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.

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

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

tumblr_inline_nmomtoK4il1s9mb2r_250                                           

   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

Elusive Peace

I apologize for not having written in a while.  I’ve just been so busy, and as the title implies, have had only fleeting experiences of peace.  My little brother was born on the 2nd, the 8th child in my family.  As you can imagine, trying to maintain a calm household with my parents gone can be a very challenging task.  Anyway, since peace is extremely valuable and precious, I believe it would be good to learn more about it.

The Catholic Bible Dictionary defines peace as ” The harmony between persons and especially between God and man.”  Not to be confused with concordance (agreement).  Two evil men can be in agreement about the murder plot, but it is anything but peaceful.  As already stated, peace is especially harmony with God and man.  This generally means that your will lines up with that of God’s will.  So, unity brings about peace, which makes a lot of sense.  As Ol’ Abe said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.  It seems that it can’t be very peaceful in its not-standingness either.  It seems to me that concordance is not peace, but the beginning of peace.  Since peace is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit, it can only really be achieved as an effect of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life.  That’s most likely why retreats are so peaceful, they’re quiet and you’re surrounded by the Holy Spirit.

So, we have begun to establish the meaning of peace.  Now, how to come about it.  After all, “elusive peace” is extremely sought after in society, and rightly so.  In modern times, all of us are constantly busy.  We have to get here by x time, and then from there have to meet up with so and so and this place.  Even when we have time to ourselves it seems that something has to be going on.  So, if you’re going to build something, you have to lay down the foundation first.  In life, your foundation is much like trust.  It keeps you rooted in reality.  Imagine a life where you couldn’t trust anything, not even this blog.  You would always be afraid of everything, and would never let yourself be around others.  The exact opposite of peace.  Since the majority of us don’t live like that, we all trust something.  If you’re around someone you don’t trust, you at least trust the probability of that person not killing you.   If you’re smart, you’ll place your trust somewhere that you can rely on, no matter what, like a family member or a close friend.  If you’re even smarter, you’ll put your trust in God.

I heard a really good story when I was on an Opus Dei retreat.  There was a passenger plane that was going through a storm.  At one point they hit extremely rough turbulence.  Every passenger on the plane was petrified.  They were silent and barely dared to breathe.  Well, almost everyone.  There was a little boy, around 6-ish years old, who continued playing with his action figures.  Still making those cute little noises of battle while his two toys fought each other.  A woman sitting across from him was astonished, not to mentioned annoyed.  She said to him, “Kid, why are you still playing?  Don’t you know the plane could go down?  Aren’t you scared?”.  The boy continued playing and replied, “Nope”.  The woman was even more annoyed and asked him why.  The boy replied, “The pilot is my dad.”

I think we could all use some of that boy’s trust.  Remember how Jesus said that we must become like little children?  I would be willing to bet that includes child-like trust.  If my dad told my 3-year-old brother that we were having pizza for dinner, it would never cross his little toddler mind that my dad was lying.  I’m not saying you need to be naïve, but have a rational trust in a reliable source.  The most reliable of which is of course God.  Did you notice how scared and agitated the people on the plane were compared to the serenity of the boy?  They didn’t trust the plane or the pilot, but guess who did?  That’s right, the little kid.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

We can’t put some of our trust in God, and some of it in the world, because you won’t end up with God, but the world.  Remember when Abraham was told to leave his homeland and go somewhere else, leaving everything behind?  But Abe didn’t fully trust God yet, so he brought some insurance, his nephew Lot.  Eventually Lot ended up in a very bad place, and so did Abraham.  It doesn’t make sense.  Here you have a all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God, Lord and Creator of the Universe, and He wants to protect and guide you, and you only give him  part of your trust.  You definitely should still trust people, but rely solely upon the Lord.  As humans, we will always get messed up, especially when it comes to trust.  But try to do your best, and God will reward you for it.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

We have covered peace with God (which will usually get you that good feeling of peacefulness), but peace with man (along the lines of world peace) is a little different.  It still begins with putting your trust in God, but it requires a little more to achieve, since one party isn’t God.  I think the easiest way to explain it is Pope Paul IV’s famous dictum, “If you want peace, work for justice”.

Now, with both kinds of peace, you have enemies that try to stop the process.  Peace with God will be opposed by the devil, who wants you as far away from God as possible.  Don’t be afraid, God only allows temptations into your life that you can overcome.  If you trust God, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Now, peace with man will also be opposed by the devil, but it is more common for your enemy to be other men.  You can’t necessarily make the sign of the cross  with holy water to make them go away usually unlike the devil, but they can be beaten.  First Step, defend the weak and innocent.  To defeat something, you first must protect what they try to destroy.  In The Dark Knight, Batman didn’t relentlessly go after the Joker, his first priority was the safety of the Joker’s hostages and targets.  And eventually, in doing so, he captured the Joker.  He did kind of change his tactics in the next movie, but that doesn’t matter.

The military can have a great impact on peace, for good or bad.  In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, it says this:

The requirements of legitimate defense justify the existence in States of armed forces, the activity of which should be at the service of peace. Those who defend the security and freedom of a country, in such a spirit, make an authentic contribution to peace . . . The right to use force for purposes of legitimate defense is associated with the duty to protect and help innocent victims who are not able to defend themselves from acts of aggression. (502ff.)

One of the things I love about Captain America is his shield.  For starters, it’s indestructible and is red, white, and blue.  But my favorite is the fact that it is a shield.  A shield is used in defense, which is what the military should be used for.

So, “elusive peace” isn’t so untouchable as we think it is.  It’s hard yes, but with God, all things are possible.  Stay peaceful my friends, just like this chicken:

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The Way

One of the most commonly used analogies for life is a journey.  It makes a lot of sense, really.  We’re traveling from this life to the next, with a bunch of pit stops and flat tires along the way.  Anyone who takes road trips at all knows that there are a few extremely important things you need to bring for the long ride ahead.  Among these items are food, caffeine, entertainment for young passengers, and most importantly, a map.  Without food everyone is going to starve sooner or later.  caffeine will keep you awake, entertainment will keep the kids from screaming, and a map will keep you on the right path.  On the spiritual journey, I like to think of food as prayer.  Without prayer, sooner or later you’re gonna drift away into lukewarmness or even disbelief.  Caffeine is like the Holy Eucharist.  It charges you up for those long days when you feel like you got run over by a truck.

I know personally, books are among my favorite types of entertainment.  I think on the spiritual road trip, it’s the same thing.  Books about spirituality or apologetics will teach you not how to be entertained, but how to be engaged with the faith.  And lastly, a map.  Don’t you hate it when you tell Siri you want to go somewhere, and by the time she says “you have arrived”, you’re like ten miles away from the place you wanted to be?  It’s because she didn’t know the way to get there and acted like she did.  I know I do that a lot.  During my Freshman year I was in Marching Band.  I barely knew how to play my instrument, so sometimes I would move my hands randomly to make it look like I was actually playing the music.  Since no one knew I had a problem, no one helped me fix it, so I needed up as an alternate pushing stuff around instead of actually marching with my saxophone.  The same thing can happen in any other circumstance.  Anyway, you have to know the way to get where you’re going if you ever want to get there.  And if you ever want to get there, you’re gonna have to leave where you’re at.

So, we need to find a way to get there, but here’s the catch.  Our goal is to get to Heaven, right?  To be with God in eternal joy.  Here’s what Jesus said about that.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

It seems pretty clear to me that all the other roads that have the green signs saying “Heaven, 10 miles” are fake.  So, we know what to bring, we know where we’re going, and we know the way to get there, what else?  Getting on the way and saying on it. If Heaven is a castle, Jesus is the drawbridge, and we need to figure out how to get to Him.  Remember what I said earlier about a map?  I never really explained what that was, did I?  Well, the map is the Church.  Not the Siri map that always messes up, or a conventional map.  It’s like Google Maps, (For me at least) it’s always spot on.  It tells me where the way is and how to get there, and where all the Sonic Drive-Ins are along the way.  It also tells you what exit to take, when not to take one.  You also need to make sure you have the right “Maps” app.  The world will try to give you false maps and fake paths, like Siri.  You need to find the real one.  How do you do that?  Well, in the description of the real map, it has four marks, kind of like a tag on WordPress.  The marks on the actual map are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.  Sound familiar?

Does anyone own an absolutely perfect car?  Does it have the top speed of a Bugatti, the efficiency of a Mazda and the looks of a Lamborghini?  No?  Okay, so none of our cars are perfect.  Eventually they’re going to run out of gas or get a flat tire.  That’s when we make a pit stop at the gas station.  Same thing with us humans.  Since we’re not perfect, eventually we’re going to sin and we need to go to Confession to fix ourselves up.  God doesn’t care about how many times you run out of gas or even get in a wreck.  He cares about how many times you go to fix it and keep on driving,  Since none of us are perfect, Confession is a must on the road trip to Heaven.

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There is one last thing I haven’t told you yet about they way.  The more people you caravan with along the way, the harder it is to get lost.  Of course they can’t be drunks or kids without a license, they have to want to get to your destination.  If you caravan with someone else who doesn’t want to get to Heaven, it’s going to be much harder for you to arrive at the correct destination.  But, like I already said, the more people you caravan with that have the same goal, the likes are the trip will be much easier.

Now that you know the way, it’s time to get going.  Like J.R.R. Tolkien once said,

“It’s the job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”

And here is one last bit of advice:

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That’s it for today.  God Bless!

Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

Today is the optional memorial of St. John the first, pope and martyr.  He was the Pope from about 523 until his death in 526.  During his papacy, Emperor Justin was forcing the Arians of Constantinople to convert to Catholicism and to hand over their churches.  The Arian King of Italy, Theodoric, asked the Pope to order the Emperor to stop the harsh punishment of the Arians.  Justin decided to give the churches back to the Arians, but he would not let the forced converts go back to their old ways.  When Pope John came back, Theodoric was enraged, and imprisoned the Pope for his failure.  Due to his long journey and maltreatment in prison, the Pope died shortly after being placed in his cell.  He was immediately honored as a martyr by the Church, and his body was taken to be buried in Rome.

Anyway, there are two sets of readings to honor this saint.  The first is the standard readings for the 7th Week of Easter, and the other comes from the proper of the saints.  The first reading for the latter option comes from Revelation 3:14, 20-22 :

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Most of us are probably familiar with this scene.  Jesus is wanting you to let him into your heart etc.  There is a famous painting made from this passage by William Holman Hunt called “The Light of the World”.  Take a few moments to study this carefully.

Hunt_Light_of_the_WorldIt’s called the Light of the World probably because the only source of light you can see is from Jesus and his lamp.  The rest of his surrounding look nasty and dangerous.  The kind of stuff scary stories take place in.  “It was a dark and stormy night when Jesus came for a visit”.  There are thorn bushes and weird trees.  The sky is a sickly green.  Even the cottage has vines of all of it.  Speaking of the house, have you noticed anything a little strange about it?  Maybe on the door perhaps?  If you guessed that there’s no door knob, you’d be correct.  At least, there’s no knob on the outside.  You have to be the one to let Jesus in.  Now on to the lantern.  To me, it looks a lot like the dome of a Church.  It even appears to have little stained-glass windows on it.  I wonder what that might mean?  Maybe that without the church, it would be next to impossible to even see Jesus coming, much less let him in.  You might not even know that He existed.

Jesus appears to be wearing some pretty fancy clothes.  I mean, he has a crown on, one of those cool silk robes.  He even has a cape!  I don’t think a farmer would put on those kinds of clothes to go visit someone in the bad part of the woods.  He’s the prince who has come to bring you back to the kingdom.  He’s come to save you.  All you have to do is open the door.

The psalm for today is the every famous psalm 23: The Good Shepherd.  One of the things I always notice is “He makes me lie down in green pastures”.  Usually a shepherd will guide his flock to a nice shady place with lots of grass where they can eat and rest.  One of the things I think is “But I don’t want to lie down”.  I don’t like laying down in grass.  My body gets really itchy and my clothes get stained.  Sometimes I like sitting down in the grass though.  It can be nice at times.  When you have a glass of lemonade and the breeze is blowing in your face.  Again, sometimes it annoys the living daylights out of me.  I think this applies to my life, especially in certain areas like prayer or going to church.  Sometimes I enjoy Mass.  Father’s homily might be short and sweet, but have a special meaning for me.  As a long-time altar server, the Mass might go perfectly without any mess-ups.  At other times, Mass might not be that fun.  Father might have taken about an hour on his homily and not be even that meaningful.  All the other altar servers might be the kind of kids who kick the bells, or hit the priest in the face when they try to bless him with the incensor.  I might have had a really bad day, or all 6 of my little siblings might have screamed the entire ride there.  As far as prayer goes,

10940474_779990425382860_7356585953079381231_n1I make myself do my prayers, but I seldom actually pray, if you know what I mean.  Anyway, getting back to the analogy, sometimes I don’t want to lay in green pastures.  It’s good for me and I need the nourishment, but sometimes it’s boring or stressful.  But I do it because I know I need to.  I mean, I don’t think grass tastes that good, even to sheep it can’t compare to a steak.  But Jesus wants me to, and that’s goo enough for me.  The rest of the psalm is really nice too.  “And Goodness and Mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life”.  Inspiring Stuff.

Well, I just wanted to end asking if you have ever noticed that the Shrine of the Sacred Heart looks just like R2-D2?

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Well, that’s it for today.  I hope you all hear Jesus knocking at your door today, and for the rest of your lives.  God Bless!