Are You Feeding Your Soul Junk Food?

Summer is here which means it’s county fair season. For me the county fair bring two treats — watching my son see farm animals that he has only seen in picture books and indulging in some fattening foods. This year I tried a fried Twinkie for the first time. For those who don’t know, it’s a Twinkie (actually, an off-brand imitation since Hostess has not restarted production yet) dipped in batter, fried, and then covered in powdered sugar. It was like eating a freshly made donut with warm cream filling only it’s the size of a corndog. And as good as it tasted at the time, my body paid for it later. First, it sat like a brick in my stomach and I just felt sluggish and tired.  Later I experienced a total sugar crash followed by the guilt that I really didn’t do my body any favors partaking in that temporary culinary indulgence.

A Real Deep-fried Twinkie
Fried Twinkies… so bad and yet soooo good.

My fried Twinkie experience reminded me that God designed the human body to expect a certain type of food for energy. He didn’t design the body to gracefully process mountains of fat, sugar, and chemicals that is certainly present in foods like my fried Twinkie. Eating unhealthy food is actually a double-whammy health-wise because you are not only dealing with the insurgence of fat and sugar, but you’re also missing an opportunity to give your body something beneficial. When you treat your body in a way contrary to how God intended for you to use it, you (sugar) crash and burn.

Much like how our physical bodies are designed to act a certain way, so are our souls. And when we move outside the limits of a healthy spiritual diet we also crash and burn by losing God’s grace. First of all, what is a healthy spiritual diet? I see it as a life centered around living key virtues such as chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. We find the strength to live those virtues by centering our lives around prayer and meditation because those are the times we dialogue with God and learn His will. A healthy soul is one that lives according to the golden rule and is motivated to do good works out of a love for God and others.  A healthy soul needs periodic feeding through prayer and attending Mass.

Unfortunately, similar to how much of society suffers from a physical health epidemic, we also have a societal spiritual decay. Vices such as lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride fuel this spiritual decay. And we see these vices everywhere in society as we’ve normalized pre-marital sex, single parent households, pornography, cheating, stealing, killing, abortion, euthanasia, illegal drug use, excessive drinking, and just a general disregard for treating others respectfully and the dignity of the human person. Much like a donut occupying space that could otherwise be filled with vegetables, all these vices occupy space in our souls and leave no room for God’s grace. Many of us are consuming spiritual junk food that is destroying our soul’s health. And we aren’t eating our spiritual “vegetables” that keep our souls strong and healthy. Just look at the empty pews at Mass, the short lines at the confessional, and society’s general apathy and hostility towards anything spiritual. Like how fast food has replaced a balanced meal, vices have replaced virtues as a normal way of life for an increasing number of people.

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

I have a feeling fighting the spiritual obesity epidemic will need prayer and meditation on all 20 mysteries of the rosary. The rosary walks through the Gospel and the Gospel is Jesus and Jesus’ love is what our souls crave. Praying any mystery and taking its message to heart is a step towards God’s grace and a step away from sin. You can’t be both sinning and living virtuously at the same time. So the more time you spend doing things that are virtuous, the less opportunity you have to sin. And what could be more virtuous than praying relentlessly and then letting those prayers manifest into good works?

Medjugorje : Confession as it should be.

But for those who really need a specific mystery to meditate on, try the First Luminous Mystery, Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan. We should remember two important aspects about the Sacrament of Baptism. First we should remember our baptismal vows that we periodically renew during Mass — to reject sin and to believe in the Holy Trinity. Acting virtuously and spiritually isn’t something reserved for priests and nuns, but something all Catholics profess and promise to live by. Secondly, baptism is about renewal and getting a clean start. No matter how badly and often we sin, we can always get a second chance through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Using the diet analogy, we sometimes fail to eat healthy foods and give into moments of weakness. After all, who can resist picking up a little treat at the market or a fried Twinkie at the fair? But just because you have those moments of weakness doesn’t lock you into a lifetime of eating nothing but junk food. You can always reset and refocus to live and eat healthier. The same goes for our faith. We may have moments of weakness and sin, but that doesn’t prevent us from confessing them, getting a clean slate, and trying to live more virtuously in the future.

So pray vigorously, avoid sin, and for Heaven’s sake share fried Twinkies with friends because they are just too much for any single person. Your soul and your body will thank you.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Catholics, Souls of Steel

Anyone who knows me knows that I love movies. We are now entering the summer blockbuster season and there are many films that look promising. I think the movie I’m most looking forward to is the next Superman movie titled Man of Steel. Here’s the trailer for the movie that I’m going to reference in this article. Note the biblical undertones.


The latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, puts a spin on the iconic super hero. Other movies in the franchise show a Superman who jumps at every opportunity to use his powers in service of helping humanity. He is essentially a boy scout with super powers. This new movie asks, what if Superman doesn’t want to be Superman but instead chooses a life as an anonymous human being? The trailer presents two possible outcomes if he reveals his super human nature. He might be rejected, feared, and made an outcast because he doesn’t fit in (he is an alien after all). Or he will be seen as a role model that humanity strives to imitate. From the trailer, it looks like he initially believes the former idea and tries his best to hide his super nature by living off the grid as a fisherman.

Let’s look past the obvious biblical references in the trailer such as the voiceover saying how Superman will be like a god to humans, how he is seen as a “guardian angel”, or that he chooses to work as a fisherman. I want to focus on Superman’s choice to hide his powers and try to live a “regular” life. Can you blame him? After all, look at the other Superman movies where the world expects him to protect humanity from ourselves. He becomes responsible for stopping anything bad from happening whether it be bank robberies, car brake failures, plane crashes, or nuclear armageddon. Would you want to be the person the world relies on to prevent all misfortune 24/7?

Holy Spirit painting

We, as Catholics, are very much like this new Superman. We too are given tremendous gifts and powers. Okay, we cannot fly, have x-ray vision, or outrun a train. But we do have other powers that transcend mere physical capabilities. We have power from the Holy Spirit and God’s grace. That manifests itself in the knowledge to know good from evil and the strength to choose the good even when evil seems easier or more attractive. We have the power to keep going, to keep trying, to keep forgiving, and to keep loving regardless of how hard life tries to knock us down.

We also have the super powers of hope and faith. We have hope that we will one day find eternal happiness in Heaven by living in God’s grace here on earth. We have faith that there is more to our lives that what we experience in this world and it’s worth enduring trials and hardship since we will find comfort in Heaven. It’s the Holy Spirit that gives us strength to live for God‘s kingdom. Superman may have limitless physical abilities. But Christians have limitless spiritual abilities.

Much like Superman hiding his physical power in Man of Steel, we often want to hide our spiritual gifts and just “fit in” with everyone else. Because using those gifts to live as people of God will often make us outcasts in society. For example, when we use our knowledge of good and evil to call attention to the evils of abortion, the world condemns us as hate-filled, uncompassionate, and tyrannical. Or we have a gift of knowledge that tells us that cheating, lying, stealing, being greedy, or lustful are evils that should be avoided. But we so often want to pretend that we do not have that gift of knowledge so that we can do whatever we want. Like Superman, we don’t want to stand out because we are afraid that with great power comes great responsibility (I know that quotation is from Spiderman, not Superman, but it fits well).

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

Jesus is my Super Hero

When we pray the rosary, think of the Third Glorious Mystery, The Coming of the Holy Spirit, as Christianity’s superhero origin story. It was the Holy Spirit that transformed the apostles from scared deniers of Christ into evangelists who would lay down their lives to spread Jesus’ teachings. Pray for an openness to the incredible power the Holy Spirit gives us to live according to God’s Will and Jesus’ teachings. Jesus taught that a lamp isn’t meant to be hidden under a basket, but put out on the table to illuminate the world around it.  And superheroes aren’t meant to keep their abilities bottled up.  We are spiritual superheros!  And so we are called to be that shining example of God’s love to the world. We pray for the strength to live according to God’s Will especially when it seems easier not to. Because deep down we know that following the path God lays before us will always lead somewhere good. Maybe we won’t find that goodness in this life, but we will certainly find it in God’s heavenly kingdom.

We also should meditate on the Fourth Joyful Mystery, The Presentation in the Temple. Remember, Simeon is a perfect example of how our faith is a type of spiritual super power.  He waited and prayed in the temple his entire life on faith  because the Holy Spirity told him that he would one day cast his eyes on the Savior. And when Jesus came for His presentation in the temple, that promise was fulfilled. I like to think that it wasn’t Simeon’s own abilities that gave him the will to come to the temple every day for many fruitless years. Instead, it was his faith and openness to God’s grace that allowed him to persistently look and wait for Jesus. When we earnestly pray for that same strength, God will surely give it to us. All we have to do is ask. Of course, God may also throw some challenges our way too just to show us that we do, in fact, have the strength to overcome life’s obstacles. After all, what good are super powers if we don’t have super challenges to test them?

Still Looking for those Rosary Meditations

Enhanced by Zemanta

Random Thoughts on Pro-Life Week

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which made abortion legal at the federal level.  Because of that tragic decision, the pro-life community makes the week of January 22nd Pro-life week.  This week features prayer novenas, talks and lectures, special programs, and of course, marches throughout the United States.  Pro-life week is bitter sweet for me.  On one hand it is great to see the enthusiasm and faith of the pro-life movement as people come out and march in the tens of thousands both on our nation’s capitol and on the West Coast.  But it’s unfortunate that we need to assemble at all to remind our government and society of the value of human life.  Below are just some random thoughts about the pro-life movement, government, and abortions.  I hope this gets you thinking, but more importantly, I hope it gets you praying and acting.

English: Personhood Now! banner in front of th...

Pro-life week reminds me a little of Mothers’ Day.  People always say how it’s unfortunate that we dedicate one day to mothers since every day should be a mother’s day.  Similarly, it’s unfortunate that we dedicate one week or one day to acting on our pro-life convictions.  Every day should be a pro-life day!  However, there is one startling difference between the two events.  When you forget to call your mom or send her a card on Mothers’ Day, you have one upset person.  But she’ll live.  When you don’t stand up for the value of life, you have 330,000+ aborted human beings per year in the United States alone.  So remember your mom, but also remember your commitment as a Catholic (and as a member of the human race) to promote the value of all human life all year long.

To put into perspective the scale of the modern-day holocaust which is abortion, consider this.  Twenty six people were murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting.  That tragedy sparked a massive response from politicians in comforting speeches and calls for new gun laws.  Now take Planned Parenthood‘s abortion number of 330,000 a year or roughly 37 abortions every hour.  That means the same number of lives as the Sandy Hook shooting are murdered by abortions every 42 minutes, 24/7!  And yet, the response from the political class is silent.  No speeches, no national dialogue, no executive orders, and no one saying, “Not one more child!”  Politicians were saying that they would do whatever it takes to reduce the likelihood of another Sandy Hook.  Where’s the “doing whatever it takes” to protect an unborn life from being murdered every 90 seconds?

When Planned Parenthood boasts its yearly 330,000 abortions performed (which you, the taxpayer, help fund), that doesn’t take into account the 330,000 additional lives that are also shattered — those of the mother’s.  For every life that is murdered by abortion, there is someone who has to live with the consequences of that decision.  And you also have to throw in the fathers as well since many of them also have to deal with the reality of the abortion.  If you are taking into account other people negatively affected by abortions, you might as well consider the doctors and nurses that do the procedures.  Sure, the mother, father, and doctors’ lives may not suffer any consequences immediately.  But there is plenty of data and testimonies that show the long-term damage abortions have on parents both mentally and physically.  And then there is the long-term damage abortion has on society as we devalue human life in our laws and public consciousness.

Anti abortion rally in Washington, D.C. Decemb...

We live in a society where government is playing a larger role in our lives.  I’m not going to get into why I think that’s a bad idea in this post.  But think about all the money government spends.  We are in year five of trillion dollar deficits.  The government spends money on food stamps, cell phones, health care, backing mortgages, investing in “green” technology, bailing out industries, foreign aid, and thousands of other ways that will supposedly move the United States to stability and prosperity.  And yet, not a dime from those trillions is spent to provide solutions to handling unexpected pregnancies except for abortions.  Imagine the support we could provide those surprised expecting mothers if we took the funds to Planned Parenthood and wasteful government programs and spent that on pre-natal care, mental and spiritual support, housing, and whatever else is needed to foster the new life, not kill it.  And while I loath government getting involved in so many aspects of our lives, at least we wouldn’t be funding intrinsically evil acts.  If the government is going to take my money and spend it, it might as well be to support life, not destroy it.

In light of all these realities, your rosaries should be on fire from all the prayers that are needed.  Pray the rosary daily and remember your commitment to be pro-life.  And that doesn’t mean to be pro-life one week out of the year, but every day.  That also doesn’t mean starting a fight with your pro-choice co-workers or arguing with a pro-choice relative.  But it does mean that you defend and promote the value of life when you can.  We are all called in different ways to show God’s glory and the beauty of His creation.  For some it might be side walk counselling or praying in front of abortion clinics.  For others, it means giving to pro-life charities.  It might mean participating in the Walk for Life (West Coasters, see you Saturday in San Francisco).  Don’t know what your part is in this war?  That’s where praying the rosary daily will help.  Ask God for guidance and He’ll show you the way.


Enhanced by Zemanta