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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!

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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. 

Would you want a book with missing pages?

Is your Bible Catholic? This sounds like a silly question but I mean it in all seriousness. I asked because there are so many versions of the Bible, and it is hard to tell them apart. Most people don’t understand the difference between a Kings James Bible, Protestant Bible, and the New American Standardized Bible.

What prompts this question was when I was asked, “What is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth?” I thought for a moment and answered, “Jesus.” But I was wrong. What would you have said?

I learned that the Pillar and Foundation of Truth is the Church. In 1 Timothy 3:14-14 it states “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

What church is Paul talking about in this verse? Paul is referring to the Catholic Church, the church founded by Jesus Christ. Through the Catholic Church, along with the teachings of the Bible, we have the resources necessary to understand “truth” and fullness of Christ.

I want you to understand the importance of the Church because it practices and perpetuates the values and traditions not written in the Bible. The Catholic Church has preserved sacred traditions and practices established by Jesus.

“I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” Revelations 22:18-19

A Catholic Bible is the complete Bible. No books were omitted or added. A Catholic Bible contains all the teachings of Christ, in its fullness.