Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT - The Prodigal You Love Coming in October

We have all heard the statistics. The Catholic Church in the United States, as well as in some other parts of the world, is hemorrhaging members. Upwards of 10% of Americans are now said to have left the Church. 

The overall number of Catholics in the United States has remained stable mostly due to immigration, but even that is likely to change. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly 1 in 4 Hispanics now identifies him or herself as a "former Catholic."

As many of you know, I used to be a "former Catholic." I rejected the faith of my childhood when I was fourteen years old, and for the next ten years or so I was an atheist. After coming back to the Church in my late twenties, and eventually joining religious life, I felt a great desire to reach out to fallen-away Catholics. 

In my first few years in the convent, I started to feel a nudge from the Holy Spirit to reach out to Catholics who are concerned about loved ones who have left the faith. Person after person would ask me to pray for their fallen-away loved ones and would share their difficulties in relating to their friends and family who had left the Church. I began to realize that God was calling me to write a book on the subject. 

The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church is a response to the ache and concern many people feel when they think of their loved ones who have abandoned the faith. This book is not an instruction manual, a sociological study, or a scholarly tome.

Instead, I hope that this book, while a practical and straightforward guide, will also be a spiritual resource and a source for transformation. I draw from Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the Saints, and Church documents as well as from my own experience and the testimonies of several other fallen-away Catholics, some who have returned to the Church, some who have joined other Christian faiths, and others who are still searching.

The Prodigal You Love challenges readers to change their own lives in order to change other peoples' lives through an active and fervent relationship with God. Each chapter guides readers through the key components in the evangelization of loved ones and provides spiritual guidance and ideas to consider in prayer. 

Evangelizing friends and family is the most difficult kind of evangelization, but if each of us, with love and truth, reaches out on a grassroots level it will surely change lives and the Church. I invite you to plunge headfirst into the challenge involved in inviting our loved ones closer to Christ and to his Church.

The Prodigal You Love has been endorsed by Jennifer Fulwiler, author of Something Other Than God, with these words: “Sr. Theresa Noble really understands what works—and what doesn't—when it comes to reaching out to fallen-away loved ones. This book should be required reading for any modern Catholic.” The book has also received endorsements from Tom Peterson, founder of Catholics Come Home, and Father Michael White and Tom Corcoran, authors of Rebuilt.

Look for The Prodigal You Love in October when it is released!

If you would like to download a sample chapter of the book and the forword by Father Dave Dwyer, CSP of Busted Halo, please visit this link.

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Whether you buy The Prodigal You Love or not, please join me in keeping this project in your prayers. Pray that those who read the book will be inspired and better equipped to invite their loved ones home to the Church. And please pray for all fallen-away Catholics, that they will consider returning to the flawed but beautiful community of the universal Church and the unparalleled power in the grace of the sacraments.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Profession of Vows: Wildflower in the Pages of an Ancient Book

Sr. Theresa Aletheia and Sr. Margaret Michael
before the profession Mass begins
I made my first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on August 30, 2014.

Visibly not much has changed. The biggest change is the veil I am wearing now. It has cleared up a lot of confusion. When I walk down the street, people now look at me and usually know what I am. In my novice outfit, people could rarely figure me out. At various times I was mistaken for being Jewish, Amish, Mormon, and a member of hotel staff.

These days people usually look at me curiously for just a few moments, then quickly avert their eyes before I have the chance to do a jig and yell, "I love Jesus!" in their face.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the outward changes involved in making vows and how they would affect my life. But really, the biggest change is interior.

I prepared for four years to make vows. I took classes, discussed the vows, observed other sisters living the vows, discerned my ability to live the vows. But none of these things adequately prepared me for this covenant with God. What can really prepare a person to vow their life to the Creator of the Universe?

Absolutely nothing.

It is hard to describe in a concrete way how my interior life is different after making vows to God to live chastity, poverty and obedience in imitation of the way Jesus lived on earth. The only way I have been able to describe it to myself is that I now feel that I have stepped more deeply into the mystery of God. I feel like a small piece of metal that voluntarily dove into the magnetic field of the strongest magnet on earth. It is as if my vows pressed my soul upon God like a small wildflower between the thick pages of an ancient book.

I am still overwhelmed by the mystery of what I have done.

In the Daughters of St. Paul, we usually keep our baptismal name and add another name. My chosen name is Aletheia, the Greek word for truth. It has caused some confusion and incited a litany of misspellings and mispronunciations, (although I was assured that pretty much any way you can pronounce the name is a way the name has been pronounced at some point in the history of the Greek language). If you are interested, you can go to the link above and hear the way I pronounce it.

But in the end, I am not really concerned about all that. The name chose me a long time ago and regardless of the impracticality and confusion I love it.

Why Greek?

Because the New Testament is written in Greek. St. Paul spoke and wrote in Greek. His mission was to the Gentiles. In the same way, I see my mission in the Church as one that is to everyone; it is beyond the walls of the Roman Catholic Church and extends to other Christians, people of other religions and nonbelievers. I believe the Greek word for truth communicates my identity as the daughter of the Apostle to the Gentiles and heir of his universal mission.

Why Truth?

Because God is Truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Throughout my life, even when I was an atheist, I believed in truth, I thirsted for truth and wanted to live for truth. Little did I know that Truth is a person and he is Jesus. The entire time I sought truth, he was right there beside me, inviting me and guiding me back to him.

Also, God approaches me through my mind. He helps me to understand the complexities of a world that is impossible to understand without him. But at the same time that he respects my intelligence and my ability to reason, he also overwhelms my grasp of the truth with his overwhelming, all-encompassing Truth. I have been seduced by the mystery of God’s Truth.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus prays in the high priestly prayer saying, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17:17-19).

I have consecrated myself to God through my profession and in this act of faith, I know that I have consecrated myself to the Truth and in the Truth. The very process of sanctification and consecration occurs within the mystery of God’s Truth and I have surrendered myself to it—to him, to Aletheia.

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I wish you all could have been at my profession. For those of you who would have liked to have been there or would like to feel that you were there, here are some of the highlights:

*If any of the videos are not working, try accessing them directly on the Daughters of St Paul website.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and love, my commitment is not possible without you!

Oh and one more announcement, I have been stationed in Miami, FL and will be helping at the Pauline Books and Media bookcenter there, known in Miami as Paulinas Libreria. I will be practicing my Spanish, eating a lot of pastelitos and drinking copious amounts of cafe cubano, so if you are in the area, come say hello to me at our bookcenter and buy some fabulous Catholic books!