Young and Catholic
Did You Know….
“Marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI has declared the year, beginning on October 12, 2012 and ending November 24, 2013, “The Year of Faith.” In particular, the Holy Father is calling upon all Catholics to confront what he identifies as one of the most difficult challenges the Church faces today: ‘religious illiteracy.’ That is, a lack of understanding about what Christians really believe.
“To address this problem, Pope Benedict has called upon Catholics to spend the year studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official compendium of all Catholic teaching.”
An incredibly talented group of students at my alma mater, John Paul the Great Catholic University, has been hard at work on a project in response to the Pope’s call. It’s called “Pillars of Catholicism”
Pillars of Catholicism launches next month, on August 20th, and it is a completely free, exclusively online, 13 session course designed to teach anyone about the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. All you need to do is sign up with your email address and you’ll get:
access to online videos of all 13 class sessions
course study guides and notes
you’ll be able to take online quizzes to track your learning
In addition, you’ll also be able to ask the faculty any questions you may have via the online learning platform.
And yes, it’s all 100% free.
One of the coolest things about this project: The professors are none other than JP Catholic’s very own philosophy, theology, and scripture professors: Fr.…
Say what you will about the state of our culture. Personally, I think that one we have going for us is that—for better or for worse—people do not take the statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” lightly.
To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” implies much more than an affirmation of the existence of an historical person. It implies a whole set of beliefs, a certain lifestyle. To proclaim belief in Jesus Christ is a bold statement.
Why? Because “belief” means more than you might realize on the surface.
You can’t believe in a dead person. Many admirable men and women have gone before us, and we can certainly acknowledge their achievements and seek to emulate them, but we would not say, for example, “I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.” It sounds weird, right? We could certainly say, “I believe in what MLK Jr. stood for,” or, “I believe we should all try to be more like him,” but to say “I believe in him” today sounds odd to us. And it should. You can’t believe (present-tense) in a person that is not alive.
So when you say, “I believe in Jesus,” you’re saying that you believe Jesus is alive today. That’s huge; and that by itself would be enough to make you pause and reflect before speaking, but it goes even deeper.
When you profess belief in Jesus, you’re professing belief in a living person, but this belief means more than acknowledging the existence of a living person. …
Bashing atheists isn’t really my thing, and it’s not what this post will be about.
The thing is, I write a blog for young Catholics (and then I guess for anyone else who wants to read it), and I talk a lot about how much I love the Catholic faith and how great Jesus is and all that…and all along this “God” character is sort of just accepted as a given in my world. Yes, I was raised by parents that believe in God, and no, I’ve never seriously doubted His existence.
See, to me, Romans 1:20 has always summed up all the proof I’ve ever needed for God’s existence:
Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
Translation: Look around! This place is stunning! Human beings are amazing! Look at all the tiny intricacies of even the smallest organism on the planet! Believing that this all happened by mere coincidence is a heck of a lot harder to swallow than believing in God. At least that’s the way I look at things.
Big shock: the author of the Catholic blog believes in God.
But that doesn’t mean that I’ve never had questions; nor does it mean that I can’t recognize faulty logic when I see it, which brings me to this:
By now you have hopefully realized that I did not create the above meme. …
To tell the truth, I haven’t always been the best at being a friend. I even used to think that I could get by without really having close friends at all. I enjoy time to myself, and close relationships are kind of scary, so it was easy to tell myself I could do without close friendships. But experience (and Philosophy class) has taught me otherwise. We need friends in our lives. Most people seem to know that this is true, but fewer people really understand the reason why.
Friends are there to help us become better people. They do this by helping us think clearly. The true friend knows who we are; he understands the way we think, and so he is able to help us come to conclusions we could not see on our own.
In a way, this is contrary to what a lot of people my age seem to think about friends. We think friends are there to “watch our back” or to save us from our boredom. In reality, a lot of our “friendships” do the exact opposite of helping us think clearly.
I have had my share of both good and bad friendships, so I thought I would draw from my own experience and put together a list of some of the qualities I have found to be most necessary in a true friend (and most lacking in a bad friend).
1.) The true friend talks to you about things that matter
Talking about the weather is nice, and I love a good conversation about last night’s episode of Modern Family, but these aren’t the conversations I most look forward to having with my friends. …
Back when I was about 15 years old, I happened to be sitting against a wall by myself after school one day, waiting for my mom to pick me up. I didn’t much feel like socializing that day, so I decided to take advantage of the down time and start praying a rosary.
I didn’t want to make a scene or draw attention to myself (…and when you’re in high school you feel like everyone is staring out you no matter what you do), so I shifted my eyes down slightly toward the concrete and tried to hold my rosary in my lap so as not to be “showy”. But somewhere in the middle of the tension pulling me at one end to mentally escape my high school campus and on the other to remain aware of my surroundings so as not to look like a weirdo, I didn’t notice that someone I knew was standing next to me.
I guess I didn’t pull off my prayerful nonchalance as well as I’d hoped, because I was startled mid Hail-Mary by a familiar female voice asking, “Are you meditating?”
It was an honest question and I knew right away that she was not at all asking because she thought it was weird. But as startled as I was by the abrupt question, I was even more surprised by the answer forming around my lips:
“Well…um—Yes,” I replied. But silently I finished the newly developed thought to myself: “…I guess I am meditating”
She nodded and kept on walking, and that’s really the end of the memory. …
If you haven’t heard of the film, For Greater Glory, it depicts the true story of the Mexican “Cristero War” in the 1920s:
“It’s history that is not even that well known to many Mexicans…The Mexican government set up its own church, deported all foreign priests, and made the sacraments unavailable. Even after the war ended in 1929, each local governor continued to enforce the constitutional anti-clerical laws in different ways. It took a long time for this to change. Officially, priests couldn’t wear religious vestments in public until 1998.”
Before I get into my review of For Greater Glory, you need to understand something about me. I went to a Catholic university that focuses on bringing Christ to the culture through business and media. As a result, many of my close friends are incredibly passionate filmmakers who also happen to be faithful Catholics. (Me? I started out on the film track and moved into the Theology-meets-media side of things. Hence the blog).
I tell you this because after three years of sitting in classes with these people, having many conversations with them both in and out of the classroom about what good art is (and what it is not), I must admit that they have rubbed off on me. These are both truly devout Catholics and dedicated filmmakers. When a movie or television show combines these peoples’ two greatest loves—their Christian faith and film, as the film For Greater Glory does—you have what we call a sensitive area.…
God is so kind to me. Knowing that I would suffer from writer’s block today (despite a list of potential blog topics and questions to answer), He nudged a reader to send me this list, knowing it would give me an idea of something to write about.
So thanks for that, God. (and Joe!)
Onto the post:
The aforementioned link is to a list of “25 Things I’ve Learned in My Twenties.” (If you haven’t figured it out by now, us bloggers like these kinds of “list” posts. They’re almost as simple to write as they are to read. Plus, they’re fun!) Posts like these serve as sort of cautionary lists of advice while at the same time patting the reader on the back, as if to say, ”what you’re going through is completely normal experience. We’ve all been there (or will be there). But if you haven’t been there yet, here’s what you can do to make it a little easier on yourself.”
Anyway, a casual glance at the list will likely be enough for you to figure out that I don’t agree with everything on it (To be fair: I don’t disagree with absolutely everything on it, either). There are things like drugs being normal and fine so long as they’re not negatively affecting you (because hey, drugs can sometimes be a good and productive use of your time, right?), or getting wasted and puking in public (everyone does it, so you should too!), and sleeping around (the solid foundation of any healthy and fulfilling lifestyle). …
I saw this little gem making its rounds in the world of social media last week on the heels of North Carolina’s passage of Amendment One, which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Now, I’m not particularly fond of being called “stupid” (whether it be in the past, present, or future tense), so naturally I was a little offended. Of course, name-calling usually stems from ignorance, so I’d like to take the opportunity to clarify what I believe (and what the Catholic Church teaches) about how gay people ought to be treated. Brace yourselves. It’s pretty “out there.”
Are you ready?
Here it is:
“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 2358)
Crazy, huh? Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church— archaic and backward thinking as it is—actually says that about how Christians are to act towards gay people. The nerve!
It also says (and we can only assume that Nancy Pelosi just hasn’t read this far…) that marriage is meant for one man and one woman, at which point many cry out “Hypocrites! That’s unjust discrimination!”
I’d like to here point out, with the help of an image found on the interweb, that same-sex marriage is not an “equal rights” issue:
When it comes down to it, all individuals have the same rights when it comes to marriage. As crazy as I am about my fiancé, the state isn’t going to recognize our marriage as valid just because we both think the other is super awesome and we love spending time together. …
Ok, so “stupid-head” may not be the most charitable descriptor, but the point is: sometimes other people say or do things that hurt us or, at the very least, make us angry.
Of course, we have all heard that the Christian thing to do is to “turn the other cheek,” “forgive and forget,” and other clichés. We also know that Scripture tells us that we ought not be surprised at trials and hardships—and that we especially shouldn’t be surprised at insults and persecutions that come as a result of our preaching the Gospel. Jesus told us plainly, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20).
But knowing all of that doesn’t always make it easy to handle when you’re just going about your business, being who you are and, all of a sudden, someone calls you fat and ugly for simply suggesting that bikinis may not be the most modest of swim attire (Speaking in strictly hypothetical terms, of course ).
Not that I’m trying to make myself into some prophet or martyr being persecuted “for righteousness’ sake,” it’s just that dealing with rude remarks and hurt feelings is part of the deal in life—for all of us.
My mother, if she weren’t the holy and kind woman that she is, would be the first to tell you that I have a fuse about the size of thumbtack. I have most definitely been on the stupid-headed end of an exchange on more occasions than I wish to admit. …
I’ve heard it a thousand times at school (I go to a Catholic school) that gay marriage is wrong. But time and time again all I hear are Scripture-based arguments that use vague Bible passages to support the claim that gay marriage is immoral. I have yet to hear or think of a solid secular, reason based argument against gay marriage. Any ideas?
Thanks for the question! My answer has two parts…
First of all, it is of the utmost importance that we realize as Catholics that God is the source of all truth. I think it can be all too easy, especially for us young Catholics, to buy into the ridiculous idea that reason is somehow on one side of the spectrum and faith in God is on the other. It was God who gave us our reason in the first place; and while we can come to know that God exists by virtue of our reason alone, once sin entered the picture things became a lot less clear.
Saint Paul explains this in his letter to the Romans:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. (1:18)
Translation: The truth that ought to be plain to us is not, and it is due to our own wickedness which turns us away from the truth.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. …