I love conversion stories. We all know family and friends who have left the Catholic Church, so it’s refreshing to hear stories of people who converted to Catholicism, and what led them on their journey.
Allen Hunt was a successful mega-church pastor, who converted to the Catholic Church a few years ago. His book, ” Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church” is a powerfully written book for those wanting to learn more about the Catholic Church, and for cradle Catholics who may have taken the Church for granted. In this book he describes his faith journey that ultimately resulted in his conversion to Catholicism. He had to overcome years of misinformation about the Catholic Church on his journey home.
For all of you who have converted to the Catholic faith, welcome home! Thank you for your love and passion for our beautiful faith!
Happy Mardis Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday . . . Ash Wednesday Eve! On this day, the Church feasts before she enters into a more solemn and penitential season called Lent. “Shrove” is the past tense of the word “shrive,” which means to hear a confession, assign penance, and absolve from sin. Are you eating pancakes today?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent (Sundays excluded from this number). Lent begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. Don’t forget to get your ashes! What are you planning on giving up or doing this Lenten season to grow closer to Christ?
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I will begin this day.
I thank you, Lord, for having preserved me during the night. I will do my best to make all I do today pleasing to You and in accordance with Your will. My dear mother Mary, watch over me this day. My Guardian Angel, take care of me. St. Joseph and all you saints of God, pray for me.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.
I wish to gain all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and the good works I shall perform this day. Amen
The Pieta is my favorite sculpture. One time in a dream Mary let me feel what it was like to actually hold her son in my arms after He was taken down from the cross. It felt so real. I felt the weight of Jesus’ dead body in my arms. I felt His blood and saw His wounds. I felt the painful and deep sadness of what it must have felt like in Mary’s heart to mourn the death of her Son and hold Him in her arms. It was a heart-wrenching pain like no other. It made me think about suffering – and why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Why do our loved ones have to die, and why is there so much suffering in the world?
Think about this – if God (remember Jesus is God) allowed His own mother to suffer, why not us? God, being God, could have prevented Mary from suffering, but He didn’t. There IS meaning in suffering, though we may not fully understand the meaning of it during our lifetime. Like Mary, we need to embrace our cross. Nobody is immune from suffering. If you are human, you will suffer. Your suffering could be physical, spiritual, emotional, or financial. Regardless of what kind of suffering it is, we will all experience suffering during our lifetime. Mary suffered greatly, and yet she humbly embraced her cross and continues to leads us to Her son. There would be no Easter, without Good Friday. No resurrection without the crucifixion. God always brings good out of suffering – even if it means because of what you are going through someone else is praying more, loving more, or turning back to God. God is outside of time, and His love for us is eternal.
Michelangelo at age 24, sculpted the Pietà from a single block of marble. It is the only one he ever signed. What he hoped to convey in the Pieta was what the term really meant: pity, sorrow.
The Pieta is a representation of the horrific nature of Jesus’s crucifixion, and the reality of a mother losing her child. The death of Christ is essential to Christian doctrine and the juxtaposition of Christ’s human and divine nature is alive in the Pieta. The Christian community can relate to The Pieta on many levels, both in their walks of faith as well as their family relationships.
It is said that he had been criticized for having portrayed the Virgin Mary as too young since she actually must have been around 45-50 years old when Jesus died. He answered that he did so deliberately because the effects of time could not mar the virginal features of this, the most blessed of women. He also said that he was thinking of his own mother’s face, for he was only five when she died: the mother’s face is a symbol of eternal youth.
If you are going through a hard time, look at the cross, or meditate on this sculpture, and know that your God loves you eternally. This earthly life is filled with both great joy and great suffering. At times the pain can be excruciating and unbearable, but know you are not alone. Pray for strength and the grace to embrace your cross and know that God is right there beside you, that our Blessed Mother understands your pain, and that they are both helping you carry your cross, giving you comfort, love, and strength along the way.