Tag Archives: living it out

Imagine…

“Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.”

Steve Gershom, ladies and gentlemen.

[I’m writing a paper this week so I didn’t really have time for a post today.  I have always loved that line, though 🙂  You can check out Steve’s blog here.]

Do You Like Scary Movies?

It’s that time of year again. The air is a bit more brisk, pumpkin spice lattes have been back at Starbucks for a while now, and, thanks to your friends’ most recent Halloween-Party Facebook albums, you can hardly login without lowering the security settings on your browser.

Yep, Halloween must be right around the corner.

Now, I’m no Scrooge when it comes to Halloween (or whatever the Halloween-equivalent of a Scrooge would be).  And I didn’t write this post to lecture you beautiful ladies out there about the “cute” costumes you may be choosing to wear this month (but for a quick look at why you may want to re-think those, check out this post).

I’m writing this post because this time of year always seems to inspire curiosity about the paranormal among people.  And as young Catholics, we need to realize something.  Demons are real.  Hell is real.  Dabbling into the occult (tarot cards, séances, horoscopes, spells, psychics, etc.) is not a game.  When you do things like this, you open yourself up to all sorts of evil, and often without even being fully aware of the ramifications your actions will have on your life.  As one of the better films I have seen this year (The Rite) put it, “not believing in the Devil won’t protect you from him.”

If you’re looking for a movie to watch this Halloween, I really recommend The Rite.  The critics didn’t quite get it—they thought it was supposed to be a typical horror film.  And while it definitely scared me, it was more about a man coming to believe in the reality of evil, and through that journey, ultimately coming to believe in the power of God.  Of course, it goes without saying, this is not a film you want the little kids watching with you 🙂

When it comes down to it, yes—demonic possession is real.  Exorcisms happen (and praise God for that!).  But we’re missing the point if our discussion of the Devil ends there.  As scary as demonic possession is, we shouldn’t worry about it an iota as much as we ought to worry about demonic temptation, which happens to us on a daily basis, each time we are tempted to sin.

God is infinitely more powerful than the Devil.  Demons flee at the name of Jesus.  But when we commit mortal sin, we knowingly choose to reject God.  And when we’ve done that, we’ve knowingly chosen Hell.  Thankfully, our merciful God is always ready to forgive us in the sacrament of Reconciliation (which, FYI, is more powerful than an exorcism!).

Still, be careful of the kinds of things you are inviting into your life this time of year.

…And don’t forget to go to mass on Tuesday!  All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation 🙂

“Be vigilant and watchful.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for one to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in faith”

-1 Peter 5:8-9

Mature Eyes Only

I have a confession to make.

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law and I rented the movie Bridesmaids.

I know, I know.  What kind of role model am I for the young Catholics of the world if I can willingly subject myself to such a film?  And why even tell you this at all?

Well, besides the fact that I want to be straightforward with my readers about where and who I actually am, I tell you this because I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you have seen, or will at some point in the future see, a film on par with Bridesmaids.  And I’d like to share a little secret with you.

Actual running time of Bridesmaids: 125 minutes. 

Time my sister-in-law and I spent watching Bridesmaids: about 100 minutes (and no, we didn’t press the Stop button before the final credits rolled).

Friends, allow me to re-acquaint you with the beauty of the fast-forward button (yes, it’s for more than just skipping over commercials during your pre-recorded TV shows).

Remember when you were younger, and you happened to be in the room with your parents when an inappropriate part of a TV show or movie came on?  If your family was anything like mine, one of three things happened:

  1. Your parents told you to cover your eyes (or did it for you)
  2. Your parents fast-forwarded until the part was over
  3. Your parents changed the channel or turned off the TV altogether

They did this for the same reason they did most things: to protect us.  They loved us and wanted to safeguard the innocence of our minds and hearts.

And then we grew up.

Our parents may have loosened up the leash a little bit, not because they no longer cared, but because we were now old enough to know right from wrong, and they couldn’t oversee every decision we made throughout the day.  It became our own responsibility to protect our own innocence.

Unfortunately, a lot of us misunderstood this.  We noticed that the world often frames inappropriate content as being for “mature” eyes only.  Subtext being: If you can’t subject yourself to watch what can hardly be labeled as anything other than soft porn (or worse), then you’re an immature little kid who still needs to grow up.

Well, I’m 21.  When I’m in a movie theater and stuff starts happening on the screen that, frankly, should not be happening on a movie screen, my eyes shift sharply downward (and I’m also not above covering the eyes of those around me—just ask any of my guy friends who have ever seen a movie with me 😛 ). If it gets really terrible, I walk out of the theater and ask for my money back (which, for the record, I’m certain I would have done if I saw Bridesmaids in theaters).  If I’m at home watching a movie, those parts get fast-forwarded over.

To a lot of the world, this may mean that I’m immature, awkward, or worse.  But I know myself.  I’m human.  And yes, I’m weak.  The things I allow myself to see, hear, or do have an impact on me whether I want them to or not.  And as far as I know, there’s no magical age that humans outgrow that completely.

I’m not saying that you should all go out and rent the worst movies you can find just as long as you fast-forward through the bad parts.  Just remember that if you ever find yourself in a situation where any kind of evil is placed in front of you, you always have the option to turn away from it.  I think that recognizing your weaknesses and guarding against them takes a lot more maturity than staring helplessly at whatever is put on the screen in front of you.

 

A Case for Public School (…kind of)

Question:

I’m a mom and cradle catholic who is wondering about how to school my kids. I see from your info on this blog that you attended public schools through high school. To what do you attribute your strong faith now? What people, practices of faith, challenges, shaped you into the person you are today? What would you do differently?  You also seem to have a good balance with popular culture, not shunning it altogether yet being discerning in your choices. This is an important skill to learn, because we’re social by nature and it is hard to share Christ if you’re too sheltered. Any thoughts on this aspect of being a good Catholic?

Answer:

Good question.  I will warn you…the short version of my answer to the homeschool vs. public school vs. private school question is simply: “I don’t know.”  It is something I go back-and-forth on all of the time, to be honest.  I will try to answer your questions about my specific background and we will see if that is helpful to either of us 🙂

Hands down, I attribute my faith to my family more than any other influence, and specifically to my parents (and of course it goes without saying that I was given such an amazing and faithful family by the grace of God).  Yes, I went to public school and no, we didn’t always get a family rosary in or memorize the Baltimore Catechism, but I never once questioned my parents’ love for Christ and His Church.  Religion wasn’t a game; and God was real.  Conviction like that demands your attention no matter how it is expressed.

For my family, it was expressed by living out the faith no matter what situation we were in.  If my sister and I had a cheerleading competition that happened to fall on Sunday, we may have had to skip out a little early and miss the awards ceremony because mass came first.  One year, we hosted an “All Hallows’ Eve” party at our house, which included listening to a portion of the Screwtape Letters on tape.  If we happened to have school on Good Friday, we would be taken out a little before noon to spend the afternoon either at service or in silence.

It wasn’t always easy; but I don’t think any path ever is.  Homeschoolers sometimes talk about feeling like they were missing out in high school when I often found myself feeling like I didn’t fit in entirely (there aren’t a whole lot of teenagers who are serious about taking their faith seriously).  Fortunately for me, that classic “rebellion against authority” phase that teenagers are often prone to often found its expression in taking pride in the fact that being a devout Catholic isn’t exactly “mainstream”.

And my parish youth group helped.  Actually, my youth group helped a lot.  And so did the fact that my parish had a blessed sacrament chapel open 24/7 to those who knew the door code…not that my parents ever let me go by myself past 6pm, but that chapel meant everything to me in high school.

Bottom line: I don’t think my parents laid out a battle plan the day my oldest brother was born and had it all figured out.  I think they followed God’s will to the best of their abilities and, for us, that ended up meaning living very much in the world, but always doing our best not to be of it.

All of that being said— I spent the past three years of my life in college getting to know some of the best people I have ever met.  Being at a small Catholic university, a good amount of them had been homeschooled.  And I’m not afraid to admit: there is a lot to love about homeschooling.

First of all: these people knew more about the faith when they were twelve than I knew going into my freshman year of college (and I was no dummy!).   Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they loved God more than I did—but they knew a lot more about Him and therefore were able to love more about Him than I could.  Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much when I was nine…but who knows?

Secondly: as a public schooler, talking to a homeschooler about the books I have read (or, um, haven’t read) can just be embarrassing (a lot of smiling and nodding along happens).  Of course, there are exceptions: homeschoolers who hate reading and public schoolers who read everything.  But by and large, homeschoolers have read the classics by age 10 and public schoolers can graduate high school with an eighth grade reading level.

When it comes down to it, there are pros and cons to everything.  If you choose to homeschool, your kids will miss out on certain things, but the same will be true if you choose to put them in public school.  There is no objectively right or wrong way here; it is just what works best for you and your family (and ultimately, what will help get your children to Heaven…because, as far as I can tell, that is why God gives people children in the first place).

So, that’s my take.  Any homeschoolers out there want to share their perspective?

 

 

 

 

Blue is the New Pink


If you have gone outside in the past 11 days, you may have noticed that things are a bit more pink than normal.  Maybe the yogurt you bought at the store last week had a pink lid.  Or maybe the coffee sleeve offered to you at Panera this morning was pink.  Or perhaps even some of your friends on Facebook have changed their profile picture to an icon of a little pink ribbon (I guess you don’t even have to go outside to notice the pink anymore!).  What gives?  As I’m sure you already knew, we are now living in a sea of pink because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Every year during this month, a handful of companies give a portion of the profits from their “pink” merchandise to Susan G. Komen for the Cure in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Unfortunately, Komen for the Cure gives a portion of their profits to Planned Parenthood—the nation’s top abortion provider.

For this reason, I cannot in good conscience participate in the Race for the Cure, or buy any “pink” merchandise during this month that gives money to Komen for the Cure.

You may be thinking that this is a bit of an extreme stance to take.  Komen for the Cure has made great strides in breast cancer research, and it is true that none of the funds they give to Planned Parenthood are used directly for abortions.  Shouldn’t the good they do far outweigh the minor fact that they give money to Planned Parenthood?

For two main reasons, I really don’t think the Pros outweigh the Cons here.

For one, Komen even acknowledges that there has been no conclusive evidence that there is not a link between breast cancer and abortion (and in fact, there have been many studies implying that there is in fact a link).  Dr. Janet Daling, a leading cancer epidemiologist, and pro-choice advocate, is quoted as saying:

“I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It’s not a matter of believing, it’s a matter of what is.”

Secondly, even though none of the Komen funds are used directly for abortion, giving money to Planned Parenthood for a specific service just frees up other monies to be used on abortion.  There’s no getting around it.  Giving money to Planned Parenthood will always help, in some way, fund abortion.

I don’t find it coincidental in the slightest that October is also the month that the Catholic Church has traditionally dedicated to the Holy Rosary.  I can’t help but wonder: What would happen if we gave the fight against breast cancer over to Our Lady, rather than giving our money to foundation that supports taking the lives of her children?

Here is a brief statement from the Archbishop of Baltimore, which goes into a bit more detail about why Catholics should refrain from supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure