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,

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

In the First Ever apostolic Draft, the 11 Have Chosen…

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picture from catholicmemes.com

Today is the solemnity of the Ascension, as well as the feast of the Apostle, Saint Matthias.  After Judas hung himself, the apostles thought it would be fit for them to appoint a twelfth as Jesus first appointed them.  St. Peter set the requirement for candidates.  They must have witnessed Jesus’ entire ministry, and be able to witness to the events that took place during that time.  They voted, either Barsabbas or Matthias.  One of them would become one of the twelve.  And the first pick of the NFL (National Faith League) 33-ish AD Draft is…Matthias!  Okay, there wasn’t actually a draft.  The apostles prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, much as the cardinals do when electing a new Pope.  The point is that the Holy Spirit will always guide the church through rough times and back on to the correct path.  When the Papacy was moved to Avignon, the Holy Spirit inspired Saints to move him back to Rome where he belongs.

Today’s Gospel for the feast of St. Matthias is also very inspiring.  The Gospel from usccb.org:

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

I thought this reading was amazing.  Earlier on in the gospel, before Pentecost (the Confirmation of the Apostles), Jesus told us to love your neighbor as yourself.  Now he has commanded us to love each other as He loved us, to the point of death as Jesus explained.  No greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.  This is mostly meant in a non-literal sense.  Sure, he is telling you to be willing to literally die for your faith, but He rarely requires it of the average person.  He does want everyone to die to themselves so that others may flourish.  Put your neighbor’s needs before your own.

Jesus also said that He calls us friends, no longer slaves.  It was not us who chose Him, but He who chose us.  This ties back to my earlier post The Mission.  A young man does not decide he wishes to become a priest or a married man, God gives him the great mission of that vocation, and the man follows through with it.  You did not decide to be in the place you are in right now, good or bad.  To some extent your actions brought you here, but nevertheless, God has you right where He wants you.

Jesus’ last statement in this reading is to love one another.  It wraps up all He just said.  Your mission is to love one another as God has loved you.  Love everyone you see everyday.  That super annoying guy at the lunch table that won’t stop spitting over all your food when he talks?  Love him.  That one guys at the movie theatre that kicks your seat from behind?  Love him.  That one guy at McDonald’s that gives you the wrong meal twice?  Guess what, love him too.  You have so many opportunities love others, so, what are you waiting for?

Apostolate of Friendship

Neighbors

Today was one of those days.  It started out okay, but it didn’t last.  There are always those people who don’t like you and actively try to make your day worse.  Sometimes I don’t realize that I act like them at times.  I may do the same to them or even something worse.  I can deal with those kinds of people like I have always.  The real killer is my friends who disagree with me on tough moral issues.  Some of them are even Catholic, almost all are Christian.  It’s the way they talk about religion though that really annoys me.  They pull up an issue and say something wrong, and don’t want me to say anything.  It’s like a drive-by shooting.  I have discovered in my short years of life that my personality has three main aspects:  Catholic, brother, and jokester.  When I am in Catholic mode, I relentlessly defend the faith and try my best to be kind.  Brother mode is like protection mode.  Being the oldest brother of a family of 8 kids, I know how to defend others.  Jokester mode speaks for itself.  When I am talking to these kinds of people, most often I find myself in brother mode.  Their my friends, and I know they are holding on to beliefs that are contrary to the truth, and often teach others the same.  I lose some of the qualities the Catholic mode has, like compassion.  The most important thing is to save their soul, not to win the argument.  It’s really hard for me to do this, especially when I am concerned about what they will spread to others.

This all ties into the theme of this post: The Apostolate of Friendship.  St. Josemaria Escriva has an entire chapter dedicated to this in one of his three books.  The apostolate of friendship is basically winning should to Christ by just being a good friend.  This doesn’t mean being quiet when a touchy issue comes up.  Defend the faith with kindness, like a shepherd would compassionately lift his sheep up before it falls.  Most importantly, just be a good friend.  If you are a general, and want another country to help you in a battle, it is much easier to be allied with that country than to force it do help.  No one is gonna listen to you unless they think there is a good reason to do so.  I struggle with this tremendously.  They see me as “the Catholic” that wants to force his religion on others, all because I was more focused on winning the argument than winning a soul.  Be Christ to others, so that through you, they may come to know the truth.  After all, we all need someone to lean on.

God Bless!

On Holiness

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan.  A guy is badly hurt and is laying on the side of the road.  A Jewish Priest was traveling by, and when he saw the man, passed by on the other side.  A Levite came by, and likewise went on his way.  Lastly a Samaritan approaches, and on seeing the man, is moved with pity for him.  He binds his wounds and takes him to an inn, paying for whatever the poor man may need in advance.  Jews and Samaritans hate each other very much, and it is considered bad form on either side to speak to the other, much less help.  Also, the cultural law of the Jews of the time forbidden touching a dead body.  The other two were doing what society expected them to do, and the Samaritan was defying both traditions.  Notice, these are cultural traditions, not moral law.

What was different between the priest and Levite vs the Samaritan?  Their definition of holiness.  The first two though holiness was what many people today mistake it as: Not doing something bad.  I mean, that’s essential if you want to be a good person, but it’s not the end.  You don’t become a New York Times bestselling author by just buying paper and a pencil.  You have to write the novel first.  Not doing bad acts should be the foundation of doing good acts.  Imagine if you came home every day, and it was a meal you don’t like very much.  It’s not bad, it’s just not good either.  Holiness is achieved through actions, not absence of bad.  Holiness is when you come home and its root beer floats, french fries and your favorite pizza for dinner…while watching the complete Star Wars you just got on Amazon.  That’s holiness in that analogy.  The bland lunch would be something the Church classifies as lukewarmness.  In Revelation, Jesus talks about lukewarm people.  Does he say that they’re “Good enough.  You can go to Heaven”.  No.  He says that He will “spew you out of His mouth”.  I don’t think that falls under the category of “good enough”.

If your soul is a fire, a blazing campfire with thirty pounds of gasoline and hairspray is holiness.  That’s like St. Francis or St. Dominic.  It’s huge, it’s bright, and it ain’t going out any time soon.  An evil spirit is like a bunch of logs, sitting there, not doing much.  It’s hard to light, but once it’s lit, it will burn for a good long while.  A lukewarm spirit is like a fire that went out.  It is easy to light back up again, but it will go out as soon as a breeze passes by.  A lukewarm heart if the hardest to light back up again.  That’s why Jesus spews it out of His mouth.  Personally, I think lukewarm water tastes a little like saltwater, nasty.  Be the holy fire.  If you’re big enough, your embers will fly to other logs and light them as well.

Right before Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan, his questioner outlines the greatest commandment.  “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind.  And your neighbor as yourself”.  Jesus outlined how to love your neighbor as yourself in the parable.  But He kinda leaves us hanging with the first one, which is the more important of the two.  He doesn’t elaborate much on that.  I wonder why.  Here’s an idea, maybe He did.  I mean, if He only told only one parable, that would be all He needed to tell on the matter.  So, how do we love God with all our heart, being, strength and mind?  Its easy.  You love your neighbor as yourself.  I’ll rephrase that.  The answer is obvious, but definitely not easy to carry out.  Jesus said later on in the Gospel,”whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you did unto me”.  So, however nice we be to others is how nice we’re being to God (essentially).  If someone shuns a friend, or talks back to a teacher, or even harms another, they’re doing it to Jesus.  The horizontal effects the vertical.  What we do to each other affects what we do to God.  Don’t get me confused though.  I’m not saying that you should quit praying so you can have more time to help the poor.  God should be the focus.  You help others because you can see God in them.  I am saying that the way you physically can love God, is by loving others.

Holiness is the end of the human journey.  Once you achieve perfect holiness in heaven, you will be perfectly happy.  Here’s a tip:

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Coexisting, and why its not an option

You might be wondering, “I thought coexisting was a good thing?”.  And you’d be right, depending on the definition.  If you mean we should coexist by not killing each other over race, or being able to work together with people of different religions or backgrounds, that’s fine. But when I say coexist, I mean the concept that all religions are fine and should be treated as such (AKA Religious Indifference). Many people think this is a viable option.  After all, why can’t we all just get along already for Pete’s sake?  Others say that you should “stop forcing your religion on others”, or “you believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe”.  However, there is one large gap in this philosophy.  One religion has to be correct, others flawed in areas of great importance, and some are just flat-out wrong (and sometimes scary).  Every religion is different from all the others, or else they would be the same religion.  eventually two religions will take different stands on a moral topic, and one is right, and one is wrong.  Let’s pretend there are two religions, each with strand of DNA.  They could be the same up until the end, but even that makes the two religions different. The Catholic Church teaches that we should love our neighbors as God has loved us.  Love is the willing of good to someone else, possibly even at your own expense.  St. Paul tells us that love is the single most important virtue, and that it is required of us as Christians to show it.   That gives us the duty to share the truth with others.  If you knew a blind man, but had a lotion that would cure him and didn’t give it to him, how bad would that be?  Or maybe you knew that your friend had a million dollars in his attic, and you didn’t tell him about it.  That would be stupid, wouldn’t it?  Now multiply that by infinity, literally.  We’re talking about eternal life here!  This is what coexisting is asking us to do, and why we cannot comply. In a nutshell, Catholics cannot coexist because we will not keep the truth to ourselves while we watch our brothers and sisters possibly lose their chance at eternal life.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in Verbum Domini,

“We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. … It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.”