The Universal Call to AWESOMENESS

“Awesome”.  Try to picture that word in your head.  Visualize the most awesome thing you can think of.  The coolest, most amazing, and most astounding thing you have ever seen.  I would’ve told you to close your eyes, but then you couldn’t really read the post.  Ah well.  Anyway, think of what you just visualized.  If you though of JPII holding a Koala, you’d be like me.
682343cd15468f7eba7f4751b9525618You may be cool, but, you’ll never be St. JPII-is-holding-a-koala-cool.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, pure and total awesomeness.  As, you can tell, I like that word.  And not without reason.  The word mean “to inspire awe”.  And to me, the most awe-inspiring thing is God.  Well, He’s not a thing, but you get the idea.  So, anything “awesome” in it’s purest form is anything like God.

You may have heard of the Universal Call to Holiness (I certainly hope so).  The idea is that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done, you are called to be a Saint.  When I was confirmed, I chose St. Josemaria Escriva as my patron.  At the time he lived, there was a lot going on.  Well, duh, it was the Spanish Civil War.  But it was also a time of struggle in the Church.  Priesthood was seen widely as just another job you could choose from.  But one of the biggest wrong ideas of the time was that only religious (priests, nuns, monks, etc.) could be a saint.  Josemaria started Opus Dei, or the Work of God, dedicated to making saints out of ordinary people.  Not only that, but to do every single thing for the Glory of God.

St. Josemaria liked to get up early in the morning, and say the Morning Offering the moment he woke up.  He asked people how could they expect to win the day’s war if they lost the first battle to laziness?  He would get up and squash temptation before it even had the chance to yawn.  Pretty awesome.  Whatever he did, it was for God.  Now, I don’t expect any of you to be praying a rosary while you take a final exam.  We’re not that good, well, I’m not at least.  You guys might be.  Giving everything to God is amazing, but it is really hard to achieve if you’re not used to it.  So, I propose something simpler to get you on your way.

Here it is.  Whatever you do, be awesome at it.  Do it well.  If you’re a baseball player, swing like Jesus was your coach.  If you’re taking a test, study like Jesus was your teacher, or maybe your mom, that might inspire you not to fail more.  If you are a doctor, operate like Jesus was your patient.  If you’re a babysitter (or just an older sibling, like me), care for the kids like you were holding the infant Jesus in your arms.  If you blog, write like Jesus is going to read it (because He is!).  You get the idea.  If you’ll do that, you can’t go wrong.

Just because that was kind of vague, here are some easy to do and simple ideas for being Awesome, each and every day of the week.  The way this works is that you try to accomplish all of the goals everyday, but focus the most on the one for the prescribed day.  Here we go:

  • Monday: Smile more often.  Frowns take more muscle anyway.
  • Tuesday: Talk to God.  No need for a set prayer.  Have a conversation with Him like you’re sitting at the coffee shop with your best friend about whatever you want.  Tell Him about your day, or about how fun that new video game is, or about how amazing this “Catholic Teen” blog is.
  • Wednesday: Laugh.  Not only does it relieve stress, but it gives you an excuse for looking up memes during study hall.
  • Thursday: Listen to good music.  I mean good music.  I want none of this Taylor Swift nonsense.
  • Friday: Read a good book.  If you can’t think of one, read the Lord of the Rings.
  • Saturday: Try your hardest at everything.  You have no good reason not too.
  • Sunday: Relax.  If you care enough to have read this far, you are probably a hard-working and devout Catholic who is in no desperate need of my advice, except maybe this one.  Humans are designed to need rest, so we Catholics vote an entire day to it (how typically awesome of us).

This isn’t all you can do.  This is more like The Beginner’s Guide to Being Awesome.  It is more concerned about how you are at work or school than how you are at church.  Confession should definitely be somewhere in there, along with Mass and stuff.

You might think that you’re just an average citizen, an ordinary person.  But there is no such thing as ordinary.  You are a child of God!  That is pretty extraordinary!  The saddest thing I see everyday is someone who has forgotten who they really are.  You’re AWESOME!  Start acting like it!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS, I secretly was scanning you while you read this article with a state-of-the-art Awesome meter.  Here is what you scored: awesome-meter

Since When Has the Faith Become Convenient?

Look around you.  I would bet that almost everything has been engineered for your convenience.  Looking around the room I’m in, there is a ladder going up to a bunk bed to make it easier to get up there.  I’m sitting in a chair designed to make me comfortable.  There is a closet so I can find my clothes quicker.  I’m typing on a laptop that can bring me news from around the world in a split second.  This laptop can allow me to communicate with my Grandparents 891 miles away without leaving my home.

Wherever humans go, they change their environment to make life easier.  We cut down trees and build dams.  We build towns and cities and nations.  We invent new things to make life even more comfortable.  We built cars, manufactured airplanes, created computers and cell phones.  We domesticate almost everything to suit our needs.  And now, we have started to domesticate Christianity.  Nowadays, Jesus is just a “nice guy” and “a good teacher”.  People believe whatever they want, usually whatever they want to be correct.  Ever heard of Cafeteria Catholicism?  I want this Jesus-loaf, and maybe a bit of that Church-cream.  Ooh, that Heaven-cobbler looks great!  Ew, that morality stuff makes me feel sick.  Yah, I don’t want a Pope-roll.  Finish it off with a Whatever-the-heck-I-want-Cola.

Gone are the days when people were picky about their beliefs and would eat anything their parents gave them.  No, nowadays people believe whatever their friends or the media tells them, and will only eat like four things without throwing a fit.  My generation has gotten so used to having everything made easy for them.  For instance, at band camp, some people fake injuries when they don’t feel like running anymore.  People only do their homework when they feel like it.  The list goes on and on.

Conveniences like plumbing and electric lighting are definitely useful.  To be honest, I wouldn’t last a week without air conditioning during the summer.  But when you try to make everything easy, that’s where you go wrong.  Some things aren’t meant to be easy!  You don’t get a Gold Medal at the Olympics for showing up in the uniform.  You don’t get a college scholarship for just going to high school.  And you don’t get to heaven just going to church when you feel like it.  Sometimes we forget that we are the Church Militant, not the Church Comfy.

Mass isn’t supposed to be fun, it is supposed to be a prayer.

16692_137476246402126_1068780111_nNone of the Saints got to Heaven by doing whatever they felt like doing?  Look at any Saint in the History of Christianity.  Name one of them who didn’t suffer in some way.  Cricket…Cricket.  And the Saints are role-models for us.  So if you are being persecuted by our culture for your Catholic faith, take heart!  Your doing something right.  If you are not, you need to either thank God for living in a perfect world, or reëxamine what you believe.

Birth Control was made for the convenience of parents who didn’t want kids.  Divorce exists for the convenience of spouses who no longer wanted to be around each other.  Abortion usually takes place in the failure of birth control, again, for the convenience of parents who don’t want their kids.  People are changing the liturgy to make it more convenient for them or prospective converts.  People, even bishops, are trying to change church doctrine for various reasons (Story).

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want a comfortable church that lets me do what I want.  That’s kind of like a parent who won’t tell their child not to go out on a busy street.  It’s the Church’s job to protect and guard its flock.  Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep”, not to let them do what they want so you can be popular.  The thing is, when my parents protect their kids from various thing, kids tend not to like it.  I once tried to buy a violent video game, and I was extremely angry when I was told I couldn’t get it.  No matter how long I wouldn’t talk or through a fit or shouted or whatever else I could cook up, my parents wouldn’t budge.  That needs to be what the church does.  No matter how much people want to go out on a busy street to play with their friends on the road, the parents cannot let them do it.

Our morality cannot be defined by us, or by circumstance.  Morality comes from God, and God alone.  We cannot make it for ourselves.  Since God made morality, it can’t be circumstantial.  Killing someone is wrong, regardless if you are doing it because you want, or because someone tells you to do it (cough planned parenthood cough).

Whether you like it or not, we are on a battleship, not a cruise liner.  That doesn’t mean we have to be morbid and pessimistic though.  We can still be happy, in fact, we are called to be joyful in this life.  But that doesn’t mean we aren’t in a fight.  Most of you have heard of the Planned Parenthood video about selling aborted body parts.  It’s nothing new.  That’s what PP does.  The #WomenBetrayed Pro-Life Rally was one of the biggest in history.  It is calling for an end to the Government’s funding of Planned Parenthood.  However, Obama still vows to veto anything that would accomplish that goal.

We have to take a stand.  Nothing is convenient about that.  I am lighting the beacons of Gondor.  If you are reading this and have a blog, write a post calling the Faithful to make a stand, and tag it TheBeaconsAreLit.  Will you answer the call?  I’m counting on you guys.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

When You’re Done with Everything

Today, I’ll be honest, was horrible.  It started out good enough.  I slept in until about 8:00, and went to the 9 am Mass.  After that, I went to the library to get some movies.  My mom told me that I might not be allowed to watch some of them.  I was pretty tired, and that kind of got me annoyed.  Then we had to go to a couple more stops, which further irritated me.  When I finally got home, i locked myself up in my room and started to read a book.  That’s when my mom told me I had to go to the pool (which I really didn’t want to do).  After that she said, “you also have a dentist appointment Thursday, and you have to get a haircut this weekend (Gretclips always messes it up).  Oh, and you have band rehearsal tonight”.  It was like the 4 worst things in a row.  I was very angry.  Then my brother came into the room and said, “Why are you angry.  Huh?  Just tell me why you’re annoyed.”  It lasted for like ten minutes.  I finally escaped and ate lunch.  When I came back upstairs, I was checking what time band was tonight, when I got a notification from wordpress.  It was a post from The Honan Chapel Newsletter.  It was a video from a father whose 5-year old daughter is battling cancer.   

I realized that my life is pretty awesome.  I have to go to the dentist and that means I have teeth to get checked out.  I have to get a haircut and that means I’m not bald.  I have to go to the pool which means I have a pool to go to.  I have to go to marching band which means I’m healthy enough to do it (that’s saying a lot).

My life is great, just like most people’s.  But sadly, most people don’t realize it because their heads are always down to their phones.  Enjoy your life that God gave you, you only have one.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS.  If you’re having a bad day, imagine a t-rex trying to make a bed.  If that doesn’t work, go to catholicmemes.com, that should do the trick.

Comfort and Greatness

So, if you didn’t already know from some of my earlier posts, I’m part of the Marching Band at my high school.  I started playing the alto sax just a year before I joined my Freshman year (that’s barely any).  I was very inexperienced and unprepared for what I was going to be asked to do.  I couldn’t play the music and I could barely march, so they made me an alternate who just pushes the props around.  It was pretty cool, actually.  I went everywhere with the band and pushed a fake camera around.  I got featured on the jumbotron at Lucas Oil Stadium a couple times.  It was hard, but not that hard.

This year is a whole different enchilada.  I have improved my marching technique a lot, and have also spent time getting better musically.  When they dished out this year’s music, it was twice as hard.  But I practiced and practiced, and soon I only had a couple measures that still needed work.  Yesterday (July 16, 2015), we had an all-day rehearsal to get ready for our all-week band camp.  We were outside marching, and it was the time when they choose who is going to be an alternate.  One of the band directors pulls someone aside during a water break and tells them that they will be an alternate for the season.  I was marching around with my alto, feeling good about my improvements, when the assistant band director tells me to see him at the break.  I got pretty disappointed.  I worked so hard to meet their standards and I still am an alternate?  What stinks the most about it is that usually only one sophomore is an alternate, the rest are freshies.  So its really bad luck to be the one sophomore out of 60 that is an alternate.

At the water break I walked over and stood in front of the director.  He says, “You’ve improved a ton.  Not only marching and music, but also your determination and work-ethic.  I’m very glad to see that you have begun to be comfortable in your position.  But…”  I brace myself for the bad news tat I knew was coming.  “But, we need you to march Bari Sax instead.”

For those of you who don’t know, an alto sax is relatively small, but a baritone sax is about 3x as big.

Alto is the one on the far left, then tenor, and finally bari on the right.
Soprano sax is on the bottom, then Alto is the one on the far left, then tenor, and finally bari on the right.

For some reason I still don’t understand, I agreed to march bari.  Its a lot heavier, more awkward to play, and not to mention that I have never played it before.  Band Camp is this Sunday, and I have two days to learn the music and be able to march with it perfectly.  But hey, it’s only marching band.  Ok, it’s a lot harder than it looks.  However, I do have a history of doing these kinds of things.  I used to play football, and I was really good at it (not to brag).  I played defensive end, but my coach needed me at fullback and tight end.  I said that I’ll play whoever he put me.  I ended up playing almost ever position except Qb and running back.  In baseball, I typically played outfield, but my coach wanted me at third.  I had a terrible fear of getting hit with the ball, but I did it anyways.  And finally, band.  When I took the infamous bari out of the case I was like:3973c399c75172b31e8d7a73982c8c10

But when I took a good look at it after it was fully assembled:IMG_5391  I felt like Frodo when I finally took it off.  c2192f9c1e4c9eb5c17e1f24affe37eb67c08459f991487cc19016e1c660cd73

That night, my band director gave a great speech.  he started out with a quote.

“10% of life is what happens to you, 90% of it is how you respond”

He went on to talk about how he kicked our butts that night (very true, considering I marched with a 20 pound sax for two hours straight).  He talked a lot about getting out of your comfort zone, and taking risks.  No one has ever achieved greatness while being comfortable he says.  If you’re starting to feel good about how you are doing, do more.  Push yourself to do more than you think you can, because I know you can.

I couldn’t help but hear Jesus in his words.  read it over again with God as the speaker.  It sounds like him, doesn’t it?  If you feel comfortable just going to church on Sunday, you need to do more.  If you feel uncomfortable about something, generally, generally mind you, you’re on the right path.  Has anyone ever gotten the girl of their dreams by feeling comfortable and not talking to her?  Has anyone won a Super Bowl without taking a single risk?  Has anyone made it to Heaven, just trying to be “good enough”?  Heck No!  Jesus asks for the impossible, but He rarely requires it.  If you give, 110%, Jesus will give the rest.  If you aim for like 98-ish, your gonna get 9.8-ish.  Give your best, and then some.  At band, we do a breathing exercise, where we fill up our lungs in 5 counts, and then take gulps of air for 15 counts.  Our air wasn’t really full after five, was it?  How about this.  Raise your hand as high as you can.  Higher.  Higher.  You could go farther, couldn’t you?  That’s what we always need to do.

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for Greatness” – JPII

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS, I really need some prayers today and for the rest of the week.  Thanks!

Come to Me

Last night I went to Totus Tuus at my parish.  They have one in the day for the younger kids, but they also have one for the high schoolers at night.  It started out normally enough, but one of the missionaries made the announcement that we would be having a holy hour with the blessed sacrament followed by benediction.  Me and one of my friends got to serve adoration and benediction, so we had to leave the talk a couple minutes early.

I remember when I made my first holy hour a couple years ago.  When my Fraternus group said we would be doing one, there was really only one thought running through my mind: “Is it really a whole hour?  Why not just fifteen minutes?”.  Yes, it is a whole hour.  And the reason why it is an hour, is because of a question Jesus asked in the garden of Gethsemane: Could you not watch with me one hour?  Over the years I’ve learned how to do them.  Like ACTS: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

Anyway, last night I made a holy hour after going to confession.  I went through ACTS, which took me about 20 minutes or so.  then I read Mother Teresa’s I Thirst For You, and finished off with some Mental Prayer.  It was so amazing I can’t put it into words.  The grace was overwhelming.  I told Jesus that I wish I could do this forever.  You CAN!  I didn’t have to look around to see who said those words.  He was right in front of me.  In the monstrance.  You CAN do this forever.  Come to me!  Now, I bet most people probably would not believe that I heard God last night.  The reason why they can’t hear them, is that they won’t stop talking.  Have you ever met someone who asks you a question, but then won’t give you a chance to answer.  That is what we’re like most of the time.  Most of the time last night, I couldn’t get a song out of my head.  But I did eventually, and I gave Jesus a chance to answer.

I woke up this morning, and after some breakfast, I read the readings for today.  The Gospel shocked me.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It’s what God spoke in my heart last night.  All of us are laden with burdens of many different kinds: worries at school, troubles with work, not to mention sins and imperfections.  Jesus wants to take them from you.  Give them to Him, and He will give you rest.  Now, its not some long journey you have to make to get to Him.  You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest to reach God.  All you need to do to find Jesus is to open your door.  He stands at the door and knocks.  Even when you don’t see Him, even when you don’t hear Him, He is there.

“Come to Me with your misery and your sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU…”  – Mother Teresa

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Liberalism and Sin

I’ve just gotten home from my long road trip to South Bend, Indiana for my youngest brother’s baptism.  My siblings and I have all been baptized at the same church, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame University, and by the same priest.  The road trip was about 8 hours, so I needed some serious entertainment.  I brought my laptop, but it died within 2 hours of Minecraft.  After about an hour or so of boredom, my dad put the Fellowship of the Rings audiobook on.  I’ve read the book many times, but my brother sadly had not, and I am always ready to read, or hear it again.

Like I’ve already said, I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 15 times, but I’ve never noticed something which caught my ear on Saturday.  Gandalf was talking to Bilbo before the hobbit left for the mountains right after the party.  Bilbo was getting angry, and he told Gandalf, “I’ll do as I choose and go as I please”.  Ever heard that before?  Probably not in those exact words, but perhaps something like “Don’t tell me what to do”.

Nowadays, that’s what most people define as liberalism.  But, with the secularized culture, our liberty has morphed into license (doing whatever the heck you want to do).  Now, that is pretty much what Bilbo in his anger just confessed.  He believes that he can do whatever he wants.  That what true.  With his Ring of Power, Bilbo can get away with whatever he wants because of the invisibility it bestows on its wearer.  He can do as he chooses and go as he pleases, and no one can stop him.  The ring symbolizes liberalism.

Many people want to live like that.  No rules, no bonds, nothing that could get in the way of you and your desires.  Look at America today, somehow the Supreme Court has decided that people have a right to do something just because they want to do it.  Look where that got Bilbo.  He lived an extremely long life, had a tremendous amount of wealth, and not to mention the power of invisibility.  But then we start to see the side affects.  He says that he felt like “butter, scraped across too much bread”.  He has begun the transformation into a terrible creature, a slave to sin.  He shows this in his flashes of anger in his conversation with the wizard.  The reader sees the similarities between him and the creature Gollum, as Gandalf outlines in great detail.   The biggest similarity that I see, is their obsession with their “right” to the ring.  Gollum claims that it was his birthday present, and Bilbo claims that he won it, both lies.

So many people today claim to have a “right” to have an abortion, or to marry someone of the same gender, or to get a divorce.  A right is given from authority.  A mayor has authority given to him from a higher authority, and eventually goes on up to the Federal Government.  And there the chain stops, or does it?  Jesus says that all authority comes from God, and that government has authority in things that only God gives authority.  The Supreme Court may profess to have the authority to redefine marriage, but no such authority lies in any human establishment.  That would be like a monkey trying to redefine the banana given to him by his master.  His master gave it to him out of love as a gift, and the monkey doesn’t want it to be a banana, he wants it to be a pistol.  Eventually, when that monkey tries to start a Rise of the Planet of the Apes, his so called gun will fail to function and he will be in a very bad spot.

I used to have a CD that I would listen to in the car by Joseph Pierce about the Catholicism that can be found in the Lord of the Rings.  He mentioned how the Ring is sin.  It seems appealing and harmless, altogether precious as Tolkien put it.  It seems to exist only for your happiness.  But it will trap you and change you.  Look what it did to the Nine human kings.  They were probably okay guys to start off with.  Some were probably tyrants, but nothing compared to what sin turns them into.

At the beginning of the Return of the King movie, it shows Smeagol fishing with his friend Deagol.  They are very happy, just hanging out enjoying the good weather.  Then they spot the ring, and a peaceful day turn into a murder scene.  A perfectly happy hobbit-like thing was changed into the monstrosity of Gollum.  He both hates and loves the ring, as he hates and loves himself.  He is a hideous animal, a monster from nightmares.  Sin has the capacity to do that, no matter how alluring or harmless it may seem.

This is what will happen if we do not drop sin as Bilbo did.  Leave it and never even look at it again.  The same thing with liberalism, or should I say, license.  License puts you in the place of God as judge of all.  Something is right if you say it is.  That would be living on a lie, like the lie of Gollum.

Frodo just wore it around his neck and he almost turned evil.  But he had a friend, Sam (my favorite character by the way) who helped him on his journey.  Like I’ve said like 10 times already.  A journey is a lot easier if you have good friends to keep you going.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

Love and Forgiveness

We live in a world of feelings.  People do whatever they feel is right, and condemn whatever they feel is wrong or offensive.  Nowadays, love means a good feeling you have for someone or something.  It means letting someone do whatever they want because anything else would be hateful.  What a radical turn from the love Jesus expressed during His ministry.

250617_158293930987024_1619207592_nThe Gospel says that “God is Love”.  Since God is perfect, He can never be imperfect, or un-loving.  So if we look at the life of Jesus, we’ll only see examples of love.  We can see obvious examples that anyone would recognize.  He multiplied the loaves and fish to feed His starving followers.  He cured the sick and raised the dead.  And of course, His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, the ultimate act of love.  But then there are times when Jesus seems to not be so loving.  Remember when Jesus went to the temple and flipped all of the tables and fashioned a whip out of cords and drove the traders out?  That doesn’t seem like love in the way our culture usually sees it.  But I hold on to the fact that Jesus can only love, since God is love, or more accurately, love is God.

What do all of these examples have in common?  Not all of them are associated with just good feelings.  None of them involve letting someone do whatever the heck they want.  But they all happen because Jesus genuinely wishes the good for each and every person on Earth.  He would only do corporal works of mercy because He wishes that person to live a good life, and He died on the cross because He wants everyone to have a shot at Eternal Salvation.  He drove the money-changers out because they were making the temple, the most holy place in the world to the Jews, a market.  That would be like someone trying to set up a Taco Bell in your church.  Of course your going to get upset about it!  Not only are they making worship impossible for people trying to get to Mass, but they are also getting this idea that the House of God isn’t important enough to not have a trading market.  They need to be shown that it is indeed extremely important, and that is what Jesus did.  Jesus showed us that Love is not just a feeling, it is genuinely wishing the good for that person.  With that in mind, I can honestly say that I love each and every one of you reading this.

And of course, there is Paul’s famous First Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind, etc.  I think we should also study this passage to better understand love.

Love is patient.  Sometimes, my siblings will turn into 7 little Jack-Jacks from the Incredibles movie.  You’ll have to watch it, I can’t really describe it.  But love wouldn’t freak out and start throwing pillows at them (which I may or may not do from time to time).  Love would not lose its temper, and calm things down.  Also, sometimes the thing someone needs the most is for you to listen to them.  That takes patience too.  I remember an elderly man I used to visit with my local Legion of Mary.  He was the coolest guy I’ve ever met.  But sometimes, all he would do is sit and tell us stories for like an hour.  You should have seen how happy he was that he had someone to talk to.  Sometimes it took patience, but that is all in the business of love.

Love is kind.  Love goes out of its way to help someone.  Love volunteers to do corporal works of mercy.  Love cleans its room without be told to.  I have to admit, I’m not so advanced in this category.  Jesus was though.  He would eat dinner with sinners, heal the sick, and talk to tax collectors (If you’ve never seen the Bible Series on History channel, watch the clip of Matthew’s conversion).  Today, go out of your way to be nice to someone.

Love is not Jealous.  Love isn’t jealous of what someone else has.  Since I do not own a phone, sometimes I’m jealous that everyone, literally everyone except me has one.  Love would be glad for them, and rejoice that they have been blessed with a comfortable lifestyle.

Love is not Boastful or Arrogant.  Love doesn’t brag about how good they are compared to someone else.  It doesn’t think that its better or worth more than anyone else.  Love is humble.  Love is like an angel: It can fly because it takes itself lightly.  Love is like GK Chesterton when he responded to the question “What is wrong in the world?”.  His response was the shortest out of all the famous authors that answered.  He simply said ” Dear sirs, I am.”  So, be humble, just like love.

Love is not Rude.  Don’t you hate it when you’re talking about religion, and there is always that one person who insults you and your faith?  Love is not like that.  Love is respectful to everyone, regardless of their beliefs or opinions.  That, however, does not mean to let them believe whatever they want.

Love does not insist on its own way.  Don’t take this the wrong way.  This does NOT mean that you can let someone do or believe whatever they want.  It means that if someone wants to go to blah blah blah for lunch, and you want to go to this and that instead, you don’t insist on going where you want to go.  I hate it when me and one of my parents are going to get something to eat, and they won’t say where they want to go!  That’s probably because they are being like love.

Love is not Irritable.  Love doesn’t get angry or annoyed at someone.  Love is too kind and patient for that.  I know its hard, but you have to try your best.  Your not perfect, but aim for perfection, and you’ll get excellence.  Aim for good enough, and you’ll get, well, not good enough.  So try your best.

Love is not Resentful.  Love doesn’t carry grudges.  It forgives and forgets, just like God when you go to confession.  There is this one kid at my high school that was in my Middle School English class.  He was the meanest boy I ever knew, and he would pick on me all the time.  Eventually I put a stop to it myself, but I still am trying to work to get rid of that grudge he gave me.  Love wouldn’t do that.  Love forgives.

Love does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Like I said earlier, our culture has a very distorted idea of what love does.  Apparently, nowadays, it is love to celebrate SCOTUS’s decision.  Apparently, its love to allow women to have abortions.  Apparently, its love to reject the truth.  That’s not love.  Love rejoices in the truth, not evil.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  ‘Nuff said.

Now that we have established what exactly love is, let’s look at today’s Gospel.  Jesus is once more visiting his hometown, Nazareth.  And once more, they reject him.  But it isn’t as bad as what they did earlier:11064011_10203835795915839_610930802_o

If you haven’t already figured it out, they tried to throw him off a cliff.  Pretty bad welcome home party.  But he still comes back and preaches to them.  Again, culture would say that what He just did in today’s Gospel isn’t love, it’s hate.  They don’t want him to preach, so He shouldn’t preach.  Again, whatever the people feel is right, is somehow right.  Jesus loved those people so much, that He risked being thrown off a cliff just so He could talk to them about the truth.  Not only that, He forgave them for almost killing Him, just like He forgives you when you go to Confession.

Love fuels forgiveness, and forgiveness in turn is a manufacturing plant for love.  It’s like Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, they fuel each other.  If you want the strength to forgive, love.  If you want the strength to love, forgive.  Jesus said that we must forgive each other, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.  I remember when I was little, my little brother punched me.  My mom told me to forgive him.  I asked why.  She said because Jesus tells us to forgive our brothers 70 x 7 times.  I told her that I think I’ve past that number a long time ago, so I shouldn’t have to this time.  But really, forgive endlessly. That’s what Jesus does.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS, before we left Mass this morning.  My dad told me to sign a piece of paper.  I asked what it was and he told me to just sign it.  I have a plethora of different signatures, so I chose one of my favorites:  My name (Batman).  My dad laughed and told me it was going to our bishop!  I hope he has a good sense of humor.

PPS,

The Good, the Bad, and the Annoying

Earlier today, I went to Mass with my Mom like we usually do on weekdays.  But since my dad was home today, we got to leave all the little kids home and have a nice quiet time. It was awesome as planned, and we went and got some food afterwards.  Things were looking good.  But then disaster struck when we got home.  The kids were screaming and pouting, so we went to our town’s Fourth of July Celebration.  They had some of the best funnel cake I have ever had, not to mention the live music and other attractions.  When we got home, once again, everything fell apart.  Then, my dad came to the rescue with a movie he rented from RedBox, and now everything is quiet while my little sisters watch The Lemurs of Madagascar.

As you can tell, my day has been full of different emotions.  Today I’ve been happy, annoyed, angry, and the wonderful feeling only a good funnel cake can bestow.  But no matter how ‘m feeling, I’m obligated (privileged) to care for my younger siblings.  I’m also supposed to be Christ to others, no matter how I feel about it.

As a Catholic, I promise you there will be times when you’re loving life.  You just feel God’s presence all around you.  Your plans seem to fit right up with God’s, all the kids seem to behave at Mass, and you couldn’t want anything else (except maybe some pizza.  That would be a nice touch).  And there will be times when you feel empty.  You’ll look around and say to God, “What the heck Man!?”.  Sometimes people will hate you for what you believe and persecute you for your faith.  Unashamed Catholic had a great post about constant conversion to a more Christ-like you, and he got comments about how horrible Mary is, and how the Catholic Church is the infamous “Whore of Babylon” spoken of in Revelation.  You have to be Christ-like whatever happens.

My friends know that I’m not to good at doing that when I’m angry.  I can get really bad sometimes when people do stuff like I just mentioned.  But to be perfectly honest, I probably do that a lot as well.  I don’t say it, but sometimes I’ll make fun of what someone believes (even though the stupidity is so thick you couldn’t cut it with a just knife.  You’d need like a lightsaber-chainsaw to just make a dent in it).  The point is, be Christ to others, regardless of who it may be.

There are a lot of people who expect to get something out of Christianity in a worldly sense.  People want to get a good feeling out of going to church or being nice to people.  I’m telling you right now, it probably won’t happen the way you want it to.  C.S. Lewis once said that “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

To people who are expecting comfort out Catholicism, the problem is that you are looking for the world in the Heavens.  Your expecting worldly pleasure out of God.  But, like JPII famously said,

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for Greatness”

However, you will get something from living a holy life.  They’re called the fruits of the Holy Spirit (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity).  While some of them may sound a lot like earthly feelings, they’re not.  They are something far more awesome.  They are fruits because they show when the Holy Spirit lives in you.  It’s basically the Holy Spirit showing through you.

Because we are so addicted to our feelings, we expect what we feel to be right to be the truth.  We might really want something to happen, whether it’s for a job interview to go well, or for your sports team to win, or something even more important to happen, but it might not be in God’s plan.  Have you ever really really wanted something, and told God that His will be done, not yours?  I have.  I did not enjoy it at all.  But, as C.S. Lewis said again,

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

With the way things are going today in America, it would probably be the aforementioned time when you say to God, “What the Heck, Man!”  But it is also the time when you suck it up and keep fighting the good fight, regardless about how you feel.  If you’re happy, spread it to other people, take advantage of those times.  If someone is feeling depressed about what has happened, or if they are being bullied for their faith, stand up for them.

A lot of people are all for that relationship not religion stuff.  They are looking for a perfect relationship, but there is a problem.  I hate to break it to them, but they’re not perfect!  Sometimes you are going to feel down in the dumps, I personally guarantee it.  But, if you follow Jesus through good times and bad, you’ll get to taste what Final Victory is like.  You’ll get to see God and think, “Man, that was worth it”.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

Rediscovering Jesus / Wrap-up

Rediscovering Jesus

I remember a couple years ago, my family went on a vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  One night my parents left me and my other siblings with my Grandparents so they could go on a date.   I was just a little kid, so I obviously didn’t understand why they had to leave right when we rented one of my favorite movies.  My dad told me two things.  The first was why they have to go on dates.  It helps them recall what they love so much about each other, and to forget each other’s imperfections.  The second (and more appealing to me at the time) was that we had some left over pizza in the fridge.

We all need to “go on a date”with Jesus every once and a while.  For me personally, I usually just go through the motions during Mass, not really appreciating what is happening.  That’s true for a lot of people today.  If it wasn’t, I don’t think America would be nearly as messed up as it is right now.

When I learn something in Algebra, I can stuff it in my head and ace the quiz.  I might even learn it well enough to ace a test weeks later without having to study.  But eventually, I’ll get the places of x and y mixed up, or if it was more than or less than.  The point is, the longer you know about something without continually studying it, the less you’ll know about it.  When you first come across a subject, you have a choice.  You could cram it not your head to make your teacher happy, or you could actually learn the material and actually understand it.  I don’t want to know how many Christians memorize the ten commandments for Sunday School and promptly forget them on Monday when they go to school.

When my parents go on a date, they like to go to one of two places.  One is a super-fancy Italian restraint (my Mom’s favorite), and the other is a Buffalo Burger joint (my Dad’s favorite).  When you rediscover Jesus, it is sort of like that.  You could go to a retreat like the ones Opus Dei puts on, or you could rediscover Jesus in your own busy life.  You can do it anywhere, as long as you are with Jesus.

Our secularized society has distorted Jesus into just a “nice guy” or merely a “good teacher”.  We forget how powerful and groundbreaking his teachings were.  We forget how much He loves us.  We need to remember Jesus.  We need to rediscover Jesus.


Wrap-Up

Note: Top 5’s are now in order unless otherwise noted.

Top 5 Most Popular Posts

1. Elusive Peace 

2. 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

3. Pentecost and Why It’s Still Important

4. Behold, I stand at the Door and Knock

5. The Way

Top 5 Favorite Blogs

1. Word on Fire – Fr. Barron and the rest of the WOF Contributors have a perfect blend of reflections, advice, and movie reviews to make it my #1 favorite Blog.

2. Fr. Z – Like I said earlier, this is one of the best, well-kept, and most insightful blogs this side of Eternal Life.

3. Defenders of the Catholic Faith – Steve Ray does a stupendous job of everything, including his choice of hats.

4. Catholic Memes – If you have ever read my blog, you would know how often I reference them or use their memes.

5. Living the Reality of Jesus – The one and only WordPress.com blog to make it onto this list this month.  Definitely one of my favorites, as it always will be.

Catholic Teen News

  • Due to some disappointing spam and inappropriate comments, I am considering moving to a new site.  If anyone has any advice about how to deal with this, or recommendations for where to move, that would be great.
  • I’m going to be extremely busy this July.  I have to go to my brother’s baptism up in Notre Dame, then I have Band for almost the rest of the month.  I’ll try to set up scheduled posts as often as I can, but there won’t be much new stuff.  If you would like to guest blog while I’m gone, just comment about it.  It would be a big help.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax


Turn the Other Cheek

Today is the Feast day of the First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church.  Today we honor the brave men and women who gave their lives to spread the gospel to the world.  Without them, we would never had heard the good news of Christ.  Some of them we know, such as St. Peter and Paul who we celebrated yesterday.  Today is for the unsung heroes who names are known to God alone.

They say history repeats itself, that what happened will happen again.  The world is definitely heading in that direction.  Doubtless you have heard of the Supreme Court’s disappointing decision regarding so called “gay marriage”.  What disappoints me even more is the reaction of the people.  Wordpress had a gigantic rainbow banner at the top of my screen for a couple days, Google had a weird video of it on their homepage, and Target had like thirteen different variations of Gay Pride swim trunks.  And people get mad at me for wearing a scapular under my shirt because it’s “offensive”.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 1.39.47 PMOut of curiosity, I did a little poll at my high school with my friends.  There were just a couple of questions.

1. Should abortion be legal in any circumstance?

2. Should gay marriage be allowed?

3.  What religion do you believe in?

20 people agreed to take part in it.  My friend and I tallied them up, and the results were…well, you’ll see.  As for religion, 50% were Protestant-Christian, 20% were Catholic, and 20% were Atheist, Agnostic, or other.  Here is the actual chart.  35% responded “Yes” to Question 1 regarding abortion, but a staggering 80% said “Yes” to the second.  If you just look at the Christians, two-thirds of them don’t see a problem with what the Supreme Court just decided.

1f8a89ff35a61631d4404c44cdbd22a884d302b10a410758a4ba2f984f3ca8a2Good question.  If we figure out how we got here, the easier it is to get out.  For that, I highly recommend the book Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion.  It explains in perfect detail about what we face today in the secular world, how it came to be, why it came to be, and how we can face it.

So, what do do right now.  First, you need to fight off despair.  I know that’s really hard to do.  But if you give up hope, that’s like just letting your boat drift during a storm.  You need to anchor your ship in the Rock of Christ, His Church.  That’s why hope is usually symbolized as an anchor.

The second thing is to pray.

“Give me an army praying the Rosary and I will conquer the world”  – Blessed Pope Pius IX

Pray for strength for yourself, strength for your fellow Catholics, and by golly pray some common sense into everyone else!

The third thing is to respond with love.  LGTB advocates say they support ‘love’, but often argue or respond with hatred.  The founder of Mozilla was forced to resign because he made a small donation to a Pro-Traditional Marriage organization six years earlier.

The fourth thing is to teach others.  Based on the poll I mentioned earlier, you might think kids nowadays haven’t been taught well.  You may even think that the culture taught them instead.andyouareright

So, teach people the truth, the whole truth, and notin’ but the truth!

The final thing you have to do is to resist.  With the successful watering-down of most of Christianity, the secular culture expects us to just be the nice guys who aren’t mean to anybody.  To that I say no.  We need to be the totally awesome guys who go around teaching the faith and saving souls!  That sounds cooler to me.  They expect you to turn the other cheek and not do anything, because that is what they have led us to believe that it means.

Back in Jesus’ time someone would backhand a slave with their right hand because using their left hand was seen as “unclean”.  Jesus says to turn the other cheek, making it impossible to backhand you with their right hand.  You’re telling the person that you won’t fight back, you won’t run away, but you won’t just submit to his hatred either.

The story that probably explains it the best is a tale of Mother Theresa.  She had a starving child with her, and stood at the doorstep of a bakery, begging for bread.  The baker spat on her instead.  She replied.  “Thank you for your gift to me, now how about something for the child”.

That being said, my favorite example is that of an African Bishop who was making his way along a low bridge over a large pool of mud.  He encountered a racist white man who was going in the opposite direction.  The man said, “Get off.  I don’t make way for gorillas.”  The bishop got off the bridge and gestured for the man to move on.  He said, “I do”.

Step One

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   Step Two
 awesome

Jesus isn’t telling us to just leave them alone or not doing anything.  He’s calling us to resist!  Turning the other cheek attracts the person to be sorry, to realize what he is doing, and to repent.  It reflects his hatred back at him so he can see what he has just done.  Fighting back just fuels the fire (One of my brothers is like 16 months younger than me and we fight all the time.  Trust me, I’ve tried that.  It does not work.).  Running away just confirms that what he is doing is working.

Sometimes all we can do is fight.  I mean, it would not end well for Batman if all he did was send the Joker text messages with burn jokes.  Again, sometimes we have to flee.  But usually, go for turning the other cheek.  That goes for our situation in America today.

Remember what I said in The Way, when I said that it’s easier to get to your destination when you’re caravanning?  That certainly applies right now.  Not only do you need trustworthy friends to keep you on the straight and narrow, but also to give you advice about how to answer people’s questions and arguments, to give you encouragement, make sure you understand what is actually the truth, and to most importantly, pray for you.  Always be on the look out for potential caravan members, or a caravan to join.  You can find one here by the way.  You can send me an email or comment about whatever you want.

Well, that is it for today.  Tomorrow I’ll be posting a month-in-review post, so get ready for that.  Think about that follow button by the way.  My caravan is always open to new members.  I’ll pray for you guys, and for America, please pray for me too.  God knows I need it as well.  Thanks!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax