Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I hope everyone is enjoying their day off of work in celebration of Memorial Day. Today, we honor those who are serving and have served in the armed forces. War is never preferable, but unfortunately in this world it is sometimes unavoidable. While some join the armed forces for reasons that may not be completely and solely patriotic, they all carry on the same sacrifice. Their job requires that they sacrifice their own safety. This sacrifice hopefully provides more safety for those people and ideals they hope to protect. It is for this reason that their actions are selfless, although not all may recognize their own selflessness. We are all called to live a selfless, not selfish life. Keep this and all those who are in or have been in the armed force in mind and in prayer. God bless you and God bless America!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why can't priests marry?

I have been asked this question several times by people who are honestly asking a question they do not understand. Non-Christians, Christians of another denomination, and even some catholics ask this question. To answer the question, I think the question needs to first be rephrased because the question is phrased in a negative way. Why do priests chose a life of celibacy? The most important thing to understand is that those men who decide to enter the seminary to become priest make a conscious decision to live out their life in chastity and forgo married life. Don't look at it as priests can't marry, but rather these men chose to live a life of celibacy and live a life completely devoted to serving God and the Church. A majority of us are called to the married life. I myself will be married in less than two weeks! I'm really excited! This is the life calling for me and most of you all, but not all are called to married life. I know that Shelly and I are meant to be together and I am so blessed to have her in my life. I know that this marriage will make us very happy. I also believe that a man who choses to enter the priesthood and in so doing live out a life of celibacy can also live out a very happy life. Just because we don't always understand the decisions of others does not mean that our perception of what makes people happy is always what makes others happy. I'm happy to prepare for married life, but others may only find true happiness by living a life of celibacy. Do we ask the question: Why can't priests marry? because we are curious or because we oppose this lifestyle? Are those who ask these questions really trying to be helpful or are they trying to stir up controversy? Some are just curious and want to understand. There is nothing wrong with asking questions in the hope of understanding. Most of you know by now that my brother Steve has decided to become a priest. I have always stood beside him 100% in his decision because I know him and I know that this is what he wants. This is what he has been called to do. This is who he is called to be. All of us search for our calling and Steve has found his calling. So when I'm asked what I think about him becoming a priest I say without hesitation that I'm happy for him. I'm proud of him for listening to God's calling and responding to that call. I know that he has had a lot of time to think about this decision and he made this decision himself. I'm sure he's spent many hours in prayer and thought over this huge decision. This is what will make him happy. What do I think? I think this is a wonderful thing for Steve and for our family. I can't describe how happy I am for him. God bless you Steve. I love you. God bless you all! Priestly Celibacy

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Know Just Two Certainties

I am not the smartest man on this beautiful earth. There are many, many things I do not know. No man will ever know everything, and few will truly know much of anything. I probably fit in the latter group. I may not know much, but I know two things with absolute certainty: 1) There is a God and 2) I am not Him. My whole perspective on life is based on these two basic fundamental truths.

There is a God

Ever since I was first conceived in my mother’s womb, I have been taught that there is a God. My family has always been devoutly religious and raised me in an environment that always stressed the importance of God. It can be difficult to teach children about God and explain His existance since children most often respond best to learning using their senses, and we can’t “hear, touch or see” God in a physical sense. It is in fact even more difficult to explain the existance of God to adults who don’t already know God, because they often believe that they’ve already got everything figured out. A child’s innocence allows them to entertain the idea that there is a God. If I was not raised in such a wonderful family, would I know there is a God? I would like to think so.

I have heard generalizations about Christians and Catholics in particular that suggest we believe simply because an authority figure told us to believe, and we don’t think for ourselves. In their mind in other words, I believe in God simply because somebody who had authority over me told me there was a God. I am just some drone that blindly follows what my parents/religious heads tell me. This is a gross misrepresentation and generalization of Christian believers. While it is true that our parents and other authority figures influence our thinking, the same thing could be said for the very people making the accusations. Do they not believe because their parents did not believe or did not lead a good example? Did their parents believe, have difficulties in their life, and led this person to believe the opposite? How did their thoughts evolve in their minds? Their thoughts had to come from somewhere didn’t they? Every mind is influenced by the people they interact with and the environment in which they live. So if this is the case, who really knows anything? How can anyone ever really know the truth? How can I say that I know with certainty that there is a God?

People who make these generalizations about Christians and our beliefs like to say that we don’t think logically or reasonably. In fact, our belief in God is very logical and reasonable. Everyone asks themselves at some point in their lives; what is the meaning of life? Christians and nonbelievers alike ask this question. Those who do not believe in God have a much harder time coming up with a good answer. The reason is because the existence of God is the first, most basic, and most important truth that all must come to realize. If there was no God, life would have no meaning. Think about that for a second. If there was no God, life has no meaning or purpose. I think back to a story my sister Jennifer told me once. "There was a man. He was born, he lived his life, and then he died." The story seems very simple, but if you look closely it can be very deep. Some look at life simply as living an earthly life, dying and then eventually being forgotten. How depressing is that frame of thinking? Thankfully as Christians we see more to life and believe in life after death.

How did life start? How was the earth formed? How vast is the universe? How is a baby conceived? All these questions direct me to the belief that there is a God. In the very beginning of time, there was nothing. If two rocks bang into each other and form a universe, where did those two rocks come from? When did they first form? How did they first form? All of the wonders of the world, how were they formed? The only logical explanation is God. I hear, touch and see these things and I know there is a God. I do not to hear, touch or see Him in a natural sense, but I can hear touch and see Him in the things he made.

I am not Him

This reality is not nearly as complicated. There is a God, but I am not Him. This is so very clear and obvious to me because I know that I am a sinner and I know I have limitations, but many who live on this earth think or act like they are God. Like I said at the beginning of the post, there are several things I do not know or understand. Ask me a chemistry question for example and you will quickly see that I don’t know the first thing about that subject. I could study chemistry for the rest of my life and I still would not know and understand it all. I could act like I did, but I wouldn’t know everything. My mind is active and alive, but it would be arrogant and sinful to think that I know more than God. After all, who was it who created us? God knows all and we can not comprehend everything God knows. This is where the “logical” thinker runs into problems. The so-called “logical” thinker often believes that with logic and reasoning anything and everything can be explained. They will often rationalize their thinking and portray their thoughts as a logical and rational idea when in fact some things can not be rationalized by the human mind. No man is smarter than God and yet so many strive to this unattainable goal. It’s irrational to think that our mind could ever understand everything God knows. God has given us clues to help us understand the meaning of life. He has revealed himself through several signs. He gave us his Son who is the way and the truth. Earlier I asked how can anyone know truth, the answer is through Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, the message of God continues to live through people and through the church. The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is love. I continue to learn and seek understanding, but I know that I am not God. I never will be God. God is good just as all things He made are good. It is the sin that man brought into life that taints that which is good in God’s eyes. When we take a look at earthly things with this understanding, we will see God’s goodness in all things. God bless!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Facebook Message Boards: Abortion, War, Prayer

Occasionally I will visit my facebook group sites and see if there are any interesting discussions. In my Pro-Life From Conception to Natural Death group, I found an interesting discussion on abortion and war. Some were suggesting that war often gets over-looked by pro-life advocates. I agree with this point, it often does get overlooked by pro-life advocates. War should always be avoided if at all possible, but war and abortion are separate issues. Abortion kills thousands more lives per day and therefore it is the larger pressing issue in my opinion. Not only that, but babies have no say in the matter whereas soldiers can expect to be put in harms way. I have copied the discussion I had on the messageboard with a woman who appears to have a guilty conscious. I will pray for her and her friends despite her response.

Post #11
Carley Cook (Notre Dame Academy)

i hear you... but you have to remember 4000 lives within 6 years and 5000 babies in one day. just a thought.

Post #12
Cassandra Marshall replied to Carley's

what are you saying, please elucidate. abortion is more pressing an issue than a war based on the number of lives? interesting since most PLers claim that you can't judge the value of human life based on quantity like that, but then turn right around and do so. You haven't added anything to the discussion.

Post #13
My reply to Cassandra's post

The number of babies being killed dwarfs the number who die in the war. Don't get me wrong, the lives of the soldiers are very important also, but the soldiers also know that they are putting their lives in danger when they join the army. Babies who are aborted have no choice period.

Post #14
Cassandra Marshall replied to your post

>>The number of babies being killed dwarfs the number who die in the war. Don't get me wrong, the lives of the soldiers are very important also, but the soldiers also know that they are putting their lives in danger when they join the army. Babies who are aborted have no choice period. <<

You did not answer my post, Sir. Thank you for stating the obvious, yes a fetus or an embryo does not have a choice, not conscious enough to make a choice anyway. A soldier may or may not. Several friends in high school joined the military b/c their parents kicked them out at 18, they didn't have th money/grades/desire to go to college. What is left? Maybe they joined thinking the commander in chief was intelligent enough to pick good battles so their lives wouldn't be in such danger so often.

My point was, how do you justify the value of life and what you want to do to try and stop injustice. I.E. is it more important for you to get involved and vote to try and stop a war, or vote to try and stop abortion and how do you justify your answer?

Post #15
My reply to Cassandra's post

While you can argue whether or not it was the right decision to go to war or not, you can not justify killing innocent babies. If you think someone can become president and end the war immediately without costing lives, you are mistaken. You say that quantity of lives doesn't matter, but I think that abortion is a much larger issue. That's just one man's opinion. I'm sorry if any of your friends are in harms way. I will pray for them. God bless!

Post #16
Cassandra Marshall replied to your post

Where, sir, did I say I think someone can end the war immediately upon taking office. I said take steps to end the war. You still did not answer my question, I did not realize it was that difficult for you. You think war and a woman's personal situation are not just as relative to each context? Can you answer that at least?

No need to pray for someone you don't know I will not be returning the favor and everyone I know, including myself is in harm's way every day.

Post #17
My reply to Cassandra's post

No harm can come from prayer. I can see that my opinion does not matter to you. I'm sorry if I have upset you in any way.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Follow Up

I realize that my last post is a polarizing issue and many of my readers disagree with my position. I am sorry if anything I wrote offended anyone. I am not accusing anyone. If you'll notice I used words such as "tend to" and "on average" to explain that many couples that do not practice NFP do in fact truly love one another and I am in no way saying that is not true.

I am not sorry for what I wrote however because it is how I feel. If any of you have an issue with what I wrote I encourage you to leave a comment or speak with me directly. This purpose of this blog is not to necessarily write to my readers as much as it is me expressing my opinion on how I see life. My opinion and yours will not always agree, but I am always willing to discuss differences. I believe that NFP is not understood by many and I believe that if couples truly came to learn and understand NFP, they would not look down upon it as so many do. My comparison to abortion is not in anyway suggest that couples who do not practice NFP are practicing abortion. The link is a thin piece of thread, but I do believe there is a connection. It is a frame of thinking that while not the same has some similarities. God created our bodies to do amazing things and it is my belief that our sexuality was not meant to be tampered with. I just wanted to clear up any questions or uncertainties. My intent for the posting was pure and was in no way meant to be taken in an accusatory way. I do know that it is a polarizing issue, so I'd be glad to open a discussion on this issue. Thanks for your loyal readership and God Bless!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Marriage, Divorce and NFP: Quick Facts

NFP (Natural Family Planning) is understanding our fertility and using natural means to plan a family. Those who understand NFP are not "surprised" when they have a baby because it is planned and expected. There are no "accidents" and therefore each baby is seen as a wonderful gift. I strongly believe that contraception and abortion are closely linked. Contraception is a deception of the body, and a rejection of self control. Contraception is a reaction based on a false understanding of love and sex. When couples use contraception they take God out of the equation. It's no wonder why (on average) those married couples who use NFP correctly live a much more loving and long lasting life together. Don't believe me? Look at just a few facts about divorce.

- The #1 reason for divorce in the United States is financial reasons. Ok, where am I going with this...

- The divorce rate in the United States is a staggering 50%!

- The divorce rate for couples practicing NFP... just 3%!

Is this simply a coincidence? I think not! Those who practice NFP tend to have greater communication with their spouse, a greater understanding for their spouse as well as a greater understanding of love and sexual union. There is a misconception that NFP doesn't work, but when understood it works 99% of the time. The reason families who practice NFP tend to have larger families is because they choose to have larger families. One of the main reason's why couples postpone pregnancy is because of financial worries. I find it ironic that this is the number one reason for divorce, yet those who practice NFP and form families naturally without a contraception barrier have such a low divorce rate. Think about it! I will post much more about marriage, NFP, love and related topics. Remember that God (the Holy Spirit) is love, and always, always remember that life is a precious gift from God and never a burden. God bless!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

There would be no life without mothers. The birth of babies is God's way of saying that He wants life to continue. A mother's job is often under appreciated in our society, so it is nice to have a day set aside to honor them and all that they do. I want to wish my mother and all mothers a very happy mothers day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sports Fans Have A Moral Dilemma

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m a huge baseball fan. I’m a huge sports fan in general. I love the competition, the history, the mystique, and the uncertainty of sports. Some say it’s just a game, but it’s more than a game in many respects for many people. People like me are called fanatics or fans for short. A fan takes special interest in a team or player or sports city. We call our passion for our sports teams a rooting interest. I root for the Cubs and I root for Adam Lind, but this got me to thinking about something else. As sports fans, we root for players and teams, but we also root against players and teams. Sometimes our reasons for this are justified, sometimes not but it begs the question: is it right?

I don’t think anyone can question that wishing a player or team well is a good thing. As humans, we enjoy watching those we care about succeed. As sports fans, when our team or player succeeds we (perhaps somewhat irrationally) feel like we are a part of the success. We celebrate with our team or player. The grey area is when we root against a certain player or team. Is this morally wrong to wish misfortune on another player or team? In my opinion, this can be answered in two ways: yes and no.

We like things to be black and white, right and wrong, good versus evil, but things in life aren’t always so clear. Often times, one person’s good fortune is another’s misfortune. That’s just the way life is sometimes. As it says in the Bible, there will always be poor in the world. There will also be the fortunate and the unfortunate. Utopian society on earth is not possible. When we as sports fans root against someone therefore, it is my belief that it is only morally wrong if we truly harbor hatred in our heart. Any time one wishes severe physical or mental harm on a human being, I believe that is undoubtedly wrong. However, if I simply want David Ortiz to strike out 4 times in one game, that is perfectly fine. You could argue that this could bring Ortiz some mental anguish, but it could also cause him to work harder and have a positive affect on his long term success. Even if that is not the case and he does suffer some mental anguish, you must not over look the fact that there are several people effected by those strike outs. After all, the pitcher and the opposing team is positively affected from Ortiz failing to hit the ball.

Tiger Woods was once asked the question: What describes you best? Do you love winning or do you hate losing? His reply was, “I love winning… and I hate losing.” A similar question could be asked to sports fans: What do you enjoy more – having your team win and succeed or watching your rivals lose and fail? If we say we more enjoy watching our rivals lose and fail than watching our own team win, our rooting interests are misguided. I will be honest and admit that I have watched those teams I do not like fail and felt a guilty sense of pleasure. I have felt joy in other’s failure and I enjoyed it very much. I remember watching games with my mom and whenever they showed the losing team she felt so bad for them and I’d always tell her not to feel sorry because somebody has to lose. My mom and I were both right. I guess my mom just has a little bigger heart.

Passion is a good thing unless it becomes an uncontrollable passion. I have a passion for sports, but sometimes I care so much about these players and teams that I really don’t even know on a personal level, that I neglect those people and things most near and dear to me. There are so many great things about sports and so many great lessons that can be learned from them, but sometimes we as fans can take things too seriously. This is true for those who have a passion for other things as well. Some have a passion for singing, some a passion for dancing, and there are many more examples. It is good to have a passion, but we must make sure our passion doesn’t turn into hatred and irrationality. We must control our passion and not let our passion control us. Don’t worry sports fans, I’m not saying you have to like the Red Sox. I can tell you that I will wish them well once they walk off the playing field, but while they’re on the field I’ll be wishing good fortune for the other guys.

Side Note: Adam Lind was demoted to AAA yesterday. Toronto has consistently shown erratic behavior in regard to forming their roster and this demotion tells me that they lack confidence in Adam. I won’t be surprised if Adam gets traded before the end of the year. I will follow the events surrounding Adam with such an interest that only a huge sports fan would. Good luck Adam, I’m pulling for you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lind Stays Positive During Difficult Times

I am a HUGE baseball fan. I love the Cubs especially, but I also enjoy following certain players. The one player I follow the most closely is Adam Lind, who I went to high school with. He was an amazing talent in high school and I knew he could be successful in baseball, but even I didn't think he'd get to where he is today so fast. He got drafted in the 8th round out of high school by the Minnesota Twins but opted to go to school and play baseball at South Alabama. After a couple years there he was drafted in the 3rd round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Since that time he has consistently hit with a high batting average and pretty good power numbers as well. He flew through the minor leagues and was a September call up to the big league team in 2006. Injuries gave Lind an opportunity to play for half the year in 2007 with the Blue Jays and he finally found himself going though some difficulties. He posted decent power numbers, especially for a rookie, but he only hit .238 on the year which was well below his average.

2008 figured to be the year Adam Lind broke out in a big way, but that hasn't happened yet. He started in AAA where he absolutely killed the ball. The Blue Jays were struggling offensively so they got rid of Frank Thomas, possibly a future Hall of Famer, to give Adam Lind a chance to play every day in Left Field. He was called up two weeks ago and assured by the manager that the position was his for the foreseeable future. Well it looks like that future is now, because Lind has been benched in favor of aging veteran S. Stewart. Lind got off to a terrible start offensively and didn't provide the offensive spark the Blue Jays were hoping he would. The manager Gibbons likes Lind but said publicly that Lind isn't hitting and he needs to put what he feels is the best team out there. The fact is that Gibbon's job is on the line. If he doesn’t win RIGHT NOW, meaning if he has one bad week, he could be gone. They are in a tough division, they spent a lot of money in the off season, they have a great pitching staff, and they are expected to contend in one of the toughest divisions in baseball.

In my humble opinion, two weeks is not enough time to make a decision on Lind. He tore up AAA, and he's shown that he can hit at the Major League level. He is much better defensively than Stewart and Stewart is hitting around .250 himself which is not great by any means. So why is Lind really sitting on the bench? Shortly before Lind got called up, there was wide speculation that the Blue Jays wanted to bring Lind up sooner, but if Lind plays a certain amount of games he would become a Rule 5 player, which basically means he would soon be eligible for arbitration (Blue Jays would have to pay him more money). Baseball is a business, and unfortunately that means that sometimes players and fans get a raw deal. Throughout this all, Adam has remained classy and understanding. It would be easy to get frustrated in this situation, but he has always taken things in stride and looked at the positives. He knows that all he can do is go out there and play his best and hardest and eventually good things will happen. Adam is undoubtedly disappointed. He made some remarks about the situation and basically sounded really depressed that he wasn’t able to come up and get hits and all he wants to do is stay with the big league team and help contribute. He is completely unselfish and talked about how happy he is that the team is on a 4 game winning streak. I just wish they’d give him a chance.

I followed his progress from high school until now and I must admit that as proud I am about his success on the field, I'm even more proud of the person he is off the field. I always remember him as a fun guy to be around. I remember he wasn't the smartest in math and he'd ask me for help - I remember thinking about having him sign my math homework or something because I knew one day he'd be a star. While he hasn't entirely broken through and become a star at the highest level yet, his time will come. He may be headed back to AAA soon, but he will be back.