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.

What Catholics Need to Know About Pornography

What Catholics Need to Know about Pornography via @ACatholicNewbie

Note: This post contains affiliate links for which I may earn a small commission to support the Catholic Newbie blog if you click through.

There is no doubt that pornography is an epidemic in our culture. It’s become so commonplace that most of society sees it as no big deal. I was one of those a few years ago. What did it hurt if someone looked at a few images in the privacy of their own home?

After reading so much more about this issue since converting to Catholicism, I understand what it’s bad for individuals … and bad for society. Here’s what I think Catholics need to know about pornography:

  • Pornography removes the purpose of God’s plan for sexual intimacy. What was that plan? Procreation. Sure, he wants us to enjoy the uniting of one man and one woman, which is why sex is inherently good and pleasurable, but it must be used as God intended. Pornography displays sex as simply for the act itself, as a way to derive as much pleasure from the act as we can while divorcing it from its real purpose, which is to bring life into the world between ONE man and ONE woman who are committed to one another. By watching continued pornography, your view of sex is skewed and you reduce the chances of having a normal sexual relationship with your current or future spouse. When you divorce sex from the creation of life, it has lost its meaning and its purpose and becomes disordered.
  • Pornography harms those involved. The people you are watching who are involved in these acts are not being treated as God’s children, with dignity, value and fairness. They are being used as a vessel for or a means to another’s pleasure. They are likely not being paid fairly or treated nicely. Pornography is a big business and some greedy person on the other end of the camera is the one who is abusing others and deriving all the monetary benefits. You are only furthering that evil and greed by participating as a viewer.
  • Pornography greatly harms children. Pornography is everywhere and our children are coming across it in droves. It harms them SO much. They immediately misunderstand what sex is about. They see it as simply a means to pleasure and they will not understand all the disordered sexual activities they witness that others use to bring about worldly pleasure for themselves. I recently learned that one of my kiddos had seen pornography — on YouTUBE, which is not supposed to have graphic material — and it had a tremendous impact on him. I am so sad that I will never be able to undo what he has seen, those visuals forever in his brain and the impact it will have on him as a man. We must get rid of pornography parading about in nearly every medium, free, uncensored and easy to access.
  • It’s a temptation – Viewing pornography is a temptation to sin, just like any other temptation: gossiping, stealing, lying. To avoid falling prey to this temptation, we must remove it from our lives. I always teach my children that if you are tempted by something, don’t put it in front of you. If it’s not there, you can’t act on it. Shopaholic? Don’t go shopping. Tell your spouse you have decided not to view pornography any more for accountability and hold to it. Place a filter like Net Nanny (they offer a 14-day free trial) on all devices both for  your kids and YOU. It will hold you accountable and keep you from viewing things you should not. Place computers in public areas of your home, knowing you won’t view objectionable material in front of your family. If you fall, resolve not to do it again, go to confession to seek forgiveness and try, try again.
  • There IS help – You are far from alone in battling this temptation, and plenty of great Catholic programs exist to help you overcome the desire to view pornography. There are so many people who suffer from this in silence that we may never know. Here are some outstanding resources to get started:

If you view pornography, today is day one to stop. First, acknowledge and understand why it is a problem and then begin the process of getting help to stop. Let us pray for everyone who is tempted by pornography and especially our children who have been exposed!

How to Protect Yourself Against Spiritual Warfare

How to Protect Yourself Against Spiritual Warfare by @ACatholicNewbie

Over the last few weeks, I have 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.

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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!

Which Saints Are Your Friends?

Which Saints Are Your Friends by @ACatholicNewbie

Do you have saints that you consider to be your friends? In reading the new book from Teresa Tomeo, “Girlfriends and Other Saints: Companions on my Journey of Faith,” where she shares her experiences of how the communion of saints is really communion of our friends, it got me thinking about which saints I consider to be friends.

St. Therese

Girlfriends and Other Saints - by Teresa-TomeoTops on my list is St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. She is my confirmation saint and just as Teresa Tomeo shares amazing experiences she’s had with saints like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese has made herself present to me in many ways. She has sent me “roses,” answered my most pressing novena prayers and just seems to pop up in the most surprising places.

When I stand at mass, I like to imagine St. Therese standing behind my right shoulder and my Guardian Angel standing behind my left with Mary behind and in between them both with loving arms outstretched guiding my way. I recently read a fascinating book by Father Michael Gaitley called “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told,” which discusses the role of Divine Mercy in our generation and how it has been revealed through a number of saints, including St. Therese, St. Faustina and St. John Paul II. I recommend this as a MUST READ, as it really helps tie the message of Divine Mercy all together.

I truly feel like St. Therese and I are friends, as she has seen me through my conversion to Catholicism and I call on her in many situations. I just feel her calming, sweet presence and turn to her so often.

St. Faustina

In the last year or so, I’ve felt a call toward St. Faustina and her message. I don’t quite feel like we are “friends” yet, but we are getting to know each other :). I have not read her Diary in full, though have read through many Divine Mercy Daily emails, which cover portions of her diary. I have read about her and I want to learn more about this humble Polish nun and the incredible messages she received from Jesus and Mary.

St. Benedict

Early on in my conversion, before actually joining the Church, I felt drawn to St. Benedict and his Rule for monks. While his rule of living was meant for the monastery, it really can be lived in our secular world, as well. I love his call to daily conversion — we must keep turning to God every single day — and how he places holiness on the most ordinary of things and activities from cooking utensils to manual labor. They are all gifts from God and we must treat them as such. I have a statue of him on my desk to remind me of the holiness of my day-to-day activities.

St. John Paul II

This year, I’ve felt a call to St. John Paul II. I realized I had a connection to him after a visit to a church on Gozo in Malta that he had visited years before. I feel like it may have played a role in my conversion. I was also drawn to read the new book “City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow” by George Weigel about the many places he lived. It’s a wonderfully written read that combines travel, history, religion and biography. Poland is definitely on my list of places to visit!

Which saints do you consider to be friends? Please post in the comments below!

A Meditation for Holy Week: Jesus’ Seven Last Words

Seven Last Words of Jesus

Courtesy: WikiImages, U.S. Public Domain

As a newbie, I did not realize that a reflection of the seven last words of Jesus (really the seven last phrases or utterances) is a part of Good Friday tradition, as we don’t have that at our parish. But what a wonderful way to remember Jesus and to contemplate the Passion.

So much is focused around Jesus’ physical suffering during the Crucifixion, which is of course important to understand and honor, but I think it’s important to also contemplate what Jesus was trying to tell us in those last moments.

Seven Last Words of Jesus by James MartinBest-selling author Fr. James Martin, S.J., author of “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything” and “The Abbey: A Story of Discovery” (which I reviewed in a previous post), has put together his thoughts on these seven last things in the new book “Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus” (Harper One, 2016).

The seven last utterances are:

  • “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing.”
  • “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken  me?”
  • “Woman, here is your son… Here is your mother.”
  • “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
  • “I thirst.”
  • “It is finished.”

There are many different ways to interpret these phrases, which are found in the different Gospel accounts, and truly you could spend a lifetime just meditating on these alone. Mother Teresa, for example, centered almost her entire life’s work around “I thirst” in an effort to help quench Jesus’ thirst for souls.

Fr. Martin takes them and applies them to our day-to-day life, helping us to relate to the human Jesus, who experienced pain and suffering — both mental and physical — just as we do. While some of his commentary I disagree with, especially as it relates to Mary (see my previous post on Mary: Unimportant Woman or Faith Perfected?), and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken  me?” (which I believe refers to Psalm 22, actually offering hope instead of despair), we can each draw our own conclusions and thoughts with guidance, of course, from Holy Mother Church. The book I recommended that every Catholic read, “New Testament Basics for Catholics,” also does a good job considering some of these utterances.

So spend a few moments this week on each of these phrases and ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to see what He is trying to reveal to you personally about each one.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

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