Monday, July 5, 2010


Hey Readers,

Instead of using this blog sit, I will be using from now on. It is a more comprehensive, more user friendly, better looking website. Enjoy!


Friday, July 2, 2010

What is Revelation?

As an aspiring youth minister, I do not yet claim to have fantastic realizations or claims to greatness, therefore, I will quote those wiser than I, Mark Hart and Todd Lemieux. In their book called "100 Things Every Catholic Teen Should Know", one of the 100 is about the meaning of revelation, why God revealed himself, and is it really helpful?

Man was created in the image of God. As a result, there are things we can know about God from simply reflecting on our lives and the world around us: Being good is better than being evil, so God must be good. Beauty is better than ugliness, so God must be beautiful. Love is the greatest thing to which man can aspire and the source of all peace in the world, so God must be love.

But we are limited. When we consider how little we can actually know about God, it is easy to see how many pagan religions came to the surface at the beginning of humankind. C.S. Lewis made the point that we are far below understanding God - like a flea trying to understand a man. The difference between God and ourselves is even more, since God is infinite and we are not.

How are we to understand this God? He must reveal Himself to us. That is the only way - there is no way we can grasp or comprehend something with our minds when that "something" created our minds!

Throughout the history of man, God has revealed himself. The most obvious ways are through Scripture and Tradition, as He makes himself known to us through a gradual unwrapping of who He is before all of mankind. When all of this comes together, we have a revealed picture of who God is. The picture is incomplete, because He is still infinite and we are not, but is a more complete picture than what we would have without His help.

(Ref: 1 Sm. 3:1, Ps. 119:130, Lk. 2:32, Rv. 1:1, CCC#238-242, 54-67)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thoughts on Beauty

This weekend has been a fantastic one! My sister graduated on Friday. My friends got married on Saturday, where I attended my first Catholic wedding... BEAUTIFUL! I spent some time with old friends from school and I picked up an old hobby, art. I'm practicing drawing portraits. It's extremely complicated! I was reminded of the beauty of classical music by an old friend, which brings me to the point of this blog.

Truth is beauty.

It's not necessarily the type of beauty we think of, but an incomprehensible beauty. My sister is growing up and going on to college. What a beautiful gift! We are so blessed in the US with so many opportunities. Two college friends got married on Saturday. I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful the ceremony was. Phenomenal sacrament that can only begin to be understood in the lens of divinity. The trinity coming down to unite two into one flesh... beautiful.

Classical music, while complicated and intricate, is beautiful. It may not be the catchy, cheap new type of music that pops up on the charts for a few weeks. It has a lasting beauty that is more fulfilling than an instant beat made with a computer and put rhyming lyrics. Don't get me wrong, I like the chart toppers now and again, but I feel at peace when listening to classical music. I feel a presence of the divine almost, a contemplative nature arises within.

The subject of my sketch work today has been the female portrait. I haven't moved to the male portrait yet. For some reason the female face contains much more beauty than the male... In order to draw a human face, one has to pay attention to every detail to transfer it to paper. There are a number of variables; the steadiness of the artist's hand, the understanding of the subject's character and contours, the medium, the tools. It makes the artist truly appreciate the intricacies of the human body.

During the classical era of Church architecture, the architects used the human body as the basis for their buildings because the human body is known as having the "Golden Ratio" or the most perfect form. This form is made in the image and likeness of God.

The last point in regards to beauty for this post is the message from today's readings; forgiveness. Another thing that is hard for human beings to understand, forgiveness, is not a foreign concept of our Savior. He came to save us, to wash away what we have done. He came to give us forgiveness, to share His mercy. What a beautiful thing!

The Way, the Truth, and the Life cares about us. Truth is beauty. Look for it in your daily lives and you will see that we live an extraordinary existence, not a mundane one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Site

Keep your eye peeled for a more comprehensive site that my friend is making for me. It will have more quotes, more blogs, videos, links, photos, and I will make it a point to keep it updated much more than this blog. It's going to look better and run smoother as well with fresh new music for you to listen to.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Story of St. Justin Martyr

All the voices around Justin clamored that they had the truth he sought so desperately. He had listened to them all since he first came to Rome to get his education. They each shouted that they held the one and only answer but he felt no closer to the truth than when he had started his studies. He had left the Stoic master behind but the Stoics valued discipline as truth and thought discussion of God unnecessary. He had rejected the Peripatetic who seemed more interested in money than discussion. The Pythagorean had rejected him because he didn’t know enough music and geometry — the things that would lead him to truth. He had found some joy with the Platonists because the contemplation of ideas gave wings to his mind, but they had promised wisdom would let him see God and so, where was God?
There was one place that Justin always escaped to in order to get away from these shouting, confusing voices and search out the quiet inner voice that led him to truth. This place was a lonely spot, a path that seemed made for him alone in a field by the sea. So sure was he of the isolation of his retreat that he was shocked one day to find an old man following him.
The old man was not searching for truth but for some of his family. Nonetheless they began a discussion in which Justin identified himself as a philologian, a lover of reason. The old man challenged him — why was he not a lover of truth, a lover of deeds. Justin told him that reason led to truth, and philosophy led to happiness. This was certainly an interesting thing for Justin to say since he had not found the truth in the study of reason or happiness in his quest among the philosophers! Perhaps the old man sensed this for he asked for Justin’s definition of philosophy and of happiness.
In the long discussion that followed, Justin spoke eloquently to the old man’s searching questions but even Justin had to admit that philosophers may talk about God but had never seen him, may discuss the soul but didn’t really know it. But if the philosophers whom Justin admired and followed couldn’t, then nobody could, right?
The old man told him about the ancient prophets, the Hebrew prophets, who had talked not of ideas but of what they had seen and heard, what they knew and experienced. And this was God. The old man ended the conversation by telling Justin to pray that the gates of light be opened to him.
Inflamed by this conversation, Justin sought out the Scriptures and came to love them. Christ words “possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them.”
Why hadn’t Justin known about Christianity before with as much as he had studied? He had heard about it, the way other pagans of second century Rome had, by the rumors and accusations that surrounded the persecution of Christians. The fearlessness of their actions made him doubt the gossip, but he had nothing else to go by. Christians at that time kept their beliefs secret. They were so afraid that outsiders would trample on their sacred faith and descrate their mysteries that they wouldn’t tell anyone about their beliefs — even to counteract outright lies. To be honest, there was good reason for their fears — many actors for example performed obscene parodies of Christian ritual for pagan audiences, for example.
But Justin believed differently. He had been one of those outsiders — not someone looking for trouble, but someone earnestly searching for the truth. The truth had been hidden from him by this fear of theirs. And he believed there were many others like him. He exhorted them that Christians had an obligation to speak of their faith, to witness to others about their faith and their mysteries.
So Justin took his newfound faith to the people. This layman became the first great apologist for Christianity and opened the gates of light for so many others. He explained baptism and Eucharist. He explained to the pagans why they didn’t worship idols and why that didn’t make them atheists. He explained to the Jews how Christians could worship the same God but not follow Jewish laws. He explained to the Greeks and the philosophers how philosophy did not take into account the dignity of humankind. He wrote long arguments known as apologies and traveled to other lands in order to debate publicly. His long education in philosophy and rhetoric gave him the skills he needed to match his oponents and the Holy Spirit gave him the rest.
It is not surprising that Justin was arrested during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius. Along with four others (Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus) he was brought before the Roman prefect, Rusticus, to be accused under the law that required sacrificing to idols. When Rusticus demanded that they “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings,” Justin responded, “To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation.”
When Rusticus asked what doctrines he believed, Justin told him that he had learned all the doctrines available during his quest but finally submitted to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they didn’t please others. (An understatement when he was under danger of death!)
Just before Rusticus sentenced them he asked Justin, “If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven?” Justin said, “I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.”
Justin and his fellow martyrs were beheaded in the year 165 and went to be with the Truth Justin had longed for all his life. He is often known as Justin Martyr and his works are still available.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Interesting Article about Porn

WASHINGTON — Recent headlines about pornography use at the Securities and Exchange Commission stirred public disgust with government officials who viewed thousands of hard-core images while Wall Street banks imploded.

Yet experts and religious groups that have struggled for years to raise awareness about the destructive consequences of pornography use hope the news will contribute to a sea change in social attitudes.

In fact, anti-pornography crusaders received another boost from the American Psychiatric Association, which just released new draft diagnostic guidelines that identified pornography addiction as a form of “hypersexual disorder” and thus worthy of serious study and treatment.

The breakthrough at the American Psychiatric Association provides additional context for a new report endorsed by a broad swath of academic leaders: “The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations.”

Sponsored by the Princeton University-based Witherspoon Institute, the report cites numerous social-science studies that confirm the often devastating impact of pornography on regular users, their families and broader society. It concludes with proposed guidelines for policy-makers, law enforcement, professional organizations and educators.

“While the cultural shift in attitudes about the harm caused by smoking has been quite rapid, we’re not yet there on pornography. Too many people say, ‘I have a right to it. Everybody does it,’” reported Mary Anne Layden, director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy who co-authored the report with Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Americans have become attuned to the suffering and rights of victims of sexual violence, Layden observes, but they can’t explain what fuels sexual violence. Meanwhile, parents and educators are disturbingly ignorant about children’s online activities.

The report summarizes the findings of numerous studies that confirm the potency and pervasiveness of Internet-supplied pornography on demand. In a dramatic departure from past pornography use, adult movies, online images and interactive videos are available in hotel rooms, homes, offices and public libraries, as well as on cell phones, personal laptops and office computers. Pornography use has been linked to sexual violence against women and children, marriage breakups and altered neurological patterns in the brains of addicts.

Dr. Sharon Cooper, a consultant to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said she endorsed the report because Americans must be educated to confront an inconvenient truth: Any kind of pornography can contribute to the sexual exploitation of minors. There are an estimated 30 million digital images of children distributed online; the FBI’s cybercrime unit reported a 23-fold increase between 1996 and 2004 alone.

“Child pornography on the Internet is illegal,” noted Cooper, adjunct professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But its presence results in cognitive distortions for would-be offenders. The online images of children suggest they are fair game.”

College Campuses

Cooper cited several recent studies that establish a direct link between possession of child pornography and sexual contact with minors.

The rise in child pornography is a pressing law-enforcement issue. But Cooper, who co-authored the two-volume textbook Child Exploitation, contends that children who consume a steady diet of adult pornography are also at risk for becoming predators.

“When children access adult pornography, we see an increase in offenses,” she said. “A diet of porn creates ‘disinhibited’ behavior, and that can put their peers and younger relatives at risk.”

Both Layden and Cooper challenge public complacency regarding the dangers of adult pornography. “Most don’t see the connection between the ‘permission giving’ role of rape in adult pornography and the problem of sexual violence directed against women,” said Layden. “They still say, ‘That can’t be true.’”

But the cause-and-effect relationship between pornography and sexual violence is just one issue addressed in the Witherspoon report. It also has reconfigured the social interactions of young Americans in ways that don’t bode well for their future marriage prospects.

According to the report, “Every second, there are approximately 28,258 users viewing pornography. Every day, there are approximately 6,000 online searches for child pornography. In 2005, 13,585 hard-core pornographic video/DVD titles were released in the United States, up from 1,300 titles in 1988. One recent study of undergraduate and graduate students ... found that 69% of men and 10% of women in this sample viewed pornography more than once a month.”

Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, notes that “pornography is one of the popular cultural influences that is undercutting quality and stability of marriages. The mostly male viewers begin to discount the attractiveness of their own wife and become more interested in a great variety of sexual practices and partners, increasing the likelihood of divorce.”

The “mainstreaming” of pornography into American culture is fueled by popular entertainment, particularly music videos targeted at young viewers. U.S. college campuses celebrate pornography as a form of entertainment and creative expression. College administrators typically defend official sponsorship of pornography films and presentations by adult movie stars as a First Amendment right.

Feminist-minded faculty members once repudiated pornography for inciting violence against women. But the anti-pornography alliance forged between feminists and religious groups has largely receded. Today, the drumbeat of values-free female sexual empowerment can be heard in sex columns on university news websites and “sex positive” activities on campus.

“It’s ironic and sad that liberals rush to defend pornography. If other minority groups were portrayed in media as women are in pornography, there would be an outcry,” observed Pamela Paul, author of Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families.

“Traditionally, liberals have been wary of corporate maneuvering of popular opinion, but they don’t see how the porn industry has dictated to young men and women what is ‘sex positive,’” said Paul, who hopes the American Psychiatric Association’s policy shift will lead to a more informed consensus on the dangers of pornography use.

Addressing Addiction

The Witherspoon report states that “both adolescent boys and girls who are exposed to a sexualized media environment are more likely to view women as sexual objects.” The report cites a 2009 study at Princeton that used MRI scans to document how pornography encourages men to perceive women “more as objects than as humans.” Other research suggests that exposure to sexually explicit material can harm the emotional health and encourage “sexually risky behavior” in teenagers of both sexes.

This isn’t news to Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. He has collaborated with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., to establish outreach programs for adult Catholics, theology-of-the-body study groups, and 12-step programs for pornography addicts and support groups for their wives, who often blame themselves for their husbands’ behavior.

“Pornography can cause a physical addiction as powerful as cocaine and has proven to cause people to act out sexually against others,” said Bishop Finn. It “takes advantage of loneliness, sadness, poor self-image and lust. Use of pornography intensifies all these hurts and increases secretive behavior and isolation from loved ones.”

Bishop Finn applauds the decision by some local hotel owners to exclude pay-per-view adult movies: “They have accepted less profit so they can spare their patrons from these temptations.” (See this related Register column). But he knows the ultimate goal — the eradication of pornography — requires a power greater than good intentions. “This is a spiritual battleground that requires supernatural help and every human effort to break,” he said.

Still, Mary Anne Layden believes the Witherspoon report is positioned to reshape the national conversation about pornography, and that should bolster the local outreach of religious leaders like Bishop Finn.

The signatories of the Witherspoon report offer wide-ranging proposals that encourage therapists, educators and law enforcement to rethink their tolerance of pornography and become better informed about its dangers.

“Obscenity laws are not being enforced — except regarding child porn. If you only penalize the extreme elements of pornography, people assume that everything is okay,” Layden pointed out. “We need to learn that this is undermining the very foundation of the culture and that we want to target the most typical, accessible images.”

Joan Frawley Desmond writes from Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

No sex?

Check out this article about how one college junior is taking matters into her own hands.