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The Dignity of Women.

Today women are often looked upon by men in ways God never intended.
Satan’s work can be seen all around us, on billboards, on TV, and especially on the internet. Women are slandered and used quite often for monetary gain and pleasure.
Why has the devil cast so much of his effort to distorting and perverting the image of women?
Its actually a very simple question to answer. Women in my mind hold power in heaven unlike anything or anyone else on earth. With them the future is brought into being, future saints, future men and women of God. On them mostly rests the training and guidance of the world through its future generations. And through their prayers, Gods plans are furthered and realized.
I know in my own life I’ve had many rough areas. My parents thought at one point my future was a jail cell, or a life far removed from what I have actually become.
I thank God and all the saints for my mother, who untiringly prayed for me, watched over me, and helped me even when I didn’t think I needed help. I’m already realizing many instances in which I remember my mom saying, “You’ll thank me for this later”. And I do.

Dignity. What is it?
Dignity is a kin of respect, a gift given us by God.
Dignity realizes within each of us the image in God. It is our right as human beings, and should be realized for even the lowest of us. It demands Honor and respect.
Now we have defined what our human dignity is, how has Satan assaulted it within society, and especially towards women?

Firstly, through lust.
God created us to be loved, and from his love for us comes to us our dignity. And because of his love for us, we should love each other with that same dignity.
God creates nothing imperfect. And so we are perfect creation, and only flawed because of the sin that entered the world we are born into. Lust destroys the image of Gods creation in the eyes of those who fall into it.
Society teaches many people today that lust is love, that sex is casual, and that pornography is acceptable.
I think of this as 2 lenses.
The first, the lens of Gods eternal love, the lens of dignity. Through which who we are and who we will become is shown.
The second, the lens of Lust, the lens of destruction. Though this lens we no longer see a person. We see a THING. A MEANS. And dignity never enters the equation.

You could argue this for both sexes. Both being susceptible to this lie. However my focus is from the mans perspective.
What is it that makes us fall into this lie? What is it we really seek?
What most men want to see in a woman is:
1. Modesty. Because we know a modest woman holds her self higher than most.
And hasn’t yet degraded her self by lowering her standards.
2. Morality. Because we know a Moral woman is a true treasure, and walks with Christ.
3. Purity. Because we know a pure woman will belong to only one. And has saved her being for her calling, in this sense, the man who will prize her highly, and love her always.
After all that we look for the other qualities we seek. Good with kids, hard working, fun, ect.

The 2nd way the devil assaults the dignity of women.
The idea of casual sex.
Our sexuality is our gift from God, and in marriage, the most powerful expression of love in this life. And that is why Satan wishes to destroy it.
Married intercourse is the deepest form of love available to us on earth. So powerful in fact that, with Gods grace and blessing, creation is achieved.
God, the all powerful creator, sharing his power with us, in the act of creation.
Casual sex perverts and destroys this.
Marital relations are a covenant with God, in which each person gives them selves to each other totally, completely, and for eternity. Casually this becomes a temporary language of love. And in fact is more than just occasionally, lust. It says “I love you so much that I don’t have the integrity to wait for God to enter this relationship. And I love you so much that I’ll give only part of my self to you, and only for a little while”.
The language of forever is gone and replaced by the desires of now.
And this is why 50% of marriages fail. Trying to seal a forever promise with temporary glue.
So the devil destroys the dignity of our sexuality. And instead of seeing the daughters of God like we are meant to, men see only an object, instead of princesses of the Divine King–playthings for their own selfish desires.
And there is only one thing more degrading, that destroys dignity more than this.

Abortion. Abortion takes the dignity of the human being which we have already talked about, and utterly destroys it. Instead of perverting or mocking it, it stifles and kills it.
And even more than that.. The divine calling for a woman to conceive life within her, and to carry it, to nurture it is destroyed. And in abortion Satan ultimately takes away a woman’s greatest gift from God. Her child. And in doing so deprives the world of a brighter future.

Women of God. You are all SO BEAUTIFUL! And this is why the powers of darkness assail you.
Your dignity deserves the most humble respect from us men.
You capture men’s hearts and tame them.
You are co creators with God Himself.
You are daughters, princesses, beautiful creations of God. And all men should respect you all, and show you great love and dignity.
It was ordained by God from the beginning that women play the most crucial roles in life. By bringing it into being, and nurturing it.
Instead of coming into the world by His own divine power. Christ, God, true God and true man, came into the world from the womb of a woman we now know as the Queen of Heaven. Only through her “yes” did Jesus enter this world for the salvation of our souls. Not because God couldn’t otherwise… He chose to, and this TRULY shows the real dignity of women.

And for those of who you may have lost sight of that dignity. I pray in the name of Christ that your eyes be opened again. And that again you raise your standards to be worthy of who you REALLY are. Because you are beautiful, and you are loved.

For those of you who still stand, dignified but yet modest and kind, continue to set your examples.
In a world where you might stand totally counter to the culture around you, remain strong. Only you can let yourself fall, and your dignity crumble.

God revealed in our lives through suffering and love

In today’s society suffering is often thought of as bad luck or simply something to be endured. As a Catholic though, there is so much more to be offered, literally, in the service of God, by our own personal trials and suffering.

Many of us have often been told or heard about “Offering our suffering up to God”, however not many people know how or even why.
Our example is the Cross of Jesus Christ. During the passion Jesus gave His life for us in absolute and perfect love. Offering our sins up to God with His suffering.
In the same way we can offer our suffering to the Cross for the sake of others.

Something else we’ve all heard before as well is “God is love”.
But we always miss the profound truth in that statement, and the potential with which we can live our lives underneath that teaching.
If God is love, then any act of love we are involved in is not only of God, but brings His graces with it.
The saints and prophets often in the bible would take no reward for the works they preformed. I would say this is due to the fact that all good we do on earth, through love, is simply an extention of God him self in our own lives. We always ask the question: “Where is God? I mean in the real world, if he is in all things, how do we recognize him?”
And this is the answer.
In every act of love we have the opportunity to see Gods face, and through the world he so lovingly created.
But we still have yet to answer the first question:
“How DO I offer my suffering to God? And what does that actually mean?”
We offer our suffering to the Cross of Christ through an act of love. With true love and compassion for the suffering and trials of others, we send our love through our suffering for the sake of others.
If God is love, then an act, even painful, done in love for another person or persons, will ultimately bring Gods grace and love to that person.
And this is the way of Christian suffering.
In the bible it says that we in essence complete the mission of Christ on the cross through our suffering.
How?
By using our suffering to continue his mission of salvation. That by our suffering within the shadow of Christ’s Cross, we bring Christ and his love and grace, to the rest of the living world.

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!

YOUCAT Series 6 – What We Believe: The Christian Profession of Faith

Questions 25 to 29
Here we look at why we need to have a definite profession of faith. We look at the origins of the Creeds and what they say.

The best source that I’ve come across regarding the Creed is the General Directory for Catechesis. I have used parts of it below that correspond to the questions. Although it may be directed at the role of catechesis surrounding the Creeds, nevertheless, I think it is beneficial to study them in that context anyway.

Q. 25 – As the YOUCAT states, the Creeds are ‘the foundation for the Church’s unity’ and prevent Christ’s message ‘from misunderstandings and falsifications.’ Moreover the Directory says,

[a] Who has encountered Christ desires to know him as much as possible, as well as to know the plan of the Father which he revealed. Knowledge of the faith (fides quae) is required by adherence to the faith (fides qua). (252) Even in the human order the love which one person has for another causes that person to wish to know the other all the more. Catechesis, must, therefore, lead to “the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan”, (253) by introducing the disciples of Jesus to a knowledge of Tradition and of Scripture, which is “the sublime science of Christ”. (254) By deepening knowledge of the faith, catechesis nourishes not only the life of faith but equips it to explain itself to the world. The meaning of the Creed, which is a compendium of Scripture and of the faith of the Church, is the realization of this task.

[b] St Cyril of Jerusalem affirms with regard to the Creed: “This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as a mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too the summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments”.

Q. 26 goes on to discuss the Creeds as the common Christian confession of faith;

The object of catechesis is expressed in profession of faith in the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

82. Catechesis is that particular form of the ministry of the word which matures initial conversion to make it into a living, explicit and fruitful confession of faith: “Catechesis has its origin in the confession of faith and leads to confession of faith.” (240)

The profession of faith inherent in Baptism (241) is eminently Trinitarian. The Church baptizes “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19) (242) the triune God to whom the Christian entrusts his life. Initiatory catechesis—both before and after the reception of Baptism—prepares for this decisive undertaking. Continuing catechesis helps to mature this profession of faith, to proclaim it in the Eucharist and to renew the commitments which it entails. It is important that catechesis should unite well the confession of christological faith, “Jesus is Lord”, with the trinitarian confession, “I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, in such a way that there are not two modes of expressing the Christian faith. He who is converted to Jesus Christ and recognizes him as Lord through the primary proclamation of the Gospel begins a process which, aided by catechesis, necessarily leads to explicit confession of the Trinity.

In the confession of faith in the one God, the Christian rejects all service of any human absolute; “power, pleasure, race, ancestors, state, wealth…”, (243) and is thus liberated from the enslavement of any idol. It is the proclamation of his will to serve God and man without any ties. In proclaiming faith in the Trinity, which is a communion of Persons, the disciple of Jesus Christ shows at once that the love of God and neighbour is the principle which informs his being and his action.

83. The confession of faith is complete only in reference to the Church. All the baptized individually proclaim the Credo, for no action can be more personal than this. However, they recite it in the Church and through the Church, because they do so as members of the Church. ‘Credo’ and ‘Credimus’ necessarily imply each other. (244) In fusing his confession of faith with that of the Church, the Christian is incorporated into her mission: to be the “universal sacrament of salvation” for the life of the world. He who makes the profession of faith takes on responsibilities that not infrequently provoke persecution. In Christian history the martyrs are proclaimers and witnesses par excellence. (245)

Furthermore, as an appendage to Q. 27, some information on the use of the Creed,

In the patristic period properly, catechumenal formation was realized through biblical catechesis, based on recounting the history of salvation; immediate preparation for Baptism by doctrinal catechesis, explaining the Creed and the Our Father which had just been handed on, together with their moral implications; and through the phase following the sacraments of initiation, a period of mystagogical catechesis which help the newly baptized to interiorize these sacraments and incorporate themselves into the community.

Then Q. 28, on the Apostles’ Creed:

– The Apostles’ Creed demonstrates how the Church has always desired to present the Christian mystery in a vital synthesis. This Creed is a synthesis of and a key to reading all of the Church’s doctrine, which is hierarchically ordered around it. (393)

Lastly, see The Nicene Creed- A Roadmap For Our Faith for a quick overview of the Nicene Creed for Q. 29.

Reflection Questions
• What does the word ‘catechesis’ mean?

• What would you say to a Christian who said they didn’t need to go to Church to have a relationship with God?

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

YOUCAT Series 5 – What We Believe: Man Responds to God

Questions 20 to 24
This section covers aspects of belief and faith as a response to God’s offer of friendship to us.

Starting off with question twenty. A fabulous example of how one is to respond to God when he speaks to us is Blessed Mother Teresa, as her words quoted from here testify,

A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, [we] must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.

The YOUCAT then proceeds to explain what faith, so accurately thought of above, actually is.

Two aspects of this explanation of faith stand out to me.

The first is that faith is absolutely certain – would a Christian not state their beliefs because they might change with time? No, that is what an agnostic would do, is it not? Christians know the truth and can state it here, now and forever – although hopefully they will gain a more in-depth faith with time.

How many people privatize their faith because of this reason?

Secondly, the parachutist analogy in question twenty-one – it basically boils down to trust doesn’t it.

We live in a society that is in many ways void of trust.

When religion is taken out of politics, because it conflicts with others’ agendas, people’s thinking on issues becomes distorted. Instead of these qualities being due to persons because they are made in the image and likeness of God, which is, in fact, the basis of human dignity and hence human rights, the values are given to thoughts and actions, leading to devastating consequences, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly states,

History has shown us how dangerous and deleterious a state can be that proceeds to legislate on questions that touch the person and society while pretending itself to be the source and principle of ethics. Without universal principles that permit a common denominator for the whole of humanity the danger of a relativistic drift at the legislative level is not at all something [that] should be underestimated (cf. “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” no. 1959). The natural moral law, strong in its universal character, allows us to avert such a danger and above all offers to the legislator the guarantee for an authentic respect of both the person and the entire created order.[1]

As an example, someone might say to you, ‘I respect your beliefs, will you respect mine?’

If you said, ‘yes’, wouldn’t you be accepting that those beliefs are ok?

To understand how this ever so subtle play on language, and indeed other common factors found in our age, lead to an erosion of moral standards in society read, A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Peter Kreeft:

Moral practice has always been difficult for fallen humanity, but at least there was always the lighthouse of moral principles, no matter how stormy the sea of moral practice got. But today, with the majority of our mind-molders, in formal education, or informal education—that is, media—the light is gone. Morality is a fog of feelings. That is why to them, as Chesterton said, “Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles.” Principles mean moral absolutes. Unchanging rocks beneath the changing waves of feelings and practices. Moral relativism is a philosophy that denies moral absolutes. That thought to me is the prime suspect—public enemy number one. The philosophy that has extinguished the light in the minds of our teachers, and then their students, and eventually, if not reversed, will extinguish our whole civilization.

This relativism (remember the reflection question from last time?) robs the world of truth – for everything is seen as being true.

In the document titled On The Way To Life (which for anyone interested in catechetics is real gold). Just go to the RE and Catechesis section to find it.

In the section titled ‘Truth-trust’, it gives more insight on how this affects society:

People come to live in a society in a purely instrumental way that erodes any possibility of living towards a ‘common good’. Politics is forced into a position of inflating the goods in which it can offer in order to gain popular support and then generating cynical disengagement from the democratic process which it fails to deliver. These tensions and contradictions within the cultural and political force of modernity touch all institutions, including the Church.

So, in a world where everything is true – relativistic in other words, nothing really can be true and therefore, no-one can trust anybody.

The irony is that when people say they are being tolerant, respectful, etc (like what is so common in arguments these days), they can be being the very opposite! I highly recommend reading this piece called True and False Tolerance for further insight on this concept;

The prevalent idea of tolerance is connected to relativism: “each one has his truth”; “each individual is autonomous”; “the self is the source of meaning.” To be tolerant in this view is to cling to the opinion that everything is a matter of opinion and of equal opinions at that. Each person must take his bearings from his sovereign subjectivity, and no one has the right to put forth a universal standard. To affirm that a particular proposition is true by itself, apart from mere opinion, is considered an attack on tolerance.

What does this reign of universal tolerance, or dogmatic relativism, in fact mean? It has as its effect the undermining of all authority and vital knowledge, depriving all meaning from liberty and toleration. It finally destroys liberty and tolerance themselves. Taken to its logical conclusion, the reign of opinion means the end of all intellectual and moral authority, whether it be the great minds whose dialogue forms culture or the institutions — Church, family, school — that traditionally have transmitted rules of conduct. The reign of opinion means the attenuation of every form of knowledge. In the kingdom of opinion, there is no place for knowledge that engages one’s being.

Consequently, the phenomenon discussed above makes believing in God very difficult because everything is the truth and you can’t trust anything – I hope you can see the connection.

Therefore, for Catholics it is so important to see through relativism and to show other people the value of having an objective set of beliefs. In other words, believing in definite rights and wrongs that come from a source outside of ourselves, namely, God.

As Cardinal Burke puts so eloquently,

When reason is not purified by faith in the political realm, … the powerful and influential of the time exercise a tyranny which violates the fundamental rights of the very people whom political leaders are called to serve.

… Religious faith … also serves to evangelize and bring hope to men and women today who are “lost in the unreal and destructive world of moral relativism and, therefore, tempted to despair.[2]

For the sake of brevity I’ll leave the other characteristics of faith, as listed in Q. 21, for a discussion in the comments section. If readers would like to contribute their thoughts that would be great!

Moving on to Q. 22…

Many people have never thought much about what is outside the visible world, and still those who do may feel that it is a bit superstitious, to say.., pray to Saint Anthony when you have lost your keys, or something similar. On the contrary, Catholics should have a deep connection to the invisible. For more information I have put a link here to an article that explains how a Catholic has a sacramental imagination, one that thinks of the spiritual in a completely Christocentric way. An abstract from it is below:

We must stress, of course, that Catholic imagination is, in the deepest sense, a response to the imagination of God. Christ, the Word incarnate, crucified and risen, is God’s way of imagining our humanity. To believe, is to be caught up into such all creative imagining: `The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory… full of grace and truth’ (Jn 1:14). By becoming flesh, the Word has entered into human imagination. In that light, we begin to live in a universe of grace. It means having a sense of the fundamental goodness in creation. Our world can never be totally corrupt, because God has created it and made it his own. That is the crucial point: If God could so enter our human world, if God has owned this world as his very own in Christ, then the whole of creation can be seen as one great sign of God’s presence and love. And, in the resurrection of Jesus, we believe that the transformation of all creation has begun. Hidden within the struggle and dying of our history there is always the hope of rising with him. The whole of creation is shot through with the great cosmic mystery of Christ: `all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Col 1: 16-17).

Furthermore, the following two links are great additional reading for question twenty-three, on faith and science and question 24, on faith and the Church.

I’ve added some direct citations from these as well so you can get an idea of what they’re about:

Q. 23. What is the proper relationship between science and religion?

The popular view that science and religion are engaged in an endless debate is a misunderstanding that arises from a limited picture. When creation and evolution clash in a courtroom, the daily news fills up with stories suggesting there is some profound conflict between science and religion. What does not make the daily news is the research of the majority of scientists on topics that do not come into contact with religion.The same is true of the work of theologians and biblical scholars investigating topics in fields unrelated to science.

Q. 24. Pope Benedict XVI’s WYD 2011 Closing Mass Homily

Dear young friends, as the Successor of Peter, let me urge you to strengthen this faith which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Make Christ, the Son of God, the centre of your life. But let me also remind you that following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so “on his own”, or to approach the life of faith with kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.

I’ll leave you with a funny thing I read quoting Cardinal Pell from WYD 2011, ‘Young people are in the Church to set it on fire. Old people are there to make sure it does not burn down.’

Reflection Questions
• What does the term ‘secularism’ mean?

• Can you think of ways that will help you not privatize your faith?

Further Reading
[1] Papal Address to Pontifical Academy for Life

[2] Religion ‘purifies’ politics, Cardinal Burke says

YOUCAT Series 3 – What We Believe: Man Is Receptive to God

Questions 3 to 6
This chapter of the YOUCAT: Man Is Receptive to God, draws heavily on an understanding of the metaphysical, which in layman’s terms is; what is not physical, what is invisible or the spiritual element of existence.

Q. 3
Joel Hodge writes about our yearning for God in an article called The value of theology and the mystery of life;

What Christian faith involves is completely natural to human living: we place our faith in an Other who shows us what it means to be human by his living. We all do this in some form. Christianity is explicit about it, so much so that we devote an academic discipline – theology – to the rational study and explication of our faith. This is, in part, why theology is ‘queen of the sciences’ as it is concerned with the most important and fundamental human questions and experiences. It is the love of God in Jesus that has also allowed Christians to know their lives better, and so flourish in terms of art, music, knowledge, and so on. In this regard, the works of Rodney Stark and René Girard, amongst others, have shown how Christianity has revolutionised human thought and culture.

Q. 4
Moving on to human reason;

The most regarded document on the link between faith and reason is Fides et Ratio by Bl. Pope John Paul II:

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

In reading this text we begin to see just how important a solid grounding in the field of philosophy is to fully appreciate our faith and to be able to have meaningful dialogue with others about what we believe and, moreover, to understand the principles of theology.

Q. 5
Indeed, if you have ever had dialect with a non-believer, you would have an insight into this question and just how important a knowledge of philosophy, and consequentially, the appeal to human reason is.

If for instance, every day we struggle with wanting to do our own thing and especially if in the past you have had a lapse of faith or weren’t a religious person, you will know how easily we can convince ourselves that because it is hard to live a life close to God, such a life would limit our freedom and therefore must be wrong. In reality though, only a life in Christ guarantees our freedom.

The Pope’s Message for 2011 World Youth Day does a lot to explain this;

Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God’s “yes” to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus’ heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God’s love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.

However, as he points out in this article, we must remember that ‘[i]t is better to be a searching agnostic than a false believer.’

Q. 6
Yes, we must tell others about our faith!

It is our responsibility to engage with non-believers firstly by appealing to their faculty of reason, vouching for the existence of God and the truth of His Church.

How do we do this seemingly impossible task? Firstly we must remember that when a person outrightly denies or is ambivalent about the existence of God, as the question says, they hope deep down that beyond this life they cannot have come from nothing and go back to nothing. This gives us the confidence to undertake this task, but also, we must remember the value of prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have been given, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation – These inspire us to do what is right.

Here is a website on evangelization called Ask a Catholic a Question which has some helpful advice.

Lastly, as Archbishop Chaput said, ‘teaching the truth should always be done with patience and compassion, as well as firmness.’

Reflection Questions
• What is the meaning of the word ‘theology’?

• With the notion of freedom, what are we free from?

Welcome to Universal Faith!

Merry Christmas to all my brothers and sisters in Christ!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and we also kick off our project, Universal Faith: Catholicism for Teens. What is Universal Faith? Why, it’s a movement–in a world where faith is dying, and people are leaving the Church more and more because they’re misinformed, we want to change that. We want to provide young Catholics and curious Christians with strong answers about the Faith, promote religious unity through dialogue, and help everyone realize that they can become saints–that it is the goal for everyone–and it’s worth the struggle.

Already planned are courses where we will be discussing the Youcat. What is Youcat? It’s the Catechism for young people, a fantastic book that every teen Catholic should have–and the Pope asked us to form study groups around it. He asked us to use the Internet as a form of evangelization, and that’s part of our mission.

Among other things, we have a series on contemporary music and the meanings behind lyrics that we hear on the radio every day. We’re going to explain the Mass. We’re going to have series on marriage and the true meaning behind the holy Sacrament. We’re going to have a series (hosted by myself) based on the 90-day devotional Pure by Rebecca St. James, who–though not a Catholic–has helped me greatly with the issue, and I feel her message is something all teenagers need to hear. If you don’t have copies of the books we’ll be reviewing, you’re okay–we’ll try to make the series as accessible as possible.

It’s endearing to see so many fellow Catholic teenagers stepping up to explain the Faith we know and love with their own words. We’re not theologians and we’re certainly going to learn a lot more in our lives as we continue living them, however, if everyone had the attitude of not explaining because we’re not experts, then nobody would ever learn about the Church at all.

Our mission is consecrated to the Twin Hearts of Jesus and Mary, so under their protection we hope to guide people to the Truth and into the safety of Jesus’ redeeming love.

Non-Catholics are by no means excluded from the mission. I mentioned above that we’re interested in inter-religious dialogue; I rather prefer to call it inter-religious friendship. The things we’ll be teaching are above all Christian, and especially the messages on purity have to get out to the whole world. Once a month, we’ll be hosting a guest blog post by a non-Catholic, based on our belief that every branch of Christianity has value before the Lord, and silencing them won’t help the world at all. If you have a tough question about Catholicism, ask it and we’ll tackle it as friends. We don’t debate here; we discuss. If a comment thread appears to be turning hostile, it will be stopped. We are friends in Christ, brothers and sisters, and we are called to love one another.

As I tour through history and introduce people to important figures in the progression of Christianity, we’ll find that we agree on as many things as we disagree on. With friends who aren’t Catholic, we hope to find a point of friendship and understanding, and be the generation that finally tears down the wall between Catholicism and Protestantism, so that instead of tense acknowledgement of one another we may become friends as we wait joyfully for the coming of Christ.

There will also be book reviews and, hopefully, we will start a book club!

Finally, I pray that everyone reading this will have a blessed Christmas with their friends and family this year, no matter where you live or what you believe. Together, we will discover the treasure of what Jesus left us to care for–and take up the responsibility of caring for her in this time of growing atheism and unrest. Let’s be the generation of hope. Let’s be the generation of love. Let’s be the generation of Universal Faith.

God Bless,
-Mariella Hunt
Visit my personal blog here.