Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How College Students Can Thrive During Christmas Break

The primary authors of this are the sisters we have here at St. Mary's - the Apostles of the Interior Life. They wrote this originally for students going on Summer break.  I changed it a bit for the Christmas break.


A CHRISTMAS BREAK RULE OF LIFE
AKA - How To Thrive During Christmas Break

Christmas can hectic and then slow all rolled into one for college students. But, it can also be a very fruitful time for spiritual growth, if done with the right attitude in mind. We have found that there are more spiritual, personal, and emotional problems during the break than at almost any other time of year. This is because students get out of good habits, fall into bad habits (or renew old ones they had previously), dredge up family squabbles, have too much time on their hands, etc. As an answer to these issues, I first offer these thoughts:
“In this oasis of quiet, before the wonderful spectacle of nature, one easily experiences how profitable silence is, a good that today is ever rarer. The many opportunities of relation and information that modern society offers sometimes run the risk of robbing time for recollection, to the point of rendering persons incapable of reflecting and praying. In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free. And vacations can help us rediscover and cultivate this indispensable interior dimension of human life” --JPII ,Angelus, July 11, 2004.
It is important to enter Christmas break with a “plan” for your spiritual life. Otherwise it is so easy to drift away even from the prayer commitment that you had during the semester.
  • First of all be faithful to your daily prayer. Establish how much time you want to devote to it, how (rosary, meditation on the Word of God, adoration…) and where (home, the chapel, your parish…). It is better to start with a little commitment (for example 20 minutes every day), and then in case increase it, than to start big and then give up because you can’t keep up with it.
  • Continue to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with frequency. Get information about the days and times for Confessions in your parish.
  • If it is possible, you ought to go to Mass during the week as much as you can, according with your academic/work commitments.
  • Christmas break is usually a period when you have free time on your hands. It is ideal to read some good spiritual books that can inspire you and nourish your faith. You will find a great treasure in the lives of Saints, their writings, and in books about specific topics in which you are interested (e.g., spiritual discernment, virtues, faith and reason, Church history, apologetics, morality, etc.). You can ask your spiritual director or a campus minister for some good titles or you can check out this list here.
  • Try to be in touch with some good friends, with whom you share the same values. You can either pray together sometimes, or take a commitment at the parish together (e.g., helping with teens, Bible study, working in a soup kitchen, etc.), and certainly keep each other accountable for your spiritual life. If you can’t be physically in the same place, at least you can call each other regularly.
  • If you are going to spend time at home, you might find difficulties because you don’t have the St. Mary’s community around. Families are not always supportive of faith, some parishes seem to be less alive than St. Mary's, and you don’t get to see so many young people around. Remember that God is at work also in your parish, in your family and in your home town. Try to see the positive aspects there, and to think of that as an opportunity to give something of what you have received here at St. Mary’s during the semester. With your family, try to be strong about your decisions, but also understanding of where they are at and not judgmental. You can be a witness to them, with your peace and gentleness.
Have a Merry Christmas and we are praying for all of you..

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Prayers for Finals


Remember - as long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.

Here are some prayers for students who have finals coming up.  St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron of students, so it is a common practice to ask for his intercession and use prayers that he wrote.
PRAYER OF ST. THOMAS
Ineffable Creator, Who out of the treasures of Thy wisdom has appointed three hierarchies of Angels and set them in admirable order high above the heavens and hast disposed the divers portions of the universe in such marvellous array, Thou Who art called the True Source of Light and supereminent Principle of Wisdom, be pleased to cast a beam of Thy radiance upon the darkness of my mind and dispel from me the double darkness of sin and ignorance in which I have been born. 
Thou Who makest eloquent the tongues of little children, fashion my words and pour upon my lips the grace of Thy benediction. Grant me penetration to understand, capacity to retain, method and facility in study, subtlety in interpretation and abundant grace of expression.
Order the beginning, direct the progress and perfect the achievement of my work, Thou Who art true God and true Man and livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.
**Another from St. Thomas Aquinas - patron of students. We used this one in Grad. school frequently.
Grant, O merciful God, that I may
ardently desire,
prudently examine,
truthfully acknowledge,
and perfectly accomplish
what is pleasing to You,
for the praise and glory of Your Name. Amen.
**A good prayer to use before studying.
A Prayer before studying for exams.“God of Wisdom, I thank you for the knowledge gained and the learning experiences of the semester. I come to you this day and ask you to illuminate my mind and heart. Let your Spirit be with me as I prepare for exams, guiding my studies, and giving me insight so that I can perform to the best of my ability. Please grant me the strength to handle the pressure during these final days of the semester, the confidence to feel secure in my knowledge, and the ability to keep an appropriate perspective through it all. Help me to keep in mind what is truly important, even as I focus my time and energy on these tests in the immediate future. Finally, may I sense your peace in knowing that I applied myself to the challenges of this day.”
-Amen-
**Here is a nine-day novena (in pdf format) for those who want to start today and end next Wed, the end of finals.

**Two Prayers to St. Joseph of Cupertino - another patron of students:
1 - O Great St. Joseph of Cupertino who while on earth did obtain from God the grace to be asked at your examination only the questions you knew, obtain for me a like favour in the examinations for which I am now preparing. In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.

Through Christ our Lord.
St. Joseph of Cupertino, Pray for us.
Amen.
2 - O St. Joseph of Cupertino who by your prayer obtained from God to be asked at your examination, the only preposition you knew. Grant that I may like you succeed in the (here mention the name of Examination) examination.

In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.

O St. Joseph of Cupertino pray for me
O Holy Ghost enlighten me
Our Lady of Good Studies pray for me
Sacred Head of Jesus, Seat of divine wisdom, enlighten me.
Amen.
**Finally, here are two prayers from Catholic.org:
Under thy patronage, dear Mother, and calling on the mystery of thine Immaculate Conception, I desire to pursue my studies and my literary labors: I hereby solemnly declare that I am giving myself to these studies chiefly to the following end: that I may the better contribute to the glory of God and to the promotion of thy veneration among men. I pray thee, therefore, most loving Mother, who art the Seat of Wisdom, to bless my labors in thy loving-kindness. Moreover I promise with true affection and a willing spirit, as it is right that I should do, to ascribe all the good that shall come to me therefrom, wholly to thine intercession for me in God's holy presence. Amen.
Incomprehensible Creator, the true Fountain of light and only Author of all knowledge: deign, we beseech Thee, to enlighten our understanding, and to remove from us all darkness of sin and ignorance. Thou, who makest eloquent the tongues of those who lack utterance, direct our tongues, and pour on our lips the grace of thy blessing. Give us a diligent and obedient spirit, quickness of apprehension, capacity of retaining, and the powerful assistance of Thy holy grace; that what we hear or learn we may apply to Thy honor and the eternal salvation of our own souls. Amen.
St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph of Cupertino pray for students.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seven Things I Wish My Pastor Knew About My Homosexuality


A very thought-provoking article. Here is a snip:
Over thirty years have passed since same-sex attraction rushed up from deep within my twelve-year-old frame. This attraction was unbidden and unwanted, yet simultaneously forceful and compelling.

As a Christian, the conflict between my sexuality and my faith would become the deepest and most intense of my life. Now in my forties, I’ve gone from being closeted to openly lesbian to celibate to heterosexually married. The fact that I need to qualify my marital union as a heterosexual one reveals how much the cultural landscape has changed in that time—just as much as my own personal landscape has, though in very different ways.

During my upbringing, I heard a few fiery sermons on homosexuality. These days, I hear declarations of love instead. They make me shout for joy. Amen! It always should have been so! At the same time, however, many pastors have begun accompanying this love with an eschewal of Biblical sexual morality as oppressive, unreasonable, or unkind. Hence, loving homosexual persons also comes to entail affirming and encouraging them in same-sex sexual relationships and behaviors.

Although I appreciate the desire to act in love, this isn’t the genuine love that people like me need. Love me better than that!
Continue Reading.
This article describes well the goals and path of the Courage ministry. If you are a student at Texas A&M or Blinne and want to learn more about the Courage ministry at St. Marys Catholic Center, contact Fr. David Konderla via our website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Torture Is NEVER Acceptable


The facts about the USA using torture on terrorists is now becoming news and as expected, there are many arguing the practice of using torture is not only needed, but morally good.

Be that as it may, the Catholic Church is very clear - torture is never acceptable. We hear the counter argument - terrorists have a bomb and we might be able to find out where it is before they kill a lot of people AND we know they are evil and have killed before! But, we are not supposed to act like they do and we don't determine if something is morally ok by the end alone. Evil means can not be justified by good ends, and when we talk about torture - the good ends (getting information which might save lives) never can justify evil means (torture).

Torture - as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
2297 Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.
It goes on to say:
2298 In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.
Benedict XVI - says this about torture:
Public authorities must be ever vigilant in this task, eschewing any means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners. In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances”
The Pope was quoting the Compendium of Social Doctrine when he gave the quote above. Here is what the fuller quote says, in context:
In carrying out investigations, the regulation against the use of torture, even in the case of serious crimes, must be strictly observed: “Christ's disciple refuses every recourse to such methods, which nothing could justify and in which the dignity of man is as much debased in his torturer as in the torturer's victim”. International juridical instruments concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances.
Now, I know that there are several Catholic writers, theologians and others who blur the distinctions between what constitutes torture and what doesn't. Violence (moral or physical) is the key here, as the Catechism defines torture. This is a moral absolute and the game of "what if" doesn't do justice to the situation, because we cannot justify the means by the ends. If we are truly pro-life, then we must be so in all cases, not just abortion and related issues.

If the means do justify the ends, then we have become consequentialists and our basing our morality off of the theory that is founded on utilitarianism and relativism. This is dangerous water to be treading in. What kind of people have we become when we sink to the level of torture? Is this what America ought to condone? Are we not better than this?

Maybe one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century can bring it home for us, when he says:
"Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable." - G.K. Chesterton
For a longer study on the issue, I recommend this link from the USCCB.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

35 Promises Of God

The Bible contains numerous promises that God makes to His people. Below you will find the top 35 promises God makes to His people. If you have a favorite which was missed, please comment.

35 Promises of God
  1. "Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."
    -Ps 50:15
  2. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
    -Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."
    -Jer 29:11
  4. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
    -Matt 11:28-29
  5. "He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
    -Is 40:29-31
  6. "God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
    -Phil 4:19
  7. "Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
    -Matt 6:31-33
  8. "Those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster."
    -Proverbs 1:33
  9. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."
    -John 14:27
  10. "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
    -Rom 10:9
  11. "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."
    -John 8:36
  12. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it."
    -1 Cor 10:13
  13. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
    -James 4:7
  14. "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles."
    -Ps 34:17
  15. "Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
    -Is 41:10
  16. "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."
    -Ex 20:12
  17. "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."
    -Ex 14:14
  18. "Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray."
    -Proverbs 22:6
  19. "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me."
    -Ps 23:4
  20. "So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
    -Luke 11:9-13
  21. "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you."
    -Is 54:10
  22. "I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
    -Josh 1:9
  23. "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever."
    -John 14:13-16
  24. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
    -Acts 1:8
  25. "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
    -Ps 32:8
  26. "If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you."
    -James 1:5
  27. "And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."
    -1 John 5:14
  28. "Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven."
    -James 5:14-15
  29. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
    -John 3:16
  30. "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
    -Romans 8:38-39
  31. "Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you."
    -Deut 31:6
  32. "Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away"
    -John 6:37
  33. "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
    - John 11:25-26
  34. "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly."
    -Ps 84:11
  35. "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
    -Ps 37:4



FURTHER READING:
**3 Myths About Catholics & The Bible
**Why Catholic Bibles Have More Books Than Protestant Bibles
**50 Uplifting Bible Verses

Monday, December 8, 2014

What The Immaculate Conception Is & Why It Matters

Q - Can you tell me what exactly the dogma of the Immaculate Conception does and does not teach for us and why it matters?

A - Thanks for the question!  The dogma of the Immaculate Conception (I.C.) is a widely misunderstood teaching of the Catholic Church, so I am glad to try and clear up some of the misconceptions (pun intended) about it.  Before I do so, I want to remind everyone that Dec 8 is a Holy Day of Obligation (Opportunity), so come celebrate with us in Mass at 5:30, if you haven't gone already!

First, the I.C. is not a teaching about Christ being without sin or being conceived without a father. These are different teachings.  The teaching of the IC is the following, from Pius IX - defined in 1854:
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
Here is what the Church teaches about the I.C. - Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother without original sin. This grace is the same supernatural grace we receive in baptism, but is given at the moment of her creation, thus freeing Mary from the affects of original sin - in her soul. Humans, after the fall, are not created in the state of grace, but in a fallen state and in need of grace. Mary is the one special exception, chosen not for her own sake to do this, but for the sake of being the Mother of God.

The I.C. does not teach that Mary is in any way God or non-human. She is in need of God's salvation, as we all are, but she was given this special grace because she was chosen by God to be the Mother of our Lord and be a pure vessel that could carry Christ.

Mary is sometimes called the New Ark of the Covenant by the fathers of the church. The original Ark of the Covenant was the holding place for the staff of Aaron (Jewish high priest), a piece of manna, and the tablets of the Ten Commandments. In Jesus we have the fulfillment of all that these foreshadow. Jesus is THE High Priest, He is THE Bread from Heaven, and He is THE lawgiver and fulfillment of the law. Thus, to be made ready to bear God Himself, Mary was created pure and without sin. Just as the Ark of the Covenant was considered the place of the "holy of holies", so Mary is made pure and holy in order to have the holiest thing of all (God), inside her. Below are several quotes from Church Fathers:
"Every personal sin must be excluded from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the honor of God." - St. Augustine, 390AD

"Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain." - St. Ambrose of Milan, 340AD

"You, and your Mother are alone in this. You are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your Mother." - St. Ephraem, 350AD
Remember that the Angel in Luke 1:38 says that Mary is "full of grace". This is more of a title than a statement. If she had sinned, she would not be full of grace, nor would she have been a worthy tabernacle to carry our Lord in. God predestined Mary for a special honor. This teaching is important because it teaches several things:
  • The utter need we have for God's grace.
  • All spiritual good comes from God acting first.
  • Mary is a model of what it means to be a disciple and say "yes" to God's grace.
  • We are all called to grow in holiness and be full of God's grace.
Come praise God this week with us as we worship Jesus - Mary's Son - and the wonderful things He has done for us, through Mary, Immaculately Conceived.

For more on this dogma, I recommend these articles:
*Deacon Greg Kandra's homily on the IC - magnificent.
*Catholic Answers article on the IC.
*Catholic Encyclopedia article on the IC.
*Fr. William Most on the IC.
*History of the IC.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent = War is Coming!


When we view a nativity scene, we generally think of a peaceful scene. Many think of the baby born to a virgin in a manger and the star which rests above. There are peaceful animals, a humble St. Joseph, and scared shepherds.
But, something is missing.

It is the drumbeat of war. Can't you hear it? It is the spiritual battle that rages in places we cannot see with our eyes or hear with our ears. It rages in our hearts.

Even in the peaceful image of Jesus being born, we need to see God warning His people to prepare for battle. The victorious king has entered the fray and he calls us to take up our weapons of prayer, righteousness, chastity, faith, hope, love....

The Army General, Satan, knows he will lose the final battle, yet he fights to ruin as many as he can. He will tempt, deceive, and push you to sin.

Notice how the manger scene cries out WAR IS COMING!
  • The star of Bethlehem is a warning flare that signals the victor is now on the battlefield. 
  • The gifts the babe receives include myrrh for embalming the King after His death. 
  • The angels are singing battle songs of a victorious King - "Glory to God in the highest".
  • The first casualties in the war are the innocent sons of Bethlehem slaughtered by Herod.
  • The King is one who has come to conquer sin and death!
Now it is our turn. If we fail to pick a side in the war, it means we have already chosen:
"he who is not with me is against me."

The drumbeat of war is pounding. Pick up your cross - it is your weapon against the enemy - and follow The King of Kings into battle. He is about to be born as a poor babe to a virgin.




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Aggie Catholic Deacon Wins Fight Against Contraception Mandate!


Deacon Greg Hall is an Aggie Catholic and a member of our Leadership Council here at St. Mary's. He also happens to be the hero who figured out how to save the Chilean miners who were trapped in a mine in 2010. His company filed suit against the Obama Administration and was granted an immediate permanent injunction. The press release is below:
November 26, 2014
St. Joseph, Minnesota

The U.S District Court for the District of Minnesota issued a permanent injunction in the case of Rev. Mr. (Deacon) Gregory E. Hall and American Mfg Company v. Sylvia M. Burwell, et al. This is the first Minnesota federal decision that grants a permanent injunction to a for-profit company that challenged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated insurance coverage for abortifacients, sterilization, birth control, and related counseling.

In April 2013, Deacon Hall and the company obtained a preliminary injunction that remained in place until the permanent injunction was issued. On June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court, in the matter of Hobby Lobby Stores, held that small closely held companies may assert rights under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA). In light of the Hobby Lobby decision, the Department of Justice stipulated to the order that prohibits the HHS from enforcing the mandate insurance coverage against Deacon Hall and AMC.

Deacon Hall is the sole owner of AMC, which is located in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and currently has less than 50 employees. The company manufactures pumps and equipment used world-wide in the drilling and mining industries.

Deacon Hall is an ordained deacon for the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese. Hall commenced his lawsuit to prevent the federal government from forcing the company’s group health insurance plan to provide cost-free coverage for products and services that violate his deeply held religious beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. The permanent injunction will allow AMC to continue to provide health insurance without the threat of penalties for non-compliance.

In early 2013, Deacon Hall was among the early parties to challenge the government’s federal requirements. There are now over 100 lawsuits nationwide, and the courts are beginning to issue permanent injunctions. Deacon Hall’s case is unique in being the only one brought by an ordained minister who owns and manages a secular company. The other parties challenging the government are religious entities, such as the Archdiocese of Washington, religious-affiliated entities, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, and lay business persons with seriously held religious beliefs, such Hobby Lobby Stores.

Deacon Hall responds: “I hope that the results that we were able to achieve will encourage others to follow the dictates of their religious beliefs and stand up and assert their fundamental and legal rights.”

The case is Rev. Mr. (Deacon) Gregory E. Hall, et al, V. Sylvia M. Burwell, et al., Case No. 13-CV-00295 (JRT/LIB). The Order was signed by U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim. Deacon Hall was represented by Erick Kaardal with Mohrman, Kaardal and Erickson, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and by Thomas E. Mathews with Hughes Mathews Greer, St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is Telling a Child About Santa Claus Lying?

Q -Can we ethically teach our children to believe in Santa Claus? This seems like a lie and I don't know how you could justify it. I was curious what you thought and how you're raising your children if you don't mind me asking.


A - Thanks for the question. I don't mind you asking. In this case I will tell you (later) how we are raising our kids.

As for the answer to your question, there are some very passionate answers on the internet for both sides. I will give you both answers and then what I think at the end.
NOTE - I will try my best to give both sides of the argument.

SIDE 1 - TELLING KIDS ABOUT SANTA IS A LIE AND ALWAYS WRONG.
Some will say that it is always a lie to tell kids about Santa and therefore it is always wrong. There can be no justification. To tell a child that there is a jolly old man who lives with elves at the North Pole is completely false and since lying is condemned by Scripture and the Church, you should not perpetuate such lies, especially when it means that the lie could shatter their hearts when they learn the truth.

Those that argue that Santa is a lie might say the focus should be on the real St. Nick and the celebration of his feast day - Dec 6.
Read more on this side of the argument here.

SIDE 2 - TELLING A KID ABOUT SANTA IS STORYTELLING, NOT LYING.
Others will say that telling a kid about Santa Claus is the same as a work of fiction read to the child, but without telling them it isn't real. Truths can be conveyed in different ways and telling a myth, a legend, or a story isn't lying, but is trying to convey a deeper reality about some truth. We see this in the stories of Tolkien and CS Lewis. So, telling a kid about Santa is equivalent to reading the Narnia series.  We can even see such legends in the stories that have grown up around the life of St. Nicholas, upon whom the stories of Santa are based.
Read more on this side of the argument here.

MY SIDE:
If your conscience says it is lying, then don't tell your kids there is a Santa Claus. But, please don't ruin another child's Christmas by taking it upon yourself to tell them the truth about Santa.

So, there is no hard and fast rule here. The Catholic Church has many myths and legends in the tales of Saints and others. We even have Saints who probably didn't truly exist, but grew out of legends. So, you could say that "praying" to a Saint such as St. Christopher is the same kind of legend as Santa.

With that being said, my family does not do Santa Claus. Our kids have big imaginations and we want them to have the beauty of wonder and awe. We want them to see the world and other things with eyes that can find meaning in stories. So, while we have never taught them about Santa, never had them write letters to him, and have never given them presents from him, we also haven't told them outright that he doesn't exist. If they ask, "is Santa real?" we respond with "what have you heard about him?" We celebrate St. Nicholas day on Dec 6 by exchanging gifts we put in stockings, but the kids know they are from us.

Of course, if we had to do it over again (hindsight is 20/20), then we would probably do a low-key version of Santa.

So, my simple answer is - do what you feel called to do and don't throw those that do something different under the bus. There are good arguments on both sides and a "good" Catholic doesn't have to be put into a box on such issues. There is freedom in Christ on such things.

I hope this helps.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Marriage is so Very Important In Culture & Civil Society


Humanum is an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, hosted at the Vatican. As part of the gathering, they released some AMAZING videos.

The sixth (and unfortunately final - I want them to continue) video in the series is below; it is on the importance of marriage in culture and civil society.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Challenge & Hope for a New Generation


Humanum is an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, hosted at the Vatican. As part of the gathering, they released some AMAZING videos.

The fifth video in the series is below; it is on the hope that comes from a new generation and the challenges they will face.
I beg you to watch this and share...please.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Hidden Sweetness in the Difficulties of Life and Love


Humanum is an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, hosted at the Vatican. As part of the gathering, they released some AMAZING videos.

The fourth video in the series is below; it is on the hidden sweetness amid hardship.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why Marriage Matters So Much


Humanum is an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, hosted at the Vatican. As part of the gathering, they released some AMAZING videos.

The third video in the series is below; it is on the understanding of the complementarity of men and women. It is so very very good.

Need a Laugh?


Sometimes we all just need a laugh. Well, maybe this will help.

There are certain products on Amazon which have fictional reviews; written to show the ridiculousness of the product itself or just because someone wants to write funny fiction. Apparently, the Samsung UN105S9 Curved 105-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV is one of these products...it is listed at $119,999.99!!! So, it deserves these absurd reviews. Here is a sample:
I was able to purchase this amazing television with an FHA loan (30 year fixed-rate w/ 4.25% APR) and only 3.5% down. This is, hands down, the best decision I've ever made. And the box it came in is incredibly roomy too, which is a huge bonus, because I live in it now.

I measured the TV and it was actually 104.6 inches not 105 so I returned it.

This TV is great! It looks so much like real life that I almost feel like I have one! Before I bought this I would sit at home all alone wiping my tears with $100 bills and leopard fur for hours on end. Now I can trick myself into thinking that the people on the screen are actually my friends. Thanks Samsung!

I had the opportunity to save 24,000 lives in Africa. I decided this curved TV would be better for the world. Thank you Samsung. You are a savior.

For $1 more you can buy the city of Detroit.

Picked up one these little beauties this morning, with only 1 issue. 50 bucks for the mini wall mount speakers that accompany it? Does it look like I'm made of money, Samsung?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Cradle of Love - A Mother & Father for the World's Children

Humanum is an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, at the Vatican. As part of the gathering, they have released some AMAZING videos.

I posted one on the meaning of marriage on Tuesday.

The second video in the series is below; it is on the importance of having both a mother and a father.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Would Anyone Want to be A Catholic Priest?


Many people may ask - why would anyone want to be a Catholic priest?
Let these young men answer:



Too often people focus on what priests don't have (e.g., lots of money, wife, kids).
But, it isn't so much about what you are giving up, but what you are gaining. Life goes on:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Destiny of Humanity + The Meaning of Marriage


Humanum is an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, which is going on right now at the Vatican. As part of the gathering, they have released some AMAZING videos over a number of days. I HIGHLY recommend this video to you all, to get a taste of the quality of what they have done for us:



There are other fabulous videos, which can be found here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

50 Uplifting Bible Verses

Sometimes you might need a little encouragement.
Why not let the written Word of God help you out?

50 Uplifting Bible Verses
  1. "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you." -1 Peter 5:7
  2. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11
  3. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." -Romans 12:21
  4. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6
  5. "Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."" -Joshua 1:9
  6. "He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -2 Corinthians 12:9
  7. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." -Revelation 21:4
  8. "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you." -Deuteronomy 31:6
  9. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23
  10. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." -Matthew 6:20-21
  11. "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Matthew 7:7
  12. "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." -Psalm 119:105
  13. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." -John 4:14
  14. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." -John 1:5
  15. "The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing" -Zephaniah 3:17
  16. "O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!" -Psalm 34:8
  17. "They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:31
  18. "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." -Isaiah 41:10
  19. "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28
  20. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  21. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39
  22. "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10
  23. "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." -1 Corinthians 10:13
  24. "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;" -Hebrews 10:19-23
  25. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -James 1:2-4
  26. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
  27. "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong." -1 Corinthians 16:13
  28. "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." -Psalm 32:8
  29. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:6-8
  30. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:4-7
  31. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16
  32. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:2
  33. "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6
  34. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13
  35. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" -Ephesians 2:8
  36. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." -Galatians 5:22-24
  37. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." -John 10:10
  38. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." -Phil 4:8
  39. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." -1 John 1:9
  40. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5
  41. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33
  42. "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”" -Genesis 1:26
  43. "He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." -Ephesians 2:17
  44. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" -2 Cor 5:17
  45. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33
  46. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." -2 Timothy 1:7
  47. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13
  48. "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies"" -John 11:25
  49. "The prayer of a righteous man is very powerful." -James 5:16
  50. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14:27