YouAreRock.com

A Catholic Convert talks about faith and life

My contraception argument goes down in flames

As I talked about in my last post (here), my argument against the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception was already beginning to fall apart.  I learned that God’s kingdom has no room for sexual relations outside of marriage due to the fact that such relations amount to no more than one person using another for their own personal pleasure.  It is the objectification of one of God’s creatures for the purpose of our own self gratification – unacceptable.  As for the use of contraception inside of marriage, there is also no place in God’s kingdom for this.  This takes the complete giving of one to another and reduces it, holds something back.  Due to the loss of the procreative nature of the relationship, the sexual act can once again be reduced to sheer self gratification, even inside marriage.

I am not giving up quite so easily, however.   Continue reading

Prove that contraception is ok, and prove the Church wrong – Piece of cake, I thought

I remember it like it was yesterday, it was February, 2009 and I was just sitting on the couch minding my own business when Emily says “I want to bring our marriage into the Catholic Church”.  My first thought – Where the he__ did that come from?  ”OK, OK, compose yourself,” I thought, “You’re ready for this, be calm”.  ”Why would you want to do that?” was my first question.  ”I don’t know, it’s just something I feel like doing,” she answered, “and I already made an appointment at St. Pat’s for us to go and meet with someone to talk about how to do it”.  OK, now she’s playing dirty, so I’m going to have to play my trump card – “Do you know that being a Catholic means that you can’t use any form of birth control”.  Her answer “No one really follows those rules.”  Game, set, match.  This is not something I will ever have to take seriously.  Despite being born a Catholic, Emily has no idea what the Church really teaches.  All I have to do is prove how the Church is wrong and I can put all of this to bed.  Piece of cake. Continue reading

A visit from my long lost brother

Sometimes as we’re walking through life, minding our own business, we will be struck by a thought that sticks with us for the rest of the day.  That happened to me today, and the thought was of my brother Gary.  Gary was the third oldest in our family of six.  I was the youngest, by far, thirteen years younger than Gary.  In my childhood memories, Gary is probably the sibling who shows up the least, yet he told me one of the most reassuring things I can ever remember being told.  And I was probably about eight years old when he said it. Continue reading

Maybe Bill Maher can have a “Field of Dreams” moment

Earlier today I came across this post -

“BILL MAHER: JESUS CHRIST WAS A ‘PALESTINIAN’ WHO DID ‘MAGIC TRICKS’”

and it made me think of some things.  The first thing it made me think of was how I used to think the exact same way that Bill Maher does now. I believed that only weak, gullible people could possibly believe in something like Christianity, or even God Himself for that matter.  I would look down at people who I knew were believers, even though some of the strongest, most intelligent people I knew were also believers.  You can explain anything away if you try hard enough, just like Bill Maher does with his line “You can have whatever opinion you want, and the fact that a billion other people believe it gives you a lot of strength and credence.”  This was his way of saying that just because you and a billion other idiots have this opinion doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to be idiots as well.  I’m paraphrasing, but I’m pretty sure that was his point.  The next thing that it made me think of was the fact that I am going to continue to pray for Bill Maher, and others like him, to have what I call their “Field of Dreams” moment. Continue reading

But whoever denies me before men…..

 

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Click Here for Info on The Great Adventure Bible Study

Something interesting happened to me at work yesterday. I am currently taking The Great Adventure Bible Timeline by Jeff Cavins at my church, which I highly recommend, and class was last night. I hadn’t quite finished answering all of the questions the night before, so I took the materials to work with me so I could finish at lunch. When lunchtime came I took out my workbook and Bible and started doing my homework at my desk. My boss came by, we are pretty friendly with each other, and asked if I was studying something. Much to my surprise, I answered without hesitation “yeah, I’m doing Bible study homework.” Continue reading

The conversion process comes full circle

Stumbling into the faith, continued.

At this point in the process I have a church that I believe the teachings of, I have finally come to believe that Jesus did resurrect from the dead.  That belief took a long time to come to grips with, much longer than I made it seem in my previous post.  I had always considered the resurrection to be a myth, but now convinced that it was true, that belief carries with it many answers, as well as many responsibilities. Continue reading

From Church to Christ

Ok, so maybe I got a little carried away with my hockey analogy.  I never really even got to my point.  Sometimes my brain starts going and I don’t know how to put on the brakes.  What I meant to cover was how I stumbled into the faith.  I already explained in my introductory post that I was never sure if there truly was a God, but was pretty sure that if there was, it wasn’t the God of any religion that I was aware of.  I thought it was probably more of a higher power that kept the world in check, most people refer to it as karma.  But, when my wife Emily told me we were going to bring our marriage into the Church and she wanted to receive the sacraments, I told her I would investigate it with an open mind, and I did.

I started by trying to prove the Church wrong in any of it’s teachings that I either knew or thought I knew.  I failed miserably and ended up believing everything they taught was true, especially if you believed in Christ, which I did not yet.  So, I had a church whose teachings I believed, but I didn’t believe in its foundation – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  So, I needed to investigate Jesus.

I learned for the first time that Jesus was fully human and fully divine.  That took me a while to wrap my head around, actually I’m not sure I still fully understand, but I get the idea.  How do we know that he is fully human and fully divine?  The gospels record Jesus performing many miracles in front of many witnesses, the biggest of which was his resurrection. He cured the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and in the end he himself rose from the dead in accordance with the old testament scriptures.  Now, when I would hear these things in my previous life I would just dismiss them and say “Lots of things are written in books, not all of them are true”.

Now, I had to ask myself how many of those books had remained in existence for 2000 years (New Testament), even longer for the Old Testament?  How many of those books were 2000 years later to be found in hundreds of millions of homes at least?  How many men be wiling to die extremely torturous deaths for what was in any other book, even 2000 years later? The answer is none of them.  Their is only one such book.  And how do I know that it is true?  Because Christ said so, and he was crucified, died and resurrected on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and the evidence to support that is overwhelming.

The Church of Claude Lemieux

Continued from yesterday, how I stumbled my way into the Catholic faith.

In my hockey example from yesterday we were left with Detroit fans thinking one thing and Colorado fans thinking something else, but who decides who’s right and who’s wrong?  Well, in the hockey world the referee on the ice makes the initial determination by deciding to call a penalty or not.  Then the league will review the play to see if additional measures are needed, such as a suspension.  In this case, Lemieux was called for a penalty by the on ice official, and suspended for two games by the league.  Case closed. Dirty play, right?  Not so fast, Avalanche and Lemieux fans will still say it’s not a dirty hit regardless of the league ruling.  And they will make that determination watching the exact same video that all sane people use to prove it was dirty.  So, again, only Lemieux knows for sure.

But, what if Claude Lemieux had formed the NHL.  What if he had gone out and picked twelve Canadians and told them they would form a league, and that league would continue until the end of time.  Through lockouts, player strikes, bad calls in Stanley Cup finals.  He would teach the twelve Canadians everything he knew about hockey, and he knew the game perfectly.  He would commission them to go out and expand the league as they saw fit, even to far away lands like Tampa and Dallas.  To forgive or punish plays based on their discretion, because he had given them the authority to do so.  Then, these men passed the teachings of Claude Lemieux on to other men because, after all, the league had to last until the end of time.  It could not just fade away with the death of the twelve Canadians.  Then, those men passed it on to others, and so on, and so on, until today.  Would that league have the ultimate authority and knowledge to rule on the hit, and what Claude Lemieux meant when he did it?

Now, I know this isn’t a perfect example.  Claude Lemieux can’t start the NHL and then many generations later be penalized by the same league, I’m aware of that.  What we have in Christianity, however, is somewhat similar.  I came to believe the Catholic Church’s claim that Jesus founded a Church, and that Church has handed down the teachings of Christ from generation to generation for 2000 years.  At about the 1500 year mark there were some folks who were getting very upset with some people within that original church, with some valid reasons,  and decided to start their own Church.  Now, that split church is about 30,000 different churches, molding the teachings of Christ to be just about anything under the sun.  If you can dream it, you can find a church that will say that it’s OK for you to do it.  On the other hand, that original Church is still here, still teaching the same things about Christ as it was 2000 years ago.  There is tons more that goes into this particular argument, but in a nutshell that’s it.  One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church – in my belief there is only one that fits the bill.

Later I’ll explore how I came to that belief.  To be continued…

 

 

What is the deal with the website name?

YouAreRock.com.  Where did that come from?  Well, back in around 2005/2006, I didn’t know it yet, but my faith journey had just begun.  I met my wife Emily in 2005, and as I mentioned earlier she was the catalyst for my conversion.  Also, I had a few people in my life who were talking to me about God, Jesus, Church.  Topics that I really hadn’t given much thought to since I was a little kid.  In the midst of all of this I happen to hear of some interesting books by Dan Brown – The DaVinci Code, and Angels and Demons.  Now these books were really something!  They taught me all sorts of interesting facts about the life of Jesus, the history of the Catholic Church, and the inner workings of the Vatican.  Almost all of these things I later learned were false, but it made for great reading none the less.  One thing stuck with me, however.  There is a point in Angels and Demons where Dan Brown uses the line from Matthew 16:18 where Jesus says “You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my church”.  He then tells us that Peter is buried beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and that literally Peter is “The Rock”.  For the next three years this was probably the only quote I knew from the Bible.

So, when 2009 rolls around and I begin my investigation of the Catholic Church and its teachings, this line came back to me.  What did it really mean?  Now, most of what Dan Brown had “taught” me had gone up in smoke through some other research I had done after reading the books, but what about this one.  Is Peter the rock that the church was built upon?  I can’t explore the entire depths of this here in this short article, as Catholics and protestants have been arguing about this for about 400 years.  But to me, the most convincing arguments came from the Catholic prospective.  The one that really got me was the fact that if we truly translated what Jesus said to Peter (Simon) it would be “You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my Church…”.  He changed Simon’s name to Peter (Petros which means rock).  It is this phrase that is the basis of the Catholic belief in Papal authority, this along with many others.  Like everything in the protestant/catholic debate it’s not quite that simple, but the Catholic perspective is the most convincing.  If you would like to read more about it click here.  As a result, since this is probably the first Bible passage I ever knew, and I believe it is the very beginning of the foundation of The Church, I found it appropriate to use for a website where I would talk about how I stumbled my way into The Church.  What do you think?

Introduction

Hello World!  My name is Matt Shewell and I am a recent convert to the Catholic Faith.  I was received into The Church on July 31, 2010 and have been trying to learn as much as I can and figured maybe a blog would help to open a dialog with others.

First, a little background.  I am a 39 (soon to be 40) year old Electrical Engineer who lives in  the metro Detroit area with my wife, and catalyst for my conversion, Emily.  I lived most of my life as an atheist/agnostic constantly wavering between “there is no God” and “there might be some kind of higher power, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the God of any religion”.  Emily, on the other hand, was a baptized, never confirmed, non practicing Catholic.  One day after being married for a little over two years, Emily and I are sitting in the living room and she tells me “I want to bring our marriage into the Catholic Church”.  I actually agreed pretty quick, as long as I didn’t have to become a Catholic to do it.  I “knew” some things about the Catholic Church, and I knew that I wanted no part of it.  Emily asked me why I would not become Catholic, and I started listing some things that I knew:

  1. The Church does not allow for any form of birth control
  2. The Chuch says that no abortions can be performed, even in cases of rape and incest.
  3. Catholic Priests have been abusing children for years because The Church forces them to live an unnatural lifestyle that causes perversion
  4. The Church wants 10% of all your money

Emily’s response – “No one actually believes any of that”

My response – “Exactly, and that is the problem”

So, Emily made an appointment with a Deacon at our local Catholic Church and I agreed to go.  I found out that I was going to need to get a declaration of nullity, I had been previously married for a very short time.  And, if we wanted to become Catholic we would need to attend RCIA starting in the fall.  I wasn’t too thrilled about any of this, but I agreed because it meant a lot to Emily.  However, I told Emily that I couldn’t go through with the RCIA part because I knew that I would not become Catholic.  I told her I could not “join” a church that I did not believe in, and I was never going to believe.  She said that she was going to attend the RCIA classes and receive the sacraments and would like for me to do the same, but she understood if I could not.  So I made a promise that I would look into the Church and make an honest effort to figure out why the Church teaches what it does, but I could not become Catholic if I could find fault in any of the teachings.  One bad/All bad.  That I knew in my heart.

Much to my surprise, the more I tried to shoot down the Catholic Church’s teaching on things like contraception, the more I learned that they were right.  Not only on that but everything that I investigated.  Abortion, marriage, celibate priesthood, donating to the Church, pretty much everything.  I had come to the conclusion that if there was a God, and  if Jesus Christ was His Son, then this was his Church.  Only one problem…I still didn’t completely believe in God, or that Jesus Christ was His Son.  Of course, I knew that Jesus existed, the historical record proves that beyond any shadow of a doubt.  But the Son of God?  That was going to take a bit more convincing.

Needless to say, through some major life changes that occurred along the way, I did come to believe in God, Jesus, and the One True Church.  I won’t get into the entire story here, but as the blog goes along I’m sure that everything will come out eventually.  All I know is that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and I’ve never been happier than since I turned my life over to Him and His Church.  The Church that is currently governed by an 84 year old man in Rome.

Thanks for reading, and more to come later.