Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Aggie Catholic Vocations Update


The Dallas Morning News ran a story on the growth of the seminary in Dallas. We have several Aggies studying there and one of our Aggie Catholic seminarians (and a former Campus Ministry Intern here) was quoted in the article. A snip is below:
Chris Smith, 26, of College Station, considered the priesthood a few years after college. A pre-theology student at Holy Trinity, he earned a marketing degree from Texas A&M University and then went to work for NET Ministries. He visited lots of churches and met many priests.

“I decided I wanted to be the vessel for sharing the sacraments,” Smith said. “After lots of prayer and feeling it in my heart, I knew it was right.”

Smith said he thinks the number of priests will keep increasing.

“There’s a new generation of guys wanting to become priests,” Smith said. “They see a need for it with our culture being more chaotic and all the unrest in the world.” CONTINUE READING.
We have a number of Aggie Catholic vocations. In fact we have about 150 ordained clergy / professed religious + about another 50 in formation / seminary. We should have precise numbers soon.

The Science Of Porn - What Happens To Your Brain & Body


Here are some startling statistics compiled from a variety of academic and popular sources. I am sure you have heard how much money porn makes, how much there is, etc. But, what many don't see as much is the impact porn is having on individuals and society.

Here are some stats I have found (links give sources).

ADDICTION:
*Porn is more addictive than cocaine or heroin.

SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE:
*it isn't as widely accepted as some might make you think.
  • 76% of U.S. adults disagree that viewing hardcore adult pornography on the internet is morally acceptable;” 
  • 74% disagree that “viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet provides, generally, harmless entertainment;”
MEN:
*According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association, 86% of men are likely to click on Internet sex sites if given the opportunity.

WOMEN:
*34% of female readers of Today's Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn.

MARRIAGE:
*According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, prolonged exposure to pornography leads to:
  • An exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society
  • Diminished trust between intimate couples
  • The abandonment of the hope of sexual monogamy
  • Belief that promiscuity is the natural state
  • Belief that abstinence and sexual inactivity are unhealthy
  • Cynicism about love or the need for affection between sexual partners
  • Belief that marriage is sexually confining
  • Lack of attraction to family and child-raising
*According to sociologist Jill Manning, the research indicates pornography consumption is associated with the following six trends, among others:
  • Increased marital distress, and risk of separation and divorce
  • Decreased marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction
  • Infidelity
  • Increased appetite for more graphic types of pornography and sexual activity associated with abusive, illegal or unsafe practices
  • Devaluation of monogamy, marriage and child rearing
  • An increasing number of people struggling with compulsive and addictive sexual behavior
*The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (divorce lawyers) reported that the most salient factors present in divorce cases are as follows:
  • 68% of the divorces involved one party meeting a new lover over the Internet.
  • 56% involved one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”
  • 47% involved spending excessive time on the computer.
  • 33% involved excessive time spent speaking in chat rooms.
CHILDREN:
*According to research from Family Safe Media, the largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17.

*According to a study cited in the Washington Post, more than 11 million teenagers view Internet pornography on a regular basis.

*When a child or adolescent is directly exposed to pornography the following effects have been documented:
  • Lasting negative or traumatic emotional responses.
  • Earlier onset of first sexual intercourse, thereby increasing the risk of STD’s over the lifespan.
  • The belief that superior sexual satisfaction is attainable without having affection for one’s partner, thereby reinforcing the commoditization of sex and the objectification of humans.
  • The belief that being married or having a family are unattractive prospects.
  • Increased risk for developing sexual compulsions and addictive behavior.
  • Increased risk of exposure to incorrect information about human sexuality long before a minor is able to contextualize this information in ways an adult brain could.
  • And overestimating the prevalence of less common practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality, or sadomasochistic activity).
*A study of youth between the ages of 10 and 17 concluded that there is a significant relationship between frequent porn use and feelings of loneliness and major depression.

*51% of male college students and 32% of female college students first viewed pornography before teenage years (12 and younger).

CHRISTIANITY:

*In 1994, a survey showed 91% of men raised in Christian homes were exposed to pornography while growing up (compared to 98% of those not raised in a Christian home).

*In August 2006, a survey reported 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year.



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Below is a video everyone should watch.

WARNING - Not for the lighthearted! Sex is treated flippantly in parts of the presentation. Nor is it for those that don't want to be shocked by the facts.

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ADDITIONAL READING:
**What Is Wrong With Porn?

**Porn and Support for Same-Sex Marriage
**Pornography Research
**Porn is More Addictive Than Cocaine and Heroin

Monday, September 1, 2014

7 Things You Need to Know About The Catholic Church



7 Things You Need to Know About The Catholic Church

1 - The purpose of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus. Too many people have a false understanding of the purpose of the Catholic Church. After Jesus made the Church, He gave a clear mission statement to His apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." -Matt 28:19-20. Everything else the Church does, feed the hungry, perpetuate the Sacraments, etc. is in service to this mission. Evangelization isn't optional.

2- The Church itself isn't what you think it is. Catholicism isn't just a set of doctrines or a hierarchy of clergy. Catholicism isn't just a moral code or social teachings. It is much more than we could ever know. The Church isn't so easily definable, which is why we have so many different ways of describing it - the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the people of God, etc. What we need to know is this - The Church's identity is wrapped up into the person of Jesus and thus shares in the mystery of God. When we think we "know" the Church, we are fooling ourselves. This is why continued education about God's Church is so important.

3 - The Trinity really does matter. Many Catholics wouldn't care if the Pope declared that we don't need the Trinity anymore, because it makes no difference in many Catholics' daily lives. But, it really does matter. Why? Because if God is a communion of persons, a family, and we are made in God's image and likeness, then our families and relationships are called to reflect the same kind of relationship found in the Trinity - the gift of self to another - true love. This is where the paradox of the Gospel finds a foundation. To gain life, we must lose ourselves. To live is to die. To die is to live. All because of the Trinity...and that is just the starting point. Since God is infinite, the Trinity matters an infinte amount.

4 - The Incarnation changes everything. An all-powerful, eternal, all-knowing, divine being decided to create the universe and then he becomes one of the creatures he created. This is mind-numbing. Furthermore, in humbling himself to take on our flesh, he raises up our nature to a greater dignity - one that now shares in his own nature. We share in God's nature. This is flabbergasting. The world is never the same and all of creation and time revolves around this one moment - when God becomes one of us. Our response should be to see God in all of his creation, but most importantly in all of humanity, including ourselves.

5 - The Church is beautiful. Because of the first three truths above, we can now see the beauty of the Church. Is the Church full of sinners? Certainly. But, we sinners are not the source of the Church's beauty, God is. We are called to reflect this beauty as best we can, but true beauty is found in the being of God, who is beauty itself. The Church reflects Christ beauty to the world. Through the Saints' lives, the Cathedrals and artwork, through the music and songs, and through the teachings of the Church. It is in these ways we see God's beauty rise up for a world that focuses all too often on what is ugly.

6 - Catholicism contains the most balanced teaching you will find. Catholicism holds a lot of seeming tensions in balance. They include; 1 God and 3 persons, Scripture and Tradition, Faith and Works, Jesus is human and divine, the Church is both holy and imperfect, we can know God through both faith and reason, we are a people of both prayer and action, and the Bible is written by man and inspired by God. We are a people of both/and, not either/or. While it may seem there are contradictions, there are not. But, there is mystery behind the balance.

7 - The world needs the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has the answer for all the world's problems in the fullness of truth and the fullness of grace she offers to the world. The Church gives us a moral anchor, an answer to broken families, addiction, sin, war, violence, abuse, and all the other issues in our culture. More than ever the world needs the Catholic Church, if our society is to last. This answer is the personal relationship with Jesus that the Catholic Church offers to us all through the Sacramental grace, teachings of the Church, and in our own personal prayer we all need.

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Jesus created 1 Church.
We are that Church, the Catholic Church.
If the world needs the Catholic Church, then the Church needs saints.
We need to be holy if we are to change the world.

Time to do our part. Time to be holy. Time to change the world. This is what we all need to know - and do.

Friday, August 29, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Catholics


The Diocese of Austin has released a statement on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
ALS Challenge
The ice bucket challenge has become a popular way to raise funds for research for treatment and cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The point of the challenge is to raise awareness and research funding for the ALS Association. However, the ALS Association supports using embryonic stem cells in its research, which conflicts with Catholic teaching. Nonetheless, when accepting a challenge, a person may donate to any charity. Catholics who are asked to take part in the ice bucket challenge may do so but should be mindful to support charities that fund research for ALS that is in line with Catholic teachings, morals and ethics. For further clarification, please see the statement from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
If you would like more details about why Stem Cells are morally problematic, this article should help.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Believing In Yourself vs Believing In God

Fr. Barron has some insightful comments on the modern idea of believing in yourself and what it means in a culture which tries to downgrade God's divinity.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Loud Kids In Mass?

Q - I have little children who are sometimes loud during Mass. Sometimes they just babble a bit or talk a little too loud, but other times they are downright wailing and fussing. I want to participate in the Mass, and I want them to get the graces from being present in the Mass (even if they are wiggly and fussy), but I'm not sure what I should do. I see other families just wait out the crying with their children, but I feel that it might be distracting to other Mass-goers. What do you think? Should I take my fussy child out of Mass, or stay in the pew and hope it doesn't last long and doesn't disturb those around me. Thank you!

A - Thanks for the question. Archbishop Sheen once said that a woman got up during Mass and started to take her crying baby to the back of the church during the homily. Archbishop Sheen said, "My dear lady, that is ok, your baby isn't bothering me." The woman turned and replied, "Maybe not, but you are bothering him!"

For the answers to this issue, we have to look at this from several different perspectives. Both have the same answer - we are called to love others and act with charity.


**From the perspective of others at Mass**
My family is at the stage where my kids are quiet. They might squirm and not pay attention, but they are quiet. So, when I go to Mass, I don't have to go to the back (i.e. take The Walk of Humility), sit in a cry room, deal with noisy kids, etc. But, I do have to listen to the babies and toddlers of others who make a lot of noise. Sometimes I am annoyed, other times I am not. It depends on how well I am handling it exterior distractions that day.

In other words, from my current perspective of someone without small noisy kids, the problem is my own. How I choose to handle it is on me. Distractions in Mass will happen, so the question is how will I handle them?

I am not in control of other parents' crying kids. I am in control of my own interior peace. What might help others in my same situation is remembering where we are and why we are there.

In Mass, we are at the foot of the cross once again. Vatican II says:
"As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ is both expressed and brought about." -LG 3
So, all of us who participate in Mass are part of one Mystical Body of Christ - the Church - who come together to partake of the one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is most profoundly offered to us, once again, in The Eucharist.

Therefore - these crying babies can be seen as the wailing women of Jerusalem who are crying because the Christ has been re-presented as a living sacrifice for us in the bloodless sacrifice of The Mass!

These children have just as much of a need for grace as we do and as much right to be there as we do. So, if anyone is sinning, it is the person having terrible thoughts about a child or parent who have the right to be in the same place we are. It is most likely you cried in Mass too as a baby, if you were raised Catholic. Children in Mass = hope for the future.

It is an act of charity to not cast judgment on others, but to look interiorly for the answer to your distractions. Remember, these are the only truly sinless saints in the entire building!

Now, having said that, let us look at the other side of the coin.


**From the perspective of a parent of loud kids at Mass**
I know of no parents who want to have their kid wailing loudly in Mass. It isn't as if we go to Mass looking to have everyone give us "the look" or get attention for our kids' behavior. Yet, some parents seem to be oblivious to the fact that their kid(s) might be a distraction to others, when they get too loud.

If you are a parent, then the simple answer is to take your kids to the back (or cry room) when they start making loud noises. Most people understand that kids are going to get loud and the vast majority don't have a problem with a crying baby or a toddler throwing a fit, if it doesn't go on but for a very short time. The problem most people have is with parents who seem to wait forever to take their kids to the back of church (or cry room) where they will be less of a distraction. Remember - the kid is doing nothing wrong by being loud. They don't know any better. But, as a parent, you can help others.

So, parents of loud children need to react fairly quickly to get them out of the situation. Disciplining your children from a young age is a good thing for them. But, it starts by being disciplined yourself in how you parent. No child should be allowed to cry or yell with no foreseeable end to it, while you sit in the pew. Nor should they be allowed to play in the aisle (or back), get food all over, etc.

Because I do not like the cry room and always like to have my kids sit up front (which holds a child's attention better), my suggestions are below. They are based on getting 5 kids through the infant and toddler years, without anyone dying (yet!). 

  • If the baby is under 1 year-old, then take them to the back when they start to cry after a short period of seeing if you can quiet them and they still make noise. Once they are quiet, return to your seat.
  • If the child is over 1, then take them to the back after a short time of crying / throwing a fit, but do not allow them to get on the floor or play. If you give them what they want, they will learn that throwing a fit / crying gets them playtime in the back of church.
  • I like the general guideline of about 15 seconds to try and quiet a child. Some believe this is too long and some believe it is too short. Regardless, try and be prudent about when to take your child to the back.
It is an act of charity towards those who don't handle distractions well, to quiet your child quickly or take them out of the pew quickly. Also, some parents are even louder than their kids when they try to quiet them. Please try and use whispers and a quiet voice when instructing your children in Mass.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” -Matt19:14
One final thought - a church without crying babies is a church with no future.

I hope this helps.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Seven Reasons to Support Catholic Campus Ministry


A great article on why we all need to support Catholic Campus Ministry. This is from our Ragin Cajun Catholics friends, Fr. Bryce Sibley and Paul George. Below is a snip of it:
Seven Reasons to Support Catholic Campus Ministry

The summer is drawing to a close, which means over 20 million students will be heading off to colleges and universities throughout the nation to begin a new school year.

Between purchasing textbooks, attending classes, and getting ready for the first football game of the season, Catholic students have a great opportunity to get involved in Catholic campus ministry.

Today, thanks to groups like FOCUS and The Newman Connection which are committed to promoting the New Evangelization on college campuses, Catholic campus ministry is thriving in the United States.

An effective and fruitful campus ministry can have a profound impact on the lives large numbers of college students, but that impact depends a great deal on the generosity of financial benefactors.

If you’ve never thought about the importance of Catholic campus ministry and the need to support it financially, here is a list of Seven Reasons to Support Catholic College Campus Ministry.
  1. College campuses are mission territory. We are all aware of the temptation and sin that are pervasive at universities today. Christianity and morality are often rejected. Catholic campus ministry provides a light in the darkness and gives students the chance to come to know and accept the love of Jesus and to be part of a vibrant Catholic community. We are often asked to support oversees missions, but let’s not forget that there is mission territory right in our own town.
  2. Students can’t fund it by themselves. Between student loans and living expenses college students cannot provide the financial support to sustain a campus ministry, much less enable it to grow. College campus ministry depends on the generosity of benefactors and alumni in order to provide programming, retreats, outreach, pizza – and all of the other ministries that help to make an impact in the lives of college students.
  3. You can help to keep college students Catholic. 70-80 percent of Catholic students will abandon the practice of their faith once they leave college. Getting involved in Catholic campus ministry while they are in college is the best safeguard for preventing them from losing their faith, but more importantly for them growing in and sustaining their faith even after they leave college.
  4. You can help to create future Catholic leaders in parish and society. Catholic campus ministry is not just about having a place to hang out and eat free pizza- it is about forming life long disciples of Jesus Christ. Catholic campus ministry forms future leaders that will hopefully go out and not only get involved in their own parishes but have a positive impact on society as they become leaders in their local community.
  5. It promotes vocations and faith-filled marriages. Catholic campus ministry can be a powerful tool for helping young men and women discern vocations to the priesthood and religious life. So many priests and religious today attribute their vocation to their involvement in campus ministry when they were at college. For those who will enter into the Sacrament of Marriage, college campus ministry encourages Christ-centered relationships and often provides a great place for future spouses to meet.
  6. You love your alma mater. Like most alums, we are proud of our school’s successes both in academics and athletics. We proudly wear our school’s colors and are passionate about giving back to the institution that gave so much to us. Supporting the Catholic campus ministry at your alma mater is a great way to support the university because students who get involved in campus ministry have a much better chance at succeeding in their education.
  7. You love the the next generation of Catholics. Supporting Catholic campus ministry tells this generation of Catholics that you love them. Knowledge of Jesus Christ and involvement in this Church is the greatest good we could want for someone else because it shows we care about their souls.
    **CONTINUE READING**
Please click here for more information on how you can partner with St. Mary's Catholic Center in serving our students!

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year

10 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year of College:
10 - Ask for help before you are in real trouble. This goes for all situations. If you are struggling in class, talk to a professor. If you are struggling spiritually, talk to a priest or campus minister. If you are struggling in another way, find someone to talk to. Remember that the older folks that work in and around colleges are there to help you.

9 - College is not just about getting a job. I am not saying that grades are not important. I am not saying you don't want to get a good job. I AM saying that college is about learning about the big questions - Who am I? What is life about? What plan does God have for me? etc. If you figure this out, college will be a success.

8 - You are NOT poor. You may not have as much money as your friends and you almost certainly don't have as much as your parents. This does not make you poor, so don't say you are. You are rich - you get to go to college, you eat as much as you need, you have a place to sleep, etc. Enjoy not having a lot of extra money and be creative.

7 - Sit up front. I am assuming that you are going to every class (which costs about $100 dollars per class if you skip or not). If you sit up front in class you are bound to pay more attention to the prof and get better grades. You are also a more familiar face to the prof when you go ask for help (see #1). Sit up front in church as well. Easier to focus.

6 - Meet new people and try new things. College is a great time to work on being a better you. A great way to do this is to meet different kinds of people from different backgrounds and with different ideas. You need to stay grounded in your faith, morality, and family. But, you should also learn about the world through relationships with others.

5 - Good friends don't always make good roommates. Sometimes your best friend may not be a friend at all after living with them for a year. Choose your roommates wisely. If you want to study, don't room with a friend who has bad study habits. If you want to be responsible, don't room with a friend who is irresponsible.

4 - Don't go into debt on a credit card. Credit card companies are like vultures on college campuses. They are just waiting for you to say "yes" to the free t-shirt so they can have you ring up tons of debt and be locked into a crazy percentage rate that you carry for years and don't pay off until you are retired. Don't fall for it. Keep a budget and be smart about spending money. You don't need all the toys and latest gadgets.

3 - Shower shoes. All that needs to be said.

2 - Have fun! Balance your academics with a good (and healthy) social life. This means you have to do the following - manage your time, find friends who will make good decisions, and be smart about it all. But, have the kind of fun you won't feel sorry about later on too!

1 - Following Jesus is worth it all. A large number of Catholics involved in their parish during high school lose their faith by the time they graduate college. This is because many decide they want what the world has to offer. The sad part is many don't really know what Jesus has to offer. Following Him is the only way to real happiness, peace, and fulfillment. The rest is all fluff.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How Do You Fulfill The Commandment to "Honor Your Father & Mother" When They Abuse You?


Q - How does the commandment "Honor your father and your mother" apply to people with abusive parents? If they remain unrepentant, how far do obligations to such parents extend?


A - Thank you for the question. Abuse is always a horrible thing, esp. when the innocent are abused. No child deserves any kind of abuse and yet many children still believe they brought it on themselves. This is simply not the case. The one who is abusive is the guilty party.

But, there is always the great blessing of our heavenly Father, who will never let us down. He is the one we should always have absolute faith in.

With this being said, the Catechism spells out the duties of children to their parents. I will emphasize certain parts.
2217 As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so.
As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, we cannot allow anyone, including a parent, to abuse us. If this means cutting off the relationship from a completely cruel parent, we must. If it means involving the authorities, then we ought to. We can still fulfill the commandment by acknowledging they gave us life and we can still pray for them and hope for the best for them without bearing a grudge or wanting revenge. This is still honoring abusive parents.

We are called to love our enemies, even when they are our parents. Yet, love means choosing what is best for them regardless of what it costs me. Sometimes what is best for another is to put some distance between yourself and others, so there is no more abuse.

When a parent abuses a child, they are not acting with the authority God gave them to parent the child. Thus, the child need not stay in the situation in order to honor them.

Should you still honor your abusive parents? Yes. But, with on the condition that you understand that honoring them may mean some of the following may have to happen:
  • reporting abuse to seek justice and protect others.
  • maintaining a safe distance to avoid abuse - up to the point of ending the relationship if needed.
  • pray for them.
  • not hold on to hatred / grudges / revenge.
  • acknowledge the gift of life they gave you.
  • helping their children (you).
  • never give up hope that God can change them, even if you have to end having a relationship with them.
I hope this helps.
I ask all of our readers to pray for victims of abuse and those that abuse others.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Can We Be Sure The Books of The Bible Are Inspired?


The word "canon" means rule or measure. In terms of the Bible, it specifically refers to the list of the books that are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are thus are part of Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the books in the Bible are called canonical and the books that are not determined to be inspired by God are extra-canonical (AKA - apocryphal).

Almost all Christians believe in the truths found in the Bible, but there are two different lists of what belongs in the Old Testament - the list used by the Catholic Church (and most Eastern Orthodox) vs the list used by most Protestants. The Protestant canon contains 7 fewer books than the Catholic canon. These 7 books are called the deuterocanon ("second" canon). These books were given the name 'deuterocanon' because a few hundred years ago we did not have copies of them in Hebrew and they were not part of some Hebrew Bibles we had manuscripts of at the time. Thus, they were deemed to be part of a second canon written in Greek. In the 20th Century archaeologists made many discoveries of even older manuscripts. Therefore, we now have manuscripts, or partial manuscripts, that show that most, if not all, of the books were written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Our Protestant brothers and sisters call these seven books of the deuterocanon the 'apocrapha', meaning they believe they are not part of the canon of the Bible.

Thus, although we agree on the books within the New Testament, we have two different lists of what books should be part of the Old Testament.

Many Christians have never reflected on the history of the Bible and how it came to be. They just assume that it is authoritative and we should consider all the books in the Bible as Sacred Scripture.

Here is a brief history of how the Bible came to be put together.
  1. Jesus came and taught his disciples. During the time of Jesus there were several different lists of the Old Testament Scriptures in different Jewish groups.
  2. Jesus' disciples spread his message orally for many years after His death, before writing anything down.
  3. His disciples started to write down the life and teachings of Jesus.
  4. During the time of the early Church, a group of Jews decided to try and set the Jewish canon (the Old Testament). This failed to solve the issue of different lists for different Jews. Thus, the Jewish canon was never decided authoritatively by the Jews. Yet, the Jews no longer had the authority to set the Jewish canon for Christians, because the authority of Jesus was now given to the Church.
  5. Different local churches started to compile different writings. Many of the lists differed from one another dramatically.
  6. The Church started to discern, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what was inspired and what was not. This goes for both the New Testament and the Old Testament.
  7. Several Catholic Councils of Bishops declared the list of Scripture as we have it today:
    -Council of Hippo, 393 A.D.
    -Carthage, 397 A.D.
    -Carthage, 419 A.D.
  8. This list remained fixed through hundreds of years.
  9. Saints, bishops, Popes and the Council of Florence (1442 A.D.) affirmed the list.
  10. The list is challenged seriously for the first time by Martin Luther, when he rejects the 7 deuterocanonical books. He unilaterally decided to throw them out of his new canon. Thus, the Protestant Bible is first born in the 1500s. He bases this decision on faulty evidence:
    • He claimed they contained doctrines contrary to the rest of Scripture (rather, he didn't like the teachings that supported Catholic doctrines).
    • He claimed that the Jews had set this canon (rather, there were still different lists by different Jewish groups).
    • He claimed that only the Scriptures written in Hebrew were of the canon (rather, he didn't have access to the documents that show they were written in Hebrew).
  11. The list of Sacred Scripture is put down dogmatically in the Council of Trent, which followed the Protestant Reformation. This is because dogma is usually not declared unless first challenged seriously.
Here is some other evidence in favor of the Catholic list of the OT canon.
  1. God never gave the Jews a way to settle the debate over what books should be in the Jewish canon.
  2. In the time of Jesus there were several different groups of Jews with different lists of their Scriptures:
    1. The Samaritans and Sadducees accepted the law but rejected the prophets and writings. 
    2. The Pharisees accepted all three. 
    3. Some Jews used the Greek version called the Septuagint. This is the list that the Catholic Church uses. Textual analysis indicates that most of the New Testament writers quote most often from the Septuagint in the NT, therefore indicating that they used and accepted it.
    4. Some smaller groups with different lists.
  3. The early Christian Church Fathers accepted the deuterocanonical books as inspired.
To summarize - the Catholic Church put together the different books of the Bible, while guided by the Holy Spirit. This list was not challenged until Martin Luther threw out 7 books. Unfortunately, many Christians uncritically accept the lie that the Catholic Church added 7 books, which doesn't square with the evidence. We can be confident that the books in the bible, as ratified by the Catholic Church, are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit for our salvation.

In other words, the reason the Bible is trustworthy is because the Church is trustworthy. The reason the Church is trustworthy is because Jesus Himself is.

I know this is the Cliff Notes version. If you want more details, I recommend the book - Where We Got the Bible by Henry Graham.

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**Catholics and The Bible
**Good Catholic Bible Studies
**Catholics + Bible + Personal Interpretation
**The Dos and Don'ts of Reading The Bible

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top 10 Reasons College Students Need Catholic Campus Ministry


Top 10 Reasons College Students Need Catholic Campus Ministry

10 - Get answers to questions. You might have questions and you are bound to run into other students who have questions about the Catholic Church. Campus ministries can help you find the answers to the big questions in life and some smaller ones too!

9 - Make good friends for life. A real friend is someone who will look out for your best interests. You definitely need friends who will support you in growing in faith and respect you as a person. Many good friends in college will be friends for life.

8 - Help when you need to make better decisions. If college has a reputation for anything, it is bad decisions. Finding a place that will help you make wiser decisions is a must. Start by asking "what kind of person do I want to be?" and then act like you already are that person.

7 - Discover your path in life. Choosing a career, figuring out your vocation, etc - many things are figured out in college. For life's big steps you might need help and you can get it in campus ministries.

6 - Give back! College is a time to start to think more about others. The majority of college students are mostly on their own. It is time to start to think about how you can give back to God and others. Remember, if you graduate with a college degree, you will be more educated than the vast majority of others on this planet and that is a privilege and responsibility.

5 - Have fun without the guilt! Campus ministries can provide a great way to have a ton of fun, with great people, without all the guilt that goes along with partying and the other trappings of college life.

4 - Live a life of purpose and avoid the college trend of losing faith. There are all kinds of bad stats which show that college is a time of losing faith (one shows that only 25% of young adults attend church weekly). Don't be one of the college students that loses what is most important in life! Find out how to live a live of true purpose.

3 - Learn what is most important. If your classes teach you anything, it is that you don't know everything. The same goes for your Catholic faith. You should learn what the Church teaches on an adult level and most campus ministries provide classes and opportunities to learn more. Having the knowledge of a 15 year old won't cut it for a Catholic adult.

2 - Find out what prayer really is. College is a time for trying new things. Trying a kind of prayer you haven't really done is also important, in order to widen your horizons. It could be attending daily Mass everyday, an hour of adoration every week, a daily rosary, meeting with a spiritual director, etc. Whatever you try, don't ever stop praying. Prayer is the foundation for a relationship with Jesus -> which leads us to #1...

1 - Jesus Christ. What good is your time in college if you don't leave college with a closer relationship to Christ than you did when you entered college? Catholic campus ministry can provide you with the chance to grow in faith. Ultimately - what good is college without it???

Monday, August 18, 2014

Do Animals go to Heaven?


Q - What is the Church's teaching on the moral and spiritual status of animals, especially after the animal's death? I am under the impression that the Church has taught that animals have no souls and so would not enjoy the Beatific Vision after death in the same way that baptized Christians in a state of grace would. However, as a private opinion, I've always believed that God, in His Mercy, beholding the faithful and devoted love that can exist between humans and animals, would make some provision for the animal out of the goodness and mystery of His Providence. For example, dogs and horses would have meadows to run and play in, and cats would have lots of sunny windows to doze in and all the cream and catnip they wanted :). Am I just being sentimental? Thanks for your answer!

A - Thanks for the question.  Here is what we know:

1 - We know God created animals without an eternal soul, as humans have - in other words, if animals are in heaven, it is for God's purposes as creator and for our purposes as the height of God's creation - not because they are "saved" and "merit" eternal bliss.  Sometimes philosophers talk about animal or plant "souls", but that is not the eternal soul, rather they are using the word to indicate that which gives life, not that which lasts forever after death. So, if they do go to heaven, it isn't merely for their own sake, but because they share in God's glory by being part of his wonder of creation.

2 - We also know that there is a physical/bodily reality to heaven, but that it isn't identical to what we experience now.  When Christ's body was resurrected and glorified, he was transformed.  He passed through locked doors and appeared to his disciples.  So, in some way there is a bodily reality to heaven, but how it plays out will not be known until we get there.

3 - The Church has never ruled one way or the other.  So, we are free to believe either way.

Some argue against any animals making it into heaven (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas) and say it is not going to happen. An example or the reasons they believe this can be found here. Or you can watch this video of Jimmy Akin giving an answer to this question:


Others, such as Peter Kreeft, CS Lewis, and Fr. John Hardon, believe it is possible. But again, it isn't because they are good pets and merit such, but because they share in God's glory.

I guess the final answer is - we can hope so. As the Catechism says in 1047:
The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, "so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just," sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.
I can tell you this for certain -fire ants are not in heaven. :-)

Friday, August 15, 2014

What Is The Deal With Mary's Assumption?


Scott Hahn has a wonderful explanation of Mary's Assumption below.

The final Mass for this Holy Day of Obligation (opportunity) celebration will be at 5:30 PM at St. Mary's.



Here is a great article on the Assumption from Mark Hart:
About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”

He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.

“Well, first . . . ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.

Billy then replied, “Okay, fine . . . but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”

This is where the conversation got really interesting.
Continue Reading.
In honor of this wonderful feast day of Our Lady, I offer these beautiful songs.
Mary pray for us.

Juan Diego Flores - Ave Maria - Gounod


St. John's College Choir - Ave Maris Stella - Edvard Grieg

Thursday, August 14, 2014

100 Ways To Pray


This post is a collection of different kinds of prayer, ways to pray, devotions, sacramentals, etc.  It is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is the numbering in any way more than a simple way of listing them.  You will probably find most of the list familiar, but I have tried to give a link to all of them in order to explain the content, method, or kind of prayer in some way.  I recommend your feedback or additions to the list.  I hope you will find this helpful.

100 Ways To Pray
  1. Mass
  2. Baptism
  3. Confession / Reconciliation / Penance
  4. Confirmation
  5. Matrimony
  6. Anointing of the Sick
  7. Ordination
  8. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
  9. The Holy Rosary
  10. Sign of the Cross
  11. Liturgy of the Hours
  12. Our Father (The Lord's Prayer)
  13. Hail Mary
  14. Glory Be
  15. The Apostle's Creed
  16. The Nicene Creed
  17. The Angelus
  18. Guardian Angel Prayer
  19. St. Michael The Archangel Prayer
  20. Lectio Divina
  21. Meal Blessing (Grace)
  22. Divine Mercy Chaplet
  23. Bible study
  24. The Beatitudes
  25. Indulgences
  26. Novenas (There are many different ones)
  27. Litanies (There are many different ones)
  28. Act of Spiritual Communion
  29. Consecration to Mary (this is a sample of one way to do it)
  30. Blessings (There are many different ones)
  31. Hail Holy Queen
  32. Fatima Prayer (for the Rosary)
  33. Fatima Prayer (for reparation)
  34. Examination of Conscience (There are many different ones)
  35. Fasting
  36. Act of Contrition (There are several different ones)
  37. Act of Faith (There are several different ones)
  38. Act of Hope (There are several different ones)
  39. Act of Love (There are several different ones)
  40. Prayer of Abandonment (There are several different ones)
  41. Prayer for a Happy Death (There are several different ones)
  42. Morning Offering (There are many different ones)
  43. The Divine Praises
  44. Blessing and Adoration to God
  45. Meditation
  46. Vocal Prayer
  47. Petition
  48. Intercession
  49. Thanksgiving
  50. Praise
  51. Contemplation
  52. Repentance
  53. Regina Coeli
  54. Memorare
  55. Singing hymns
  56. Chant
  57. Praise and Worship
  58. Lorica of St. Patrick
  59. Prayer for Travelers
  60. Anima Christi
  61. Renewal of Baptismal Promises
  62. Prayer for Vocations (There are many different ones)
  63. Prayer After Mass (There are many different ones)
  64. Prayer Before Mass (There are many different ones)
  65. Offering Suffering for Others / "Offering it up" (There are many different ones)
  66. Prayers for Souls in Purgatory (There are many different ones)
  67. Prayer to the Holy Spirit (There are many different ones)
  68. Come, Holy Spirit
  69. Prayers of the Saints (There are millions of different ones)
  70. Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
  71. Holy reading / Spiritual reading
  72. St. Alphonsus method of mental prayer
  73. St. Theresa of Avila’s method of mental prayer
  74. Canticle of Zechariah
  75. Canticle of Simeon
  76. Prayer before Confession (There are several different ones)
  77. Blessing of a house
  78. Praying with the Psalms
  79. Devotion of the Scapular (There are different kinds of scapular devotions)
  80. Prayer as a couple (There are many different ones)
  81. Family prayer (There are many different ones)
  82. Spiritual Bouquets 
  83. Spiritual journaling
  84. Sacred Heart devotion
  85. Confiteor
  86. Benediction
  87. Devotion to the Miraculous Medal
  88. Praying with Holy cards
  89. Agnus Dei
  90. Prayer before a crucifix (There are many different ones)
  91. Votive Offerings - Prayer while lighting a candle
  92. The Jesus Prayer
  93. Devotion to the Child Jesus
  94. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  95. Praying with Icons
  96. Pilgrimages
  97. Charismatic prayer (speaking in tongues, slain in the Spirit, etc.)
  98. Prayer for peace (There are many different ones)
  99. Prayer for healing (There are many different ones)
  100. Prayer for the unborn (There are many different ones)
Please add your own in the comments.

Below are a few sites that have tons of prayers:
-EWTN devotionals.
-Catholic.org

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One Aggie Catholic = Priest + Engineer + Missionary


One of the more unique stories of a priest. Here is a snip:
To Father Jim Chamberlain, engineering and priestly ministry are not merely compatible; they’re complementary.

Father Jim, Ph.D., P.E., is the pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Purcell, and the pastoral administrator of Saint Catherine of Siena in Pauls Valley.

He also is a staff research engineer for the University of Oklahoma WaTER Center, which aims to provide safe water and sanitation for emerging regions through education, research and service.

Both his interest in the priesthood and his aptitude for engineering began as he was growing up in Longview, Texas. When he was 13, his older brother, Tom, became a priest for the Diocese of Austin.

“I would kind of shadow him at his parish and was really intrigued with his work,” Father Jim said.

As a senior in high school, Father Jim notched the title of “Outstanding Math and Science Graduate,” and he subsequently earned a B.S. in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University.
CONTINUE READING.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Being Christian in USA vs Middle East

I know there are a lot of times I take things for granted. Some of those include the fact that I am able to go to Mass on Sunday without having to worried about whether I will be hunted down and murdered for being a Christian. Many in the Middle East, esp. in Iraq and Syria, can't say the same.

So, in an effort to gain some perspective about how good I have it, I came up with this short list:

Being Christin in USA vs Middle East


  • USA - People talk too much in Mass and the music choices weren't my in-line with my style.
  • Middle East - If you talk about Jesus or play Christian hymns, you might be killed.


  • USA - The church air conditioner can't keep up with the TX heat.
  • Middle East - Many churches have been destroyed by Islamic militants.

  • USA - I got trouble from some people at work because I am Christian.
  • Middle East - My brother was beheaded because he is Christian.

  • USA - I don't like the hypocricy of many people that call themselves Christian.
  • Middle East - I don't like being forced to either leave my home or be killed.
Lord grant us perspective and a deep love for you and your people!
PRAY FOR PEACE!

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Peter Walks on Water! 11 Other Men Stay In The Boat! What Will You Do?


    The readings for Mass today included Matthew's account of Jesus walking on water. As is the case with much of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), they share similar stories, but with sometimes have different details. Mark 6:45-52 also recounts Jesus walking on water, but includes a strange episode (I have highlighted it below) in the recounting of the story. Mark is the only Gospel writer to make this observation:
    Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Beth-sa'ida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
    Why would Jesus mean to "pass them by"? When I first noticed this it struck me as odd. Why walk on water if Jesus was merely going to pass by the apostles? Once I reflected on it further, it puzzled me further and questions started to arise.

    First we notice that the apostles were "making headway painfully" it seems they are absorbed in trying to row the boat and having difficulty. Sometimes we too seem to make headway only with great struggle, through our lives. Life can be hard and we seem to be so absorbed in the reality in front of our eyes, we fail to see Jesus right next to us. Now, the apostles are no different than us and Jesus knows it. So, maybe, after seeing their focus is on the job at hand, he decides to pass them by. But, God wouldn't neglect us.

    So, maybe Jesus wanted something more for the apostles and they were not ready for it. He told them to get in the boat and he only shows up at the most unexpected time (3AM during a crazy storm). Earlier in the chapter we hear their "hearts were hardened". They are struggling with the fact that Jesus isn't just a dynamic political leader who will become an earthly king. Rather, Jesus explodes all presuppositions and chooses some thing unexpected and even greater than expectations. He wants to save us right where we are - in the midst of our struggle. But, we have to open our hearts to him first. This isn't easy. This is why they don't recognize him and think he is a ghost. Yet, his voice calls out to us to have no fear. Can we?

    The Greek word used "to pass by" is "Parechomai". It can mean to go past, to pass by, to pass away, to come near, and to pass over. When it is connected to the Divine Being, it can take on another meaning - "an epiphany". That is, a manifestation of God's power and presence. There are a few other Biblical events where God "passes by". One of my favorites is when God has His goodness "pass by" Moses, in Exodus 33:14.

    Therefore, another reason Jesus might have "passed them by" would be to reveal something to them - himself. His divinity and mission had escaped them so far. So, why not give them another bit of evidence? But, why walk on water? Couldn't he have done it another way? It is because the water, to the ancient peoples, was the place of the demons. By walking on it, Jesus reveals that He is Lord of all - earth, heaven, the sky, the sea, and even hell.
    He is God.
    He is YHWH.

    When the Apostles see Jesus, they are frightened thinking He is a ghost. Many times we too are frightened of Jesus coming into our lives, because we don't want to deal with the consequences of saying "yes" to Him fully - because in doing so, we have to give up control (or, rather, the sense of control). They are also frightened because they are not fully dependent upon God, and therefore fear the possibility of another power (a ghost) doing some harm to them. Fear is an emotional reaction, but we need to realize it doesn't have complete control over us. We can still decide to conquer our fears and do the right thing.

    Peter does this. In Matthew's account of the Gospel, Peter challenges the ghost "Lord, if it is you, then command me to come to you on the water." Thinking this would keep the ghost quiet and prove it wasn't Jesus might have been Peter's intent. But, then we get a striking command. Jesus merely says, "come."

    Peter now has a choice. So do we.

    When God comes to us in the storms of our life - the busyness, the pain, the anxiety, the trouble, the brokenness, the insecurities - do we listen for Him beckoning to us to come to Him? And if we hear Him calling, do we have the courage to step out of the boat and walk on water? Do you have courage to do whatever Jesus asks of you, even if it means stepping out into the unknown???

    God made you to walk on water.
    God wants to pass by us (reveal Himself to us).
    Even during the storms.
    Even during the time we struggle to move against the wind.
    Even in the middle of the night - God comes.

    Will you walk on water?
    Will you let Him into your boat?

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    A Lonely Place


    In Mark 6: 30-32, after Jesus and the apostles learn of the murder of John the Baptist, it says:
    The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.
    Jesus called his disciples into "a lonely place". While praying about this, I found myself wondering why the place they needed to go would be "lonely". Then I became even more intrigued when the passage continued in verses 33-36:
    Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat."
    The Greek word used here, erēmos, can also be translated as "solitary, desolate, uninhabited." In other words, it is time to get away from others and be by yourself. It is time to be quiet. It is time to spend in prayer. We all need this.

    Notice that the apostles were so caught up in work they "had no leisure to eat." We sometimes trick ourselves into thinking our worth is caught up in what we DO. But, in reality it is who we ARE that is what is most important, and WHO WE ARE is developed in leisure.

    Now, I am not defining leisure as idleness, messing around, being bored, etc. Rather, the traditional understanding of leisure is an active form of working on being who you are created to be. It involves reflection, prayer, deep thinking and being in wonder at the work of God. It is NOT a time of productivity, in the modern sense of the word.

    Most Americans think of leisure as a vacation we take in order to recharge our batteries to go do more work. This is the wrong way to think of leisure. We don't exist to work. We exist for God's sake and our own sake. The problem with the modern way of thinking about leisure is that it identifies our worth in our function. It it utilitarianism. We have to fight this understanding of the right place of work, by clearly understanding leisure. This properly orders things; it makes us better people.

    Even the apostles had to be called into leisure, as many Church workers do.
    As I do.

    This summer I have tried to be intentional about spending time in leisure. I spent time with family, reading, praying, laughing, exercising, reflecting, serving others, learning, etc. I feel like I have really grown in the leisure time I have had.

    This is because Jesus called me to a lonely place where I could partake in some leisurely activities.
    Where I didn't have a to-do list from work.
    Where I could listen and be quiet.
    Where I could think and learn.
    Where I could just be.

    Thank God for the lonely places.

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Iraqi Persecution of Christians Becomes Genocide


    The persecution of Iraqi Christians hasn't gotten any better, in fact, it has intensified.
    Now, children are being beheaded, ISIS is pulling down crosses from churches and destroying Christian manuscripts, and many Christians have been herded on top of a mountain without supplies. Some have already died from lack of food and water.

    The Pope has now called for international response and for prayer.
    Our President is mulling over a response, but hasn't made a decision.

    Click here to see what you can do to help.