Catholic Idolatry? (Do Catholics Worship Statues?)

Do Catholics worship Saints, statues, images– or Mary? Is it Catholic idolatry? I have this image to the left in my house painted on a piece of wood. Anti-Catholics think I pray to this piece of wood and worship it like it’s God. So, do Catholics worship statues?

(If you would like to watch the YouTube video on this same topic, click here).

The answer is of course not! Of course Catholics do not worship statues. Statues cannot hear us or talk to us… The fact that some Protestants and other religious persons assert that Catholics are idolaters and worship these images is pretty nonsensical, and utterly false. If you have read the catechism of the Catholic church which gives the beliefs of Catholics, (then you know we don’t worship statues and you need to be accurate about what you are speaking on. It clearly states that we worship God alone. Moreover, statues are made out of wood, plaster, and marble. In other words, they are dead, and no Catholic believes that some plaster or marble could hear them.

(See great resources at the bottom to help you defend and explain your faith)

As soon as you walk into my office, this is what you see: the St. Francis icon pictured above. It’s on my desk. This image is not for worship: it’s purpose is to recall to mind the life of Saint Francis. In a similar way,the first words of the national anthem “Oh say can you see”, immediately recall the rest of that song and its meaning to mind. So when I see this saint’s image on my desk, it reminds me of his story in the same way: that he was a rich Noble who God called to rebuild His church–how he left everything, exchanged his riches for rags, began preaching the word of Christ to others, and how he changed the world and reformed the church. The image is just a reminder of his life of holiness and how I’m also called to be holy and to follow Jesus in a similar way.

When we have a representation of Jesus, we know it’s not actually Jesus–including that it may not be an accurate reflection of Him, neither skin, hair, or eye color, etc. However, it is a reminder nonetheless. Looking at an image of the Divine Mercy (above); the red streak and white streak symbolize his unending Love and mercy of our Savior. So, every time I see the Divine Mercy image, its a visual reminder of Jesus’ Love & Mercy. I don’t need the images to know this of course, but they are a beautiful and helpful visual prompts. Every time I see the words that often come with this picture, “Jesus, I trust in You,” I am reminded to trust in Him alone..

Back in the day before the Bible was around, Bibles were extremely rare until the Printing Press, and people could not read. About 9 out of 10 people in the Roman Empire were illiterate. Since almost everyone was illiterate for well over a thousand years, do you really think that Jesus would start a Bible church? It wouldn’t make any sense. No. The images in the churches and in the stained glass windows recounted the stories of the Bible and the stories of Jesus for people who were illiterate. They were the stories of the Bible in picture form, so to speak, because most people could not read at the time or not crazy rich in order to afford a Bible which took three years to copy just one Bible. So, when we can gaze on an image, it’s only purpose is to encourage us to call to mind the whole story of the Bible and the stories of our Holy brothers and sisters who went before us and followed Jesus so faithfully.

Here’s one we all love as Christians: The Nativity. As Christians, we do not worship the statues of the Nativity, they’re just reminders of the Christmas story. Like pictures in our wallet or on our wall at home. You’re not worshiping the images, even if you take it out, hold it in your hands or kiss it. After all, if a husband takes a picture of his wife out of his wallet and kisses it, is he worshiping her? The kissing and a physical expression and symbolic gesture toward the person who it represents who is not around in person.

Some will quote Scripture saying, “There are no idols or graven images to be made,” as it states Exodus 20. True, but context is key! God was talking to the Israelites because they were around Pagan lands who all worshipped many gods and created false idols for the purpose of doing so. These pagans thought that trees and cows and many other things were all gods, and they build statues to represent that. The Israelites even fell into their pagan idolatry building a golden calf to worship.

Of course, God is a jealous God, and warned the Israelites that there is only one God and not to build idols and worship them! That was the catch. It’s not that statues could never be made, after all, five chapters later in Exodus chapter 25, God commanded that two huge statues be built and placed on the Ark of the Covenant. As we can see here, it’s possible that when used in the right way, statues can be used for the purposes of God. There were also many other carved images throughout the temple that God commanded for holy purposes. Likewise, in Numbers chapter 21, God commanded to have the golden serpent on the staff (a graven image) made in order to help the Israelites remove their diseases.

Throughout the Old Testament, God had images made for holy purposes. Likewise with the saints, these images are the pictures and representations of our friends and family who have gone before us and are alive in Heaven. People like St. Francis are models of holiness for us. The people in these images did extraordinary things and followed Christ passionately and unreservedly. And it is our hope to follow Christ just as passionately as they did.

They’re not Idols. They are examples for us.

Check out the links below for great books on defending the Catholic faith or just answering your questions. They will inspire you can help you in many ways as they have in my life.

Feel free to leave a comment below. Also feel free to let me know who your favorite saints are and why? Why do they inspire you and push you on to holiness? (If you would like to watch the YouTube video on this same topic, click here).

RESOURCES:

“Where is That in the Bible?” by Patrick Madrid (Where all major Catholic beliefs are found in Scripture) – https://goo.gl/auZ6bH

“Where is That in Tradition?” by Patrick Madrid (Catholic beliefs found in history and tradition) – https://goo.gl/HfGJgF

“Behold your Mother,” by Tim Staples: https://goo.gl/yTHxfs

5 CDs: “The Gospel Truth About Mary” (Part 1): https://goo.gl/s6edwk  This 5 CD set explains everything about the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Bible.

5 CDS: Catholic Tim Staples Debate vs. Protestant Steve Gregg. It’s a must listen to debate for any Catholic serious about defending the faith or learning more. https://goo.gl/ntJZj1

The Case for Catholicism – Answers to classic and contemporary objections. (This is the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and thorough defense of the Catholic Church against Protestant objections in print). – https://goo.gl/RwtpWy

Catholicism and Fundamentalism: Attacks on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians.” (One of the BEST books on defending the Catholic faith against Protestants and anti-Catholics. A classic and must read). – https://goo.gl/fNxXuB

 

 

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Catholic Church Sexual Abuse (Exposing the Lies, Defending our Priests)

With the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI from the papacy, CNN and other news media outlets raged with stories about corruption, the papacy, the problem of priestly celibacy, and countless conspiracy theories.  “The Catholic Church needs to change!”

News stations and social media outlets are still ripe with gross charges that priests are rapists, that all priests are pedophiles, that Pope Benedict XVI was involved in the whole thing and tried to cover it up, etc. Others continually repeat the myth that priestly celibacy is the main cause for the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. If the old men in Rome would just get up with the times and allow priests to get married, then the numbers would surge along with a drastic decrease in the number of children being abused.  It sounds pretty simple, no?

All of the above lies and accusations are, of course, false! This is what we will be addressing in this article.

***If you would like to watch my Youtube Video here on this topic with even more information, click the link.

The REAL TRUTH!

Sexual abuse is not an issue of celibacy, but a lack of it!Pedophilia itself is also not an issue of celibacy but a psychological disorder, a mental illness.  This goes for anyone, religious or secular.

While the media would have us believe differently – statistically and otherwise – the Catholic Church has been one of the least perpetrators of any institution in the world regarding sexual abuse.  What the media usually fails to announce is that 99% of the abuse cases they report are old cases that they have rehashed – most of them from 30-50 years ago.  Even though they are being presented today as if they were current, most of these cases took place nearly a half century ago.

Don’t believe me?  Check out the “John Jay College of Criminal Justice” who has rigorously performed all the major research on this issue.  Their latest reports from 2008 until at least 2014 onward show that there have been only about six or seven credible allegations each year involving minors.  Not seven-hundred.  Not seventy.  Seven.  And, this is six out of the forty thousand priests and tens of thousands of workers employed in the Catholic Church.   Obviously, one case is too many anywhere, but the charge that the Church still has a huge problem, or that priests are pedophiles, is a biased and unsubstantiated assertion.

MORE FACTS:

Let’s push the envelope a little more and blow open the dirty little secrets that either people don’t know or wants to talk about:

– It is a fact that the majority of all sexual abuse takes place in the family!  Studies reveal that about 85% of sexual abuse takes place in the family.  The highest abuse rate comes from family members, then babysitters, then neighbors and friends.

– After families, the next highest perpetrator of sexual abuse is the public school system. These make up about 15% of all abuse cases.

– Toward the bottom of the abuse list comes religious institutions. And, within that category, non-Catholic faiths have an equal or higher rate of abuse than the Catholic Church. And this takes into account that the Catholic Church has more than 10 times or more the amount of people these much smaller churches do.  If celibacy, not allowing men to marry, leads to so many problems including sexual abuse, then how does one explain families being the biggest perpetrators. Spouses get married.  They have sex.  Yet the child abuse rate is extraordinarily lower among celibates.  The proof is in the facts.

Again, one case is too many, and the Catholic Church should be held to the highest standard more than secular institutions. However, it is a fabrication to state that the Church is the biggest perpetrator of abuse. That is not credible or honest. For all the people who yell, scream, protest, and complain that we need to crack down on the evil, corrupt Catholic Church in order to protect children, they ought to stop turning a blind eye to families and public schools where the abuse rate is 100 times higher and more than the Church. 100 times!  If these same people were really concerned about protecting children wherever the abuse happens (and not just hating the Catholic Church), they would work to crack down on all areas where the problem is truly rampant. Instead, they reveal their apparent anti-Catholic bias.

Remember, that nearly all priests are good, holy and faithful, and have been for the majority of church history. People like Jesus, St. Paul, Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II, to name a few, were all celibate and lived holy lives. Jesus himself (and also St. Paul) taught celibacy, also found in the Bible (Mt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:7-8). So, it’s not like the Catholic Church just made it up one day. People who have problems with the Catholic Church’s teaching on celibacy; do they  have a problem with Jesus and the Bible too?

 

RESOURCES FOR YOU TO READ:

If you are a Catholic, or for anyone interested in this subject, check out the links below. Be informed!

1. Priests and Pedophiles – https://goo.gl/ujHSD8 (This is one of the best books on the subject by one of the foremost authorities. He’s a non-Catholic and is un-biased. A must read.)

2. Sexual Sabotage: How One Mad Scientist Unleashed a Plague of Corruption and Contagion on America – https://goo.gl/oZZdXD (This book, like the one below, give you all the dirt on one Alfred Kinsey and his disgusting legacy. If you want to understand the sex scandals more and a lot of the issues, check out this book or the one below).

3. The Kinsey Corruption – https://goo.gl/yH13MW (“According to his own personal correspondence, Kinsey was a homosexual with a marked preference for young boys. He was also an atheist and a confirmed bigot who refused to hire Jews, Blacks, Christians, and anyone who embraced traditional moral values.” Pg. 24)

4. Shaken By Scandals – https://goo.gl/QrQcXi (A great all-around book on the actual facts regarding the scandals, how to deal with them, and how to minister to others.)

5. GoodBye Good Men – https://goo.gl/4QQuSz (Want to know where the bad priests, corruption, and scandals in the Church came from? Read this book!! It’s shocking though.)

6. The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America – https://goo.gl/DXvAhv (This does not talk about the sex scandals per say, but it’s a history book detailing the downfall of the Church in America and where all the problems came from. Very interesting, enlightening, and in depth.)

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Disclaimer: This video and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. This helps support the channel and allows us to continue to make videos like this. Thank you for the support!

 

Related topics: Catholic sex abuse, priest sex abuse

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Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust

  • Did Pope Pius XII do nothing to help the Jewish people in World War II?
  • Did the most powerful man in the world sit back idly while watching millions of Jews die needlessly?
  • Did Pius XII make deals with Hitler just to save his own skin?
  • Did the Catholic Church really side with Hitler and stab the Jewish people in the back?

Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust

Injustice! There is an injustice being spread around America and different parts of the world today. It’s in the form of a great lie! The myth states that Pope Pius XII, the man who did more for the Jewish people than anyone else, in fact did nothing at all. Rather, he stood by idly and watched them die when he was in a position of power to help them. It is stated that he even made pacts with Hitler to keep himself off the hit list. But this is so far from true, it’s amazing anyone ever believed it.

On the contrary, we will see that the Jewish people of the day praised the pope, celebrated all he did, and credited him with saving over 800,000 Jewish lives! So then, where did this revisionist emerge from? Where did these lies about a good and noble man develop?

It all began in 1963 with a theater production. That’s right, a theater play! In 1963, a show opened called “The Deputy,” which was written by a Protestant who accused the pope of complying with the Nazis through silence and doing nothing to help the Jewish people in their plight. Though just a play, after this on-stage accusation, severe criticism of the pope and the Vatican ensued. It eventually grew into a firestorm resulting in anti-Catholic and anti-pope sentiments along with the revisionist history we know today. This is the modern understanding of the pope we have, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

So, let’s set the record straight. What is the real story regarding Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust?

As stated, Pope Pius XII did more to help the Jewish people during World War II than any other person including organizations and political governments. Even when he was Cardinal named Eugene Pacelli, he spoke out loudly against the Nazi’s. Then, when Pacelli became Pope Pius XII, he continued to speak boldly which created a stir.  It is no secret that the Nazis hated the pope and wanted to do away with him. There are many letters which verify this fact and reveal their disdain for him.

Eventually, the Nazis warned the pope and all Catholics to cease from speaking out or face the impending consequences. And Hitler was always true to his word. One famous example was in Holland.  The Catholic church there refused to stop speaking out against the Nazis. As a result, not only did the Jews die (including Ann Frank), but thousands of Catholics died along side them (including Edith Stein, a convert to Catholicism).  The Nazis made true to their promises for anyone speaking out against their regime.

Seeing many innocent Catholics dying, Pope Pius XII stopped speaking out publicly and developed a new, much more effective strategy instead. In fact, it saved almost a million Jewish lives. Even the Jewish people of the day liked this strategy and believed that speaking out would endanger them and the Catholics and only make things worse. So, what was the pope’s new approach? How did he save so many lives and become a hero in his day?

The Pius Truth:

  • Pope Pius XII secretly opened the monasteries and convents around Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc).  Even people’s private homes were opened, not to mention cloisters of nuns were opened (even though they had taken vows to not let the world in). In all of these places, the Catholic Church safely hid thousands upon thousands of Jews.  The pope himself opened up the Vatican to the Jews and thousands more took refuge there.
  • Working around the clock, the pope was also actively involved in secretive negotiations to help save Jews from being killed or deported. For example, through these negotiation deals, the pope helped save 20,000 Jews from some Italian prison camps, 8,000 Jews from Holland, and many thousands more of Jews in other countries.
  • The Catholic Church employed many avenues to save the lives of countless Jewish people, and the efforts absolutely did not go unnoticed.
  • As the book, Pope Fiction relays: The head Rabbi of Rome, Abraham Zolli, was so inspired by the example and work of the Pope that he ended up researching Catholicism and converting to the Catholic Church after the war ended.
  • Likewise, the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, praised the efforts of the pope and didn’t hesitate to proclaim him and all the good he did.
  • After the death of Pius XII, there were many prominent Jewish leaders and laymen who praised his efforts and successes, and he was highly honored.  Even Golda Meir, Israel’s delegate to the UN and future Prime Minister of Israel, gave Pius XII strong praise for his outstanding work in helping the Jews and for his efforts in speaking out.
  • Most people don’t realize that shortly after the war, the World Jewish Congress gave Pius XII two million Lira as a gift of thanksgiving for all he did to help the Jewish people.
  • Even the Jewish scientist, Albert Einstein, published an article in Time Magazine praising the efforts of the Church in helping Jewish people everywhere.  He said, “I looked to newspapers and editorials, but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for surprising truth. I had never any special interest in the [Catholic] Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom…” (Pope Fiction, pg. 304).
  • Perhaps one of the clearest signs is that after World War II ended, the government of Israel estimated that Pope Pius XII saved about 800,000 Jewish lives during the Holocaust, more than all other religious organizations combined. In the pope’s honor, the Israeli government planted 800,000 trees to represent all the lives he saved through his untiring effort and hard work.

The myth that the pope turned a blind eye to the suffering and death of the Jewish people is the furthest thing from the truth.  To the contrary, the pope himself was in the trenches, on the front lines, and doing the undercover work needed to save as many Jews as possible. Thus, Pope Pius XII  should not honored as a hero. We should honor him in the highest for his efforts just as the Jewish people themselves did in his day. Let us follow their example!

For some more information on this interesting topic, check out the following resources:

Pius the XII and the Holocaust, by Robert Graham

Pope Fiction, by Patrick Madrid (Addresses this myth and 19 other myths regarding the papacy. I love this book).

Thanks for reading!

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This description links contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a very small commission. This helps support the my channel and blog and allows me to continue writing blogs like this. Thank you for the support!

 

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Religion and War (Is Religion the Cause of War and Violence?)

religion and warReligion and War! Is religion the cause of all war? Does religion by nature cause violence? Are not most of the world wars attributed to religions arguing over who is right, about whose holy book is correct? Perhaps if they did not just condemn things that differ from their worldview, there could be peace. Contrast this with science which operates in the realm of fact. Here it is acceptable to challenge people’s point of view in order to journey toward the truth. So, perhaps we should all become atheist, put our petty religions aside, and just work seek truth, peace and harmony. So speaks this atheist claim.

However, this claim of the “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins could not be further from the truth. Do not be deceived by myths that are repeated endlessly based on absolutely nothing. For anyone who has studied actual history and not just a bumper sticker adaptation of it, history itself paints us an entirely different picture of religion than you will often hear. It’s unmistakable as we will see below. We will also see that barbaric atrocities from atheists far outweigh those of all religions combined. So, learn this information, and the next time you hear this pitiful argument, you can respond with kindness, knowledge, logic.

The Religious GOOD that Atheism Ignores:

To be fair, there have been some religious wars and conquests through history carried out in “God’s name.” Whether they were or were not, religion can own up to the fact that there have been mistakes and atrocities in God’s name. With that being said, there is a whole world of good that nobody can deny, far more good than atheists could ever imagine or duplicate.

Just speaking of the Catholic Church alone. The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world and does more good than any religious, secular, or atheistic organization. In other words, it feeds more people, clothes more people, and educates more people than anyone else. Over the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has started hospitals, orphanages, health clinics, and run away shelters; they run groups that combat human trafficking along with countless other organizations for every need of life. The Catholic missionaries can be found in the poorest countries side by side with the poor and serving them. Even in New York, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal serve the poor on a daily basis not to mention the Sisters of Charity and countless others.

religion and war

Remember the dreaded Dark Ages? These times were a period of instability and war because of the incessant conquests from the Vikings, Huns, Danes, Visigoths, and all the other Barbarians that ransacked the Roman Empire for hundreds of years. Yet, during this time the Catholic Church helped keep literacy alive and eventually civilized the Vikings and various barbarian tribes with the Gospel of peace and love. It was Christianity too who helped civilize the cannibals and other violent nations. Countless Catholics were martyred in the process.

Atheist rightly value education and school, yet they forget that it was the Catholic Church who who invented the University system, started countless schools, and widened the circle for who could learn at school, not to mention that the Church advanced science, created the invented economics, law, and some of the most beautiful art, music, and architecture that the world has ever known. Religion has done a lot of good, and that cannot be denied.  Based on just these things mentioned, religion has made civilization infinitely better and more prosperous. (If you would like to buy my book and see a real conversation I had with an atheist on this topic, check it out here or at the end. For other good book recommendations on this topic, see links at the end).

Myth: Religion Causes War!

Some will retort, “Well, what about the Crusades and all the religious wars that have happened?” (For the real truth about the Crusades, click here). The assertion regarding religious wars is also greatly exaggerated and full of myths. One might be surprised to find that the majority of all religious wars and atrocities come primarily from the religion of Islam, not all world religions.

The facts are these:  Since their founding, Islam has lived by the sword. Whereas Jesus preached his message in love and with non-violence, Muhammad led with the sword and war.  Nearly the entire history of Islam is one of committed warfare. Certainly, there are peaceful Muslims today. No one disagrees with that. However, this does not take away from the historical reality that Islamic wars lasted 1,200 years until they were finally defeated. What Christianity spent centuries building through peace, love, and sacrifice, Islam wiped out almost over night.  So, as much as this gives a bad rap to the religion of Islam, (and atheists love to harp on Islam), it does not give a bad rap to all religion. Atheists lamely lump all religions into the same category uncritically. Would people say Buddhism is violent, for example? Could they be put side by side with Islam? The truth is that most religions are not violent.

What about the Crusades?

The Crusades themselves were first and foremost a war of self-defense against the invading armies of Islam. Muhammad led armies onto the battlefield until his death, and after, Islam expanded even more. From 756 A.D. – 856 A.D. Muslims conquered everything from Afghanistan to North Africa and then pushed into Europe where they were finally stopped. When they laid siege to the Byzantine Empire laying waste most of it, the Emperor Alexius I begged the pope for help against these invading armies. The pope agree to come to their aid, and thus, the Crusades were started. And only after much prayer and consideration. The Crusades therefore began as wars of self-defense.  And, though abuses (which you can read in my other blog here), it is a gross misunderstanding to claim that they were merely conquering others who disagree with them, going to war just to get rich, or to conquer pagans which are all myths.

Even considering the extensive conquest of Islam and those of the “Old Testament” that some people like to bring up, these wars are next to nothing compared to the atrocities and “high body counts” found among atheists and those with no religion.

Atheist Wars

Something that is always overlooked by atheists is the fact that most atrocities were actually committed by atheists. Let’s look at some of these:

STALIN was responsible for murdering 20 million of his own people through forced starvations and other deaths. That is twice as many as Hitler ever killed who himself was unreligious for most of his life.

MAO was an atheist in China who was responsible for killing 70 million people.  Like Hitler and Stalin, Mao also targeted Christians and murdered them.

These unthinkably high numbers don’t even take into account the large amounts of senseless violence by lesser atheist tyrants like Pol Pot or Fidel Castro, or others around the world. Atheist Pol Pot, for example, wiped out nearly 2 million of his own people, 1/5 of his own country’s population. He killed a larger percentage of his own countrymen than Stalin and Mao and 10 times the amount of the Crusades and the Inquisition combined. Stalin too killed more people than all religious wars combined! That’s something atheists never talk about when pointing fingers.

religion and war

The Take Away:

The Crusades and the Inquisitions together killed not even a quarter of a million people over 500 years. Yet, the atheist violence above was all in a short span of time. Thus the violence, wars, and atrocities of people who don’t have religion far outweigh those who do. The senseless killings and violence that occur in the absence of religion, or of some moral code, is shockingly higher than when religion is present. In fact, the deaths caused by Christian rulers over this 500 year period amounts to only 1% of the total deaths caused by Stalin and Mao in merely a few decades, not to mention all of the other atheist regimes.

Does religion cause war?  It can. Sure. Have bad things happened in the name of religion?  Absolutely.  However, the moral code of Christianity and of most religions have inspired people to become better and make the world a better place as we discussed above.

The take away can be summed up perfectly by Dinesh D’Souza in his book, “What’s So Great About Christianity?” He says:

“Whatever the cause for why religious regimes do what they do, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in three thousand years not managed to kill anywhere near the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades. It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the main source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is responsible for the worst mass murders in history” (Pg. 221).

Book Recommendations:

1. “Why Do You Believe In God?,” by Bryan  Mercier (The themes above are discussed in this book along with more information on God, science, religion, and more.

2. What is so great about Christianity, by Dinesh D’sousa (Mentioned and quoted above)

3. How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, by Thomas E. Woods (This book does a fantastic job of showing all the good that the Catholic Church did in the world and how so much of what we have we received from the Catholic Church. – A must read for all Catholics)

4. Answering the New Atheism, by Scott Hahn (Another book answering many of the claims of atheism, especially those of Richard Dawkins. It touches on what we discussed above in a different way)

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How Important is Sexual Compatibility for Marriage

Are you sexually compatible with you future mate? How important is sexual compatibility for your marriage and does it make a difference? Will it help you to have a truly happy marriage?  The wisdom of today proclaims that couples must live together before marriage and have a good sexual relationship before tying the knot. After all, you do not want to be with someone  you are not sexually compatible with, do you?

This desire may be sincere, but here is the reality.  This kind of thought process and discernment will actually have the opposite effect and kill your future marriage. The following real life conversation I had with a young lady reveals why:

Me: I’m a Catholic Speaker who also speaks on love and relationships. I travel around talking to people about how to find true love and happily-ever-after. I also address many potholes that prevent them finding love. I talk about dating, engagement, sex, marriage, and many pro-tips people are never taught.

Woman:  I’m actually a Catholic too, and I believe it is important to have sex before marriage! After all, would you want to marry someone that you have not slept with?  I wouldn’t for sure.  I mean, how do you know if they are good for you or not?  How do you know if you’re compatible?

Me:  So, what I am hearing is that people are like cars. One must test drive a person beforehand to see if they are compatible, to see if they are the right one to buy.  If not, you return them just as you would any product that doesn’t perform to your liking.

Her:  Well. Hmm. OK.  When you put it that way… I have never thought of it like that before.

Me:  Here’s my problem with that line of thinking. People are not cars. They have feelings, hopes, dreams, and cannot be treated like dead objects to dispose of at our will.  When food doesn’t please us, we throw it away. When a song doesn’t please us, we change the station. When a car doesn’t perform, we test-drive another.  That’s such a poor way to treat actual living-breathing human beings.

I also find it may be helpful to think about it this way.  The majority of all marriages are not sexual. Perhaps close to 99% of a marriage is not sexual. So, even if you have sex every day of your life, that only accounts for a fraction of what makes up the marriage. So, in other words, sexual compatibility is not what you should be basing your future spouse on.  It’s all of the other things in a relationship and in a marriage that are far more important.

For example, are the two of you compatible in your beliefs, morals, and values?  This is one of the top reasons for failed marriages.  Failure to properly communicate is another one, not sexual incompatibility, is always a top reason for divorce.  (http://divorcehelp360.com/top-five-reasons-couples-divorce/)  Also, it’s far more beneficial for compatibility and a happy marriage to find someone you can trust, who has the ability to sacrifice when times get tough, who is always faithful, who puts you and the family before their own selfish needs, someone who is hardworking and virtuous, and doesn’t have destructive personality traits. Being best friends is far more important than being good sexual partners, and so on

All of these things are far more important than a sexual relationship, for these are the qualities needed for a lasting and happy marriage. People who focus on the sexual relationship usually miss all of these non-negotiable items.

Her:  I see what you mean.  That actually makes a lot of sense! [She things about about it quietly for a minute. Then, she seems to get a new thought.)  So, do you believe sex is important in marriage?

Me:  Absolutely! But love is the most important thing in a marriage. And sex is not love.  Sex in marriage is the expression of a deep love that is already there (or should already be there).  It’s the visible sign of love between two spouses which is why sex before marriage is a lie. When you get married, you look your spouse in the eyes, and before God, you verbally promise to give your whole self to him forever in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death. Then, each and every time you have sex with your spouse, you renew that promise of love made on the altar, not with words, but with your bodies. Your body speaks the language, the unspoken language of unconditional love.  So, sex is not just for kicks, but it’s sacred and

Here’s the bottom line: if you truly love a person, you would marry them no matter what the sex life will be like.  Love is love independent of sex.  And if your sex life isn’t so good in the beginning, well… you have the rest of your life together to develop a beautiful, wonderful, and fulfilling sex life together based on love, not utility. If your relationship is based on love, then the person will mean the world to you no matter what. It’s only a lack of love that treats other people like objects, reduces them merely to their sexuality, and disposes of them if and when they cease to please.

Her:  [Kind of blown away at this new understanding] Wow! That is a whole different way of looking at it, and it makes a ton of sense. I find it much more beautiful!  I can’t wait to share this with my boyfriend.

Me: Awesome! I’ll say a prayer for you! (smile) Bye.

End conversation

There is much more that could be said about this and the beauty of love and relationship, along with the many reasons so many marriages and relationships fail today. But, I would love to hear your thoughts on the conversation and ideas above. Feel free to leave a comment below. Strive for love! Real love. Not the counterfeit. To learn more about this awesome love and many pro-tips, feel free to check out my YouTube channel and the Love and Relationships folder found here. I will also be coming out with some videos on the best books and resources for dating, engagement, and marriage. God bless!

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Does God Want Me to be Happy?

Does God Want Me to be Happy?

By Victoria Clarizio

I’ve been sharing my story over the past few weeks and today I’m going to take you back to the beginning of my call to discern religious life.

In July of 2007, I attended the Steubenville East Summer Conference for the third time. I was about to enter my senior year of high school and had been growing in my faith. I was earnestly seeking God’s direction for my future. During the Saturday Holy Hour, God began to reveal His will for my life.

As I looked at Jesus in the Eucharist and let Him gaze at me, and let myself be swept up by His love, a peace filled me. I felt an intense love for God and was set on fire with zeal.

“What do you want from me, Lord?”

I can still hear His response ringing in my heart.

“Everything.”

The next morning, as I was waiting for Mass to begin I heard an announcement: “Would any sisters present please come up to the stage before Mass?” Every year at the conference, all the teenagers present are encouraged to be open to a vocation to priesthood or religious life. They ask anyone who feels called to stand up in front of everyone. I had never felt inspired to stand up when this invitation was extended, so when I was reminded of what would be happening I didn’t give it a second thought.

But Saturday night had changed me. God had asked for everything and I was willing to give it.

I closed my eyes again and I saw myself standing up, publicly proclaiming that I feel a tug towards religious life–something I had never felt. Where did that come from? It was not my imagination, not a passing thought. This image was accompanied by a sudden conviction.

“Do you want me to be a nun God?” I sat in stunned silence. “But this will mean giving up marriage and having a family.”

“I asked for everything.”

It is terrifying, that everything should mean this. I thought I could have what I wanted and still give God everything.

“God, please don’t make me do this.”

I knew what God was asking of me, but I pleaded with Him to take the urgency away. I fought what I knew I had to do until communion. As if this moment had been planned for all eternity, we sang “I Surrender.” God gave me the words to say yes to Him.

Just before the final blessing the priest said, “I’m going to invite Sister up here.”

I almost jumped out of my seat before the sister finished speaking. I felt like the Holy Spirit had lit a fire under me. I looked at myself in amazement, that image I saw so clearly playing out in real life. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. As if standing up in front of my friends, brother and thousands of other teenagers wasn’t enough, the sister asked us to take another step.

“Come up in front of the stage and we’ll pray a special blessing for you.”

I looked around at the other girls walking up with me. Most of them were smiling. I was terrified. The others seemed to take this lightly, as if saying, “I might as well be open to it–you never know.” I was almost angry at them.

“God is making me do this,” I wanted to say.

“We are simply asking you to discern for one year whether God is calling you. Just give Him a year.”

One year. I can do that. Maybe He’s not really calling me.

If you have ever wondered if following God’s will means giving up everything you want or you’re scared to say yes to him, keep following my story to learn how I came to learn that God’s will is the only path to true happiness.

 

Author Bio: Victoria Clarizio is a Catholic writer and teacher. She blogs at One Pearl about prayer, scripture, Ignatian meditation, and Jesus the Bridegroom. She encountered Christ in a deeper way through praying with scripture during her time discerning with a religious community and hopes to help others do the same. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University and is working on a memoir about her spiritual journey. When she’s not writing, Victoria is hanging out with her rambunctious ninth graders(mostly boys!) at the homeschooling co-op where she teaches.  She lives in Connecticut with her parents and is excited to see where God calls her next.

 

Photo by Matthew Henry: Burst.com

Photo by <a href=”https://burst.shopify.com/@matthew_henry?utm_campaign=photo_credit&amp;utm_content=Free+Happy+Woman+Jumps+On+Trampoline+Photo+%E2%80%94+High+Res+Pictures&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=credit”>Matthew Henry</a> from <a href=”https://burst.shopify.com/emotion?utm_campaign=photo_credit&amp;utm_content=Free+Happy+Woman+Jumps+On+Trampoline+Photo+%E2%80%94+High+Res+Pictures&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=credit”>Burst</a>

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Does God Trick Us?

Does God Trick Us?

By Victoria Clarizio

As I shared in my last post, from the time I was in high school, I felt called to discern religious life. When I went to visit the community I ended up joining, it was love at first sight. I felt right at home and it seemed that everything God was calling me to could be found there.

During that weekend, we had a special time of adoration on Saturday night. As I was looking at the Eucharist I felt God make some very concrete promises to me. These words rang so clearly in my heart that I will always remember the exact words I heard:

“Everything you desire, great and small, you will find here.”

I knew first and foremost, that everything I desired could be found in the Eucharist, but I also knew God meant something more specific than that. At the time, I took this promise to mean that community was where I belonged for life–that is where I would find fulfillment and my life’s purpose.

God broke His promises when He asked me to leave, or at least that’s how I felt. I knew that He always fulfills His promises, I just couldn’t see any possible way that His promises to me could be fulfilled.

Then my spiritual director asked the right question, and I had the grace to see from God’s perspective. I was telling her about this promise I felt God made to me, about finding everything I desire. I was so stuck on my interpretation of that and feeling like God had lied to me, that it was giving me tunnel vision. I kept banging my head against the wall of this lie: God tricked me. I felt deceived and betrayed by Him. I got worked up whenever I talked about this, but my spiritual director broke the tension by asking:

“Well, did you find your desires there?”

At first I stared at her in confusion, “What do you mean?”

She let my brain process for a moment.

It was like I had been looking at the world upside down and it suddenly righted itself. My facial muscles relaxed as my tension turned into revelation. I almost jumped out of my seat in excitement, as renewed consolation bubbled up within me.

“Yes! I found my desires there. I found out what I desired. ‘All of your desires, great and small, you will find here.’ I learned what the true desires of my heart are.”

She grinned broadly at me and the sacred moment that was unfolding before me.

As my inner world adjusted to this new reality, it was all I could to repeat over and over, “that is so cool,” with a huge grin.

Since that day, my trust in God has continued to be restored. Now that those blinders are off, I am beginning to see more clearly how God has been working all along, how He has been fulfilling His promises and how He has used the desires of my heart to lead me towards His will.

With this new vision, I have been looking back over my life to see God’s hand in everything and how he has brought good out of hopeless circumstances. If you struggle with discerning God’s will or trying to figure out what He wants from you, or if you can relate to my journey, feel free to come back next week to keep learning about what God has taught me!

Missed the first part of my story? Click here.

 

Author Bio: Victoria Clarizio is a Catholic writer and teacher. She blogs at One Pearl about prayer, scripture, Ignatian meditation, and Jesus the Bridegroom. She encountered Christ in a deeper way through praying with scripture during her time discerning with a religious community and hopes to help others do the same. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University and is working on a memoir about her spiritual journey. When she’s not writing, Victoria is hanging out with her rambunctious ninth graders(mostly boys!) at the homeschooling co-op where she teaches.  She lives in Connecticut with her parents and is excited to see where God calls her next.

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