Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Ark of the Covenant

So, first, my apologies. It has been awhile since last blog post, but in my defense, this was my first ever experience of Finals week. Now, to the point.
Something very interesing has happened to me over the past few weeks. Earlier this December, the 8th to be exact, I consecrated my life to our Blessed Mother. (Much thanks to St. Louis DeMontfort.) Ever since then, I have grown increasingly close to Christ in my devotion to her.
But then, today, after hearing our First Reading (2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16) and the Gospel today (Luke 1:26-38), I realized the amazing connection between the Old and New Testament.
Having prayed the Psalms as part of the Liturgy of the Hours for four months now, I am growing increasingly more familiar with them and the overall theme of rescue. Salvation. Freedom from captivity. It's a common theme throughout Judaism, and for the Great Psalmist, it was the pinnacle of faith: to hope in salvation.
As Christians, we believe Jesus Christ to be the Messiah prophesied by early Judaism. Yet before Christ became the Messiah, something predated even that: Christ became man. The Incarnation. St. Gregory of Nazianzus once said of the Incarnation, "What is not assumed is not redeemed." Therefore, God had to become man in order to save man.
In Samuel, it speaks of how Samuel decides to build a temple for the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Mosaic Law (the Ten Commandments), the core of Jewish belief. In Luke, the angel Gabriel comes to the Virgin Mary and reveals to her that she will conceive the Messiah, Christ. Yet Mary is still aware of something we take for granted: choice.
Many people might consider conception to be an act of choice, their choice. And while it is one's choice to attempt conception, it is not for man to control by unnatural and immoral means. Yet Mary truly did have the choice; and she chose life.
By choosing to bear this life, she brought Christ into the world with her words, "Be it done unto me according to thy word." Thus, God was made man, and dwelt first in the womb of a woman, perhaps the most sacred and blessed realm possibly to be found in this Earthly life. The irony that it is this same sacred realm we so often violate is not lost upon me.
The womb of Mary became the New Ark of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ. Samuel wanted to build a temple made of treasure to be filled with treasure. God made a woman with a womb to bear an even greater treasure. I hope other women realize just how sacred and blessed they are for this magnificent, graceful gift, but I think all of us could afford to realize just a little more how very true those words of Elizabeth are, "Blessed are you among women."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Miles to Go

I recently decided that this blog shall also begin to introduce certain elements of art and literature to its readers. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my favorite poem of all time.
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Enjoy it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Perfect Cure-All

So, been doing some studying here at college…nerd, I know…and I’ve learned some pretty interesting things so far.
-Cafeteria food is not actually that good.
-Fire drills: Not as fun as I thought they’d be.
-It rains on campus.
-Umbrellas don’t work when you forget them.
-Hygiene is overrated.
-This one’s still in the stage of a hypothesis, but do football players own any other clothes besides spirit wear stuffs? Seriously. I feel bad for them. Almost donated my pair of jeans to one of them…I’d be glad to get rid of them.
-Every one who ever wrote anything has a theory on life.

Seriously. All the philosophers have theories of life named after them. Marxist theory, Cartesian theory, Thomistic theory, Aristotelian (my theory, he wouldn’t have wanted his theory to have such a difficult spelling.)
Now, as we all know, I am quite a well-read and renowned philosopher too. All five of my followers are quite devout readers. (Note: said figure does not even include my mother.) So, it only makes sense for me to pose my theory on life too.
Life is difficult sometimes. (After all, “I’m only human, I get lonely sometimes.” Yes…I am listening to the Michael Jackson song from Free Willy, via the Boyce Avenue cover version …I’m also in the campus library…what else does one do in such a situation?) And each and every one of us has our method of coping; something to “cure” the struggles of life. It’s our “cure-all.”
Here are some famous examples:

Man: Ernest Hemingway
Cure-all: Alcohol
Personal Opinion: Unfortunate end. Not a fan. “Old Man and the Sea.” Everything else…meh…

Man: Kurt Cobain
Cure-all: Heroin
Personal Opinion: Again, unfortunate end. Too bad really.

Man: My grandfather
Cure-all: Hydrogen peroxide
Personal Opinion: It works. Put hydrogen peroxide on any external wound or cut, cures it right up. This is still my standard medical procedure. Cut open my hand while carving the other day…hydrogen peroxide. Burnt my hand…hydrogen peroxide. Burnt my tongue…hydrogen peroxide (yes, it tastes bad).

Man: My father
Cure-all: Starbursts
Personal Opinion: If you’re ever sad or angry in any way or you know some one in a bad mood, give them a Starburst. Works every time. I’ve never been sad or mad after eating a Starburst. It’s absolutely impossible.

Man: Me
Cure-all: Music
Personal Opinion: Well, obviously this one’s the best…just kidding. But seriously, I can (and almost always do) find a song or symphony number or aria or nursery rhyme for any situation, and I often recommend certain songs to friends to fit their situation.

So, what have we learned?
Some people use such things as alcohol, drugs, sex, or violence to cope with life. Doesn’t always end so well.
Other people use chemicals and candy, but both applied with great care (not as in caution, but as in love and affection…maybe some caution with the hydrogen peroxide). And these I have never known to fail me.
We fill our lives with things to console us and please us and help us as if life is some kind of illness or disease (note: life is not an illness, even before it sees the world.) Life is not a disease. Life is a gift.
But yes, it is difficult sometimes. There is no such thing as a gift without suffering. Gifts are made with love, and love is grounded in suffering. And so, while there is certainly nothing wrong with healthy cure-alls such as music, candy, or hydrogen peroxide, perhaps there is a better cure-all to our suffering in life? Perhaps That which makes all life? Perhaps Love Itself?
God should fill our lives.
God should fill and fulfill our lives.
The Perfect Cure-All.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roman Missal v. 3.0

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of a new era in the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Missal, the book containing the rites of worship, has been updated. In the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the words have been changed to more accurately reflect the original Latin, the original language of the Church. This follow blog post is all about the "New Mass," and it's my hope that it can be of interest to both Catholics and those of other denominations of Christianity.

The "New Mass" is not really new at all. In fact, it is the same Mass, only with different words. The words of this "New Mass" present a deeper approach to the prayer that is the Mass, and it allows for its congregation to more fully appreciate the glory that is appropriately due to the Lord. During the translation of the Mass from Latin to English, there were several critical mistakes made in the translation process. For one, the process was greatly rushed, an error that many linguists recognize as the premier danger in translating. Another thing being that the Mass was translated to conform to the vernacular English. In the past, the Mass had been said in Latin, a language that was almost exclusively used in the Catholic Chuch, and there was even a specific dialect of Latin, Ecclesial Latin, that was the foundation of the Catholic faith. The language was reverent and exclusive, allowing the congregation to truly experience the transcendence of the Mass. However, this reverence was lost with the use of the vernacular English. Instead, the Mass became almost "secularized," unrecognizable from any other form of ceremony. The Third Edition of the Roman Missal has renewed this reverence to the Mass by ensuring that the language used is different from every day English. Thirdly, many of the connections between the Mass and Sacred Scripture were lost in the translation, leaving behind the very foundation for the Mass, being Scripture. I don't even feel the need to explain just how important this is, nor can I express my joy at seeing it renewed. Perhaps a smaller aspect

Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to just take a moment to reflect on my own personal favorite parts of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

For starters, many congregational responses to the priest have changed. Most notably, when the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the congregation follows with, "And with your spirit." Gone are the days of, "And also with you," what one priest friend of fine referred to as, "The 'right back atcha' of the Catholic faith." I am inclined to agree. The new response is more reverent, and refers more closely to the ontological change of the priest as instilled with the Spirit of Christ, acting in the Person of Christ at the Mass.

My own personal favorite change is in the "Ecce Agnus Dei." In the past, after the sign of peace, the congregation knelt and the priest said,
"This is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His supper."
Now, note the reverent diction of the new translation:
"Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb."
The new translation reflect the Scriptures more accurately with the word "Behold," used by Pontius Pilate in presenting Christ by saying, "Ecce homo," or "Behold the man."
However, though I am overjoyed at this, this is still not my favorite part. Note that the word happy has been changed to the word blessed. In the original Latin, the word for blessed was "beatus." Blessedness is man's highest possible achievement, achievable only through the perfect graces of God alone, and is attained through eternal life with God in Heaven. The Church Fathers taught, and the Church today continues to teach, that this perfect end achieved in life with God in Heaven is called, "The Beatific Vision," in which we see God and are perfectly happy. Get the connections?
God made us, each and every one of us, to be happy. To be blessed. It's the same thing, only now we have a word for the specific kind of happiness, the most perfect kind of happiness there is, that can only be found in God. Amazing.

Needless to say, I am thrilled for the new translation of the Mass. I hope you all are too. I encourage you to comment if you have any questions or...well, comments. This is a perfect opportunity for Catholics to grow in their faith or to begin growing and investing themselves more in the universal Church.

For more on the changes in the Order of the Mass, see this link:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Adventure

Sir Ernest Shackleton once said, "Better a live donkey than a dead lion."
I've always had a bit of a conflict with this quote. Shackleton is one of my heroes. And I understand what he's trying to say. But I have trouble with it because I have always believed that to die for glory, my own or God's, is the best possible route to ultimate happiness and immortality through the memories of me left behind in the people I love.
But then I realized the contradiction that I am. My very existence (as the Sebastian people know and love) is a contradiction.
I want to die for glory.
I want to live forever.
I want to be Peter Pan. Any one who knows me well knows this: I have an avid fear of growing old. Gerascophobia. Not so much a fear of dying, necessarily. Every one's afraid of dying (any one who tells you differently is trying to get your vote next November.) But I want to be always young and to have not suffer.
But we have to suffer. There is no love without suffering.
And if I do not suffer, I will life forever. And if I live forever, I can never die for glory. And if I never live with love and die for glory, namely God's, then I can never achieve eternal happiness and immortal life in Heaven with Him.
Immortality is something we praise so highly in this society, in this world. Whether it's seeking to live longer or be famous enough to be remembered throughout time...there's still just one problem with that.
We're all going to die. Everything that has a beginning has an end. Including memory. Someday, even Shackleton will be forgotten.
Even I will be forgotten.
And even I will die.
But, I think I'm beginning to realize another dimension to our "Culture of Death."
We have completely forgotten what life is. Life isn't something to be endured. Life isn't something to be "cured" like an illness. Life isn't something to be engineered or used for one's own purpose. Life isn't something that we use to glorify ourselves.
Life is an adventure.
We live, we laugh, we love, we cry, we crash, we crumble.
We give, we grown, we gain, we fall, we fail, we fade.
We sing, we speak, we celebrate, we hate, we hurt, we hide.
We tell people that we love them, then we watch them turn to dust.
We rise out from the ashes, only to return once more.

It is better to be a live donkey than a dead lion. It's better to be alive at all! Death is no lion. Death is the easy way out. Death without life, without having lived a life full of love and striving for holiness and blessedness and all done in humility for no other purpose than to glorify God, is not death at all. It's selfishness. The opposite of love.
Death is not God's gift to man. Life is. And life after death is God's greatest gift to man.

"To live will be an awfully big adventure."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who is Like God?

It began early in my highschool experience. Long story short, I was fortunate to befriend a kind and wise priest. He soon became my spiritual director, and guided me through some of the most important years of my adolescent development. To this day, I owe a great deal to him, and I can never truly show the depths of my gratitude.
But one of the most important lessons he ever taught me was not really a message at all. It was a name. His name. Michael.
“Who is like God?”
The only name I had ever heard of whose literal translation in Hebrew formed a question. He told me this once merely for fun, and how it had constantly been an inspiration for him throughout his life. But over time, I found out just how important this name, this message, would be.
For those who know me, they know that I have something of a Superman complex. I am often proud enough to believe there is nothing I can’t do. But every one has their kryptonite. Yet in spite of these weaknesses, I still strive to do what I can for people. But sometimes, it is simply beyond my control. I cannot do everything.
So, I have to trust in God. He can do all things. And much better than I can, might I add. Much, much, much, much better.
Leaving home has been enormously difficult for me. I miss my family. I miss my home. I miss my city, and my streets, and my car (or what’s left of it…battery died, duct tape is coming loose, and thus the doors are falling off.) But what I miss the most are the people.
I miss being able to know how they are doing. I miss knowing that they are okay, or if they’re not, knowing that I could be there to help them.
But I can’t.
I am not God.
(And aren’t we all the better for it?)
It is not by my hands that the world is saved. It is not by my suffering, my blood, my cross. It is not my hands. It is the Lord’s hands, working through His humble servants as instruments of His sacred grace, by which His will is done.
When my senior year was approaching, my spiritual director approached me with a sudden and shocking revelation.
His order had called for him to be the pastor of a parish an hour and a half away from my home. I was quite crushed. This was going to be the most crucial year of my discernment. He couldn’t go. I needed him. But even more than that, he couldn’t go because he was my friend.
Only now do I realize that I suffered so little in comparison to him.
I was losing a spiritual director, but he a spiritual director. I was losing a father, but he a son.
Just as I am now experiencing being away from the people I love, the people I have always strived to serve with love, he was experiencing the same thing ten times over. I was not the only one he cared about. I may have been losing one friend, but he was losing many, many more.
But it was not by his hands that we were to be saved. The Almighty One’s will had called him elsewhere, and he humbly accepted that will.
I still talk to him from time to time. Even though we do not speak as frequently as we had in the past, I still respect his opinion highly, and no matter how hard I fight him, he’s usually right.
But I understand now the hope he put in the Lord for my own good. He trusted me to the One he knew could care for me better than any one else. For who is like God?
It’s a rhetorical question, obviously. At first, the pride in me wanted to translate it as a question like, “Who among you is like God and thus worthy and able to serve His people?” But now I understand the truth. The answer to the question, Michael, “Who is like God?” and even my own variation of the question is:
No one.
No one is like God. God alone is God. God’s hands alone work the saving wonders of the world. God’s hands alone.

These are not my hands, Lord; Lord, take my hands.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Who is like God?

I am here by the will of the One who made me and made me to serve Him. Of course I miss the people I love. The people who love me. But they are in better hands. They always were. I trust you all to the Lord, and I pray for you every day.

“Be it done to me according to thy word.” –Luke 1:38

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I’ve been having some wonderful troubles with my hands recently.
I am currently writing this blog post using only one finger on my left hand after having injured my left hand…fun story…running into a piano at the seminary. (I wish I could say I was running away from other seminarians…or pirates…or dragons.) But it was Game 5 of the World Series, and I needed to see my boys win. (Na-po-li! Na-po-li!)
Seeing as no more needs to be said, the middle, ring, and pinky fingers of my left hand are currently taped together with hospital tape, and I am using a pen as a stint for my ring finger (which has swelled and discolored some.) Ironically enough, today the school nurse was booked, and tomorrow’s her day off. So, my makeshift stint will have to last.
Over the summer, the index finger of my right hand was rendered mostly incapable (via meatslicer.) So, being mostly one-handed is nothing new to me, and I seem to be managing just fine. (Yet in guitar language, these are my key fretting fingers… :( …)
Anyways, the point being this:
How often do we underestimate such basic human abilities as our hands? And by what right do we even declare ourselves worth of using such basic abilities?
Whenever I play or sing music for any form of liturgy or prayer, I make this prayer:
“These are not my hands, Lord; Lord, take my hands.”
The same for my voice,
“This is not my tongue, Lord; Lord, take my tongue.”
I pray this so that it might be His works done through me, a mere instrument of His will.
Another common prayer I make whenever I write is simply writing the letters “AMDG” which stand for, “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,” or “For the greater glory of God.”
Here at the seminary, the same idea applies. Everything I do must be done entirely for His will and done with genuine humility. It is not I who do great works. I am simply an instrument of His greatness.
Now the reason I am writing this at all as a personal witness is not because I wish to brag at my success. Quite honestly, there’s no success by which to brag. And that’s just it. This is still very much a work in progress. I am learning…slowly, but with His grace, I believe surely.
This has not been a lesson easily learned either.
(But more on that to come…)

Monday, October 10, 2011


Saturday was a day of milestones for me.

A fellow seminarian decided to take me and one other in his truck out to his hometown of St. John, Indiana, in the Diocese of Gary. Our goal was to visit the Shrine of Christ’s Passion, a half-mile trail with a life-size Stations of the Cross. They were absolutely stunning, and I encourage you all to visit there at some point. Check out the website here if you’re interested: We also visited his home parish of St. John the Evangelist. They recently built a new church in order to house the ever-growing parish, and we visited both the old and new. Both of them were absolutely incredibly beautiful, and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, what affected me the most may have been the one thing I least expected. But isn’t that how God always works?

St. John, Indiana, is now officially the farthest I have ever been west of Cincinnati. A milestone for me. It was also just the second time I have ever been in a different time zone. And the closest I have ever been to the state of Illinois.

While there, we made a stop at a Chicago-style Hot Dog stand, and there I had my first ever Chicago-style dog. It was quite good too.

But perhaps the most powerful experience of the entire journey for me was that it was my first time ever seeing the Meadow Lake Wind Farm from I-65 North.

For those of you who, like me three days ago, have never seen or even heard of the Wind Farm, it is basically an enormous field with hundreds of those white windmills you always see on TV and stuff. In the past, I had never really thought much of them. Sure they are great ways of making energy with little to no harm to the environment. Great. I’m all for it.

But what really did it for me was the sheer beauty of seeing hundreds and hundreds of towering windmills along the highway. I cannot even express it! It’s something you should all see for yourselves. As I continue to discern my vocation from God in this life, the windmills were a perfect reminder to me to continue to live a life of humble obedience to God.

I am just a small boy in this enormous world. When one is struck by the sight of a hundred giant windmills, their arms twisting and turning and whirling and twirling in the wind towards you, one suddenly feels very, very small. And intimidated. One of the reasons it was so humbling for me was the symbolic metaphor of windmills in my own life.

As a child, my grandparents had a video of an animated retelling of Don Quixote for children. My grandfather always loved, “Man of La Mancha,” and I learned to play, “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” on the piano just for him. But the story bears so much more meaning to me now.

In Chapter 8 of the first part of the novel written by Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote sees a field of windmills, and driven by his own delusions of grandeur, believes them to be giants. He then promptly charges into battle with them, though he is easily defeated, and sent sprawling from his horse and crashing into the ground. Pop culture has deemed this practice, “tilting at windmills.”

I am very much like the poor man of La Mancha. I am prone to tilt at windmills, and my grandfather knows this. He has often made this reference to me many times, but only know do I see just how much it applies. I need to stop trying to fight the windmills in my life, the things I see myself capable of conquering. It’s time to turn my windmills over to God. If I conquer these windmills at all, it will not be of my own strength, and it will not be for my own glory.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Rome

Being the history nerd that I am, I have actually read some pretty interesting stuff comparing the United States of America and the Ancient Roman Empire. But here are some insights that I have had recently as I work towards a history major. They are grouped along with the other, more common comparisons. Though the chronology is not an exact match between the two, it’s still something interesting to ponder.

The United States of America was founded by the wealthy landowners who led the rebellious colonists in overthrowing British rule and establishing a republic represented by elected officials.

Rome was founded by aristocrats who grew tired of corrupt monarchs and overthrew them, establishing a republic represented by elected officials.

Eventually, the USA’s attempts at building a republic confederation of states that would be ruled under the Articles of Confederation fell apart, and more power was given to the Federal Government.

In Rome, the Senate quickly rose up as the chief power over the representative district magistrates.

The USA fell victim to a devastating Civil War that tore the country apart and changed the way the government ruled.

Civil War broke out in Rome as well between Octavius (later Augustus) Caesar and Marc Antony over who would rule Rome. Ultimately, Caesar emerged victorious and changed the republic into an empire.

The USA participated in the First World War in order to aid France, the end of which resulted in a peace treaty that caused harsh war reparations to Germany that would ultimately enrage the Germans into forming Nazism and launching World War II. (Note: the USA did foresee the coming of German vengeance.)

Rome came to the aid of other cities as well in order to defend them from Carthage in the First Punic War. The defeat of Carthage resulted in a poorly planned peace treaty, and the Carthaginians would rise up many years later to declare war on Rome and attempt an invasion in which would become the Second Punic War.

The USA expanded to the west throughout the 19th Century, establishing what could be considered a form of colonial imperialism, and either drove out or mistreated many of the indigenous peoples.

The Roman Empire conquered vast amounts of land in Europe and the Mediterranean and though they attempted to rule the natives fairly, ultimately the warriors of these native tribes would rise up against Rome and destroy the empire.

Which leads to my final point. It is not so much a comparison as it is…an allegorical theory.

The Roman Empire fell when the “barbarian” tribes of Europe began to rise up against the armies and the constant war was too much for Rome to hold it together.

I’ve often heard that the USA is being invaded by “barbarians” as well, namely illegal immigrants, foreign influence in economy, or even foreign ideals and religions.

But my question is: what really destroyed Rome? The barbarians from outside…or within?

Many historians recognize that years of war and expansion had run the Roman treasury thin. It was simply too big and ruled too much territory to support itself. There were also great economic issues with inflation and recession under Nero. The wealthy few also began demanding the market by way of taking advantage of the market and using their money to control the common man and the government.

Take it how you want. But economic turmoil and the inability to know its own appropriate limits was definitely a key factor in the downfall of the Roman Empire.

But these are not even the barbarians I’m talking about. Take a look at American society. In Ancient Rome, the wealth and luxurious lifestyle that came with the pride of being a Roman consumed the people.

Are we so much different?

I won’t go into it in depth or detail. I leave that up to your own mind and thought.

After all, it’s a free country.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


What happens to a man when you break him?

When you turn him, when you spurn him, when you take his heart?

When he’s tossed and crossed and at a loss?

When he’s burnt and beaten, torn apart?

Where do we find this broken man?

What’s left: bereft, a man alone?

What remains: the stains of too much hurt?

What is he: a king without a throne?

Why does he cry upon his knees?

Why does he fall or call for one to hear?

Why speak? How weak can one man be?

Why walk so far when no one’s near?

What happens to a man when you break him?

When he’s crushed and hushed and brushed away?

When he’s bruised, confused without a path?

What happens to a man when you break him?

Wrote this poem today. Don’t worry, I’m not depressed or anything. It’s actually happy if you read it right. But I know none of you will. I didn’t the first time either.

What happens to a man if you break him?

We all get beaten down in life. No exceptions. It’s one of the few universal experiences of men. Every one suffers. Which is a good thing, because our suffering allows us to love. There is no love without suffering. And vice versa.

The vice versa is something I’ve only discovered recently, though. In the past, it had seemed that my sufferings were the direct result of a lack of love of some sort. (Don’t be shallow here; I’m not talking just romantic love. And to clarify, love of family is the one thing I’ve never been without.)

But let’s explore the nature of man. What separates man from the rest of life on Earth?

Philosophers will tell you that what separates man from other animals is man’s ability to reason and rationally express themselves to the world surrounding them. In other words, man is rational, relational, and expressive.

These are the same things that allow man to suffer. Man can reason, and just as man can reason to good, man can reason to evil. The result of this evil reasoning is sin, which brings suffering to the sinner and all those affected by the sin.

Man’s relationships can lead him to suffering. When man loses some one he loves, he suffers. When a man is lost to those he loves, they suffer. When one man suffers, another man suffers for him. We suffer for each other all the time.

Man can express beauty, create art, and man can express evil, create hatred. Like sin, this inevitably leads to suffering.

But it also leads to love.

Leads to love. It does not create it.

Man cannot create anything from nothing, let alone beauty or truth or goodness or love.

We are not alone.

I don’t always know what to believe. I have my doubts. Not that my doubt exceeds my faith. Not even close. But it’s not really my faith after all. I know in what to place my faith. I trust that Object of my faith to do the rest.

What happens to a man when you break him?

He is still just a man.

But He is always God.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What's to a Name?

Hello, all ye faithful readers, (I’m listening to the theme from Superman, and I’m feeling all regal and such…thus the “ye.”)

Just this past Thursday, September 29, was the Feast of the Archangels in the Roman Catholic Church. As such, I’ve always found this feast interesting. The topic of angels is inexhaustible, and I’ve always found it quite fascinating. But before I get too off-track…to the point:

The names of the three Archangels have always fascinated me. Not so much the names as their traditional Hebrew meanings. I will give the meanings below, but first a note on the importance of names.

The name we give to something has such an incredible impact on the thing itself. Names define it. It gives it meaning. It allows us as humans to understand the things that are named. Whether it be people, places, things, descriptions, concepts, ideas; the reason we know what these things are is because of the name that is given to them. The name of a thing is the word that describes what it means to be that thing. The study of etymology, or where a word comes from, is a fascinating one. For example, the very word etymology comes from the Greek word etumon meaning “true meaning” and the Greek word logia which is itself derived from logos meaning “word, speech.” So, we get the study of the true meaning of the word. Another favorite of mine is circumbendibus, which comes from Latin roots, and is defined as, “a roundabout way of saying something in a roundabout way.”

For personal names, the meaning of the name gives it all that much more purpose and depth. I recently wrote an essay on the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and discovered for myself the importance of the Name. To know one’s name is to know one. In the case of Christ, this is no different. Of course, I pray the Name of Jesus, not the name of Steve (or Chad or Greg or Melanie, for that matter.)

I encourage you to think about this. Ponder the importance of the name of Jesus. Pray with it.

Below are included a list of just a few Biblical names and their meanings.

Michael: From the Hebrew Mikha’el, meaning, “Who is like God?” A rhetorical question, the name implies that there is no one like God.

Gabriel: From the Hebrew Gavri’el, meaning, “Strength/Strong man of God.”

Raphael: From the Hebrew Rafa’el, meaning, “God’s healing.”

Samuel: From the Hebrew Shemu’el, meaning, “God has heard.”

Emmanuel: From the Hebrew Immanu’el, meaning, “God is with us.”

Adam: From the Hebrew word for, “Man.”

Andrew: From the Greek Andreas, derived from aner, means “Man."

Peter: This one is just too cool. So, in the Bible, Jesus tells Simon that he will be called Peter, the rock upon which the Church is built. In the original Aramaic, the name was Cephas and it means, “rock.” The Greek word for rock is Petras, where we Anglos get Peter. The Spanish word for rock is Pedras, where they get Pedro. The old French word for stone is Pierre.

Matthew: From the Hebrew Mattiyahu, meaning, “Gift of Yawheh.”

Jesus: From the Aramaic Yeshu’a, derived from Hebrew Yehoshu’a, meaning, “Yawhweh is salvation.”

For more names and their meanings, visit this website: Leave a comment if you find your name and its meaning.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Rather Yummy Thought

I was recently talking with a friend of mine about discernment, and I happened to stumble upon this analogy.

Maybe it was the picture of Pope Paul VI that my pastor gave me which is hanging in my room and staring down at me.

Maybe it was the Scripture passage lingering in my friend’s mind, the passage of Peter going out to meet Jesus walking on water.

Maybe it was because I was really hungry and forgot to eat lunch. (Note: most likely.)

But I thought up this analogy.

First, some background.

Being in the Bishop Simon Brute college seminary, I have been both discerning and not discerning at the same time. Discerning by nature that I am in a seminary for at least one purpose of discerning my place in life as called by God. Not discerning because I am simply trying to live the life and discern passively, not got too caught up in where I’m going so much as where I am. For me, the essence of discernment has to do with the question, not the answer. I believe that I will find the answer; I am searching for the question. To find the answer, I must first seek the question.

All that fun stuff.

Now, as I spoke to my friend, we were talking about how to discern when the discerning gets tough. When the pressure comes crashing down, and you need to make a decision and make it soon. How does one continue to trust in God when one feels completely and totally lost? How do I trust in God to guide me when I have no idea as to where I am or where I’m going?

The answer:


I love cake. I adore cake. I see cake as a higher calling of dessert, a unique and beautiful creation, flour-based, butter-enhanced, sugar-coated. My family has an unnatural and possibly unhealthy passion for those little icing flowers they put on cakes. It’s a fight…literally, a battle…over who gets to eat the flower off the cake. My dad almost always wins.

We are very much like cakes.

At least, the really, really weird ones.

Like banana cake. It’s mushy, it’s sticky, it spends more time glued to your teeth than it does on your taste buds.

Or Jell-O cake. Jell-O is Jell-O. Cake is cake. You don’t mix these things.

Or carrot cake. How can a cake made out of vegetables be any good? It’s an oxymoron.

Yet these are my father’s three favorite cakes (in order of least to greatest), and I can’t say I necessarily despise these (I can say I would risk facing my father’s wrath to eat the last piece, such is my love for them.)

But there are even weirder cakes. For example, lime-flavored strawberry dacqueri creampuff crumble cake (the example I gave my friend.) I have never in fact eaten this cake, (it sounds amazing) but you all know that one person who tries to make really weird cakes like that. But how do you think that person must feel when he’s making the cake? (For the sake of political correctness, he’s a ‘he,’ and his name is Herbert.)

Herbert is making the cake…but he has no idea what it’s going to taste like. He really hopes it will be good. The “creator” of the recipe said it would be. He wants to trust the creator, and he believes throughout the entire time he is preparing the cake, that it will be good. Occasionally, Herbert may feel the need to improve on the recipe by adding something different. But throughout his preparation, his seeking for this delicious flavor, his discernment of the cake he feels called to prepare, he believes that it will taste good.

And when Herbert takes it out of the oven, he tastes it.

And it was good.

We are like cakes. We do not know what we are called to be, we do not know how we will be made good. But we trust that we will be made good, and we try our hardest to be made good, like when Herbert added something that he thought would make the cake good.

Another thought:

Peter is the ultimate cake. Throughout Scripture, he is the ultimate flub. He doubts. He questions. He bursts with uncontrollable passion. He sins. He falls.

But in all this, Peter continues to strive for goodness. His hope in the Lord brings him through all these, and in the end, he is made good. He is made into the basis for the entire Catholic Church, the foundation, the rock. Peter represents the Church, the pope, all bishops, all priests. Peter represents us, the Church, in all our faults, in all our failures. But with the hope of God, we are made good. We believe that we will be made good.

We are cakes.

Mmmmm, cake.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Insights into Love

I like to journal sometimes when I pray. This is what come up in my journal this week. Not really sure what it means myself, but it's quite thought-provoking. Intriguing at the least. Give it a look.

I cannot love beyond what You loved. I cannot suffer beyond what You suffered. But then, it is Your suffering that allows me to love; and it is Your love that allows me to suffer. Why should my love and my suffering not be fulfilled and strengthened by the love and suffering by which I am made holy? And why should my love and my suffering not reflect , to the fullest, Your love and Your suffering?
Lord, let me love to the point of suffering, the point to which You loved, and let me suffer to that same point of love.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I’ve always thought of my life as being some legendary epic, a battle between forces of good and evil, a romantic love story between myself and whatever might be the object of my love and passions.

Then I realized the truth.

It is. And Disney knows it.

See, every one has these moments in their life. Whether or not they’re accompanied by brilliantly composed and excessively choreographed musical numbers is up to you (and how much you’re willing to look like an idiot in front of people.)

Life is a cycle; every one lives, every one loves, every one sins, every one ages, every one suffers, and every one dies.

But, every one also rises again.

I know I’m only 18, but I’m beginning to recognize this cycle of life, death, and resurrection in every good major literary work, artistic product, or even movie that I watch. (Note: keyword is “good.”) Specifically, I’m seeing this pattern in Disney movies. While the nature of these movies is children-oriented and, therefore, the good guys never die and the bad guys always lose, the cycle still applies. Take a look at the pattern of songs again.

The Prerequisite: In the context of life, this would essentially be birth and discovering the world around you.

Ambitious Song: This kind of takes place in late childhood/early adolescence. We begin to discover who we are and what we want to do, namely in general terms such as do good things that we enjoy.

New Beginning Song: Adolescence. The teen years. It’s like a whole new world. (haha…haha…haha…nobody?) It’s a new beginning in the biggest sense of the term. This is when we finally become who we were meant to be, and we’re ready to take on the world.

Love Song: In contrast to the above statement, this is when we all decide to forget about taking on the rest of the world and just focusing on one, really small (albeit usually very beautiful) part of it. Falling in love is a practically universal experience, so I don’t think there’s much need to elaborate here. You all know what I’m talking about.

Bad Guy Song: Okay, so…maybe we don’t all have one guy in particular who wears a lot of dark colors, has a deep and eery voice, is prone to cackling, hangs out in evil lairs with an evil henchman of some sort (often animal in nature), and plots against our lives and well-being. (Although, I’m pretty sure I do, and its name rhymes with Nathebatics.) But this is more representative of the moment when evil really finally enters our lives. Every one has their one cross, their one bad habit, vice, sin, that they deal with through their entire life. Sometimes it changes with time, but there’s always something. So, ergo, a bad guy.

Conflict Song: This one reoccurs often, whenever we get beat down by life and feel like giving up. But, like heroes of old (be it Homeric or Disney), we don’t give up, and that’s what counts. It’s not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up. That kind of thing.

Renewal Song: So…this might sound harsh, and maybe even kinda grim, but…this victorious anthem of joy never really comes in life. Death is the renewal. But it’s Christ’s victory over the grave that allows us to achieve that ultimate renewal and happiness in our resurrection at His hands.

And, so the cycle goes, again and again. Generally, in every life, from birth to death to renewal; life to death to resurrection. But also, in small things. Childhood. In a sense, we die to childhood. It passes, and we can’t go back. But we’re born into adolescence. Then, we die to our teenagedom and are born into manhood. Then die from manhood into elder age, then from elder age into Heaven.

But it’s not a grim or dark thought at all. This is life. And it’s beautiful.

I hope this hasn’t been a total waste of your time. Just some thoughts I had while reflecting on the Christian life while, at the same time, listening to Disney music.

God Bless your life, your death, and your eventual resurrection in Christ!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So, I’ve been listening to a lot of Disney music lately.

Don’t really know why. I guess I just forgot how fantastic it was. Primarily the stuff written for the movies in the 90s (all of which had music written by Alan Menken, sans “The Lion King” by Hans Zimmer.) Music geek that I am, I can’t help but marvel at the musical genius each and every one of these films represent.

As I listen to this music, I can’t help but discover a pattern though. Every Disney movie from the 90s has similar plot outlines, and the significant turning points in the plot are highlighted through the use of songs. I have outlined this pattern for you, (don’t worry. I’m going somewhere with this), and I would like you to think about any or all of the following movies as you read it:

The Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast


The Lion King


The Hunchback of Notre Dame




The pattern goes something like this:

The Prerequisite: This is how the movie opens, the first song, that sets the stage for the remainder of the film. Almost all of the above films have it, the exceptions being The Little Mermaid and Mulan. These prerequisite songs are important to give the viewer a feel for the rest of the movie. (Think “Circle of Life” or “Bells of Notre Dame,” my personal favorite.)

Ambitious Song: The protagonist sings some kind of song that discusses how he/she got to where they are or why they are the way they are. This song is featured in all of the above movies. Usually sad with some kind of happy, hopeful overtone, the song shows the viewer what the protagonist wants from life. (Think “Part of Your World” “Out There” or even “I Can Go the Distance,” just not the Michael Bolton version. Yikes!)

New Beginning Song: This is by the middle of the movie, and it can go one of two ways. This is the first way, in which a significant event happens to change the plot or the protagonist’s mission. (Think “Hakuna Matata” “Colors of the Wind” or “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan.) However, these songs are not in every movie.

Love Song: Ah! This is the second of two ways, and is probably the more obvious/common of the two. Also, I think it should be quite obvious that this is the song where the protagonist meets the romantic interest and, as any good person would do, decides to sing about it in public. (Think “Beauty and the Beast” “A Whole New World” or “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”)

Bad Guy Song: Quite succinctly, the bad guy song is the song sung by the bad guy to illustrate his overall badguyness. Again, pretty obvious. (Think “Kill the Beast!” “Be Prepared” or “Savages. Note that the bad guy songs always have the coolest sounding voices.)

Conflict Song: Okay, this isn’t so much a song so much as a scene with lots of background music that makes the viewer feel as if the bad guy might win. (Think when the Beast lets Belle go back to her father or when Quasimodo is chained up to Notre Dame or, my personal favorite, when Simba sees Darth Vader in the sky.)

Renewal Song: Victory for the good guys! The song is often a reprise of the more musically thematic/best song in the movie, and ties up the rest of the movie so that the viewer has a satisfactory ending. (Basically, every movie has a reprise except for Mulan, Tarzan, and Hercules.)

Okay! Now that we’ve got that out of the way…where am I going with all this?

Stay tuned to find out. ; )

(And feel free to think that I have no idea what I'm doing.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Reflection on Mothers

Dear Reader,

You’re still here. I would’ve thought you’d learned better by now.

But, since you are here, I would like to propose a certain thought to you:

What is the purpose of mothers?

I was thinking about this today because it is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, a theologian and philosopher who is renowned in many different Christian denominations, as well as other faiths. In Augustine’s Confessions, an autobiography of his life, he describes his mother as having been a huge factor in his conversion experience. A devout Catholic, St. Monica prayed for his conversion with great frequency and fervent passion. Eventually, her prayers paid off, as Augustine turned away from his life of vice and decadence and became not only the Bishop of Hippo (what is modern day Algeria, then part of the Roman Empire), but one of the most esteemed saints of the Catholic faith and popular philosopher to many others.

I know my own mother has been an enormous influence in my conversion experience as well. Her prayers for me have helped me to do incredible things, and still do. Even knowing that she is praying for me gives me comfort, but the effects of these prayers mean even more. I don’t know the theological background following this, but I truly believe that the prayers of a mother have a certain grace inherent in them. Just as the Lord Himself would not reject His mother, Mary’s, request at the wedding in Cana, He understands the prayers of a mother, and they do not go unheeded.

This is just a thought I had and wanted to share with any one reading. Also, I want to take this opportunity to formally commend and thank my own mother for all her love and prayers over the years, as well as now, when it appears I need it most.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Hi, all,

I recognize, of course, that it has been some time since my last blog post. Maybe you could say I took a summer break, maybe you could say I ran out of ideas, maybe you could say I just got busy (or you could say that I forgot about it for awhile and never got started back up again.)

Regardless of the circumstance of my hiatus, I am back, and with a passion.

You see, this week, I left my home.

Not in the dramatic fashion I’d always hoped it to be, though. I’m one of those diehard romantics that can’t help but entertain the thought of running away from home in my highschool years, backpacking and hitchhiking my way across these vast United States of Themerica, and ending up in Alaska, where I would reside beside a lake surrounded by mountains, dwelling in my humble log cabin with my pet Polar Bear and a practically limitless supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

A trek of 3,866 miles.

I didn’t get very far.

119 miles. That’s 0.03% of the necessary distance.

And now, here I am…

…in Indianapolis.

For those of you who don’t actually know me, I have entered the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and am discerning my possible vocation as a Roman Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

It is the first time I have ever been away from home for longer than a week.

And I have been quite homesick.

But out of my suffering, it appears the Lord has worked in His usual, mysterious way. In my prayer, desolate though it was at the beginning, I came to this remarkable conclusion.

My grandfather moved from Lima, Peru to come to the United States to work as a physician. Initially, he had not intended on staying. That was in 1961.

Having just married my grandmother weeks earlier, my grandfather left everything he knew in his home to come here. He had to accustom himself to a different culture, a different language, a different climate. Nothing felt the same, sounded the same, tasted the same, or was the same. My grandmother did not join him until another six months had passed. Aside of my great uncle, with whom my grandfather lived, he was alone.

But he stayed. He endured.

And his endeavor resulted in the birth of two of my aunts, an uncle, and my mother. By that time, he had bills to pay, and a family to care for. He could not leave. That was all by 1970.

Somewhere in that time, my grandfather had returned to Peru but once, to visit his father. My grandfather knew that would be the last time he would ever see him.One year later, he died.

Finally, in 1978, my grandfather, having lived as a legal resident for 17 years, became a citizen of the United States of America.

Several years later, my mother met my father, and for some strange reason, she decided to marry him.

And several years after that, five to be exact, their life was made complete with the birth of their third and most consistently difficult child (also, the most proud and likely to write a blog post such as this.)

So, you see, I am the result of destiny.

My grandfather never had to stay in Cincinnati. He could’ve returned to his home anytime he wanted to.

My mother never had to marry my father. She could’ve remained home awhile longer.

And I, myself, never had to come here. I could’ve gone to school back home in Cincinnati. And even now, I do not have to stay here.

But, I owe my existence to the fact that God made man and made man to endeavor and endure the sufferings that come only as blessings in disguise. I owe my existence to a brave, young Peruvian who loved his family too much to leave them and, as a result, brought about the chain reaction that would end in my birth.

And in that thought, I am comforted.

To know that God always has been watching over me, even before I was a thought in any mind but His, and to know that He will always watch over me until the end of days, and to know that He has blessed me with as strong a man as my grandfather and my father and my grandmother and my mother and all of my family who I know will always be here to do the work of His hands, His will…and in that, I am comforted.

So, you see, I year only for the material home I once knew. The home where I can rely on the weatherman to disappoint and the sports teams to do so even more. The home whose roads I know so well, whose every hill and river bring fond memories. The home where a mixture of Skyline chili and Graeter’s ice cream makes up the aroma that fills the Queen City air.

But is that really what home is? A location?

It’s something more. Much, much more than that. I guess I can’t explain it; I’m only beginning to find out for myself.

But, I think it has something to do not with what we leave behind, but what we take with us. Whether that’s the baby blanket your aunt made for you, or the stuffed cow your grandmother bought you, or the original Skyline 3-Way plate your grandparents gave you, or a hair scrunchy your mother left in your dorm room on accident.

It’s these people who embody the acts of love that give me life that make my home.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Osama bin Laden is dead.

This was announced from the White House just this week, Sunday, May 1. CIA Operatives found and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Ironically (or sadly may be a more fitting word), I first learnt about this on Facebook. The majority of my friends’ status updates had to do with this matter. But I was…disappointed, to say the least, to see that their words seemed to somehow celebrate his death.

Now, I am not going to say that Bin Laden did not deserve death, but simply because it is not for me to say. Whether or not he deserved to die is better left to better people. Personally, I can say that I am relieved to know that a man with such ferocious power is no longer a threat to the safety of good people around the world. I can say that I am proud to be of the same nation as the millions of good men around the world who fight and give their lives to protect good people.

But I cannot say that I would ever be proud of any one’s death, even a man such as Osama bin Laden.

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for sometime: Hatred. What is hatred, and why is it wrong?

What is hatred?

Well, let’s start with the opposite of hatred. What is the opposite of hatred? You might say that it is love. And, to an extent, you’re right. But personally, I believe that the opposite of hatred is truth. See, truth is objectively good and verifiable to all people through objective and unbiased reasoning. But hatred is a disposition that disregards the truth so that one might act as one pleases without fear of the repercussions of truth. Hatred is a lie one tells oneself to convince oneself that he or she is not doing anything wrong.

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining him.” (1 John 3:15.)

Hatred can be a mortal sin. Just as a man who looks at a woman with lust commits adultery in his heart, so too does a man who looks at his fellow man with hatred commits murder in his heart. Many guided examinations of conscience include sins of anger and hatred under the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Another attack on truth via hatred would be a sin that often encompasses all other sins. Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a lie, based in pride (as is all sin), and a man who hates is a hypocrite at best. Now I’m not condemning these people. I know that many of their intentions are good, and I know that I am often included among these people. But good intentions do not a good act make. Hatred against a man such as Osama bin Laden, for example:

Yes, he may have done very horrific things.

Yes, it can reasonably be stated that he was hateful as well.

But is that the best way to combat hatred? With more hatred? Hatred is like a fire or a disease; it is all-consuming and infectious. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” These words hold great truth.

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20.)

God calls us all to love one another. Any one who hates his fellow man can not love God. This is the Word of God calling out the hypocrites and telling them as it is. He who does not love his brother can not love his God.

Osama bin Laden is dead. Practically, this may be considered a beneficial event in the constant struggle for lasting peace, security, and freedom. But it is not something to celebrate like this; death never is. One should not rejoice in the death of man unless it is the shared rejoicing with Christ because of a soul’s completed journey to salvation.

In matters of life and death, no one of us can ever truly pass judgment on another. Unfortunately, sometimes we have no choice, and judgment must be passed based on reason. We can use our reason and come to a close approximation of what is just and execute it with appropriate action. But none of us can lie to ourselves and those around us and deem it justifiable to hate others. Especially to hate others for being hateful.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44.)

Let us not hate our enemies. Let us not hate those who persecute us. Love and prayer are the only weapons to combat hatred. Christ Jesus Himself tells us this.

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”

–Booker T. Washington

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Now?

My apologies for having been absent from blogging for so long. The hype of Lent and then Holy Week and consequently Easter has been taking up a decent part of my time, as they should. But I am now ready to write about something that I have been wanting to write about for some time now.

What’s going on with the economy?

(Actually, we won’t be talking about that at all, for several reasons: A. I’m not allowed to talk about politics online. B. I don’t actually think it’s important. C. I don’t believe that any one really knows what’s going on with the economy.)

So perhaps the more important question is:

Why are we reacting so harshly to the economy situation?

And by that I mean, why do we consider this to be our nation’s greatest issue? Why do journalists and news programs and other media outlets spend the majority of their time talking about the American economy, as if it is the biggest issue with which we are currently faced? And finally, perhaps most importantly, why is the American economy currently considered to be a negative issue at all?

The first question I will answer simply. The American economy is sinking. That much is true. And yet the American people are sinking as well. We are sinking into a society with no regard for morality. And I’m not speaking from a religious standpoint; though the lack of religion and spirituality in America is disconcerting as well. Yet the fact that American society as a whole has little to no regard for morals or any higher good other than themselves is, indeed, an issue, and at present, our biggest and most concerning issue. Lack of morality feeds into every other evil: crime, be it murder, theft, rape, or any other form of violence including the practice of abortion, mistreatment of human persons, such as racism, sexism, ageism, and all other forms of disordered prejudice, and the ultimate act of selfishness being a complete and total disregard for the well-being of any other person besides oneself. This is the greatest evil in America today; the economy pales in comparison.

I am going to be completely honest with you. As terrible as an economic depression would be at this point, I genuinely believe that the current fear of economic depression is based solely on selfish, materialistic greed. Material poverty is not the worst thing in a world. Millions of people around the world survive without the luxuries we as a society have grown used to. What’s more, these people face much worse financial situations than we probably ever will, yet they endure it every day. Starvation is their lifestyle, for us it’s the exception. They use money as a means to an end, not the end itself. That’s another problem with American society; we all care too much about money. Money has become both a means and an end in American society. If this is how American society is going to be, then perhaps an economic depression will be good for the American soul. Perhaps we need to be humbled. Perhaps we need to rediscover the importance of family, friendship, and community living as opposed to the all-consuming selfishness that often comes with wealth. I am not saying that I want this to happen; I do and will continue to do everything I can to help our economy. But if worst comes to worst…well, it wouldn’t really be all that bad is all I’m saying. People will survive; people are like that. We will still live, and we will still be alright. We need to remove our heads from this toxic cloud of worry and see that the cloud is no higher than our chests. There are much darker things looming above, and we are lucky to be so low to the ground.

We are at war; yes, it is a war. Thousands of American soldiers risk their lives everyday; thousands have been killed. Thousands of Arab men and women are being tormented by political and military turmoil everyday; all are being affected by it. Japan is in ruin after a devastating tsunami caused by a devastating earthquake which consequently caused the most devastating nuclear meltdown since Chernobyl. Genocide and disease run rampant and freely throughout the darkest parts of Africa. And yet the American economy is the media’s highest prioritized concern.

Yet my quarrel is not with the media; I only quarrel against things which I believe I can change, and the American media is not something that can be changed. It is corrupt and useless and, in my opinion, should be completely disregarded. It has failed us, and we should no longer turn to it to serve its purpose.

My quarrel is with you, with us; the American people.

We can change all of this. We can change the way America perceives the world, and consequently the way the world perceives America. We can change the American economy, as well as all of the other evils of our time, nearly all of which are greater than something as simple as the economy. We are America. We should be the government, though currently, we are not, due to our own faults and failures. The government should work for us and by us; the media as well. It is not only our task, but it is our obligation and responsibility as free Americans. The American government could be destroyed in a single day, but America would live on through the spirit of the people. But if the American spirit were to be destroyed in a single day, then the American government would serve no purpose, no matter if it remains strong and standing.

And so, I challenge you: be better than the America of today. And be better than the America of yesterday, which was far greater than the America of today. Strive to be something more than just another idle speck in the mass of America society.

What’s wrong with the world? I am. You are. We are.

What can right the world? What will right the world?

I can. I will. We can. We will.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homeschooling (Part 2)


So, yeah; we’re anti-social. But when did that become such a bad thing? When did standing up to the masses of society and saying, “No,” to their norms and standards become a bad thing? Last time I checked, that’s what made this country great (and made this country a country at all.)The freedom and capability to stand against the masses; to stand up for what one believes is right. Again, how hypocritical of us to be “free Americans” yet still make attempts to illegalize home education? Is it not the parents’ right to the education of their own children?

I understand that, generally speaking, the public refers to anti-social as meaning, “having poor social skills and difficulty interacting with other children, particularly those of differing ethnic or religious backgrounds.” And unfortunately, that may be true in several ways. There is a sort of prejudice and elitism among several homeschoolers that subconsciously prevents them from interacting with certain groups of society. But can’t the same be said of every one else? Not all homeschoolers are racist and religious bigots; some of my closest friends don’t share the same religious beliefs with me at all, and I actually get along great with people who are of a different race than me (sometimes better than those who are.) Some homeschoolers are like that. But not all. That depends on the individual person. Are you honestly going to tell me that not a single individual boy or girl who is enrolled at a public school doesn’t have some form of prejudice? What about all the legendary “cliques” and groups you hear about in highschools? The jocks. The nerds (who, by the way, have the misfortune of being classified as “having poor social skills and difficulty interacting with other children,” despite not being homeschooled.) The popular kids. I may have not been in public highschool, but I have heard about it, and it seems to me that prejudice is a pretty universal experience. Not that it’s a good one; I personally find prejudice to be one of my greatest enemies, and I try to fight it more than almost any other sin. And I encourage this combating of prejudice among my homeschooling friends as well. But just so we’re on the same page…it is considered a prejudice to say that all homeschoolers are anti-social and prejudiced. So the next time you try to call out somebody else’s prejudices, remember to take a look at your own first. This is the method I have found to be most helpful with my own prejudice.

So, anti-social? Yes. Above the Norm of society? Maybe. Difficulty interacting with other people? Not any more than any one else.

There are “anti-social” children in public schools too. So what does this mean? No one environment makes for a more or less social person; that relies completely on the individual person. A good friend of mine from public school is actually quite recluse. Not awkward or shy, but just introverted. That’s how she is, and it has nothing to do with her school system. Me, on the other hand? I’ve been homeschooled all my life and you can’t even get me to shut up. (Ask my parents. It’s the one homeschooling lesson I never learned.) So the argument that homeschooled children are “ill-prepared for life in society” is purely unreasonable. We manage just as well as any one else in any other schooling system.

And please don’t even bring up the argument of, “How can you interact with society if you’re in your home all day?” Seriously? I have to interact with society every day of my life! Every single day there’s something going on that involves me getting out of the house and interacting with society. It gets to the point that I actually wish I could see and interact with people less. It’s no different from any other kid. We have parties and dances and sports games and we call each other to hang out. No different. At all.

So, again, if you’re going to argue against homeschooling, please don’t make the prejudiced argument that, “all homeschooled children are socially ill-prepared.” Not unless you’re willing to make the same argument against all other children.