My Catholic Arsenal
I am blogging about this, (and I don't know how long it's going to be), for a friend of mine who shall remain anonymous in this blog for her privacy. She is a recent convert, and with very deep faith. God has His hand on her. What she has discovered, as I did since I'm also a convert, is NO ONE learns everything in RCIA. Well. Maybe if Padre Pio taught your RCIA. Haha.. but for most of us, it seems, as thorough as they try to be, there is so much information they cannot possibly cover everything. So they teach the "meat" of it, (sorry to my vegetarian/vegan friends), because as we all know, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk.
I attended RCIA when I was in my early twenties. I did learn a lot from Father who taught the class. But even as holy, kind, and deeply committed as he was, a lot of things I didn't learn. So, (drum roll please), this is my little "101" on what I have and what I do and why. Just things I have learned that I 'didn't' learn in RCIA. This is all for my dear friend, but anyone who can glean from it, or heck, add to it, please feel free to be my guest. :)
Number one, I believe a Catholic needs a bible, a copy of the Catechism, and a rosary. When I went through RCIA, we were recommended to the The New American Bible, but I noticed that Father used and preferred for himself The New Jerusalem Bible. So that's what I have. Okay, well, actually I have both. But the New Jerusalem is my favorite. Any Catholic bible will do. If in doubt, do an internet search, or talk with your priest and find out what he recommends.
Next on the list is a good copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can get it in hard back or paper back. Until you get one, you can find it online at http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm, and I'd bet the family farm they have apps you can get on your phone. So, why do you need a Catechism? Because it's a basic "rule book", so to speak. Any question you have can be looked up and answered. You can see what the Church's stance is on anything. Not to mention, it helps you learn your faith. I cannot recommend it enough. Some of them can be pricey. I bought mine at a thrift store. Look around. You'll find them.
Lastly, but most certainly not least, a rosary. Make sure, please, that it's a Catholic rosary, with 60 beads. Please get it blessed. Any priest will be happy to bless your rosary, or anything else, if you ask him.
Other things: I have in my home a "pie safe" cabinet, which is basically a table that opens up like a cupboard in the front with shelves inside. You can start small... such as a paper holy picture and a small candle. I put mine on my pie safe table, and thus started my little table shrine. My little place to keep holy things. I've added to it... I bought a table top crucifix, (which I had blessed) a couple of very small "dollar store" statues, (figurines, really, also I got blessed), and put them on top with a candle holder. Inside I keep my stuff. Candles, candle holders, blessed salt, holy water, blessed oil, and more. When I buy a box of salt, a box of tea lite candles (or votives), I take it in and ask the priest to bless it for me. If the smoke of a candle is carrying my prayers to Heaven, I'd prefer that the candle be blessed. Also, since the Church has a yearly Candle-mas service to bless all candles, I can't possibly be the only nut who does this. Hahaha. So I know that any time I light a candle in prayer, I'm doing so on a blessed candle. I also buy the candles from church... They're $3 each, and so I can buy 3 or 4 and they last a while. And.. I get them blessed. In our parish bookstore are the glass candle holders identical to the ones they use on the Church alter. This is important! A lot of candle holders, YES, even "safe" ones that you buy from the store, will sometimes burst. Church candle holders are specially made for candles to burn for hours at a time. They certainly aren't going to risk burning down the Church, so I feel quite safe using those same candle holders in my home. Bear in mind, it *is* a candle, and accidents do happen. So please use safety precautions as you would with any other candle. WHILE I'm on the subject of candles... do NOT buy those crazy grocery store candles with the Saints on them. Apparently a good many of them are used in Santeria which is voodoo and a lot of their candles look like ours. It's hard to tell the difference sometimes, so my best advice is DON'T RISK IT and just get the ones from Church.. you know they're not going to sell you anything crazy. Better safe than sorry.
I have been told by different folks that you ought to have, (and no, I don't yet but I plan to), two pure beeswax candles (blessed) for emergencies. Keep them in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator and have them literally for emergencies. I admit readily I am a little uneducated on this, and so perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it. But, it was mentioned to me, and so I'm just sharing the info. Once again, I say, better safe than sorry. Sometimes all the details don't really matter when good old fashioned faith is more than enough. :)
Blessed salt. You can buy any box of regular table salt from the grocery. Take it, still sealed, to your priest.
He will bless it as usual, but then he will open up your salt and pray the exorcism prayer over it. He will sprinkle a little out and make the Sign of the Cross. Then you have yourself a nice box full of blessed salt. I will tell you now.. go ahead and take 2 or 3 boxes or salt.... Father will NOT think you're nuts. And that way you only have to bug him once, and you have enough blessed salt to last a pretty long time. So, what do you do with blessed salt? Well, it's a sacramental. Walk the perimeter of your property, pray for protection for your home and sprinkle a little as you walk and pray. Walk through your home and pray protection for your home, sprinkling the blessed salt across thresholds... and anywhere you think you'd benefit. It's not a 'good luck charm'. It's a sacramental and a matter of faith. You can sprinkle a few grains in your car, add a pinch to the pot when you're cooking supper, toss a small pinch in front of an abortion clinic as you pass by, and the list goes on. I do not put it into a salt shaker, but I will not hesitate to add a pinch to a pot of soup, (NOT for seasoning.. for blessing!) and if you can manage it, add a pinch especially to the food of a person who is (such as an ornery teenager), in need of a blessing! :)
Holy Water and Blessed Oil. Okay. You can take any bottle with a tight fitting lid and use it to store holy water. Take your clean, empty bottle to the Church and ask where you may fill your bottle. I have a few plastic holy water bottles I've bought at our parish bookstore, and I keep them filled. I usually fill a couple of small bottles, that way I always have a full one when one gets empty.
So, what do I do with holy water? Bless yourself. Get a holy water font and put it by your front door, and bless yourself every time you go to walk out that door. And bless yourself again when you come in.. your home is the Domestic Church. We need all the protection we can get! Bless yourself, bless your children, bless your dog. When nerves are frazzled or there's been arguing, spritz holy water into the air. Cleanse your home. I've been known to add a drop or two to a a pitcher of iced tea or Crystal Light... an added blessing!! If you are ill, you can take a tiny sip of the holy water too.
When you're at the store buying your salt, pick up a bottle of 100% pure olive oil. (I buy extra Virgin), and have it blessed too. Use it like you would holy water. Use it to bless your loved ones, and to bless yourself. You can also use a small amount on a wound, and it will help heal it. Yes I've done this, and YES it did work!!
Okay folks, it's late. I will do a "part 2" on this later. :) Good night and God Bless!! +JMJ+