Some of Catholicsm for Protestants Book Review

Shane Schaetzel

Shane Schaetzel is a Catholic convert from Evangelical Protestantism through Anglicanism.  Schaetzel writes the thoughtful CatholicintheOzarks.com blog as part of his lay ministry to spread the Good News through the written word.  Catholicism for Protestants (2013. Lulu)  draws upon his faith history, his love of language and history along with his religious education to answer some challenging spiritual queries that he has heard living in the buckle of the Bible Belt.  Schaetzel also sees Catholicism for Protestants to be a good primer for all Catholics on the fundamentals of the faith.

 Schaetzel starts the book with his compelling personal faith history which underlies the material. But in an effort to show that there are many different kinds of Catholics, like there are many different kinds of Protestants, Schaetzel wrote: “There are: Roman Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Maronite Catholics, Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, and even Anglican Use Catholics”.  This conflates Churches (Roman, Maronite and “Byzantine” branch), with religious orders (Franciscan, Benedictines). Later, Schaeztel teaches that there are 23 rites in the Catholic Church.  It may be minor distinction but that is incorrect.  There are 23 Churches  which comprise Catholicism.  A Church may have several different rites.  For example, the Roman Church currently has the Roman rite, the Ambrosian (around Milan, Italy) and the Mozarabic (at several parishes in Toledo Spain).   Some might argue that Anglican Use is a rite, but for now it is part of a Personal Ordinariate established by Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI to reach out to High Church Anglican and reincorporate the richness of traditional English Patrimony in the Roman Church. For those unfamiliar with these concepts, proclaiming yourself as a Roman Catholic layman of the Anglican Use could be kind of confusing as opposed to boldly proclaiming the author’s  point of view.

Most of Catholicism for Protestants is structured in a question and answer format which is eminently readable.  This cradle Catholic was able to finish the short 100 page book in one sitting.  Schaetzel does try to answer many common questions Evangelical Protestants have about the Catholic faith.  This sort of apologetic can be challenging as Evangelicals come from a non-sacramental, non-liturgical and non-ritualistic practice of faith so Catholicism’s practices and even its vocabulary can be confusing.  While Schaetzel’s scholarship is evident in the presentation and the supplemental footnotes (pointing to scripture, Church Fathers, the Catechism and some fine contemporary Catholic scripture scholars), his prose does not get bogged down by too much high church jargon.

 [***]

 Shane Schaetzel has done a good job at authoring an engaging and enlightening apologetic aimed at answering Protestant’s common questions about the Catholic faith.  Moreover, the author is practicing his understanding of the faith by his publishing and dissemination method by employing distributism, which favor small mom and pop religious bookstores.

 Being in an inter-faith marriage, I often am prompted to explain parts of my faith to my curious in-laws.  They seem to admire my pursuit of being a good Catholic but sometimes wonder why I am spiritually compelled to do what I do.  Shane Schaetzel’s Catholicism for Protestants will not only offer a clear Catechism but will also give the chapter and verse citations which sola scriptura Christians tend to seek.

 SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US

The suffering of St. Therese

File:Therese von Lisieux (profess).jpg
St. Therese in July 1896. (Photo credit: Wikipedia).
A short time after Therese’s first communion, her sister Marie told her, “I think God will spare you from having to suffer.” The irony is that Therese had already suffered more than some people do in a lifetime. Throughout her life people discounted her suffering. And even today some people see Therese as a saccharine saint, simple-minded, sentimental, a saint for little girls. They are ignorant of her suffering and reject her as irrelevant.

Mother loss When Therese was two months old, she almost died of enteritis. Her mother Zelie–probably already suffering from breast cancer–could not nurse her. A wet-nurse saved Therese’s life. Therese had to live five miles away from her family for thirteen months. She became attached to her nurse, whom she then had to leave behind.

Zelie Martin died when Therese was 4. Therese hid her great sorrow from her father and sisters. But when Pauline, the sister who became her substitute mother, entered the Carmelite monastery, Therese’s grief overwhelmed her. She became so ill, she once again barely survived. A smile from the Virgin Mary cured her.

Only four years later, her godmother Marie, who had cared for her since Pauline left, joined Pauline in Carmel.

We could count these as five instances of losing her mother.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Fighting demons while you sleep

File:Orthodox Bulgarian icon of St. George fighting the dragon.jpg
Orthodox Bulgarian icon of St. George fighting the dragon (photo credit: Wikipedia).

I used to have spiritual warfare dreams. For what seemed like hours, I would dream that a demon was trying to attack me. To repel him, I had to say, “In the name of Jesus, be gone!” Then he would leave–and be back a few minutes later. Over and over I did battle with demons. I would awake exhausted.

Spiritual warfare in daily life I don’t usually have such dreams any more. But some days I feel like they’ve become my waking reality. Life as a homeschool mom can be trying. I must overcome constant temptations. One moment, three kids ask me for help at once. The next, “J” spills juice on the floor I just mopped. Then two others get in a fight, and one talks back when I discipline him. All during math class.

Now none of these situations is major. But when you barely have time to breathe between one and the next, you get exhausted. You discipline in anger instead of love. You yell at the toddler for acting like a toddler. You argue with your older son.

Or maybe you don’t. But I often do.

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

My Heart is Not in Stuff

 The sky alone is an extravagant present 
that continually fills me with the joy
 if I remember to take a break from my ‘important’ business. 

A writing prompt asked writers if we could only take five objects from a burning house, what would be the most difficult things for us to leave behind?  Well really, the only objects I consider to be important are photos of family, my computer, passport and ID, a bible and bank card, assuming that I am wearing my wedding ring and gold cross like always. That’s it.

As for regrets, I really do not think that my heart is in things. Since I was a little girl, I have felt content with what I have materially. Even now, when my nine kids ask me what I want for Christmas, I pause for a moment with a blank mind. I have to search to come up with a list.
Rather a strange state to be in because this is not the result of spiritual striving, fasting or prayer, it is just how I am. Living with little people has only strengthened an innate tendency to enjoy the little things, to be grateful to be alive and in communion with the Spirit. In addition, as a large family with barely enough cash but many blessings, we have experienced many incidents of God’s providence. This scripture resonates within all of us.

MATTHEW 6:25-34DO NOT WORRY

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Kids understand these words, reminding me that the key to happiness and joy is not stuff but thankfulness and appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. There is much to be grateful for if we will simply stop for a moment and really see what actually surround us every day. Children delight in the plethora of tiny details all around them. They are born with a sense of wonder and the ability to enjoy simple pleasures.  Perhaps it is because they are closer to the ground when we tried to go for a walk but they stopped at every flower and bug, especially a bug on a flower. As  they look, touch, smell, even lick each wonderful new discovery, all their attention is riveted on that one thing. At first it was difficult to slow down during our walks and let the toddlers set the pace but it was a wonderful instruction in how to relax and become fully present to the moment.
At first I was only capable of enjoying whatever captured my children’s notice bu t now I realize that they were experiencing so much more than I initially thought. In their silent, non-verbal attention to nature, they were in deep communion with God Himself as He is present in His creation. Adults struggle for years to merely glimpse the intimacy that little children have naturally with God. They do not need to strive or work for this state of contemplation because they are without guile, prior opinions or expectations; they are open and look with trust, ready to absorb the love, joy and peace that envelopes them. Children are grateful for everything.
Ah, to live in a constant state of gratitude and thankfulness is a taste of heaven. Even if I were to live in the midst of a concrete jungle, I could at least stop for a moment, look up and give thanks. I simply need to remind myself to glance upwards, above my little busy world and enjoy the sky. The sky alone is an extravagant present that continually fills me with the joy if I remember to take a break from my ‘important’ business. Every time we attend mass, we are constantly reminded to give thanks to a Heavenly Father simply because life in, with and through Him is a joyful experience no matter what our situation.
“The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification.  Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1360).

PROTECTING LIFE IN A NEONATAL WING

Even though this was a public hospital, in the maternity unit, everyone fought fiercely for the life of every unborn child. Whether they were cognizant of the fact or not, these doctors and nurses embodied the teaching of the Church.
For you created my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14-

Pregnant with my seventh child, I was bedridden in the high-risk, neo-natal wing of the maternity ward for a week. I was waiting for a housekeeper to come  run my home and help tend my six children. Although I faced six months of bed rest, that one week gave me perspective and kept me from sinking into self-pity. Two other women in my room were desperate to keep their babies in utero and finally become mothers. One of the two had suffered five miscarriages. She was stuck in a ward room for months, only going home after the birth of her baby.
Secretly we all feared that we would lose our babies. Suddenly our fears materialized as a high-risk woman’s baby died in her womb. That poor woman had to endure an induction and labour for hours, only to push out a dead baby. The pain in that wing of the hospital was tangible. Tears ran down women’s’ faces as they grieved with their neighbour. It did not matter that none of us had even glimpsed her face. Nurses as well as patients mourned for a sister who was loosing her newborn. I became so nauseated with the awful vibes that pressed in on me that I ended up retching over the side of my bed with ice packs on my head to relieve a migraine.
Thank God, after the delivery, they moved this mother to the maternity wing where she was given a free, private room. Nurses as well as patients sighed with relief when the nurses told us that the hospital understood the need to shelter grieving mothers from others who cuddled and nursed their new babies.
Even though this was a public hospital, in the maternity unit, everyone fought fiercely for the life of every unborn child. Whether they were cognizant of the fact or not, these doctors and nurses embodied the teaching of the Church.
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. CCC 2270-2271
My generous spirit petered out after a few weeks at home. My only outing was to a high-risk appointment every week. Church was even out of the question, so Michael brought home communion and the readings each Sunday. I remained in a prone position, eating while propped up on one elbow with my food cut into small pieces. The high-risk doctors let me use a regular toilet and have a quick shower every morning. In those days, we had one large, heavy T.V. in the living room, a black dial-up phone on the hall wall, no stereo system, no computer and the bedroom window was cloudy, so I could not look outside. In frustration I phoned my doctor one morning after my shower.
“But I don’t feel sick. I feel fine and my kids need me!” I wailed.
My usually laid back, jovial doctor explained my situation in graphic detail.
“You have a huge clot, 4-cm thick, 6-cm, wide from the top of your womb where the placenta tore down your entire right side. The last time this happened at the Civic was two years ago to a woman who had four kids at home. They both almost died. We had to call the Archbishop in to explain to her that it was more of a sin to her remaining children if she foolishly died along with her unborn child.
“Listen to me. Keep this image in your mind. Imagine that here is a gun pressed to your temple, cocked waiting only for the slightest movement to set it off. Lay in bed and do not move!”
Well that got my attention.
The hardest aspect to my forced “vacation” was letting go of control of how strange women cleaned my home, washed laundry and made meals. I endured terrible cooks and inept, lazy house cleaners but at least my kids could still lay down beside me as I read to them and helped with homework. It almost seemed orchestrated because God seemed to delight in my inactivity; He had ample time to teach me to let go, trust and to allow others to serve me.
The end result of my confinement was a beautiful baby girl with huge black eyes and black hair that stood straight up. She is now a gentle artist/philosopher whose dark eyes  still sparkle with life and joy, only one of the hundreds, why maybe thousands of young adults who owe their very existence to  ordinary nurses and doctors in maternity wings who fight for the lives of the unborn.
http://melaniejeanjuneau.wordpress.com/

Finding patterns in the Bible

File:Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo 005.jpg
Transfiguration by Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

Last week for homeschool we did a narration of the Transfiguration. While reading the story aloud, I had an epiphany: it echoes the story of Moses receiving the 10 Commandments. I shared the parallel between the two stories with my boys. Now I’d like to share it–and the principle behind it–with you.

As a writer and avid reader, I am convinced of the inspiration of Sacred Scripture. (Besides, of course, being convinced as a Christian by the authority of the Church.) Dozens of writers over thousands of years produced the book we now call the Bible. They were from different cultures, used different literary genres, and had diverse purposes.

Amazingly, the same themes are developed throughout the Bible from beginning to end. Types and anti-types, prophecies and their fulfillment, fill its pages. You can follow one idea like a wave on the sea from Genesis to Revelation, or stand on the shore and admire the rhythm of the ocean that is the entire Bible.
I love to share these patterns with my children. I get excited about them, and that excites my boys!

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

Are you making a daily morning offering?

File:Heyerdahl29.jpg
Praying Girl by Heyerdahl (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

St. Francis de Sales is the master of the spiritual life for lay people. His book, Introduction to the Devout Life teaches us how we can grow closer to God while living out our lives as spouses or single people in the world.

One of the practices St. Francis urges his readers to make a habit of is the morning offering. In fact he says, “Never omit this practice.” A morning offering sets the tone for your day. It helps you acknowledge that the day is God’s, not your own. It can give you the strength you need to face trials, peace amid busy schedules, and added grace for unforeseen temptations.

I confess I was never taught to make my own morning offering as a child. We sometimes had family prayer in the morning. At Catholic elementary school we started the day with prayer. But no one told me I should make a private morning offering until I was much older. I found it hard to take up the practice, and even harder to maintain it over the long-term.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

COME OUT OF THE CAVE

The worst possible fate for me would be to die and discover that I had lived an existence similar to the allegory described in Plato’s Cave. Plato describes man’s condition similar to living in a cave, chained, only seeing shadows on a wall cast from a candle. Yet the human race believes that this is all there is to life. When one person manages to break free and stumbles out into daylight, he realizes that what he thought was real were actually shadows of real objects. After this messenger makes his way back into the cave to explain this revelation of the real world, no one believes him. No one else has any reference point; they simply cannot grasp this alternate reality.
When I speak with someone who is curious about the faith, I realize my revelations about the spiritual life in the Mystical Body of Christ are completely foreign. I might as well be a fantasy character explaining life in an alternate reality. Psychologically speaking, people need to hear a completely new concept at least three times before it even begins to register in their minds. Sharing about spiritual reality is like helping God make new neurological connections and this transformation takes time. Seekers who has existed on the surface, experiencing only physical reality is wearing God-filtered glasses; the life in Christ that I share with someone is completely alien. They have no reference point… read  more

Walking With Mary : A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross

This week I had the pleasure of kicking off Image Catholic Books Virtual Book Tour for their latest release Walking With Mary : A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross written by Dr. Edward Sri. The book was fantastic and if you are looking for an easy to read, deep exploration of Mary’s faith journey I highly recommend you get this book. You can find my review here. Also click here for your chance to enter my weekly giveaway, a copy of this great book.
Pete Socks
The Catholic Book Blogger

Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir Review

My most recent review is from The Catholic Company called Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir. This is a true conversion story of how a married ordained minister followed the quest for truth which led him out of the Episcopalian Church and into the Catholic Church. Fr. Ryland, in a detailed format, outlines his journey from childhood, other denominations and into the Catholic Church.

In my opinion, his book reads like an intellectual autobiography which felt like text book reading at times. I appreciated his use of footnotes to back up his points but I also felt the context jumped around which left me confused at times.   I would turn back a page or two to see if I missed something.  It’s not filled with emotion even though he experienced the same confusion, fear and resistance that others have gone through in their journey to the Catholic Church.

Fr. Ray Ryland has been given a dispensation from the rules of celibacy and is a married Catholic Priest.  I was glad to see in his last chapter, that he addressed the issue of him being allowed to be married as a priest. Fr. Ryland does not promote married priesthood and in fact he discusses the apostolic tradition of priestly celibacy and how he agrees with the Catholic Church.  He candidly admits, he is not as free as a celibate priest to serve God, His Church and his parishioners.  I applaud the encouragement and support his wife gave him as he walked this path with them.  It can not have been easy to make this decision even though knowing God is calling him to do so.  It takes courage and faith.

Overall, I liked the book but it took me a long time to read it.  I enjoy conversion stories but I was not captivated by this one.  I think it’s because I found it to be more of a challenging read than a lighter more emotional story.  I guess those are the ones I would choose to read first.  The reason I picked this one was because it is a conversion story and it was endorsed by other famous converts.  Would I recommend this book?  Yes, but with a warning that it’s not a light happy conversion story.

This book was written as part of the Catholic Company Reviewer Program.  I was given a complimentary copy of Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir for my honest review.  The Catholic Company is a great resource for all your First Communion Gift ideas as well as many other great books, rosaries, and statues.

Peace & Blessings,
Noreen