Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


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When Roots Run Deep

In Remembrance

I woke up this morning to terrible news of yet another mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas. You know by now, it was the worst (most number of deaths) mass shooting in U.S. history. And right away there were calls for stricter gun control and responses of the need for more guns and blame being shot all around the internet and people yelling at each other.

Dog fight

Here’s the thing, this is the wrong argument to have. The reform that is needed has nothing to do with more laws enforced by a government that half of us don’t trust anyway. What’s needed is a reform of the heart and mind. You see, the escalating violence in the U.S. and around the world has nothing to do with the proliferation of guns and everything to do with the proliferation of hedonism and the inherently selfish worldview of the modern materialistic atheism.

In other words, we are the proverbial frog boiling to death. We’ve slipped so far down the ever deepening slope of narcissism that don’t even realize our own hypocrisy! Hugh Hefner just died and the country mourns his death as a national hero! The man was one of the root causes of the sexual revolution which has subsequently enslaved (both literally and figuratively) untold numbers of men, women and children. Practically, it is well known that he hated the women he used and abused them mentally and emotionally and treated them like play toys he didn’t care about. And this man is an idol in our nation!

Is it any wonder why so many people in our culture turn to violent aggression when they feel unloved, ignored, misunderstood, slighted or any other number of feelings that deeply wound the ego? When you are constantly told that what matters most is your own personal feelings and that you deserve comfort and pleasure, and the world is supposed to give you that pleasure, but then reality happens and you are wounded, whether real or perceived, you lash out and try to take what’s due to you.

We live in a world where, if someone else is an inconvenience to you, whether it’s their fault or yours, then you have every right to dispose of them however you see fit. So, as I saw someone else post, talking about stricter gun control is like lamenting abortion rates and then passing out contraception pills trying to prevent more abortions. What happens is more people have “consequence-less sex” and when the consequences come anyway, they go remove that unintended consequence through abortion.

We need to talk about the real root of the cause. Our violent culture (gun or otherwise) is a symptom, not the problem. Like modern medicine, we throw out countless drugs and solutions at someone’s health problems while ignoring the real cause of their sickness. Whether you want stricter gun control or greater access to firearms, we each need to stop and pray about how to actually make a difference.

compassion

Ultimately, that difference is to be found in the only One who can do anything about all this — Jesus Christ. Only through Him do we have a chance. Rather than defending our lives and fighting against those who fight against us, we are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We are called to put others first, always. Love is the answer. Love is always the answer. Love is the only answer. Pray for the man who killed so many innocent people in Vegas. Pray for Hugh Hefner, pray for those who follow in their footsteps. Pray for your rival or enemy at work. Pray for your boss. Pray for your spouse, kids, family, friends. Ask God’s blessing upon them. Don’t give the finger to that annoying driver in front of you, give him a blessing and a smile instead.

“Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort me and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in the hearts of all that love me, Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.”   – Prayer of St. Patrick

Wounds of Christ

What if you’re not Christian, like so many of our fellow Americans? What’s the answer for them? Ultimately, it’s the same, Jesus Christ. But practically, it’s the same, Jesus Christ. OK, but if they don’t believe in Christ, how can he make a difference in their lives? What are they supposed to do? First of all, it’s not like the Holy Spirit is absence from their lives. Secondly, Christ can work through even those who refuse to acknowledge Him. Furthermore, each act of love, whether by a Christian or an atheist or Muslim, is nonetheless an act of love.


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The Math of Abortion

Let’s take a break from the awkward moments for a bit. Let’s get real here and realize that the world we live in has become so corrupted by sin, i.e. selfishness, that a great many of us can no longer tell the difference between good and evil, much less distinguish between that which is utterly evil and that which, while profound, pales in comparison.

Baby in Utero

What am I talking about? Simply this: any person who thinks that abortion is not the single most important problem facing our nation and world is either fooling themselves or is a fool. The utter moral depravity that compares abortion to economics or gun control is quite simply, unconscionable.

 

There is no argument, no rationale that justifies the killing of an innocent human being in his mother’s womb. None. Nada. Nothing. The very thought of arguing with a person (this happened to me recently) about priorities makes me want to scream and shake them until they wake up. Of course, in normal human discourse, this isn’t an option and moreover rarely ever works.

 

No, I’m not flippantly brushing off the importance of a healthy, just economic system, the right of persons to defend themselves, quality education, or any other issue. Each, in its own right, is urgently important. But, come on! I mean, we’re comparing quality education to ripping a defenseless human being limb from limb who has been proven to feel pain and fights against the torturous instruments of its death. It’s as if we live in 1930’s Nazi Germany and we’re debating the economy all the while the police are rounding up Jews and invalids for extermination. Here’s a scene from “Life Is Beautiful” for an example of what I’m talking about.

Calvin & Economy

I recently read an article from David Andrusko[1] on LifeNews.com where he quoted G.K. Chesterton: “All men matter. You matter. I matter. It’s the hardest thing in theology to believe.” And in this Mr. Chesterton speaks truth. God created the entire universe and yet thought that it wasn’t yet complete until you were in it. Now, that doesn’t just apply to those we deem “wanted” or “worthy.” It applies TO EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING! God, not you, gets to decide who lives and who dies. God gets to decide which souls get created, not you, not me, not Hitler, the abortionist, Donald Trump, or the president of the United States.

 

Each time a new human life comes into existence it is a brand new act of creation. Did you realize that? God doesn’t have a giant gumball machine full of souls up in heaven waiting for couples (or scientists) to join a sperm and egg. Each time he reaches down and intentionally creates a brand new soul that will live for eternity, one whom the world has never before seen, that will never again be repeated in the history of eternity. From this perspective, God’s perspective, which do you think he cares more about… quality education, a good economy, or the life and dignity of the human person?

 

The baby matters because God has willed it into existence– from all eternity he has been contemplating that particular soul and waiting more anxiously than a dad awaits his firstborn son. That baby is wanted–perhaps not by its own mother or father–but is wanted passionately, deeply and eternally. And that baby’s right to life is more urgent than any gun laws or health care laws or immigration laws.

 

And let me just stop you now– you cannot argue against this. Well, you can try, but all you will succeed in doing is proving yourself a fool, or worse, completely oblivious to the reality of evil permeating our society.

[1] http://www.lifenews.com/2016/02/17/why-do-unborn-children-matter-just-because-they-are/


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The Antidote to Death

Mother and ChildThe awkward moment when you realize that aborting a baby after it’s been born is no different than aborting a baby in his mother’s womb, except location.

There’s a saying about one of the most important things to consider when starting a business, “Location, location, location.” What this means is that it doesn’t matter how awesome of a product you are selling, if your location stinks then nobody’s going to buy it and your business will not thrive. Well, just today the Center for Medical Progress released yet another sting video exposing the horror that is Planned Parenthood. Of all the videos released this is by far the most difficult video to watch. In it a young woman describes a post birth dissection on a live fetus. And it is truly horrifying. To her credit, it seems she deeply laments her involvement and is actively striving to make amends.

And now, all over social media people are horrified and sickened to know that such acts happen at Planned Parenthood all the time. But come on, what’s the difference really between harvesting the organs from a born fetus as opposed to crushing it’s head in the womb? In fact, isn’t the womb an even more sacred place? Is there really any difference though; It’s all about the location, eh? Out of sight, out of mind I guess?

A philosopher named Paul Holmer once said, “What we know depends upon the kind of person we have made ourselves to be.”(1) I think this is a profoundly true statement and that it also applies to our nation. What we know depends upon the kind of nation we have made ourselves to be. And what kind of nation have we made ourselves to be? A nation of secular humanist butchers(2).Let’s make no mistake, our society is the direct result of the people who make it up. Our society is that of the rugged individual; it’s fine and good to be a rugged individual when talking about Manifest Destiny (though it wasn’t so good for the Indians). But we’ve carried that principle to it’s logical, yet unforeseen end.

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We are a nation of individuals striving to achieve our greatest goal of self-actualization. The “I” has become our god. We have turned ourselves into ego driven madmen who know only death. Remember, “What we know depends upon the kind of person we have made ourselves to be.”

Whether the baby is born or in the womb, it is still a human life. There is no arguing that; science, the other “god” of the secular humanist, has proven beyond a doubt that the clump of cells is a unique, living, human being. It is not a cat or a dog or a human-being-in-potential. A human sperm about to fertilize a human egg is a potential human being. A fertilized human embryo is a human being, just a lot smaller than you and I are at this moment. Abortion, at any stage is murder. There is no possible way to argue against this truth without committing some sort of fallacy. Yet, in our society where truth is relative to the individual, it doesn’t matter. Why does individualism lead to death? Nothing is accomplished in isolation. All you have to do is look at just about anything. Take an army for instance. If the enemy is able to separate a section of troops from the main body of the army, it’s much easier to kill those troops. In sports, no person can win on their own; even in something like swimming it takes a team of coaches and trainers, etc. to create a champion. Alone we die, together we thrive. We are meant for community. Yet, in our society we have become individuals and we know only death.

Now, back to the recent sting video from CMP. Obviously, I’m not arguing that it’s not as bad as everyone says. Rather, now that we’ve seen the reality of what happens with our own eyes, perhaps we will wake up. I’m sorry to say, while I’m usually an optimist in almost every area of life, in this instance I’m a pessimist. Our society has gone so far down the slope I don’t see a way back. All things are possible with God and I pray every day for a great miracle, but limited by my unsaintly life, I don’t see it. The only possible antidote is an army of saints. Chesterton once said that “a saint is medicine because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects… Each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need… It is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it the most.”

Well we certainly need some saints today. Pope Saint John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa certainly were a good start, but let’s keep on going. Somebody please step up to the plate! Perhaps you and I could do it? As I said, I’m usually an optimist and this is the perfect example. You and I could be the antidote. You and I could speak up, our lives could proclaim life, love and the hope of heaven to a desperately lonely world. I hope in the grace of God. And if there’s hope for you and me, maybe there is hope for our society after all.

Helping Hand

  1. As quoted in “What Would It Mean to Believe in the Resurrection?” by David Fagerberg, published in Assembly: A Journal of Liturgical Theology by Liturgy Training Publications and the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, 2010.
  2. That’s a funny coincidence, don’t you think? Secular humanists tend to be the liberals fighting the hardest for women’s rights (to abortion), they call themselves humanists (pro-human) yet they are vehemently fighting to destroy human lives in the womb.


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The Lion in the Middle of the Room

The awkward moment you realize that our society cares more about a famous lion than about innocent babies and their often desperate mothers.

Cecil the Lion

In case you’ve not turned on the news or checked social media in awhile, you might have missed two tragic stories that have been in the news within the last few weeks. The more recent story and the one that’s garnered the lion’s share of attention is the murder of an innocent and famous lion called Cecil. This lion was hunted and slaughtered by a seemingly narcissistic dentist from the US. He has subsequently been hunted himself by the media and animal rights advocates and his life is in shambles.

The other piece of news, the one you’re more likely to have missed is the one about clandestine videos made of unaware representatives of Planned Parenthood who were led into a trap by an anti-abortion organization which bent on destroying the worldwide provider of so-called “women’s health”. The videos, three of them have been released up to this point, show the high up representatives of PP casually discussing their business practices of selling aborted baby parts and one even shows the dismembered and shambled remains of one of these babies.

PP

Both of these stories are tragic. Both of these stories deal with the death of innocence to inhuman aggression and selfish destruction. But these stories are not equal, not even remotely! All life is sacred, from the crown of creation (humanity) to the tiniest amoeba, but not all life is equal. That which is made in the image and likeness of God, and that alone is truly incalculable. And yet our society and media are in more of an outrage against a lion killer than an organization responsible for the murder of more innocent human beings than any other organization in history.

Also in the news this week is the trial of a woman who foolishly called in threats to an abortion clinic. Yet those who have been calling in threats on the life of the dentist are pretty much assured safety and forgiveness. Something’s wrong with a society that values the life of a lion more than the lives of millions of innocent babies and millions of mothers and fathers who tragically made a bad decision. All of the above deserve our forgiveness and mercy. But I wonder if we, as a nation and world, will be able to stand before our God and look him in the eye and dare ask for his welcoming embrace when we’ve shared more images of a dead lion than of the murdered babies.

I would wager to say that the heartless act of the lion killing dentist is a direct result of a culture that places little value on life and respect for creation at any level. As Pope Francis so eloquently pointed out in his encyclical Laudato Si!, all of creation is good and beautiful and deserving of our respect and protection, especially the most vulnerable aspects of creation. And last I looked a fully grown lion has some pretty formidable defenses.

But what’s been on my heart even more is the fact that in the 40+ years that abortion has been legal in our country, countless women have died, innumerable stories of the evil of abortion have surfaced and this is not even remotely the first video that “The Center for Medical Progress” has released highlighting the inhuman and evil practices Planned Parenthood engages in. Yet, it is only now that our country seems to be waking up to the evil that is Planned Parenthood and abortion. The selling of aborted baby body parts is deplorable but pales in comparison to the murder of the babies in the first place! Those that are up in arms over the revelations made in the recent videos are a kind of missing the point, don’t you think?


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Air Quotes and Babies

There’s that awkward moment when you’re ‘discussing’ the hot topic of marriage with a gay ‘marriage’ proponent and you realize that he has no idea what you’re talking about and it dawns on you that except for divine intervention there’s no hope of you ever coming to an understanding of each other.

Dog fight

The other day I was eating dinner with my family and found myself making air-quotes while talking to my six year old son. He didn’t even respond or ask what I was doing with my fingers. It meant absolutely nothing to him, so much so that it didn’t even register. To him, I was just ‘talking with my hands’. Because of him not understanding the air-quotes everything I said was misunderstood by him.

This, in a nutshell, is why I believe most people today, including many Christians don’t understand the Church’s teaching on a whole range of issues that are troubling our world such as gay ‘marriage’, contraception, abortion, the permanence of the family, education, parents’ rights, etc. Ultimately, a majority of those who promote these family /society destroying things like gay ‘marriage’ or abortion have lost an understanding of what marriage is meant to be, or rather, they no longer have the capacity to comprehend the true purpose of marriage and family; they are much like my six year old who simply lacks the ability to comprehend air quotes. (1)

What is it they can’t understand? Simply this: the purpose of marriage is babies. Why can’t they understand this? Because many years ago the Anglican church accepted contraception as morally acceptable and a super-sonic slide into the destruction of the family took place where babies were divorced from marriage. Marriage is now seen as an agreement between two persons to spend time together and share their lives as long as it is mutually beneficial. There is no deeper purpose to marriage. And if this is true, that marriage was meant to be a mere emotional, financial or spiritual bond between two persons then who could justly prevent gay ‘marriage’?

But fortunately for us and our world, God has a much deeper meaning and purpose for Wedding Ringsmarriage and the family. At its core marriage is the greatest experience a person can have of God. It is the only apt analogy of the Trinitarian life: two distinct persons are united as one in love and that love expresses itself as a 3rd distinct and equal person, fully united to the other two.  The bonding between husband and wife is not the goal but rather, the only proper means of achieving the goal… the sharing of life-giving love.

Unfortunately, our society no longer has the capacity for this life-giving truth. We live in a culture of leisure (2), of the rugged-individualist’s pursuit of self-satisfaction – which is not the same as self-fulfillment. (3) Our culture is all about the individual “sucking the marrow out of life” for his own satisfaction. Pornography is prime example of this, where one uses and abuses another, sucking the life and dignity out of him/her for one’s own satisfaction.

Even when one steeped in our culture does manage to find an altruistic, self-giving spirit, it most often ends up trying to help others find the same self-satisfaction. But if we truly love others, we need to learn to look beyond their immediate self-satisfaction, towards their deeper fulfillment. And as experience and married life have taught me, true fulfillment can only be achieved in the giving of one’s life for another… self-sacrificial love… babies.

Mother and Child

If people truly loved Bruce Jenner they would not encourage him to get a sex change (which is impossible because he still has XY chromosomes) but they would seek to help him find healing and wholeness as God created him to be. If a person truly loves her homosexual cousin they wouldn’t encourage him to pursue a life of mere self-satisfaction. If a friend truly loves a young woman with an unexpected pregnancy, he wouldn’t encourage an abortion out of fear of a ruined life, of never being able to achieve that self-satisfaction, but rather, would care for her body and soul and for the body and soul of her child.

But as I said earlier, this deeper understanding of the person, of marriage and of love is beyond most people in our culture and so dialogue most often fails. The answer is not to argue louder but to love better; to witness to the Truth with our lives and marriages; to have babies and raise them with the understanding of this Truth. Then one day society will re-develop the ability to understand, much like my six year old will eventually develop the ability to understand air quotes.

Finally, remember that no matter how far our society falls, the family and the Church are divine institutions. They will never fail, they will never be undone. The family and the Church will always survive and march towards ultimate victory through the grace of God.

  1. The gay ‘marriage’ lobby, media and others are intentionally skewing the argument, but most ordinary, well-meaning people are well-intentioned but lack the ability to understand.
  1. My major in college was “Recreation and Leisure Services and Studies”.
  1. In the sense used here, “self-satisfaction” is a transitory, satisfied feeling, much like when a person feels full from eating. Self-fulfillment on the other hand means the experience of the fullness of life, completeness.