A Chapter in the Life (Ch. 5)

Hey guys! 

I’m sure when you’ve visited the blog lately, this is what greeted you.

*crickets*

Please accept my sincerest apologies and know that I have been in the process of moving! With the boxes everywhere, the countless workmen that have been in and out of our new apartment in the last week and a half, and the job search, the new city to explore, I have only just now had a chance to write a post.

Good Catholic Literature

“I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Don’t Like 25% of Humanity” – Carrots for Michaelmas – I’m sure I’m the last person in the world to share this link over at Carrots, but needless to say, it needed to be shared. 

Why NFP is great for men, too. – Daniel BearmanAnother great one from the Stewart household. Daniel can always delve into subjects (even if they are serious in nature) with a touch of humor that eases the tension, and in this case, the awkwardness. We need outspoken husbands on this subject!

How to Start a Family Prayer Time – This Ain’t the LyceumI love Kelly’s posts and they always crack me up. She’s a fun blogger with hilarious posts, and this time, she’s re-posting an older post she wrote for a fellow blogger with great advice for starting a family prayer time with littles using a simple but tried method: the Rosary. I hope to keep this at the back of my mind for later on when I have my own little ones!

Family News

Well, you read it earlier – we’ve moved! Into the big city! In addition to our fresh new apartment and life, I have a couple of new post ideas brewing in my head too, so hopefully as the job hunt allows, I’ll be able to post some things as well! 

Speaking of job hunt, I had my last day at work a couple of weeks ago, and they all surprised me with these beautiful flowers and lots of hugs. I guess I did not realize how much I would truly be missed! Who knew?

Look how beautiful they were! I just love the different colors.

Daniel and I feel incredibly blessed at our new place and taking in all of the newness around us. Our apartment is quite spacious (no more icky seven foot ceilings – vaulted instead) and we actually were able to get into a one-bedroom unit rather than a studio.I feel like an actual human being in this place rather than an over-sized bear dwelling in a too-small cave. I’ve been able to decorate a bit and I’m enjoying the opportunity to feel as though this place is my home, and not just a stepping stone to a new place (even if it may be in the long run). All of that is more than we could have hoped for, yet we were continuing to be blessed beyond belief! Our complex is gated, our unit is completely updated (with the exception of the droopy oven) and we were given a huge gift from my parents! 

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No words.

My awesome parents decided to help us out with the need of a new car and we feel overwhelmed by this huge gift! It’s a better car than we even considered buying for ourselves, and it has a sunroof, which I love (I keep thinking about the giraffes at the drive-thru safari places sticking their head in the car, and I know it makes me a small child, but I giggle out loud)!

More newness around here includes Daniel starting his Masters at an amazing school in a couple of weeks, and myself looking for a new job. I’ve been swamped in resume building, applications, profile creating, and interviews. I’m excited though!

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Droopy oven – Why yes, that is Haley and Daniel’s book on my counter!

I bought a little orchid to cleanse all the terrible thoughts of roaches and replace them with happy thoughts of growing flowers and food on my balcony. I’ve had it for about a week and haven’t killed it yet! It’s quite happy right now.

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Happy little orchid!

DIY

I have a few projects in the works, but no pictures, yet. I am trying to finish Noah’s blanket of course (I’m terrible at keeping up with crocheted blanket deadlines). I have been journaling, but I blame Daniel for my diligence (did I just say blame?) because of my late nights. I am a morning song bird, not a night owl. I do not like being awake at two a.m. but since moving here with all the unpacking and discovering the area, we’ve been going to bed so late! Hopefully that will change, but my journaling will stay steady.

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My journaling friend enjoying my new bedspread and generally making a nuisance of herself.

I have a few recipes to try, courtesy of a sweet blogger I follow but don’t have the ingredients yet. I am excited to try them though, and I have to say, cooking in my new apartment is awesome. There is so much room on the counter for working and I’m not running into another person!

Becoming a Better Reader

Not a lot of reading going on in the midst of the move, but I am reading the book of James again. I love James. There is so much wisdom within its pages. Of late, my mind keeps returning to these verses as I face trials in this new life.

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Oh, and I finally got some reading glasses since I’ve discovered that I now have trouble reading in the daytime, not just at night anymore.

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So You’re Going to Mass with Your Catholic Friends…

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Yesterday, Daniel and I had the privilege of attending Mass with a friend of mine who was getting to experience her first Mass. When I say “privilege,” I really mean it. When you take someone to Mass with you who is seeing it all with new eyes, it makes you look at everything the way you did when you first saw it (if you’re an adult convert like we are). You see with your first eyes the quiet prayers of the lay people kneeling before Mass, to the Cantor leading in the responsorial Psalm, and even on to the “peace be with you” from the multitude around you. You witness the Mass in that special way again that makes you think about how you can see God all around you in the Mass. You remember that it is beautiful and frightening and reverent and all at once you’re overwhelmed in Him.

In addition to all of those memories, you might remember experiencing some fear during your first Mass. Maybe even your second, third, and fourth Mass too, if you’re like me. Being in a whole new setting of worship when you’re used to things being done a certain way (whether you like that way or not) can be a little scary. For someone who worries about everything the way that I do, you might wish there was a pause button to the Mass so that you can ask all the questions that bubble up out of curiosity, respect, and being a little scared that you’re going to do the wrong thing or won’t understand the meaning of something really important.

It all got me thinking about all of the little aspects of Catholicism and Mass that I wanted to know at the start but was too embarrassed to ask about in some way or another. Those thoughts caused me to glance over at my friend at the start of Mass, and I could tell that she already had questions, was kind of nervous, and wanted to understand the deeper meanings. I leaned in and whispered that if she had any questions, I would be happy to answer them. I made sure to tell her that there were no stupid questions, and that if she was nervous about doing something right she could ask me for help, because it was not long ago that I was there too. We were all in a fortunate position yesterday, in that we were able to go to lunch and talk about all the questions that arose during Mass and we were able to dispel some of the fear of the unknown for my friend. I realize that a lot of people don’t have that kind of opportunity, and that’s why I want to post a few questions that we talked about coming from a first timer and some of the things I remember wondering as a first timer.

Why are there bowls of water when you walk in, and what are people doing touching it and then touching their faces?

The bowls of water (sometimes called “fonts”) are actually full of “Holy Water” which we use upon entering and leaving the Church. This water is used in a blessing for a few different reasons. It is not only a sign and reminder of our baptism (which freed us from the stain of original sin) but also a sign of repentance from our sin. Water is a great symbol of purification as it washes and cleanses. We also use it as protection from evil as it is blessed by a Priest. When we touch it to our face, we are actually making a cross from our forehead to our chest (commonly known as “the sign of the cross.”) and it is a prayer. We say, “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” as we make the cross and we actually use that prayer very commonly in our everyday lives (such as before we eat, when we begin and end other prayers, and after we receive the Eucharist). There are so many aspects to this little prayer, but in an effort not to overwhelm, these are a few of the basics. This prayer helps to prepare us to receive God’s grace and blessings. It also helps us to remember the Crucifixion and our Lord’s passion, not to mention the reference to the Trinity. (If you have been baptized in a Christian Church and/or are in RCIA and the priest has told you that your baptism was valid, you can do this too!)

Why did you bow before you entered the pew, and why are people bowing as they approach the front?

Catholics believe that the body and blood we use for communion becomes the actual body and blood of our Lord, and so knowing that, we bow in reverence to the Divine Presence in the tabernacle (the dwelling place) in the front of the Church. When you study history, you see that it was common practice to bow in respect before royalty. This is just like that, in that we have Jesus in our Church with us. We want to be respectful and acknowledge Him as our Lord and King. When we kneel down oftentimes before entering a pew, it is called “Genuflecting” and it is done out of adoration. We make the sign of the cross as we do this. (You can do this too!)

What was the man in the robe called who talked and where does he fit into Church Hierarchy?

Unless you attended a Mass at a Cathedral or during a visit from the Bishop, that was most likely a priest. He is the one who performs the Mass. He is able to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist during Mass, administer it to the lay people, hear confessions and grant absolution. He is the celebrant of Catholic weddings and the leader of his flock (or parish). A priest acts as pastor to a parish, which can be thought of as the local church.  Several parishes and their priests are under a bishop, who is responsible for a diocese.  Bishops also say Mass but are vastly outnumbered by the priests that serve under them, so you are more likely to attend mass performed by a parish priest.  You may also see the priest assisted by a deacon.  These are lay people who aid the priests in preaching the Gospel, saying the petitions, helping to give the Eucharist to the people and other tasks.  However, they do not consecrate the Eucharist.

Do I have to shake his hand after?

Priests oftentimes wait outside the Church after Mass to greet the people. In my experience, they try to shake hands and greet as many as they can, and so if you happen to be in the line that they are in, they will try to shake your hand. This is not part of the Mass (since before, we heard the proclamation “The Mass is Ended”) and thus you should only act out of typical social conduct, not Mass etiquette. He’s a person who is saying hello. Don’t feel like you have to be Catholic to shake his hand. (But you can if you want!)

If I don’t say everything that everyone else is saying in Mass, will they be looking at me?

No. The simple answer is this. People attend Mass because they chose to attend Mass and worship our Lord. Not to see what their neighbor is and is not saying. (It’s the same sort of thing as when you find yourself in the line for Confession and you think everyone is judging you. “Wow, she must have a lot of sin. Wonder what she did. She’s so guilty she won’t even look up.” No. Everyone there is confessing their own sins, and we’re all in the same boat. No one is judging.) But anyway, no one is really paying attention to whether or not you’re following along and you don’t have to follow along to be able to attend Mass. (But you are welcome to if you’d like!)

Why are people looking expectantly at me in the middle of Mass and waiting for me to shake their hand?

This is the part of the Mass where everyone offers each other a sign of peace, the way Jesus offers us peace. It just means to offer the peace of Christ and to see Him in those around us. (I also like to think about it like this. Wherever I am in life, wherever my neighbor is in his/her life, it doesn’t matter. We are wishing them the peace of Christ and they are wishing us peace.) As brothers and sisters to each other, we are offering peace and communing together in unity as we acknowledge Christ in us. (You can definitely do this.)

These are a few of the topics of conversation we talked about, and I remember certainly having a lot more questions, but I am no theology expert and for the sake of a shorter post, I’ll wrap up with this. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. The Church herself encourages education and for everything we do, there is a reason. (That was one of the most helpful pieces of info my Priest during RCIA ever gave me.)