Do You Have the Courage?

Okay guys.  I’m sorry for not writing in a while.  With school just starting up along with band, I haven’t had a moment to spare.  I’m taking harder classes than I did last year, and I no longer have a study hall (which is where I would usually write during the school year).  I will try to write whenever I can, but don’t count on anything more than one a week.  Sunday posts will be almost guaranteed, but that also means the Q&A posts aren’t gonna be able to happen.  Don’t worry.  For those of you who have already submitted questions, I will answer them in this post.

So, as many of you know, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s feast day was just a few days ago.  For a very long time, he was one of my favorite saints, and he still is.  Back when I was homeschooled, I read books on saints for english class (a far cry from reading Candide by Voltaire like I do in a public high school), and my absolute favorite book was the one on Maximilian Kolbe.  I was so intrigued by him, especially his love for Mary.  At the time, I had a very weak (basically absent) devotion to Our Lady.  the thing that caught me was the Militia of Mary Immaculate.  As a boy, anything that involves military will peak my interest.  I started to read more about Kolbe, his devotions and organizations.  They were all pretty cool, but the best thing I read was the story of his capture and death at Auschwitz.

I’m sure many of you know the story, but for those of you who don’t, Kolbe was arrested on February 14, 1941, and was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp without trial.  There he endured horrible treatment that you hear horrific stories of.  But one day, ten prisoners were chosen at random to be sent into a cell to stave to death.  Fr. Kolbe was not one of them.  One of the doomed men who was chosen cried out, “My poor wife, my poor children!”.  Kolbe offered to take his place in the starvation chamber.  Two weeks past, and four men were still alive, but Kolbe was the only one who remained conscious.  Thats two times longer than the normal time it would take a man to die without food or water.  They injected some stuff in them to make them die faster, and on the following day, he was burned.

It was on Kolbe’s feast day when I read this email that was sent the day before:

If “defending” your faith, would cost you your life, would you still do it? This is a question I ask myself all the time as the Bible says, “A man does not value his life, until it is about to be taken from him.” (Not direct quote but you get the meaning) God Bless, SR

i’m going to assume that “defending your faith” would range from martyrdom for refusal to reject Catholicism, martyrdom for simply being Catholic, dying to protect another (such as Kolbe), or pretty much anything on those guidelines.  And to answer you honestly…probably not.  I would love to and all reason points to it being the correct choice, but I don’t think I am at the point spiritually where I would have enough courage to do it.  But that’s not to say that I am making no progress to build up my fortitude.

Everyday, I try to do something I normally wouldn’t do for my faith.  Just as much as I can.  Sometimes its admitting to being Catholic, other times its defending the unborn.  But the point is, you can’t get to amazing acts of selfless courage if you don’t build yourself up to it first, little by little.  This past week, we were having a Class debate in AP Euro on whether or not Joan of Arc is a saint, or just a crazy lunatic.  And not to pat myself on the back, but I ruled that debate.  At one point I said something, and a proponent of Crazy Arc asked me what my source was.  “An Encyclopedia”.  I knew if I told them ‘New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’, they’d probably think it was biased.  But it was amazing.  PS, if you’re ever in a debate that’s not about moral issues, just talk louder, shout if you need to.  It works every single time.  In moral debates (abortion, homosexuality), you need more brains than brawn, more love than guns.

A bit of news

  • Okay, so many of you will be happy to know, that I have finally (somewhat) got a grip on the Latin Mass.  Yay!  And to be honest, its much more profound than Ordinary Form usually is.  I don’t know how to put it, but it feels more Extraordinary (out of the ordinary).
  • Okay, a lot of you guys know (especially those reading who know me personally) that to say I am merely a Tolkien fan is a big understatement.  But anyway, I worked for a really long time to translate the Hail Mary prayer into Elvish (Quenya to be exact).  And that was before I knew that JRR Tolkien himself had written not only the Hail Mary, but also the Our Father in Elvish.  I only had to correct a couple words that meant basically the same thing, but I was close.  Anyway, here is the correct translation:

Aia María quanta Eruanno, i Héru as elye. Aistana elye imíca nísi, ar aistana i yáve mónalyo Yésus. Aire María Eruo ontaril, á hyame rámen úcarindor, sí ar lúmesse ya firuvamme. Násie.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS, I got some new memes.  Check ’em out.

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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
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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

Some People

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I feel like this so often.  On the reader page of WordPress, I follow the “Catholic” Tag.  Sometimes people will post Anti-Catholic stuff on there with that tag.  There was one about how no devout catholic could ever be a good parent.  Annoyed sigh.  It is always nice to see and actual Catholic post under the Catholic Tag.  It’s even better when Catholic Memes comes out with a new post.  Ah, that site is awesome.  Anyway, it’s a lot easier to deal with the anti-Catholic comments in real life.  I feel much more at home in a face to face conversation.  Even not discussing it, but just taking the blow is easier in real life.  I don’t feel alone because I have a couple of really good devout Catholic friends that always have my back.  Elsewhere, I feel a lot more alone, helpless even.  I know I’m never alone with God, but I still get that feeling.  I have a “Catholic” friend who will usually take the wrong side of an argument and say something weird.  He’s all for that “all religions are equal” stuff.  He claims that the Catholic Church isn’t correct, it’s just the closest to being right out of all the beliefs in the world.  Whenever that happens, I’m just like:

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It’s usually pretty funny to see his argument collapse after the relentless barrage of sound theology from me and my friends.  I know that kid well, so I can have serious conversations with him from time to time without his dismissal of logic.  I always try to remember my own advice from the post the Apostolate of Friendship.  I have a hard time doing so.  The point that I am trying to say is that without those few select Catholic friends I have, I wouldn’t be wrighting this.  I would probably be just remain quiet on religion.  You know, keep your religion to yourself and all that.  I was like that at the start of my Freshman year.  Some of my friends were talking about abortion and they asked me how I felt about it.  I, a confirmed catholic, who has every responsibility to defend and share the truth, said I didn’t really care.  Looking back, I can’t even see how I let myself do that.  Then I met a couple of Catholic friends who had been in the apologetics business longer than I (I was homeschooled for a couple grades).  They gave me the courage to speak up.  Together with my friends, we all wore Yes on 1 buttons during the 40 days for life.  I have to admit, half the time I wore a jacket over my button during a few classes.  I didn’t want to face harsh criticism from people I didn’t know.  It was a really big learning experience for me.  Fast forward a couple months, and I write a blog about Catholicism.  I wear a Catholic t-shirt like every other day.  This isn’t me bragging, it’s me bragging about my friends.  All this is because of them.

Of course, with anybody, they do have their negative sides.  One of them is super philosophical and hurts my brain all the time. One of them is less traditional than I am, and we joke about his Church’s newer Worship music compared to my church’s classical chant and hymns.  But they are some of the best kids I have ever met.  They continue to change my life and keep it on the narrow way towards Jesus.  So this post is for them, and for all those heroic teens out there taking a stand for the truth.  For all those courageous souls bringing others closer to Jesus.  This is for you also, my brave reader.  Yes, Pope Francis, it’s for you too.  Don’t excommunicate me or anything, okay?  Thanks for reading and God Bless!

On Confession

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One of my non-Catholic friends asked me earlier today, “Hey, why do you like going to confession so much?  Whats so great about that you go to it every week?”.  I told him after some thought, “Actually, I hate going to Confession”.

My friend was surprised and asked why I go at all if I don’t like it.  I told him that it’s not going to confession that I love, its receiving absolution and getting out of confession that I like.  No kid likes taking a bath, they just like getting done with it and being clean.  It’s the same thing.  I mean, if anybody actually enjoys sharing their faults with another person by itself, I would be surprised.  We humans don’t like others to know about our defects, and we certainly don’t want to tell them.  I explained this to my friend, along with a short summary of why the priesthood has the power to forgive sins.  If you want more on that subject, comment about it and I’ll expand on that subject further in a later blog.

I especially don’t like it when I know the priest well.  I always think he’ll judge me right as I get in the line.  I started to realize that it might not be a coincidence, me getting that feeling right before I go to Confession.  If you were the devil, when would you attack humans the hardest?  Right before they are about to deal a large blow to you and your work, right?  That’s what he’s trying to do.  Same thing with prayer.  Ever wonder why it’s so hard  to concentrate when you’re praying the Rosary?  When you notice yourself feeling scared or nervous before Confession, just push through it and know that it isn’t a priest behind the screen, its Our Lord speaking.

If you have never seen the movie or read the book, Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I highly encourage you to watch it.  For those of you who have, you’ll get this analogy.  Eustace has been transformed into a dragon by trying to take Dragon gold.  Later on, still a dragon, the ship arrives to the island of evil, which they must defeat.  Eustace spots a sea serpent, and flees his companions.  He flies until he falls onto another island.  Aslan the lion approaches him, and scrapes the sand.  Eustace can feel the dragon scales going away, but it came with horrible searing pain.  Aslan then roars, and Eustace has been transformed back into a boy again, and transported back to an island where he can help defeat the evil.  This is almost a perfect analogy.  He sinned when he took the gold, which transformed him.  When we sin, it changes our souls.  When he fled, it took him off the battleground.  Aslan forgave him, and gave his body back to him.  When we go to confession, it transforms us back to who we really are, sons and daughters of the living God in Jesus Christ.

You see, confession isn’t fun, but it is one of the most powerful spiritual tools you have access to.

“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”

           – Saint Augustine