Blog Archives

Getting to Know Jesus: 10 Ways to Grow Closer to our Lord and Savior

Getting to Know Jesus: 10 Ways to Grow Closer via @ACatholicNewbie

If you want to become holy, be a saint, remain steadfast in your Christian faith, you’ve got to get to know Jesus. I struggled with this early on in my conversion. I felt like I did not know Jesus, that He did not want to know me (why would He want to know lowly ol’ me?) and I was, in fact, intimated by him. I pictured Jesus overthrowing the money-changers’ tables and some of the harsher statements he made. So I was distant.

But soon I realized that if I was going to be a saint — or strive to be — I’d better get to know Jesus!

Here are 10 ways I found that helped me draw closer and truly develop a personal relationship with Jesus, something I believe is crucial to true Christian conversion:

  1. Receive Jesus – Tops on the list of ways to grow closer to Jesus has to be receiving him in the form of the Eucharist. This is a special gift enjoyed by Catholics, whose priests transform ordinary bread and wine into the living God by repeating Jesus’ words at the last supper. When we receive Jesus, we meet Him in the flesh and we literally carry Him with us out into the world. Receive Jesus as often as you can!
  2. Read the Gospels over and over – This tip I attribute to author Matthew Kelly, but it’s a key one. A wonderful way to get to know Jesus better is to read about him and the main place we can do that is through the Gospels. Read them over and over, a little each day, letting Jesus’ words and actions sink in. Kelly, in his book Rediscover Jesus, recommends imagining yourself as different people in the stories to place yourself in the context of what is happening.
  3. Spend time in adoration – In addition to receiving the Eucharist, we can also be in Jesus’ presence by simply being in the presence of the Eucharist. Try to visit your church’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel (where you can always find Jesus in the Eucharist identified by the red candle burning outside the door) or during Adoration where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed versus locked away. Read, pray, write or just sit in the quiet presence of Jesus. Many experience vocational callings and other insights during adoration.
  4. Encounter Him in Reconciliation – Did you know when you go to Reconciliation, you are in the presence of Jesus? Jesus is present in the priest, no matter which priest you see. In Reconciliation, he pours out his mercy upon us, forgiving our sins and giving us graces to help us from sinning again and to grow in holiness. Other than the Eucharist, it’s one of the few places you can encounter Jesus. Go and go often!
  5. Choose a stage of Jesus’ life you can relate to – If you’re like me and struggled feeling close to the Jesus in the Gospels, consider Jesus at a more vulnerable time of life. St. Therese of Liseiux developed a devotion to the infant Jesus. Can you picture Jesus as a tiny baby, cooing in his mother’s arms, nestled close to Mary’s heart? Start there. Talk to the Baby Jesus or Jesus as a youth, working with his father as a carpenter.
  6. Talk to Jesus – How can you really get to know anyone without talking to them regularly? You can read about them, but is that the same as really knowing them? Develop the HABIT of talking to Jesus all day long. Thank Him for the beautiful day, the blue skies and birds singing — for every good thing that happens during your day. Ask for help when you have a decision to make — big or small. Tell Him when you are frustrated, stressed, happy or joyful. He wants you to talk to Him!
  7. Read Jesus Calling – It can be hard, of course, when the person you’re trying to get to know doesn’t talk back to you — in words, at least. I’ve found Jesus Calling, and the version for kids, to be a great way for me and my kids to grow closer to Jesus. The book is a daily reflection where the author puts all of Jesus’ teachings into words, as if He were talking directly to you. It’s helps us, in all our humanness, to hear His words as if they were spoken directly to us.
  8. Read Rediscover Jesus – Author Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic has written a new book with the aim of helping Christians — and all people — develop a personal relationship with Jesus. He does a wonderful job of considering Jesus’ teachings and the example He left us to help us understand how we can live as He desired in the context of our modern society.
  9. Pray the Rosary – Of course, we associate the rosary with Mary, because she’s the one who gave us the prayer, asked us to pray it and it’s filled with Hail Marys. But the Rosary is really about Jesus. If you pray the rosary daily — or as often as you can — you will be meditating day in and day out on the life of Jesus. Each day is a different set of “mysteries” or events in Jesus’ life to meditate upon as you say the prayers of the rosary. You’ll find new insights pour in as you contemplate these events over and over every time you pray the rosary.
  10. Read The Diary of St. Faustina and the Flame of Love (free copy here) – These two books, which are approved by the Catholic Church as communications of Jesus, present a more personal voice of Jesus and can help you relate better to Him. Two passages I bring to mind often while looking at the Cross are His request that Elizabeth Kindelmann call him “my most adorable Jesus” and his request that she imagine herself “nestled close to his merciful heart.” I can certainly picture myself there.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to get to know Jesus! Please share what has worked for you and what a difference it has made in your life to have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.

Can RCIA Candidates go to Daily Mass?

Can RCIA Candidates go to Daily Mass

In reviewing my website analytics, I discovered that someone came across my blog after typing this question into Google. I just wanted to provide a big old YES! You can most definitely attend any type of mass as an RCIA candidate or even as a non-Catholic. The only thing you cannot participate in is receiving the Eucharist.

While I was in RCIA, I attended daily mass quite often. I learned SO much from the homilies and was inspired to learn more on a variety of different topics. I always chose to go up and receive a blessing from the priest during mass, though if you are uncomfortable, you don’t need to do that. I always looked at it as I’ll take any and all blessings I can get :).

If you choose to go up, just cross your arms over your chest and the priest will know you would like to receive a blessing instead of communion. Or alternately, you can just stand in the pew and wave others past you. Catholics do not receive communion if they feel they have committed a mortal sin, as we must be in a worthy state to receive, so you likely will not be alone in not receiving the Eucharist.

One other note, I felt daily mass was confusing at first, as it seemed different to me than Sunday mass. It is a shortened form and sometimes they choose alternate versions of some of the things we speak aloud. Find a guide to the mass and bring it along. You may also want to pick up guidebook outside the chapel or church or get yourself a missal, which has the daily readings, as well as the Entrance Antiphon, which we say at the beginning of mass, and the Communion Antiphon, which we say at the end of mass. Just follow along with everyone else and after a few weeks, you’ll have it down pat.

Got other questions about RCIA? Shout! I would love to help.

Developing Kneeling Stamina

RCIA, New to CatholicismFor today’s post, I thought I’d lighten things up a bit! One of the real challenges of becoming Catholic is kneeling so much!

At no other church denomination I’ve ever attended can I recall kneeling, but it’s one of my favorite parts of Catholicism. It shows so much respect, reverence, humility and piety to be willing to kneel down before your God. But boy does it hurt after a while :)…

The hardest for me has been kneeling while saying the rosary. Thank goodness for padded kneelers, but even with those, after 20 minutes on my knees, these nearly 40-year-old knees ache pretty good.

Can I say I’ve found a solution for you? Not so much… At a retreat I attended, the church there did have some sort of special stool to help, but it probably would be more appropriate for the elderly rather than a healthy individual hogging one. I also try moving my knees slightly between decades of the rosary to get the blood moving again I suppose, but not sure how much that helps.

I suppose part of what we experience as children of God is suffering. Not that kneeling is any great suffering, but it’s a reminder of suffering and the pain of Christ on the cross. A little discomfort could do us all good. It keeps us humble and reminds us God is worth the sacrifice. I suppose kneeling also helps keep us in the present moment, keeps our thoughts from floating to the worries of the day and instead focused on our knees and what it is we are doing here on our knees.

I’m thinking that after a while of praying the Liturgy of the Hours (prayers that occur at regular hours during the day) and attending Daily Mass, the old knees ought to develop some stamina. Can anyone out there confirm? Any tips on developing kneeling stamina?

Email Sign-up

Like us on Facebook!


As Featured on Seize the Day With Gus Lloyd

On Sirius Catholic radio

Archives

St. Therese, the Little Flower, Pray for us!