Tag Archives: truth

5 Arguments That Will Shake Your Faith in Christianity


As young Catholics living in today’s world, if we don’t know our faith, we are in serious trouble.  Many people who enter college as Catholics do not leave as such.  And, to put it bluntly, we as a generation are leaving the Church for some rather dumb reasons.  As sort of a rebuttal, here are 5 of the most common arguments I have witnessed that often result in a young person’s faith being shaken:

1.) “The Bible Says A Lot of Things…”

What happens when the young Catholic discovers that the same Bible containing Romans 1:27 (a classic go-to verse for defending the scriptural basis for the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts) also contains such passages as 1 Corinthians 11:14 (which apparently condemns men having long hair), or Leviticus 11:12 (which prohibits man from eating things like shellfish)?

It would seem that a phone call to the Pope is in order, because clearly the Church has missed some serious issues in Her teaching and needs to be corrected immediately.

Often overlooked by those who make this argument is the fact that the Catholic Church Herself put the books of the Bible together.  Why put together a book that contradicts our own teachings?

By this logic, are we to just completely ignore when the Bible condemns anything on the grounds that it is morally objectionable?  (Sure, the Bible says we shouldn’t steal from other people, but it also says we shouldn’t eat shellfish, so you know…)

Are we really so arrogant to think that our generation is the first to notice these apparent contradictions in Scripture? Any person who spends just 20 minutes reading the Bible can tell you that apparent contradictions abound in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture, and this issue is as old as Scripture itself.   In Her wisdom, the Catholic Church has provided guidelines for reading and interpreting the Scriptures, and I for one trust the 2,000 year old wisdom of the Church over my 21 years of something hardly resembling wisdom.

  • **For the record, it is often put forward by scholars that Leviticus 11 prohibits the Israelites from eating certain animals because these were associated with pagan worship.  To protect His people from falling into idolatry, God makes this law.
  • And I think that 1 Corinthians 11:14 actually is speaking more to the fact that men are to dress like men and women are to dress like women.  Given the fashion of the times, men having hair the length of a woman’s was a disgrace, but this is clearly not meant to be interpreted in a strictly literal sense for all of the following ages.

Lesson Learned: Given the fact that the Church put the Bible together, I think they have a pretty good handle on things.  Never be afraid to question, but always let the Church be your guide.

2.) Saint Augustine Was Pro-Choice

Know-it-alls of our day will use the fact that Augustine said that life does not begin until the child in the womb is three months to try and prove that the Church’s understanding of and teaching on abortion has changed over the centuries.  Two things to take note of here:

  1. Augustine was not a pope making an ex cathedra statement.  Translation: just because Augustine is a canonized saint does not mean that everything he said is 100% true.
  2. To say that this implies that Augustine, or the Catholic Church was ever okay with abortion is just flat-out dishonest.

Lesson Learned: Saints are people we know are in Heaven.  Though the benefit their lives and writings have provided the Church and the world cannot be overstated, canonization does not mean every word they spoke is law.

3.) Science Can Explain Anything Religion Tries To

This is an easy one that any self-respecting scientist or theologian will tell you point-blank.  Science is concerned with the natural realm.  Faith deals with the supernatural realm and therefore science cannot answer for it, and can certainly never prove nor disprove the existence of any god.

Lesson Learned: Science and Religion are not enemies; they ought to work together.  As Blessed JPII said, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition.  Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes”

4.) But Galileo!

I will refer you all to chapter 10 of Dinesh D’Souza’s book, What’s So Great About Christianity, entitled, “An Atheist Fable: Reopening the Galileo Case” (which can be read in part on Google Books, here).

Aside from the fact that he insulted the pope by referring to him as a “simpleton” throughout his Dialogue which publicly proclaimed his view that the sun was the center of the universe, there were 3 other greater issues with this action:

  1. Galileo, as a practicing Catholic who respected the Church, had previously promised the Church he would not publicly teach his views on the sun being the center of the universe until the evidence was clearer.  Back then, science and religion had a lot more overlap, and this was not such an extreme request for the Church to ask of Galileo.  He went ahead and did it anyway.
  2. His proof was faulty.  We all know now that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, but Galileo’s Dialogue did not prove this definitively, and even made some false statements about the natural order of things.
  3. Most importantly, rather than sticking to science, Galileo took the opportunity to challenge Church teaching on Scripture, asserting that the Bible was “largely allegorical and required constant interpretation to excavate its true meaning” (p. 108).

While Galileo was found guilty for promoting his heliocentric views, he was never accused of heresy and never tortured or held in a dungeon as is often asserted.  He was forced to recant and was placed on house arrest, which he served for five months in the palace of the archbishop of Siena, and allowed to visit his daughters at the convent of San Matteo.  He died of natural causes in 1642.

Lesson Learned: The Church is not anti-science nor anti-progress.  She is cautious of hastily leading people to following things that lack adequate proof.

5.) There Are Bad People In the Church

Yes, yes there are.  Throughout history, we have even had some pretty horrific popes.  I mean seriously—bad, bad people.

Fortunately for us, The Holy Spirit is not to be vanquished by even the most terrible of evils that mankind can perpetrate.  This is a story to which we already know the ending.  Good wins out in the end.  Though the men and women of the Church will never be perfect, and history will be a story of ups and downs until the end of time, the Teaching of the Church is guaranteed perfect.  How?  Jesus said so, in Matthew 16:18 when He established His Church.  “The powers of death shall not prevail against it”.

Lesson Learned: Don’t let it shake your faith when people point out the corruption in the Church.  Be horrified at it, of course.  Work to prevent it, of course.  But do not place your faith in men, place your faith in Jesus, and remember His words in Matthew 16:18.

Ask Mary: How Do We Know the Eucharist is True?

Question:

I guess I’m kind of looking for a little advice.  While it’s always great to spend some time in prayer with God, I guess I’m just having a hard time really having faith (I guess that’s really what it comes down to) that God is present in the Eucharist. Sometimes I just feel silly kneeling before a piece of bread. I have been praying for God to help me to grow in understanding (although I do realize the Eucharist will always be a mystery) and faith to really believe that the Eucharist truly is the body of Christ.

I guess I am looking for a little bit of encouragement or to see if you had any words of wisdom. It’s not really a topic I would discuss with my friends and I don’t really know of anyone else to ask/seek advice from. Praying has really been helpful, which has been a cool thing to see working so far!

Answer:

“Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail”

-Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thank you so much for this question!  The fact is, I can sit here and write you a 20-page paper defending the real presence of the Eucharist, citing Scripture and tradition of the Early Church Fathers to show that Jesus Christ is, in fact, truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist—but when it comes down to it, faith is a grace bestowed upon us by God Himself.  And this should encourage you greatly.  The very fact that you even felt compelled to ask someone this question shows that God is already giving you a desire to be close to Him in the Eucharist, so don’t be discouraged 🙂

I will recommend a few practical things to you:

In this book, the author interviews 9 different people who have had profound experiences as a result of spending regular time in Eucharistic adoration.  This is first on the list because I’m serious when I say that no amount of reasonable or logical answers will change your mind if Christ Himself does not do it first.  It’s sort of like getting to know a friend.  You won’t truly know if he or she is a friend until you spend time with them in conversation and develop a relationship.

  • Secondly, there are a ton of documented Eucharistic miracles, but I think the miracle that took place at Lanciano, Italy in the year 750 is my favorite. 

As he was celebrating mass, a priest doubted whether Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist.  When he said the words of consecration, the host was physically transformed into Flesh and the wine was likewise transformed into Blood.  Today, over a thousand years later, the Flesh is still intact and the blood is divided into 5 parts (which, though each one is unequal in size to the other, miraculously they all have the exact same weight).

I don’t have time to go into all of the details here, but you can read all about it at this website.

  • Finally, there are a lot of really good online resources that defend the Catholic Church’s teaching that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.  One of the best and most straightforward to understand can be found here, at Catholic.com. 

 

In the end though, if we have faith that Jesus truly rose from the dead (and if we do not, as St. Paul says, our entire faith as Christians is in vain), then we have no reason to doubt when He tells us, again and again in Scripture, that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink.  However, I know that sometimes that is easier said than put into practice.  So I’ll end with Mark 9:17-27.  A man brings his son so that Jesus might cast the demon out of him.  Jesus replies that, if the man has faith, his son will be healed.  Desiring more than anything that his son be set free, the man cries out and, putting this dilemma beautifully, says, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Next time you go into adoration, maybe take this scripture with you and pray it with Jesus there in the monstrance.

A Chicken-Egg Situation

As sort of a newbie to this whole blogging game, I often find myself trying to network with fellow Catholic and young-adult bloggers in order to expand my readership.  I’ll write guest posts for other blogs or publications, I’ll email people who are doing it better than I am, and I will just generally spend a lot of time researching what “the other people” are doing.  For the most part, it works just fine.

But sometimes, I don’t quite do the research that I ought to…Like a few weeks ago:

In Googling other Catholic blogs for young adults, I came across one in particular that seemed fairly popular.  After spending all of 20 seconds on their site (over-eager, rookie mistake), I found the contact page and shot off an email, reading something to the effect of:

“Please please please can I write something on your blog so that mine can be noticed???”

I later got a reply making sure I really understood what I was asking.  Apparently, this particular blog was written by “progressive” young Catholics, who do not always agree with Catholic doctrine, and are hoping and working for specific teachings of the Church to be changed, so that the Church can be more “democratic”.  I guess, judging from my posts, they got the impression that maybe I wouldn’t be on board with that mission.

From their email response (which I will mention was very kind and considerate):

“I can see that your own judgment and thinking has led you to stances that are more in line with official Catholic teaching on all, or at least most, issues”

My initial reaction was, “of course it has!”  But then I had another thought.  Which brings me to my chicken-egg situation:

Which ought to take precedence—what I feel is right by my own logic, or the teaching of the Catholic faith I profess?

I think the “progressive” answer would be to say that it is my duty to skeptically question every little detail about the Catholic faith, judging it by my own reason, and then, only when I get all of my questions answered, I can decide to accept Catholicism.

But there is one rather large problem with that.  I’m not God.  My reason is often flawed, and I make many, many mistakes.  In realizing I am a flawed human, I actually try not to let my own judgment shape my beliefs, because I am just that—flawed.

I can only hope that, if and when I fail to understand a teaching of the faith, my reason will eventually come to be shaped by my faith, and not the other way around.  I know my track record of using reason and I know God’s.  It seems logical to conclude that the Church that He who is without fault set up will be right, even if my reason has trouble understanding how or why at first.

And speaking of chicken-egg situations…


True Religion (and no, I’m not talking about the jeans)

There are many religions seeking to bring comfort and happiness to humanity, just as there are many treatments for a particular disease. All religions endeavor to help living beings avoid misery and find happiness. Although we may prefer one religious perspective to another…[E]ach religion works to lessen suffering and contribute to the world

-The Dali Lama

Beautifully said—if only I could completely agree with it.  The Dali Lama often speaks of the “oneness” of all religion because, the way he sees it, all religions essentially have the same basic message: love thy neighbor, do unto others…, etc.  Insofar as religion seeks to bring humanity together, its presence is a good thing.

But what about those times when religion does not bring peace, but a sword?  What about when religion divides those whom it hopes to unite?  There is a tendency by those who subscribe to the Dali Lama’s philosophy to then condemn religion as something undesirable.  The thought goes something like this: so long as religion is uniting and benefitting us on earth we ought to allow it, but when it makes things or relationships difficult for us, it should be rejected.

Sound familiar?

So many people my age subscribe to this philosophy and end up thinking it doesn’t really matter what you believe so long as you consider yourself a “good person”.  The problem with this is that you end up believing in nothing other than yourself.  You are the authority.  You are your god.  And why should it be any other way—if religion is really just about what brings you comfort?

Personally, I think Pope Benedict’s definition of religion makes a lot more sense:

“True religion consists in love of God and of neighbor”

Love of neighbor is an important part of religion that we cannot neglect; but it must come from our love of God—a God with whom we have a relationship and a God who is not ourselves.

Love of God and love of neighbor: the two are inseparably linked.

Doing Good to Feel Good

Last week I watched an old re-run of Friends where one of the major plotlines of the episode was one of the characters, Phoebe, trying to prove to another character, Joey, that a selfless good deed is in fact possible.  Of course, the moral of the story was that in fact truly selfless good deeds do not exist, and that even the most difficult task to perform as a good deed is at least rewarded with the “good feeling” the person has for completing it.

This is kind of a popular “dilemma” in our culture.  I put “dilemma” in quotes, because I think it is a silly one to get caught up in.  Actually to be a bit more blunt, I think it is kind of dangerous to get caught up in.  The mindset that reprimands humanity for “feeling good” about doing good is kind of twisted when you think about it.  We seem to measure the goodness of the action performed by the amount of pain it brings us, as if our good actions are somehow “tainted” by the fact that we enjoy them.  “Well, so-and-so only does all of that good work because it makes him/her feel good.  It’s really kind of selfish when you think about it.”

I’m not arguing that we should only do what makes us feel good; I’m just saying that the fact that we feel good about doing good ought to be celebrated, and is not at all something to be ashamed of.  If the “good feeling” someone has about performing a particularly grueling task is all that will get that person through the task that will help another, then we should encourage positive feelings about helping others.  We somehow seem to think that we are only supposed to do things because they are “the right thing to do,” and that finding joy in doing the right thing makes it less right.  This is nothing short of insanity.  Our life and our actions ought to be motivated by what will make us truly happy in the long run, and helping others should certainly be on that list.