Friday, April 24, 2015

Bad Convert: What On Earth Do We Bring to the Table?

*Note: while the title of this post is 'Bad Convert', this needn't apply to only converts; reverts and cradle Catholics are more than welcome, of course.

Do you ever get the feeling that if you see one more article about a certain topic, you will have no choice but to scream, pack your bags, and move to a secluded mountain village with vampire legends just to escape the incredible annoyingness of other people? (I'm only being slightly hyperbolic here).
For some people these are articles (inevitably written by the middle-aged and married) about how we should be enjoying our young and carefree days, or vegans telling us how we're destroying the earth and betraying king and country by eating that piece of bacon (sorry, vegans), or pieces that mainly consist of someone making vaguely sexist jokes about their spouse. For me, it is every time someone says something along the lines of, "I love Protestant-to-Catholic converts; they're so great at Bible-reading and evangelizing!"
Stop it. Stop it now.
Make no mistake, most Protestant churches put a lot of emphasis on 'digging deep into the Word' and 'spreading the joy of Jesus' and 'being on fire for God'. In school, we had to do Scripture memorization for marks; parents would give their children prizes for reading through the whole Bible in a year, or race their kids to see who could finish first. So it's very awkward when one says one used to be a Protestant, only to be met with the immediate (and understandable) assumption that one is well-versed in Scripture, when one... isn't.
I have always been terrible at reading the Bible. By the time I had my own Bible to read, I had heard the stories so often that I felt my head would burst if I read them through, and some of the Bible's writers seemed to lack JK Rowling's storytelling flair (I was the kid who sat on the floor of their wardrobe reading Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince in pajamas). I think that most kids I knew had read through the whole Bible, or at least read it regularly, by the time we were in fourth grade; I read Isaiah for the first time about a year ago. I am the worst Bible-reader I know- I am, in short, what a lot of Protestants think Catholics are.
The second thing, about being a great evangelist, also has its exceptions. If 'being on fire for God' means being outgoing, extroverted, social, and sufficiently loud, then I am an empty hearth. I like to talk about my Faith, but I like to in smaller groups of people I know well, without our sweaty palms clamped on one another's shoulders or the question, "ARE YOU SAVED?!" being tossed out like spare Lego parts from a nanny's purse (the answer to which is, by the way, I have been saved, I am being saved, and, God willing, I will be saved). There are those of us who can only take so much noise and crowding. There are those of us who really struggle with reading the Bible consistently, or even at all. Does this mean there is no place for us in the Church? Heck, no!
Of course, we all must be striving. Being antisocial doesn't mean I shouldn't be kind or share the Faith; the Bible is not always a page-turner, but I should still read it in order to better understand our Faith and grow closer to God. But I am not bringing excellent social-skills or entire books of memorized Scripture to the table.
So, if you're a Protestant-to-Catholic convert who is only beginning to read the Bible or #ShareJesus, there are things you can bring to the table that, perhaps, the rest of us can't. There's dinner-rolls already here; you bring your pasta or roast-beef (sorry, we're just talking about tables, and food, and... ahhh, food. Yum.).


Love and prayers,
Grace

Monday, April 20, 2015

Awkward Catholic Moments: a List

God is love. And love is awkward. 

1.) Checking out the day's hymn selection... much to your regret.
Lord We Life Your Name on High, They Will Know We Are Christians, Taste and See, and Go Make a Difference in ONE MASS? Can we sing On Eagle's Wings as the recessional, just to keep the party going? Nice work, music ministry.
[This is based on actual events.]



2.) All that standing up during Mass when it's your time of the month.
Trial by fire? Ha, try trial by being a Glorious Crown of Creation (is it time to genuflect yet?).



3.) When you didn't know someone was already in the confessional.
I'm telling you, the lightbulb was burnt out! That wasn't on purpose! Don't hurt me!



4.) In line for confession with a very inappropriate song stuck in your head.
Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg... what?



5.) Promptly forgetting everything wrong you've ever done the moment you step before the screen. 
Do I sin?



6.) When you run into your parish's long-time altar-server in public and realize you didn't know their name, or what they look like without robes and surrounded by a cloud of incense.



7.) When you aren't quite as happy-looking about your close friend going off to the monastery as you'd like to be. 
No, no, really, I am excited for you! I'm through the roof! Honestly... *chokes back tears*



8.) You have to quickly explain a Catholic thing and you aren't sure how concise you can be...



9.)  Taking the, "If I'm not ready to laugh at myself, I can still pretend to!" approach.
Lewis would be so proud of me. I hope.


10.) Turns out there's no way one can say, "I think you'd make a wonderful [insert coincidentally-celibate vocation here]!" without sounding insulting.
I think you'd fit in at the Grand Chartreuse, too.


11.) Getting so excited on Solemnities during Lent that the people around you are... concerned.
But I get to eat... BACON. ICE-CREAM. DO YOU HEAR ME?



12.) Kneeler, meet toes. During silent prayer. This is not pretty.
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know!





Saturday, April 11, 2015

13 Times 'Hobbit' Gifs Perfectly Described the Early Stages of Converting to Catholicism

Of course this list is going to be somewhat subjective. To paraphrase Chesterton, Catholicism is a house with a hundred gates, and no two men enter at the same angle. God bless you. 

1.) When you want your favourite authors and friends from your former way of life to come and convince you off of this slippery slope into the Catholic Church. 

                           

2.) When you can't even handle the beauty and goodness and truth.



3.) When you decide to go for a little swim across the Tiber. In other words... CONVERRRRTIIIIING!!! 


4.) Preparing for your first confession, looking at your sins, and being all like:

It's not like you got humility down-pat on your first go,
pal. 
5.) Being pained at Christian division.

"I actually said, 'it's a big tent!' yesterday."

6.) When others try to dissuade you from your planned Tiber-hop.




7.) You want to be so much more charitable.

Love as Christ loves, even when the shop is playing 'Rude' on
the loudspeakers. 


8.) Heresy actually annoys you now.

"I smell Arianism."


9.) When your first confession ends without you being smote to the ground by lightning. It's not like you were worried about some disaster killing you before you could be Absolved... um...

I'm alive! And I've had an encounter with Christ's Mercy
that has washed me as clean as the fresh-fallen snow! I SURVIVED
HOLLA HOLLA 

10.) You take start to take evangelization seriously. Very seriously. 



11.) OH MY GOSH. THE CHURCH IS SO BIG. LIKE FOR REAL. LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE IN THIS PHOTO OF THE VATICAN. LOOK AT THEM. 


12.) You want to mention you're Catholic whenever the opportunity arises.

"No, innocent sales associate, I don't want any sausages on sale!
This is a Friday during Lent, and I am a Catholic-" *pointed
pause* "Of the Catholic Church."

13.) You want your friends, your family, your enemies, your barista, and everyone else to convert. 



Sunday, April 05, 2015

Death, Be Not Proud

Holy Saturday feels almost like a suspension. We are not Friday, we are not Sunday, and the world holds its breath- for we know that we put Him on that Cross, and knowing that He will rise again doesn't make the Cross only a bad dream; it still happened. How soon we often forget pain once it has abated. And sometimes we don't feel it. What can we call up to help us immerse ourselves in the reality of His life, death, and resurrection? There come days when things are too dark for us to grasp the concept of light. 
In all of this, for all of us, knowing our pride- He still went. Love. He is Love. 
All of this considered... how blessed we are that He has made it possible for us to say, "Death, where is your victory?"

Death, where is your victory?

A blessed Easter to you, friends. Christ is risen, and the morning has come.




Friday, April 03, 2015

Good Friday

From Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

-Isaiah 53:2-9, 12 (emphasis mine)


      Monday, March 30, 2015

      Saturday, March 28, 2015

      C'est La Vie | Spice Cake

                 

      "Love is stupid monkeys dancing in a slapstick hurricane." - The F Word/What If 

      "Let us go and do some of these things we can't do." -Michael Moon, Manalive

      ***

      It is very easy to look at other people's pictures and assume their lives are neat and tidy and that just beyond the camera lens, there isn't even a little chaos. But that would be incorrect. It would be better to look at those pictures of gorgeous views, beautiful people (all the babies!), and good food and acknowledge that life isn't all peachy, but we will fight to celebrate the beautiful/true, or die trying. Anyway, just something I realized a while ago. 

      When you're out for the weekend, come downstairs in the house you're staying in,
      and find that it's just you and the chandelier awake. Lovely moments, those. 




      You know that part of Lent where you begin to really appreciate Sunday/Solemnity foods? And so you begin to freak out a little and start taking pictures of hot chocolate and Victoria Sponge sandwiches? Yeah. Well, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I went and made a spice-cake. The desire for sugar even overshadowed my intense dislike of making icing, so it was frosted, too. I'd never made spice-cake before, and it was delicious, so here is the recipe. There was a note scribbled at the top of the paper saying it was from a cookbook my grandmother owns called God is Great, and that's all the information I have about it. 
      [Please note that these photos are edited because (a) editing is fun, and (b) the lighting in the room where it was served has this annoying tendency to make all photos taken in that room look extra-shiny and unattractive. The first photograph pretty accurately portrays what the cake looked like in real life.]


      3/4 cup butter
      1 1/2 cup sugar
      2 eggs
      1 cup buttermilk (so just a cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar, if you wanted to make your own)
      2 cups flour 
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 teaspoon cloves
      1 teaspoon salt

      Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt, alternately with the buttermilk. Bake in a greased 9x12 inch pan until lightish-brown (mine was burnt a little, or I'd show you a picture of the colour). 
      Then, if you so desire, you can slather it in buttery icing, that is just a bit too rich because you got frustrated at its thinness and started pouring icing-sugar in like there was no tomorrow. Or decent icing. Your call. 



      Another thing that happened: I received a beautiful cord rosary from Sarah. Pictures will be forthcoming. Is there anything you'd like me to pray for, to start using it?

      Bless you,
      G

      Previous Rambles