Hope

I don’t watch much television, but I’ve heard reports about the Presidential inauguration. I’ve heard that President Obama’s supporters are just ecstatic at the fact that he has officially become president. I did turn the television on this morning, more curious about the weather than politics. I witnessed for myself the joy that people are feeling about the “change” in government. People all over the country are acting like giddy little schoolchildren over the fact that Obama is now the president. They have this hope that things are now going to change. They have placed their faith in this new government. THEY HAVE IT ALL WRONG!

Let us first look at the reasons why people have placed their hope in Obama and the change in the U.S. government. Obama’s supporters, and all people, hope. We hope for security–financial security, physical security, and emotional security. We hope for peace. We hope for happiness. We hope for love. There is nothing wrong in hoping for these things. It’s natural for us to do so. What is wrong, is WHO we place our hope in to bring us these things. No president, no government, no earthly thing or person can ever fulfill our hope. Placing our hope in men of this world will ultimately lead us to disappointment. There is only one Man who will never disappoint us, and that is Jesus Christ. Only Christ can fulfill all we hope for.

So, if you are an Obama supporter, you need to consider what you are hoping for and who you are placing your hope in. If you are placing your hope in the president or the government, you WILL ultimately be disappointed. Only Christ can bring us true security, peace, happiness, and love. Those of you who do not support Obama need to reflect on this as well. Those of you who are fearful of where this country is headed also need to consider where you are placing your hope. Christ says “do not be afraid”. Place your hope in the Lord. Let go of your fears and trust that God will bring us security, peace, happiness, and love.

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Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why does the church have so many rules?

“Our dialogue and interaction with the Church is designed to help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves. It is for this reason that in every age the Church proclaims the unchanging truths of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ — the Gospel. In doing so, she invites us to a life of discipline…There are disciplines and practices that must be adhered to and abided by if we are to walk faithfully along the path of salvation, fulfill our destiny, and enjoy the happiness with which God wants to fill us. Discipline is an integral part of the adventure of salvation.” (Matthew Kelly)

 
 

We are being called to be the best that we can be. This requires us to have discipline. The Catholic Church is not an organization with rules and regulations designed to force us into Her way of thinking or to restrict us and our freedoms. The Catholic Church, in Her infinite wisdom, understands our need for discipline. The teachings, guidelines, and rules set forth by the Church are not to restrict us but to give us guidelines with which to live a life of discipline.

 
 

For example, the Church teaches that artificial contraception is not an appropriate form of family planning. Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae predicted three consequences of artificial contraception. The first consequence he sites is that it could “open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” Marital infidelity has indeed grown and moral standards have been lowered since the use of artificial contraceptives have become widespread. He also says that “a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument of his own desires.” The proliferation of sex in movies, television shows, and even commercials indicate that our society treats women as objects. The pornography industry also indicates the degradation of women. The third consequence Paul VI stated was a fear of “this power passing into the hands of public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law.” Look at what countries like China have done. China has enacted a one child rule, enforcing it through artificial contraception and abortion. The use of artificial contraception removes from a marriage (and all relationships) discipline. You don’t need to have discipline if you remove the consequences of your actions, which is precisely what artificial contraception does. The lack of sexual discipline in our lives due to the use of artificial contraceptives has led us down a path of increased marital infidelity, reduced women to objects, and given governments the power to make moral decisions for us.

 
 

As you can see, the Church does not set forth rules and guidelines to restrict us. I believe that these rules are there to guide us and to help us have more personal discipline. The above example is probably the most well known and controversial of the Church’s recent teachings. Many people disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception. Only about 4% of Catholics actually adhere to this teaching. The Church does not want to restrict us and our freedoms. The Church is there to guide us and to help us have some self-discipline. “Christ proposes a life of discipline not for its own sake, and certainly not to stifle or control us; rather, he proposes discipline as the key to freedom.” (Matthew Kelly) There is a freedom we receive from living a disciplined life. We need to be aware of our human weakness. Our inherent weakness limits us, restricts us. Living a life of discipline will strengthen us to break free from the temptations and sins we face every day. Living our lives in a disciplined manner will not only enhance the our own lives, but it will also strengthen our society as a whole.

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Universal Call to Holiness

We are all called to holiness. It’s why our Heavenly Father created us. The call is universal–regardless of what your spiritual or socioeconomic background is. I know that when I think of this in relation to myself I become quickly overwhelmed at the thought of being holy. It is very discouraging for me to look at holy people like Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II and then look at my own life. I am not nearly as holy as them, not by a long shot!

First of all, I have to realize that God does not call me to be like Mother Theresa, the pope, or any other holy person. He is calling me, and all of us, to our own unique holiness. These holy people serve as an example of holiness, but we are not called to be their carbon copies. We all have our own gifts and talents that we are to utilize in our call to holiness.

Still, the task of being holy is daunting. Matthew Kelly states that “in one moment you can become holy. In any moment that you choose to be all you can be – you are holy.” Holiness is a choice to be the best person I can be. We become holy one moment at a time, one decision at a time. When we choose to give glory to God instead of cursing Him, to build up our neighbor instead of tearing him down, to turn away from sin instead of giving into temptation, then we decide to be holy–in that moment. If we continue to make those choices throughout our lives, then we will become holy.

Published in: on January 5, 2009 at 1:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Disciple=Discipline

Happy New Year! I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I used to, years ago. But I discovered that I made it only a few weeks, at most, before I caved in and gave up on my resolution. I just don’t see the point in committing to something that I know I can’t follow through on, so I stopped making those resolutions.

This year I am changing my attitude. I’ve decided to make a resolution. I am resolving to be a disciple of Christ. I do love my Lord and try to follow him, but I oftentimes fall short of being a disciple. What does disciple mean? It means many things, but, first of all, it means to have discipline. Both words have the same etymological origin, the Latin discipulus. I lack discipline in my life, hence the reason why I’ve never been able to follow through in my resolutions.

The first thing I am going to do this year in an effort to become a disciple of Christ is to be more disciplined. I am often inspired by books that I read. Matthew Kelly, in his book Rediscovering Catholicism says that there are four aspects that all humans have: physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional. He goes on to say that we need to be disciplined in all four aspects. I resolve to work on each of these four aspects of myself and become more disciplined in them. Some of them are going to be harder for me than others (physical is the first that comes to mind). I am going to focus on one aspect at a time and find one thing to do to become more disciplined in it.

The first aspect I am going to focus on is intellectual. I’m picking this one because it is the easiest for me. I love reading and learning. I will start by finding books that help me grow spiritually and give me a better understanding of the Church and my faith. I am currently reading two books: The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn and Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.

I will revisit this topic often in my blogs. Review of progress towards goals is a great way to guage how one is doing in accomplishing goals and a way to keep disciplined. I will also try to discover other ways to be a disciple of Christ and focus on implementing those into my daily routine as well. I want to challenge all who read this to commit to being better disciples of Christ as well. It will bring a sense of freedom to our lives and a true joy.

Published in: on January 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment