Friday, August 30, 2013

6 Things You May Not Know About Jesus

6 Things You May Not Know About Jesus:

1 - He didn't give a straight answer very often. A few examples:
  • In Matthew 22, when his opponents try to trap him with questions on who should pay taxes, Jesus says "Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God."
  • In Matthew 9, when asked about fasting, he talks of weddings and wine skins.
  • In Mark 12, he is questioned about the resurrection of the dead and never answers the direct question, but he certainly lets his opponents know they are clueless about it all.
2 - Jesus isn't the only person to die and then come back to life again days later (even though He is the only one to do so by His choice and power).
  • Elijah raises a widow's son from the dead in 1 Kings 17.
  • Elisha raises a woman's son from the dead in 2 Kings 4.
  • A man is raised from the dead when his corpse touches Elisha's bones in 2 Kings 13.
  • The bodies of many saints are raised after Jesus dies in Matt 27:50-53
  • Jesus raises several people from the dead (e.g., Lazarus, Widow's son, etc.)
  • Peter raises a woman from the dead in Acts 9:40-41.
3 - Jesus' relatives don't easily accept all his teachings.
  • "When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”" -Mark 3:21
  • “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” - Mark 6:4
4 - Jesus is considered a rebel, but was greatly misunderstood.
  • "The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’" -Matt 11:19 
  • "The Jews answered and said to him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan 20 and are possessed?"" - John 8:48
  • "Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him." -Mark 6:3
5 - Jesus had bad days.
  • "And Jesus wept." -John 11:35
  • In Matthew 14 Jesus hears of his cousin's death (John the baptist) and tries to go away by himself.
  • In Mark 10 the rich young man walks away from Jesus after He is called to change his life.
  • In Matt 8 Jesus is so exhausted He doesn't even wake up when a storm nearly kills Him. Then His apostles doubt His power.
6 - Jesus isn't always "nice".
  • In John 2 he turned over money-changers' table and drove them out of the temple with a whip.
  • "Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?" - Matt 22:18
  • "Jesus said in reply, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and endure you?" - Luke 9:41
  • In Matthew 15 he insults a woman calling her a "dog".

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Catholics and the Bible

Q - It is a common misconception that Catholics are discouraged from reading the Bible. Is there anything in recent Catholic history that could have spawned this idea? I'm thinking about my grandmother's generation, more than my own.

A - Thanks for the question. You are certainly on the right track, but we have to go back much further to see the beginning of this idea.

The first thing we need to do is shed ourselves of our preconceived ideas. We take for granted now that anyone can have a Bible if they want one. Yet not only has this not been the case through most of Christian history, but it isn't the case in many parts of the world (North Korea, Middle Eastern countries, etc). Remember that a majority of people during Christian history couldn't read well, if at all. Most didn't have access until books, even after the printing press, because of large costs.

With all of this background, we can see that throughout most of the 2,000 years of history of the Catholic Church, Bibles were not an everyday possession of most common people. So, the way they learned about the Bible was through other means - Mass, fine art (think stained glass windows, murals, paintings, music, etc), stories, and oral tradition. With this being said there are a number of "myths" surrounding the Catholic Church and the Bible:

1 - The Catholic Church chained Bibles to keep the from the people.
-more accurately, they were chained because they were so valuable and a church might have only one copy. Not to "keep them from the people" but rather to keep them from thieves.

2 - The Catholic Church discourages personal Bible reading because they know that if you read the Bible for yourself you will find the truth behind their lies.
-This one sounds silly, but many believe it to be true. The problem is that the Catholic Church has always maintained that Scripture is indispensable to a Christian.

3 - The Catholic Church banned early translations of the Bible (even killing some of the translators), because they didn't want common people to read it and know the truth.
-Rather, the Church banned early translations because they were done "unofficially" and without proper Church oversight. They contained many errors and the Church banned them because they were bad translations - just as the Jehovah's Witnesses have a bad translation today, filled with many errors, some of the deliberate (if only we were protected from some of the bad translations we have today).

There are many more myths, but what happened is that they worked there way into the consciousness of many people, even today.

Another factor in perpetuating the myth is the confusion that ensued after Vatican II in the 60's. If you want to read about some of that, you can in previous posts I have made here and here. Suffice it to say that many problems in the Church were amplified after Vatican II, including Biblical teaching.

So, are Catholics discouraged from reading the Bible? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
In fact, here are a few pertinent quotes from through the ages about the Bible:
"Flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures."
-Irenaeus, 2nd Cent.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ"
-St. Jerome, 5th Cent.

"The church of believers is great, and its bosom most ample; it embraces the fullness of the two Testaments."
-Ephraem, 4th Cent.

"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."
-St. Augustine, 4th Cent.

"Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade."
-Pope St. Gregory, 6th Cent.

"Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful."
-Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 20th Cent.

Top 50 Saints' Quotes

I originally posted this several years ago. Since that time it has gotten nearly 100,000 hits! One of our biggest posts ever.

The top 50 Saints' quotes, in an arbitrary ranking. There are many others that I didn't put on the list that are great. Feel free to leave them in the comments.
  1. "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."
    -St. Jerome

  2. "Since Christ Himself has said, "This is My Body" who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body?"
    -St. Cyril of Jerusalem

  3. "Teach us to give and not count the cost."
    -St. Ignatius de Loyola

  4. "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
    -St. Augustine

  5. "Don't you long to shout to those youths who are bustling around you: Fools! Leave those worldly things that shackle the heart - and very often degrade it - leave all that and come with us in search of Love!"
    -St. Josemaria Escriva

  6. "For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."
    -St. Therese of Lisieux

  7. "To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them."
    -St. Thomas Aquinas

  8. "On the question of relating to our fellowman – our neighbor’s spiritual need transcends every commandment. Everything else we do is a means to an end. But love is an end already, since God is love."
    -St. Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)

  9. "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!"
    -St. Catherine of Sienna

  10. "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy."
    -St. Francis

  11. "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you."
    -St. Augustine of Hippo

  12. "Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity."
    -St. Vincent de Paul

  13. "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!"
    -St. Augustine

  14. "O Master, make me chaste, but not yet!"
    -St. Augustine

  15. "’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children"
    -St. Clement of Alexandria

  16. "Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed.’ Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can only bind the body. Priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did [God] not give them all the powers of heaven?...What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven"
    -St. John Chrysostom

  17. "The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are."
    -St. Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)

  18. "We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable."
    -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

  19. "We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials."
    -St. Teresa of Avila

  20. "Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."
    -St. Ignatius of Antioch

  21. "If this is the way You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few!"
    -St. Teresa of Avila

  22. "Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could."
    -St. Gregory Nazianzen

  23. "Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort me and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
    -St. Patrick

  24. "Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom."
    -St. Toribio

  25. "All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly."
    -St. Thomas Aquinas

  26. "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers."
    -St. Teresa of Avila

  27. "I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible"
    -St. Ignatius of Antioch

  28. "You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all."
    -St. Therese of Lisieux

  29. "You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud."
    -St. Vincent de Paul

  30. "Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labors."
    -St. Therese of Lisieux

  31. "When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries."
    - St. Josemaria Escriva

  32. "From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!"
    -St. Teresa of Avila

  33. "Love God, serve God; everything is in that."
    -St. Clare of Assisi

  34. "Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray."
    -St. Louis de Montfort

  35. "Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven."
    -St. Rose of Lima

  36. "The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant."
    -St. Anthony of Padua

  37. "Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved."
    -St. Robert Bellarmine

  38. "Whether, therefore, we receive what we ask for, or do not receive it, let us still continue steadfast in prayer. For to fail in obtaining the desires of our heart, when God so wills it, is not worse than to receive it; for we know not as He does, what is profitable to us."
    -St. John Chrysostom

  39. "What does the poor man do at the rich man’s door, the sick man in the presence of his physician, the thirsty man at a limpid stream? What they do, I do before the Eucharistic God. I pray. I adore. I love." -St. Francis

  40. "Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven."
    -Pope St. Pius X

  41. "We will either accuse ourselves or excuse ourselves."
    -St. John Vianney

  42. "If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark."
    -St. John of the Cross

  43. "He loves, He hopes, He waits. If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant."
    -St. Julian Peter Eymard

  44. "Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity- the fire of love of God and neighbor- it will work wonders."
    -St. Anthony Mary Claret

  45. "Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love, it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes."
    -St. Pio of Pietrelcino

  46. "You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."
    -St. Francis de Sales

  47. "Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry"
    -St. Pio of Pietrelcino

  48. "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."
    -St. Francis

  49. "Tribulation is a gift from God - one that he especially gives His special friends."
    -St. Thomas More

  50. "If I speak to thee in friendship's name, thou think'st I speak too coldly, if I mention love's devoted flame, thou say'st I speak too boldly"
    - St. Thomas More

From the "he never said it" file:

  • "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." -St. Francis
From the "not quite yet canonized" file:
  • "There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church. Which is, of course, quite a different thing."
    -Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen
  • "Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius."
    -Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen
  • "Hearing nuns’ confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn."
    -Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen
  • "We can do no great things; only small things with great love."
    -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
  • "Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls."
    -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
  • "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
    -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
  • "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."
    -Venerable John Paul II
  • "Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ."
    -Venerable John Paul II
  • "The human person is a good towards which the only proper attitude is love."
    -Venerable John Paul II
  • "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
    -Venerable John Paul II
In my opinion, the most quotable Catholic of all time is G.K. Chesterton - so I have not included any of his here, there are too many.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Do Catholics Have Crucifixes?

Q - Are there non-Catholic Churches/denominations which display the crucifix? What reasons are given to favor the cross over the crucifix?

A - Thanks for the questions. Yes, there are others, but not many. The others that use the crucifix are the Orthodox Churches, some Anglican/Episcopalian parishes, and some Lutheran churches. You might find a crucifix in a few other Protestant churches, but they would be few and far between.

There are several reasons why the Catholic Church (and others) use the crucifix as a symbol of our faith and others do not. These reasons include:
  • Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 1:23, "we proclaim Christ crucified." Christ's crucifixion is something we find beautiful, because it is the high point of his sacrifice for us.
  • The crucifix is a symbol of what is happening in our liturgy - the re-presentation of the cross in a non-bloody manner on the altar in the form of the Eucharist.
  • Many Protestant denominations went through a period of clearing out art and religious symbols for fear of violating the second commandment (in the Protestant listing of the 10 Commandments, which differs from the Catholic one) of not having graven images and of appearing too "Catholic".
  • Many Protestant denominations emphasize the Resurrection over the crucifixion. Neither is complete in-and-of-itself, but each place a different emphasis on a part of the whole act of salvation offered by Christ.
Thus, because our belief in what goes on in Mass is very different (The Eucharist), our emphasis and symbols are very different from many of our Protestant brothers and sisters. This does not mean that Catholics fail to see the significance of the Resurrection or that Protestants fail to see the importance of the cross. We all know that the cross is the most recognized symbol of our faith.

There are many benefits to having visual signs of our faith. We are able to focus better in prayer when we have the visual representations of what Christ did for us, all (especially those unable to read) can see depictions of the life of Christ, etc. We are bodily creatures and our prayers should be both bodily and spiritual.

The Catechism says:
617 "The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ's sacrifice as "the source of eternal salvation" and teaches that "his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us." And the Church venerates his cross as she sings: "Hail, O Cross, our only hope.""
I hope this helps.

Friday, August 23, 2013

If You Think Men Should Have No Say In Abortion...Then Read This

A post that might break your heart from Rebecca Frech's blog.
I'm in love with a girl I've never met. I've never held her hand, or stroked her hair, or sang songs to her. But I love her all the same.

Whether she's tall or short, I don't know. The shape of her face exists only in my imagination. The lilt in her voice and the joy in her laugh - sounds that would rival the chorus of angels, I'm sure. Sparkling eyes of brown, perhaps hazel.

All that is lost to me. All I possess are the unreal memories of what could have been.

Because 25 years ago, about this time in August, the girl I love was aborted. My little girl. My only daughter. A child so inseparably wrapped around my finger to this day. A girl who will never call me "daddy".

A girl who never felt the protective embrace of her father, because her father failed in her greatest moment of need.

I could write about the abortion, the whys and wherefores, but why? That guy, in a very real sense, no longer exists. I'm not that guy anymore, just as I'm no longer the kid who attended Catholic grade school, or the idiot who got drunk at college parties. The days of "If only..." are long behind me, nor do I play the "I should've..." game any longer. After 25 years, I ought to have stopped all that, right? I admit that what I did, what I allowed to happen, was wrong. I've repented and done my penance. I'm reconciled with the Church.

Reconciliation, while it removes the sin, it doesn't wash away the grief. There's a child-sized hole in my heart that will never be filled in this life. Actually, there's a child-sized hole in my life that my heart will never get over.

The grief of lost fatherhood due to abortion is rarely talked about. It's only been recently that groups like Rachel's Vineyard have reached out to dads and help them through the grieving process. It's something I yearn to participate in, to get the full healing I know I still need, but am unable to.

Why? Because a couple years later, I married the woman who had the abortion. I married the mother of our daughter. You might think that a lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided if we had married other people, and I wouldn't necessarily argue with you. But back in those days, I had convinced myself that the abortion wasn't on me, that I wasn't responsible. It had nothing to do with me. As time went on, though, I faced the fact that I was responsible, that I was a father, and I needed healing.

The bad thing is, the abortion remains a taboo topic of discussion between us to this day, an invisible intractable wall, breached only twice in the past two-and-a-half decades. I'm not going to dive into the dynamics going on, except to say: the one person who can help me work through the grief and pain is the same person who refuses to acknowledge that I'm justified in experiencing pain and grief in the first place. Plus she is unwilling, or incapable of, admitting she killed her child. But this is something I must talk about. To go this long without telling anybody is beyond what I ever believed I could bear. To go any further leads me into a wilderness I have no desire to venture.

It's important that people realize that there are many, many fathers out there who regret the abortion and yet are unable to, or are uncomfortable with, talking about it. The guilt and shame; the feelings of inadequacy, in failing to protect the vulnerable; the isolation; the detachment and inability to form stable relationships; the unspoken tension; the negative effect on parenting; the emotional scarring. These things and more plague countless men, and most carry their grief as an invisible weight that squeezes the very life from their souls. They love the children who exist only in their hearts, unrequited and forlorn.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 False Ways Of Understanding God + Implications

When I was a child, I had a very child-like view of God, which came with both positives and negatives.

I remember thinking of God as a wise old man, with a long white beard. He sat on clouds and looked quite sour most of the time. He was a judge who saw everything I did and waited for me to do wrong. When I did sin, He would get me back - one way or another.

On the other hand, God also forgave anything I asked Him to. He had all the answers and was all-powerful. This gave me some peace and comfort as well.

Once I took on an adult faith, I had to deal with other faulty images of God. These faulty images have implications in how I act, how I see others, how I view the world, etc. All of us must deal, at some point or another, with our disordered views of God. Here are a few of the most common and the problems they may present.


1 - The Cosmic Vending Machine In The Sky. Many people believe God is merely there to serve their needs. As long as the put in their good deeds, prayers, etc. they can "pay" God to do their bidding. This isn't the way a relationship works. If we see prayer and our relationship with God as a mere service in exchange for a payment, we have a vending machine (or a butler) in the sky - not a living God who may not answer our prayers just as we want.

2 - The Divine Yet Disconnected Watchmaker. This view of God is Deistic (God is creator of the universe, but not involved in it personally anymore), but it is more common than you might think. Less than 50% of Catholics believe in a "personal God"! If God does not care about each of us individually, then the implications are enormous - What does faith matter? How ought I act?

3 - The All-Powerful Cop. This understanding of God tends to see Him as a cop, hiding behind a cloud, waiting to pull us over and give us a ticket for our bad behavior. It is the same understanding I had as a child - that God merely cared about what we did wrong. If God loves us, we are more than our sins!

4 - The Non-Judgmental Drinking Buddy. If we see God as someone who really doesn't care how we act, then our actions don't matter at all. He is then reduced to a drinking buddy, who doesn't really want what is best for us or care to challenge us to live a great life - rather He just wants us to "feel" good about everything (even stupid and unhealthy things) we do and ultimately he is an enabler, not God.

5 - The Teddy Bear God. Sometimes we limit God to a nice easy list of concepts we can understand and therefore deal with. It may be that God is powerful - but not ALL-powerful. God might be merciful - but not mercy itself! This comforts many people, because then God is "safer" for them to deal with. These limitations on God are actually limitations on our understanding of God, not on the nature of God Himself.


These are only 5 of the many ways we can misunderstand God's nature. The way we fix these problems (and others) is by continued conversion in faith, that is, we constantly seek to allow God to reveal Himself to us, through:
  • prayer
  • The Sacraments
  • Sacred Scripture
  • other people
  • nature
  • etc.
To be attentive to how God speaks to us and reveals Himself to us, we have to make ourselves available to Him and once we receive such grace, we must allow our minds and hearts to be transformed. Thus, we have to choose to act on His grace. In this, our hearts can be attuned to understand Him more deeply. Which is why the discovery of God's nature is a never-ending task, even in heaven.

Yet, these revelations of God to our hearts can transform us deeply, just as when God revealed Himself to St. Augustine:
“Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.” -St. Augustine

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The World According to the Class of 2017!

Most freshman who are entering college were born in 1995 - the year I graduated college and got married!

Every year college students stay in the same age-range and I just keep getting older.

Below are a few of my favorites from the annual "mindset List for the Class of 2017" from Beloit College's Tom McBride and Ron Nief:
The Mindset List for the Class of 2017
1. Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.
2. They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.
3. GM means food that is Genetically Modified.
4. As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.
5. “Dude” has never had a negative tone.
6. As their parents held them as infants, they may have wondered whether it was the baby or Windows 95 that had them more excited.
7. As kids they may well have seen Chicken Run but probably never got chicken pox.
8. Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
9. Gaga has never been baby talk.
10. They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
11. They have known only two presidents.
14. Rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phone and Skype accounts than with getting a driver’s license and car.
16. A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.
24. Courts have always been ordering computer network wiretaps.
26. Jurassic Park has always had rides and snack bars, not free-range triceratops and velociraptors.
28. With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
29. Java has never been just a cup of coffee.
31. Olympic fever has always erupted every two years.
33. In their first 18 years, they have watched the rise and fall of Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez.
36. The U.S. has always imposed economic sanctions against Iran.
40. They have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena.
41. As they slept safely in their cribs, the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber were doing their deadly work.
42. There has never been a national maximum speed on U.S. highways.
44. Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.
45. They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.
48. Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation in the cinematic universe.
52. They have always been able to plug into USB ports
54. Washington, D.C., tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.
57. Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.
58. New York’s Times Square has always had a splash of the Magic Kingdom in it. For the entire list click here.
Anybody else feeling old?

Is The Church Dispensable?

Fr. Barron has some wonderful thoughts on The Church and those who choose to leave it.

Reminded me of these quotes:
"The parallel between Christ and Church, Incarnation and Church history, goes still further. I thought, just as Jesus made a claim about His identity that forces us into one of only two camps, His enemies or His worshippers, those who call Him liar and those who call Him
Lord; so the Catholic Church's claim to be the one true Church, the Church Christ founded, forces us to say either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that she is just what she claims to be. Just as Jesus stood out as the absolute exception to all other human teachers in claiming to be more than human and more than a teacher, so the Catholic Church stood out above all other denominations in claiming to be not merely a denomination, but the Body of Christ incarnate, infallible, one, and holy, presenting the really present Christ in her Eucharist. I could never rest in a comfortable, respectable ecumenical halfway house of measured admiration from a distance. I had to shout either "Crucify her!" or "Hosanna!" if I could not love and believe her, honesty forced me to despise and fight her."
-Peter Kreeft
"The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves."
-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Monday, August 19, 2013

Matt Archbold's Final Footnote For College Students

Many of you probably know about a popular series of lectures on college campuses called “The Last Lecture Series”. Professors (and others) are asked to give a lecture to students as if it were the last presentation they are able to give during their life.

Building on this idea - I asked a number of Catholic authors, bloggers, and speakers to answer the following question in 500 words or less:
“What do you think is the most important thing you could tell college students if you had one last blog post to do it?”
I call this series, The Final Footnote.

We have already had three others write for us in the series:

Below is the 4th post in the series from Matt Archbold. Matt is a husband, father of five, and an author. He blogs at the National Catholic Register and Creative Minority Report.
I know nothing. This is not a promising start to a final blog post. But here’s the truth - none of us do. So at some point we must make a leap of faith.

We leap anytime we make a decision. We leap when we choose to enter into a relationship, we leap when we pick a college, we leap when we get out of bed in the morning. We are not guaranteed an ending but we weigh the odds, we take our chances, and we leap.

My only advice to you is to leap towards love. When I have done so I have found I tend to land in good places.

In life, you must decide whether we are accidents on a spinning rock hurtling through space or we are intended, loved, and immortal miracles. Quite simply I can not view others as freak occurrences. Look around at the people you love. Look at a child. Do they seem more like miracles or just things that happen on a rock if it hurtles around space long enough?

Choosing to view life as an accident seems to me to not be logical. You can speak to mathematicians about the chances of life forming out of nothing. There’s a lot of zeroes involved but they say it’s about the same as a tornado ripping through a junkyard and forming a 747. Not good.

Choosing to believe that you are surrounded by miracles isn’t easy though. One must handle miracles with care. I think that’s why so many choose to believe in junkyard tornados. If you choose the side or miracles and love, that decision has consequences. Difficult consequences. You see, we are not called on simply to not hurt one another. We are called to love one another. That is a much greater responsibility. It’s much harder to do.

Love is not a feeling. It is a deep commitment to service. As the Bible says, love is patient, love is kind. Well, we don’t often feel like being patient or kind. Love can be difficult. But it’s worth it.

I’ll tell you a quick story. When I graduated college, I wanted to write for a living but I wanted to write about things that really mattered. So I marched into the newsroom of a local newspaper and told them I’d work for them a month for free at night after my day job and if they liked what I was doing then they could start paying me. Who knows why they said yes. He may have just enjoyed the sheer stupidity of it.

I worked the next decade as a journalist until I landed at my dream job at a city newspaper. I was excited and quite frankly impressed with myself. But one thing bugged me was how little actual writing I was doing. Writing straight news can be formulaic. Somewhat dull. I yearned to write a column about something I thought was important, beautiful even. I didn’t really know what mattered to me but I knew I wanted to write about it. I wanted a column for a national newspaper about things that really mattered.

But then my wife and I had our first child. But I was still working hard on my career. My child was someone I scheduled in on weekends. Finally, one night I had to make a decision. I could go on as a reporter and see my child on the big days like graduations and maybe a wedding or I could go back to freelancing and stay home with the children. This was the toughest decision of my life. I’d worked very hard to get where I was going. But after praying and discussing it with my wife I made the decision to stay home with the children. I believed that by making that decision I would never obtain my dream of writing a column about things that mattered. But I knew my children were more important. It was a leap of faith. But I chose love. I chose service.

We now have five children and I can tell you, other than marrying my wife staying home with them was the best decision I’ve made. And a funny thing happened. In between naps and feedings and play times I started writing a blog about things I thought were important and beautiful to me, mainly my family. Soon after, the National Catholic Register asked me to begin writing for them. I’d been writing for them a few years before I realized that I was writing a column about something important and beautiful to me for a national newspaper.

Ironic, huh? When I gave up my newspaper job I thought I was walking away from my dream altogether but quite frankly I had nothing to write about. In giving it all up and choosing love, I found my something to write about. But Christianity is not some genie’s lamp to rub and your dreams come true. God doesn’t necessarily fix the world, He fixes you and makes you ready to start fixing this broken world.

Every day is a leap of faith, but leaping towards love has made all the difference.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taylor Marshall's Final Footnote For College Students

Many of you probably know about a popular series of lectures on college campuses called “The Last Lecture Series”. Professors (and others) are asked to give a lecture to students as if it were the last presentation they are able to give during their life.

Building on this idea - I asked a number of Catholic authors, bloggers, and speakers to answer the following question in 500 words or less:
“What do you think is the most important thing you could tell college students if you had one last blog post to do it?”
I call this series, The Final Footnote.

We have already had two others write for us in the series:
Below is the 3rd post in the series from Dr. Taylor Marshall. Taylor is an author of four books, blogger, speaker, Husband, Dad, and Aggie (whoop!).
Dear college student,

When I was in college I made four mistakes. I also enjoyed one major success.

1) First, I lost contact with my family back home. I was so eager to leave home that I simply disconnected from my parents and siblings. It took years to reconnect. You’re having fun at college, but don’t forget your roots. Blood really is thicker than water.

2) Second, I chose some bad friends. Your friends in high school were pretty much forced on you by geography and social class. College allows you to choose friends in a new way. Aristotle says that a true friend is one who “loves your soul.” The friends you make in college will stay with you for life and may determine who you marry and what patterns you follow in life. Choose wisely.

3) Third, I wrongly believed that education was in textbooks, not professors. Engage your professors. I have a BA, two MAs, and a PhD. I am now a college professor. I’ve rode the academic train for longer than most.

Now the one thing I’ve learned is that true education comes from personal encounters with mentors. Find a topic you love, find a prof you love, and befriend him or her. That relationship will enable decades of learning. If you play your cards right, you will have a professor who is a friend.

4) Fourth, I didn’t know that I should find a spiritual director. I was not a Catholic in college, but I could have benefitted by having a priest or spiritual director in my life. Pray for a priest who can guide your soul into holiness.

Those are the four mistakes I made. Let me share one success. I met my wife in college. I was at Texas A&M, she went to Baylor. It was a blind date in our senior year.

I was introduced to my beautiful and fun wife because I had a good network of godly friends. The best way to meet your spouse is to have a huge pool of referrals talking you up and introducing you to quality people. Crowdsource your spouse! We may not have arranged marriages anymore, but I highly recommend arranged dating. Let your friends and her friends be your best reference. Joy and I now have seven children and we are so happy. She is my best friend.

Last of all, since this is my “final footnote,” please consider a "spiritual rule of life." Believe it or not, college is one of the times in life in which you have the most spare time. Spend this extra time in cultivating good life habits. You won’t regret it. Try to work in the following:
  1. daily mental prayer
  2. daily rosary
  3. daily Bible reading
  4. weekly confession
  5. daily Eucharist if you can
  6. Eucharist adoration
The only way to have a happy marriage and a happy career is to have rich interior life in which you daily speak and listen to Our Lord Jesus Christ. If you don’t have that, your GPA and your high-paying job out of college will bring you no joy.

ad Jesum per Mariam,
Taylor Marshall, PhD

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Never Thought I Would Say This...

I never thought I would say this, but I agree with Ashton Kutcher.
This is a great speech. My only issue is with the reaction of part of the audience, who really isn't listening.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mosey with God

My sweet old girl (pictured above) has always been a low energy dog, but pull out the leash or say the word "walk" (or slip your heal into a walking shoe which she can somehow hear from the other room) and she gets excited.  She is now 11 years old (the average lifespan for her breed is 8 years) and though I'm trying to work a deal with God that she will live forever, she has slowed down quite a bit in recent months.  
About six months ago she slowed down significantly on walks.  Both the length of walks shortened and the pace slowed.  I noticed another decline about six weeks ago and she now trips occasionally or lags behind as we go.
At first I was supremely annoyed by the slower pace.  I mean, I knew she was older, but our walking had always been about my exercise and not her leisure wanderings into the grass.  I trained her early on to keep pace with me and it wasn't until the home stretch of our walks (last block or two) that I would ease up and let her explore.  As the walks slowed down and she insisted on sniffing (she is 100+lbs so she can still insist pretty forcefully) I'd try to coax her along.  First kindly and then with frustration rising in my voice.  
Eventually I realized that walks with Ellie no longer had any cardio benefit.  They resemble more an unhurried mosey with frequent stops to just watch her explore the great outdoors.  For a naturally fast walker, this was torture for several weeks until one day . . .  I decided these short walks were going to be just about her.  Not about me.  10 years as a faithful walking buddy, she had earned the right to mosey.  
That sounds like a simple shift, but it took me a while.  As I began to embrace the walks as being "all about her" I started to enjoy them again.  I now let her go where she wants, sniff what she wants, stop when she wants, slow down when she wants.  I talk sweetly to her as we go, no frustration in my voice now, just an appreciation that she is still here and still walking by my side.  With the shift in mindset came a shift in attitude.  
Tonight as we moseyed, I pondered this shift.  The situation was the same (slow as molasses walks), but I was different.  And it hit me.  I sometimes need a shift in how I think about walking with God.  
Often I seem to fight God's pace.  I run ahead when he is gently saying, "Wait."  Other times, I reluctantly drag my feet when he is skipping ahead with an outstretched hand saying "Lets go! It will be fun!"  I try to coax him to do what I want - first kindly and then with frustration rising in my voice.  I try to get him to keep pace with me - to walk my route, my plan, my speed.  And you know what?  Its torture. 
But what if I had a shift in mindset about following God's will?  What if I saw that this walk of faith is really all about him?  What if I let him lead - go where he wants, stop when he wants, slow down when he wants?  All without fighting or complaining.  What if I kept pace with him? What if I had a new appreciation simply for the fact that he is here with me, walking every step by my side? 
What if I learned to mosey with God?  What if you did too?
I suspect our situations and circumstances might still be the same, but we would be different.  We would have a shift in attitude and enjoy this walk of faith. I want to be different. I want to enjoy this.  What about you?
Oh Lord, teach us to mosey with you!  

D.C. Leaders Cancel Gospel Singer's Concert Due To Views On Homosexuality

Would D.C. officials cancel a concert by a pro-abortion singer? What about someone that was against another hot-button issue? Here is one topic they did:
Gospel star Donnie McClurkin made headlines several years ago, when he claimed god "delivered" him from homosexuality.

Now, he's sounding off about a decision by D.C. leaders, to cancel his appearance at a concert over the weekend.

McClurkin was set to perform at a concert on Saturday, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

In a video, McClurkin says he was on his way to the airport, when Mayor Vincent Gray's office called him to tell him his appearance was cancelled.

"These are bully tactics simply because of stances that I took, never ever demeaning, never ever derogatory, any lifestyle - this is a civil rights infringement situation," McClurkin said.
This is shameful. But, it isn't unexpected. We are headed toward a culture where this is going to become more and more common. Msgr. Pope has more thoughts here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Simcha Fisher's Final Footnote for College Students

Many of you probably know about a popular series of lectures on college campuses called “The Last Lecture Series”. Professors (and others) are asked to give a lecture to students as if it were the last presentation they are able to give during their life.

Building on this idea - I asked a number of Catholic authors, bloggers, and speakers to answer the following question in 500 words or less:
“What do you think is the most important thing you could tell college students if you had one last blog post to do it?” 
I call this series, The Final Footnote.

The first post, by Matt Warner, can be found here.
Below is the 2nd in the series, from Simcha Fisher. Simcha is one of my favorite bloggers and just finished her new book - The Sinner's Guide To Natural Family Planning.

Here is Simcha's Final Footnote:
Inch Your Way To The Stars.

Did you go to any graduation ceremonies this year? Did any speakers instruct the graduates to reach for the stars? Spread their wings, make a difference? Did he give the impression that right outside the door of the auditorium was a spring-loaded launching pad which would, with a loud twanging sound, propel the new graduates up, up and away to their shiny new lives?

Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Oh, good things will happen to you. You may even achieve greatness. At very least, it’s likely that someday, years from now, you will feel proud and amazed at what you have managed to accomplish. You may – dare I say it? – reach the stars.

But you’re not going to get there with a flash, a swoosh, an exhilarating rush and a triumphant landing. Nope, you’re going to get there inch by inch by inch by inch by inch. After all, even actual astronauts who reach the actual stars have to spend a lot of time just getting there. The journey starts with a bang, but most of it is quieter, more mundane, more workaday.

This is how life happens: inch by inch. This is how you succeed at things. This is how you make progress, and this is how you manage to get wonderful things done: a tiny bit at a time, with false steps, dead ends, fits and starts, and a fair amount of backsliding and repentance.

The most important things in life that you can achieve – good relationships with your family, meaningful work, a faith that is steadfast and courageous – these things only come about with years of practice. They may start with a bang – with a proposal, a conversion, a birth, a sudden resolve. But you need more than a flashy beginning. You need to set about the actual work of following through, inch by inch, day by day.

The good news is, there is real satisfaction in even the tiny, incremental steps we make toward greatness. It’s nice to win a prize out of the blue, but a thousand times more gratifying to go from amateur to expert, and then be recognized for your work. It’s fun to be swooning in love, but nothing fills your heart like looking into the eyes of your beloved, knowing that you’ve made a long slog together and still come out friends. It would be sweet to land a dream career before you get your graduation gown off, but it’s even sweeter to know that you’re capable of working hard even when you don’t like the work, and then to finally find yourself positioned to do the thing you really love. And it’s all very well to make fervent vows of faith, hope, and love before God, but it’s quite another to humbly admit that what we need most of all is help.

So yes, aim high. But don’t be discouraged when the day-to-day feels kind of low. Be patient with yourself! Inch by inch, that’s how it happens.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pope Francis Just Popped In...

How can you not love his touch with the average Joe?
Look at this:
A visit that everyone hoped for and no one could have imagined on a normal August morning, when the city seemed empty. An ordinary work day had just begun in the carpentry workshop, the heating and hydraulic plants, the warehouse and the newspaper when the Pope suddenly appeared at the door with a simple “good day”. He asked the employees about the jobs, the number of co-workers and what they do. Then he shook their hands and the people who couldn't believe their eyes were happily surprised. Upon leaving he wished everyone a good day at work....

The Pontiff first went to the carpentry workshop, speaking to the men around their work benches who looked at him wide-eyed. Then he went to the nearby smithy and thermal centre where he listened with interest to a story of a worker on the morning shift. He shook the hands of three other workers who came out marvelling from behind large turbines of the plant and then moved on to the hydraulic centre a few steps away.

Immediately surrounded by technicians, Pope Francis shook everyone's hand and responded to “thank yous” with his brimming smile. Even journalists and other employees of L'Osservatore Romano came to the window surprised and applauded, as the Pope waved back.

Then he got into the car of his assistant Sandro Mariotti who drove him back to Santa Marta.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Skating Friars = AWESOME!

This video combines 2 of my favorite things - being Catholic and skating.
Limit Break is a web series about people who do extraordinary things, and how their faith inspires them. In this episode we meet Friar Didacus and Friar Gabriel, two brothers who skateboard and were called to religious life.

The brothers skated for 7 years as teenagers, but felt their vocation was religious life. They were prepared to abandon their passion for skateboarding to live a life of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience as Friars of the Immaculate. Six years after becoming Friars and having not skated, they were given obedience to obtain a skateboard and go to the skatepark once a week - to "preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words" as Saint Francis stated. Friar Gabriel explains that God has so many ways of using peoples talents to give Him glory. Skateboarding allows the Friars to help others see the compatibility of exercising the body as well as the soul. Friar Didacus reflects that if he had always tried to live in a state of grace growing up, he would have been far better at skating and enjoyed it much more- because his mind would have been clear and at peace.

Matt Warner's Final Footnote For College Students

Many of you probably know about a popular series of lectures on college campuses called “The Last Lecture Series”. Professors (and others) are asked to give a lecture to students as if it were the last presentation they are able to give during their life.

Building on this idea - I asked a number of Catholic authors, bloggers, and speakers to answer the following question in 500 words or less:
“What do you think is the most important thing you could tell college students if you had one last blog post to do it?”
I call this series, The Final Footnote.

Below is the first in a series of answers - from Matt Warner. Matt is a husband, father, Aggie, Catholic blogger, and entrepreneur.
Dear college student,

You have a lot to worry about. So many choices to make. And so many choices for others to make about you. You're waiting for a company to choose you for a job. A grad school to choose you as a student. A friend to choose you as a spouse. A city to choose you as a resident. Lady luck to choose you for great fortune.

It's a little scary because it seems like so much of your future is out of your hands. You're just anxiously waiting for the world to choose you in so many ways.

Well, stop worrying and waiting.

You don't have to worry and wait for the world to choose you. The truth is that you've already been chosen. God has chosen you for a specific purpose and He has big, beautiful plans for you. All you have to do is choose Him.

Choose Him and whether or not the world chooses you no longer matters. Choose Him and what you should choose will be revealed. Choose Him and the anxiety of an unknown future becomes the beginning of your Great Adventure.

If you want freedom, choose His plan, not yours. If you want to live a life fully alive, stop holding so tightly to everything else. Let go and rest in Him.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
- Matthew 11:28-30

He has already chosen you. Choose Him back.

Friday, August 2, 2013

25 Things I Can't Control

Here is the authoritative list of things I can't control (and neither can you) and things I shouldn't control either. Add more in the comments. If they are good enough, I might add to the list.

25 Things I Can't Control (and You Can't Either).

  1. What others say
  2. What others do
  3. What others think
  4. What others feel
  5. God's will
  6. Natural Disasters
  7. The International Economy
  8. Gas Prices
  9. Traffic
  10. War
  11. Famine
  12. Who is in my family
  13. Dying
  14. Being created
  15. Weather
  16. Balding
  17. Growing old (time)
  18. Physical / Mental limitations
  19. The Catholic Church's teachings
  20. The future
  21. Cats
  22. Cancer
  23. The past
  24. What someone will think about me
  25. Most of life
Of course this doesn't mean I don't try to control some of these things sometimes.
Nor does it mean that I can't control the most important thing  of all - choosing Christ as my Lord.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fr. Barron on World Youth Day in Rio

I think this is very much in line with my thoughts here.

Why Pope Francis Is Connecting With Young Adults

Pope Francis is connecting with young people, because he respects them enough to treat them as adults who can take responsibility for their lives and take on the challenge of being a disciple of Jesus - he is challenging them!
"They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, “for ever”, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage “to swim against the tide”. And also have the courage to be happy."
-Pope Francis