Tag Archives: faith

I believe in Jesus Christ

Say what you will about the state of our culture.  Personally, I think that one we have going for us is that—for better or for worse—people do not take the statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” lightly.

To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” implies much more than an affirmation of the existence of an historical person.  It implies a whole set of beliefs, a certain lifestyle.  To proclaim belief in Jesus Christ is a bold statement.

Why?  Because “belief” means more than you might realize on the surface.

You can’t believe in a dead person.  Many admirable men and women have gone before us, and we can certainly acknowledge their achievements and seek to emulate them, but we would not say, for example, “I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.”  It sounds weird, right?  We could certainly say, “I believe in what MLK Jr. stood for,” or, “I believe we should all try to be more like him,” but to say “I believe in him” today sounds odd to us.  And it should.  You can’t believe (present-tense) in a person that is not alive.

So when you say, “I believe in Jesus,” you’re saying that you believe Jesus is alive today.  That’s huge; and that by itself would be enough to make you pause and reflect before speaking, but it goes even deeper.

When you profess belief in Jesus, you’re professing belief in a living person, but this belief means more than acknowledging the existence of a living person.  Think about the people you know in your life today.  I have a close friend named Jaclyn.  For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn,” of course implies a lot more than if I were to simply say, “I believe that a person named Jaclyn exists today.”  We all know this from experience.  For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn” means that I have confidence in the person that Jaclyn is.  It means that I know her on some sort of deeper level; and it means that I trust her based on my relationship with her.

Apply this to the claim, “I believe in Jesus Christ” and you will spend your lifetime realizing the implications.  Do we have confidence in the Person of Jesus Christ?  Do we know who He is and what he stands for?  Can we trust Him?  Can we really say we believe in Jesus Christ if we only half-heartedly believe in His teachings?

The bottom line of all of this is that you can’t claim to believe in somebody you don’t know.  This should be a wakeup call to us all, because there is always room to grow in our relationship with Jesus.  If we’re not growing in relationship, our confidence—our belief—will start to fade.  So let’s boldly proclaim belief in Jesus, but let’s make sure that claim constantly reminds us of our need to grow in deeper relationship with Him.

 

I Am [not] An Atheist

Bashing atheists isn’t really my thing, and it’s not what this post will be about.

The thing is, I write a blog for young Catholics (and then I guess for anyone else who wants to read it), and I talk a lot about how much I love the Catholic faith and how great Jesus is and all that…and all along this “God” character is sort of just accepted as a given in my world.  Yes, I was raised by parents that believe in God, and no, I’ve never seriously doubted His existence.

See, to me, Romans 1:20 has always summed up all the proof I’ve ever needed for God’s existence:

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

Translation: Look around!  This place is stunning!  Human beings are amazing!  Look at all the tiny intricacies of even the smallest organism on the planet!  Believing that this all happened by mere coincidence is a heck of a lot harder to swallow than believing in God.  At least that’s the way I look at things.

Big shock: the author of the Catholic blog believes in God.

But that doesn’t mean that I’ve never had questions; nor does it mean that I can’t recognize faulty logic when I see it, which brings me to this:

By now you have hopefully realized that I did not create the above meme.  Truth be told, I actually find the list of reasons given at the beginning of the picture for why this person is NOT an atheist to be far better reasons to say there’s no god than the one they seem to think packs the most punch (but those can be the topic of another day’s post).  Today we discuss “the burden of proof” and the “scientific method” (which, FYI, was developed by people in the Catholic Church).

Let’s start by acknowledging where the meme is right.  It’s impossible to prove the non-existence of something.  Science will never be able to prove that anything, let alone God, does not exist.

Now, I’m not a scientist and I won’t pretend to be.  But I’m 100% certain that science has no business outside of the natural realm.  If a god exists, then by definition, it’s not a natural being; it’s supernatural.  Since science can only tell us about the natural realm, it’s entirely possible for a supernatural being to exist without natural, empirical evidence (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) for it.  Science cannot disprove god; but asking science to prove the existence of god misunderstands both science and the question of a god.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why not only believe in things that science can prove, then?  Things that we can see with our own eyes, things that we can hear or taste or smell or touch.  These are the only real and verifiable things, according to the logic of the above meme.

Sounds simple enough… but nobody actually lives in that world.  There are tons of things we believe in but cannot prove with the scientific method.  The most striking of these is love.  Love isn’t something we can smell or touch, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t believe in it simply because we can’t examine it under a microscope.  We experience love.  We know the pain of when love is lacking.  Try as we might, we can’t deny the existence of, or the need for, love.  Yet science will never be able to prove that love exists, and it would be silly to ask that of science.

If your only reason for not believing in God is because you can’t prove His existence with the scientific method, not only are you missing the point of science, you’re [presumably] missing out on some of the most beautiful aspects of this life.  Come into the real world, where “real” isn’t limited to only those things which we can smell, taste, see, hear, or touch.

 

On Patience and the Number 235

235 days until my fiancé and I “tie the knot.”

That’s 33 weeks and 4 days, or about 8 months— incase you were wondering (I have become really good at counting backwards since getting engaged).

Fun Fact: Patience is very difficult for me.

Shortly after my fiancé and I became engaged four months ago, people started asking me when the Big Day was going to be.  My reply has been met with varying reactions…

There was the, “Wow, that’s quick!” reaction.  There has also been the, “Oh, why are you waiting so long?” reaction.  And I’ve also had several of the, “Oh that’s a perfect amount of time to plan a wedding,” reactions.

To be perfectly honest though, my feelings (and those of my fiancé) often are much more in line with the second reaction.  It feels incredible to know and be planning for getting married, but at the same time, 8 months can feel like an awfully long time away from now.  We got engaged for a reason—we want to be married!  So what’s the deal with all the waiting??

While yes, it does take a lot of preparation, time, and of course a good chunk of money to plan a wedding, we didn’t necessarily choose a 1-year-engagement because we were trying to ensure the perfectly planned and executed party.  We chose a date that made sense for a number of reasons and we started planning.

In other words: the date is on the calendar; the church and reception sites are booked with actual money; thus, we are stuck with December 22nd.

Realizing that fact is actually very liberating (once I convince myself that whining won’t help the date come any sooner and reflect on the fact that God probably had us pick this date for a reason).  There is nothing I can do to make my wedding come sooner.  It’s not sad; it’s just the way it is.  Just like there may be nothing you can do right now to make summer break come any sooner.  Or just like there may be nothing you can do right now to know with absolute certainty what God is calling you to do next year.  As Christians, we just have to live in this moment with our eyes fixed on God; and trust that everything else will fall into place.

So as for me, all I can do is live within God’s love and trust in the fact that He intends to use every last one of these 235 days to prepare Tyler and me for the sacrament of marriage.  And I guess that is pretty neat. :)

Living in God’s Presence

As the aunt of nine nieces and nephews (with another niece and another nephew on the way, I might add), I find myself surrounded by little children a lot.  I also happen to be blessed by the example of each of their parents (AKA – my brothers and sisters) as they seek to raise their children in holiness.  I see a lot of teaching the little ones to pray before meals and before bed; of leading by example and showing them the importance of mass, or of the great gift we have to just sit in the physical presence of God in the Tabernacle or in Eucharistic Adoration.  I watch as my brothers and sisters share with my nieces and nephews the stories of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament and, of course, the story of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  And all of this, upon first glance, appears to be a sort of training for my nieces and nephews in the art of Christian living.  And in a very real and important sense, that is exactly what it is.

But something occurred to me last week as I watched my sister-in-law play with my niece in the backyard while they listened to the “Kids’ Christian Music Station” on the radio.

“This is my niece’s life,” I thought.  The Faith, to her, is not some lofty ideology, or a discipline studied in the classroom between the hours of 8am and 3pm.  It’s the air she breathes—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The idea that there could even be the possibility of a life lived outside of God’s presence is simply nonexistent to my niece.

This thought, taken with Jesus’ words in Matthew, “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,”  got me thinking.  Yes, we are never supposed to stop growing in holiness.  Yes, there will always be more we can learn about God because God is infinite and we will never exhaust His mystery.  More importantly though, knowledge of God and of religion is just not the point.  My nieces and nephews aren’t taught about Jesus like they learn the Alphabet, because Jesus isn’t an idea; He’s a person.  The point isn’t to learn the lesson and then log it away for future reference.  The point is to meet a person, and to let that meeting transform you.

We don’t study our way into God’s presence. We are placed there.  Learning is supposed to be what happens in the middle of it.

In Progress

So, remember a few weeks ago when I posted the 7 Steps to Being Young & Catholic?

Yeah, well just so you know, I’ve been doing terribly at them.  I could list my excuses here for you as to why I have not “been able” to make it to daily mass at least once a week apart from Sunday, or why I haven’t spent the time in silent prayer or the time in the chapel that I know I should, but they would just look pathetic.  As far as spiritual reading: if I wasn’t a student of Biblical Theology, then that would probably look pretty meager, too.

It’s not that I’m getting down on myself for just slacking off on some checklist, but at the same time, I’m totally getting down on myself for slacking off on some checklist.

Let me explain: No one is eager to wake up on January 1st to kick-off a six-month diet and workout regimen.  They may like the idea of it in their head; they may be eager for the results and know deep down that they’re craving discipline in their life, but by the middle of day two, all that person really wants is a brownie.

We’re human.  As good as our intentions may be, a plan helps keep us on track.

Similarly, I may like the idea of getting up every morning at 6:30 to go mass, and of spending my free time reading my Bible.  I may know deep down that is what will bring me truer joy than watching my Facebook newsfeed update, but a lot of times that doesn’t make it much easier to get into the spiritual shape I feel God is calling me to.

I know that faith isn’t supposed to just be some divine checklist—that it all comes down to falling in love with God, and that I just need to rely on Him and He will give me the grace of faith.  But sometimes I’m not super awesome at doing even that.

So it turns out I’m not the perfect poster-child for the Young & Catholic lifestyle.  Oh well.  Good thing I believe in a God who meets me where I am, and never tires of reminding me where I need to be.

Lent is coming up soon!  Let’s all get spiritually buff.

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27