Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why the #Catholic Church Appeals To Adults

As I mentioned in a recent entry, What I Love About the Catholic Church and Why It Enrages the Progressives, I had some thoughts about why the Catholic Church appeals to adults. Now that I'm middle-aged, I can look back on my younger days within the non-denominational church and perhaps more fully appreciate the questions I had even back then.

I remember often looking around on a Sunday morning in the non-denominational church and marveling at how many of the congregants were young. The majority were between 20-45 years old. I sadly noted that there were few gray heads in the crowd. Then I quickly reminded myself that the older generation probably couldn't handle the loud worship music and chalked it up as the main reason why they weren't there.

During the years I spent in non-denominational churches, I had a growing concern about the lack of older adults in our churches. There was a niggling thought that the reason they weren't there may not have had anything to do with the music, but perhaps more so with the overall approach toward church. Did they know something I didn't? I missed seeing older adults because I know in a healthy community, they are a vital part of its well-being. Within the early church, St. Paul, in his letters to Timothy and Titus, extolled the virtues of the younger learning from their elders. Our faith is passed from generation to generation. What happens when that transaction is prevented or worse, intentionally avoided?

When I left the Catholic Church at age twenty, do you know what I immediately did? I prayed for "spiritual mothers." I look back on it now and shake my head at the irony. I left the one place that was rich with spiritual mothers and then searched for them in a desert.

My upbringing has much to do with it. My holidays as a child were mostly spent surrounded by great-uncles and aunts who sat around, played cards and cracked nuts while philosophizing about life and society. I was in awe of them. Relegated to "The Children's Table," I longingly would look to "The Adult Table" and dream of the day I was no longer considered a child and could partake of their fascinating conversations. There were rites of passages in those days, ones that I think are important. The acknowledgement of a child no longer being a child but an adult is one I think has been lost amid our rabid idolization of youth. Nowadays, many parents who want to be seen as "cool" have erased that barrier between child and adult and think they're doing their kids a favor. They're not. In fact, all they are doing is extending the perception of adolescence, along with all of its self-serving behaviors.

I witnessed this in the early 80's and throughout the 90's. Young people, by nature, are entranced by experience. It is seductive and deceptive. It is easy for a young person to believe that the truth is something to be felt rather than understood. This opens the door to relativism as a young person rationalizes their emotions as proof that something is either true or not. This is the dangerous ground that the devil walked upon with Eve. "Did God really say...?" He tempted Eve with what she was feeling, which was an attraction to the tree's fruit and the desire to feel independent. She deliberately ignored the truth of what God had commanded for her and Adam; that they were not to eat the tree's fruit lest they die. Instead, she believed someone else, which in this case, was the Father of All Lies, and thought she was doing the right thing by disobeying God. And the human race paid a heavy price for it.

It has become a common strategy of the enemy once again as he whispers to many Christians, "Did God really say...?" And young people, already indoctrinated by a secular humanistic education, are ripe for responding, "Well, I'm not sure. Wanting to eat that fruit just feels so right."

Non-denominational churches are famous for appealing to the emotions. They are very good at focusing on experience and feeling. This, I believe, is why they are full of young people. There are no expectations for them to move beyond the feeling into a more mature examination of their faith. One of the non-denominational churches I attended tried to make everything into a party. It seemed as though if a ministry wasn't presented as being FunFunFun!!, then no one would do it. Sermons likewise, were full of one-liners and witty quips to keep everyone laughing. Again, emotionalism was pandered to and if anyone had concerns, they were considered too uptight or rigid. (Once it was said that if someone thought the worship music was too loud, then they were too old. A great way to make older people feel wanted.)

A vibrant church needs both the youth and the old. During my twenties and thirties, I had the impression that mainline denominational churches were full of "old people" because old people didn't have an appreciation for what was fresh, new, and different. Now I'm wondering if older people simply were beyond the fads that often pervade a non-denominational church. Youth love fads because fads are usually about them. Whatever is "hot" is often the result of youth's inability to be satisfied with one thing - whether it's fashion or politics. Why should religion be excluded?

I mentioned in my other blog post that what I believe enrages the progressive is Catholicism's rock-solid foundation and its refusal to bend to societal whims. I believe this is also why the Catholic Church appeals to adults. You need to be mature to realize that faith shouldn't be on your terms and religion isn't created to meet your needs. In fact, Christianity's purpose is to separate ourselves from our own "fleshly" desires (where the world revolves around me) and transform me into the likeness of Christ (where I revolve around Him). This goal of Christianity is in direct opposition to what we see happening in many churches across our nation. This goal, is against the spirit of the world.

You can easily see the spirit of the world in churches. They are the ones that cater to the "self-awareness" industry. Instead of teaching self-sacrifice, they teach self-fulfillment. Instead of worship being vertical, it's horizontal; focusing on the "we" instead of the "He."Adults usually know better because they've grown beyond self interests. They especially know that within their faith, they're to think of others rather than themselves and serve rather than be served. It is a maturity that used to happen naturally as the old taught the young, according to Scripture.

But now we live in an upside-down world where fortysomething men are found obsessively playing video games and women compete with their daughters for being desirable. It's not uncommon to see a mother sporting low-rise jeans, right next to her adolescent daughter wearing the same. (Because we all need to see more flesh from middle-aged women, right?) This lends itself to the commoditization of women's sexuality but that is for another post. However, I will say I'm appalled by the increase of women who have pursued young boys, whether it's teachers having affairs with students twelve years their junior or fortysomething women with twentysomething men. There is something wrong with a society that can't appreciate maturity.

I'm a bit of an oddball. Ever since I was a young child, I looked up to adults and couldn't wait until I was older. Because then, I surmised as a teenager, I'd be taken seriously. My thoughts and ideas wouldn't be brushed aside but instead considered. I looked at adults as being wise and knowing. I liked hanging out with elderly people because in my opinion, they had the best stories. There were things I could learn from them and learning is my lifeblood. Wisdom is God's gift to the mature.

When I returned to the Catholic Church in 2008, I was struck by how rich she was in mature faith. Most of the Catholics I met were not ones to be swayed by fads and trends. They simply attended Mass, kept their eyes and ears open to what the Magisterium said, and applied themselves to living out their faith in their daily life. I noticed that even many of the twentysomethings acted more mature and were grounded. I found it all very telling as I started to sift through my observations and experiences within the non-denominational church.

The Catholic Church is tough and often seen as "unfair" by the world. Interesting, isn't it, that this is frequently the teenager's accusation toward a parent who is trying to instill discipline. The Catholic Church isn't about pleasing the world or trying to look cool. It is a faith that requires we put away childish things and accept the responsibilities of being an adult; which doesn't include protests and rallies that demand our own way. It doesn't include bashing the Magisterium because it is "outdated" and needs to emulate the world. And it doesn't include whining or temper tantrums when one doesn't get their own way.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all need to grow up. The more I think about this topic, the more I see the Catholic Church helping us do just that. Because when it comes to passing on a faith that will withstand the evils of this world, we need to understand that such a faith does not come from catering to our own needs, but by sacrificing them. This is the kind of faith the martyrs had. This is the kind of faith that built the Church throughout the ages. And this, is the kind of faith that will see us through the trials and tribulations that have been promised to us by Christ.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Updated Digital Scrapbooking Site

Whew, what a week. The reason I've not been updating this blog as much is because I've been on a crash course learning WordPress. It took three days to get the installation process to work, mainly because I was trying to do it manually but discovered my hosting service had an "auto-install" feature. So I've been fooling around lately with directories and FTP uploads.

I know there are many wonderful free WordPress themes out there, and I actually fell in love with one of them. However, the "readme" file was only two paragraphs and I was totally clueless on how to customize it for my needs. So... I bit the bullet and purchased Thesis, which is supposed to be the next best thing to chocolate. Or so I've been told.

Today I spent the day creating the site and more is on the horizon. I have a new welcome video, although I really want to add a form to the side of it so people can sign up for notifications. Still, I was able to get my old posts uploaded, added a few pages, and added my social media icons.

I had no idea how many ways there were to do so many things with Thesis! It seems as though everyone has a different take on how to install or activate something and of course, the ones I tried didn't work for me. Add to this a theme that has been updated quite often and you end up with a mishmash of "how-to's" online that are outdated and unusable. As a newbie, sifting through all of that is not particularly my idea of fun, but I'm on a mission.

So, if you've been wondering if I've fallen off a cliff, now you know!

Check out my website, if you've not, already. Next, I have to figure out how to feature my gallery. Oy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheap Apologies and Thoughts on Ash Wednesday #Catholic

Today is Ash Wednesday. When I told my husband I would be going to church, he said, "Are you going to get ashes on your forehead?" I said, of course. We briefly talked about the tradition and I explained to him how I liked how this ritual helped remind me of the spiritual purpose - repentance.

We live in an era of cheap apologies. Even worse, perhaps, we live in an era where cheap apologies are made before millions through talk shows and news broadcasts. How many mea culpas have we witnessed from politicians, celebrities, and sports icons? Although apologizing has become rote for many, how many have truly been sorry, asked for forgiveness, and then tried to make better choices in their life?

We know that only God has that answer because only He knows the heart of a man or woman. But we can take these slices of modern life and use them as a magnifying glass upon our own decisions.

I think often of my own sorrow over my sin. Or perhaps more accurately, my lack of sorrow. With my husband, it is much more focused. I love my husband so much that it would break my heart to hurt him or cause him pain. Have I lost my temper? Certainly. But I'm aware of it and immediately ask for his forgiveness. He chuckles and claims my lapses are "nothing" but they are definitely something to me. Unrestrained anger, taken out on those closest to me, will eventually erode the relationship. Because I waited so long to find love, the last thing I want to do is take it for granted and then lose it.

Then I think of my relationship with God. Should it not be even of greater importance than my earthly bonds? Should it not break my heart to know that I've caused sorrow in my heavenly Father's heart as I choose to sin?

Yes and yes. Just a few thoughts as I enter our Lenten season.

For those who want to explore more, there is a good discussion on the Catholic Answers forum:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What I Love About the #Catholic Church, and Why It Enrages Progressives #tcot #sgp

It's no secret that I'm conservative through and through. I love God, my husband, family, friends, and my country. I believe that freedom is never free and that the moment it is taken for granted is the moment we're in danger of losing it. I love our military and everything they stand for. I am in awe of those who sacrifice their lives in order to protect us.

Last night, my husband and I watched a past episode of Glenn Beck's television show. He happened to have David Horowitz on as a guest and David said something that struck me as so profound, that I paused it and turned to my husband and said, "That is amazing. That is exactly what is going on."

Glenn was talking to Horowitz about the definition of "progressive." David summed up the difference between those who are conservative versus those who are progressive by saying (in so many words) this: "Here's how it works: the conservative looks back in history and uses it to define his future. The progressive doesn't study history but only looks at the future, trying to create a Utopian vision of what they want to see."

I suddenly saw clearly how this has affected the Catholic Church and why it enrages progressives. For forty years, progressives have been trying to "remake" the Church the way they think it should be. Forget the fact that the Catholic Church has stood for over two millennium. Forget that the Catholic Church has nurtured families for centuries in their faith. Forget all of the children in the world who have been loved, the sick tended to, and the poor fed; because of faithful Catholics. No. To the progressive, it doesn't matter.

All that matters to the progressive is that the Catholic Church bend to their will and bend to society, whatever that means for the moment. But not only that, the progressives want to change the Catholic Church into their Utopian vision for the future, which means more control for them. I honestly think that if the Vatican was dismantled, they would think it a good thing. These are religious anarchists. They cannot see the value of laws, much less the value of tradition. They are deconstructionists of the highest order, convinced that tearing down that which has held Catholicism together for so many years, would somehow "release" it to become something better.

I'm now formulating some thought on why the Catholic Church appeals to adults. (As opposed to adults who are still trying to act like they're in their twenties.) It also explains to me why many faithful Catholics love and have an appreciation for history. There is so much that it explains regarding why progressives cannot stand history and are always trying to rewrite it.

Just some thoughts for the day. I may add to this post later.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fr. Z's Advice to Liberals And Thoughts About Submission #Catholic #tcot

Fr. Zuhlsdorf (affectionately called "Fr. Z" by his followers), has an excellent post about the new translation of the Roman Missal and how it's driving the liberals apoplectic.

It's a very funny post, complete with calling the Sour Grapes Brigade, "Vat-Trads." (Many Catholics who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass are often called "rad-trads" by those who sneer at Catholic tradition.) Since my return to the Catholic Church, I've been absolutely amazed by the level of defiance toward the Magisterium. It's bad enough to have the laity nurse such resentments, but to have the clergy encourage it is to me, shameful.

For whatever reason, one of the "faith lessons" I learned during my years within the non-denominational churches was submission. I remember listening to Elisabeth Elliot on her radio show talk about women and submission. She was the only Protestant woman brave enough to not only talk about it, but promote it. (By the way, she is the sister of Catholic convert Dr. Thomas Howard.) I knew it was a profound lesson and one I needed to learn, to live, to embrace fully. I knew there was a secret to submission that would reveal something that God wanted to remove, which after some time, I realized was fear.

Because within submission, there is trust.

That, my friends, is where I feel the dissidents miss a huge component of our faith. There is a lack of trust in leadership, and ultimately, in God. Why else would they so willingly pursue empty philosophies that offer them nothing? Why else desire the elevation of flesh when the death of it is commanded by our Lord, and then miss the glorious new life that is the joyful consequence of that death?


Fear of letting go of control, fear of not being loved, fear of not being validated. And all of those fears are exposed when one submits. Now I'm not saying this is easy to do. Quite the contrary. I'm still given the opportunity to submit in many ways and it is always, always a reminder to me to trust in God, that He knows what is best and has a plan. His will is always a much better choice than following my own.

Years ago, there was something called "The Shepherding Movement" within many churches. It was submission turned on its head. The church members were dominated by leadership. They couldn't make a decision such as buying a car or home without getting permission from their pastor to do so. It wounded many and caused them to distrust leadership because as you may have suspected, leaders took advantage of it.

There are many difficult choices for the Christian as he or she lives their life. Sometimes you have to walk away from an unhealthy or disobedient church. I did. But it's important to remember to keep those who are disobedient in prayer. Still, I have never understood people who deliberately remain within a group or organization with which they disagree. Why not find a group that shares your values?

Unfortunately, Catholic dissidents (who include some clergy), find some level of satisfaction in remaining within the Church while venting their poison to all who will listen. Jesus mentioned that the tares grow along with the wheat. But does the wheat worry about the tares around it? No. It does what wheat does and keeps growing.

I have to remind myself of this sometimes, because it is too easy to wish such people would leave the Catholic Church and head toward the Anglicans. (And many of them would quickly wish that the more traditional Catholics would leave, too. But where would we go?!) I believe the pendulum is starting to swing back and more Catholics are realizing that who we are as Catholics needs to be rooted in our history. Trying to use modern society as a yardstick for Catholic identity has only resulted in a diluted faith and confusion.

Now I'm trying to figure out Catholic identity. I don't believe it can be found within dissension, but in trusting the centuries of godly leadership that the Catholic Church abundantly had, (and still has) but that a small, noisy segment of our current society is trying to block.

To steal the motto from Glenn Beck, I say this to Catholics: Remember who you are. We are the Church that the enemy cannot destroy if we continue to trust, and have faith. To those who are liberal, I say take the leap. Trusting is a much greater adventure than complaining any day of the week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

For All My Single #Catholic Ladies Who Are Looking #sgp #tcot

This is a broadcast message to any single woman who is looking for her own "Mr. Right." I just read an article and thought, "This could save many a single woman's frustration." I know I had reached a point in my late 20's when I started to realize my dating approach had to change. One of the books that helped me the most was Smart Women, Foolish Choices by Connell Cowan and Melvin Kinder. The article I read today is linked below.

It's not uncommon to hear that a single woman wants: 1) A handsome man, at least hot enough to make her heart race 2) A financially stable man 3) Ambitious 4) Charming 5) Great cook 6) Sensitive and caring 7) Devout (if seeking a religious guy) 8) Totally focused on pleasing her. A single woman can overlook the fact that if a man is the senior V.P. of some mega-corporation, he most likely isn't going to be the sensitive guy who will think of her needs. In fact, the guy often will be a workaholic.

High expectations can blind a single woman to the many great single guys that are out there. By the time I was 38, I had reached a point where I was open to meeting anyone and going out on a second date if they asked. I was open to dating a guy who was shorter than me, bald, or drove an old car. I simply wanted to find someone whom I could love, who would love me, and shared similar goals. I finally met him when I was 39 years old.

My husband already knows this, but for some reason, I had envisioned myself marrying a "man's man" kind of guy. You know the type. Into beer and football. Loud. Big and burly. My husband is none of those things. (For instance, he couldn't care less about watching the Super Bowl.) But my husband is amazing in so many other ways. Although he is tall and thin, he is sweet and kind, tender, and full of curiosity about life. He is truly God's gift to me.

I am surprised by how many women "just know" on the first date that a guy isn't the right one for them. If you think about it, first dates are stressful. There is the hopefulness mixed in with the cynicism of all the other first dates that didn't go well. If I had been holding such expectations, I would have missed out on my wonderful man. On our first date, he was very talkative. Now being talkative is one of his traits, but he was especially talkative during the first time we met.

I could have dismissed him entirely and chalked it up to another failed first date. However, Mickey and I had been corresponding by email and I admired his writing skills. Plus, I could see that he had a warm, sensitive heart and the soul of an artist. I was intrigued enough to listen and learn. I am so glad I did.

When I coached single women years ago, I remember how often this would be a thorn in some women's sides. They would complain that all the man did on the first date was talk about himself. I pointed out a few things. First, men realize they have just one shot to impress a woman. (If he's indeed interested in her.) and is trying to place himself in the most positive light possible. The other consideration is the old "men are from Mars, women from Venus" conundrum. Men are commonly found not listening to women when they talk, so why should it be different on the first date? My advice: if a man talked constantly about himself on the first date, whenever there was a pause, say, "Wow. You've led an interesting life so far! Now, what would you like to know about me?" It's direct, yes, but that is usually a good way to shift the conversation and it cannot be overlooked.

Since we're coming close to Valentine's Day, and I remember all too well as a single woman how much I hated that holiday, I may revisit this topic during the week. Meanwhile, here is an excellent article about how women can stop sabotaging her attempts to find love: 7 Mistakes Single Women Make.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Need Encouragement to Fulfill Your Dreams? New Blog: Get Happy! #positivethinking

Yes, this is shameless self-promotion for my dear husband, who revamped his blog, Get Happy, and is now posting more regularly.

He wrote an eBook (and I contributed) about happiness and how to distinguish between "happiness" and "success." The two do not automatically go hand-in-hand. Many times, a person will look successful from the world's perspective but yet will be miserable on the inside.

Years ago, I had a very well-paying job. I was earning the highest salary I ever had in my life. However, I was miserable. My boss was often impatient, rushed, and barely had time to spend with me so I could do the job properly. It was a pressure-cooker environment with a constant flow of meetings. I lasted nine months before deciding the paycheck wasn't worth the stress.

I ended up getting a job that was less stress, and yes, less pay. But I was happier. I had enough mental energy to focus on my own projects after work instead of arriving home drained and falling into a quivering heap.

The eBook helps people focus on working within their comfort zone to achieve their goals. Often, people say, "get outside of your comfort zone." My husband had a different take on it. Why not find your comfort zone and expand it?

My part of the book deals with relationships. I was a relationship coach for single women over 40 for three years. One lesson I emphasized constantly was this: Find what you love to do. Do it. And keep your eyes open for those who love to do it, too. Many times a woman would place a personal ad with "Loves music, loves to dance." But did she really love to dance? If that was true, I reasoned, then join a dance club. Take dance lessons. Hang out with dancing groups. There would be a much better chance of finding a single man who also loved to dance within those settings.

So. Check out my husband's blog if you need that shot of encouragement and buy the book for more. Plus, if you do so and said you were recommended by me, I get bragging rights. ;-)