Evil is Real, Prayer is Necessary

Suddenly Too Tired

Like most kids his age, my 7-year-old son has tons of energy. He runs around the house all day chasing his older brother. He talks at great length about his interests. He’s an active kid. But then, when it’s time for evening prayers, he is suddenly “too tired” to pray. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some mumbled prayers out of him but not much else. But then a miracle usually strikes and he’s soon jumping off sofa cushions before going to bed. It’s uncanny how he gets his second wind immediately after prayers are over.

Is what my son does during evening prayers really that much different from how many of us practice our faith? How many times do we not seem to have the energy to pray, fast, or go to Mass? And yet, we somehow find the energy to go to work, parties, and various social events. We can spend hours watching TV or sports, but can’t spare any time or energy to go to a church to pray.

The Real Risk of Sin

Many people diet and exercise because they want to avoid many medical complications that come from an unhealthy lifestyle. But exercise and diet can only lower your risk. They can’t guarantee that you won’t get sick or contract a serious disease. Because of this lack of certainty, many of us choose to roll the dice. We’ll take the immediate gratification now like eating what we feel like and sitting in front of a screen. Why not enjoy life now instead of trying to fight diseases we may never get right?

“I don’t need exercise; I have strong genes”

I think that mentality spills into many of our prayer lives. Prayer and living the Catholic faith aren’t a guarantee of earthly happiness. This is because we don’t see all the sins or unhappiness that we avoid through prayer. This is similar to how someone doesn’t exactly know all the diseases he didn’t get through exercise and healthy living. Unfortunately, it’s not knowing what didn’t potentially happen that dissuades many of us away from prayer, fasting, and receiving the sacraments.

Unlike a physical illness which we may not get whether we exercise or not, sin and temptation are a certainty. We face it every day and we need to be prepared. The war in Ukraine shows the evil that is always lurking around us just waiting to be unleashed. Here is what Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk had to say about the nature of evil:

“This war reminds us more and more of the rules of unseen warfare, the spiritual struggle that every Christian wages with the devil, with evil, and his servants, Therefore, if we hide or conceal our sins, our flaws, they become stronger, they dominate us. But when we bring them to light, go to confession, speak of them truthfully to ourselves, and open our hearts to a spiritual father, it is as if we bring the devil to the light and take away his power.”

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk

When we don’t pray, fast, attend Mass, or receive the sacraments, evil grows more powerful. I’ll reiterate that this isn’t a probability of sin and evil having an effect on you, it’s a certainty. Some people may get lucky and live a long healthy life without proper exercise and diet. But you can’t get lucky and avoid the wickedness and snares of the devil without a strong prayer life.

The devil is always around trying to lead us astray

How to Defeat Sin

Many of us are tied as we enter Holy Week and then the Easter season. We’ve been praying and fasting for over five weeks now. But now is not the time to let up on our commitment to faithfully serving God. Like I said in my previous post, God calls on all Catholics to be His elite followers. He asks a lot of us but only because the dangers are real. God loves each of us and doesn’t want us dominated by evil. We have the tools to fight back and remain in God’s grace:

  1. Prayer
  2. Fasting
  3. Reading the Bible
  4. Confession
  5. The Eucharist

God Wants Us to Lead this World

Leaders are meant to go that extra mile for their team or organization. They need to set a great example for others. They inspire people to do their best. People want to work for great managers. Athletes want to play for great coaches. But being a leader isn’t easy. You can’t phone it in or be a hypocrite — creating rules that you don’t follow.

Jesus calls us to lead

I was thinking about great leadership when I read the Gospel for Wednesday, March 23. Here Jesus talks about fulfilling the law.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent | USCCB

Jesus is telling us that we need to be great leaders in our spiritual life. He is telling us how God calls us to follow Him in all ways, both big and small. We may not know it, but the way we live sets an example for others. It may be for our kids, our family, friends, or coworkers. They all see us as a representative of a group whether that be a family, community, company, or faith. Jesus tells us we need to be great leaders and examples of the Catholic faith for others to follow.

Not acting as leaders

Unfortunately, I think many of us take our calling as leaders of the Catholic faith too casually. We don’t realize that the way we live paints a picture of Catholic life to others. When we don’t attend Mass, receive the sacraments, or do not acknowledge the importance of Jesus in our life, others will think that’s what Christianity teaches and promotes. And that is what Jesus in the Gospel tells us we can’t let happen.

You can’t lead the Church if you don’t go to church

I feel like we Christians are called by God to be his elite leaders. We are like the star athlete or rock star employee. God asks a lot of us and He expects us to come through. An athlete can’t ignore the rules of the game or slack off in the middle of a big game. A manager can’t ignore the needs of the company or his employees. And a Christian can’t ignore God’s plan.

As you go through Lent, think about what God asks of you. Be thankful that He wants you to succeed in living a Christian life. All those rules and laws are there to help you achieve that. They help mold and shape us into the humble leaders God intends us to be. Lent is that period of sacrifice and prayer that can strengthen us in our faith and eventual joy if we choose.

Mary’s example of leadership

Meditate on Mary in the Fifth Glorious Mystery. She wears the crown as Queen of Heaven because she accepted God’s calling for her to be a humble leader. She obeyed God’s Will in all ways, big and small. Imagine the difficulty, sorrow, and confusion she faced when you meditate on her seven sorrows:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon
  2. The Flight Into Egypt
  3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in Jerusalem
  4. Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
  5. Jesus Dies on the Cross
  6. Mary Holds the Life Less Body of Jesus in Her Arms
  7. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

God laid out this challenging path for Mary to follow and she did. He lays out a path for us to follow as well. It may not be an easy path, but it’s one that we have the ability to traverse and ultimately succeed. We don’t do it alone. We have the help of Mary, the saints, the Holy Spirit, and our Christian brothers and sisters. Rejoice that God has put a path before you that ultimately leads to His Kingdom of Heaven.

Pushing Ourselves During Lent

Exercise is Hard

Like many of you, I don’t like working out, particularly jogging. Who likes setting his lungs on fire and drenching his clothes in sweat to burn off a sip of soda or a bite of cake? However, while I don’t like each individual workout, I do like how I start to feel over time. I feel stronger and have more energy. I also start to enjoy pushing myself — can I run one more house without taking a break? Can I do three more pushups? Can I plank for ten more seconds?

We put ourselves through so much inconvenience and discomfort for our physical health. But what about our spiritual health? It seems much more difficult to fast and abstain for the good of our souls during Lent. Maybe it’s because we can’t physically see our souls like we see our body in the mirror. But it so important that we focus on our spiritual health like our physical, mental, and emotional health. And Lent is the perfect time for that.

The Lenten Desert

Jesus went into the desert for 40 days knowing that he would be tempted by Satan. But he was determined to resist those temptations. He didn’t fear the temptations. He went headlong into them. Fasting and defeating the devil strengthened him for his public ministry and eventual Passion.

We enter into our own personal desert during Lent for many of the same reasons and benefits as Jesus. It is our time to strengthen ourselves spiritually through fasting and prayer. It is our challenge to resist temptation, whether that be committing sins or just not following through on our Lenten promises. We should take more of an athlete’s mindset during Lent — to really push ourselves a little harder each day. Because in the end, we not only celebrate the joy of Easter but become spiritually stronger to defeat temptation in the future.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our God is a God of joy and happiness. His joy echoes in our hearts when we are determined to overcome sins in our lives, “There is so much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” (Lk 15:7) The Blessed Virgin Mary, all the angels, and saints are cheering us to victory. Even if we do not overcome all natural and physical evils in this life, God wants us to be truly joyful now and in heaven with Him by overcoming the moral evils that proceed from our free actions.

Finding True Joy Through Overcoming Temptations (catholicexchange.com)

Going Soft from Watching Videos

As a concrete example, I gave up watching frivolous video clips. At first, it was hard because it was so ingrained into my daily routine. But over the last several days of Lent, I do feel a bit freer and more productive in the evening. Instead of watching clips, I’m reading and writing more. Time spent watching clips is now spent reading one of the many neglected Catholic books.

While watching videos seems innocent enough, it does start to erode your desire for spiritual things. It doesn’t even need to be sinful videos either. It’s the passivity of videos that weakens us. I came across this article that talks about the dangers of consuming so much video content.

If the way we’re using entertainment erodes our ability to reflect, reason, and savor truth, it erodes our ability to know and enjoy Jesus. “Blessed is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1–2). If we lose the ability to think, we lose the ability to meditate. And if we lose the ability to meditate, we lose our path to meaningful happiness. The life of the mind, and heart, is a pivotal battleground in the pursuit of real and abundant life.

The Blissful and Trivial Life: How Entertainment Deprives a Soul | Desiring God

The World Needs Strong People

It’s easy to sit on the couch and binge-watch Netfix or Youtube. It’s easy to reach for that bowl of ice cream or bag of cookies. We probably have 101 justifications for why we can’t exercise. But we need to recall that it’s Lent and we’re called to do what is good and necessary, not what is easy. When we do that, we find the strength to resist sin. But we also find real comfort through Jesus.

The world is so upside down right now. Whenever I think we’ve reached an apex of craziness, the world has a way of squeezing out more. We need to squeeze out more spiritual strength. We can’t be weak in this life. Spiritual weakness will not only bring misery in this life but may also bring eternal misery in the next. That is why Lent cannot just be a regular forty days. We need to push ourselves so we come out strong. We need to push ourselves so we come out joyful. We need to push ourselves so we are counted as one of Jesus’ disciples.

My 2022 Lenten Plan

As we start Lent, I think it’s a good idea to put into writing how I’m going to fast. When I was young, I would often pick 3-4 things to give up knowing that I would fail to follow through on about half of them. I was hedging my bets as it were. Of course, if you come into something with a defeatist attitude, you’re going to be defeated. Now that I’m older and a little wiser (very little), I’m approaching Lent with more conviction. You have to plan for success if you want to be successful.

Here’s my plan for a successful Lent.

  1. No alcohol.
  2. No sweets — candy, cookies, donuts, ice cream, etc.
  3. No wasting time on pointless streaming video. You know the ones — the five minute “10 things you didn’t know about Star Wars” type. Important/relevant videos are okay.

That’s it. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Trust me, these three things will be hard enough. And more than just giving things up, I really want to focus on making this a spiritual time of increased prayer and focus on my faith. Happy Lent everyone!

Fasting During Lent

One of the harder aspects of Lent is fasting. We all love our food in whatever form it comes in — a sweet apple, a well-prepared steak, a crunchy carrot, or a square of chocolate. Eating is so engrained in our day that it’s hard to go without it, even for a few hours. But going without food is what God asks of us during Lent.

How the Saints Fasted

I read this article on Catholic Exchange that talks about the physiology of fasting and maybe how the saints of old may have known something that modern medicine is only now able to explain. Humans are built to fast but it’s something we no longer exercise regularly.

When you fast well, it starts to make sense that the Saints fasted in order to achieve closer communion with God — as we might say, to “supercharge” their prayer. It’s hard to imagine St. Anthony of the Desert felt as many people say they do when they fast — cranky and tired. It seems much more likely that he experienced both mental and physical benefits from fasting.

Suzan Sammons in Modern Insights on an Old Lenten Practice

We already know that throughout history people consumed fewer calories than we do today. Their bodies were trained for fasting. That may account for many of the fasting claims in the bible. The story of John the Baptist surviving off of locusts and honey or Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert may not be that far-fetched. In the modern era, with a restaurant on every block, a fully stocked pantry, and a GrubHub app on our phones, we haven’t trained our bodies for fasting. But through much of human history, going through periods of fasting was a normal occurrence.

Does that mean that the saints’ fasts didn’t really count because they were used to it? On the contrary, fasting supercharged their prayers. Once the body moves from the digestive state to a fasting state, food is no longer in the equation. The body then starts to go into a conservative state which is conducive to meditation and deeper prayer. That’s what you want during Lent, right?

Rediscovering God through Fasting

Lent is a perfect time to retrain our bodies to fast. Now, this isn’t medical advice so please don’t go starving yourself or do anything dangerous. Just know that if you’re a healthy adult your body is capable of going without food longer than you may think. Like fighting the temptation to sin, you have to fight that urge to eat when you feel just the least bit hungry. And while eating because you’re hungry isn’t sinful, the whole idea of fasting is that you are showing God how much you love Him by forsaking a mild earthly pleasure and put yourself in a meditative state.

How does fasting bring us closer to God? Face it, many of us can become slaves to food. Think about how little control you feel when you are hungry. All you can think about is food. And when you’re in that state, food can become a sort of false idol consuming all your thoughts. But hunger can also become a reminder to ask God for help. If God can help you fight hunger pains, think of all the other dimensions of your life He can help you with. You just have to remember to take the time to acknowledge your dependence on God and earnestly ask for His help. And there lies much of the spiritual value of fasting.

When you feel tempted to dive into the bag of cookies or a box of crackers, try reaching for your Rosary instead. Ask God for help in keeping a good Lenten fast. Take the time to ask God for help with other challenges in your life. Thank Him for the fact that you do have food to eat when you’re done fasting. Thank Him that fasting is a choice; a choice many people around the world do not have. Meditate on Jesus in the desert. It was through fasting, not feasting, that Jesus was able to resist Satan’s temptations.

Want to learn more about the science of fasting? Here’s an interesting documentary on it: Fasting (2017) – IMDb

Owning Lent

I’m always telling my kids that they need to show responsibility and ownership or someone else will. For example, owning their toys and games means not breaking them, putting them away, and not losing pieces. If they don’t take responsibility for keeping them functional, they will get lost or break. Or I may accidentally throw out a random, loose piece or someone will step on and break something carelessly left on the floor. The lesson being taught is that one way or another, something is going to happen to those toys and games. It’s better to be the one in control rather than leave it up to others.

Similarly to responsible ownership of things, we also have to own our faith. What I mean by that is that we need to actively manage or participate in it. But it’s something we often fail at. We sort of float through life, going to Mass on Sundays and saying a few prayers but not much else. When we go to Mass, we go into autopilot with the responses and listen to the priest the same way we listen to someone giving a lecture or presentation. We’re there physically but absent spiritually. And many times, we don’t go out of our way to attend Adoration or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Basically, we don’t give our faith a lot of thought.

Don’t be a Simon

We are often like Simon of Cyrene. He was forced into helping Jesus carry the cross. I like to think of him as someone who was there because he was curious about what was going on. He wanted to see who Jesus was and what was this big deal about him. I think he had no other plan than to passively watch the day’s events unfold. And the next thing he knew, the soldiers picked him out of the crowd and made him shoulder the weight of the cross. That was probably something unexpected and unwelcome.

Jesus said that we all must carry our crosses. But we have a choice. We can either choose our crosses or someone else will thrust one on us. In this season of Lent, we have many “crosses” to choose from. We can fast, abstain, and increase our prayers and charity. But the key is to actively invest in these practices to more fully embrace our faith and increase our love for Jesus. Otherwise, we become like Simon where hardships are thrust upon us.

In not embracing the faith, we may avoid the relatively minor crosses of Mass, prayer, fasting, etc. But we give up so much more. We lose the joy that comes from celebrations like Easter and Christmas and even Sunday Mass. Without the lows of fasting and the highs of celebration, we live in a flat desert of spirituality. We don’t feel connected to God or protected by Him. We are left to our own devices to face our often harsh world and the snares of the devil.

Active Faith in the Rosary

Compare Simon to Mary in the Second Joyful Mystery. She made a conscious decision to travel while pregnant and help her cousin Elizabeth. She wasn’t passive after the Annunciation but actively decided to serve others. It was probably an uncomfortable journey and a lot of hard work. But it was an active choice. It was a “cross” Mary wanted to carry.

Don’t let this Lent pass by. Own it. There’s still time to make a plan on how you want to make this time different and special. If you don’t already pray the Rosary daily, resolve to do it for the remainder of Lent. Make a plan to read Scripture daily, or fast, or visit a church and sit silently in prayer. Don’t be a Simon and think you can just observe Jesus at a distance. Be like Mary and the saints and actively embrace him.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus is with Us in Turmoil

People are understandably anxious and stressed out over the covid19 pandemic. People are getting sick, store shelves are empty, and many of us (myself included) are on lockdown in our homes. Besides their health, many people are worried about their jobs and finances as the world economy has tanked. In these times, it’s natural to ask, “Where’s God and why doesn’t He do something?”

In these times of uncertainty, I choose to meditate on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, Jesus’ Crucifixion. Instead of seeing Jesus as someone detached and unconcerned with the world’s suffering, I see Him as someone suffering along with us. Although He was God made man and sinless, Jesus suffered and died on the Cross. He died in the same way as the two criminals next to Him.

Jesus remains among us through our suffering today. The question to meditate on when we pray the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery is whether we choose to see Him in our lives or not. So many people at the crucifixion refused to see Jesus as the Son of God unless He performed some sort of miracle. Similarly, many people today might not see Jesus in their lives unless He performs a miracle like making this pandemic magically disappear.

But then there’s the other group that knows that Jesus is here with us even in the absence of signs and miracles. The good criminal on the cross saw that Jesus was the Son of God suffering alongside him. He used that opportunity to ask Jesus simply to remember him. And we can use this opportunity of being locked down, quarantined, sheltered in place, etc. to acknowledge that Jesus is with us through the turmoil. We can turn to Him in prayer and ask Him to remember us. Because Jesus isn’t a distant, uncaring deity. He’s here with us and ready to comfort us if we just ask.

In this time when many of us are cooped up in our homes, let’s take the time to pray more than usual. It is still Lent after all. Pray hard so that you may see that Jesus is present in this world. He understands us because He’s with us. Pray and meditate on that when you’re feeling anxious.

Jesus’ Crucifixion: A Message of Hope

Being a parent forces you to look at your role in life different ways. On one hand, there are the day-to-day challenges — getting kids ready for school, packing lunches, taking them to their various activities, and resolving disputes. It’s a grind. It’s tiring. And yes, at times it feels hopeless. Maybe you got called into yet another teacher’s conference over your kid’s behavior at school. Maybe your kids are fighting over toys or otherwise creating needless conflict. In these times, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This is what parenting feels like sometimes

And then there are those times when everything comes together. Your kid does or says something sweet. Or they are playing nicely with each other; laughing and having fun. Maybe they passed that big test they studied hard for. It’s those times that can make you feel like the parent of the year and fills you with a sense of hope that you can not only handle but excel as a parent.

It’s this dichotomy between despair and hope that surround Jesus’ crucifixion. When I pray the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, I try to focus on the hopeful theme of the mystery.  Wait, what?  How does Jesus’ death send a hopeful message?  Jesus died, an apostle betrayed Him, His disciples abandoned Him.  Where’s the hope in this low point?

Jesus’ crucifixion delivers a message of hope because it all transpired the way He said it would.  Jesus said He was going to be betrayed and that He was going to die.  But He also said that He was going to rise again in glory.  And that’s the hope-filled part of this rosary mystery. Jesus always spoke the truth. So when Jesus said that God loves us and we are meant to spend eternity in Heaven with Him, he meant it.  Jesus asks us to look beyond the current situation, no matter how dire and hopeless it may seem, and focus on His message of hope.

We all have our challenges in life and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by them.  We sometimes feel like giving up whether that be in the form of giving into sinful temptations, stop practice our faith, or just stop believing that God hears us and helps us through our challenges.  We see things getting worse and think there is no hope for a better outcome.  But remember, things also got worse for Jesus — He was scourged, crowned with thorns, carried a cross, nailed to it, and basically suffocated to death.  When things couldn’t get any worse, they did.  And yet, Jesus endured because He knew this was God’s plan which would not end in death and despair but in the glory of the resurrection.

Similar to how Jesus knew that God would see Him through the darkest moments of His life, we know that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, and the saints will see us through the darkest moments of ours.  I remember what a priest once said about suffering and despair.  He said look at the Bible.  Who wins?  Is it Satan and suffering or God and eternal joy?  SPOILER!  It’s God’s vision that ultimately wins out in the end.  Any suffering in our lives is temporary and ultimately ends in glory if you have faith in God’s plan.

Holiness Is Possible

There’s a saying in the creative world that the artist is his own worst critic. Many people, when seeing the results of their efforts, focus on the flaws. A painter only sees a shade of color that is slightly off. An actor remembers that one line that didn’t quite deliver the emotional impact he wanted. A musician dwells on that missed note that no one else noticed. A software developer, see a working computer program, instead dwells on a few lines of code that feel hacked together. We all have our faults that gnaw away at us leading us to doubt our abilities.

What about our spirituality? How accurately do we see our ability to live in holiness? Do we think we have the ability to live holy lives? Or do we only see the challenges and limitations and think holiness isn’t possible? This is the exact question Matthew Kelly asks in his book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler since he clearly states it in the first chapter. The biggest lie in Christianity is that holiness isn’t something we can achieve. And that lie has had a negative cascading effect on the world.

Buy it now on Amazon

Buying into the lie that we cannot be holy has prevented many of us from even trying. We look at the lives of the saints and think, “I can’t be like that.” And so we skip Mass, skip prayers, and go along with the secular crowd. Why choose a challenge that can only end in failure? And that’s the type of thinking Satan wants us to fall in to. If we give up on holiness we become susceptible to his influence.

Now, of course, the book (which is an easy read by the way) goes into detail on exposing the lie that we cannot achieve holiness. Holiness is possible. Matthew Kelly explains that we need to practice what he calls holy moments — small instances when we act holy. We can start small with one or two holy moments per day — saying prayers, making a sacrifice, doing something nice, etc. We can then expand the number of holy moments. And guess what happens when you chain together enough holy moments? You have a holy day! Then a holy week, holy month, and guess what? You now have a holy life! And what happens when multiple people live in holiness? A holy world!

Holy Moments in the Rosary

When I think of holy moments when I pray the Rosary, I think of Veronica in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus carrying His cross. Veronica is the woman who wiped the face of Jesus during His passion. I consider it a pure holy moment. It was something small and mostly ineffective in relieving Jesus’ suffering. But she showed courage standing out from the crowd and possibly incurring the wrath of both the Roman soldiers and Jewish authorities to help someone in need the best she could. We may scoff and criticize the futility of Veronica’s actions. But who knows how many people she converted in that single action. Perhaps her example eased the fear others in the crowd may have been feeling at the time. And maybe many of those people went on to become one of the many of disciples that formed the early Church.

Matthew Kelly wants us to understand that there is no act of holiness too small. They all can have an impact, especially when combined. And there is no challenge too great that we can’t overcome if we leave ourselves open to God’s influence. When you pray the Rosary and meditate on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, remember that we can all act like Veronica and stick out from the crowd. But first, we have to want to stick out from the crowd. It’s not easy to break out of our routines but that is exactly what God calls us to do. And that is why we pray the Rosary — asking Mary for her help to follow God’s plan. When we have as powerful of an intercessor as Mary, holiness is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

The Transfiguration and Selective Listening

Last Sunday, my parish priest gave a great homily on the Transfiguration. We pray and meditate on this event in the Fourth Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary. He focused on what God told the apostles, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” I’m going to focus on that last part about listening to Jesus. Or rather, all the ways we often don’t listen to Him. My priest classified people’s attention to Jesus’ message into three groups — those who are half deaf, half listening, and fully deaf.

Half Deaf

The first group are those who are “half deaf” or spiritually hearing impaired. These people hear God’s message but only process the “easy” parts. They hear that God loves them and will forgive them. But they don’t hear how they must take up their cross and follow Jesus. They don’t hear that they need to lead a life of conversion and can’t just live according to their own conscience if it’s not well formed. The half deaf sort of hear Jesus’ teachings but not all of it. They hear that Jesus loves them and think that’s enough to live however they want.

Half listening

This group picks and chooses the teachings they like or agree with. These people are similar to the spiritually hearing impaired. They hear Jesus’ teachings and may even be passionate about a few of them. They will even put in the hard work and bear their crosses if they need to. But they may completely disregard certain Church teachings they don’t like. You usually see this in so-called “social justice” Catholics who work hard helping the poor or persecuted but then support pro-abortion politicians and policies. And just to be fair, many pro-life Catholics will march every January to end abortion but then close their wallets to support social programs to help those in need.

Fully deaf

This group doesn’t hear Jesus’ message at all because the world drowns it out. Instead, they are completely tuned into the world as presented by popular media, late night talk shows, TV, movies, and politicians. They hear about Jesus’ message through various mediums that filter and distort His teachings. They don’t hear the authentic message of the Catholic Church but a fictional, stereotypical account of it.

Are you listening to Jesus or are you too busy capturing Pokémon?

Where do you fit in? Most of us fall into these categories at different points in our life. I know I probably lived days where I fell into all three of these groups. Lent is a great time to think about how well we are listening to God. Are we making an effort to truly hear Jesus’ message or filtering and distorting it? Now is a good time to read the Bible, encyclicals, and the Catechism and listen to how Jesus truly wants us to live. Approach Jesus’ teachings with an open mind and heart so that the Holy Spirit may work wonders in you. Finally, pray for everyone who experiences some sort of spiritual hearing impairment.