A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Catechism

I’ve said before that I’m an avid reader. Reading is probably my favourite leisure activity, and I’ve generally got a book, newspaper or magazine on the go (sometimes all three, and sometimes more than one book).

I love wandering my local bookstore, the more so since I downloaded an app that lets me scan bar codes of books and add the titles to my wish list. And I have a long wish list of books to read on my library account.

Today being Family Literacy Day, we’re encouraged to spend 15 minutes a day reading. True, some of us may already have to spend a lot of time reading for work or school. And sometimes, given the books promoted by the media, it may seem there aren’t many choices for Christian readers. But why not take those 15 minutes to improve our spiritual literacy? Why not set a great example for our children by choosing some Christian reading materials on our next library or bookstore visit? And if the selection of Christian works in libraries and bricks-and-mortar bookstores proves to be limited, we can find a wide range of Christian books online.

In just 15 minutes, we could read one of the following:

But why limit our reading to non-fiction? Christian fiction ranges from mystery to science fiction to graphic novels and so on. Not sure where to start? Goodreads.com allows readers to search for books by genre, and a quick glance at the results for the Christian genre shows new releases, the most popular books, and reader lists of recommended works. And finding books similar to ones we’ve enjoyed is as simple as entering a title or an author at WhatShouldIReadNext.com.

I pray that we can find 15 minutes—or even just 10—on a regular basis to invest in reading materials that build us up spiritually.

I’m not much for staying up till midnight on New Year’s Eve, but I do follow “year in review” media coverage.

Sometimes I shake my head when I think about the stories that loomed large over the past year—drug use and sexting by certain politicians, or the tendency of certain performers to go for shock instead of substance, for example. The recaps of the events of 2013 focussed on such scandals, and the choice of Pope Francis as the new head of the Catholic Church earned a quick mention in comparison.

As we look back on 2013, we can look at the place we gave our faith in our own lives. And as we begin a new year, we can make our faith more than just a footnote in this chapter we call 2014.

Our priest spoke at yesterday’s Mass about making resolutions for the year ahead—resolutions, not wishes. He suggested we make faith-related resolutions, such as a commitment to read a chapter or two of the Bible or the Catechism or spend ten minutes meditating in God’s presence each day.

The Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI is over, but I pray that this too would be a year to deepen our faith by taking more time to read the Bible, become more familiar with the Catechism, pray more for our families, and spend more time with God. Or to return to the Church if we’ve been away for a little or a long while.

May we praise God for his blessings over the past year, and try to recognize the ways he blesses us this year!

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.”

~ Malachi 1:11*

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Even though my mind can barely grasp that I will soon be the mother of a teenager, my son will turn 13 in a matter of days. He’s almost as tall as I am, his voice is changing, and if that’s not enough evidence, he has a birth certificate to prove his age.

Even though I can hardly believe it, I will celebrate my 40th birthday this year. I can’t ignore the (not-so-few) white hairs I see in the mirror, my many memories of the 1980s, and the fact that the movies and songs being remade are from my teen years.

And even though it snowed in Ottawa last week, spring officially arrived almost a month ago. The chirping birds and blooming flowers know it, and the park near my house is alive with children once more.

Some truths can’t be denied. The Bible tells us so, as these examples show:

  • When Jesus entered Jerusalem and all the people praised God, the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke them, but he answered that “if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40*).
  • When asked by the Council whether he was the Son of God, Jesus said, “You say that I am” (Luke 22:70), and they knew his answer meant “yes.”
  • When the Council questioned Peter and John about their authority for healing a lame beggar, Peter replied that Jesus’ name had healed him, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The Catechism also has a lot to say about truth in s. 2464-2513.

Yet sometimes we live as though we doubt God’s truths.

We hold onto our sins, unable to forgive ourselves or believe that God could forgive us, even though priests have authority from Jesus to forgive sins (see John 20:23). We set all our hopes on our plans, even though God tells us he has his own plans for our lives (see Jeremiah 29:11). And we think we can “find our own spirituality,” even though Jesus told us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Read the rest of this entry »

As I listened to the gospel reading for the feast day of the Holy Family, I noted that Jesus stayed behind in the temple at age twelve—the same age my son is now. And it got me thinking about how I could take the example of the Holy Family as a model for my family.

As my parish priest pointed out, we don’t know much about the Holy Family. But we do know that Mary and Joseph listened to God, did God’s will, and raised Jesus according to God’s word.

The Catechism says (in paragraph 2223) that “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”

It’s easy for me to recognize my own failings. I don’t know about you, but I can be impatient with my son. Sometimes I put my need to finish chores and check off items on my to-do list ahead of spending time with him. I nag him to do his own chores and don’t praise him enough for the little things he does to help out or to be kind.

Acknowledging—and working to correct—my failings is not as simple. But when I do make time to listen to his piano practice and compliment his improvement, play a video game with him, or even go sledding as we did the other day, I can tell that my son is happier, and we’re willing to cut each other a bit more slack.

Even as we identify and work on our shortcomings, I think parents need to remember the things we’re doing right. Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe you’re returning to your Catholic roots. Or maybe, like me, you’re fairly new to the Church. Either way, some resources for your faith journey might be welcome right about now. So here are some ideas from this recent convert.

Your Local Catholic Church
Wondering why no one says, “And also with you,” anymore? Not sure when to sit, stand or kneel? For the first few weeks at my church, I spent a lot of time watching other people to figure these things out. You learn what to do and when by going to Mass so you can participate and not just observe. Having a copy of the Sunday missal helps you understand the service and lets you look over the readings ahead of time.

When you attend Mass regularly, you get to know your parish priest and find out what ministries are available that could help you—or that you could help with. And if you struggle with shyness, as I do, attending a coffee hour or joining a parish group like the Catholic Women’s League or the Knights of Columbus is a great way to meet other parishioners and get involved.

If you’re still looking for a church home, the Archdiocese of Ottawa’s website features a directory of parishes. Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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