Shut up and listen

If you are anything like me (perish the thought!), your prayer time looks something like this:

You’re knelt before your bed, probably tempted to lean over onto your elbows but straighten your lumbar region and flex your core to endure the posture-filled prayer stance that joins you (ever so slightly) with Christ’s cross.  After getting over the minuscule pain, you start off with one spiritual foot into the direction of God’s presence.  You get so giddy that you start showering Him with requests, praise, hymns, maybe even a few curse words if you had a bad day.  In any event, the first part of your prayer is filled with your words… and so is the middle…. and the end….

I got a wonderful idea when I was praying in this way: if I want to be more like God, perhaps I too should shut up and listen.

I took a page out of my Father’s book and, for the past week, have done as little speaking as humanly possible.  While most people looked at me funny because I was abnormally silent in the presence, it turned out to be an epic week.  I learned about their deepest desires, their needs and what makes them genuinely happy.

The best part- I listened as they solved their own problems through their own words.  By talking themselves through it, they became very satisfied with their discoveries and then thanked me (for doing absolutely nothing).

And so it is with prayer.  I think God’s silence speaks more than his words ever could.  That’s why, when I think about the Bible, I think about those written words as great pieces of advice, but there is so much that remains unwritten.  It is like outer space, we know a lot about it, but there is so much more to be discovered.

The only way to discover anything, then, is through silence, His and ours, because seeping through the barrier of words grows the profound roots of Truth.

So shut up every once in a while.  In doing so, you’ll know exactly when you should speak up.

Probably the Most Controversial Thing You’ll Read All Day

I recently read an article by one of my favorite bloggers that stated bluntly that the best way to get more readers is to “break the rules”.  By that, he meant that bloggers should write about a controversial topic and wait for the bickering to begin in the combox.

I’ve been savoring the idea and interesting post titles like “My Church is Better than Yours Because Jesus Founded It”, “Why (enter any religious institution besides Catholicism here) Is Wrong,” and “When He Said, ‘This Is My Body.’.. dude, He REALLY meant His body” came to mind.  However, after grounding my thoughts in ecumenical charity (and facebook and twitter), I arrived to the conclusion that there exists an even more controversial topic.  Sadly, the irony is that this topic will more than likely result in very few page views.

Here it is:

“Jesus Christ is Lord” & “God is love.”

There you have it.  That’s it.  The most controversial thing anyone can say has just been published on my blog.  I stole it from Philippians 2: 11 and 1 John 4:8, so technically I’m guilty of violating two laws:

  1. Plagiarism (what can be more controversial than that!)
  2. Going against the current mood of society

“The Catholic Church never suits the particular mod of any age, because it was made for all ages.  A Catholic knows that if the Church married the mood of any age in which it lived, it would be a widow in the next age.  The mark of the true Church is that it will never get on well with the passing moods of the world.  “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15: 19

~Venerable Fulton J. Shane

Here’s the ironic part.  While it may be controversial, the odds of it booming my blog stats are slim to nil.  Why?  Because the way people show their love to bloggers is by visiting and commenting on topics that interest them.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of bloggers have already made their vows to the current mood of the world and find my little plagiarized nugget of truth unbearably naive and uninteresting. They won’t comment.  I will not be liked.  Three of my four followers will unsubscribe.

So then, the success of a Catholic blogger is not found in page view totals.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.  The controversial content of your blog might lead to a true understanding of what St. Paul meant when he said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~2 Corinthians 12:10

Debunking the claim that “we are all animals”

I recently came across a post titled I’m getting pregnant on purpose to piss off my parents and saw this in the combox:

“I have to agree with you, We are all animals and if kids want to have sex, just like dogs, bonobos or bunnies, they will so it’s best that they are prepared to have it as safely as they can.”

Ok, before I begin debunking this claim, I’m not looking for controversy, but I will probably get it.  Here it goes:

I’ll start with some wicked intelligent truth from St. Thomas Aquinas to help me out.  If it is too wordy for you, skip it and go to my explanation below.

   “As we see if we reflect on the order of things, the addition of a greater perfection causes variation in the species of a nature.  Thus, a thing (such as a plant) that not only exists but lives, difers in species from a thing that merely exists (like a rock).

And that which exists and lives and feels (such as an animal), differs in species from the plant, which merely exists and lives.  Likewise a being that exists, lives, feels, and understands (namely, a human), differs in species from the brute animal, which merely exists, lives, and feels…

According to the true teaching of the Catholic Faith, Christ had a real body of the same nature as ours, a true rational soul, and, together with these, perfect deity

The closer any creature draws to God, the more it shares in His goodness and the more abundantly it is filled with gifts infused by Him.  Thus he who comes closer to a fire shares to a greater extent in its heat.”

Translation:

Rocks exist.

Plants exist and live.

Animals exist, live, and feel.

Humans exist, live, feel and understand.

Jesus exists, lives, feels, understands and is God.

The closer we get to Jesus, then, the more like Him we become.

What does this have to do with sex?  Everything.

If we believe sex is merely an animal instinct, humanity takes a step backwards. We become more animal-like and less like Christ in whose image and likeness we were created.

But if we define sex as a moral, holy act whose prime goal is to give oneself to another out of love (and to co-construct the miracle of life with God), we become more like God who, as St. John tells us, is love (1 John 4:8). The more we become like God, the more we draw closer to His original design for us and, essentially, the more human (and God-like) we become.

Want to know more about the sanctity of sex?  Check out 1flesh.org to see how a few sex-abstaining Catholic teens are changing the world.

What about you?  What do you think?

 Aquinas, St. Thomas, The Shorter Summa, Sections 206 & 209

Key Bible Verses for Teachers

“Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.” ~2 Timothy 3:16

Since meeting a die-hard Evengelical Christian a few years ago, I was humbled at how little I as a Catholic knew about the Bible. Since our meeting, I have become a Scripture junkie and love how our Catholic traditions go hand-in-hand with the Bible.

In the same way that Catholic tradition needs Scripture, I’m finding out every day how much Education needs it too. We can create our own methodologies, pedagogies and management techniques, but the more I read the Bible, the more I realize that every new and successful Educational trend was already practiced 2,000 years ago or more.

I recommend you grab your Bibles and read it through your teacher’s lens carefully. Here are a few key verses to get us started.

Job 36:22
“Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him?

Matthew 8:19
Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Matthew 23:8
“But do not be called Rabbi ; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers

Luke 6:40
“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

John 3:2
this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher ; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

John 13:13
“You call Me Teacher and Lord ; and you are right, for so I am.”

Hebrews 5:12
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

James 3:1
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

Matthew 18: 3-6
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Hope this helps in defining our vocations a bit.  Now, keep reading and discover a multitude of timeless methodologies.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!