When Waiting Hurts

Her lace and ribbon white dress is hanging in the closet next to her veil. It is waiting.

The Eucharist rests in the tabernacle behind the altar of our beautiful church, St. Rahael the Archangel. It is waiting.

I’ve never been a person who does well when things don’t go as planned. I’ve gotten better as I’ve grown older, but I still like to know what to expect. And I like things I can count on. Our family has been spared some of the more devastating effects of the pandemic thus far, but today was one of the harder ones for the family, and for Felicity in particular.

Today was supposed to be Felicity’s First Holy Communion. She is waiting.


What We Miss

I was 30 years old before I received my First Holy Communion. But for almost all of that time, I didn’t know what I was missing. I viewed communion as a symbol, something to help us remember a long ago event that was important to the foundation of the Christian faith.

Felicity understands differently, at a much earlier age than I did. And so she felt the delay of receiving her First Communion in a significant way.

For anyone who does not share our Catholic faith and might be wondering why this such a big deal, here’s a little bit of background on what we believe.

The Eucharist, or Holy Communion is the source and summit of our Catholic Faith. It is the centerpiece, the main event of every Mass. The readings, the songs, the prayers, they all lead up and point toward the Eucharist, where we believe Jesus is truly and fully present.

We take John 6 literally, and we believe Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. And that he conferred authority to his disciples to do the same. And that they conferred their authority to their disciples. And so on and so on until we reach the men serving as Priests today.

We believe Holy Communion is a miracle. And that Christ is truly present in it- body, blood, soul and divinity. It is a Sacrament. It confers immense grace.

So while we are away from Mass, we don’t eat crackers and juice at home. Because we don’t believe Communion is a symbol of an event that happened a long time ago. We believe that when we participate in Mass, we slip outside of time and, in a mysterious way, are joining in with the very first Communion Jesus shared with his disciples, and in Jesus’s one time sacrifice on the cross.

For Those Who Wait

There are so many who have had to wait for things during this time, and we are praying for all those who are feeling the ache of waiting for something dear to their hearts. We pray for those who long for the Sacraments, and those who don’t have access to them as often as we usually do here where we live.

In lieu of First Communion, Felicity and I went to have an ice cream cone together, and just talked for a bit about the day. Then we drove to church and looked at the flowers, and said hello to Jesus from outside. We know He is with us in our hearts, but there is something so very, very precious to a Catholic who not only can receive Jesus spiritually, but also physically and tangibly through the Eucharist as well.

The uncertainty of the timing of when it will be Felicity’s turn weighs on me as her mother as I feel her disappointment today. But Jesus waited 30 years for me to find my way home, and much longer for many others. I’m certain we can bear the burden of waiting for a much shorter amount of time to receive him in this special way.

Sending prayers for all those who are delayed in receiving any of the precious Sacraments, and for all those who are impacted by the virus, in big ways and small.


Happy Easter from the Savaryns 2020!

Though this year has taken a turn that I don’t think many would have expected, our goal this Holy Week was to create some special memories for the kids even though our plans had very much changed.

Our house is loud, and the noises aren’t always happy, but overall we’re hanging in there and doing our best to be patient and loving with each other.

When all else fails, there’s always sneaking chocolate in the pantry.

Here’s a glimpse into how we celebrated Holy Week this year together!

In general news, Zelie turned 8 months this week! She’s got two little chicklet teeth on the bottom and is cute as a button.


And the weather was nice enough during the week to have a picnic!


Holy Thursday

On Thursday, we watched Mass on the computer via Michigan, where Msgr. Michael Steber gave the homily. He is the Priest who married JP and I, and even though I was sad about not being able to be at Mass in person, it was a unique blessing to be able to participate in Spiritual Communion and join in a parish we otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to.

A major thanks to Bishop-Elect McGovern, our parish Priest, who was thoughtful enough to mail us the Magnificat Kids for the whole month of April! It especially helps Felicity to follow along.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we particpated in the Stations of the Cross via Brother Francis, which is available as a DVD or on Formed.org. It was actually my first time doing Stations of the Cross, and I really don’t know what I was waiting for!

Stations of the Cross - Brother Francis | Leaflet Missal

After that, we set up an area to pray and remember Jesus’s sacrifice for us in a quiet area of the house (which is sometimes the basement).


We took turns going down there and spending a few moments in prayer.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, we embarked upon the Pinterest-y goodness I’ve seen from many friends: creating our own stained glass window using craft paint and tape! There were moments that I was certain it would be a disaster- I did not get the paint/water ratio right and it was pretty drippy! But the kids had fun and in the end it turned out okay.


I also went grocery shopping for the first time wearing a mask. There’s nothing to remind you of the reality of the times like going out in public during a pandemic. People were very friendly, but it just was definitely a reminder that Big Things are going on outside the walls of our home.


August and I also patronized a local business by having an ice cream date in our car with a banana split.


On Easter Eve, we prepared Resurrection Cookies for the first time- there are Bible verses that go along with each ingredient, and, in theory, if you do it right, the cookies will have an air pocket on the inside in the morning, which represents the empty tomb.

Reader- despite my never having made merangue in my life, it actually worked!

Easter Morning

Easter morning was a bustle of kids searching out candy and Easter baskets, and me prepping for our Easter meal. We got dressed up and watched Mass at our home parish, St. Raphael’s. He is Risen, Alleluia!!!




Earlier in the week, Mary had requested a tea party. And I thought, well, we might as well have it for Easter!

The forecast had called for clouds and rain, so it was a very pleasant surprise to be graced by sunshine and beautiful weather for the morning. We took advantage and went on a walk, and left a message for our friends and neighbors, then tie-dyed some shirts.


And then we rented the new Trolls movie because the kids have eaten A LOT of candy. They spent all Lent filling a mason jar with beans representing their good deeds that turned into jelly beans this morning, and they put a HEFTY dent into those good deeds already today.

Not Supermom. Not even a little bit.

Lest anyone go thinking I’m any sort of semblance of a Supermom, I want to share that this week was really hard for me. We are healthy, and that is a huge blessing, and I don’t take that for granted. But, I also miss going to Mass. We were supposed to be in coastal Georgia this weekend, enjoying the beach and spending time with extended family. I know the kids are disappointed by the change in plans, and honestly I probably put too much pressure on myself over the past few days to create positive memories for them. Major holidays like this one often feel like a big sporting event for moms. I’m always prepping things late into the evening, wanting the next day to be magical. This year I felt some extra pressure.

This coming week I fully intend to be more gracious to myself. I’m going to read something floofy, relax a bit more, work on writing, which I love. I don’t regret all the effort this week took, but it was definitely a lot and there were times where I wondered if what I was doing was really making a difference. I couldn’t make up for the lost vacation, or the lack of Mass, but I think the kids will remember this Easter fondly. And that’s really valuable to me.

A Note For Those Waiting on Sacraments

Finally, I (Lorelei) received the Sacrament of Confirmation four years ago on Easter Vigil. My Catholic faith has been such a gift, and I was so thankful to learn that the Coming Home Network had chosen one of my previous posts to share in their April Newsletter this year. For anyone waiting to be received into the Catholic Church, our prayers are with you. The wait will be worth it!

Along those lines, Felicity’s First Communion, which was originally scheduled for later this month, has been postponed. Her dress is hanging in our closet, ready for when it’s able to be rescheduled. Please pray for her and all those waiting to receive Sacraments during this time.


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What’s The Deal with Catholic Guilt?

I think we’ve all seen or heard someone make a joke about “Catholic Guilt” at one point or another.

This article explores what Catholic Guilt is, really. And if it’s actually funny. Or, on the other hand, if it a misrepresentation of something meant for our good.

What is Sin?

It’s important to get on the same page about sin before we even attempt to talk about this issue. Let’s turn to the Catechism to get our definition.

1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121

1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125 

(emphasis mine)

Using this definition, I often break down the idea of sin to conclude it is any time where I choose to serve myself rather than another. It’s desiring my perceived good over my actual good. It’s refusing to love. And in refusing love, I am refusing God because God is Love itself.

Sin wounds my relationship with God, because I’m actively rejecting Him. It hurts my soul. It makes me sick.

When I think about sin now, I think about any one of us, if we gave in freely to our own passions, distorted from God’s good intent, might even find ourselves on earth in our own sort of personal hell.

Sin is serious business. But, thankfully, that’s not the end of the story.

My Protestant Practice

Before becoming Catholic, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the ways I rejected  or blocked God (Love) out of my life. Some of the churches I attended would have a moment for such reflections. But it was usually just that, a moment. And, to be honest, in those moments I most often thought “meh- I think I’m doing pretty good, comparatively speaking.” I shake my head at my past self now. And I’m still not exactly sure who I was comparing myself to… those convicted of crimes against humanity? The people in pews beside me, as some sort of holiness version of keeping up with the Joneses? Just the general sense that, in the grand scale of humanity, I was doing okay?

And then the service would move on and I would move on and I continue along my merry way. I knew I could ask God for forgiveness, but as someone who had come from a Once Saved, Always Saved tradition (for much of my life), I didn’t have an ingrained sense that my confession mattered. I had ‘invited Jesus into my heart’ as a child. And if you are Once Saved, Always Saved, then the moment you say that prayer, it’s a done deal.

Now, you can read more about how I learned that perspective didn’t fit with my actual life experience in my Coming Home Network conversion story by clicking here, but suffice it to say, I had accepted Jesus as a child, then possibly crossed over into rejecting Him as a young adult before I made my way back through the Catholic Church.

I learned through that journey that my choices do matter. They have eternal impact. And yes, everything good I do is by the grace of God, but I’m not an automaton. God can work through me to show his love and healing to this world, but He needs my yes to do it.

And so I’d better pay attention to the areas in my life where I’m letting Love in, and also to the areas in my life where I’m not.


The Value in Examining Our Conscience

I worry about the fading of the concept of confession in general as the trees of Christian separation continue to branch farther and farther away from their historical roots. And I have personally found immense value in examining my conscience on a regular basis, followed by a good Confession.

But first, what is an Examination of Conscience?

An Examination of Conscience is a beautiful exercise we do as Catholics, where we take stock of our lives and our heart. We spend time praying about and thinking about the areas where we are letting God (Love) lead the way, and the areas where we are turning from Him (Love) and choosing to serve ourselves first. We take an honest look at where we are being selfish, or prideful, or fearful, or careless, or impatient, or any number of things.

There are many ways to examine our conscience. Click here for a link to some excellent resources that walk you straight through the entire process.

But we don’t just leave it there when we’re done. We aren’t meant to just acknowledge our shortcomings and sit around feeling bad about ourselves. We know we have the ability to make a change. We can grow in virtue and holiness. We can turn our “No” to God, into a resounding “Yes.”

Once we have examined ourselves, we are ready to make a Confession.

Confession: A Healing Sacrament

It’s no secret how much I love Confession.

Confession is so many things. But one thing it is not. It is not a rote recital of our wrongs just for the sake of checking an item off a list.

It is a Healing Sacrament. And for good reason.

When we go to Confession, we sit before a Priest, who is standing in place of Jesus for us. We share with him those struggles we identified in ourselves. And we receive, not only God’s forgiveness to us, but we also receive penance, our medicine to help heal the wounds created by our sin.

We leave Confession with the Grace of God to continue to say yes to Him. And if and when we fail, we know Confession is always there, to help us right our path. To help us to learn to love others better than we could on our own. To help sanctify us, and to flood us with God’s Amazing Grace so we can effectively live as His hands and feet.

Back to Catholic Guilt

Nothing about the Catholic Church desires for us to hobble around, eternally burdened by our shortcomings. And long story short, anyone who has been haunted by Catholic Guilt in their life, has taken these beautiful practices meant for our own good, for our own healing, and for whatever reason, allowed them to become distorted.

When I’m carrying some burdens inside my heart, I might know it’s time to go to Confession. So I just set up a time and go. I know I want to let as much of God (Love) into my life as possible, and if I can be honest with myself about when I’m not doing that, then I can experience healing and let His Grace help me make different choices.

There’s a huge difference between the conviction we need to make something right, and then doing something to heal what we’ve broken, and the notion of “Catholic Guilt.” Guilt, when left to its own devices and void of the connection to healing, can turn us inward and makes us focus dangerously on ourselves. And when we focus on ourselves, we are entering a realm that is unhealthy for our souls. We are entering the realm of sin. 

So, no, Catholic Guilt isn’t funny. It’s actually probably a sign that someone has experienced pain in some form or another inside the Church, and have not yet found their way to the healing. If we know people who struggle with this, or who have left the Church because of it, it is so vital that we live Grace in our own lives. Forgiveness in our own lives. The joy of healing in our own lives.

We have the opportunity to be an example to those who misunderstand our faith, to those who are seeking, and to those who might be confused. Let us be an example of the Church’s beauty as we seek, more and more each and every day, to choose Love.



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What’s The Purpose of Penance?

When a Catholic goes to Confession, several things happen. We come with contrition and confess our sins. We receive the absolution. Then, the Priest assigns us our penance. But while we may know what to expect, it’s also immensely important to understand why we are doing these things.

I’ve written extensively about why I absolutely Love Confession, but I haven’t written in-depth about penance and its purpose and value. This post is an attempt to do just that.

What is Sin?

At its core, sin is turning away from God. It’s an active decision on our part. It’s us saying “No, God, I won’t do things your way. I know better than you.” Sin can happen in big ways (mortal sin, which breaks our relationship with God) and in small ways (venial sin, which wounds it).

All sin is sickness for our souls.

What is Penance?

Penance is something for the confessor to do after Confession ends, on their own, and hopefully as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s a prayer or a series of prayers. Sometimes it’s something related to an issue the confessor struggles with. It could look many different ways, and could take varying amounts of time. Some of my personal favorite penances have been ones that directly related to an area where I struggle.

But, regardless of what penance looks like it is always, always, a way to repair the harm that sin has caused in our lives.

It is meant to help us turn our hearts back to God. Just as our sin was an active choice turning away from God, penance is an active choice turning back to God.

Do I have to do penance to be forgiven?

This is something that is often misunderstood, even by Catholics. Once the Priest offers absolution during Confession, we are forgiven. The grace is there because of Jesus. Not because of anything we can do. So, no, penance is not required for forgiveness to occur.

But then, if we’re already forgiven, why do we need it?

Medicine For The Soul

Just as sin wounds (or breaks) our relationship with God and makes our souls sick, penance is medicine that helps us turn our hearts back towards our Creator. Confession removes that sin from our shoulders. Penance helps us move towards a more holy future.

As such, whether our penance is prayer, or something specific to an area we struggle, we should not approach penance with the attitude of simply ‘checking something off a list.’

If we do penance with a disengaged heart, the purpose of penance isn’t served. Penance is a way to turn our hearts back to God, it’s a prescription for healing, and, much like any other medication, it’s up to us to use it. If we’ve gone to Confession with a truly contrite heart, it follows that we would want to continue on that path of obedience and progression towards holiness by following through on our penance as soon as possible, and by using that as a springboard to help spur us on towards a closer walk with God.

It’s a beautiful medicine we are offered, and it is to the benefit of our souls to take it.




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My Experience on EWTN’S The Journey Home

A few weeks back, I hopped on an airplane and headed to Columbus, Ohio to film an episode of ETWN’s The Journey Home, hosted by Marcus Grodi.

I was met at the airport by Scott Scholten and his wife Barb. Scott produces and directs the show, and they also have a special B&B apartment in the basement of their home to host many of The Journey Home’s guests.

I had read other articles about people who had been on the show, and was very excited to see the famous “Guest Book,” where many notes and signatures from guests of the program reside. It was a surreal moment adding my name to that list, especially considering that two years ago, I was closer to leaving Christianity entirely than I was to becoming Catholic.



And let me tell you this, the Scholten’s are experts at hospitality. I was so blessed to be able to stay in their incredibly comfortable accommodations. Every little detail was attended to, and I was made to feel like a member of their extended family.

There was also a Mother Angelica mug, out of which I just had to drink my evening tea 🙂

We had lovely conversation over dinner and breakfast the next morning, and then it was off to Mass at this beautiful, quaint, historical Catholic church near the Coming Home Network headquarters, where we would film the show.

I caught sight of Marcus Grodi in the back of the church and we made a quick wave ‘hello’ to each other during the giving of the peace. I knew from my hosts as well as other guest posts about the show that Marcus doesn’t spend much time with guests before the filming begins. He wants to get to know each guest and his/her story for the first time genuinely during the taping.

They filmed 2 shows this day, back to back. I was up first.

Walking onto the set was also very surreal. I had seen this set before in the shows I had watched. There were some people who were very important and encouraging to me on my faith journey who had sat on the same side of the desk I would sit on soon. Scott Hahn, Jennifer Fulwiler and Steve Ray were a few that immediately came to mind. But there are many others.

Well hello there, Mr. Desk.

The show used to be filmed live, and still tapes as though it is. There are no re-do’s, just a 2 minute break in the middle. It was a bit intense to think about at first, but everyone is so kind and welcoming. I was definitely on high alert and excited, but once we started filming it felt more like a conversation. I didn’t forget about the cameras and people in the shadows of the lights, but Marcus Grodi is a very gracious host, and it was easy to tell him my story.


He listened so well. I don’t remember everything I said, but I do remember there were a couple of things he brought up at the end to help a point I had mentioned earlier come full circle. He asked great questions to help me elaborate on some things. You can tell Marcus is a pro. I told my story pretty much from birth to life after conversion, and felt like the time flew by. We then answered a couple of email questions, filmed a short promo, and that was it!


After filming, some of the Coming Home Network folk took me and the other guest out to lunch, then it was back to the airport and home again. It was a whirlwind, but one I will never forget.

I also don’t think it will ever cease to amaze me that my story is now counted among those that made a huge difference to me as I prepared to enter the Catholic Church, and even still after. Those stories were a lifeline as I wrestled through questions, dealt with loneliness and difficulty in the transition from our Protestant Church, and as I rejoiced in the Truth I had found resided within the Catholic faith.

I hope you will have the chance to watch my Journey Home. It airs Monday, December 18th, 2017 at 8pm Eastern/ 7pm Central on EWTN. If you don’t have EWTN, you can live stream it here online.

Encores will air:

Tuesday, December 19th, 1am Eastern

Friday, December 22nd, 1pm Eastern

Or Watch the whole episode below!

My written conversion story is also featured in the Coming Home Network’s newsletter this month, and can be found here.


Do you have any questions about my conversion story? Or whose conversion stories have impacted you in your faith walk?

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5 Things A Catholic Can Do To Help A Protestant Feel Comfortable at Mass

Having a Protestant friend visit Mass may seem like a big deal, or not, depending on you and your friend. But I know, as a Protestant, there was a lot that confused me during Mass, and I often didn’t feel super comfortable. The following things all would have been helpful to me as a visitor, and I hope they are able to help others as well. Because Mass can be a rich faith-building experience for Catholics and other visiting Christians alike.

1- Explain what the Holy Water/Baptism font is and why we stick our fingers in there and cross ourselves.

Hint: It is not a bird bath. But seriously, just a simple explanation that we utilize the font to remember our own baptism, and cross ourselves, which I write more about here, as a recognition of the Trinity, will go a long way in making that particular practice less odd to a visitor.

2- Show them how to use the Missalette (and find one for them).

What we do when during Mass becomes second nature for a practicing Catholic. But, as a former Protestant, speaking from experience, I was lost for a long time when attending Mass with JP’s family. Finding a Missalette for your friend, and showing them how to use it is one of the greatest kindnesses you can do for someone visiting Mass. They can then follow along with the readings, find the songs, follow along with the prayers, and the whole order of service. They will have something to guide them so they know what is coming next, and what words they should be saying during the Creed, for example, or at other times, like the Penetential Rite.

3- Prep them on when we will be standing/kneeling ahead of time.

Just as a general rule of thumb, explain that we will be kneeling in front of the Eucharist (which you might need to explain is Holy Communion. Also see #5 of this article.) Explain we will be standing when we pray and out of respect when we hear the Gospel. And explain we sit when we are listening. My article here goes into a bit more detail about what we do when and why, but a brief overview will help a Protestant friend at least be aware of the general purpose and timing of our bodily postures during Mass.

4- Encourage them to participate! 

There are so many ways a Protestant can participate in Mass. Things just might look a bit different, so might be worth going over.

Here are a few ways Protestants can comfortably participate in a Catholic Mass:

  • The Penetential Rite. Most Protestant churches I have been to have some sort of brief moment to acknowledge our sins. The Catholic version is more extensive, but is basically the same concept.
  • Listening to the readings
  • Listening to the homily
  • The Lord’s Prayer (we all have that one!)
  • The Creed (Protestants can totally recite the Nicene or Apostles Creed. It’s all stuff we agree on. Even the part at the end that says “One holy, catholic and apostolic church.” The word ‘catholic’ there is lowercase, and is referring to all of Christianity, the Universal Church, not only Catholicism.)
  • The petitions
  • Most of the songs. There are times when we sing a song to Mary, or sing about the Eucharist in a very Transubstation-oriented way, and they may prefer to stay quiet during those times. But so many of our hymns are theologically in agreement with all of Christianity. They may find they even recognize one or two from their own faith tradition!

5- Explain the Eucharist.

Briefly share why we kneel in front of The Blessed Sacrament. Share that it is because we believe it is truly Jesus in the form of bread and wine, and kneeling is an appropriate response to being in His presence. Give your Protestant friend grace, though, if they choose not to kneel. Obviously it is the True Presence whether they acknowledge it to be or not. But they don’t know it/understand it. It may even be an entirely new concept to them, as Protestant churches view Communion as symbolic.

I remember sitting in Mass with JP’s family as a Protestant, scooting forward in the pew so I could give the person behind me room to kneel, but myself not kneeling because I just didn’t get it yet. I wasn’t trying to be irreverant to Jesus. I just honestly didn’t know He was there.

Also, explain to them about who is able to receive Communion. That it is appropriate for those who believe in the True Presence, and are in a state of grace. Invite them to come up during Communion time, and to cross their arms over the body and receive a blessing. Encourage them that no one will think they are weird for staying back, or crossing their arms. In fact, they are showing respect for our faith by not receiving irreverantly, or feigning agreement in an area where they disagree.


If we have Protestant friends/relatives visiting us in Mass, these 5 things will go a long way from them feeling like outsiders, to being able to follow along and participate as they are comfortable. I know they would have been helpful to me as a Protestant. They were things I learned over time, but I spent many an awkward Mass as I tried to put the pieces together. Protestant services, especially contemporary ones, can be quite different than Catholic Masses, and helping bridge that unfamiliarity is a great step in helping our Protestant brothers and sisters to better understand all that is mysterious to them about the Catholic faith.

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The Wedding Weekend And Marrying Into A Huge Catholic Family

This past weekend, we travelled to the great state of Minnesota for JP’s youngest sister’s wedding. There was a lot to look forward to, and the weekend didn’t disappoint.

The Beaming Bride

First, the Sacrament of Marriage. Four of the five of us were able to stand up in the wedding. And, if I may, Lissie and Auggie made a pretty stinking cute pair as flower girl and ring bearer.

And the wedding itself… Marriage is such a beautiful Sacrament. Where two people make the decision to lay down their life for the other, each and every day until death do they part. The homily for Kristy and Joe’s wedding was about the sacraficial nature of marriage, and how it mirrors the sacraficial nature of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Marriage is serious business, and it is so beautiful to be a part of weddings where the Sacrament is appropriately understood.


It is also always a joy to talk to Fr. Nick Nelson, JP’s cousin, who is also a Priest and officiated the ceremony of this and several other family weddings.

The weather was Heaven weather. Like, exactly the temperature you would imagine Heaven would have, if there are temperatures there. Literally perfect. And the reception was held on site at the family winery, Sovereign Estate Wine. Check them out if you are in the Twin Cities area.

There were horse drawn carriage rides, a bonfire, a live band, and a send-off at the end of the evening marked by lanterns floating into the night sky. A beautiful celebration.

The 26th of this month also marks JP and my ten year anniversary as a married couple. We see a lot of ourselves in Kristy and Joe (hope that’s a good thing guys). 🙂


Interestingly, way back then, looong before I desired to become Catholic, we had a Catholic wedding. It was liturgy only, but I didn’t really have a home church at that point, and much of our relationship took place in and around JP’s college, St. Norbert in De Pere, Wisconsin. So we got married there.

Marrying into JP’s huge, super Catholic family was kind of overwhelming at first. I have one brother, and five cousins total.

JP has, siblings and stepsiblings combined, eight brothers and sisters (many of whom are now married, and starting to have children of their own!). And it would take me a while to count all his cousins. But, suffice it to say when the whole family gets together, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins, it’s more than a full house.

And when I met everyone, I remember being weirded out by how Catholic they all were, with their weird Catholic prayers, and their seeming lack of understanding of how strange their Catholic-ness appeared to me. Now I totally laugh about it, but going from pretty low exposure to Catholicism, to getting engaged to a Savaryn… well, culture shock might be putting it lightly. I’m sure, looking back, that the way I practiced my faith was just as foreign to some of them as Catholicism was to me.

Over time, the authenticity of the faith of the family helped me to appreciate it more, and as I got to know the people behind the strong opinions on Truth and the Hail Mary’s, it all became less bizzare. And, eventually, resulted in my openness to give the Catholic Church a second look.

Confirmation Buddies!

And my new brother-in-law, who happens to be my Confirmation buddy, has taken on this huge Catholic Family like a champ.

And the only downside to the enormity of this family I have had the pleasure to join, is we would need several days probably to catch up with everyone appropriately. There’s just so many of us!

Let the Celebration Continue!

Over the course of this particular weekend, the Savaryn family covered 5 of the 7 Sacraments. Amongst us all we had Marriage, Confession, Anointing of the Sick for JP’s dear Oma, The Eucharist and yes, a Baptism!

Welcome to The Church, Baby Elliott!

All in all, it was an honor to stand up for Kristy and Joe’s wedding. And as JP and I look forward to celebrating our 10 year anniversary on the 26th of this month, it was a wonderful reminder of the blessing of the Sacrament of Marriage, as well as the blessing of marrying into a Huge, Super Catholic Family.


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Why I Love Confession

One of the topics I get asked about most often by my Protestant friends is Confession. So here is a humble attempt to explain what the Sacrament of Confession means to me.

Let me start by saying I love Confession. Love it. It’s awesome. More on that in a moment.

And then, let me also start by explaining a bit about what Confession is not to me.

To me:

Confession is not a guilt-induced act that is forced upon me by a strict and rigid institution.

Confession is not my only means of being connected with God, nor is it my only means, in most cases, of being forgiven by God.


My history with the idea of Confession, in any form, was rather shallow. I understood that I needed to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins to commit to Christianity, but, honestly, I was a young kid and I didn’t really think much about what “sin” meant… not listening to my parents, spreading a rumor, being selfish… all things I knew were sin, but for the most part, I, personally, felt like I was doing pretty well overall. Also, many Protestant traditions believe that once you are a Christian, your past, present and future sins are forgiven. So I didn’t feel like there was a lot of motivation to think about my sin.

Also, growing up in different Protestant Churches, most of them would have a time of private confession at some point in the church service. It’s where the pastor or whoever was leading that part of the service would have everyone take a moment and think about their sin, and then pray for and thank God for His forgiveness.

To be honest, in my experience, nearly every time that happened whoever was leading the confession didn’t even give me enough time to begin to contemplate my own sin. The pause lasted for like 5 seconds. And… 5 seconds is inadequate for a true examination of conscience. So I usually just stood quietly and looked prayerful during that time. And still, I continued on not thinking much about my own sin.

I have since found out that the community confession time in many Protestant churches harkens back to the early Christians, but it isn’t really a full representation of what early Christians practiced. It’s more of a shadow of it. Though, I think most Protestants would agree that confessing one’s sins is important in some regard, the actual practice of it in many churches today doesn’t reflect the depth and purpose and history of Confession itself, or why it is important.


This is how I have come to understand sin. I have come to understand that God is offering, every moment of my life, to come alongside me and walk with me. Everywhere. And all the time. He never will leave me. Sin is where in my heart and my actions, I block God out of my life.

In Catholic Confession, prior to going to Confession, it is most appropriate to process through an Examination of Conscience. Many are based on the ten commandments, but there are others as well, for children, married people, single people, etc. It is a really thorough way to discover where I am not allowing God fully into my life. Even just the 1st Commandment examination… I reflect upon where in my life I am not putting God first. Where am I putting something or someone else in God’s place.

One thing I’m definitely not doing is  sitting around with my head in my hands in hopelessness over how sinful I am. It’s actually really helpful for me, and I can use those reflections to allow God into more of my life.

I’ve also come to understand sin as that which wounds our soul and our relationship with our Creator. God is there, all the time, but when I turn away from Him and do my own thing, it is bad for me… left unchecked, it will contribute to my walk with God becoming unhealthy over time… sick even. Many of humanity’s own classic tales reveal what happens when someone is overcome by sin in their own life. Ebeneezer Scrooge and his greed, the Beast and his lack of charity, the Grinch and his desire for revenge.


Catholics believe that Sacraments are ways that God makes tangible (something we can see, smell, taste, touch, or hear), something that is a spiritual reality. So, for example (briefly, because this is a whole ‘nother post), marriage is a Sacrament. It’s meant to be a tangible representation of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Something we can see, and, within the marriage itself, touch, that is meant to draw our minds towards heavenly truth.

Confession, is another Sacrament.

Confession Itself

This is where it gets good. This is the stuff.

I think it is easy for many to think about confession in a church service, or praying directly to God for forgiveness. Catholics also have a time of confession communally each Mass, and Catholics also can pray directly to God for forgiveness in most cases.

I also think it’s easy for Christians to acknowledge that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world around us.

When I walk into the confessional, I am walking in and talking to the Priest, who is acting as the hands and feet of Jesus for me. Instead of silently admitting my sins in private or at church, or to myself alone, I get to verbally share about the areas in my life where I am struggling to let God in. I verbally ask for forgiveness.

And then I audibly hear I am forgiven.

And that is huge. God knows we are both spiritual and physical. I love that this Sacrament exists, and I can hear the truth of my forgiveness time and time again, audibly, from someone who is representing Jesus.

But that’s not all. The Priest then spends a bit of time talking to me about some of my struggles, and prescribes penance. That word is one that may cause someone who isn’t Catholic to go… Yikes! Danger! Or What is that?

Let me explain what penance is. Just as unrepentant sin can hurt our walk with God, and even make our souls sick, penance is a sort of medicine that helps me to turn back to God in the areas in which I struggle.

Example. If someone hurt me and I am struggling to forgive them fully, my penance for that might be to spend some time praying for those people. Penance is simply helping me turn back to God and let Him into more of my life, in the areas where I am blocking him out through my actions.

And I leave the Confessional full of the Holy Spirit, and so thankful for God’s redeeming work in my life. I leave with joy, and I always look forward to going. It helps keep me tuned into and focused on my Savior, and helps me be more aware to walk more closely with Him. More than ever before.

Summing Up

Here is what, to Lorelei, Confession is.

Confession is one of the many ways that I can receive God’s grace.

Confession is a tangible representation of my forgiven and restored relationship with God.

Confession is a Sacrament of healing, and of helping me walk more closely with God.

And that, is why I love Confession. 🙂

What about you? How do you relate to the Sacrament of Confession? Drop us a comment below to share your thoughts!

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(Note: This post was originally published on Protestant Interrupted, where I journaled my conversion process to the Catholic Church. However, since practicing Catholics should be receiving the Eucharist at least once a year during the Easter season, and since we must be in a State of Grace to receive Holy Communion, Lent is a time when many people receive the Sacrament of Confession. Thought this would be a good time to re-share my take on this amazing Sacrament.)

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In Which Mary Charlotte Receives the Sacrament of Baptism

There’s a story in the Gospel of Luke about a man who was paralyzed. Jesus was speaking in a house nearby, and the man’s friends carried him there. It was so crowded that they could not get in the door. However, they did not give up. They carried their friend up on the roof of the house, opened a hole in the roof, and lowered the man down so he could meet Jesus and be healed.

The paralyzed man could not get there on his own. He needed others to bring him to Jesus.  Today, we acted likewise and brought our infant daughter, who can’t yet speak for herself, to Jesus through the Sacrament of Baptism. That story provides such a beautiful parallel to what we do when we baptize our infants.

And now our work has just begun, as we live to raise her with a strong Catholic faith. Soon enough, she will begin making her own decisions about growing in her faith as we support and guide her, and model for her what it is to live this life as a Christian. But this Sacrament is an amazing way to start her off on that journey, and we are so thankful, once again, for the gifts of the Church, and the Sacraments that help to guide us.


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