Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three 'Best Bets' For The Year Of Faith

Each Sunday we meet in the sanctuary. We proceed and line up like lemmings one by one receiving something that we pay no mind to. And upon receiving this significant gift we forget about it as quick as it was placed in our hands. Would anyone like to give a suggestion of what I’m talking about?

My dreadful guess is that you are thinking:

The Eucharist/The Body of Christ /Holy Communion

The Eucharist?! No, not at all – We as faithful Catholics know that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith! I was talking about the church bulletin!

Now read that again in context:

Each Sunday we meet in the sanctuary. We proceed and line up like lemmings one by one receiving something that we pay no mind to. And upon receiving this significant gift we forget about it as quick as it was placed in our hands (the preferred way to receive Holy Communion is on the tongue BTW).

The only way you could have mistakenly thought I was talking about the Eucharist is if really deep down you knew that the majority of Catholics did not believe in the real presence. And I believe your assumption is right(specifically after seeing the results of 'catholic' voting) . Polls show consecutively that only 30% of Catholics in the United States go to mass regularly. This is a tragedy. This is a disease. The majority among that 30% has little grasp of what the Church teaches. This is also a tragedy. This is also a disease. But the key to recovering from the fist disease is to heal the second disease. I would like to purpose that the cure for this disease is to be found on the front of my church bulletin:



 Know Your Faith, Live Your Faith, Share Your Faith.  This is the medicine we can offer as lay people:

Know Your Faith

St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Jeremiah 29:13 says,“You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart”. Jesus puts it this way in Luke 11:9-10 “And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” In our modern time of instant knowledge we have no excuse for not knowing out faith. We do not have to go to any drastic measure to ask, seek, or knock - no it’s just a click away. We have every resource and every imaged type of media at the tip of our fingers and yet we are ignorant of our faith. Those scriptures told us God is pleased when we seek truth- not become experts. No one likes a know it all. God is pleased when we are seeking to learn our faith. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” If that is true, ask yourselves, “Why do I have sports statics memorized but I can’t explain the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of reconciliation? Why am I an expert on hunting and fishing but cannot understand what the church teaches about contraception. Why am I an expert about American Idol but can't hold a conversation about the church’s teaching on Marian dogma?” St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” I would also submit that ignorance of Church teaching is also ignorance of Christ because the Church is the Body of Christ, therefore when the church speaks, it’s with Christ’ voice.

Live Your Faith

Fulton Sheen once said, “It is easy to find truth; it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.” I would like to focus living our faith when no one is watching, when no one can “watch us walk” but God. Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” We see clearly that what we do in secret matters to God. What are some things that we do negatively in secret? What do we lose sleep over? What haven’t we been able to come to grips with? Is it alcohol? Medication? Pornography? Anger? Overly worrying about worldly things? Yelling at your children? Gambling? Purchasing things without telling your wife? Over eating? What is your secret vice? What are you ashamed of? What is it for the life of you that you cant you stop doing? I know you’re probably starting to get defensively right about now. Don’t worry its natural. You’re thinking, “What business is it of yours what I struggle with? I go to mass, I tithe, I volunteer, I pray. I’m not hurting anyone. Butt out.” This analogy might help. As law abounding drivers, we have to follow certain laws that apply to driving. If we break these laws, we could injury other drivers. If we choose to run a red light, we could crash into another vehicle. But in addition to following laws we also have to get our cars inspected once a year. We can follow the law all day long but it is to no avail if our own personal cars are not worthy of the highway. This is why we have to examining our own conscience and get it inspected at least once a year in the confessional. Personally, I struggle with lust and looking at things which I’m not supposed to. Hey I’m not here talking about it because it’s an enjoyable subject- in fact it’s a quite touchy subject- no pun intended. I’m here as your brother telling you its OK to admit your vices. It’s the only way we are going to beat them. We will either accuse ourselves or excuse ourselves. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. Before we can be cured we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it. C.S. Lewis says, “I find a good many people have been bothered by Our Lord's words, "Be ye perfect." Some people seem to think this means "Unless you are perfect, I will not help you"; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant "The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less."


Share Your Faith

Time after time I have stressed the importance of sharing the Gospel with our actions. In football terms: this is offensive. Evangelization is offensive. Apologetics is defensive. We are really familiar with the word Evangelization but sometimes the word apologetics slips under our radar. The standard scripture for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Are you prepared to make a defense of your faith? We  have a great opportunity to do just that in our everyday lives: at work, at home, on social media, at the store, at the bus stop. But remember it says do it with “gentleness.” We are Christ ambassadors, not his debate champions. It’s the Holy Spirit who converts souls.

I would like to leave you with a reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul was writing a community who were seeking to learn their faith, live their faith, and share their faith. We to are a community who are seeking to learn our faith, live our faith, and share our faith. Let’s for a second pretend like Paul is writing to only us in this community.

In Colossians 3:1-17 Paul tells us:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.* In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


As we enter this "Year of Faith" make every effort to do these three things: Know Your Faith, Live Your Faith, Share Your Faith

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Consecrate Yourself To Purity For America's Purity

 
Why are we so shocked about the outcome of this election?  Our nation's brain is polluted with smut, greed, laziness, and legions of other demonic impure idols. We have reverted back into paganism - we even commit human sacrifice on a epic national level. We must organize as the P.O.R.N. Militia and battle for purity. We need purity. We must first, change ourselves and our hearts if we wish to be tools of change for the improvement of the world. Purity changes hearts. Changed hearts, change minds. Changed minds, change votes. Changed voting brings national change. BUT first purity. So our hope is to look at purity herself.

That is our hope. Let us not forget that the savage Americas have been converted from paganism once before. In 1531 Our Lady was used as the catalyst for the American Pentecost aka the largest mass conversion to Christianity in history. Our Lady of Guadalupe helped convert the pagan America's once and she'll do it again- if we storm heaven - Holy Spirit willing.

If we consecrate ourselves and our country to Our Lady she will lead us to her Son. December 12 is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe-the patroness of America. 33 Days of fasting, prayer, and Bible study followed by a total consecration. We need this! Our country needs this. Begin the preparation on November 9th!
Seeking purity and peace?

JOIN US...Starting November 9th and ending on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe- December 12th. We will start 33 days of prayer, fasting, study, acts of charity, and physical mortification (exercise)- in preparation for total consecration to Jesus through the Blessed Mother.


Consecrate yourself to purity Herself: CLICK HERE FOR AN EXAMPLE OF PREPARATION

Mary is the safest, easiest, shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus and will surrender themselves to her, body and soul, without reserve in order to belong entirely to Jesus.-St. Louis Marie de Montfort

PRAY:

Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Mystical Rose,
make intercession for holy Church,
protect the sovereign Pontiff,
help all those who invoke you in their necessities,
and since you are the ever Virgin Mary
and Mother of the true God,
obtain for us from your most holy Son
the grace of keeping our faith,
of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life
of burning charity, and the precious gift
of final perseverance.
Amen.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints are Pure Saints

We, you and I, were created to be saints. It is our destiny. It is the fulfillment of our happiness. It's being the best version of ourselves. It's not about halos and serious stone faces. It's about being real- the realist version of yourself. Being a saint isn't boring, no it's actually the definition of "living life"- a JOY filled life. Saints are people FULL of joy because a saint is simply a friend of God. Meaning they are constantly in God's friendship (in this life and in the next) and would rather die than to hurt and or end their friendship with God (by sinning) . And God being a perfect friend makes them whole (in this life and in the next). Today is All Saint's Day or All Hallows Day and I have to ask myself, "What's hurting my friendship with God?" And then I must act on the answer. Sin hurts our friendships and our true selves. There is only one way to be a failure in this life and that is not to become a saint. Be a saint- what else is there?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Anniversary

The Holy Father has declared today, October 11, 2012, the first day of the "Year of Faith" but for me it's much more special than that- today is the 9th anniversary of me being fully Catholic. I'm thankful for my abnormal confirmation date (most people come into communion with the Church at Easter but I'm a rare exception) because it's in the month of the Rosary (October) and was in the year of the Rosary(which ended at the close of October 2003). Just recently I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary on the feast of Our Lady of the most holy Rosary(October 7th). I was made to be a mamma's boy! That is why I feel called to spread devotion to the Rosary and why I feel called to the P.O.R.N. Militia.
 
 
I have grown and seen a lot over these last nine (Catholic) years:
 
  • I've witnessed the death of a charismatic pope and the election of a scholarly pope
  • I've gotten to experience the Sacrament of matrimony
  • I've sponsored 4 people as they became fully Catholic
  • I started teaching R.C.I.A.
  • I started receiving the Eucharist on the tongue
  • I've been blessed to battle infertility with my wife- and as a result have learned true sexuality and  NFP (Natural Family Planning)
  • I've fallen many times, but have gotten TOTAL forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • I've seen the translation of the liturgy change
  • I've become a God-Father to 3 wonderful baptized babies.
  • I've attended several A.C.T.S. retreats
  • I've started receiving the Eucharist while kneeling
  • I've lost a job
  • I've gotten to experience the Mass in Latin
  •  
  • I found out that my Bible was missing books
  •  
  • I've met wonderful patron saints: Fulton Sheen, Francis De Sales, Josemaria Escriva
  •  
  • I've found a new more God friendly job
  • I've lost friends because of my faith
  • I've started a blog
  • I've fallen more in love with C.S. Lewis as a Catholic than when I was a Protestant 
  • I've gained brothers and sisters because of my faith
  • I prayed a the abortion clinic and worked at the soup kitchen
  •  
  • I helped lead Life Teen 
  • I lost my mother
  • I accepted Mary as my personal spiritual mother
 
May this Year of Faith be a blessing to you all!
 
WITH PETER...TO JESUS...THROUGH MARY! PAX!
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thank you.

Well the Boot Camp is over but the war is not. I'm so humbled by the success of what started as a small idea. Originally I came up with this regiment for selfish reasons - to fight my own personal battle with lust but the Lord has used it to help others. With your help, during the boot camp, our blog received over 3000 views. People from all over the world including: Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom have read about the 33 Day Purity Boot Camp. The Boot Camp led to our Twitter followers doubling!

 My prayer is that at least one person had a purity awakening during this campaign. I'm thankful for every comment, prayer, email, share, LIKE, mention, and page-view.

I'll be taking some time off- 33 days of blogging will do that to you. :)

If you're bummed that you missed the Boot Camp and/or Marian Consecration, we will do it again soon.

Keep fighting. I will be reporting soon. Pax

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Total Consecration

O ETERNAL and incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation. I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom. Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.

I, ________________, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.


Friday, October 5, 2012

PRAY (Day 32)

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity. And when the "Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me" in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Deployment (Day 31)

Military deployment is the movement of armed forces and their logistical support infrastructure around the world. After this 33 Day Purity Boot Camp you will be ready for deployment. You will be ready for spritual war. This Boot Camp has been a long process. It hasn't been offered as a cure, but only as a door to join the purity war. So many times when we complete an extrema diet, or an extream exercise regimen- we go straight back to our old habits just as soon as we are done on the last day. People often gain all the weight back! We think of completion as a graduation rather than a deployment. The end of boot camp is only the beginning of the fight.

Proverbs 26:11
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.


They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Well we have done this for 33 days and hopefully we have formed 5 new habits. Common sense will tell us (if the demands of life haven't already) that  there is no way of keeping this regimen up for ever. There is a season for everything. That is why the Church has liturgical seasons- Lent is not all year long. Soldiers do not keep the same rigorous disciplines during deployment that they kept during boot camp. What soldiers do is take what they learned in boot camp and then they apply it to real life battle situations.

So make a plan of deployment for yourself. If you don't, then you have wasted 33 days of your life!

Here is an example:

Instead of working-out everyday: pick three days to exercise
Instead of totally abstaining from secular media: set limitations-perhaps no Internet after a specific time or no movies that are rated R.
Instead of studying 20 minuets a day: Join a once a week Bible study.
Fast on Fridays because it is a day of penance.
Volunteer once a month at a charity you like.
Refresh your budget to include a small increase in tithing.
Join a book club.
Start a mans group.
Join a gym.
Pray with your family before bed.


Just like your 33 Day planed looked different from my own- so to will your deployment plan. HOWEVER I do recommend that you keep praying the rosary daily nightly! Continue to fight porn with P.O.R.N. Perpetually Offering Rosaries Nightly! The important thing is that you make a plan of action. People do not plan to fail. They fail to plan. How will you take this boot camp and make it a lifestyle? How will you keep building your habits into virtues? How will you choose daily to be the best possible version of yourself? How will you choose to be a saint?

Pray:
Almighty God
We stand before you in supplication,
Asking Your Divine mercy and protection,
To envelop with Your invincible armor,
Our loved ones who will be deployed

Give them courage and strength
Against all enemies,
Both spiritual and physical,
And hasten their safe journey,
to purity and chasity.

If it be Your Holy Will
That they be gathered to Your bosom,
With the eternal vanguard of the saints,
Let their journey to Your everlasting arms
Be swift and painless,
Where they may stand in honor and glory,
Praising You for all eternity.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Healing Wounds With Adoption (Day 30)

Today I went and prayed at the abortion clinic. After recounting my story yesterday, I wanted to go and pray for those who are themselves helpless. As I prayed, I saw sad women. Women who have given up. I can relate to these women. I do not know them or what they have been through but deep within me I can relate to their despair. I just want to reach out and hug them- but I can not because that would be considered trespassing. So I smile at them and pray for them. I pray that they find healing and change their mind. Abortion kills more than just the baby. It kills the parents as well. It kills their soul. Abortion is wrong for the same reasons that pornography is wrong. It kills. It belittles women. It abuses the most innocent. It causes rupture in families. It hurts relationships. It misrepresents what true sexuality is. It promotes selfishness. The abortion industry and pornography industry are in bed together- pun intended. No abortion, no birth control- no pornography. It's supply and demand. They have to keep the "actress" having lots of sex and can not afford them getting pregnant. If a porn "actress" gets pregnant she cannot make money. She thinks that she only has one solution. Every time we look at porn we are giving contribution to the abortion business. Think about that: supply and demand.

So often when I'm out there praying I just want to yell out, "I will take your baby if you do not want it." And I truly mean it too. My wife and I have been battling infertility for the entirety of our marriage. We yearn for a child. Adoption may be in our future one day- it is something that we are both open to- if God wills it. I am comfortable with adoption because through the covenant of Jesus Christ, God has adopted me.


Let us quickly reflect on the Old Covenants. What is a Covenant and what is the purpose of a Covenant to begin with? A covenant is a giving of persons. "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people" Leviticus 26:12. God wants to be our Father and progressively sets up covenants to be family with us. First we see the covenant with Adam. That is a marriage between Adam and Eve, a family bond. Then we see the covenant with Noah grow to a house hold of faith with Noah’s wife, thee sons and their wives. It grows again with God’s covenant with Abraham. With Abraham we now see a family tribe. With Moses’ covenant we see the 12 tribes become one big Israelite family. David’s covenant culminates into a national kingdom. And finally in the New Testament, Jesus establishes a "New and everlasting covenant" One that embraces every ethnicity, an all embracing, and universal covenant – a catholic covenant. "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God (Galatians 4:4-7).


Healing comes from adoption. I urge you to spiritually adopt a porn star. Pray for the Porn Star that you  once lusted over. Pray that she is healthy. Adopt her well being. Adopt her soul. Fast for her. Adopt any children the she killed because of poor choices. Accept responsibility for her life. Every time you clicked on her site- you made her life a worse place because you provided demand to the porn supply. Ask Mary to pray for her and ask her to make her pure. You will be surprised that the devil will stop using old images of porn stars to temp you- because you are praying for them when he does!

God loves you and looks on you as a  beloved child- we have to do the same with others.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Parental Wounds - Part 2 (Day 29)

My mother’s health continually got worse. To deal with the pain, she had to have a morphine pump surgically positioned in her body. Her drug abuse also spiraled out of control and climaxed on Christmas morning of my sixth grade year. We were living with my loving aunt and her family. My aunt made me feel very comfortable and very accepted. Everything was starting to feel kind of “normal” again. And for once I was actually looking forward to something- to Christmas! It was going to be Big this year and all my extended family was going to be there. Everyone was so excited to open presents that morning. Everyone was excited -until they saw my mother. Apparently she overdosed the night before. Christmas was ruined- with an audience watching seizures and an emergency room trip. I don’t remember opening my presents that day but I do remember crying in bed once again asking God, “Why? Why this? Why on Christmas?” After many of these episodes, my aunt finally decided to kick my mother out in response to her “festive” behavior. As a child I had to make a choice that no child should make. To leave with my mother and be homeless or to stay where I had shelter, love and a chance to be normal. Hesitantly, I chose to stay living with my aunt and it broke my mother’s heart. I felt so guilty- I understood that my mother could not take care of me but I longed for the days before her accident. Some of my earliest memories were of car rides to school, she wouldn’t let me listen to the radio, instead we sang corny praise and worship songs. My mother taught me all about Jesus and the Bible. She read the Bible to me all throughout my childhood, sparking in me a love for theology. She prayed with me and over me constantly. She never made me go to“children’s” church, but let me stay and learn with the adults. When I was a young child, she would give me anything I asked for, because she took joy in making me happy-and it was that year, that I felt like I was turning my back on her.
From that time on, I lived with my aunt. Most of the time, I slept on the couch and had no real place to put my possessions. She offered me what she had, but it was still far from "status quo". In high school, I put on a facade and appeared to be a normal kid. For once, I got to do normal kid things like sports, sleepovers, and even go on dates. My first date was with a girl named Annie. Annie and I went on our first date about 15 years ago. It still just seems like yesterday-I was super nervous! We went to Casa Ole and then we went to the movies to see Super Star. The biggest memory I have from the whole entire night was the feeling of extreme butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Annie always made me feel ok to be me. Finally, I had found someone who I could be honest with. Someone I could finally tell my secrets to, and for once I decided to take the mask off. One weekend, at a restaurant, I told Annie everything about my life. Things that I had never uttered to a soul, soon rushed out of my lips and filled the stucco booth in which we were sitting. My gushing emotions took Annie by surprise and her look of shock sent me retreating to the men’s room. I threw myself on the toilet and began to sob hysterically. I knew for sure that I had run off the one person that made me feel so good about myself. As I sat there I noticed hot pink toenail polish in front of me under the stall. To my surprise Annie had come after me and held me in the men’s room. That day I found out what love really looked like- hot pink toenail polish. 


Looking back, I know that what I had mistaken for butterflies were in fact just caterpillars and it has been a sacred gift to be able to watch this 15 year metamorphosis which turned those caterpillars into beautiful meaningful butterflies. Everything was perfect about Annie except- SHE WAS A CATHOLIC!
Yes a CATHOLIC! My mother taught me ALL about Catholics. How they prayed to statues, how they worshiped Mary, how they were doomed to hell. I was brought up Baptist and you could also say “anti-catholic.” I remember visiting a Catholic Church for the first time. I went home thinking, “Dang those people act like drones.” I mean gosh they didn’t even bring their Bibles to church, and to make matters worse, it was boring! I made a long list of complaints withina week. I was for certain that the Catholic Church was off-kilter in its teachings, and I certainly wanted to prove it to Annie. I finally started talking to Annie's father, about my objections to the Church’s teachings. He answered a lot of my questions, but more importantly taught me a valuable lesson. “How can I judge something I do not understand?” So my new mission was to find information. Only with knowledge can people make up their own opinions. I started out very determined to prove the Catholic Church wrong. But as it turns out, all the answers I found went against my original opinions. For example, I perceived that the Catholic was unbiblical, but through study I realized that the Mass is soaked in Scripture, and Scripture is soaked with the Mass. If someone were to go to every Sunday Mass, for three years, he or she would have read the Bible almost in its entirety. So I plea to you, whether you are Catholic or Protestant do not make judgments—instead find information. The Great Bishop Fulton Sheen said this, "There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is of course, quite a different thing." I found myself to be among the millions of uneducated and that most of the “Church’s problems” were really“Cody’s problems” through unawareness. Converting to Catholicism was not a walk in the park though; it was by far not an easy process. I remember one night of study specifically. I was lying in bed reading a book about the Catholic Church. The truth was overwhelming, and turning each page was heavy. Tears began to roll down my cheek and I asked God, “Why? Why have you let me believe these other doctrines for all these years? And now You’re going to turn my life upside down by revealing that all I have known about You was not the FULL truth?”

I was confirmed later that year. My confirmation is a blur in my mind, but I do remember one specific action, reciting the Our Father. Specifically “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” As I proclaimed those words I began to finally understand God’s will in my life. Things were immediately clear from the words of that petition, I knew God had a will with and for me and it must become the measure of my willing and being.  The key to the fulfillment of the petition “Thy kingdom come” is the fulfillment of the next one, “Thy will be done.” The way for God’s kingdom to come is the easiest thing in the world to understand and the hardest thing in the world to accomplish: simply turning over all our will to God. We can begin to do this, even if we do not do it completely. To choose to begin is our “fundamental option”, our most absolute choice.  As C.S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’; and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” Sin means that my will is in rebellion against God. By saying (and meaning) “Thy will be done,” I declare my will to end this rebellion and make peace with God by submitting my will to his, by willing what he wills done. All those times that I had painfully asked, “Why God? Why are you doing this to me? Why is this happening to me? Why are you hurting me?” melted away. I realized that God wasn’t out to get me, but on the contrary like it says in 1Cor. 10:13, “God is faithful and will not allow you to go through things beyond your strength, but will provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”   Blaming God is always our first reaction when something bad happens but it’s not God’s fault.  To be honest we have no real clue what is going on. We are like toddlers being taken to get our immunizations shots. From our point of view the needles hurt and don’t seem profitable. We kick and scream and cry because we don’t understand what is going on. We feel betrayed by our parents who brought us here to get  held down and tortured. We cannot see as children how these small pains and pricks will prevent the larger pains of disease.  In the same way, as children of God we cannot see how the pains of life will prevent us from greater pain in the end. We forget so easily that Jesus experienced all the same pains, trials, and temptations that we face today. Jesus’ career as a carpenter was intense and physically demanding. He suffered poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, and betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the police, and even execution by torture. He knows what we are going though. He’s experienced it. The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like his.
 
My Mother passed away on May 12, 2008. For the first time, when something bad happened in my life, I didn’t ask why. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5. As much as it hurt, I just accepted it. These words were lying beside my mother’s body and evidently she wrote them concerning her last thoughts:

"What your works are at the time of your death, for you can fall from grace but at your time of death will you be living doing as you where taught even till your last b­­­____."
I 'm not exactly sure what the last word is but I still understand what she is trying to say. Her words assure me that today’s tears, will be dried with tomorrows laughter. Today’s doubts will be trampled by tomorrow’s assurances. Today’s lonesomeness will be swallowed up by tomorrow’s embraces. Today’s grief will be blown away with tomorrow’s hope. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for your woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jer 29:11).
Thus far, my life has been bitter-sweet. Truly a life to remember, but also a life to forget. People say“time flies,” but I do not. My life has arrogantly crept at its own pace. People ask, “Where did the time go?” but I do not . I can almost account for each second. My life has been littered with heartbreak, humiliation, death, guilt, and uncertainty. My life has violently shaken and uprooted the thing referred to as “faith.” Faith in anything: relationships, aptitudes, finances, God, and even one’s own heartbeat. My life has been a slow death. A death to self-identity. A death to worldly ideals. A death to childhood views concerning love. A death to being in control. “Amen, amen, I say to you , unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life” (Jn 12:24-25). My life’s deaths have produces much fruit: new friendships, self-rediscovery, new talents, family reunions and an awakening to Christ’s love. Let us be thankful for yesterdays struggles and let us pray that we are strong enough to do God’s will today.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Parental Wounds Part 1 (Day 28)

We all have them. Sometimes we brush them off—most of the time we suppress them. And without realizing it- we use them as a crutch.  “Parental wounds” Oh, and you do have them; it doesn’t matter if you had award winning parents or dead-beat “role models.” UNLESS you are Jesus Christ- you have them. And guess what? Your kids will have parental wounds as well. It is because we as humans are not perfect- we are fallen creatures.  We intentionally and unintentionally hurt people- especially the people who look up to us the most. We have parental wounds because our hearts yearn for the perfect parent, but the perfect parents can only be found in God the Father, and in the Virgin Mary. Christ is the only one with perfect parents. Typically, we do not realize our parents’ imperfections until later in life- until we are hurt and confused. We spend the rest of our adolescent years trying to figure it all out- the resentment builds and we try finding what’s missing in other worldly things. Often that’s where pornography steps in. We are trying to heal the parental wounds with what we think, will sooth them. But anything other than God, makes the wounds fester. Saint Augustine is famous for saying, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Chesterton put it another way, “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” We are all looking for answers, pleasure, comfort, peace. But all the world offers is salt water for thirsty hearts: the more you drink, the more you thirst. In the end you are unhappy and spiritually dehydrated.  We have to face our parental wounds in order to beat porn addiction. Pornography dependence was initially a byproduct of some other problem. We have to look back at our life and ask “what,” but never “why.”

 Looking back, I have found myself asking “why” many times in my own life. The first time I can really account noticing my parental wounds was when I was nine years old. It was the first time that I had ever tried out for little league baseball.  I remember how beautiful the day was. The sun was so bright that I had to squint constantly- which really didn’t help me to catch many fly balls. As I was trying out, I heard uproars of encouragement, from all the other boys’ fathers. And I thought to myself, “It must be neat to have a dad.” That day only got worse when they announced coaches, and I found out who my coach was going to be. That day I had the pleasure of finding out that my motherwas going to be the first ever boys baseball coach in the city where I lived. Really? My Mom? Coach? My world was crumbling around me. I was so embarrassed that I went home and went straight to bed crying. I sobbingly asked God, “Why are you doing this to me? First no Dad, and now this?” I felt so dysfunctional. But to my surprise, my world did not end that baseball season. It actually was a lot of fun and our team won first place. Looking back, I am amazed at my mother’s actions. I didn’t understand them as I child, but my mother was trying to be the father I didn’t have. I can’t imagine the amount of guts it took for her to decide to coach that year. I can’t imagine the amount of guts it took my mother to wake up every day and work two jobs to support her only son.

My mother seriously injured her back soon after that baseball season. Her zeal for supporting me caused her near paralysis. That year she underwent multiple surgeries and found out that she could never work again.  Our life went from normally dysfunctional to uncertain poverty. I had to grow up a lot that year. I went from thinking about baseball to thinking about things a little boy shouldn’t be been thinking about: where we were going to live, what we were going to eat, and how we were going to pay bills? My mother fell into a state of depression and soon was hooked on pain killers and antidepressants. We bounced around from house to house, from family member to family member. I remember one night specifically, the eve of my cousins wedding. We were staying with distant family. That night a family member asked if I wished to come to his room and talk about the civil war. With haste I agreed. I loved hearing him talk about history. He was one of the only male figures I had, and his stories memorized me. But that night, I didn’t learn about the battle of Gettysburg- I was molested. That night I learned what it truly felt like to be helpless. What it truly felt like to be betrayed by a loved one.  I’ve blocked most of the uneventful night out of my memory. But I do remember how cold and stale the air smelt, and how numb I felt inside. I cried that night knowing that I couldn’t ever tell anyone what happened to me. I remember thinking, “Where were you God?”

Part 2 coming tomorrow.

PRAY:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference.Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful worldas it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things rightif I surrender to His Will;That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with HimForever in the next.
Amen.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

St. Michael (Day 27)

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

by Pope Leo XIII

O Glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and power, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness and redeemed at a grate price from the tyranny of the devil.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of very vice and iniquity.

These most craft enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do though again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers. R. The Lord of the tribe of Juda has conquered, the root of David. V. Let thy mercies be upon us, O Lord. R. As we have hoped in Thee. V. O Lord, hear my prayer. R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name, and as supplicants we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for thin injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Plague of Porn (Day 26)

 
Pray:
 
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen - Thomas Merton



Friday, September 28, 2012

The Great BOTH/AND (Day 25)

Recently, I have befriended some neighbors from Saudi Arabia. I'm not typically the most outgoing person when it comes to approaching strangers, but I'm trying to practice acts of charity. So my wife and I took a shot, and we welcomed some Muslim newcomers into our home. Our hospitality to them has made them open to talk about Christianity. We even found them a New Testament in Arabic- they were excited to read it. They are refreshing to be around. They are not tainted by American relativism- which makes for straight forward conversations about life and especially about religion. We live in a Western society where there is not an objective truth. But instead a motto of, "What’s good for you might not be good for me." We live in a culture where moral relativism is the law of the land. This relativism has crept into Christianity as well. My Muslim friends are not jaded by this political correctness. I, like them, see it as illogical for us to say, "Well, we both can be right." No, no we can't. And while we totally disagree and least we know where the other stands: I believe in extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. It is a Latin phrase that means: "outside the church there is no salvation." The most recent Catholic Catechism interpreted this to mean that "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body." Sound arrogant? Well that is because salvation is a very touchy subject for most. What does 'No salvation outside the Church' really mean?



 
The majority of Christians consider that a person who believes in Jesus to the extent of giving up everything, who literally "loses his life" for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and who perseveres in his call to the end of his life, is assured salvation . All Christians are called to believe and spread the good news of the gospels to those who do not know about or believe in Jesus Christ. But what about the salvation of those who belong to other religions? Most are quick to judge damnation upon them, but the Bible makes no firm judgment about their salvation.

The truth is God has not told us what his arrangements about other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ and His Church; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved though him.We do not know that only those that are visibly connected with His Church can be saved through His Church. The Bible leaves open the possibility that God may save some persons who, though no fault of their own, have not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Belief in Jesus is not mentioned in Matthew 25, but yet salvation is granted to the "nations" because of their charity. Romans 2:12-16 says that "gentiles without the law" will be judged according God's law "written in their hearts" or "conscience". Remember, judgment comes from God alone. Paul warns about judging others many times in his letters. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul goes to the extent of warning about the judging of ones own soul. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am no thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God (1 Cor. 4:3-5). Knowledge of the bible leads to better evangelization, but it also helps to have a general knowledge of other religions. Most Christians are willingly uneducated in regards to "other" Christian denominations, and other religions of the world. This ignorance causes misunderstandings, which leads to fear, which turns into hate. If you are a Christian, you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong. You are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. Many prophecies from other religions foretold the coming of Christ. Confucius said he was expecting some great wise man from the east. Buddha said he was not the wise man, someone else was to come. Plato said a just man was to come who would tell us how we are to conduct ourselves before God and men. In the genealogy of Jesus, a reader will find saints, but will also find sinners. Gentile women like Ruth or a public sinner like Rahab were typical examples of the humanity Christ assumed into himself when he became incarnate. Every single human being that would ever be born until the end of time was incorporated into this humanity. Therefore, there is not a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, communist, sinner, or saint who is not in this human nature of Christ. We are all in it. Our neighbor next door is in it. Every persecutor of Christianity is too. When we are puzzled about how other people are saved, we need only realize that implicitly, all salvation, all men, are in Christ. They may not recognize their incorporation in Christ, but in a certain sense every person in the world is implicitly a Christian in his human nature.

It’s not about one way of "worshiping God" being better than another; it’s about one giving a clearer picture of God-the truth. It’s an objective fact: if one religion claims one thing about Jesus and another religion claims the opposite, one of them has to be right and the other wrong. Why does this matter? It matters because we shape our lives on how we view the truth. We live our lives based on the way that we view Jesus. How we live our lives determines our eternity. "Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’" (John 14:6). Jesus said that he is the truth. THE TRUTH.

The best thing Christian's can do for people of other religions, (and themselves) is to pray for them, and to live moral lives that reflect Christian teaching. Christians need to start practicing what they preach in order to draw people to Christianity. People from other religions do not get "saved" by bombarding strangers asking questions, "Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior? Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior? Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior?" Handing people pamphlets through drive-thru windows is not fulfilling any call of evangelization. I am not saying that every person in the world is granted heaven regardless of what they believe, but change starts with commonalities, charity, and logical conversation.

I’m convinced that through intellectually truthful dialogue there is hope for unity. My hope is based most fundamentally on the fact that the most passionate truthful dialoguing ecumenist in all of existence is Jesus Christ. "That they may be one even as Thou the Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe" (John 17:22-23 ). I think that better knowledge leads to better evangelization. Most Christians are willingly uneducated in regards to "other" Christian denominations, and other religions of the world. This ignorance causes misunderstandings, which leads to fear, which turns into hate. Only with knowledge can people make up their own opinions and truly shake off all preconceived notions. Ignorance is the worst feature a person can acquire. If a person really looks at things, it is evident that all hatred comes from ignorance. People are more prone to hate what they do not comprehend.

Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" This question applies to us today, "Who do we say Jesus is?" That is the most fundamental question and there can only be one right answer- BUT we have to keep in mind that God is God and is not bound to our limited conclusions.The Holy Spirit blows where He wills. The great Catholic: BOTH/AND.




SOOOO if you have read this far, you may be wondering how this applies to your battle with pornography? It's this: Don't judge. Don't judge others battle. Don't judge your own. Let Paul be your example. Surrender to God's Will. Get the facts, fight but be open minded. God is bigger than your battle and preconceived notions- about purity- and other religions.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bible Context = Purity Context (Day 24)

A troubled man was pondering his existence. His life had seemed to hit rock bottom and he did not know where to turn. He remembered being told in his youth to always look in the Bible for answers to life’s hard questions. He then took a dusty Bible off a shelf and said a little prayer, “Please show me what I need to do.” He closed his eyes, opened the book, put his finger on the page, opened his eyes and began reading at a random place. Matthew 27:5 “Judas…then hung himself.” The young man shook his head and thought, “Surely this can’t be right.” So he randomly picked another verse the same way that he picked the first. It was Luke 10:37 “And Jesus said, “You go, and do likewise.”

The point of this story is to show that the Bible isn’t a Magic Eight Ball! Do not get me wrong, the Bible should shape our lives but we have to approach it and use it in the right way. You don’t use a TV remote to unstop a toilet. Why, because a TV remote is bad? No, because a TV remote was meant to serve another purpose. The Bibles purpose is the share divine truths to mankind about his creator not to be a magic book, almanac, or a scientific explanation of the universe. The better we understand the Bible, the better we will understand Gods message to us. Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.When we approach scripture, we have to approach it with the right context. If I were to say, “Put the kitty on the table.” You would need to know in what context I was speaking. If I was in Vegas and said “Put the kitty on the table” you would be able to conclude what I was gambling. But the meaning of “Put the kitty on the table” changes if I were at a pet store. Context is key! (Remember this, when a verse is taken out of context to be used as a proof text- that’s really a pretext.)

So what are some context tips for reading Scripture?

  • Get a good study Bible, commentary, and concordance.
  • Learn the history of the Bible and how it came into existence.
  • Learn not to read the Bible as one volume but as a library of genres.
  • Realize that The New Testament did not come before the Church but from the Church.
  • Remember that Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade.-Pope St. Gregory


I was raised Baptist. As a Baptist I was taught that the Bible was the most important “tool” I had as a Christian. If it could not be found in the Bible, then it obviously was not important. This view is called “Sola Scriptura,” or “by Scripture alone.” Ever since Martin Luther, Protestants have believed that the Bible alone is the sole teacher of truth and therefore the reason for faith. Ironically though, this is not found anywhere in the Bible. Scripture never says that the Bible alone is the sole rule of truth, but on the contrary it gives that authority to Christ’s Church , “…the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1Tim. 3:16) “And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” (Matt. 18:17) The idea of the “Bible alone” is not Biblical. Sola Scriptura falls apart with logic because the printing press was not invented until the sixteenth century. Therefore people could not afford a Bible and even if they could, the vast majority were illiterate. Christians heard the Bible at every Sunday Mass because the Church is the mother of the Bible and not vice versa. The New Testament did not come before the Church but from the Church. Jesus did not hand a Bible over to his apostles. Jesus wrote nothing and as far as we know, He never asked His disciples to write anything. His significant command to them was “do this,” not “write this” ; and “this” referred to the Church-forming sacraments. Only five of the twelve apostles wrote any thing down at all. The first generation of Christians had no new testament. Nine years past after Christ’s death before even one piece of the New Testament was written. It was sixty-four years before the last Gospel was completed. So there were sixty-four years without the twenty seven books of the New Testament. The New Testament, as we know it, was not gathered into one book and added to the existing Bible, the Old Testament, Until 393 A.D. at the Council of Hippo. The Bishops of the Catholic Church, gathered in council, prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, decided on those twenty-seven and excluded other writings. They said these books and these books alone are the Word of God. Who decided that? Catholic Bishops. Form then on, it was definitely referred to as the New Testament and as part of the Bible. The Church that canonized the Scriptures was the very Church that had produced them. During that four-hundred-year gap, before the New Testament was considered a part of the Bible, Christians relied on the traditions of the apostles for the truth. “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (2 Thes 2:15).

Here is a short video I made about how Bible study can change your life:


 
The Holy Bible is with out question the most popular book of all times but that does not mean that it is the most read or most understood. Some Christians see the Bible as one big book. It is not A BOOK. Its huge collection of books, a library, that took thousands years to put together. When you go to the library, you do not read every book the same way. You do not read every book literally because there are many types of genres. It is the same for the Bible because it is made up of many types of literary genres. The Bible is made up of Jewish history, poems, political onion, mythology, letters, parables, and theologically rich narratives. The Bible’s complexity throw’s personal interpretation out the window. “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation…”(2 Peter 1:20). “ Phillip ran up and herd him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” (Acts 8: 30-31). Martin Luther, the original spokesman for personal interpretation, later admitted its absurdity, “There is no rustic so rude but that, if he dreams or fancies anything, it must be the whisper of the Holy Spirit and he himself is a prophet.” It’s the scandal of Christianity that Protestantism has divided into thousands of rival sects each teaching its own set of doctrines while claiming to follow the Bible alone. My conversion to Catholicism did not weaken my view of the Bible; it reinforced it with two thousand years of tradition. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation states the following, “It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred scripture, and the teaching authority of the church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.” The Church that produced and canonized the Scriptures in the past, is the same church that interrupts the Scriptures today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Retreat (Day 23)

When I was in high school I played football. Well I say  "played football" - technically I was on the football team, but most of the time I watched the game from the sideline. At any rate, every halftime our coach would give us a speech to pump us up and encourage us to get back out on the field AND WIN THE GAME! His speech was short, sweet, and "Brave Heart" in style- maybe 5 minuets long. His words really moved us boys, but he did something more effective than just give us a war time speech- he left us with 20 minuets of silence. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to redirect. My coach would leave us with a personal locker room retreat. Retreat is also recommend and necessary in this battle.

Well my brothers, it is past halftime for us- just 10 days left. Go ahead and take a look at the scoreboard of your own personal battle. Are you ahead, or are you behind? What needs to happen to have victory in this game? Take time to  think. Time to reflect. Time to redirect. Take  a personal retreat. Retreat is necessary in this battle.

Retreat is a time to go into the wilderness. Jesus started his public ministry by a 40 day wilderness retreat. What does "going into the the wilderness" mean in your life? In the wilderness, Jesus was "tested" by Satan. What demons do you need to battle? What demons have you yet to slay? In the eerie quiet of the wilderness, there is nowhere to hide. Nowhere to hide from your demons. Nowhere to hide from your God. How are you going to get to the desert? How are you going to make time to retreat? What distractions do you need to retreat from in order to more clearly hear the Father whisper His will to you? Let this scripture be your model:

Luke 4:1-2

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry.

The scriptures say that the Spirit LED Jesus into the wilderness. That same Spirit wants to lead you to the same place. Spend the rest of this Boot Camp in your own personal wilderness of prayer, fasting, study, alms giving, and physical mortification. At the end of the 40 days Jesus was strengthened and ready for his public ministry. You, by virtue of your baptism, have a public ministry. You've been baptized into the eternal ministry of priest, profit, and king. God has a plan for you- you just have to be quiet enough, patient enough, and disciplined enough to hear it.



Gentleman:
I have spent the last couple days in the woods. Praying and thinking in the silence. I've come to the conclusion that if we do not surrender to pride/oblations and decide to go on a retreat- we will eventually surrender with a white flag and retreat the battle for purity. Two different ways to surrender and two different ways to retreat. You pick.

Famous Catholic writer, Dorothy Day, wrote this about retreats in her life:


"I made this retreat many times. The first time brought with it a shock of recognition that this was what I was looking for in the way of an explanation of the mystery of the Christian Life, the plan of God for us all. Though still I saw through a glass darkly, I saw things as a whole for the first time with a delight, a joy, an excitement, which is hard to describe. This is what I expected when I became a Catholic. This is what all my reading had led me to expect in the way of teaching and guidance in the spiritual life. I came away with what I can only consider to be an increased knowledge of the supernatural life, the feeling that I had grown in faith, hope, and charity, that I had been fed the strong meat of the Gospel and was now prepared to run the race, to journey onward with that food which would sustain me for forty days in any wilderness. I felt prepared for deserts and underground tunnels, for the dark night of the senses and of the soul. And I knew too that this strong light would dim with the ensuing months and that the next year I would again have to make the retreat, to adjust my visionto the blazing truthwhich was set before us, to get things into perspective once again."

 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Purity Boot Camp...a Woman’s Perspective (Day 22)

My husband is away on business and has asked me to guest write on his blog today. When he asked me last night, I was honored! He is such a perfectionist, without admittance, and hates to be watched! I am not sure how he deals with me (an over analyzer people watcher and nitpicker) but by the grace of God he does! I am writing today with a woman’s perspective on porn and P.O. R. N.
I currently write at this blog about faith, infertility, and everything that comes to mind, so feel free to snoop around my blog anytime! As I wrote this post, I realized that with every stroke of the key, I was speaking to myself. You can ask any good writer, we speak from experience, not from judgment.
To the women on the outside looking in:
As women we take everything so very personally and never really understand how to effectively reach our husbands. When you find out your husband is addicted to porn and not P.O.R.N you feel crushed. You feel betrayed. You feel un-beautiful. You completely shut down and either eat your way out of it, or starve your way out of it. When you discover the secret stash, you are disgusted at what you realize your husband finds attractive. You think, I thought he told me I was beautiful, yet I do not look like any of these airbrushed actresses. Your reactive behavior of venting to your girl friends doesn’t proactively let your husband know how hurt and betrayed you really are. You feel stuck because society says porn is natural and okay, but it isn’t. Porn isn’t any more natural than cheating. That’s right, cheating. If you wouldn’t do it in front of your spouse, don’t do it.  Those feelings, left unaided, eventually turn into you feeling resentment, anger, and hatred. You start picking yourself apart and your marriage begins to suffer.  You eventually become what you fear the most.
To the women on the inside:
Women are human beings.  They suffer with addiction just like anyone would, be it shopping, alcohol, food, or lust. To say that pornography is a man’s addiction is completely and utterly crazy.  Women might not sit behind the computer like a man and hide shamefully in the walls of their office, but they, just as men, can be deceived by the devil and his lustful down spiral. Women like to feel beautiful. Society says beauty is in porn. When we act like porn stars and dress like porn stars, we drown in lustfulness and sex as well- we tell our daughters it’s okay to dress and act the way TV and society acknowledge as okay- we give our daughters a false sense of beauty and our sons a fasle sense of love. Here is my problem with it all: women don’t hold themselves to the same standard as they do their husbands. They don’t want their husbands supporting the porn industry, but they do nothing to stop it! They are sitting in the parent pick up line at school reading 50 Shades of Grey, planning girls’ trips to see Magic Mike, and laughing at the fact that weekends include drinking with your husband and friends at the strip club. Women on the inside of this industry: when you support porn and not P.O. R. N. you are sending mixed signals of mediocrity to your husbands. You are setting up your self-esteem for failure. You are setting up your relationships, your children, and your family for failure. You send a message to your relationships, children, and family, that you do not value your body as a temple of the Lord. Your thinking of what society says is okay turns into a downward spiral of lust and acceptance through other men.  You become your worst nightmare—you eventually become unfaithful in life and you justify that with the addiction and actions of your husband.
To all women: 

 
What we fail to realize though, is that when we are speaking about any addiction, we aren’t speaking on the attack ofthe opposite spouse. That is, your spouse isn’t looking at porn because you aren’t good enough; your spouse is looking at porn because they are addicted. You don’t eat, shop, or gamble because you want to make your spouse mad, you eat, shop, or gamble because that is how you cope with your frustration.
Women, it is time that we take a stand. Stop settling for porn and start using P.O.R. N. Not only will your marriage grow, but you will see a change in your husband. If your husband is addicted to porn and acknowledges it as normal, pray for him, fast for him, and go to counseling without him (because I am sure he will not want to do that either at this point). If your husband is addicted to porn and wants to change, pray with him, fast with him, and go to counseling with him. The purity boot camp on P.O.R.N. Militia is so very powerful because it allows God to be first in your life and marriage.

I am posting a link to my blog post about women (here) the message on this particular post is a wonderful message to women everywhere.
Also, If you do not know who Leah Darrow is, check her out (here). She has a wonderful dvd about women getting out of the industry and into a life of faith-- you can read more about her on Chastity.com
If we want to change society for our children, we have to acknowledge that pornography is taking over. We have to take a stand—we have to become the industry’s worst nightmare. We have to be reverent, modest, and faithful.
            

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Marraige Bed (Day 21)

The Sanctity of the Marriage Bed.
By St. Francis De Sales:

THE marriage bed should be undefiled, as the Apostle tells us, i.e. pure, as it was when it was first instituted in the earthly Paradise, wherein no unruly desires or impure thought might enter. All that is merely earthly must be treated as means to fulfil the end God sets before His creatures. Thus we eat in order to preserve life, moderately, voluntarily, and without seeking an undue, unworthy satisfaction therefrom. "The time is short," says S. Paul; "it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had not, and they that use this world, as not abusing it."

Let every one, then, use this world according to his vocation, but so as not to entangle himself with its love, that he may be as free and ready to serve God as though he used it not. S. Augustine says that it is the great fault of men to want to enjoy things which they are only meant to use, and to use those which they are only meant to enjoy. We ought to enjoy spiritual things, and only use those which are material; but when we turn the use of these latter into enjoyment, the reasonable soul becomes degraded to a mere brutish level.

On Purity:

PURITY is the lily among virtues--by it men approach to the Angels. There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. We speak of the chaste as honest, and of the loss of purity as dishonour; purity is an intact thing, its converse is corruption. In a word, its special glory is in the spotless whiteness of soul and body.

No unlawful pleasures are compatible with chastity; the pure heart is like the mother of pearl which admits no drop of water save that which comes from Heaven,--it is closed to every attraction save such as are sanctified by holy matrimony. Close your heart to every questionable tenderness or delight, guard against all that is unprofitable though it may be lawful, and strive to avoid unduly fixing your heart even on that which in itself is right and good.

Every one has great need of this virtue: those living in widowhood need a brave chastity not only to forego present and future delights, but to resist the memories of the past, with which a happy married life naturally fills the imagination, softening and weakening the will. Saint Augustine lauds the purity of his beloved Alipius, who had altogether forgotten and despised the carnal pleasures in which his youth was passed. While fruits are whole, you may store them up securely, some in straw, some in sand or amid their own foliage, but once bruised there is no means of preserving them save with sugar or honey. Even so the purity which has never been tampered with may well be preserved to the end, but when once that has ceased to exist nothing can ensure its existence but the genuine devotion, which, as I have often said, is the very honey and sugar of the mind.

The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity, which will drive away all over-curious thoughts, and teach them to despise all merely sensual satisfactions. The young are apt to imagine that of which they are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to forbidden pleasures. And married people need a watchful purity whereby to keep God ever before them, and to seek all earthly happiness and delight through Him Alone, ever remembering that He has sanctified the state of holy matrimony by making it the type of His own union with the Church.

The Apostle says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" by which holiness he means purity. Of a truth, my son , without purity no one can ever see God; nor can any hope to dwell in His tabernacle except he lead an uncorrupt life; and our Blessed Lord Himself has promised the special blessing of beholding Him to those that are pure in heart.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Infestation (Day20)

Now that we are nearly through this 33 Day Purity Camp, you may feel like you're in a rut; for many this last stretch will be harder than it was at the beginning. It’s a good time to take your spiritual pulse and see if you are still working on developing a devotion (or devotions) that will help bring more Graces into your life!  Maybe you've tried really hard to live virtuously for these 20 days but it feels like you have not grown at all. It fact, it has seemed to bring out the worst in you! How can prayer, fasting, study, exercise and alms giving make you worse of a person? It can't and it's not. You have an infestation. A sin infestation. Think about it: in your house you see one or two roaches. Nasty, but no big deal -right? WRONG. So you spray...then ALL HELL breaks loose! Roaches are everywhere! Infestation! Did the bug spray cause the multiplication of critters? No. They were really always there nested deep within. The same applies to your new found bad behavior. Purity Boot Camp didn't cause your vices but exposed them. Don't despair! Satan, the world, and your flesh want you to give up- they will not be exterminated without a fight. It's time to amplify the spiritual pest control: sacraments (especially confession), fasting, Bible study, corporal works of mercy, self mortification, prayer (especially Eucharistic adoration), holy water etc. Just like a good trip to the gym- those things if done right-HURT. Boot Camp, done right -HURTS. Increased fasting and exercise help us to gain more self-discipline. With more self-discipline over our bodies, we can also gain self-discipline to resist sin. If your Boot Camp experience has not exposed a sin infestation- GREAT! But....just to be safe, you might want to get with your bug-man and make sure he's not just spraying sugar-water.

Remember, Christ does all these things through us, but He does ask us to cooperate! So, keep it up guys! Look first to the Lord and then strive to get closer to Him! Being pure IS a daily struggle, but one well worth the effort! Ask God to search you and begin to shine a light on all the dark corners of your heart. Ask Him to use this last part of this Boot Camp to refine you and cleanse you for the battles to come. We can do this! Keep up the good fight! It is time to be roach free!