Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Feast of the Holy Family


*JMJ*
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. At this morning's mass, Father Andy reminded us that Mary and Joseph were ordinary people, flesh and blood like us. He also reminded us that Our Lord, the Word, became flesh. This stands in stark contrast to other religious traditions in which humans seek to escape the fleshly for the spiritual. Jesus, through the incarnation, has healed our flesh; we are not to escape our human nature, but to live it for His Glory.

So on this beautiful day that honors Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, let us pray for all families of the earth. Let us ask our Lord to bind up what is wounded, to heal what is broken, and to grant peace and love in the hearts of fathers, mothers, and children.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pray the Divine Office -- with Music!!

Wow, a poster on the Coming Home Network International Forum just posted about a wonderful new resource -- Divine Office -- Liturgy of the Hours . To this point they are recording and posting the Invitatory, the Office of Readings, and the Morning Prayer for each weekday. The prayers are also available for download as *.mp3 recordings.

Early in my journey, I discovered morning and evening prayer from the LOH posted as recordings on the EWTN home page. I would lock my door at work and pray. Praying in this way opened new doors of understanding in my heart. It was a priceless experience!

Then one day the prayers disappeared from the EWTN page, and I could not find a similar resource available. Just before my baptism, my dear friends Tom and Gloria Cabeen sent me the one volume Christian Prayer as a gift and I resumed my LOH habit. But I have seriously missed the beautiful music!

Many thanks to the owners and operators of the new web site, and a H/T to CHNI Forum .

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas from a Holiday Handicapped Nana

By the time most Nanas get to be 56 years old with 6 grandchildren, they have the holiday celebrations "down to a science". I have wonderful friends who all have their special holiday traditions and who are each experts in some facet of Christmasology.

But alas, Nana Ruth is a neophyte in the celebration of the Lord's birthday...

Since celebrating Christmas is still not a "family thing" for everybody at my house, I have had to work at learning about Christmas traditions. I have tried to focus on spiritual traditions. For example, I am praying my first Christmas Novena this year.

I helped with the Christmas Social at my college, and attended with my grandson (who loved the whole thing). We also went to the CCD Christmas party, the Elementary School Christmas party, and his homeroom Christmas party. Haydon has already received a number of Christmas "present bags". I have surprises for him and the other grandkids stuffed in my trunk for the big day. But I have been trying to impress on Haydon the spiritual meaning of the Season, and that Christmas is Baby Jesus' birthday, not Haydon's birthday.

Yesterday, after we went to his homeroom party, Haydon came to my room with a ribbon bedecked candy cane with a piece of chocolate attached to it. He solemnly presented it to me as my present.

I have to confess, I was tempted to tell him to keep it. To tell him, "it's yours, you can have it". He loves candy canes and adores chocolate!

I'm happy to say that I resisted the temptation. Swallowing hard, I smiled and said "Thank you very much". How can I deprive him of the joy of giving me a present?

So have a Blessed Advent, a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year. And send me your favorite Christmas traditions, so I can start to figure this whole thing out.

Ave Maria!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thank You Lord, for Faithful Bishops

Father John Noe read this letter to us this evening as his homily:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington
1310 West Main Street
Lexington, Kentucky 40508-2048
Telephone: (859) 253-1993
Facsimile: (859) 254-6284

Faithful Citizenship statement from Bishop Ronald Gainer
October 28, 2008
Feast of Saints Simon and Jude
Apostles and Martyrs


My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the months preceding Election Day, we have witnessed several elected officials who are Catholics publicly address the Church’s teaching on the grave matters of conscience formation, the inviolability of innocent human life and voting. Several of these Catholic politicians have cited the document of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, entitled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” in a way that misrepresents the intent of the document and the authentic teaching of our Catholic Church – misrepresentations that warrant clarification.
Read the entire letter

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Little Ruth Update

Dear Friends:

I know I have neglected this blog lately. I would like to explain a little.

On July 25, my dear 5-year-old grandson was handed to my care. The situation is complicated and involves others, so I cannot explain fully. I am now the full time mom of a Kindergarten student (and still have my regular full time job, of course). So my time is much more limited than it was previously.

I do want to get back to telling my story. I had a purpose in starting this blog, and the purpose remains. That is, to give those who know me or are related to me a way to hear how I have come to travel this road I'm on. My dear sister and others who will no longer communicate with me due to my becoming Catholic, still may at some point in time find and read what I record here.

And so I will continue. Please be patient with me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

“The End of Feminism”

From Catholic Exchange:

"While hysteria swirls around Sarah Palin, wife and mother of five, everyone would benefit by taking a large step back from the pandemonium in order to better perceive what is really happening. Her supporters rightly point to her affirmation of life and her ability to juggle family with wider commitments as the cause of a nearly unhinged backlash from liberals, but this is wide of the true mark. The actual cause of international outrage is not her motherhood, but the fact that she does not reject fatherhood. ...more

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Catholic Vote 2008

Please prayerfully consider the message of this video, and vote your conscience this November.

The angels are watching.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I got interviewed ;-)

If you're impatient to hear more of the last part of my conversion story (yes, I know I'm taking FOREVER to tell it here), then check out this podcast interview:

Jeff Schwehm interviews Ruth Leone.

For more information about the interview, and to listen to other great podcasts by Jeff, go to:

CatholicXJW Blog .

If you haven't registered for the Conference, go to the Conference web page right now and do it:

http://www.catholicxjw.com/Rates.html

On-site registration costs more, and registering in advance will make Jeff's job of planning everything much easier.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Preview of Coming Attractions

The Welcome Home! Conference is less than a month away!

Jeff Schwehm has posted his latest interview with Tom Cabeen. Tom previews a little of his coming presentation at the conference, as well as sharing more of his personal conversion story with us. To download the podcast, go here.

For other helpful links related to the podcast, read Jeff's blog entry here.

See you in Weirton!

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Redeemer Lives - Team Hoyt

A belated Father's Day to all you wonderful Dads out there!

This video (and the wonderful true story it exemplifies) is testimony to the great love our Heavenly Father has for us, His children, handicapped by sin, but redeemed by His Love.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Conference Flyer

Click on image to view full size:






To download a copy of the Flyer, click here:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Jeffrey Schwehm on Relevant Radio

If you are a Catholic who would like to learn more about how to help Jehovah's Witnesses (your family or your neighbors and colleagues), listen to this presentation recorded by Relevant Radio on June 6 with Jeffrey Schwehm, President of the Fellowship of Catholic Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses:

To listen to streaming audio, click here

To download the mp3, click here

For more information about the Fellowship of Catholic Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, click here

Monday, June 2, 2008

Watchtower Comments 4.14.08 The Generation

If you find this presentation confusing, welcome to the history of my life.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Fellowship of Catholic Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses Presents:



(approximately 20 minutes from Pittsburgh International Airport)


When: August 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 2008

The goal of this conference is to:

1. Help support Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses who are Catholic.

2. Assist former Jehovah's Witnesses who are interested in and investigating the Catholic Church.

3. Help Catholics who have lost loved ones to the Jehovah's Witnesses.

4. Equip Catholics to effectively deal with Jehovah's Witnesses both apologetically and socially.

Note: Jehovah's Witnesses are a high-control group whose theological strangeness in comparison with Christianity is mated to a demanding and oppressive internal social structure. Several features of our agenda will deal directly with the mental, emotional, and social effects of life in such a group.These aspects of the program will be of interest, not only to former JWs and family members of JWs, but also to anyone with a history in a high-control group, or anyone in a helping position with such a person.We strongly appeal to Catholic social workers, counselors, and other mental health providers to come and learn how to effectively help people with this history. Priests, DREs, and catechists will benefit from understanding how to meet the unique needs of this population as they enter the Catholic Church in increasing numbers.

I am praying for some way to open up so that I can attend this Conference. I believe that it will be very interesting and beneficial to both XJWs and Catholic clergy and lay ministers who may have an opportunity to help them.

Please register and attend this Conference! And if you have any spare prayers, send them up on behalf of my intention to find a way to get there ;-).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Tom Cabeen :-)

In addition to the interview on EWTN Catholic Cable Television that I blogged about earlier, Tom was recently interviewed by Randy Watters of Freeminds. Randy and Tom have been friends for over three decades. Randy is an Evangelical Christian and Tom is Roman Catholic. Although their viewpoints on some subjects differ, they have great respect for each other.

The two-part interview can be found here:

Watt n' Cab

The page also includes a link to an article that Tom wrote regarding the Catholic doctrine of Hell, Tom's recommended reading list, and other goodies.

I am told that additional resources may be added later.

Check it out!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From My Father's House to My Husband's House

The Divine Victory International Conventions of 1973 were eagerly anticipated events. With 1975 looming large on the horizon, many of us thought that these might be the last large conventions the Society would be able to hold before Armageddon. The convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico was scheduled for September. My girlfriend and I worked hard getting ready for the trip. I made all my clothes, and my parents loaned me a suitcase. I eagerly anticipated my first ever plane ride -- from Miami, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was 20 years old, and this was the most exciting thing that I had ever done.

We were, of course, looking forward to the convention itself and to receiving whatever new books would be released. International conventions were always opportunities for new information to be made available, and this one would be no exception. But twenty-year-old girls have other things on their minds too, and I was a girl ;-). I was not allowed to date anyone who was not a Jehovah's Witness, since dating in the Witnesses is only for the purpose of finding a marriage mate and interfaith marriages are strongly discouraged. Since our congregations in Kentucky were small and young people (of both sexes) were relatively few, conventions always provided an opportunity to meet new friends and "check the brothers out". And this time we were going all the way to exotic Puerto Rico!!

I can't tell you without doing research what books were released at that convention. I can't tell you who the speakers were, besides N. H. Knorr and Fred Franz on the English side and Ray Franz on the Spanish side. But I can tell you this -- I met the love of my life in Puerto Rico in September of 1973.

He was a young fellow from Pennsylvania who had been baptized barely a year. He had come along with his best friend and the best friend's family (just as I had). He was a little shy. He waited until the night before we had to go home before he finally asked me out to dinner!

It took two completely full taxis to take all the people to dinner who accompanied us on our very first date. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in chaperoned dates, but even so this was a little much! The first question he asked me, in the taxi cab, was "What is your nationality?" My answer, of course, was "American, what else?" My date was Italian American. His grandparents had come to the U.S. on a boat; his father had been born in this country. Everyone in his family was Catholic, except him. He had left the Catholic Church to become a Jehovah's Witness.

I was fascinated by my new boyfriend. I was also amused by the irony of the situation -- I had gone all the way to Puerto Rico just to meet and fall in love with an Italian kid from Pennsylvania ;-). He didn't waste any time "following up" after we got back to the States. In December he proposed, in January he moved to Kentucky and I finally accepted. In April we were married in the Kingdom Hall. Most of his large Italian Catholic family came all the way to Kentucky for our wedding, which took place on the night before Easter. Of course, I had absolutely no idea of the significance of the Easter Vigil in April 1974. We planned the wedding for that weekend to allow Fred's family to have plenty of traveling time.

When I finally had time to sit down and think about things, I marveled at the fact that Fred's family was so loving to us both. They traveled almost 400 miles to be present at our wedding, put up with our Eastern Kentucky social graces (much different from their ways of doing things), and showered us with gifts and hugs and kisses. They never complained for a second even though I was later to find that they had never heard of a wedding reception without a dinner or without an opportunity for guests to dance with the Bride.

As the years went by and we all got to know each other much better, I came to truly love these wonderfully accepting folks. At the same time, may the Lord forgive me, I was constantly trying to figure out how I could turn them all into Jehovah's Witnesses. I felt that their genuine love and caring for us somehow had to be "in spite of" their Catholicism, since everything I had ever been taught about the Catholic religion was about how bad it was. I even had a thick notebook of research that my grandfather had put together documenting all the sins and travesties of the Catholic Church. So these wonderful people, I was sure, had to be the exception. I just happened to marry into a family of really nice Catholics, and I was sure it would not be long until all or most of them were Jehovah's Witnesses just like me.

Funny how life turns out sometimes...

Next: Marriage and Children

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Former Jehovah's Witness Tom Cabeen on The Journey Home (EWTN) Tonight!

My good friend Tom Cabeen will be Marcus Grodi's guest this evening on The Journey Home on EWTN. If you don't get cable television, you can watch the show live on the web at:

http://www.ewtn.com/

Tom and I have been corresponding for over a year and he has been a great help to me on my personal journey.

Please lift up Tom in your prayers today, and also all those who might listen and be moved by the Holy Spirit to find the One, Holy, Catholic Church.

NOTE 5/31/08 -- The archived audio of the show can be heard here:

The Journey Home -- 5/19/08 -- Marcus Grodi and Tom Cabeen

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Be Not Afraid, I go before you always

I've had this hymm playing in my head all morning. I found this while looking for all the words (some I couldn't remember).

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

If you are looking for answers --

If you are looking for answers --

Are you sure you are asking the right questions?

Introductions -- conclusions -- leading questions -- rhetorical questions: All these were elements of the "theocratic" training that I received every week as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Equipped with books like Make Sure of All Things and its successor Reasoning from the Scriptures, I went forth to knock on the doors of my neighbors with the very sincere intention of bringing them the "good news of the kingdom". I was fully convinced that this was a life-saving work.

Repeatedly, through the pages of Watchtower and other publications, the leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses asserted that 1) God's Kingdom had come in 1914, with Jesus arriving invisibly and continuing to be present, 2) a great work of separating the "sheep" from the "goats" was being done by those who recognized the invisible arrival and presence of Jesus in his Kingdom, and 3) based on Jesus' words in Matthew ("this generation will not pass away"), the war of the great day of God the Almighty was imminent (Armageddon).* In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a Biblical timetable was drawn up and distributed through the pages of several publications (including Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God (1966) and Then is Finished the Mystery of God (1969)) that pointed to 1975 as the end of 6,000 years of human history AND THE BEGINNING OF THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF CHRIST.

The beginning of the thousand year reign of Christ presupposed the fulfillment of Bible prophecies regarding the Battle of Armageddon, a war in which God would destroy all the wicked, all the “goats” who had refused to listen to the “good news” being proclaimed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. As I walked from door to door in field service in nice neighborhoods, I was sometimes shocked to hear my companion say something like, “THAT is the house I want to live in after Armageddon!!”. It did not seem very Christian to me to be anticipating the sudden apocalyptic death of our neighbors. (For further information about what the Witnesses taught about the year 1975, see “What Happened in 1975?” ).

In between the release of these two publications, the book The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life was released in 1968 amid much fanfare. Small in size and distributed for the small price of $0.25, this book was intended to form the basis for a six month Bible study program that Jehovah's Witnesses were urged to conduct in the homes of all interested persons. We were told that "Jehovah is speeding up the work" because "the end is near".

As my high school graduation in 1970 approached, I was torn between the hopes and expectations of my teachers and counselors and the admonition of my parents. As I was a good student, my teachers and counselors were very much in favor of my going to college. Because I was the recipient of a national award in my junior year, I received numerous scholarship offers from colleges all over the country. My father, however, was determined that I should devote myself to the “preaching of the good news”, especially in view of the “times and seasons” in which we believed we lived. Attending college would have meant forsaking my family and striking out completely on my own. I had never openly disobeyed my parents; following my graduation (as fourth in my high school class), I began full-time service as a “pioneer”, devoting one hundred hours per month to the door-to-door and Bible study ministry.

I was very successful as a pioneer. Over the next three years, at least three persons with whom I conducted home Bible studies were subsequently baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. In most cases, their families followed them. I had become expert at directing conversations by asking just the right questions, and following a scripture in one part of the Bible with a scripture written hundreds of years earlier (or later), tying the two scriptures together in the same manner that our literature did. It would be many years before I would, upon commencing a study of logic in college, discover that I was using poorly constructed arguments and logical fallacies to reach conclusions that were not in fact supported by the evidence.

In the Fall of 1973 I had the opportunity to travel, in the company of my best friend and her family, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for an International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Little did I know the many ways in which this trip would change my life forever.

_______________
*The Witness understanding of these doctrines continues to change over time, and their doctrine is somewhat different at present than it was at that time. What I describe is the doctrine that I both learned and taught during the time period being discussed.

Next: From My Father's House to My Husband's House

Returning to the Journey

With my next post, I am returning to the story of my journey of faith. Because no one travels through this life alone, my journey (especially from the point of my next post onward) will sometimes touch on other people -- people who may be still alive, still part of my life (or not), and certainly people who have no intention for their own lives to become public knowledge.

For this reason, there will be portions of my story that will of necessity be told in broad strokes, lacking detail.

If my story raises questions in your mind and heart, feel free to use the email link found in my profile to contact me. I will be happy to answer those questions that involve my personal history and belief system, in so far as those questions do not involve compromising the privacy of other people.

Also, because this is a personal account and not a research paper, I will not quote all sources or provide detailed background regarding such things as the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses (either then or now). Again, if you have serious questions, I will be happy to address them in private email as above rather than in the blog combox. I do have references and sources, as well as extensive personal experience, at the base of what I relate here.

As I point out in my profile, I am not an apologist. I am a born-again Catholic grandmother, who just happens to have a slightly different history than many who share that appelation. I pray that my personal history and experiences will resonate with someone else and help them in their "journey home", just as the experiences of others who have gone before me have been of inestimable value in my pursuit of the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Finding a Seat at the Table of the Lord

Last night, not quite 41 years from the date I made my original vow of dedication to God, I was baptized, confirmed, and received communion as a Roman Catholic Christian.


The timing was providential. In a correspondence that rarely occurs, the Memorial of Christ's Death as commemorated by Jehovah's Witnesses was held at exactly the same time as the Easter Vigil of the Latin Church -- after sundown, March 22. Until last year, when for the first time I made a conscious decision not to attend the JW Memorial, I had never willingly been absent from that observance.


As a small child, my father impressed upon me the importance of the Lord's Evening Meal. He told his hyperactive and "wiggly" daughter that God comes down from heaven in a special way to be with us when we celebrate the Lord's Supper. As in many things, my father was right in what he said, even as he was wrong in what he believed about what he said.


On at least 50 evenings of my life, I was present for the Lord's Evening Meal. (The commemoration is held annually). I know I was there with my parents as a baby, because they have told me. As a small child, I sat in awed silence as the prayers were said over the bread (made with special whole wheat flour and water in my mother's kitchen) and the red wine. I then eagerly awaited my opportunity to pass the "emblems" to the next person in the row. It was required that everyone except for tiny babies should hold the plate bearing the bread and the goblet of wine. But that was all that most of us ever did: take the plate and then the goblet and pass them to the next person.


You see, the Witnesses teach that there are two classes of Christians. The first, the annointed, are limited in number (144,000 total). These are the ones who will be with Christ in heaven, and these are the only ones who are allowed to "partake" at the Lord's Evening Meal. The second group, the Other Sheep, comprise the vast majority of Witnesses. These ones believe that their hope is to live forever on earth, either surviving Armageddon and never dying, or being resurrected to a Paradise Earth. These people attend as "observers" and do not partake of the bread and wine. I believed myself to have this "earthly hope". At any of the celebrations of the Memorial at which I was present, there was never more than one person (out of an attendance of 150 or so) who "partook". Some years, there was no one present who ate the bread and drank the wine. I'm sure this seems very strange, even bizarre, to Christians who read it. But it was "normal" in the insular world of the Jehovah's Witnesses.


In 2005, when a dear friend of mine began RCIA classes at the Catholic Church, I began to reinvestigate the Bible. Having been inactive as a Witness for a number of years at that point, I had all but stopped reading the Bible or religious material. When I started to read the Bible again, I read it by itself, in its own natural context, and I started with the Gospels. The more I read Jesus' own words and the words of his Apostles, the stronger my conviction became that Jesus was talking to ME in those scriptures. I began to understand that when Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also" he was talking to ALL CHRISTIANS.


There is much more to my conversion story, of course, and I will try to tell as much of it as you can stand to read. But our Lord Jesus Christ is at the center of it. He was calling me, and I finally had eyes to see and ears to hear.


There have been many times on this journey that I have wondered if I would ever find a seat at the Table of the Lord. Last night, I received the Holy Eucharist for the first time.


Thanks be to God!


I am Home.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Holy Thursday

Have you ever wanted something (or someone) so much that you thought your heart would break for the lack of it?

That is how I felt last night at the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

It is a longing like that of a Bride waiting for her Bridegroom.

Come Lord Jesus!!