How to Win a Soda Bread Competition in 7 Easy Steps

This is the true story of how, a couple of years ago, I became a gold medal champion in an Irish soda bread competition, with helpful tips so that you, too, can bring home that coveted award!

~1~

Have a kid or two in Irish dance. I don’t know if the competition will let you in if nobody’s dancing, though I suppose it never hurts to ask.

We’ve had kids in Irish dance for nearly a decade now, so I had my ticket in!

~2~

Research.

Once I was in, I wasn’t doing this halfway. No sir. I wanted to do my dancer proud. I did extensive, careful research on the history of Irish soda bread, variations on the recipe, and what constitutes “proper” and “improper” soda bread. I love food, and especially the history of regional foods, so this was going to be awesome.

My research led me to The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. Here I learned that Proper Soda Bread is made with “flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. Anything else makes it a tea cake.”

Perfect. No rookie mistakes at MY first soda bread competition!

~3~

Shop.

Proper ingredients are essential. So, I actually bought some buttermilk, instead of just souring milk with vinegar like usual.

~4~

Prepare.

It was the night before the feis (“fesh” – it’s an Irish dance competition). I had polished my dancer’s two pairs of shoes, printed off her feis schedule, printed directions to the venue, checked her costume, gotten cash for parking, packed her snacks and our lunches, and gone through the checklist for shoes, socks, bobby pins, safety pins, band-aids, competition card holder, sock glue, and a hole punch.. We would be up at 4:30 to curl her hair into ringlets and get there on time. But I still had to…

~5~

Practice.

Yes, sir. No early night for me. I stayed up until 1 am, baking three (or was it 4?) loaves of soda bread, so that I could have a couple of practice loaves, taste one, and choose the one that was the most beautiful, the most perfect, yet also the most rustic. 

~6~

The Big Day

In the hustle and bustle of getting a dancer checked and settled in, you’ll need to be sure to leave time to check in your soda bread entry and scope out the competition.

You may need to look around for a while, if the entry table isn’t obvious. If you can’t find it, ask at the check-in desk. They will stare at you in obvious confusion, before going to find somebody who knows whether where there is a soda bread competition.

Eventually, a harried looking feis volunteer will come grab your soda bread with obvious astonishment. She might be amazed at its rustic perfection, its faithfulness to the historic tradition of soda bread, the way that the cross-shaped score across the top did not rise all crooked in the oven on the fourth try.

Or, she might just be stunned that somebody actually entered the competition.

~7~

Finally, be sure to go check your results at the end of the day. This is your moment to shine.

Like the gal at the check-in table, the lady at the medals table will also stare at you in confusion. After checking the computer, though, and finding that you were the only entry, she will award you your gold medal! No one will be sure what became of your soda bread, but you will be too humiliated exhilarated by your win to care.

You, dance mom, are a champion.

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{SQT} Simple, Frugal Lenten Decor, Tofu, and Learning as I Go

~1~

Since I’m learning to incorporate the liturgical year into family life at the same time I’m adjusting to being a new Catholic, living in a new state, being a first-time homeowner, homeschooling with some unique challenges, and recovering from a serious financial slump, I’m keeping it simple. And cheap. I spent about 20 minutes on our Lent decor, if you include the time it took to figure out where they keep the plastic flowers at Walmart.

Of course, I’d probably keep it simple and cheap no matter what. I like it that way.

~2~

First up: our Lenten front door wreath, pictured above. I love having something on the front door! I picked up a grapevine wreath for $5 at Walmart, and I got the purple flower at the same time for $2.50. I don’t have a glue gun, or florist wire, or the ability to care about that, so I just cut the stem to a good length and wove it into the wreath. It took about two minutes, minus the Walmart-roving, and this way the flower could be readily removed to make way for some other seasonal whim.

Cost: $7.50

~3~

Next, the dresser in our dining room, which houses playdoh, school games, art stuff, and various junk that I shove in there when company is coming.  I put our Advent wreath on it this Advent past, and liked it so much I decided to just leave the space for “liturgical year stuff.” (There’s probably a lent 1better name for that).

Anyway, the purple cloth is actually just my favorite t-shirt (which is at least 10 years old). On top of that is Lenten Sacrifice Beans.  I got both the idea and the free printable from Lacy at Catholic Icing. The only thing I bought for this was the purple ribbon and the flowers.

Cost: $5.00

~4~

We “buried the alleuia” this year, too. This idea I got from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas – both talleuiahe idea itself and the inspiration to keep it simple. I was happy that I was able to fancy up the Sharpie with some glitter paint that I borrowed from the three year old, though.

I made this on Ash Wednesday, but we forgot to bury it till the Tuesday following.

Cost: free

~5~

The last thing I did was change the top of the bookshelf by the door. It’s only vaguely Lenten, with purple candles and a plain basket, which I recently snagged at the thrift store for a couple bucks. Thelent 2 rest I already had.

Cost: about $2

~6~

Lenten cooking is on my mind, and we tried tofu for the first time in years this week. Last time I made it, it was awful; I think I tried putting it in lasagna, or something equally egregious. This time, I fried it and put sweet and sour sauce on it, and it was actually quite tasty. I have a Pinterest board for Meatless and Fish dishes, come on over and visit for some new Friday ideas.

~7~

Lent seems long, just now, as sacrifices already grow tiresome and I become forgetful of the positive additions I am trying to make to my day during this time. One thing I have learned to appreciate, though, in becoming Catholic, is the sense of the value of time. The value of waiting, of walking through the process instead of skipping to the end. Honestly, I don’t fully intuitively grasp the value of fasting (and I mean fasting in a broad sense) yet, though I have read enough about it by now that I should. I don’t understand it, or why it is beneficial, but I do accept that it is, and I hope to gain a clearer vision of that in this season.

Incorporating the liturgical year into our family uncovers these kinds of gaps in understanding. It brings to mind how, as a Protestant, I would not do something I did not understand the value of or see the Biblical mandate for. Each hymn I sang, each prayer I read, all had to be screened – by me, of course. I love that I can learn by doing, by following the ancient practices of the Church and discovering the richness of it as I go.

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{SQT} Bronchitis, strep, pneumonia. And some other stuff.

~1~

 So October hasn’t really been our month.  Unless by “our month,” you mean, “our month to get sick over and over again.” In that case, yes, it’s definitely been our month.

I love having a houseful of kiddos, especially these days when I am poignantly aware that some of them are gonna grow up and fly away awfully soon. All of us under one roof seems like a sweet, fleeting treasure that will be gone tomorrow.

But when sickness strikes the big family – well, see ya in a month, hopefully. This time we were especially privileged to get hit by

20161030_144320.jpg
Pretty, huh?

bronchitis, then a week
later, strep. Then a week later, Becca came down with pneumonia, which she is still fighting off. Had a fridge full of antibiotics, and a big, hastily-drawn, not-Pinterest-worthy dosing chart on the fridge, and really have done very little beyond push fluids, take temperatures, watch breathing,  go to the doctor, get chest x-rays, refill the humidifier…all that.

~2~

 In other news, we did finally get back to school in mid-September. Planning a new school year for 6 kids on top of the huge pile of life changes we’ve tackled this year was daunting. We ended up doing a lot with Homeschool Connections for the older three; the monthly subscription is really affordable for multiple kiddos and takes a lot of the prep burden off of me, particularly for the history and religion classes, which I wanted to have a Catholic worldview but felt underprepared to put that together myself. Uppeschoolr math is Teaching Textbooks as always – I LOVE Teaching Textbooks 2.0. Self-grading math, baby. Enough said.

For the littler ones, we’re taking it easy but hitting the biggies with Math-U-See, Apologia, Hooked on Phonics, workbooks, and some classes from Kolbe. Mostly stuff we already had handed down from the older ones. Of course, we took a lot of time off to be sick this month, but c’est la vie.

~3~

We’re continuing to settle in to our new home. North Carolina is definitely a whole different world than Utah; I’m slow at adapting. Things I miss about Utah:

  • Mountains.
  • Family and friends left behind, of course.
  • Mormons. I’m not Mormon, never have been, don’t plan on it, but I miss LDS folks and culture. I might go over and visit the ward so I can meet some Mormons. Is that weird?  “Hey guys, I’m Catholic, but I lived in Utah forever and I’m not sure my life will ever be complete without ward Christmas parties. Can I come? Please??”  If you too have a fondness for LDS culture, hop over to Twitter and check out #MormonMafia. Hilarious.
  • Fry sauce. If you don’t know what that is, I’m so sorry.
  • Enunciation. North Carolinians mumble like nobody’s business. I can’t understand anybody I talk to on the phone, here, ever. It’s kind of a problem.

~4~

Then again, there are some things I don’t miss about Utah:

  • Traffic. We kind of don’t have any, here, except for that one weekend festival, when there is “CRAZY TRAFFIC” that is kind of like average, midmorning weekday traffic around Salt Lake. Other than that, there really isn’t any.
  • Crazy drivers (of which I kind of am one, now. Thanks Utah).  Utah drivers are pretty aggressive, and I picked that up over time. North Carolina drivers are more…sleepy. They kind of dawdle along, and then sit there for a while, as though pondering very carefully what their next move shall be. Frustrating to an overcaffeinated, overly busy city mom driver? Yeah. But better than getting mowed down. And good for practicing patience. I guess.

~5~

I started running again! I totally quit over the summer, as moving craziness took over my whole world. When I started up again, I had to start the beginning program all over, and made a lot of progress. I have had to quit again for the last month while I get over bronchitis and strep, but I’m almost ready to start up again…again.

The running was made worlds easier to fit in when I realized that I could run in the evening when I habitually take Timothy for a bedtime walk to calm down. He enjoys the running, and so do I. Previously, I’d ruled out running then – aren’t you supposed to not run right after a meal? And not too long before bed?

But the last few months, I’ve gotten sick of not getting things done because of not being able to do them “right.” If my realistic options are a) run after dinner, at the “wrong time,” or b) not run, I’m ready for option a.

~6~

Happy birthday to Jonat20161029_160016.jpghan and Alex! Their birthdays are only days apart, and so far they are content to share a party. Lucky me, I hope it lasts! Jonathan’s day is today, which commemorates 9 years since the elevator incident. And, a few days ago was 7 years since Alex’s birth, which still stands as the toughest birth I have done. May it ever be so.

~7~

I organized my pantry, back in those days before sickness, now buried in the mists of time. (I think it was September.)

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a pantry organized with 10 people in the house? You clean that thing, and 2 weeks days minutes seconds later, boom. Totally randomized, to the subatomic level. I kid you not. My husband called it the “Where’s Waldo” storage method.

For years I have meant 20160923_094737.jpgto label the shelves, but alas. I didn’t have a label gun thingy. I had a label gun thingy in my Amazon cart for awhile, but it’s not the same.

I can’t believe it took me so long, but I finally realized that scrap paper, a Sharpie, and clear tape could do what really needed done, which was to make sure we can all find the pickles.

Not Pinterest-worthy, but it works, unlike all the elaborate projects in my head and good intentions left, unbought, in my Amazon cart.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

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Catholic Conversion: Seven MORE Things I was Wrong About

I used to think the Catholic Church was creepy.

Truth, friends. As a Protestant, I was immersed in my own culture, and looking in, good grief. All this praying to dead people, and burning incense, and…the bones. I went to a cathedral in Guatemala City once, and bones. People bones. It creeped me out for days.

The thing is, we shouldn’t judge Truth on whether we’re used to it or not. The biggest barrier to my conversion to the Catholic Church was the layers and layers of confusion, misinformation, and misunderstanding that clouded my vision.

~1~

Catholics are obsessed with death.

Well, you know. The relics. The crucifixes. Good Friday. All Souls Day.

Giotto. the-crucifix- c.1317 Padua, Museo Civico

I never liked crucifixes even as a child raised outside of church. I refused to believe that Jesus had really had nails driven through His hands. It was too graphic for me, I guess.

As a convert coming in from a conservative Presbyterian background, where any pictures of Christ are considered to violate the 2nd Commandment, I had a hard time with the crucifix in church. I could hardly look at it, for months.

But I’ve found that it’s not that Catholics are obsessed with death and suffering. It’s that they don’t fear it. Not just in an esoteric, I’m going to heaven kind of way, but in an everyday mercy kind of way. They feel the call to be messengers of mercy, healing, and love in the very darkest places – including the deathbed. They know that our suffering has great value in the eyes of God, and that it is a critical part of our growth as His children.

~2~

Catholics think they have to get married to go to heaven.

I didn’t think this one myself, but friends have challenged me with it. This example highlights how otherwise highly informed Protestants have been seriously misinformed aboBS001 sut the Church. The splintering that goes on and on feeds on this kind of thing. (And it goes both ways, for sure.)

No. Of course not. Priests, nuns, etc., are celibate, for one thing, so that would be an extremely odd doctrine. Marriage is a sacrament, but so are Holy Orders, so most people don’t receive all seven sacraments in their lifetime – only a rare minority, such as perhaps a widower who then became a priest. Neither is required – it depends on one’s vocation and state of life.

~3~

Catholics live in a state of medieval superstition and fear.

This one I did think. In the sign of the cross, in the incense, in the candles, the holy water, the different gestures…I saw all these things as superstitious nonsense, silly things probably done to ward off evil spirits or something. MyFitzgeraldFairyBanquet more austere Reformed spirituality seemed more logical and more Biblical, free of outward tangible signs of spiritual realities, beyond the two sacraments I accepted at the time.

But as I mentioned in my previous list of misconceptions, we are beings who are both physical and spiritual. Catholic practice is not superstitious – these practices all express and point to spiritual realities which are, for the most part, also accepted by our Protestant brothers and sisters. But, they do so in a way that understands that people are more than just a brain, or more than just a heart. We are physical beings, and our minds and hearts are informed and strengthened by things we encounter in the physical world.

~4~

Catholicism teaches that the Pope is never wrong, which is silly, because everybody knows that popes have lived scandalously and contradicted each other.

This is one I took as a given. It was incomprehensible to me that anybody could be so gullible as to actually believe that the Pope was infallible. It was patently obvious that, throughout history, there have been immoral popes who certainly weren’t infallible. And those pesky contradictions! Catholics were, to be sure, mindless automatons who never bothered to crack open a history book.

Pope Francis in March 2013 (cropped)

It was a top objection for me, in the early days. The problems here come really from two major misconceptions, not one:

~5~

Papal infallibility means that the Pope is perfect in every way. He does not forget phone numbers, and he sure doesn’t sin.

Nope. No, no, no. Here is an excerpt from an excellent article on the subject put out by Catholic Answers:

“…Fundamentalists and other “Bible Christians” often confuse the charism of papal ‘infallibility’ with ‘impeccability.’ They imagine Catholics believe the pope cannot sin…Given these common misapprehensions regarding the basic tenets of papal infallibility, it is necessary to explain exactly what infallibility is not. Infallibility is not the absence of sin…Some ask how popes can be infallible if some of them lived scandalously. This objection of course, illustrates the common confusion between infallibility and impeccability. There is no guarantee that popes won’t sin or give bad example. (The truly remarkable thing is the great degree of sanctity found in the papacy throughout history; the “bad popes” stand out precisely because they are so rare.)”

Catholics aren’t blind to the scandalous popes. They just know that it doesn’t have anything to do with the doctrine of infallibility.

~6~

Popes can’t be infallible because they have contradicted each other.

The historical record of this really surprised me.  As a Protestant, it was a wPope Saint John Paul II Statueorking assumption that popes had contradicted each other, not once or twice, but so many times that the whole doctrine was ridiculous.

 More from the same article:

“Other people wonder how infallibility could exist if some popes disagreed with others. This, too, shows an inaccurate understanding of infallibility, which applies only to solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals. A pope’s private theological opinions are not infallible, only what he solemnly defines is considered to be infallible teaching. 

Even Fundamentalists and Evangelicals who do not have these common misunderstandings often think infallibility means that popes are given some special grace that allows them to teach positively whatever truths need to be known, but that is not quite correct, either. Infallibility is not a substitute for theological study on the part of the pope.

What infallibility does do is prevent a pope from solemnly and formally teaching as “truth” something that is, in fact, error. It does not help him know what is true, nor does it “inspire” him to teach what is true. He has to learn the truth the way we all do—through study—though, to be sure, he has certain advantages because of his position…Turning to history, critics of the Church cite certain “errors of the popes.” Their argument is really reduced to three cases, those of Popes Liberius, Vigilius, and Honorius, the three cases to which all opponents of papal infallibility turn; because they are the only cases that do not collapse as soon as they are mentioned. There is no point in giving the details here—any good history of the Church will supply the facts—but it is enough to note that none of the cases meet the requirements outlined by the description of papal infallibility given at Vatican I (cf. Pastor Aeternus 4).”

For a meatier treatment of this, try The Christian Freethinker, the much-quoted Catholic Answers article, or the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.

Some books on the Papacy:

Documents Illustrating Papal Authority: AD 96-454 – E. Giles (This can also be found as a free ebook here.)

Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church (Modern Apologetics Library) – Stephen K. Ray

The Early Papacy: To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451

~7~

Catholics have gone liberal and don’t practice what they preach anymore.

I talked about this a little in my first misconceptions post, but this one keeps on surprising me. Sure, yes, there are plenty of “Catholics” who aren’t serious. There are also plenty of Evangelicals who aren’t serious, who don’t read their Bible or take their morality or faith seriously. It doesn’t mean that the Evangelicals aren’t serious.  It just means that the Evangelical churches have, well, people, in them. Those people are not all at the same place in their journey.

Worshippers pray with rosaries. Credit: User:leba12 (Wikimedia Commons).The un-serious Catholics that I met and, even more, Knew About (through hearsay) gave me an unrealistic view of the seriousness of Catholics in general. I keep meeting an endless stream of serious, sincere, practicing Catholics; I keep being surprised when I do. It’s a lovely, heart-cheering surprise, like so many facets of the Church, but I do hope my flawed, ingrained expectations begin to catch up to reality, one day.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

You might also like:

{SQT} 7 Things I was Wrong About

{SQT} 7 Things I Didn’t Lose When I Became Catholic

{SQT} Moving: the last two weeks in seven quick takes

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

So obviously I can’t move and blog…or move and sleep, or move and eat…or move and anything, really…at the same time. After subsisting on potato chips and Drumsticks for a couple of weeks (I don’t think this post gets a “fitness” tag), we loaded our truck on Saturday (with most of our friends out of town. It was awesome timing), and cleaned on Monday.

It takes so little time, sweat, and tears, to write that.

~2~

But, it’s over now, and we get a little hiatus at Mark’s folks’ house for a month or so while we work on buying a house. We’re first time homebuyers, hopefully, and it’s all a little scary, so prayers would be lovely. We originally intended to rent, but it appears that, as a family of 10 with 7 pets, we have maybe outgrown renting. No rentals to be found that we can fit into without sending the landlord into hysterics. It’s been a longtime dream of mine to buy a house, and life has just not cooperated – till, possibly, now. We’ve got one under contract, and wow. It is just as exciting and nerve wracking as everyone always says it is.

~3~

13442315_10209861757084438_4948868528322850170_nIn other moving related news, my daughter Becca, who is an Irish dancer, did great in her two recent competitions. She is really bummed to have to leave her school, teacher, and friends behind. It’s hard to watch her be sad about that. The closest school to our new town is a good 40 minutes away, and we are still trying to figure out what to do.13522026_10210019086057564_7519230255893922185_n

~4~

Miss Emily, 3, got a new haircut yesterday. The fact that I had time for this reflects that moving out is over, and I officially have a few minutes to breathe, here and there. She now has the shortest hair any of my girls have ever had. It’s adorable. And brushable. We had so many battles over brushing her hair, that when she said, “Mama! Please cut it off,” I said, “okay, baby.” And we did.

~5~

Summer prep for a new home school year is always a big deal – but toss an interstate move and a major church shift into the mix, and it’s big. Really big. Curriculum changes, state law changes, moving during the time when I need to be prepping, not to mention no place to have my curriculum mailed to. Hopefully, two months from now, I will have an amazing story of how I brilliantly pulled it all together (or how it all fell into my lap in spite of me. Or how it all went wrong and we managed anyway, more likely). For now, I’m reading Catholic Home Schooling. I started 3 months ago. Don’t rush me.

~6~

Paint colors! Is having a house under contract too soon to pick out paint colors?

Don’t answer that.

Answer this instead:

Mystic Sea or Grand Hotel Mackinac Blue for a kitchen with orangey-brown tile on the counters and a brick fireplace?

And, any recommendations for an interesting-but-relaxing master bedroom color?

~7~

This was the little girls when we got to church Sunday morning after moving out the day before:

13532853_10209991811215710_8167343574350745576_n

Pretty much sums it up.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

{SQT} 36 hours of panic in 7 quick takes

Seven Quick Takes

Or, how one mom and 8 kids cleaned the whole house in a day and a half, and lived to tell about it.

~1~

Panic

This is very important. Almost as important as an extra cup of coffee and the promise of a frappe when we’re done. Because when an untidy mom has to get ready for a rental inspection complete with realtor photos 2 1/2 weeks before moving out, and it looks like this, that’s the only answer. These are uncut, folks. You may want to scroll past if you are obsessively clean and/or have a weak heart.

Honestly, the pictures make it look pretty good comparatively. Only ample amounts of adrenaline could get us through.

~2~

Delegate

I took a sheet of paper, folded it, and unfolded it to make a grid from the creases. Then I put a kid’s name in each box. I went through the house, using a random housecleaning checklist from Pinterest. (Because I don’t have one of my own, clearly.) When I saw what all needed done, I sorted the jobs into the boxes of the kids who could accomplish each one.

My 16 year old deep cleaned the second bathroom, which gets neglected – and if you are a guest, you might be allowed to believe it doesn’t exist.

My 14 year old took over general operations, like dishes and laundry. The laundry was pretty behind, and she got it out of the way and kept the dishes from piling up.

~3~

Play

The middle kids weeded the front flowerbed, picked up their rooms, and did a “penny pickup.” (That’s a game. It’s fun. They run around and pick up, and keep track of how many items they pick up and put in the right place. I pay a penny per item. We don’t do it very often, but when the house is terrible and I’m strapped for time, it’s a miracle for only a few bucks.)

~4~

Stash

I couldn’t make the whole house perfect, and I didn’t need to. I moved some bigger junky looking things like empty rubbermaid bins and a broken dresser drawer awaiting repairs out to the garage.

~5~

Detail

Once the stuff was out of the way, I ran around doing whatever details I could see – wiping walls, swiping counters, straightening slipcovers, tacking up that dang piece of trim that keeps falling down. Like that.

~6~

Rescue

At T minus 15 minutes to the arrival of the realtor, my 3 year old woke up from her nap shrieking. She had several angry looking spider bites on her arm. So naturally I ripped her bed apart and even flipped it over trying to find that thing – to comfort her, to exact vengeance on the demon that robbed me of at least an hour of sleeping child, and to affirm that said demon wasn’t the poisonous variety, driven from some dark corner by the moving. Couldn’t find it, but there is a warrant out for its arrest. And Emily is fine.

~7~

Panic

Because I was going to spend that last 15 minutes straightening the kitchen, not hunting spiders. So I frantically called my teens back to help, which they did before vanishing out to go for a nice walk in the sweltering heat in full afternoon sun in order to not be around for the inspection.

Well, it worked out. Here’s what we came up with:

My house has never been that clean, ever. It’s kind of nice, but now I have to get back to packing, sooo…see ya, clean house. Maybe we’ll meet up again someday; some other house, some other time.

🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Things I was Wrong About Before I was Catholic

I used to have a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic church, back in my Protestant days. I am constantly blown away by how crazily inaccurate my ideas about Catholicism really were. These are NOT meant to be thorough arguments or really proofs of anything.  Those things are out there, but my goal is just to flesh out some common misconceptions and how I realized I was wrong.

I could do way more than 7, but that’s a nice manageable number to start with.

~1~

Catholics don’t really believe in anything. They are just going through the motions.
Mother Teresa
This gal? Going through the motions??

I really did believe this, and um, wow, I was really wrong. It was a reality-altering experience to get to know actual Catholics who actually believe Catholic stuff. Like the Bible. All of it. With great zeal and passion. Blew me away and took months to get used to.

~2~

Catholics worship Mary. Sure, they SAY they don’t, but the whole dulia/latria thing is just saying one thing and doing another. For that matter the whole saint thing is pretty much a pagan pantheon.

Yes, I believed this too. Firmly and passionately. It was a big deal to me in the early days of looking into the Catholic Church. Better writers and apologists than I have covered this well; two of my favorite resources to study this further are this article by Jimmy Akin, and Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God by Scott Hahn.

In my mind now, I see Mary and the saints as an invaluable part of the “great cloud of witnesses,” cheering us on and praying for us, as we pray and cheer for each other. We are part of a huge and glorious family with every imaginable kind of person in it!

~3~

Catholics think they can buy their way into heaven by empty ritual.

Mmm. That is what I saw in Catholic practice, and that is what many Protestants see: empty ritual. The problem with that is that I didn’t know what I was talking about. For one thing, nobody’s buying anything. All the merit comes from Christ. Full stop.

Eucharistic Adoration - Monstrance

Secondly, these things that Catholics do are about as far from empty as you can get; they are full to the brim and overflowing with meaning and truth. It only looks empty if you don’t understand what you are looking at – and for me, that was an understanding that had to happen in my heart, over time.

For a concise but thorough rundown of what all the rituals mean, I love Ann Ball’s Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals. It was recommended to us in RCIA and it’s been quite useful.

~4~

Catholics think they will spend millions of years in Purgatory to pay for their sins. They don’t understand that Jesus paid for their sins.

Ah, Purgatory. That’s a big one and honestly not really a quick take at all. I’m going to cheat a little and give you some links:

My husband Mark wrote something about this that I liked. He draws up a comparison between Purgatory and indulgences and everyday family life.  You can find it here.

Also, Jimmy Akin wrote an excellent piece on the subject. It got me through my initial (and considerable) problems with Purgatory, back in those crazy early investigating days. In that article, he starts off with a typical Protestant reaction to the doctrine of Purgatory:

“The Catholic Church has this massive doctrine of purgatory, invented in the middle ages. The Church used to even sell indulgences to shorten your time in purgatory by a fixed number of days. This doctrine is based on books that don’t belong in the Bible. There is no place or region in the afterlife for the saved except heaven. There is no pain in the afterlife, and the minute we die we go to heaven, as Paul says, ‘To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ,’ praying for people in purgatory makes no sense. Worst of all, it infringes on the sufficiency of Christ’s work. It is completely unbiblical. No Protestant could believe it.”

Then, he breaks that all down and goes through it, piece by piece.  It’s long, but if you are serious about understanding the Catholic point of view, it’s a great place to start.

~5~

Catholics think that the water of baptism saves you, and that even if you believe and then get hit by a bus on the way to be baptized, well, tough luck, buddy. You go to Hell. Shoulda looked both ways.

Water drop impact on a water-surface - (5)

Here is a longish quote from the Catechism: The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament. For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

‘Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.’ Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”

So, yes, baptism is absolutely necessary (John 3:5). But it can happen in irregular ways, in irregular situations. That doesn’t give us liberty to disregard it, but it does show God’s love and mercy.

~6~

Catholics aren’t allowed to think for themselves, and they don’t bother reading the Bible. They just have to believe and do what the Pope says.

There is definitely a Protestant attitude that Catholics, while not actually believing anything at all (see point 1), are also mindless automatons, a legion of robotic yes-men (and women).

Bible-706658It’s not really funny. But it sort of is, because in getting to know the church and the people in it, I discovered that Catholics are quite the spunky, opinionated lot. They also have Bible studies, where they study the Bible. (Yes they do. I go to one.) Not only that, but a huge portion of the Mass is…the Bible. Lots of Catholics read the daily Mass readings, whether they go to daily Mass or not.

~7~

Catholics think that Christ is sacrificed over and over again at every Mass.

This is a popular one. Mark the other day pulled together a compilation of quotes about that, and I am going to steal it. Way easier than looking it up myself.

ChurchTabernacle

Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 931. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass?

A. Yes; the manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the Cross Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in the Mass there is no real shedding of blood nor real death, because Christ can die no more; but the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and the wine, represents His death on the Cross.

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X:

5 Q. Is the Sacrifice of the Mass the same as that of the Cross?

A. The Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross, for the same Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross, it is Who offers Himself by the hands of the priests, His ministers, on our altars; but as regards the way in which He is offered, the Sacrifice of the Mass differs from the Sacrifice of the Cross, though retaining the most intimate and essential relation to it.

6 Q. What difference and relation then is there between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross?

A. Between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross there is this difference and relation, that on the Cross Jesus Christ offered Himself by shedding His Blood and meriting for us; whereas on our altars He sacrifices Himself without the shedding of His Blood, and applies to us the fruits of His passion And death.

8 Q. Is not the Sacrifice of the Cross the one only Sacrifice of the New Law?

A. The Sacrifice of the Cross is the one only Sacrifice of the New Law, inasmuch as through it Our Lord satisfied Divine Justice, acquired all the merits necessary to save us, and thus, on His part, fully accomplished our redemption. These merits, however, He applies to us through the means instituted by Him in His Church, among which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

If you liked these, you might also like Seven MORE Things I Was Wrong About Before I Was Catholic, and Seven Things I Didn’t Lose When I Became Catholic

Linked up at This Ain’t the Lyceum {SQT}, at www.theologyisaverb.com, and www.reconciledtoyou.com/blog.html