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As most of you have probably noticed, I haven’t been posting on this website for quite some time now ūüėĘ. ¬†It’s mostly because I’ve been too busy, and it doesn’t look like my schedule will be lightening up any time soon. ¬†So, I’ve decided to start a twitter account for Catholic Teen. ¬†I plan to be tweeting quotes, articles, advice, and updates for whenever i publish a new blog post. ¬†So if you like this blog, Jesus, memes, just plain cool stuff, or all of them, go to twitter and follow @hopeinmercy. ¬†Thanks and God Bless!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

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You Will Be Perfect

So, today’s readings are all about loving your enemy and praying for those who persecute you. ¬†I would you encourage you to visit the post¬†I wrote about loving your enemy before moving on to this if you haven’t read it already. ¬†Since I don’t need to repeat what I’ve already written, I’ll be moving on to the equally important ending of today’s Gospel: Christ’s call for perfection.

“Humanum errare est”. ¬†To err is human. ¬†We all know this. ¬†Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve and the birth of sin, we as a human race are very not perfect. ¬†We’re even bad, extremely bad at times. ¬†We can be, and often are, monsters.

Take a good look at yourself. ¬†Not just your body, your whole being. ¬†You’re weak. ¬†You’re corrupt. ¬†You can’t even keep yourself from eating that extra cookie when you’re trying to lose weight! ¬†What on God’s green earth could you possibly hope to ever accomplish? ¬†Eternal life? ¬†What a joke. ¬†How could you hope to follow Christ when you can barely follow traffic laws? ¬†Why, asking you to be perfect is like asking a caterpillar to fly. ¬†No, its like asking a caterpillar to fly a thousand miles, no THREE thousand miles. ¬†All while going 30 miles an hour. ¬†And look beautiful and dazzling the entire way. ¬†That’s insane. ¬†Only a madman would expect that out of a dang caterpillar. ¬†But yet Jesus tells us to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Even the giants of the Old Testament fail God and His people.  Moses doubted God and struck the stone twice instead of once as he was commanded.  David committed adultery and murdered his friend. Jonah ran away. Whatshisface the son of Israel lied cheated his brother Esau out of his blessing, and Abraham did something wrong that is currently escaping my mind.  Even St. Joseph sinned once (I think he got super angry once or something like that).  Before his conversion, St Augustine was what you would call a teenage delinquent and a hedonistic party animal before he converted and became one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of all time.  St Thomas Becket was super wealthy and a scrooge who never gave to the poor before he became the Archbishop of Canterbury and a martyr.  Before her conversion, St Olga obliterated an entire tribe and sold the few survivors into slavery.  Her grandson, St Vladimir, gained power by killing his brother, had far too many wives, and sacrificed people at a pagan temple before being forever changed by the grace of baptism.  St Phillip Howard had been a playboy and a gambler before being inspired by watching the heroic St Edmund Campion defend his faith in the Tower of London before Anglican ministers armed with books and assistants.  St Phillip Howard reconciled himself with his wife, who converted with him.  While trying to escape to the continent where they could practice Catholicism, they were captured.  After 10 years of imprisonment, he died in the same tower Edmund Campion, his gateway to Christ, was imprisoned and interrogated before his martyrdom.  But the point is, none of us are perfect (with the given exceptions of Jesus Christ and Mary).  Yet here we have stories of how people, some like us, some far worse, followed the call of Christ, and became saints and heroes.  A saint is the person who, through whatever struggle on Earth, at least achieved perfection with God in heaven.  A saint is, by definition, perfect.  We have concrete examples of how humans somehow became perfect, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  It is achievable, even while it remains impossible, though not by ourselves.  That is the power of God, to turn animals into Sons and Daughters of God.  To make evil into good, to make sinners into saints, to make the impossible possible.

One week ago, a friar told me that if you look at the original text of this reading in whatever language it was, it doesn’t say “be perfect”. ¬†It says “you WILL be perfect”. ¬†God is promising you perfection. ¬†He is calling you to achieve with Him what you could never hope to do on your own. ¬†He is calling the caterpillar to fly. ¬†He is making a promise, one which He intends to keep, even if He has to die for you. ¬†And He did. ¬†That is the wondrous beauty of it. ¬†God became one of us. He reached down into a dark hole full of dirty water and snakes, and pulled out a turtle, that had fallen upside down, and could never get back up again without help*.

Do you know what’s interesting about caterpillars? ¬†Nothing. ¬†Nothing at all. ¬†They just crawl around and eat stuff (much like me). ¬†I guess some are kinda cute, but most are bland or just plain ugly. ¬†There’s this one caterpillar whose camouflage is bird poop (the one in the picture at the top). ¬†Yeah, really. ¬†That guy must have some serious trouble hanging out at parties (I’m sure St Augustine could give him a few tips). ¬†But you know something about caterpillars? ¬†They don’t stay that way forever. ¬†If they keep following the code of caterpillar law, and behave the way they’re supposed to (eat this, don’t eat that), they become something else entirely. ¬†And you know what? ¬†They FLY. ¬†Not only that, but thousands of miles, some known to go as fast as 30 miles an hour. ¬†And they are regarded as one of God’s most beautiful creations.

So, God today is promising you that you will be perfect, if only you follow his commands. ¬†God will transform you into something so wonderful, you could never hope to imagine it. ¬†Many of you are doubting me right now (heck, so am I). ¬†But everyone knows what’s going to happen to the caterpillar except who? ¬†The caterpillar. ¬†Just trust in God, and one day, one day you will be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect. ¬†God Bless.

monarch

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS, I borrowed the caterpillar analogy from a friar who gave a talk at a youth event last Saturday.  Count on friars to be super cool.

* This actually happened to a friar. ¬†Before he became a religious, he was waling around in the woods (super outdoorsy guy), and he saw a hole. ¬†He couldn’t see what was in it, but typical dude (we’re not the brightest of the bunch sometimes), he decided to reach down into it and see what he found. ¬†What did he find? ¬†A turtle, laying on its shell, unable to get up. ¬†It would have died there, as it was incapable of doing anything by itself at that state. ¬†This inspired the man to become more religous, and eventually enter the Fransiscan order. ¬† ¬†And no, he does not still have the turtle.

(What I Believe to Be) The Hardest Commandment

A lot of people reject Catholicism or even all of Christianity because they believe it to be too hard. ¬†Most people think the church’s teachings on chastity are too strict, or its position on wealth isn’t fair. ¬†I first off don’t think its too hard to the point of being impossible. ¬†We have examples of humans, sinners like us, who became perfect in heaven after following the church’s teachings, even the hard ones. ¬†But I also don’t think chastity or whatever rule it is are the hardest things we as Christians are called to obey. ¬†CS Lewis, one of my favorite authors ever, agrees with me. ¬†I am by no means saying chastity or whatever virtue isn’t insanely hard, but its not the most difficult thing we are called to do. ¬†CS Lewis in his great book explaining what Christians believe,¬†Mere Christianity, says that is loving our neighbor, and even our enemy, as God loves us.

I’m sure you all know that you’re supposed to love your friends and enemies alike, but boy, its easier said than done. ¬†I struggle with this a lot, as many of my friends may be quick to tell you. ¬†It may be that I’ve been to New Jersey once to many times so that it rubbed off on me or something, but I can hold a grudge for a long time. ¬†But normally, its with very anti-Catholic or militantly pro-abortion people that I get angry with, and stay angry with. ¬†My anger could be justified, as they are supporting murder of children or whatever it is. ¬†But the thing is, anger can never be justified against¬†a Child of God. ¬†Not the initial emotion that all humans feel, even Jesus shows righteous anger in the Temple when He flipped the tax collectors’ tables. ¬†Not the emotion, but the genuine hatred and disunity that may follow. ¬†Disunity if Satan’s goal. ¬†What does he fear most? ¬†All humanity united in the Body of Christ against him in perfect harmony and love. ¬†What does he want most? ¬†Every single human being isolated from the others in their own pride. ¬†In Dante’s¬†Divine Comedy, the lowest part of Hell is reserved for Satan alone. ¬†He sits there in the ice by himself, isolated from everybody.

On Sunday one of the Franciscan brothers was giving a homily. ¬†He was talking about disunity. ¬†He said that when they do a holy hour, they pray the psalms for 15 minutes, and then its silence for 45 minutes. ¬†Its all good, for the first 30 seconds, until someone sniffs, or sneezes, or coughs. ¬†He said that he just wants to shout “SHUT UP! ¬†GET OUT OF MY CHAPEL!!!”. ¬†Over time he really starts to dislike some of these people. ¬†We all know people we dislike. ¬†That kind of person that makes you grumble when they sit next to you at lunch. ¬†You don’t want to accept that person. ¬†You could care less if they sat by themselves every day. ¬†But here’s what the friar said ,”This is satanic”. ¬†I was shocked by his use of words. ¬†Sure, thats what the devil wants, but satanic? ¬†That gives the impression that you are serving satan. ¬†That’s a seriously disturbing thought.

In JRR Tolkien’s¬†The Silmarillion,¬†it begins with Eru Illuvatar, God. ¬†He creates many beautiful and powerful angels, the greatest of which is Melkor. ¬†He instructs them, and they play music like that which would never be heard again. ¬†Melkor started playing to his own desires, and others followed him. ¬†Soon there were two bands, competing for dominance. Eventually Melkor, now Morgoth is thrown from the heavens, but he has achieved much of his goal at that point. ¬†He has created disunity. ¬†This I think is a spectacular metaphor for the fall of Lucifer. ¬†Down on earth, Morgoth continues to divide the free people who oppose him, and create distrust and enmity between the various races. ¬†Only millenniums later when these races unite under one banner to march on the Dark Lord is he finally defeated. ¬†The call to love your neighbor as yourself is the remedy to disunity, harmony against chaos, charity against hate.

One of the things the Pharisees hated most about Jesus was that he hung out with sinners. We’re blessed with so many examples of charity like Mother Teresa and Pope Francis that this line is not such of a surprise as it was intended. ¬†Jesus Christ, omnipotent Lord and Master of the Universe, hanging out with a couple of tax collectors. ¬†One of the best stories in the entire Bible is the conversion of Matthew, the tax collector. ¬†Tax collectors were scum. ¬†They were Jews who collected taxes for the oppressive Roman government ruling their people, and most cheated and stole while they did it. ¬†This is like the equivalent of a gangster today. ¬†Jesus is out chillin with his bros, when He points to Matthew, a tax collector, a gangster, and tells him to come, and follow Him. ¬†Matthew gets up and follows him. ¬†What do they do next? ¬†They throw a party with a bunch of other tax collectors. ¬†Not only does Jesus loves sinners, He likes¬†them. ¬†For us speaking English at least, the word “like” can be much stronger than the word “love”. ¬†Sure you love your brother but do you like him? ¬†Do you enjoy hanging out with him and spending time with him? ¬†Jesus¬†likes¬†sinners. ¬†He hangs out with them and in the process draws them into himself. ¬†Its comforting to know that Jesus likes you, and everything you are. ¬†But its also important to know that you are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and spend time with the sinner, instruct the ignorant, and bear wrongs patiently.

I find it interesting that they threw a party. ¬†If I was a tax collector, and this all-righteous Jesus guy invited me to follow Him, I would probably be thinking that He’s got the wrong guy. ¬†I’m not the kind of person saints invite to their birthday parties. ¬†But then this Matthew, one of the tax collectors, like me, goes and hangs out with Jesus and His buds. ¬†I’d be thinking, wow, maybe I can follow Him. ¬†Maybe God is calling me. ¬†Remember what I said earlier, about the Body of Christ? ¬†Well, its not like its just half Jesus and half you. ¬†The entire Church is part of it. ¬†And if you love your neighbor, and if you follow Christ, others will follow your example. ¬†Others just like you who would’ve thought that there is no way that God’s mercy could ever possibly reach them, until they saw it reach you. ¬†Whatever you do good radiates the world, and whatever wrong you do darkens it.

Today’s reading fits into this very well. ¬†Its the whole thing where Jesus separates the saints from the sinners in Heaven, and tells the sinners that what you did unto the least of my brethren, you did unto me. ¬†Well, its easy to pity a hungry child and help them. Its not hard to visit an innocent man in prison. ¬†The¬†least¬†of my brethren. ¬†imagine someone you hate, and would love to see fail. ¬†And that person does fail, and loses all he has. ¬†He comes to you for help, for shelter, for the love of Christ? ¬†Well I could tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I would probably smash the door on his face and never regret it. ¬†The least of my brethren is not the worst off, but the person you see as scum. ¬†Its the person who you make to be the worst off. ¬†Forgive me, but another movie metaphor is imminent. ¬†In Disney’s¬†The Beauty and the Beast, the story begins with a rich prince, who has all that he has. ¬†An old beggar comes to his door and offers to give the young prince a rose in return for shelter from the cold rain. ¬†It says the prince is “repulsed by her haggard appearance”. ¬†We kind of get the vibe that he’s stating to hate her already, and he refuses. ¬†Well it turns out that old lady was a super powerful enchantress and he gets turned into the beast and the movie begins.

You see, we’re not only called to love complete strangers, but even our most hated rivals and enemies. ¬†Imagine the person you hate the most in the whole world. ¬†That one guy whose nose just annoys the heck out of you, that one boss that is super mean and blames everything on you, that one girl at school who just likes to make fun of you in front of everybody. ¬†That is Christ, challenging you to live like God lives.

Love your neighbor as yourself.  Seems pretty easy.  That super cool guy who lives next door to you that brought you dinner when your family had a baby.  Sure, you would love to return the favor.  Your called to love, even like those who you hate, the people you utterly despise.  This is totally contrary to where our emotions would take us, where logic would even take us.  Someone hurts you, you hurt em back, right?  Jesus calls us to love them instead.  The single most radical thing Christ calls us to do.  No religion in the history of mankind had yet taught this, even Moses said to fight your enemy.  And of course, its also probably the hardest thing He calls us to as well.

You may be thinking that this is relatively easy, that you do it all the time. ¬†I know people like this who are just naturally nice and pleasant to everyone. ¬†This comes easy to them. ¬†But to those who much is given, much will be expected. ¬†For those of you like me, who struggle with this, who would like nothing more than to just clock that one guy, God knows its hard. ¬†He’s not oblivious to things like this. ¬†God is all-just and all-merciful. ¬†He won’t expect the same niceness from you as someone who is just naturally kind. ¬†But that’s no excuse not to try as hard as you can. ¬†All He calls us to do is to¬†give it all you got, and you will be rewarded. ¬†Just do your best, and God will take care of the rest. ¬†Hey, that rhymes. ¬†Maybe it will help you remember.

One thing CS Lewis recommends is to act nice, to pretend you like some person, and eventually, you’ll start liking this person more and more. ¬†If you are mean, you’ll find yourself hating and hating even more. ¬†For lent, I’ve decided to tackle this particular vice. ¬†Whenever I get annoyed or angry with someone, I say a Hail Mary with the intention that they have a great day. ¬†Its super hard to genuinely wish them the best, but when I do, I find me self being kinder and kinder. ¬†So I recommend trying that and see how it works out for you. ¬†Maybe even pray for their parents or family. ¬†You have to deal with this person for maybe a couple of hours, they’ve been dealing with them their entire lives.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
-Mother Teresa

 

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

The Adventure of Being a Man

I just had the privilege of attending one of Fraternus’s ¬†amazing excursions. ¬†Fraternus is a group of young men from around the world who together learn how to be a soldier of God. ¬†If any of you are into EWTN’s¬†Life on the Rock, you may have seen Fraternus as guests on the 9th. ¬†There they explain what Fraternus is in far better words than I could ever articulate, and discuss the need for manhood, and how Fraternus facilitate’s a young man’s encounter with our Lord. ¬†Bottom line: Fraternus is awesome. ¬†Now, I’m well aware that some of you reading this are not men. ¬†In fact, I would say a good 2/3 of my followers are women. ¬†You guys can forward this to a guy you know or simply read it for perhaps a better understanding of what you’re missing out on (just kidding). ¬†And for the men, I wrote this just for you guys.

Anyway, Fraternus has changed my life. ¬†It was an extremely large factor in what makes me the way I am today. ¬†I’m not without fault because of it, far from it. ¬†As someone said on the excursion I just got back from, its not about how slowly you fall, but how quickly you run back to the Lord when you do fall. ¬†Before Fraternus, I went to confession maybe a few times a year. ¬†Not because I was Mr Perfect or anything. ¬†I just didn’t think it was that important. ¬†Fraternus got me going back to confession again, and stopped me from daydreaming during Mass. ¬†It lit a fire in my heart with the desire for God.

In the book¬†Wild at Heart, the author lists three things men need: An Adventure to Live, a Battle to Fight, and a Beauty to rescue. ¬†On my excursion, we went spelunking. ¬†It was pretty epic. ¬†We had to jump over gaping ravines, climb subterranean mountains, and crawl through mud and dirt. ¬†Why? ¬†Because it was there. ¬†And it was awesome. ¬†But why? ¬†I mean, I had to change clothes which was a hassle, I smelled like a football locker room, and there was a large chance of serious injury if I messed up. ¬†But it was fun. ¬†It was an adventure. ¬†What is an adventure? ¬†I would say it is a journey, normally hazardous and exciting, that by some means improves those who partake in it. ¬†One of my favorite books is¬†The Hobbit¬†by JRR Tolkien. ¬†The protagonist is Bilbo Baggins, a fat, rich, lazy hobbit who doesn’t do anything unexpected. ¬†Until, that is, he goes on an adventure, nearly dies multiple times, and suffers through horrible and terrifying evils. ¬†When he comes home, he is a changed man, rather, hobbit. ¬†He has improved his character from a selfish couch potato to a courageous adventurer. ¬†Christ is calling us on an adventure my friends. ¬†If you do not answer the call, no one will. ¬†And thats not some propaganda nonsense they use during war, thats 100% truth. ¬†God’s call for you is unique. ¬†Only you can do what he is calling you to do. ¬†If you decide not to do what you were made to do, it well never be done. ¬†This is your adventure, make it epic.

Guys have a natural love for action movies. ¬†The more explosions and aliens the better. ¬†The best part of most movies is when it seems the day is lost, and the land will fall to evil, but one last bit of resistance fights on, and through great struggle, defeats the darkness, and saves the world. ¬†My favorite movie clip of all time is the Charge of the Rohirrim in the¬†Return of the King. ¬†The forces of Mordor have surrounded the city of Minas Tirith, the last free land of Middle Earth. ¬†If this fortress falls, the Dark Lord will be free to destroy the remaining resistance. ¬†As the thousands of orcs break through the gates, the army of Rohan appears on the hill. ¬†King Theoden looks down to the battle, and sees how hopeless the battle is. ¬†Here’s what happens next:

Why is that so awesome? ¬†I mean, these guys are going to run into an army many times larger than they, and as we see, almost all of them die. ¬†That’s terrible, but at the same time its epic. ¬†It resounds in our souls, because we are made to lay our lives down for Christ. ¬†We are made to make sacrifices for our families and defend our faith. ¬†We are ultimately made to do battle with the great enemy, Satan. ¬†But sometimes, we get too cocky, and in our macho-ness, think we can kill Satan by ourselves. ¬†Hollywood has done a great job of feeding this thought to us. ¬†But the truth is, we need Christ. ¬†Only when we serve him can we finally claim victory over sin.

On our excursion, someone gave a King’s message (talk) about beauty. ¬†Quick, whats the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of beauty? ¬†Keep that in mind. ¬†Anyway, he defined beauty as “anything that points us to God”. ¬†Wow. ¬†Usually I would think of beauty as anything visually appealing. ¬†Dictionary.com defines beautiful as “possessing¬†qualities¬†that¬†give¬†great¬†pleasure¬†orsatisfaction¬†to¬†see,¬†hear,¬†think¬†about,¬†etc.;¬†delighting¬†the¬†senses”. ¬†That is a very worldly sense of the word. ¬†Look out the window if you have one. ¬†What do you see? ¬†Maybe a tree or two, a fair bit of snow depending on where you live (lucky dogs). ¬†I spent a lot of time looking at trees on my excursion (a good chunk of which was spent in a forest). ¬†I live in a pretty beautiful state, and often take nature for granted. ¬†I stared at a tree for a solid five minutes on Sunday. ¬†Why? ¬†I was bored and was in a daze trying to guess who were winning the NFL playoff games I was missing. ¬†Real philosophical, isn’t it? ¬†But at the end, I realized how beautiful that tree was. ¬†I imagined God creating that tree, how much he tried to make it beautiful for us. ¬†Beauty is everywhere. ¬†Now, recall what you first thought of at the beginning of this paragraph. ¬†It was a girl, wasn’t it? ¬†You’re right to think so. ¬†Woman is the crown of God’s creation. ¬†You are made to respect and protect beauty, most especially women. ¬†“A woman’s¬†heart¬†should be so¬†close to¬†God¬†that a man should have to chase Him to find her” – CS Lewis.

I’ll close this part with a relatively short quote, and one I will let you ponder on your own in prayer.

Beauty has saved the world

That is just a taste of the book¬†Wild at Heart. ¬†I just took his three points and explained in my own words. ¬†The book is far richer. ¬†After all, he’s paid to write, not me :). ¬†It really is an excellent book, but I would note that it is written by a Protestant, and the part where he talks about forgiving your sins at the end is not within the sacrament of confession and not considered valid as far as I know. ¬†But the rest of it may as well be written by St John Bosco himself for all of its amazingness.

That was also just a taste of Fraternus. ¬†A very small narrow taste. ¬†On Frat nights we play sports, eat pizza, watch a movie clip, listen to a speech by a captain, and talk with our bros. ¬†The best part is the brotherhood. ¬†When asked what their favorite part of Fraternus was, 4/5 responded brotherhood. ¬†The other 1/5 was too busy going to confession to hear :). ¬†You can rely on them for anything. ¬†So, if you’re a dude of ANY age old enough to read this pretty much, you should consider looking into Fraternus. ¬†They have chapters in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.

Well, congratulations.  You made it through 1327 words of horrible grammar and insensible gibberish just trying to say two words, ESTO VIR!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

The Gradual Death

Well, Happy 2016! ¬†I hope all of you had a great Christmas season filled with joy, laughter, and good food (and maybe a little too much good food). Most of us are by now realizing how hard our New Year’s resolutions really are. ¬†I told myself I would start running more. ¬†I can tell you I’m not writing this on the treadmill right now, if thats any indicator to how that’s going. ¬†Anyway, if you still haven’t figured out your resolution or looking for a better one, I have a late Christmas present for you.

Before I start off, if you haven’t read the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, that is now your New Year’s Resolution. ¬†No ifs ands or buts, hightail it to a Barnes and Noble and get it. ¬†I don’t really think I should have to persuade anybody to go to Barnes and Noble anyway. ¬†I mean, most have fireplaces and a Starbucks, tons of books, soft jazz and that special bookstore smell. ¬†So there’s that.

I read the Screwtape Letters a while back, and was completely intrigued by the way it was written. ¬†The author of the letters the book is comprised of is Screwtape, a high ranking devil giving advice to his rookie nephew, charged with ruining a young man. ¬†The story is played out solely from the perspective of hell, giving the reader a very unique interpretation of the story. ¬†CS Lewis himself hated writing the book. ¬†Having to put himself in the person of the devil is not a pleasant task. ¬†I’m not sure if its a compliment or not, but he did a splendid job of doing so.

Throughout the story, we see the tempted young man change and grow…and struggle and fall. ¬†I’ll do my best not to spoil it, but I do want to share some key points.

In the book, we see how involved demons are in this young man’s everyday life, but he’s not a murderer or a terrorist. ¬†He’s just a normal person. ¬†Going on with his life and not being too great at anything. ¬†The devil is not trying to make him kill people or blow up buildings. ¬†Most of the time he doesn’t even try to get him to do anything. ¬†Screwtape said, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” ¬†This shows us that the battle for our souls won’t be a siege easily weathered. ¬†We have to attack and fight for our spiritual lives. ¬†The devil didn’t try to get him to attend a satanist temple or become an atheist, he just tried to water down his faith. ¬†Screwtape told his nephew, “‚ÄúA moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all‚ÄĒand more amusing.”

We see now the devil’s standard strategy, especially with us Christians. ¬†He will try to warp our religion and get us to “good enough”, which of course is not good enough. ¬†I call this the gradual death. ¬†The soul is not doing anything very bad, in fact its not doing anything really. ¬†Its just stagnant, decaying while Satan waits.

‚ÄúIndeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.‚ÄĚ

Our greatest danger seems to be falling into lukewarmness. ¬†Its hard to detect, and addictive. ¬†As the character Ahem said in the Veggie Tales show¬†The Lord of the Beans, “Once you taste the life of ease, my friend, there is no going back”. ¬†And yes, I just quoted Veggie Tales. ¬†I’m just that awesome.

So, how did this young man ever escape the trap Screwtape set for him? ¬†He didn’t. ¬†Or at least, not by himself. ¬†It was a special grace that saved him in the end. ¬†A natural grace, nothing to out of the ordinary. ¬†He fell in love with a girl, who happened to be a devout Christian. ¬†And little by little, he was fished out of Screwtape’s hands until he was beyond their reach. ¬†It is indeed as Screwtape said, small things, little things such as the song of a bird or the face of a girl is enough to topple the devil’s plans.

So, my suggestion for a New Year’s resolution.

  1. Read the Screwtape Letters.  But not like any other book, think about what you read, and pray over the topics that it brings up.  It really is a  profound book.  Readers are advised to remember, the devil is a liar.  Not all Screwtape writes is to be trusted (obviously).
  2. Be Legendary. ¬†Be the opposite of lukewarm. ¬†If you don’t feel like praying, get off your butt and say a decade. ¬†If you’re to lazy to go to daily mass, but have the opportunity, you better take advantage of that and go. ¬†Be on fire with the faith.
  3. Go to confession once a week, or if your schedule doesn’t allow, at least twice a month. ¬†Don’t worry about what the priest will think. ¬†You won’t say anything he hasn’t heard before. ¬†Trust me, you’re not that creative.
  4. See Star Wars VII.  I thought it was amazing.

God Bless and have a great 2016!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

 

Every Moment Counts

To start thing off, I would like to apologize to each and every one of you for my failure to post in over two months. ¬†I’ve just been so busy. ¬†But never fear, I will have much more time when Band season ends (nigh three weeks now). ¬†This may not be my best piece to come back in style with, but at least its something to let you guys now that I’m still here so to speak. ¬†Anyway, here we go.

We live in a world that is full of selfishness. ¬†I’m sure all of you are aware of this already. ¬†Especially in my age group, there is such a prevalent force of narcissism in each and every bit of culture. ¬†All people care about is there social media, the only person they want to take a picture with is their own face, and the sole thing that matters to them is being accepted. ¬†Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say they, we would be more appropriate. ¬†Because I struggle with selfishness too. I care way too much about how I look to others and spend far too much time with people who aren’t getting me any closer to heaven just because I feel cool doing it. ¬†This is all a waste of time. ¬†And we don’t have enough of it to throw around.

Every single moment you spend think of yourself, committing sin, or failing to do something good is a moment you will never get back. ¬†Worse than that, it could have been that moment where God selected you to be his messenger to a person who has perhaps fallen away from the faith. ¬†It could have been one of those times where you act as an instrument of God’s grace to someone else. ¬†And instead of bringing another into Christ’s loving arms, you spent it telling inappropriate jokes with kids you barely know, or not paying attention during a boring business meeting.

We do not have¬†any¬†time to waste in our lives. ¬†That doesn’t mean you can relax. ¬†Sweet Moses no. ¬†You definitely should spend some time doing useless things, like reading a novel, playing in the park, watching a movie, or simply taking a well deserved nap. ¬†These are some of the most important things you do. ¬†That’s why God set aside an entire day for you just to take it easy.

thu

On a more serious note, taking a well deserved nap here and there does not entitle you to laziness. ¬†Just yesterday I was going to confession. ¬†I’m proud to say that I didn’t have anything serious to confess, so I picked apart every single little venial sin that I had done throughout my week. ¬†Father first congratulated me on making such a good confession. ¬†Then he said, “Son, I think you’re starting to struggle with sloth”.
oli-spirit

Yes, Sloth. ¬†One of the seven deadly sins. ¬†Most people wouldn’t think it would rank as bad as lust or wrath, but it is in some ways even worse.
Sloth-Smiling-10

Sloth is very hard for the victim to detect. ¬†If they do, they don’t think much about it. ¬†Because, like most sin, it starts out small, and gradually builds into mortal sin. ¬†The thing about sloth is that usually you don’t even categorize it as a sin, just a small mess-up. ¬†It could start with not doing your homework for one night for whatever perfectly reasonable excuse. ¬†But the net day, you’re like, “You know, I didn’t do it yesterday…and nothing bad happened then. ¬†I guess its okay if I just don’t do this one worksheet.” ¬†Then you gradually never do your homework, your grades go down, and before you know it, you failed your high school and end up working at a McDonald’s in the rough parts of town, if you’re lucky. ¬†Okay, that may be a little extreme, but not by much.

The Devil knows the truth about what I was telling you: we really do not have any time to waste. ¬†So, guess what he’s gonna try to get you to do, or should I say not to do?

You’re gonna try to convince yourself that not giving your all on this seemingly insignificant business project is fine, or not paying attention in class is okay. ¬†You have to be extremely ware of the enemy’s movements. ¬†As soon as a lazy thought enters your head, go out and start dong something productive. ¬†If you do let Satan sow a seed of sloth in you soul, it will grow, ever so slowly, until you have no control over it. ¬†It is like those weeds you have to root out in a garden. ¬†You don’t really notice them until they have grown large and have become very difficult to take out. ¬†You have to go looking for them in order to prevent them from ever gaining a significant hold on your will.

Is anyone here a Latin mass fan? ¬†If you are, you probably know about those cool red mini-missals they usually have. ¬†There is a prayer towards the beginning that struck me. ¬†It was called A Christian Reflection or something like that. ¬†Anyway, i don’t have it, but I have made my own (slightly different version). ¬†I think it’s an important thing to think about when you rise in the morning. I call it “Today”.

Today, Christian soldier, is a fight.  Today, you have souls to save.  Today, you have sin to destroy.  Today, you have others to love, and God to serve.  You have friends to aid, and enemies to reconcile.  You have demons to defeat, angels to help, and a battle to win.  Today, Christian soul, You have work to do.

Wow, that was deep. ¬†I’m actually kinda proud of that. ¬†Getting back on track. ¬†I know that as far as kids are concerned, we think we have all the time in the world. ¬†We don’t think that exams are really that close, or that college applications were due tat early. ¬†Youth don’t really think they’re ever gonna grow up. ¬†We have this sense of immortality about us. ¬†We seem to think that we’ll never run out of time. ¬†But, the sad truth is, no, we don’t have all the time in the world, yes the exam is really tomorrow, and sorry, you missed the college application deadline. ¬†You only have one life, and its pretty short (which is why its so precious and worth protecting). ¬†Or as my contemporaries say: YOLO. ¬†Don’t waste it playing video games or flirting. ¬†Make use of your time. ¬†Get out there and kick some evil butt! ¬†Whatever you do, just don’t be a sloth.

sloth-at-speed-o

You’re gonna get yourself run over by the Devil on a motorcycle. ¬†I don’t think you’ll be as lucky as Sid and have a big mammoth and a saber tooth tiger to watch out for you.

sloth-meme-if-you-ever-feel-dumb

Vh-Slow_Some_of_the_most_powerful_Inspirational_Quotes_and_pictures-s408x384-359214-580

Well guys, It’s great to be back. ¬†Go out there and kick some butt! ¬†God Bless!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

Why All the Rules?

So, my birthday is coming up in a couple days, and I was looking around amazon to see what I wanted to ask for. ¬†Eventually I found myself on apple seeing what stuff they had. ¬†On their front page, they had a brand new iPod Touch. ¬†A bit of backstory first. ¬†I don’t have a phone or a tablet. ¬†For starters I can’t afford either of them, but according to family law, I’m not allowed to have them either. ¬†I was looking at the price tag of the iPod, and it was $200. ¬†I thought, “Man, I could get that. ¬†I have one hundred bucks in the safe, and I could mow my lawn for a couple weeks and get the rest”. ¬†The more rational part of me quietly dismissed this thought. ¬†It’s not gonna happen. ¬†I wouldn’t be allowed to get it. ¬†I would explain my parents rules about technology, but even I don’t understand. ¬†It is precisely for that reason that I (in some cases) resent my parents’ rules. ¬†I’ll be at school going through my normal day when I look over at someone with their Beats headphones plugged into their iPad Air 2 while checking their iPhone 6. ¬†Number one, it gets me really annoyed/envious that they (their parents) have enough money to throw around that kind of stuff. ¬†And number two, it makes me really wish I could have one of those things. ¬†But then again, it is kind of funny to hear the class gasp when I try to explain to a teacher that I¬†can’t put my phone away in the technology bin because I don’t have one.

I remember doing the Great Adventure Bible Study (which I highly recommend) with my family one night when I was much younger, and the host Jeff Cavins was talking about one of his high school daughters. ¬†He said that she came home one night really depressed and angry. ¬†He of course asked her what was wrong. ¬†She said, “I want a phone. ¬†Every single person has one except me!” ¬†He replied, “THANK GOD there is at least one! ¬†And you’re it! ¬†You should be happy.” ¬†I think that’s what inspired some of my parent’s rules.

The point of all of this is that a lot of the time, I hate rules. ¬†I want to buy what I want. ¬†I want to have more freedom. ¬†But it eventually boils down to I want to do whatever I want. ¬†Sounds like most people today, doesn’t it? ¬†America is obsessed with this notion of liberty. ¬†Look at abortion, Gay “marriage”, a hundred different other things that I don’t even need to mention. ¬†People don’t like rules, they think they just hold people back from being happy.

Imagine a baseball game where the pitcher feels like playing dodgeball, or the batter feels like playing hit-the-pinata. ¬†Imagine a baseball game where the players do whatever the heck they want. ¬†No rules, total liberty and freedom. ¬†Not a very fun game to watch, is it? ¬†Each team is going to give themselves a million points for showing up to the game. ¬†Without rules the game falls apart. ¬†That’s what our lives are like.

A good batter doesn’t hate the rules but obey them anyway. ¬†“Fine coach. ¬†I’ll use a bat instead of a cow. ¬†Gosh, your such a communist, coach.” ¬†No, a good baseball player¬†loves¬†the rules. ¬†He understands why they are important and has witnessed the beauty of them. ¬†He obeys them because he wants to. ¬†A golfer loves the rules of golf, and gets upset when someone twists or disobeys them, and obviously attempts to help that person understand the game. ¬†Rules aren’t only good, they are necessary.

Don’t get that confused with “Rules are good, so too many rules are better”. ¬†No, an excessive amount of rules is like a suit of armor that is far too big and heavy for the wearer. ¬†It detracts from the knight’s ability to fight. ¬†It endangers the very thing it is supposed to protect. ¬†That’s why my brother and I never play baseball with just the two of us. ¬†We either have no rules and end up fighting, or have too many rules…and still end up fighting.

So, if we apply the importance of rules in things like baseball or golf, why don’t we apply them to far more imperative things like our lives? ¬†The world tries to tell you that rules aren’t important. ¬†That they restrain you from being happy. ¬†Applied to a different field, they would be telling you that 2+2=5. ¬†So, why believe them? ¬†I hate to break it to you guys, but 2+2=4, no amount of scientists or lawyers can change that. ¬†Marriage is between one man and one woman, and no amount of scientists or lawyers can change that. ¬†Life begins at conception, and no amount of scientists or lawyers can change that either. ¬†Why? ¬†Because they didn’t make the rules. ¬†2015-05-29-universe11

2015-05-29-universe21

From adam4d.com
From adam4d.com

~ NEWS ~

  • Formerly Tolkien Tavern,¬†Talking Tolkien¬†is launching today! ¬†If you are a die-hard Tolkien fan, you’re gonna love it. ¬†If you read this blog, but have a lukewarm relationship with Middle Earth, you’ll love it too. ¬†If you are like “Who is this Tool-keen guy?”, for the love of all that is good in this world, you need to check it out. ¬†I’ll be writing there, along with a friend of mine who knows more about Middle Earth than I do, and that’s saying quite a bit. ¬†It will be awesome. ¬†Make sure to check it out and follow.
  • It has been brought to my attention that my username “catholic2themax” is not a very convenient name for you to address me by. ¬†No, I’m not gonna blow my cover and tell you I’m actually Batman. ¬†Wait, did I write that? ¬†Darn. ¬†But seriously, I’m not gonna give my real name away, sorry. ¬†For explanations, read this post again, especially the beginning. ¬†It will make sense. ¬†But I do have some heart. ¬†So if you are one of those poor souls who cried out to me for a convenient name to call me by, give me some ideas. ¬†I’m really busy and don’t have the time to sit down for an hour and think of a better username.
  • ¬†God Loves You!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

Important Update!

Hey guys!  This is just a quick, but IMPORTANT update.

For those of you who missed the memo in my last post (everyone pretty much), I have gotten my first social media account! ¬†Whoa! ¬†Its called Awestruck, and that’s what you’ll be when you sign up for it. ¬†It is essentially a Catholic Facebook, minus all the bad stuff, and plus a bunch of super cool stuff! ¬†You can post prayer requests were approx. 500+ people will begin praying for that intention. ¬†You can participate in Apologetics and book clubs, and (my personal favorite) the Tolkien group, but not to exclude the hilarious Funny Stuff group. ¬†You can add your blog to their recommended list if you get in, and do so much more! ¬†It is really quite amazing. ¬†I you do decide to check it out (and you should), make sure to check out and follow me at my page.

In my last post, As for Me and My House, I discussed a new feature coming to Catholic Teen: Tolkien Tavern. ¬†For an idea of what it will be like, I added a “sample” at the end of it. ¬†Some of you will be sad to hear that I am canceling this feature. ¬†But, a friend of mine has show interest in writing it with me, so I have decided to create a new blog, dedicated to Tolkien and his works. ¬†It is under construction, but will hopefully be ready by next week. ¬†I’ll reblog the first couple posts on Catholic Teen so you guys get a taste of it. ¬†If you like Tolkien, make sure to watch out for it. ¬†If you don’t even know who Tolkien is (cough SR cough), make sure you check it out so you will not live the rest of your life missing out on the pinnacle of human imagination, wisdom, and Catholicism, rolled into one.

God Bless!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

As for Me and My House

As for Me and My House

So, in my English class, I have two very good friends, and we were just talking about games, Madden Mobile to be precise. ¬†One of them asked me if I got the new update. ¬†I said no, I don’t have the game. ¬†He freaked out and told me to take out my phone and download it. ¬†I said, “I don’t have a phone”. ¬†The entire class collectively gasped. ¬†Okay, that stretching it. ¬†It just got really quiet and everyone looked at me. ¬†Long story short, they both thought my parents were communists for not allowing me to buy my own smart phone. ¬†I told them calmly that is just the way we roll in my family.

Last week, on Thursday if I’m correct, I had probably¬†the¬†most stressful day I can recall. ¬†I won’t go into details, because then this post would have about one hundred lines of negative thoughts, and that’s not what this blog is about. ¬†Anyway, I was at school calling my mom on my dad’s extra phone that he (thankfully) left in my band bag. ¬†i was so stressed that I completely forgot my mom was even on the phone. ¬†Someone asked me a dumb question and I started swearing. ¬†Pretty loudly too. ¬†Anyway, afterwards I kinda beat myself up about letting it loose (I am just one of those weird people who doesn’t swear every other word). ¬†My friend asked me why Catholics had to be so different from the rest of the school. ¬†Why can’t we just be like everyone else?

That seems to be the question everyone is asking nowadays. ¬†We seem to be the only ones standing up for traditional marriage. ¬†One in a small group who stand for the Right to Life. ¬†We are a lot like the apostles in today’s readings. ¬†Jesus tells his disciples that to enter Heaven, they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. ¬†“This is a hard saying” they murmur, “who can follow it?”. ¬†With that, many turn and leave Him. ¬†Jesus turns to His disciples and asks, “Do you also wish to go away?”. ¬†And Peter, the first Pope replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.

Have you ever noticed that, out of the thousand Christian denominations, Catholics are the only ones who believed Jesus when He said “This is My Body”? ¬†That alone is enough to make us different. ¬†But why do we act different? ¬†Maybe it is because we are not ordered to this world. ¬†Death is not the end for us. ¬†We live for Christ. ¬†That is why we are different.

Take a Catholic, a good, faithful, devout Catholic, and order his life to the world.  What do you get?  A normal person at best.  Probably a bad person.  All he would want to do is to be happy, nothing else.  He looks for fleeting pleasure in everything and cares about himself.  Whatever is good about Catholicism is ordered to God and Heaven (A.K.A. ALL OF IT).  And whatever is good about you is what is ordered to God.

I found this poem on Star of the Sea blog in a post about wealth. ¬†It’s very powerful.

Wealth can be an idol, built of gleaming gold,
bringing dreams of paradise, futures bought and sold.
Some will choose to gather it, all that they can hoard,
but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Don’t fall into peer pressure. ¬†Don’t let others influence you to do wrong. ¬†Others are willing to let their technology govern their lives. ¬†Many push for evil in our government. ¬†Almost all are ordered towards this world, and what little it offers. ¬†Tell them boldly that they can do as they wish, but as for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!

News

  • I was notified recently of what is essentially, a Catholic Facebook. ¬†Its called Awestruck, and its awesome. ¬†You can join groups that have similar interests as you. ¬†For example, I’m in the Tolkien group, as well as the Latin Mass group. ¬†You can pray for each other and post prayer requests. ¬†You can Pray a virtual Rosary complete with Scriptural Reflections, as well as the Liturgy of the Hours. ¬†I highly recommend it, and you can follow me at¬†http://awestruck.tv/members/catholicteen/
  • There have been a ton of new readers recently, so I just wanted to point them to the Follow button on the sidebar. ¬†If you click that and type in your email address, you’ll get an update overtime I write a new post. ¬†It is a must for any reader of this blog.
  • Fo those of you who missed the memo, there will only be posts on Sundays for a while. ¬†I am extremely busy and do not have time during the week. ¬†I may be able to drop in a quote like I did last Monday, but the chances are slim.
  • NEW FEATURE!!!¬†– Just a few inches below this, is¬†Tolkien Tavern. ¬†It’s a little thing I’ll do every Sunday writing about Tolkien and his works. ¬†I might have a language corner, or a reflection about his life, and definitely a quote. ¬†Remember, this is a new feature, so I need reader advice on how to improve it, and what you want to be in it. ¬†I don’t write a blog just to read it myself, I have a journal for that. ¬†I think eventually it will morph into a post by itself, maybe even a newsletter. ¬†But again, I’ll only do it if people will read it. ¬†I you want that to happen, MAKE SURE TO TELL ME! ¬†I’m not God, I don’t read minds.
  • Guess what, GOD LOVES YOU! ¬†Don’t forget it!

~ TOLKIEN TAVERN ~

Quote
Sam¬†Today’s world is very dark. ¬†And getting darker. ¬†But remember, even darkness must pass. ¬†“A new day will come. ¬†And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer” – JRR Tolkien.

Quick Quenya

For this of you who do not know, Quenya is one of the two main Elvish languages spoken in Middle Earth.  It was brought into Middle Earth by the Noldor when they came to fight Morgoth.  For the most part they adopted the other language, Sindarin, but Quenya was still used as the High Tongue of the Elves.  Quenya is a lot like Latin, whereas Sindarin is a lot like Celtic.

I prefer Quenya for two reasons.  One is that it is a lot like Latin, and therefore, easier for a latin student (such as me) to understand.  The other is that it sounds better in my opinion.  Another great thing about Quenya is the resources Tolkien left for us, compared to the little we know of Sindarin.

I have worked with a couple like-minded friends to produce the first translation of the Rosary in Quenya.  Feel free to use and share it as you will.

Sign of the Cross:
Essenen Atarwa, ar Yondova, ar Ainas√ļleva. N√°sie.

Creed:
Istany√ę Eru, Ill√ļvatar Antaura, I ontaro menelo ar cemeno. Istany√ę Y√©sus
Hristo, Sonya eress√ę Yondo, Her√ļlva. Tull√ę t√ļrenen Airefeo
ar etnon√° Mar√≠ V√©n√ęa. N√©s nwalyaina nu Pontius Pil√°tus,
Tarwestaina, firn√ę, panyaina noiriss√ę. Lelyanes n√ļn I vanwanna.
I nelya auress√ę enortanes. Rostanes mir menel, ar
ná hamna sé forma Illuvataro. Entuluvas namien I cuina ar I
firin. Istany√ę I Airef√ęa, I aire Palurin corda, I yomeni√ę nerion airi, I
avatyaral√ę lucassion, I ortal√ę I hroan, ar cuile oia. N√°si√ę.

Our Father: 
√Ātaremma i √ęa han √ęa,
na aire esselya.
aranielya na tuluva,
na care indómelya cemende tambe Erumande.
√°men anta s√≠ra ilaur√ęa massamma,
ar √°men apsene √ļcaremmar s√≠v’ emme apsenet tien i √ļcarer emmen,
√Ālame tulya √ļsahtienna mal √°me etelehta ulcullo. N√°sie.

Hail Mary: 
Aia Mar√≠a quanta Eruanno, i H√©ru as elye. Aistana elye im√≠ca n√≠si, ar aistana i y√°ve m√≥nalyo Y√©sus. Aire Mar√≠a Eruo ontaril, √° hyame r√°men √ļcarindor, s√≠ ar l√ļmesse ya firuvamme. N√°sie.

Glory Be: 
A laita Atar, ar Yondo, ar Ainas√ļle. Ve n√©s i yessesse n√° sin, ar y√©va tennoio. N√°sie.

Salve Regina: 
Aiya T√°ri, Amill√ę oravi√©no,
cuilelma, lisselma ar estelma, aiya.
Lyenna y√©lalm√ę, etya-h√≠ni √Čvo,
lyenna s√≠qualm√ę, nainala ar ny√©rala
sina nandoss√ę nien√≠va.

Ai! etta, a s√°melma, √° quer√ę
menna orav√°la hendulyat;
ar ámen tana Yésus, i aistana
y√°v√ę m√≥nalyo, apa etyal√ę sina.
A raina, a m√©la, a liss√ę Wend√ę Mar√≠a. N√°sie.

God Bless (nai Eru lye m√°nata)!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

Mercy Quote

Get ready guys, because this is quite possibly my favorite quote of all time.

“I glorify You in making known how good you are towards sinners, and that your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it, that no matter how many times or how shamefully we fall, or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of Your pardon…It is in vain that your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in your mercy.” ¬†– St. Claude de la Colombiere

Special thanks to SR for helping me find out the author.