Friday, August 19, 2016

Catholic Compilation

Things are changing on this blog.

I am eschewing the tagging system.  From now on there will be no "categories" section on the sidebar because there are so many different things I may write about that there would be an infinite amount of categories.

I know some of you have requested that I make it easier to find Tolkien posts among the personal posts on this blog, so if you're looking exclusively for Tolkien posts, check this G+ page where I will post links to all articles that Tolkien fans may find interesting.

I've received a lot of great feedback from you guys about branching off.  I think I'm going to be making major changes on the blog in the future, most notably transitioning into a more general focus instead of strictly LOTR (don't worry though, Lord of the Rings will still be a big part of the blog).  Since things are going to be less specific, I have a feeling Catholic things or ideas will work their way into my general posts.

For this reason, I'm getting rid of the Catholic page, but I don't want to delete all my work, so here are all the Catholicism articles I've written.

If you have questions about the changes around les blog, drop a comment :)

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Welcome to the new Catholicism page!  This is a J.10 initiative, meaning it follows the prompting of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI calling on young people to spread the faith using the new media available to them in what he calls "the new evangelization".  This little corner is my attempt to spread the faith proudly.  I will be posting here weekly, on Sundays (an appropriate day to share the faith, don't you think?).


This page is not meant to exclude any who are not Roman Catholic, but can be used as inspiration for any Christian or really anyone who is interested in philosophy, the good, the true, and the beautiful.  Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you have about Catholicism.  With that in mind, I am not a theologian and I am a lay person of the Church.  If you have very serious theological concerns, I would direct you to your local priest or any number of certified Catholic services. 

Links to Helpful Catholic Resources

A Prayer to Prevent Heresy on this Page
It is my sincere attempt to propagate authentic faith here.  It is not my intention to say anything that knowingly goes against Church teaching.

St. Thomas Aquinas, with your intercession, help all Catholics around the world to only speak the truth and prevent them from spreading false words about God and the Church!  


Evening Prayers

More prayers from the Tertiaries Companion: A Prayer Book for the Members of the Third Order Secular of St. Francis of Assisi.

church, religion, cathedral

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.  Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity, now and forever more! 
Act of Thanksgiving
How shall I be able to thank Thee, O Lord, for all Thy favors?  Thou hast thought of me from all eternity, Thou hast brought me forth from nothing, Thou hast given Thy life to redeem me, and Thou continuest still, daily, to load me with Thy favors.  Alas, my God, what return can I make Thee for all Thy benefits, and in particular for the favors of this day?  Join me, ye blessed spirits and all ye elect, in praising the God of mercies, Who is so bountiful to so unworthy a creature. 
Invocation of the Holy GhostO Holy Ghost, eternal source of light, give me light to know the sins I have committed this day, and grant me the grace to be truly sorry for them (here examine your conscience). 
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishments but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. 
Petition
During this night protect us, O Lord, from all harm and evil.  Pour down Thy blessing upon our Holy Father, the Pope, our Bishop, our Pastor, on our congregation; on our parents, relations, benefactors, friends and enemies.  Help the poor, the afflicted, the sick and those that will die this night; convert the heretics and enlighten the infidels.
V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night to keep us without sin.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us. 
Let us Pray
Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this habitation and drive from it all the snares of the enemy.  Let Thy holy angels dwell herein to preserve us in the peace, and may Thy blessing be upon us forever.  Through Christ, our Lord.  Amen. 
O Mary, my Queen, my Mother, remember I am thine own.  Keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.  My good angel, watch over me this night.  Blessed Father Francis, and all ye angels and saints of God, pray for me.  Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.  Save me waking, and keep me sleeping, that I may watch in Christ, and rest in peace.  Amen.

IS Targets Catholic Church

Fr. Jacques Hamel was offering morning mass on a regular Tuesday.  According to the BBC: "The attack happened during morning Mass at the historic church, situated in a quiet square of St-Etienne-du-Rouvray."  Fr. Jacques Hamel's throat was slit by two IS affiliates during Mass.  The two assailants were both teenagers, around the age of 18.  Four hostages were taken, one of whom was critically injured.

www.theguardian.com

Parishioners speak highly of Fr. Jacques Hamel, one commenting: "Everyone knew him very well. He was very loved in the community and a kind man."

Pope Francis responded to the attack by saying:

"To all, I ask that you persevere in prayer and in asking the Lord in this Holy Week to comfort the hearts of the afflicted and to convert the hearts of those people taken in by cruel fundamentalism...I renew an appeal to all people of good will to unite in the unanimous condemnation of these cruel abominations that have caused only death, terror and horror..."

Cardinal Pietro Parolin also commented:

"The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering, and he implores from God the gift of peace."

Bishop Kockerols responded:

"We must support the efforts of the public authorities we've elected and mandated to serve the common good and maintain law and order -- it's not for us to start polemicizing and making accusations today as to whether they fulfilled their duties and did all they could...It's a great mystery that this has all happened on the threshold of Holy Week, the most sacred time for Christians, when we are about to mark Good Friday and Easter. In the face of such madness, we should adopt the courageous attitude of Mary, who remained at the foot of the cross in silence."

Clearly this is a very solemn moment for everyone, Catholics in particular.  Let's all pray for the protection of the Church, it's members, and all of God's children as well as the conversion of the two teenagers who committed this act.
O glorious St. Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of this Church, against which the powers of hell are unchained, guard with especial care her august Head, and obtain that for him and for us the hour of triumph may speedily arrive. O glorious Archangel St. Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, assist us especially at the hour of death; obtain for us a favorable judgment, and the happiness of beholding God face to face for endless ages. Amen.

Popular Songs turned Christian

As I was listening to music, I noticed that a lot of songs revolve around love and romance.  And why not?  Those topics are two of the most enthralling and mysterious things we humans encounter.  But I also noticed that a lot of popular songs give witness to the Christian story.  The song below is "Green Eyes" by Coldplay.  I changed a couple of the lyrics (noted in bold) to demonstrate just how the song can apply to Christian life.

www.jesuschristsavior.net
"Green Eyes" -modified
Coldplay

Jesus you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand
That Jesus, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you
And how could, anybody, deny you
I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter now I met you
And Jesus you should know
That I could never go on without you
Jesus

Jesus you are the sea
Upon which I float
And I came here to talk
I think you should know

That Jesus, you're the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who tried to deny you, must be out of their mind
Because I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter since I met you
Jesus you should know
That I could never go on without you
Jesus, Jesus
Oh oh oh oh [x4]

Jesus you are a rock
Upon which I stand

Conversing with Atheists on Google+

I love having a good, logical debate with atheists and people who belong to other religions.  As I always say, refusal to at least recognize the other side is just ignorance.  Of course, I am firmly committed to Roman Catholicism and at this point, so debates for me are usually just a way to learn about other ideas and hopefully teach some people about the Catholic viewpoint in the process.

When I saw there was a Google+ community for atheist and theist discussion, I thought to myself: "Here is a place where discussion can take place and hopefully I can help show some atheists the Catholic point of view."
www.wildsocialmedia.com
Alas, the group would be more appropriately called "the place where angry atheists hang out, lure religious people and then consistently insult them without listening to their ideas."  (Obviously I'm not saying all atheists are mean, but the majority of the ones I encountered on this website were very rude and disrespectful.)

My experience on Google+ was rather frustrating...it may be easier to just show you what I encountered rather than tell you.

By the way, if my responses seem overly-chipper or even condescending, know that it was either going to sound like that or I was going to go on full-on rampage mode.  Oh, and beware of intense language and high levels of hate from my opponents.

I commented on this post just saying that the argument against God concerning innocent suffering has already been dealt with, and done well by Thomas Aquinas.  "Tetsu" comes back at me and says Thomas Aquinas is the "worst".  When I ask why, he links me to a video by the Amazing Atheist, a YouTuber well-known for being loud and rambunctious.  

I watched the fifteen minute video which, although I could see how it could be convincing to someone not well acquainted with Thomas Aquinas, was not presented in an intelligent way and missed a lot of the key points Thomas was trying to get across.  I responded to this by linking "Tetsu" to with a variety of videos and articles written and made by actual academics.

"Tetsu" refused to even watch the videos, claiming that it is a waste of time to read or watch a video about someone whose arguments "don't fallow" [sic].   Throughout this entire time, his comments are practically unintelligible and I can barely understand what "Tetsu" is trying to say.

Anyway, he refuses to follow my links and instead tries to get me to explain the entire mystery of God and give him absolute imperial proof of his existence, in one comment, completely refusing to listen to philosophy or reason.  At the end I discovered that no one here was willing to actually listen and no one was interested in learning.

Okay, what is my point.  I guess the thing is that I'm frustrated with people who willfully ignore information and write billions of religious people off as idiots without even reading anything about the centuries of faith, philosophy, tradition, etc.  

No one can claim to be smarter than anyone else without actually understanding the other group's point of view.

Now a bit of a disclaimer for myself.  I may not have done the best job explaining things in this whole "discussion" and eventually I had to leave to prevent myself from raging which is never a good idea on the internet.

My comment got a bit cut off here.

Now this was just one of the "conversations" I had on this forum before I left.  To be clear, I didn't leave because I felt like I couldn't explain myself, but I felt like what I was saying was falling on deaf ears, or rather, ears with earplugs in.  No one there was actually willing to listen or even be respectful.

Now why are atheists sometimes so rude?  Not all atheists are mean, of course, and a lot of my friends are atheists!  But a lot of internet atheists in particular are very rude and disrespectful, like the ones above.  I think this is because the majority of atheists do not have a clear understanding of what most religious people actually believe.  Honestly, from what I've heard other atheists claim I believe, I would be angry about that too!  I guess they are kind of indignant because they believe we are all ignorant.  Perhaps if they actually had a good idea of what religious people mean, they would be more respectful and willing to listen.

If only we could go back to the good ol' days when Thomas Aquinas led passionate and open-minded debates and academic forums with reasonable and serious people instead of the rash and arrogant exchange of insults which happens on forums all around the internet like this.

What do you think?  Am I overreacting?  It's possible--I get pretty fired up about this stuff.  How do you handle atheists or other people who don't want to listen?  Is there a way we can actually have productive conversations?

One last thing.  The following is a link to sign a petition to stop a "Black Mass" which is scheduled to happen in Oklahoma in August.  I would really appreciate it if you would sign the petition to ask Oklahoma leaders to prevent this from happening in their public building, where it is currently scheduled to be.  All the information and details are on the site, so check it out.

Have a wonderful Sunday and a blessed week, everyone! :)

Morning Prayers

I've been saying new daily prayers recently which I found in a tiny pocket-size book in my sister's old room entitled The Tertiaries Companion.  This little book was apparently my grandpa's and he got it from his father who was a member of the Third Order Secular of St. Francis of Assisi.  The prayers inside are great for day-to-day, Holy Mass, Confession, Eucharist, and there are lots of prayers for special occasions inside too.

The following is an excerpt which includes the morning prayers, which are beautifully written.

man, hands, church

Morning Prayers

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts! Heaven and Earth are full of Thy glory.
Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity now and for evermore!  Glory be to the Father!  Glory be to the Son!  Glory be to the Holy Ghost!

Act of Adoration
O great God, the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth!  I prostrate myself before Thee.  With all the angels and saints I adore Thee.  I acknowledge Thee to be my Creator and sovereign Lord, my first beginning and last end.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity
O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou has revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.
O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
O my God, I love Thee above all things with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love.  I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee.  I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Act of Thanksgiving
O glorious Trinity, I praise Thee and give Thee thanks for the numberless benefits Thou hast bestowed upon me.  I thank Thee, O most bountiful God, for having preserved me during the night, and for granting me this day to serve Thee.  I earnestly invite all the angels and saints of heaven to join with me in praise and thanksgiving for Thy infinite goodness.

Good Resolution
Adorable Jesus, divine model of that perfection to which we should all aspire!  I will endeavor, this day, to follow Thy example, to be mild, humble, chaste, zealous, patient, charitable, and resigned.  Incline my heart to keep Thy commandments.  I am resolved to watch over myself with the greatest diligence, and I will be particularly attentive not to relapse this day into my accustomed failings, but to struggle against them with Thy gracious assistance.  Enlighten my mind, purify my heart, and guide my steps, that I may pass all my life in Thy divine service.

Offering
O my God, I offer Thee all my thoughts, words, actions and sufferings of this day in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus for Thy greater honor and glory, in thanksgiving for Thy favors, in atonement for my sins, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the wants of Holy Mother Church, for the conversion of sinners and for the relief of the suffering souls in Purgatory.  Moreover, I form the intention of gaining all the indulgences granted for this day, offering them, insofar as I do not need them, for the souls in Purgatory.  I desire also to be present in spirit at all the holy Masses which will be celebrated today throughout the whole world.  Finally, I recommend myself entirely to the direction of Thy providence, accepting joys and sorrows, life and death from Thee, solely desiring that Thou, my Lord and God, be praised and glorified in everything and forever.  Amen.
O Mary, my Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to thee, and to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve.  Wherefore, O loving Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, defend me, as thy property and possession.  Hail Mary, etc.
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom his love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.
All ye holy angels and saints of God, especially thou my holy Father, St. Francis, and thou my dear patron saint, pray for me. 
May the Lord bless me, preserve me from all evil, and bring me to life everlasting.  Amen.

The Apologetics Meme

I was looking at apologetics memes (that’s what I do in my freetime, okay?) when I came across this.


Needless to say I have a couple problems with this statement. First off, aren’t the atheists the people who are always accusing religious people of “indoctrination almost to the point of child abuse”? But I’m sure this little girl came up with this on her own and was not influenced at all by her parents (sarcasm). But that issue is a topic for another day.

The first inaccurate thing in this photo was the opposition between religion and science. I know not all religions are accepting towards science, but Catholicism certainly is! Not convinced? Consider this. The Big Bang theory was formulated by a Catholic priest, the study of genetics started with a monk, and countless educational institutions were started by Catholic clergy. So putting religion and science in opposition to each other is quite simply a misleading comparison.

Then, all the problems on the religion side of the graph. First of all, by “religion” these people clearly are thinking explicitly only of Christianity. I find this very interesting--why do Atheists rarely target religions like Buddhism, Islam, tribal religions, and Hinduism?

But the portrayal of Christianity on the left seems like it has been informed by a volunteer-taught second-grade CCD class and nothing more. It is, quite simply, poorly representational and goes against the meaning of the doctrine written on the very topic. I would argue that Christianity lifts human beings to the highest level--certainly higher than atheism does, and here’s why.

Yes, Christianity teaches you that you are flawed and imperfect, but it also teaches you that you are a Child of God, that God sent his son to save you, that you are loved unconditionally by the Creator of the universe, that you are worthy of love and God would (and did) die for you. I would say that is holding humans in pretty high regard (quite the opposite of “nothing”). 

 Atheism, on the other hand, teaches you that you are “nothing”--you will return to dust in the ground when you die, nothing will matter in just a few years, none of the things you do in this life really matter. The only things you can hope to accomplish is gaining a spot in history books--if you’re lucky--so that other “pointless” humans can learn about you. This may just be me, but I would rather be in God’s book than in some dusty old human history book.

The final problem is with the right side of this poster. Science does not affirm any of those things written. Those are all philosophical suppositions. Tell me, how do you use the scientific process to prove that you “are beautiful”? How can you calculate the fact you are “full of wonder”? None of those statements can be proved by science, but are rather suggested by philosophy and--dare I say it?--religion!

The bottom line is this: this poster is a) pitting two different subject matters which are not mutually exclusive against each other, b) unfairly and falsely representing Christianity and c) using “science” in an inaccurate and misleading way. I found this poster to be very disappointing and I hope that others are able to recognize the errors and not buy into this false simplification and the lies presented here. 

If people continue to simplify the actual ideas that oppose their own, all they are succeeding in doing is knocking down straw-men.  Why don't we actually listen to the best ideas pitted against ours and logically dispel them?  If we are able to do that, perhaps we will finally be able to come to a logical conclusion.

By the way, U.S. readers, let's finish out the Fortnight for Freedom strong!  Tomorrow, on the anniversary of the United States declaration of independence, let's make a special intention for religious freedom both in the U.S. and around the world.

Have a blessed Sunday, everyone!

2 comments:

  1. While I am not a Catholic, but a Protestant, I agree with basically everything you said here. :)

    Yes, why must people think that science and religion are mutually exclusive? If atheists/evolutionists got beyond that rut, I think our debates and interactions with them could be so much more effective.

    Also, I think it's ironic that the very first item under "according to science I am..." is actually mentioned in Psalm 139:14-- "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Christianity teaches that we are beautiful and made in the image of God which really trumps being a chance outcome of natural selection, if you ask me.

    Also, although the Bible certainly teaches that we are broken and in desperate need of a Savior, I noticed this poster doesn't mention the message of salvation anywhere. :)

    All this to say, good post! I completely agree with you. :)
    ReplyDelete

    Replies






    1. Thank you :)

      Definitely. It's so frustrating that some think only scientific information is valid.

      Wow, interesting that almost word for word that is in a psalm; and there are many more positive things about humans in the Bible elsewhere of course.

      Exactly, this poster missed the most important part of salvation history!

      Thank you so much :D
      Delete

Fortnight for Freedom

About


Tuesday was the beginning of the Fortnight for Freedom.  For the next two weeks, special attention and prayer will be given for the preservation of religious freedom in the United States.  

From the United States Council of Catholic Bishops: "Each year dioceses around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day."

What can you do to contribute to this two week event?  If you live in the United States, your diocese will have activities and events planned which you can find on their website or if you go to your local parish.  
Of course everyone around the world can say a prayer to preserve religious freedom.


Prayers


O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ. Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith. 

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome— for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Buttons

For fellow bloggers, feel free to take a button and put it on your blog to show your support of the Fortnight for Freedom.




The Existence of Evil

The following is an essay written by my sister Molly for her confirmation over ten years ago.

This essay is property of my sister and may not be reproduced without permission.
(Please be patient as I try to set up this page with the correct format.  For now, remember to indicate the post you wish to comment on; for instance, "+The Existence of Evil".)


Existence of Evil

Even though Augustine's Confessions and Mark’s gospel were written with different styles and more than three hundred years apart from each other, they deal with many of the same topics and share the same viewpoint about those topics.  One major theme found in both texts is creation and the presence of evil in the world.  The authors battle with the tough question of “how could such a loving, powerful God allow sin to enter the world, and where did it come from?”  In these two documents, the authors would both agree that God did not create sin, but rather it is an act of humanity.  They both would say that God alone is powerful enough to save us from the snares of wickedness and we must accept his assistance.

In Confessions Augustine examines what could cause bad things and disorder in the world, if God created the world and his creation was good.  Augustine had always been told that “free choice of the will is the reason why we do wrong” (113) and the cause of disorder, but Augustine does not readily accept that answer and searches deeper.  He acknowledges that original sin plays a role in disorder but humans also have the tendency to do things their own way and overlook God’s will.  Even if we do acknowledge God’s will, it is hard to actually convince our bodies to act in accordance with that will.  We prefer the sinful alternatives and oftentimes seek pleasure in created things rather than in God.  This perverse will turns into passion, habit, and eventually necessity, making it very hard to turn away from sinfulness.  Sin is an act of humanity and can occur because humans have original sin, are ignorant of God’s will, or cannot act upon God’s will.

Because sin is ultimately the result of going against God’s will, Augustine would say that sin is not part of God’s will or God’s plan.  God “made man and did not make sin in him” (9).  God “made all things good, and there are absolutely no substances which [he] did not make” (125).  Therefore, evil has no substance because if it were a substance, God would have created it, and it would have been good.  “For [God] evil does not exist at all” (125) and therefore cannot possibly be part of his plan.  Because God did not intend for sin or evil to be part of his master plan for the world or the human race, when it is present, it tears humans away from God and causes a separation between man and God.

Augustine believed that the only way to bridge this gap is to embrace “the mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ” (128) and take his teachings to heart.  “One must not depart from [the] Lord, nor deviate from [his] law” (29).  We cannot place trust in ourselves, but rather we need to make ourselves empty and give everything in order to be filled with God’s love.  In order to get across the gap that sin creates between man and God we must “make the leap without anxiety.  He will catch you and heal you” (151)

Augustine also points out that it is impossible to accomplish this feat without God’s help.  We can’t do anything without God and are helpless without him.  We need to put our trust in him alone.  Augustine faces many hardships in his youth and is not able to rely on his friends to help him.  The influence of friends is not always helpful, but because God is perfect, powerful, and immutable, we can always trust in him and he will never let us down.  Augustine writes: “I attribute to [God’s] grace and mercy that [he] has melted my sins away like ice” (32).  God does this in order to grow closer to Augustine.  God also offers us the gift of faith.  This means that we cannot have faith in God unless he gives us that gift.  We cannot possibly have faith in God or a good relationship with God without his assistance.

We depend on God and he can help us because he is all-powerful.  Just because bad things happen in the world he created does not mean that God is not omnipotent.  Augustine considers that perhaps God “fashions pain to be a lesson” (25).  Augustine’s writing also suggests that God is not really allowing these bad things to happen because evilness is nonexistent in the first place and is really only a lack of goodness.  When this disorder affects a person’s will, sin results.  Bad things can happen because of human’s imperfect condition, but this does not subtract from God’s power and “there is nothing outside the created universe which could break in and destroy the order which [God] has imposed upon it” (125).

The Gospel of Mark also explores the reason bad things happen.  Through the parable of the Sower and the Seed (4:1-20), Mark explains that human weakness can be the cause of evil.  If a person does not know the word of God, then Satan is able to lead that person astray.  If a person does not understand the word of God, then he might be excited about the faith for a short time but will eventually fall away.  If a person has worldly anxieties, then his cravings for riches will choke the word of God and that person’s faith.  These different types of people have different types of weaknesses, but bad things result from all types of human weakness.  Only the person that hears the word and believes it is the person that will produce goodness and be fruitful in life.  The other people’s weakness allows them to sin and cause bad things to happen.  Mark’s gospel explains this idea later on as well.  “All these evils come from within and they defile” (7:23).  This happens because even though “the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak” (14:32).  The human body is too weak to always stay rooted in the faith and follow God, and sin is the result.

This sin caused by human weakness is contrasted greatly to God’s all-powerful portrayal.  God has power over the evil that rests in the human flesh because “the Son of man has authority to forgive sins on earth” (2:10).  God is also able to rid people of demons and unclean spirits.  When these spirits see Jesus they would show his power and “would fall down before him and shout ‘you are the son of God’” (3:11).   God is omnipotent and is able to wipe away all the sin and bad things from the earth.

It is necessary to have sins forgiven and the Gospel of Mark shows that the further away a person is from sin, the closer the relationship he will have with God.  Jesus says that “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (3:35).  Whoever turns away from sin and follows God’s commandments will become very close to God.  They will have a very intimate relationship with the Lord because they would be a brother, a sister, or a mother in the family of God.  Mark also reveals another aspect of the relationship between a sinner and God.  Even though sin damages the relationship it is never able to destroy the relationship.  God loves everyone just the same and many times reaches out to sinners and enjoys their company.  He loves the worst sinner among us and constantly is encouraging us to draw closer to him and develop a good relationship with him.

Mark’s gospel explains many ways in which Christians can turn away from sin and turn towards God.  Baptism is a very important sacrament and it is written that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (16:16).  John the Baptist proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (1:4).  Baptism is a cleansing process that wipes away all the bad that we have done and brings us closer to God.  Christians are also encouraged numerous times throughout the gospel to deny themselves and take up the cross (8:34), and also to go sell what they have and follow Christ (10:21).  Christians need to give up their passionate worldly desires that cause them to sin in order to be in communion with Christ.  This justification with God is only possible, however, through God’s help and through faith in him.  “Everything is possible to one who has faith” (9:23).  It is absolutely necessary that Christians have faith in God in order to turn away from sin and avoid committing sinful acts.

The two discussions of the presence of evil taken from Augustine’s Confessions and the Gospel of Mark are very similar.  This should not be surprising because the two texts represent and comment on aspects of the same faith: Christianity.  Augustine actually takes many of his arguments directly from the Bible and quotes the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.  Because of this, the gist of the two arguments is basically the same. Both documents express that human weakness causes sin, God is omnipotent, sin damages the relationship between humanity and God, and God’s help is needed in order to turn away from sin.

Even though the two authors share the same basic view, the differences are present in the two texts.  Augustine is a master of rhetoric and this greatly affects the way his arguments are presented.  His language is more poetic and analytical.  He comments on and draws meaning from the Bible and also discusses the unanswered questions of the Bible.  The Gospel of Mark discusses sin in general but does not discuss its implications or why God would allow sin to be present in the world.  Augustine considers this predicament deeply and offers a human response to God’s revealed word.

The Gospel of Mark and the Confessions of Augustine also address the topics at hand differently by emphasizing certain aspects.  For example, Mark’s writing emphasizes a Satan figure that is able to pull people away from God, while Augustine addresses evil as nonexistent and simply the absence of goodness.  Both authors prove the same point that it is human weakness that allows evil.  Mark’s gospel is also different because it stresses how following God brings healing while Confessions emphasizes how sin brings destruction.  Again, even though the two documents stress different aspects, they both come to the same conclusion: it is best to live close to God and far from sin.

In conclusion, Confessions is a book addressed to God and written by a follower, while the Gospel of mark is a book addressed to followers and written by God. Even though these two texts have their differences they are very similar and both deal with creation and the presence of evil in the world. Both authors of these texts would agree that God created goodness in the world and sin is not part of God’s plan, but God is omnipotent and will help us turn away from sin--if we only let him.

Top 10 Mother Teresa Quotes

Photo from Biography.com
"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."

This is a beautiful rule of thumb.  I have found that if one of my sisters or my parents is grumpy, just being in the same room with them and being around that ball of angry energy drags everyone down.  Mother Teresa's words ring true--we should only serve to make others feel better and never worse.

"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."

Here Mother Teresa is speaking of the poor.  Remember that no one person is more important than the other.  Everyone is made in God's image and deserves infinite respect.


“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

This reminds me of St. Therese and the Little Way; we may not be able to get big things done on our own, but by just doing little things can add up and really make an impact.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” 

I spend a lot of time around insecure, uncomfortable teenagers.  How little effort it would be for me to say something kind to them--merely a puff of air and a contraction of my vocal chords; but how deeply it affects them, and how much it affirms them and gives them confidence.

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

The family is the base of society and must be a place of growth and love.  It is there that children learn to love and be kind to one another.  I am very grateful for my family who has taught me not only how to love people in the good times, but how to care for people when we aren't getting along or when things are difficult.  From them I have learned integrity and humbleness.  But I'm still practicing.

“Live simply so others may simply live.” 

This has become the mantra for Feed My Starving Children, a Christian organization which sends food all over the world.  Mother Teresa certainly knew how to live simply, and her example is a good one for us all.

“I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”

This is one of my absolute favorites.  We should all be a channel for God's love to flow to the world.

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

Mother Teresa cared for so many little children and saw how much they need love and care.  She saw many poor mothers who were suffering and sacrificing to care for their children.  Think of all Mary gave up to raise Jesus; she surely had her life planned out, but when God offered her a child, she said "yes" and gladly accepted the gift from God.  The bottom line is that children require sacrifice, but they are also gifts from God.

"There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."

This is very insightful.  Even the very rich and successful often long for the love and care of others.  We can always turn to God for his infinite love and support.  Let us pray for the spreading of all this knowledge so that everyone can understand that they are loved more than they will ever know.

"There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough."

I think this is something Pope Francis would really advocate.  He is very strong on the point that we need to greet people with the beautiful things about our faith rather than with doctrine or morality.  We need to encounter people in a place of love and demonstrating our faith.  Let us not be like the hypocrites who profess the moral law but do not live it out.  We should first intrigue people with our happiness and positive attitude so that they ask, "what makes them so happy?" and we can lead them to the source of all our joy, Christ.

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