Author Archives: Mariella Hunt

11 August, 2018 10:25

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The Escapism Project

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17 July, 2018 15:58

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The Escapism Project

13 April, 2018 14:24

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The Escapism Project

Ask and Understand: Week 2

Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. The rest will be given. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Universal Faith is on a quest for dialogue with people who believe other things, in order to build peace and understanding. We hope and pray to tear down walls of bias that are present in our world.

We know each person is an individual with opinions and questions. In this segment we’ll invite a guest every week to cross paths respectfully as friends.

Our guest this week is Baird Scriven. Visit his blog here!

We Asked:

Q: What is baptism to you?

A: The type of baptism that I’ve grown up around is believer’s baptism (as apposed to infant baptism), where you enter a body of water (baptistry, pool, river, sea etc) and are dunked under the water by two members of the congregation (generally people who have had big rols in your faith, but also generally elders or similar). Baptism to me is the symbolic representation of dying to your old life (going underwater) and being reborn in Jesus (being pulled up from the water), it is a outward statement of inward change, showing your repentance and your turning toward Jesus, it is a way of saying to your community that you have made that descision. It’s another step in your walk with Christ. It is following Christ’s example. There is also baptism in the Spirit, which is being filled with the Holy Spirit, but more than just that, that’s a bit harder to explain the meaning of being baptised in the Spirit in my life, as each time I’m baptised in the Spirit it’s different, but generally it’s accompanied by gifts of the Spirit, eg prophecy, words of wisdom or knowladge, occasionally, but rarely for me the gift of healing – basically the gift the Lord knows I

need at that time. That is a really inadequate way of describing it.

Read the account of pentacost for a better description of something similar (if not the same) as baptism in the Spirit, though I’ve never spoken in Tongues, or different languages (I know people who have though).

Q: How would you describe your denomination?

A: My personal denomination is non-existant, I try to be non-denominational and live by the teachings of the bible rather than what any doctrine says, as such I’ll always try to take any teaching away and check it’s authenticity against biblical teaching, and through prayer. But I suppose if you want to force me to try and catagorise myself, I suppose I’m Methodist mixed with Baptist, with a healthy dose of Evangelical and Charismatic, with possibly a splash of Anglican, but not much.

The Guest Asked:

Q: I know we’ve had many conversations about the Saints, so this seems a logical question from my point of view, and one I should have asked much earlier on, but what are your criteria for Saints, what do people have to do to get a sainthood, what boxes do they have to tick, if you like?

A: This is a good question. Technically you have to work on making your life holier to be canonized as a saint, however a friend put up a list of questions that are considered when someone is up for canonization here. It’s nothing we can’t achieve if we look at our own lives and see how we can sanctify ourselves to the point where people really don’t see ourselves but Jesus. We need to become very, very holy for a canonization. It’s something we work for all our lives; it’s something we have to take seriously. However, I’ve gathered from the stories of all the saints that a real saint doesn’t believe they’re going to get a canonization. They become so humble that it’s no longer about them, and nothing they do is ever perfect anymore. Not even a canonization ceremony is dedicated to them. I blogged about it here.

Q: What are your views on the gifts of the Spirit?

A: The thing about this question is that in Catholicism there are what we call Charisms, and then there are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are received most during the sacrament of Confirmation. I think what you’re referring to is Charisms. The Catechism states that these gifts do exist and are to be used to benefit the Church and our fellow believers: (This is a good website with more detail to the Catholic view of Charisms.)

798 – “The Holy Spirit is ‘the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.’ He works in many ways to build up the Body in charity: …by the many special graces (called ‘charisms’), by which he makes the faithful ‘fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.’ [252] ”

799 – “Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.”

800 – “Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. [253]”

801 – “It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. ‘Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,’ [254] so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together ‘for the common good.’ [255] “

This is a good page on the Catholic view of the gifts of the Holy Spirit received at Confirmation. This is a good, deep topic that deserves its own blog post, which I will probably do because it would help even Catholics who confuse the two.

Food for Thought: Have you ever tried discerning your Charism? It’s well worth it!

Ask and Understand: Week 1

Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. The rest will be given. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Universal Faith is on a quest for dialogue with people who believe other things, in order to build peace and understanding. We hope and pray to tear down walls of bias that are present in our world.

We know each person is an individual with opinions and questions. In this segment we’ll invite a guest every week to cross paths respectfully as friends.

Our first guest for this segment is a good friend of mine named Tegan. She has answered two questions from an atheist point of view and it was lots of fun talking with her. The original plan was to ask six questions each, but I think the three that we went through here are better thoroughly answered as they are, because they stand on their own and have more depth. Thank you for volunteering, Tegan–hopefully we can do this again soon! -Mariella

We asked:

Q: Why are you an atheist? Specifically, what events in your life led you to draw the conclusion of atheism, and as an atheist what is the driving force that gets you through the tough things in life?

A: There was no events that led me to become atheist, really. I’m an atheist as in I don’t believe in any kind of deity or God or higher being. It’s just that I never believed it was possible.

I’m a really independent person. I don’t like the idea of having someone else having the final say on how your life turns out. I like making all my own decisions and knowing what the consequences of them will be. And I think that everyone’s decisions are their own. The thought of having someone up there dictating what people’s actions will bring makes me feel a bit queasy.

My driving force? Happiness. I do my school work because I want to earn a great ATAR score and get into my dream university and that’ll lead to getting my major and then landing an awesome job in publishing. I help my friends out in need because I want them to have happiness too. Knowing I have a good life and will continue to do so if I work hard is enough motivation for me.

Q: As an atheist, how do you approach the morals that can be found in The Bible? Do you believe that some of the stories with good messages should be taught to everyone, if only as a form of classical literature? (e.g. I have talked to some atheists who wouldn’t mind the basic stories, like Noah’s Ark, being taught in a classical literature class, simply because of the universality.)

A: I’ve never read the Bible. I took one year of Religious Education (Christianity) in primary school because it was compulsory and then moved to Ba-Hai when that was introduced. So I’ve no clue what morals can be found in the Bible.

I don’t think stories from the Bible should be taught to everyone, however. We don’t teach stories from the Qur’an to everyone. If we taught everyone stories from the Bible, but not from any other religious book, then it isn’t fair. Personally, I’m already unhappy with the lack of choice in schools regarding Religious Education (more than 90% is Christianity only) and I think that needs to be addressed before we go teaching Bible stories to children.

There are plenty of good fairytales and legends and children’s stories with good messages in them that we can use to teach morals, so I don’t see the need to draw on stories from any religious text.

Our guest asked:

Q: I’ve always wanted to know how you deal with people who attack you for being Christian and try to convince you that God doesn’t exist. I’d imagine that’d be awful.

A: I never thought I’d answer this question! It really made me think. I wanted to come up with a long answer but I guess I deal with them in a simple way.

They’re attacking me, but I remember above all to love them–because we are all creations of God, and Christ instructed us to love one another. Then I try to see both sides of the story–why are they attacking? Have they ever been Christians? Have they had some kind of negative encounter with Christianity? Is it a bias against Catholicism specifically? I try not to generalize them as just another doubter, because everyone is different. If they’ll listen I’ll explain to them my faith, the ways Jesus has helped me and continues to do so. But if they continue to disbelieve, we cannot convert a closed heart–we can only give our answers of faith and pray for them.

There is always the emotional reaction to someone who is being rude trying to crush my faith. I can’t say I never doubted, I’ve stumbled a little. The Bible always helps me. It’s also good to have a circle of friends who are going through similar things. It’s not a sin to doubt a because we’re human and unfortunately there’s no escaping those moments. The one time I almost stopped believing, He sent a series of little miracles in my personal life to heal me. It all depends on how we nurture our faith. The Bible says that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can do anything–including overcome the blows from an attacker.

Then, there’s that Bible verse that I always turn to when it gets particularly bad:

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  John 20:29, RSV

We’re supposed to have a reason for our hope, but often it really does resort to that little mustard seed. I’m not perfect–only He is. In the end, we only have three things on this earth that will last: Faith, hope and love. But in Heaven only love will be left. So I love everybody, even the attackers.

Thanks for your question!

Everyone take the time to answer Tegan’s question as well!

Beautiful for Jesus: Accept Who You Are

Jam 1:17 Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

This blog post by Sarah Anne Sumpolec is exactly what I was waiting for today. I have the same problem that the blogger, Sarah, does. Sometimes I just don’t post because I don’t have anything to say. But after reading her blog post, the Lord revealed to me my problem: I’m waiting for what can be considered a big thing by my standards, by human standards, to write about. I’m probably waiting for something groundbreaking that I could brag about. What we really need to realize is that it’s the little things that God really shapes us with. It’s the little things that we should be looking out for.

The little things are only little to us because we are greedy–for power, for pride, for something big. This is what blinds us from seeing the little blessings that God pours down on us daily like a gentle rain. We see people who have “more eventful” lives than us, and we think that ours aren’t interesting; we become so envious of the big blessings other people get that we are blinded to our own.

I can identify my own problem right now, so I’m going to confess it. I want to be a Catholic Christian speaker and have a big audience with messages to preach every day. I want to have that power to show people the Narrow Path, but when I don’t get a huge blessing every day I start thinking that I can’t lead people to the Narrow Path if I’m not already sure I’m on the way there.

Then, my Guardian Angel whacks me.

This is my greed. I think that to be able to tell the Truth to others, I need to feel closer to it than them. I need a huge miracle. I want to see a green chair turn red daily or something (I’ve never actually seen an object change colors, by the way.) When I come back down to earth and see what I do have, it humbles me. We all struggle with the sin of pride, right? I struggle with wanting to do something I can be proud of. This is, of course, me trying to glorify myself with what God gives me–which isn’t how it goes either.

Today the Lord revealed to me that He is disappointed: I don’t appreciate the little blessings He gives me daily. Even if it’s a seemingly boring and uneventful day, there’s always little blessings coming down on me. Waking up in the morning is the first blessing. Having something to eat is another blessing. Being literate is a blessing. These are all things I can see.

But then there’s the things I can’t see: The angels that protect me, keeping me balanced with every step I take. The joke my brother cracks that gets me laughing for hours on end. My parents doing everything possible to them in order for me to be happy. Reading old prayer journals and being reminded of how my life has changed in three months. The freedom to accept Jesus and the promise of great things to come. My whole life is like a hundred million blessings put together. I could blog about all of these things, if only I’d stop staring at the moon waiting for some kind of prophetic apparition!

Then there’s the things that I probably won’t see until I’m old. Blessings I will continue taking for granted until they’ve passed. There is so much I could write about if I’d accept my own life God gave me. If I’d only remember that He crafted it especially for me. I can’t want more than I have, because this is what I’m meant to live.

Not until I learn to be grateful for what God gives me, will I ever be able to teach about Him.

Count your blessings–and if you can’t see them now, make a mental note to remember them later. This life comes and goes. We’ll all leave a mark , but only if we are humble enough to be ourselves. A beautiful woman is humble and grateful for who she is.

Beautiful for Jesus is a devotional blog post series I host at my personal website, A Catholic Sheep. 

Fr Stephen Smuts

See also: Can You Come to Jesus Without Church?

YouTube videos go viral all the time, but sermons rarely do.

Enter Jefferson Bethke, a young “spoken-word” poet who recently posted the video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” It has been viewed more than 10 million times in the past 10 days.

The video opens with an eerie soundtrack and the phrase “Jesus>Religion” in a stark, white typeface. His poem begins, “What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish religion?”

In a polished, hip style, he continues with such controversial questions for four minutes: “If religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?” Mr. Bethke describes religion as no more than “behavior modification” and “a long list of chores.” This leads him to conclude, “Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums.” And…

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Happy Birthday Joseph!

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A Response to “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”

[PURE: The 90-Week Devotional Series] Week 2 – Who Determines Your Worth?

de·ter·mine

   [dih-tur-min] Show IPA verb, -mined, -min·ing.

verb (used with object)

1. to settle or decide (a dispute, question, etc.) by an authoritative or conclusive decision.

2. to conclude or ascertain, as after reasoning, observation,etc.

3. Geometry . to fix the position of.

4. to cause, affect, or control; fix or decide causally: Demand for a product usually determines supply.

5. to give direction or tendency to; impel.

The good old dictionary shows how powerful a word it is: Determine. The first definition means to settle or decide something by an authoritative decision. When the thing they’re deciding is as personal and defining as your own worth, to whom will you bestow that authority?

What does worth even mean? Let’s check.

worth

1    [wurth] Show IPA

(…)

noun

4. excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem:women of worth.

5. usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose: Your worth to the world is inestimable.

6. value, as in money.

7. a quantity of something of a specified value: ten cents’ worth of candy.

8. wealth; riches; property or possessions: net worth.

That’s even more powerful. Somebody of conclusive authority is determining your usefulness or importance to the world. Now, how many times in your life have you stopped to consider in whose hands you put that authority? It depends on the judge, what the verdict is. If you put the authority in the hands of the secular world, you’re going to be judged by your appearance and compared to skinny women in magazines. You’ll be compared to rich men with mansions. Realistically, how many people will be worth anything when compared to that?

The problem here is that many kids nowadays choose to give this authority to people who are only going to make them feel worthless. Because if we’re letting someone who edits a fashion magazine judge our usefulness or importance…to put it quite bluntly, most of the world won’t be useful or important. That’s why it’s such a sad world! These people don’t even deserve to hold your value in their hands. Why? Jesus said: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Mat 10:28, RSV

I think it’s important to point this out. While most people will go straight to the next verses about the worth of a sparrow, we need to let the world know that these people don’t deserve trust regarding your worth at all. A lot of kids will question how we know we shouldn’t fear these forces, but we need to remember that right before Jesus told us how God determines our worth, He also said who can’t determine it and why. It’s in the Bible. How many of you knew that?

Rebecca says:

My tendency was to live with a sense that God was disappointed in me—that I was not good enough. Through study and prayer and time alone with Him, the Lord assured me that I am loved and secure. I know that I’m His princess, accepted and cherished. Pure, page 6

We are all princes and princesses, not by how the world judges us but by how God loves us. He told us not to listen to the world, so why are we? Finally, I’ll share the passage about the sparrow:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matt. 10:29-31

I don’t think this passage quite does it justice, because it’s been read so many times that our brains watered it down. But this is nothing less than a picture out of a fairy tale: We are royalty of Heaven! We may not ever feel like it down here on earth, but our rewards will be great.

St. Patrick put it well:

If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.

As did Rebecca:

How much time do you spend in the morning thinking about how others will perceive you based on what you look like each day? How could you spend some of that time contemplating your worth in God’s eyes? Look in the mirror and realize how precious you are to Him.

Have you put the authority to judge your worth into worldly hands? Turn back now, because the only one who can judge you justly and determine your worth is the Lord. He knows what’s best for you. And He’s watching you…everywhere. Read Psalm 139:

Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee.

How many magazine editors can claim that authority?

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