Friday, September 7, 2012


I love my father very much.

When I was 18, I sliced my right index finger open while cleaning the meat slicer at my dad's restaurant, the Madison Diner, the best restaurant this side of the Pacific.
My first thought was, "Will I ever be able to play guitar the same again?"
My dad half-led/half-dragged me to the van, put my seat-belt on because my hands were busy holding a rag on my finger, and drove me to Jewish hospital. He kept telling me to put pressure on it the whole ride, but didn't hesitate to remind me, "You'll never do that again."
While in the hospital, I was still distressed over the possible loss of my ability to play guitar. But my dad reminded me, "We've all done it. I've done it, your Gido's done it, your uncles have done'll heal."

This June, I celebrated the first-year anniversary since the incident. It's been a crazy year since then.
I enrolled in a seminary (not just any seminar, Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary) around that time, and left for that seminary in the fall. I left behind many people that I loved.
While there, I began to discern whether priesthood or marriage was God's call for me in life. However, I also suffered from what I believed to be major homesickness.
It wasn't.
I had left behind every one that I loved. I left my friends, my family, my way of life. I didn't even play guitar very often any more. Something in me was changing. I was growing more and more afraid. Of failing. Of dying. Of growing old and having nothing to show for it.

And then it happened.
I came home for Christmas break, and I began to believe that I would not be going back to seminary. What ensued was a series of talks between my father and I about my life decisions and my choice to live. I told him that I didn't think I physically had the strength to go back and endure another semester. I told him I didn't think I could make it that long.
He told me I didn't have to. I just had to make it the next day.

When mountain climbers become so exhausted and tired that they feel like they can't make it to the top, they find a rock or a crevase and they tell themselves, "I can make it to that rock." Then, when they reach that rock, they tell themselves, "I can make it to that next rock." And rock by rock, they make it to the top.

After telling me this, my dad pointed to the signs on the highway where we were driving. "See, you can just say, 'I'll make it to that next exit sign.' And then when you reach it, you can point to the next sign and say, 'I'll make it to that next sign.' Then when you reach where you were trying to go, you'll know that you made it."

See, that's what manhood's about. It's not about climbing mountains. It's about reaching the next rock.

Since leaving the seminary in January, I have had many trials. I had to experience life working full-time in the very same restaurant that nearly took my finger. I had to endure the loss of some of the people closest to me. I've had to watch as my friends left for college, while I stayed behind. But God blessed me with a friend who has become even more than that to me now. A friend I had once hurt. But this friend forgave me, and with that forgiveness came great love.
This friend I believe to be a lifelong companion, some one to have and hold and forgive and care for in the same way that she has loved, forgiven, and cared for me.
And this spring, I wrote that girl a song. On my guitar. With all ten fingers.
I have healed from my wounds. And I'll never do that again.

I do not know if this is God's path for me now. I do not know if this is the end I will meet. I do not know if I can reach the mountain top.

But I do know that I can make it to that rock.
I do know that I can play guitar with my right index finger. (I'm typing with it now.)
I do know that I can be a man like my father is.
And I want to be.
I believe God is calling me to this life.

I love my father very much.

I love my girlfriend very much.

And I love my life very, very much.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Glories of Easter: Part II

The second thing I would like to discuss is one that I was taught in Freshman year of highschool.

In the Gospel of Matthew, it is written: "About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") (Matthew 27:46)

Is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God Himself, the mighty Prince of Peace and King of Heaven and Earth, really just a man? Just a man who is crying out in pain to His Father in frustration and agony?

That's honestly what I used to think. And then I saw this:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]

It is the beginning of the 22nd Psalm. Jesus is not just crying out to His Father, but to His people. He is reminding the Jewish people of the passage with which they are all, as good and faithful Jews, familiar. Within the Psalm, this is also said:

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.[c]
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Christ is telling His people that their prayers have been answered, and that He is their salvation.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

It is obvious that they have mocked and despised the Christ. But remember specifically the words of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders:

“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:42-43)

Their words are prophesied by David in the psalm.

The psalm goes on to describe many great evils. One of these sections talks about dryness of mouth which, when seen in the light of Jesus’ words from the cross “I’m thirsty,” is revealed to be, in no way, coincidental. As we continue to read the psalm, we arrive at this point:

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

Recall the scene in Matthew:

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Matthew 27:35)

Again, the psalm is prophetic of Christ’s crucifixion.

Matthew, who wrote his Gospel with the Jewish people as his audience, knew to highlight the elements of the prophetic psalm that were fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion. There are no coincidences in the Scriptures.

The psalm is a truly beautiful one, and I encourage you to read the entire thing. But here is just a snippet of the ending:

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

Finally, I would just like to end with an interesting tidbit of information that is unique to this year and something I found on my very own.

In Catholic tradition, the number 8 is symbolic of resurrection and renewal.

Easter falls this year on April 8.

God Bless you all this Holy Week!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Glories of Easter: Part I

This blog post will discuss some of the more fascinating aspects of Holy Week that are not commonly known.

Something that I recently fell upon while reading Pope Benedict XVI's book, "Jesus of Nazareth: Volume 1" is the historical value of the Biblical figure Barabbas. In all of the Gospels, Barabbas appears during the trial of Jesus Christ when Pontius Pilate allows the Jewish crowd to select one prisoner to set free. They choose Barabbas, and Christ is sent to be crucified. What most people don't realize is that Barabbas was not just some common thief or troublemaker.
The very name "Barabbas" comes from the Hebrew "bar-Abbas" meaning "son of the Father." This "son of the Father" was believed to be the Messiah, declaring war against the Roman occupation of Jerusalem and leading the Jewish militant against Rome. The Jews had traditionally believed for years that the Messiah would be a militant warrior, a rebel, overthrowing the oppression of foreign rule and creating a new political kingdom. When Jesus came and preached His message of faith, hope, and love, as well as a new Kingdom of God that did not reside in the strength of men, many Jews were disappointed to hear it. So, they turned to Barabbas as their leader, believing him to be the true Messiah. It is an interesting contrast from the true Messiah who stood directly beside Barabbas and willingly accepted His death, necessary to found the true Kingdom of Jerusalem.
An interesting thought. But more to come.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Am A Catholic: Ridicule Me

Washington D.C. played the host of last week's "Reason Rally" on March 24, 2012. The Rally gathered atheists and agnostics from around the nation. Its sole purpose: to mock religion and its beliefs.
Headlining the rally was Richard Dawkins, a renowned British anti-religious advocate. The following paragraph is a part of his speech to a reported 20,000 people on the National Mall (significantly around 180,000
people less than are present for the March for Life, a significantly less publicized national event.)

“Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated, and need to be challenged – and if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

Later, he told the crowd to ask a religious person to express their faith, saying:

“For example, if they say they're Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?”

“Mock them,” he told the crowd. “Ridicule them! In public!”

The crowd cheered uproariously.
This is sad.
How can any one say that a person should be mocked and ridiculed simply because of their religious beliefs? How can people cheer for that?
When Mel Gibson publicly made comments that mocked and ridiculed the Jewish people, the media scolded him.
When troops in the United States army burned copies of the Qu'ran, President Barack Obama himself apologized to the Muslim religion.
When Richard Dawkins singles out the Catholic belief (no other religion is specifically mentioned throughout his speech) and calls for the American people to mock and ridicule the Catholic belief in the Eucharist and says it all on the National Mall, the very site where Dr. Martin Luther King called for equal treatment of all men, people cheered.
It reminds me of another famous speech in which a man called for the subhuman treatment of Jews in Germany. Many rallies were held on the site of this speech, and later, laws would be written in order to repress the Jewish people and would be named for the site. The Nuremberg Laws gave a legal definition of what a Jewish person was and then redefined rights for a Jewish person, who was considered a subhuman second-class citizen.
As many of you know, the Obama Administration has recently passed the Health and Human Services Mandate requiring all organizations, regardless of religious beliefs, to supply their employees with contraceptives. To the Catholic Church, this is a crucial blow to one of its beliefs. And although President Obama himself gave a speech promising to accommodate the beliefs of religion, the law has not been changed. I know; I have read the entire thing. The only change states that the insurance company will supply the contraceptives. However, this accommodation is flawed because the Catholic Church will still be paying for the insurance companies to provide contraceptives. It is a sneaky, bureaucratic method that breaks the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and suspends the rights of Catholics across the nation.
The law will begin to be enforced in August of 2013. If, by that time, the law is not changed, then I will become a second-class citizen of the United States of America, suspended of my right to religious liberty; a right that is upheld by the same Constitution as an inalienable human right.
Reason can affirm this: The suspension of my inalienable human rights makes me subhuman.
I am a human.
I am an American.
I am a Catholic.
But for how much longer?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Round 3

I'm sure some of you were wondering about my post yesterday and how this had to do with anything that Above the Norm stands for, besides the obvious laugh or two. Even God enjoys a good laugh. And that's something I realized.
As I sat in the back, holding a gauze pad soaked in some dosage of chemicals to my head, I couldn't help but laugh. Here's why.
I love scars. I think they're cool. I have several noticeable ones.
The first one, chronologically, came when I was eight or nine years old and fell off a cliff I was climbing in a creek. Given, I was only about twelve feet off the ground, but I feel directly on my knee, splitting the skin in two places on a jagged rock.
The second one is actually less visible. When I was eleven, a frisbee hit me in the mouth and cracked a front tooth in half. The other half was replaced with plastic, and so the scar is more like an odd shading in the lower left half of my front tooth.
The third one is my right index finger which was sliced 9 centimeters deep by a meat slicer, and, due to a poor stitching job, remains quite disfigured.
And now, the fourth, being my head wound.
In between them lie many burn scars from flat-top grills, ovens, and frying oil, several cut scars from kitchen knives, and four small points in my left arm that are, ironically, match the position of four fork prongs...which, again ironically, was the weapon that inflicted them. (One of my best friends and one of the best drummers I know is somewhere laughing about a simple accident that has since become legendary.)
But what is my point?
We all have our scars. Some physical, some mental, some emotional. Some even spiritual. Most of us have some in all of these areas.
But that's only all the more reason to help each other heal from these scars, some of them still fresh enough to be called wounds. I know that whenever I've had wounds, my family and friends have been there to support me. And I've seen my family and friends support many others. I've seen my father support many of his friends who come into his restaurant, and they in turn support us. My father once told me that a man's character can never be replaced by money, which is why no man is ever forced into poverty, and that a man's character is always worth more than money, which is what makes a man rich. (Or, at least, something along those lines.)
I've seen some of the richest men in the world, and I have experienced their support, kindness, and ability to super-glue a man's head together. And I know my father is one of the richest men I've ever known because of this.
I laughed in that back room because I realized that while I was hurt, I was no longer hurting. Not really.
Christ had his scars. Many of them in his head, pierced not by window panes, but thorns. I have one piercing in my head; he had dozens. I have a cut in one finger; he had two holes in both hands. I think we often underestimate just how much the Son of God was scarred by our sins. But also underestimate His power to bestow upon all mankind the grace that is needed to support one another in both healing wounds of the past and protecting from wounds in the future.
May God bless and heal all of our scars, and may He grant us the grace to aid one another.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Round 2

As some of you may know, last June I was caught up in an unfortunate incident involving a finger, a belligerent fish monger, and a meat-slicer (only there was really no fish monger.) Shortly thereafter, said finger was stitched back together. However, it was stitched misfortunately so, and thus doth my right ring finger appear jagged and misshapen.
I am currently sitting in the office of my dad's restaurant, the Madison Diner (home to the best Bean Soup in the Midwest), with super glue holding my head together.
Yes. I, Sebastian Misleh, not one year after the last incident, and not even six months since having broken a finger while fighting a piano (I won), have experienced a whole new method of laceration repairs.
But Sebastian, why do you have super glue on your head?
A good question, my good fellow. Allow me to explain.
This morning, I pulled in to work at precisely 7:05 AM. It was still rather dark outside, and there were no lights shining in my direction. As I shut the door to my car and turned the corner, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my head. I realized that I had smashed my head into the sharp, metal corner of the window panes that open outwards. However, the pain increased as I felt the warmth of blood pour down my face and begin to drip onto my glasses. My first thought: I am not going to the hospital and paying too much money for a poor stitching job. I remained affirmed in my conviction for the remainder of the day.
I rushed inside, and saw my father sitting at the counter. Upon seeing me, he knew what had happened, and we quickly cleaned up the wound. It was rather deep, and even though it did not necessarily hurt a great deal, it just kept bleeding. Within about fifteen minutes, we had got the bleeding down and bandaged it. I continued to work while trying to figure out what we would do.
And then, he entered.
Rob Radford, boxing trainer extraordinaire, and a good friend of my father. He had taught us how to box, and it was at his gym where we used to box. Upon hearing the story, he explained that although he had some one to go train, he would be back within several hours and would bring his "kit."
So, as a fitting end to the story that I was brutally attacked by a window pane, and although I eventually beat it into submission, it left me greatly scarred (that is what happened), Rob cleaned me up, stuck some iodine and other such fun stuffs into the gash, and then super-glued the wound shut.
Wow, Sebastian. Sounds like you've had a rough time.
No. Not at all. I did good work with my dad today, fed some people, defeated a malevolent window pane, thereby ridding the world of one more great evil, and then proceeded to glue my head back together in traditional boxing style (check off the ol' bucket list.)
And I didn't go to the hospital and get stitches.
Round 2, victory.
Ready for Round 3!
(But don't tell my mom that.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The King Has Returned

I know what some of you might be thinking. King returning? Oh, dear. He's doing a Return of the King post...
HA! Wrong.
So, I was recently watching Disney's epic "The Lion King" with my little brothers. And you know what I realized? This movie means more to society, specifically men, than we might first realize. Allow me to explain.
Men look up to their fathers. I know I did. My father has always been a model of a good man for me; a Mufasa, if you will. But what about when the father is taken out of the picture?
Simba looks up to his father, and honestly, Disney's portrayal of a good father/son relationship is quite poignant and moving. Even more so when his father is taken from him.
How many sons have grown up without a father? How many sons have suffered at the lack of a father-figure, a true man? And how many sons have run away from their true destiny to be true men, to be kings?
Simba runs away from his past, most noticeably, the loss of his father. The idea that it was his fault because he couldn't be man enough to protect and save his father. The lie that he is weak is fed to him in the worst way imaginable. And he believes it.
Many men of the world have run away from their problems. Men run away from their families, just as their fathers have run away from them. Men run away from the truth of human nature, specifically sexuality: that men are meant to be strong. But it is hard. No one said it would be easy. And so, men run. Oddly enough, they run away from their "problems" into the real problem: the lie that sex is for pleasure alone, and that it is easy.
Now, Simba certainly doesn't run to such an escape. In fact, his escape is simply a life of worry-free luxury, no responsibility. But isn't that what many men do with their sexuality? No responsibility?
Anyway, Simba is suddenly thrown into a change of heart when his heart is, indeed, captivated by Nala. As a true woman should, Nala encourages and even challenges Simba to take back his responsibility, his throne, his manhood.
Can we all admit for a second that the right woman can change everything? Their powers of attraction are unrivaled in the world of men, and so when used rightly, the right woman can take the right man down the right path in an extraordinary way.
And so, the change in Simba's heart is sparked. But he is still hesitant. There is still another wound that no woman can heal. Simba must confront his past and, in doing so, the loss of his father.
Even for men who have never lost their father, or who have been raised by great fathers, this idea is a constant. No one's father is perfect, and even though a father can show a son the door to true manhood, the son must open it.
And so, Simba opens it. After realizing that he is a reflection of his father, Simba realizes that in order to rightly respect his father, to continue the legacy of good men, Simba must return and confront his past.
Scar is, in many ways, the embodiment of every man's greatest fear: that there is some one greater than him. Simba believes that his father's death is his own fault, thus making Scar more worthy of the throne. It is only when he sees that Scar's "greatness" rests in lies that Simba realizes the lies he has followed are just as evil.
Men follow the lie that their sexuality is weak. Not nearly as great as the next man. Men forget their manhood. It is only those men who do confront it that know the truth. That they have remembered who they are. It is then that Simba realizes the truth in his father's words.

"You have forgotten me. You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life. Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one, true king. Remember who you are."

If only more men heard these words from their fathers. Or from their Father.
After Simba defeats his past, defeats Scar, he assumes the throne on pride rock (to epic music, might I add.) Simba shows his glory by declaring to his pride that his glory, his "pride" (therein lies the irony) rests not in him, but in his father.
When will we men be able to show with true humility that our glory rests not in ourselves, but in Our Father?
I do believe that there are good men out there who have heard these words spoken by Our Father and have returned to themselves.
All men can learn a lesson from Simba. A true man, a true king, is only as much a man, as much a king, as he is ready to be a man for the right reasons. For love of people, for love of family, and for love of God.
Remember who you are.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

True Love

True love is the man who will fight through any and all difficult trials and sufferings to remain with the one woman to whom he promised himself at marriage.
True love is the young girl who is saving every part of herself, even her first kiss, for the husband she already loves, the husband she loves before marriage.
True love is the woman who loved the unborn child in her womb so much that even when confronted with a deadly uterine tumor, rather than accept a hysterectomy at the cost of the child's life, she offered her own life in place of the child's, accepting death only seven days after the birth of her final child, Gianna Emmanuela Molla.
True love is the woman who underwent the same circumstances as the woman mentioned above but survived, bearing a child who would go onto become a devout priest and inspire hundreds to the message of Christ, myself included.
True love is the Victoria's Secret model who quit lingerie modeling in order to better honor her Christian faith, her husband, and her body, blessed by God. ( )
True love is another woman who walked out on a modeling job after realizing that her body was sacred, and worth honoring, not degrading, and now speaks to thousands of women a year in order to spread the message of purity. (
True love is the hundreds of young women, some no older than ten years old, who gave their lives rather than their virginity in order to follow the message of Jesus Christ during the early Roman persecution of Catholics. (St. Agnes, St. Lucy, St. Ursula, St. Cecilia, etc., etc.)
True love is the virtuous men around the world who fight off the temptation to use and degrade women, whether actually or through pornography, and honor them instead in every way.
True love is waiting for sex rather than using contraceptives and putting a woman at risk for cancer.
True love is waiting for sex rather than putting each other at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
True love is waiting for sex rather than impregnating a young woman and tempting her to get an abortion.
True love is standing by a woman even after she has become pregnant and supporting her to bear the child.
True love is any one who is willing to die for any one.
True love is the message of a man who was both willing and able to die for all of humanity and the sins of humanity, and to rise again on Easter Sunday to open the Gates of Heaven to us all.
46 Days until the celebration of Christ's Resurrection from the dead and the salvation of all mankind.
Happy Lent!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"True" "Love"

True love means having as much sex as you want whenever you want, regardless of the consequences.
True love means taking the risk of impregnating a young woman, putting her at further risk for an abortion and the psychological and physiological damage that come with it.
True love means asking a woman to take dangerous birth control pills that are factually shown to cause breast cancer, undesirable sterilization, and other medical conditions (, and all for the sake of not wanting to have to take on the responsibility to protect her body.
True love means creating a television series in which women compete for the affection of a man, a contest that degrades women as nothing but a set of positive assets to be tested and ultimately approved, and then televising the degradation, both emotional and psychosexual, of said women in order to make money.
True love means taking pictures of a 19 year-old woman (making her only five months older than myself) in scantily clad swimsuits in provocative poses, thus teaching her that sex is the key to a man's heart and that her body is the only valuable part of her and is only valuable so long as it is appealing to men, and then posting these pictures in one of the most read magazines in the nation solely for the purpose of, once again, making money via displaying her body like cakes at a grocery store. (Please offer for your prayers for young K.)
True love means that one holiday to celebrate and commercialize falsified sex is not enough, but rather Sweetest Day must be added in October in order to bring in more money to the industries that already benefit from the corrupted feast of St. Valentine in the same manner that they benefit by corrupting St. Patrick's Day, Easter, All Souls' Day, and Christmas.
True love means that if you're not pleasing your "partner" sexually, then your relationship has no value.
True love means that if you're not willing to give your sexuality to your "partner" before marriage, then you do not truly love that person.
True love means that it's okay to look at women with lust.
True love means that, even though adolescents shouldn't be having sex, they should use the contraceptives provided to them or at least buy the ones that they see from the advertisements that are clearly geared towards them.
True love means that it's okay to leave your wife or husband whenever you want.
True love means that you are entitled to your own pleasure and any one who takes that away from you is wrong.
True love means that loving one woman or one man for your entire life is selling yourself short of true joy.
True love means that it's all about the pleasure you gain from the relationship.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

There is no such thing as peace on Earth.
It is an oxymoron.
Philosophically speaking, at least, there is no possible peace on Earth. It is only as possible as immortality. And ironically enough, it is only possible through immortality.
Let me explain:
I am not against peace on Earth. In fact, I am very much so an advocate for peace on Earth. And I support organizations and administrations that endorse peace. The world is already a place filled with chaos; can you imagine if no one tried to help it? But what is peace? And at what cost are willing to attain it?
As a Christian, I believe in an immortal soul that lives on after death in Heaven. I believe that Heaven is a state of being in which true Peace is finally attained. And I do not believe that peace on Earth is more important than Peace in Heaven.
I am so tired of hearing how many people approach a controversial topic by making arguments based on "peace." The modern world defines peace as a world in which there is no war, there is no hatred, there is no illness, there is no hunger, there is no poverty; basically, a world in which no one has to suffer.
What a terrible place to be! I would rather die than live in this world, but unfortunately, I wouldn't even be able to.
I am not saying that I would rather see war, hatred, illness, hunger, poverty, and suffering. These are tragedies of the feeble broken human condition. They are a reality. And these tragedies will always exist. And I sincerely commend those who try to fight these tragedies. It is through their efforts that the suffering in the world is diminished. But not completely destroyed; never completely destroyed.
Even worse, however, is the hypocrisy by which so many of these "peace-makers" approach their work. They tell us not to discriminate against any one different, but then they discriminate against those who don't share their beliefs. They claim that hatred is the ultimate evil, but they treat those who disagree with them with hatred.
I have known specific "peace-makers" in our own nation who have told me that they are accepting of all religions and beliefs, and yet they won't accept Christianity because the religion has objective teachings, which are against their beliefs. Quite a conundrum, but a contradiction nonetheless. Others believe in total freedom of speech, but condemn those who speak out against them.
This view is shallow. It is idealistic. I wish the world could be this way. And for a long time, I counted myself among these people. But I have learned that the world is not an idealistic one; it is broken. There is suffering and there is hatred.
But with these, there is love.
Suffering is necessary for love, and I would rather live in a world with both than a world with neither.
These same "peace-makers" will declare that I only say this because I have never tasted war, hatred, hunger, poverty. And yet I am a lower-middle class, Catholic, Arab-American. And I may not have experienced a physical war of violence, but these same "peace-makers" war with me almost every day. My society condemns me for being Catholic. My government condemns me for being pro-life.
But my family loves me. And my friends love me. And my Church loves me. My God loves me.
That is all I need.
I pray for these "peace-makers" every day. I hope they can bring true peace to this world and find true Peace in the next.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


My nation is dying.

Let me explain.

What is the United States of America? Yes, it's country music and cowboy boots, hot dogs and hamburgers and football, the melting pot of all races, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But strictly speaking, politically, the USA is a federal constitutional republic. What this means is that at its base, the United States is formed and held together by a constitution that is interpreted by a federal governing body that is itself governed by a republic. Let's break this down:

1. Formed and held together by a Constitution.

2. The Constitution is interpreted by Federal Government.

3. The Federal Government is checked by the republic, the people, who give the representatives of government their power.

After the War for Independence, the thirteen colonies drafted the Articles of Confederation, but this constitution was impractical and failed. In order to solve the matter once and for all, the Philadelphia Convention was called to draft a new constitution by which the federal government would govern the republic with the power given to them by the republic. In other words, the Constitution was written by the people, for the people.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. (The irony: I have just summarized a whole day's worth of history class in the American education system in one sentence.) And the very first...the very this: (Note that this comes directly from the Constitution:)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

There's your historical background.

What does this have to do with the death of the United States of America?

The Federal Government has violated the Constitution to which we, the republic, the people, hold them accountable.

On January 23, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a statement requiring all medical personnel...all doctors...all hospitals...all medical care to provide contraceptives to female patients.

(See here:

I have taken a specific portion of this document to analyze specifically.

"After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns."

What this says is that all religious institutions will be forced to comply with this new mandate by August 1, 2013.


We will have no choice.

This directly contradicts the very first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America because it forces religious institutions to contradict their doctrinal teachings. Being a proud practicing Catholic, I know that it directly contradicts my teachings and my beliefs. To have my pastor, a devout priest and a wise man, be forced to compromise his morals is outrageous. He and every other citizen of the United States of America has the right to their religious beliefs. It is the Federal Government's responsibility to defend it.

But they won't.

The Obama Administration has supported the HHS and will continue to promote said mandate.

If this mandate is not overturned and religious freedom restored by August 1, 2013, the United States of America, what was once one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, will be dead.

Most Reverend Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr stated in a letter to the entire Archdiocese of Cincinnati that, “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.” (see full letter here: defines a second-class citizen as “a person whose rights and opportunities are treated as less important than those of other people in the same society.” (emphasis added.)

People of faith will be made into second-class citizens if their rights to religious freedom are not observed.

I love America. Yes, it is flawed, but at its heart, I believe it is good. The United States of America is just like a human: (which makes sense considering it is made up of humans) It has its faults. But it also has that quintessential human capacity for redemption. Redemption is at the core of human nature, and I believe we, the people of the United States of America, can redeem it.

We have to. We have to make that choice before that very same choice, the choice of the land of the free, is taken from us. Freedom of religion is dying. And if one amendment dies, they all die.

I love the United States of America.

And unless we act now to overturn this law, then I will have no choice but to mourn its death.

But fortunately, I do have every choice to act against it, and I will not stand silently and watch my nation die. Not so long as the right to fight for my beliefs remains mine. And my rights come from God.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Nine

The following article is the first article ever to appear on the Above the Norm Revolution Blog that is written by a guest writer. I would just like to say that I am incredibly proud of this author, and I believe what she says has great weight and is definitely worth hearing.

With that, I introduce to you my beloved sister in Christ:

Nine brave characters volunteered for a suicide mission to destroy the Ring. Nine Nazgul chased them across Middle Earth. Nine West makes wonderful shoes. Nine years until the year 2021. And nine Justices currently serve on the Supreme Court, tasked with interpreting the Constitution of the United States, the highest law in the land. Nine unelected men and women appointed for life. Nine with the weight of responsibility resting heavily on their shoulders.

Now, let’s backtrack more than two hundred years. The year: 1776. The day: July 2nd. Our young country has been at war with Great Britain for more than a year now and our leaders have decided that it’s time to make our intentions clear. Obviously, since Mother England and her children are busy slaughtering each other, the time for a separation has come. So the thirteen colonies run away from home. Two days later, July 4th 1776, comes the announcement: “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” (Yes, we are thinking of the same document; “the Declaration of Independence” is just our nickname for it. It would take Nicholas Cage way to long to say “I’m going to steal the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.) Thirteen colonies became thirteen states, a small number soon to grow.

Most memorable among the many words of this timeless document are these: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” First graders memorize these words in English; high-schoolers sometimes memorize them in French; politicians yell them to frenzied crowds; and every American lives in the safe luxury provided by the nation this Unanimous Declaration presented to the world. Well, almost all lives.

Skip forward to the year 1787. The war ended with the baby nation victorious. However, the Articles of Confederation failed to hold the states together, causing them to look more like the thirteen colonies they had been. Our leaders called together the Philadelphia Convention, put their heads together, and emerged many months later with the Constitution of the United States. A fierce battle of Federalists, Anti-Federalists, and individual states ratification conventions ensued, finally ending in the ratification and signing of the Constitution in 1789.

In the years following, the Constitution was amended (beginning with our beloved Bill of Rights) as was the intent of its writers. The Fourteenth Amendment, in Section 1 says “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law,” reinforcing the motivational words of the Declaration.

So why am I telling you all this? Let me take you one more time jump forward: January 22, 1973: Roe vs. Wade. During the proceedings of the case, which lasted for three years, ancient practices, the Hippocratic Oath, English common law, English statutory law, American Law, and the American Medical Association were all consulted or discussed. Each had a different definition for when ‘life’ began, if they came up with any definition at all. “For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician...It is so ordered.” So began the legal slaughter of the innocents.

The reason Roe vs Wade was able to make such a statement, such an order, is because of two things. One, the Supreme Court (let me remind you who they are: nine unelected men and women serving for life) was allowed to effectually make laws by interpreting the Constitution. Two, because the Constitution was interpreted by the preconceptions of the justices instead of by original intent. The best way to know how our founding fathers wanted the Constitution to be interpreted is through documents they wrote: the Declaration of Independence is one of them.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our founding fathers were not by any means perfect men, but they knew, they told us, exactly when life started: the minute the Creator God creates it. If Roe vs Wade had been decided according to the original intent of our Constitution, according to the very values upon which America was built, imagine how different life would be today. Imagine how many more countrymen we would have, how many fewer broken women, broken marriages, broken lives would scatter these amber waves of grain. We know when life begins. And we’ve legalized ending it just months, weeks, days, or minutes later.

(Writer’s inspiration and education for this article goes to Michael Farris and his book Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Monsters

With this post, I will continue my recently declared crusade against the media (literally declared within the context of this sentence, seeing as how my last two posts were about the media's attacks on society), by discussing what I believe to be a very serious issue at hand.
Look at the most popular musical stars of our time.
The New York Daily News website recently posted an article titled "World's Most Powerful Celebrities-2011." (see link here: Number 1 on this list is Lady Gaga, who has preached moral relativity throughout her performing career and continues to promulgate anti-Catholicism and anti-Christianity in her public life. Thank God that the rest of the list contains other notably decent celebrities (namely U2, and yes, even Justin Bieber.) Lady Gaga calls herself a monster. When did that term become something to celebrate?
But I'm not going to make this post about how the media and society celebrate and promote binge drinking, drug use, sexual promiscuity, violence, materialism, and selfishness. (Though they do.)
This post is about what we can do about it.
I have always stood in strong opposition to society, but not until recently have I really taken action.
I saw this on a friend's Facebook page, and decided to check it out. Basically, it's an article explaining in detail how Madonna has always offended the Catholic faith and many other teachings of Christian teaching as well. And now, she is going to perform for the Super Bowl half-time show. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you something I recently realized. The NFL would never choose a celebrity who has promoted anti-semitism, racism, sexism, or anti-homosexuality. So what makes it okay to select a celebrity who promotes anti-Catholicism?
Lady Gaga is just a new Madonna. There's nothing original or talented about her or her music (she can sing, and I honestly wish she would sing good songs.) Madonna is the original "monster queen." Lady Gaga has only taken the idea of "monstrosity" to the next level because we allowed it. And if we have allowed Madonna to influence society, we will allow Lady Gaga to do just the same.
Madonna will continue to promote anti-Catholicism, as will Lady Gaga.
But at least we can promote anti-Monstrocism. According to Wikipedia, the word monster is derived from the Latin monstrum, meaning an aberrant occurrence, normally morally objectionable, often physically or psychologically hideous, and has traditionally been taken as a sign of something wrong with the natural order. Merriam-Webster defines it as one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character, or a person of unnatural and extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, and cruelty. When did this become acceptable? When did something morally objectionable become...not morally objectionable?
When we decided we no longer needed morals.
Let's change that, shall we?
I encourage all of you to read this and participate.
We can do a lot more than we think. And even if we don't succeed, at least we've tried. Let's be heroes; let's fight the monsters.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why the World Needs Tim Tebow

There was a point in time when I too was not a big fan of the man who has become known simply as "Tebow." I have never really paid much attention to the Denver Broncos. At least not since John Elway retired. And even after Tebow was drafted by the Broncos, I still didn't pay much attention to him. To me, he was just such guy. Some guy who had beaten my Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS Championship game and would later beat the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. As a sports fan, that is simply not a reason to endorse Tebow. And so, I was on the side that questioned Tebow's ability to play in the NFL. I think deep within me, there was this hope that he wouldn't succeed. But isn't that the nature of jealousy? Especially in this world, and especially in the sports world.
And so, that's how it was for most of the 2010 NFL Season. I didn't want to see Tebow succeed, and for the most part, it was easy to ignore any success he had. But all that grew much more difficult this year. After Tebow replaced Kyle Orton as the Broncos' starting quarterback, you couldn't ignore his success. He seemed to be unstoppable. Every game was a game to watch. Tebow never ceased to amaze, pulling off incredible comebacks like band-aids: sometimes painfully. At least, to me they were. It began to grow more and more difficult to doubt Tebow's success.
I grew so sick of hearing Tebow's name. But I couldn't tell why. Why was I still holding onto this grudge? Why did I continue to criticize him for not being a very good quarterback? My argument: if he didn't play so terribly in the beginning of the game, he wouldn't have to make all those comebacks.
But then, I realized it.
I think so many other people can relate with me that, often, we oppose something simply for the purpose of opposing. Sometimes without even realizing it. We are so afraid to go against the flow that we pretend we are in the flow, only to then continue to pretend to go against the flow. There is an inherently rebellious nature to humanity. It's called original sin, and it is the reason for evil in the world.
Tim Tebow is just as much a victim to this evil and a culprit of sin as the rest of us. But the difference? Tebow is in the public forum.
With a name as renowned as Tebow, he simply can't help to avoid the media. He is not a media hound. Not from what I've seen at least. The media goes to him. He's a story. But even more than that, he's a threat.
The media craves sin. It thrives off it. A scandal appeals to the sinful nature of humanity. It gives us, humans, something to talk about. Something to judge. We need scandal because it allows us to pass judgments on something we do not understand, but we justify our judgments based on the idea that "every one else is doing it." If the media can criticize, why can't we? In this age where social networks and blogs have fallen into the fray of the media, any one can have a voice. Tebow's voice is a threat to the media because his is a voice of hope.
Tim Tebow is a Christian, and he is humbly proud of it. Humbly proud. An adjective I wish I could use to describe myself and more men in this world. But while we may not be there, we can strive. As brothers, sisters, humanity needs to strive for that humble pride that can only be attained by asking a Higher Power to give it to us. That is what Tim Tebow does. He does it throughout the game of every game he plays. He prays. He prays for himself, but indirectly, his prayer affects all of us. Tebow's prayers may be for him and his team to play well, but God uses his public image of prayer for the good of all who witness it.
Who else has aired Super Bowl commercials to spread the pro-life message?
Who else has worn Scripture passages on their eye black? (Note: there are others. Reggie Bush, for example.)
Who else has born the title of "virgin" with joy, taking what has recently become a common insult and restoring it to its natural status as a heroic title?
Who else has become so well known for his prayer habits as to have a posture of prayer named after him?
Who else...but Tebow.
And so, the world needs Tim Tebow. This is a dark world in a dark time. We are force-fed sin and lies, so craftily bound in wool so as to deceive we sheep into receiving the wolves.
Insults are heaved upon acts of heroism like plagues of locusts, while sin is praised in all realms of everyday life.
Practicing abortion, the legal distribution of pornography, and the rights of musical artists to degrade women are defended by law, while praying in a public school, wearing Scripture verses on eye black, or wearing hats with Christian symbols (see: Jon Kitna fined for wearing a hat with a cross on it) during sporting events is not.
The "cool kid" has become the gangsta who has the most money, the coolest car, the most sexual experience, the most power while the "loser" is the boy who willingly tutors less academically fortunate peers, saves his money for college in the hopes that he can do some good for the world, and respects women.
The world is full of sin and suffering, lies and lust, death and doubt.
The world needs Tim Tebow.
He is just another man. I do not know him, I do not know much about him. I just discovered that he was homeschooled and has defended homeschooling, and for that, he has my respect even more.
I have been converted. I am a Tebow fan. I will root for him every game, God willing Tebow continues to follow God's will in his life. And Tim Tebow does not have to win. He does anyway, and in football, that's all that matters. It's not how well you play, not how many stats you put up, but how you win games and win them well. And if Tim Tebow loses every game for the rest of his life, if he fails to throw a single touchdown or run a single yard, if he fails to start another game, he will still be my favorite football player and, to me, one of the greatest football players to ever play the sport. He wins because he has a greater victory to play for, a victory he recalls every time he falls to one knee. The victory is life; eternal life with God.
Why does the world need Tim Tebow?
Why not?
This world has enough hatred, enough anger, enough evil. It's time for a little light.
The Greek word for honor is "timao," as in the Iliad where Achilles fights for his eternal "timae."
The Greek word for God is "Theo," as in "theology" (the study of God.)
Thus the name Timothy: one who honors God.
Go Tebow!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some Thing More People Should Hear

So, I know it's been awhile since I posted last. And there is good reason for that. I have been very busy. Along with the holidays, I recently decided that I am not ready for the seminary life and have returned home to Cincinnati. But that's not at all what this post is about.
This post is about some thing that I feel more people need to hear. So, listen carefully.
Every politician...every single one...lies. Inherently. They wouldn't be politicians if they didn't. So, how does this affect us?
I keep hearing people say, "Such-and-such-candidate is crazy!" or "Does such-and-such want America to be destroyed?" or "such-and-such is the next Hitler!" Really? I would suggest said people to use their reason, but we are Americans, so I won't set such high expectations. The rest of the world doesn't.
I will be voting this year. I know that scares most of you, especially after reading above paragraph. But I will be voting, and here is how I will vote. I do not vote for the candidate I love the most; the candidate I think will be best for the United States of America. I do not love any candidate; I do not think any candidate will be best for the United States.
I will vote for the candidate I think will cause the least amount of evil (evil in this case meaning "negative affects") to the United States.
We are a Democratic Republic. The people have a voice. And so long as they do (and I hope they always do, although this has been challenged as of Wednesday [for more information, Google: "Richard Cordray" or to save you time, use this link:]), people will disagree with the president. People will always see negative affects come from the actions of our government (provided that they come from the government, and not via the power of a single man.)
But that's the beauty of it! The people of the United States of America have the right to disagree with the president and use their vote accordingly. ( fact...did you notice that veto is an anagram of vote?) So, our nation's in the tank. So what? Worse things have happened. And there are nations in much worse condition than us. I hope we find a solution. I have great faith that we will. But at what cost?
I personally believe that the biggest contributing factor to the state of our union is the decay (if not total lack thereof) of a moral standard. That is my opinion, the opinion I hold by right, right given to me by my God and my country. I will not force it upon any one. I only ask that you consider this. Consider such issues such as capital punishment, same sex marriage, euthanasia, trouble in the Middle East, immigration reform, and perhaps most importantly, abortion. Even and especially if you agree with me. I know too many people who vote blindly, they vote based off what other people tell them. I would be more comfortable with the knowledge that you voted against me but made your own decision than vote with me simply because some one told you. However, I will stand strong and state that I personally believe that sufficient and correct reasoning has led me to my decisions.
Over the course of the next eleven months, I hope you can take into consideration these issues at hand.
(And also be aware of the fact that Julius Caesar also bypassed the Senate in order to grant himself further power, which he claimed was for the good of Rome seeing as the Senate had become dysfunctional, ineffective, and corrupted. What resulted became the Roman Empire, the end of the Roman Republic. One more parallel between Rome and America?)