Tag Archives: young and stupid

“Everything Happens for a Reason”

I’m sure someone has told you this before, and you have probably even used it yourself.  Something awful has happened.  Your heart is smashed into a million pieces… You just failed a major test for which you studied for weeks… Your #1 college just rejected you.  So you turn to the person you always go to for advice.  With a sympathetic sigh they tell you,

“Everything happens for a reason, you know.”

So wise.  So true.  Yet so vague it’s almost meaningless.

It’s one of those bits of advice that only really means something a few years after you really needed it.  Only, by that point, a new terrible thing has happened in your life— but don’t worry!  Everything happens for a reason.  That makes it better, right?

Maybe a little.  But wouldn’t it help a lot more if you knew right now what that reason was?

So I’m officially proposing an amendment to the classic, go-to “everything happens for a reason” line.  From now on, don’t just tell yourself that this happened to you for some unknown reason.  Tell yourself that, yes, this happened for a reason, and that reason is to bring you closer to God.

Everything we do in life should be for the benefit of our relationship with God.  Even if it’s simply doing the dishes or waking up when our alarm clock goes off, we are called to be faithful in small matters so that God can lead us to the extraordinary that we so greatly desire.  God wants us to grow closer to Him with each new moment of each new day.  Isn’t it fitting, then, that everything that happens to us in our life—no matter how difficult or how little sense it makes to us at the time—ultimately happens so that we are able to accomplish His will for us?

The question is no longer: “Why did this happen?”  It now becomes: “How is this supposed to lead me to God?”

“I’m not hurting anyone”

I think somebody dropped the ball on teaching “The Golden Rule”.

Everyone knows what it says: we are supposed to treat others in the way we would want to be treated.  So simple, so clear, and it seems to cover all the bases.

However…

Somewhere along the line, it seems to have turned into meaning that, so long as you are not doing something with the intention of harming someone else, what you are doing is perfectly fine.  At least that’s how Ben Harper seems to interpret it…

my choice is what I choose to do
and if I’m causing no harm
it shouldn’t bother you
your choice is who you choose to be
and if you’re causin’ no harm
then you’re alright with me

How can you argue with that logic?  He uses these lyrics specifically to justify smoking pot, but we often see this exact logic employed to justify all sorts of things: from drinking with the intention of getting drunk, to cheating on a test, to sleeping around, etc.

Hey, we’re not hurting anyone.  So why make such a fuss?

Well first of all, as Catholics, we don’t believe something is a sin just because it hurts our neighbor.  Ultimately, sin is sin because it hurts us—by harming our relationship with God.

And even putting aside religion for a moment, as human beings we need to realize something….

“The Golden Rule” presupposes that you have a certain love of self.  If it didn’t, it wouldn’t make much sense.  We don’t often like to talk about loving ourselves because we think it sounds selfish or shallow.  But I’m not talking about the kind of self-love you have after watching a Julia Roberts movie that makes you want to abandon your responsibilities, travel the world, and “find yourself”.  I’m talking about real love of self—a love that isn’t satisfied with mere fleeting pleasures; a love that seeks, and works for, the good in everything.

The thing is, when we get to the point of realizing this kind of love in ourselves, we also realize that we can’t really be neutral in our actions.  Whether we want it to or not, every action of ours will either work for the good or for the detriment of the world around us.  Because we live in the world, and if the end we seek is the good, then anything less than that is beneath us (read: not good, or bad).

It’s a tall order…but it’s better than trying to “just get by”.

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.

Last Friday Night

A few months back, I wrote a post about how the music we listen to—whether we want it to or not—has a real effect on the way we behave.

With that, I thought I’d write a bit of a reflection on what, unfortunately, seems to be turning into a sort of “anthem” for people (especially girls) around my age.  I’m talking about Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”—currently the 3rd most downloaded song on iTunes:

“Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

…This Friday night
Do it all again”

I could go on, but I assume most of you have heard it, or if not, you get the picture.

Katy Perry is known for her catchy, upbeat songs with lyrics meant to shock.  After all, she first topped the charts with her 2008 hit, “I kissed a girl (and I liked it)”.  The mentality of her music and those who listen to it is one of a certain type of mockery towards any sort of perceived moral authority.  It’s not that she intends disrespect, but the thought of her (and her listeners) goes something like the following:

Whether people like it or not, this is reality.  People our age do things like this.  Rather than condemn and judge, we should embrace different ways of living, and then maybe by doing so, we will eliminate the unnecessary guilt and shame attached to partying, sleeping around, etc.

(and you thought I was just some naïve Catholic with no understanding of the way “the real world” thinks 🙂 )

My main issue with songs like this is that they only last around 4 minutes.  In the real world, we don’t live within the parameters of any 4-minute, feel-good song.  And no matter how many times we try to play it on repeat, eventually it ends, or gets old, and our “nothing can take me down” mentality fades out with the final chorus.

Unfortunately for us, once that happens there is usually a new song to live our lives to for a short time, and then it takes us even longer to find what we are truly looking for.  Because when it comes down to it, what we are looking for to vindicate us of feelings of shame or regret cannot be found in a catchy melody or the lyrics of a song (as profound or “meaningful” as they may be).

If you get nothing else from this post, remember this:  We are already living in a world with pretty low standards when it comes to morality.  The fact that “Last Friday Night” is such a popular song speaks to this.  So if you are feeling shame or regret because of something you are doing, it is probably not due to other people “judging you”.

Just some food for thought.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Feel free to leave a comment!

Article first published as Last Friday Night on Technorati.

“It’s Just Who I Am”

Waiting for me in my inbox over the weekend was something called a “temperament test.”  Having always been a fan of short little online quizzes and things that lead to self-discovery, I took it without a whole lot of hesitation and discovered: I have a mostly melancholic temperament.  Meaning?  This temperament quiz thingy seemed to understand things about me a whole lot better than I ever had.  I chuckled and nodded to myself as I read through the eerily accurate descriptions.  To name a few:

The melancholic is irresolute. On account of too many considerations and too much fear of difficulties and of the possibility that his plans or works may fail, the melancholic can hardly reach a decision. He is inclined to defer his decision. What he could do today he postpones for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or even for the next week.

If he is called upon to answer quickly or to speak without preparation, or if he fears that too much depends on his answer, he becomes restless and does not find the right word and consequently often makes a false and unsatisfactory reply.

To be honest, as I read through these results, I couldn’t help but breathe a tiny sigh of relief.  For one, this meant these characteristics—unfavorable as they may be—were not specifically unique to Mary Lane. There is a whole subset of people in the world who behave just like me in these regards!  But it was my second reaction that really got me thinking…

My second reaction was also one of relief—only for a slightly different reason.  My thought went something like this: “This is who I am.  Not much I can do about it, right?”

While it’s true that we may not be able to do much to control our less-than-desirable predisposed temperaments or personality traits, I don’t think that excuses us for settling for them without putting up a fight.  My temperament may be one of a melancholic, but that doesn’t mean these characteristics have to (or should) define me.

Striving to be the best version of ourselves gets a little bit harder here.  Not only are we battling against some realities of our culture that are often contrary to our end goal, we also find we have innate struggles tied to our very personality that we have to overcome in order to get where we want to go.  Doesn’t seem too fair, does it?

As a Catholic, I believe that God knows each of us better than we know ourselves.  I think it is for this reason that God chooses to allow each of us to have these personal struggles.  It’s not that we are to define ourselves by them, or even to think that we have on our own the power to overcome them.  I think God allows us these struggles so we can trust in the one who alone can give us the grace to overcome them, and let Him use our struggles to mold us into who we are supposed to be.