Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Profound and Beautiful Writings of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

A little over two months ago, I learned of a great American saint who I have begun to have a devotion to. Her name is Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, and she lived in New Jersey for nearly all of her short life. I wrote a little bit about her and the book her Spiritual Conferences were compiled in, entitled Greater Perfection. I finally decided to purchase the book after seeing a local pastor talk about it and read from it during a homily one Sunday, and all I can say is... WOW.

OK, I can say a lot more than that obviously. However my jaw all but hit the floor when I read these writings that came from a mild-mannered, twenty-something nun in New Jersey. Someone who was just a few years younger than I at the time these conferences were written. I'm almost halfway through the book now, and I can't get over how relevant her writings are to today; how elegant and clear her manner of writing is. After reading a lot of apologetic and theological material lately, it's really nice to read something so edifying to spirituality. I have to say, she is definitely inspiring me to do more, and I sincerely hope that that inspiration stays alive in me for quite some time. Because she makes it clear that coming to "greater perfection" isn't for the weary. If you want to be challenged in your spiritual life, this is the book for you. It has an Imprimatur and a Nihil Obstat, and she begins writing about how one can become sanctified, gets into the efficacy of the Sacraments, and into the disposition of prayer and how to enter into a deeper state of meditation during prayer. I'm definitely excited to get into some of these later chapters; this makes me look forward to yet another three day weekend where I can get some reading time.
Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich
As I haven't seen too many of her writings on the Web, I wanted to post the following selection from her conference on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

How A Black Cat Tried to Discredit Philosophy

So the other day as I was perusing my news feed, I came across something that made me laugh. No, it wasn't a cat video, but it did involve a feline. Luckily, I've blocked just about everyone from my news feed. It's not even an exaggeration. I just get so tired of seeing updates on food, selfies, and especially seeing all the hateful rhetoric, polemics, and unintelligent memes that is used to insult Christ and Christians alike. Apparently I missed one, because this ridiculous meme came through which tried to compare metaphysics and the like with science. Perhaps you've seen it before:
In the running for most unintelligent meme ever...?
Although I've seen others say so, this meme is not clever in the slightest. The variation I saw took a much more condescending tone ending with "looking for a black cat with a f***ing flashlight." What a great way to get a point across. Anyway, it shows a complete disregard for what all these subject matters pertain to, and all it does is make very apparent that whoever created this meme doesn't adhere to what science actually stands for, but scientism. Let's look a little closer at these claims made, and see why they are so easy to debunk once we try to think a little bit.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"A" is For "Asinine"

I hope that the title doesn't offend... oh who am I kidding. I've never been one to be politically correct. Webster's dictionary defines asinine as: "extremely or utterly foolish". I think that pretty much sums up the Freedom From Religion Foundation's (FFRF) constant attempts to subvert the Christmas holiday by putting their giant atheist "A" next to Christmas and Hanukkah displays throughout the country. There's one of these up, for instance, in downtown Chicago, which I had the misfortune of seeing this year, and asinine was indeed the first word that came to mind. You can see a picture of what's included in the display HERE. Here is what some of their displays read:
At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government.
And another fun, totally erroneous one:
...[this sign] has been erected... to encourage the non-religious to come out of the closet, eradicate the negative stereotypes of the non-believers, promote rational thinking over superstition, and ensure that our government remains completely neutral on the subject of religion vs. non-religion.
Could you hold yourself back from pounding your head on your desk as you read that? I know it was hard for me. Here's five reasons why these statements (and the erecting of a giant "A" for "asinine"... I mean "atheism") are illogical, ill-informed and ill-placed.

The Bill of Rights

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Answering Ridiculous Claims to the Dating and Purpose of Christmas

Some of the kids in my religious education class were mentioning that they heard it said that Jesus wasn't actually born on Christmas Day. I told them they were right, and luckily that opened the door for some more discussion (well, as much discussion as some 6th graders can have I suppose...) on the topic of the dating for Christmas. There's plenty of excellent sources out there that can describe all this in more detail than I, but allow me to summarize the claims and rebuttals to why Christians celebrate Christmas in December, and I'll sprinkle some links to relevant articles throughout, so all can see and read more on the subject. Let's do this in a question and answer format, and make things a little easier to digest:

So what’s the deal with the date for Christmas?

Over the past several years, several atheists and others have claimed that when it comes to the celebration of Christmas, we're "a few months off due to trying to convert Pagans." That really isn't true, although it's a common narrative today. First off, Catholics and other Christians aren’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday on December 25th… we are celebrating the BIRTH of Jesus, the Son of God!

The first objection to the idea that Christmas is simply an adapted pagan festival is the simple fact that the early Christians were adamantly opposed to paganism in all its forms. They had inherited from the Jewish people the conviction that the pagan gods and goddesses were demons, and if you worshiped them you were demon possessed. That’s why the catechesis for Christian converts took so long and involved so many careful exorcisms. That’s why the early Christians would not offer so much as one grain of incense to the pagan gods. That’s why, rather than do so, they were willing to be martyred for Christ; they were deprived of their property, exiled, imprisoned, tortured and killed.
Gerard van Honthorst- Adoration of the Shepherds

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Posting on Catholic365... and a Welcome!

So first off, a hello to everyone who's found their way here from Catholic365.com! To those of you that don't know, I've been writing on Catholic365 for a little over a month now, with three articles up so far culled from this very blog, with revisions and tweaks here and there. if you're new to this blog, please feel free to look around, comment, share and discuss any of the topics I've posted about on here. And for those of you that haven't visited Catholic365 yet, check out my latest article there, On Being "Old School", and also look around the site. They feature stories from many different authors on a myriad of subjects.

Also, I've now added labels to each of my posts to make it easier to search for specific subjects and topics. Hopefully this will make things a bit more organized on here!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

On This Feast of St. Nicholas...

While today may officially be the Second Sunday of Advent in the Latin Church, December 6th is the commemoration of the feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Obviously, as he is my patron saint, I love him and ask for his intercession before God every day, and the more I learn about him the more I love him. While there are many legends both old and new, there is plenty of historical backing to this great saint, and the evidence proves how holy of a man he was. My favorite story about him, where he punches Arius in the face during the Council of Nicaea is pretty dubious, but sources certainly put St. Nicholas there at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea where our current Creed was drafted.
St. Nicholas- Jacobo Robusti Tintoretto
A quick little history on this saint: St. Nicholas was born in the year 270 in the town of Patara, which is located in present day Turkey. His parents were very rich, but died when St. Nicholas was young. He was then adopted by his uncle, also named Nicholas, who was the bishop of Patara. He was a very humble man, and had a deep devotion to Christ, praying always. He also was very fond of the poor and those less fortunate, and often gave everything he could to help these people, especially poor children. This is where we see the tradition that Santa Claus gives gifts to children at Christmas.

St. Nicholas is one of only three men to have ever been nominated and made a bishop without being ordained a priest before his nomination. The other two are also saints, St. Ambrose and St. Severerus. Around the year 300, Nicholas was ordained a deacon, priest, then bishop all on the same day, and became the Bishop of the city of Myra, near where he was born.St. Ambrose, whose feast day of tomorrow, is another saint I am very fond of, and it's fitting that both of these great men were so full of the Holy Spirit, that the people were compelled to elect these holy men as bishops... before they had even received the sacrament of Holy Orders!

Anyways, I leave you all with this hilarious video made last Christmas by a secular Franciscan. It's a parody of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"... only Santa Claus isn't kissing, he's punching. And it's not your mom, but who else... Arius! St. Nicholas, pray for us!

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Very Confused World

So I really don't watch TV anymore. The main reason for watching anything, and for even having cable, is so I can watch professional baseball, basketball and hockey. Yes, I am also an avid sports fan. Once and a while I'll watch The Big Bang Theory, and I'm into The Flash on The CW as well... but even that show which features my favorite childhood comic-book superhero is growing tiresome with it's push for "normalcy" of biased, liberal agenda items in today's "modern" (or really, confused) world. However, that's not what has left me shaking my head in recent days.

That wonderful channel that has brought you such erudite and classy programming as I Didn't Know I was Pregnant and Sex Sent Me to the ER has another show that is finding popularity, and is also pushing an agenda which is utterly, and totally irresponsible. I'm talking about I Am Jazz, a show chronicling the life of a (now) 15 year old boy who has changed his name to Jazz, has started living as a female, and is taking hormone injections and other drugs (during puberty) in order to inhibit his body's natural and biological changes, while taking other hormones to acquire other secondary sex characteristics proper to females, such as breasts. Yes, this is real life, and yes we should be horrified. Now, the network, as well as Jazz's parents and himself have taken the step to press all of this backwards (or really, lack of) logic onto six year-olds in a Wisconsin school district. According to Breitbart:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why Should Pro-Lifers Be on the Defensive?

Bear with me here, as this is half rant/half stream of consciousness writing; I feel that I need to put pen to paper on this... or I guess fingers to keyboard? Anyway, there's been a lot in the news in the past few days about the shooter at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado. And that's not to mention the horrible shootings that have taken place in both California and Georgia today. So now news stories are running with "three shootings this week" all across the Internet. While all three are tragic, it feels like pro-lifers are on the defensive... and why should they be?

Seeing articles in liberally-slanted publication like Huffington Post or Slate make it obvious that many people have an animus towards anyone who does not support abortion. There's no reason why those that are against abortion need to give apologies for this mad men who killed three people. One of those people were pro-life! Also, the motive hasn't been released yet, and already people need to jump on the bandwagon and say this is indicative of anyone who stands against abortion. 

I ask a question then: are all Muslims represented by the terrorists in Paris? Or those in Syria. What about those that call for the death of police officers in the Black Lives Matter movement? It's absolutely ridiculous how little logic is used by people in the information age.

Artus Wolfaerts- Christ Blessing the Children
Luckily, Trent Horn had a really good article on this whole mess. It's worth a read. It is sad that he even need to write anything on the subject, but he makes some excellent points. My favorite:

 Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-choice America, told David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, whose videos have brought world-wide attention to Planned Parenthood’s policy of harvesting baby body parts, 
"You don't get to create fake videos and accuse abortion providers of "barbaric atrocities against humanity" one day and act shocked when someone shoots to kill in those same facilities the next." 
First, the videos aren’t fake. Second, even if they were, it would still be true that abortion providers commit “barbaric atrocities against humanity.’” That’s because it is barbaric to dismember a baby, even if you don’t sell the baby’s parts for medical research. Therefore, it would not be wrong to accuse abortion providers of such barbarism, even if some people use this accusation as an excuse to commit violence. 
Third, if every social movement chose to never say anything that could become a catalyst for violence, then there would hardly be any successful social justice movements in the history of our country. For example: 
In 1859 abolitionist John Brown led a raid on a federal armory in West Virginia in order to arm a slave rebellion (three years earlier Brown had killed five slavery supporters in Kansas). Defenders of slavery argued that because Republican abolitionists endorsed the anti-slavery book The Impending Crisis of the South, and because the book was published before Brown’s raid and was associated with violence against slaveholders, it followed that abolitionists were responsible for violence against slaveholders (Michael Kent Curits, Free Speech, 274). 
In 1963 defenders of racial segregation accused Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of being responsible for violence that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, King was one of the movement’s most vocal proponents of non-violent protest, which isn’t easy when one is facing violent opposition. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail King responded to his critics by saying, “it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence.”
Obviously, those that wished for an end to segregation and slavery didn't worry much about what the actions of a few, over-zealous people did. It did not invalidate the true spirit of what was trying to be accomplished. Unfortunately, we have to be prepared for a lot more of this literally stupid rhetoric. All we can do is try our best to speak up where we can, and make our defense a good offense. Give a reasoned explanation for our beliefs on personhood, and make others question their own ways of thinking.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

On Being "Old-School"

It’s an obvious fact of life that we Christians live in “the world”. That is, we live in the world as opposed to our true home, eternity in Heaven with God. And so as we live in the world, there are a myriad of different people, ideas and ideologies, cultures and moral codes. Or, as modern secularists (or even some ill-educated Christians, unfortunately) might put it, “there are many different ‘truths’ to be had.” We as Catholic Christians know better than that, of course. We know that truth cannot be subjective. By the very definition of the word “truth”, the act of calling any one truth subjective is a contradiction of epic proportions. A truth, especially THE Truth, is indeed objective. So if truth is objective, then the number of years, centuries, millennia, etc. that go by should have no bearing whatsoever on that truth. That makes sense right? So why is it that so often I constantly have to hear friends, co-workers and others tell me that such-and-such person is too “old school” in his thinking? That the bishops in the Catholic Church are behind the times? As if simply the passage of time itself is what determines if something is true or not? If I’m getting tired of it, then I know many of you are too.

What Is Truth? Christ Before Pilate- Nikolai Ge
Now of course, I’m not talking about every instance of the phrase “old school”. My favorite baseball and basketball teams sometimes wear old school, throwback jerseys. Or some video game or TV show I used to enjoy that makes a comeback in our nostalgic culture can employ a positive connotation for the old school saying. 

What I object to, and find grating, is how ideas such as chastity, temperance, sacrifice, prudence and the like can be dismissed out of hand by so many by negatively referring to these things as “old school”. As if by speaking those two words, the definitions and meaning behind those ideas and virtues become null and void, are not open for discussion, and are to be looked upon as archaic; as things that modern men and women would never dream of doing.

This happens to me often at work, where for instance I hear how a co-worker’s daughter is going out with a boy whose family is “old school” in that they don’t want the two cohabitating before marriage. Or when I was in high school, I had one of my good friends tell me that since I preferred to wait until marriage to have sex, I shouldn’t get my hopes up for finding a girl with similar values. They just don’t do that anymore, he said. “Anymore” implying that, perhaps, at one time people found it moral to abstain from sex before marriage, but such a thing just doesn’t happen anymore… that truth has changed!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Outrage to Violence Should Be Global

It goes without saying a tragedy occurred in France yesterday. They certainly need our prayers as the hashtag making the rounds suggests. But if we're truly outraged, why are only focusing on what the main stream media presents to us? We should also be outraged at the suicide bombings that took place in Lebanon the day before, killing 41 and wounding over 200.

We should also be outraged at the Christians, Yazidis and other peoples that have been systematically massacred in countries like Syria, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere. Massacres that have been occurring for months, years even, on end now.

Our Lady of the Assumption
Where is the outrage for these innocent people? Where is the option to "support" these peoples in a profile picture? Right now, Facebook has an option to turn your profile picture into the colors of the French flag, in "support" of the French people. It doesn't say to change your picture to "show that you support" France; but somehow they are implying that by simply changing your profile picture on a social media account, you are actually doing something to support the hundreds of people affected by this tragedy.

Sometimes I get the impression that it's simply "trendy" to stand in solidarity with victims or a cause on social media. If we have true outrage, I feel that we should make a big deal out of all these atrocities, and not just focus on one event. There is a bigger picture out there. Let's not only pray for Paris, but for the world at large. We need to pray, and work as well, to stop ISIS and other Islamist extremists so that all this carnage comes to an end. Every act of violence they commit is indeed outrageous.

The affected people of Lebanon, Syria, et. al are just as important as those in France. Their only fault in not being recognized is that they aren't a Western country. Luckily, in modern times, we can give temporal aid to our brothers with the click of a mouse. We can press our elected officials, who might have the power to physically do something, to bring about change. It's hard to do, and it's something I myself should do more, but to effect that change we should do so willingly. Christians should especially take that charge seriously. But I know many people that might have a difficulty in getting monetary aid to a hungry refugee or victim. This reminds me that St. James has a good point on the power of prayer, and how it may be our best bet for helping those affected by this terrorism:
The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. (James 5: 15-18)
Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Barbara, pray for us!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Discussion With Reformed Protestant on the Salvific Nature and Legitimacy of Infant Baptism

About a year or so ago, I got into a discussion with a Reformed Protestant on the subject of infant baptism. This all took place on the combox of a Facebook post which was originally dealing with a documentary on the Church's teaching regarding chastity and homosexuality. As you can see where we pick up this conversation, our Protestant friend (who we will call John) makes many false claims about the Church in succession, causing me to jump in to clarify things.

While at first the dialogue seems to be a bit heated, John and I eventually get into a very nice conversation, and I only wish that it would've continued further. I was also joined in this conversation by two other Catholics, who we will call Tom and Harry. This conversation was actually one of the first times I ever debated and defended my faith on a large scale, and I learned a lot myself as I responded to John's questions and comments. It's my hope that our conversation here (which has been edited only to stay on the relevant topic of infant baptism) will be educative and edifying for other Catholics and Protestants as well.

As usual in these combox discussions, all participants words will be color coded. My words will be in blue, John's words in red, Harry's words in orange, and Tom's words in purple:

Baptism of St. Francis of Assisi- Antonio del Castillo

Monday, November 2, 2015

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Better known as All Souls Day', today we of course remember the holy souls of those who have gone before us and pray that those in Purgatory may be able to enter Heaven. I've always had a devotion to the souls in Purgatory, especially those who may be there from within my family. What better place to celebrate this feast than at St. Odilo's Church in South suburban Chicago. It's fitting, as St. Odilo is the abbot who began All Souls' Day, first in his own abbey, and after his death the feast was extended to the entire Universal Church.

Below are some pictures of the Requiem Mass:

Father delivered an excellent homily on how it's OK to be sad that are loved ones are gone; that's why his vestments are black today. But our tears of sorrow can turn to tears of joy because we know that our loved ones aren't dead! The rest of the world may think these people are dead, but we as Catholics know better as we believe in the resurrection. It was great to hear him speak about how important it is to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

The schola was spot on too, such lovely music and chant we were able to hear today. I can't remember if I was able to hear this last year, as it is an option, but the schola sang the Sequence for the day, Dies Irae, and it was absolutely beautiful to hear and follow along with the English translation in my missal. You can read it below:

The day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the world in ashes
As foretold by David and the Sibyl!

How much tremor there will be,
when the Judge will come,
investigating everything strictly!

The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound
through the regions of sepulchres,
will summon all before the Throne.

Death and nature will marvel,
when the creature arises,
to respond to the Judge.

The written book will be brought forth,
in which all is contained,
from which the world shall be judged.

When therefore the Judge will sit,
whatever hides will appear:
nothing will remain unpunished.

What am I, miserable, then to say?
Which patron to ask,
when [even] the just may [only] hardly be sure?

King of tremendous majesty,
Who freely savest those that have to be saved,
save me, Source of mercy.

Remember, merciful Jesus,
That I am the cause of Thy way:
Lest Thou lose me in that day.

Seeking me, Thou sattest tired:
Thou redeemedst [me] having suffered the Cross:
let not so much hardship be lost.

Just Judge of revenge,
give the gift of remission
before the day of reckoning.

I sigh, like the guilty one:
my face reddens in guilt:
Spare the supplicating one, God.

Thou who absolvedst Mary,
and heardest the Robber,
gavest hope to me, too.

My prayers are not worthy:
however, Thou, Good [Lord], do good,
lest I be burned up by eternal fire.

Grant me a place among the sheep,
and take me out from among the goats,
setting me on the right side.

Once the cursed have been rebuked,
sentenced to acrid flames:
Call Thou me with the blessed.

I meekly and humbly pray,
[my] heart is as crushed as the ashes:
perform the healing of mine end.

Tearful will be that day,
on which from the ash arises
the guilty man who is to be judged.
Spare him therefore, God.

Merciful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.

It was truly wonderful to be present for this beautiful Mass and to go back to my old parish once again. I have to say, I have been very blessed with great homilists and reverent priests, and my current parish is no different. The pastor has just reintroduced the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei in Latin during the Mass I attend on Sunday mornings. It's great to know that all of our Church's beautiful traditions have not been cast aside, and are still living on even today. Our Church has so many rich treasures, and I'm glad I'm still able to experience them wherever I may go.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Coming to "Greater Perfection"

Last weekend, I was able to attend Sunday Liturgy at the local Ruthenian Catholic Church. As they are of the Byzantine Rite, the Ruthenians are very, very similar to the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Church. I love going to this parish when I can, and I consider myself lucky for living within 15 minutes of such a vibrant, reverent parish.

In the homily, the priest began by reminding everyone of how the previous week he had talked about the tour of St. Maria Goretti's relics had come through the state. He then told us the story of another young female saint, a Ruthenian Catholic saint who had just been beatified by Pope Francis on October 4, 2014. This was the first time I had ever heard of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, and what a lovely example she has given us Catholics in the Church Militant.

Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

Blessed Miriam was born and raised in the United States, specifically New Jersey, so she remains one of the few American saints in the Church's history. While her life was short, as she died at the age of 26 from an infection, she produced many great writings and was an example of sanctity in the Sisters of Charity convent where she lived after graduating from college. In addition to her great writings, she also had mystical experiences in her life, one of those being a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary while praying the Rosary.

The pastor mentioned in his homily that there was a priest by the name of Rev. Benedict Bradley, who often gave talks to the novices at the convent where Blessed Miriam lived every week. He wasn't that great of a writer, so Blessed Miriam would write the catechesis. He later said of her, " “I believed that she enjoyed extraordinary lights, and I knew that she was living an exemplary life…I thought that one day she would be ranked among the saints of God..." This fact wasn't revealed to the convent at large until after her death; and how surprised they were when they found out the erudite and wise words that came from the priest's mouth... were actually from the hand of a 20-something girl from Jersey! Just look at what she had to say on how we can all become saints:
“The saints did one thing: the will of God, but they did it with all their might. We have only to do the same thing; and according to the degree of intensity with which we labor shall our sanctification progress. We shall attain that height of glory in heaven that corresponds to the depths of humility we have sounded on earth. The harder you hit a ball on the ground, the higher it rebounds. The perfection of humility is the annihilation of our will — its absolute submission to the divine in every last detail.”
She really reminds me of St. Ignatius of Loyola, my confirmation saint. He saw what the saints did by reading about their lives, and he saw how they ended up; in heaven, that is. Blessed Miriam saw this too, and she speaks very eloquently on the subject. It's been a while since I've been very intrigued to read more on the life of a specific saint and their writings. Perhaps it's because Blessed Miriam is about the same age as me, and from these United States. Perhaps it's because of how she reminds me of St. Ignatius in how she encourages us to be saints by her witness. I'm hoping to read more about her soon, it seems like this would be a good place to start, a collection of the conferences she wrote for Rev. Bradley titled "Greater Perfection". I'm sure there are many more great insights on life such as this in her book:
 "Union with God, then, is the spiritual height God calls everyone to achieve – any one, not only religious but any one, who chooses, who wills to seek this pearl of great price, who specializes in the traffic of eternal good, who says 'yes' constantly to God…The imitation of Christ in the lives of saints is always possible and compatible with every state of life."

Her feast day is May 8th. Blessed Miriam Teresa, pray for us!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Intra Arcana and Pope Clement VII: Did the Church "OK" Forced Conversions of Native Americans?

Recently, I posted a discussion I had regarding the canonization of St. Junipero Serra. During the conversation, the topic arose on how the Catholic Church has treated Native Americans dating back to the age of exploration. I had presented Sublimis Deus, a papal bull by Pope Paul III in which the Pope condemned harsh treatment of Native Americans, giving the Native Americans the dignity they deserved as human persons. To quote Paul III, Native Americans were “by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved.” Later in the discussion, the person I was talking with presented me with another, earlier papal bull entitled Intra Arcana written by Pope Clement VII five years before Paul III’s pontificate began in 1534. I was given a quote from this document (and we will see in this essay, that it is the only quote from this bull that had been translated into English) that said the following:
“We trust that, as long as you are on earth, you will compel and with all zeal cause the barbarian nations to come to the knowledge of God, the maker and founder of all things, not only by edicts and admonitions, but also by force and arms, if needful, in order that their souls may partake of the heavenly kingdom.”
Needless to say, this sounds very harsh; indeed, it seems on the surface that the Pope is giving the “OK” on using force to convert and bring the Native Americans to God. This was the first time I had ever heard of Intra Arcana. How are we as Catholic Christians to respond to the charge that, right here, is proof that the Church believes it’s permissible to forcefully convert people? How does one respond to the claim that Paul III contradicts his predecessor Clement VII?  The answer is multi-faceted. Once we determine how much authority the Pope was pronouncing, explore the context of the document, understand what the content of the papal bull in its entirety contains (instead of just one quote), and delve into what the Church truly teaches on religious freedom, it will become apparent that the Church’s teaching on how to bring people to the knowledge of God, and how to bring them into His Church, has remained consistent and maintained respect of a person’s free will for two millennia.

Pope Clement VII

Friday, October 9, 2015

On the Canonization of St. Junipero Serra

There were many things in the news last month when Pope Francis visited Cuba and America for the first time, and it was pretty tiresome keeping up with all the stories across secular and Catholic media alike. One story that was of interest was the canonization of the founder of several missions in North America, Junipero Serra. This marked the first time that an American saint would be canonized on American soil. However, there was some controversy surrounding Serra's canonization. Many people were asking the Pope not to go through with it, on account of Serra supposedly being responsible for the deaths of many Native Americans. There was an article that was making the rounds across social media, found HERE, detailing the reasons why Pope Francis should not move forward with the canonization. 

I was able to engage in a discussion with someone via Facebook regarding the subject. A good exchange ensued, which is posted below, as I argued in favor of Serra's conversation. Reading the article above, and the article my opponent posts in his first comment will help frame our discussion and put what we're saying into contexts. Another note, as you'll see towards the end of the discussion, a little known papal document by Pope Clement VII is mentioned regarding the conversion of the Native Americans. Look for a post on this subject to be up on the blog in the very near future, going into much more detail than I do here. As for the discussion, my words will be in blue, and the other person's in red:

Well, the author of this article had at least one thing right in his diatribe: Pope Francis is assuredly not the "radical pope" that the popular media would have us believe, as the Pope himself has stated he is "a son of the Church."

The title of the article itself is misleading, implying that Junipero Serra actually murdered and enslaved Native Americans, effectively putting him on the same level of the bloodthirsty conquistadors, or other Native Americans such as the Aztecs who massacred and enslaved neighboring tribes as part of their tributary empire before the visitors of the New World arrived on their shores. The author also seems to be ignorant of what the purpose of the missions were, as well as of when and how the population of the indigenous peoples plummeted.

On the contrary, the missions were established to protect the indigenous people of California from enslavement by conquistadors, Spanish soldiers, and ranchers who would dominate and oppress them. The goal of the missions were twofold: to convert the Native Americans to the Catholic faith and protect them from the groups I listed above. Also, many of the indigenous peoples, such as the Chumash, were mainly hunter-gatherers. The Franciscans that founded the missions alongside Serra taught these people to grow crops and raise livestock.

The missions came under control of the Mexican government, following the events of the Mexican War of Independence. The Native American population of California was somewhere around 225,000 before the colonists came. While the population was reduced a third during Spanish and Mexican rule (and that was due to primarily disease and not murder) it doesn’t even compare to what happened once America admitted California to the Union. Once the 21 missions that had been established were effectively in ruins, and the California gold rush happened, the remaining Native American population received a huge blow when 80% of them were killed in through 1870, leaving only 30,000 people left. The rub is that this wasn’t due mainly to disease has it had been under Spanish rule, but nearly half were murdered.

St. Junipero Serra

Monday, October 5, 2015

AXIOS! Two More Men Are Ordained into the Priesthood of Christ

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending my cousin's ordination to the priesthood. Having never been to an ordination before, I have to say, the entire liturgy was VERY beautiful, and I was glad I could make the trip with my family to see it. I should preface this with saying that although I am Roman Catholic, many on my maternal grandmother's side of the family is Ukrainian-Greek Catholic of the Byzantine Rite. My cousin was ordained a deacon in the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Church a few years ago, and finally, after a lot of discerning between he and his wife, he was ordained to the priesthood this past Thursday in the Eparchy of Parma at St. Josaphat's Cathedral.

St. Josaphat Ukrainian-Greek Catholic cathedral, Parma, OH
As I said, the liturgy was beautiful. The choir was magnificent, there were scores of priests present, including four bishops from the Ukrainian, Romanian and Roman Catholic Churches. Hearing the cries of "AXIOS!" (he is worthy!) ring throughout the church after both priests were ordained was truly a sight to behold. Below are some pictures from this awesome Divine Liturgy.

The following Sunday, my family as well as the newly ordained Father Alexander traveled to Pittsburgh where we would see our new priest say his first liturgy, This was yet another beautiful experience, as my cousin's father, who is also a priest, helped father Alexander con-celebrate his first Divine Liturgy. Father Alexander had also been known as a great preacher while he was a deacon; here are some excerpts from his fine homily during the liturgy:
“I want to leave you with three things you can do that will help your hearts flourish.
“…Number two: Go to Confession! Do not sacrifice or let [one put] aside the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Go to Confession, I would say, at least once a month. The Church’s minimum asking us to go once a year before Easter is a minimum requirement. But if you know anything about St. John Paul the Great, he confessed daily. If the Pope needs to confess daily, then my brothers and sisters, we should avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation much more than just once a year. In our [missals], we have a wonderful examination of conscience, and in the Western Church, you have wonderful examinations of conscience. Reflect on those maybe just once a month before Confession. That’s in a sense pulling out the weeds of sin in your heart. Trust me, if you read those and meditate on them you will find something you need to confess, because we’re not angels.
“And finally… if you pray daily, and you go to Confession once a month, always, always, ALWAYS receive the Eucharist every single day. Because our Lord God and Savior will find in you, a suitable dwelling place where he can reside in your heart and he can work… He can work. He can give you the grace you need to do the things that you need to do; to be filled with the virtues of faith, hope and love. Courage, kindness, generosity, patience and sacrifice…”
How wonderful that this new priest says things that I rarely hear in my own parish (save my former parish with a very orthodox and traditional priest)! He also added that:
“this is a joyous time… but I was in tears [earlier in the liturgy], and it’s good, I like facing the other way (East towards the altar) because you can’t see me! And I was just trying to hold them back.
“…But this, in many ways, is Palm Sunday. Every day after, I have to put this Cross on my neck. The Church doesn’t give me a birthday cake; they’re hanging this on my neck. It’s given me a cross, and I need to climb that Cross, because if I’m to be THIS image to the faithful, and I can’t climb my cross, how will you ever have the courage to carry yours? And so I ask you to pray for me.”
This was the first time I was able to hear my cousin preach after years of seeing him serve as deacon, and I think he spoke very well. I ask you all to please pray for my cousin as he embarks on this journey. For the parishioners of the two parishes he’s been entrusted to. And I ask you to also pray for his wife and three young children, as he will be sacrificing more of his time now to the service of God and others. Please pray that he will always serve God well. St. John Vianney, pray for us!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Holiness and Professional Sports... Not Impossible After All

My wife and I are currently promoters for the Couple to Couple League, which is a form of Natural Family Planning (NFP) using the Sympto-Thermal Method. NFP is a form of family planning that does not utilize chemicals or other artificial contraceptives, and is totally in line with Catholic Church teaching. All though it can be a bit of a struggle at times, I think my wife and I have both seen the fruits that NFP has brought to our lives as we try to grow in holiness according to God's will. Now this being the case (that is, being in line with Church teaching), not too many people follow NFP, and certainly doesn't have a high status among people in my generation... or my parents' for that matter. I will admit that with the whole "green" movement making waves here in the Western world, there are some secular people jumping on board. Still, it would appear we are a minority, This is why I was really surprised when I saw an interview with major league pitcher David Phelps of the Miami Marlins in Couple to Couple League's Family Foundations magazine.

Now I'm a baseball fan, so I'm thinking, "Really... a professional athlete giving an AWESOME witness for his faith... publicly, and on top of that, for a family planning tool that is completely counter-cultural? Why isn't this guy playing on my team?!"

The Happy Family- engraving, 1828
In the interview, Phelps states that NFP "[is] another opportunity for us to invite God into our personal lives. as a couple, our faith is one of the things that keeps us strong. The more opportunities we have to invite God into our lives- in the most intimate way possible, inviting God in on a regular basis- has definitely kept us strong." I've heard of other big-name, Catholic baseball players before like Mike Piazza and Mike Sweeny. But Phelps is different, as he's a fellow millennial (28 years old) like my wife and I; he makes such a strong profession of his Catholic faith in a way that I've never seen before. Here are a few more excerpts, emphases mine:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Putting on a New Hat: Catechist

Intercession of St. Charles Borromeo supported by the Virgin Mary (detail)- Rottmayr Fresco

Earlier this week, I officially began teaching catechism classes to my parish's sixth graders. I have to say, I felt a little frazzled as this was the first time I've ever had a class to myself, but the first day, albeit short, went well. At my former parish, I was able to sit in on a few classes as an aide, but my work schedule at the time didn't allow me to continue. Now though, it seems that everything has fallen into place, and if it's God's will that I be a catechist to our young people, so be it.

I've felt this pull to do so for a couple years now, as I've gone farther and farther on this journey of faith in Christ. I've felt more on fire than ever and I wish to proclaim the Good News to all who will listen; perhaps now I'm finally living up to the expectations I was given when I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. I think every practicing Catholic can see how disastrous religious education has been in recent decades. There are so many people who do not know their faith, and I've seen it first hand as almost no one from my class of around 25 students at my Catholic grade school are currently practicing Catholics, including some of my very good friends. It saddens me deeply, and I don't want the same thing to happen to our young people today.

These young people are in so much need of our prayers and support. And because that need is so great, I keep finding myself wondering if I'm really qualified... if I can do this. I can only hope and pray to God that I am, and that I can plant some seeds in these young people's hearts. I did notice one great thing on our first day. I reminded the children to genuflect before our Lord present in the tabernacle upon entering church. Some didn't know what a genuflection was, or why we do it. Hopefully, I made that apparent in my explanation, and it seemed to hold as the children surprised me by genuflecting one by one, instead of at the same time, as they exited the pews. And it wasn't the fake "I-don't-have-time-for-this" bow... it was reverent and meaningful. An acknowledgement that our Lord, whom they just received, was also still present in the tabernacle behind the altar. I can only hope that the Holy Spirit grants me the grace to teach these children our faith well.

St. Robert Bellarmine
So please, pray for me and the young people I am teaching this year, that we may both grow in holiness and grow to love Christ ever more deeply. I just recently found out that two of my favorite saints, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Robert Bellarmine (whose feast day was just celebrated on Sept. 17th), are the patron saints of catechists. In addition to my patron saints, I know to whom I will be asking for intercessory prayers this year.

St. Charles Borromeo and St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Every Person Is Created in God's Image

Keeping in line with the recent news from Spain regarding transsexual godparents that I posted about a few days ago, I was thinking about a conversation I had had with a transsexual on the com box of another prominent Catholic blog, Shameless Popery. The article itself is great, and I highly recommend it to anyone trying to understand more about transgenderism and how it relates to Catholic theology. Not to mention it will give you more background on our discussion. Through this, I got into a great, amicable discussion with a male who has had surgery to become, and live, as a woman.

As you'll see below, we both cite several studies and essays in our discussion. While we are both Christians, this person's Episcopalian faith leads one in a different theological direction as this person tries to rationalize transgenderism with Christianity. The main focus of our discussion stems from my question, (which I go into much greater detail as you will see) which can be summed up as:

"...why does the mental feeling of womanhood override what growth is happening, and is reflected, both outside the body and inside the body?"
Carl Heinrich Bloch- Christ and Child

As you'll see, the answer to this question has many mitigating factors, but once we reach the end of the dialogue, we will be able to see more clearly how the narrative in the media about "gender fluidity" is false and doesn't conform with God's plan for the human race. But let's keep in mind, it's good to have thoughtful dialogue with this, and it's good to know the position of those that disagree with us. That way, we can give intelligent, informed responses to their arguments. And we must always do so with gentleness and reverence, as St. Peter tells us.

My words will be in blue, and my opponent's in red:

First a disclosure…I am a male to female transsexual. I respect your beliefs but think a philosophical approach is unhelpful. It ignores the emerging science. Researchers are admittedly uncertain of the mechanism but are tending towards a biological cause of transgenderism. Some have studied brain structure and found that trans persons brains are more similar to those of the gender with which they identify than with those of their biological gender.

Others have focused on the human genome and found 53 genes that determine gender identity. They postulate that exposure to hormones in utero can cause a child to identify with a gender other than that of his birth. Bottom line is that no philosophical approach can change a genetically hard wired gender identity any more than such an approach could change the color of my eyes. So the only approach that has been found to bring some measure of comfort is to change my outward appearance. Some people accept me as a woman, others do not. All that is really important to me is that I do.

I agree that Genesis 1:26-27 has an important message. God created us male And female. Not male OR female.

He created us in His image and His image is a blend of both genders.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Grinning and Bearing It: 2,000+ Years Strong

In the past several months, partially at the direction of a couple priests, I've been praying the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours. It usually doesn't happen every day to my schedule, or I just plain forget... because I'll be the first to admit that sometimes when I get a free moment after the baby goes to sleep, I let a video game come first. Yes, even The Doctor has something to work on in managing time better. But anyway, today's Office of Readings particularly struck me. Usually when this happens, it's from a great sermon by a saint. This time, however, I was amazed by what psalm I read on this Friday afternoon.

William Holman Hunt-A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Missionary from the Persecution of the Druids 
Lately, I've become more and more aware of how Western culture can be very dismissive of the idea of God. I've seen this at work and among friends, and a few particular conversations in recent days have made me see things from these people's perspectives. "Those Christians are weird. They pray?" "All these rules that Catholics have, it's absolutely ridiculous. I'd never get involved in that." It's kind of the same thinking I have when I have to watch a safety video at work. "Do people really follow all these rules to the 'T'?" I think to myself. "Does this contractor really think I'm going to get anything from watching this video?" But then, the logical progression of these thoughts end in me thinking, "Wow... maybe this is how secular society views Christianity, and Catholicism in particular..."

Obviously, the main difference here is that these safety videos are provided only to serve as a trump card and a protection; if a construction worker gets injured after watching it, they can't pursue litigation because they watched the video and agreed in writing to follow its rules. It's a tool to cover the asses of the contractor in the wake of numerous businesses being sued for injuries big and small. How does this apply to today's reading from Psalm 69 in particular?

Although, mostly overall, the Church in the West is not suffering the persecution Christians are seeing in the Middle East, China, etc., Christians in the Western world are still undergoing a persecution as described in Psalm 69. It struck me that the speaker invoking God to deliver him from persecution, echoes the same thoughts that run through my head; the same thoughts that many Christians must be feeling right now in the face of so many laughing and insulting secularists:

More in number than the hairs of my head
    are those who hate me without cause;
many are those who would destroy me,
    my enemies who accuse me falsely...

It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
    that shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my kindred,
    an alien to my mother’s children.
It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
    the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
When I humbled my soul with fasting,
    they insulted me for doing so.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
    I became a byword to them.
I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
    and the drunkards make songs about me.
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
    At an acceptable time, O God,
    in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help rescue me
    from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
    and from the deep waters.
Do not let the flood sweep over me,
    or the deep swallow me up,
    or the Pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
    according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant,
    for I am in distress—make haste to answer me.
Draw near to me, redeem me,
    set me free because of my enemies.
You know the insults I receive,
    and my shame and dishonor;
    my foes are all known to you.
Insults have broken my heart,
    so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none;
    and for comforters, but I found none. (Psalm 69: 4, 7-20)

Jan Sanders van Hemessen- The Prodigal Son
So often have I felt like this speaker. I mean look at what he says here: "The drunkards make songs about me". Another translation has it as, "I become the butt of their songs", in other words, the butt of their jokes. We know how crazy some of our friends, acquaintances and co-workers get when they've drank too much. Hasn't being the punch line of a joke happened to us many times in our lives, all because we tried to follow Christ? And for Catholics in particular, how often have we been insulted for fasting and abstaining during Lent? It seems like I need to constantly explain why we offer these little sacrifices to God, and sometimes, I feel some despair just as the speaker here does. Why must this life be so difficult? You would think when we're being berated for our faith, someone will come up alongside and stand up for us... but no one shows us any pity, and just joins in on the onslaught of boos and jeers for having "unpopular" opinions in the current culture climate. It starts to feel like no one in the world has a love of God anymore.

But then, we continue reading the Psalm, and see that God hasn't abandoned us. We see that there are many other people that love God, and He has a plan for us:

But I am lowly and in pain;
    let your salvation, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
    or a bull with horns and hoofs.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
    you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

For the Lord hears the needy,
    and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
    the seas and everything that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
    and rebuild the cities of Judah;
and his servants shall live there and possess it;
the children of his servants shall inherit it,
    and those who love his name shall live in it. (Psalm 69:29-36)

This is where I, like the speaker, get that hope once again that God DOES hear our cries of anguish. He knows that we're suffering because we love him, and here we are assured that our brethren (i.e., other faithful Catholics) will find a great reward to inherit. So just as we have to sometimes grin and bear these insults and "drunken songs" today, so did our brothers and sisters well over 2,000 years ago. I think we're in good company, don't you?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Transsexual Godfathers? What Does the Church Say?

Something that has been on the minds of many Westerners lately, especially in the past few months, has been the issue of transgenderism. We saw this really come to the forefront at the end of this past spring when former Olympian Bruce Jenner revealed he had decided to live the rest of his life of a woman. I can honestly say, it doesn't seem like a day goes by where there isn't something in the news regarding a transgender group or person in the secular media.

Most recently there was the story about a high school boy, who identifies as a transsexual, demanding to have access to the girls locker room during P.E. This was met by a protest of students walking out of the school, which was then met by a counter protest. There are many things I could say about this and other similar incidents. The one that always comes to mind first, is that whole narrative of "gender fluidity" we're beginning to hear... and is it ever deceptive. Once again, it's mankind turning its back on truth. And what is especially shocking in my eyes, is that parents, teachers, and even doctors want to inject our young adolescents with hormone blockers (as well as artificial hormones) to stop puberty and allow outward manifestations of the opposite sex to become apparent on these young people's bodies. The logic astounds me... probably because there's not much there in the first place, unfortunately.

Nonetheless, with these issues beginning to dominate discussion in the public forum, this has led many faithful Catholics to ask, "what does the Church think about all this?" Many have noted that the Church hasn't explicitly touched the subject, leading some to erroneously speculate that the Church is OK with some of the more extreme transgender procedures such as gender reassignment surgery... or as it has been called in all places and all times until recently, genital mutilation. But within the past year we now have two instances of the Church issuing an opinion on the subject. The first comes from Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Siwhich you will see quoted a bit later in this post, and then a reply from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a bishop in Spain regarding a transsexual wishing to be a godparent at baptism.
Parents and Godparents at Baptism

Sunday, September 6, 2015

To "Judge Not" and Setting Good Examples for Our Families

So often today, we often hear from people (Christian and non-Christian alike) that Christ taught us not to judge others. We hear this rallying cry all over social media, in group gatherings, and even in our churches. However, there is a common thread to all this... the specific verse is taken completely out of context. Now we'll hear this notion of not judging others applied to many things; from why someone chooses to have an abortion, to immoral sexual relationships. However, the issue I want to focus on specifically is how it affects or youth and loved ones, especially in schools.

It has become increasingly obvious that we are going to see many more stories like THIS affecting our Catholic schools in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges this past summer. We also saw people making claims to "judge not" when Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco wanted to hold teachers up to the standards that the Church demands of them in relation to their personal conduct, as they are to be witnesses to the faith for the young people they teach.

The situation in the story I provided in the first link has already happened several times here in the United States; a Catholic woman or man reveals that they have married their same-sex partner. They are then fired for not upholding the Catholic values they espouse to teach, and a backlash ensues from all sides. It comes from the secular media, as well as Catholics who seem to be confused on what the faith teaches. 

The Doctors of the Church- Filippo Lippi
As far as I know, the Church has always taught that sexual relations outside of marriage are objectively, and gravely sinful. Ms. Winters, the woman in question, was a religious education teacher, making it apparent she is a Catholic Christian. The Magisterium of the Church also tells us that people of the same sex cannot be married; there is no way a marriage can be contracted between a woman and a woman or a man and a man. So when this woman became married in the eyes of the state, she at the same time went against Catholic teaching, engaging in sexual activity outside marriage. Well meaning Catholics and other Christians ask what she did wrong... according to the Church and the Catholic faith that she professes, she has committed an act of grave sin. That is, sexual activity outside of the confines of marriage. If one claims it's possible their relationship is celibate, Ms. Winters and her partner are still guilty of the sin of scandal, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church (given to us by our Holy Mother Church, through the successors of the Apostles) states does the following:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Facts and Brief Dialogue on the Planned Parenthood Scandal

Recently in the news, we have seen the Center for Medical Progress blow the lid off of the illegal activities going on at Planned Parenthood and how they are profiting off of abortion through the sales of fetal body parts, and in some cases, entire bodies. This hasn't been covered to widely on a national level since the initial video was posted back in July, as it seems to be getting buried under the rug by many liberal and pro-abortion media outlets. However, the ninth video as just been posted this past Tuesday, with more to follow. You can watch the most recent video HERE, and view the full length, unedited interviews here.

Abortion Protesters
Now if you recall, also during the same time all this controversy started, there was another story that made national headlines: Cecil the Lion. Believe it or not, there was more national outrage over the killing of this lion, instead of the illegal activities happening inside a Planned Parenthood clinic involving human beings. Below is a discussion on Facebook that started on a friend's wall; his words will be in blue. He wanted to show how our priorities might be a little backward when a lion gets more coverage than the sale of human body parts. Another person, whose words will be in red, responded defending Planned Parenthood. I and another person (that person's words will be in green, mine in regular black font) gave a rebuttal. Once one sees the research that I presented this person, it's hard to understand how there is still confusion and disinformation being spread on this issue. We'll start from about where I enter the conversation. The only edits below are to each participant's names:


So if you're reading this... I'm not entirely sure how you got here, but welcome! My name is Nicholas, and you're probably wondering why this blog is here. In a sense, I am too. The best reason I can muster for why I decided to start this blog in this tiny corner of the Internet, is so that I can have the choice to write down whatever it is I have flowing through my head. Kind of like a journal, but one where I don't mind other people reading what I have to say, that is if any.

You see, I love writing and reading; I always have. It's a passion that has never went away despite all the changes, impediments, and what-have-you that have sprung up in my life over the years. Another passion I have, is to my Lord and God Jesus Christ, and to His Bride, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that He founded nearly 2,000 years ago. Over the past six or seven years, I have gone through not what I would call a reversion by any means, but a... reclaiming of sorts; a reclaiming of my faith and wanting to understand it ever more deeply.

Carlo Maratta- Assumption and Doctors of the Church
I've found myself in recent years learning why the Catholic Church teaches what it does; why we Christians hold on to our beliefs; why our history is important even today. I've gobbled up all sorts of books, news postings, and treatises on apologetics in an effort to better understand my faith, how it connects to the Mystical Body of Christ and how it connects to our world today; a world that seems increasingly more and more difficult to live in as a practicing Catholic Christian. This is why I say this is a blog both on "daily life and theology".

As I mentioned before, a lot of things flow through my head throughout the day. Things I see on Facebook or other social media outlets; things I hear in discussion at work or among friends, and typically, one of my first thoughts is, "How does what we're discussing/reading fit in with my faith?" This has led me in recent months to engage many more people one on one, or on social media sites, in discussion of controversial issues where the Church and current culture seem (and often, but not always) are opposed. I've been told by someone close to me that I often try to clarify things for people, and make things that seem complex or misunderstood easier to understand. I had never considered that, or thought of myself like that, until that was said. Which leads me to the more specific and less witty reason for why this blog is here.

It is my hope that as a 20-something man who wears many hats, (husband, father, construction tradesman, religious education catechist, liberal arts college graduate, et al.) I can have a somewhat unique perspective on current events in our world, and how it all relates back to Christ and His Church. I hope to post musings and short essays (don't get scared by the word "essays", this is a blog after all!) on what I see going on in our world and how it affects today's parents, those who are considered millennials, young Catholics and other non-Catholic Christians, and just the world in general. In addition, I hope to post some Catholic apologetic work here as my knowledge keeps increasing, but keep in mind I still have MUCH to learn, as all good Christians do. I also hope to post some of the conversations I've had on Facebook or other com-boxes relating to both current events, the Church, and apologetics.

As I have much to learn, and I hope you don't mind me admitting that as I post my musings here, this is why I've selected the title for this blog to be called "The Not-So Angelic Doctor". I am, obviously, neither angelic, nor a doctor. As some may know, the "Angelic Doctor" is the title often given to St. Thomas Aquinas, for his eloquent philosophy on God, the Church, and man. I've always found him to be an excellent example, and in recent years I've come to really appreciate his philosophy grounded in such classical thinkers as Aristotle and Plato, leading me to think of myself as a "budding Thomist" as I delve more and more into his immense body of work. I just want to know EVERYTHING, and right now, but as is attributed to Aquinas:

"We can't have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves."

Filippino Lippi- Scene From the Life of St. Thomas Aquinas (detail)

I admit I don't have all the "knowledge" yet, but there are some subjects that I feel I have become articulate in, and it is my hope that I can show some of that evidence that I have found for my beliefs, to you the reader, so as to clarify these things in a world that seems to have lost its direction in the wake of secular humanism and moral relativism. This is why I put this blog under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas, in hopes that even though I am not NEARLY as well-versed, wise, or "angelic" as he, I can at least do something here to help even one person on their road through life and on their road to Christ. God-willing, of course. Enjoy your stay, and feel free to comment on any and all posts.

In Christ,