Tuesday, September 08, 2009 

Still Catholic

I've left this blog in place because I know that many people have read it. I hope that it is a continuing source of information to those who are looking. We are still Catholic. We enjoy our church very much. Both my wife and I are in weekly prayer groups. Our daughter is being raised in the Catholic Church.

I'll try and update this more often than once in three and a half years!

Saturday, February 18, 2006 

Becoming Catholic

Our Mass began today at 3 p.m. My wife and I were dressed in our best. We were pleased and even a little surprised to see that several friends made long drives to attend our confirmation. There were more people present than we expected. Our best friends are Ken and Brenda. Ken is a cradle Catholic, but Brenda was being confirmed with us. Their children were to receive their first communion and will be confirmed with their classes later. This Mass was being celebrated so that the six of us could be welcomed. Father did a very nice job with Mass. Since this was a special Mass for us, the homily was personalized. In front of our friends and family, we were confirmed. I was almost a little nervous to receive communion. I have longed for this. Am I worthy? I went to confession. I have studied and learned. Somehow, as I said the words, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you…” I felt that I was indeed not worthy.

Now it’s time. I walked up to Father after my wife. I bowed. I held out my hands, left on top, making a throne. Almost trembling a little. Father gave me a smile. He knows how important this is to me. Amen, I said. He placed the host in my hands – the actual presence of Christ! I placed it in my mouth, being careful not to chew. I turned to the deacon next to receive the cup. I forgot to cross myself! Too late now, the deacon is handing me the cup. I bowed and took the cup. Amen. I took a sip and handed the cup back. This time I remembered to cross myself. I turned and returned to my seat, and kneeled. Thank you, God. I have received you and you have received me. My first communion was imperfect on my part, but perfect on God’s part.

Afterwards, we had cake and punch in the fellowship hall. Friends and family congratulated us. We got a few cards and gifts. It was nice. Since this was a special Saturday Mass, it did not count for our obligation. We stayed for 5:30 Saturday evening Mass. Our families brought the gifts and Father introduced us as new Catholics. The congregation applauded and many people welcomed us at the end of Mass.

We belong now and we feel it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 

Valentine's dinner at church

Last night was the annual couples Valentine Dinner at our new church. We went to 5:30 (Saturday) Mass, then to the dinner at the parish hall. We had a nice dinner with wine. Ken and Brenda were at our table, as well as two other couples that we had not met before, so it was nice to makes some new friends. Fr. K gave us the opportunity to renew our voews, which was nice. Lori and I won the award for the couple who had been married the least number of years at six and one-half. One couple had been married for sixty years!

Tomorrow night is the spaghetti feed at church, so both our suppoers this weekend will be at church events. I guess we are getting involved in our new church pretty well.

Next Saturday is the big day.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 

Our retreat

Yesterday, we spent the entire day in retreat as part of our formation process. Our group was lead by Fr. K, but included Lori and myself, as well as Ken and Brenda and there kids. Dale an Mary Sue attended, as well as another couple who helped teach the younger kids, Joe and Sarah. May Sue spent time with Kathryn. Fr. K focused on us adults.

Our retreat took place at the St. Benedict's Center, which is a beautiful retreat center in the country. We had some lesson time, but also some alone time for meditation. One of the most moving moments was praying the rosary together as a group. The kids have taken to this very well. It was great watching them pray their first rosary! We also did the Stations of the Cross.

Later in the day, we had the opportunity for Reconciliation. For the kids, this would be their first confession. For us adults, this was our chance to clear our consciences before our confirmation.

The retreat was incredible. Fr. K has spent a lot of time with us and has made this formation a memorable and inspiring process. This ends our formation, but not our learning. Just because the formal process is over does not mean we have to stop learning.

In two weeks, we will be formally accpeted into the Catholic faith. I look forward to that like a kid looks forward to Christmas.

Saturday, January 21, 2006 

"I still don't understand why you and your wife want to be Catholics?"

I received these words in the comments section by an anonymous poster. It is a fair question. If this blog is to have meaning, I must answer it.

I have explained that our previous Lutheran Church was straying, in our opinion. The greater Evangelical Lutheran Church was starting to allow same-sex marriages and openly gay pastors who were not celibate. Perhaps our main reason for leaving was our local church's treatment of the Eucharist. It was not exclusively the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but a recruitment tool for increased church membership. Our pastor convinced the church council that allowing non-baptized persons to receive the Eucharist made them "feel welcome." The church didn't even require that people "believe" before receiving communion. Essentially, there was no requirement to receiving communion at all, except that a person get in line and hold out their hand. I am not criticizing our old church, although I know it seems that I am. That church played an important role in our faith journey. They were free to change their communion policy, and we were free to disagree - and to leave. We still love and respect the people of that church.

Becoming Catholic is more for us than leaving an old church with which we disagreed. We are also seeking. We are seeking the church that Jesus Christ himself founded. We are seeking a relationship with Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, and the Communion of Saints that only the church can deliver. We are seeking a fellowship with Christians who understand our desire and respect for the Eucharist. We are not looking to reject protestant Christians, but to embrace all Christians. The word catholic, after all, means universal, and is sometimes used to refer to all of Christianity, and not just the Roman Catholic Church.

We are enjoying the process. My wife was a life-long Lutheran, but I became a Lutheran after a single two-hour class. The process of becoming Catholic has been spiritual, enlightening, and rewarding. Our priest has made sure of that and has been very generous with his time. It is taking us several months, but it has been a good transition. Patience is a virtue I sometimes lack, and I am anxiously looking forward to my confirmation and first communion next month. My wife is also enjoying this very much. She goes to adoration every week and has learned to pray the Rosary.

Perhaps my words do not do justice to the joy we are feeling. Our relationship with Christ, and each other, has been strengthened.

Like the prodigal son, we are coming home to the mother church and we feel welcome.

Sunday, January 08, 2006 

Our fifth meeting with Father

Last night marked our fifth meeting with Fr. K. We had a nice dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and home-baked rolls. We enjoyed about 2 1/2 hours of conversation. Our conversation centered on the catechism up to the fifth commandment. Fr. K answered our questions; as usual we leaned much.

We are going on a one-day retreat to a local retreat center on February 4. The kids will get some extra instruction prior to their First Communion, and we adults will finish with the catechism and prepare for our confirmation. Since this will be an all-day retreat, I'm sure we'll get a lot out of it.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. Our confirmation Mass is set for February 18. We've already started inviting friends and family.

Monday, January 02, 2006 

A new year begins, this time - we're Catholic

New Year's Eve was quiet for us. Personally, I'm not a big fan of it. But we did go out to see a movie. On New Year's Day, we were at 9:00 am Mass.

I spent much of the day reading and relaxing. I am now nearly finished reading the catechism - way ahead of schedule. I should finish my reading tomorrow. Actually, I have learned as much from internet sources as I have from reading the catechism. Reading both was necessary for me.

Since New Year's Day is on a Sunday, we had our men's group tonight. Ken and Tom are out of town, but Dale, Dan and I were there. Dale and I went to adoration afterward. We prayed a rosary together and I kept reading from my catechism.

We meet with Fr. K this coming Saturday. I look forward to it.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 


Christmas Eve found us at our new church home twice. We went to Mass at 5 pm with Lori's sister. This was the Mass for the children. Their choir sang and at one point in the Mass, Fr. K had all the children come forward to the alter to talk to them about the true meaning of Christmas. During this time, Santa Claus came in, walked up to the alter, and kneeled before the Christ child at the nativity scene. It was very beautiful and spiritual, and it gave a good message to the kids.

The church was packed. I've never seen it so full. This church is large, with pew space to seat 1,200 people, but I would guess that about 1,400 were there. It was standing room only, a sight to see.

After a Christmas Eve dinner and a movie, we returned to church by 11:30 for midnight Mass. The adult choir sang and the music was incredible. I love singing some of my favorite Christmas carols. I have noticed that Catholics aren't always big singers, but not at this Mass. The congregation sang well, especially Silent Night.

As I have said before, Lori and I always go up for a blessing during communion. Tonight, Father gave me a blessing and a pat on the shoulder, and said, "soon," referring to my upcoming confirmation and first communion, which can't come soon enough.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2005 

Christmas Eve - Thank you to my readers

As I reflect on what I have written, I am encouraged to continue by those of you who have left comments or sent emails. They are appreciated. As I have stated, I have more than one purpose in writing this log. In addition to creating a written account of my conversion for myself, my family and friends, I am hopeful that this log will help others who may be converting or considering it. Perhaps my experience will be an inspiration to another Christian, or will help give some insight into the process of adult confirmation into the Catholic Church.

I thank all of you who have read these words, and I thank you who have made your presence known to me. It is a comfort.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 

Our Fourth Meeting with Father (Fourth Sunday in Advent)

Last night, we went to Mass at 5:30. Fr. K had a good message as usual. Afterward, we went to Ken and Brenda's for dinner and discussion. Ken made his famous home-made Beef Stroganoff, and it was his one of his better efforts. He's a good cook.

We had another good discussion covering Sacraments, indulgences, and some church history. We talked for over two hours. We are close to pinning down the date our our conformation, which will be in February. We are planning a day-long retreat on February 4. By the time we are finished, we will have had six meetings with father K, read the entire Catechism (plus several other books,) and been to a retreat. I dare say we are getting more personalized information than we would have through the RCIA class, not that I am criticizing the class. It has been nice for us to have this personal attention.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 


Last night, I went to Perpetual Adoration with Dan, who is a close friend and member of my men's prayer group. He generally goes at 10 pm on the second Tuesday of the month. I go with him most of the time, and have for over a year. During Lent last year, we went every Tuesday night and Ken joined us.

I prayed a Rosary (the joyous mysteries seemed appropriate for Christmas), lit a candle for all those I am praying for, and read several more pages from the catechism in preparation for our upcoming meeting with Fr. K this Saturday night.

Lori went to adoration earlier today. She's really getting into this, and I'm glad.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 

Weekly Mass (Third Sunday in Advent)

Today I record that we attended Mass last night, right after my confession. I'm starting to really feel like a Catholic, now that I have received one of the sacraments. That, plus our offering envelopes came in the mail. It really makes you feel like you belong!

Father K wants us to be "hungry for the Eucharist." Right now, I feel like I'm starving for it. We've been going up to the priest for a blessing during Communion. Fr. Mario gave a good blessing and a smile. I like him.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 

Sacrament of Reconciliation - my first confession

Well, I did it. Perhaps the most intimidating part of my new Catholic faith was searching my heart and confessing my most troubling sins. I wanted to do this before Christmas, and the upcoming weeks are increasingly busy, so I thought to do it now. I was both anxious with the anticipation of being absolved and scared to tell things I don't want to discuss. I am not one to readily admit serious fault, or so I've been told.

I went to church with the intention of confession, a full hour and a half before Saturday evening Mass. I didn't know which priest would be hearing confessions, but secretly hoped it would be Fr. K - not because the other priests would be fine - but Fr. K is guiding our formation and knows where I'm coming from. He knows this is my first confession. I found Fr. K at church. He wasn't hearing confessions tonight, but would be glad to take care of me anyway.

We went to his confessional room off the adoration chapel. The room was comfortable, and larger than expected - a long way from the small dusky confessionals I'd seen portrayed in the movies, but I'd learned that confession was now a different experience. The room did have a kneeler separated from Father by a curtain, so people could still go to confession in relative anonymity if they chose, but if you come around the curtain, there are two chairs. Father and I each took a chair and began to talk. We spent the first fifteen minutes just talking. I'm sure he knew I was a little nervous and he was helping me relax.

I began my confession as I had learned, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned; this is my first confession." I had brought a cheat-sheet I printed from an internet website about how to confess. The cheat-sheet helped me remember categories of sin, and I filled-in the blanks. Father seemed more interested in the sins that weighed heaviest on my conscience, rather than a list. He couldn't have been more understanding and comforting. I talked. He listened and counseled. This was easier than I expected. Once I got started, I wasn't uncomfortable any more. In a way, it seemed like a spiritual counseling session. Why were people not lined up out the door for this? This is awesome! When I got to the end, I read of the prayer of contrition, and Father absolved me. He gave me a reasonable and even educational penance. The weight of all my past sins were gone.

My wife's gonna love this when it's her turn to confess. She'll have a man who will actually sit and listen to her.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 

Immaculate Conception

Tonight we went to Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We went with Ken and Brenda and their kids and all sat together. It was beautiful. The statue of the Virgin Mary, which is a representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was especially decorated. (The picture at left is the actual statue from our church.) Father Mario's homily was very nice; he explained the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, which apparently many Catholics (and other Christians) confuse with the Annunciation.

My only disappointment was that the place was not packed. Wasn't this a Holy Day of obligation? Where is everyone? There were many people at this Mass and the earlier one as well, but not nearly enough to account for the entire congregation.

Sunday, December 04, 2005 

A day to study (Second Sunday in Advent)

We went to Mass last night (Saturday), so I spent much of the day studying, mostly internet resources. There are many good websites to help the aspiring Catholic. I have tried to list several of them in the right hand column of this blog. I am considering putting together a website to list them all. This would be a good place for people to start if they are converting or considering it.

Also, I am giving some thought to my first confession. Part of me looks forward to it, part does not.

As always, I look forward to my men's prayer group tonight. There are five of us who meet every Sunday night. The group includes Ken, who is my sponsor. These guys are my closest friends. We adhere to the formula taught us on our Christian Encounter weekends. We discuss our prayer lives, our Christian study, our moments when we felt closest to Christ, and our apostolic successes, failures, and plan. We keep each other accountable in our faith walks. I was the lone protestant in the group, but now we are all Catholic. This group has closely bonded in the past five years. It is a support group as well as a prayer group. I am lucky to have this support as I make this conversion.

Sunday, November 27, 2005 

Our third meeting with Father (First Sunday of Advent)

Sunday night at our house for a soup supper and more conversation. We were instructed to be up to page 300 in the Catechism for tonight. Ken was out of town, but Lori, Brenda, and I were here with Father K. We had an interesting discussion as always. Father seems to be enjoying our discovery and progress. Hopefully, he is enjoying the suppers, too. He is a busy man, with hundreds of families in his parish. We can appreciate that he is taking so much time for just us.

We discussed some Marian issues and the Rosary. Father blessed the new Rosary I gave Lori, as well as one for Ken and Brenda's daughter that she will be given at Christmas. Lori's really getting into this. She went to adoration earlier this week and said a Rosary with her new beads. I'm glad she's making this conversion so well. She's a trooper. Not that it's been difficult, people have been very nice and welcoming. Our friends are supportive. Father K. has been great.

Up to this point, most of the Catechism has been familiar territory - not much different than the things we learned in the Lutheran church (the creeds are identical) but I think from here on out we are into more new information. I look forward to that. We were assigned only 100 more pages by our next meeting on December 17.

Sunday, November 20, 2005 

Continuing my study

I spent much of the day today reading from the catechism. It's easy reading, not much new information yet. I'm now up to page 270. Our assignment is to be to page 300 by our next meeting with Fr. K.

I am also reading other books. The list includes Catholicism for Dummies (don't laugh, this is an excellent resource written by two Catholic priests) The How-to Book of the Mass, and The Rosary.

The internet has been an extremely useful resource, although I am having a hard time finding other people in my situation who have written down their stories. I'm sure there are many others, and as I find them, I will list them in this blog. I don't want this blog to be just my journal, but also a resource. Who knows, maybe this will even help someone else on their journey.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 

My wife's new Rosary

Tonight, Lori was sitting reading a book about the Rosary. The book discusses the history, tradition, and how to pray the Rosary, as well as other prayers that can be prayed using Rosary beads.

Well, while she was reading she had in her hand a cheap, plastic set of Rosary beads. I knew this was my opportunity. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a "Mother Teresa" Rosary. Lori is a great admirer of Mother Teresa, and I know this would be special for her. I didn't know when I would give it to Lori, but this was the perfect occasion. She liked it very much. We'll ask Fr. K to bless it this Sunday.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 

Our second meeting with Father

For this meeting, we were assigned to read the first 100 pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Almost none of this is new information, but it's important reading. We held this meeting a Fr. K's rectory. We discussed what we read. The meetings are enjoyable and educational.

Fr. K said yes to the question that our dog, Bo, will be going to heaven with us, which is reassuring. I agree. God gave us pets to love, why would he take them away from us in heaven? I know this is not the most important theoligical question of our day, but it is important to us. U

Sunday, October 23, 2005 

Our first meeting with Father

Sunday morning, we went to Catholic Mass. We've been going for a couple of weeks now, since we left the Lutheran church. People are friendly, are we have some long-time friends that we're sitting with. That makes the transition easier.

Sunday night was our first meeting with Father K., who is the senior pastor of the parish. I met with Father K. previously and privately to discuss our possible conversion. That meeting went extremely well. He was warm and friendly, and very understanding. He agreed that we could go through an independent study process rather than RCIA. RCIA is actually meant for the non-baptized or people who have not been active in a church. We are baptized and active, so that didn't really apply to us. Still we understood that Father K. was doing us a service, since sometimes people in our situation get placed in RCIA anyway.

We are going through this process with another couple, Ken and Brenda. Ken is my best friend. He is a cradle-Catholic and very active and knowledgeable. He will be sponsor to his wife and me. My wife's sponsors will be her brother and sister-in-law. The four of us and Father K. had a nice prime rib dinner at our house (yes, we are trying to make a good impression) and then sat for conversation. We discussed our conversion process. Father K answered our questions. We agreed on a plan that would consist of independent study at Father's direction, and several meetings with him that would take place over the next few months. I was hoping for a quick and easy process that would have us communing by Advent, but he wanted a more deliberate manner. I see the wisdom in his plan, but I am the type that wants everything done yesterday, so I was a little disappointed. Still, it looks like we are on track to be in full communion by Lent. U

Monday, October 10, 2005 

Christian Encounter Weekend

I just returned from a Christian Encounter weekend. I've been on these weekends several times as a worker, and I made my first weekend five years ago. These weekends are always awesome. We had about 60 guys from all over the area. Some of the guys give talks, and we hear a few talks by priests. We eat well - which is an understatement. And we bond as Christian men; we laugh, talk, and reflect. Some of my favorite pictures of Jesus show Him smiling or laughing. My words do not do justice to the power and fun of these weekends - yes, I said fun. Having good, clean fun is an important Christian value in my book, and we have an abundance of that. Women bond when they cry, but men bond when they laugh.

The weekend is Catholic, but all Christians are welcome. It is not meant to convert anybody, but rather to strengthen your relationship with Christ. Men and women go on separate weekends. No one has ever knocked a protestant church here. Of the 60 guys here, only a handful of us are protestant, yet I have always felt belonging and acceptance. These past five years of attending these weekends has opened my eyes to the Catholic Church.

In some of the protestant churches I have attended in the past, Catholicism got a bad reputation. Especially as a child I was told that Catholics aren't true Christians. They worship statues and the Virgin Mary, and they don't believe that Christ is risen, which is why they show Christ still on the cross in the crucifix, instead of the empty cross of the protestants.

I now know that these things aren't true, but it took time. When you are taught these things in church as a child, you grow up believing them. In fairness, The more recent protestant churches I have attended were not Catholic-bashers. I hope this is because people are more educated than they used to be. I hope we are all becoming more united as Christians. U

Sunday, October 02, 2005 

Sunday's sermon - we won't be back

The subject of todays sermon was the changes in our communion policy. Pastor explained that this new policy is more "welcoming" to non-baptized persons who want to take communion (though we currently don't have any non-baptized persons in the church who will now be taking communion.) He explained that this was not a unanimous vote in council, that there were detractors. He went on to explain our concerns, but certainly not in the way that we would have explained them. As he pointed out our concerns, he explained why we were wrong! I feel betrayed. He has minimized our concerns and therefore minimized those of us who disagreed with him.

My wife sobbed quietly throughout most of the sermon. This is our last worship at this church. I will have to resign as president. I can't stay now to finish my term; that would be hypocritical.

I don't want to portray this pastor as a bad person. He is someone I care about and have worked closely with. We agree on many more things than we disagree, but this current disagreement is fundamental. I don't feel that I can talk to him right now. Today's sermon has alienated me. U

Thursday, September 29, 2005 

Making our decision

As suspected, my wife was very disappointed that our church has changed its communion rules. We agree that it is time for us to move on. That won't be easy for either of us. We have deep ties to this church. We were married here. We have friends here.

I am considering finishing my term as president, then leaving the church quietly. I have four months left on my term, and is this the right thing to do? We don't care to make a big deal out of this. Resigning as council president is very obvious. If we wait until after my term ends, we can leave the church more easily, and more gracefully.

In retrospect, perhaps ELCA Lutheran was never a good choice for us. They have a more liberal philosophy. We are more conservative. ELCA has been considering ordaining actively gay pastors and performing gay marriages. Eventually, they are heading that way. Our pastor has publicly stated that he advocates this position.

There have been other issues, too. For example, after communion, the bread is thrown away - dumped in the trash! A few minutes ago, we called this the body of Christ, now it is called garbage. This has always bothered me. I have discussed my concern with the pastor on previous occasions, but nothing has changed. Its time for us to go to a church that takes the Eucharist more seriously. U

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 

My last days as a protestant

Make no mistake, I am not going to join a new church and bash my former church. Honest Christians can disagree sometimes, and that is the situation I faced. I still believe that the truth of Jesus Christ that binds us together as Christians is more important than the differences between protestants and Catholics.

For the past two years, I have been president of my Lutheran church's congregational council. For the past six years, I have been a lector, communion assistant, usher, and a Sunday school teacher. To say that my wife and I were very involved in our church is an understatement.

I love the people of the church. They are good, decent people, and they are good Christians. My wife and I were married in this church, and the people have been very welcoming of us. The pastor is a good man, but we don't agree on political issues. He is a liberal and I am a conservative. We have always been able to put that aside, though. Politics takes a back seat to Christianity.

Now, though, we disagree on an essential spiritual matter. He advocates a position that all people should be able to take Holy Communion in our church, even if they are not baptized. I disagree. Tonight, our congregational council discussed this issue as we have for several months. On a nine-to-three vote, the council agreed with him to remove the words from our church bulletin that requires a person to be baptized before taking communion. I suggested that we at least add the words that a person be required to believe in Christ before accepting communion, but he spoke against that, and the issue never received a motion. In fairness to pastor's position on the issue, he is trying to be welcoming to all people. I believing that we can be welcoming, yet be good stewards of the Eucharist.

So now, our church neither requires a person to be baptized, nor even believe, before accepting Communion. This is in contradiction with Lutheran (ELCA) church policy, which requires baptism. As I left the meeting tonight, I knew that my days at this church were coming to an end.

It would be hard to go home and tell my wife this news. She is a life-long Lutheran and I fear she will be hurt by this much more than I have been. U


The purpose of this blog

This blog is created to document my faith journey, particularly as I prepare to enter the Catholic Church. I am a life-long protestant. I was raised in the Baptist church, but have also spent some time in the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches. My faith journey now brings me home to Catholicism. I am choosing the Catholic Church. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I have chosen a church, rather than have someone else choose it for me. It is not my intention to bash any other church. I believe that Christianity is a religion of love and peace and brotherhood, not division.

I will chronicle the events that led me to choose the Catholic Church, as well as my preparation of conversion. During this process, I have looked online for resources and information. I will post as much of that as I can here, so that this blog can helpful to others who may be in a similar situation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 

I fear my Lutheran Church is straying

Today, I went to see Fr. K of the local Catholic Church. I fear that my Lutheran Church is going down a path that I cannot follow. I will explain this in future entries. Fr. K was very understanding. He understands my concerns. His is genuinely interested in me as a person, and not just the idea of adding another person to his parish.

This meeting has been very comforting. If I am correct, I will soon need to leave my church home.

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