Monday, April 30, 2007

Are You Smarter Than a 2nd Grade Catholic?

This seven year old Catholic boy is an inspiration.

I wonder how many of us would have gotten all of those questions correct? Of course, I wouldn't have gotten all the dates of feast days right.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

End of Life Issues


Bishop Aymond has released a statement on the issue of Emilio Gonzales. He is a baby, who has had severe medical problems in Austin, which have been highly publicized because his mother wants to keep him alive using artificial means. The conflict began when the doctors said that the child would never be able to live without the respirator.

To clear up any confusion, the Bishop released this statement. I think we all owe it to ourselves to read and study it. It is a clear and very well written summary of Catholic teaching on end of life issues.

Here is a news story with more background on this difficult issue from the Statesman.

Thank You Archbishop Burke

Apparently there is a big hub-bub that has come up in St. Louis. Sheryl Crow, an active pro-abortion proponent, is doing a fund raiser for a Catholic hospital in St. Louis. Because of the nature of her activism, Archbishop Burke privately asked the hospital to dis-invite Crow, and they refused.

Because of this, the Archbishop has distanced himself from the hospital by stepping down from the Board of Directors. This is a sad situation where a Catholic institution has decided it knows better than their shepherd. Please keep them in your prayers.

He has released a statement, done some FAQ and done a video to address the issue.
This statement is very well done.

Thank you very much for your clarity on the dignity of human life Archbishop Burke.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Evil Once Again...


Q - If God is actively involved in the world, then why does He allow suffering in some instances, but relieve it in others?

A - Thank you for your question. I must note that the whole of the question is not above, for the sake of brevity. But, the question comes from someone that is having trouble reconciling the fact that the Church teaches two seemingly contradictory statements (correct me if I am misrepresenting your questions). 1 - A loving God is active in the world. 2 - He allows evil to happen.

The answer that I provided previously seems cold comfort for some. I completely understand. It isn't easy to see much hope, at least in this lifetime, until heaven.

Let me see if I can help any, though I we will go deeper into the nature of God and evil, which doesn't satisfy many people, especially those struggling with these teachings.

The first thing we must understand is that love doesn't always equal nice, clean and pretty. Love isn't about feeling good. It is about what is best for the "other", despite the cost to "self". As a parent this is certainly the case. I see parents make the common mistake of being a friend to their children and end up not disciplining them, which leads to spoiled brats. They then ask how they could have turned out as they did. I remember the first time I punished my oldest child. I cried more than she did. But, I did it because I truly love her.

The second thing we should note is that love is only truly recognizable, in all of its wonder and glory, when contrasted with evil and a lack of love. If all we had was good and love, as human nature inclines us to do, we would certainly fail to see it as loving or good all the time.

Thirdly, if God's will is perfect, as I believe it to be, then it is our own failure to see the reason for suffering/evil in the world, not God's failure to act on it. Ultimately, the evil or suffering is for man's good. We may not be able to see or understand it now, but that is where the virtue of faith comes in. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine have more to say on this topic than I ever could.

Building upon what those two had to say, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following:

309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.

310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.174 But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.175

311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.176 He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.177

312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive."178 From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that "abounded all the more",179 brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him."180 The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."181

St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best."182

Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith... and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time - that 'all manner [of] thing shall be well.'"183

314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face",184 will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest185 for which he created heaven and earth.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Questions

Just a reminder that if you sent me a question via the web form the last few weeks, that you should re-submit it via email. Our form went kaput.

I will try to get to several new questions at the beginning of next week, with God's grace.

Keep us in your prayers. We will do the same for you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Previews for Jesus

“I can’t believe we’re seeing this movie,” my friend joked as we headed in with our tickets.

“I know!” I smiled. “It is the ‘brainwash movie’!” We laughed.

It was the “Summer-of-Movies” as we dubbed it. I was in summer school, but had quit my fulltime job. She was home from college for the summer and without a job. We literally went to the movies everyday.

There was one movie we originally had no intention of seeing. The first time we saw the preview we thought “Eh, not-so-much”. The second time we saw the preview we thought, “Well, maybe if we get desperate”. The third (fourth, fifth, etc.) time we saw the preview we thought, “Wow, that looks great! We have to see that one!”

We were “brainwashed” so to speak into wanting to see this movie. The preview was quite effective! And the movie was great too.

Previews are meant to draw us in, to captivate us. They tell us just enough to get us hooked so we’ll show up one Friday night and fork out our $8 to watch it.

I read a devotional the other night about how John the Baptist was like a preview for Christ. He had a unique birth like Jesus, spoke the same message of repentance as Jesus, and even pointed to Him as the Lamb of God. What a powerful and effective preview John was.

This Sunday we read in Acts about those who carried out the sick to the streets and laid them on beds and pallets so that the shadow of Peter might touch them and they might be healed. “Many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles” and “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” What a powerful and effective preview the apostles were.

What kind of preview is my life? Is it effective?

I certainly do not suggest that we “brainwash” others into believing in Christ’s life and mission. But we certainly can be an effective preview for Him. Our lives should tell them about Him. Our lives should tell others about Christ’s love, His joy, His triumph over sin and death. Others should look at our lives and think, “I want to know more.” They should catch a glimpse of our relationship with God and think, “Wow that looks great. I want to check that out for myself.”

This Easter season may we all have the courage to be previews for Christ. Let us point others towards His love, His life, His truth and show them the transforming power and amazing comfort of a relationship with Him.

-By Sarah Hayes

Monday, April 16, 2007

Question Form problems


We are having problems with the form used to submit questions via the aggiecatholic.org website. If you have submitted a question and haven't had it answered, it is probably because I haven't seen the question yet. Sorry.

If you would like to re-submit it, then you can find my email address on the St. Mary's website in the Staff section.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Key To a Good Marriage

-World teaches = “the key to a good marriage is FINDING the right person!”

-God teaches = “the key to a good marriage is BEING the right person!”

To be the right person, you need to live your life trying to please God, not yourself and not others. You please God by doing His will.

It really isn't too tough of a formula to figure out. But, it is much harder to do.
May we seek to do God's will, become the right person and have good marriages.
“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7

Thursday, April 12, 2007

One Secret Not To Keep

Secrets. For me, they are hard to keep. I share most everything with a close circle of friends. Sometimes things just don’t seem real until I share them with these women. I don’t like things left unsaid or unshared.

But through time and maturity (it was a different story in Jr. High J) I’ve learned to keep secrets. Timing, sensitivities to others, and important factors make it necessary to keep secrets. I’ve accepted that.

Recently it seems I’ve had lots of secrets to keep. Some thrilling, some heart-breaking, some nerve-racking and some inspiring. All of them difficult to keep. And it made me realize something. There is one secret we should never keep! The “secret” of the Resurrection.

The followers of Jesus didn’t keep the Resurrection a secret. They ran to tell others. They shouted for joy. Peter even put on his clothes, dove in the water, and swam to shore to meet the risen Lord.

Am I that eager to encounter and share the risen Lord?

When I look out into the world today (and even into my own life) I realize that sometimes we act as if the Resurrection is a secret. I meet many Christians who are stressed and worried or bitter and hurting. I am all those things too at times. We sort of live life as if the Resurrection didn’t happen or as if the power of the Resurrection isn’t active in our lives. BUT IT IS!

Sometimes we are afraid to talk about our faith. We don’t want to offend, confuse, brag or reveal . . . so we keep it a secret. But we shouldn’t.

Christ conquered sin and death. Let’s not forget that. He rose from the dead! Let’s not keep that to ourselves!

This Easter season may we eagerly embrace the power of the Resurrection – let it heal us, strengthen us, inspire us and fill us with hope. And may we readily share the power of the Resurrection with others. Tell others what God has done for you and in you. Don’t keep that to yourself.

The Resurrection and Christ’s victory over sin and death is one secret not to keep! It is a message the whole world needs to know. So let’s go on and spill the beans.

-By Sarah Hayes

The Pope's New Book

Pope Benedict XVI has a new book coming out about Jesus. The English translation won't be out until May, but you can already read the Preface online if you like.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Evangelizing on the Internet


The Church has called us to a right us of all forms of communication, including the fastest growing one, the Internet.

“Society has a right to information based on the truth, freedom, and justice. One should practice moderation and discipline in the use of the social communications media.”( CCC, 2512)
One of the most valuable tools at our fingertips is the Internet. In the last ten years there has been an explosion of good websites aimed at Catholics and non-Catholics in order to evangelize them. We must continue to take advantage of this medium of communication.

The first way the Internet can be used is by making your own website. If you do not have experience in this area, there are many guides both on the Internet and in book form to help guide you through the process. Once you learn a few basics you can have a simple website up and running within a few days. There are even places to “host” your website for free.

The second way the Internet can be used in evangelization is by using already existing websites. You can email friends the web addresses to good sites and then discuss articles with them. You can also find enough good reading to literally last a lifetime. You can study the Bible in Greek and Hebrew, read Catholic classics, study the Church Fathers, learn about the liturgy, etc. I would warn you that there are some sites that are as harmful as the good ones are helpful. So, do not accept everything that claims to be “Catholic” as the truth of the Church.

A third way to use the Internet is to post messages on social networking sites, bulletin boards or join chat sessions. There are thousands of Catholic and non-catholic websites where there are open forums made for free discussions of topics. I spent five years doing this kind of evangelization. There were hundredes of other people who posted and thousands of those who just read the boards. It was a great way to reach out to these people.

I personally know of several people who returned to practicing their Catholic faith because of discussions on websites as well as a few who came into full communion with the Catholic Church. But, I have also experienced the bad side of the equation. You must be careful how you phrase your ideas in written communication. Sarcasm can drive people away from the Lord and I have learned this the hard way. Also, be careful to cite your sources, even on the Internet. You don’t want to pass someone else’s work off as your own, even if it is not your intention to do so.

As you probably know the Internet is full of good and useful things. It is also full of evil. We can sanctify the Internet if we use if properly and with love and virtue. If you have a problem with the internet (such as pornography) then make sure you are careful to guard against anything leading you into sin. The number one use of the Internet is for pornography.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Encountering the Risen Christ

From the Pope's Easter homily...really good stuff:
"My Lord and my God!" We too renew that profession of faith of Thomas. I have chosen these words for my Easter greetings this year, because humanity today expects from Christians a renewed witness to the resurrection of Christ; it needs to encounter him and to know him as true God and true man. If we can recognize in this Apostle the doubts and uncertainties of so many Christians today, the fears and disappointments of many of our contemporaries, with him we can also rediscover with renewed conviction, faith in Christ dead and risen for us. This faith, handed down through the centuries by the successors of the Apostles, continues on because the Risen Lord dies no more. He lives in the Church and guides it firmly towards the fulfillment of his eternal design of salvation.

We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity. Thomas has received from the Lord, and has in turn transmitted to the Church, the gift of a faith put to the test by the passion and death of Jesus and confirmed by meeting him risen. His faith was almost dead but was born again thanks to his touching the wounds of Christ, those wounds that the Risen One did not hide but showed, and continues to point out to us in the trials and sufferings of every human being.

"By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). This is the message Peter addressed to the early converts. Those wounds that, in the beginning were an obstacle for Thomas's faith, being a sign of Jesus' apparent failure, those same wounds have become in his encounter with the Risen One, signs of a victorious love. These wounds that Christ has received for love of us help us to understand who God is and to repeat: "My Lord and my God!" Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.

more...

Dear brothers and sisters, through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope. In fact, by his rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world but has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace. He has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love. He has left us the love that does not fear death, as the way to peace and joy. "Even as I have loved you -- he said to his disciples before his death -- so you must also love one another" (cf. John 13:34).

Brothers and sisters in faith, who are listening to me from every part of the world! Christ is risen and he is alive among us. It is he who is the hope of a better future. As we say with Thomas: "My Lord and my God!", may we hear again in our hearts the beautiful yet demanding words of the Lord: "If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26). United to him and ready to offer our lives for our brothers (cf. 1 John 3:16), let us become apostles of peace, messengers of a joy that does not fear pain - the joy of the Resurrection. May Mary, Mother of the Risen Christ, obtain for us this Easter gift. Happy Easter to you all.

The complete homily.

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter: a Season Full of Hope

From Sarah - Easter: a Season Full of Hope

I’ve always been a bit of a “glass half empty” kind of girl. I’m not sure how that started in life – whether it was pragmatic or proven somewhere along the way - but optimism has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Not surprising, many of God’s lessons for me this Lent were directed at strengthening the virtue of hope.

Tonight as I re-read the gospel, I was struck by two things. There were two big assumptions made in John’s gospel.

Arriving at the tomb and seeing the stone rolled away, Mary Magdalene assumes that someone has “taken the Lord”. This is a rather logical assumption. He was dead. He is not there. Someone must have taken him. Logical, but incorrect!

Arriving at the tomb the beloved disciple makes a different assumption. He sees the linen wrappings lying there and the gospel tells us “he saw and believed”.

“Believed what?” I thought to myself tonight. Why didn’t he go investigating, looking for clues, trying to track where they took Jesus?

Oh.

He made a radically different assumption. He assumed what no one had yet imagined – Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! The beloved disciple made a very illogical assumption. Yet it was true!

Oftentimes when I pray I find all the “logical” assumptions running through the back of my mind. This person hasn’t changed for years, why bother praying for their conversion? This couple hasn’t conceived in years, why bother praying for a miracle? This friend has been sick for years, why bother praying for remission? This hurt hasn’t been healed in years, why bother praying for wholeness? This dream has yet to come to fruition, why bother praying for future realization?

The problem with this “logic” of mine is that it excludes the power of God. The beloved disciple knew the power of God and that is what he was focusing on when he made his (seemingly illogical) assumption at the tomb.

Hope challenges us to focus, not just on what we can see or on what seems logical to us, but on the power of God.

May we all trust unreservedly in the power of God this Easter season – to heal our hurts, to conquer our sins, to answer prayers, to perform miracles, and to fill us with his new life. Glory! Alleluia! He is risen!

That is about as full as my glass can get.

Friday, April 6, 2007

God becomes man


God became man.
Unfathomable.
Why?
So that you and I can be redeemed.
But, He suffered so much.
Because of my sins.

Thank you Jesus.

Let us walk the way of His Passion and death today.
The Way of The Cross.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Benedict XVI on the Triduum

Pope Benedict XVI has in his weekly address said that the Triduum is:
the supreme confrontation between light and darkness, between life and death....Even today Christ vanquishes sin and death with his love. Evil, in all its forms, does not have the last word. The final triumph is that of Christ, of truth and of love.
The news article continued to say:

Speaking about each liturgical event in turn, the Pope said that the Chrism Mass and the Mass of the Lord's Supper-- both celebrated on Holy Thursday-- encourage the faithful to recognize "the supreme triple gift of priestly ministry, the Eucharist, and the new commandment of love."

Good Friday, he continued, is a day of solemn fasting, penance, and prayer, with the Way of the Cross giving the faithful an opportunity "to imprint the mystery of the Cross ever more deeply on our hearts."

Holy Saturday should be a day of "interior meditation," the Pope said-- acknowledging that this is a challenge as the faithful prepare for the Easter celebration. Then at the Easter Vigil, "the veil of sadness shrouding the Church… with be shattered by the cry of victory."

In the Easter Triduum, the Pope said with emphasis, the Church relives "not just a memory but a current reality." Christ is triumphant over sin and death today, the Pope said. "It is upon this certainty that our Christian lives are built."

May we truly live this Holy Triduum as PBXVI (and more importantly, Christ) calls us to. May our prayer be for our conversion to holiness.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Set Me As A Seal

Christ has sealed us with His grace in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (also Holy Orders). He marks us as his own, as a king would mark official business with a signet ring. We are now Christ's people. Our souls will never lose these seals.

I was reminded of this while listening to a beautiful song by Matt Maher, Set Me As a Seal. Here are the lyrics. It is a love song between God and His Bride.
Set me as a seal on your heart.
Set me as a seal on your soul.
For strong as death is love,
unyielding as the grave.
Nothing will quench its flame,
nothing will quench its flame.

Kiss me, my love,
that your name be on my lips.
You intoxicate my being
with the fragrance of your presence.

How beautiful you are, my darling.
Show me your face, let me hear your voice.
Sweet as the dew in the early morn,
like a lily among the thorns.

I looked for you, the one my heart loves.
I looked for you, but did not find you.
I searched through the night until I rested in your sight.
Now, I will never let you go.

You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.
Your lips so sweet, adorned with honey.
My hands, they drip with myrrh.
If you want a preview of the song, try this out.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Benedict / College Students / Jesus / Lent

Here are some words from Pope Benedict XVI to college students just a few weeks ago on Lent and the Cross:

Dear friends, we are living the Lenten Season and the liturgy continually urges us to strengthen the way in which we follow Christ. This Vigil too, in accordance with the tradition of the World Youth Days, can be considered a stage in the spiritual pilgrimage guided by the Cross.

And the mystery of the Cross is not unconnected with the theme of intellectual charity, indeed, it illumines it.

Christian wisdom is the wisdom of the Cross: may Christian students and especially Christian teachers interpret every reality in the light of the mystery of God's love, whose loftiest and fullest revelation is the Cross.

Once again, dear young people, I entrust to you the Cross of Christ: welcome it, embrace it, follow it. It is the tree of life!

At its foot you will always find Mary, Mother of Jesus. With her, Seat of Wisdom, turn your gaze to the One who was pierced for our sake (cf. Jn 19: 37), contemplate the inexhaustible source of love and truth, and you too will be able to become joyful disciples and witnesses.

This is the wish that I express to each one of you. I accompany it wholeheartedly with prayer and with my Blessing, which I willingly extend to all your loved ones.