Resources: Convert Journal YouTube channel

Resources Cj Youtube Channel

When I began this blog I had little interest including video material. My first 7 Quick Takes Friday had no pictures or videos! Today, most of those sets (now up to #30) are mostly video – mostly YouTube videos to be specific.

Sometimes I want to revisit a video that I published previously but do not remember exactly where. Well over 100 videos have been included in the 150 Convert Journal blog posts so far. Some of you may have hoped to find a video here too. It is relatively easy to search text, but video is another matter.

My most favorite videos appear under the Video tab at the top of the blog. That is useful for several reasons, but it only covers a dozen or so.

The solution? The shiny, new Convert Journal YouTube channel! Here you will find all the YouTube videos published on Convert Journal, organized into a handful of convenient “Playlists” by subject area.

All of the social media goodness is there too. You can subscribe to the channel to be notified when a new video is added. You can comment on videos. If you use YouTube regularly, it will integrate well with your other usage.

Stop by and explore.

This is probably a good time to talk about the other ways to follow this blog. Of course, you can always bookmark it and revisit from time to time. Other, more convenient means are available as well:

  • From a reader – any RSS (or Atom) reader will work well. These allow you to (freely) “subscribe” to blogs and other sources of information. New information such as Convert Journal blog posts automatically show up in a fashion analogous to the way you receive e-mail. One very popular form of this is Feedly. I use that to follow dozens of sites and highly recommend it. Others following this blog also use built-in or add-on RSS capabilities of their browsers (e.g. Firefox “Live Bookmarks” and Opera RSS Reader), Mac OS X RSS Reader, and various Windows RSS programs. Some folks also follow Convert Journal from “widgets” on their Google (i.e. “iGoogle”) or Yahoo homepages.
  • Via Email – each new Convert Journal post can be sent to you via email. Your email address is never, ever shared with anyone else and you may “unsubscribe” at any time. There is one significant limitation. E-mail messages will not include the embedded videos. You will see all the text and probably the graphics, but not the videos. If you subscribe by email, just click the post title at the top of any message to open your web browser to that entry and all of its embedded content.
  • On FacebookConvert Journal has a Facebook fan page that includes an extract from every post. Facebook users who “Like” the page automatically receive these on their “walls” as new posts are made. If they are of interest, the user simply clicks on the entry to open their browser to the full post.
  • On Twitter – Twitter lovers can receive a “tweet” whenever a new Convert Journal post is published. The tweet includes the post title and a link to the full post.

However you choose to receive your bi-weekly dose of Convert Journal, I am thrilled of, and humbled by your interest. Thank you. Feel free to comment (any of the various means) or send me a private e-mail message at any time.

Learning Catholicism

Learning Catholicism

A kind reader has asked that I share what resources were most helpful to me when I converted. Of course, simply going to Mass and RCIA were very helpful. You may not think of them as resources but they are! Other opportunities to engage in discussion and put on your religion “thinking cap” are also good such as groups like the Men’s Fellowship I spoke of in other posts.

If I had to name 1 resource that is critical, that would be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is comprehensive and absolutely authoritative. I know it takes time to read, but it is so crucial to learning the faith. Nothing else is so complete and reliable. The catechism draws upon many source documents and reading those directly may also be helpful. I usually didn’t, but if you wish to further explore, it never hurts to go to the source. For example, Human Vitae (a Papal Encyclical written by Pope Paul VI) is often cited as an excellent framework for understanding the Catholic teaching on sexual matters.

I probably spent the greatest amount of time with excellent online resources. However you must be very careful. While there are hundreds of good sites, there are unfortunately hundreds of bad ones too. Just because a site has “Catholic” in its name does not mean it adheres to Catholic teaching. There are many examples of this, but the “poster child” for this genre of websites has to be Catholics for Choice a pro-abortion organization.

It would be great if there were some sort of “seal of approval” for online content. As a practical matter, that is impossible for several reasons. Just be careful out there. Reading the Catechism early on will help you make good judgments about the nature and intent of online sites as you encounter them. For example – sites that promote abortion, homosexuality, women priests, and similar viewpoints are attempting to pressure the Church to change her teaching. That is impossible, the truth does not change. These sites are in opposition to the Church, seek to undermine her and have their own agendas. Go to them if you want, but know they are often driven more by the Devil then inspired by the Holy Spirit.

So, what are some of the good sites? My #1 is Catholic Answers. There are many good articles and the apologetics area of the forum is excellent. They can be trusted. Also, the forum in general is very good – but a forum none-the-less. There will be all sorts of viewpoints, but you will learn well from the majority of the posts. Another good resource for essays on Catholic topics is the archive of Father Hardon’s writings.

Finally, there is the blogosphere. There are many, many faithful Catholics who wish to share their faith. I strongly recommend that you explore these resource and learn how to “subscribe” (get updates) to their content. The only note of caution is that they (including this blog) are certainly far from authoritative. We are amateurs trying our best. The most important thing for you to discern is that their intent is to be 100% loyal to the teaching of the Magisterium – that is the acid test.

You can find a sampling of sites I highly recommend under “Great Blogs” and “Further Reading” in the right column. If you have a question about a site, send me an e-mail message and I would be happy to share my thoughts. We are so blessed to live in this information age. Surf it wisely!

Spiritual desert

Spiritual Desert

In some ways we Catholics (and other Christians too) are like spiritual manic depressives. Often we are on a “high,” close to God and at peace. Other times we allow ourselves to become trapped in worldly matters, giving little attention to the “big picture” in deference to immediate needs of our earthly world.

Sometimes our focus is lost only for days or weeks. Sometimes it is lost for years. We worry too much about our family or jobs. We think about our endless to-do list. Our first thought in the morning is preparation for that 9:00am meeting and the report due tomorrow. Our last thought at night is managing our schedule to meet a family commitment we just can’t miss. In all of that hustle and bustle of daily life we forget whose child we are. Prayers, when we remember, are scheduled and essentially become just another task.

This doesn’t happen on purpose. It happens slowly without much notice. No big harm is done at first but after a while, something feels wrong. Maybe it is that last thought before we go to sleep or the emptiness of a mechanical prayer. We know it can be different, it should be different, it must be different. If left untended, the seeds of our faith will bear no fruit. It can eventually wither and die.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, Rita Mae Brown, or ?

If you expect things to get better all by themselves you are delusional! At least a little effort must be made. Saying grace at meal time, a prayer at bedtime and going to church every Sunday is not enough. Use 1 or 2 of the other 168 hours of the week for something different. It is not impossible, you can do this. We are only talking about the time you might spend watching TV one night, a movie, on tennis or a thousand other things. If you are honest with yourself you know it is only a matter of priority. Do not fall into the trap of recognizing all of this, agreeing to it “in theory” and planning to do it at some non-specific, future time. Now is the time. This is week. How about today?

Here is a wild, off-the-wall idea – go to a daily Mass. When was the last time you did that? It will do more for your soul then the same time at the gym will do for your body. You can get in and out in under 30 minutes, but why not go 10 minutes early and pray. I bet that wherever you work, there is a Catholic church nearby offering Mass during your lunch hour. will help you find one if you haven’t looked before.

Perhaps one of the best things you can do to get back on track is go to adoration. You do not have to sign-up or anything, just go wherever it is offered ( lists adoration availability too). Spend some quality time with the Lord. Tell Him how your life is going and what is on your mind. Thank Him for your blessings. Listen for His advice, then and later, however He may choose to answer you. Stay as long as you like, but I recommend at least 30 minutes (you will be amazed how very quickly that goes by). Jesus is waiting for you.

How long has it been since you went to confession? That growing distance between you and God is probably due in some part to sin. Deprive the Devil of his success. Run into the arms of the Father who is always waiting to joyfully welcome you back.

Prayer always helps. Why not add a short, new prayer time. If you don’t pray in the morning, try getting up 10 or 15 minutes earlier. In Microeconomic terms, the marginal utility of the prayer will vastly outweigh a couple extra minutes of sleep! If your creative juices are not yet flowing at that hour for “free-form” prayer, why not read the daily readings to get you started? If you can spend just a few extra minutes, a great source for the readings with excellent comments from the Navarre Bible is available online.

Along the same lines, consider Praying the Rosary. Say the daily mysteries each day takes only 15 minutes.

Daily Mass, adoration, confession, prayer, daily readings, the Rosary – all great ways to recharge your spiritual batteries. As Catholics we are especially blessed to have the sacraments, the real presence, the Mass and so many great traditions to call upon. If you find yourself walking aimlessly through a spiritual desert, the tools are there to get out – you only need the will to use them.

Resources: Father Hardon Archive

Resources Father Hardon

I remember times in RCIA when we would cover a topic that I wanted more information on. At other times, I would come across a Church teaching that was not making sense. The Catechism is great as the authority of what Catholics believe, but not always the best place to learn why.

My searching found many resources. Some just restated the “what.” Others were too theological and over my head. Yet others explained the topic well, but too briefly – leaving me feeling that I had a glimpse of understanding, but still incomplete. One day while trying to understand purgatory, I came across a truly wonderful writer — Rev. John Anthony Hardon, S.J.

Father Hardon had a special gift for communicating Church teaching clearly and completely. His writings are one of my favorite places to consult when I want to understand something fully. The extensive topics he has written on are also interesting to just browse, but be sure to put aside the time to thoughtfully read and consider those you dive into. This is not material for skimming!

Ask our Lord daily to better appreciate what you are saying when you declare, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

Father Hardon

Father Hardon was a Jesuit priest who died relatively recently, on December 30, 2000 at the age of 86. His work of over 1,000 articles has been archived online. He has also authored an impressive 46 books.

A website has been created to promote the cause for Father Hardon’s beatification and canonization (Father Hardon is currently at the Servant of God stage). The cause was initiated by Archbishop (and likely soon Cardinal) Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Burke is someone I really admire. He speaks of Father Hardon extensively in his article Re-Christianize America: Become a Marian Catechist.

Further Resources:

Resources: Catholic Answers

Resources Catholic Answers

This is a great time for learning the Catholic faith, both for those interested in exploring what Catholics believe and for Catholics to deepen their own knowledge and understanding. In addition to the resources of the parish, books and Catholic media — the Internet is rich in quality content. It has been, and continues to be, very helpful to me. Sometimes I am just looking for an answer and other times just soaking it in.

A few words of caution are in order. Mixed in with the real gems are those who preach, out of ignorance or purposely, against the teachings of the Church. It is not safe to assume that a website speaks the truth simply because it has “Catholic” in its name. There are obvious groups such as “Catholics for Choice,” “Gay Catholic Forum,” “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” plus other less obvious groups who dispute core, infallible facts and settled truths. In time these heretical and schismatic groups, like the devil himself, will surely fail.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

From time-to-time I hope to bring some Internet resources to your attention that I have found to be trustworthy and invaluable. One of my very favorite websites is Catholic Answers ( Catholic Answers is really a “mega” website combining several useful elements:

  • A library of excellent articles
  • Radio shows (live online and archived)
  • This Rock magazine (back issues are online)
  • Discussion forums

I particularly enjoy the discussion forums and so do a lot of other folks! They were visited over a million times last month alone. All together, there are over 20 million pages of archived discussions. CAF (Catholic Answers is the largest discussion community out there. It is organized into a dozen different areas with sub-forums in most.

Everyone is welcome, Catholic or not, as long as respect is shown. You often see those in consecrated life participating (I have read that the staff vets those claiming religious titles).

One forum is different than the others – Ask an Apologist. In this moderated forum, a small number of very knowledgeable apologists respond factually to submitted questions. Sometimes docents respond to questions which were previously answered. The apologists include many well known names: Fr. Vincent Serpa, Michelle Arnold, Peggy Frye, Jim Blackburn, Jan Wakelin, Jimmy Akin, and Karl Keating. AAA is a reliable place to get answers on Church teachings.