Follow by Email

Am I Crazy or has the world simply lost its mind?

*Rant On*/
Is it just me or has the world lost its mind?

Don't get me wrong, the world has proven itself to be a special kind of crazy in recent years...but I think this week it outdid itself. The bombing of Syria is looming and way too many people are just sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, and talking about celebrity train wreck after celebrity train wreck. This whole reaction is not completely unexpected by a culture that promotes living in the moment and avoiding anything remotely uncomfortable. Syrian refugess, too touchy a topic. Let's talk about how X did Y at Z and how all of this affirms the fact that our kids should never listen to music or eat anything but organic kale chips for the rest of their lives. Let's turn someone's molehill comment into a mountain, screaming INTOLERANCE and SEXIST...while Russia and China send our precious career politicians a few veiled threats. Do we even know what intolerance means anymore? Better question...do we know the different between simply having a different opinion and actually being intolerant?

Am I the only one noticing how washed down the news is becoming? Probably not...but the level of ignorance I keep seeing on the Facebook wall confirms that not only are people buying into the washed down news...but promoting it. A new celebrity divorce? COOL! Let's talk about it for half an hour as Egypt's churches burn to the ground and Coptic Christians avoid the streets for fear of their safety. THAT GUY is playing BATMAN?!? Oh, the humanity! The horror! Meanwhile, a Montana judge decides that 30 days in jail is sufficient punishment for a teacher caught sleeping with a teenage girl who then committed suicide.

What does all of this tell me? We are a vain and extremely callous nation of fools...quickly descending into a "panem et circenses"-loving mob more concerned with a celebrity's hair color than the well-being of our own children, the lives of innocent civilians half a world away...and the overall state of of our world. Most of all we are uneducated and, to make matters worse, unwilling to either learn or change. We have an entire history and an entire world of knowledge at our fingertips whenever we go on the internet. And what to do we do with it? Catch up on celebrity gossip. We listen to the sugar-coated lies our "news" broadcasters spew and agree with our patronizing government whenever they give us the "nothing to see here, move along" treatment. We follow what we are supposed to follow and fill our minds with distractions whenever anything becomes to uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the government does what it wants, spies on what it wants, and bombs what it wants. And we are told that this is a good thing because heaven forbid the government be wrong about anything...especially if the government happens to agree with the corporations, lobby groups, etc. that helped fund the campaigns of our career politicians.

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
-Orwell, 1984

I highly doubt we are more informed in our decision to bomb Syria than we were when we made the decision to bomb Iraq. One of the only differences now is that the media, for whatever reason, happens to actually like our current administration. I almost wish G.W.Bush was still in office, if only because our media actually did its job in questioning the status quo and keeping the public informed. I don't feel informed right now. Snowden and Manning. Benghazi. Egypt. Syria. It almost feels like all the news I get is tailored to a mass of people that doesn't care about details. I see more opinion and suppositions in news stories than I see concrete fact or actual journalism. And it both bothers and scares the hell out of me.

Why? It seems like people don't recognize propaganda. Propaganda is not news. It is opinions and suppositions that are, at times, passed off as news. So that is what we are getting today, propaganda and watered down celebrity gossip. And people either fail to realize this, or they fail to care. If, by chance, they happen to care, they don't seem to really question any of it. I know, I am guilty of all of this too at times!

If you think about it and challenge the status quo...you are labelled as paranoid.......intolerant...crazy... brainwashed. People start wondering what your political or religious affiliation happens to be so they can immediately categorize and dismiss your opinion based on these rather than facts or how informed your thoughts may be. If your words make them uncomfortable, regardless of how true they may be...forget it. You cannot be taken seriously these days if you happen to think for yourself. You cannot be bipartisan, there is no such thing in this political climate. You cannot disagree with the president...it's wrong and pretty much guarantees that you are a member of X, that vile political movement out to brainwash our children. Even worse, you start getting labelled as an extremist...a dissident. Informed opinions can get you in trouble if the majority does not agree with you...and this will only become more frightening if it is allowed to continue.

Some scary questions for you to ponder as our warmongering career politicians decide to rush us into another war (one we have no idea about because we're too busy talking about nothing):

1. How did we let ourselves get to this point?
2. How do we get out of this?
3. Where is the truth in all of this?

Perhaps I should never have read so many dystopian novels. Perhaps I should never have made an effort to learn about Stalinist Russia and the like. Maybe it would have been better if I had read less books and more celebrity magazines. At least then I would have been able to live in blissful ignorance, caring more about red carpet events than world events and the well-being of my fellow man.

Praying for peace and urging all of you to do the same. /*Rant Off*

Pax Vobiscum

The Tzadikim Nistarim

When reading the dialogue between Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka in "On Heaven and Earth," I came across a passage in which Rabbi Skorka describes what I have since discovered to be the Tzadikim Nistarim, or "the hidden righteous ones." According to some branches of Judaism, the hidden righteous ones are 36 righteous people who, through their goodness and humility, justify the continuation of the world. Essentially, from what I have come to understand, for the sake of these 36 holy people, God will not allow the world to be destroyed...even if the rest of the world has turned into an evil lot of heartless murderers. The lesson learned here is to be as righteous and holy as possible, because you may just be one of these righteous people and not know it.

I don't think there is a Catholic version of the Tzadikim Nistarim, but I do remember coming across something a tad similar when reading Sister Faustina's diary. In it, we hear Christ say the following:
"There are souls living in the world who love Me dearly. I dwell in their hearts with delight. But they are few. In convents too, there are souls that fill My Heart with joy. They bear My features (...). Their number is very small. They are a defense for the world before the justice of the Heavenly Father and a means of obtaining mercy for the world. The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence" (Diary 367
Before reading "On Heaven and Earth," I often wondered who these loving souls were and if I was one of them. I think I have a long way to go before I can love God as I wish to love him because I hope to one day love God with a heart as fervent as that of St. Francis of Assisi and countless other saints who devoted their entire lives to serving God). When looking out for the people whose hearts have become a dwelling place for Christ, I often think of saints like St. Faustina Kowalska and Padre Pio. They certainly pleased God during their time on earth and probably helped countless souls due to their prayers, sacrifices, and suffering.
Image Credit: Our Catholic Prayers
I also think of the everyday unsung heroes of today. Perhaps there's someone in your acquaintance who will one day be declared a saint. Perhaps a few of these people delight God enough to, knowingly or unknowingly, sustain an increasingly awful world. When I think about these unnamed and under-appreciated saints-in-training, I sometimes find myself remembering some of the people I have seen in churches and pilgrimages around the world. Perhaps these people are one of the few who love Christ dearly and help prolong the coming of God's justice. And then there's the church ladies at home.

You probably have a few church ladies at your home church. These are the older ladies you often see in an otherwise empty church, adoring Christ in the Eucharist or praying fervently for their grandchildren and families. Sometimes, when I find myself praying in the chapel after confession, I suddenly find myself surrounded by a gaggle of tiny, Filipino women praying the rosary and doing the stations of the cross together. The older these women are, the more I appreciate them. The more I see of them, the more I love them. Though some of them carry stern expressions, the lines on their faces tell another story. There is joy in these women. Behind every stern reminder to their grandchildren to be quiet in the house of God, there is love. Love for God and love for the child they wish to teach. These women probably have bodies that are more in pain than ours on any given day, and yet they will kneel on the cold, marble floor of the Church when pansy Catholics, such as myself on occasion, prefer the comfort of padded pews. Perhaps these oft-unnoticed women are the Tzadikim Nistarim....or the holy souls that fill Christ's heart with joy.

...or maybe the Tzadikim Nistarim are the brothers and sisters out there in the humble convents and monasteries. They don't attempt to ride buses to campaign for certain candidates. However, they will march and pray barefoot in DC every year in silent defense of the unborn. Like Padre Pio, they take their vow of obedience seriously, knowing that their obedience to their superior is their obedience to Christ.

...or maybe the Tzadikim Nistarim are the innocent children of the world. I am often caught off-guard by the level of empathy children have for others. As awful as some kids can be, there are always children out there who will seek to comfort those who are sad or care for those who need help. I could tell you all kinds of stories about my little cousins or some of my previous students who performed random acts of kindness simply because it was the right thing to do and not because they could write it off during tax time.

...or maybe the Tzadikim Nistarim are those who suffer for God. These can be terminally ill patients that offer up their suffering in union with that of Christ's for the salvation of the world. I remember my family once visiting a very old relative of my dad's at a nursing home. This woman was so bent with age and sickness that she could barely lie down straight. She was in the last stages of her illness and suffered greatly, but if you were to look in her eyes you saw the promise of heaven. I will never forget how her eyes were fixed on a small image of Christ on the Cross, which hung above her bed. Her entire focus was on that image and her eyes were on fire with the love she had in her heart. This woman died with dignity and probably brought many souls with her to God through her intercession and suffering as a victim soul.

...and there are countless other holy souls out there who could potentially be one of the people in whom God takes delight in a world that always seems to get worse and worse.

Who knows, perhaps you too could one day become one of these holy souls if you put a bit more effort into loving and serving God and your fellow man.

Pax Vobiscum

A Boring Heaven?

I was a kid when my dad first described heaven to me...and the first impression I got about heaven was that it was going to be boring. Hopelessly boring. I remember it all started when I asked him what people did in heaven. He replied that they simply remained in God's presence and prayed. I didn't really appreciate God then as I do now, so I can see why heaven sounded boring to this younger version of me. I can also understand now that I have lived longer and seen that the world is nowhere near as awesome as I once imagined it to be. When I was a kid, I thought the world was awesome. People were nice. The world was full of places to explore. Everyone grew up to be happy and successful. Everything was simple. You simply did your time at school, got a job after you were finished with school, and then basically had fun as you enjoyed the freedoms that came with adulthood.
"The Voyage of Life Childhood" by  Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
Then I grew up and realized that the world was nowhere near as awesome as I had imagined it to be. I have visited just about every place I wanted to visit when I was a kid. As wonderful as these places were, they had just as many (if not more) homeless, drug-addicted, and unhappy people as some of the shadier cities near my hometown. As much as I was taught by my school to love and trust our country's leaders, pretty much all of them had blood on their hands. Whether it was sending people to war, detaining them indefinitely, killing them with drones, abandoning them to insurgents, supporting the death penalty, or simply turning a blind eye to the slaughter of babies born alive during abortions...they all had/have blood on their hands. Naive as I was, I never imagined it would be this awful. 
"The Voyage of Life Youth" by Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
I remember first going "online" when I was in sixth grade. I never imagined that such a powerful tool for communication would become a haven for sex traffickers, pedophiles, and anonymous trolls more concerned with their own selfish and disgusting ideologies than the well-being of others. I never imagined that it would be used to help children bully their classmates to the point where anti-bullying campaigns would be necessary to stop children and teens from committing suicide or driving others to suicide. I may not have always been as religious as I am now, but I certainly never expected the blasphemies and outright animosity against religions. You can probably guess what I am referring to right now...though I refuse to give this group any more attention or credit than they've already been getting.

"The Voyage of Man" by Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
Let's face it, no matter how hard we try, our works always find a way of descending into hateful chaos. The leaders we elect ultimately end up being just as flawed as the people who elected them...only with more power. The world never turns out to be as awesome as we wanted it to be. Don't get me wrong, there are still things, places, and people out there that are worth remembering and protecting. There are still forests out there that haven't been torn down to make new mansions. There are still wonderful people out there that still help make life as beautiful as it should be...if only for a few moments. Not all is lost, but there is no sense in believing that our world is a perfect place. 

I was thinking about the awful state of the world today, when the thought of heaven popped up. It did not pop up in an "opium for the masses" kind of way. I did not think of it in a fit of escapism, but in terms of worthiness. I had been finishing up a book on Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, an Irish priest who had helped smuggle and hide Jews, POWs, etc. during the occupation of Rome by Nazis. This priest risked life and limb to save friend and enemy alike. He certainly lived out a pretty awful stretch of history, where the wrong person knocking on a door would have led to the deaths of countless people. I considered the work he and countless others had done and wondered about the mark in history that I have yet to make. What have I done to earn heaven? What have I done to ease the plight of those here on Earth? What have I done to make the world better? How can I make it better? Am I on the right track?

"The Voyage of Life Old Age" by Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
Needless to say, after thinking on it a bit, I came to the conclusion that I still need to do something in order to deserve heaven. Do I deserve heaven now? Nope. Can I one day deserve heaven? Perhaps. I have a lot of work to do first, but I am still hopeful. I don't want to dwell on heaven right now because there is far too much work here on earth and I cannot waste time dwelling on a reward that I do not yet deserve.

I have grown to love and appreciate Christ's presence in the Eucharist enough to actually feel a bit of heaven during the consecration. That's usually the only part of the week where I allow myself to consider heaven. It is one of very few instances where I actually feel as if I am in the presence of heaven. It is both an elating and extremely humbling experience for me and it helps me remember just how much work I have left to do before I am allowed to make it to heaven. Rather than act as an opiate, the thought of heaven serves as a reminder of just how much more I have to do. Maybe that's why I don't think of heaven very often...because I already seem to be weighed down by this feeling that I need to do more to ease the plight of my fellow man. I already feel weighed down by a schedule that makes it difficult for me to actively and regularly participate in charitable works and events. My service has, thus far, been sporadic...and insufficient (in my opinion at least). 

And yet, even with all my mistakes and imperfections, God still allowed me to experience a bit of heaven. Perhaps He sees potential in me that I cannot see yet. Perhaps He knows that I need a reminder every so and so often about the work that I need to do in order to deserve the heaven He wishes me to be a part of. Or maybe this is what my dad was talking about the whole time. Heaven was never about just being in a place to worship and pray. It was about being with God and seeking to worship and praise him out of love. It was about fulfilling our longing for Him and loving Him fully with all the love a perfect soul can possess...a love unhindered by selfishness, lust, and a variety of other vices that are typically celebrated by the world. The heaven my dad talked about is a place that can not be corrupted because truth and perfect, selfless love dwell there. Considering how much I love truth and selfless love, heaven is not so much about escaping a place as it is about fulfillment. It is simply a place and state where love can be fulfilled and truth can be unhindered.

I don't often think of heaven. In fact, I rarely consider it. I know it exists, but I just don't think about it. These days, the thought of heaven only really comes to mind whenever I am at mass and I hear the Sanctus. Then all of a sudden, my mind races to a thought of heaven that becomes clearer as the mass goes on. I envision hosts of angels and saints crowded around God and singing their praises. I envision the laws of time and space melting away to allow every holy soul that ever existed to join their brothers and sisters in a unified appreciation for the Creator who made us for Himself.

It is in these moments that I almost feel as if I am just a breath away from heaven and subconsciously already immersed in a heavenly and eternal adoration. I envision this heavenly adoration to be full of voices and musical instruments resonating and merging into one sound that is too perfect to be heard with the ear. I envision the sights of heaven to require far more photoreceptor cell types than our human eyes can handle. For readers out these who don't appreciate the science of vision yet, please do yourself a favor and read up on it. It is certainly fascinating, especially when you compare photoreceptor cells between humans and other creatures. Bees, for example, can see ultraviolet light. We cannot. Darn bees! *Shakes fists at sky* 

It truly is fascinating, this idea that we only see a limited range of what the universe has to offer...and it definitely makes me wonder what prayer and adoration are like in heaven. I don't know exactly what it is that we can expect, but I can assure you that it is far from hopelessly boring!

On Heaven and Earth: A Geeky Review

If you want a sneak peak at what we are to expect out of Pope Francis's papacy, go no further than your local bookstore. On Heaven and Earth, a published dialogue between then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, reveals a great deal about the Pope's thoughts on a wide variety of topics. Both men discuss their beliefs and views about many of the topics that concern people today. Yes, we all have a good idea of what Pope Francis is all about when it comes to his concern for the poor and jobless of today. We have seen the news stories and we have all found ourselves remarking at his humility, his gentleness, and his ability to still be the man he was and is before becoming Pope.

We are still in the beginning of his papacy and he has already captured our hearts with his endearing smiles, his jokes, and his constant care for the most marginalized in our society. The media has had a lot of fun either taking his quotes out of context or reading too much into his every action and word. This is where a book like "On Heaven and Earth" becomes quite useful. It is not a paraphrasing author that speaks on behalf of Pope Francis, but Pope Francis speaking for himself. And he sure has a lot to share regarding God, the Devil, atheists, religions, religious leaders, the disciples, prayer, guilt, fundamentalism, death, euthanasia, the elderly, women, abortion divorce, and quite a few other topics. He doesn't tip-toe around the hard issues either!

The premise of this book is simple enough. Pope Francis, a Catholic, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a Jew, have had many discussions together as leaders of two seemingly different religions. They seek dialogue in order to build bridges where walls had been built throughout history. They speak as both religious leaders and friends, as evidenced by the very personal nature in which they confide their beliefs and the experiences that helped shape as well as define their beliefs. Pope Francis, though he's been viewed as a radical of sorts, speaks as a Catholic who believes Catholic doctrine. Rabbi Skorka, likewise, speaks as a Jew. Yet, there are many areas in which they agree. Even when their views don't mesh completely, they leave a lot of room open for discussion, understanding, and respect.

One thing I noticed and appreciated, was the use of cultural, personal, and historical references used by Pope Francis. The biblical understanding is there and there is no evidence to suggest that Pope Francis hasn't studied religion extensively (he often cites the bible and other religious texts). However, he speaks in the same personable manner as any other Catholic evangelist would speak to their friends and neighbors about Christ. He uses personal experiences to paint pictures and even references comic strips when making points. I may not be Argentinian or know exactly what comic he is referring to, but I really appreciated his down-to-earth style of speaking. Fortunately, there are footnotes in this book and they did a wonderful job of putting things in context whenever I didn't understand a reference.

This book was a very profound look into the mind and faith of Pope Francis (and Rabbi Skorka) and will be of great use to anyone who wants to know Pope Francis as he is, not as the media portrays him to be. I think this book is worth a read if you want to know what the Catholic community and the world will expect during Pope Francis's papacy and I would not be surprised if people of other faiths find themselves enjoying this book. Much of what is shared is easily translatable across faiths and cultures. I am a Catholic, but I definitely found myself learning new things about Judaism. I also started seeing many similarities between Catholicism and Judaism with regards to important issues in our everyday lives.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their faith and world views. I found myself rethinking a lot of what I had learned about things like charity. As Pope Francis makes clear, there is more to charity than simply giving money to someone on the street. The contact with this person and acknowledgment of this person is intensely important. He advises people to look into the eyes of those they give alms to and he challenges us to rethink our ideas of what role we should play when seeking a better world. His words are stern at times, but always spoken out of love and concern for the poor and for the salvation of those who read his words. As down-to-earth Pope Francis may be, his words will certainly shake you and instill the beginnings of a grand metanoia in those who read this book with the intention of improving their lives and understanding how this Pope intends to change the world.

Pax Vobiscum

Disclaimer: I was offered a free copy of this book for review by Blogging for Books. All words and views expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Mother of the Messiah: Prayer Card Series #1

I've probably got more prayer cards in my possession than I will ever know what to do with. I have cards in Portuguese, Spanish, English, German, and even some Latin thrown in. I have prayer cards that are older than I am, some that are younger, and plenty that cannot really be dated. I have prayer cards with all kinds of saints, artwork, photographs, portraits, prayers, you name it. One card I would like to share to you today that is titled "Mother of the Messiah" and features "The Virgin with Angels" by William Bouguereau (1825-1905). It is simply beautiful and has a nice prayer on the back. The card and painting are absolutely beautiful.

In this painting, angels surround Mary as she holds the Christ Child. I always envision angels surrounding the church and parishioners during mass...adoring Christ as he is present in the Eucharist. I always envision a whole other world just beyond the veil...a world that will be revealed at the end of our lives. This world is much easier to envision during mass as the priest elevates the body and blood of Christ, especially when incense smoke and music surround me. If any of you ever considered mass a feast for all senses, you know exactly what I am talking about. If celebrated reverently and properly, it is an ethereal experience. I have been blessed to attend quite a few awesome masses like this and cannot wait until my next earth-shattering mass.

I got this card because I am in the middle of painting a monk holding a censor, with smoke rising from it and transforming into angels that are joining him in adoration of the Eucharist. This is quite a venture on my part because I normally stick to one or two people at most per piece (more people = more time). I needed some help with angel placement, and as I was looking for a card for a friend, I found the Mother of the Messiah card. It was perfect. Just what I needed.

Mother of the Messiah

Most Holy Virgin Mary,
you consented in faith
to become the
Mother of the Messiah.
You are a mystery
of light and perfection.
I pray that the angels in heaven 
who adore your loving soul
may always surround me
so that I may imitate you 
by bringing the presence
of Christ's love and mercy to others.
Amen.

This prayer is quite beautiful and I hope that it helps you all feel the presence of God, the angels, the saints, and the Holy Souls of Purgatory the next time you go to mass.

Pax Vobiscum

The Evolution Issue Continues...

I logged onto Twitter today and came across what seems to be a continuation of the attempt at dialogue I had earlier with Abby Johnson. I respect the work she has done for the prolife movement, but I am afraid that she is shooting herself in the foot with the kind of charity she's been showing on Twitter. 

To give you a quick rundown of what happened, she posted a link to a video and then proceeded to either delete or take a negative attitude with many of the comments that disagreed with her views. She made it sound like you cannot accept evolution if you want to be prolife. She made it sound like you cannot accept evolution if you want to believe in God. I finally had to write something (my first open letter to Abby...which started as a comment on the facebook thread) about one of the comments she wrote in reply to someone else's comment. I thought it was unfair and as I felt qualified to talk about it from a Catholic and scientific standpoint, I did. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church accepts both evolution as well as God...we simply don't see the need to choose one or the other...because faith and science complement each other (when they aren't being used for the wrong reasons). She replied in an unfriendly manner, which led to the second open letter. 

There were a few exchanges on Twitter (kind of one-sided on my end because she had blocked me) and I let it go after I said what I had needed to say. She then took the route of the bully. I do not find this acceptable, especially considering how often she attempts to help bring the prolife movement together. Her calls for unity and the nature of her comments are in conflict and call to question her sincerity whenever she advocates for unity and acceptance. This is the message I got out of her words to me:

"We must be united in the prolife movement if we are to defeat abortion....but only if you reject evolution...even if you value the sanctity of life."

"Yes, you are a former abortion clinic worker who was touched by God's love and now wants to defend the unborn! Oh, wait...you believe in evolution. We don't want your kind."

Forget Humani generis, forget Bl. Pope John Paul II's 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and any other thing that may contradict Abby's personal beliefs on the matter...if you aren't in accordance with her rigid interpretation of God's creation...you deserve to be bullied. No one cares how prolife you are if you refuse to reject evolution.

I've been bullied before and I've put up with enough criticism in my professional life to grow a backbone. I have been wrong before and I have learned to listen to others when I need to change something like pride, anger, etc. I have also learned when I should hold my tongue and when I should let the truth out. This is one of those occasions where I feel the truth must be freed. You see, I am concerned about the future of the prolife movement if this exclusionist attitude continues. I am Catholic and understand the Catholicism-based arguments for life. I agree with the Church completely and I don't find myself having to reject evolution in the process. I am 100% prolife and a scientist with a decent background in evolutionary scientists. I don't see a problem with this...and I don't see the need for people to choose evolution or God.

Science and religion, when learned and understood properly, work hand in hand. The teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the sanctity of life, human dignity, conception, etc. are beautiful and I accept them completely. The pro-choice atheist beside me won't accept them. However, there is a chance that they will accept the science-based reasons for life. If this is the case, chances are this atheist will continue being pro-choice if we continue talking science and I find myself trying to win an argument with them over how evolution is of the devil and should not be accepted by good Christians. I may win the argument, but lose the soul...to paraphrase the old adage. And this is just the pro-choice atheist. What about the pro-choice scientists? What if we attempt to win an argument with them (especially if we find ourselves quoting or referencing the awful video Abby was advertising)? What if we seek to reach out to secular America? Our anti-evolution stance and refusal for dialogue may be cute in some circles...but it will not win over secular America. Neither will bullying...or the automatic ignore/delete/block strategy I saw on Facebook and Twitter. 

We must be willing to speak to people with words they can understand. We cannot speak to them at all if we outright refuse to have dialogue....or simply refuse to listen to ideas we may not like. I've had to sit through ethics lectures that made my blood curdle...but I at least attempted to learn the other person's perspective. I didn't attack them for the sake that they had this perspective. Instead, I talked it out. Maybe I didn't win over everyone I spoke with...but at least I got them to understand a bit of where I was coming from. With a little more reading and a touch of the Holy Spirit...who knows? Maybe they will have a Saint Paul-like conversion one day. We are called to be "as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16) when dealing with these people...not as stubborn as mules and as ignorant as children who refuse to learn. 

Yes, we can hear the "faith of a child" comment whenever we are confronted with something that is difficult to understand...but I think this is a poor reflection of what we are taught in Matthew 18:3. We need to "become as little children" in order to "enter into the kingdom of heaven." We need to learn as children must learn. We must change and mature as children change and mature. We must listen to wisdom when it is imparted upon us. We need to be corrected when we err. We question. We need to wonder. We need to seek. We must learn lessons we don't want to learn. In my experience, children are much better at breaking bad habits than adults. They are better at learning lessons than those of us who are set in our ways. Kids have wonderful, limitless imaginations and a seemingly infinite capacity for knowledge. Their brains are like sponges, whereas our brains have a tough time helping us remember what we had for breakfast. A child is far better at recognizing God's infinite nature than those who impose limits on God's creation.

When it comes to faith and our search to understand the mechanisms of God's creation as well as our role in God's creation....the words of Blessed JPII come to mind:
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth - in a word, to know himself - so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” -JPII
Bl. JPII got it. He understood the quest for truth that was instilled in our hearts. As I have mentioned before, I went into the sciences because this is where God's truth was revealed to me (well, that and art...but I could always do art on the side). Evolution helped it all click for me....the necessity for God. The significance of human dignity. God's infinite love for us. These are the things I was able to understand after learning about the harsh nature of natural selection and the processes behind mutations. Studying the mechanisms of evolution, helped me appreciate how much God loved me from the beginning. Evolution may not explain the why's of creation or the nature of the human soul...but it certainly explains the how's behind quite a few things. By understanding our relationship with other animals, we are able to study cancer and develop therapies to fight it. Evolution helps us determine which animals to use when screening life-saving drugs in their early stages of development. It helps us understand how viruses are spread and how they can be combated. Genetics and evolution have helped us diagnose diseases, find cures for diseases, and improve our ability to grow crops (long before test tubes and beakers, our ancestors were well on their way to creating all kinds of cool crops that are distinct from their wilder counterparts). It has helped us understand the divergence of species. It has helped us recognize just how precious creation is in the eyes of God. 

Not everyone sees it this way, but I have attempted to understand why they do not see things as I do. I have not sought to close my ears to them. I have been respectful and I have attempted to avoid putting the need to win an argument over the need to seek dialogue and encourage understanding.

With that said, I just want to make it known (before the release of the awful video she is probably going to be promoting soon...and the charitable comments that are sure to follow)...that you can accept the science of evolution AND be prolife AND be Catholic if you so desire. 

Again. 

You can accept evolution AND be prolife AND be Catholic. 

Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise if these are your beliefs.

This goes for everyone, regardless of what people like Abby may say. If she thinks this is my attempt at smearing her name...then so be it. Better for an on-the-fence pro-choicer to get my end of the story regarding what it means to be prolife...than to get Abby's story...especially if this person has read a science book. I can only hope that certain atheist pro-abortion polemicists (and they do exist) don't grab Abby's story and use it to paint the entire prolife movement as anti-science hypocrites. Considering how biased our media is these days, heaven knows that is all we need right now. 

With that said, I want to make sure everyone knows that there are prolife individuals that accept God as well as evolution into their lives. I will share the whole Twitter fiasco here, because that way you can see for yourselves what the whole story is about....and who exactly is smearing whom. In my opinion, her comments are the ones doing the smearing...and it isn't my reputation that she's ruining. It wasn't just me she was picking on either, but anyone attempting to speak up for me as well when I was off twitter for a few days.







There you have it...that's as much of the story as I could piece together based on what I still had access to and the things that have not been deleted. I think you can come to your own conclusions about where the argument went and when it turned sour.

I continue to wish Abby the best and continue to pray that God may soften her heart so that she can abandon anything that does not ultimately give Him glory. Bullying doesn't give God glory...and neither does an outright refusal for civil dialogue....or an appreciation for his infinite creativity and love for his creatures.

I have nothing else to say on my part save for these words by my man Saint Augustine:


Pax Vobiscum 

Saint Chesterton

Rumor has it, the cause for Gilbert Keith Chesterton's canonization has been opened....
Image Credit: American Chesterton Society
OH MY GOODNESS. Can you imagine this? 
Saint Gilbert
Saint Gilbert Keith 
Saint G.K.
Saint G.K.CHESTERTON
Saint Gilbert Chesterton
Saint Chesterton

I know it's not his first name...but I think Saint Chesterton has more of a ring to it than any other of the name combinations I've been playing around with since I came across the possible breaking news that Chesterton's cause for canonization was open. I know there's been rumors before...but I think there may be some truth to it. At least, I hope there is. I want this guy to be recognized as a saint. I want his works, and not just his quotes, to resurface. I think the free Chesterton eBooks and PDFs out there have helped bring Chesterton back to the mainstream...but a canonization may give this guy the Catholic superstar treatment he deserves. His works, which helped convert C.S.Lews...may one day help convert this stagnant culture. A culture in need of his fire, his joy, his ability to stir the soul...and his ability to make people THINK.

I was first introduced to G.K. Chesterton when reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. In this series, a character/place by the name of Fiddler's Green takes on the appearance of our wonderful and hopefully-soon-to-be-canonized gentleman and goes by the name of Gilbert. If you look at the illustrations, the listen to way this character talks...and read Neil Gaiman's speech on the three authors that shaped him as a writer...it is pretty obvious that Fiddler's Green is an homage to Chesterton. He was a bit of a hero in one of the plot lines in the series and I...without giving away too many spoilers...just loved him during his last appearance in the series. Maybe my subconscious mind (and several references by Bad Catholic) helped me rediscover Chesterton as a writer in recent years. 

I love G.K. Chesterton. Now, I was first introduced to Chesterton's writing when I picked up his book on Saint Francis. I am no longer in possession of this book as I lent it out/gave it to someone a year or so ago.* However, this book was a wonderful doorway to an author that could speak to me. I like some authors. love some authors. I want to become BFFs and have tea with some authors. Chesterton can be counted among the authors found in this last group. I would have loved to meet him...but I was born about a century too late. I know, based on his sense of humor, how he wrote and what he had written about, that Chesterton and I would have gotten along nicely. I simply love his wit and his style. I have never been a huge fan of detective stories. Sherlock Holmes was my only exception...until I plunged into the Father Brown series. I got hooked on Father Brown audiobooks. I listened to Chesterton's stories as I worked in the lab, as I commuted, and as I went on my walks. I simply loved Chesterton...and still do. Especially since he introduced me to Hilaire Belloc.

Well, imagine my surprise today when I came across this awesome piece. Apparently, according to the Curious Truths Tumblr as well as GK Chesterton Quote, Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, has confirmed that the Bishop of Northampton is opening the cause for Chesterton's sainthood. 

I haven't been able to find a direct link to this breaking news (or to Ahlquist's exact announcement), so I don't know if I have been the victim of wishful thinking coupled with internet rumors. If you are more in the know, please feel free to correct me as necessary and direct me to a source with more information.

I do hope, however, that this rumor is true. His witty (and very prophetic) one-liners are cause enough for me to consider praying for his intercession before he is every formally recognized as a saint. In my personal opinion, he is already in heaven, having a good ole' time with Belloc, Tolkien, Lewis, and many other badass saints. I think he's helped save enough souls to warrant a get out of Purgatory Free card. I mean, word on the street is that Chesterton's The Everlasting Man  was the book C.S. Lewis was referring to when he made the statement that "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." Chesterton's ability to recognize and describe the beauty of faith, his sense of humor, and his excellent command of the English language have helped quite a few cross the Tiber in the last century or so. He was also a great defender of the Church and Catholicism as they should be. How could he NOT be a saint?

I will have to draw my own G.K. Chesterton saint card if his cause is pushed forward! This guy introduced me to Belloc and got me actually reading/listening to detective stories (Father Brown series)...so it is the least I can do.

Pax Vobiscum

*I never let people borrow anything that I would actually mind parting with. The only exceptions are my Bl. JPII relic and my JPI relic...which are both on loan right now. If you are interested in asking for a relic, I will email you the information to help you obtain one...but I don't want to post it online. I see too many relics on sale on eBay and not that I don't trust my readers...it's just that I don't want a relic to go into the wrong hands.