There is a move in the current culture to redefine marriage to include the supposed healthy union between two members of the same sex.
As a Catholics, respecting and obeying all that the Catholic Church stands for, there is no way that we can accept this radical cultural shift. There are many reason why, but today's post will focus on why a same-sex marriage, whether defined legally as such or not, does not line up with what the Catholic Church defines as marriage.
What is marriage then? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1601) says, "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."
Essentially translated, this paragraph means that marriage is a covenant (a promise between God and man) between two people of the opposite sex. It is a permanent institution, as pointed out by the wedding vows themselves (what God has joined let no man tear asunder). What really is emphasized here, though,
is the two characteristics of marriage: unitive and procreative. Drawing the spouses together, while simultaneously closer to Heaven, and a blatant openness to life. This union ultimately becomes part of the Church that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace - a sacrament.
What, then, are the characteristics of marriage that homosexual unions can be compared to in order to understand the difference between homosexual and heterosexual couples?
Characteristic One: Free
Definition: This love is not free in the sense that it does not have to be paid for. Rather, free love is not controlled or manipulated by another person or by a disordered desire, according to Christopher West in his commentary on the Theology of the Body. Not forced upon one of the parties (such as in the act of rape), but rather chosen out of free will.
In traditional marriage: In the context of sexuality in a traditional marriage, this characteristic of freedom is fulfilled when a married man and woman are able to give themselves freely to each other. This includes the elimination of lustful desires, disorders such as contraception or pornography, and not being a slave to sexual passions. In this type of love, we see a man and a woman seeing each other in the image of God and willing the good of the other as other.
Personified by Christ: Christ loves us enough that he would rather die than risk spending eternity without us. Despite the sins and transgressions that we laid upon his back on the way to Calvary, He loves us unconditionally.
Not seen in homosexual unions: The inability to fulfill the characteristic of freedom in pertinence to homosexual unions is as follows: Freedom to love is defined as freedom from disordered desires. Yet desiring sexual pleasure from a member of the same sex is a disordered form of love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2358) reads, "This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity....these persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
Characteristic Two: Total
Definition: Once again from Christopher West, total love is defined as "love without the strings attached, love that holds nothing back. In it you make gift of yourself to another - a total self donation." Complete.
Absolute. Your whole self.
In Traditional Marriage: This instance is where the notion of Natural Family Planning and the absence of any form of artificial contraception is key. When in a marriage between a man and a woman, the presence of a contraceptive essentially says this: "I love you darling. I love all of you. Except your fertility. Because nothing would be worse to me than having another one of you running around." Instead, by removing contraception and being open to both the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage, the husband and wife say "Take all of me. Here is everything, including my fertility. Here are my future children. The grey hairs they will cause you when they run a muck in the church pew. The cost of their school. Our shared tears and laughter. My hip replacement. Our retirement plans. Because you are more than just a body for my pleasure - you are a soul and body which I love totally."
Personified by Christ: This is where Christ shows us true and total love. When in the garden, he sweats drops of blood because of the agony anticipated in the slow death and torture on the cross. Yet he says, "Not my will but thy will be done." This is total giving. Giving one's all for the benefit of the other and holding nothing back. Blessed Charles de Foucland (1858-1916) penned the prayer, "I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Amen."
Not Seen in Homosexual Unions: The totality required of a marriage is lost when applied to homosexual unions. There are two good analogies that I have heard this explained in layman's term. The first is that one cannot appreciate a gift they already have. If I own my favorite movie of all time already, when someone gives me that favorite movie as a gift for my birthday, I will not appreciate that gift. After all, I already own that movie. A second ownership of the same object is pointless. Similarly, in the natural world, the two ends of a magnet only connect if they have something that the other does not. The polar opposite ends connect because they offset each other. The two southern poles never connect - they each possess what the other has. Thus, in a homosexual union, one cannot give the totality of oneself to another - because that man already has masculinity as part of his genetic makeup, or that woman already possess femininity both physically and mentally by her very nature as a woman.
Characteristic Number Three: Faithful
Definition: Once again said more eloquently than I could ever hope for, Christopher West says, "Faithful love is love that is committed. That commitment guides all other actions. You keep your promises once you have made them, no matter how your feelings may change."
In Traditional Marriage: True marriage is living one's wedding vows every day. I cannot speak from experience here, but I know from observation alone that this is not the easiest thing to do. There are (or may be in the future, depending on your state of life) days when the feeling of infatuation simply isn't there anymore. You realize that the honey moon is over and there the supposed love of your life is, lying in bed snoring while dirty socks decorate your room like stinky, old confetti. It is in these times that you have to put your nose to the grindstone and decide that love, despite what Hollywood will so convincingly try to portray, is not an emotion but an action and devoted decision.
Personified by Christ: Once again to the crucifix, we see Christ's faithful love. Despite the ease of simply saying, "Well guys, I think I've proved my point here" and walking off the cross, Christ hung on the cross until the last breath of air fell from His lips. He can sympathize with our pain, but also with our struggle to endure in faithful love, even when the going gets tough.
Not Seen in Homosexual Unions: The Catholic Church is not being a prude by saying that homosexuality does not line up with God's plan for the human heart, soul and body. Instead, it calls all people (regardless of sexual tendencies) to a life of purity. It is calling you to live as you were created - to be God's. Any marriage would not be functioning properly if one spouse was continually cheating on the other. Similarly, the marriage cannot work if the union itself constantly cheats the other out of who they are able to be in the light of Christ's redemptive love. Homosexuality never allows both parties
to daily renew the wedding vows because the very act of homosexual physical relations are not marital. This is not to say that those who struggle with homosexual tendencies are evil people who deserve final damnation. They simply are looking in the wrong places for authentic and faithful love.
Characteristic Number Four: Fruitful
Definition: This characteristic is self explanatory. Love that is truly fruitful is constantly open to life. It is open to both the sides of physical fertility, procreation, and the raising of children, but also open to the life of Christ in the spiritual life of the couple.
In Traditional Marriage: The Catholic Church never defines how many children a couple must have for a "authentic Catholic" marriage. However, the Catholic Church does establish the fact that the couple needs to be open to children from the moment "I do" is said. This means an absence of contraceptives of any sort, despite any perceived exception. Responsible spacing of children is advised with the help of Natural Family Planning, the method that uses the woman's cycle to track fertile and infertile times. If
the presence of contraceptives is in the marriage, both the nature of the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage is destroyed. This only applies to marriages that deliberately block the procreative side of life and fertility. The naturally infertile couple is not willing infertility. Yet any marriage that reduces one or both of the parties down to an object for the other's sexual pleasure is violating the fruitful characteristic
Personified in Christ: Christ's love for His Church is always open to life. Pope Francis spoke on this subject a homily on June 2, 2014. The love of Christ, he said, "makes the Church fruitful" by her children through the sacraments of Baptism. "This culture of well-being from ten years ago has convinced us: 'it's better not to have children! It's better! you can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free...it might be better, more comfortable to have a dog, two cats and love that goes to the cats and dogs. Is this true or is it not? have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age and solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful It does not do what Jesus does with his Church. He makes his Church fruitful."
Not Seen in Homosexual Unions: Not matter how much perceived emotional love that occurs between two members of the same sex, life can never be produced. Two men, no matter how they try, will never be able to produce a child without the assistance of a woman, and the help of modern medicine. Biologically, the fruitful aspect of the homosexual union can easily be pointed out as non-existent.
To read more on the free, total, faithful and fruitful love as taught by the incredible Saint Pope John Paul II, read the Theology of the Body online here. For more Christopher West, go here. For discussion on the topic of TOB, you don't have to go anywhere though, the comment box is right below.
Si vis amari ama,
Next week is Vacation Bible School (VBS) for my church. It is offered for incoming preschoolers to incoming 6th graders. I have helped teach the music aspect of VBS since I was an incoming 6th grader (yes I was a early bloomer XD) and ever since I have participated in it! The songs are cheesy, and the stuff they learn very simple, but even then I love it. It is a great way to see God through young kids! Since I work music, I can see all of the little ones (and of course, the bigger ones). Although they don't know it, the little ones really do inspire me!
Last year when I was working I had a group of incoming preschoolers and kindergarteners. They were so cute and very focused on learning the music and hand motions unlike the fifth graders. One little girl with cute pig tails was right in the front, watching my every move along with my leader. She had the biggest smile on her face and melted my heart! After they learned a few songs, she decided to come up and teach with me. So there was this cute little kindergartener standing right up there with me, a huge smile on her face and "teaching" her peers. Soon after, a few more kids joined us. By the end of the class, the whole group of preschoolers and kindergarteners were up there teaching their crew leaders. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen. And of course, they thought it was the coolest thing that happened all day. (I thought it was too. :) )
Another thing that happens at VBS is the director offers for some of the kids to come up and say their "God moments." Most of them just want to go up and hear themselves talk so they say things like "Trees, my mom, the sun," things like that. It is true! Sometimes I do see God in the sun! :)
But then one day my leader for music comes up to me and tells me a story about a young boy whose dog of many years just died. Our theme for the camp was "Stand strong for God" that year. So this little boy goes up to his mom and says "Don't cry mommy! Stand strong for God!" Oh my heart just burst with joy. These little kids are really learning so much, and I have learned a lot from them !
The faith of a child is unshakeable. Their innocence and love for God is obvious through their actions and words. If you really take the time to talk to them, you can see that. But remember, you are the one(s) influencing them. Whether you help out with VBS, babysit, or just talk to them you are influencing them. So take that time to help them become closer to Jesus! They will grow up remembering what they have learned, and then they will share with others.
I'm a horrible person. People have no idea what I'm really like. I am praised and held in high esteem by many individuals, yet they have never seen me at my weakest point. They have never seen the darkness in my heart. It is as if they can't see behind the mask I wear, the facade I surround myself with. Many people think I'm perfect but in truth I am broken. I am not the hero I am perceived to be, because in secret I feel dark, cold, selfish, and heartless. I feel like a villain.
I think it is safe to say there is always a time in every persons life when they feel like they are at the end of their rope. A time when someone feels like they have failed God, others, and even their very selves. In this instance you feel like a villain through and through, plotting to destroy your own happiness and to destroy the world of others. It is as if all hope is lost and you suddenly come to the radical conclusion that "I might be the villain of this story”(http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/14794535-the-borrower). It can become a vicious cycle of choosing to give into the 'inner villain' inside you or fighting to be good with seemingly no avail. We must remember, however, that no one is predestined to be a villain. It is a choice that must be made. Nonetheless it is a dangerous choice, for once you embrace villainy "you feed the madness and it feeds on you" (http://villainquoteoftheday.tumblr.com/post/79822045789/you-feed-the-madness-and-it-feeds-on-you-you).
As human beings we are not born a hero or villain. I'm sure we have all seen it happen on television shows or in movies, the horrible villain commits grave atrocities, but is redeemed by the end of the dramatic climax. In the end this does make for a great story to present to an audience, but at some point we must wonder if this is relevant to the real world? Could this realistically happen to us, the normal people of everyday life? Well as Former-First-Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stated, "in the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility"(http://www.finestquotes.com/author_quotes-author-Eleanor%20Roosevelt-page-0.htm). The choice to be a villain or even a hero isn't a sudden momentary choice, like that of the angels' when choosing whether to follow God or satan at the begging of time. The choice to be a villain or a hero, to act good or evil, is one we must make with every action that we make and breath that we take. That choice is the whole point of our life; it is what makes us inherently human.
We must not allow ourselves to fall into despair simply because we 'slipped up' or because we momentarily failed and gave into selfishness or heartlessness. In truth, the the moment a person thinks they are a villain is the moment that it becomes a reality. All people will agree that humanity is equally capable of great good and great evil. All one has to do is look at the Holocaust and Auschwitz to be filled with horror for the great abominations humanity is capable of creating. At the same time, however, the ability to walk the elderly woman across the street, give food to the starving man in the park, aid the homeless, and raise a child show us some of the simplest yet greatest things humanity is capable of. For those of you that have seen ABC's Once Upon a Time you all know that Regina, or the 'Evil Queen', is one of the main characters on the show. You also would know that her back-story shows she was originally a very kind and caring person, before she was blinded by her anger and hatred, after being betrayed by those she loved. She became the evil queen by choosing to embrace the stone cold heart of a villain. As the story lines progress you come to find she is slowly redeeming herself, for love of her son, which causes you to wonder side will win, the Evil Queen, or Regina? There is the potential for a 'Regina' and an 'Evil Queen' in all of us, the question we must ask ourselves every day of our lives is which character will we choose to become today? Will we choose to be the best hero we can possibly be or the most dastardly of villains? For in all reality you make the choice of who you will become. Will you be a hero today or will you become your worst villain?
"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same" *
* Taken from (Carlos Castenda)
There was a man, normal in all appearance to the world around him, who was by all definition a prisoner. Though there were no bars on his windows there were bars on his soul. Though none could see the police guarding him they were there nonetheless.
He lived his life as many would believe normal. He was an avid churchgoer. He would be seen at Mass every Sunday and at many Church events. He worked hard and earned a good living. By almost standards he was a good person.
But he could not escape. He was more stuck in his self-built prison then one captured and placed under guard of a hundred men. At one point he had been able to escape. He had hated the prison and realized how bad it was. He avoided it and only went there on occasion. However he enjoyed himself when he was there. It was not a terribly seeming place and it pleased him. And more and more he would return to this terrible prison. It enticed him in with feelings of fun, entertainment, lust.
And slowly he would remember less and less how bad it was. Oh, he knew it was still bad, but he ignored that fact. It was pushed to the back of his mind because all he wanted was to fulfill that need for entertainment. Eventually it had complete control over him. He had practically convinced himself that it was not bad, and indulged in it so often it was affecting the rest of his life. He would not speak to people in fear they would find him out. He would not go to mass because of the guilt he felt when he did so. And yet through this whole time silently in his heart he wished that someone would find out.
He desperately wished that someone would discover his prison and forbid him to enter it. That they would place bars over the door and watch him to see he never returned. But he could never speak out to anyone because he feared discovery as much as he wished for it.
And so he lived his life, forever stuck, in his own prison. Every time he tried to escape it came back stronger. And he grew old. he lived an average life with good friends, but never did he escape that prison.
On one fateful day he was the major sufferer of a car accident. His life was taken and he departed from this world. He awoke in a place of light, but before he could examine his surroundings he saw one thing that caught his eye. There was a man there, smiling down upon him. He was dressed all in white and light seemed to radiate from him. One hand he held out towards the prisoner, the other held a key. The prisoner took his hand, and they walked together into the light.
He was a prisoner no more.
Many times we hear the Church talk about forgiving others, “Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). But oftentimes we forget that this includes forgiving ourselves too. If you’re like me you usually don’t have a hard time forgiving others. I’m that bubbly sort of person that just loves everyone. But when it comes to forgiving myself...well, lets just say I still haven’t mastered that yet. Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves? I’m still trying to figure that out.
I’ll be honest, like many others, there’s a lot I don’t really like about myself, and I’m constantly hearing people say to “love yourself”. But whenever I hear that, a little voice in my head is screaming, “I KNOW THAT! BUT HOW DO I LOVE ME?” That is my constant struggle; how do I love and forgive ME?
But why does it matter? We aren’t supposed to think highly of ourselves right? I mean you wouldn’t want to be arrogant would you? *gasp* And the bible says to be humble, right? But here’s the thing, self-deprecation IS NOT humility! To be humble, means that you think of others more than yourself. But when you hate yourself, and can’t forgive yourself, you are thinking about yourself. It is a deadly, sneaky form of pride, trying to poison your life. As Renee Catherine from New Catholic Generation said once, “We ought to think of ourselves less, not less of ourselves”. Self-deprecation is a lie, humility is knowing the truth about ourselves, loving ourselves (the good and the bad) and seeking to become a better person so we can help others.
So now we know that we need to forgive ourselves and why…. but that still leaves the question, How? Well that is the real question isn’t it… I will be completely honest and say I don’t have any magic solution. Forgiving myself is still an on-going struggle for me. It is not something that you can just wake up one morning and say, “I forgive myself” and *poof* a rainbow appears over your head and you’re suddenly happy (I really wish it happened like that, haha!). But rather, forgiveness is more of the long hard journey that leads you to happiness.
My life’s goal is to be a missionary, evangelizing to youth. But lately, I’ve seen many of my friends falling away from the church. Occasionally I will try to talk to them about what they’re doing, but everytime I get mocked, laughed at, and then ignored. And because I’m afraid of being left alone, deserted by these friends, or worse, have them hate me, I begin to do nothing. I sit by and watch my friends attempt to find happiness through worldly things, but they become more and more miserable as they dive deeper and deeper into the world around them. I do nothing because I am too scared! Sometimes I’m tempted to follow them, because it would be easier than trying to resist. I’m no better than them, allowing myself to make excuses to allow the inappropriate jokes, and even laughing at them! And I hate myself for it!
How do you forgive yourself for so big a failure? I’ve realized a couple things, 1. I need to help myself, before I can help anyone else. I have to stop going along with the inappropriate jokes and laughing before I can convince anyone that it is wrong to say those things. I need to trust God, learn to not be afraid, before I can help anyone else trust God. I must convince myself, before I can convince anyone else. 2. If I want to forgive myself, I can’t just sit back and do nothing anymore. I have to speak up, even if people hate me for it. I have to do what I know is the right thing to do, and then I will be able to forgive myself.
- Kadie Desireé
So I have played indoor soccer every Friday for a while. And there are two things that annoy me that the other players do. One is when they kick it away without looking and send it right to the other team. The second is when they play goalie, most of them will turn away from the ball in order to minimize the pain of being hit . Well I was sitting here at my computer and realized that both of these could be used as great examples of how to evangelize and how not to.
The first example is perfect. Look before you pass. Don’t just go around proclaiming the word of God to everyone straight from the Bible. This is a great thing to do but you really won’t get many converts this way. In fact it will probably make people not want to convert because you look annoying. Instead get to know whoever you're trying to convert. Don’t talk to them about Catholicism at first just get to know them and be friends with them. Then you know what will be more likely to get them hooked as it were. You’ve looked and now you can pass. Say you found out this guy likes hanging out with other youth. Well, you can invite him to your youth group or a youth conference before you ask him to go to Mass. Or say they really like music, you can invite them to come to choir practice and then sing at Mass with them or something. So that’s my first word of advice: Look before you pass.
The second example is also great. Don’t be afraid of the ball. People are going to ask you questions. This is a fact. They are going to want to know why you do things certain ways. “Why don’t you eat meat on Fridays? Why do you always go to Church on Sundays? What are Heaven and Hell? How is Jesus the same Person as this Holy Spirit Dude?” They are going to ask you questions and lots of them. So know your stuff and don’t be afraid of them. Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know” and change the subject. If you don’t know grab a Catechism or Bible or computer if you can and look it up. If you can’t do that ask someone else. But don’t be afraid of the questions. And really if you show that you know your faith well he/she will then have a much more positive view of your church and faith. So remember: Don’t be afraid of the ball.
So these are my two Soccer/Evangelization tips. Know your friends and know your stuff. Now go out there and score some goals!
Cheating on your future spouse and family: The effects of pornography
I wish I could say that you could go through life and not have to deal with the issue of pornography. Sadly, the culture that we live daily is saturated with sex, and not in the way God fearing way.
The more we see it in our daily lives, the more we become accustomed to it. Grocery store checkout lines, bill boards, online ads, and Facebook run rampant with pornography. And the more the issue is prevalent in our culture, the more we become desensitized to it.
Excuses such as “It’s not like I’m actually physically hurting anybody” or “it’s completely mutual” or “it’s really no big deal” are buzz words around the issue. It is not helpful when the world in which we live and breathe simply reinforces the supposed normality.
Take for instance the move that recently came out staring Leonardo DiCaprio. “The Wolf of Wall Street” was hailed as an ingenious film. The levels of nudity and crass were through the roof. It also grossed over $389 million worldwide against a $100 million budget. Additionally, it was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Scorsese, Best Adapted Screenplay for Terrence Winter, and Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for DiCaprio. And it was pornography for the masses.
What a narrow box pornography is. Instead of opening your eyes to the beauty of God’s creation, you narrow yourself into a thought process where people are objects to be captured in a screen shot for viewing pleasure.
However, pornography is not a moral issue because sex is bad. On the contrary, sex is a beautiful creation from God. Sex was created BY God. So if you think He just sits up in the sky and says “Don’t do this,” “Ohh, wrong move,” thing again. He invented sex. And all things that God creates? Good.
Pornography is not even bad because it shows too much. Instead, as so flawlessly pointed out by John Paul II (are we surprised?), “Pornographic images reduce the person being lusted over to body parts only. There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”
It takes the beautiful creation of a human being, made in the image and likeness of God, and reduces him or her to parts to be admired.
You are more than parts. God’s creation of your fellow human beings are good. Sex is great. Pornography? Doesn’t even fit in the picture.
By Chloe M.
Elliot Rodger. A twenty-two year old man who took the lives of six victims and himself, while wounding thirteen others.
What is the right response to this incredible act of violence? Dissecting the issue piece by piece and realizing the violent culture in which we live today.
Elliot Rodgers was a mentally ill young man. He suffered from a highly functional case of Asperger Syndrome. This Syndrome is a form of autism, in which those who have an affected view of the their social interactions. However, Elliot's mental health was not unchecked. According to CNN news, he had been seeing a therapist since the age of eight, even up to a daily appointment during the years he spent in high school. Both of his parents were aware of his condition, and monitored his social media postings and general well being.
When posts about suicide consideration and general violence appeared on his social media profiles, his own family contacted the police and asked them to make sure Elliot was okay. In April, six policemen visited Elliot at his home, but found nothing suspicious, and advised Elliot to contact his family and assure them of his mental stability.
The mental health system of the state of California is not broken. In all reality, it worked exactly as it was supposed to. Elliot met with a therapist, his family was aware of the issues he suffered from, and the police even visited his home. The reality is that Elliot Rodgers was a mentally ill person who was bent on the destruction of human life.
4.) Spiritual Communion
A Spiritual communion should be one that we should say many times.
My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You.
You can find more about Spiritual Communion on catholic.org: See Here
5.) Stations of the Cross
THE PROMISES MADE BY OUR LORD TO THOSE WHO HAVE DEVOTION TO THE WAY OF THE CROSS AS WRITTEN HERE.
Alright these might not be as attractive as the last list, but each one has it place when it comes to graces received. If you have others to share do so in the comments. God bless.
The world is an interesting place. It is filled with souls that yearn for God, yet constantly stuff finite objects into an infinite hole in their heart. They subconsciously yearn for God's love, yet don't know where to find it. It will even seem that when you suggest the possibility of God, they shut down.
How do we lead others to Christ without burning down our friendships with non believers? There are many countless ways, but this post will focus on two.
Point number one: Befriend them. You cannot suggest fixes to problems you don't understand all aspects of. If you have a classmate who is constantly bashing the Catholic faith, don't go Rambo on them and demand they respect the Church. Get to know them. More than likely, you have some form of concern for this person's soul, or else you just wouldn't care, frankly. So, if you get to know this person as a child of God. There is something broken in every soul that is the cause of a hatred or lashing out or general life of dependency of sin. But you cannot pass judgement on a person at all. You can judge their sins as harmful to the life of their soul and to their relationship with God, though. Yet it is easier to understand the behavior when you understand the environment.
The blatantly homosexual guy at work? Could have been abused by his dad as a child. The girl who constantly snaps at you everyday in your grocery line? Maybe her boyfriend recently broke up with her and she just feels like a pile of trash. Each of these people is loved by their divine creator, who just wants them to choose Heaven and Him. They won't choose Heaven and Christ if the only example of a Christian just constantly tells them how much they are sinning.
Point number two: Make sure you have what you're trying to give away. If you walked up to your classmates and said, "Hey guys! Doughnut day! Doughnuts for everyone!" then they would probably get pretty excited. I mean, it's free food, it's college, it's common sense. But if you then said, "But I don't have the doughnuts! Don't look at me! Go get them yourself!" they would probably sigh, shake their heads, and, depending on if it's finals week or not, chase you out of the classroom with torches and pitch forks
But if that's the reactions to food, imagine what the reaction is to the claim that you know the Bread of Life. If you preach Christianity to people in your life, but your life says the opposite, don't expect to win souls.
To claim solidarity with the Christian life, but then act hypocritical turns SO many people away. If you say Catholics should act like Catholics, but use contraception in your sexual activity, your life is a contradiction. And people see that. And then they don't listen to your defense of the faith because you're already justifying your own sins.
So, basically, be a good friend and be a holy Christian. It's the Easter season. It's time for a fresh start. It's time to turn our whole lives over to the Lord. Not just the parts we want to give Him....give Him your all. I've heard He runs a pretty decent return rate.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he whispered. The bedroom was dark, the curtains were drawn, and no other sound echoed in the silence except for his hushed voice. He was laying on one side of their bed, the beautiful polished mahogany piece with the king sized mattress that they had picked out together as their wedding gift to each other. It was the bed that they had spent every night on since then, the bed where so many memories were anchored.
And now, he feared that it would be their last night together on it.
He could see the silhouette of her proud body lying there only inches away from him. Her chest moved up and down, marking her breathing. Long shadows flickered across her form from her favorite rose scented candle, which was burning on the nightstand beside her. He couldn’t tell if she was asleep or not, but it didn’t matter. He had something to say to her, and he knew that it was probably the last chance he would ever have to speak.
They’d been drifting apart slowly but surely, no matter how hard he tried to hold on to her. It made sense in a horrible way, when he thought about it. She was vibrant, a devoted spokesperson for the causes that she stood for and the best friend of everyone who met her. Such a person could never be with him, a common working man, who hadn’t even deserved to have the time that he did with her. They would burn out eventually, as she was too bright. Too bright for everything around her. Too bright to be contained.
She hadn’t even spoken to him for the past three days. He was beginning to wonder if she could hear him at all anymore when he talked. But he had to speak, for the sake of everything that they’d been through.
“I was thinking about the day we got married,” he said into the darkness, his voice reverberating back at him off the walls of their bedroom. “You were so beautiful. Almost as beautiful as you are now. I remember that your dress was pure white, not the ivory color that your mother preferred. You told me you’d always dreamed of getting married in a real white dress. You looked like a sunbeam in human form.”
She shifted her head slightly. Was it just his hopefulness or was she glancing his way? His heart beat faster in his chest. She was listening to him.
“Listen, I know that we’ve had our ups and downs. I know that we’ve had to struggle with money more than I would like, and that I couldn’t always get you everything that you wanted or needed.” His voice cracked suddenly and he struggled to keep his composure. He had prepared himself for this talk for so long; he couldn’t afford to lose himself now. “But through it all, having you with me always gave me the strength to keep fighting on. I love you. I have loved you for as long as I have been given the honor to know you.”
Her breath whispered out between her lips, an almost silent affirmation that she was still listening. His hand rustled through the sheets, reaching out until her found her fingertips.
“There’s one more thing that I need to say,” he added. “I know you’re leaving. I know that you can’t stay with me. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to come to grips with it. I always thought that there would be something I could do to make you stay, but I guess I have to accept what I can’t control. We both know that you belong to bigger and better places.”
He felt a tear roll out of his eye, and he let it fall. Sitting up, he put his left arm around his wife, so that he was looking down at her. Through the lace curtains on the window a shaft of moonlight was illuminating her, mingling with the warm yellow light of the candle. He smiled at the face that he had loved since his youth: the gentle pink lips, the high cheekbones, the tanned skin and long dark hair. A shallow breath slipped in through her mouth; her eyes darted for an instant beneath the closed lids. She was the most beautiful woman in the world.
Even the cancer couldn’t stop that.
When she’d been diagnosed only a year ago, he’d been determined that she would be cured. But time had only brought more pain, until now he was at the point he had been hoping he’d never have to see: the time to say goodbye.
He watched her take another breath. Each one seemed more and more ragged, as if she were breathing out bits of her soul with each attempt. They had gone to see every doctor and tried every option. Now it was down to this one night, the last they would ever spend together.
“You’re too bright of a flame to flicker here in this dull world,” he said, caressing her hair gently. “So go on. Don’t worry about staying here for me; I’ll catch up with you when I can. Burn bright where you belong: beyond pain, beyond limitations, where death can no longer touch you. I won’t forget you. I’ll never stop loving you.”
As the hours ticked on, her breathing became more and more gentle. By the time the pink edges of the sky had given way to clear morning sun, she was silent. He looked down at her for a long, quiet moment when he realized that the color had left her face, and the hand he was holding had turned stiff and cold.
“I love you, my sunbeam.”
He leaned over towards the candle by her bedside and gently blew it out.
By Renee K.
By Anthony Geleynse
So this has been a pet peeve of mine for some time now. But I really only decided to write about it a few days ago when it came up again in a discussion with a friend of mine. My friend had phrased a question to me “Do you think guys like girls with long hair or short hair?” Now this was a mis-phrase by her but it brought up one of my biggest pet peeves. Guys don’t like girls because of how they look. Or at least they shouldn’t. Guys like (or should like) girls because of who they are and not what they look like. Our society has warped our understanding of relationships. Nothing is the same anymore because everywhere people look they see famous celebrities. And you know what all the famous women celebrities have in common? They look beautiful. So all the time people are watching these movies and TV shows where all the women are hot celebs and the guys only want to be with them because of that. Suddenly women have this self image that if they aren’t like that guys are never going to like them, they are never going to get married, they are never going to make friends, eventually turning into; they will die sad and alone in a little hovel if they do not look amazing all the time. But newsflash people! Guys don’t care about how you look (at least the worthwhile ones don’t.) Guys care about you because they love you, they like spending time with you, and your just an all around great person! So remember this! It’s not because of how you look, you can look like an ugly hag but guys will still like you. Now of course this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about how you look cause guys still like seeing you look beautiful but remember that it’s not going to be the reason a guy will fall in love with you. A guy is going to fall in love with you because of who you are so be the person God meant you to be and look out for that special person who will come for you in your life.
By: Faith Marie
A couple weeks ago I took my younger siblings to the park for a walk. Most of the kids wanted to venture down a new path, which was narrow and filled with thick trees blocking the sunlight. My 4 year old sister took one look down the path and declared that she did not want to go down the path because she was too scared. When I asked her why she was scared, she just looked up at me with her innocent brown eyes and said, "because I don't know what's in there."
Franklin Roosevelt was right in saying, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Many times we have no need to fear, but it is something unknown which frightens us. My little sister's reaction seems like a perfect example of what we all fear: the unknown. She was scared of the path because she couldn't see what was down there, similar to how we are afraid when we do not know what is going to happen. It may sound silly, but it is true. That is why suspenseful horror movies are successful, because they play with our fear of the unknown. Since I am a high school senior, my classmates and I have been afraid of next year, simply because we have no idea what college is really like.
I was reflecting on the concept of fear in my prayer one night, and this is what I wrote in my journal:
"Be not afraid". 365 times you tell us Lord. Yet we still don't hear you. We forget about your infinite power and mercy, your great love and peace. When we forget your greatness, we get scared. And Jesus you know, we do what we hate when we're scared. We coil away from you because we are scared. We don't always do it on purpose, some things just happen which frighten us. But fear is not what you want from us Lord. You hope we always run to you instead of cower in fear. Our hearts are yearning for you alone, Our Savior who vanquishes all our fears. Give us the strength to always turn to you in the face of our fear instead of succumbing to our fear. You make us whole again and draw us our of fear with your outstanding love.
The reason we are afraid of the unknown is because we forget God is taking care of everything. We have no need to fear, because God has planned our lives since before He created us. He is making sure everything will work out.
Mother Teresa gave us the perfect solution when she said "Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on Him, 24 hours a day."
In conclusion, let us use this motto to encourage us to become saints. Let us make this world so hot that we will catch everybody’s hearts on fire for God. The only way to do that though is to start with ourselves. Let us go out and make a fire that the devil and his demons could not put out, how hard they try.
Author’s note: I would like to thank RebornPureAdmin for her You Tube video called, “Another Critical
Reason Why You, In Particular, Must Become A Saint.” Your information was priceless for this blog.
These are the three "pillars" to Lent, and if you follow through with them, they should make your Lent all the more sweeter. The words can seem kind of overwhelming sometimes. I mean, fasting? I love food; I don't know if I could go without a snack! :) Okay, maybe a snack but still. And almsgiving? What even does that mean?
Well dear readers, continue on to find out. :)
Lenten Tip #2:
PAF is the way to go this Lent.
Prayer: I am pretty sure that we all know what prayer is. But incase you need a reminder, prayer is the direct telephone line to our Creator. Sometimes we abuse prayer by making it a one way conversation. Or a "I want this, and this, and this and oh yeah, this too" conversation. I mean, who likes that?
Almsgiving: Don't feel dumb if you don't know what this word means, I didn't either until my religion teacher told me. Whoops. :) Anywho, according to the Google dictionary, almsgiving is
"Making voluntary contributions to aid the poor."
My definition of almsgiving is pretty much stewardship: taking time out of your day to help others.
Ever feeling down on your Lenten Promise(s)? Just remember PAF and you'll be set!
Praying for you all in your Lenten journeys! :)
All through Christ,
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here