Why Catholic?

Why am I Catholic?

There are so many reasons! So many! Being Catholic is a way of life, it is truly following Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life! And the more that I have learned about it and lived it out, the more it makes sense. Catholicism is truth.

Among all of these reasons that I could attempt to list, I’ve got one “above all the rest” reason why I’m a Catholic Christian. After thinking about this for a while now, it really comes down to one thing, and everything else is icing on the cake (unless I’m missing something else huge.. let me know in a comment what you think!).

I’m Catholic because Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

“Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” -Matthew 16:17-19

Check out the big header up there, ↑ that’s a painting of Jesus handing St. Peter the Keys to Heaven. Very cool, course I doubt Jesus whipped out a set of giant keys.. haha!

Jesus, God, founded the Catholic Church. He desired that it be one. He instituted the sacraments. He chose the apostles, who would become the first bishops. Who are we to change the Church that He founded? Who are we to found a church? Unless you build a house on the cornerstone, when any floor comes, the house will be swept away. Are we not seeing this right now with the Protestant churches? Are they not being swept away by popular culture?

And to those who say the Church “lost its ways” and isn’t the same as the original, I say we are overlooking the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember at Pentecost when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit down on the Apostles and Mary (Acts 2)? That’s the Church’s birthday! Jesus founded it, but it couldn’t function properly without the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide it. Another note: Check out Matthew 16:19. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. Any more questions?

Why should we believe that 1500 years after Christ or anytime after that, people all of a sudden knew better than the early Christians? Why should we believe that we know better than God?

Here comes the “but the Church did bad things!” question. Yes, we hear that over and over again. The Church is full of sinners. I’m one of them. That’s the point of the Church, to help us sinners. And even some popes have been bad. The media loves that. But still, that doesn’t discourage me. Look at the amazing fact that the dogma of the Church has never changed, even DESPITE these horrible popes! Crazy! Plus, look at the fact that the Church is still alive and kicking 2000 years later. There is not a single institution on earth that can say they have outlived the Church.

The issues are tough for most people. It takes time to understand. Abortion is hard enough, and then we have to talk about contraception too!? Yea. And then our opposition to homosexual marriage. But the point of the Church that Jesus founded would not be to “fit in” with the world. The Catholic Church’s job description, written by God, is to call all of humanity to lives of holiness, to become saints! Catholic means universal. It is for everyone. Catholics all over the world believe the same exact thing, and for good reason: the truth doesn’t change based on your location, age, ethnicity, bank account, etc. The Church is like the bridge from us to God. Look at the sacraments! In the sacraments, we get personal encounters with Jesus, with God! Not only do I get to communicate with God in prayer and learn about Him in the bible, but I get to be forgiven by Him in confession, adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and receive Him in Communion. How cool is that?! Talk about a personal relationship with Jesus!

There is so much that I could say on this topic, this is a good start I hope and pray.

I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. —St. Jerome, A.D. 396 , Letters 15:2 (St. Jerome was essential to translating and compiling the bible, FYI)

Read more:
I believe in God
Who is Jesus?

Confession

As Catholics we have a very special gift from God: the opportunity to go to confession and have our sins forgiven! This is what Jesus came to do, to forgive our sins, and He gave us this opportunity to have them forgiven at any time. Because of this, it is very important that we take advantage of this sacrament.

Why should I go to confession if I can just ask God for His forgiveness?
I have no doubt in God’s ability to forgive us when we are contrite, but Jesus instituted this sacrament Himself, so we should follow His instructions. Read John 20:19-23. The passage ends with Jesus telling His disciples “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them , and whose sins you retain are retained.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that, folks. In addition, St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18 says “..and all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Here St. Paul is specifically referencing reconciliation!

Who does the forgiving of sins?
Only a priest or bishop can minister the sacrament of reconciliation. Notice how the disciples had to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20 before Jesus told them to forgive sins. So in confession it is Jesus forgiving your sins, through the priest. The priest is only the instrument of God.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops blog has a top ten reasons why you should go to confession list, should check it out!

Personally, there might not be a better feeling than leaving that confessional after having your sins forgiven. The sacrament gives me hope when I feel like all that I do is mess up and sin. Give God’s mercy a try, it’s infinite… 😉

Come to think of it, asking God for forgiveness is kind of like asking your grandma for food. They both are dying to give it and they’re really good at it 😀

Tips:
Have a regular schedule for going. Pope John Paul II suggested going once a month.
Keep track of your sins if you have a bad memory (like me) by writing them down or something. But make sure to do some sort of celebratory destruction of your paper or whatever you use afterwards , because they are truly forgiven and you don’t have to worry about them anymore!
Do your penance right away before you forget.
Having the same priest for confession is a good idea so he can help guide you. Ask him questions and for advice.

Also see:
Sin

Bishop Jenky

I stand with Bishop Jenky. That said, it continues to amaze me how polarized our world is. The people that are angered by his statements probably have no idea why a Catholic Bishop might say something like that. On the other hand practicing Catholics are so joyous to hear the bishops speaking out so strongly lately in defense of the things that have been increasingly worrying us over the past few years, decades. Whatever you may feel about the issue, I have two requests. 1. Be respectful. I have a strong faith that people only do and say things because they truly believe that they are right. For this reason, people might be doing the wrong things, but they are only doing so because they don’t know better. So give others the benefit of the doubt. 2. Learn about both sides of the issue. Educate yourself. Don’t be a tool of either “side,” but rather use the rights that we have as Americans and educate yourself.

Bishop Jenky’s homily: You can also listen to it here.

There is only one basic reason why Christianity exists and that is the fact that Jesus Christ truly rose from the grave.

The disciples never expected the resurrection. The unanimous testimony of all four Gospels is that the terrible death of Jesus on the cross entirely dashed all their hopes about Jesus and about his message. He was dead, and that was the end of it. They looked for nothing more, and they expected nothing more.

So as much as they had loved him, in their eyes Jesus was a failed messiah. His dying seemed to entirely rob both his teaching and even his miracles of any lasting significance.

And they were clearly terrified that his awful fate, at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Romans, could easily become their awful fate. So they hid, trembling with terror, behind shuttered windows and locked doors.

When the Risen Christ suddenly appeared in their midst, their reaction was shocked incredulity. They simply could not believe their own eyes.

Reality only very slowly began to penetrate their consciousness when Jesus offers proof of his resurrection. He shows them the wounds on his hands, his feet, and his side. Jesus even allowed them to touch him. He breaks bread with them and eats with them. And only then could they admit to themselves what had seemed absolutely impossible – the one who had truly died had truly risen! The Crucified now stood before them as their Risen, glorious, triumphant Lord.

His rising from the grave was every bit as real as his dying on the cross. The resurrection was the manifest proof of the invincible power of Almighty God. The inescapable fact of the resurrection confirmed every word Jesus had ever spoken and every work Jesus had ever done.

The Gospel was the truth. Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus was the Savior of the world. Jesus was the very Son of God.

There is no other explanation for Christianity. It should have died out and entirely disappeared when Christ died and was buried, except for the fact that Christ was truly risen, and that during the 40 days before his Ascension, he interacted with his Apostles and disciples, and on one occasion even with hundreds of his followers.

Today’s appointed Gospel reading for this Saturday in the Octave of Easter is taken from the 16th Chapter of Mark. It concludes with a command from the lips of Jesus, given to his disciples, given to the whole Church, given to you and me assembled here today: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

We heard in today’s Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles that the same Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus was amazed at the boldness of Peter and John. Perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they recognized them as companions of Jesus. They warned them never again to teach, or speak to anyone, in the name of Jesus.

But the elders and the scribes might as well have tried to turn back the tide, or hold back an avalanche. Peter and John had seen the Risen Christ with their own eyes. Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit. They asked whether it is right “in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

And Peter and John and all the Apostles, starting first in Jerusalem in Judea and Galilee and then to the very ends of the earth, announced the Resurrection and the Good News to everyone they encountered.

According to the clear testimony of the Scriptures, these Apostles had once been rather ordinary men – like you and me. Their faith hadn’t always been strong. They made mistakes. They committed sins. They were often afraid and confused.

But meeting the Risen Lord had changed everything about these first disciples, and knowing the Risen Lord should also change everything about us.

You know, it has never been easy to be a Christian and it’s not supposed to be easy! The world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us. As Jesus once predicted, they hated me, they will certainly hate you.

But our Faith, when it is fully lived, is a fighting faith and a fearless faith. Grounded in the power of the resurrection, there is nothing in this world, and nothing in hell, that can ultimately defeat God’s one, true, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

For 2,000 years the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best. But think about it. The Church survived and even flourished during centuries of terrible persecution, during the days of the Roman Empire.

The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism.

And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.

The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the President of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of the current majority of the federal Senate.

May God have mercy on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.

As Christians we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but as Christians we must also stand up for what we believe and always be ready to fight for the Faith. The days in which we live now require heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction.

In our own families, in our parishes, where we live and where we work – like that very first apostolic generation – we must be bold witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.

Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.

In the late 19th century, Bismarck waged his “Kulturkampf,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.

Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.

This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the instrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.

No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.

Now remember what was the life-changing experience that utterly transformed those fearful and quaking disciples into fearless, heroic apostles. They encountered the Risen Christ. They reverenced his sacred wounds. They ate and drank with him.

Is that not what we do here together, this morning at this annual men’s march Mass?

This is the Saturday of the Octave of Easter, a solemnity so great and central to our Catholic faith that Easter Day is celebrated for eight full days, and the Easter season is joyously observed as the Great 50 Days of Easter. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ – risen from the grave – is in our midst. His Holy Word teaches us the truth. His Sacred Body and Blood becomes our food and drink.

The Risen Christ is our Eternal Lord; the Head of his Body, the Church; our High Priest; our Teacher; our Captain in the well-fought fight.

We have nothing to fear, but we have a world to win for him. We have nothing to fear, for we have an eternal destiny in heaven. We have nothing to fear, though the earth may quake, kingdoms may rise and fall, demons may rage, but St. Michael the Archangel, and all the hosts of heaven, fight on our behalf.

No matter what happens in this passing moment, at the end of time and history, our God is God and Jesus is Lord, forever and ever.

Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!

Christ wins! Christ reigns! Christ commands!

Related:
The HHS Mandate
Stand Up For Religious Freedom! 

Friendship and Flirting

The following is a guest post by Vincent Kania, seminarian for the Diocese of Joliet.

When we have begun to embrace a life of purity and chastity, I have found that we are able to better understand love, and so develop deeper and more meaningful friendships with others of both sexes. As we come closer to others, we can run into problems concerning how we should interact with the opposite sex so that we can further live out purity and chastity in an emotional sense. As we strive for this, I believe our objective should be to develop meaningful friendships in which we can lead each other to Christ.

Although we must make sure to respect others and be concerned for their thoughts and feelings, I don’t think this goal can be achieved through scrupulosity or gloominess. An honest and well-intentioned friendliness and joy will go much further for developing healthy and fulfilling friendships and relationships than being excessively reserved. God made us to interact with each other and to find enjoyment in these friendships and relationships, so we should embrace God’s gifts and thank Him for his generosity. But we do need to have an awareness of ourself and others so that we can live with integrity as we pursue friendships and relationships. Here’s a couple of practical considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Show great respect for the opposite sex at all times. Make sure to keep physical boundaries in place and never say anything or act in such a way that might demean someone of the opposite sex. We are made up of body and soul, so what we do with our bodies will affect our hearts and the hearts and emotions of those around us. If we make an effort to show respect in this way, your friends will notice and will return that respect to you in the form of trust and confidence.
  2. Understand yourself, especially your intentions. Know thyself. We often flirt in order to get attention and so find fulfillment or boost our own self-esteem. If this is the case, then we are lying to the other and are not living in integrity. We may also end up playing with other’s emotions and sending signals that we do not intend. But if your intentions are not to mislead anyone nor boost your own self-esteem, others will see your honesty and genuineness and you won’t have to worry as you enjoy time with your friends.
  3. Understand your friends and those around you. This is essentially my blanket statement to say that there is no hard and fast rules for this kind of thing, you need to use your judgement and your knowledge of the friendships you have. Know how others will understand and react to your words and actions and then respond appropriately. They also may have intentions different than your own or may be tempted to flirt in an unhealthy way. Understand also that, in a group, paying particular attention to one person to the exclusion of others can come off as flirting and lead others to jealousy. Now you can not control others and this jealousy may come up regardless, but it is something to keep in mind. Prudence is a must for these situations, and if you are unsure about something you were going to say or do, odds are it’s better to hold back.

Our objective was to develop friendships in which we can lead one another to Christ. Union with Christ is our goal and must always be our goal. And we must understand that only in union with Him can we realize our true selves. Pope John Paul II calls it an “interior independence” in which we find our strength, dignity, maturity, and confidence by the side of Christ. We must seek to understand the truth about ourselves, about our fallen nature and our need for love, and respond to this truth by seeking a relationship with Christ alone. When we come close to Him we can be set free from “love as necessity, restriction, mere occasion, or eroticism” and come to know that Love which will fulfill our deepest selves.[1] Once we have found Christ and always seek Him as our ultimate fulfillment, then we can open ourselves to real friendships with one another, free from jealousy, fear, and despondency. Our former Holy Father concludes:

“So the only thing I can tell you is that you should draw closer and closer to Christ, and not just superficially as a passing frame of mind, but with your whole heart, your whole being and your whole life. Seek Him and draw closer to Him….“In the path of love which life entails, always remember that above every love there is one Love. One Love. Love without constraint or hesitation. It is the love with which Christ loves each one of you.” [2]


[1] Pope John Paul II, The Way to Christ, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc, 1984, page 33-40.
[2] Ibid.

I’m Pro-Life Because…

It’d like to present to you all a little project that I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks. In this project, I decided to go around asking people why they were pro-life. I was expecting some pretty diverse reasons, but what struck me were the personal stories! How powerful and touching it is when you or a loved one was supposed to be aborted! Unfortunately, in the United States, we live in a country where at any time during our stay in our mother’s womb, we could have been killed and it would have been completely legal.

The goal for this video is to showcase just the tip of the iceberg of all of the different reasons why people support the pro-life movement, and to generate a good discussion.


So now it’s your turn! Why are you pro-life?

See more:
I’m pro-life. Why aren’t you? 

Mike Wallace Interviews Margaret Sanger in ’57

What changes time brings. I’m sure that a good amount of people are familiar with Mike Wallace, the journalist from 60 minutes, who passed away on April 7th. So as the news came out, I happened to run into a certain interview that he did even before he was with 60 minutes. This was an interview from 1957 with none other than Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

You can watch the interview here.

The things that stood out from the video to me, which took place 55 years ago:

  • Cigarette advertisements everywhere, haha, please forgive the beginning.
  • The Roman Catholic Church has always been against contraception, this was quite obvious from the entire video. How would this whole debate have been different if the Protestant churches in America would have stuck with the Catholic Church on this issue?
  • We are quite familiar with all of Margaret Sanger’s arguments for birth control, contraceptives, abortion, and overpopulation. These views are now the popular opinions nowadays.
  • On the issue of overpopulation, check out this video.
  • Mrs. Sanger has a point on Catholic laypeople not holding true to the teachings of the Church and the hierarchy. The issue remains today. It is extremely important that the laypeople are educated as to why the Church believes what it does, because it does make sense.
  • My favorite part: Wallace quotes the Church’s teachings in forbidding birth control: “The immediate purpose and primary end of marriage is the begetting of children. When the marital relation is so used as to render the fulfillment of its purposes impossible, it is used unethically and unnaturally.” And then Mr. Wallace continues, “And what is wrong with that opinion?” Wow! What a zinger. Ms. Sanger started talking about how it has the wrong views on love, on marriage, on women. Ms. Sanger believes that love is really only convenient pleasure and attraction. And marriage, only a civil contract. You’ll hear later on what her marriages were like..
  • Natural law is brought up by Mr. Wallace. Today, natural law don’t mean anything in the public sphere! And note how Wallace says that the Church is against contraception not because of its own teachings but because it is a natural law. That is a very specific and important remark.
  • We never hear the clear teachings of the Church anymore on public media like this. What a breath of fresh air! If only the media was still neutral like this, it makes everything make more sense when you can see both sides.
  • Sanger complains that the Church “speaks to people as they were God.” Well, yes, Ms. Sanger. Please reference Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus founded the Catholic Church, sent the Holy Spirit to guide it, and gave Peter (and all popes) the keys to heaven- just like how the Kings of Israel would give their keys to their servant to rule as they were away. So yes, the Church has authority. God founded it, God guides it, and God gave it authority.
  • There is a great emphasis on “what they want” from Ms. Sanger. She is absolutely for people choosing to do whatever they want, even if it might be bad.
  • What are the motives of the Church for forbidding birth control? Hey! I’m Catholic, pick me, Ms. Sanger! Here’s what I’d say: Birth control reduces women to objects of lust, pregnancies from failed birth control are often in situations where having children is not responsible, pregnancies when birth control is used are seen as “accidents,” babies that result from these “accidents” are seen as “mistakes,” true commitment from spouses is not necessary, it becomes easier for cheating to happen, men have zero responsibility and often will not remain faithful because of the easy way to get away with being a player, it turns sex into nothing more than a glorified hi-five- unless your birth control doesn’t work, of course.
  • Catholics out-breeding other religions and groups from being against against birth control: that is hilarious. But obviously if one group is having more children than other groups of course it’s going to start to shift the demographics. Check out the Muslims in Europe, for example.
  • But the official teaching of the Church, thanks to Wallace is that “The Catholic Church does not command Catholic husbands and wives to have even one child, the Church considers it more than normally meritorious that they have no children. If they mutually and perpetually give up the use of the marriage right for the love of God.” Now try to bash us, Ms. Sanger…
  • And now Mr. Wallace gives us a quote of a recommendation that birth control does in fact lead to promiscuity. Seems like common sense to me.
  • Thank goodness. Ms. Sanger agrees that Catholics have the right to use their voice to lobby against those things that they consider to be unlawful. I’m thankful that we still have that right, and hope it lasts into the future. Hello HHS Mandate. But the government legislating religious beliefs.. well.. unfortunately President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius (a self professed Catholic) have done that.
  • Do you believe in sin? Funny how sin seems so easy to spot when there is a murder or act of terrorism, but when it comes down to something that we all have done, the lines become very grey all of a sudden.
  • “The greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world.” She follows this up by specifying children that have disease, etc. But she HAS children! And ask someone who has a disease whether they would rather have not been born..
  • Ms. Sanger’s second marriage sounds horrible.
  • Mike Wallace rocks. May he rest in peace.

Easter

How blessed are we! God came to us to give His life for each and every one of us!

Talk about hope! Talk about love! Talk about joy!

This world is nothing. God offers us eternal life with Him! What could be better? God promises to make all of our earthly sorrows as nothing. God promises us that even the most hopeless situations still have hope. He was glorified through death on a cross, for crying out loud! God promises us that all is possible!

So what does God want from us? Only service, our devotion, our lives. Remember when Jesus said in the Gospel of John “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Well, man, is the fruit coming! Continue on following the one who is the way, the truth, and the life and I’m sure the next life will be quite fruitful! (Oh come on, give me a break here, hahaha)

Happy Easter to you all! Alleluia! He is risen!