January 1

Even in the midst of 2017, I knew it was a transition year. Everything that I’d been searching for and moving toward came to pass during the year, not that I’d planned it that way. At the end of every year, people are ready to give it the boot. They want to start new, forget their past mistakes, and have an excuse to redefine themselves. But for me, 2017 was a good year—and that includes the dark times. But once I rose out of the darkest moments, everything came to light. Everything changed. And my transformation was truly beginning.

There’s no limit to what God has done for me this past year. I went from the fear of disagreeing with the church I’d been raised in (What if they are right?) to being welcomed by the Catholic Church to be one of its family. There were growing pains. There were feelings of emptiness, of loneliness, of doubt. There was unbridled joy, and tears of laughter. And there were questions. So many questions. For God, searching in His Word and the Catechism; for his priests, in which I doubted my very belonging in the Church; for my sponsor, who received the brunt of my stupid and sometimes obvious queries.

But God always answered. Sometimes not in the way I expected. Sometimes not in the way I wanted. But as I welcome 2018, I welcome Him more into everything I do. I need to keep Him at the center of everything, and I feel (I hope) I’m getting better at that. I’m certainly not perfect. I’m still a slothful, selfish, prideful human being. But little by little, He’s taking over. With every time I talk to Him, with every time I attend Mass, with every time I surround myself with His people—the Spirit shines brighter within me.

2017 was a growth spurt. I wasn’t going to receive the answers last year, but I started to learn the questions. And simply asking the right questions has guided me in the way He desired me to go. But that’s the easy part. Asking the questions has been easy, and even receiving some of the answers hasn’t been so bad. But living it? Not only listening, but doing?

This journey is long from over. If anything, I’m just getting started.

Post-Advent Musings

I’ve been sick in bed the past two days, which gives me little to do but think. This is a good time to think, too–we’ve just finished the advent season, the first that I’ve formally recognized, and it’s been wonderful.

I ended up at three church services on Christmas Eve which, in retrospect, was a little insane. One each for the last Sunday of Advent and Christmas (at midnight!), and one with the family at the Baptist church. They were all so good. I didn’t even consider how one was the “old” church and one the “new.” On Christmas, we’re all there for the same reason. We’re celebrating Jesus’s coming into the world. Is three services overkill? Maybe. Will I do midnight Mass again? Probably not, because I was exhausted. But I didn’t tire hearing of the good news. Jesus is born, and He brings hope to the world!

Earlier in the month, I visited several stores in search for an Advent wreath. (Not an easy task, surprisingly, but Hallmark has the candles, if you’re curious.) At first I thought it was pointless since I’d already missed the first Sunday of Advent. But when I lit the final candle on Christmas Eve, I was proud to have that little wreath. It’s a small thing, but a reminder of something so much bigger.

And the best part? Christmas isn’t over yet. There is still more celebration. Merry Christmas!

2 Thessalonians 2:14-15

To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

Being raised non-denominational brings certain assumptions when reading the Bible. As is also the case when being raised however it is a person is raised—we read based upon what we know. Or what we understand to be true. It’s difficult to change a perspective, to see things through an unbiased lens. When I started to read the Word outside the preconceived notions of a denomination (or lack there of), it was hard.

There are things I was taught to interpret a certain way, and verses I naturally glanced over without a second thought. The introduction and conclusions to Paul’s letters are one of those things. “Praise be to God,” “Live a good and honorable life,” etc. More specifically, “Follow the traditions we taught you.” This seems easy enough: Live by our teachings. From a Bible-only religious education, this is easily glanced over. But once you start to learn of Sacred Tradition, it has a whole new meaning.

Paul’s not just talking about “being good” and honoring God. He’s talking of the traditions passed down from the apostles, both verbally and by letter, in a time when there was no written Gospel to refer to. They depended upon one another to learn the Truth. And this is the beginning of the Church as we know it today. Of its Tradition, entwined with what we now understand through written Gospel.

Obviously, maybe. Sola scriptura is fine and admirable, but it leaves gaps and questions. What did we do before the Bible was compiled? Was Christianity an unorganized chaos, simply waiting for the direction of a written book? Not at all. The proof is right there in Bible itself—people were being baptized. They were being saved. And they were doing it through Tradition, through the newly-formed teachings of the Church.

It wasn’t a bunch of unorganized guys who created Christianity. It started with Jesus, who taught his disciples, who in turn taught their disciples. And so on down the line, for thousands of years. This had to start somewhere. It started with Peter’s preaching, and with Paul’s letters, and with the brief and wonderful ministry of Jesus Christ Himself.