Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm back...sort of

I know my thousands and thousands of readers are probably irate that I have not posted in such a long time, but I have returned! At least temporarily. I unfortunately do not have convenient access to the internet and when I do I am pretty busy. Here is a post to hold you over though until I can post again.

Here is a sign (or assurance) of God's goodness. When I first came to Georgia, I was told that the Georgia State Parks could provide housing but I was told that the house was completely empty - no furniture, dishes, nothin! Thankfully I knew my sister would be nearby and I really felt that this was the place that I needed to be to set myself up for finding a job. So here I am in Georgia and expecting the bare minimum - imagine my surprise when I find out that my house has not one, but two beds, three couches, a large chair, and a big screen TV!! And the kitchen even had dishes and some pots and pans. It may not seem like much but if you consider what I was expecting it's a lot. Needless to say, I was elated. I felt that there was where God was calling me and I trusted in Him and I believe that I have been rewarded.

A little info on what I'm actually doing here in Georgia. For 4 days I am able to stay with my sister and her family which is unbelievable and such a blessing. I love being around them and the children and getting some good "parenting practice"! The other 3 days I stay at Red Top Mountain State Park and any give day work at one of 4 parks/sites. Red Top is in charge of running three surrounding sites - 2 Civil War battlefields and an Indian Mound site. What I'm actually doing is considered "historic site management" but is even broader than that. The guy who I'm interning for is an interpretive ranger/resource manager who sets up programs for groups at all the sites. We do things like "junior ranger" programs, nature programs, colonial period programs, etc... I'm able to help him setting up and leading these programs. Right now I spend most of my time at the Indian Mounds leading tours for school groups. At one of the battlefields I actually got to take part in a reenactment and fire a cannon! It was pretty awesome. So that's kind of what I'm doing in a nutshell.

For my birthday Amy bought me an excellent book called The Quiet Light about St. Thomas Aquinas. The book is a historical novel not so much about St. Thomas but about the time period and features St. Thomas. It's an excellent way to learn about the time period - what was going on politically and religiously - and obviously about St. Thomas. Definitely a "once you start reading you won't want to put it down" book.

Another book that I've only started to read but which I love already is Fulton Sheen's Three to Get Married. I think it would be a great book to read in conjunction with Theology of the Body.

Hopefully this post finds you all well and in good health. God bless!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Moving to Georgia

I just found out officially that I will soon be leaving for an internship in Georgia. I don't know exactly when but probably very soon. This opportunity is such a blessing for myself and Amy - it's one step closer to stability. The other great thing about it is that I will be less than an hour away from my sister Jacquie who lives in Georgia! I can't wait to be able to see her family on a regular basis.

Of course this opportunity also present new challenges for myself and Amy and so I am asking for your prayers as I step out into the unknown. The added distance means that Amy and I won't be able to see each other as often as we do, which wasn't very often to begin with. But like all such occasions, this too is an opportunity to grow in faith - to really trust the Lord.

As for the continuation of this blog, well that is yet to be decided by circumstances outside my control. The fact of the matter is that I just don't know enough about being down there to say one way or another whether I'll be able to continue posting. I hope I can and I'll try my best, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Thanks for the prayers and God bless!

In Adoration

And Adoration-inspired poem:

There's a reality here before me
in this most Blessed Sacrament
The Host is not just bread alone
but God's own Holy Flesh
Why can my eyes not see His face
no matter how I stare?
Is it with mind, or heart, or soul
that I should see Him there?
We say He hides within the bread
but I don't think it's true
It's not that He is hidden well
it's just our point of view.
For does He not want all of us
to look upon His face?
He calls to us and reaches out
to draw us to this place
But it is us who will not come
nor kneel upon the ground
And so we search the world for love
yet He remains unfound
If we knew or even thought
that God was really there
I think we'd go to any length
to find out when and where.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pope Benedict's October Prayer Intentions

We often pray for the Pope's intentions but rarely know exactly what they are.

VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for October is: "That Sunday may be lived as the day on which Christians gather to celebrate the risen Lord, participating in the Eucharist".

His mission intention is: "That the entire People of God, to whom Christ entrusted the mandate to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, may eagerly assume their own missionary responsibility and consider it the highest service they can offer humanity".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A little more on Medj

Catholic Culture has a good summary article about Bishop Ratko Peric's reiteration of how the "messages" and "apparitions" at Medj are to be treated. The summary also contains two links for further information.

It is interesting to note that Bishop Peric "has emphasized that the alleged apparitions and messages of Medjugorje are not to be treated as 'worthy of faith' and that he "has imposed a series of restrictions on activities in Medjugorje, clearly designed to discourage interest in the supposed apparitions."


Last weekend I had the immense joy of being able to go to Ohio to see my girlfriend for a few days. For the ride there and back and I took a bunch of Catholic CDs - Scott Hahn, Christopher West, John Martignoni, and one I was unfamiliar with about the Pope and the Papacy. I was really excited about the Pope and Papacy one and so I saved it for the ride home. Much to my dismay, not only was it NOT a Catholic CD, it was very much an ANTI-Catholic CD. I don't know who the speaker was but he began the CD by blasting the "heretical" Catholic Church for everything she does wrong - and I might add that everything he said was unfounded, uneducated, and almost laughable. Among other things, he was railing against the Church's invention of Purgatory.

The speaker believed that purgatory is the only thing that makes Catholicism work because without it "it's a hard sell." The fact that, as far as our faith goes, Catholics are never assured of their salvation was too much for him and he believes that only the idea that we might not go straight to hell keeps people from leaving the Church. For beginners, the idea of "maybe not going to hell right away" isn't what keeps me in the Church. I'm Catholic because of the chance that I might go to Heaven! That is enough for me.

Outside of scriptural references to a post-death / pre-Heaven state, Purgatory just makes sense. First off, if we assume we our saved, or are assured that we are saved once and for all, why should we continue to be good people, let alone good Christians? In what world would it make sense that we could go on sinning without fear of punishment because we "knew" we were saved? In all of history there was only one person who was assured his salvation - the good thief. Did Jesus not say him: "Amen, I say to you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise." But just as we are not assured of salvation, neither are we "assured" of damnation. If Hitler, in his final moments, had truly repented of his sins and asked forgiveness, would God not have been overjoyed at the return of the prodigal son? Yet I believe Hitler would have not been ready for eternal joy in Heaven.

And so we get to Purgatory.

Purgatory is where we are purified and perfected. If we believe our God is a just God, does this not seem fitting? I see Purgatory as an extension of His Divine Mercy and Justice. No one but God can know the state of someone's soul and so who are we to judge others based on their actions or what we think we know of them. GOD IS MERCIFUL! I remember always thinking that those who committed suicide went to hell, and maybe that is the case, but only God knows what went through their minds at the last second. Only God knows their struggles and miseries and do you not think that He would take that into account?

As for Catholicism being a "hard sell" without Purgatory, well, to be honest, it's a hard sell with it! Our faith is not easy and no one ever said it would or should be. Catholicism is not for the faint of heart - it requires self-sacrifice, suffering, humility, and service to others. It is a difficult, life-long quest for holiness and perfection in and through Jesus Christ. If this quest is not finished on earth then it will be finished in Purgatory. And if we persist, what is our reward? To behold the very face of God and to be counted among his saints in Heaven!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Now this is helpful. No, really.

One of the biggest contributors to the loss of Catholic identity is the media's coverage of "devout" Catholics who are anything but. The term devout is thrown around too much and more often than not confuses the heck out of Catholics and even non-Catholics. The problem is that by calling someone a "devout" anything, you label them as a sort of poster child. This wouldn't be a bad thing if the people the media tend to call devout were in fact just that. Alas, that is not the case and so we have the media labeling all sorts of people as "devout Catholics" when in truth they simply are not. Here is a good article from about journalism's use of the term devout. Below is a section of that article where the author listed feedback from "religion-beat veterans and observers".

There is no question that the term “devout” is used far too often and in a sloppy manner, said Richard Ostling, a religion-beat veteran best known for his work with Time and the Associated Press. This fact could be a comment on how little exposure many mainstream journalists have to religious life and practice.

“Perhaps, to someone with only secularist experiences and friends, any level of religious interest of any type might seem ‘devout,’ ” he said. But, in the end, “reporters can only observe outward behavior, not the inner soul. … There’s usually a connection between observance and personal faith, so generally it makes sense to assess personal belief by externals.”

Many of these common labels used to describe believers — terms such as “serious,” “practicing,” “committed” and, yes, “devout” — are completely subjective, agreed Debra Mason, director of the Religion Newswriters Association at the University of Missouri.

Different people define these words in different ways. With the “devout” label, there is even the implication that these believers may be fanatics.

When in doubt, reporters should simply drop the vague labels and use plain information, she said, echoing advice offered by Ostling and others.

“Since journalists do not have a direct line into the soul to discern a person’s faith, it is far better to use precise descriptions of a person’s religious practice and observance,” said Mason. For example, a reporter could note that, “Joe Smith attended Mass every day” or that “Jane Smith attended worship every week, even when ill.”

The goal is to use clear facts instead of foggy labels, an approach that Mason admitted may require journalists to add a line or two of context or background information. Non-Catholics, for example, may not understand the importance of a Catholic choosing to attend Mass every day.

However, she stressed, this extra work is “a small price to pay for more accurate and precise reporting.”

Now isn't that helpful?