In Which I Reference People Smarter Than I

While perusing facebook today an article entitled On Our Intolerant Faith and I thought wow I just wrote about that (in that post about flipping tables).  I wanted to share it as a follow up because it summed up the idea that tolerance is not necessarily good when it comes to sinful and harmful ideas.  He references Archbishop Charles Chaput, who said recently:

And there you have it folks.  I promise to write something which consists of my own original thoughts soon.

Holy Allegory, Batman!

In case you haven’t heard, C.S. Lewis was a complete genius.  If you haven’t read anything by him please go do yourself a favor and do so right now.  And no, the Narnia movies do not count. He wrote many theological works, but also fantastic fiction filled with well crafted, yet subtle(mostly) spiritual messages.  The most famous of his works is probably The Chronicles of Narnia.  I’ve owned this set of books since my first communion but have never read all of them.  Recently I decided to remedy this and retreated into the world of Aslan while on vacation(my family quickly learned to leave me alone).

I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle in quick succession and was blown away by the spiritual truths contained in each.  I won’t reveal too much about the plot but I just wanted to delve into one of my favorite scenes.

*Spoiler alert*

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace, one of the children transported to the magical world of Narnia, is cranky, selfish and generally makes life difficult.  At one point he is turned into a dragon and begins to change his ways.  Once his heart is converted, he is transformed back into a boy, but the way this happens is quite interesting.  He tries to remove his own skin a couple of times, like a snake, but finds that he is still a dragon.  Then Aslan, who represents Jesus, says, “You will have to let me undress you.”  As Aslan began tearing the skin, Eustace reports that “it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt.”  Finally, Aslan dresses Eustace in brand new clothes.

Wow, this little passage is jam packed.  We can’t ever hope to escape from sin on our own, to remove our dragon’s skin without the help of Jesus.  Being stripped of our pride and selfishness usually hurts more than anything, but is worth it in the end.  And like Eustace, we are made new in Christ and can be transformed by his love.

I may have posted this already, but it is completely relevant here:

This is just one of many lessons to be found within the hills of Narnia.  It is amazing to see how Aslan is always guiding the characters, even when they don’t realize it.  And for those you who are turned off by “children’s books” – Lewis has this to say: “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

One last thing – if you’re reading these and are tempted to skip over The Horse and His Boy, because it’s about different characters, don’t! It turned out to be one of my favorites.

Just cause it’s hilarious:

Nuns!

Awhile ago I posted about a movement called Imagine Sisters.  Well they’ve really gotten off the ground and I signed up to help them advertise.  Follow the tumblr, like them on facebook and consider promoting their cause.  They’re working on t-shirts you’ll be able to purchase soon and a movie about how awesome Sisters are.

Right now they’re trying to beef up their website and are looking for people to contribute.  It would be most helpful to have sisters and priests share their stories and thoughts on discernment, but they also want to hear from serious discerners and those who are entering soon.  If you’re interested, fill out this form: http://goo.gl/tr9nl

I’m Gonna Flip This Table!

So I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes(ok most of the time).  For a while now my peers have been referring to “memes.”  For a while I ignored the word and chalked it up to being another geeky internet thing that I can be oblivious to and still live a relatively normal existence.  But one day I cracked and exclaimed, what in the world is a meme??

Well it turns out that they’re just any image that goes viral. Mostly now they’re images that circulate with constantly changing phrases, such as:

Courtesy of BadCatholic

I’m telling you this because I also just found out that you can create these pretty easily with meme generators.  I may go a little crazy and plaster my posts with them…

Now onto the actual post.  Today we have another dose of uncomfortable truth.  It has always bothered me when people talk about the importance of tolerance and tolerating others.  Do we know what those words mean?  According dictionary.com, tolerate means “to endure with repugnance; put up with.”  And to tolerate belief systems other than your own means “to allow the existence, presence, practice, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.”  Why would we permit those things which we believe are immoral and harmful to our neighbors? I’m sorry, but last time I checked Christians are called to love one another, not simply “put up with” their fellow human beings.  So what does this mean?  To truly love someone means to desire their good above all else.  Their good, not their happiness.  In our age of political correctness it is taboo to challenge the beliefs of others.  Yet, if you believe that you are in possession of the Truth why would you not do everything in your power to spread that Truth?  Are you prepared to risk the eternal souls of those around you so as not to offend anyone?  We need to love every one and hate sin.

I had already been thinking about this when I found this video, which challenges us to get angry and add a healthy dose of hate to our day:

It’s nice when people who are smarter than me confirm my ideas.

Remember this?

Jesus got angry and indignant when people disrespected His Father, maybe we should too.  This event is generally referred to as the cleansing of the temple.  What was Jesus cleaning up?  Sin.  This cleansing required some anger over the current situation and actions that probably offended a few people.

To break this down further(and use more memes!) when we see people harming themselves and their relationship with God by sinning, our reaction should be:

Instead it’s usually more like this(along with a dose of apathy):

As quoted in the video, the newly venerated Bishop Fulton Sheen was very opinionated on this subject.  He wrote:

Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it.

It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin.

The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth.

It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind.

The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body; but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom.

Real love involves real hatred: whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth.

Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of “live and let live”; it is not a species of sloppy sentiment.

Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly. 

Go flip a table today.  I dare you.

Humiliated by Grace

While in the habit of challenging my readers, why not talk about humility?  That little thing we all know we need more of but won’t admit it.  What does it look like to be humble?  When I first started praying about this, I thought there had to be a balance between selflessly serving others and letting people walk all over you.  Does humility mean quietly taking abuse and ridicule from others?  Sometimes, yes.  I just came across this list from Mother Teresa which helps give a concrete picture of humility.

1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Accept injuries and insults.
12. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone. 
13. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
14. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
15. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
16. Always choose the more difficult task.

Some of these things are difficult, impossible even.  But everything can be made possible through the grace of God.  Pride, like most people, is something I struggle with.  So when I learned about a prayer called The Litany of Humility I knew that it needed to become a part of my routine.  Then I found out that the TOR Sisters pray it everyday as part of Night prayer and I took it as one of many signs that I am supposed to join them.  Beware, this prayer will change your life!

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected, 


That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, 

The trick with this prayer is really meaning it.  At first, it might feel like you are just saying the words but eventually hopefully these desires will truly penetrate your heart.  You will be in a situation in which you want affirmation or acknowledge and the line will be put on your heart: “From the desire of being approved, deliver me Jesus.”

I first discovered this prayer because of Matt Maher‘s song, “Every Little Prison(Deliver Me)”, which is inspired by the Litany:

Here’s a beautiful sung version by Danielle Rose:

Lastly, be careful when you ask God to help you be more humble, because you will probably suddenly be bombarded by humiliating situations.  Allow yourself to be humiliated by Grace.

I Am Against Contraception Because I Have Faith in Humanity

So far this blog has been about my own spiritual journey and random adventures around the world.  Recently though I have been feeling more compelled to speak out on moral and political issues.  About a month a ago I attended a social justice conference sponsored by my diocese.  The first session I sat in was about the necessity of getting involved in the public sphere as Catholics.  With recent issues like the HHS mandate, we have an urgent responsibility to speak out.  So this, and other places on the internet, is where I choose speak out, to educate and engage others.

JPII’s got my back.

In this post I’m just going to come right out and address contraception, sex and God’s beautiful plan for us.  Now when someone like me addresses things like this everyone asks: How can someone who is going to be a nun, has never had sex and hasn’t even been in a serious relationship talk about these things intelligently?  I can do this because I have an understanding of heaven and the nuptial union between God and His Church.  As usual, my man JPII has something to say on this subject.  In his words:   “Marriage reveals the nuptial character of celibacy, and celibacy reveals that the ultimate purpose of marriage is to prepare us for heaven.” (http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0114.html)

Let’s break that down.  Marriage is a sacrament; sacraments are meant to be a physical sign of an inward grace, or spiritual reality.  Marriage is the foreshadowing of the marriage feast of heaven, when we will all be reunited with God.  Celibacy “skips” this earthly foreshadowing and attempts to live out a deeper union with God here on earth.   In a nutshell, my life as a nun will hopefully mirror the deeper meaning behind marriage and all that goes with it. If that made zero sense, see the link above.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself what the point of this post is anyway.  Well the catalyst was the launching of a wonderful, revolutionary website called 1flesh.org.  BadCatholic(the blogger I would marry if I wasn’t going to be a nun) helped create this project as an attempt to reveal the truth about artificial birth control and why sex is better “naked.”

So I was on Catholic cloud nine, exploring this website and helping to blow up the internet with its bold truth.  But of course the majority of people in this world can’t handle the truth and certainly don’t like being told how to live their lives.  Over on the Atheist channel at Patheos I came across this article:  “Catholic Blogger’s Dangerous New Project Warns People to Stop Using Contraception.”  And as I began reading, my head started inadvertently hitting the desk in frustration.  This blogger couldn’t even come up with new or creative arguments.  It is clear to me that she does not have a grasp on the Catholic understanding of sex or why this understanding is freeing, not constraining.

Firstly this:  “it’s an archaic, unrealistic standard.”  It just occurred to me how incredibly stupid this argument is.  People are always saying that the Catholic Church is outdated and has “unrealistic” expectations.  Why do we think that people today are less capable of self-control than those of the 19th century?  Personally, I have more faith in humanity than that.  We Catholics hold the crazy notion that people can and should control their desires.  Apparently that’s too much to ask.  People are obviously going to have sex anyway, so let’s just make it easier and more convenient!

Second bone of contention: apparently avoiding artificial contraception makes women “into slaves of their own biology despite the existence of readily available alternatives.”  Does this lady know anything about NFP or the like…?  Newsflash: Catholics are not against preventing pregnancy and planning a family prudently (gasp), we simply believe that artificial contraception inhibits the unitive and procreative nature of intercourse.

And the last paragraph just pushed me over the edge: “1Flesh will fail at making uncontrolled fertility and high-risk sex cool, and that’s a blessedly good thing. Still, it is utterly irresponsible and dangerous for anyone to attempt to convince people not to use contraception. It’s one thing to preach abstinence. It’s another to tell people who are having sex without the intent to have children to stay away from highly-effective forms of contraception.”  If 1flesh is preaching the truth, which I believe it is, it will certainly not fail but flourish and reach thousands of people.  Again, I’m not sure what Catechism you’ve been skimming, but the Catholic Church does not promote “uncontrolled fertility” or “high-risk sex.”  We do not operate under the assumption that fertility is under our control.  It is a gift from God, who expects us to use it responsibly and not throw it out the door completely, as with artificial contraception.  Hence, the no sex outside of marriage.  Oh yeah, and children aren’t a “risk” of sex – Catholic couples who practice some sort of natural family planning aren’t living in constant of fear of pregnancy.  As for the last sentence – we are not just willy nilly going around telling people not to use contraception but to continue having all the sex you want.  Our aim is to teach people God’s plan for our sexuality and that most of the time you should be at least open to having children(since that’s kinda what it’s for).

Woah, apparently I had a lot of feelings about that…

In case you forgot in the midst of my rantings, please check out 1flesh.org.