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Showing posts from 2016

"Wax On, Wax Off"

There is a famous scene from the 1980's cult classic film, The Karate Kid where Mr Miyagi, a karate master teaches a teenage apprentice, Daniel San.  In one of the scenes Mr Miyagi teaches Daniel how to wax and clean his deck by simply commanding Daniel "to wax on and wax off."   After months of doing this Daniel San grows impatient and begins to suspect that Mr. Miyagi has different motives. After pestering Mr. Miyagi,, Mr Miyagi finally admits that in order to be a karate master one needs to master the small things first.   Only after conquering this seemingly mundane task of waxing the deck can Daniel San begin to master the art of karate.

I remember feeling very much like Daniel San at my first job.

I was a dishwasher at a restaurant.  Every weekend I would go to work and see endless piles of dishes which towered like skyscrapers above me. It was all so overwhelming.  I was expected to clean hundreds of dishes well and in a very rapid manner.  If I didn't finish …

Love and Tolerance

We are bombarded almost everyday with the words love and tolerance. These words have been used by Christians and supporters of gay marriage alike to explain their points of view. But what is the difference between love and tolerance? (without getting too philosophical) Is there any difference?

I believe that there is.

Philosophy is said to be the art of making distinctions. Love according to St. Thomas Aquinas was wanting the good of the other.

Let's use a practical example...

Say it's past your child's bed time but your child still wants to play with their i pad. You give them five more minutes but those five more minutes now turn into a half hour.  In this case the good parent will not allow the child to play on their i pad because getting a good night's rest before school is more important than allowing the child to play on their i pad.  The parent in this example wanted the good of the child. In the mind of the child the parent is not being tolerant of their wishes…

Adversity Alchemy

"In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."- John 16:33 It is an inevitable thing that in life you will have adversity.  This truth is as universal as the sun.  No one can escape this fate. Adversity doesn't discriminate, it comes in all shapes and sizes and impacts each life that it touches. Adversity is very much a part of the human condition. To ignore it would be to ignore life itself.

So why is life filled with adversity?

Thomas A Kempis in is masterpiece, The Imitation of Christ writes about this dynamic, "We will never be free of trials and temptations as long as our earthly life lasts." The biblical answer to this reality is once Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit sin entered the world. This is called original sin. From a non biblical perspective one can argue that adversity is the basic law of the jungle; every creature on earth experiences it so also humans.  No matter which perspective you take the key to s…

Beware of Big Foot

According to the Washington Post Americans believe in big foot just as much as they do in the big bang theory.  That's roughly 21 percent.   According to other data as much as 30 percent believe in the existence of big foot.  That's a staggering number considering that big foot has never been found.

There is a show on animal planet that is titled, Finding Bigfoot. The premise of the show is simple; there are 4 enthusiasts who research for signs of big foot and based on the eyewitness reports of people.  The kicker is that these 4 experts have never found big foot in all of their attempts yet the show still goes on.  How can this be?  How can a show exist for so long on a premise that is never realized?

So what's my point?

My point is, why is it OK to believe in something that has never been proven, but yet when it comes to God we demand perfect proof?

I am a firm believer like St. Thomas Aquinas that the existence of God can be found in the natural world, through philosop…

The Greatest Human Freedom

Yesterday I watched a video of the late, great Austrian psychologist Victor Frankl. In the video he spoke about some of the guiding principals of logo therapy, a field of psychology which he founded. Logo therapy was a branch of psychology which focused on helping people to find meaning and purpose in their life. Frankl was also the author of the international best seller, Man's Search for Meaning. 

According to Frankl the greatest disservice that one can inflict upon another is not to place enough demands on the person. I couldn't agree with him more.  The trend I believe in our society today is to shirk responsibility, to live a solitary life without meaningful contact with others.  According to Frankl human behavior thrived on challenges.  Frankl, a concentration camp survivor himself used data from concentration camp survivors to support his claim. Frankl argued that there were far less suicides at the concentration camps then in socialist Austria.  The reasoning for this …

Inglorious Bastards

First thing.  The title of this blog doesn't have anything to do with Quentin Tarrantino movie.  What I will be writing about his how God chooses the most unlikely characters to fulfill his designs.

The most difficult part of my spiritual journey is coming to terms with my weakness.  Almost daily I fall short and can't get myself to do "the next right thing." St. Paul speaks about this poignantly in his letter to the Romans as he reflects, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."  Usually when I would mess up I would get down on myself, but the more I prayed and read the lives of the saints the more I realized that God could use my weakness for good.  In my previous post I wrote about hope, about how one should trust in God's providence.  This hope is based on the fact that God is faithful and will fulfill his promises as long as one is faithful to the end. St. Paul writes again, "And I am s…

Viva Hope!

These past months have been very difficult for me.  Life has thrown me many curve balls. However, the biggest challenge hasn't been the actual challenges themselves, but the temptation to despair.

Despair corrodes the soul.  St. Faustina wrote, "The greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and worry."  Why does despair ruin the soul? The answer is because despair is the antithesis of hope.

Love is the greatest of the virtues in Christianity, followed by faith and hope. But love can't grow without the foundation of hope and hope can't grow without faith. All three of the virtues build on one another. Hope in the simplest sense is the virtue in which a person trusts, through faith in the providence of God.

So if a person is bogged down by despair, fear, or worry then the capacity for love is severely diminished since love needs to be a free act performed by a person who has hope.  Jacques Philippe in his book Interior Freedom writes about this dynamic;


It's Time for Another Option

Like most people I have been intrigued by this year's presidential race. However, this presidential race has placed me in a moral quandary. 
I am not crazy about Trump, I distrust Hilary Clinton, and I, unlike Bernie Sanders don't believe that Western European socialism is the answer for every woe.  As a Catholic I feel that I don't have a real choice. I don't really fit in with either party.  I am sick of having to always choose the lesser of two evils. I know that there is no such thing as the perfect candidate, but lesser than shouldn't be the only option.  There must be a third option.
I think that one option to solving this problem is to form another party. Indulge me for a second... 
Imagine a party that leans right when it comes to marriage and right to life issues. Imagine a party which espouses the core tenants of Catholic social teaching while economically supporting the subsidiarity.  This idea isn't novel. There are parties like this all over Europe…

Loving Your Enemies (A New Take)

Recently I have been reading a book about St. Therese titled, "Everything is Grace" by Joseph Schmidt. It is an excellent book if one wants to learn more about the life of St. Therese.

I was struck by a chapter where it speaks about how St. Therese dealt with several of the difficult nuns at her convent.  At first glance it seems strange and even humorous that there could be such enmity in a place that was supposed to be unified in its ideals. But since human nature is imperfect, difficulties and even dissensions can take place even in the holiest of places.

In her autobiography, "Story of a Soul."  St. Therese speaks about one elderly nun who was very taxing. This nun had the habit of always criticizing the actions of others.  So one day St. Therese offered to help the nun to walk to the dinner table.  The whole time the nun criticized her, but amazingly St. Therese managed to smile the whole time giving the other nuns the impression that she was very happy doing …

Secular Humanism: Atheism's Brilliant Disguise

I have been reflecting recently on the role of Catholicism in the public square today.  Much to my chagrin I have noticed that Catholicism's role has diminished greatly in our country.  I believe that secular humanism, a virulent form of Atheism has contributed greatly to this decline.

When did this happen?  I don't know exactly when but I suspect that the role of the church has diminished in relationship to the size of the government.  If you use this argument then one can surmise that this began during the government's massive expansion under president Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. (There is actual data that supports the claim that charitable contributions went down as a result of the New Deal programs.)  Subsequent administrations have done the same such as Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society Programs up till the present day with the passing of the Health and Portability Act. (Obama care)

One can argue that these programs have helped our country greatly but at…

The, Unusual Surest Way to Victory in November

Like most of the country I am enthralled by the presidential races in both parties.  Like most Republicans I haven't made up my mind on who I will support.  I am faced with three choices: to vote for Donald Trump who is the brash front runner, presumptive nominee. Ted Cruz the grassroots conservative, and John Kasich the very successful centrist governor from Ohio.  For months I have been vacillating on whom to support.

Originally I was a Marco Rubio supporter.  I felt that his optimistic message of conservatism were the best mix for a November victory.  I was also very impressed by most of his debate performances and I felt that since he was the best orator he would win the nomination. I based my support on the 2008 Democratic primaries which saw Barack Obama win by the sheer force of his brilliant eloquence.  But I was wrong, Rubio in spite of his hopeful message fell short to the political phenomena of Trump mania.  Once Rubio was out I began to warm up to Trump as the presump…

The New Rebellion

Want to be cool? Want to go against those in authority? Want to stand out? 

These are the questions that are typically asked to teenagers or young adults by activist groups seeking their support. 

But what happens when the activist groups become the majority?

This is the phenomena that is occurring in our country today as liberal activist groups have become the majority.

So what is the rallying cry for this group now that it is in power in our country today?

In the 1960's liberal groups rebelled against those in power who at that time were the parents, institutions that were deemed as the enemies who happened to be conservative.

The nascent liberal groups were the children of parents who survived the great depression.  Who weren't raised within the same austerity and discipline as their parents were.

Now who are these groups going against now that those parents, and institutions aren't the boogeymen anymore?

I know that being a victim is part of the liberal worldview but…