Where did the Holidays go, anyone know?  Last week was rough, but this week has been proving itself to be brutal.  I think the difference is we were sort of all in the collective fog of wishing we were still lounging around in front of the fire drinking wine and wearing exactly what we had slept in all day while binge watching Netflix.  And last week, as we pretended to be super gung-ho about being back in adult-land we could at least still talk about it with one another.  But not this week.  This week is real production.  Send wine and Friday, please.

As you guys know, the Romans class ended before Christmas (um, yep – that professor did not have Parkinson’s and thus inadvertently give me a minus after the solid A…happy for him x 2).  There was  a bit of a break in theological study, but not in praying  [Side note: never in praying – see 1 Thess.5:16-18] as one of our family members, one of our running buddies, and so freaking many others that we and you know were diagnosed with cancer.  Again.

I just read yesterday in fact, that 25-year old former Butler Bball player, Andrew Smith, died of leukemia.  Enough already.  Cancer, we are not your fan.  But we do live in a very broken world, which is why it is imperative that we live for the One who is not of this world so someday this will all seem like a really, really long warm-up…an arduous and sometimes seemingly never-ending practice that kicks our collective ass.

Honestly, it took me a lot of years, a lot of hardships, and a lot of kicking and screaming before I finally went to Him and decided to be an active player.  Best decision ever.

And so, here it is – the second class has officially begun.  History of Christian Thought.  New professor, new classmates, excellent topic.  From what I can tell, there will be less writing and more…thinking.  The first assignment was clearly just breaking us in for what is yet to come.  I’ll post the rest as they are due throughout the course.
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Summarize your thoughts on one of the theological perspectives you will be discussing in your History of Personal Theology Reflection paper (this should help you clarify your thinking for your paper). Tell us about the influences that helped that perspective become a part of your belief system.
Read your classmates posts and respond to at least two of them. What did you see that was similar to the way you came to your beliefs? What was different? How does their experience and response to it affect your thinking?
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Having been raised Catholic, I always had such a difficult time with the concept of sin and repentance.  I hail from a long-line of Italian (and Irish) Catholics, and the generational pride was evident at each and every holiday gathering.  So to question whether we were “being Catholic correctly” would have gotten me both excommunicated from the family and also devoid of any homemade pasta.  Therefore, I learned very quickly to bottle up all the self-imposed and Mass-confirmed guilt, which did me no favors when it came to understanding the exact level of undiminished forgiveness God offers. 
The Catholic Church indirectly taught erroneously that some sins were worse that others; thus, leading immature Christians to conclude that certain sins might not be forgiven.  I was further under this impression since the number of “prayer penalties” which were doled out varied from week to week, dependent upon (or so I thought) how bad the thing you did actually was – in comparison to your friends.  I clearly remember walking back to our catechism class whispering the inevitable “How many Our Father’s did you get?” question to my best friend, trying to discern if God was angrier at her or me.  I found my religious upbringing to be a very loving and very scary proposition all in one fell swoop.
Both my grandmothers were fantastic influences when it came to faith.  They had a deep-seated and unwavering belief that everything would always be alright, because God would see to it that was the case.  They each modeled prayer (always with Rosary Beads in hand); however, there was never any familial praying other than the obligatory pre-dinner blessing.  I never knew how to pray, let alone how to ask for forgiveness.  And I was certainly never taught that if we confessed our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
And so it went on, this vicious cycle of sinning (sometimes even on purpose as those teenage years beg for us to do) followed by a less than heartfelt “confession” in church every Sunday when the light above the booth turned green, signaling that the other sinner was done recounting their list of “oops’s” and had received their resultant prayer tally. 
I was always so fearful not only of what I had done in the last seven days, but that God would also give me extra punishment because He knew that I wasn’t exactly telling the truth in the confessional.  It was unfair!  Not only was I unable to fully cease sinning, but then I had to sin again by talking about it?  Was God testing me?  Was He trying to make me prove how much I believed, how much I loved Him?  The whole concept left me numb.  I was empty, left to flail around aimlessly like a bird with one wing. 
That is, until I actually decided to read Scripture.  How about THAT concept? 
While my heritage and church upbringing provided me an unbelievable sense of community, tradition and belonging, nothing has shone more light on the way in which God forgives us than His Word itself.  God tells us that we need not do anything to be saved.  Salvation is a gift from Him (Eph. 2:8) and He blesses us and forgives our sins (Romans 4:7-8).
James tell us that if weconfess our sins to one another and pray for one another, we may be healed (James 5:16).  I give thanks that I have been healed from early misconceptions about God, and continue to thirst for an intimate knowledge of and relationship with Him.