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A Tribute to My Friend and Priest, the Late Father Christopher Roberts

In October 2020, my friend, Father Christopher Roberts, passed away in a tragic accident, at the age of only 41. He was currently serving as pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church in Marion, Indiana.

Fr. Christopher Roberts

I have known Father since before my conversion to Catholicism in 2013, and he was a key catalyst on my growth as a Catholic. To count him as my friend and a kindred spirit was a great blessing and gift from God, as he was certainly one of the most holy and brilliant humans I have known.

I want to share my personal experiences with him to demonstrate in one small way, through his actions in my life, the depth of quiet holiness, kindness and humility he displayed that many may not have known or realized about him.

Many described Father Roberts (that is how I knew him, as the more formal last name was used at my parish during his time there, though many others knew him as Father Christopher) as “intense” and indeed he was. He was a devout Catholic and serious about it.

But his intensity, I believe, came from his desire to both live his own faith in the best way he could AND to call the Catholics he served to do likewise.

Father called you to be BEST Christian you could be, not some half-hearted or lukewarm version.

And that is no easy task.

In fact, I think it’s why many people steer clear of Catholicism. It is a difficult path to strive for perfection, requiring you to strip yourself of many of the things that feel comfortable and familiar but that are getting in the way of your path to salvation.

In 2013, when asked about his long-term goals, he said, “To become a good pastor – a priest who understands how to challenge people, but also to do it in such a way that brings them along slowly.”

Father Roberts didn’t let you off the hook with your faith; out of love, he called you to this challenging, but most rewarding path.

And thank goodness for that.

He loved his parishioners, always looking for ways to better serve them and engage them. At one point during the pandemic, he shared with me the difficulties of the experience, saying “there is also the loss of one of the great joys in the life of a parish priest — seeing one’s parishioners” and expressing how much he was looking forward to having mass again with his congregation.

Father was a brilliant man, whom my parish’s current priest, Father Travis Stephens, described as likely to have moved up in the hierarchy of the Church (I wholeheartedly agree and always thought he might be bishop some day ;-)) and as most certainly in heaven. I also agree on that point as well, as I have a strong sense that he is in heaven praying for us mightily as we continue our pilgrimage here on earth.

Let me start by telling you a little about him and then I will share the many acts of kindness, generosity and faith that I witnessed as he acted in our diocese and specifically in my life.

 

About Father

Father Christopher Roberts

Courtesy St. Paul Catholic Church

Father Roberts grew up in Logansport, Indiana, in a family of six children (he was the youngest). He graduated from Logansport High School as valedictorian and went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard. No easy feat.

When he decided to pursue the priesthood, he attended the North American College Seminary in Rome (where he learned to speak Italian; he could also fluently speak Spanish from travels in Spain and Mexico, leading many Spanish masses and bringing many Hispanics back to the faith) and was ordained a priest in 2007.

Prior to his death, he was still pursuing knowledge, a lifelong pursuit for him, which is one of the interests we shared — a thirst for knowledge — though my intellect is not even in the solar system of his :).

In 2020, he was completing his licentiate in Mariology at the University of Dayton — all while serving as pastor of TWO parishes.

I was honored to be able to attend his thesis defense (online via Zoom due to the pandemic) in May of 2020, which he passed with high honors. His thesis had been a struggle, which he persevered through, after having to rewrite everything when he thought he was finished and then revise it yet again. He was awarded his licentiate posthumously in December 2020.

 

Father’s Impact on the the Diocese of Lafayette Indiana

Christopher Roberts priest

Courtesy St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church

When I reflect back on Father’s life, I was amazed to remember how many ways he gave to his parishioners and the members of this diocese.

Here is but a handful of the acts I personally remember and I’m sure there are so many others I don’t even know about (please comment below with any other memories)…

1. Father was one of the few (if not the only) priests who could lead a full Latin mass in our diocese, and he did so frequently for the benefit of those who desired this traditional form of the mass.

2. During his time at my parish, St. Alphonsus Liguori in Zionsville, he started a group of men to perform Gregorian chant at mass. So cool!

3. I remember a Divine Mercy Sunday where he offered confession after mass for as long as anyone wanted to come. This was because on Divine Mercy Sunday there is a special indulgence (a way to purge some of the punishment due to sin you have committed) for those who attend confession, receive communion, participate in public devotion to The Divine Mercy and pray for the pope’s intentions.

It was a WONDERFUL offering that I took advantage of, as did many others, because it is so convenient to attend confession when you are already at mass. Father stayed there for HOURS, hearing the confessions of our parishioners. What a blessing!

4. While at St. Alphonsus, I remember seeing him walk around our small town in his full cassock praying the rosary. What a brave and very visible witness to the Catholic faith!

5. Father was also friends with a very devout Catholic young man, Nathan Trapuzzano, whom he met during his time at Ball State University and who was tragically murdered on a morning walk in Indianapolis in 2014. Father had presided over Trapuzzano’s wedding, where he shared in a 2020 homily that the devout young couple had asked that everyone attend confession before attending their wedding mass :).

The couple had been married less than a year, and his wife was expecting a baby when Trapuzzano was shot and killed.

At his funeral mass, Father encouraged mourners to focus on forgiveness, and his wife did amazingly later forgive his killer, according to Father.

“Nathan would have wanted everyone here to know something in our bones,” said Father Roberts, according to the The Criterion. “Each one of us here is loved with an infinite, personal and unconditional love by a merciful God. There is nothing that we can do that God will not forgive. We can refuse to accept that mercy, but God will never stop extending it.

“The last lines of the Prayer of Saint Francis capture the Christian mystery that gives us hope today: ‘It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’”

6. At another point, Father shared with me that he had been helping a blind and lame Christian minister friend of his to sell his church, move all of this possessions and find a new place to live. A quiet act of kindness that I doubt many knew about, again in the midst of overseeing two parishes himself and in graduate school…

7. And after his death, a woman at our parish shared how Father had prayed over her while she was very sick during pregnancy and she was healed. Afterward, when the baby was born and suffered seizures, he came to visit on Easter Sunday and insisted on baptizing the baby. She was completely healed of her seizures. The woman said, “We believe that God will continue to use Father Roberts from heaven and we will be watching for his miracles.” Amen.

I’m sure this barely scratches the surface.

 

Father’s Impact on My Life

Prior to Conversion

Although I don’t remember exactly when, I likely first met Father Roberts when attending one of my first masses at St. Alphonsus in December 2011. I begin feeling called to go to mass after many years of stating that I would NEVER be Catholic ;-), despite marrying into a Catholic family, though my husband was not practicing.

Within about a month or two of that first mass, I decided to explore converting to Catholicism (you can read more about my conversion story here). When I reached out to the parish, they told me it was too late to join the group who would become members of the Church on Easter 2012, but I could start classes that fall.

In the meantime, I went to mass every weekend and then started going to daily mass in the summer of 2012. My first real memory of Father is his presiding over those daily masses most days.

His homilies that summer focused on sharing about the saint whose feast day it was. I distinctly remember his homily about St. Benedict and his constant call to daily conversion. I was hooked and started down the path of reading the Rule of St. Benedict.

Even though I wasn’t yet Catholic and couldn’t yet receive Communion, I always got in line to receive a blessing instead (I figured I’d take as many blessings as I could get!). Father later recounted to me that he wondered why I never received communion. If people are in need of confession, they also don’t receive communion, so he couldn’t figure out why I didn’t just go to confession ;-). He learned soon enough!

When my oldest son was preparing to receive First Communion while Father was at our parish (the same fall I was starting RCIA classes to join the Church), he decided to call EVERY family with a child going through First Communion and offer to visit them at their home that fall, answering any questions they had. Amazing! He truly wanted to connect with his parishioners and at one time said he had visited more than 120 homes in one year!

Even though I was very nervous to have a priest in our home (this was all new to me!), I did welcome the opportunity and invited him to come by.

This was my first real encounter with Father, and he now understood why I didn’t receive communion: I wasn’t even Catholic yet!

He kindly blessed our home (and our dog!) and sat down with us to have a chat. When he learned I wasn’t yet Catholic, he invited me to ask any questions. I remember having a long conversation with him about purgatory, as that was a concept I didn’t understand, and he gave me some great book recommendations.

I love to learn and am never afraid to ask questions and apparently he didn’t mind, thank goodness, because over time, he got A LOT of questions from me :).

I was blessed in 2013 to join the Church on Easter, and Father Roberts was one of THREE priests to anoint me with the oil of Confirmation. I will be forever grateful that he confirmed me!

 

After Conversion

Me after being confirmed in 2013 with my father-in-law, who was my sponsor, and my kiddos

Shortly before I joined the Church, Father posted in the parish newsletter looking for some help to “upgrade” his blog. Around that time, I had started this Catholic Newbie blog to document my journey into the Church and help others converting to Catholicism. I also helped clients maintain their blogs as part of my small business, so I reached out to him to see if I could help.

We sat down that spring and chatted about my blog and his (For Christ and the Church, which he later shut down, unfortunately, as I would enjoy going back and reading some of those posts) and started getting to know one another better and discover some of our shared interests.

Both of us were writers, both were interested in sharing the faith through new media, both loved to read, and turns out, while I was a total newbie compared with him, both were interested in language learning.

He ended up loaning me his Latin language workbook after that meeting, as I endeavored to learn some more Latin.

Later we would learn we both have a love for travel, as he led many pilgrimages and I’m now a travel writer and blogger.

That summer, Father was moved to a new parish, and we didn’t touch base again until I started to do some more writing for national Catholic websites.

I turned to him as an expert source for my articles every year or two, because, well, he certainly was an expert on Catholicism! He would kindly direct me to key Church documents to reference for my articles and give me a quote or two. And here and there he would comment on my blog or link to it and vice versa.

The first piece I ended up writing was on the topic of if priests and bishops should be living in lavish homes, and he provided some insight and his opinion (Father did have strong opinions! :)). I first published it on my blog and then on CatholicStand.com.

Then in 2017, we met in person, and I interviewed him for an article on penance that I wrote for the National Catholic Register. This is one of my favorite articles! In a future post (as this one is already quite long), I will share with you some of his wisdom that did not make it into the article and some other gems of his.

That day, we had a great chat, and it began a series of regular get-togethers where we would discuss the faith, debate it (we disagreed on some things, but both enjoyed the discussion), chat about better ways to propagate the faith among both his parishioners and among RCIA participants (my interest), and, as always, I would ask him a lot of questions, which he so kindly and patiently answered :).

I decided that perhaps God put him in my life so I could learn from him, though I could not imagine what value I provided in return aside from a kindred spirit. This holy, brilliant man who was pastor of TWO parishes, initiating and making the time to meet with me and answer my elementary questions. Incredibly kind and generous.

In the fall of 2019, my mother slipped into dementia seemingly out of the blue (at least to me), and I had to cancel a coffee we had planned. This was a very stressful time, as I had to figure out what was wrong with her and get her into a safe environment (she lived alone about 4 hours from me), and he repeatedly so thoughtfully reached out to check in on me and assure me of his prayers for us both. So comforting!

While this journey with my mother’s dementia has been painful and full of mourning, God was truly with us every step of the way, providing me with solutions at every turn, which I attribute in part to his prayers.

A bit of a prophetic statement he made to me during that time… “All of us either get older or don’t. As I look forward to going through that [dementia] without any family that is close, I find myself thinking that living much past 80 may not be a good goal to set.”

It does seem that many saints die in their 40s…

 

During the Pandemic

Father Roberts

Courtesy St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church

We continued to interact over email and then on Zoom as the pandemic got into full swing. During this time, someone attempted to rob him and then in another incident someone tried to steal his car, as well, leading to concern about his safety.

For me, the period of quarantine early in the pandemic led to a time of internal reflection and quiet and a clearer understanding of where God is leading me in the faith. I felt the call to study theology more deeply and hoped he could help me, directing me what to study, and he did, of course.

I also desired to take a more active role in helping create a more basic approach to Catholicism for those interested in converting to the faith but intimidated by all the things they don’t know or think they need to learn. I had several ideas, including a podcast (now in the works!), and he offered to work with me on these projects.

He is now my patron for these!

Lastly, I had begun to study Italian in the last couple years but never really got serious about it until 2020. I shared with him that I was studying Italian once I felt like I could make an attempt at a conversation, as I knew he could speak Italian fluently.

He quickly decided that we should set up a regular time to “practice” Italian. It would help him, because he didn’t really have the opportunity to use it any longer, while it would help me, because I needed practice “speaking” it.

Again, such a generous gift of time from someone serving as pastor of a parish and finishing his thesis. I hope, at least, it was some fun leisurely time for him.

We had only done one formal Italian “chat” session before his death, though we had another one scheduled the week after he died. I instead used that time to pray a holy hour for him.

When I reflect back upon my time with him, I feel so blessed to have had such a holy person in my life and so sad to have it taken away.

Who will I go to with my theological questions now? Who will practice Italian with me? What priest can I count on to pray for me during my trials here on earth?

Though I feel certain I now have a saint in heaven praying for me, and it doesn’t get much better than that…

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder why God granted me such a gift. Maybe one day I will know.

 

In Summary

Although I only knew one small side of him, I hope sharing that bit of insight enlightens others as to a better and more complete understanding of who he really was.

I hope that you can see more of the man behind the exterior and all the quiet yet kind, generous, merciful and wonderful things he did under the radar.

Father will be remembered, not just by me, but by his many fellow priests, his many parishioners spread over multiple parishes and of course his family and friends, as a reminder of what it looks like to live the life of a saint. I’m not saying he was perfect, none of us are, but he is certainly a wonderful example of what living the call to holiness looks like.

Requiescat in pace, Father, and please pray for us… One day, we shall meet again!

It’s Time to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours; Yes, I’m Calling You!

How did this year’s quarantine change your faith life?

For me, it greatly deepened my faith and helped me reorder my priorities and discover what I want to be doing daily as a faithful Catholic.

I went through several phases during the quarantine period and I’m sure I’m not alone. They included…

  • React – This was the period where we all had to process what exactly was happening, deal with fear of the unknown and begin to accept a new normal. I found myself watching too much news during this time, as though that could somehow provide me the assurances I so desperately needed.
  • Recover – The next phase for me was a period of recovering from all the running around I’ve been doing at least since my kids were born. I had an especially difficult 2019 with health challenges for my mother that really left me exhausted, and suddenly, I was given the gift of recovery … just taking a deep breath, resting and sleeping and overall reinvigorating myself.
  • Refocus – Once I “recovered,” I realized I had an opportunity to recreate my life, according to God’s will, how I wanted it from the ground up. Where did I want to focus my time? Running my kids to a different practice every day or more time in prayer? Engaging in coffees I didn’t want to attend or writing more? Running myself ragged back and forth to my mom’s or 1 or 2 quality visits a week? Watching a TV show or meeting with my Catholic sisters for a meaningful chat on Zoom? Everything exterior had been taken away and I could add back only what I wanted. This required, and still requires, much prayer and discernment.
  • Rebuild – As I continue to discern where to re-focus, I’ve moved into the re-build phase over the last few months. This involves the “action” of reconstructing my life as I discern what God wants me to do as the busyness of the world begins to surround me once more.  

One of the biggest things I’ve discovered during this period is praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and as I’ve watched fervent Catholics around me, I’m not alone.

I’ve tried to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the past, since converting in 2013, but it just didn’t “stick.” They felt dry and I felt like I was just “reading the words,” which is how another friend described to me her experience of praying the Liturgy of the Hours. 

But things have changed! Let me show you why I believe we’re called to this universal prayer of the Church right now, and perhaps if you’ve had that same “dry” experience, let me offer some tips for how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours so it can become more meaningful…

 

What Is the Liturgy of the Hours?

How to pray the Liturgy of the Hours

Though I’m now a seven-year member of the Catholic Church, I realized this year that I didn’t fully understand what the Liturgy of the Hours actually is even though I thought I did!

The Liturgy of the Hours is the “universal prayer” of the Church that takes place at multiple times throughout the day, including 6 a.m., 9 a.m., Noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight. Religious (sisters, brothers, monks and nuns) pray the full Liturgy of the Hours, much of it while gathered together, while priests and bishops are only called to pray a few of them throughout the day.

This post contains affiliate links for which I may earn a commission to help support this blog if you make a purchase after clicking through. Thanks for your support!

In Vatican II, lay people are also called to pray this most holy of liturgies that most closely connects the Church and is second only to the praying of the mass.

When you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you are praying with Catholics ALL OVER THE WORLD, including bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis. How very cool!

The Liturgy of the Hours is a collection of Psalms, Canticles (think of Mary’s Magnificat), Bible readings, hymns, prayers and even readings from the saints. They typically take between 5 to 10 minutes to pray alone or could take as long as 20 or 30 minutes when they are sung and prayed in community.

You don’t have to pray the “hours” at the exact time, but somewhere near the intended time is good. But, for example, you could pray “Morning Prayer” (called Lauds) whenever you get up in the morning or after attending daily mass in the morning and “Evening Prayer” (called Vespers) after dinner or a few hours before going to bed. “Night Prayer” (Compline) is designed for you to pray it just before going to sleep.

And don’t worry, if you’re praying alone, no need to sing the hymns (how would you know the melody anyway?). Just read them like a poem.

In a minute, I’ll explain where to find the Liturgy of the Hours, so you can pray it.

 

The Office of Readings

Latin Breviary

One facet of the Liturgy of the Hours that I did NOT understand is what’s called the “Office of Readings.” You can pray this set at ANY time of day.

This is one of my favorites, because one of my charisms is “learning,” and this one is FULL of learning.

In addition to the hymn, prayers and psalms, the Office of Readings gives you a MUCH longer Bible reading and follows a sequence, so you are reading parts of Job all together or the story of King David or the judges all together, etc.

Then it’s followed by my FAVORITE part: a writing from a saint or Doctor of the Church. These readings are true gems. They are readings I’d have no idea where to find elsewhere and are SO thought-provoking and interesting.

For example, on St. Thomas More’s feast day (he’s a martyr), we read a letter he wrote to his daughter while he was imprisoned and didn’t know if he would be killed for not adhering to the religion of the state.

He wrote…

“Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that may be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”

Is that incredible to take a peek into a personal letter from a saint on his deathbed? Amazing!

There’s also plenty from St. Augustine, so wise in explaining our faith, as well as St. Gregory the Great, St. Bonaventure and again, readings from saints on their feast days. 

If you want to grow in the knowledge of your faith and grow in prayer, this is an AWESOME way to do it.

 

Why Pray the Liturgy of the Hours NOW?

catholic liturgy rosary

I personally feel extremely called to pray the Liturgy of the Hours right now, and since I’ve been praying them now for a few months, I feel closer to God than ever.

I see much more clearly how he is guiding me and I see his directions for me everywhere. So much so that it almost seems ridiculous and indicates his unending generosity and tender care.

Vatican II says that praying the Liturgy of the Hours is arranged such that “the whole cycle of day and night can be consecrated through the praise of God.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Chapter 4: 84) and that “the purpose of the [Divine Office] is to sanctify the day.”

We are CONSECRATING and SANCTIFYING our ENTIRE life, day and night, by praying the Liturgy of the Hours. No wonder it brings about a closeness to God!

We live in a challenging culture right now, which has disconnected itself from God, making each person his own God with the perceived ability to chart his own happiness and determine what’s right and wrong for himself. Yet, so many of these people certainly aren’t joyful or even happy.

I heard a great quote from a talk given at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame about St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), noting she “gave up happiness to seek joy.” I love that…

We know that we will only find our true joy in God, and it’s a joy that transcends through trials and tribulations whereas happiness is often aiming for an absence of suffering, which we know we cannot escape in this life. This joy manifests itself as a deep internal peace through trust in God and surety that He is leading us along the right path.

I personally feel evil at work in a deep and profound way with grave attacks on the Church, on the family, on our ability to gather as Christians to receive the Eucharist, to pray and just to connect, an essential part of the Church. 

Of course, God is working good through all of this, but I think we must take up our cross and join the battle, and the best way to do so is through prayer and fasting (but we’ll save the topic of fasting for another post!).

I never see more fruits than when I get over myself and my physical needs and combine fasting AND prayer.

In fact prayer can effect much more than actions, according to some of the great teachers of our Church. In the book, “The Soul of the Apostolate” by Jean Baptiste Chautard, he says, “A short but fervent prayer will usually do more to bring about a conversion than long discussions or fine speeches.”

He goes on to say that a single burning prayer of St. Teresa of Avila converted 10,000 heretics and quotes a Chinese bishop as saying, “Ten Carmelite nuns praying will be of greater use to me than 20 missionaries preaching.”

I can’t resist sharing two more quotes from that book…

“It is their [meaning nuns, sisters, monks and brothers] secret but active love, which awakens the voice of mercy in every part of a world of sinners.”

“[A cloistered nun’s] fingers play upon the keyboard of divine forgiveness and of the eternal lights; his silent and lonely soul presides over the salvation of souls and the conquests of the Church.”

 

Vatican II Invites the Laity to the Divine Office

Vatican II book

What first inspired me to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours again — and with regularity —  was a brilliant podcast from Brandon Vogt and Father Blake Britton. It’s called “How (and Why) to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours,” and it’s part of their awesome Burrowshire Podcast. I highly recommend giving it a listen!

They explain how the millennial and Gen Z generation, especially, though I’m part of Gen X and feel we are a part of that, as well, will be the ones to put the teachings of Vatican II in place in the world.

Vatican II sometimes is associated with the impression of “modernizing” the Church too much, but I recently read the documents, and it’s an incredibly easy read that in no way comes across that way to me.

I recommend reading Vatican II for yourself, as well, so you know where we’re called to take Catholicism into the future.

Vatican II specifically calls the laity (non-priests and religious) to greater participation in the liturgy and life of the Church, including the Liturgy of the Hours.

Here are some of things Vatican II (in the document Sancrosanctum Concilium) has to say about the Liturgy of the Hours (also called the Divine Office):

It is “the hymn which is sung in the realms above throughout every age” and that you are joining Jesus in “the divine singing together of a song of praise.” (Read my take on why praise should be a part of your prayer).

“The Divine Office is also a source of holiness and of nourishment for personal prayer insofar as it is the public prayer of the Church.” (Chapter 4: Paragraph 90)

“The Divine Office is the voice of the Church, of the whole mystical body, praising God in public.” (4:99)

“It is recommended that lay people also recite the Divine Office…” in addition to priests… as a group or alone. (4:100)

 

The Practicalities of How to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours

liturgy of the hours - book bible

As most things that you truly want to add into your life, it must become a habit. And habits are most easily developed — and kept — when you attach the activity to something else you’re already doing, part of your daily routine.

My Liturgy of the Hours schedule looks like this:

  • Morning prayer upon awakening
  • Midday prayer at noon when I take my dog for a walk
  • Office of Readings usually between 7-9 p.m.
  • Night prayer before going to bed

I attach morning prayer to my morning routine, part of the activities I do before truly beginning my day, like brushing my teeth and getting dressed. If I go to morning mass, sometimes I’ll save it to pray after mass in church.

I always pray the midday prayer while taking my dog for a walk. I rarely miss that one!

I’m most likely to miss the Office of Readings, as it’s not attached to anything specific and that tends to be an unpredictable time of day for me, but I’ve set an alarm on my phone for 9 p.m. to remind myself if I have not prayed it yet.

Lastly, night prayer takes place before I go to bed. The trick here is to go to bed before I can barely keep my eyes open, when I’m more likely to skip praying night prayer.

It doesn’t need to be anything complicated. And if you miss one, no big deal. Just get back to it at your next scheduled time.

I think you’ll find, like me, that you miss it when you don’t pray it and that the fruits of this prayer are tremendous!

Resources

Universalis App

The Universalis App

In terms of where to find the Liturgy of the Hours so you can pray them, I advise using the Universalis app. It’s $10 for one year, but wonderful and it makes it super easy to pray. It also has some other nice features, as well, in addition to the Liturgy of the Hours, that encourages you to stay in tune with the Catholic Church’s Liturgical Calendar (like saints feast days, etc.).

You can also opt for the book versions of the Divine Office, but they are VERY expensive (like more than $100 for the 4-volume set!) and complicated (there’s a lot of page turning that has to happen). I know if I had to be flipping pages I just flat out would not do it.

If all I have to do is open an app, and click on the hour I want to pray, I’m set!

Laudate is a free app that has the Liturgy of the Hours as an option, but they don’t have the official translation that religious pray. I found I did not like their translation and praying with Universalis made all the difference.

Universalis also has a free one-month trial via their app “Catholic Calendar,” so you can see if you really want to delve into this or not.

If you want to learn more about the Liturgy of the Hours in a very easy-to-read approachable manner, I highly recommend reading “The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours” by Daria Sockey.

You may also want to take a look at what the USCCB has to say about the Liturgy of the Hours.

Questions? Post them below!

Everything You Wanted to Know about RCIA & How to Join the Catholic Church

RCIA & How to Join the Catholic Church via @ACatholicNewbie

If you’re curious about the Catholic church, want to learn more about it or are even ready to convert, what can you do? Join your local Catholic church’s RCIA program.

What in the heck is RCIA, you ask?!

What is RCIA?

RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and it is the formal program that allows individuals to become members of the Catholic church. RCIA programs tend to start in the fall, so this is a great time to begin considering joining the program before they start up again in the fall.

Joining RCIA, however, does NOT mean you HAVE to join the church. You’re always welcome to just come and learn, and if you decide it’s not for you — or maybe you just aren’t ready yet because you have more questions — you can opt out or continue on again next year.

RCIA programs generally go from September through Easter, when individuals are officially brought in as members of the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass, which is the mass held the evening before Easter.

It is a beautiful mass and ceremony where you are baptized (only if you have not been baptized by a Christian church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), confirmed and receive the Eucharist (which Catholics maintain is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ) in First Communion.

As a convert who went through RCIA for TWO years before converting in 2013 and now part of the team who helps lead RCIA for interested new members, I’ve spent many years surrounded in the joy of welcoming “newbies” into the Church. In fact, I feel it’s my calling!

How Do I Sign Up for RCIA?

First, visit a few local Catholic churches and find one that feels “right” to you. Then visit their website and look for Faith Formation, Adult Formation or RCIA.

If you can’t find it, simply call the main office at the church and tell them you are interested in RCIA or in learning more about the church as a non-Catholic and as an adult, and they will direct you to the correct person for more information.

RCIA programs usually meet once a week, some on weeknights, others on weekends. So you will want to consider a program that works for your schedule as well, as you’ll want to be there as often as possible.

What Is RCIA Like?

While each church is different, throughout the process you’ll learn about key tenets of the Catholic faith and its history, and have an opportunity to ask questions, inquire about your doubts and concerns and discuss different aspects of the faith, including how to live the faith in your daily life.

There are also various welcoming ceremonies held during mass to provide “grace” (help from God) and prayer as you go through this process so that God might guide you as grow in your learning and practice of the faith.

These ceremonies are no big deal — simply standing up at mass with the priest saying a prayer over you along with others in your group. The Catholic church wants to welcome you and educate you, never pressure you, and that is what the process is about.

If you find an RCIA group that does not feel like a fit, don’t be afraid to opt out and look for a different parish. Pray that God will guide you to where you need to be.

Why Do People Come to RCIA?

As I mentioned, I’ve been involved with RCIA at my parish both going through it and assisting for several years. We hear all kinds of stories of why people have joined RCIA.

Here are a few: someone who was inspired by Pope Francis, others who are marrying Catholics and wanting to raise kids in the same faith, spouses who are converting after as many as 20 years, those feeling a direct calling from God, and those who are simply just interested in exploring Catholicism more in depth and learning the truth about the faith.

We’ve had people who are already Catholic who don’t feel like they know as much as they’d like about their faith and others who simply just come to welcome newcomers to the church. They are single, married, in high school, grandparents, pregnant, going through an annulment, former atheists, Baptists and Methodists. You name it, they’ve been there!

So never feel like you’re alone or have too unusual a story to join the group.

What questions do you have about RCIA? What’s stopping you from signing up? How can I help?

6 Free Daily Reflections to Make the Most of Your Advent

Advent is a time to put your faith at the forefont. It’s a time to snuggle up next to the fire and imagine the Baby Jesus snuggled in swaddling clothes in the manger.

It’s a time of anticipation, of waiting for our King, of dreaming of the joy we will have in joining him in Heaven.

I love Advent. It makes me think of crisp cold days, dark nights and a time to burrow. Gone are the busy days of summer, of travel, of activity. It’s a wonderful season to use that burrowing time to renew our faith, remind ourselves of the gift we have been given and reignite that fire lest we be lukewarm for the arrival of our King.

Advent reflections Catholic

While email is NOT my favorite thing (I get WAY too many), I LOVE email about my faith. In fact, I make it part of my daily routine to read my faith emails while taking my dog for a walk :).

Usually that includes reading the USCCB’s email of the daily readings, Bishop Robert Barron’s reflections on the daily readings, the Divine Mercy Daily, Catholic News Agency’s daily round-up and a Mary’s Moms group I am a part of who pray for one another daily.

6 Free & Awesome Advent Reflections and Retreats

With that in mind, here are some wonderful free options to help you make the most of your Advent (which starts Sunday, December 2!), many of them daily or weekly emails. I will be adding a few of these to my daily email readings 🙂

1. Dynamic Catholic/Matthew Kelly Best Advent Ever

Matthew Kelly was one of my favorite authors early on in my conversion to Catholicism, especially his “Rediscovering Catholicism” book. He has a real gift for explaining Catholicism in ordinary ways that are easy to understand, as well as relating the faith to everyday life. He is a great place to start as a Catholic newbie or for someone who doesn’t like to dive deep into theology.

This series offers his daily reflections on the season of Advent.

2. Bishop Barron’s Daily Reflections

Bishop Robert Barron is my current favorite person to follow when it comes to delving deep into the Catholic faith. The creator of the popular “Catholicism” video series and many wonderful series since, Bishop Barron goes a bit deeper, but does a fantastic job of explaining the theology of Catholicism to the average viewer or reader.

These daily reflections offer his thoughts on the Gospel Reading of the Day in the Catholic Church through Advent and beyond.

3. Advent Online Retreat From Pray More Novenas

Pray More Novenas is a nonprofit with hundreds of thousands of readers, which sends out regular novenas (prayers prayed over nine consecutive days) via email. If you’re the type (like me) who can’t seem to remember to pray a prayer nine days in a row, Pray More Novenas sends it to you via email so you can’t forget! Awesome!

They offer a special Advent retreat with videos from speakers on a variety of topics related to Advent. They do ask for a donation, but if you can’t pay anything, you’re still welcome to register.

4. Carmelite Online Advent Retreat

This retreat is offered from the Carmelite order perspective. They send a lengthy reflection each week that also includes prayers to pray each day.

5. EWTN Weekly Advent Reflections and Prayers

Visit this page and click on the Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4 at the top for a daily reflection, action you can take and prayer.

6. USCCB Daily Reflections and Prayer

Visit this site from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and click on the current date for a reading, reflection, action and prayer.

Other Great Advent Resources

Here are some other awesome Advent resources I recommend:

1. Catholic Answers’ information about Advent

2. Father Mike Schmitz’ video about Advent (one of my favorite priests; ideal for young adults!)

3. Patrick Coffin’s Best Practices for Advent video

4. “Jesus is the Gift: The Spirituality of Advent & Christmas” by Regis J. Flaherty Book

This is a book I have read in the past and will be reading again this Advent. It’s a wonderful walk through Advent, taking a look at various people in the Gospel, including John the Baptist, Mary, the Wise Men and more.

Have a wonderful Advent!