Category Archives: Morality

On Spending by AJ Avila

The Everlasting Gobstopper

On Spending by AJ Avila

Posted on May 24, 2017 by ajavilanovels

Occasionally I watch the television show Pawn Stars, shown on the History Channel. It can provide a fascinating look at historical objects, some of which are museum quality.

In a recent episode, the owner of the pawn shop (located in Las Vegas) took a trip to Los Angeles to procure more merchandise for his store. In particular he was searching for movie memorabilia.

But my jaw dropped at the amount of cash he doled out for one item: more money than my husband and I paid for our house. So what was it? The ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Perhaps Sam’s piano from Casablanca?

Nope.

For a measly $100,000 he bought the Everlasting Gobstopper prop from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I’m not kidding.

I wish I were kidding.

Wait. It gets worse. The pawn store owner bought it for that price because he figures he can sell it at a profit. That’s right: he believes that somewhere out there is a person willing to pay even more for a brightly-colored thingamajig about the size of your big toe.

I puzzled over why someone would consider this item to have any worth. Personally, I wouldn’t pay 2¢ for it. What’s the value in owning such a thing? So you can show off to your friends that you’ve got the Everlasting Gobstopper and they don’t? Is this supposed to produce some sort of one-upmanship over your neighbors?

But even more – I was appalled because that money could do so much good elsewhere. What could a free clinic do with a check for that amount? Or your local crisis pregnancy center?

Imagine going for judgment before Christ and when He asks you what you did with your life, you explain that hey, you bought yourself the Everlasting Gobstopper!

Spending your money like that kind of sounds like a way to get yourself classified as a goat instead of a sheep, huh?

Anyway, I was feeling rather smug and superior about the whole business – when all of a sudden it occurred to me that I do exactly the same thing.

Except I do it in an even worse way. Oh, I don’t go out and waste a lot of moola on movie props. I waste something even more valuable.

I waste time.

Time is always more precious than money. Money I can always earn more of. I can’t earn more time.

In fact, my life is made up of time.

And how much of it have I spent playing video games or watching some inane television show? That’s time I could have spent doing something valuable like praying, especially for the conversion of sinners and for the souls in Purgatory.

When I stand before Christ for judgment, what am I going to say? Something like “Hey I spent a lot of my life on video games and stupid television shows”?

May I always remember that when I point my finger at someone, I have three fingers pointing back at myself.

After all, it’s not gobstoppers that are everlasting. It’s our souls.

 

About ajavilanovels

AJ Avila is the author of four Christian novels: Rain from Heaven, Amaranth, Nearer the Dawn and Cherish.  Her website can be found by clicking here: AJ Avila Reflections

 

Our Lady of Fatima at the United Nations –  by Deacon Marty McIndoe

The United Nations in New York City

On May 12th, the day before the 100th anniversary of the first apparitions at Fatima, my wife and I had the privilege of attending a special gathering at the United Nations in NYC entitled, THE CENTENARY OF FATIMA AND THE ENDURING RELEVANCE OF IT’S MESSAGE OF PEACE.   It was a most rewarding experience.  The Fatima apparitions have been the beginning of so many changes in the 20th century.  They began on May 13, 1917 just as Europe was immersed in WWI, a very devastating war and supposedly the “war to end all wars”.  It was also the year of the Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the Communist threats to the world.  The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherd children in a remote region of Portugal and gave a message of the need to turn to Jesus, do penance, and pray in order to keep further horrendous wars away.   Her message was filled with Hope and Love but also quite disturbing in showing the way the world was headed.   She was concerned with bringing Peace and Hope and Eternal Life to all of the peoples of the world by having them follow Jesus.

The conference itself looked at the message of Fatima and what had occurred since then.   There is still a great need for peace in our war torn world.  The threat of communism seems to be gone, but there are many other threats to world peace.   The conference had five speakers and lasted about two hours.   I would like to give a brief synopsis of what each speaker said.  There is no doubt that this 100 year old message from the Blessed Virgin Mary is still very relevant to us today.   All of the speakers were excellent in their content and in the emotional attachment to what they were saying.  Tears flowed from both men and women as they spoke.  I was impressed by the dedication of each speaker.

The Dais for the speakers.  The statue of Fatima is to the right.

Archbishop Bernadito C. Auza opened the conference and was the mediator.   He is the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.   His topic was “The Lessons of the Fatima Message of Peace for the Cause of Peace Today”.  The Archbishop recounted what had happened at Fatima and how it had led to many changes in the world.   He told the story of Pope John Paul II’s dedication to Fatima and how the Pope was very instrumental in the collapse of communism in Europe and in Communist Russia itself.   The Archbishop reflected the call for hope but also the need for continued conversion.   He was very pastoral in his tone, and appears to be an excellent representative of the Church to the United Nations.

Johnnette Benkovic was the second speaker.   Johnnette is the foundress and president of Women of Grace.   She is also an author and TV and radio host.   She is an excellent speaker and her topic was,   ‘Mary and the Dignity of Women’s role in a Culture of Peace”.   Johnnette did an excellent job of reminding us how women, who by their very nature are life giving and protecting, must work hard for peace.   She did say that women are not always fulfilling this role of working for peace and must step up to do so.   She definitely believes that women can be very instrumental in helping bring about peace.

The Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Dais.

Dr. Andrea Bartoli was the third speaker.   He is currently the Dean of the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations.   His topic was “The Importance of Religious Leaders Serving as Examples of Peace, Tolerance, Solidarity and Justice”.   Dr. Bartoli shared several stories from his work in various nations to deal with the ravages of war.   He was quite emotional in sharing some of the things that happened to the people he was trying to help.   There was no doubt that this man is a man of faith and compassion who has worked hard to foster peace (he is an expert in conflict resolution) and to help those who suffer because of a lack of peace.   He challenged all, especially those who are religious leaders, to work hard for peace and to help those who are suffering from a lack of it.   His call was basically to be like Jesus.   We need more diplomats like him.

Dr. Maria Santos Pais was the fourth speaker.   She is the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children.   Her topic was, “Children as a Zone of Peace”.   Dr. Pais is from Portugal and it was apparent that she was well aware of the Fatima story.   She also seemed well aware of the terrible things that are happening to children throughout the world today.   Some of the statistics that she gave us were quite disturbing.   Dr. Pais was very clear in showing us that children are peacemakers, but unfortunately are often victims of the lack of peace.   She gave a very emotional talk.   Please pray for the children of the world.

The Shepherd Children of Fatima to whom Mary appeared.  Pope Francis proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto Saints as he celebrated the 100th anniversary mass in Fatima.  Lucia only died in 2005 and her cause is pending.

Dr. Anna Halpine was the fifth and last speaker.   She is the Foundress and CEO of the World Youth Alliance.   Her topic was, ‘The Fatima Shepherd Children: the Role of Children in the Cause of Peace”.    Dr. Hapline did an excellent job of showing how these poor shepherd children responded so well to the call of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She continued talking about children of the world living in such difficult situations.   Her talk was very complementary to the previous talk given by Dr. Pais.   The last two speakers helped us all to focus on those who suffer so much from a lack of peace, the children.  It is so sad to think that we have created a world where children suffer so much.

This sculpture is in the United Nations plaza.

In review, the conference was very much like the original message of Fatima.   It is disturbing in pointing out what mankind has done by war and by a lack of peace.   It also pointed out that we must work hard to accomplish peace.   There is hope, but we must actively seek it and work for it.   The message of Our Lady is very appropriate today.   We must seek Jesus, pray and do penance and work hard for peace.   Having this conference take place at the United Nations was quite encouraging.  The Statue of Fatima was brought there for this conference and then brought over to the Church of the Holy Family nearby.   This is the second visit of this statue to the United Nations.   It first came to the UN in 1952.  The Blessed Virgin Mary is most definitely the Queen of Peace.   May peace come forth to this world and may all peoples receive the gift of heavenly peace.  I end with the prayer that Mary taught at Fatima; O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen…

The Statue at Holy Family Church near the United Nations

 

Advent Saints – St. Lucy by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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Advent Saints – St. Lucy by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               During this Advent season we see that each day gets shorter until we reach the Winter Solstice.  There is more darkness and less light.  During Advent we celebrate light, by lighting the Advent candles and awaiting Jesus, the Light of the World.  December 13th we celebrate the Advent Saint of Light, St. Lucy.  She was born in the late 200’s and died in 304 as a Martyr.  There are many legends about her and it is difficult to know exactly how true they all are, but at the very least, she was a young Sicilian girl who gave herself to Jesus as a Virgin.  She was killed for her decision to follow Jesus.

               It appears that St. Lucy had a mother who arranged a marriage for her to a pagan man, but St. Lucy said that she wanted to remain a Virgin and give herself completely to Jesus.  Since her mother was very stubborn about this and pushed Lucy towards marriage, Lucy turned in prayer to St. Agatha for assistance.   St. Agatha appeared to Lucy and told her that she could persuade her mother by showing her the power of Jesus.  St. Agatha said that Lucy’s mother would be healed from a serious illness that plagued her.  Lucy’s mother was healed and she committed her life to Jesus.  She stopped forcing the marriage and allowed St. Lucy to give her marriage dowry to the poor.

               The man that Lucy was to marry was upset by this and told the governor, Paschalis, that Lucy was a Christian (illegal at that time).  The governor then wanted to defile Lucy and sent troops to her home to carry her off to a brothel.  Lucy refused to go and the troops were unable to move her.  They even hitched a team of oxen to her, but she could not be moved.  At that point they piled wood around her to burn her, but the wood refused to burn.  They finally resorted to using their swords and initially gouged out her eyes and then killed her.  Later, when her body was being prepared for burial, they noticed that her eyes had been restored.

               Lucy was venerated from the very early days of the Church.  Her body remained in Sicily for about 400 years before being transferred to Abruzzi, Italy.  In 972 her body was moved to St. Vincent’s Church in Metz and divided up and several pieces of her body can be found in Rome, Naples, Verona, Lisbon, Milan, Germany, France and Sweden.  Her name is mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I, the oldest of our Eucharistic prayers.  St. Lucy is the Patron Saint of the Blind and all eye diseases.

               I have found only one quote that is attributed to Lucy.  It is, “No one’s body is polluted so as to endanger the soul if it has not pleased the mind. If you were to lift my hand to your idol and so make me offer against my will, I would still be guiltless in the sight of the true God, who judges according to the will and knows all things. If now, against my will, you cause me to be polluted, a twofold purity will be gloriously imputed to me. You cannot bend my will to your purpose; whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me.”
Saint Lucy of Syracuse

 

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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               Our country began with our Declaration of Independence which states the well known phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  It goes on to say that governments are instituted to protect those rights.  I think it is time for all of us to see how well our government is doing in protecting these rights.

               The United States of America has maintained a strong Army, Navy and Air force (and related services) to try to keep its citizens safe from foreign aggression.  It has done a pretty good job of this, but there have been some instances where it just was not enough.  Our 9/11 attack as well as subsequent terrorist attacks have shown this.  Still, we responded to these attacks by strengthening our intelligence services and our military.  There have been some indications that recently our military has been weakened by financial cuts and political decisions.  We must be careful to keep our military strong as we do face a definite threat from foreign governments and ideologies.  To protect our way of life in America is a primary function of our government.  I personally salute all those who have served us in our military and have not only kept our country free, but have also helped free other countries.  We should be very proud of their service.  War and fighting is an absolutely terrible thing, but unfortunately has sometimes been necessary.  I pray that some day we may all live together in Peace, but that seems so far away.

               Our government also must protect the Life and Liberty of its citizens from people inside of our borders.  It is unfortunate, but very true, that we need protection on the home front.  We have numerous Law Enforcement Agencies to protect us from crime.  This crime can be life threatening and liberty threatening.  Our Police and related services have a difficult job and need our support.  The work that they do puts their own lives at risk, but they do that to protect us.  The vast majority of the time, they do an excellent job and should be commended.  Our government, at all of its levels, should be very supportive of our Law Enforcement Agencies.

               Our liberty is very important to us.  We are known as the Home of the Free and our personal liberties are among the best in the world.  Yes, we do have laws that sometimes seem to hinder our liberty, but it is important for governments to pass laws that help to protect us.  Some people still complain about speed limit laws and seat belt laws, but they save many lives.  Government has the difficult job of deciding what laws are necessary to protect the majority, and what laws are just too restrictive on our freedoms.  At the heart of these laws, the government must see how they affect the three unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Thomas Jefferson said, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

               Presently there is one nationwide “law” that I believe is at odds with what Thomas Jefferson said and with the three unalienable rights, especially the right of Life.  The most important right is the right to Life.  Without that, there is nothing.  Somehow we have allowed our country to legalize the killing of unborn children.  Right now we average about 2,000 abortions per day.  Our government is supposed to protect its citizens, especially those who cannot protect themselves.  We have allowed a society to exist where mothers can kill their sons and daughters simply because having them would be an inconvenience to them.   This is so wrong.  Not only that, it seems that the primary agent in all of this, Planned Parenthood, is targeting “undesirables” such as black and poor and immigrant peoples.   Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is quoted as saying, “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” (April 1932 Birth Control Review) and “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population” (Women, Morality and Birth Control – New York Publishing Co. 1922).  Our country should be so much better than that.  Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, said, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb”.  This was based on a NYC Dept of Health report showing that 60% of all pregnancies of black women end in abortion.  It looks like Margaret Sanger is getting what she wanted.

               There has always been the argument that woman should have the right to choose because it is their body.  However, what about the right to live of the baby inside the womb?  That baby has no one to speak for her or him.  It is the government’s responsibility to protect that life.  Another argument is that the government should allow free access to abortions because if it doesn’t, women will find someone to perform it that is not skilled.  To me, that is a poor argument.  We don’t legalize things to make it easier because people will do it anyway.  The mass killing of babies in this country is truly an abomination and must be stopped.

               We have also been a country where we acknowledge the Freedom to practice our Faith.  Recently the government has been forcing some church organizations to do things that are not allowed in their faith.  This too is so wrong.   Let’s hope that our government stance changes to reflect what our founding fathers set up in this country.  It is sad to see that God has been taken out of our schools, courts and government meetings.  It is time to bring Him back.

               I think that there are so many people that feel that our country is headed in the wrong direction on so many levels.  I do think that is true, but I also see our country as something really great.  We do need to return to some of the values that we have had in the past.  Let all of us work for this and pray for this.  God Bless America.

 

An Election Editorial by Catholic Girl Blogging

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It’s funny what a strange dream can lead to.

Last night I had a dream that I was standing in a pitch black room.  The only light came from two glowing red lines, one in front of me and the other behind me.  Faint white smoke plumed from the red line in front of me, indicating its heat.  Out of the darkness, someone approached me from behind and began to chuckle in my ear.
I woke up trembling to my alarm.

The minute I logged on to Facebook, I was hit with posts about Trump and Hilary; the Clinton campaign emails about Catholics being backwards, Trump’s disgusting words about women and so on.
Not a day goes by without the election being on my mind.  November 8th once felt like a far-off event, but now it’s drawing nearer, getting closer each day like a hungry spider slowly crawling to its cocooned prey.
While I waited in the drive thru on my lunch break, I found myself pondering the dream.  As I replayed it in my head, a strange thought crept in:
“You have no choice, my dear.  You must choose.”

I silently murmured to myself, “And what if I don’t choose?”
At that moment, I had a mental image of the red lines turning into ropes and a trapdoor that had been under my feet the whole time opening.
I snapped out of it when I heard, “Welcome to Jack-n-the-Box!  May I take your order?” With a shaky voice, I ordered my food.

Just like the frightening dream, our country is locked airtight in the devil’s bind; we currently have two disordered candidates with their personal character being questionable at best and repulsive at worst.  The way I see it, this political bind was years in the making and our nation fell headfirst into this trap long ago.

I’m probably going to sound like a Republican old man living in a red state when I say this, but truth is still truth no matter who is telling it.  Out of my way, Donald, this Independent female blogger from bluest of blue California is about to tell it like it is.
We have kicked God out of America; out of our schools, out of our media, even out of our homes.  We have rejected the values our Lord holds dear.  Our nation allows unborn babies to be slaughtered for any reason, continues to redefine marriage and mocks morality.  You know something is wrong with a country where a rapist can serve only six months in the county jail for violating an unconscious woman.

Mother Teresa once said, “Find your own Calcutta.”  No need for me to look far, Mama T, because I’m living in it.  We may not have people literally dying on the side of the road, but we are a nation of homeless people, splintered families and abandoned veterans.  America may be rich in resources, but we are poor in principles.  We are a prosperous but hopeless land, thinking we can make it on our own and without the God who bestowed upon us our freedoms in the first place.

Of course the devil would take advantage of this.  He has done so little by little, convincing us to remove God from the public square in small doses.  What started as snowball removals, such as attempting to take God off the dollar bill and then successfully removing Him out of our schools, has avalanched to where we have became a nation under God in name only.  People are more divided than ever before.  We no longer see each other as children of God, but rather as enemies if we disagree with one another.
How else do you think two people whose personal values are not rooted in Christ have been able to run for the highest office in the land?

So here we are, trapped in a ditch of our own making, being forced to choose between two candidates nobody wants to elect.  We have come to a crossroads regarding what we want our nation to be and we have no idea where to go from here.  Can our divided culture be healed?  Can the damage that has been done be reversed?  Can this damning bind be undone?

In all honesty, I don’t know.  I really wish I could tell you that all will be well, but everything depends on individual Americans, and based on the way things are now, I don’t think a revolution of compassion is on the horizon any time soon.

What I do know is that society will change once we change our hearts.  We as a nation must open our hearts in order to change them.  Jesus is a savior, but He is also a gentleman and will never force Himself on any person or any country.  If we are not willing to turn to Him, then He will let us hit rock bottom if that is what it takes to open our eyes.

I say this a lot on the Catholic Girl Bloggin’ FB page and I’ll say it here: The best thing you can do is just strive to be a better person in your every day life.  Instead of getting into a shouting match with a friend over a political issue, stop and try to remember how much you value their friendship and then try to find common ground with them.  Hold open doors, call a family member and tell them you love them, smile at a passing stranger, help someone carry their things, find volunteer work or a charity event to participate in.  The list of ways you can exercise kindness is endless.

I know, this seems like a cop out, but it actually isn’t when you really think about it. Kindness means going outward instead of turning inward, which is something many Americans have done.  Once you look beyond yourself and see the struggles of others, you begin to wonder what you can do to serve them.  It was selfishness and pride that got our country in this mess, so maybe humility and mercy can be the stepping stones towards a new tomorrow.  You won’t fix this country in a day, but you can change the outlook of one person’s day and maybe, just maybe, that person will go on to help another and a gradual chain reaction will begin.

Any time you are a positive force in your family, at your job, within your neighborhood or wherever you are, you are doing the will of God.  It is written in John 13:35, “This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In the dark torrential sea of political discord, you have the opportunity to be the calm island where weary travelers seek refuge.  America is in a big mess, but you have the power to have an impact in your own humble way.

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”
–Saint Francis of Assisi

“Modern prophets say that our economics have failed us.  No!  It is not our economics which have failed; it is man who has failed-man who has forgotten God.  Hence no manner of economic or political readjustment can possibly save our civilization; we can be saved only by a renovation of the inner man, only by a purging of our hearts and souls; for only by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Justice will all these other things be added unto us.”
–Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Our Lady Undoer of Knots, pray for us.

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Bio:
Catholic Girl Bloggin’ is a twentysomething California gal who started the blog in June of 2015. She writes movie reviews, saints biographies and frequently shares quotes from her heroes, Padre Pio and Mother Teresa. You can check out Catholic Girl Bloggin’ at
http://catholicgirlbloggin.net/

HALO Missions – Africa – 2016 by Deacon Marty McIndoe

It is amazing what can be accomplished in a short period of time and with limited resources, and with God’s blessings.   Last year, two of my good friends decided to start a local charity that would bring Medical and Educational help to orphan children of the world.   We started our first mission in 2015 by going to Zambia in Central Africa.   We chose Zambia because it has one of the highest concentrations of orphan children in the world.   We shared our vision last year and had two local fundraisers, one in Patchogue and one in East Islip.  Thanks to the generosity of local people, four of us, the two co-founders, Dr. James Bopp and Christopher McGuire, Brother Jim (Nurse) and myself (Chaplain) went to Zambia (we paid our own travel, hotel and food so all the money  collected could go directly to the orphans).  With the help of Teen Missions, we were able to treat hundreds of children for various medical illnesses.   We also were able to help 109 orphans have the means to attend school and we helped finance an addition to the school.   Although we accomplished a great deal, we also saw so much need.  We knew that the children and their caretakers needed more than just medical treatments.  They also suffered from many dental and vision problems.   We were determined to help them with that.  Again with local fundraisers and asking for volunteer dentists, we assembled a team of six dentists and made arrangement with SEE International to give us vision help for our 2016 misssion.  The team is now working in Zambia and I want to share with you some pictures and comments that Christopher McGuire was able to send out.   We also, this year, sent ahead clothing for the children, as the need was so severe.  We also,  gave the children American flags so they could see who were helping them.   Please continue to pray for the team and the patients they will serve.  If you would like to help financially, please go to http://www.halomissions.org        God is so good.

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HALO Missions is off to Johannesburg and on to Ndola.

 

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42 hours door to door. Here is HALO dental team the next morning just before getting to work. Led by Dr. Wynn from Stony brook University. Devin, Justin, Michael and Nichole. The first dentists many of their patients have ever seen. Pulling many infected teeth these doctors were lifesavers.

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The kids love the younger dentists. Here fooling around on snap chat swapping faces.
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Long day today. 340 Dental patients. 240 medical patients. Tomorrow the ophthalmic starts cataract surgeries if all goes well.
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Hard at work and then taking a break to hand out clothes.
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Hicksville Dentist Michael Criss spent his birthday giving his great talents to the extreme poor. We took him to celebrate at a Zambian restaurant. If you’ve never had Zambian pizza, don’t.
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Dr James Bopp (medical) takes a break from treating patients to provide clothing to the orphans.
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Today Christopher McGuire  left the medical team and travelled with Oscar Chama of Teenmissions by bus with 13 candidates to drive to Lufwanyama Hospital, which is about 3.5 hours from our location. The hospital is new and modern for Zambia, but devoid of patients and doctors, making it a virtual ghost town. (The patients have no way to get to the hospital and can’t afford the care even if they arrived.). Since our last visit we labored to gain the approval of the hospital and the government to use the facility for cataract surgeries. Doctor James Bopp worked tirelessly with See International and Argentinian surgeon Dr. Stone to make this a reality. With so many logistical hurdles, including obtaining and transporting the equipment, today Dr. Stone started conducting the procedures. I arrived (Dr. Bopp was treating patients) just in time to see the first cataract surgery performed today and to take these pictures. Dr. Stone will perform approximately 15 more surgeries before he leaves and train the Teenmissions staff to screen candidates for future missions. (The clinic was overrun with dental and medical patients, with over 600 seen).
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Children with children.   They are so beautiful and filled with life.  Look at those eyes.
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Patients got American flags. Here’s a Zambian girl named charity.
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Best part of the day was handing out clothes. with Chris McGuire
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Before and After
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We wanted to make sure the children are aware of the best America has to offer.
Please continue to pray for this mission.  If you can help financially, please help us to help these (and other) orphans.  Go to http://www.halomissions.org for more information.

Hope, Abortion, Peace, and Saint Mother Teresa

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Isaiah 49: 1b – The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me.

One of the things that I learned long ago, is that God calls us to love people, not to judge them.  He is the one who judges, not us.  As I write this piece on abortion, please know that I would never pretend to know what leads a particular mother to the point of making a decision to abort her child and that I would never want to judge her for that decision.  I leave that solely to God.  I do know that all life is precious to me and that I would want to do anything I can to help someone make the choice to allow their baby to come to full life.  Perhaps some people can take this lightly, but I cannot.  Life is a precious gift and I think that built in to every woman is that desire to nurture life.  To go against that instinct to nurture, by deciding to have an abortion, must be a most terrifying decision.  I could only imagine that the mother has to be in a very difficult situation to make that decision.    I would think that she has lost all hope in what the immediate future has for her.  As Christians, we need to help women put in to that predicament.

One time, a woman that I knew, come up to me and asked me why I was always smiling and always so happy.  I told her that it was because I believed in a God who loved me, gave me hope and forgave me.  She said that she found it hard to believe in a God like that.  She had lived a very difficult life and it was only recently that she had been able to come out of those difficulties.  A few days after our initial encounter, she asked to speak to me in private.  We talked for a while and she told me that she didn’t think that God could forgive her.  I asked her why she thought that.  She told me that she had an abortion when she was quite young and that it had plagued her with guilt ever since.   She told me that she couldn’t forgive herself, so how could God forgive her?  I felt really bad for this woman, and the pain that she had held on to for over twenty years.  She had been away from the Church for quite some time, but was just now coming back.  I asked her to speak to a priest about forgiveness and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I also hooked her up with a local organization that gave counseling to women who have had abortions.  Fortunately, she took me up on my advice and responded well and the change in her gives new meaning to the phrase, “born again”.

For those of us who see abortion as something quite wrong, I believe that we can help to prevent it by working exactly where we are, with the people that are around us.  This could be family, friends, co-workers, etc.  If we reflect a sense of HOPE, and people can see the joy that God gives us, they will come to us.  I also think that we need to ask God to put us in the right place to try to help someone make the right decision, that is, to give life to their child.  God can use us to help those around us.  The personal touch is so much better than anything else.

There is no doubt in my mind that abortion victimizes the mother, as well as the baby.  I have seen too many people suffer from the choice they made to have an abortion.  Besides hurting the individual mothers, I believe that abortion greatly hurts society in general.  We have lost about 56 million lives to abortion since the Supreme Court decision (compare this to 1,354,664 total deaths in ALL the wars we have fought since we became a nation).  I can’t help but to wonder if we killed off the person who would have found a cure to cancer, or other terrible diseases.  What if we lost another Beethoven, or Tolkien or…….   We really do not know.  Besides that, I think that Mother Teresa was correct in stating that abortion is a disrupter of the peace, especially of this nation.  She said, “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters” .  She continues, “And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” (Mother Theresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14).

For me, the problems we have with the huge number of abortions are because so many people lack hope and cannot find peace.  We must do all in our power to bring hope to people.  We need to help people rise out of the curse of poverty and find hope no matter what their station in life is.  We need to stand up for the unborn child who is totally helpless in defending themselves.  We need to stand up for the right of all peoples to have life.  We hear the call that “black lives matter”.  What I find so upsetting is that according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion.  On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.  This is nearly four times the rate of white children.  Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country, referred to blacks and other minorities as “…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.”  Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization.  She also said, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,”  Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon.  Planned Parenthood seems to be doing that now through abortion and birth control measures.  Our society seems to be ignoring this terrible race discrimination.  As Christians, we recognize that all people are equal in the eyes of God.  We are all His children.  Planned Parenthood is quickly eliminating God’s children, both black and white, but with a very unequal rate against blacks.  This has to stop.

I would like to share another quote from Mother Teresa.  She gave this at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast, in front of then President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.  She said, “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.  Jesus gave even His life to love us.  So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.  By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.  And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.  Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

So what are we to do?  First of all, pray for all those women who are considering an abortion.   Second, be open to “ministering” to those around you who may be considering abortion.   Third, pray that the Lord will lead you to what you can do.  I would highly suggest checking out the work of two people that I admire because they treat with dignity the women looking for abortion, as well as the abortion workers.  The first is Abby Johnson.  I would consider her book “Unplanned” as required reading.  Abby has a website: http://abbyjohnson.org.   The other is Sean Carney who runs 40 Days for Life.  His website can be found at: 40daysforlife.com.  God bless you and may the Life God gives us always be protected and respected.

 

THE PASSION OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

The_Head_of_Saint_John_the_Baptist_on_a_Charger

The Church calendar is filled with many celebrations of the Saints and Holy Ones who went before us.  Usually the celebration date is scheduled on the day that person died.  We do that to recognize that the death day is the day the Holy One entered in to heaven.  In the Church calendar we celebrate the birthday and the death day of only three people.  The first is Our Lord Jesus Christ.   The second is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The third is St. John the Baptist.  It certainly doesn’t surprise us that we celebrate Our Lord’s birthday or Our Blessed Mother’s birthday.   The fact that we celebrate ONLY one other’s birthday and death day tells us how important St. John the Baptist is to the Church.  On June 24th we celebrate the feast day (birthday) of St. John the Baptist, and on August 29th we celebrate his Passion (death day).

Jesus himself says this about St. John the Baptist, “among those born of women, there has risen no one greater that John the Baptist”.  So who then is this very special person?  John is recognized by the Church to be the Last of the Old Testament Prophets, and the first of the New Testament.  His own birth was quite miraculous, like many of the prophets that preceded him.  His parents were well beyond the normal child bearing years.  An angel, Gabriel, appeared to John’s father, the priest Zechariah, and foretold his miraculous birth.  Gabriel told Zechariah that John would be “great before the Lord” and would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from within his mother’s womb”.  Even his name, John, was divinely inspired.  It means, “The Lord is Gracious’.  When the Blessed Virgin Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John.  As soon as Mary spoke, John the Baptist leaped within his mother’s womb.   The word translated “leaped” is the same word the Old Testament used when telling us that David danced before the Ark of the Covenant.  David leaped and danced before the Ark of the Old Covenant and St. John the Baptist leaped before the Ark of the New Covenant (Mary).  Truly, as the angel said, John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from within his mother’s womb.

John was certainly a man who was quite different from most.  Scripture says that as a child he grew and became strong and then lived in the wilderness until the day of his manifestation to Israel.  St. Mark tells us that he was clothed in camel’s hair and ate locust and wild honey.  This was the same as Elijah the prophet.  St. Mark also tells us that the appearance of St. John the Baptist was connected with Isaiah; he says, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare the way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.  When John made his appearance, the people recognized him as a prophet and they came out to him in large numbers.  He had numerous disciples who followed him.  He proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand and the people had to repent.              He baptized people as a sign of repentance.  Jesus came to John to be baptized and John protested saying that it is He who should be baptizing.  Jesus convinced John to baptize him, and he did and we have the beautiful  Trinitarian theophany where the Holy Spirit is seen and God the Father’s voice is heard saying, “This is my beloved son”.

John was quick to say that he must decrease while the Lord must increase.  He told his disciples to follow Jesus.  John was the one who called Jesus, “The Lamb of God”.    John was known for speaking out the TRUTH, no matter what the consequences were.  This is what finally brought about his passion.  John had publically rebuked Herod the Antipas telling him that his marriage to Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife, was unlawful.  Herod threw him in prison but did not want to kill him because Herod knew that John was a Holy prophet and that the people loved John.  Herodias hated John and, through some trickery with her daughter, was able to have the king behead (if you don’t know the story, read Matthew 14: 1-12).  John’s disciples came quickly to claim his body and then immediately went to tell Jesus.  It is interesting to note that Amiens Cathedral in France claims to have the skull itself.  The history of it appears to make it quite probable.  In 2010, archeological digs in a fifth century Cathedral of St. John, found parts of a body buried in a marble box under the main altar.  Carbon dating shows these bones to be of a first century Middle Eastern man.  They may very well belong to St. John the Baptist.  In 2012, National Geographic covered this.

So why is St. John the Baptist so important to us?  Personally, especially for today, the example he set in always standing for the truth, no matter what the consequences, is extremely important.  Also, the fact that he did everything he could to try to prepare people for the coming of the Lord should resound within us.  We too, are called to prepare people to be ready for the coming of the Lord, either by their first encounter with Him, their many encounters with Him, their encounter with him at death, or his second coming in glory.

I would like to share a prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for Aug 29th.  “God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be a herald of your Son’s birth and death.  As He gave His life in witness to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess our faith in your Gospel.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever.”

 

A Lesson at the Library by A.J. Avila

childrens-room-library-for-blog

One of the more exciting things about having children is introducing them to the wonders of the world. Watching them make discoveries for the very first time often shows us what we’ve lost growing up.

For example, I wanted some more reading material, so my husband and I stopped by our local public library with our firstborn, who was all of two years old. Sure that watching Mommy browse the shelves in the adult section was far too tedious for a toddler, I suggested my husband take our daughter into the children’s room. Our library boasts three large aquariums there, vibrant with colorful tropical fish. Certainly she would find that more entertaining.

I figured I had hit it on the nose when about fifteen minutes later, she came back into the main section of the library, bobbing with excitement. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” she squealed, grabbing my hand. “Come see!”

Her tiny hand cradled in mine, I allowed her to usher me into the children’s room, but to my surprise, she dragged me past the fish tanks and to the shelves of Easy Readers. “Look!” she cried, pointing. “They have books here!”

Books? At the library? Who would have thought?

Smiling at her enthusiasm, I suggested we examine them. What a wonderful idea! As we pulled title after title off the shelf, I sat back on my heels, enjoying her delight at opening them and exploring the wonders inside.

Then I came up with an even better idea. “Let’s take some of these home with us!”

Immediately her grin transformed into horror. Definitely not the reaction I was expecting. Puzzled, I racked my brain for the reason. Slowly it dawned on me that she thought taking the books would be stealing. Even worse, she thought her own mother would be complicit in such a terrible crime.

I explained that we wouldn’t be keeping the books. We would take them for a while, then bring them back.

That, apparently, was even worse somehow. Her lower lip trembled, and I could see she was on the verge of tears.

My pleas that this is what a public library is all about fell on deaf ears. I even offered to ask the librarians at the desk if it was okay to borrow some of the books.

“No, Mommy,” she choked. “Don’t!”

Well, I certainly didn’t want her very first trip to a library to be such a negative experience. “Okay,” I said softly. “Let’s put the books back.”

Only doing that placated her suffering.

In Romans 2:15 St. Paul declares that the law is written on our hearts. Apparently, it’s written so well even a two-year-old can see it.

Yet . . . how many of us are so horrified at sin as my toddler was that day? Do we become so inured to evil, so callous, that we don’t see the heinousness of it as we once did? It’s there every day, in our newspapers and on our television screens, yet don’t we just go on sipping our coffee as if nothing has happened?

Maybe Jesus hit it on the nose more than we realize when He told us we need to be born again and become like little children.

Maybe one of the reasons is so we can recapture seeing the world, and the evil in it, the way we once did.

 

Find A.J. Avila at Reflections on My Catholic Journey – https://reflections911.wordpress.com/author/ajavilanovels/

A.J. Avila lives in San Bernardino with her husband. She is the author of three Christian novels: Rain from Heaven, Nearer the Dawn, and Amaranth, which are available on Amazon Kindle with all net profits going to charity. (You can learn a bit about those by reading the synopses on Amazon.)

A Catholic – Christian Response to Violence- by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 344This is the entrance to modern day Bethlehem, the city where the Prince of Peace was born.  It is only one reminder of how violence changes things for the worse.

Sometimes I find it so difficult to face the news of the day.  I know that there are so many good people in the world today that are doing so many good things, but then we are confronted with some people who just seem to be totally influenced by pure evil.  The recent attack in Dallas, Texas has caused me to write this post.  Five Police Officers were killed and six more wounded while they were trying to keep peace at a protest against police violence.   Police Officers have one of the toughest jobs in the world and the vast majority of them do an absolutely fantastic job.  I was really struck by the fact that when the gunfire began at the Dallas rally, Police Officers began shielding, with their own lives, the people that were protesting against them.  That is just an example of how the Police Officer operates.  He or she is trained to Protect and Serve.  In response they are often treated very poorly.

I think that this is just a small portion of the problem we have today.  People seem to think that acts of violence are a way of achieving certain goals.  We then throw in to that racial bias and you can see how messed up we really are.  We have groups like Black Lives Matter who say that Police unfairly attack blacks.  Now, there may be some occasions when this happens, but that is rare.  In 2015 Police Officers had to take the lives of 494 white people and 258 black people.  That hardly seems racist.  It is absolutely terrible that any lives had to be taken, white or black.  But, violence is a large part of our society.  There are some people who believe that making gun ownership illegal would solve that, but as a former law enforcement officer myself, I can tell you that people will get the guns whether they are legal or not.  There are plenty of statistics to show that certain cities that have outlawed guns still have a high rate of people being shot.  We really need to go down much further in to the problem to try to stem violence.

Violence seems so present in our society.  I used to work in the Family Court and I could not believe what some husbands and wives did to each other.  Even young children seemed to act out in fits of violence.  It is hard to find a movie or tv show that doesn’t have a great deal of violence in it.  I look at the video games out there, and they are filled with violence.  This isn’t something new.  Even when I was growing up the cartoons had a lot of violence.  We seem to be a people that are fascinated with violence.  Along with that, there seems to be a shrinking respect for LIFE in all of its forms.   Here in the United States over one million mothers take the lives of their children through abortion each year. Soon to be St. Theresa of Calcutta said, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”  Euthanasia seems to be growing too.  We can’t be a people that JUST say, Black Lives Matter; we need to be a people that say, EVERY LIFE MATTERS.

So, as Catholics growing in our faith, how do we deal with this?  First of all, PRAYER is very powerful.  I was so moved at mass today when our Pastor dedicated the whole mass (including selecting special Eucharistic Prayers) to ending violence and establishing PEACE.  We must make it our constant prayer to ask for peace.  We also must change our lives to turn away from violence.  Instead of watching those extremely violent movies and TV shows, turn towards ones that offer less violence.  In our every day actions, we need to try to be more peaceful.  When that car driver cuts you off, don’t swear or raise a finger at him, pray for him.  We need to tone down yelling in our relationships within our family.  We must try to do things that lead toward peace.  Let us recall the words of Pope Francis, “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace.”

Our Church has given us tools to help keep us from being influenced by the evil one who loves to lead us towards violence and death and disunity.  Attending mass is one of the best ways to grow in to the person Jesus wants us to be.  We become more like him, when we receive him.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps not only us, but the people we live with.  I already mentioned prayer, but I want to mention it again because it is so powerful.  I especially recommend asking Our Blessed Mother, Mary to intercede for us.  She loves us all as her children and wants us to live together in peace and in harmony.  We call her the Queen of Peace.   We must follow the Church’s lead in calling all people to respect LIFE in all of its form.  Respect for LIFE should be at the heart of who we are.  Be a people who say, EVERY LIFE MATTERS.  Stand up for the Christian values that have been taught us and live them out.  When we end mass we are told, “GO FORTH”; that means that we have now been empowered by the Lord and sent out to make a difference in this world.  We really need to change this world.

 

 

Goodness – Language of Evangelization by Patrick Sullivan

Israel 185Church of the Beatitudes on the Sea of Galilee in the Holy Lands

What is goodness if not the human struggle to be like God? Not in some demonic usurpation or mutiny among men bent on overthrowing our most loving and benevolent Creator, but to actually try with all that we have to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. To speak the way Jesus has spoken. To love who Jesus loves. To recognize Jesus in our day to day in order to be recognized by our Lord as we pass from this world to the next.

You know, before the new and everlasting covenant in Jesus Christ, it was the Torah (the Law) given to Moses that lifted humanity out of the mire and the inconsistencies of the pagan world; but today the law will no longer do.

To quote the law to someone with the aim of bringing them to God, whether the Mosaic or canonical, or even what the philosophers have called the natural law, seems to shut down rather than open up a dialogue on what we were all meant to be. We have to understand that to many, trying to teach goodness through the law is like teaching them that music is only as profound as the notes on the page; never to be played. To try to teach the ethic and not the ethos, it is like we have been trying to convince the world of a brilliant theatrical performance by showing them the program with its lovely cast of performers.

No, no, goodness is caught when it is found in a person and not a checklist. When it reveals rather than reflects.

What I mean is, if you are trying to evangelize a person, and all they can see is someone who is just as good as they are; just as generous; just as patient; just as forgiving; if it seems like you  have checked off the same boxes as they have; you will not win them over in the least.

But if they look at you and rather than reflect their own level of moral achievements; you reveal a greater generosity; a greater patience; a greater willingness to forgive; in short if you show them real, concrete examples of one striving to be like God, what happens?

It poses a question. And while the question in their minds may take many forms, essentially what they want to know is this: why are you so good?

So, If you are evangelizing someone and their language is goodness, your job is a straightforward one. Stop quoting the law, and begin surpassing the day to day sacrifices and social programs of the unbeliever. Our God can do better, it’s time to show them.

Patrick Sullivan is a Catholic Lay Evangelist, author and speaker.  He has written two books, Dare to Be an Evangelist and Four Monks Walk in to a Pub and has many you-tube videos.  Check out his website at http://evango.net

Door A or Door B by A.J. Avila

doors-for-blog

When I was growing up, there was a game show on television called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would give members of the studio audience the opportunity to swap one prize for a different, unknown prize inside a box or behind a curtain. Sometimes the recipient got a better deal by making the trade. Sometimes not.

Of course, if you could see beforehand what was in the box or behind the curtain, you would know whether or not making the trade was a good idea.

I was reminded of this when considering something St. Faustina said in her Diary. She describes being led by an angel into Hell itself. The images she paints of the torments there are staggering. (Diary, 741)

I was more shocked, though, by what she said at the end of it all.

She said she would rather undergo incredible agonies and the greatest sufferings until the end of the world than offend God by the least sin.

So let me get this straight. You have two doors, and you have to choose one of them. Behind Door A is incredible pain and suffering until the Second Coming. Behind Door B is stealing a cookie.

And she’s saying she would choose Door A. Because, apparently, that’s the better deal.

What’s difficult to accept is that she’s right.

We all have a tendency to downplay sin, especially venial sin. Well, yeah, I told a lie, but it’s not like it was a big lie. Not like lying on the witness stand or something. It was just fudging a bit on my taxes. It was just claiming the light was green instead of red when I entered the intersection. No big deal, right? Sheesh, it’s not like I’m Hitler or something!

When we start comparing ourselves to Hitler instead of the Person we should be comparing ourselves to (namely, Jesus), we’ve lost sight of just how diabolical sin is. God is infinitely greater than the universe, and I, little mote of dust that I am, sinned against That? Against Utter Perfection? Against Grace?

That’s exactly what I’ve done. And that’s exactly what Jesus went to the Cross for.

See how much my sins cost? How can sins paid for by such a great price be considered “little”?

That’s why, despite what I’ve heard out of the mouths of a couple of priests, there’s no such thing as a “little sin.” Yes, some are incredibly bigger than others, so big, in fact, that they destroy God’s grace in our souls. But none of them are small.

And that’s also why God wiping them out is such an incredible act of mercy.

 

Visit author, A.J. Avila at her blog at https://reflections911.wordpress.com/

Filling the Mind with Everything Jesus by Laura Hensley

At the beginning of the school year in 2015, I found myself e-mailing my Director of Religious Education (DRE) several times asking to be enrolled in an online catechism class, and for her to cover the cost for a Bible study in our parish and a Bible study with my mom’s group. I told her I felt bad about asking, again, but figured the worst she could say was ‘no’ and I’d have to cover the cost myself, plus she told us in the beginning of the year they would cover the costs of studies for Catechist’s under an education fund. I also told her I wanted to fill my mind with “Everything Jesus”.

For me as a catechist, it is important to be able to clearly explain to the children what our faith is and why we believe what we believe. In addition, part of my job is catechizing to the parents who may not have studied the faith since they completed their religious education classes. My studies have helped me to defend the faith when asked questions and given me the resources to know where to go when I do not know the answer to questions. I am able to more clearly explain my position on political topics. Finally, in my personal life, I know better how to live according to God’s law and boundaries, not only to not break the 10 Commandments, but those things which Jesus has taught us to avoid, such as killing someone with hateful thoughts (Matthew 5:22) or committing adultery through lusting after another (Matthew 5:28).

Today, there is so much out there that we can fill our minds with, good and bad. It is important that we filter out the bad things that can draw us into temptation and lead us to sin, and stay close to God and living a life pleasing to Him. When going online, we must steer clear of sites which are filled with pornography or other evil. If we view these sites, it is easy to be drawn into to thinking “I’m just looking because who is it really hurting”. We must reflect upon how it will hurt our spouse or dating partner when caught, how it hurts the people involved who are being exploited for their body, or our sons and daughters who see celebrities posting immoral selfies and themselves fall into pornography if we don’t speak up against it. A good question we can ask ourselves is, “Would I be looking at this site or watching this movie if ____ (or Jesus) was standing behind me?” If this is a temptation, then cut it off by programming the Internet router to block out those sites, use Internet parental controls or only use a search engine which will block those sites from searches. We must instead look at sites, watch movies or TV shows that are wholesome and godly, and that do not exploit people for their bodies or promote immoral behavior.

While it is good for us to be informed about the evil around us by reading news articles or learning the arguments of those against the Church, we must make sure we do not become a participant in that evil. For example, we must avoid the hateful behavior or words that are often said to each other who support opposing political candidates. While we may respectfully disagree, we must do so in a Christ-like manner so that we are not drawn into hateful speech with another whom we may not even know. People are not always open to accepting Bible verses to argue hot topics, but making justified points as to why it is wrong to support a candidate who believes in such things as abortion, torture, and the death penalty in a way that promotes pro-life values is the best way to get the point across without being condemning of the person supporting such a candidate. Jesus did not argue by putting others down or outright dismissing them and sending them away. He instead pointed out hypocrisy in their words and actions (see Luke 14:10-17 for one example of many). If we are not good at this, learn how to be a better persuasive speaker or writer by joining groups who believe the same things we do first. There, we can read and participate in like-minded discussions, and learn properly how to discuss our Catholic beliefs in a way that isn’t so off-putting and quickly dismissed.

Finally, it is most important to really know the faith and what we are talking about before getting into arguments with others who may already have all of their arguments stacked against the faith. The best way to do this is by preparing ourselves by filling our minds with everything Jesus. By putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), we will be able to know where we stand with God and how to defend the faith when attacked. Start with a good Bible study, such as The Bible Timeline (Ascension Press) which teaches the entire salvation history from Genesis to Acts. To continue to learn more about the history of the Catholic Church, a great study which picks up from the Acts to modern day is Epic, A Journey through Church History (Ascension Press). There are also many great Bible studies which will focus on a single Gospel writer, a single prophet such as Moses, or saints like Mary. We can also learn more about modern day topics which will help us to reflect on the Church’s view, for example the Theology of the Body or the Catechism.

The more we fill our minds with “everything Jesus” the easier it will be to see sin and to avoid the temptations that lead us into sin. We also will be able to use these resources to voice our views with love and with the backing of God who helps us to plant the seeds so that others may see validity in our arguments. We must build our house upon the rock so that our arguments do not wash away, as the foolish who build their arguments upon the sand which washes away (based on Matthew 7:24-27).

God bless!

Laura Hensley

Laura Hensley is a freelance writer, web developer, and runs the blog, Catholic Upgrade (link below). She is a lifelong Catholic who teaches 2nd grade religious education, and has been studying the Bible for over 10 years. She has been married over 15 years and has 4 children with her husband.

http://www.catholicupgrade.net