I’ve written in the past about why I think it’s a good idea to make a habit of going to confession every other week. The way I see it, going longer than a month without confession is usually too long, and it’s just easier to ask myself, “Did I go last Saturday?” than, “Have I gone yet this month?”
So when my husband and I talked a while back about making this “every other week” thing our normal routine, I thought it sounded like a great goal to shoot for. As in: if it works out, great! But if we can’t go here and there, no biggie.
I’ve since learned that, for Tyler, this “every-other-week” thing isn’t just a nice idea to shoot for. In a similar way to how we approach going to mass on Sundays (i.e. – We’re obviously going, and day is planned around it), my husband sees to it that every other week our Saturday has time carved out for reconciliation.
I’m almost to the point where I’m not caught off guard by this. When “every other week” rolls around, I’m still asking myself, “Is it convenient for me to get to confession today?” Whereas Tyler is asking, “How will we get to confession today?”
I recommend adapting my husband’s attitude, not my own! Because, more often than not, there is some sort of reason I can come up with of why it would be easier to skip. I don’t “feel” like I need to go, it’s far away, it’s right in the middle of the day, it’s not like I’m sinning in not going…etc. But I’m always glad when we go. (And, as it turns out, I always have something to confess!)
It’s easy (for me, at least) to take the Sacrament of Reconciliation for granted. It’s always there when I know I need it. But God is calling me to experience His mercy and His grace even when I don’t “feel” like I need it. Usually, He shows me that’s when I need Him the most!
After just a few short hours of labor, our baby girl—Caeli Elizabeth— was born in the very first minute of Friday, February 20th.
I’ve never been one to care particularly about the “unique-ness” of a name, and my kids’ names aren’t really a place I’d like to try my hand at being creative. So we didn’t come to “Caeli” because we were looking for something unique or particularly clever. Honestly, Mommy just thought it sounded pretty
It wasn’t until we were in the hospital introducing Caeli (pronounced, ‘Chay-lee’) to nurse after nurse that it really hit me— outside of Catholic circles familiar with some ecclesiastical Latin, hers is a name that may take some explaining!
So for those that are curious, Caeli is a Latin term usually translated as, “of Heaven,” or just, “Heaven.” For example, Regina Caeliare the first two words of an ancient Marian Hymn traditionally sung after night prayer and prayed during Easter Season in place of the Angelus (“Mary, Queen of Heaven”).
Queen of Heaven (Regina Caeli)
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
So far, she’s gotten “Kaylee” and “Kylie,” and I have no doubt that when she’s older baristas will come up with all sorts of interesting variations of “Chaylee” to write on her coffee cups. On the bright side, all of these encounters will hopefully teach her the art of politely correcting people—a great skill for a classy young lady to have!
Today I am praising God for healthy, snuggly baby girls (and their doting big brothers). Thank you, Jesus, for our sweet Caeli Elizabeth!
Catholics: Do you make it a point to go to mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation— without exception?
If not, why not?
If you don’t know, our faith teaches that missing mass on a Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation without a serious reason is a grave sin. That means when you skip mass without a good reason (assuming that you know doing so constitutes a grave sin), you are cutting off the life of grace in your soul, and you need to go to confession in order to get yourself back into the state of grace.
The Catechism teaches that those who die not in the state of grace do not go to Heaven.
That might seem a little harsh. So I was tired and didn’t make it a point to go to mass last Sunday morning. God would really send me to Hell over that?
(It’s worth noting here that the Church has never stated definitively that any particular individual is in Hell. I say that because while it is the infallible teaching of the Church that missing mass is a serious sin meriting Hell, God alone is Judge, and God alone searches the heart. So we would never say that just because “Jerry” skipped mass here and there that we know he is in Hell—we would just pray for God to have mercy on his soul as we do for anyone else who passes away)
Clearly, our attendance at mass is important to God. So important that choosing to skip is in fact a sin meriting spiritual death. The important question we must ask is: Why?
Simply understood: God is God, and we are not. Devoting ourselves to regularly attending mass without exception is one way that God invites us to proclaim this truth with the way we lead our lives. Think about it. Each time we skip mass without a serious reason (e.g. Soccer tournament, too busy hanging out with friends, sleeping in, etc.), it says something about the place we give God in our lives—even if only for that day. Knowing full well that God requires us to go to mass on Sunday, choosing things above that obligation is a kind of subconscious way of telling God we don’t give worship of Him the first priority in our lives. And whether we realize it or not, making the choice to place other things above the worship of God has a direct impact on our relationship with Him.
See, it’s not that God needs our worship. It’s not that He needs us to give up an hour on a Sunday in order to check our time card to accumulate enough hours to get into Heaven.
No, you see God knows that we need Him. We need to regularly offer Him our worship, because without placing Him at the center of our lives, we inevitably will place ourselves there. Our comfort, our pleasures, the false idols we build in God’s place… The mass is where God calls us to Himself. It’s where God invites us to leave our sins on the altar. It’s where God gives us Himself, holding nothing back.
Scripture tells us that if we love God we will keep His commandments. If you’re not already in the habit, I invite you to give the worship of God in the mass the first priority in your life. (I promise regular attendance at mass will do much more for you this lent than giving up soda or chocolate )
I am in no place to judge, but I do believe that for most of us going to mass every Sunday is simple—it just requires a decision. In life, we do what we need to do for what is most important to us. Most of us would rearrange our schedules if it meant lunch with our favorite celebrity. Well, the God who created us is a much bigger deal than even the most wonderful and respected person on Earth, and He invites us to table with Him every week! What does it say about the place we give Him when we reject that invitation?
Being that this Thursday is January 22—the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade—I told myself that I’d use this week’s post to talk about abortion.
Easier said than done. It’s hard to write about abortion without feeling like you are just adding to the noise—saying things that have already been said a million times, playing into stereotypes, etc. But it’s a topic that needs to be talked about. Especially as followers of Christ, we have an obligation to speak up for those least among us who cannot speak for themselves; and we need to be unafraid to speak the truth lovingly to those who might otherwise never hear it.
So after a lot of prayer and thinking, I decided that this week I’d just share with you all a bit about what I’ve learned from my experience within “the pro-life movement.”
1. I’ve learned that if you’re going to talk about abortion, it is absolutely imperative to speak from a place of genuine love for whomever you are speaking to. As Saint John Bosco put it: “It’s not enough tolove, people have to feel they are loved.”
Something to keep in mind whenever talking to anyone about abortion: it has been said that as many as one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Whether that stat is accurate or not, it is a good practice when you are speaking with someone to consider the possibility that she (or he), or someone very close to her has been personally impacted by abortion. So always, always speak with love and compassion.
2. As someone who has joined with groups in prayer outside of abortion clinics in both the San Diego and Dallas areas, I will say I have never encountered anything resembling the reports you’ll read on sites like Buzzfeed or The Huffington Post about angry mobs of “anti-choicers” harassing clinic workers and patients. The majority of us are there to pray not much higher than a whisper, and may occasionally sing a hymn. One or two people are there as “sidewalk counselors,” who calmly engage those going into the clinics in conversation, sharing literature and just lovingly letting them know they have better options available to them than abortion. It’s all very calm and non-confrontational. [But don’t take my word for it, you can check it out for yourself by signing up for 40 Days for Life].
3. I can’t make it to the clinic on a regular basis to pray. And there’s not always an organized march or protest going on to take part in. But something I can do on a daily basis is pray for the end to abortion. It’s something my husband and I do every night when we offer our family rosary. Admittedly, praying for the same thing night after night can feel monotonous, or even unfruitful at times. But I believe that God hears our prayers, and so we continually offer them for the end to abortion, and for abortion-minded women and men to not give into despair. Which brings me to the final thing I have learned…
4. God is working. Even when we don’t see it, God is working. And we need never despair, because the battle has already been won. With abortion as with every struggle we face in this life, all we need to do is continually offer it over to the one who has already conquered death. He will lead us into His Victory.
I don’t have a dramatic conversion story. I suppose you could call me, as one blogger put it, an “unvert.” No particularly salacious past, no years of questioning and study that led me to discover with the early Church Fathers the truth of the Catholic faith. I was born into a Catholic family and raised in a Catholic home. I was brought up to know and love Jesus and the Catholic faith and I am so grateful for that gift.
But I do have a conversion story. And I wouldn’t call myself an “unvert,” because even though it may not have been dramatic, there was a point in my life when I had to decide to make my faith my own. There was a point when I had to decide that Jesus was going to be who I lived for above all else, and most of all – there was a moment when Jesus became more than someone my parents talked about or told me stories about. He became a friend, someone with whom I could converse and share the deepest desires and longings of my heart.
Maybe it didn’t look like a dramatic life change to those around me. I didn’t suddenly start going to church after years of being away. I didn’t suddenly start taking “the rules” of the Catholic faith seriously. By the grace of God, I never truly harbored any disrespect or contempt for “the rules.” But at some point they became more than rules. They became opportunities for me to express my love to my beloved.
I write this post because I know how easy it can be—especially for us Catholics—to sort of hide behind a love of the knowledge and an appreciation of the beauty of our faith while holding back from a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. When it comes down to it, it’s easy to learn the rules and the theology. It can be awkward to step out in faith, enter into silence, and ask Jesus—the real person who lived 2,000 years ago and lives today—to reveal Himself to us.
If you have never taken that first awkward step, consider this your invitation. It doesn’t matter if you hold an advanced degree in theology or if your shadow has never darkened the door of a church. Jesus wants to be more than rules, more than a character in a book. He wants to enter into relationship with you.