Monday, October 26, 2015

Not A Cradle Catholic Vol. 2


Thanks for coming back for another installment of Not a Cradle Catholic, where it's all about those of us who did NOT grow up in the Catholic Church. Why did we join up? What have we learned? Why is our perspective unique? I hope you'll follow along. Whatever your background, maybe there's something you can learn from us.

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MaryRuth has the privilege of being a wife of 15 years to an amazing man. Together they have four children on this earth and one praying hard for them in heaven. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has studied Human Development and Psychology both in the classroom and in the home. She has always wanted to bridge the gap between research on child development and actual parenting and tries to do that at her blog, Parenting with Peer Review. She loves writing, family, coffee, wine, chocolate, office supplies, the Catholic Church, watching her boys play soccer, historical fiction, and time gabbing with girl-friends.  She does not love proof-reading, unloading the dishwasher, traffic, returning phone calls, scorpions, or the post-office. Find her on Facebook, Insatgram, and Pinterest.




How long have you been a Catholic?

I came into the church Easter of 2007, so 8+ years now.

What were you before?

I was raised non-denominational protestant. I was baptized Presbyterian as an infant, but my parents took us to a few different types of churches. I really came-of-age in a congregational church

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

I like to say I have a baby saint who led me to the church. I lost a baby before she was born in 2005. I was of course a total wreck and my husband asked if I would like to talk to someone about it. We were temporarily living out of state for the year because of my husband's job and I was pretty isolated socially.  We had been attending a Catholic Church because it was convenient and my husband had been raised Catholic.  He made an appointment with me to speak to the priest and his words were so soothing. I was reassured by the fact that the Church recognized my loss as the loss of a life, not just a potential life.  But more than that, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and wanted more.  My heart was pulled to the Church so I started doing the research.  The deeper I dug, the more convinced I was that the Catholic Church was the One True Church.

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

 Natural Family Planning was crazy hard for us to accept. My husband was a cradle Catholic but also a bit of a potluck-Catholic at the time. He was worried we would end up with a bazillion kids. We had already been using oral contraception so embracing NFP required a total change in both of our mindsets about kids, about life, about openness, and about marital love.  It was tough, but one of the best things we have done in our marriage.

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

Not really. I feel like I haven’t lost a single thing, but I have gained so much that protestants had just dropped.  The teachings of early Church Fathers, Church tradition, the Saints, feast days, The Eucharist, Our Blessed Mother, oh my!

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

Growing up it seemed like our church was successful if it had lots of people giving lots of money, and the pastor's job seemed to be to keep people coming back by keeping them entertained with a good sermon.  The pastors didn’t challenge us to grow in our faith but rather seemed to say what the people wanted to hear. The sermons I heard growing up were just really fun or interesting stories - but rarely really challenged me spiritually.  The sermons were the focus of every service rather than Christ in the Eucharist. I like having Christ as the focus - body, blood, soul and divinity. I love having the Church here to challenge me to continue to grow in holiness. I love that the Church just teaches the Truth - take it or leave it.

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

I have learned to listen to Him. To hear Him in my heart.  I have learned to read the Bible. I have learned to pray and connect with Him.  I have discovered countless ways that I can grow to be the daughter He desires me to be and I learn more each day!

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

Our protestant brothers and sisters have really done a beautiful job marketing Jesus, evangelizing, and entertaining.  They make it fun.  They make it their mission to make sure that everyone feels welcome and loved in their churches.  They reach out to everyone and make church a fun place to be. That is hard for us because we have our tradition and we are fairly unchanged for the last 2000 years… but I think we can do a little better job marketing at least!

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

That we don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  That is bonkers, but I think many believe that to be the case. I have grown so much in my own individual relationship with Christ since my conversion!

Favorite saint and saint quote?

I don't know that I have a favorite saint. I love St. Claire and St. Catherine but I think St. Theresa is probably the one with whom I can most personally connect. I love her writing and her struggles and honesty.  She has challenged me to grow in my spiritual life and challenges me intellectually as well. I think we could have been really good friends, but maybe we are becoming friends yet!

My favorite quote from her is probably:

“The important thing is not to think much, but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens us to love.”

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Abbey writes her life as a homeschooling mom to a small collective. She muses about parenting, practicing gratitude, and celebrating the liturgical year with her young family at Surviving Our Blessings. In her spare time, Abbey enjoys running, knitting, coffee and cookbooks, not usually all at the same time. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter


How long have you been a Catholic?

I entered the Church at Easter in 2002, so 13 years this past Easter.

What were you before?

I grew up Southern Baptist (along with every member of my family, living and dead).

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

I was never a very good Baptist. I asked too many difficult questions. I appreciate being part of a tradition that values scholarly inquiry and intellectual discourse...those and the depth of the liturgical practice were what drew me in initially. What kept me there, though, was the Mass and the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It was like a magnet.

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

I struggled some with some of the Marian doctrines. I didn't necessarily disagree with them, I just felt they were theologically unnecessary. (Good thing I'm not in charge.)

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

I miss old-fashioned hymn sings. There's an entire hymnal of really good old Gospel hymns that I don't get to sing in a group any more. I try to make up for it by playing and singing them at home, but it's not quite the same.

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

I don't miss skipping from Palm Sunday to Easter with no Holy Week in between. I don't miss the long exegetical sermons that go through the text a line at a time and last 45 minutes. And I really don't miss the altar calls with verse after verse of Just As I Am while we wait for someone to feel guilty enough to step out of the pew and come forward.

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

Growing in faith as a Catholic Christian has helped me move from Jesus in my head to Jesus in my heart. It's ironic- the entire focus in my childhood church was on whether or not Jesus was in our hearts. I believed He was there, of course, because I had invited Him to be. Experiencing Jesus in the Eucharist, though, brings him much more into the forefront of both my mind and my heart. I feel His presence much more closely now and relate to Him more intimately on a daily basis.

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

All traditions have valuable insights for each other. The key is to look for the gifts that the Spirit has given to each denomination. Some things that come to mind from my relationships with Christians who are not Catholic (and from spending time in those churches) is a strong Biblical knowledge that is taught from a young age, a missionary zeal and fervor for sharing Christ with others, a warm sense of hospitality, and great singing during worship. From my Mennonite brothers and sisters, particularly, I appreciate the witness for radical peacemaking and justice for the marginalized. These things are all very Catholic, too- we just tend not to emphasize them quite as much in the same ways.

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

That we worship saints and Mary. That we don't know the Bible. That we think the Pope is a perfect person who doesn't make mistakes and that he thinks for us.

Favorite saint and saint quote?

Saint Therese of Lisieux: 

"Do not fear, the poorer you are the more Jesus will love you. He will go far, very far in search of you, if at times you wander off a little."

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Amy hails from the great state of Kansas, though she has lived the last 13 years away from the “Land of Oz” traveling the country with her Air Force Airman.  She has lived in Ohio, Florida, California, Virginia, and is gearing up to move to Las Vegas, Nevada.  She graduated from Kansas State University in 2001 and married her love, Dustin, that same year.  She has three amazing kiddos–two daughters and a son.  She is the founder of Passionate Purpose, a website dedicated to promoting healthy marriages and dating relationships.


How long have you been a Catholic?

I became Catholic in September 2009, so six years now.  

What were you before?

Protestant.  I was raised in the Disciples of Christ Church.

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

When I married my husband, he was a Catholic and I was Protestant.  Dustin wanted to remain Catholic, I wanted to remain Protestant.  And so, we fought.  Correction--I fought.  I spewed out all the things I thought were true about the Catholic Church at Dustin and he remained calm, patient, and loving.  He countered every single one of my baseless untruths.  Soon, there was nothing I could say.  He had an answer for everything.  I was so frustrated, but I refused to concede.  That would mean that I was wrong.  That would mean that I had believed in untruths and that thought was humiliating.  
Pride is a strong sin.  But, as I started attending Catholic Churches with him, my ears, mind, and heart began to soften.  I actually started listening. Three things really brought me in:
  
1.  The Eucharist.  The desire to receive became overwhelming. 

2. The history is there and I can't dispute it.  If this was The Church founded by the apostles at the very beginning than that is where I want to be.  The history is rich, intriguing, mysterious, and supernatural.  Again and again, I am left in awe as I continue to explore the only Christian church that has been around for over 2,000 years.

3.  It ignited a flame in me.  The beauty of Catholicism has brought me closer to Jesus in numerous ways. 

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

So much of what the Church teaches, I had never even heard before, such as Jesus being present in the Eucharist, Mary's Immaculate Conception, the Church's stance on contraception.  It was all a lot to take in.  I think the thing that was hardest for me was the teaching on contraception.  I had taken birth control since I was 17 and never thought a thing of it.  It was just what everyone did.  When I actually had to think about why I was taking it and if it was good for me and my marriage, it was hard to swallow that pill.  

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

Honestly, no.  

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

The symbolic gesture of communion.  Nothing, I mean nothing, beats Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.  

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

In every way!  Catholicism has brought me so much closer to Jesus.  I pray more, go to church every Sunday (if not prevented in someway), I have Bible studies with my kids; I see everything in a different way. 

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

They know their scripture.  They can quote it, they know where to look in the Bible for what they want.  They know their way around the Bible.  As Catholics, we need to be better about this.  

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

Uh, everything!  LOL!  I used to believe in all the untruths that non-Catholics believe.  To pick just one would be hard.  But, I think the biggest misconception is that they don't understand that the Catholic Church isn't just some denomination.  It's THE Church founded by the apostles.  We have that lineage, that history, we can trace it back to the beginning.  They are Protestant because someone long ago broke off from the Catholic Church.  I never understood this and I don't think many Protestants do either.  

Favorite saint and saint quote?  

So many amazing saints, how do you pick just one?  St. Augustine, St. Jerome.  St. Maria Goretti.  I think one of my favorite quotes comes from St. Catherine of Siena: 

"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."  

Isn't that the greatest call to purpose in this life?  I sure think so.  

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stay tuned for more stories, and as always, keep in touch!

   

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