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.  (  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.


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:

Photo by <a href=”;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=”;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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Do You Believe in the Resurrection

“Do You Believe in the Resurrection?”

By Victoria Clarizio

For part 1 of my story, click here. When I was in high school I had a powerful, undeniable experience of being called to discern religious life. A call from God was placed like a burning ache in my heart. A desire to belong totally to Him compelled me answer this call in the best way I knew how: literal consecration to him–a life dedicated to the Church and married to Christ. I wanted to give myself totally to Him, as a wife gives herself to her husband.

As I learned more about discernment, I was taught that this desire alone is not enough. My Vocation needed to be confirmed by God, the Church, and my particular community. At every stage I examined my heart and asked God if He wanted me to continue along the path to religious life. The answer always seemed to be yes.

Then, last Lent, after being with the community for three and a half years, God seemed to be calling me elsewhere. When I first made the decision I was filled with peace, joy and excitement. It incredibly hard to leave the community that had become my family and my heart broke, but I trusted that God has an amazing plan for my life.

But shortly after I got home, the full weight of what He had asked me to do hit me. One night I lay in my bed, feeling utterly alone. Through sobs, I held nothing back of my raw heart.

“Why did you make me do that, God? You took me away from my family, my home, people who loved me.”

I felt deceived and betrayed by God. For the first few months I gave God the silent treatment.

When I started to pray again my conversation with God went something like this:

“God, I’m sorry for ignoring You.”

“That’s okay, my daughter. I asked you to do something really hard. I knew what I was asking. I knew you would have a hard time trusting Me again. I trusted you enough to not abandon Me when I asked you to do the hard thing. This is a relationship and it’s going to take time to rebuild.”

It was like discovering all over again how merciful and compassionate God is. His tenderness broke down the barrier between us. I had permission to be angry, to question–I didn’t have to ignore Him because I was ashamed of my doubt. So the past year has been one long act of faith, hope and trust. I have been Job, promising, “though He slay me, I will trust Him still.” Although my heart hasn’t believed it, my head knows objectively that God is trustworthy.

During Lent last year and again entering into this Lent I had to ask myself, “Do I believe in the resurrection?” My head’s answer is yes, but my heart is more doubtful.

There are many times of darkness in our lives when it seems like there can’t possibly be any hope, any way out. It seems like God’s promises are false, especially the promise that he is with us and has plans for our good. In times like these I think of Mary’s faith at the foot of the cross. Pope Saint John Paul II wrote about her faith in Redemptoris Mater:

“At that moment she had also heard the words: “He will be great…and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:32-33). And now, standing at the foot of the Cross, Mary is the witness, humanly speaking, of the complete negation of these words.”

Mary stood at the cross, looking at what seemed to the “complete negation” of God’s promises, and yet she had perfect faith in the resurrection of her son.

Come back next week to find out how God has been restoring my trust in him and showing me that he always fulfills his promises!


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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Wonder Woman is a TRUE Woman!

Here’s a post for all of the Catholic DC fans out there. I bet you have seen Wonder Woman, right? I did. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it! One of the reasons I liked it so much was because the movie portrayed Wonder Woman as a true woman; strong yet feminine, assertive and yet a model of virtue and nobility.

I’m not speaking necessarily of the way she dressed here or her costume, but as a person. Men keep drooling over her looks and comment about how beautiful she was. Of course… but I think her true beauty came from within. Check it out…

***Spoiler Alert***

One scene in the movie really struck me. Wonder Woman walked in on a naked man coming out of a pool. He stood there frozen, and she didn’t look down at his naked body at all. Rather, she kept eye contact and thought nothing inappropriate. Never meeting a man before, she asked if he was an average man. He looked down at himself and said, “I’d say above average.” Yet, she thought nothing of the comment and continued conversation. How many times have you seen that in a movie recently?

That small act – maintaining eye contact when another person was in a vulnerable position and thinking immorally – made such a big impression on me. Her perfect purity revealed to me just how much we have devolved morally as a society and as human beings (especially as men!). How many countless times we have devolved into something perverted or sexually lewd. However, it was so refreshing to see Wonder Woman set the bar of virtue high again, and it reminded me of the innocence God gave us that we should all be striving for.

Yes, she was beautiful on the outside, but she reflected a much greater beauty from within. Throughout the movie, I felt that Wonder Woman personified exceptional honor and virtue. She also showed a superior love and compassion for mankind along with a hunger for justice and for doing what is right. She never got tired of calling mankind to higher standards. I liked that!

The best part is that such a strong and heroic woman did not need to leave her femininity behind. She did not have to be a sexual object or objectify other men in return. She did not need to assert her “womanhood” or become someone else. No. She was a model of womanhood. She was normal. Healthy. Strong. Feminine and virtuous. She still liked common things too like flowers, babies and ice cream, things that many modern feminists would roll their eyes at. Thus, I found the character of Wonder Woman to be a great representation of a complete woman, the way God made us to be.

Wonder Woman is a “real” woman, a true woman whose actions in the movie really help set the bar high in terms of virtue. Her character give us a little reminder of how refreshing purity was meant to be. Christians can view that purity and authenticity as a reminder of how it was before we fell in the Garden of Eden.

Hey, if a DC movie can give us a little reminder of what that original innocence looked like and how we’re supposed to act and treat each other (not as objects), then I’ll take it!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any comments below, or check out the video on it here. Are you following me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter yet? #CatholicBryan.  You can keep up with me and join the conversation about this topic and many others! We’re waiting for you…..

Wonder Woman is a true woman…

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Can We Really Trust God?

“Can We Really Trust God?”

By Victoria Clarizio

My name is Victoria Clarizio and I am honored to share my story with you. I’ll be blogging on here every week and sharing with you how I’ve grown to trust in the Lord’s loving plan for me. That hasn’t been easy, and is something I am still learning. God has asked me to do some crazy things so far throughout my short life and I haven’t always responded with graceful surrender.

Can we really trust God? This question has haunted me for my whole life. This was the question that started the whole mess of original sin and it’s the doubt that Satan tempts us with every time we experience hardship. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gets at the heart of sin when it says:

“Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.”

God makes a lot of promises in the Bible and to each one of us personally. Sometimes it looks like he is going back on those promises or taking a really, really long time to fulfill them. It’s easy to lose faith at times like these. When God says “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts” he really means it! Sometimes his ways are so mysterious and we can’t understand what he’s doing that we start to question if he really does have our good in mind.

The first time I started to doubt God’s goodness my reaction was to decide He didn’t exist. When I was thirteen years old I looked at the world around me and decided that a good God could not exist. I questioned for the first time, Who made me for this life, Whose plan I am following, and where following Him had gotten me so far.

I looked at buildings blown to smithereens, children half a world away starving to death, recovering alcoholics in the halfway house my dad took me to. Where is God? I didn’t see Him anywhere. My heart raced as I stood on the edge of a decision. I looked down into the chasm, wondering if I could get back if I decided to step over the edge. My Christianity was safe, it was what I had always known. But it was not making a difference in the world. It was not giving me the passionate and adventure-filled life I so longed for. It was not giving me the answers I sought as I awoke to the senselessness around me.

God does not exist.

I opened my eyes and giggled nervously, expecting to be caught red-handed. The world didn’t seem any different. I hadn’t been struck by a lightning bolt. The next Sunday I convinced my parents I was too sick to go to Mass.

Yet, as much as I tried, I couldn’t not believe in God. I felt like Jonah, trying to hide from a God who I know can see me no matter where I go. I knew He is real. I don’t know how, but I just knew. His presence was tangible. It pressed itself against me. The air was electric with His presence. I felt like He could see right through me. And I wanted to believe. I wanted Him to be real…

For part 2 of my journey, 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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