Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday was the third of the month; in my parish, that means the deacon, rather than the priest, speaks the Homily. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Catholic mass the Homily occurs after the three Bible readings. In the Homily, the priest or deacon tries to explain or add insight to what we had just heard. Usually, I don’t particularly like when the deacon at our church does the Homily. He’s not terrible, he just utilizes the same writing technique every time, which, as a writer, tends to get on my nerves.

However, this Sunday was different. Saturday night I randomly woke up and felt empty inside. “There is no God,” I thought to myself, not sure where this sentiment came from but believing it nonetheless. The next morning I didn’t feel as faithless, but could not fully trust in my religion, even though I still prayed and sung throughout the Mass.

As the deacon performed the Homily, my mind drifted between listening intently to what he had to say and wondering whether I should apply for that campus job. Fortunately, I tuned in to hear a beautiful comment  from our deacon.

“We seem to focus so much on who we think should be saved. Instead, let’s focus on strengthening our own faith.”

This is a really important idea for Catholics and other Christians to hear in a world where people march against gays and abortion or condemn the use of birth control. Sometimes we spend so much energy, resources and time attempting to persuade others to do “the right thing” when we could be improving our own religious dedication through prayer, service and love. I literally smiled in church, relieved to hear this statement after hearing our priests discuss the evils within our modern society every so often and how we must be the metaphorical light of the world.

Furthermore, this is an attitude someone of any race, gender, nationality, age, and yes, even religion, could adopt. Changing others is difficult, especially when dealing with a) those who do not wish to change, or b) opinions rather than fact. This does not mean abandoning our own beliefs and submitting to someone else’s views. Rather, we should concentrate on enhancing our way of life instead of attempting to change others, because no one can claim they live a perfect lifestyle.

This wasn’t the end of #quotableChurchmoments. During another part of the mass, a lector reads a list of intentions, or things we want to pray for. After each intention, we all say “Lord, hear our prayer”. This was one of the best intentions I have ever heard:

“We pray for all those who are searching for God, that they may be enlightened so that their natural goodness will shine through”. 

Anyone who has studied Classicalism and Romanticism knows most religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, follow many classical beliefs, including the idea people are born evil and must be taught to be good. Contrariwise, this prayer recognizes people are children of God and therefore naturally good creatures. Beautiful.

Though these experiences have not reinstated my faith to its full health, this Sunday sermon made me hopeful for alterations in the attitude of the world and hopeful for my own future. As I look forward to college with excitement, anxiety, and some fear, I know this will be a time of change and self evaluation, of figuring out who I am and what I want. Through my own natural goodness, I can strengthen my faith and achieve my full potential in whatever I’m supposed to do on this earth.

*Note-all comments are paraphrased.

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A Lenten Offering

Terrible Religious Joke of the Day: What does Jesus call his pet rock?

Peter.

Inspired by Dauntlessly Cautious’s post, I have decided to give up the dark side of Tumblr as well as the trigger songs that are my go-to when I decline into a depressive state.

I had previously contemplated offering this as my Lenten atonement instead of the stereotypical and quite insipid sacrifice of chocolate or junk food, but hesitated because of the difficulty of this task. It’s quite a scary idea, letting go of this crutch which supports and cripples me during my especially dark hours. However, these triggers, being such a large part of my life (a pitiful sentiment, I know), are an indulgence and therefore an excellent offering to propose.

Furthermore, these forty days and nights of being Tumblr-and-trigger-song-free should assist in relieving my depression. Or at least that’s the theory. I suppose this is a hyperbolic statement, or maybe not, but it will be similar to an addict coming off of their drug or drink. The first few days will be dreadful, but if I am able to propel myself through those first few days, I am hoping it will become easier and eventually the habit will disappear.

Pet Peeves

While I’m avoiding my English essay and Chemistry homework, I’ve decided to talk about a few things that make me want to punch people in the face.

Aren’t I a wonderful human being? I’m realizing I could probably think of a lot, but these are the main four (in no particular order) that really seem to not only crawl beneath my skin but create completely irrational anger within me.

1) When people do not know general geography.

Now, I’m not an expert in geography, and I don’t expect people to know where insignificant cities or countries are located; however, I do not understand why so many people act like they’ve never seen a map before. For example, while we were still in middle school, my best friend thought Spain was in Mexico.

My one friend just laughed when she said this, but I completely freaked out (it was somewhat uncalled for). I suppose I have to blame American schools systems (maybe not all of them, but many of the ones I am familiar with) for not spending more time studying geography. Granted, many things are more useful, important, and require high-level thinking rather than memorization, and who wants to memorize a map when they can look everything up on their phone?

Still, doesn’t anyone else think we should have some basic knowledge of where things are? I’d think that would be important. Wouldn’t it be offensive to someone from Spain to ask them what it’s like to live in Mexico? Either you offend them or they just think you’re an idiot.

2) People who do not respect the opinions of others.

I will admit that, on most subjects, I’ve grown to not be very opinionated, because I clearly see the pros and cons of each side. Besides, most things in life that people fight over are completely subjective, such as which music is best. However, I wish more people would be at least respectful when voicing their thoughts.

One sore subject between myself and another student whom I don’t see much of anymore is religion. He is an atheist and I’m Catholic, and when I told him this he decided that it was appropriate to bring it up EVERY single time I talked to him. I didn’t even try to fight it; I just smiled and nodded or tried to joke whenever he started ranting, but though I think I kept pretty cool on the surface, inside I was ready to smash my AP Biology book (which has to weigh at least 10 pounds) across his head.

Please just chill, okay? I don’t mind when people have different beliefs than me (in any subject, not just religion), and I know some people like to argue. But if the other person isn’t actually debating back, why do you feel the need to attack their beliefs?

3) Judging others.

This is a pretty common pet peeve, but everyone still does it. I know, I’ve done it before. However, I have a very specific version of this pet peeve. I abhor when people judge each other while in church.

(Time to be all Catholic on everyone…sort of).

When you are in church, you are essentially in God’s house. God does not want you to judge or hate others or stare maliciously at them while they file into your pew ten minutes late for Mass. You don’t know what’s going on in their life. Since I’ve been depressed, that old saying, that you should be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they are dealing with, has really sunk in. That person could have had to drag themselves out of bed, mustering some sort of motivation to get to Mass. They could have depression, social anxiety, or have just lost a loved one. You just don’t know.

4)  Perfect people.

Have you ever met someone who seems so ridiculously smart, athletic, talented, pretty, well-spoken and friendly that it cannot be real? Those people make me want to ram my head into a wall. Some people I can deal with, especially if they are unconditionally nice-then it’s okay for them to be perfect. But when I know that this girl or guy is mean and/or condescending, I can’t help but be irritated and angry.

Condescending. I love that word. I know some people like that, and I hate it. Especially when everyone else seems to love that person, and I can only ask myself why they do not see how absolutely condescending they are, like other people (usually me) are below them.

Considering what I just wrote for number 3, I am a complete hypocrite. I have been trying to control this burning anger at so-called “perfect people” because, in reality, neither they nor their lives are perfect.

Anyone else have pet peeves like mine? Maybe?

More abortion ramblings

Every time I read a blog post-usually on here the blog is pro-choice- I get fired up about the topic. For me at least, I feel like I’m being hated on every side.

I’m Catholic, so stereotypical I’m “supposed” to be pro-life, against birth control, and against same-sex marriage. This Sunday when I went into church, the priest, in his homily after the readings, began to (for lack of  a better word) rant about how pro-choice abortion laws, availability of birth control and the idea of same-sex marriage ruins society’s morality.

For half of the homily I sat there attempting not to roll my eyes.

I don’t see a problem with same-sex marriage. At all. And as far as birth control goes, if you’re going to be pro-life, you have to appreciate preventative birth control. Or at least that’s how it goes in my mind. You cannot control a person’s sex life (and I mean seriously, I’ll bet at least 80% of Catholics had sex before they were married); you cannot force someone to adhere to moral laws, especially if they are not of the same religion.

If using birth control means that you won’t have to make the decision to abort later, then do it!

However, I agree that abortion is murder, and then I get hate from everyone else. But please, let me explain further, because murder is such a harsh, cruel word. I cannot think of a harder decision to make than whether to give up a baby or not.

One of the stereotypical problems I see with abortion is that it disregards the idea of being responsible for yourself. Using birth control is responsible sex. Using an abortion, when abused, can be irresponsible.

However, most people who choose abortion are not the irresponsible type. Another huge issue that NEVER seems to be brought up when we talk about pro-life and pro-choice is how Americans, in general, view teen or unmarried pregnancies. Yeah, we shouldn’t say it’s okay. But it’s like we scoff at those who have faced the terrible decision whether to abort or not, and chose pro-life. 

So that’s the thanks they get for doing exactly what we wanted them to do?

Of course, abortion is completely justified in a case of rape. I cannot imagine a situation worse than that, and the person raped is already facing enough issues that abortion is reasonable.

I suppose my thoughts don’t exactly matter in the grand scheme of things. As I said before, I cannot think of a harder decision to make, and my bleeding heart, well, almost makes me pro-choice. So what the hell is my opinion?

I don’t know. Especially having never been in that situation, I can never tell what decision I would have made. The only thing I and other Catholics/Christians/pro-life individuals can do is adhere to our own moral code and let the world decide what it wants to do. That’s what it’s come down to right?

Of course, I’ll remain pro-life. This is a deep belief of mine, and though I truly respect the opposite side, I don’t know if that is ever going to change.

Homophobia-or not

Lately, the “controversy” of today’s world that seems to be bothering me the most is the “gay marriage” thing. Is it right? Who has a say on whether people should be allowed to do it anyway?

I feel so completely divided on this topic-on any given moment of any given day, I could be on either side. Most people (from either side) would say that this is ridiculous and that either a) gay marriage is obviously perfectly fine, or b) gay marriage is essentially a sin. But I can’t help how I feel-the problem is I can’t seem to decipher what exactly is right.

On one hand, I have many gay friends, including a gay aunt (and I truly love both my aunt and her partner, who are like parents to me), and in my high school, pretty much all of the teenagers and most of the teachers support gay rights, including marriage. I don’t see much harm in it, when I’m on the liberal side of me. It’s two people who love each other-that’s essentially what marriage is. Churches of course can keep their beliefs and don’t have to perfect same-sex ceremonies, but civil marriages-not entirely bad.  People are born that way, it’s not like they can just change. Besides, God made everyone in his image.

On the conflict of religious belief, I think that God believes that everyone should love each other (even when I’m vouching against gay marriage, I believe that you should treat everyone equally-I mean, God IS the one who is supposed to be handing out judgment). I just abhor how some people bash Catholics and Christians, like we’re a pit of pedophiles and gay haters. We’re not. In fact, most of the Catholics I know are either neutral or for gay marriage. It’s like the hippies of the 70’s who made it seem like everyone hated soldiers, because they were so outspoken and the media focused on them. People just seem to focus on the few Catholics and Christians that protest against gay marriage and disregard the calmer, kinder, less outspoken ones. No, just because I’m Catholic doesn’t mean that I believe all atheists and homosexuals are going to hell.

Then, on the other hand, I can’t help but think of my religion. You shouldn’t be a “cafeteria Christian”, picking and choosing what you want to believe; God states in the Bible (Old Testament, I do believe, which sometimes shows God in a very unloving way) that homosexuality is a sin. Even though God made all people in his image, there are still lots of evil-doers out there; they were just influenced by the devil. Again, I understand that for some this is a weak argument, but for me, it’s very real. To me sometimes, it’s almost like it’s against human nature. Sure, people are born that way, it’s a very sure thing. But sometimes it….it just feels that way. Marriage is supposed to be a sacred union between a man and woman, bonded forever, with the intent of purity and to raise children in the holy faith. And I believe this.

And a part of me understands homophobes, or at least the ones that don’t openly hate gays. Like my dad. He’s homophobic, but he treats gays just the same. He’s just a little “eh” about associating with gays and awkward about it. But, in the 80’s, when AIDS began, it was mostly linked to gays (the outbreak began in the gay community, and scientists have linked the beginnings to a single gay man). This disease, which took hundreds of lives within the first few months, scared lots of people, and when people aren’t entirely sure of what they are dealing with, it can bring chilling results and an attitude that most people wouldn’t normally bear. It’s like when you’re driving or walking in a bad neighborhood, keeping a captious eye out for trouble and suspecting every person who walks by you. It’s not that everyone is a thug whose going to be walking by-it’s just the fear of it that causes you to be prejudiced.

As with anything religious, the stakes are very high. Anyone who is wrong about this, well, as my history teacher said, no one can come back and tell you “Oh, you should have been a little more Jewish” or “there really is one true God who came to us through Muhammad”. No one is going to tell you, right before you die, if there isn’t a God or that you shouldn’t have been a supporter of abortion and gay rights because that was wrong. And this is exactly what makes me so hesitant to be so devoted to the cause. With the Catholics that tell me that the Bible and the way of God is always right comes this fear. It’s not so much the fear of being condemned in the afterlife-or maybe it is. It probably is. I just need to know that I am right, and finding the correct response in a sea of opinions is nearly impossible; choosing the right path, considering that they are opinions and technically no one could be completely correct.

These are just the opinions of an insignificant girl in high school. And since I’ve pretty much taken both sides, I could be attacked from either side. You can’t really tell me my opinions are wrong of course. Like so much in this life, it’s an opinion, though many people will deal with these things as if they are cold hard fact. That’s what can make the environment burdened with so much animosity.