“YCatholic” Or “The Journey”

Here begins my posting of old works left unpublished for… varying reasons.  Some thoughts were just unfinished, and I was loathe to put them out in their (more) unfinished form.  As such, this is me, mostly from a year ago.

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In recent days, I’ve been asked: “Why are you Catholic?”  After much deliberation, here goes.

I find, in my ongoing journey in the Catholic Faith, that there is:

-Truth
At the end of the day, whether we want to admit it or not, we’re looking for something true.  Truth fulfills this desire within us.  It’s a powerful thing.  The truth of the matter is, I find answers to the occasional question I might have about my faith.  Trust but verify, right?  Sometimes I’ll ask why, questioning a teaching or even just looking for the reason behind why some occurrence takes place.  There’s a significance and order behind the universe.  It’s not some randomly pieced together thing.  As for God’s existence, I’m willing to take the bet that He’s real.  It was quite eloquently put in a book I read some time ago.  If the atheist is right, and God is fake and oblivion is real, then no matter what we do on earth – good or evil, we all go to the inevitable oblivion.  However, on the off-chance that I’m right, and God, Heaven, and hell are real, then… well… Are you willing to stake eternity on His nonexistence?

– Glory
Now, when I say glory, I don’t mean for myself, by myself.  I mean glory for the Church as a whole.  I’m not – nor should I be – looking to glorify myself.  I’m looking to be great through the efforts of the Church, that my fellow brothers and sisters, as well as myself, may one day stand at God’s side in Heaven as saints.  That’s my end goal.  That’s the glory I desire.  All this will pass away, whether we like it or not.  So we must aim for Heaven.  I’m not exactly uppity about the idea of going to hell, so let’s aim for glory, eh?

– Unity
Time and time again, I find myself seeking my Catholic friends.  My community, seeking Heaven’s merits, striving forward together even when darkness pulls us down.  And sure, we may sometimes be at odds as far as our personalities are concerned, but at the end, we have that binding tie of knowing that we are children of God.

– Hope
Never has any other community ever given me such hope as the Church has.  It’s hard to describe, but every time I find myself before the Blessed Sacrament, or surrounded by my brothers & sisters, I am filled with a hope for the future.

– Courage
Beyond giving one a purpose in life, something a few believe it’s all religion is good for, it also gives one courage.  The Church does more than hand you a stack of rules and say: “Follow these!” It also, blesses you with strength to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.  “Why would we do that?” you might ask, “God doesn’t need us to do anything on His behalf if He’s all powerful.”  No, He definitely does not need us, but we need Him.  We owe it to Him to show His love through our lives, and so He gives us courage in the face of adversity, as a father encourages and teaches a son to stand ready.  To rise.

 

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– Freedom
To further that note, for perhaps I fail to explain it well, these rules that we’ve been given are – now that I know better – the roads by which our freedom is unlocked.  Freedom… for excellence.  As the athlete, by following the rules, is able to play the game and play it well; as the pianist, by learning the proper notes, is able to produce the desired song;  so we by obeying the Church’s teachings – teachings ordered toward our good and happiness – may experience true freedom.  I never regret not sinning, believe me.

– Love
And finally, the one that perhaps encompasses all the rest.  All these previous things have been given me by a loving God.  A God who is not a taskmaster, not malevolent or unjust, no, He is Love itself: perfect in all of His ways.  Perhaps I made the mistake of saying last year that I bet on His existence.  Let’s cast that aside, betting.  I don’t have to gamble with His reality.  I know Him, I’ve seen His works in my life, heh, in fact, I’ve seen Him.  Every time I go to Mass, or Adoration, I have seen Him.  Present, powerful.
What  is love?  Age old question, right?  Love is willing the good of the other.  We, who have had our wills corrupted by sin, have imperfect love.  God, in His perfection, is able to will the greatest good for us, to love us completely.  This is why we say He is Good, because, he is goodness in its fullness.  He brings everything to perfection within Himself.
That’s not to say that I’ve only received love from Catholics and no one else, but there is something key there, in our acknowledgement that Love comes from the Father.  We are loved by others because… God loved us first.  He continues to work through us and our imperfections, and by drawing us in, He brings us to perfection within Himself.

I could go on for quite a bit, but then I’m sure I would lose whatever final shreds of coherence I might have had, if any.  I’m still learning, both in terms of the teachings and expressing them.  The beauty is that one can never truly say it all.  There’s always something left to be discovered, to be shared by someone that God chose to speak through in a very specific way to touch a very specific someone.
The particularity of love, pushing us to a great beyond.

That’s probably what being Catholic is for me.  This joyful view of life, even in the midst of trial after trial.  It is the promise that at the end of the road, there lies a happiness that cannot be taken away.  Despite that, it doesn’t mean that life is a hellhole by any means; it’s a chance to move upward, steadily climbing the mountain to reach the peak.  And when we stand atop the heights, we’ll know it was all worth it.

-M

*Anything following the uh, star mark or whatever “*” is (asterisk?), denotes writings that are actually present day me, as opposed to early 2016 me.  Surprisingly, it does make a difference.

The Beacon Crafter Pt. 1

Have you ever been charged with making a fire?  Ever been charged with keeping that fire going?  Ever been charged with keeping that fire going with palm branches that quickly burn out due to their nature?  Ever been charged with keeping said fire going by your parish priest?!

It was kinda stressful, I’ll be honest, but fun in a way.

Maybe it’s odd that I find a high point in a time like Lent, but here I am, shooting upward towards the heavens again.  Ah, I wish I could just settle, or perhaps it’s good this way, experiencing a certain rejuvenation, a cleansing of the mind if you will.  No, I shall not have mediocrity from myself.

So, recently, I was given the task of being “the fire guy” during the Shrove Tuesday service.  You see my friendly old (or young) reader, I saw the fire, but not a world on fire yet, fortunately.  When we get there, heh, it would be wise to run.  Still, as I watched the fire, my mind went to Baptism, specifically the part with the candle, the light entrusted to the parents, to be kept burning brightly.  I’ve wanted to be a parent for quite a while.  Anyone who knows me realizes that babies are kind of a weakness of mine, and as for having a child of my own, oh, don’t get me started!  Of course, that all depends on what route I take, but that’s beside the point for now.

Returning to the fire, did I mention that I was panicking over it at times?  Yes, every so often, the wind would threaten to blow it out, and the flame would bend and crackle, shrinking in size and intensity.  My solution: throw more pine branches on the thing.

Like a magic trick, it would flare up for an instant, roaring brighter than I’d expected before, but in the next moment, it would die down to a quiet, resolute image, still withstanding the windy evening.  Other times, unfortunately, I came close to smothering it with too much thrown on at once, but if I gradually added on, the flame could grow.

Why am I writing about this?  Oh, things have just been going well, and depressing times are exactly that, so why not find some joy in things for once?

This whole fire thing, in case you haven’t guessed, is reminiscent of our lives.  I am the fire.  You are too.  Welcome to the flame club, by the way.  I’m afraid we don’t have nametags or any nice slogans, but we glow pretty brightly at times.

Being flames, we face a lot in our – pretty short, even without the analogy – lifetimes.  There are quite a number of storms in life, and even when we think we’re in a calm place, there’s that deceptive gust that suddenly blows through.  Now, that’s not meant to be discouraging, but it is what it is.  We sway, we risk going out, we blaze up when we’re most needed.  Regarding that last one, perhaps all it takes is some fuel.  My fuel comes from others, they energize me, they bring me to my greatest potential.  Introvert though I am, I need the people in my life.  They have an odd habit of sticking with me at the strangest of times, and I must say, it’s been the case where I’ve found myself in a situation, and I hear words of wisdom coming to me from my friends.  Some of these words are from so long ago, I’m surprised I even remember them, but there they are in the memory, aiding me in the moment.

However, the voices, the retreats, the brief moments of meeting, they’re not enough.  They are the quick palm branches that bring the blaze to life for an instant, but that’s all it is, an instant of intense power.  Friends are the lasting fuel, the huge pieces that take a little bit before the fire encompasses them, but when it does, it lasts.  Unfortunately, when you remove the log, well, there goes a foundational part of the fire with it.  It’s a sacrifice, but it’s worth the effort (cue Father nodding in the background).

A long time ago, I told a bunch of my peers not to give up, never to give in, because they’re not alone.  Well I pray none of them are now.  Isolation is a dangerous thing to play with.  Isolation and sad music.  Bad mix.  Kill it with fire.   Your fire.

Here’s some practical advice:  Make a playlist of hype music.  That’s literally what I did.  Make a playlist with songs guaranteed to lift your spirits, and listen to it when you’re down.  Then like… dance around your room or something, I dunno.  Fires move and crackle about, so I’m curious as to whether you can imitate them.  Send me a video or something if you can.

Oh, one more thing on us fires: Perhaps we’re stronger than we think.
See, during some of the times where I stepped into the church antechamber to listen to the prayers, the wind grew dangerously, and I’d have to rush back outside, thinking my beautiful fire would die.  Well, while yes, it did shrink, it never died.  It withstood the force, perhaps even retreated further than I would have liked, but it held on.  You hold on too.

I’m writing from the blaze, the high point, on a dual retreat high, you might say, even if both were more sobering experiences than “usual”.  I know I’ll be going down in time, but hopefully when I get back there, I’ll still be able to withstand the storm.

Why is this piece so childishly written?

Because… there’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.  I think we tend to get bogged down with our worldly, adult responsibilities quite often, and we don’t really take time to kick back with authentic childlike joy.  That doesn’t mean ignore the reality, but a nice balance with escapism tends to do wonders.  ‘Tis my writing for me.

We are children, we are fires, both tend to be/go awesomely mental and wild.  Be it.  Live it.  Fire fire fire.

-M

P.S. It’s gonna be lit.  Sorry college fam, couldn’t resist, don’t start dabbing though, please.