Brenda and I are headed on a cruise which is our grandest vacation of our 28 year marriage. We've been blessed to do a lot of timeshare vacations which have been nice for the most part, but going on a cruise is a notch or two above all of our other vacations. I said that to put this article in perspective when looking at now being Catholic as reflected in the images above ( more about the images later ).
Brenda and I have only officially been Catholics for 8 weeks as of this article and I can honestly say that all this Catholic *stuff ( *as some may call it ) has made me more focused on my faith than ever especially when going on vacation. When I say focused on faith, I am a focused, faithful Catholic, but when that is done as it should be, it makes me more focused on the things of God: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
The Prior Protestant Christian Vacation Me:
As a Protestant Christian, did I ever take a Bible on one of our vacations? I probably did but know that most vacations over the last several years that I didn't.
Did I ever take the time to try and find a local Church to attend while on vacation? That is definitely a big "NO" as far as memory serves me. As a Protestant Christian, since it is not uncommon to range from faithful Church attendance to sit at home when I want to even if it's a Sunday, finding a local Church to attend while on vacation has NEVER been a vacation priority. It's kind of like "I'm on vacation including a vacation from Church."
Did not finding a Church to attend while on vacation make me a slack Protestant Christian? Based on my experience, it was more the norm in the Protestant world and not so much about being slack. But that didn't mean that I didn't pray while away on vacation. I'm also not saying that all Protestant Christians, as well as Catholics, are the same. I'm simply sharing my story.
The New Catholic Christian Vacation Me:
"I believe and profess all that the Catholic Church teaches, believes, and proclaims to be revealed by God." Before entering the Church 8 weeks ago, there was a time that knowing I had to say the prior sentence at the Easter Vigil before being confirmed as a Catholic was a barrier. I even got to the point just prior to the Summer of 2017 which was about a year ago that I actually stopped pursuing Catholicism. It was because I let self get in the way instead of letting God show me His will for my life because I would not be writing this article right now had I not continued to follow God's will and become Catholic.
Once I fully decided to become Catholic, I decided that it was all or nothing. I was going to be a faithful Catholic and embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith or I was not going to be Catholic at all. That meant complete dedication to the faith to the best of my knowledge and ability. That meant that if the Church says I need to be in Mass on Sunday ( or Saturday ) that I would make every reasonable effort to make that happen and not just brush it off by saying "I'm on vacation."
So now I'll get back to the images.
The 1st and 2nd image starting from the left are phone shots that I took at Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Miami Beach, Florida. As part of our vacation plans, I searched for several Catholic Churches in the Miami area. I decided on Saint Patrick's because Saint Patrick is Brenda's Patron Saint, it was 5 miles from our hotel and it looked like a nice Church. You may think that last part "it looked like a nice Church" sounds interesting.
The beauty of being Catholic is that I know that I'm going to hear the same readings that I would have heard if I were back home in Raleigh. I know that the Mass is going to be conducted the same way ( or extremely close ). So no matter what, I generally know what I'm going to get as a Catholic Christian in a Catholic Church. That is one of the many things that I love about the Catholic faith.
The last part of the gospel readings for the Sunday of our cruise is from Matthew Chapter 28:
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
If God blesses us with a safe return, I already know that Brenda and I will attend Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018. I also already know where to find the scripture readings for that day. Part of the readings for Sunday, June 3rd are "While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it." I'm looking forward to hearing this gospel read because Holy Communion ( The Eucharist ) is the pinnacle of the Catholic Mass.
What about all that Catholic stuff?
There are 3 additional images in this article after the 2 from Saint Patrick's: The Rosary, The Bible and The Crucifix:
The Rosary is NOT required to be prayed as a Catholic. However, I like praying the Rosary and The Chaplet of Divine Mercy using the Rosary to do so. The Rosary pictured is a picture from Rugged Rosaries of the one that I brought with me on vacation. I prayed the Rosary at dark on Sunday morning at the hotel. If you don't understand the Rosary as a Catholic, Protestant or non-Christian, you can learn more here from Catholic.com.
The Bible is something that most Christians will not have a problem with especially fundamentalist and evangelical protestants. However, the one pictured ( on Amazon ) is one that I purchased from Amazon and it's 73 books ( not 66 books ). Catholic bibles have 7 more books in the old testament. It's also not a KJV version of the bible which some protestants get hung up on. It's the word of God and I'm glad that I packed it.
The Crucifix necklace pictured ( on Amazon ) is one that I purchased from Amazon. I wear the necklace daily unless for some odd reason I forget to which is rare. I have no problem with it not just being the cross and being a crucifix. I want to remember what Christ did for me on the cross. I know that Jesus is risen and in heaven with the Father.
In closing, there are things that I have already done and Lord willing will continue to do on this vacation and in the future that would have not been that way ( most likely ) if I were still a Protestant Christian. Becoming Catholic has made me a better Christian. I'm thankful that I got myself out of the way and followed what God wanted for my life.