Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Reintroducing Logic and Reason to the Age of Sentimentalism

Spiritual Growth

All of the posts under the "Spiritual Growth" category.

The Year of Faith

Our Catholic Identity is extremely important. In an age where modern relativism is running rampant, it is incredibly important that we as Catholics remain close to the Church in identifying ourselves with her. However, many Catholics have forgotten (or never were taught) what it means to be Catholic. It is quite possibly one of the greatest tragedies to fall upon the Church when it comes to the matter of our faith.

Fortunately for us, this year in the Church marks the Year of Faith. It is a time for us as Catholics to reconcile ourselves with our faith and to find out more about it. It is time for Catholics to stop hiding from themselves, and to KNOW their faith. It is time to get properly catechized, as many Catholics don’t know the who, what, where, when, why and how of their faith.

This is an important part of being Catholic. As Catholics, we should be spending more time learning about our faith. Most Catholics are under the impression that “hey, I went through Catholic School/Religious Education, etc… when I was a kid, why do I need to keep going?” Frankly, you need to keep up on your faith because you forget things. When you aren’t thinking or using a particular skill set of yours, over time, the skill degenerates. Unlike riding a bike, when you don’t practice your faith, similarly to taking calculus, when you stop doing it, you forget it. (Yes, I did just draw a comparison of the faith to calculus, and yes, I think the faith is DEEPER than calculus, if you don’t believe me, try reading some St. Thomas-Aquinas, Pope John Paul II, or Pope Benedict XVI).

The other reason its important to know about your faith is simple. Our faith tells us that we are to put God first in our lives. The logic is simple, whoever, or whomever is first on your priority list, always gets your attention, regardless of how tired you are or how late it is. If you have a new girlfriend or boyfriend, and they are #1 on your priority list, you make sure that you give them a phone call, text or IM before you go to bed. But God deserves to be in that #1 spot, and spending time in prayer, with Scripture, with a book on the faith, is spending time with God, getting to know Him. And this is what the Year of Faith is all about.

Really, its rather simple on what needs to be done. God needs to be put number 1 in our lives, and then we need to spend time with Him. Being a Catholic is more than just throwing a label on yourselves and going about your merry way. Being Catholic is about living our your Catholic faith the way that Jesus is calling you to.

Each and every one of us is called to follow Jesus, and yet how often do we fall from that path? Often enough. Yet, we can get back on that path every time we stray to get back in line with Christ and His teachings. This does not mean that we can do whatever we want and say “I’m following Jesus, its okay! We’re homeboys!” but to actually follow Him. The best way to know if you are following Him or not, is to read the Gospels. Here you will find out about Him, by reading His own words.

You also need to know your faith. Why? Partly, so that you know why you believe, what you believe. But, secondly, and possibly more importantly, so that you can explain your faith to others. When someone asks you, “why are you a Catholic, when you can be anything else?” you’ll have a reason. On top of that, if someone ever does come up to you and asks you what Catholics believe, you can tell them. It is time that we as Catholics both know and live our Catholic faith and identity.

The Year of Faith has been underway now for a couple of weeks. So, what have you been doing to better understand the Catholic Church?

Read scripture. Read the Catechism. Read Papal Encyclicals. Read the Second Vatican Council Documents. Read good Catholic books. READ. As Catholics, we need to read more. Our Protestant brothers and sisters read on average of 6 books on the faith in a year. What is our excuse now? Its time to stop with the excuses, sit down, and know our faith. Once you know your faith, live it.

Jeff October 29, 2012 Leave A Comment Permalink

Starting Over in Prayer

As I mentioned in my post on our spiritual reflections and spiritual discernments, I talked about how we should constantly be analyzing how we are doing (whether it be weekly or monthly) and when we are doing great we should be adding more “reps” or “weights” to help build our spiritual muscle. I did also mention that we should also decrease if we are overburdened.

Unfortunately, I haven’t really been keeping up on my end of the bargain with decreasing. I’ve felt an incredible sense of guilt with the idea of dropping some of my favorite prayers. The thought for me is “its important to do this, I shouldn’t just drop it”. But, of course, I’m not listening to my own advice! I’ve been praying a lot of maybe I should just start over from scratch, get back in touch with my earlier days when I started off light and build from there, but of course the guild would come right back.

The other day I had one of those moments that just stopped me in my tracks. On my way to work and back home, I listen to religious talks by different Catholic speakers. I swap between these talks and my own personal CDs as I get tired of radio. However, listening to Archbishop Fulton Sheen give a talk on prayer, I was floored as I heard what he had to say regarding prayer. He said “do not be afraid to remove the dead wood of our prayer lives. Sometimes it is best to just start fresh. God will not be angry, in fact, we might even find a bit of renewal in this starting over.”

I just couldn’t believe how I’ve listened to this talk several times before, never even paying attention to this part, and BAM! I get smacked across the face with a spiritual 2 by 4. I’ve found that these talks are incredible. They always hit you at the right time when they are needed, and I always seem to grow from them even if I don’t “need” them.

After hearing this, I reflected upon it throughout the work day. On my way home from work, I listened to what Archbishop Sheen said again. It resonated with me so true, that I decided right then and there to do just that, start over. Not just, dropping my prayer life down from 8 things to 5 or 6, but starting over. I wrote down everything I was trying to do and put it on the list of prayers to begin when I’m ready to add weight. Immediately, I felt a burst of energy. On top of that, I felt that I was doing what God wanted.

It is no coincidence that that CD was chosen to be heard at that precise time. No, God’s providence always reigns supreme. For those that open their hearts and lend their ears to God’s Will, incredible things are revealed. God knows what is best for us. Even when we think we know better, when we surrender our will and let God take control, we find ourselves in an even better and happier place than we were before.

To top it off, on my drive today, I was listening to a talk by Matthew Kelly titled “A Call to Joy”. I highly recommend anything by Matthew Kelly as he has a charm and a style that strips away most of the “technicality” of the faith (without stripping away the faith) and translating it in a way that allows us to grow using today’s language. I’ve listened this CD…a lot, and thanks to God’s providence, BAM! Another spiritual 2 by 4 across the face. This one wasn’t nearly as stop dead in your tracks as Archbishop Sheen’s, but it was still noticeable.

I got my idea of spiritual examinations whether it be monthly or weekly or whenever (but often), from Matthew Kelly’s idea of how his faith blossomed from a friendship. His friend always challenged him and when Matthew had gotten used to the added prayer, his friend challenged him to add something else. Similarly, my prayer life grew like this too. It seemed though, and as I recall thanks to my friends Stephen and Jonathan, that we both would add something on a more monthly basis. So, of course, I’m back to the maybe monthly is better side again. Its a work in progress, but it may be something that depends on the person, as well as that person’s state in life.

If you have been struggling with your prayer life and keeping on top of it. I’d first suggest removing a couple of prayers from your list and seeing if that helps. But, after how just taking Archbishop Sheen’s words to heart, I am amazed at how my list of about 8 or 9 items, down to 1, has made that 1 time of prayer so much more…intense. It allows me to refocus my mind and soul onto that one moment and really pray. It is revitalizing and I’m excited to see how things will grow.

However, if your prayer life is blossoming, great job! Keep up the awesome work! Just remember not to overburden yourself, and really get in the moment of the prayer.

When you pray, you are giving God everything. Just make sure that you take a moment and listen, and let God do some of the talking.

I am a member of Lighthouse Catholic Media‘s CD of the Month Program. CatholiCity has some great talks as well.

Jeff October 1, 2012 Leave A Comment Permalink

Spiritual Discernments

I’ve been trying to figure out what direction I am being called within many things. There are a lot of things going on within the realm of my Catholic spirituality that I’m trying to figure out. Mostly the things I want to talk about, the talks I’d eventually like to give, potential books I’d like to write, the Young Adult group I’m trying to start, my faith life, my career direction and even my current prayer routine (yes, our careers are part of our faith journey as they are our vocation).

Its kind of frustrating to some point. I’d like to be able to say “yes, I will write Saturday for two hours between the hours of noon and two”, but of course, you can’t always force the keys on the keyboard to input into the text editor to display onto the screen the words that you’d like to say or that the Holy Spirit is guiding you towards, they are either there or they aren’t (although sometimes they can be summoned). So, I’d like to at least keep up putting out a post a week at minimum, but its tough. The frustrating part about it is that a lot of times I’ll have something incredibly awesome I’d like to share, pull up the editor and *poof* its gone. Incredibly frustrating.

So, I think what I need to do, is spend more time pulling out the laptop when I come up with something and just start writing it down. That, or when I do spend the time writing I just write what comes to mind. I want the words to flow forth like that of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, but alas, I am not them. I think that is the most difficult thing for me to realize is that I am me and my writing habits are different. They were also much older and all I have heard about are their successes and not their defeats. Who knows how many times St. Augustine put the ink quill to the parchment before coming up with his masterpiece “Confessions”? I suppose it’ll take time, and I believe that my writing is improving as I am discovering myself through this process.

Eventually, I’d like to give talks on my conversion story and other aspects of Catholicism. It is something I am passionate about. I love discussing and teaching the Faith, which is why I began teaching Religious Education two years ago. I am taking the year off as my plate is already full, that with the Young Adult group and other ministries that I am hoping to be a part of. But, I feel that I have the gift of speech, as I have noticed I seem to be able to find common ground with my audience and bring them in when I talk. Or maybe I’m just full of myself, you tell me.

I think the biggest part of my life is getting into a good prayer routine. I discussed this awhile back about figuring out what you want to do with your prayer life, and when you figure that out, to keep a note about it somewhere. This is important, and I’m beginning to question if a month is too long to determine if something is too much or too little. Some weeks, nothing is going on, and it would make more sense to add more, and some weeks there is a lot going on and it’d make more sense to drop a few items. I say this as I have yet to complete an accurate one month portrayal (I’m currently half way through), as I seem to make it about a week, before forgetting about it and getting off track. Trial and error is apart of life as it is a part of our spiritual journey. Remember that.

I’m currently working on a bunch of posts simultaneously. I’m hoping to have another post this week of something with a bit more substance, just because I have such a huge back log of posts that I want to put out, and because I want to be more regular with posting. There are many things going on in my head.

If you could offer up some prayers for me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Jeff August 28, 2012 Leave A Comment Permalink

Obama Supports Gay Marriage

I know in the past that I have said that I would not get involved in politics too much in this blog, but I have finally had it. I can no longer stand by as a practicing Roman Catholic and allow my opinion within the public sector to be kindly disregarded. As a Catholic and as an American, I have the right to vote with my conscience (for now).

Today, President Barack Obama came out in open support of homosexual marriage. This is huge news for the pro-gay marriage crowd, and further proof that his views are that of a revolving door. He’s only changed his mind about half a dozen times in the last 12 years on this issue. In 1996 he said “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” In 2004 (when he started campaigning for President) “What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman”. In 2008 (in time to sucker in some votes) “I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now for me as a Christian, this is a sacred union”. Only two years ago in 2010 “My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this.” To finally “I think same sex couples should be able to get married”.

What is really funny about the timing of everything is that I was actually thinking about writing up a post regarding how Catholic In Name Only Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan came out this week in ardent support of gay “marriage”. There was much talk and speculation on how President Obama was going to toe the line for the election coming up. How can he pull off not being supportive of it when all of the people he surrounds himself with can’t be quiet about it? Well, apparently they felt that the best way to handle the situation was to just stop trying to pretend that he isn’t for it and well, support it.

As Catholics, we can not be in support of homosexual “marriage”. This is something that the Church has come out against and it is not something that we can discuss in the sense of changing the view of the Church. Similar to abortion and euthanasia there is no “changing the minds” and going for it. This being said, I pose the question, “how come Biden’s bishop has not come out publicly to denounce him and ex-communicate him?” What does it take to get the bishops attention and ex-communicate those who publicly come out and do damage to the Church? Speaking as a convert, politicians like Joe Biden do a lot of harm to those who are not in the Church. He acts as the spokesman, and it paints the Church in a bad light. Not to mention our enemies of the Church will still be enemies because no matter what the Church supports, it is not good enough for them.

I’m really tired of how this President has continuously stomped on the rights of people and those with faith. Catholics can not support a presidential candidate who goes against every core conviction that the Catholic Church has upheld. Obama has pushed for abortion, contraception, abortifacients, homosexual marriage and even as a senator he supported infanticide. This man can not call himself a Christian. You can not call yourself a Christian or even a Catholic if you vote for him.

Marriage is between a man and a woman. What I really don’t get about the pro-gay marriage crowd is theire constant ATTACK against marriage and the family. I call it an attack because that is precisely what it is. Marriage has always been a religious institution. What does this mean? This means that it is administered by religious officials. This also means that whatever religion you are practicing, you are to follow their rules when you get married. For example, within the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, engaged couples must 1) Go on a weekend engaged couples retreat where you listen to talks on how to behave as a married couple (this was very beneficial). 2) Attend an NFP course which consists of 3 classes. 3) Take an inventory, which is a questionnaire regarding thoughts on what you and your future spouse think and then discuss the results of this inventory with a married couple. 4 sessions. 4) Meet with your priest or deacon 4 times. If you do not do any one of these 4 things, the Archdiocese will not allow you to be married. The Archdiocese has every right to make these rules up. This 4 items do help, especially when you attend with an open heart and mind. Every religion has different requirements to get married.

But wait? Where are the crowds that say this isn’t fair? What about equality between two people who want to get married? Well, that’s right, you don’t hear about this at all. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone argue that the Church should allow a man and a woman to just get married without taking courses. Its because nobody cares about this, the “equality” crowd use equality as a term to get by without having to explain themselves. Its a shield term. You can’t argue with me if I say you are against equality and that you don’t want people to be treated fairly. Its very similar to playing the race card.

Similar to drivers licenses, marriage is a privilege, not a right, no matter how loud you shout that it is. Had the government not interfered with marriage in the first place, we would not be in this situation because each faith would say “yes” or “no”.

Another argument that I have heard being thrown around way too often is how people have come from a traditional mom and dad home and have come out screwed up from this. Well, sadly this happens, but putting a man and a man together or a woman and a woman will only intensify this. I do feel bad for people who come from broken homes, but society continually perpetuates the broken home lifestyle, because our society capitalizes from it. The family is supposed to be where good values, education, faith, morals and love are passed through, but far too often today, the family is torn apart and nothing is being passed on.

This may come to a surprise to most people, but, not everyone is perfect. Only God is in all three persons. Everyone is going to come out scarred from their family life because everyone sins and when we do, we hurt those around us. Any time a husband is rude to his wife and their children see, they are scarred. Any time a mother and father beat each other, or turn to alcoholism or any other sin or vice, it scars the family. Heck, any time that someone in the family does something someone else in the family doesn’t like, scarring occurs. It is our jobs as Christians and Catholics to grow from these scenarios. That is the entire purpose of our lives is to continually grow with Christ as our guide and our source to achieve our only level on personal holiness that allows us to become Saints on Earth. It is rare, especially in this day and age that a person can come out of a family not scarred in some way or form. It is what we do with that scarring that makes us a better person or not. Christ can heal our wounds and we can learn that we don’t want to be a part of this bad behavior that our families have displayed. You just have to have trust and faith.

Love is only love when it is practiced in its true sense. Similar to a doctor who tells you that you must stop eating bad foods because you can die from it, the Church is there to tell you what you shouldn’t do because you will die from it as well. You may not die physically, but you will die spiritually. When we allow someone to commit sin by legalizing it, we are not helping them, but we are hurting them and allowing them to continually damage themselves by not giving them the proper treatment.

To end this rather long post, get out there and spread the word. President Obama must not be elected this year. Spend the moment with your friends and tell them why. Explain how another 4 years of President Obama will completely cripple our economy, remove all religions (not just Catholicism), deprive the country of whatever morals we have left and allow the government to rob us of every last dime that we make.

Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. How thrilling. Not only did Christ die for our sins, but He conquered death and is now glorified.

As I mentioned yesterday, Jesus was not given the proper burial according to Jewish law. So, since today the Sabbath would be over for the Jews, Mary the mother of James and St. Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. Each account is slightly different but here is Mark’s account.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'” (Mark 16:1-7)

How awesome! This is the reading that took place at the Vigil Masses for this year. Now, first off, we see in Mark’s version, it was St. Mary Magdalene, James’ mother and Salome who went to the tomb. In Matthew’s account it is only St. Mary Magdalene and James’ mother. Luke says St. Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Jame’s mother were there.  Finally, John only makes mention of St. Mary Magdalene. I believe I mentioned yesterday that Our Lady, was there, but I believe I was confusing her with Mary the mother of James. However, we know that Mary Magdalene was there.

Now, the first of the week would be Sunday, as the day AFTER the Sabbath is the first day. God worked on days 1-6 to create the Earth and all the creatures and everything on it, and rested on the 7th. The 7th day being Saturday as Saturday was the Sabbath. The women worried about removing the stone as well, the stone was a huge circular disc placed in front of the tomb to make sure no one could get in. What we don’t see in this reading is how when the women tell Peter and the other disciples that Jesus is no longer in the tomb, they don’t believe them. But, Peter after a few moments runs out to the tomb to see for himself and then believes. I always find this funny because there is so much emotion going on that it is such a misunderstanding and who knows what is going on in everybody’s heads at the time.

Jesus, now raised, has fulfilled what He said in Luke 9:22 He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Having a glorified body, Jesus is no longer bound by simple walls and the like. In the glorified state, we can walk through anything! How cool is that?

Jesus, now present on this Earth again, brings hope and joy for all of us. How blessed we are to have such a loving God. Go forth this Easter season with a renewed sense of wonder and happiness. Lent is over. This doesn’t mean you can go back to your old ways, but you must now begin life as a new creature, a new creation.

Allow the spiritual growth that you ended with at the end of Lent, be the beginning to the spiritual growth that you will endure the rest of the year. Don’t sink back into the hole that you have came from, but continue on your spiritual and faith journey walking farther and farther away from that hole.

Christ is Risen!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

get_footer() ?>