10 Ways of Living as a Son of God

Mass on Ramapo Mountain

  1. God literally died for you. You are a son of God and you get your worth from His love for you. God willed your existence out of love. You are not just a product of chance. God willed YOUR existence, He created you exactly as you are, and He loves you as you are. He sees you as His son, and wants to see you prosper and live with the fullness of life that He wants for you. Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” in John 10:10. That’s pretty cool, huh?! And I haven’t even hit on the part about Jesus dying for us. He thought that we were worth dying for even though we had already messed up. So remember that even when things aren’t going well, Jesus believes in you and wants to give you another chance.
  1. Men are called to serve and protect. In the story of Adam and Eve, after Adam is created, “God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). God gave Adam and all men this duty, to “cultivate and care” for all of the Earth. This includes all of the plants and animals, but most importantly all of humanity. The Hebrew translation of “cultivate and care” is the word “Shamar,” which means to protect and keep.  So God wasn’t just giving us a job of being gardeners, but being protectors of all of God’s creation.  Our job is to honor God in all that we do and to selflessly serve and protect all others in our care, our wives, our families, our communities, those in need, and to even care for nature too, as  Pope Francis has put out so beautifully in his latest encyclical, Laudato Si.  A man is called to sacrifice of himself for others. Our ultimate model of manhood is Jesus Himself, and He gave us a very clear message that we need to put ourselves last in serving others. Sometimes this is in very heroic ways, like soldiers, police officers, and firemen. But we can also give of ourselves for others in everyday matters, like going out of our way to help a friend or someone in need, letting people go before us in lines, and making time to spend with your family instead doing what you want.
  1. Your masculinity doesn’t depend on what you look like. In our culture, there are these lies that in order to be a true man, we need to be super big and ripped. We see this all over: on sports, in commercials, in the locker room. This is a lie. Some men are naturally skinny or overweight, this has no bearing on their manhood. Sure, it is healthy to be in shape and to be able to do some heavy physical labor, but don’t be tempted to think any less of yourself if you don’t have big muscles. God judges us for what we do, not what we look like. In addition, remember that you can act like a man even when you are relatively young. Don’t let your elders convince you that just because you’re young, you’re destined to make mistakes and fail until you’re older. There are plenty of 10 year old boys who live much more manly lives than 40 year olds, by pursuing virtue and excellence in everything that they do.
  1. Pursuing virtue. Once I was privileged enough to attend a talk specifically on manliness at a Catholic conference (another shout-out to FOCUS!), and I was surprised to learn within the first few minutes that the essence of manliness is simply cultivating and living the virtues. Ultimately, this post could simply be about the 7 virtues, but I guess I wanted to flesh them out a little bit more for the sake of making them a bit more practical. The Catholic Gentleman has a wonderful post that highlights the importance of virtue that I would highly recommend, but the 7 virtues are prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude, faith, hope, and charity. The first 4 are called cardinal virtues that we can train ourselves in, and the final 3 are called theological virtues which are gifts from God. In your own life, your best bet is to pick out one of the cardinal virtues at a time, research them so that you can understand them, and then continuously work at attaining them. As for the theological virtues, your best bet is to take those into prayer each day, asking God for those gifts. He will provide.
  1. Treating women right. One of the easiest ways to distinguish a man from a boy is how he treats women. A man always treats women with respect, seeing them as a human being with their own life, needs, relationships, and feelings. Boys are sometimes tempted to use women, for their bodies, for a sense of emotional comfort, for power, etc. One of those general rules of thumb to apply here is to see every woman as your mother, sister, daughter, etc. This includes women that you see on screens and images. Would you treat one of them the way that you are treating this stranger? And beware, pornography may seem harmless at first, but it has a crippling effect on you and your relationships with the more beautiful sex. A huge way that we can honor women is by having chaste relationships with them. Save sex for marriage, and make sure to draw the line clearly with how physical you BOTH feel comfortable being with each other if you’re in a committed relationship. Save the “test drive” for cars, because women are so much better than that. It’s an insult to even compare them to cars. If you aren’t willing to lay down your life for them for the rest of your life, you have no right to a “test drive,” this is a go big or go home issue. On a lighter note, some things that I love to see men do for women is to open doors for them, let them eat first, paying for a date, listening attentively, and not talking down to them- especially with regards to subjects like sports and cars where the stereotype is that women don’t know anything about that. Oh yea, and if you’re Catholic, letting your wife / girlfriend / children go before you to receive Holy Communion. What a better way of sacrifice then letting them receive Jesus first?!
  1. True to our promises. A man is as good as his word, goes the common saying. “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation,” warns St. James in James 5:12. How often have you been affected by this in others? One of the most common issues where we see this in the 21st century is Facebook events. I’m guilty of putting “maybe” down for about 5 events in a row, only to never change to yes or no and never showing up. Doing that hurts my friends who went out of their way to invite me and don’t have any idea if I’m coming or not! And this can be applied to greater things, too.. How many times have we encountered people who are always promising to do things and never follow through? We stop taking that person seriously, don’t we? Perhaps the most important promises that affect each one of us are wedding vows. Each one of us has a mom and a dad. And most of our parents, at least at one point in time, were married. They promised to be love and serve each other, through good times and bad. They promised to be faithful to each other for their entire lives. They promised to marry each other for life. Yet, unfortunately, about half of marriages end in divorce. Dang. Talk about a broken promise. Think… they promised that they would love and serve each other in both good times and in bad. So as much as I feel for couples going through difficult marriages, divorce never really was an option according to their vows. Unfortunately these affects have wounded countless numbers of young people in my generation, who are now the likely generation in recent memory to ever get married. There is hurt everywhere because of broken promises. Long story short, a man keeps his word, even if it is very difficult. Even if just each of us as individuals try to get a little better on this, I think it would go a long way in changing the world.
  1. Taking the initiative to pursue a woman. For young men, assuming that you aren’t called to the priesthood or religious life, one of the most exhilarating times of our lives is attempting to win a woman’s heart. Notice how I used the words “pursue” and “win”, verbs that imply that you actually try. You don’t usually find the woman of your dreams by just sitting around waiting for her to walk through your door, but by going out and living life, and meeting her doing the same sort of things that you like to do. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and ask out a woman that you’re interested in! Rejection stings, but you’ll never have a shot if you don’t ask! Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of young women out there looking for relationships and potential husbands, but not many men going out and asking them. Instead, our culture has made hooking up seem like a normal thing to do. This is no way to treat a woman, to use her for her body with no thoughts for who she actually is as a person… to just try and get messed up enough that you don’t even know what you’re doing. That’s not being a man, that’s being an animal. A man goes out of his way to protect women and treat them with respect. The end goal of a relationship isn’t sex or physical pleasure. The end goal of a relationship is life-long friendship, love, and helping each other become closer to Christ. Kids are nice too, when we’re talking about marriage 😉
  1. Be sharpened by other men. Man was not created to be alone. We were actually created for community. I’ve already mentioned some cool things about relationships with women, but in general fraternal friendships are just as important! Jesus recognized this when He gave us the Church. It wasn’t just Peter alone who continued Jesus’ mission on bringing God’s Kingdom to earth in the Church, but the 12 Apostles, and the 72 Disciples, and countless others! Jesus founded the Church as a community, and it grew as a community. We are all the Body of Christ, and we are stronger together as a “body” as opposed to “a lone ear” or “a finger and two toes.” A pretty cool bible verse that highlights this is Proverbs 27:17, which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” Of course this applies to women too, but I love the imagery of iron here and I think it speaks very clearly to men. When I am alone, I am more vulnerable to temptations and not always the person that I ought to be. When I am surrounded by my good friends, they encourage me to be the best that I can be in all things. One simple way that I’ve noticed this is in prayer accountability. As a missionary, I challenged men to commit to praying daily, as I do, so that they could grow closer to Jesus. Beforehand, most of them had never had a very regular prayer life, but after I challenged them to start one and continued to check up on them, they started making impressive improvements and I could see their lives change as they grew closer to Christ through prayer. Accountability and encouragement is one of the best ways that we can help build each other up as men.
  1. Only satisfied by God. This world is great. God has given us so many people to become friends with and countless other joys. But as tempting as it can be to strictly chase the things of this world, we have to remember that in the end only God will satisfy us. We were made for God, and nothing less will give us peace. We will always be wanting more… until we are finally with God, and we will have never-ending peace and joy, ecstasy really! So with that in mind, make daily prayer a part of your schedule, and make sure to be faithful to Sunday Mass and regular confession. Our relationship with God starts right here on earth.
  1. God’s son. Did you know that God desires a personal relationship with you? Kind of like any other friend, except He’s Jesus and He created, unconditionally loves, and died for you! Now, if you’re anything like me, you get a bit turned off by that mushy “God loves us” stuff. The girls eat that up, but for us as guys, it doesn’t really work. I think we need to take a different approach. God gave us two basic ways of seeing Him: as our Father in God the Father, and as our brother in Jesus. Some of us aren’t blessed in having a father or brother in our lives that gives us a glimpse of the true love and care of God/Jesus. As a Father, God cares for us at all times. He watches out for us, is ready to give us advice, and gives us everything that we need to live joyfully as His sons. As a brother, Jesus modeled for us a firm commitment to putting God first in all that we do, a strong work ethic in our day to day labors, compassion and care for those around us who need mercy and help, and is a friend whose shoulder we can lean on whenever we need some support. God is much closer to us than we think and remembering that He is by our side at all times will help us through the good and the bad times ahead.

I hope and pray that these tips inspire and encourage you! God bless!

Note: A couple of months ago I published a post about being a Daughter of God, which inspired me to write this one as well for the guys!

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10 Ways to Live as a Daughter of God- A Man’s Perspective

What does it mean to be made as women in the image of God? How does this reflect on friendships and relationships? Recently one of my missionary friends asked my teammate and I to talk at a women’s night in order to speak into this from a male perspective, and this is what I shared with them!

10 Ways of living as a Daughter of God

1. God literally died for you. You are a daughter of God and you get your worth from His love for you. You are princess peach and Jesus is Mario, and he’s jumping on mushrooms and flinging turtle shells and defeating Bowser at least EIGHT times before he can save you. And he did it all anyways.

So with that in mind, remember that you’re always loved. Even when things aren’t going well in your day to day, you’ve always got a friend in Jesus.

A daughter of God doesn’t get her worth from what other people, especially men, think of her. She gets her worth from God’s love, and that never changes. So no matter what others think of you don’t let that bring you down. Our ultimate fulfillment could never be in this world, anyways.

2. Women inspire men. Heck yes, Mario wasn’t going to stop at anything until he got to rescue Peach. In the same way, men will pursue you, and you have the opportunity to challenge him in that. Early on when I was coming to Christ, when there was a girl that I liked, and she was spending time in the chapel praying or going to mass and bible study, I wanted to be doing those things too. Somewhat selfish reasons, but hey, it worked, I’m a missionary now! My girlfriend Ryann continues to inspire me to greater holiness in her own personal devotion to God, and even though I’m a missionary and sometimes we’re tempted to think that all missionaries are perfect, I really need extra encouragement sometimes. In addition, your beauty also inspires others, since your beauty is a reflection of the beauty of God. There’s nothing on earth more beautiful than a woman, so cherish that fact! Just in who you are, you reveal to all the world, men and women alike, how good and beautiful God’s creation is.

3. Women are beautiful, and that is great. But your worth goes above and beyond your beauty. Your worth is that you are made in the image and likeness of God. A lot of times men abuse this truth in only talking about your physical beauty, and our culture for sure does this in general, judging women so much more carefully on how they look than they do men. But remember that in being a daughter of God, just because you don’t always look fantastic doesn’t mean that you’re worth anything less. There’s no need to be jealous of other girl’s good looks, you are all loved just as much by God. St. Peter has some great advice about this: “Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4). The point of this verse is that the beauty that matters the most is your internal beauty, the beauty of your heart. Physical beauty takes a back seat to that.

4. Women have a unique way of witnessing to the tenderness and mercy of God in a way that men never can. I try to be gentle and supportive of people who are in tough situations, but often times I just don’t know what to do or don’t know how to help. On the other hand I often see my teammates Kristin or Kerry jump right forward and they know just the right ways to comfort someone. I think that’s a gift that God has given women, and it’s a gift to treasure. I’m always looking for a “fix” to the problem, while what the person really needs is just someone to be there for them. Another unique feature of femininity is how you are more open to receiving love. Sometimes faith is harder for men because we aren’t as wired to receive God’s love as you are, but you can witness to that for us. See as a guy, when I’m talking about loving someone, I want to do things for them, help them with their work, making sacrifices, giving them gifts, etc. The other part of love is simply being with people through struggles and receiving the affection from someone you love. This is huge in relating to God and to each other in general, and men definitely need to learn from women on this.

5. Don’t lower your standards just to be with a guy. Some girls dress pretty immodestly just to attract the attention of guys. Let’s not deny the facts, though. It works. But what type of guy is an immodest girl attracting? She’s got BOYS all over her. BOYS with no self control and no maturity and class. BOYS who just want her for her body and nothing else. If you want a MAN, you have to dress like a WOMAN. A MAN is attracted to a woman respects herself, who dresses with dignity and class, who isn’t afraid to be herself. A MAN tries to get to know the whole person of the woman that he is interested in, instead of trying to use her for her body. A MAN respects women’s purity and dignity and always treats her with respect. On top of that all, a great way to scare off the BOYS is to dress like a WOMAN. They’ll be able to tell right away that you respect yourself and won’t play any games, so they’ll move on to bother some other girl.

6. A daughter of God should never have to “give in” to a guy physically to secure his affection. Our modern culture has fallen into the error of often reducing women from human beings into “objects of pleasure”, a collection of body parts. You can obviously see this in pornography or strip clubs, but it’s beginning to infiltrate mainstream culture in movies like 50 shades of grey and in most popular music videos. Men see the same things as you and unfortunately it can warp our minds into thinking of women as merely a collection of body parts instead of human beings with dignity. You are not merely a collection of body parts, you are a whole person: body, mind, and soul. A man needs to pay attention to and respect ALL of you.

7. In dating, you need to set boundaries for “how far” you can go. Communicate this clearly, during the day. You need to set the boundaries right away otherwise it’s just too tempting to stop in the heat of the passion. This is especially difficult for guys, we’re aroused so much easier. So with this in mind, remember to honor the lines that you’ve set together, because if you start bending the lines, it’s so much harder to stop. Even though Ryann and I are both devoted Catholics, we made sure to talk clearly about physical boundaries right away and continue to. Usually it’s the guy who kind of leads the relationship in this sense, so as the woman, it’s important for you to make how you feel about this clear to him, otherwise he might assume something else.

8. Being in the image of God, you have a right to be treated like a lady. A guy who is interested in you or dating you should be holding doors for you, paying for stuff on dates, holding their umbrella for you, offering an arm when going up steps, offering you their seat, pulling the chair out for you, etc. Sometimes in our modern culture these things are politicized, and women feel like they are being disrespected when a guy offers to do something gentlemanly. But from my experience, behaving like a gentleman is not at all about disrespecting women but actually for making little sacrifices for a woman to show her your respect. It’s small things like this that go a long way in a relationship, and it’s great practice for marriage, where life together is one small act of sacrifice after another. As women, the best way to respond when a man treats you well like this is to accept his generosity gracefully and thank him. There’s no need to make a big deal about it, but there’s also something nice about having your girl let you know that what you did is appreciated by saying thanks. And honestly, it’s a huge turn off to me if a girl doesn’t let me pay for dinner or something on a date. I guess it makes a girl seem insecure or something? There’s definitely a place for splitting the bill sometimes or helping out with other things, but if it’s a date, and he asked you, then he better pay the bill.

9. Remember that in all things, we will only be satisfied by God. Sometimes it seems like everything is falling down when friendships or a relationship is crumbling, but God alone fulfills our deepest desires. The best thing that you can do to ground yourself for the rest of your life, no matter what your vocation will be, is to have a deep relationship with God. God is our rock, our foundation. With that foundation, he will help transform you into the woman that you’re meant to be, so that you can be the best for everyone in your life. Break ups and falling outs happen, so make sure that you’re always keeping God first and then everyone else.

10. Let the man do the pursuing. It’s in our nature to want to pursue women, and it is a way of showing our dedication. I actually know a pretty good scientific reason why this is: men take forever to make a decision that women can make in seconds. One way that this trait is especially useful is in asking out someone on a date. For a guy, it can take a long time to decide whether or not to ask a girl out. For a girl, you can probably make a pretty good decision right away without needing any extra time to weigh your options. In addition, men pursuing allows women to be treated like they deserve to be as ladies, and weeds out the players from the men who are actually dedicated. Don’t be afraid to play a little hard to get to see if he truly wants to be dedicated to you. Do you really want a boy who you have to baby all the time or do you want a man who will stay with you through thick and thin?

Shout outs to Jason Evert, Mike, Ryann, and Lilly for helping me with some ideas for this!

Update: I wrote a post similar like this for men! Check out 10 Ways of Living as a Son of God.

Why Can Only Men Be Catholic Priests?

Priest Ordination

The male only priesthood is a common critique of the Catholic Church, but I’d like to show you that the Church’s position on this is as charitable as it could be.

First off, like all things, we need to look into the purpose of the priesthood. What is it for? Where do priests get their authority? In Israel, there was a tradition of priesthood (for what it’s worth, almost all ancient civilizations had some sort of priesthood): the entire Levite tribe were priests, offering sacrifices of animals to atone for Israel’s sins. They also proclaimed the Word of God and gathered the community in prayer. Israel was actually unique in that only men were priests, while other contemporary pagan religions had female priests, too. Jewish priests could get married and have families. But nearly everything changed when Jesus came along. Jesus was a celibate man and He is our eternal high priest, in the line of Melchizedek (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 5:10). Only God Himself could offer a perfect sacrifice in order to give us the grace of the possibility of redemption, which He did at Calvary. So you might ask what role do priests play nowadays? St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.” So though priests today offer a sacrifice, it is in the place of Jesus, with Jesus doing the actual sacrifice- a re-presentation of the sacrifice on Calvary. (Note: not a re-sacrifice, but a re-presentation of the one eternal sacrifice) This sacrifice is keeping the command of Jesus to the Apostles at the Last Supper:

And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took the bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the chalice after supper, saying, “This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” – Luke 22:14-20

Though that passage was a bit long, if you have never read or heard of it, I’m sure that it will be helpful. Anyways, we see that Jesus tells the Apostles to celebrate this Eucharist (which means thanksgiving, it is the “breaking bread” part of the mass) themselves. These Apostles would become the first bishops of the Church, and they continued just as Jesus said,

“They held steadfastly to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” – Acts 2:42

You can also see evidence of the mass in the early Church in Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7, Acts 20:11, 1 Cor 10:16-17, and 1 Cor 11:23-26.

So we see that the priesthood is important, and that mass should be celebrated even every day from these readings. One distinction that I should make is that Jesus gave the authority of the priesthood to the Apostles, who were bishops. Bishops have the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus, while priests don’t. Priests do not normally celebrate the sacrament of confirmation, for example. Priests only have the authority to celebrate mass because their local bishop has given them that authority.

Is the priesthood a political position? Nope, this is religion not politics. Sure, priests and especially bishops have more “power” than the laity, but again, this is because of Jesus’ will. The priesthood is primarily a sacramental/theological position in order to guide the Church, of course. Like all power, the perfect use of it is in service, not selfishness. This is the example that Jesus Himself gave,

“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:11-12

So why are Catholic bishops and priests only men? Jesus picked 12 men to be His Apostles and first priests. Jesus instituted the sacrament of holy orders. Therefore even if the Church wanted to ordain women, the Church only has the authority that Jesus gave Her.

Therefore, our issue is not with the Church but with Jesus. Why wouldn’t He pick a few women? Some people say that Jesus was limited by the social norms of His time. No, He wasn’t: He is God, and God is never limited. He broke plenty of other social norms: Jesus not only talked to non-Jews (gasp!), but he talked to women too (WHAT?!). He freakin started His own religion, for crying out loud. I’m pretty sure He wasn’t limited by the social norms of the time.

Another great case for why Jesus didn’t want women to be priests was that He passed over the single most perfect fully human person ever when He chose His inaugural priest team: the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let’s look at her resume… virgin, not too young or old, immaculately conceived, sinless, oh yea, and the MOTHER OF GOD. If Jesus wanted to ordain a woman, this was the perfect situation. No other human being will ever be more qualified than the Blessed Virgin Mary to be a priest. And He passed on her.

Why are priests celibate? Actually, not all priests are. Many Eastern Catholic priests can be married, and certain protestant priests or ministers that are already married and convert to Catholicism are allowed to be ordained and still be married. But Roman (the distinction is the rite) Catholic priests are celibate because Jesus was celibate. This allows them to focus more on their parish or community.

Maybe the final point to highlight is that priests act in the place of Jesus when exercising their ministry. The fancy Latin phrase for this is In persona Christi, or in the person of Christ. Because of this, it is only fitting that only fulfill this role, since Jesus was a dude too.

In conclusion, the priesthood is not a political position. Yes, priests and especially bishops have authority in their parish or diocese, but it is mainly theological authority. The priesthood was instituted by Jesus in order to celebrate the mass. Jesus chose only men, and so bishops can only ordain men. This also follows the tradition of the Jewish priesthood. Roman Catholic Priests (not all Catholic priests from different rites do this) are celibate because Jesus was celibate and it allows them to give more for their parish or community.

The Hail Mary

Protestants tend to have a lot of misconceptions about Catholics. The Hail Mary is one of the bigger misconceptions, so I’d like to clarify a little about Mary in addition to the Hail Mary  prayer.

Mary 101:
Mary is the Mother of God. This is because Jesus is God and Mary is His mother, as is evident from scripture. Mary is a human just like the rest of us, but by Catholic Tradition and theology, she was immaculately conceived (without original sin -> a common explanation for this is that Mary had to be pure, sinless, to be worthy to bear Jesus by the Holy Spirit) and was sinless throughout her life, by the grace of God. It makes sense that Mary has a very important role the more that you learn about Judaism and the Old Testament. In the OT, the Mother of the king had a very important role and was actually more powerful than the King’s wife. In addition, there’s the 4th commandment, to honor your father and mother. The last piece to the puzzle for now is the obvious intercessory power Mary exhibited at the Wedding at Cana, in John 2. Though Jesus didn’t plan on performing His first miracle there, He did it anyways because of His mother’s request, since Mary was looking after the people with compassion.

Intercession or prayer?
This is probably the most important difference that Protestants must not be aware of with this issue. Do Catholics pray to Mary? No. Do we pray to saints? No. We only pray to God. So then how do you explain the Hail Mary? Let’s take a look at the actual prayer. We will see that it isn’t “praying” to Mary as much as it is asking for her intercession.

The Hail Mary:
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The first line as I wrote it is the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:28-35. It is quite literal, with Gabriel saying to Mary, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” in verse 28. The next line as I wrote it is (quite literally again) the cry of Elizabeth as she greeted Mary, her cousin, in Luke 1:42 “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” So far so good, the prayer is completely scripture. Now for the last part. This is the part where after greeting Mary and honoring her, we ask for her intercession, just like how she helped the groom and bride at the Wedding at Cana. We ask that she pray for us, just the same as how we would ask a friend to pray for us.

The Ark of the New Covenant

Many people make a big deal of the Ark of the Covenant. There’s the Indiana Jones stuff, The Da Vinci Code stuff, and all that based off of that mystery. But what do we really know about the Ark of the New Covenant? I’m unabashedly copying from the bulletin of my home parish today because it is so cool.. Notice the parallels between the Golden Box or Tabernacle of the Old Covenant and Mary the Mother of God of the New Covenant:

Old: The ark traveled to the house of Obed-edom in the hill country of Judea (2 Samuel 6:1-11)
New: Mary traveled to the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39)

Dressed as a priest, David danced and leapt in front of the ark (2 Samuel 6:14)
John the Baptist – of priestly lineage – leapt in his mother’s womb at the approach of Mary (Luke 1:41)

David asks, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9)
Elizabeth asks, “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

David shouts in the presence of the ark (2 Samuel 6:15)
Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry” in the presence of Mary (Luke 1:43)

The ark remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months (2 Samuel 6:11)
Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56)

The house of Obed-edom was blessed by the presence of the ark (2 Samuel 6:11)
The word blessed is used three times; surely the house was blessed by God (Luke 1:39-45)

The ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem, where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the temple (2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Kings 8:9-11)
Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem, where she presents God incarnate in the temple (Luke 1:56; Luke 2:21-22)

Inside the Ark:
Old: The stone tablets of the law – the word of God inscribed on stone
New: The body of Jesus Christ – the word of God in the flesh

The urn filled with manna from the wilderness – the miraculous bread come down from heaven
The womb containing Jesus, the bread of life come down from heaven (John 6:41)

The rod of Aaron that budded to prove and defend the true high priest
The actual and eternal High Priest

Friendship and Flirting

The following is a guest post by Vincent Kania.

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.