As a freshman in college, I had a life changing conversation with someone I had just met; we shared with one another how we viewed and practiced our faith. They told me that they considered themselves a soldier of Christ; that every morning when they wake up, they “put on their armor.” Before that moment I had never considered myself to be soldier. To be honest, I thought of it as purely a masculine role. But the more I thought on the notion, the more it made sense. There is not a day that goes by where we do not face temptation, and to say no to evil and yes to God, is to wield the sword of truth. From then on, I became not only His daughter, but also His warrior princess.
This blog is about my training from a plebe to an admiral. Throughout my schooling I will have to learn how to wield several different weapons, and they are as follows:
THE BIBLE: To know His Word is to know Him: John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Sadly though, I have yet to read through the Bible in its entirety. The only Scripture I have exposed myself to are the readings from mass and the readings chosen as themes for retreats, classes, and other religious activities. I am ashamed to say that there is a large chunk of the Bible that I have never read. As a result, throughout the course of this blog I will be sharing with you my thoughts and reactions to Scripture as I read through the whole Bible. See the formal schedule for more details. (Need help getting started on reading the Bible? Click here for a guide in “Choosing and Using a Bible.”)
THE CATECHISM: Even among Catholic friends debates and questions about Church teaching pop up more often than you might think. More than once I have been questioned about Church teaching, such as “Why do Catholics have to go to Confession?” And to be honest, there have been times where I have either had no idea how to respond or my answer was vague and unconvincing. (Don’t know the answer to this question yourself? Check out this article by Father Saunders and/or this article by Matthew Pinto.) Therefore, I think it is important for me to learn and understand Church teaching not only to become closer to Christ, for He was the one who established it through Peter, but also to help others become closer to God as well.
HOLY COMMUNION: The Eucharist is one of the most beautiful features of the Catholic faith. Though Catholicism is not the only sect of the Christianity that believes in transubstantiation, it is one of the few. As Catholics we get to experience Jesus in a spiritual sense AND in a physical sense! We have the opportunity to hold Him in our hands and to have Him not only inside of our hearts and minds, but also our bodies. Hence, it is vital that I do not take this lightly, that I am positive of my cleanliness (in terms of sin) when I receive Him, and that I receive Him as often as I can. Not only that, but this practice reminds us of His death and resurrection; of what He did for us so that our sins may be forgiven and that we may spend eternity with Him in heaven. (Want to know more about transubstantiation? Check out Frank Sheed‘s article here!)
THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE: To sin is to turn away from God. In my experience, the more I sin or the greater the sin, the father away I run from God out of fear and shame. When I go to Reconciliation on a regular basis, I am reminded of how He loves me unconditionally and of how much I desire to be close to Him. I want to be able to always accept Communion, to be a clean vessel for my Lord. Therefore, the act of Penance is an essential part of my relationship with God. (Haven’t been to Confession in awhile? Need to refresh your memory on what to do? Try this article called “A Guide for Confession.”)
THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS: This is another religious aspect that makes the faiths like Catholicism so unique. To clarify, Catholics do NOT worship the saints, but consider them to be our comrades and friends. When we pray we are not praying to them, but WITH them, asking for their intercession; asking them to pray for us and/or others. We can also learn from their example. By reading about their trials and tribulations, we are reminded that even the most lowly can become His faithful servant (take St. Augustine for example).
PRAYER AND THE ROSARY: Why do we pray? Well, the simplest way to get to know someone is to simply set some time aside to sit down and talk with them. Yes, God is omnipresent and all-powerful and therefore knows more about us than any other, but how much do we really know about Him? Prayer is one of many other resources and activities, such as the Bible, that God has provided for us so that we can have an intimate relationship with Him. For Catholics, the rosary is one of the most significant sets of prayers we can say, because as we pray the rosary we are reminded of and we contemplate on the Sacred Mysteries.
RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY: The times where I fall into sin without even a thought are when I’m striving for the acceptance of another. Its like a kneejerk reaction, before I know it I’m standing there thinking to myself, “Why did I say that? That’s not true.” My point is surrounding yourself with a good support system is crucial. If you surround yourself with others who live a lifestyle that is not in accordance with God’s teachings you may be tempted to follow their example and turn your back on Him as well. To be clear, I’m not saying that you can’t be friends with people who do not share the same faith as you, on the contrary you can learn a lot from those of different faith or no faith. Just be aware that having encouraging friends and mentors will help maintain your faith life as well as inspire it to flourish and grow. (Want to join a parish, but dont know what’s in you area? Click here to find out!)