When I joined the Church there were 3 things I struggled with. I couldn't understand why barrier method birth control wasn't okay, why, or how people prayed the rosary, or the importance of reconciliation.
The latter was because my RCIA class never taught us how to give confession, so it just ended up being this scary, ominous cloud that hung over me. My friend (who is now a nun) was in my RCIA class with me and had bought a small purse sized book about confession and passed it on to me. I'm pretty sure my first confession was at St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix and the priest was amazing. This was the time when Father Wall was their pastor (he's now a bishop). Anyway, there were a lot of things I was struggling with at the time. Kyle and I were having a rough patch in our relationship, I was having trouble finding a permanent job, and we had tons of money issues. I'm fairly certain that the reason this year was the closest I've ever felt to God was because I gave it all to him. I went to confession that first time and it changed me. I went as often as I could. Usually at St. Thomas, once in a while at my own parish. It took me a while to figure out what I should say or what I should do, and I found comfort in that tiny book I was given, because it led me through, gave me the beautiful prayers I needed, and helped me realize the beauty and necessity that is confession. I was able to actively confess and then work on the issues in my life I knew needed working on, and in a prayerful manner.
I will admit I haven't gone in a long time, because I can't take communion anyway, because we're not married within the Church yet. I know I should be going, but I haven't... in years. And because I want to be perfectly honest in this blog, I don't have a problem sharing that. It is on my list of important things to get back into the habit of doing, I just haven't made it that far yet. It was part of the loss of spirituality I had when my friend left for the convent. I lost my Church buddy, but I'm finally recovering.
Moving on to the Rosary.
Admittedly, as a new Catholic, I was pretty weary of the Rosary. I didn't understand the repetition and it actually annoyed me to have to sit through one. I was uneasy about the focus on Mary, and I truly didn't "get it." My friend and I were attending mass twice a week. Once was a Divine Mercy Mass on Wednesday nights which I adored, but I couldn't bring myself to pray the Rosary before mass. I'd purposefully show up late so that we wouldn't have to sit through it. We'd sit and talk about how mundane it was. And then I'm not sure what happened, but one day we went at the right time, and prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy, and heard the importance of it from Fr. Mohan, and suddenly it clicked! It was a mediation, that's why it's repetitive! It's biblical! It's beautiful! It's life-changing!
I cried through many Rosaries before these masses. My spiritual life was at a high even though my life itself was at a low. I miss attending this mass. Again, on my list of things I want to get back into the habit of doing. But this one might be impossible with my husband's upcoming work schedule.
Our Lady's 15 Promises for Praying the Rosary
The Divine Mercy
Ahhh, now onto the fun one, barrier method contraception. It doesn't fit in all that well with the other 2 subjects but it was definitely something I struggled with.
I stopped using birth control pills well before I was Catholic. I didn't agree with the way they worked once I found out the truth, so I had no problems with that teaching at all. But I could not grasp the reasoning behind being against barrier methods. They didn't do anything to a baby, they seemed harmless enough in a marriage.
I starting reading up on it. And I finally started to get how much it undervalues men and women and their marriages. How it violates natural law by taking the creation aspect out of sex. How it can cause women to feel like objects and men to treat them as such. How it can ruin marriages because people get bored. And really, how it just made sense to me suddenly that the Church is against anything unnatural.
The contraception mentality. The negative self image. The societal impact. All of it from contraception? Yup. Oooh, I get it now. :)
Catholic.com on Birth Control
Jennifer Fulwiler on being open to life & On Contraception (this has all the awesome links) & A woman's self image
and of course: Humanae Vitae
Thank God for the internet. All of these "issues" I had with Church doctrine were easily researched, prayed about, and concluded in a pretty short amount of time.