Friday, March 29, 2013

Bearded Men

Duck Dynasty is a popular show on A&E.  It involves a family from West Monroe, LA who started making duck calls and turned that company into a multi-million dollar company.    But at heart, they are still rednecks.  They love hunting and the outdoors.  They enjoys family and home made cooking.   They wear camo and have long beards.   They are simple, loving people who have done great things.

It is interesting how simple people can do great things.   Today is Good Friday.  A day when we remember another bearded man-- a simple carpenter from a small, out of the way town in Isreal challenged the authorities and was tortured and put to death.    His following of other simple men, fishermen and tax collectors, took this man's teachings and spread them. 

People are surprised by the Robertson's success.  How are these guys able to do as well as they have?  Well, if the Robertson's success is incredible, how much more incredible is the sucess of Christianity?  Sure, on the surface the Robertson's might not seem the sharpest tools in the shed but they have education.  They have technology.  They have each other.   But Christianity did not have all of that.  

Jesus came out of no where.  He was raised in Nazarath.   He didn't have education yet his words have been copied, studied and prayed over for 2000 years.  .  After the resurection, the apostles seperated and each went different places.   The story of Jesus and his teaching was spread by word of mouth for the first few centuries. Yet today, Christianity is one of the world's major religions.  

The Robertson's should be commended for their accomplishments.   They have gotten where they are by hard work, intelliegence and dedication.  I would be willing to say that if you asked them, there would be something else that they would give credit to for their success----the grace of God.    I believe the grace of God is totally responsible for the rise and sucess of Christianity.   What Jesus said is true---He is the Lord, the son of god and the

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Defending Marriage

Yesterday, little red and pink equal signs started posting up all over Facebook showing support for gay marriage as the Supreme Court looks overturning/upholding California Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.  I kept my regular avatar although, being one to always enjoy ruffling some feathers, I may change it to a plus sign.

You see, I do not agree with gay marriage but I understand why it is supported in today's society.  As I posted in my post in 2009 after the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 titled "Gay Marriage," I believe that marriage is a sacrament given to us by God and designed for a man and a woman and that it is impossible  in the eyes of God for two men or two women to be married.   That being said, society has bastardized what marriage is to the point that it is unrecognizable.  Marriage needs to be defended, but lets go all the way---defend it against divorce and remarriage because that marriage bond is unbreakable.  I told my wife just a few days ago, that if she left me, I was be forced to live the rest of my life alone because I could not remarry.   

To be honest, I do not really have a dog in this fight.  Like I said, I also understand how in today's society why gays and lesbians want a civil union that they would call marriage.  In today's society, homosexuality is going to be acceptable so there are going to be gay and lesbian couples living together as couples.   I can understand wanting to recognize that union and at the very least, have the civil things, such as tax breaks, medical benefits, retirement and life insurance benefits that come along with it.  I understand that.

That being said, I think there are two reasons I have problems with gay marriage.  The first is that I can see religious freedoms being infringed upon.  Already, religious organizations are being forced out of the adoption business .  Other companies have been forced to cater to gay and lesbian couples despite the religious beliefs of the owners.  I can foresee a future where the courts force priests and pastors into marrying gay and lesbian couples.   I'm not saying it will but, I think there is a possibility   

The biggest reason that I believe people should stand against gay marriage though, is out of love.  If we, as Christians believe that homosexual acts are sinful and thus separating people from God, then don't we, out of love have a responsibility to discourage sinful behavior.   People have tried to compare those who oppose gay marriage to those who opposed the civil rights movement.  I say, if those who opposed gay marriage were really hateful bigots for their beliefs then wouldn't they encourage the sinful behavior?  

It goes beyond the whole, "pointing out the splinter in another's eye while ignoring the plank in your own eye."  Trust me, I know all about the plank in my own eye.  I realize I'm a sinful person.  That does not mean I should ignore, or even encourage sinful behavior in another person.    

Monday, March 25, 2013

Maintaining Relationships

About a month ago, my wife, Abby and I were trying to watch the latest episode of "Justified" on television when one of my kids kept coming in wanting our attention.  Abby said to him, "If you want mommy and daddy to always be together, you'll give us some alone time."

I was thinking about that and I believe that is one of the reasons for our longevity---we always make time to just be with each other.   We are always talking on the phone.   It's rare that we go more than a coupe weeks without going out to eat alone---either lunch or dinner.  Heck, a couple of weeks ago, we spent a weekend night at a nice hotel downtown---just because.

Because of out choosing to spend time in each other's presence, we have a very healthy marriage and still enjoy making our kids cringe by our hugging and our kissing.  This summer we will be married for twenty years.  Now, I realize that twenty years isn't fifty years but I'm proud of it.  Heck, I'm just surprised that anyone could have put up with me for one year.

Our healthy marriage means that we are there for each other when things get bad.  A bad day at work means we can vent on each other.   We are there to hold each other up when our kids are sick.   We push and pull each other towards sainthood (she does most of the pushing and pulling)

The same thing can be said for our relationship with God.   We need to have a constant interaction with God.    Prayer should be a constant interaction and not just something you do when you need something.   We should be frequenting Eucharist and Confession.   We should frequently be talking with God.   This ensures that we are familiar with Him and can more easily go to Him when He is needed.

I've seen two examples of holy women who were able to easily go to God in times of turmoil.    One woman has been able to find consolation in the Eucharist after a loss.    The other woman's first instinct upon hearing bad news was to turn to her Bible and receive consolation.   The second instinct was to go to Jesus in the Eucharist at daily mass.    These women, I believe, found counsel in God easier when things were tough than if they had not already formed that relationship with God.   They knew He is there in stormy seas.

If you haven't prayed recently.  If you don't have that strong relationship with God---start today.  It's Holy Week---why not now???

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thoughts on Pope Francis

So here we are, not even a week into the papacy of Pope Francis, and already people are trying to pigeon hole him and categorize him as a liberal or a conservative. It's interesting enough to see that he is being attacked from both the left and the right.

The left, of course, is not happy because the doctrines that they want changed, abortion, contraception, gay marriage, and women priests, are not going to change. I think it's time they realize that whoever the pope is ... the doctrines they want changed won't ever change in the Catholic church.

The right, interestingly, is not happy, from what I've seen, because they see Pope Francis as a "liturgical liberal." They see his actions of not wearing red shoes or the mozetta (a red cape) are signs that the pope is some sort of hippy who is going to make our churches look like protestant, with no statues, kneelers or stained glass windows. I think they need to step back and try to see what Pope Francis is doing with his actions . . . in a sense, he is taking the liturgy out to the people.

Personally, I love Pope Francis. I trust that the Holy Spirit guided the cardinals and they chose the right man for the job. I think he is doctrinally sound.  At the same time. I am a little saddened that he isn't wearing the red shoes and is going away from the pomp that, in my opinion, is due the position of pope. But I can respect that he is trying to remain humble by sticking with a simple white cassock. It is who he is.

Here is why I love Pope Francis. I think he is going to challenge people and I believe that your faith should always be challenging you. For those on the left who want doctrinal changes, Pope Francis is going to be truthful and honest--and from what I read, some what blunt. For those on the right, the radical traditionalist, I believe Pope Francis is going to teach by example what it means to truly be Christian. He is going to show them that while the liturgy should be treated with the utmost respect and remain the the source and summit of our faith, it is there to prepare us for the other 23 hours in the day. True evangelazation doesn't happen in a building but happens when we people see Jesus through us.

Our faith should always be challenging us.  Every time we hear a homily, we should be challenged. If we aren't being challenged then we aren't being driven forward.  If we aren't being driven forward then we are stagnant.  If we are stagnant, then Satan is able to attack us.  Then we are brought down.  Only by being challenged and challenging ourselves, do we become spiritually stronger.   Only then, when we are spiritually strong, are we able to live our lives according to God's will and only then will we bring others to Christ.

Pope Francis is going to challenge us all if we allow him to.  He is going to challenge us to believe that all life is sacred and that the family, with the husband and wife as the head of the household, is the foundation of functioning society.   He is going to challenge us to better understand our Catholic faith.  He is going to challenge us to go out and evangelize by taking care of the sick and the poor.  We are going to evangelize the way the early Christians and then, they will know we are Christians by our love.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

For Max: Why I Believe in God

I have a 13 year old son who is smart as a whip and loves science.

I am 41 years old--not too bright--and love my faith.

Unfortunatly, my son does not think that faith and science can work together. He does not believe in a creator. We have had some really good conversations about the origins of the universe and mankind. Max is very soft spoken and his arguments are very well thought out. Honestly, I never thought I would ever have that intelectual of a conversation with a thirteen year old boy. Evidently, Max has also had these conversations with his Aunt Maggie on Facebook. I once caught the tail end of one of these conversations when he forgot to log off and he ended the converstation by asking her, "Why do you believe i God?"

Max, I've thought long and hard and I've decided to do my best to answer the questions that you posed to Maggie for myself--why do I believe in God? I think the answer comes under four categories----1) Faith 2) Hope 3) Love 4) Science

Faith--I realize how ignorant it sounds by answering why i believe in God as being "faith" but there is some rational to it. How does someone believe in the unseen without faith? I think I've been blessed by being given the gift of faith from God. I can't think of a time when I've ever doubted His exhistance. I realize this isn't something that will help someone without this gift of faith but I just ask that you open up your heart to the possibilty. I pray every day for God to soften your heart. I pray for the intercessiosn of St. Joseph, St. Monica and St. Thomas to help you find your faith. Don't grow up to fast, Max---be child like in your faith.

Hope--I believe in hope. I believe there is something bigger and better than this life on Earth I believe in a Heaven that is filled with God's love. I don't see the joy in a world where we are all like Sisyphus--the Greek mythological characher who was cursed by the gods to push a boulder up a moutain only to have it roll back down once he got to the top and have to go back down and roll it back up. I can't beleive in a world where all we are here for is to exhist--to wake up, go to work, eat, sleep, poop and reproduce. If that was only only reason to exhist then we wouldn't be the people we are. We wouldn't care about our neighbor. We would only care about ourselves. Now, some may say that that is what the world is coming to but I disagree. I agree with the Baltimore Cathechism that says we were made to know, love and serve God in this world and in the next. Because when we know God, when we love God and when we serve God we do everything to be pleasing to Him---and that is taking care of our neighbors. Take care of our neighbors makes us better people and gives us a true reason for survival.

Love---You told me yesterday that you loved me and commented about how much I love you. Max, if it weren't for God I wouldn't love you like I do. God is love and the love I show for you is a reflection of the love that God has for you. I never realized how intense God's love is until I had Emma, you and Molly. A Father's love is intense. It is hot and it is passionate. My love for you is more than just chemicals and endorphins, Max. My love for you is supernatural and can only come from a Supreme Being. And here is the deal----the love I have for you is just a fraction of the love that He has for you. He loves you so much that He sacrificed His own son for you.

Science--I find it ironic that you find science to be your big hold up when it comes to your faith because I find science to be one of the big supporters of my faith. I can't believe that everything came from nothing. Something/someone had to create it. There had to be someone to be that first push. There had to be a watch maker. Espeically when you look at how vast the universe is or how intricat an atom is or a DNA strand. There is too much orgainization in the universe for it to be all completely random as some would have you to believe. I believe that science is the study of God because it is the study of God's creation. But, science can never prove nor disprove God because science is the study of the natural world and God is supernatural. He is beyond this world.

I admire your tenacity Max but a good scientist never stops asking questions so I ask you, don't settle on the anwer that you have found in a science book. Keep asking questions. Think outside of the box. And trust me, there is nothing more outside of the box thinking than when you get to theology. Theology is the study of God. Thomas Aquinas called theology the "super science." And if you think that astronomy or string theory can blow your mind---try figuring God out.