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What to do When you Disagree with a Catholic Teaching

As a newbie to Catholicism or as someone exploring the faith, you will likely find one or more teachings that you just can’t get your head around — or flat out disagree with. Oftentimes, these are teachings like the saints, Mary, purgatory or contraception. Don’t worry about this; you are not alone! Most of us struggle with multiple teachings as we learn more about the faith.

Here are some suggestions to help you if you find yourself stuck in this situation:

1) Keep searching – Read, read and read some more. Listen to Catholic radio and watch EWTN. Look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Find Bible verses about the issue. Ask your RCIA leader or another Catholic well educated in the faith. Keep reading different explanations and really delve deeply into the whys of the teaching, and I promise, you will find one an explanation eventually that makes sense to you. I found that every issue I did not understand I eventually came to terms with. Several issues for me included contraception and purgatory.

Gifts of the Visitation, Ave Maria Press, Denise Bossert2) Write a petition – I just finished reading “Gifts of the Visitation” by Denise Bossert (Ave Maria Press, 2015), a convert to Catholicism, who explores the Visitation (when Mary and Elizabeth meet and John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb) in detail and shares along the way her conversion to the faith. The daughter of a Protestant minister, she felt called to Catholicism after her father’s death, but especially struggled with the Church’s teaching on Mary’s Immaculate Conception. This teaching is that Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb free from original sin.

After many attempts to understand this teaching, her RCIA leader advised her to write a petition to Mary, asking her to show Denise the truth. What a wonderful idea! Here’s what she wrote:

Mary, if you are as the Catholic Church says, and if you love me, please answer this petition. I want someone to communicate with me by your inspiration. Mary, I want the message to come from you to the ears of one who could know no other way. Please choose someone who, for me, would represent the universal Catholic Church. Then I will know I am right where I am supposed to be and that the Church’s teachings are all correct, terra firma, especially the teachings about you. Please answer my petition before the end of the year–I know, that’s just two weeks.

Thinking it unlikely she would receive a response, she was surprised that the day after she wrote the petition, she received a letter from a woman she had written to after seeing her on EWTN’s The Journey Home. The letter, dated Dec. 8 had hand written beside it “The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.” That was her answer.

While God sends me these types of messages and reassurances quite often — now that I’m looking for them! — I too had a WOW moment after praying to my confirmation saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, for a specific intention. Known for sending roses as signs, as soon as I woke up the next morning and stumbled outside to pick up my paper, I opened it to find giant picture of a rose across the whole paper and a story about decorating your home with roses. Thanks St. Therese!

How did you come to terms with a Catholic teaching you were struggling with?

 

8 Free Catholic Items to Deepen Your Faith

8 Free Catholic Items to Deepen Your Faith @ACatholicNewbie

Did you know there’s quite a lot of amazing Catholic books, tools and more that are waiting for you to order them at either no cost or for a very small shipping fee or donation? These are amazing tools that just might be what you need to light the spark in your faith if it’s started to dim or to make it burn even brighter.

I’ve stumbled across many of these over the last few years and here are some of my absolute favorites. Go order them for yourselves right now!



1) Rediscovering Catholicism – Matthew Kelly and his DynamicCatholic.com organization offer tons of free books and resources on their website. But my favorite is his original book on Catholicism, Rediscovering Catholicism. This is what helped me early on understand Catholicism and its relevance in light of our society today. EVERYONE should read this book. It will bring your faith to life for you! Order here + $5.95 shipping & handling.

2) The Rosary and Divine Chaplet on CD – The easiest way to start praying the rosary is to order this CD and stick it in your car. Pray whenever you have quiet drive time. If you don’t yet know how to pray the rosary, this is the easiest way to learn. They pray it for you and you can either just listen to them or repeat back as you begin to learn the prayers. Order it here for just a $1 donation. Here are more ideas for fitting the rosary into your busy day.

3) Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary materialsRead my blog on Total Consecration (a process I highly recommend) and if you decide you feel called to make this commitment to Mary, order free materials to help you through process from MyConsecration.org. This practice, made popular by St. Louis de Monfort and Pope John Paul II, can be completed in several ways. If you’re interested in the more classic, prayer-filled preparation from St. Louis de Monfort, order those materials free here. If you’re interested in a more modern interpretation and requires less time, order 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley for free.

4) Flame of Love – Similar to St. Faustina’s visions of Jesus and subsequent diary, Flame of Love written by Elizabeth Kindelmann shares messages she says she received between 1961 and 1982 from both Jesus and Marty. They are similar to those of St. Faustina and other approved Marian messages  around the world. Order your free copy of her book. At the National Congress of The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary movement in Budapest, Hungary, June 6, 2009, Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop President of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary and President, Council of Episcopal Conferences in Europe, gave the text his Imprimatur.

5) Mass Journal – Another great free tool offered by DynamicCatholic.com is a mass journal. Bring this notebook with you to mass and write down any messages from God or thoughts that occur to you during mass, so you don’t forget. Order here + $5.95 shipping & handling.

6) The Conversion of Scott Hahn CD – I recently heard a fellow parishoner, who was a lifelong Protestant, mention this CD as key to her understanding and ultimate conversion to Catholicism. Hahn is a wonderful writer who helps explain the Catholic faith in his many books. He is a former Protestant minister turned Catholic convert. Order for just a $1 donation.

7) St. Therese Novena Prayer Card – Many Catholics have a devotion to the “Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux (my confirmation saint, whom I adore). It is said if you pray her novena for a specific intention, she will send you a sign in the form of a rose. I’ve received my rose (read about my signs from St. Therese)! See if you get yours. Simply order this free St. Therese Novena Prayer Card from the Society of the Little Flower. You can also order prayer cards, even ones touched to a relic, for $.55 or less.

8) Prayer Process Cards – This is a wonderful exercise suggested by Matthew Kelly that you strive to complete daily. It encourages you to prayerfully consider your day from what messages God was speaking to you to what you could have done better to thanking God and praying for others. These cards are a simple reminder of the process to keep by your bedside, on your side table, in your prayer area or wherever. They send 20 at a time with $5.95 shipping & handling, so share with your friends!

10 Christmas Gifts for the RCIA Candidate or New Catholic

10 Christmas Gifts for the Catholic Newbie via @ACatholicNewbie

Thanks be to God if you have someone in your live who’s decided to join the Catholic church or who is spending their first Christmas as a Catholic. These newbies need your support to help their faith flourish and grow so they will continue to become active Catholics who are making a difference in the world and spreading the Good News.

As someone now in their second Christmas as a Catholic, here are some suggestions for what to buy the budding Catholic in your life, most of which are less than $25:

1) A Rosary – Every Catholic needs a rosary (well, everyone in the world needs a rosary!), but to help keep their faith on fire (see more ideas), a devotion to Mary will do wonders. She will guide and mold them into the people God wants them to be. One of the best ways to get to know Mary — and her Son — is to pray the rosary. Buy them a simple rosary — it doesn’t need to be anything expensive or fancy they’ll be afraid to use — and print them out a guide to how to pray it like this one on Real Men Pray the Rosary.

Catholic Rosary

2) Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers” book – I just came across this resource on the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops website, which I think is perfect for someone still learning the faith. This paperback book helps you memorize essential prayers, explains the Liturgy of the Hours, goes through the Church’s liturgical year and how to pray throughout, as well as provides basic prayers for meals, blessing a house, Advent wreaths, times of distress and more. Plus, they’re giving away 1 copy daily throughout Advent. Enter to win here.

Catholic blessings book

3) Advent Wreath – No need to buy a fancy, dancy wreath! Make your own just like I did in these 4 simple steps that even the least crafty of us can accomplish. I’ve found many longtime Catholics do not have Advent wreaths, so this is a great way to get them started and it gives them something to pass down from generation to generation.

4) A Miraculous Medal – Continue to develop their devotion to the Blessed Mother by giving them a Miraculous Medal to wear. Mary asked St. Catherine Laboure to have this image cast into a medal and promised many blessings (and conversions) to those who wear it. Mother Teresa handed them out regularly. They only cost $1 at most Catholic book stores. I now have a store of them to pass out because mine always generates conversation among Catholics and non-Catholics alike!

Miraculous Medal

5) The Way of Serenity” (Harper Collins, 2014) by Father Jonathan Morris – There are several Catholics in the public eye who do a remarkable job of reaching across faith boundaries and demonstrating Catholicism to be modern, relevant and even fun! Father Jonathan Morris, a regular correspondent on Fox News Channel and program director for Sirius’ The Catholic Channel, is one. His new book, which looks at faith through the lens of the Serenity prayer, offers some of the most amazing conversational gems of wisdom that will certainly relate to your Catholic newbie. It’s an easy, inspiring read and it will likely encourage them to delve deeper into the Catholic faith.

The Way of Serenity by Father Jonathan Morris

6) God’s Bucket List” (Image Books, 2013) by Teresa Tomeo – Another easy-to-relate-to Catholic who has the gift of reaching outside of Catholicism is Teresa Tomeo, author and host of Catholic Connection, a daily Catholic news and talk radio show on EWTN Radio. I have listened to Teresa Tomeo almost daily since I happened upon the existence of Catholic radio and really enjoy her conversational and fun take on the world, the faith and how we can live it authentically. Her latest book, “God’s Bucket List” challenges you to consider what God has planned for you and shares her own wisdom and experiences through many laugh-out-loud stories.

Catholic Book by Teresa Tomeo

7) The  New American Bible & the Catechism of the Catholic Church – Everyone should have both of these — enough said! Package them together and perhaps bookmark a favorite passage in each that you think will be meaningful to them for a personal touch.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

8) 7 Secrets of Confession” (Ignatius Press) by Vinny Flynn — Confession, or Reconciliation, is an easy one for new Catholics to avoid. Or if you have someone going through RCIA, they’re likely very nervous about their First Reconciliation. I’ve got tips in my blog post on what I wish every RCIA candidate new about confession, but this book will do wonders in educating them in an easy-to-read way about the benefits and the reasons for confession. I loved it! It will inspire you to get there much more often, as well.

7 secrets of confession

9)The Holy Land” (Servant Books, 2013) by Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ – I think that as Christians, we need to take the time to understand the Holy Land in order to provide context in which to place Bible readings and Jesus’ life. For example, when the Bible tells us Mary, newly pregnant, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, did you know geographically how challenging that was? Seeing where she had to walk and the hills she had to climb gives you a new perspective on the self-sacrifice she made. Father Mitch, whom I adore for his ability to simply explain the Catholic faith without all the jargon, takes you on an armchair journey in this beautiful coffee table book filled with photos to all the key spots mentioned in the Bible, offering his unique insight along the way.

Holy Land by Father Mitch Pacwa

10) Rediscover Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly – I just can’t have a list of recommendations without this book! It was key to my conversion and I think if you have any fence-sitters when it comes to the faith, it will help them make the leap. Matthew Kelly has a unique gift, not unlike Father Jonathan and Teresa Tomeo, to make the faith relevant to you today and explain why fasting, confession, weekly mass attendance and more is important and will help you on the path to becoming your best self. You can order a free copy here.

Rediscovering Catholicism

Let me know what you pick and if they liked it! May they have a very Merry Christmas as they unearth all the amazing resources of the Church!

 

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A Resource for New Catholics: Waking up Catholic by Chad Torgerson

Waking up CatholicWhen I decided to become Catholic, I was ravenous for information about the Church! Sad to say, I had a fairly hard time finding something that was simple enough, without jargon, wasn’t written in 1960 and clearly explained the basics of the Catholic faith.

I finally stumbled upon The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions, which laid down enough of the basics that I was able to move on to more advanced reading. I wish I’d had this book: Waking up Catholic by Chad Torgerson.

Chad is a convert from the Protestant faith and does a lovely job hitting all the basics of Catholicism. While it’s useful for any Catholic RCIA candidate or Catholic newbie, I think it’s especially helpful for those converting from a Protestant denomination. There are many common objections that Protestants tend to have of Catholicism, such as the veneration of Mary, the veneration of the saints, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, tradition versus Bible-only, and the need for confession, or reconciliation.

Torgerson explains how he once held all of these very objections to the Catholic faith, in fact arguing them quiet often 🙂 (it’s amazing how God coverts us!), and explains how he overcame them in a way that I think will make sense to many Protestants. I find that many of the objections they hold are simply a lack of understanding. If we can just get them to listen to WHY Catholics believe what they do and practice what they do, I think many would come to see that Catholicism is the fullest revelation of the Christian faith. I know I have figured that out in spades over the last few years!

While I think he missed some key reasons for confession and why we venerate Mary, he does hit the basics, which is a great starting point for further study. I would encourage you to learn more about reconciliation by reading the book 7 Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn and to especially learn all you can about Mary (you will be amazed!) by reading a book like Meet Your Mother by Mark Miravalle. I am still learning so much about Mary and am continually amazed at the unique role she played in assisting our Lord with our salvation. Both of these books are very easy to read and give a well-rounded, in-depth look at these facets of the faith.

If your RCIA program has not provided you with a good resource for learning the basics of the faith outside of class (I know ours gave us print-outs that were very dated and not terribly helpful), this is an excellent option to help you get started on the road to Catholicism. If there’s a teaching you disagree with (and surely there will be one or two), please take the time to read further about it. I found that when I bothered to delve deeply into any topic I didn’t understand, I eventually saw the truth. Becoming Catholic is no easy feat… it takes time and dedication!

What resources did you find most helpful in the RCIA process? Any great books you recommend for Catholic newbies? Please share!

Editor’s Note: This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for a fair review.

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