Posts in category: Fatherly Advice
Gen 22:1-4 We’ve Read the Book
Thursday if the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.
As my dad and I talked about The State of The World about a month ago, I reflected on how much God tests us every day. God’s testing of us used to confuse me. Why would he test us and make this world harder than it actually is? He already knows what will happen, good or bad. But then I came to understand that God doesn’t test us so He can find out how we will respond; he already knows. He tests us so that we can find out how we respond, and in our growing self-knowledge, become better human beings.
And so we learn through adversity. Adversity, for me, is being in a group of friends and having a different opinion than the rest of them on any subject, be it something serious or not. It’s hard to be different. It’s hard to see posts on Facebook or Twitter that come from different viewpoints than yourself. It’s hard to listen to a group of adults talking who seem to be of the general opinion that the world couldn’t get much worse. But then my dad reminded me of something he had heard in college: “We’ve read the book, and we know how it ends.”
Yes, we’ve read the book. Yes, we know how it ends–God wins! Can you believe that? All this time you may have been thinking that the State of the World is unchangeable and will persist forever. But God DOES win.
So next time you’re sitting around at the dinner table at some friends’ house, don’t talk about how the world is getting worse. Nothing will be accomplished, and you may find yourself reflecting on that conversation later when you’re feeling discouraged. Instead, schedule a time to go pray at an abortion clinic. Or volunteer at White Rose Women’s Center. Or go to adoration. Talk about inspiring stories that you’ve heard or ways that someone has helped someone else in the past week. Talk about happiness and schedule chances to make change.
In Chicken Soup for the Soul, there is a poem that reads:
On the street I saw a small girl
cold and shivering in a thin dress,
with little hope of a decent meal.
I became angry and said to God,
“Why did you permit this?
Why don’t you do something about it?”
For awhile God said nothing.
That night he replied, quite suddenly,
“I certainly did something about it.
I made you.”
In each of us there is a light. The light enables us to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance in talking to people who share different beliefs than us about tough topics. Say a few Hail Mary’s then say “Come, Holy Spirit.” Jesus left us the Holy Spirit to set the earth on fire. Remember? “I have come to set the Earth on fire. And how I wish it were already blazing!”
We must believe that there is a life after death, and that we were created for a reason. For me, confirmation of this comes every time I learn more about the human body–the biochemistry of it, how the heart actually beats through electrical impulses, the wonders of how scientists can target specific cells to try to cure a patient. We must believe that in the end,we will win. We must believe that we are here not to be passive observers of a world that has so much wrong with it, but to be active changers (as Notre Dame phrased it in a college interview: ”change agents”)  and spread the true love of Catholicity a little at time. Have faith, just like Abraham, that everything will be perfect in the end. Have faith that the Catholic Church has endured for over two thousand years and no government, people, or war can destroy it. Have faith that you will set the Earth on fire. For no matter how dark the darkness is, it cannot quench the light.
"Laudato Si" quotes you’ll never hear from secular atheists
On the US only giving foreign aid if mothers stop having children in poor countries: “Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”…to blame population growth instead of extreme selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.”LS, 50

“Judaeo-Christian thought demythologized nature. While continuing to admire its grandeur and immensity, it no longer saw nature as divine. In doing so, it emphasizes all the more our human responsibility for nature”  LS, 78

Dear those who think evolution explains the totality of how humans came to be: “Human beings, even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems….[humans have] a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology”  LS, 81

“We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people.”  LS, 92

“If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony.”  LS, 113

When we fail to acknowledge the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, or a person with disabilities, it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected” LS 117

“Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.”  LS, 119

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo”  LS, 120

On welfare never being permanent: “Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work.”  LS, 128

Huge irony I’d never thought of: “It is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos”  LS, 136

“A wholesome social life can light up a seemingly undesirable environment…the feeling of asphyxiation brought on by densely populated residential areas is countered if close and warm relationships develop…in this way any place can turn from being a hell on earth into the setting for a dignified life.”  LS, 148

“we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development.”  LS, 191

Dear Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Steven Hawking, et. al.: “It cannot be maintained that empirical science provides a complete explanation of life  LS, 199

“If someone has not learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple.”  LS, 215

“Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turns leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them.”  LS, 225

“We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty.  It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good.”  LS, 229

“A world of exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all its forms.”  LS, 230

The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life.”  LS, 235

It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation.  Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures.”  LS, 236

“The Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.”  LS, 236

“The day of rest, centered on the Eucharist, sheds its light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor.”  LS, 237

Awesome Conclusion:  “In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present.  He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.  Praise be to him!”  LS, 245

(That’s called hitting a walk off home run AND dropping the mic at the same time!)
The Worst Generation?

Someone told me the day the SCOTUS marriage ruling came down:”Father, on behalf of all the older adults in our country, we need to apologize to your generation because the country we’re handing you; we are probably the first generation that has left th…

Mt 16:13-19 Steadfast
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
(Click here for readings)


When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Today is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, two of the most important men in the early Church. Saint Peter, as this part of Matthew’s Gospel recounts, was the first Pope. Saint Paul wrote thirteen out of twenty books of the New Testament, known as the Pauline Epistles, or perhaps better known as all of those books named after cities that you can’t pronounce. In today’s Gospel, we read Peter’s profession of faith. When I read this beautiful profession of faith, I wish that I had faith like Peter.  But when I read in the first reading about Peter’s imprisonment and persecution… well… I’m not so sure that I want it anymore. You see, I want Peter’s cleverness but not his crucifixion. I want Paul’s eloquence but not his imprisonment. And as many people—perhaps even many of us Christians—want, I want Christ but not the cross.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is afraid of hardship. If something doesn’t feel right, or isn’t easy, we are told nine times out of ten that there is a way to remedy the situation, and that the situation should be remedied at all costs. Too many pregnant mothers have been told that they should simply “take care of the situation” by ending the life of the child—that way, they can go on without the burden of parenthood. Too many young people have been told that they should resort to drugs and alcohol to take care of deeper insecurities—that way, they don’t have to face their issues. Perhaps most egregiously, I once saw a façade for a business called “Soft Divorce.” Their slogan?“Because divorce doesn’t have to be hard.” More succinctly put, there is something about human nature that makes us terribly averse to all forms of hardship.

What must we do, then? As Christians, we must live in the example of Christ. We must not fear hardship, but instead take up our crosses and set an example of self-sacrifice in the pursuit of a greater good.

This is quite a simplistic example of trying to avoid a cross, but I think it serves its purpose. Not too long ago, all of my friends were struggling through finals week of junior year. This is more colloquially known as “Hell Week,” when every student is faced with the hardest tests of their life in conjunction with the pressure of knowing that said tests could tank their transcript—the only one that ever matters for college. Fortunately for me,after exemptions and such, my schedule worked out so that I only had two finals during Hell Week. As everyone sat worrying and compulsively checking the minimum GPAs for their dream schools, I slept in until afternoon exams. When I did have to go in to school, I sat in the library and watched Netflix on my laptop. It was basically like I was already on summer vacation. Then, on Friday, I watched the excitement of all of my friends who had just completed the biggest trial of the year. In contrast,I had nothing to be excited about. After all, I had barely been tested.

You see, as simple as my example may be, it proves a point—just sailing by in life with minimum effort is ultimately unsatisfying. Sometimes hardship is necessary to make us stronger. Hardship builds character. And after being tested, one can join in with St. Paul in saying: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” Notice that St. Paul didn’t say, “I have competed to an extent; I have gotten by in the race; I have done an okay job at keeping the faith.” That’s not what we are made for.

That being said, even when we give our best effort to take up our crosses, we will still find our faith challenged. Most of these challenges will come from others around us who may not understand the Christian view of hardship. They may think that our choice to take up our cross is not worthwhile. They may mock our faith. Psalm 42:10, one of the Suffering Servant passages of the Old Testament, illustrates this well: “It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me, when they say to me every day: ‘Where is your God?’… my tears have been my bread day and night, as they ask me every day, ‘Where is your God?’”  Some people just may never understand that sometimes it’s worthwhile to not take the easy way out, or the most “efficient” or “logical” route. We must still persevere in carrying our crosses, and we must never abandon our faith.  Look at St. John Paul II. As his mental soundness declined, so many people questioned why he was even persevering in his role as Pope. It wasn’t efficient for him to be suffering through his tasks. He could have retired quietly and had someone else take over. But he didn’t. And his example of suffering with dignity has inspired many.

In summation: we can’t have Christ without the cross. As the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul illustrate, for every triumph in our Christian lives, there will be a challenge. We must willingly take up these crosses, and never bow to the pressure to forsake our faith in times of hardship.
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