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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

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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.

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 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.

Ignatius Press is a great publisher of Catholic books with authentic teaching that I highly recommend below.

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 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 (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

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…

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” (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.

Experienced Catholics, please share this post with any RCIA candidates you know and lets show them the power of Reconciliation!

A Catholic Newbie’s Take on Purgatory

Catholic understanding of purgatoryFrom the beginning, purgatory was one of the Catholic teachings that I had a hard time getting my head around. I had always been taught – if you believe in Jesus you go to heaven. So this was a new concept. No one wants to think they have to suffer again after death, right?

I’ve talked with one of my priests about it, heard about it in RCIA (Catholic preparation class), read about it and studied it, but today I finally GOT it and I have to thank the wonderful Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. He addressed the issue for a caller to Catholic Radio Indy this afternoon and all the pieces of the puzzle suddenly came together for me, making it crystal clear.

I’ve been reading a lot about redemptive suffering, or the idea of letting your suffering “work” and have benefit for other souls, and recently blogged about it. Purgatory is entirely tied to this and I had missed it.

So here goes, a Catholic Newbie’s take on purgatory:

When Christ died on the cross for us, he did so to “take away the sins of the world.” But unlike Protestant churches who believe that once you “accept” Christ that your sins are “poof” entirely forgiven and that you go to heaven if you believe and are sorry for your sins, the Catholic church believes that the taking away of those sins might hurt a little and that there’s more work involved to get there.

When we enter heaven we will be in the presence of a “perfect” Father (to whom we are to model in His “perfection”), and therefore we must be perfect. How could we sully the presence of God with our fallen nature, our shameful thoughts, our bad deeds, our angry words — whether committed in the past or present and forgiven or not.

We do go to confession to be “forgiven” of these sins, but that does not entirely remove their effects. If we have gossiped about someone, the damage we did, even though we are sorry, may be unable to be corrected. We may still harbour anger toward someone even if we are sorry and even if we desire not to.

So we must be “purified” to perfection before we go to heaven — either here or in purgatory.

This is where redemptive suffering comes in. Some humans have purified themselves on earth, many of the saints! This involves suffering, just as we would suffer in purgatory. So many great people endure great suffering. Wonder why? Because they are being purified for heaven. Like Saint Therese of Lisieux who made every tiny act of sacrifice a work for God and dear Elisabeth Leseur who deeply suffered physically and who offered it all to God.

Christ suffered GREATLY on the cross. Why should we not suffer along with him to get to the wonderful reward he purchased for us by his death? I for one think it’s worth it!

The good news is, guys, that we GET to go to heaven. Before Christ, we could not get there at all no matter what we did. Now, we can work to get there through some suffering. That means suffering is GOOD. Christ made it good!

I think we can also offer up our suffering to purify other souls — both here and in heaven. We can ask to whom that suffering be applied or we can give it to the immense wisdom of our mother Mary or her son Jesus and let them distribute the good works where they know best.

I’d love some comments or questions on this topic. Please pipe in!

A Catholic Newbie’s Take on Confession

Benefits of confessionI’ve shared already my experience at First Reconciliation as I was going through the RCIA process earlier this year. But I wanted to hone in a little further on confession/reconciliation as a Catholic newbie, because it has quickly become one of my favorite things about Catholicism.

I have only gone three times, but wow how powerful those three times have been. Here’s what I was expecting from confession: relief and joy at being forgiven for my sins. Here is NOT was I was expecting: help at overcoming those sinful tendencies.

Much to my surprise, I have found reconciliation to be an amazing tool for self-improvement in addition to forgiveness. During my second reconciliation, my priest asked me which of the sins I was confessing did I need to work on the most. It was a no brainer, as there was one I desperately wanted to improve, but felt it beyond my power. It just kept happening, popping in my mind, even though I didn’t want it to. Well, lo and behold within the next two weeks my tendencies toward that sin literally DISAPPEARED. This was one I’ve been struggling with a long while and poof, gone. With God’s help, anything is possible.

My son needed to go to reconciliation again after his First Communion and it had been about a month since my last confession, so we both went for my third time. First of all, I met a lovely family waiting outside the confessional who hadn’t been in seven years. It was great talking with them and helped calm the fears of my 9-year-old who was so nervous about going that he had cried the first time I suggested it. He got to talk with several preteens and teens who were nervous, too. Thanks be to God!

This time, I focused on a different sin/tendency that I wanted to work on. The priest chose a passage related to that sin for me to meditate upon — and it was perfect. Though that sin has not totally died away, my tendencies toward it improved substantially.

It has now been more than a month since I’ve gone and I feel myself sliding. I desperately need to go again and gain some graces and help from our Lord. I have a new sin I want to hand over to the Lord for help with this go-around and it’s one that I’m suddenly really struggling with. I have let too many things get in the way of going to reconciliation and I need to take a moment, do my examination of conscience and get in there and do it. (Side note: The Laudate app has a great Examination of Conscience that lets you check off anything you need to work on — and you could literally review it off of your phone during reconciliation, just remember to silence your phone!).

Has anyone else found this amazing benefit of confession? Do you feel you need to go regularly not just to follow church guidance but to further your path to sainthood? Please share your experiences!