My brief take on joy. Continue reading
I spent a good part of my summer at camp. By “a good part”, I mean six weeks. First there was Camp St. Louis, then Captivenia, then more Camp St. Louis, then Ignite to finish things off. It was a great summer. I met wonderful people and got to counsel a lot of great kids. They always make me reflect a little on my own life, too. In the younger kids I see the innocence of faith and the simple, pure love that Christ wants all of us to have. In the older kids, those in their early teens, I see that same struggle that I felt not so many years ago; that struggle for power within them. “Will I serve God or not? What is my choice?”
Many of these kids come from Catholic homes and no doubt, they hear it in church or at school: the Church has called for a New Evangelization. Of course, they don’t know exactly what this means, or how to carry it out. There is the evangelization that must take place outside of the Church, but there is also the evangelizing within the Church that must take place. The point that I want to focus on the most is the first one: showing those in the secular world the light and beauty of the Catholic faith.
The best way of doing this is by example. If you practice virtue and live as the best Christian you can, people will notice and take interest in your religion. You must practice your faith to the fullest! Become a living saint! That is how you draw people to Christ.
Now, I doubt that saying that would inspire them. More likely, they would run screaming in the other direction. So thank God I didn’t give them that lecture. But I wish I had said something to them, now that we’re after the fact; something along these lines: when you are among others who know you are a Catholic, you become for them a representative of the Catholic Church. There is a little food for thought. When an artist goes to paint someone’s portrait, he wants his representation of that person to be as true to life as possible. Likewise, we should try to represent the Catholic Church (or even further, to represent Christ Himself) to them.
A bit of back-story first: a few weeks ago we moved our laying hens into their movable summer coop, which we tow ahead every few days. It allows them more fresh grass to eat than they would get at their winter coop. Around the summer coop we set up an electric fence which keeps the coyotes at bay. In a nearby pen, we also keep several llamas and alpacas. Due to their hatred of anything dog-like, they will chase coyotes away as well. However, we had a small problem with our chickens this year.
Chickens are creatures of habit, and shortly after we moved them out of the winter coop, three or four hens decided they wanted to go back. So they hopped over the electric fence and started on their way. We had already closed up the winter coop by that time, so they ended up living on whatever they could find around the barnyard. Now for the interesting part.
As I was heading out on my walk today I heard one of these chickens making a good deal of noise in the llama and alpaca pen. I walked a little closer to the fence so that I could find out what the matter was. I saw a coyote running away with a chicken in his mouth, and a llama chasing him. Once the coyote saw me climbing over the fence, he dropped the chicken and ran off with a little clump of feathers in his mouth. Sadly, the damage had already been done and the chicken was dead.
So what did I see in all this that made me want to tell you about it? Permit me to use a little analogy scenario. Say the summer coop, guarded by the electric fence, are the Catholic Church and Her teachings. The chicken is a soul and the winter coop is its former way of life; that is, before making its home in the Church. The llama is this soul’s guardian angel and the coyote is the devil (hey, its just an analogy!). When a soul ignores the Church’s teachings and hops over them as though they are only optional, it’s aim (though seemingly unintentional) is to go back to it’s old way of life. The soul can try to make do and live the best it can, but nonetheless, outside the Church it is far more weak and vulnerable. It’s guardian angel can only protect it from so much before the devil claims it for himself.
The chicken’s story had a rough ending: it is dead and nothing can bring it back. But for Catholics who have left the Church there is still a chance; they can still come home and make peace with God. Please, if you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church for a long time, know that God still loves you and wants you to belong to His son’s one flock. God bless you!
“Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.”
Joel 2:13, NIV
Or for that matter, liberal Catholic, charismatic Catholic, or any of the other labels that Catholics these days give to themselves. The word “catholic” means universal, but why does the Church today seem so divided? In almost any given parish … Continue reading
Today I learned that I have been posting on this little blog for one year. On this first anniversary, I find myself wondering one thing: why? Why did I create this blog? Why did I pick that strange brown background when everyone else is going with white (okay, maybe not everyone)? Why didn’t I quit? Why did I bother to continue, even when the pages were not getting as many views or likes as I had hoped?
In all honesty, I’m not sure exactly why I started a blog. I am not a strong writer, I’m not really all that funny, I’m not a well-versed apologist or evangelist, I can’t write long, intelligent posts about important topics, and I am not very diligent when it comes to posting regularly. Out of all this, however, I found a reason to keep blogging.
Yep, Saint Therese of Lisieux. Heres the reasoning behind it.
Saint Therese was a simple Carmelite nun. During her short life on earth, she didn’t do amazing things like heal the sick, write great books, or reform orders of monks. She didn’t travel across the world proclaiming the Gospel to the poor, or start schools and hospitals that would change the lives of thousands of people. She simply loved God in all that she did and through that simplicity she attained sanctity. She didn’t have to do great things; only small things with great love. This teaches us something very important. Often, as Catholics living in the time of the New Evangelization, we start believing that we have to do something big to spread the Gospel, like travel to foreign countries as a missionary or feed all the poor and homeless in our hometown. As Saint Therese shows us, this is not necessarily true. Yes, we need foreign missionaries and people who care for the homeless, but not everyone can do these things. As 1 Corinthians 12:28 states,
Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.
Saint Paul points out that there are different positions in the church that need to be filled. Not everyone can have gifts of healing, or no one will teach. Not everyone can be a prophet, or no one will have the gift of administration. God calls different people to different ministries in life. Now for a little story.
Most of my homeschooling friends don’t plan to enter college or university right after high school. Instead, they want to do missionary work for a year or two. I’m the odd one in the bunch, though. Because I want to be a piano teacher when I grow up, I need to keep my piano skills sharp for getting into university, and this is nearly impossible to do as a missionary. I can trust, though, that because God is calling me to a different job, I will still be able to evangelize in some way. While I was wondering about this last fall, I thought about starting a blog. At first I had some doubts: what if I don’t like it after a while? What if I make a mistake in some line of philosophy and a really smart person comments on my failure? What if no one reads my blog? What if my posts are too long or too short? After a bit of of thought, I decided that if it would be something giving glory to God, then He would provide all that I needed. So after sorting out some kinks, I started blogging. It doesn’t get read much, it doesn’t look fancy, and it isn’t run by a computer smart person, but I trust that if God wants me to evangelize in some small way right now, then maybe this is it.
One more note: to everyone who has followed, liked, or commented on my blog during this past year, thank you! You have encouraged me to continue blogging even when I didn’t feel like it. Please keep it up, and God bless you all!