Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ten Tips To Help You Stay a Sane and Effective Catholic

Just diving right in:

1. Do not get your news and information about your religion, your Church, your Pope, or anything even remotely related to any of the aforementioned, from secular mainstream media, whether televised, in print, or online.  They are not with us, and they are not neutral.  They are against us.  Moreover, they do not bother to fact-check.  They do not possess even a rudimentary knowledge of Catholicism, and if you are shaky on your own faith, they can actually make you think something is true when it's really silly, misstated, out of context, or downright fictional.  Remember, remember, the condom debacle of Pope Emeritus Benedict if you need an illustration of this tip. 

2. Do not live your life in a "Protestant versus Catholic" dynamic.  If you are, you are actively protesting Protestants, which makes you a protestant of sorts yourself.  You want to help a Protestant?  Recognize him or her as a brother or sister in Christ.  Answer any and all questions charitably and clearly. But do not engage in pages long or days long grudge matches about denominations versus Catholicism.  NO ONE benefits.  No one converts through prideful, protracted screeds.

3. Be this guy: the one in the parable who says, "God have mercy on me, a sinner."  Be that guy every day.  Be the woman who just attempted to touch the fringe of Jesus' garment.  Realize how sinful and small you can be, and don't get too high on yourself because you have a lot of book knowledge about church buildings, or music, or the doctors of The Church. It's extremely important to study those things, and God loves it when we immerse ourselves in them, yes, yes, yes.  BUT don't get so far up your own skirt that you think you're the queen of the Catholics and everyone else is so fortunate to benefit from your learnedness.  Holy rusticity.  Remember that phrase.  

4. Pray for other people.  Intercessory prayer works.  It works for them and it works for you, to keep your mind off of your own defeats and victories.  Pray especially for those who annoy you.  They may annoy you because they remind you of your own deficiencies.  Or they may annoy you because they are TRYING to annoy you, and if they are doing that, then maybe they are like those boys in sixth grade who push you on the ground at recess because they secretly like you and don't know what to do about it.  They need attention.  Give it to them in spades. Kill 'em with kindness.  And give them that gift that keeps on giving: intercessory prayer. 

5. Try not to compare yourself to other Catholics.  You are you.  There is only one you.  You have a singular vocation that no one else in the entire universe, from the beginning of time, can fulfill.  Work on doing THAT well, not worrying about being a better  __________ than _______________.  It will never happen. 

6. Replace your wishbone with a backbone.  Stop wishing that your parish was more this or that.  Stop wishing that people would stop saying mean things about the Pope.  Instead, take action.  Get involved at your local parish level.  Feed the local hungry.  Talk about the Pope to people and say true, wonderful things before they even get a chance to say what they heard on MSNBC. Get a little bit of courage, just a little, and your evangelizing will improve.  Sometimes I'll give a longer answer than someone wanted when they ask a question about Catholicism.  But you know what?  It's a true, accessible, verifiable answer.  I plant a seed, and then offer to tell them more if and when they want to know.  Sometimes they look at me crooked.  But hey, I'm 44 years old and I taught high school for eight years. So a yucky face doesn't scare me. 

7. Spend time with Jesus.  And by that I mean, the Blessed Sacrament.  Sit with Him.  If you do this and you don't feel something, if you don't get results, I will eat my hat. 

8. Know when to kick the dust off  your feet.  If you are evangelizing someone and that person is either calling you names, or seems to be feeling WORSE about Catholicism than when you started, you aren't the person to do the job.  Not everyone has to like you.  Walk away, pray, and then maybe someday, as Bill Murray says in What About Bob?, you can call back and try to reconnect. 

9. Give Everything.  Huh?  Yes.  Give money to the poor until your husband makes that wincing face that means he's not so sure you're not drunk.  Give hugs to people who don't look so clean.  Give compliments to people who already act like they think they're fabulous, because the truth is they are the most insecure.  Give an ear to someone whose story is boring, repetitive, and you can't really solve the problem therein anyway.  Give a smile to EVERYONE.  I smile at everybody, and sometimes they will quite literally return my smile with a dirty look. So what?  Maybe they are in physical pain.  Maybe they are getting divorced.  Maybe they have been hurt by so many people that they don't even trust the simple gesture of a smile from a fellow human being.  The response doesn't negate the rightness and goodness of my act.  Remember that: the response doesn't negate the rightness and goodness of my act. 

10.  Appreciate your Catholic identity.  Don't take it for granted.  You are fortunate, blessed, chosen, graced, and just plain supposed to be Catholic.  Don't just sit there feeling like being Catholic is like having curly hair or being Italian.  It's an amazing thing to belong to this universal, beautiful, eternal Church that is pre-denominational, that does more for charitable causes than any other organization in the world, and that welcomes ALL people from everywhere in whatever state they are in, to meet Jesus here, get to know Him, and consider staying a while, or, hopefully, forever.  

32 comments:

  1. Thank you! I give this two thumbs up.My favorites are 1,3,7,10.

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  2. Yep, Douglas, I think 3 is my favorite. Thank you for always reading.

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  3. Wow! Terrific advice. Thank you, from another 44 year old high school teacher.

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    1. Ha! Another soldier! Great to meet you and I hope you keep reading.

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    1. Thank you so much and I hope you come back.

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  5. If I had been fully cognizant of number 2 a year ago things would have played out quite differently

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    1. Ryan, we can only do at the time what we know enough to do. I'm happy to meet you and hope you come back.

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  6. I like what I read here - esp 3 & 4 & I'm a Kiwi bloke (now 71) so I'm going to have to bookmark your place. Thanks.

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    1. Thrilled to have you as a reader, Stephen! God bless you in all ways.

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  7. This is really good. I am guilty of arguing on facebook against protestantism, being a recent convert myself. I feel like hindsight is 20/20 in this area, and I want so badly for my friends to experience what I've found, but I know they get annoyed with me and have called me out on it before! I know how much in the dark I was about church history and how the modern church movement got started, I want to share all of the information I know now!! Funny thing was, I had zero evangelical spirit as a protestant. I will have to think about this.

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    1. I was Lutheran for SO many years, Kristi, and I do get overly enthusiastic sometimes about my Catholicism because I wish someone had told me back then what I know now! Still it is always bette to wait for that invitation, not just come barging in with the brown scapular!

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  8. Love them all. Especially #7.
    I have finally learned that Jesus is the one who converts people. All we can do is put the good news out there and let Him do the rest.
    Great article.

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    1. Colleen, that is so true of a number of things. Isn't it? The Holy Spirit within us does it all, and we simply must be receptive and cooperate.

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  9. Wow Nicole, how long have we been facebook friends I didn't realize you had this blog! These a profoundly inspirational and humble words to live by. I am sharing them.

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    1. Thank you so much, Laurie! I hope you'll read again.

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  10. Bookmarking this! Love it, thank you for the gentle nudges!

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    1. Every nudge is for me, and then if anyone else benefits, that's gravy!

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  11. Awesome tips, thank you! And love that old movie "What About Bob" -

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    1. Oh, that's a great movie. I love Bill Murray as a matter of course, but that character is just so well developed, and I love how he manages to "win" in the end.

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  12. Wow! Love this! Hard to pick my favorites..at least half of them, and all ten are amazing. I'm bookmarking too. Want to be able to come back here and re-read often. I'm also looking forward to reading your other posts...when it's not 12:45am! :)
    God bless you!

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    1. God bless you, Patricia. I hope that everyone who reads gets a sense of this whole blog is just a great big thank you to Jesus and His Bride The Church!

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    1. Thanks so much, Dan. I hope you read again!

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  14. Wow, Nicole, these are incredible!! I especially struggle with #8 since I so badly want everyone to experience the beauty and glories of Catholicism, but I know I need to leave them in God's hands. God bless :)

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    1. Thank you, Margo! I could probably do a list of ten MORE! There are so many areas we need to be holy in. The only tragedy in life is to not be a saint, so said Leon Bloy, and I feel it's true now as I get older more than ever.

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  15. Brilliant article; a blessing to read. Thanks for being such a willing instrument for our Lord, and may the Peace of Christ be with you always, Nicole.

    Bill T.

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