Welcome to the Catholic Newbie blog. My name is Lyn Mettler and I hope to share with you how I came from being a 30+ year non-believer to a Catholic convert. I was opposed to any sort of organized religion for most of my adult life but in 2011 had a dramatic change of heart. I became Catholic on Easter 2013, and I hope to daily share my thoughts, worries and hopes with you and others on the same journey.

Spring Training with the Holy Spirit: How to Become Holy Spirit-Led

Spring Training with the Holy Spirit by @ACatholicNewbie

Just as baseball players head to spring training to practice and prepare for their upcoming season, might I suggest spring training for something a little different: being led by the Holy Spirit.

After Deacon Ralph Poyo lead my parish’s mission one year, the message that spoke directly to me was that we need to be a people and a parish that is led by the Holy Spirit. If we don’t ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things, we will not become the vibrant, welcoming parish we desire and the saints we are meant to be.

For example, after the second evening of the mission when Deacon Ralph talked about spiritual warfare, I commented to him that I had dreamt about demons afterward. I asked him, “Is this something I should be worried about?” He said, “I’m not who you should be asking. Who should you be asking instead?” So I immediately replied that oh I should probably talk with our pastor. He said, nope! Then I realized I should be talking to God and he clarified that I should ask the Holy Spirit specifically. Light bulb moment!

The Challenge of Being Holy Spirit-Led

Living guided by the Holy Spirit is not easy, as it’s not how we usually live our life. Rather, we tend to think what do I want right now and how can I get it? Or what do my kids want and how can I get it for them?

But we have to relinquish that “me, me, me” self-centered way of life and change it to “He, He, He.” 🙂 That requires some serious spring training for all of us to get into spiritual shape!

What does it mean to live guided by the Holy Spirit? It means asking His guidance in all things. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember to throw the empty shampoo bottle in the shower into the recycling bin! So remembering to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance before all things? That’s going to take some practice with undoubtedly a few curve balls along the way.

If we want to live “Holy Spirit-led,” then we have to turn it into a habit; we’ve got to get to the point that it’s just a part of our “swing.” That means at least three weeks of doing this on a regular basis until it becomes ingrained in our day-to-day activity so we no longer have to exert effort to make it happen. That takes practice!

And not only do we have to remember to ASK, we have to remember to take time to LISTEN for His answers and then ACT on them. I pray everyday to Mary for the grace to better discern God’s will for me, to actually DESIRE His will for me and then to have the courage to DO His will for me.

Spring Training Exercises to be Holy Spirit-Led:

First, we have to have give the reigns of our lives over to God, allowing him permission to guide us. THEN here are some other ideas and suggestions…

  • Go to daily mass as often as you can and present your questions during mass
  • Spend some time in the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning or end of your day, lifting up your thoughts to the Holy Spirit
  • In the book “Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities That Make Life Work” by Lisa Brenninkmeyer (Beacon Publishing, 2013), which is free on DynamicCatholic.com, she suggests taking some morning prayer time to do the following:
    • Using a journal, write a note to God/Holy Spirit about any worries, concerns or direction that you need.
    • Write down a list of what you need to pray for daily. She includes:
      • Help she needs in her relationship with God
      • Help in her marriage (or vocation)
      • Prayers for her children
      • Prayers for her home
      • Prayers for outside relationships (or anyone you feel called to pray for that day)
      • Prayer that God will be the priority in all things
      • You could also add prayer for work related items
    • Read the Bible – You can read the daily readings or follow a Bible Reading Plan like the one from the Coming Home Network. Look for answers from the Holy Spirit.
  • Before major discussions, emails and phone calls, stop and say a prayer for those involved and that God’s will be done.
  • Pray the Angelus at noon – Set a timer on your phone and stop and pray this short prayer in solidarity with others around the world.
  • Pray one of the Liturgy of the Hours – Download the Laudate app on your smart phone and stop and pray at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. or 9 p.m.
  • Pray your calendar each day. Stop and review your calendar, praying for each person you will meet or talk with that day.
  • Daily Reflection/Examination of Conscience – Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic offers a great Prayer Process you can complete upon the close of the day, examining what you did and did not do to be the best version of yourself, pray for others, thank God for what you are grateful for that day, etc.
  • Go to Reconciliation monthly, so you can properly “hear” the Holy Spirit rather than have Him be clouded out by sin, even little ones.
  • Receive the Eucharist as often as you can to continue to cleanse yourself of sin and receive grace from God.
  • Engage in spiritual reading and look for answers from the Holy Spirit.

After You Listen, Put What You Learned Into Practice

These exercises help us make time to ask and listen to the Holy Spirit, but then it’s time to ACT, which can be the toughest part.

You’re going to be out on the field, in front of everyone, putting into action all that you’ve learned in training and following the coach’s (Holy Spirit) orders even if you don’t like them.

The Holy Spirit puts me outside of my comfort zone all the time in what He asks of me. I have slowly adopted the attitude that it does not matter what others think, only what God thinks of what I am doing.

So, as an introvert, if I feel afraid to introduce myself to someone, that they might think I’m being too forward or strange, it doesn’t matter, or as embarrassment and anxiety creep in, I try to just let those feelings go.

I have to be at peace knowing that I was trying to do what God asked and know that He will be pleased no matter what anyone else may think — and even if I feel embarrassed or silly as a result (believe me, that happens most of the time!). That is truly all that matters.

Are you ready to be Holy Spirit-led? It’s critical if we want to become the saints God desires us to be. Let us let Him lead us to the Promised Land but first let the spring training begin!

3 Reasons Catholics Have Good Sex (Don’t Click Away Just Yet :))

Catholics are prudes, repressed, and think sex is a bad thing, right? Not so fast! Turns out Catholics may be having better sex than the rest of the world. Let me tell you why…

But first, no worries, this is not an inappropriate post. This is simply a look into God’s plan for sexuality, nothing offensive included. I promise :).

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, because I think it’s incredibly important for others to know what Catholicism teaches about sex and why it holds these teachings.  And, whaddayaknow, when you follow God’s plan, joy ensues! God is so smart ;-).

3 Reasons Why Catholics Have Good Sex

I truly believe that when you follow the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality, you will enjoy the best experiences of sexuality that God intended us to have. By holding to the act’s original purpose, living chastely, removing barriers and freely giving of yourself to one person, you will be living the life God has called you to, and you will experience the true “joy of sex.”

1.  Catholics hold to the act’s ultimate purpose: procreation.

Catholics remember the purpose of sexual relations. Guess what society? It’s not about making yourself “feel good” by whatever means and whenever you please. By divorcing sex from its purpose—procreation—we have created a whole range of problems in our world.

When you have sex only to feel good, it leads to objectification of women (heard much about that lately?), partners feeling used and worthless as only an object of pleasure, and frankly, it takes the fun out of it.

Remember in high school when you could only sneak alone time with a boyfriend or girlfriend on occasion? It wasn’t just an “anytime you feel like it” affair. When you have to restrict yourself from sexual activity, because it’s not a married relationship or your spouse isn’t available, the time you do have together is all the more appreciated.

When you open yourself to the act’s true purpose, to create children, that causes you to wait until you are ready for children, and, thus, removes fear from the act, as well. You can enjoy it in its fullness, because whatever the act produces, you’re ready.

Finally, this is why the Church teaches that acting on attractions to the same sex is not God’s plan. Those actions cannot result in children and so it is not God’s intention. That is THE purpose for sex and the act must be open to it.

The Church welcomes anyone who feels attracted to the same sex; they simply ask that you don’t act on it. Many people in this world have disordered desires that are not anyone’s fault. You simply have to learn not to act on them with the support of others and to go to confession when you do. If you experience these feelings, this may be God calling you to the vocation of the single life.

2.  Catholics take out selfishness.

When it comes to sex, Catholics aren’t selfish. Sexuality is, again, not about pleasing ourselves. Sure, God made it pleasureable because he wanted us to “be fruitful and multiply,” and if it wasn’t appealing, it probably wouldn’t happen—at least not enough.

We’re already seeing societies who have declining birthrates and what a scary situation that is. Have you watched “The Handmaiden’s Tale”? That’ll give you a taste of what society might be like if we are no longer fruitful.

Sexual selfishness=masturbation. Again, if you can please yourself, whenever and wherever you want, you decrease the joy you experience when enjoying the act together with your spouse, as it was meant to be. By avoiding self-pleasure, you also store up that sexual desire and energy that can be spent with your spouse instead of wasted on a selfish act because you want it “right now.” Anticipation is a joy in itself!

Cut masturbation out of your life and see if your sexual relations with your spouse don’t improve.

Pornography is another example of selfish sexuality (and much more than that). You desire to feel pleasure right now, so you turn on the computer and off you go. Save it for your spouse.

Covenant Eyes is a great program that helps you put barriers in place to prevent you from this sexual temptation. Please note the link to Covenant Eyes is an affiliate link for which I may earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking through; however, I only recommend products I know and love.

Here’s more about what I think Catholics Need to Know About Pornography.

Finally, abortion is the ultimate act of selfishness–what is convenient for me, me, me. While I understand the stresses and fear of unexpectedly becoming a parent, it is no justification for killing a human being. And again it divorces the act from its intention. If you can simply go “get rid of the baby” should you conceive one, the act becomes only about pleasing oneself.

3.  Catholics remove barriers like contraception, so men and women can fully give of themselves.

Catholicism Contraception - birth control pills

Catholicism’s teaching against contraception was definitely an issue I struggled with when joining the Church. I certainly understood the promotion of life and complete rejection of abortion, but why were birth control pills or condoms harmful?

The Church teaches that these methods put a barrier between the man and the woman. A husband and wife are a reflection of the Holy Trinity. Like the flow of love between God the Father and God the Son, Jesus, that fruitfully produces the Holy Spirit, so the flow of love between a husband and wife is meant to be fruitful with a child where God wills it.

When you put a barrier between that love, you stop God’s will from being done and from the possibility that it will be fruitful.

We co-operate with God in the creation of new life. It takes human effort—the sexual act between a man and a woman—partnering with God who grants that new life a soul to create a new human being. We cut God out of the equation when we limit sexual relations’ fruitfulness.

Also, I learned that birth control pills are actually classified as a carcinogen, meaning they cause cancer! Why would I want to put that in my body? And I also learned that the hormones you take in the pill thwart your desire for your spouse. That, too, is not part of God’s plan.

Stop with the pill—and all contraception—and again watch your sex life improve! This is reason No. 3 why Catholics are having good sex. 🙂

If you have a spouse who’s not up for getting rid of contraception, my advice would be to pray a novena to your favorite saint and then open a dialogue with your spouse and see what happens.

Additionally, if you do happen to conceive anyway when taking the pill, the hormones can keep the embryo from attaching to the uterine wall and thus abort the baby. What a horrifying thing that many women do not realize!

Catholics do teach a method that allows you to naturally avoid conception if you feel it’s not a good time for your family. If you’ve ever learned your fertility signals in an effort to HAVE children, you use the same signals to avoid conception. You simply avoid sexual relations the few days a month when your body is fertile.

When following the Church’s teaching, Catholics are open and free, enjoying their sexuality within a healthy committed married relationship—and I’m betting experiencing the best sex of anyone!

What do you think?

Of course, some men and women choose to give their sexuality as a gift to God in the imitation of Jesus, choosing to forgo sexual relations. What a wonderful—and abundantly fruitful—sacrifice!

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Praise First: Why You Should Start Your Daily Prayers With Praise

Daily Prayer Praise

Did you know you should start your prayer with praise to God? This was news to me after a friend shared this insight during a recent RCIA class in which I was assisting. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we acknowledge who God is and thus who we are in relation before we start rattling off our list of requests in our daily prayers?

Where does this idea come from? Let me share what I’ve learned, because it has already made a huge difference in my prayer, and thus, my life.

Please note this post contains some affiliate links to books for which I may earn a small commission — at no cost to you — to support A Catholic Newbie if you make a purchase after clicking through. I really appreciate you using my links!

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is how Jesus taught us to pray. It is the “perfect” prayer. And while we should definitely pray it word for word, it also offers us a model of HOW to pray. Guess what the Lord’s Prayer starts with? You got it: praise!

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, HALLOWED be they name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

THEN… we get to our petitions, as well as asking forgiveness for our sins.

The Praise Perspective

Putting praise first puts us in proper perspective in relation to God. God is God; we are not. In fact, the original sin of Adam and Eve and even the people at the tower of Babel was the desire to be like God.

Let’s recall how great is our Creator and recount the amazing deeds he has performed from building Creation from nothing and leading the people out of slavery in Egypt to raising up great kings like David and, of course, sending his only Son, Jesus Christ, to save us. Makes you feel small and humbled, doesn’t it?

And that’s the position we should place ourselves before petitioning God. As Mary says in the Magnificat, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.” Let us find our lowliness before God. After all, this is why we kneel and prostrate ourselves before Him, as well.

Plus, doesn’t praise put you in an attitude of gratitude, as well? It helps you turn a negative countenance around into appreciating what you have and realizing the insignificance of your problems in comparison with God and his might. It might even help you find the good in your suffering — even if it’s just knowing there IS good even if you can’t see it.

As I have incorporated praise into my prayers, I have enjoyed recounting all the things God has done in my life. Too often, I forget these and don’t call them to mind. While anytime is a good time to praise God for his works in your life, it is especially helpful when you are facing difficulty. Just remembering that God has worked miracles in your life before increases your trust, faith and dependence on Him.

The Difference Between Praise and Thanksgiving

As soon as I learned about the practice of “praise first,” I asked, “Wait, how is that different than giving thanks?” Well, the two are very closely related, but you may consider giving thanks AFTER praising God.

In Jeff Cavin’s book, “Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys for a Joyful Life,” he says that praise is focusing on God and his attributes, while thanksgiving is focusing on the “works” of God. So praise might be focusing on God’s power, magnificence, holiness, justice, love, mercy and might, while thanksgiving might be more aligned to thanking God for the good things you have in your life and even the difficult situations you are facing, knowing that they are part of His plan.

Putting It Into Practice

Catholic prayer

So how exactly do you praise God? It sounds simple, but if you’ve never done it, it can certainly feel awkward :).

At first, it may be easiest to start by reading a Bible verse that is praising God to give you the feel for what proper praise should be. You might also bring to mind different parts of the Mass — which is FULL of praise if you listen — that you can pray, like the Gloria, the “Holy, Holy, Holy” and, of course, the Psalms. Eventually, you will be able to form your own words of praise with a little practice.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • The Psalms were written as praises to God; start by reading a Psalm and then interpret it afterward in your own way as praise to God.
  • Praise Jesus in his many titles: King of Kings, The Christ, Holy One of God, Savior of the World, Divine Mercy, etc.
  • Praise God for what he has done for his people over all time: Creating Adam and Eve; forgiving us; raising up prophets, judges and kings to guide us; sending his only Son to save us; leading the people out of slavery in Egypt; leading the Israelites out of exile again and again. If you don’t know much about the Old Testament, now might be a great time to learn! I highly recommend “Bible Basics for Catholics” and “New Testament Basics for Catholics” both by John Bergsma as unintimidating and easy reads about the Bible. Read my post on why I think every Catholic should read “New Testament Basics for Catholics.”
  • Pray a “rosary of gratitude” (give praise for something on each bead of the rosary; read more in Patti Armstrong’s article on “The Power of Gratitude to Transform Suffering“)
  • Praise God for Creation and the beauty of nature you see around you — or have seen when traveling.
  • Praise Him for his many great saints who he has raised up to show us how to live as holy human beings.
  • Praise Him for the Trinity, the Holy Spirit and Jesus.
  • Praise Him for the Bible.
  • Praise Him for His Church.
  • Praise Him for his Mother Mary.
  • Praise Him for our difficult situations and the graces they will bring.
  • Pray the Magnificat; it is a wonderful prayer of joyous praise to God as spoken by Mary, the Mother of God.
  • Pray Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel: 2).
  • Sing the Gloria!

What Should We Do After Praise?

So you’ve praised God — good for you! Now, you are ready to progress through the rest of your daily prayers. What I like to do next is spend time thanking God for all the good things he has done in my life and for the bad, as well.

According to Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., in his booklet, “Appointment With God,” after praise, we should spend time in the Bible reading the Word of God. Perhaps you can read the Catholic Church’s Daily Readings, read a Psalm or follow a Bible reading plan. But whatever you do, read the passage several times and pray to God to ask what He wants you to understand from the reading. Sit with it for a bit. Put yourself in the scene, imagine your reaction, pay attention to the words and phrases that stand out to you and ask how they relate to your life.

Next, he says to spend some time in repentance. Lay out for God what you have done wrong and what you could have done better. Ask for help in the areas where you are struggling. Of course, going to Reconciliation regularly, as well, should be a part of your prayer life.

Then, it’s time to get to your petitions, but Scanlan recommends praying for others first, especially those whom you are having trouble forgiving. He suggests praying: “Holy Father, may you pour out your Holy Spirit out upon [NAME]. Please make them as holy and happy as possible even if they are holier and happier than I am.” Then, you can get to your requests. But, again, sit in quiet for a bit to see if God plants an idea in your mind or speaks to you in some way.

Finally, if you’ve determined an action or two God wants you to take, make haste like Mary when she headed to the hill country to her cousin Elizabeth after the Angel Gabriel spoke to her. Don’t waste time. Get to it, my friend!

Making Time for Praise in Your Daily Prayers

According to Scanlan, we need to “book” a time with God to pray every day. We all know that, don’t we? But we don’t really do it. Do you want to be more at peace? Do you want to see the power of God working in your life? Do you want God to guide you? Then put God on your calendar FIRST. I know you can do it!

I recently incorporated a daily morning walk into my routine to improve my health and decided this was an ideal time to praise God. I now call it my “praise walk” :). As often as I can, I attend daily mass and have decided to spend 10-15 minutes in our Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the presence of Jesus in prayer. I often pray for others first (ask God WHO you should pray for and HOW you should pray for them; he’ll tell you if you listen!), then lay before God a question on my heart and listen for the answer.

Then at different times throughout the day, such as when taking the dog for a walk or in the shower, I try to pray the rosary along with several other prayers that are important to see. Read my post on “11 Ways to Work the Rosary Into Your Busy Day.”

Praising God is truly what we were designed to do. He made Man on the sixth day of Creation, always pointing toward the Sabbath — and the worship and praise of God — on the seventh day. If we but fall in line with our Creator’s design for us, we can live an infinitely more fulfilling life by growing closer to God and becoming better equipped to become the saints he desires for us to be.

Do you put praise first in your prayer? How has it impacted your prayer life?

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Spiritual Warfare: 12 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Evil

How to Protect Yourself Against Spiritual Warfare via @ACatholicNewbie

There was a period where I felt strongly that my family — especially my youngest son and I — were experiencing spiritual warfare. Essentially, this means we felt attacked by evil with sudden, unexplained phenomena with evil components entering our lives.

As a new Catholic, I knew some basics like praying to St. Michael, spraying the house with holy water and blessing my child with the sign of the cross, but I was unsure what else to do besides ask my friends for prayers. When I made that ask, my friends responded so generously in all their wisdom of Catholicism with some amazing tips. And they are tips EVERYONE needs to know.

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12 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Spiritual Warfare

Here are some steps you can take to protect your family from evil spirits if you are feeling spiritually attacked courtesy of my wonderful Catholic friends:



  • St. Michael Prayer and Chaplet – In addition to praying the St. Michael prayer (which I have learned by heart 🙂 and pray with my middle school son nightly), there is also a St. Michael chaplet that you can pray with a special set of beads or on the free Laudate app for smartphones (just touch the “virtual” beads with your fingers as you pray). You can also ask a priest to pray the St. Michael prayer over you or your family.
  • Guardian Angels – For parents who feel their children are undergoing spiritual warfare, you can ask your guardian angel to work with their guardian angel to protect them.
  • Fasting – Fasting combined with prayer, as said in the Bible and by many saints, is one of the most effective ways to ensure your prayers are heard — and hopefully answered. I know this has worked miracles for me in the past.
  • Blessed Salt – Have a priest, deacon or exorcist bless a container of salt. In addition to cooking with it, sprinkle it around your house as a shield.
  • Bless Your Home – Have a priest bless your home at least yearly.
  • Crucifix – Have a crucifix in every room of your home, especially your children’s rooms and by the front door.
  • Rosary – Pray it daily, as a family — even a decade — if you can!
  • Blessings – Bless your children with the sign of the cross with holy water (you can get it at the baptismal font in your church) before bed and before they leave the house.
  • Backpacks – For kids, place a blessed rosary and Miraculous Medal in their backpack, so it will always be close to them. You can also use a St. Benedict medal with an exorcism blessing.
  • Adoration – Spend time in adoration or in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Miraculous Medal – Place a Miraculous Medal underneath the mattress of every person in your house. As soon as I placed the Medal under the mattress of my son’s bed, the problems STOPPED. It was amazing!
  • Prayer – Suggested Prayers
    • Heavenly Father, if there are demons prowling around looking for the souls of my family, I ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, that you cast them out and protect us from the evil one.  Amen.”
    • Ask the blood of Jesus to cover the person and protect them. It was the blood that Christ shed that washed away evil.
    • With the cross of Jesus I come against and I pull down all demonic strongholds in PERSON’S NAME’s mind and body in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit.

      With the cross of Jesus I come against and I break all demonic strongholds in PERSON’S NAME’s mind and body in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit.

      With the cross of Jesus I come against and I demolish all demonic strongholds in PERSON’S NAME’s mind and body in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit.

      I seal PERSON’S NAME’s mind and body  with the blood of Jesus and reclaim all of its territories for Christ in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit

      I asked The blessed Virgin Mary to bind and cast out all demonic influences from PERSON’S NAME bringing them to the foot of the cross of her son Jesus where they are defeated forever never to return. AMEN

Have you ever felt spiritual warfare or attacks of evil? How did you protect yourself and your family? I would love to hear more suggestions!

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