The Grace of Joy is Waiting for You! Do You Want it?

Yesterday, while picking up a prescription for one of my boys, I overheard an exchange between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Tech.

As the Pharmacy Tech was looking up the prescription I needed, she turned to the pharmacist next to her and said, “So what are you doing for your birthday tomorrow? I know your husband isn’t going to do anything for you,” she chuckled, “but how about your mom or your kids are they doing anything?”

“Well, tomorrow is my kids’ end of the year baseball party, so that’s what I’m doing.” She said with a smile, “When you have kids, that’s how you spend your birthday some times.”

With a snarky snort the Pharmacy Tech said, “Yeah! When you have kids, you have no life!”

The Pharmacist paused for a moment and then replied, “I have a life! My kids are my life but I have a life”

“Yeah, your kids are your life.” said the Pharmacy Tech as she moved to the shelf to grab my prescription.

Joy Filled Catholic

Parenting is SO Much More Joyful than You Think it Is!

That’s what I wanted to say to her when she brought my prescription…but I didn’t. The exchange has been running through my mind since yesterday afternoon. I wanted to tell that tech that kids are a HUGE joy! That when we say our kids are our life, that doesn’t mean we don’t exist anymore – our existence is transformed into something much greater.

My children are also my life! If not for them, I believe that my world would look quite different! I know I would be much more selfish and self-centered. I know, because that’s how I lived for many years. My children and my husband are helping me to become a better person.

I think about those many times when I was so tired, and one of my boys would wake in the middle of the night. I would shuffle into their room, praying as I went, for him to fall asleep quickly, so I could go back to bed. I remember so vividly rocking each of my babies back and forth, while humming a song to get them to sleep. I was forced to slow down, to be patient, and to do something for another person who was completely dependent on me.

It was amazing how the frustration and exhaustion would transform. It was still there but as soon as I looked at that sweet face in the glow of the nightlight and kiss those plump soft cheeks, I could feel myself changing! As I gazed down at my child, you might find tears streaming down my face from the mix of exhaustion and JOY.  If not for my children, I would never experience the juxtaposition of these emotions during such a precious moment.

Joy Filled Catholic

Why do We Sometimes Assume the Worst About People’s Lives?

As my mind begins to marinate on these things, I imagine that the lady (without kids, I am assuming) has a picture in her mind of how life sucking having children must be. She probably envisions kids running around wild, breaking vases, the mother screaming, all while the kids are shooting each other with silly string.

Meanwhile, I am picturing how lonely her life must be. Sitting in a darkened room that is bouncing with shadows and flashes of light created by the glow of the television. Each night, I imagine, she nestles in her recliner with a TV tray in front of her, while stroking one of her 15 cats and eating Chinese take-out straight from the box.

The truth is, when we don’t know someone’s life, we can only assume what we do not know, until we do – and even then we still don’t really know. What I mean is, that woman can’t possibly know the joy of parenting and all of the precious moments and love it provides and what it means when a parent says that their children are their life – and in turn, I don’t know how fulfilling all the activities and events she experiences without children truly are. After all, not everyone is called to marriage and family, and there can be extraordinary joy and great satisfaction in those vocations as well! I know, because I have seen it happen for people I know and love.

Joy Filled Catholic

Non-Catholics Cannot Understand the JOY of Being Catholic!

I began to relate this experience to how someone who has no belief in God at all, or someone who does believe but isn’t Catholic, might view religion in general – or Catholicism specifically.

Just like I pointed out above, it is hard to explain the joys of marriage and family or the joys of being single to someone who isn’t living it. In turn, it is difficult for me to explain all the grace and mercy that has been poured out on me – and filled me with more peace and joy than I have EVER experienced in my life, to someone who has not lived that for themselves.

My non-believer friends might think that religion is a waste of time, that I believe in fairy tales, or my freedom to do whatever I like, whenever I like, is being stifled by the “rules and regulations” they think that the church puts forth.

This isn’t just the thinking of atheists or agnostics, other Christians and former Catholics, too, have told me that they wouldn’t want to be part of the Catholic Church because of all the “rules”. At one time, I also scoffed at what I thought were rules that were put in place to make me feel guilty about all my sins, which kept me on the outskirts of the Catholic faith for many years. I felt like an Outcast in God’s Family.

Some might wonder why I wouldn’t want to be part of a church who “entertains me” from start to finish! I used to think I wanted that too until I experienced it and begin to long for the sacredness of the Mass.

I cannot explain what a gift and JOY that it is to receive our Lord- body, blood, soul , and divinity in the Eucharist.

I cannot explain the JOY that I feel when I hear stories from converts, explaining what made them come home to the Catholic Church — to hear some of these check out the Coming Home Network.

I cannot explain the Joy that comes from reading the scriptures and knowing that the Catholic Church doesn’t just make up rules to take away freedom – but instead to help us focus on Jesus and give us the wisdom to live in the world but not of it!

I cannot explain why I get teary as my heart swells with JOY every time I witness a baptism.

You know what steals freedom? Sin. Shame. Anger. Addiction. Activism without truth. I know because I have felt like a prisoner to all of these things.

You know what sets us free? Or more accurately Who?

JESUS!!!

I have never felt more joy, and peace, and freedom in my life. I have tried many things to feel happy, to make my way, and to figure out who I am. When I stopped doing what I wanted, when I wanted, for whatever reason I wanted – and began to ask God,

“What is it YOU want from me? What shall YOU have me do? Why have you put me here and why do you keep saving me, when I don’t think I really have much to offer this world?”

My entire life changed!

I cannot explain the JOY I feel when I say my children are my life and I cannot explain the JOY I feel when I say I live for the Lord!

You just have to take the leap and experience that for yourself.

 

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A Reason for the Hope Within Me

The Grotto Portland

 

But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them or be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.

1 Peter 3:14-17

For so many years I was afraid of being open about my faith. I was also timid to admit I was Catholic.

Would my beliefs be challenged?

Would I be confronted and have no answers, only to concede that I did not know the faith I professed?

Would one of unbelief have the words to convince me that my faith is in vain?

Would I be ridiculed for the Church’s teachings, many of which seemed to me at the time, to be so out of touch with today’s reality?

I think what I was most afraid of, if I am being completely honest, is that I would not fit in. What I didn’t realize, is that I am not supposed to. I didn’t understand that following Jesus is not supposed to be easy. We are called to seek the narrow gate, even though the way is hard. While others are seeking the easy route; blissfully filing through the wide gate, which unfortunately can lead to destruction. (MT 7:13-14)

I was a coward! I was conforming MYSELF to the world so that the world would love me. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be who the world said I should be and believe what the world professes to be true. I didn’t realize that as Christians, we are set apart. We are called to holiness. We aren’t supposed to do what “they” do, or say what “they” say.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18

Being a Christian doesn’t mean I will ever be perfect. It doesn’t mean that I have not sinned in big ways – I have! But the Lord is merciful indeed and I am so thankful that I now have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The more I reject the ideals of this world, and instead put my trust and hope in the Lord – the greater my sense of peace and joy.

So, where does my hope come from?

It comes from the LORD and it gives me the peace and blessed assurance that I need to confidentially proclaim His truth. This is something I am working on doing more and more – but fear still creeps in sometimes.

Through my deep desire to know my faith and understand what it means to be a Catholic, I made a remarkable discovery. The Church is so wise. Thanks to solid Catholic resources, along with reading and studying the Bible, I now understand the “whys” behind many of Her teachings. Teachings which I only rejected before, because I didn’t understand them. I love, honor and respect Holy Mother Church.

Joy Filled Catholic

What or who has helped me on this exciting faith journey? All glory goes to God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Through a burning desire to know more, I have discovered some magnificent Catholic resources that I highly encourage you to explore:

EWTN TV and Radio

The Journey Home

Catholic Answers Radio

Tim Staples

Trent Horn

Jimmy Akin

Patrick Madrid

Catholic Answers Website

Relevant Radio (I use the App and listen to so many programs)

Go Ask Your Father

The Coming Home Network

Catholics Come Home

Ascension Presents

Blessed is She

These are just a few of the dynamic resources that I found to help me understand my faith! There are a ton of others. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list, just pick one or two to explore. You’ll soon find yourself looking for others though, so keep this list handy!

Let me just leave you with this:

God desires us all to be part of His one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He desires us to lead others to Him and build up His Kingdom on earth and He gives us the grace to do this. He desires us to be holy and dwell with Him forever in Heaven. He desires us to be filled with peace and joy.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to much more than what this broken world can offer us, but while we are here, we must be beacons of light and love for others.

 

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

― Saint Teresa of Ávila

 

God’s Peace Be with You!

 

Why I LOVE Being Catholic ~ Intro

Why I LOVE Being Catholic

So, after having this blog for a year, posting a few things, and writing several things that didn’t seem right, so they didn’t get posted – I have FINALLY been inspired! Praise be to God!

Seriously, if I didn’t know that it was God’s will for me to put this blog out there for His Glory and for the good of the Kingdom, I would have shut it down months ago. Even through my discouragement and dryness, as it related to writing posts, I knew that I needed to keep praying for clarity, and discern what He wanted me to do.

Joy Filled Catholic

Initially, I think I knew why I wanted to start this blog all along. Or I guess I should say, I had some understanding of why the Lord put it on my heart to start this blog. It is because I LOVE being Catholic! I absolutely love it and I want to share that with others.

In sharing what I adore about our magnificent Catholic Church, I hope to help others – and also spread joy! That is why I named this blog The Joy Filled Catholic. Because that is what I am! In the midst of all the negativity, hate, hurting, and sin that exists in our perishing world – through my faith, the Word of God, Holy Mother Church, and the Holy Spirit working within me, I have an unshakable sense of peace and joy. Something that I NEVER had in my life before I started trying to understand why I am a Catholic.

People have asked me why I am Catholic – and I never really had a good grasp on the why. I would say things like:

“It’s just what I know.”

“I was baptized Catholic.”

“Does it really matter as long as I am a Christian?”

“I like the tradition of the Mass.”

…and on and on. I never had a clear answer though. So I went searching. I decided that if my husband and I are going to raise our kids Catholic and invest in Catholic education, I should probably know the WHY. Why choose Catholicism over being Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Scientologist, etc. It seems like all religious denominations believe they have the answers, or they have the truth. Even non-denominational churches feel like they have it right.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-19

The truth is, there is only one true church – and that is the Catholic Church. Jesus says so himself. Don’t get me wrong, I adore our separated brethren and have a lot of respect for the good that they do in the world. Why do I love them? Because they love Jesus and they are seeking to do right in the eyes of the Lord. They are sheep that are still close to the Shepard but have veered off to a nearby path. They have some of the truth, some more than others, but they are not in full communion with Christ’s church. They have been led astray by false teachings or desire to find a church where they can decide which teachings to believe and which ones seem a little too hard.

Jesus never said being a disciple of His would be easy. On the contrary He says:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:13-14

He also said:

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided. Three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law  against her mother-in law.

Luke 12:51-53

No, my friends, it is not easy to be a Catholic – but it is right. It is true. The Catholic Church is the only church that can be traced back all the way to Christ Himself. In the years following Christ’s death and resurrection, Christianity spread like wildfire. This was at a time when travel was difficult and perilous. There was no social media, television, or radio. Against ALL odds Christianity thrived! The Catholic Church has seen the rise and fall of many an empire and yet She still holds firm.

Joy Filled Catholic

My brother’s and sisters, I have so many things to share with you! I invite you to journey with me as we explore all the beauty and truth of Catholic Church.

My hope and my prayer is that I can provide some information that will peek someone’s interest to go on their own exploration of faith to learn about the Catholic Church – even if they are just wanting to do so to prove the Church wrong. I know that anyone who fervently and earnestly seeks to understand the Church’s teachings, will, at the very least gain a new respect for the faith.

Christ’s peace be with you,

 

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