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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Thank God for Dogs

Today was a fairly interesting day. The morning began when I walked downstairs and into the kitchen. My dad quietly told me to look to the door, where a little baby robin was sitting in the heart-shaped wreath hanging on our backdoor. It was simply sitting there chirping away, and every now and then it’s mama or daddy would fly over to it and feed it some worms. I sat in the kitchen enjoying the cute little scene with my dad.

Unfortunately for my mom and sister, the only thing that remained when they came downstairs for breakfast was bird poo on the door. Early risers 1, late sleepers zero.

For the first time in over a week I wrote in my journal. I have not been keeping up with my journal, mostly because I barely have enough motivation to do the obligatory mundane chores of life, like homework, chores…that’s pretty much it. I should really change that. I’ve been pretty sad lately, so I was happy to rant in my journal for a bit. I should write more tonight.

This afternoon my mom, dad, and little sister went to her soccer tournament. I wish I went, but I told them I “had things to get done”. In actuality I ended up watching the UEFA final between Bayern Munich and Dortmund in between SAT subject test practice tests for biology and world history. To my pleasure, Bayern won 2-1. So many cute Germans, so little time. Plus, I have been to Munich, great city, so many things to see and do.

Anyway, I was home alone and none of the doors were locked. I hear a knock on the door and Demon, my German Shepherd (my mom picked out the name) ran to the door, barking like crazy. It was some guy who I didn’t know who was looking down at Demon, talking to him, asking if he was going to let him in. Demon barked and barked and I bet looked pretty ferocious, because as lovable as he is, he’s still a big dog who doesn’t enjoy strangers, especially strange men. So the man walked away, and I ran upstairs to see if there was anyone else. There was another man and two little girls who all retreated into a black car that had been parked in my driveway and drove away.

Not surprisingly, this scared me, and so I went and locked all the doors before praising Demon for being such a good boy. If he hadn’t been there, well, I don’t know how sinister the men with two little girls were, but it made me feel a lot better that I had Demon there to protect me. Please enjoy a picture or two of my favorite doggy and a cute picture I must have found…er…somewhere.

103_1397a103_1272doggy

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.