Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Gift Of Life

This past spring my friend and roommate tried to kill himself. It was only through dumb luck and the fast actions of my other roommates that he lived. At the end of one of the most horrific days of my life, my buddy was alive. He had full function and feeling in his hands and fingers and was ok. Needless to say, this was traumatic for my roommates and I. There was a priest who spent a lot of time with all of us through that day and the following days. He stayed with my hurt roommate, he helped me scrub blood out of the rug, and he was a great comfort to us all. He was in our apartment one day, and I asked him how I could ever thank God enough for what He had done. Despite my roommate’s best efforts, he was alive. Only through the grace of God was he alive. Only because my roommate woke up early cause he had to go to the bathroom. God had given my roommate his life back. In that moment I felt no prayer I could ever say, no charity I could ever do, would be enough to thank God for the gift of life he had given my friend. The priest said very plainly, ‘How can we ever thank him for giving any of us life? What He did for your friend He has done for all of us, given us the gift of life, created us. There is nothing any of us can ever do to thank Him enough. All we can do is try our best and hope that it is enough’.

I tell this story because it shows the biggest and most overlooked gift God has given us: life. We’re living on borrowed time. Our mere existence is a present from God, and eventually God will call us back to him when He’s done loaning us out, so to speak. In an undeniably fucked up world, it can be hard sometimes to see God’s presence. The very fact we are alive to look for it, to me, is evidence enough.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We Can Always Pray

I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot lately. Like many of you, I struggle with my faith from time to time. It’s not that I stop believing in God, or seeing his impact on my life, but I don’t feel as connected to God as I should and don’t act as morally as I could. I have been Catholic all my life, and know that is something that will never change. Come sex scandals, gay marriage bans, or what have you, I will never leave my faith. I feel like this yet I still feel distant from God, I feel lonely. I wonder if I am afraid of the intimacy that I know I must share with God. I have trouble going to Mass. I haven’t been in a while. I will get as far as standing at the front door of my house prepared to go, but I won’t turn the knob, and I’ll just go back to my room. It’s something about the public nature of Mass that I have trouble with.

Despite my shortcomings in these areas, there is one thing I will always have: prayer. Prayer is something taught to us as poems that we should memorize and are intended to be said out loud. While this is part of it, the way I pray is much different. I want to say it was either St. Aquinas or St. Augustine who said, “Prayer is raising your heart and mind to God”. We don’t need to speak, we don’t need to think in words, we just need to raise our heart and mind to God and trust that he knows what's in there. A piece of art, a song, time spent with loved ones, they can all make us communicate with God.

Prayer seems like a natural and easy thing to do, but it is something we must practice and learn over time. I find it helpful to pray to certain saints I identify with. St. Michael if I feel I need strength and courage, St. Patrick if I need some ancestor-ly wisdom, and Gabriel if tenderness is called for. Too often I pray to God to ask for something. I forget all the blessings in my life and do not thank Him for them. I try to train myself to see everything He has given me, and to take time to prayer simply to thank Him and to praise Him, and tell Him I trust Him, but I never do it enough.

I have been praying for God to help me be a better Catholic. It was that, in fact, which prompted me to start this blog. A priest friend of mine recently told me:

Generally when we take prayer seriously we begin to take other things seriously, and then things begin to change- not always easily, but truly, and often because we gain the courage and motivation that we need to make the changes we need to. Conversion of heart and soul is an ongoing process and is never completed this side of heaven”.

I hope this was as helpful for you to read as it was for me to write.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Watch for more about sex, gay marriage, why some protestant sects are dangerous, the problem with atheists, the A-word, and much more from a point of view that might surprise you.

Separation of Church and State: Not So Great

I’ve always considered the separation of church and state one of the things that makes America great. Any person of any religion is free to practice their beliefs without fear of persecution. Pretty nifty idea. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, you name it, they can do it. As long as no one is getting hurt, it’s fair game. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that the separation of church and state is actually preventing me from fully practicing my religion. There can be no religious displays on public property. No one can put a Christmas manger on the grassy area downtown, or a Crucifix during Easter, and how about taking “Under God” out of the pledge of allegiance? It’s not just Catholics, I fully acknowledge that the other religions are stunted too. Therein lies the problem. We are required to be considerate not to force our religion onto other people. Force them to what? Drive by a Christmas manger on their way to work? I would GLADLY drive by a menorah during Hanukah if it meant I could put up a manger during Christmas. The law doesn’t allow for full religious freedom. We are permitted to practice our religion, BUT ONLY AS FAR AS THE GOVERNMENT SAYS WE CAN. Which brings me to my next point:

The separation of church and state has created a cultural norm where expressions of religion in public is abnormal and socially unacceptable except to people who share your beliefs. Now, I’m not so far removed from my high school and middle school days that I forget how to be cool. I saw plenty of kids at my school in CCD, but we never talked about what we learned in CCD at school. No cool kid ever talked about how he had to skip an engagement because he had to go to church. Kids from religious families are noticed in a negative way when displaying their religion outside of the home.

Society doesn’t change when you get older. Ever see what is most commonly referred to as the “Jesus Fish” on the bumper of somebody’s car? We all have. Once that became a nice way to show some religious expression, the “Darwin Fish” came out: a Jesus Fish with a pair of legs on it. A sticker intended to make fun of people who displayed their religion with a bumper sticker. The sticker isn’t particularly offensive, but it’s a good example of how religion in public is looked down upon. What have you been taught to not bring up in polite conversation? Money, sex, politics, and religion.

The Point: Religion is not supposed to be something you practice an hour each Sunday and at mealtimes on Fridays during Lent. Religion is supposed to be a lifestyle and is part of everything you do. The separation of church and state keeps us from being persecuted for our religious beliefs, but prevents us from certain religious practices.


Welcome to my blog! As you may have guessed, I am a Young American Catholic.

As a twenty-something Catholic in America, there are three groups I belong to that often have differing and contradictory ideas and priorities. This blog is about how those three influences are reconciled, with varying results. I will talk about my own personal reflections about making those three parts of my life work, as well as discuss current and not so current events from the viewpoint of a Young American Catholic. I will post weekly or bi-weekly, we'll see.

I can talk forever, but this blog will really take off when discussions take place. Please comment! Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The best thing you can do is disagree with me, cause it will start the conversation. Comment on a post or email me at