Friday, July 31, 2009


Last summer I spent a lot of time reading blogs and entering into the discussions that took place. One of the blogs that I followed was that of a fellow Catholic convert, Steve Ray. It didn't take too long before he linked to a very interesting conversion story. The Woman at the Well fascinated me. Her story was nothing like mine, but somehow, I felt like I could relate. If you haven't read this story before, stop now and go read it.

Fast forward one year.

Jennie and I decided to take the boys to the coast for a couple of days. She worked her usual magic in finding the best possible place in the best possible location for the best possible price. She even managed to find a hotel that threw in breakfast--which is nothing to sneeze at when you have four growing boys. Anyway, once we checked in we went through our normal routine of Dad unload the Sienna while Mom keeps the boys under control (wouldn't want to get thrown out the first night, right?). Right about the time I finish unloading the van, Jennie reassures me that maybe we will be ok, because she just saw a family with children come in from the parking lot. Fantastic! we won't be the only ones making noise around here.

Now off to the beach. As we come down the steps, I notice a Sienna parked right next to ours. And what do you know, they have two bumper stickers I and Yes on 8! So I hit the remote to unlock my door just as the guy who owns the van next to ours hits his. He says to me, "Nice choice in van." I look over at him and his four--What, this guy has four boys too?--and say, "it looks like we are carrying the same load too." So we exchange pleasantries and introduce ourselves and it turns out that he's a convert too! Oh, man we gotta meet up at the pool tonight. Let the kids swim and let's exchange stories. So that is exactly what we do.

Jennie was feeling a bit tired by the end of the day, so we put Jabin to bed and let her put her feet up. The rest of the clan and I head down to the pool and shortly my friend and his boys join us. It turns out that the age range for his boys is 9 to 4 and mine is 10 to 4. Our kids hit it off immediately. Which is great because that allows my friend and I to talk without putting out a bunch of fires.

After a while, his wife joins us and I feel as if I already know this couple. They are great. We are so different, yet exactly the same.

He's a convert; I'm a convert.
He's a teacher; I'm a teacher.
4 boys; 4 boys.
He's a musician; I own a guitar.
He's an artist; I can color inside the lines.
And you can't foget the vans.
But most importantly, we are two families who are desperately depending on God's grace to live out our Catholic faith. That makes us identical.

It turns out that as my friend's wife shared more of her story, I felt like I had heard it before. She tells me that she has written about it on her MySpace page. You guessed it--she's the Woman at the Well!

This whole encounter just blows me away. I have visited MySpace two times. Once to hear some music written by a former student and the other to read The Woman at the Well's conversion story. What are the chances?

It's not chance; it's providence. I just got a first hand glimpse of what being conformed to the image of Christ really means. God can take four people who come from completely different backgrounds, give them a burning desire to follow Him, conform them into the same family, put them in their mini vans and send them to the same floor of the same hotel at the same time. And just to prepare me for this encounter, He had me read about them a year in advance.

I can't stop thining about this...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Catholics and Crucifixes

Crucifixes are crosses which have the corpus (body) of Jesus on them to represent the historical crucifixion of Our Lord. The cross alone, with no body, has been a symbol of Christianity since antiquity. The very instrument of capital punishment and horrible torture by the pagan Roman Empire became a symbol of the loving and forgiving crucified Savior.

Catholics are not the only Christians to use the crucifix in church for public worship or in their homes. Eastern Orthodox, Anglican (Episcopalian) and Lutheran Christians also use the crucifix, while most Reformed Protestant Christians will only have a cross and never with a corpus.

The main goal of the crucifix is not to shock or frighten believers, but to remind them of the ultimate price paid for their salvation. Redemption was expensive. Jesus sacrificed His very life and He endured a painful and horrible death just so we could go to heaven. The crucifix brings home the reality that sin caused us to be lost and ony the death of the Savior could save us. Celebrating Christian worship on Sunday (rather than on the Sabbath, Saturday) and calling it the day of the Lord is how Christians honor the Resurrection.