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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!

A Catholic Approach to Dealing With Difficult People

This is a wonderful post on dealing with difficult people, especially those who have wronged us and may not have apologized. This is from Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. from MyConsecration.org:

The Charity We are Called To Emulate Especially With Difficult People

If we feel a natural aversion toward someone, or if a certain person has done some wrong to us, we see that person’s defects far more easily than we see his virtues.  It will also be easy for us to attribute to him the wrong intention now and in the future.  This is the moment to be especially prayerful and careful in order to fight against our natural tendency to evil thoughts and to STOP ourselves from speaking badly of that person to others.  We must oppose these thoughts despite the tendency to say I was wronged.  Yes, so was Jesus wronged many times.  This is the time to act as He would, to be especially kind to that person and offer him some service while looking at God in Him…loving God in him despite his fault.  True charity…the charity Jesus demands of us…makes no distinction of persons, but has equal love for all, because we see and love only God in all people.  We love them precisely because God does….and we love them for God and we love God in them.  Yes, it is hard, but by calling on His Grace, He will grant it.  St. Therese demonstrated this:  “when I show charity towards others, I know that is You God who are acting in me.”

The MyConsecration.org site promotes Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary and the Flame of Love apparition.A Free Flame of Love book can be ordered in the US at www.flameoflove.us.

 

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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Let God Mess Up Your Plans and You Just Might Get Some Unexpected Surprises

Teresa Tomeo

Me and Teresa at St. Boniface in Lafayette, Indiana

I wanted to share with all my readers one amazing example of God’s blessings that have poured down on me since beginning the process of Total Consecration to Mary. Although it’s been only a few months, I still am flabbergasted by this one event.

I am a writer and public relations professional by trade and run my own business. I’ve been through many ups and downs with my business, and I am now seeing it wasn’t until I let go of MY plans for my life and career that God began his work in me. I once had aspirations of growing and running a large company with many employees, but situation after situation has revealed to me that’s not what would bring me happiness or fulfillment.

Around this time last year, I came to grips with what God was trying to show me. I took a big step and handed over some current work that was not fulfilling or bringing me joy to a fellow co-worker to instead focus on the things that were fulfilling and bringing me happiness. It’s not easy to GIVE UP work, let me tell you. But I felt very called to do so, and as soon as I did it, I knew it was the right thing. Slowly, I’ve delved more into work that aligns with my Catholic values and that I feel called to do.

Earlier this summer, I began in earnest to get to know Our Lady better and I came across a pamphlet for Total Consecration in our Blessed Sacrament chapel. I was curious, so I looked up St. Louis de Monfort and read a couple of his books. After much study and hearing Gary Zimak on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo mention he was going to lead a group through Consecration via his podcast, I was sold. Even before we started the preparation, I began daily, as a trial, offering up the merits of all my actions, goods and works to Mary for her safekeeping and distribution.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been listening to Catholic Radio Indy and came to really enjoy Teresa Tomeo’s drive time (9-10 a.m.) show every morning. As soon as I dropped my kids off at school, I’d tune in and listen to a Catholic perspective on the news of the day and learn about new books and Catholic teachings from all the great people she interviewed.

One day, I went to her website and saw she had her own PR/communications firm… Hmmm… So all summer long, I toyed with the idea that maybe I should try to email her just to see if she might need any freelance help. But I thought that was a total long shot. Well, finally in August, the calling was so strong, I just up and did it. Lo and behold, she emailed me back within the hour, saying yes indeed they needed some help and they were especially interested in my experience working with non-Catholic media and particularly with travel journalists. That was a hole her team was just saying they needed to fill!

I about fell off my chair.  (Side note: I prayed to Mary before sending the email and praised God when I got this response back. Never hurts to send an important email off with a prayer attached!) After talking with the head of her team of communications professionals, they added me to their team and I am now working on projects that match my values and further the spread of the Catholic faith. What a blessing!! Every project is bathed in prayer for whomever we are working with and we get to share and talk about topics that we’d be discussing anyway. I can’t think of any other work I’d rather be doing.

Just last weekend, Teresa spoke at a parish in Lafayette, Ind., near mine and so I had the opportunity to meet her in person, hear her entire story live and assist her with selling, signing books and more throughout the day. I still cannot believe I was helping Teresa Tomeo, whom I listen to on the radio every day! I’ll share more about her talk in a future blog, as it was incredibly inspiring.

So my point here is this. Give your life up to God and amazing things will happen. It’s not all going to be pleasant, because we all know that God calls us to suffering, as well, but it will all be satisfying and fulfilling and likely bring you things beyond your imagining.

As Pope Francis recently said: “God always surprises us, he overturns our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!” This was certainly one of God’s joyful surprises for me. Thanks for messing up my plans, God :).

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