Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Reality of the “Real World”

Professors instructing you, grade books, and meal plans don’t exactly add up to life on your own.  The thought seems to be that true reality doesn’t really set in until you have to support yourself, make your own wages (and dinner), and even…yes…fold your own laundry.  The “real world” is not for the fainthearted.

Whether you find yourself in the “real world” of the workforce or the idealistic bubble of a college campus, it’s all too easy to forget about—or miss altogether— the reality that we ought to take most seriously as Catholics.  I’m talking about the reality of our faith, and it’s more than mass on Sundays or a private school education in Catholic theology.

The reality of our faith is that Heaven exists—which means that Hell also exists—And Satan will do everything in His power to keep us from reaching Heaven.

As Catholics, we are not free to dismiss the supernatural realm as merely movie magic. Spiritual warfare is real, which is certainly a terrifying reality, if God is not on your side.  Fortunately for us (as humans, not just Catholics), God is always on our side.  However: though God will never reject us, we can choose to reject God (read: choose Satan).  We do this every time we choose to sin.  God wins the battle every time.  The question is: are we letting Him fight for us?

We are in the midst of a battle for our very souls.  Are we acting like it?

The reality of our faith grants ordinary men the supernatural power to forgive sins through priestly ordination. 

Ever been at the airport and seen a priest walking around?  You could be surrounded by hundreds of other people, but, as a Catholic, that priest is the only one in the terminal who has the power to literally take your sins away from you and give you forgiveness.  Because of a priest, in a matter of minutes we can be reconciled to our God whom we have offended through our sins.

Do we even stop to think of what this means?

The reality of our faith as Catholics is that at every mass, our God comes to meet us in the Eucharist. 

Literally.  He remains present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the tabernacle, 24/7, at our local Catholic parish (and He longs for us daily just to stop in at least for a quick visit).

Are we taking advantage of so great a gift?

 

It’s not that the “real world” isn’t real, nor am I saying that college can’t (or shouldn’t) be as awesome as you can make it.  The point is to keep things in perspective.  In the end, there is nothing so real as the reality of our faith.

Don’t Wake Me, I Plan On Sleeping In

I don’t know how many times I will have to keep learning this lesson before it sticks, but I have a bit of a problem.  I can’t seem to go longer than a week without hitting the snooze button in the morning.

In case you did not know, this is an alarm clock. And this is a woman hitting the snooze button in the morning (FYI: my shade of lipstick at 6am is much prettier)

I realize it may sound silly.  There are much bigger problems I could be worrying about.  But for me, this seems to be where everything else starts.  When I start sleeping in, I start to get a little lazier, prayer life begins to slip, and a whole can of worms is opened.  All for a measly 5 (ok, 30) extra minutes of sleep and a less productive day.

Despite the vast amounts of writings that warn against the dangers that sleeping in can pose to the spiritual life (not to mention past experiences and well-meaning resolutions), I always manage to reason with myself saying that sleeping in will be okay just this one morning.  After all, I say to myself, I’ve had a busy week and accomplished a lot.  I deserve this. 

As if that weren’t enough, the proverbial sirens should start blaring when the above thoughts are inevitably followed by my ever so confident, “I got this”.

One morning usually turns into two, and then into a week or so, and then I’m left, days later, wondering where my productive drive has gone.

[Maybe you can relate.  It seems at least that Bruno Mars can.  Today (and yesterday, or any other day you choose to listen to “The Lazy Song”), he doesn’t feel like doing anything. And what’s the harm, really? (…I have said it before and I will keep saying it.  Music is powerful.  Be cautious of what you listen to!)]

When am I going to realize that Jesus meant business when He said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)?  Being a Christian means obedience to Christ; and that has to start when the alarm clock goes off in the morning—not 15 (ok, 45) minutes later.

Catholic and Gay

 

Fact: The Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality is anything but popular.

It’s something we as Catholics shy away from talking about.  Maybe that’s because it makes others uncomfortable, or maybe because often we don’t truly understand it ourselves.  The fact is that I can sit here all day and tell you that my stance against same-sex marriage is not born out of hatred, bigotry, or ignorance, but the majority of people would probably not believe me. When it comes down to it, this issue isn’t going to be solved in political debates.  It’s far too personal.

So rather than getting into a lesson on Catholic moral teaching (though feel free to contact me if you want me to cover that later), or talking about homosexuality in the abstract (creating hypothetical people and hypothetical situations), I thought I’d refer you to an article written by someone who understands the Church’s teaching on homosexuality far better than I do, because as a Catholic who happens to be gay, he is choosing to live it.

[I have never met this man. I found the following post on the blog, Little Catholic Bubble.  Apparently, though, he recently went public with his own blog, as well.]

I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same church?

When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. (And to spare him some confusion: Did you say ‘locker room’? What were you doing in the women’s…oh.) I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.

Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first — who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”

Click here to continue reading.

Change – How Long Can We Wait?

——Guest Post Written By Katie Mueller ———

 Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

 

Waiting on the World to Change – although not the worst song I have ever heard, it might be one of the most misleading.  The song insists that we are victims, with no power to change or influence our world, and that our best option is to idly let the world change itself.  It’s much too hard to make a difference, so let’s not try at all?

Let’s face it, as young Catholics we have more than a few topics to choose from, but there is no point in beating around the bush.  I want to talk about abortion.   Anyone who has seen my facebook knows that I am pro-life, and also knows that I use my facebook as a tool to spread information about the reality of the abortion industry, the effects of abortion on mothers and families, and current events relating to the pro-life movement.  Do I do this because I enjoy debating my friends on ethical issues?  Well, yes :)  but also because I know so many people who are simply misinformed.  They believe the people who tell them that it’s not considered abortion if there hasn’t been implantation; they believe the people who tell them abortion is safe and is a fundamental right; they believe the people who tell them the baby isn’t alive until the heart beats; and they believe the people who tell them that it is okay to end a life if it isn’t convenient for the parents.  Why do they believe this?  Maybe it is because no one has told them otherwise.

Ignorance is one of the greatest disservices to our world, and to our Church, and to ourselves.  As Catholics, we are obligated to engage in a never-ending pursuit of truth and to share these truths with our fellows.  The fight for life is our duty— a mission entrusted to our generation.  If we are not educated ourselves, how can we defend our stance?  This is a plea to young Catholics to get involved first by understanding the battle, and second, by using your knowledge to educate others.  This will set the foundation for change.

Every day on our Facebook pages, we share with all of our “friends” how bored we are at work, what we made for breakfast, or a funny cat video we found on YouTube.  If this is worth our while, then surely protecting the dignity of every human life can also be a regular part of our lives.

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director (now pro-life advocate) said something to the following, “If you aren’t doing anything to stop it, you are supporting it.”  Our generation must take a stand; we must be active in our battle for a culture of life.  The first part of this is educating ourselves and our world.  I will not tolerate having people I care about be hurt by abortion because they didn’t understand the decision they were making.  I will not be comfortable in silence and let the pro-choice movement do all the talking and mislead my generation to hurt and regret.  We need to show the world that we do “stand for something” and we are willing to fight for it.

At the end of the song, good old John Mayer tells us, “One day our generation is gonna rule the population, so we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change”.  Well guess what folks, NOW is the time for our generation to rule, and we can’t wait on “the world” to give us the go ahead.

Lord, please use me today as tool to spread your truths and to evangelize.  Your will be done.  Amen.

Need help getting started?  I’ve got you covered:

- Katie

Katie Mueller recently graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she earned her BA in Legal Studies.  {She’s also my cousin! :)}

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Last Friday Night

A few months back, I wrote a post about how the music we listen to—whether we want it to or not—has a real effect on the way we behave.

With that, I thought I’d write a bit of a reflection on what, unfortunately, seems to be turning into a sort of “anthem” for people (especially girls) around my age.  I’m talking about Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”—currently the 3rd most downloaded song on iTunes:

“Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

…This Friday night
Do it all again”

I could go on, but I assume most of you have heard it, or if not, you get the picture.

Katy Perry is known for her catchy, upbeat songs with lyrics meant to shock.  After all, she first topped the charts with her 2008 hit, “I kissed a girl (and I liked it)”.  The mentality of her music and those who listen to it is one of a certain type of mockery towards any sort of perceived moral authority.  It’s not that she intends disrespect, but the thought of her (and her listeners) goes something like the following:

Whether people like it or not, this is reality.  People our age do things like this.  Rather than condemn and judge, we should embrace different ways of living, and then maybe by doing so, we will eliminate the unnecessary guilt and shame attached to partying, sleeping around, etc.

(and you thought I was just some naïve Catholic with no understanding of the way “the real world” thinks :) )

My main issue with songs like this is that they only last around 4 minutes.  In the real world, we don’t live within the parameters of any 4-minute, feel-good song.  And no matter how many times we try to play it on repeat, eventually it ends, or gets old, and our “nothing can take me down” mentality fades out with the final chorus.

Unfortunately for us, once that happens there is usually a new song to live our lives to for a short time, and then it takes us even longer to find what we are truly looking for.  Because when it comes down to it, what we are looking for to vindicate us of feelings of shame or regret cannot be found in a catchy melody or the lyrics of a song (as profound or “meaningful” as they may be).

If you get nothing else from this post, remember this:  We are already living in a world with pretty low standards when it comes to morality.  The fact that “Last Friday Night” is such a popular song speaks to this.  So if you are feeling shame or regret because of something you are doing, it is probably not due to other people “judging you”.

Just some food for thought.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Feel free to leave a comment!

Article first published as Last Friday Night on Technorati.