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From RCIA to Confession, My 10 Most Popular Posts

From RCIA to Reconciliation, @ACatholicNewbie's Tip 10 Posts

I continue to see that specific posts consistently have the most readers, so I thought I would compile a list of some of the most popular topics I’ve written about. Please enjoy the following Top 10 Most Popular Posts on Catholic Newbie listed in order of popularity:

  1. 10 Things I Wish all Non-Catholic Christians Knew about Catholicism
  2. How to Start a Conversation about Catholicism Anywhere
  3. 13 Things to Do After RCIA to Keep Your Faith on Fire
  4. Tweet These Companies that Support Planned Parenthood
  5. 11 Ways to Work the Rosary into Your Busy Day
  6. The 1 Thing I Wish All RCIA Candidates Knew About Confession
  7. My Conversion Story
  8. The Spiritual Riches of Catholicism: From Prayer Groups to Spiritual Bouquets
  9. 5 Must-Dos for the RCIA Candidate
  10. My First Reconciliation Through RCIA

Thanks to all of you for continuing to give these posts life by sharing them on your favorite social networks and via email, parish newsletters and beyond!

 

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.

13 Things to Do After RCIA to Keep Your Catholic Faith on Fire

13 Ways to Keep Your Faith on Fire After RCIA via @ACatholicNewbie

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

So you spent the last nine months of your life going to weekly sessions to learn all about the Catholic faith, attending weekly mass and receiving special blessings. You got through the nerve-wracking first reconciliation and you made it through the long Easter Vigil finally confirmed in the faith and an official member of the Catholic church. Congratulations! Joining the Catholic church is not an easy process, nor should it be. We only want you to join the Body of Christ if you’re truly passionate about Jesus Christ and “thirsty” for best way to life out your faith.

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Many of us Catholic “newbies” (as I like to call us :)) are zealous for all things Catholicism, especially at first. We’re so excited at this jewel we have discovered in the Church that we want to learn all we can and tell everyone who will listen to us all about it. But like new love, sometimes that excitement wears off. I’ve got 13 things you can do to keep your faith on fire and make sure that come next Easter you haven’t fizzled out.

13 Things to Do After RCIA to Keep Your Catholic Faith on Fire

1) Go on a Silent Retreat

First, you need to start your Catholic life with prayer. I started the tradition of a yearly silent retreat before I joined the church and I’ve found it so beneficial to help me discern next steps in life. Check your diocese or one nearby for retreat houses or monasteries that offer a day’s silent retreat. You can often choose to spend at least one night if you’d like, as well, and it’s always a very minimal cost less than $40.

Turn off all electronics and just check in periodically for emergencies and try to be as silent as possible. Pray the rosary, visit the chapel (if one is available) in silent meditation, walk the grounds, pray the Stations of the Cross if available, read the Bible, read spiritual books and record your thoughts in a journal. LISTEN to God and you’ll be amazed at the direction you receive in silence and prayer.

2) Make Prayer Part of Daily Life

I always feel myself slipping away when I get busy and end up sacrificing my prayer time. I’d suggest praying as close to the start of your day as you can (for parents it may be after the kids go to school or before they wake up). Consider praying the Liturgy of the Hours (you’ll find them in the free Laudate app available on smartphones), pray the rosary, offer your day’s work to the Lord that it may work for His will, and pray any prayers that are special to you (perhaps to your confirmation saint or Mary or other prayers you love). I also try to remember to stop at noon and pray the Angelus (a short prayer to Mary that the Pope prays daily), as well as offer a closing prayer as I go to sleep.

3) Begin Praying the Rosary

You might start by adding the rosary once a week on a set day and see how it works in your life. Once I started praying it weekly, I quickly wanted to pray it daily. However, I mostly pray my rosary decade by decade throughout the day however I can. I may pray the opening as I take the dog for a walk, pray two more decades at noon, pray another two in the shower at the end of the day and finish as I go to sleep. My advice, though, is to get started early otherwise the day will get away from you and you’ll be too tired to pray the whole thing. Read my tips on How to Work the Rosary Into Your Busy Day.

4) Read the Bible Daily

The simplest way to do this is to sign up for a free email that either provides you with a daily verse to read or tells you which verse to read. The founders of Flocknote offer free emails that take you through the entire Gospel in a Year, as well as the Catechism in a Year. You can also read the Catholic Church’s Daily Bible Reading on your free Laudate app, by subscribing on USCCB.org or in a daily missal book.

There are also Bible reading plans like the free 90-day Bible Reading Challenge from Ascension Press or the Coming Home Network’s Bible Reading Plan and Catechism Reading Plan, which takes you through related parts of the Old & New Testaments. Or pick a book of the Bible that you feel called to and start reading a chapter a day!

5) Read Catholic Books

This is one of my favorite ways of growing my Catholic faith. I have stacks of books and online lists of books that are just GInormous! Try to read at a minimum at least one Catholic book a year. Need suggestions? Check out My Favorite Catholic books Pinterest board, check out my Amazon book list on the right side of the page or email me if there are specific things you want to learn more about. My two absolute favorites are “New Testament Basics for Catholics” by John Bergsma (see my review) and Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism.” No need to spend tons of money on this either — see what you can find at your library and ask them to transfer things in if they don’t have it. This is where I started!

6) Go to Mass

This one should be an obvious, right? But you’ve GOT to go to mass to avoid falling away from the faith. You must receive Christ in the Eucharist. He told us in John 6:53:

“…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

That’s pretty darn clear to me! While you’re at mass, consider using a mass journal. This is a recommendation from Matthew Kelly, author (who I mentioned above) and founder of DynamicCatholic.com. Pray at the beginning of mass that you will learn something to help you grow spiritually and when you realize what it is, write it down. It’s something you can review from time to time so you don’t forget what God is trying to teach you. Request a FREE one from DynamicCatholic.com (you just pay shipping).

7) Attend Daily Mass

OK, I’m upping the ante here :). If you really want to grow in your faith, try to get to daily mass at least some of the time. I find this is how I learned a lot about the Catholic faith (and still do) in the homilies and the daily Scripture readings. It’s a free activity that only requires the sacrifice of your time (usually only about a half-hour) and the best part of it all – you can receive Jesus any day of the week!! I find it a wonderfully quiet and centering way to start the day. It helps set the tone of my day and reminds me what’s most important as I go through my daily tasks.

8) Commit to Regular Time in Adoration

Another of my favorite activities (that I still tend to let fall off when I get busy, but shouldn’t!) is quiet time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament or the exposed Eucharist in Adoration. For newbies, this means that you can sit and pray, read or meditate on Jesus by sitting in His actual Presence (meaning his REAL presence in the form of the Eucharist). You can actually SIT with Jesus!!

You’ll find much direction and discernment here. Ask most priests, deacons, nuns, monks, etc. about their discernment process and they will tell you spending time in adoration played a role. This doesn’t mean God will tell you to be a nun (He might though :)), but you’ll a get much clearer idea and sense of peace about the plans He has for you.

Most churches have a Blessed Sacrament (not exposed) or Perpetual Adoration (exposed) chapel where you can go sit with Jesus anytime. Don’t let Him be lonely! You please Him greatly by spending time with Him.

9) Take Time for a Daily Reflection

Matthew Kelly offers a great daily reflection called the Prayer Process in his book “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” if you can get into the habit of doing so. You simply take a moment at the end of your day to reflect on what you could have done better, what God is trying to tell you through the events of the day, thanking God, asking for forgiveness, praying for others and just taking a moment to talk with God about your life. You can get a free Prayer Process card on DynamicCatholic.com

10) Get Involved in Your Parish

Find a way, even a small way, to get involved. To truly be a member of the Body of Christ, you’ve got to get in there and mix with its people — for good or bad. Could you be a reader, teach religious education, help clean the sanctuary, play an instrument, sing, help set up for an event, speak to future RCIA candidates…? Most parishes offer plenty of opportunities in the way of serving. Here are my 5 surefire ways to help you get involved at your parish. Pray, discern and speak up! I’ve read God provides many graces for those who assist at Mass. 🙂

11) Take a Class

If you want to learn more about your faith outside of books, consider taking a class. I’ve considered getting my master’s in theology (for lay people) and looked into institutes around me who offer flexible programs. St. Meinrad in Indiana and Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio) both offer flexible programs with online components, though I’ve determined right now isn’t the time for me, but I hope to begin the process down the road. If you just want to learn and don’t want to pursue a degree, consider reputable online programs like the Avila Institute, which offers classes on various saints, spiritual formation, spiritualities and more that you can do from home.

12) Go to Reconciliation

I think you will also find the fire fizzling if you don’t regularly go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. While it’s an easy one to put off, when you get there and confess your sins, you feel remarkably better and receive grace to continue to battle your temptations. Here is what I wish all RCIA candidates knew about confession.

I’d recommend going at least monthly if you can. It will keep you in good spiritual health. Plus, as Vinny Flynn points out in his book, “7 Secrets of Confession,” this is one of a few Sacraments where you experience the Real Presence of Jesus, this time not in the Eucharist but in the priest who acts as Jesus in hearing and forgiving your sins. Don’t miss that opportunity to be in the presence of Jesus! It’s a tremendous blessing!

13) Consider Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

I won’t go into this in depth here since this post is already long, but it’s a great next step in deepening your faith. Read more in this past blog or check out the books “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort or “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael Gaitley.

Did I give you too many marching orders!? Take it one step at a time starting with prayer to determine where to begin. It’s also a lot about building habits. In the book “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller (one of my all-time favorites, though not specifically Catholic), he says it takes about 66 days for a new task to start to feel like a habit, so add in one thing at a time till it becomes a habit and see how it flames the fire in you.

Now, as Catherine of Sienna says, “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.” We just need to get it kindling first…

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Read more:

The One Thing I Wish All RCIA Candidates Knew About Confession

First Reconciliation

Confession is a scary word to most Catholic RCIA candidates. It looms in the distance as the big hurdle you must cross before joining the Church. Truth be told, I was more nervous about this sacrament than any other part of joining the Church. I was sweaty, nauseous and nervous as all get out. I suspect I’m not alone in my trepidation. It’s not that I didn’t welcome confession/reconciliation — I thought it was a wonderful opportunity — it was just the “doing” it that had me shaking!

But, Catholic newbies and RCIA candidates, I want you to know something about confession that you won’t understand until you experience it several times. Reconciliation is about forgiveness but it’s about a LOT more, too.

After I went to confession a time or two, I noticed that not only did I feel relief at being forgiven, but it seemed the very things I was struggling with sometimes just completely went away! So, for example, if it was custody of the tongue that was an issue, suddenly the temptation to say what I shouldn’t just up and vanished or I gained an improved ability to control it. I didn’t know quite how to explain or put into words exactly what was going on, but I new that confession brought me a benefit beyond forgiveness.

In reading Vinny Flynn’s “7 Secrets of Confession” recently (a great book for newbies, by the way, to help you fully understand the sacrament), I realized what I was experiencing. It was “healing”! He beautifully puts into words the amazing power of the sacrament of Reconciliation. It IS forgiveness, but Christ already “took away” our sins when He died on the Cross. We are reaching into time and accepting that “taking away” that he has already given for all sins that have been or will be committed. But because the priest acts AS Christ, we also encounter Jesus here just as we do in the Eucharist in the form of bread. It’s one of TWO opportunities to encounter the living Christ. And when we meet him with true repentance he heals us.

So that’s what I want you newbies to know — it’s also about HEALING. When you go to that first confession, yes, you can unload all of the things you’re sorry for and breathe a big sigh or relief that you’ve been forgiven. But expect MORE! You will be healed, too, and our Lord will help you overcome your temptations going forward.

So don’t go just one time to complete this step on the road to becoming Catholic. Make it a habit to go at least monthly. Why would you want to pass up the opportunity to meet Jesus and gain strength in overcoming temptation?

Newbies, I want to hear your worries and anxieties or excitement as you get ready to experience this sacrament! I’m happy to help answer any questions you have as someone who did this just one year ago. Experienced Catholics, please share this post with any RCIA candidates you know and lets show them the power of Reconciliation!

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