Friday, August 29, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Catholics

The Diocese of Austin has released a statement on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
ALS Challenge
The ice bucket challenge has become a popular way to raise funds for research for treatment and cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The point of the challenge is to raise awareness and research funding for the ALS Association. However, the ALS Association supports using embryonic stem cells in its research, which conflicts with Catholic teaching. Nonetheless, when accepting a challenge, a person may donate to any charity. Catholics who are asked to take part in the ice bucket challenge may do so but should be mindful to support charities that fund research for ALS that is in line with Catholic teachings, morals and ethics. For further clarification, please see the statement from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
If you would like more details about why Stem Cells are morally problematic, this article should help.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Believing In Yourself vs Believing In God

Fr. Barron has some insightful comments on the modern idea of believing in yourself and what it means in a culture which tries to downgrade God's divinity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Loud Kids In Mass?

Q - I have little children who are sometimes loud during Mass. Sometimes they just babble a bit or talk a little too loud, but other times they are downright wailing and fussing. I want to participate in the Mass, and I want them to get the graces from being present in the Mass (even if they are wiggly and fussy), but I'm not sure what I should do. I see other families just wait out the crying with their children, but I feel that it might be distracting to other Mass-goers. What do you think? Should I take my fussy child out of Mass, or stay in the pew and hope it doesn't last long and doesn't disturb those around me. Thank you!

A - Thanks for the question. Archbishop Sheen once said that a woman got up during Mass and started to take her crying baby to the back of the church during the homily. Archbishop Sheen said, "My dear lady, that is ok, your baby isn't bothering me." The woman turned and replied, "Maybe not, but you are bothering him!"

For the answers to this issue, we have to look at this from several different perspectives. Both have the same answer - we are called to love others and act with charity.

**From the perspective of others at Mass**
My family is at the stage where my kids are quiet. They might squirm and not pay attention, but they are quiet. So, when I go to Mass, I don't have to go to the back (i.e. take The Walk of Humility), sit in a cry room, deal with noisy kids, etc. But, I do have to listen to the babies and toddlers of others who make a lot of noise. Sometimes I am annoyed, other times I am not. It depends on how well I am handling it exterior distractions that day.

In other words, from my current perspective of someone without small noisy kids, the problem is my own. How I choose to handle it is on me. Distractions in Mass will happen, so the question is how will I handle them?

I am not in control of other parents' crying kids. I am in control of my own interior peace. What might help others in my same situation is remembering where we are and why we are there.

In Mass, we are at the foot of the cross once again. Vatican II says:
"As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ is both expressed and brought about." -LG 3
So, all of us who participate in Mass are part of one Mystical Body of Christ - the Church - who come together to partake of the one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is most profoundly offered to us, once again, in The Eucharist.

Therefore - these crying babies can be seen as the wailing women of Jerusalem who are crying because the Christ has been re-presented as a living sacrifice for us in the bloodless sacrifice of The Mass!

These children have just as much of a need for grace as we do and as much right to be there as we do. So, if anyone is sinning, it is the person having terrible thoughts about a child or parent who have the right to be in the same place we are. It is most likely you cried in Mass too as a baby, if you were raised Catholic. Children in Mass = hope for the future.

It is an act of charity to not cast judgment on others, but to look interiorly for the answer to your distractions. Remember, these are the only truly sinless saints in the entire building!

Now, having said that, let us look at the other side of the coin.

**From the perspective of a parent of loud kids at Mass**
I know of no parents who want to have their kid wailing loudly in Mass. It isn't as if we go to Mass looking to have everyone give us "the look" or get attention for our kids' behavior. Yet, some parents seem to be oblivious to the fact that their kid(s) might be a distraction to others, when they get too loud.

If you are a parent, then the simple answer is to take your kids to the back (or cry room) when they start making loud noises. Most people understand that kids are going to get loud and the vast majority don't have a problem with a crying baby or a toddler throwing a fit, if it doesn't go on but for a very short time. The problem most people have is with parents who seem to wait forever to take their kids to the back of church (or cry room) where they will be less of a distraction. Remember - the kid is doing nothing wrong by being loud. They don't know any better. But, as a parent, you can help others.

So, parents of loud children need to react fairly quickly to get them out of the situation. Disciplining your children from a young age is a good thing for them. But, it starts by being disciplined yourself in how you parent. No child should be allowed to cry or yell with no foreseeable end to it, while you sit in the pew. Nor should they be allowed to play in the aisle (or back), get food all over, etc.

Because I do not like the cry room and always like to have my kids sit up front (which holds a child's attention better), my suggestions are below. They are based on getting 5 kids through the infant and toddler years, without anyone dying (yet!). 

  • If the baby is under 1 year-old, then take them to the back when they start to cry after a short period of seeing if you can quiet them and they still make noise. Once they are quiet, return to your seat.
  • If the child is over 1, then take them to the back after a short time of crying / throwing a fit, but do not allow them to get on the floor or play. If you give them what they want, they will learn that throwing a fit / crying gets them playtime in the back of church.
  • I like the general guideline of about 15 seconds to try and quiet a child. Some believe this is too long and some believe it is too short. Regardless, try and be prudent about when to take your child to the back.
It is an act of charity towards those who don't handle distractions well, to quiet your child quickly or take them out of the pew quickly. Also, some parents are even louder than their kids when they try to quiet them. Please try and use whispers and a quiet voice when instructing your children in Mass.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” -Matt19:14
One final thought - a church without crying babies is a church with no future.

I hope this helps.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Seven Reasons to Support Catholic Campus Ministry

A great article on why we all need to support Catholic Campus Ministry. This is from our Ragin Cajun Catholics friends, Fr. Bryce Sibley and Paul George. Below is a snip of it:
Seven Reasons to Support Catholic Campus Ministry

The summer is drawing to a close, which means over 20 million students will be heading off to colleges and universities throughout the nation to begin a new school year.

Between purchasing textbooks, attending classes, and getting ready for the first football game of the season, Catholic students have a great opportunity to get involved in Catholic campus ministry.

Today, thanks to groups like FOCUS and The Newman Connection which are committed to promoting the New Evangelization on college campuses, Catholic campus ministry is thriving in the United States.

An effective and fruitful campus ministry can have a profound impact on the lives large numbers of college students, but that impact depends a great deal on the generosity of financial benefactors.

If you’ve never thought about the importance of Catholic campus ministry and the need to support it financially, here is a list of Seven Reasons to Support Catholic College Campus Ministry.
  1. College campuses are mission territory. We are all aware of the temptation and sin that are pervasive at universities today. Christianity and morality are often rejected. Catholic campus ministry provides a light in the darkness and gives students the chance to come to know and accept the love of Jesus and to be part of a vibrant Catholic community. We are often asked to support oversees missions, but let’s not forget that there is mission territory right in our own town.
  2. Students can’t fund it by themselves. Between student loans and living expenses college students cannot provide the financial support to sustain a campus ministry, much less enable it to grow. College campus ministry depends on the generosity of benefactors and alumni in order to provide programming, retreats, outreach, pizza – and all of the other ministries that help to make an impact in the lives of college students.
  3. You can help to keep college students Catholic. 70-80 percent of Catholic students will abandon the practice of their faith once they leave college. Getting involved in Catholic campus ministry while they are in college is the best safeguard for preventing them from losing their faith, but more importantly for them growing in and sustaining their faith even after they leave college.
  4. You can help to create future Catholic leaders in parish and society. Catholic campus ministry is not just about having a place to hang out and eat free pizza- it is about forming life long disciples of Jesus Christ. Catholic campus ministry forms future leaders that will hopefully go out and not only get involved in their own parishes but have a positive impact on society as they become leaders in their local community.
  5. It promotes vocations and faith-filled marriages. Catholic campus ministry can be a powerful tool for helping young men and women discern vocations to the priesthood and religious life. So many priests and religious today attribute their vocation to their involvement in campus ministry when they were at college. For those who will enter into the Sacrament of Marriage, college campus ministry encourages Christ-centered relationships and often provides a great place for future spouses to meet.
  6. You love your alma mater. Like most alums, we are proud of our school’s successes both in academics and athletics. We proudly wear our school’s colors and are passionate about giving back to the institution that gave so much to us. Supporting the Catholic campus ministry at your alma mater is a great way to support the university because students who get involved in campus ministry have a much better chance at succeeding in their education.
  7. You love the the next generation of Catholics. Supporting Catholic campus ministry tells this generation of Catholics that you love them. Knowledge of Jesus Christ and involvement in this Church is the greatest good we could want for someone else because it shows we care about their souls.
Please click here for more information on how you can partner with St. Mary's Catholic Center in serving our students!

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year

10 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year of College:
10 - Ask for help before you are in real trouble. This goes for all situations. If you are struggling in class, talk to a professor. If you are struggling spiritually, talk to a priest or campus minister. If you are struggling in another way, find someone to talk to. Remember that the older folks that work in and around colleges are there to help you.

9 - College is not just about getting a job. I am not saying that grades are not important. I am not saying you don't want to get a good job. I AM saying that college is about learning about the big questions - Who am I? What is life about? What plan does God have for me? etc. If you figure this out, college will be a success.

8 - You are NOT poor. You may not have as much money as your friends and you almost certainly don't have as much as your parents. This does not make you poor, so don't say you are. You are rich - you get to go to college, you eat as much as you need, you have a place to sleep, etc. Enjoy not having a lot of extra money and be creative.

7 - Sit up front. I am assuming that you are going to every class (which costs about $100 dollars per class if you skip or not). If you sit up front in class you are bound to pay more attention to the prof and get better grades. You are also a more familiar face to the prof when you go ask for help (see #1). Sit up front in church as well. Easier to focus.

6 - Meet new people and try new things. College is a great time to work on being a better you. A great way to do this is to meet different kinds of people from different backgrounds and with different ideas. You need to stay grounded in your faith, morality, and family. But, you should also learn about the world through relationships with others.

5 - Good friends don't always make good roommates. Sometimes your best friend may not be a friend at all after living with them for a year. Choose your roommates wisely. If you want to study, don't room with a friend who has bad study habits. If you want to be responsible, don't room with a friend who is irresponsible.

4 - Don't go into debt on a credit card. Credit card companies are like vultures on college campuses. They are just waiting for you to say "yes" to the free t-shirt so they can have you ring up tons of debt and be locked into a crazy percentage rate that you carry for years and don't pay off until you are retired. Don't fall for it. Keep a budget and be smart about spending money. You don't need all the toys and latest gadgets.

3 - Shower shoes. All that needs to be said.

2 - Have fun! Balance your academics with a good (and healthy) social life. This means you have to do the following - manage your time, find friends who will make good decisions, and be smart about it all. But, have the kind of fun you won't feel sorry about later on too!

1 - Following Jesus is worth it all. A large number of Catholics involved in their parish during high school lose their faith by the time they graduate college. This is because many decide they want what the world has to offer. The sad part is many don't really know what Jesus has to offer. Following Him is the only way to real happiness, peace, and fulfillment. The rest is all fluff.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How Do You Fulfill The Commandment to "Honor Your Father & Mother" When They Abuse You?

Q - How does the commandment "Honor your father and your mother" apply to people with abusive parents? If they remain unrepentant, how far do obligations to such parents extend?

A - Thank you for the question. Abuse is always a horrible thing, esp. when the innocent are abused. No child deserves any kind of abuse and yet many children still believe they brought it on themselves. This is simply not the case. The one who is abusive is the guilty party.

But, there is always the great blessing of our heavenly Father, who will never let us down. He is the one we should always have absolute faith in.

With this being said, the Catechism spells out the duties of children to their parents. I will emphasize certain parts.
2217 As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so.
As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, we cannot allow anyone, including a parent, to abuse us. If this means cutting off the relationship from a completely cruel parent, we must. If it means involving the authorities, then we ought to. We can still fulfill the commandment by acknowledging they gave us life and we can still pray for them and hope for the best for them without bearing a grudge or wanting revenge. This is still honoring abusive parents.

We are called to love our enemies, even when they are our parents. Yet, love means choosing what is best for them regardless of what it costs me. Sometimes what is best for another is to put some distance between yourself and others, so there is no more abuse.

When a parent abuses a child, they are not acting with the authority God gave them to parent the child. Thus, the child need not stay in the situation in order to honor them.

Should you still honor your abusive parents? Yes. But, with on the condition that you understand that honoring them may mean some of the following may have to happen:
  • reporting abuse to seek justice and protect others.
  • maintaining a safe distance to avoid abuse - up to the point of ending the relationship if needed.
  • pray for them.
  • not hold on to hatred / grudges / revenge.
  • acknowledge the gift of life they gave you.
  • helping their children (you).
  • never give up hope that God can change them, even if you have to end having a relationship with them.
I hope this helps.
I ask all of our readers to pray for victims of abuse and those that abuse others.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Can We Be Sure The Books of The Bible Are Inspired?

The word "canon" means rule or measure. In terms of the Bible, it specifically refers to the list of the books that are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are thus are part of Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the books in the Bible are called canonical and the books that are not determined to be inspired by God are extra-canonical (AKA - apocryphal).

Almost all Christians believe in the truths found in the Bible, but there are two different lists of what belongs in the Old Testament - the list used by the Catholic Church (and most Eastern Orthodox) vs the list used by most Protestants. The Protestant canon contains 7 fewer books than the Catholic canon. These 7 books are called the deuterocanon ("second" canon). These books were given the name 'deuterocanon' because a few hundred years ago we did not have copies of them in Hebrew and they were not part of some Hebrew Bibles we had manuscripts of at the time. Thus, they were deemed to be part of a second canon written in Greek. In the 20th Century archaeologists made many discoveries of even older manuscripts. Therefore, we now have manuscripts, or partial manuscripts, that show that most, if not all, of the books were written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Our Protestant brothers and sisters call these seven books of the deuterocanon the 'apocrapha', meaning they believe they are not part of the canon of the Bible.

Thus, although we agree on the books within the New Testament, we have two different lists of what books should be part of the Old Testament.

Many Christians have never reflected on the history of the Bible and how it came to be. They just assume that it is authoritative and we should consider all the books in the Bible as Sacred Scripture.

Here is a brief history of how the Bible came to be put together.
  1. Jesus came and taught his disciples. During the time of Jesus there were several different lists of the Old Testament Scriptures in different Jewish groups.
  2. Jesus' disciples spread his message orally for many years after His death, before writing anything down.
  3. His disciples started to write down the life and teachings of Jesus.
  4. During the time of the early Church, a group of Jews decided to try and set the Jewish canon (the Old Testament). This failed to solve the issue of different lists for different Jews. Thus, the Jewish canon was never decided authoritatively by the Jews. Yet, the Jews no longer had the authority to set the Jewish canon for Christians, because the authority of Jesus was now given to the Church.
  5. Different local churches started to compile different writings. Many of the lists differed from one another dramatically.
  6. The Church started to discern, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what was inspired and what was not. This goes for both the New Testament and the Old Testament.
  7. Several Catholic Councils of Bishops declared the list of Scripture as we have it today:
    -Council of Hippo, 393 A.D.
    -Carthage, 397 A.D.
    -Carthage, 419 A.D.
  8. This list remained fixed through hundreds of years.
  9. Saints, bishops, Popes and the Council of Florence (1442 A.D.) affirmed the list.
  10. The list is challenged seriously for the first time by Martin Luther, when he rejects the 7 deuterocanonical books. He unilaterally decided to throw them out of his new canon. Thus, the Protestant Bible is first born in the 1500s. He bases this decision on faulty evidence:
    • He claimed they contained doctrines contrary to the rest of Scripture (rather, he didn't like the teachings that supported Catholic doctrines).
    • He claimed that the Jews had set this canon (rather, there were still different lists by different Jewish groups).
    • He claimed that only the Scriptures written in Hebrew were of the canon (rather, he didn't have access to the documents that show they were written in Hebrew).
  11. The list of Sacred Scripture is put down dogmatically in the Council of Trent, which followed the Protestant Reformation. This is because dogma is usually not declared unless first challenged seriously.
Here is some other evidence in favor of the Catholic list of the OT canon.
  1. God never gave the Jews a way to settle the debate over what books should be in the Jewish canon.
  2. In the time of Jesus there were several different groups of Jews with different lists of their Scriptures:
    1. The Samaritans and Sadducees accepted the law but rejected the prophets and writings. 
    2. The Pharisees accepted all three. 
    3. Some Jews used the Greek version called the Septuagint. This is the list that the Catholic Church uses. Textual analysis indicates that most of the New Testament writers quote most often from the Septuagint in the NT, therefore indicating that they used and accepted it.
    4. Some smaller groups with different lists.
  3. The early Christian Church Fathers accepted the deuterocanonical books as inspired.
To summarize - the Catholic Church put together the different books of the Bible, while guided by the Holy Spirit. This list was not challenged until Martin Luther threw out 7 books. Unfortunately, many Christians uncritically accept the lie that the Catholic Church added 7 books, which doesn't square with the evidence. We can be confident that the books in the bible, as ratified by the Catholic Church, are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit for our salvation.

In other words, the reason the Bible is trustworthy is because the Church is trustworthy. The reason the Church is trustworthy is because Jesus Himself is.

I know this is the Cliff Notes version. If you want more details, I recommend the book - Where We Got the Bible by Henry Graham.


**Catholics and The Bible
**Good Catholic Bible Studies
**Catholics + Bible + Personal Interpretation
**The Dos and Don'ts of Reading The Bible

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top 10 Reasons College Students Need Catholic Campus Ministry

Top 10 Reasons College Students Need Catholic Campus Ministry

10 - Get answers to questions. You might have questions and you are bound to run into other students who have questions about the Catholic Church. Campus ministries can help you find the answers to the big questions in life and some smaller ones too!

9 - Make good friends for life. A real friend is someone who will look out for your best interests. You definitely need friends who will support you in growing in faith and respect you as a person. Many good friends in college will be friends for life.

8 - Help when you need to make better decisions. If college has a reputation for anything, it is bad decisions. Finding a place that will help you make wiser decisions is a must. Start by asking "what kind of person do I want to be?" and then act like you already are that person.

7 - Discover your path in life. Choosing a career, figuring out your vocation, etc - many things are figured out in college. For life's big steps you might need help and you can get it in campus ministries.

6 - Give back! College is a time to start to think more about others. The majority of college students are mostly on their own. It is time to start to think about how you can give back to God and others. Remember, if you graduate with a college degree, you will be more educated than the vast majority of others on this planet and that is a privilege and responsibility.

5 - Have fun without the guilt! Campus ministries can provide a great way to have a ton of fun, with great people, without all the guilt that goes along with partying and the other trappings of college life.

4 - Live a life of purpose and avoid the college trend of losing faith. There are all kinds of bad stats which show that college is a time of losing faith (one shows that only 25% of young adults attend church weekly). Don't be one of the college students that loses what is most important in life! Find out how to live a live of true purpose.

3 - Learn what is most important. If your classes teach you anything, it is that you don't know everything. The same goes for your Catholic faith. You should learn what the Church teaches on an adult level and most campus ministries provide classes and opportunities to learn more. Having the knowledge of a 15 year old won't cut it for a Catholic adult.

2 - Find out what prayer really is. College is a time for trying new things. Trying a kind of prayer you haven't really done is also important, in order to widen your horizons. It could be attending daily Mass everyday, an hour of adoration every week, a daily rosary, meeting with a spiritual director, etc. Whatever you try, don't ever stop praying. Prayer is the foundation for a relationship with Jesus -> which leads us to #1...

1 - Jesus Christ. What good is your time in college if you don't leave college with a closer relationship to Christ than you did when you entered college? Catholic campus ministry can provide you with the chance to grow in faith. Ultimately - what good is college without it???

Monday, August 18, 2014

Do Animals go to Heaven?

Q - What is the Church's teaching on the moral and spiritual status of animals, especially after the animal's death? I am under the impression that the Church has taught that animals have no souls and so would not enjoy the Beatific Vision after death in the same way that baptized Christians in a state of grace would. However, as a private opinion, I've always believed that God, in His Mercy, beholding the faithful and devoted love that can exist between humans and animals, would make some provision for the animal out of the goodness and mystery of His Providence. For example, dogs and horses would have meadows to run and play in, and cats would have lots of sunny windows to doze in and all the cream and catnip they wanted :). Am I just being sentimental? Thanks for your answer!

A - Thanks for the question.  Here is what we know:

1 - We know God created animals without an eternal soul, as humans have - in other words, if animals are in heaven, it is for God's purposes as creator and for our purposes as the height of God's creation - not because they are "saved" and "merit" eternal bliss.  Sometimes philosophers talk about animal or plant "souls", but that is not the eternal soul, rather they are using the word to indicate that which gives life, not that which lasts forever after death. So, if they do go to heaven, it isn't merely for their own sake, but because they share in God's glory by being part of his wonder of creation.

2 - We also know that there is a physical/bodily reality to heaven, but that it isn't identical to what we experience now.  When Christ's body was resurrected and glorified, he was transformed.  He passed through locked doors and appeared to his disciples.  So, in some way there is a bodily reality to heaven, but how it plays out will not be known until we get there.

3 - The Church has never ruled one way or the other.  So, we are free to believe either way.

Some argue against any animals making it into heaven (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas) and say it is not going to happen. An example or the reasons they believe this can be found here. Or you can watch this video of Jimmy Akin giving an answer to this question:

Others, such as Peter Kreeft, CS Lewis, and Fr. John Hardon, believe it is possible. But again, it isn't because they are good pets and merit such, but because they share in God's glory.

I guess the final answer is - we can hope so. As the Catechism says in 1047:
The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, "so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just," sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.
I can tell you this for certain -fire ants are not in heaven. :-)

Friday, August 15, 2014

What Is The Deal With Mary's Assumption?

Scott Hahn has a wonderful explanation of Mary's Assumption below.

The final Mass for this Holy Day of Obligation (opportunity) celebration will be at 5:30 PM at St. Mary's.

Here is a great article on the Assumption from Mark Hart:
About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”

He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.

“Well, first . . . ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.

Billy then replied, “Okay, fine . . . but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”

This is where the conversation got really interesting.
Continue Reading.
In honor of this wonderful feast day of Our Lady, I offer these beautiful songs.
Mary pray for us.

Juan Diego Flores - Ave Maria - Gounod

St. John's College Choir - Ave Maris Stella - Edvard Grieg

Thursday, August 14, 2014

100 Ways To Pray

This post is a collection of different kinds of prayer, ways to pray, devotions, sacramentals, etc.  It is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is the numbering in any way more than a simple way of listing them.  You will probably find most of the list familiar, but I have tried to give a link to all of them in order to explain the content, method, or kind of prayer in some way.  I recommend your feedback or additions to the list.  I hope you will find this helpful.

100 Ways To Pray
  1. Mass
  2. Baptism
  3. Confession / Reconciliation / Penance
  4. Confirmation
  5. Matrimony
  6. Anointing of the Sick
  7. Ordination
  8. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
  9. The Holy Rosary
  10. Sign of the Cross
  11. Liturgy of the Hours
  12. Our Father (The Lord's Prayer)
  13. Hail Mary
  14. Glory Be
  15. The Apostle's Creed
  16. The Nicene Creed
  17. The Angelus
  18. Guardian Angel Prayer
  19. St. Michael The Archangel Prayer
  20. Lectio Divina
  21. Meal Blessing (Grace)
  22. Divine Mercy Chaplet
  23. Bible study
  24. The Beatitudes
  25. Indulgences
  26. Novenas (There are many different ones)
  27. Litanies (There are many different ones)
  28. Act of Spiritual Communion
  29. Consecration to Mary (this is a sample of one way to do it)
  30. Blessings (There are many different ones)
  31. Hail Holy Queen
  32. Fatima Prayer (for the Rosary)
  33. Fatima Prayer (for reparation)
  34. Examination of Conscience (There are many different ones)
  35. Fasting
  36. Act of Contrition (There are several different ones)
  37. Act of Faith (There are several different ones)
  38. Act of Hope (There are several different ones)
  39. Act of Love (There are several different ones)
  40. Prayer of Abandonment (There are several different ones)
  41. Prayer for a Happy Death (There are several different ones)
  42. Morning Offering (There are many different ones)
  43. The Divine Praises
  44. Blessing and Adoration to God
  45. Meditation
  46. Vocal Prayer
  47. Petition
  48. Intercession
  49. Thanksgiving
  50. Praise
  51. Contemplation
  52. Repentance
  53. Regina Coeli
  54. Memorare
  55. Singing hymns
  56. Chant
  57. Praise and Worship
  58. Lorica of St. Patrick
  59. Prayer for Travelers
  60. Anima Christi
  61. Renewal of Baptismal Promises
  62. Prayer for Vocations (There are many different ones)
  63. Prayer After Mass (There are many different ones)
  64. Prayer Before Mass (There are many different ones)
  65. Offering Suffering for Others / "Offering it up" (There are many different ones)
  66. Prayers for Souls in Purgatory (There are many different ones)
  67. Prayer to the Holy Spirit (There are many different ones)
  68. Come, Holy Spirit
  69. Prayers of the Saints (There are millions of different ones)
  70. Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
  71. Holy reading / Spiritual reading
  72. St. Alphonsus method of mental prayer
  73. St. Theresa of Avila’s method of mental prayer
  74. Canticle of Zechariah
  75. Canticle of Simeon
  76. Prayer before Confession (There are several different ones)
  77. Blessing of a house
  78. Praying with the Psalms
  79. Devotion of the Scapular (There are different kinds of scapular devotions)
  80. Prayer as a couple (There are many different ones)
  81. Family prayer (There are many different ones)
  82. Spiritual Bouquets 
  83. Spiritual journaling
  84. Sacred Heart devotion
  85. Confiteor
  86. Benediction
  87. Devotion to the Miraculous Medal
  88. Praying with Holy cards
  89. Agnus Dei
  90. Prayer before a crucifix (There are many different ones)
  91. Votive Offerings - Prayer while lighting a candle
  92. The Jesus Prayer
  93. Devotion to the Child Jesus
  94. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  95. Praying with Icons
  96. Pilgrimages
  97. Charismatic prayer (speaking in tongues, slain in the Spirit, etc.)
  98. Prayer for peace (There are many different ones)
  99. Prayer for healing (There are many different ones)
  100. Prayer for the unborn (There are many different ones)
Please add your own in the comments.

Below are a few sites that have tons of prayers:
-EWTN devotionals.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One Aggie Catholic = Priest + Engineer + Missionary

One of the more unique stories of a priest. Here is a snip:
To Father Jim Chamberlain, engineering and priestly ministry are not merely compatible; they’re complementary.

Father Jim, Ph.D., P.E., is the pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Purcell, and the pastoral administrator of Saint Catherine of Siena in Pauls Valley.

He also is a staff research engineer for the University of Oklahoma WaTER Center, which aims to provide safe water and sanitation for emerging regions through education, research and service.

Both his interest in the priesthood and his aptitude for engineering began as he was growing up in Longview, Texas. When he was 13, his older brother, Tom, became a priest for the Diocese of Austin.

“I would kind of shadow him at his parish and was really intrigued with his work,” Father Jim said.

As a senior in high school, Father Jim notched the title of “Outstanding Math and Science Graduate,” and he subsequently earned a B.S. in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Being Christian in USA vs Middle East

I know there are a lot of times I take things for granted. Some of those include the fact that I am able to go to Mass on Sunday without having to worried about whether I will be hunted down and murdered for being a Christian. Many in the Middle East, esp. in Iraq and Syria, can't say the same.

So, in an effort to gain some perspective about how good I have it, I came up with this short list:

Being Christin in USA vs Middle East

  • USA - People talk too much in Mass and the music choices weren't my in-line with my style.
  • Middle East - If you talk about Jesus or play Christian hymns, you might be killed.

  • USA - The church air conditioner can't keep up with the TX heat.
  • Middle East - Many churches have been destroyed by Islamic militants.

  • USA - I got trouble from some people at work because I am Christian.
  • Middle East - My brother was beheaded because he is Christian.

  • USA - I don't like the hypocricy of many people that call themselves Christian.
  • Middle East - I don't like being forced to either leave my home or be killed.
Lord grant us perspective and a deep love for you and your people!

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Peter Walks on Water! 11 Other Men Stay In The Boat! What Will You Do?

    The readings for Mass today included Matthew's account of Jesus walking on water. As is the case with much of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), they share similar stories, but with sometimes have different details. Mark 6:45-52 also recounts Jesus walking on water, but includes a strange episode (I have highlighted it below) in the recounting of the story. Mark is the only Gospel writer to make this observation:
    Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Beth-sa'ida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
    Why would Jesus mean to "pass them by"? When I first noticed this it struck me as odd. Why walk on water if Jesus was merely going to pass by the apostles? Once I reflected on it further, it puzzled me further and questions started to arise.

    First we notice that the apostles were "making headway painfully" it seems they are absorbed in trying to row the boat and having difficulty. Sometimes we too seem to make headway only with great struggle, through our lives. Life can be hard and we seem to be so absorbed in the reality in front of our eyes, we fail to see Jesus right next to us. Now, the apostles are no different than us and Jesus knows it. So, maybe, after seeing their focus is on the job at hand, he decides to pass them by. But, God wouldn't neglect us.

    So, maybe Jesus wanted something more for the apostles and they were not ready for it. He told them to get in the boat and he only shows up at the most unexpected time (3AM during a crazy storm). Earlier in the chapter we hear their "hearts were hardened". They are struggling with the fact that Jesus isn't just a dynamic political leader who will become an earthly king. Rather, Jesus explodes all presuppositions and chooses some thing unexpected and even greater than expectations. He wants to save us right where we are - in the midst of our struggle. But, we have to open our hearts to him first. This isn't easy. This is why they don't recognize him and think he is a ghost. Yet, his voice calls out to us to have no fear. Can we?

    The Greek word used "to pass by" is "Parechomai". It can mean to go past, to pass by, to pass away, to come near, and to pass over. When it is connected to the Divine Being, it can take on another meaning - "an epiphany". That is, a manifestation of God's power and presence. There are a few other Biblical events where God "passes by". One of my favorites is when God has His goodness "pass by" Moses, in Exodus 33:14.

    Therefore, another reason Jesus might have "passed them by" would be to reveal something to them - himself. His divinity and mission had escaped them so far. So, why not give them another bit of evidence? But, why walk on water? Couldn't he have done it another way? It is because the water, to the ancient peoples, was the place of the demons. By walking on it, Jesus reveals that He is Lord of all - earth, heaven, the sky, the sea, and even hell.
    He is God.
    He is YHWH.

    When the Apostles see Jesus, they are frightened thinking He is a ghost. Many times we too are frightened of Jesus coming into our lives, because we don't want to deal with the consequences of saying "yes" to Him fully - because in doing so, we have to give up control (or, rather, the sense of control). They are also frightened because they are not fully dependent upon God, and therefore fear the possibility of another power (a ghost) doing some harm to them. Fear is an emotional reaction, but we need to realize it doesn't have complete control over us. We can still decide to conquer our fears and do the right thing.

    Peter does this. In Matthew's account of the Gospel, Peter challenges the ghost "Lord, if it is you, then command me to come to you on the water." Thinking this would keep the ghost quiet and prove it wasn't Jesus might have been Peter's intent. But, then we get a striking command. Jesus merely says, "come."

    Peter now has a choice. So do we.

    When God comes to us in the storms of our life - the busyness, the pain, the anxiety, the trouble, the brokenness, the insecurities - do we listen for Him beckoning to us to come to Him? And if we hear Him calling, do we have the courage to step out of the boat and walk on water? Do you have courage to do whatever Jesus asks of you, even if it means stepping out into the unknown???

    God made you to walk on water.
    God wants to pass by us (reveal Himself to us).
    Even during the storms.
    Even during the time we struggle to move against the wind.
    Even in the middle of the night - God comes.

    Will you walk on water?
    Will you let Him into your boat?

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    A Lonely Place

    In Mark 6: 30-32, after Jesus and the apostles learn of the murder of John the Baptist, it says:
    The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.
    Jesus called his disciples into "a lonely place". While praying about this, I found myself wondering why the place they needed to go would be "lonely". Then I became even more intrigued when the passage continued in verses 33-36:
    Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat."
    The Greek word used here, erēmos, can also be translated as "solitary, desolate, uninhabited." In other words, it is time to get away from others and be by yourself. It is time to be quiet. It is time to spend in prayer. We all need this.

    Notice that the apostles were so caught up in work they "had no leisure to eat." We sometimes trick ourselves into thinking our worth is caught up in what we DO. But, in reality it is who we ARE that is what is most important, and WHO WE ARE is developed in leisure.

    Now, I am not defining leisure as idleness, messing around, being bored, etc. Rather, the traditional understanding of leisure is an active form of working on being who you are created to be. It involves reflection, prayer, deep thinking and being in wonder at the work of God. It is NOT a time of productivity, in the modern sense of the word.

    Most Americans think of leisure as a vacation we take in order to recharge our batteries to go do more work. This is the wrong way to think of leisure. We don't exist to work. We exist for God's sake and our own sake. The problem with the modern way of thinking about leisure is that it identifies our worth in our function. It it utilitarianism. We have to fight this understanding of the right place of work, by clearly understanding leisure. This properly orders things; it makes us better people.

    Even the apostles had to be called into leisure, as many Church workers do.
    As I do.

    This summer I have tried to be intentional about spending time in leisure. I spent time with family, reading, praying, laughing, exercising, reflecting, serving others, learning, etc. I feel like I have really grown in the leisure time I have had.

    This is because Jesus called me to a lonely place where I could partake in some leisurely activities.
    Where I didn't have a to-do list from work.
    Where I could listen and be quiet.
    Where I could think and learn.
    Where I could just be.

    Thank God for the lonely places.

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Iraqi Persecution of Christians Becomes Genocide

    The persecution of Iraqi Christians hasn't gotten any better, in fact, it has intensified.
    Now, children are being beheaded, ISIS is pulling down crosses from churches and destroying Christian manuscripts, and many Christians have been herded on top of a mountain without supplies. Some have already died from lack of food and water.

    The Pope has now called for international response and for prayer.
    Our President is mulling over a response, but hasn't made a decision.

    Click here to see what you can do to help.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    What is The New Evangelization?

    What is the new evangelization?

    To help you figure out how much you know, I ask you to take the quiz below. This means you have to STOP! Before you read anything below the picture, take this quiz:

    1 - The new evangelization is about defending the faith better. True or false?
    2 - The new evangelization is about improving our religious education programs. True or false?
    3 - Benedict XVI started the new evangelization. True or false?
    4 - The new evangelization is about sharing a new message about Jesus. True or false?
    5 - The new evangelization should teach others what the Catholic Church teaches about being Catholic. True or false?
    6 - The new evangelization's goal is to make more people Catholic. True or false?

    (Answer key is at the bottom of this post)

    The new evangelization is an effort to re-evangelize peoples and cultures that were once Catholic with renewed fervor and in different ways that touch the culture of modern man. Thus, the Church makes a discinction between the primary evangelization, which is when the kerygma is proclaimed ("Kerygma" refers to the first and necessary part of the Good News about Jesus) and a re-proposal of this Good News through a re-evangelization or new evangelization of those that were formerly Christian or live in formerly Christian nations.

    So, the first (or initial) evangelization targets those who are not familiar with Jesus.
    The new evangelization (or secondary / re-evangelization) targets those who are already familiar with Jesus some, but have never chosen to follow Him.

    JPII first called used the term when he first visited his home country of Poland, as Pope, while it was run by the Communists. He visited a town built by the Communists without a church. The people refused to accept the lack of faith and started to gather around a cross they erected again and again, after the Communists would take it down. He said to the crowds:
    "The new wooden Cross was raised not far from here at the very time we were celebrating the Millennium. With it we were given a sign that on the threshold of the new millennium, in these new times, these new conditions of life, the Gospel is again being proclaimed. A new evangelization has begun, as if it were a new proclamation, even if in reality it is the same as ever. The Cross stands high over the revolving world."
    Since many of the Polish people had lost their faith, he wanted them to once again go to those people and evangelize them. He wanted them to follow Jesus.

    In later documents, exhortations, and homilies, he started to clearly define what he wanted to happen. One of the clearest definitions is found in

    In Redemptoris Missio, 33 - John Paul II describes three different circumstances in which we are to evangelize:
    1. Mission ad gentes, (which means “to the nations”) This is a situation where “Christ and his Gospel are not known.” 
    2. Christian communities: “In these communities the Church carries out her activity and pastoral care.” This would be in our parishes, ministries, and to those who are actively part of the life of the Church already.
    3. New Evangelization: “where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelization’ or a ‘re-evangelization.’”
    Even though there are 3 different areas, JPII goes on to warn us not to segment them. In other words - we are to evangelize everyone at all times in all places. Furthermore, he warns us not to forget that Jesus called us to make "disciples of all nations" and that the missionary nature of the Church is to first preach the Gospel to those who have never heard it.

    With all of this in mind, we can see that the new evangelization is more than a buzzword or a slogan. We must carefully guard the true meaning of it, unless we rob it of the challenge it presents to us - to be missionaries to those we meet!

    So, we cannot wait for the Church leaders to come up with programs. We must evangelize today. We must not wait! The answer to the problems in our culture are found through holiness and evangelization. It must be done in our homes, our workplaces, and where no Bishop ever trods. The laity must lead in this area.

    Too often we settle as Catholics. We settle for the "way it has always been done" or believe "it is good enough". Well, the results are in and the way we have operated really isn't good enough and the way it has always been done is failing us miserably.

    We need vision. We need leaders. We need risk-takers!

    If we are true disciples we cannot fail to make more disciples. This can only be done in real relationships between friends. To help raise up disciples we must be on the look out for times to make the initial proclamation of the Good News. Then we must continue the relationship to help guide a person into a deep relationship with Christ through prayer and conversion.

    Knowledge about Jesus is not enough. Transformation of lives is the goal and this only comes when we know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. We cannot wait for a program. We cannot wait for the Bishops to issue a document. We cannot wait for our parish to form a committee. As JPII said in Novo Millennio Ineunte 40:
    "This passion will not fail to stir in the Church a new sense of mission, which cannot be left to a group of "specialists" but must involve the responsibility of all the members of the People of God. Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him."
    If you want to know more about the process of forming Disciples, then I cannot recommend Sherry Weddell's new book any more highly - Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. It was built from the many years Sherry has had of charting the problems and then working on a solution through the Siena Institute. The following quote gets to the heart of the problem and the resulting solution (which points out the mountain we must climb):
    "As we listened to the spiritual experiences of tens of thousands of Catholics, we began to grasp that many, if not a majority of, Catholics don't know what 'normal' Christianity looks like. I believe that one reason for this is the selective silence about the call to discipleship that pervades many parishes. Catholics have come to regard it as normal and deeply Catholic to not talk about the first journey - their relationship with God - except in confession or spiritual direction. This attitude is so pervasive in Catholic communities that we have started to call it the culture of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" 
    She then goes on to discuss how we must break out of this culture in order to capitalize on the potential that is now latent in our Church, in the U.S.

    In other words, we have to reinvigorate the Church with a hunger for Christ by the initial proclamation of the Gospel.
    Then we need to form intentional disciples.
    Then we send them out to the world and repeat this cycle.

    The multiplication of disciples can and will change our culture and individual lives.

    The age-old questions which ask how are we to turn the culture around are found in the age-old answers of getting into the hard work of evangelization and forming disciples who are equipped to take on the culture with vigor and determination. Now is the time to proclaim the Good News! Now is the time to form disciples. Now is the time for a renewal of our culture!

    What will you do today to bring the Good News to others?


    **Intro to Evangelization
    **An Atheist Tells Us How To Evangelize
    **Evangelization is Hard and Scary
    **Why The New Evangelization is Needed
    **The Do's and Don'ts of Evangelization and Apologetics
    **How Not to Evangelize
    **When Wolves Evangelize
    **Fr. Barron on Evangelizing the Culture
    **How to Evangelize Without Being Triumphant


    All answers are False:

    1 - The new evangelization is about defending the faith better. True or false?

    • We can certainly do a better job of defending the faith, but it isn't what the new evangelization is about.

    2 - The new evangelization is about improving our religious education programs. True or false?

    • Again, this isn't a bad idea, but not the heart of it.

    3 - Benedict XVI started the new evangelization. True or false?

    • No. JPII did.

    4 - The new evangelization is about sharing a new message about Jesus. True or false?

    • No. The message is the same.

    5 - The new evangelization should teach others what the Catholic Church teaches about being Catholic. True or false?

    • No. It is about preaching the Kerygma.

    6 - The new evangelization's goal is to make more people Catholic. True or false?

    • No. It is about making disciples.

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Do's and Dont's When Evangelizing

    Below is a list of Do's and Dont's when evangelizing. Evangelization is the process of sharing your faith through witnessing to others through the way we live our lives and sharing our faith explicitly with our words.
    Do's and Dont's in Evangelization

    • Truly listen to the other person. It is more important that you really understand where they are coming from and try to meet them at that place, than it is that you find the perfect answer to a supposed question. Nobody likes a one-sided conversation.
    • Remain calm. Nobody will come closer to Jesus if you get upset and show it.
    • Trust that God can work in your inadequacies, because that is all we have to offer. Nobody is perfect, but we give what we have.
    • Try and find common ground to build upon. Everyone has something that you can share - even if it is both being rasied in a small town, having a similar hobby, or liking the same sports team.
    • Speak the truth - but for the right reasons. The best reason to speak the truth is out of a genuine love for the other person and their welfare. But, don't do so in order to prove them wrong.
    • Be kind. As St. Peter says - "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear." -1 Peter 3: 15-16
    • Ask probing questions. Try to find out not only what they believe, but try to guide them to where you want them to go. This is called the "Socratic Method" of dialogue. It asks probing questions in order to guide the other person into the truth. Here is a list of good questions to ask.
    • Be as charitable as possible. Try to always think about the good of the other person.
    • Build on the faith or goodness the person shows you. We are not in the business of tearing others down, but helping them grow.
    • Ask if they have any prayer intentions and then ask if they want to pray for you right then and there. It can be a powerful witness to pray with someone.
    • Invite them to join you at church or another activity. If you want to evangelize, it means being a real friend to the other person. So, a lunch invitation can be just as meaningful as inviting to a Bible study.
    • Give your testimony of how God has impacted your life. This is something that another person cannot argue with - how God has changed you. We all need to see examples of God's love. Stories can do this.
    • Practice evangelization by doing it. It doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone in every situation. Don't think you need to be "trained" in order to love someone else where they are.
    • PRAY! The power to convert hearts and lives is in God alone. We need to constantly be tapped into this power ourselves.
    • Preach the Good News! There are a few simple steps to preaching the gospel message of Jesus (it can take many forms). Here is merely one framework that some use:
      • God created us to live in relationship with Him.
      • Humans broke that relationship by rejecting His love.
      • We could not heal this relationship ourselves, so God the Father sent Jesus to do it for us, offer us forgiveness, and open up the chance at heaven for all.
      • It is our choice to accept this gift. Jesus is offering this free gift of His love now.
    • Try to win an argument. Archbishop Sheen once said "Win an argument, lose a soul." I agree.
    • Allow the conversation to wander from topic to topic. Stay on one topic until you exhaust it. If you get off track, feel free to steer the conversation back to the original topic.
    • Get upset. Your emotions might boil, but allowing someone else to see frustration, anger, etc. won't help.
    • Allow your pride to get the best of you. Even if it seems you have no answer, know that the Church does or that you need to continue to grow in knowledge. Humility is a gift.
    • Speak about what you don't know about. "I Don't know" is a great answer. But, follow up with an invitation to get together again and talk after you do your homework on the subject.
    • Give up hope. Our time is not always God's time. He is the one in charge and the other person always has free will. Respect their freedom enough for them to say "no" or "not now". But, never think God doesn't want conversion even more than you do.
    • Over-explain yourself. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Many believe the "right" argument or approach will do the trick and change someone's mind. Don't fall for this trap.
    • Use churchy lingo. Try and explain and define your words and phrases - even basic ones you might assume others know (e.g. faith, hope, love, grace, salvation, peace, savior, prayer, etc.).
    Please share tips I might have missed in the comments.


    **Catholics Stop Too Soon In Evangelizing
    **Top 10 Ways To Not Evangelize
    **10 Reasons To Come Back to the Catholic Church
    **Questions to Ask When Evangelizing
    **Friendship Evangelization
    **Evangelization of Tenderness
    **An Atheist Tells Us How To Evangelize

    Monday, August 4, 2014


    I have blogged previously about how our media portrays dads (and men in general). It isn't very nice.
    So, in all fairness, I should point out how others can lift the spirit and show what a great value fathers really are. I give you the best dad who has ever appeared in a commercial. Good stuff:

    I think I need to buy some Peanut Butter Cheerios...