Why Civilized Society Needs God

I came across this article on The Jerusalem Post about the decline of people who believe in God in Britain and the detrimental effects it has had on their society.  The article cites a research study that found that only 35% of the British population believe in God while it’s 92% in the USA.  The article has this to say about the effect of this low percentage:

This decline of faith and optimism may account for why Britain – once the most advanced nation on earth, which gave the world parliamentary democracy and inimitable centers of higher learning – is today more famous for exporting reality shows like Big Brother and Project Catwalk. For while religion affirms the infinite dignity of the human person, its absence robs life of its sanctity. Universal exploitation and humiliation for fame and fortune are the inevitable outgrowth.

Of course, America is no prize pig either.  Religion is under assault from all sides whether it be from a president who believes that a large part of America has backwards beliefs and “cling to their guns and religion” to government bureaucrats who eagerly disregard our Constitutional right to practice religion.  And one only has to read the news to see the negative affects our move away from God and religion has had.  Without recognizing a higher authority and a better life to come, people just live for today.  They live for money, fame, lust, and sloth.  Just look at some of today’s headlines on the Drudge Report:

That is just a small glimpse of the fruits of a more secular society.  And since we cannot appeal to a sense of morality (since morality implies religious beliefs) the only solution in a secular world is more rules and regulations.  Because people are not encouraged to develop a native sense of right and wrong, bigger government interference is the only remedy.  Our founding fathers realized that a stable, free, and open society is one based on religion.  For example, George Washington had this to say about the role of religion and government:

Enough with the political talk.  After all, this is a prayer website focused on the rosary.  So as spiritual people, how are we to respond?  With the rosary of course!  Pick a mystery and think of how it relates to society moving away from God and then pray for those poor souls.  For example, think about The Second Sorrowful Mystery and Jesus’ suffering.  Now think of all those people who suffer because they try to live without God in their lives.  We pray that their suffering may be redemptive and that they come back into God’s grace.  Or we can focus on The Third Luminous Mystery and how Jesus asks us to live for His kingdom of Heaven.  Now think of all those people who live solely for this earthly kingdom.  We pray that they will one day respond to Jesus’ call to conversion.  Finally, think of The Fifth Glorious Mystery and pray to Mary, Queen of Heaven, for Her intercession in all the ills this world has brought upon itself because we refuse to live as God calls us.  Any rosary mystery can apply to this issue of society moving away from God.  The important part in reversing this trend is to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!  And when you think you’ve prayed enough, PRAY SOME MORE!

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In the News — Astrophysical Discoveries Point to a Creator

I read this article on the Catholic News Agency today and thought it was worth sharing. Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD is a philosopher and physicist who says that the more we learn about our universe, the more it points to the idea that it must have a creator.

a few years after the big bang
Image by gari.baldi via Flickr

I read this article on the Catholic News Agency today and thought it was worth sharing.  Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD is a philosopher and physicist who says that the more we learn about our universe, the more it points to the idea that it must have a creator.

Here is a snippet from the article explaining the theory of of “singularities”:

“Every single Big Bang model shows the existence of what scientists call a ‘singularity,’ and the existence of each singularity demands the existence of an external ‘element’ to the universe,” Fr. Spitzer said.

The priest physicist then proceeded to explain the different, complex versions of the various Bing Bang theories.

He quoted Roger Penrose, the world-famous English mathematician and physicist, who corrected some of the theories of his friend and colleague Stephen Hawkins to conclude that every Big Bang theory, including the one known as Quantum theory, confirms the existence of singularities. Therefore, said Spitzer, the need to find an explanation to the universe’s existence drives us to seek “a force that is previous and independent from the universe.”

Fr. Spitzer also quoted the 2003 experiments by three leading cosmologists, Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, who were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.

“The concept at this point is clear: nothing is nothing, and from nothing, nothing comes, since nothing is… nothing!” Fr. Spitzer said, to explain the fact that contemporary astrophysics demands “something with sufficient power to bring the universe into existence.”

“It sounds like a theological argument, but is really a scientific conclusion.

“There is no way to ignore the fact that it demands the existence of a singularity and therefore of a Creator outside space and time,” he added.

According to Fr. Spitzer, “this theory has become so scientifically solid, that 50% of astrophysicists are “coming out of the closet” an accepting a metaphysical conclusion: the need of a Creator.”

Personally, I’ve always seen it as very logical that something must have existed outside of the universe and created the dense matter that would later become the Big Bang.  Read the full here.

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Eating Your Spiritual Vegetables

I came across an article on EWTN discussing the results of a study on why people choose to leave the Catholic Church. This article highlights the importance of attending Mass regularly as a child. I want to expand on the article and discuss why parents have such an awesome responsibility to correctly shape their child’s spiritual habits.

I came across an article on EWTN discussing the results of a study on why people choose to leave the Catholic Church.  This article highlights the importance of attending Mass regularly as a child.  I want to expand on the article and discuss why parents have such an awesome responsibility to correctly shape their child’s spiritual habits.

From the article:

The study, “Faith in Flux: Changes in the Religious Affiliation in the U.S.,” was made public Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“The report highlights the importance of Mass attendance among children and teenagers,” the archbishop said. “Adolescence is a critical time in religious development and, as the poll shows, what happens in the teen years has a long-lasting affect. We have to help young people and their parents appreciate the importance of going to weekly Mass so teenagers know Jesus is there for them now and always.“

It should not come as any surprise that people who attend Mass regularly during their childhood will more likely continue to attend Mass as adults.  I’m reminded of two old sayings — “practice makes perfect” and “use it or lose it.”  In a previous post, I talked about spiritual fitness.  I touched on how becoming spiritually fit is a lifelong process and cannot happen overnight after a single prayer.  Similar to development in other areas of one’s life, starting good spiritual habits early provides a sturdy base on which one builds a strong faith.  I also discussed how people who attend Mass regularly are more in tune with their faith because they make their faith a priority in their lives.  Inversely, those who do not make faith a priority will often reject it either formally (by renouncing their affiliation with the Church) or informally by becoming a Catholic in name only.  However, for parents this decision to leave the Church has much larger implications because of the dire effects it might have on children.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who said that he would never force his children to go to Mass.  I asked him if he thought regular Mass attendance was important to him.  He answered that it was for him but he did not want to “force” his beliefs on his kids.  I’m often surprised to hear Catholics who do not encourage or expect their children to attend Mass regularly.  These parents say that they want to let their kids develop their own religious identity.  On the surface that seems like a very politically correct and noble course of action.  After all, one of the pillars of Western society is the freedom of religion.  Shouldn’t people be free to choose whatever religion they want instead of having their parents’ religious dogma forced-fed to them?  What’s wrong with that?

Not shaping a child’s religious development is similar to not shaping their nutritional diet and exercise habits.  Good parents do not let their kids eat whatever they want whenever they want.  They know that a child, when given complete freedom to choose their diet, would most likely live entirely off cookies, chocolate, cotton candy, doughnuts, and hot dogs.  Heck, even I as an adult would rather reach for an Oreo instead of a carrot at times.  But I know better and understand the dangers of consuming large amounts of junk food.  However, children do not have the maturity to understand the long-term consequences of a junk food diet.  Hence, it is the parents’ responsibility to introduce healthy foods to their children such as fruits and vegetables and educate them on good eating habits.  Loving parents do not want to see their kids develop health problems (obesity, diabetes, eating disorders, etc.) before they start taking nutrition seriously.

The spiritual diet is formed in a very similar way as the nutritional one.  Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children develop spiritually healthy habits.  That includes routine prayer, following the Commandments and laws of the Church, and attending Mass regularly (for starters).  Parents must set an example for their child’s spiritual development, not leave it in the hands of a child that would often rather watch television and play video games instead of praying and attending Mass.  At times, that means forcing the child to put down the game controller, get dressed, and go to Mass.  It’s the spiritual equivalent of not letting a child leave the dinner table until all vegetables are eaten.  The child may not like it, but you know that ultimately it will benefit him/her.  Children, teenagers, and even young adults often need some guidance and motivation in their spiritual lives since they do not always have the maturity to make such important decisions on their own.  And when it comes to faith, making poor decisions can be devastating.  Moving away from a healthy, spiritual lifestyle can lead to drug abuse, sexual addiction, and a whole host of other damaging behaviors.  With those possible dangers, some of them with permanent consequences, would any parent want a child to learn the importance of faith and spirituality the hard way?

I find it interesting how teaching and encouraging good nutrition, exercise habits, thinking skills, work ethic, and common decency are viewed as good parenting while passing along a good spiritual lifestyle is viewed as brainwashing.  Nutrition, exercise, work, and studying can be difficult at times but we do them because we know they help make life more fulfilling.  And yet, when the Church (or any organized religion) challenges Her members to lead faithful and moral lives that is seen as being unreasonable, unrealistic, and outdated.  We often want to tell the Church to “lighten up” instead of stepping up to the challenge and really pushing ourselves and others to answer God’s call.  For parents, stepping up to that challenge is doubly-important because it sets an example for children.

The “Faith in Flux” study states:

When people were asked to choose why they left from a list of possible reasons, the number jumped from 21% for Catholics who became Protestant, and 27% for former Catholics who are now unaffiliated with any church. Other reasons for leaving the Church, such as disagreement on doctrinal matters, figured much higher.

These results reinforce the importance of teaching children strong spiritual habits.  I’m wondering from that study how many of the 27% who are no longer affiliated with any church did not attend Mass regularly during childhood and incorporate God’s Word in their lives?  I bet many of them grew up in a household where their parents did not place a high priority on Mass attendance, learning their faith, receiving the Sacraments, and prayer.  In fact, taking a relaxed approach to faith can be even more damaging to a child than not practicing any faith at all.  Children grow up with misconceptions when parents live in a way that contradicts the Church’s teachings.  These misconceptions develop into frustration, confusion, and ultimately abandonment of the faith entirely.

Of course, I’m not a parent so what do I know about shaping a child’s spiritual development?  To be honest, I imagine that trying to pass on my Catholic faith to my kids will be one of the scariest aspect of parenthood.  I want my children to be spiritually healthy and lead good and happy lives free from a lot of the evils that take root in so many people today.  I want my children to feel the joy and fulfillment that comes from a life that recognizes and admires God, Jesus Christ, the Saints, and the Catholic Church.  But until I face that trial I can only look at my parents’ example and hope to imitate them as much as possible.  They taught me the importance of:

  • Praying before meals and before going to bed.
  • Reading from the Bible (illustrated children’s Bible when I was young).
  • Attending Mass weekly and on Holy Days of Obligation.
  • Following the Golden Rule of treating others how we want to be treated.
  • Calling attention to the importance of faith in various life situations (births, deaths, hardships, and triumphs).
  • Doing the right thing because it is right, not because I’ll get some reward or recognition.  Inversely, I shouldn’t do bad things even if I don’t get caught.
  • Leading by example.  Children are smart and will notice when parents do not practice what they preach.  Fortunately for me, my parents never gave me the opportunity to find any contradictory behavior.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

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Jesus Does Not Need Straw Polls!

I discuss my thoughts on an article I read regarding how many Catholic in France disagree with the Church’s teachings and feel that Pope Benedict should step down.

Notre Dame Cathedral

While I usually stay away from commenting on news and current events, I came across this article and felt that I should provide my thoughts.  After all, we pray and meditate on a much deeper and more meaningful level when we tie them into the struggles and concerns of everyday life.  We never pray in a vacuum, but instead thank God for His wondrous deeds and ask Him for guidance.  Remember, prayer is a dialog with God.  And like any conversation, we want to make sure we have something interesting to talk about.  Hopefully this post will give you a little something to think about.

I read this article today on the Catholic Exchange reporting how many Catholics in France are displeased with the Church’s position on many social issues as embodied in many recent statements of Pope Benedict.  The article read:

More than 80 percent of those polled said they want the Church to “modify its position” on contraception and abortion. Le Journal du Dimanche reported that “significant majorities” want the Church to change the teaching on remarriage after divorce as well as homosexuality.

The article goes on to discuss protests in front of Notre Dame cathedral and calls for Pope Benedict to “step down” as pontiff.  I think what a lot of people miss is that the Catholic Church does not arrive at Her stances on various social issues based on popularity polls.  Just because a large group of Catholics disagree with the Church does not make the Church’s views wrong or evil.  The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s natural law that does not depend on the momentary whims of society.  The Church cannot take something that is a sin and rationalize it as a good just because a large population of society wants it that way.  That is like saying 2+2=5 because that is what many people believe.  No matter how many polls you take or how vocal that “2+2=5” crowd may be, the math will never add up.  Similarly, many brilliant saints and Doctors of the Church have crafted the Church’s doctrine after years of study, debate, and prayer.  You cannot throw their work out the window simply because you do not like their results.

Let’s look at this from a Biblical perspective.  Jesus never asked his apostles for a vote on what He should do.  Jesus did not change his messages and teachings in order to gain favor amongst the Roman and Jewish authorities.  Jesus did not take a poll on whether the adulterous woman should be stoned or not.  In His agony in the garden, Jesus never told God that he discussed the issue over with the apostles and they voted, 10-2 (Judas was absent for the vote), that Jesus should not be arrested.  Instead, Jesus said that He would do God’s will.  I am sure many people would argue that Jesus could have reached many more people if He had just “lightened up” a little and compromised.  But Jesus knew that the truth was something to be boldly proclaimed, not compromised in order to gain popularity.

Many of today’s Catholics lack that humility to put their faith in God and His Church and follow Her laws.  No doubt, the Church puts forth a mighty challenge.  And many of us would rather see the Church bend and preach an easier path than for us to step up and accept that challenge.  It is human nature to hate being wrong and we often like to blame the person who points out our weaknesses.  But we also must keep in mind that the Pope is merely a messenger of the Holy Spirit.  He does not arbitrarily make up rules and replacing him would not somehow reverse universal truths.  In the article, Damian Thompson, the editor of Britain’s Catholic Herald, had this to say about the Pope which I think sums up the Church’s position nicely:

In the spirit of martyrdom, the successor of St Peter chose not to take the easy path but to speak the truth boldly. At a time when he has been recently subjected to sustained assaults in the world’s media, his courage and determination are an inspiring example of genuine love for the suffering.

So let us pray this week to listen to God’s truth.  Instead of wishing that God’s ways were different, easier, and fit inside society’s current trends, let us strive to be the people God asks us to be.  It is not easy to live as Jesus calls us to live and the first step is usually admitting our failings through the Sacrament of Confession.  And let’s face it, when caught between God’s truth and society’s whims, who is going to win in the end?  I don’t see God or His Church bending because of the results of a straw poll.  So let us pray to imitate Jesus, God’s always-faithful servant, and accept His truth.

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