when it came to form and matter, they had everything correct. They baptize with water and use the same formula we do.

But -- and this is a big 'but' -- do they intend to do the same thing that we do?

Full Text

Wednesday, May 10

The first post-Mormon blog Carnival!

Carnival of the Veil is the first effort by Gunner of the "Talking to God" blog of creating a Carnival for exMo/post-Mormon blogs. It includes people who still go to church but don't believe, people who have left for good, and people like me who have moved on to other religions. There's quite a few interesting blog entries referenced. I would highly recommend checking it out!

New Catholic programming on Sirius radio

I got a Sirius radio for my New Beetle for Christmas, and from the instant it was in the car, I was in love. There's 2-3 stations for just about any musical genre that you might want to listen to, plus they have EWTN Radio. I listen to Catholic Answers almost every day on the way home from work and enjoy listening to the Q&A sessions on the show. I also love commercial-free music. That's the #1 reason why I wanted sattelite radio - I hate commercials. I don't want to be manipulated into spending my money.

I mostly picked Sirius over XM because I really wanted access to EWTN Radio. Now to have a choice of Catholic programming is going to be wonderful! As long as the new network is Orthodox in its guests and programming, I will tune in.

American Papist blog mentioned this article which discusses the new satellite radio venture:

Sirius to launch Catholic radio channel
Effort will include daily Mass from New York's archdiocese

NEW YORK - Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. said Wednesday it would create a new channel of Catholic-themed programming with the Archdiocese of New York.

The channel, which will launch in the fall, will carry live daily Mass from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York as well as talk and music programming. Financial terms of the arrangement weren’t disclosed.

Full text of article

Mother's Day in the Single Ward

When I was in the Singles Ward in Fort Worth (a geographical church attandance group where only single young adult Mormons attend), Mother's day traditionally had a unique event. The men in the Elders Quorum (Male-only study class) would bring the women in the Relief Society (Women-only study class) a rose, for the "mother they will someday become."

On the one hand, it was nice to get a flower, but on the other hand, it was a painful reminder that I was still alone, single and childless. Thank goodness I only had to endure a couple of those days.

M2C Conversion Story - Mike

I found this conversion/reversion story on the Catholic Ex-Mormon boards on Yahoo. I asked Mike if I could post his story on my blog, and he not only said I could post it, but he edited it to make it more thorough and blog-friendly. Mike was a cradle Catholic who joined the Mormon church, only to come back home to the Catholic church a few years later. Thank you so much, Mike, for allowing me to get your story out!

So how does a cradle Catholic go from leaving the Holy Catholic Church for Mormonism only to find his way back home 5 years later? I hope that this brief story of my ‘reversion’ to Catholicism will serve two purposes: First, I hope that those that are joining, returning to or strongly considering and praying about becoming one with the Bride of Christ can appreciate the developmental process I had to go through to come to an understanding, or better yet, gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Catholic Church. During my re-investigation period the testimonies and conversion stories of others were paramount in my return. Second, for those critically and judiciously investigating the doctrines and beliefs of the LDS church, I hope to expose the truths about the doctrinal developments in Mormonism over the last 200 years juxtaposed to Biblical Christianity.

For starters, here’s a little about my background. I grew up in a very strong Catholic family in East Central Ohio. A lot of my earliest memories consist of my family going to Mass together on Saturday evening and then spending Sunday together with extended family. Although I did not attend Catholic school, I was active in the CCD program until receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at age 14. Through high school and during my undergraduate studies I never questioned Catholic doctrine; I looked at how the Church had strengthened my immediate and extended families. In hindsight, however, I never underwent a full conversion process allowing me to discover the fullness of truth that resides in Catholicism. Towards the end of high school I met a nice Catholic girl who would eventually become my wife. We were married in 1999 right before I started graduate school at the University of Iowa.

Within the first week of moving to Iowa City LDS missionaries made their way to our doorstep. Where I grew up there is virtually NO LDS population; I hate to confess this but upon my first encounter with the missionaries I did not know that Mormons were also Latter-day Saints. I had never heard of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. Upon our first encounter I took a Book of Mormon and told the Elders that I was busy and that if they came back some day and I happened to be home I would talk with them. Within that academic year LDS missionaries and members of the LDS church were constantly in contact with us. It was pretty intimidating to say the least. We took the 6 missionary discussions; however, we were unconvinced at that point that Mormonism was true. Our ‘lessons’ with the Elders varied in quality considerably. There were, however, a handful of missionaries that were fairly well-versed in other aspects of Christianity other than Mormonism. During this time of ‘investigation’ I also stumbled upon Mormon apologetic groups such as FARMS and FAIR. It struck me how it always seemed – or at least they painted the façade – that Mormonism was always under attack, yet they were always on the defensive, defending the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The format of the missionary discussions was also presented to make Mormonism appear like any other Christian church. As we would eventually discover, the pivotal doctrines that truly make Mormonism unique are cautiously not included in these initial discussions. Growing up Catholic, we wrestled with the doctrine of a “great apostasy’ necessitating a restoration of truth through Joseph Smith, Jr. (Even after our ‘conversion’ to Mormonism all of my questions were never completely answered.) In 2000-01 I was awarded a DAAD Fellowship to study in Marburg, Germany. It was during that time that we ran into LDS missionaries again and continued to investigate Mormonism. From the LDS apologetic material that we had found and read and from what we perceived at that time to be a ‘spiritual witness’ from the Holy Ghost, my wife and I decided to join the LDS church in March 2001. All together we had investigated Mormonism for almost 2 full years (ca. 22 months) and felt that we were doing the right thing.

In the fall of 2001 we moved to Lawrence, Kansas were I began my Ph.D. coursework at the University of Kansas. Upon moving to Kansas we became very active in the LDS church. I held callings as a ward missionary and councilor in an Elder’s Quorum Presidency, whereas my wife worked in the primary (Sunday school) program and eventually served in the Primary Presidency. The one thing we loved about the LDS faith was its encouragement to read the Scriptures (of course, the Catholic Church also calls its members to a life of active Scripture study). During our 2-year process as “eternal investigators’, we had become quite facile with the Scriptures. My wife and I feverishly participated in the Church Educational System’s (CES) Institute Program and graduated from the program with a 4-year diploma in only 3 years of course study. (We also co-taught a course on the Doctrine & Covenants.) We often accompanied the missionaries when they were meeting with lapse Catholics. We also attended the temple in St. Louis and Winter Quarters as much as possible.

One of the members of our ward that we were quite close with always spoke to us about a ‘spiritual’ conversion and a ‘social’ conversion. Although we had bought into the ‘spiritual’ side of Mormonism, we struggled mightily with what I term ‘social Mormonism’. Everyone was quick to point out to us what we should and shouldn’t be doing in our free time, how their personal version of Mormonism was more righteous than everyone else’s, etc. Being both converts we simply tried to do the right thing yet still really felt out of place. Looking back on things it was our ability to take a step back from the social aspect of Mormonism that enabled us to critically evaluate our newly adopted beliefs and return to Catholicism. In mentioning our disdain for Mormon culture, I don’t mean to paint too bleak of a picture; we did have quite a few friends – or those who we at least thought were our friends – during our time as members of the LDS church. As could have been expected, however, our departure from Catholicism led to a bit of a schism with our parents and immediate family. Although our parents respected our decision they were quite puzzled and disappointed with our decision. Having on our ‘Mormon blinders’ we couldn’t understand what possible problems our parents would have with us being active in another church? After all, we had found spiritual truth whereas they were just clinging on to what was familiar to them (at least in our minds). ‘Social Mormonism’ does an excellent job of making its members feel like they are the only ones who truly live an active Christian life of charity and service (cf. Mosiah 2:17), where as Catholics – as well as other ‘apostate’ Christian groups – are generally not active in their faith nor to they very often serve the greater community. I’ll come back to this point later in the story.

All was going fine in Mormonville for both Jill (my wife) and I until the spring of 2005. At this time Jill was a member of the Primary presidency and I was a councilor of an Elder’s Quorum presidency when the full-time missionaries met a postmaster who was a fallen away Catholic (for the sake of anonymity, let’s call him George). They missionaries inquired if I would meet with him, which I most certainly agreed to. From my first meeting with this guy it was clear that his life was in shambles and he was just looking for some companionship; his wife had recently left him and he was just one lonely guy. I was quite skeptical of the missionaries’ tactics with this guy knowing that he was at such a point in his life that he was most likely unable to make a leap of faith the magnitude of the missionaries’ desires. Although a fallen away Catholic, George was very well versed with official Catholic doctrine. He was so well read and learned in the Catechism that I purchased an official copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that summer so I could better understand his point of view. The clarity with which he explained Catholic doctrine was something I had never experienced before in my life. With that being said, I don’t mean to portray my parents as lazy Catholics who were unaware of doctrine nor do I blame my former CCD instructors; however, one thing was perfectly clear: I didn’t understand Catholicism as fully and deeply as I once thought I did. Many of my ‘concerns’ with Catholicism that lead to my ‘conversion’ to Mormonism turned out in the end not to be ‘concerns’ at all. An example of this would be the veneration of Saints; I never understood why we should pray to them. After re-reading the Book of Revelation (8:3) it was clear that the Saints did function in the role clearly explained by the Catholic Church. The list of instances such as these goes on and on. Rather than merely study Catholicism for the means of having ammo to convert George to Mormonism, I took the time to really learn the Catholic faith for the first time in my life. I turned quite often to the Early Church Fathers, in particular Father Jurgen’s excellent three-volume set on the writings of the Early Church Fathers (and even with three volumes he’s only just scratched the surface!). After turning to these sources, it became clear that Catholic rather than Mormon doctrines abound in early Christianity. LDS apologists are quick to scrape the bottom of the barrel or gerrymander obscure segments of apocryphal Christian works.

By the end of the summer I was convinced that I needed to take more time to re-investigate Catholicism; however, that seemed almost impossible to do. My calling eliminated a lot of my free time and every other waking moment I was consumed with writing my dissertation. (I also had a band – yes, a ROCK BAND – I told you that I wasn’t really into the ‘social Mormon’ scene! ) After finishing my doctorate, I accepted a position as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan last fall (2005). At the end of the summer we also found out that we were expected our first child. My level of skepticism and dissidence with the LDS church had grown to a point where I had to talk to my wife about my feelings. At first she didn’t accept it well, even though we had always felt that something was missing and that we just didn’t ‘fit in’ with the whole Mormon scene. Upon her request, we decided to stick things out for a little while longer to see if the situation would improve. The minute we walked in the door at our new ward we had new callings. I was called to a Young Men’s presidency and Jill as a nursery teacher. Again, we had no time to really ponder our relationship with God, and discussing this with anyone would be simply out of the question for two reasons: First, any serious questioning of LDS dogma – be it honest or not – would most likely be viewed as a form of apostasy on our part. Second, the answers we had received in the past when issues like this had been brought up were very superficial and never really addressed our concerns.

There were two incidents immediately upon our arrival in Michigan that prompted our departure from the LDS church. Anyone who’s ever been involved with the LDS church or has Mormon friends is familiar with the “every member a missionary” slogan. Some people truly do care about their neighbors and handle their ‘responsibility’ to proselytize their friends, family and neighbors with dignity and respect; however, more often than not Mormons can be quite pushy about their church and beliefs. The ward mission was quite big on involving the youth in active missionary activities. At first I had no objections to this at all; I thought it was cool that teenage members of the church had the opportunity to expose friends of other faiths to our activities. It made us seem a lot less cult-like. That all changed really quickly. The Stake Young Men’s presidency provided us (the ward Young Men’s presidency) with a list of “less active” members and those who had requested to be placed on the “do not contact” (DNC) list. The Stake presidency had done their homework and had isolated families with teenage children. Our responsibility was to encourage our youth to befriend the children of these ‘fallen away’ Mormon families, even if it meant disregarding their wishes to not have contact with the church. The immediate thought that raced through my head was “Is this legal?” Rather than keeping my thoughts to myself, I asked the question, which of course was greeted with a rather suspicious look from the Stake Young Men’s president. He was all too happy to inform me that this was a “loophole” in the system through which we could potentially maintain contact with these families. I was appalled. The second event that led me to leave Mormonism was simply a phone call from the missionaries. They were working with a young Catholic family and wanted to know if I could accompany them to perhaps inform them of my own spiritual journey. I knew right then and there that my faith in Mormonism had been shaken and that I could lie to that family. I respectfully declined citing a prior commitment interfered. The event with the Young Men’s presidency also shook my wife’s faith considerably. After that event she began to earnestly re-investigate the teachings of the Catholic Church and realized that we had been hoodwinked by the romantic edited version of Mormonism that we had been spoon fed. In the beginning my wife was much more skeptical than I was about Mormonism. As a matter of fact, if it would have been up to me, I would have joined much earlier than I did. I respect her spirituality a lot and knew that if we felt the same way about this that we needed to talk to our bishop.

So we scheduled an appointment with our bishop to discuss our ‘concerns’. He followed protocol and asked us to turn in our Temple Recommends and asked us if either of us were here due to being offended by another member of the ward or due to gross misconduct on our part. In other words, before even hearing us out it was thrown at us that some how this had to be our fault. We had put our hearts and souls into the LDS church and to have someone flat out ask you that really hurt. We said that we wanted to search out our feelings about returning to the Catholic Church. He respected our wishes but subsequently bombarded us with missionaries, home teachers (funny that they never showed up prior to this meeting!), visiting teachers, etc. that became so overwhelming that we requested to be put on the “do not contact” (DNC) list immediately thereafter.
To make sure that our ‘feelings’ weren’t misleading us again, we decided to attend Mass regularly at a parish called Christ the King in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After participating (and that’s the key word) in the celebration of the Mass we both knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we needed to return to the Bride of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church. We immediately contacted the Priest and had a few meetings with another Deacon. After telling them the details of our spiritual journey and our experiences with Mormonism they both felt that upon receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation we could once again fully participate in all of the blessings and Sacraments provided under Christ’s true Church.

Our break up with the LDS church has been messier than I would have imagined. We harbor no ill feelings towards the church or any individual members; however, they have fought us tooth and nail regarding our desire to leave. We have tried to clear the air that our desire to recommit ourselves to Christ through the Holy Catholic Church is not due to anyone offending us or due to our inability to “live the gospel” due to any grave transgressions that we have committed. Our return to Catholicism is solely due to its centered belief in Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of its doctrine and teachings. Many of our former LDS ‘friends’ have written us off completely, but it just goes to show that they really didn’t care about us in the first place.

Since our re-version to Catholicism I have had the privilege of talking to other Catholics in forum settings about honest theological differences between Catholicism and Mormonism. We have even helped a couple that was struggling with their Catholic faith and strongly considering joining the LDS church to return to activity in the Catholic Church. In the future we will undoubtedly become more active in our new parish (we’re moving again…this time I’ve accepted a position as an assistant professor at Michigan State University); however, for the time being we’re enjoying our role of strengthening our relationship with God – something we NEVER had time to do in the LDS church. Perhaps sometime in the not-too-distant future we will become involved in RCIA or some other faith-promoting venture such as an adult Bible study; however, for the time being, we’re just happy to be back!

This weekend our 3-month old daughter Abigail will be baptized by the priest who married us almost 7 years ago. We are elated that our daughter will have the opportunity to learn the truth about God and His relationship with the human family. For those of you entering, returning to or seriously considering joining the Catholic Church I hope that our story will help you in your journey of faith. Although as a member of the Catholic Church you will not receive a formal calling from local clergy, you will have the opportunity to participate in the Mass. Your participation will be aligned with the celebration that also occurs in heaven (cf. Book of Revelation). Unlike Mormon meetings where spontaneous talks are given on a wide array of topics ranging from food storage to tithing and Mormon chapels were the pulpit is the centerpiece of the room, the Holy Catholic church focuses solely on the worship of Jesus Christ. At the center of Catholicism is the altar where the Great High Priest Himself invites us to partake of Holy Communion with Him. At the celebration of the Eucharist we are invited to “come unto Christ” (cf. Moroni 10:32) in a way unavailable to Mormons. I am thankful to once again be a member of the Bride of Christ. If there’s anything I can do to help any of you in your journey of faith, don’t hesitate to be in touch!

God bless!

My Grandma

My grandma had a very hard life. She had three sons, and when they were very young, my grandfather worked away from home in the oil fields. One day my grandmother decided to suprise him, and when she got to his hotel she was told by the front desk clerk that "Mr. Gill and his wife" had gone out to dinner that evening. My grandmother went to the restaurant, threw a fit, and promptly left him. She married her second husband, Jack, because he was a nice man and would help take care of the boys. She never really loved him, but she did need him.

When I was born, my grandmother lived with my parents for about a year and helped take care of me. My mother says that she never let me cry - as soon as I made a noise, she would pick me up until I settled down. Because of the fact that she helped raise me so closely, I was always one of her favorite grandchildren.

I have many great memories of my grandma growing up. When I would go visit her, she would ask me what kind of cereal I wanted for breakfast. I'd say, "What kind do you have?" She'd say, "Well, what kind do you want?" Then when I'd say some sugary monstrosity that I'd never get at my own house, like Corn Pops, she'd run out to the store quickly and get it for me. She was always such a great cook until her eyes started to fail her.

When I was about 13, she took me to the World's Fair in New Orleans. I was so rotten to her. I wanted to hang out with kids my own age and maybe hold hands with a cute boy. I remember at some point she screamed at me for being so selfish, and I really felt horrible. I hope that she remembered that trip fondly, because I always felt guilty about it.

My grandmother was always close to her sons. She had the misery of having to see each one die. First my uncle Roger died, the healthiest of the bunch. He got ALS and died after a very slow and painful illness. She got really sick after that from the grief. Then a week after I saw my uncle Bobby at my brother's funeral, he died from a diabetic coma. In 2004, my father passed away from pancreatic cancer, and she was so fragile by that point that she wasn't able to make the funeral. She has always been very close to Richard, Bobby's son. Because Richard's mother and Bobby got a divorce when Richard was so young, my grandma basically helped raise Richard.

My grandma had many health problems in her old age. She had breast cancer, heart problems, bladder problems, arthritis, and her vision was almost gone. For the past year she has been essentially bedridden, taken care of by Richard.

The last time I talked to her, a few months ago or so, she sounded really rough. I was telling her about Dan and our loft, and she said, "You didn't tell me you had gotten married! Why wasn't I invited?" I said, "Grandma, you were there at the wedding, don't you remember?" The doctors said that she had a small stroke and it pretty much cooked her brain.

Yesterday I got a call. My grandmother had a stroke last week, and after staying at home after a few days of hospice, she passed away. She was 92. She, like my uncle Bobby, is donating her body to science. After her body is used for research, she will be cremated. There will be no funeral, no memorial service. The only ones who would be there to attend would be the grandchildren, anyway.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my grandmother, Nadine Burdette.

Tuesday, May 9

M2C Mailbag - Teenagers and Mormon Friends

I received this e-mail from "J" and thought I would share my answer with the readers of the blog:

I've been wanting to ask someone about the tactics used to persuade teens to join their religion. You know a teenage guy well - not a lot of information comes our way. Teens don't want parents casting judgement on their friends and their families. It's a fine line to walk: allowing him to spend time with his friend while trying to limit that amount of time without over reacting.. They treat our son like gold and their son is always on the phone inviting him over. What frustrates my husband and I, is that it seems their son can never come to our home.

Any insights on how to handle this situation or what to watch for would be greatly appreciate

You are very wise to be concerned about your son's involvement in his Mormon friend's activities.

Many teenagers join the Mormon church due to fellowshipping and "love bombing" from their friends. Mormon teens are encouraged to socialize with non-members almost exclusively in the context of trying to convert them. Mormon teenagers are encouraged to have nice "wholesome" entertainment, and for this they should be praised. However, the fact that the children are only allowed to socialize in their Mormon home is basically saying that the parents don't quite feel that your home is "wholesome" enough for their children.

Also, from the time children are old enough to have friends who are not Mormon, they are taught the concept of "Every Member a Missionary." They are taught that giving the gift of the Gospel is the best gift you can give to a nonmember friend. No matter how close your son becomes to these Mormon friends of his, I can guarantee you that their guard will be up and they will always try to find ways to give your son the gift of the Gospel.

Here are some articles from official LDS publications that address the issue:

Activities that Change Lives
They've turned 16, now what?
Sharing the Gospel: It’s the Grice Thing to Do
A Parent’s Guide, 5: Teaching Adolescents: from Twelve to Eighteen Years

What I would recommend is to talk to your son about his friends and their religious belief. Let him know that it is Ok for them to be friends, but if religion comes up that he is encouraged to bring back questions he may have about his faith and the Mormon faith home instead of taking what they say as concrete fact. Make sure he knows his catechism, and make sure he's secure in his faith.

There's not much that can be done, unfortunately, especially because I'm sure these types of discussions would be quite difficult for a parent and a teenage boy.

I hope this gives you at least some perspective on where the friends are coming from, and what you can do to protect your son.

"Mormons losing faith from information from Internet" says BYU Dean

I'm totally stealing this from JLO. There's a new web site out there for an orgainzation called the More Good Foundation. According to the organization's Make a Difference page:

At the More Good Foundation we believe that we should never give up our right to tell our own stories, in our own way. We should share our experiences and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that is readily understandable by those honestly seeking the truth; we should not be ashamed or hesitant of sharing our point of view. Religious experiences and feelings are personal and deep; they cannot be properly described or conveyed in a neutral, dispassionate, or analytical manner. Our spiritual experiences and testimonies, while real, can’t be completely conveyed by simply describing facts or using only logical arguments. The Spirit of the Lord works in a different way.

Moreover, a neutral point of view can sometimes be used to disguise antagonistic feelings while pursuing the goal of discrediting the Church or its leaders. Since the beginning, the Mormon Church has had to face enemies who did all in their power to spread rumors and lies about the Lord's work. While we respect their right to do so, we are under no obligation to simply listen to them, ignore them, and then move on.

We don't need to move on, we need to move IN. We have the duty to help those “who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). How can people learn the truth if they cannot easily find the truth? This is where we, as members, must be better prepared and better equipped to tell our own story—and to have that story heard by those who are seeking.

In a nutshell, the More Good foundation was created to help combat the negative information on the web about the Mormon church (i.e. this site).

JLO makes some very good observations about their Testimonies page:

A couple of things to notice: Dr. Millet explicitly acknowledges that once people have all the information, there is a disconnect between what they feel with their emotions and what they understand rationally. Also, the guy in the last clip tells us that missionaries are losing investigators because they can't control the information people get about the church.

Personally, I think they have very little chance of affecting what investigators learn about the church, but then I'm pretty sure that this effort is aimed at members. There seems to be a more desperate focus on keeping members from reading anything that might damage a fragile testimony. What I think that will do is leave a core membership that is willfully ignorant of church history. That's not a good base for a growing church.

I could be wrong, though.

M2C Mailbag

I received this e-mail from "N. from Omaha" a few days ago which asked a very good question:

Hi Cynthia ... I saw your blog and was very interested. Our stories are similar. I'm 37. Married to a Catholic. And, we're both ex-Mormons. I served a mission in Korea, and was a very active Mormon, married in temple. Left the LDS Church in '03 six months after my husband became Catholic. I've been exploring Buddhism and attending Unitarian Universalist church for two years. But I'm scared of exploring Catholicism. I don't know why it's so scary to me. I respect my husband's decision to join, but as a former Mormon I carry around so many biases against Catholicism. My motivation for learning about Catholicism would be to feel closer to God and my husband, and to give our two young children a foundation of faith.

How should I get over my fear? It's like I've been brainwashed my entire life to FREAK out at the sign of a cross? How do you overcome the Mormon programming?

Thank you for the question, N! "Deprogramming" from old Mormon prejudices and stereotypes is a huge part of mentally freeing oneself from the Mormon ties that bind.

I do understand about the Mormon biases against Catholicism, not to mention the Mormon biases against Protestantism, Judaism, and pretty much every religion except Mormonism. I do still carry some of those to this day, unfortunately. Going into a "Christian" bookstore makes my skin crawl. Bumper stickers with catchy little phrases like "In case of rapture this car will be unmanned!" really get on my last ever loving nerve.

But I've always been fascinated by Catholicism. Maybe it's the media and the way the church is presented, or maybe it's the cool little statues and metals, but I always was intrigued by the Catholic church. Growing up Mormon I was told bad things about the Church, but I always loved when I'd get to go to Catholic things with my father for work (he worked in Catholic hospitals his whole career) or got to go to Catholic weddings. I even went through a period in college (after I left the Mormon church) where I attended Mass.

After my search for God led me to a Catholic mass, and I realized this was where I needed to be, I read like crazy and figured out what all these statues and rosaries and prayers and paraphenalia meant. It got rid of much of the "ookies" that were residual effects from my Mormon upbringing.

Also, being raised Mormon, I was always taught to be a "good Mormon". So, moving my religious life into Catholicism, I instictively moved to become a "good Catholic." I read like crazy about all different aspects of the Church. I had to relearn to pray, but I quickly learned some of the basic prayers of the church such as the Hail Mary, etc.

At the same time, though, I also had to relearn how to simply worship God as opposed to trying to be a "good Catholic". Growing up Mormon, I had to pray and read the scriptures and do my calling and tithe 10% of my Gross, not Net, and had to do food storage and journaling and .... I'm sure you distinctly remember. But being Catholic, if all I do is go to Mass every week, confess when I sin, and pray when I can, I"m doing Ok. If I decide to do more, I'm doing Ok, too. It's a hard thing to realize that I can walk into church, attend Mass, receive the Eucharist, and go home, and that's perfectly Ok with God.

However ... I still would feel odd wearing a crucifix, and I would seriously feel odd wearing a cross. During my conversion process, I have learned to have great reverence to crucifixes, so much so that I would feel irreverant to a crucifix if I were to wear it. I am also very careful with my rosaries to make sure that they are treated with great respect because they have a crucifix on them. Crosses still remind me of the "Yay Jesus" mentality of protestantism and they still give me the willies. I wear a St. Benedict medal, which has Latin prayers on it, and has a small cross on it but not a "cross" cross, if that makes sense. It lets Catholics know I'm Catholic, and it gives me something to remind me of my Catholicism. I was the type of Mormon who wore my CTR ring constantly. I like to flash something that people who are "in the know" will know but people who do not know will be oblivious to it.

So what would I recommend to get over your ingrained fear of the Catholic church? What I would recommend for you to do first is to go to a Catholic church by yourself, when there is not a service going on so it will be quiet, and pray in front of the Tabernacle. As I'm sure you know, Catholics believe in transubstantiation, and that the consecrated Hosts truly are the body of Christ. Spending time in front of the Tabernacle and praying has brought me closer to God than any other action I have done in my conversion. Even if you feel uncomfortable praying, just go and talk to God there from your heart, not with any formula or with any memorized prayers. I truly think it will help you gain perspective and bring you closer to God. Trust me when I say this, I was beyond hope for many years. But the Eucharist, the miracle performed in every Mass, is what gave me an insatiable desire to become Catholic. I had to experience that, no matter what the cost.

Pray for the ability to learn how to pray better. It's a simple request. Ask God to teach you how to talk to him so that you can be closer to him. Every other request is gravy right now. That's the first prayer I prayed in a Catholic church, and it's one I pray every day. I have to learn not to pray to be a "good Catholic", but to pray to be closer to God. It's something I work on every day.

I hope this helps and I hope that it answers your question! If any of my readers have a question about Mormonism or my conversion, feel free to e-mail me (link in sidebar) and I will publish your answer here.

Thursday, May 4

Around the Blogosphere

The question on the collective mind of the Catholic blogosphere - Why no "Da Vinci Code" screenings? - Amy Welborne

Top 10 Shortest Mormon Books by JLO

Cute Mormon Kid Drawings courtesy of C.L. Hanson

Seventh Generation natural cleaning products now have their own blog - Inspired Protagonist


I feel very comfortable in my groove that I've developed since Easter. I pray the morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours almost every day. I go to Daily Mass 2-3 times a week at least, plus I go to St. Jude Chapel on Saturday and Sunday. I pray when I can, and read when I can. I keep up with my Catholic board, and I'm so grateful to all the Catholic bloggers who keep me informed on what's going on in the political arena with the Catholic church, both nationally and globally.

I am also trying to make sure to focus attention on my husband more, because I don't want to become so involved in being a "Good Catholic" that I become a bad wife. It's important to me for us to continue to have a good relationship.

Since finding out this weekend that St. Jude Chapel will be getting a new permanent rector and that they will continue to have Saturday and Sunday Mass, I feel like a lot of pressure has been taken off of my shoulders. I was really stressing about whether I should continue to go to the Cathedral or if I should switch to St. Thomas Aquinas. Both options had their plusses and minuses. But I honestly only want to go to St. Jude. I'm happy and comfortable there. I know the faces, and I know many of the people. Plus it's so close - half a block from the front door of my loft building. I don't even have to cross the street to get there! The seats are comfy and it's always nice and cool there. The mosaics in the church are gorgeous - I really need to go take pictures and post them. There's lots of carpeting and padding, so the accoustics are such that even when there are fussy babies it is still quiet and peaceful.

I'm also very comfortable at Holy Family where I go to daily Mass. I really like the people, and again, I am getting to know the faces of the regulars pretty well.

I think one of the things that I like about the way that I worship right now is that I can go, do my Mass thing, pay my offering when they have it, and leave. When I was Mormon, I knew that as soon as I walked in the door that I was going to be given a "calling" or a responsibility to perform in the church. In my many different wards (a ward is equivalent to a Parish), I was called often to be in the Primary (children's sunday school) as a teacher and I was librarian a few times. In one Singles Ward, my whole job was to make covers for the programs for each week, and to print them in the library on the copier. I was also called frequently to be a "Visiting Teacher" to other women, visiting their homes once a month to check up on them. But I very rarely ever visited the people I was supposed to visit.

I know at some point I will want to become more involved with the organizations at church. But for now, I am just happy being Catholic, doing Catholic things, reveling in the prayers and in the Mass. It makes me happy just to sit there and be a part of the community. I don't want to get too involved - I want to keep it simple for now. I just want to work on developing my relationship with God, which is a difficult job in and of itself.

I think I'm just a little gunshy after seeing some of the problems that have happened at St. Jude and at the Cathedral since going both places. Things can get very complicated very fast when life happens to the priests and to to the members. My beliefs and my testimony are still very fragile. I still feel like a total newbie, faking it the best I can and praying that God will give me guidance to be able to make it through until I am stronger in my faith.


I really didn't mean to cause so much controversy in the post earlier this week about Michael. This blog is all about my journey as a new Catholic, and part of that journey is to figure out how to best juxtapose my new beliefs onto my existing life. Michael's commitment ceremony is part of that.

I do appreciate everyone's feedback on the comments section, and hope that I haven't upset too many people from the post.

Oh, and the way I got uninvited from the wedding is that my husband made a comment about the groom-to-be that the bride-to-be did not approve of in his weekly podcast (he said that our friend quitting a band a week before they got signed was ... let's just say that my husband called that a stupid decision) and the bride-to-be got on my husband's blog and made terribly tacky comments about my husband, his show and my personal life and friends that were completely uncalled for. Then she uninvited us to the wedding.

It's a shame, really. He was one of my oldest friends, and the comment was not a direct insult to him but saying that his actions were not the smartest. No, we don't know the whole story behind why the friend left the band, but instead of calling us out on his comment or trying to discuss the misunderstanding like adults, we were berated in a public forum by his girlfriend which is just way too 8th grade for my tastes. I was really looking forward to getting them a fondue set for their present, too.

The Lost Experience

For those of you who are not completely addicted to the TV show "Lost" yet, the network has found another way to hook you. They are running a game called the "Lost Experience."

Belo, bless their hearts for finally doing something right, is hosting a blog with information about the contest. I have no doubt there are sights that are much more involved than this one up there, but for now, this site works for me. I'll do more research this weekend about the game.

Monday, May 1

My Best Friend's Big Gay Wedding

My best friend Michael is having a commitment ceremony with his boyfriend of 5+ years on May 21st. I've blogged about Michael before. His wedding, like every "traditional" wedding I've ever experienced, is starting to have drama.

He has two attendants, me and T. T does not like me at all. She told Michael that she was throwing the Bachelor Party, and she did. Of course, she did no planning, invited only her friends and none of his, and left in the middle of it with her clique of lesbians, but that's another story. (And yes, I've already been to confession about it.)

She's also decided that she's standing next to him at the wedding. He told her I was his Honor Attendant (the politically correct term for Best (wo)Man), and she cried and said that if she didn't get to stand next to him and hold the ring that she wasn't coming to the wedding. He relented, and now she's pretty much decided to take all the "Best (wo)Man" things for herself, even though that's not her part in the wedding.

I'm really frustrated about the whole situation, as you might imagine. Michael is my best friend and has been for 14 years, and I am his best friend, and we always have each other's back. But this woman insisted on being in the wedding party, essentially forced herself to be Best (wo)Man, took all of the things I was going to do for him for herself and then talked trash about me to him after the party was over. She says she left because I made a comment she didn't approve of, but she was only half-listening and didn't hear the whole comment in the context of the joke. And if I said something that offended her, she should have said something to me instead of ditching the guest of honor at his own party.

If I'm this stressed, I can only imagine how upset Michael is about this whole thing.

We all have flakes at our wedding. She is his flake. I told him that in lieu of a bachelor party, since I won't be throwing that, I'll take him out for a day of pampering on the Friday before his wedding - a nice lunch and a mani/pedi kind of thing. Plus I'll throw in some Mimosas and we'll be good to go.

I have so much going on this month, between my company picnic next weekend and two weddings this month (we had three, but we got uninvited to one, so now we're down to two) that I'm just going to be exhausted by the end of the month. Thank goodness for that three-day weekend at the end of May.