Spotlight - Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

I grew up in a large Catholic family (2nd oldest of 11) in Massachusetts, just south of Boston in the 80s and 90s. Me, along with my 7 brothers were altar servers. I have served Mass for the infamous Cardinal Arnold Law and even had coffee with him in a small group. Growing up, I didn't know anything about the sex abuse scandals that were happening in my back yard until the news broke in 2002. I was (and still am) embarrassed and ashamed of these horrific events! 

What the Catholic Church did, and how they handled it was absolutely unacceptable and terrible. I don't mind the persecution I receive for being Catholic (my leader was persecuted to His death) and I think much of it is deserved and self inflicted. There is no denying the horrible things done by members of the Catholic Church throughout its 2000 year history. My hope with this blog is to share my perspective as a Catholic Christian sinner. 

Although the super popular movie "Spotlight" came out in 2015, I just recently watched it. I actually enjoyed it and thought it was well done. It didn't have too many ridiculous conspiracy theories (like the Dan Brown novels) and it did a good job of shedding light on the history and truth of the Catholic Sex Scandals in Boston, MA and how the massive story broke in 2002.

The fascination from the Spotlight movie led me to share my perspective which comes with deep and thorough soul searching and research. This is a sensitive and passionate topic. We all may have particular beliefs and perspectives about the causes, contexts, nature, and scope of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, but we should be informed by empirical quality data and reason.

CONTEXT: 

When looking back at the horrific abuses, it is tough to understand the environment within which these occurred since the world is very different today. The 2nd Vatican Council took place from 1961-1965 and caused a lot of change and confusion within the Catholic Church at the time. From this confusion arose much dissension amongst Catholic leaders along with an idea about "the spirit of Vatican II". This "spirit of Vatican II" was very vague, subjective and often used to ignore the teachings from the Council and interpret things however one saw fit. Combining the confusion from the Council, rebelion from Catholic leaders, the sexual revolution of the 60s ramping up and the traditional Christian mentality of the time, a lot of chaos was found within the Church. There were seminaries that were teaching heresies and some became a safe haven for homosexual men who flocked there after feeling rejected by their Christian environment (about 25% of seminarians had homosexual orientation - see resources below). 

Poor background checks, bad leadership, unorthodox seminaries and questionable formation led to produce some bad priests. These bad priests did bad things; but lets be clear about what that was since there are still many myths and bias hysteria surrounding this sensitive topic...

There is not a pedophilia problem in the Catholic Church! 

80% of the victims were post pubescent boys - teenage boys. 100% of the perpetrators were men and most of these men were attracted to other men and boys. Gay men assaulting boys played a major role in the scandal. I say this as a fact and not out of condemnation on men struggling with same sex attraction. Being gay does not make one more likely to commit a crime. However, being a gay man working closely in an environment with other men and boys creates an increased risk of sexual abuse.

Bishop Morlino (of Madison Wisconson) says, “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. The sex abuse crisis has continued, he says, because the modern Church has become too comfortable with sin in her teaching and practice. For too long we have diminished the reality of sin – we have refused to call a sin a sin – and we have excused sin in the name of a mistaken notion of mercy, In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Environment is also why we see such high rates of sexual abuse in the education system (much higher than with clergy). Teachers with authority are working closely with teenagers and sadly abuse their authority and act out on their sexual desires. 

There are bad apples in the Church, just like everywhere else. 

The comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004, as well as several other recent studies report: from 1950-2000, 4% of Catholic priests in the U.S. sexually victimized minors (consistent with the rates in other religious traditions). Although these stories are horrific to hear, they are almost never about incidents that have occurred since the late 1980s. Incidents of abuse in the past 25 years are quite rare. While the rate of sexual abuse has dropped significantly amongst Catholic clergy, sexual victimization is tragically common in the general population (research states that over 20% of American women and about 15% of American men were sexually violated by an adult when they were children). 

Sexual Abuse is not "Sola Catolica": The 3 insurance companies that represent most protestant churches claims they receive 260+ reports per year from clergy abuse on their minors. The numbers are higher for non-religious groups such as Boy Scouts, Sports Teams, Universities, Media, Entertainment and Government. Sexual abuse is not just a Catholic problem, but a societal problem. 

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." We see major sex scandals across all religious denominations - often by leadership at the highest positions. I think of televangelists or other Christian leaders like Jimmy Swagger, Jim Baker and Ted Haggar. Sexual scandals by influencers like Bill Cosby, Bob Marley, Bill Clinton and even Martin Luther King JR. Religious founders cannot escape scrutiny either. Islam's founder, Muhammed, had 13 wives, some were very young like Aisha whom he married when she was just 7 years old and consummated the marriage when she was 9. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, is said to have had an unquenchable sexual appetite accompanied by 25-40 wives. 

Should Catholic priests be held to a higher standard? YES! Absolutely! I think this factors into why there is so much hysteria surrounding sexual abuse in the priesthood. Priests are moral authorities instructing and teaching us how to live the moral and spiritual life. Since most people disagree with the Church's teachings on sexual morality (masturbation, homosexuality, contraception, divorce, abortion and pre-marital sex), the media jumps on the opportunity to point out the shameful hypocrisy. Scandal in the priesthood can also serve as an excuse and justify why we disregard the teachings that claim to be directly from God (through the Church Jesus established) and guided by the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus hand selected the leaders for His Church and He chose Judas, who eventually betrayed Jesus, having Him captured and killed. Jesus selected Peter, the Rock, to lead His Church and He later called Peter "Satan" (Matthew 16:23). Since the members of the Church are sinful humans, just like the rest of us, they also have shortcomings, struggles and failures. The Church is not a hotel for saints, but a hospital for sinners. "So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." - Matthew 23:3. We can not and must not put our trust in Men, but in Jesus Christ and His promises. 

SOLUTION:

We should hold the leaders of the Church to a higher standard while understanding that they might fall. Extensive evaluations, background checks, protocols and safeguards must continue to be strictly enforced. The sexual crimes committed by church leaders should be punished to the full extent of the law. It is horrific, shameful and unacceptable. What is more awful is when the leadership is aware of what is happening and does nothing. To me, this was the worst part of the Boston abuse scandals; how the Cardinal was aware of what was going on and he didn't do anything to stop it. At times, the sins in the Church make me embarrassed to be a member; then I look in the mirror and see the log in my own eye. I place my trust in God, lean on Him and remember Jesus' promise that "the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church." (Matthew 16:18) I believe that the scandal of its members is the strongest argument against Catholicism and I sympathize with those who leave the Church because of it. If I found a church with perfect members I would be very attracted to it, but unable to join since it would then become imperfect the moment I set foot through the doors. 

As a Catholic who grew up in the Boston area, I am truly sorry for the inexcusable abuses by leaders of the Catholic Church. I know that the Church has moved on from some of the awful sins of its past. I also know that members and leaders within the Church will sin again in the future. I have not left the Catholic Church because my membership is not dependent on the Holiness of its members. To the few bad priests, I pray that they repent, receive help, amend their life and surrender to the Gospel. To the countless good, holy priests, continue to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and serve His bride. I have tremendous respect for priests who embrace a life of service and sacrifice despite being mislabeled by society. Thank you to the good and holy men of God in service of Him and His Kingdom! 
                                                  ------------------------------------

"Oh you silly little man, you are trying to do what 17 centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do." - Pope Pious VII, when captured by Napoleon (trying to destroy the Catholic Church) 

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." - John 6:68

Sorces:

Thomas G. Plante Ph.D., ABPP

Six Myths About Clergy Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church

Books: Sin against the Innocents: Sexual Abuse by Priests and the Role of the Catholic Church

Bless Me Father For I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests. 

John Jay University Study: http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/.

 

Tips for Prayer

"Prayer is nothing more than an intimate conversation with the one who loves us." - St. Theresa of Avila

Prayer provides the channels from which the grace of God flows into our hearts. 

Why don't we pray? It isn't because we are too busy (and I know that you are busy). It is because we don't trust God enough. If we trusted God more, we would make prayer a higher priority. Prayer always delivers! It is one of the most productive things you will ever do!

1) Make it a Priority! Trust God - build that relationship!
2) Schedule prayer time - plan in advance.
3) Play in a quite place. 
4) Get help - use your senses. Images help focus our prayer; mantra can help get us back to center; spiritual books to read; traditional prayers from others; beads (feel) can keep us from drifting mentally. Learn from those who have gone before you. 
5) Pray the Scriptures - Let God speak to you through His written word. 
6) Listen! 
7) Be Disciplined. You wouldn't be late for work. As a pro athlete, I don't miss practice; and as an athlete for Christ I shouldn't miss my date with the Lord of the Universe in Prayer!

The O.G. Church

 "The gates of hell will not prevail against My Church." - Jesus

"The gates of hell will not prevail against My Church." - Jesus

"Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers (“episkopos” or "Bishops") in which you tend the church of God that He acquired with His own blood. " - Acts 20:28

There can only be ONE Original Gangster (see video)! If you aren't part of the original, than you are part of an imitation. Throughout the 2,000 years of Christianity, there has been many attempts to tear down or improve upon the original church that Jesus established, but His bride still stands strong today!

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He didn't leave us orphans to figure it all out on our own. He left us with a deposit of faith, oral teachings and a church to guid us. This Church is not just an invisible church, an imaginary church or vague interpretations of revelation. His church is not a needle in the haystack of denominations for us to discover on our own. Jesus did not hide his light under a bushel and the gates of hell have not prevailed against His Church (Matt 16:20). His Church is the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city set on the hill (Matt 5:13-14); the Pillar and Foundation of Truth." - 1Tim 3:15  This church is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC (Apostles Creed).

  • It is ONE since it is united in faith. Christ's church has authority; the ability to teach us in the name of the God ("It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." - Acts 15:18) and is guided by the Holy Spirit ("receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." - John 20:22). 
  • It is HOLY, not because of its sinful members, but because it is Jesus protecting His bride. Jesus is the strong man protecting His house (Luke 11:21); He is the Good Sheppard guiding His flock; Jesus is the King ruling His Kingdom; He is the wise man who built His house on rock (Matthew 7:24).
  •  The Church is CATHOLIC since it is universal; it is for all nations and all times. 
  • The Church is APOSTOLIC since it was built by Jesus Christ (the Rock, the Chief Cornerstone, the Carpenter and Master Builder!) on Peter and the Apostles. It is Apostolic since it is historical, an "Everlasting Kingdom" (Daniel 2 & 4). It is also hierarchical with Bishops (Episcopos), Presbyters, Deacons (Diakonos) and Elders (see Acts). Just as King David established his Kingdom of Israel with its 12 tribes, Jesus established His heavenly Kingdom on the foundation of the 12 apostles. And just as the Davidic King would have a Prime Minister, who was given the "Keys to the kingdom" as a sign of his office (Isaiah 22: 20-22), Jesus selected Peter as His first Prime Minister and entrusted to him the keys of the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19). 

While it is very easy to tear something down, it is not easy to build something up and uphold and sustain it over time. The Bible says that, "If it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." - Acts 5:39 "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain." - Psalm 127:1 Many critics throw stones at the flawed members of the church or misunderstand her teachings while missing out on the numerous Easter Eggs inside. Many skeptically observe from the outside, and miss the history, tradition, truth, goodness and beauty within (stained glass). 

There can only be one original and through the grace of God, that ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, APOSTOLIC CHURCH continues to guide those who seek Him!

"How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid!" - Pope Francis

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"To make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Ephesians 3:9-10

Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”

"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and of us ... " - St. Peter (Acts 15:28)

 

How to Understand the Bible

What was Jesus' plan for us to know Him? When He ascended into Heaven did He leave us a book and say, "good luck."

So many Christians today simply turn to the Bible and then interpret it as they see fit. We all have biases. We are all impacted by our environment and culture. The Bible says, "How can I know what it says unless someone teaches me????" Our families, teachers, preachers and friends can impact how we understand Sacred Scripture. Without an authority, we have a strong natural tendency to fit the Bible's teachings and God into our own image and likeness. 

What good is in infallible book without an infallible interpreter? 

My friend just got the Apple X and is stoked about it. The problem is that he has very little data and is on a bad network. I will ask him to check out this video and he will say, "wait till I get to the hotel wifi" or I will call him and it will get dropped. My point is that even an Apple X has little effectiveness without good data and signal. It has great potential, but on its own it is not that great.

The Holy Spirit worked through His Church to give us the Bible, and the Bible doesn't fully make sense when it is ripped from the Church and we are left to interpret it on our own. 

Its like my atheist friends tell me how they can be good without God. Well, yes, you can be, but without God there is no such thing as goodness or right and wrong. There needs to be an objective moral standard to determine these things. They then say, well we can all agree with almost all of the morals/values of our culture today, so why can't we just accept those that we agree on. Just like removing the Bible from the Church that gave it to us and interprets it accurately, the Atheist wants to hijack the morals and values from the culture that came from Christianity, but set Christianity aside. These morals break down when ripped away from God and our man-made attempts to self-interpret and self-govern open up the giant slippery slope of division. 

I heard a great analogy from an acquaintance who was a staunch atheist who discovered God after the birth of her first child (she was actually a scholar and popular atheist blogger). She wanted to get to know God and she looked into the many different world religions. Coming to the belief that Jesus is who He claimed to be, she became Christian. She eventually entered the Catholic Church since she believed it was more rational to trust the reason/logic of those brilliant united, Christian theologians who have gone before her, than her own personal interpretation of Scripture (or other man-made attempts). She said that the Protestant faith is like if we had a Constitution, but no Governing body (Executive, Legislative and Judicial). 

I thought that to be a powerful analogy worth sharing and it makes me think of what businesses like Apple would be like without any authority.  Of course these analogies in the case of countries and businesses break down because the authorities are imperfect, but in the case of the Church, since it is guided by the Holy Spirit, it remains the "Pillar and Foundation of truth" and fulness of the Christian faith. 

Ripping the Bible away from the Church (or any of her teachings) breaks down since they are not in full context. Before Jesus ascended into heaven He did not say, "figure it out." Jesus said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whoever's sins you forgive, they are forgiven... Whoever hears you, hears me ... Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven ... Go make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have taught you. I will be with you always." Jesus left us a Church whose teachings we can trust. A Church whose primary role is to evangelize and to set it on fire with His love! 

GO!

Be A Saint - How it Began

Be A Saint began in 2017 through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and with a couple of dull pencils - me and Ruben ... 

I was in my 14th year of Professional Soccer (playing for the Switchbacks FC in the United Soccer League - USL) and found myself sidelined much of the season due to multiple injuries. It was the first time in a while that I was forced to think of life without soccer and what the Lord wanted me to do considering my passions, talent and the desires He has placed on my heart. 

I have always done ministry and evangelization (as we are all called to do) wherever I lived. I have a heart for the faith and sharing the Gospel. I would say that I am over zealous at times and put my foot in my mouth at least as often as the times Christ uses me to plant seeds - all this to say that I have a passion for being a fisher of men and making disciples of ALL! Becoming a full-time evangelist has been a goal of mine for when pro soccer is done; but how could this dream come to fruition ... 

To save you the suspense I am nowhere near attaining that dream yet, but I did get 2 great offers on 2 of my businesses the same month that we launched "Be A Saint" (TBD ...). I ended up finishing the 2017 season strong and re-signed for 2018 and am playing in another pro season with the Switchbacks. Be A Saint Ministries has launched and has been gaining momentum and traction within our first year! The future is in God's hands ... 

So why "Be A Saint"? First, why not!?!? We are ALL called to be saints! We are all called to be holy, serve God and be united with Him forever in Heaven. This is a wonderful call and reminder for everyone of us. There are so many beautiful "life verses" in Scripture, but I fell like this call to be holy, run the race to win the un-perishable prize and serve God with ALL that I am really inspires and motivates me - its like a culmination of many of my "life verses"! It also reminds me of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before me and I am encouraged by them; I learn from their witness and I seek their prayers (I am not alone on this journey). 

I've always enjoyed learning about the lives of the Saints (canonized saints that the Church officially proclaims are worth imitating). I can relate to them in a unique way and their example and prayers help me grow in holiness. Just as I can observe Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to improve my soccer skills, I can study St. John Paul II or Mother Theresa to develop heroic virtue and a deeper love for Jesus. Mary says, "My soul magnifies the Lord" and she, along with many other righteous witnesses help me see God more clearly! 

Since 2010 I've embraced this saying, Be A Saint! I would write it in my journal, on my planner and on the whiteboard in my office. I later shortened the saying to say: "be A st." and would even carve that into the back of my phone case. Around 2012 the term "Beast" started becoming popular and redefined to mean: "awesome; intense; fierce; courageous." I thought this was pretty cool and it added to my saying. I thought "wouldn't it be cool if we could build off that definition and re-brand the term 'beast' to mean holy and fierce?" 

With this idea still in the way back of my mind in 2017 and my pro soccer future doubtful, I ran into Ruben Garduno at my church and we started talking about his Christian T-Shirt Company, "Romantic Catholic." I told him about my saying and how I thought it would be a sweet shirt and he was all about it! We started brain storming and the Holy Spirit lead us to create this platform and brand: "Be A Saint". We specialize in apparel, but also do inspirational content, speaking, social media, Pro-Life Fundraising and apologetics ... we are super-excited to see where the Holy Spirit leads this amazing ministry! 

Oh, and BE A SAINT BABY!

Is Peter the Rock?

Is Peter the Rock?

7 Reasons we can know that Peter is the Rock!

1) Change of Name in Scripture Signifies Change of Mission.
Think Abram (father) and His new name Abraham (Father of many). Abraham's wife, Sarai (my princess), had her name changed by God to Sarah (Mother of Nations) - See Genesis. How about Jacob (supplanter) having his name changed to Israel (having power with God); or one of my favorite's, Saul (great one), had his name changed to Paul (little one; humility), and God raised him up to be the Great Apostle to the Gentiles!

Jesus changed Simon's name (God has heard) to Peter (ROCK) and this name change, like the others, represents what it means. 

Why I Love the Saints

Here are 7 reasons why I love the Saints:

1. God’s Grace Shines Through Them. 

When we honor the saints we are honoring God who created them, just as when we admire a work of art we are praising the artist. It would be foolish if an artist said, “stop admiring my painting and honor me!” Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46) The holy witness of the saints help us see God more clearly, since it is God who created them and God’s grace that is at work in them.

2) “All generations Will Call Me Blessed” (Luke 1:48)

The Jews and Christians throughout history have honored the lives of the saints. This is nothing new and we see it in almost every culture including ours in the US. It is natural and important to revere our family members who have “competed well for the faith” (1 Tim 6:12). Remember them, venerate them, be inspired by them, but NEVER worship them! Worship is for God alone (Luke 4:8) and if we worship anyone or anything apart from God, than we are being led astray.

3) Jesus Has Commissioned Us (Matt 28:19)

Jesus is the one mediator between us and God (1 Tim 2:5) and it is Jesus who connects us to the Father. Jesus is with us and commanding us from the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3) enlisting us to be disciples and evangelize. Our lives may be the only Gospel someone ever reads. Jesus said, “Go make disciples of ALL nations.” When we pray for others we are co-mediators with Christ in the mission He has given. When someone asks for our prayers, it would be foolish to say, “no, go right to Jesus, I won’t be a co-mediator with Christ.” Instead, we gladly pray for others. I am thankful for the host of saints in heaven and on earth that Jesus has enlisted to the mission of bringing about the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are co-workers in God’s service.”

Mary intercedes at the Wedding at Cana (John 2), Job intercedes for his friends ("After Job had prayed for his friends...” - Job 42:10), the apostles intercede for the church (Philippians 1:3, Romans 1:9)

Jesus is the Great High Priest and the Bible tells us that we also “have a royal priesthood and we should offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus” (1 Peter 2:5). “We participate in the sufferings of Christ and He lives in us and works through us” (1 Peter 4:13, Galatians 2:20). You have been commissioned, enlisted and commanded to be a co-mediator or co-worker with Christ (“Pick up your cross and follow Him” - Matt 16:24) - answer that call like the saints do!

4) Our God is the God of the Living. (Mark 12:27)

Those who die in Christ are not really dead, but alive in Heaven and even more alive than we are. When we ask the saints for their prayers, we do not pray to the dead. God hears the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29) and the prayers of the saints are POWERFUL! (James 5:16). In the popular book and movie, “Heaven is For Real” a father shares the inspirational story of his young son who dies, goes to heaven and returns to tell about it. One of the first thing this boy does in heaven is to pray for his father, his family and loved ones. Of course we are allowed to pray for others when we are in Heaven!

5) Beauty Points to God and Brings Him Glory

God is the Creator of Beauty and honoring Him with art is not objectively wrong. While God commands that we cannot WORSHIP graven images (Leviticus 26:1), He also instructs the building of Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings), mounting a bronze serpent on a pole (Numbers 21:9) and having Cherubim and Seraphim (angel statues) accompany the arc of the Covenant (Exodus 25:19). When I see a Nativity in front of someone’s yard around Christmas, or Christian jewelry, or majestic architecture or stained glass or beautiful smells and bells I am reminded of what they are representing and my soul rises to the Heavens because of their beauty. When I see God’s beautiful creation (sunset, mountain range, ocean, etc.) I am inspired to praise Him. The heroic holy witness of God’s saints are just as inspiring and beautiful - some of His greatest work! Being reminded of God’s grace working through them makes my spirit sour!

I know those visiting the Lincoln Memorial aren’t visiting to worship Abraham Lincoln and I know those kneeling before a tombstone aren’t worshiping that stone. In the same way, I am not going to judge the hearts of those honoring the holy witnesses that have gone before us (1 Cor 4:3-6). I don’t know their hearts, but I do know that I am thankful when reminded of the life of a saint since I can relate to them in a specific way, I ask for their prayers, and I am encouraged by their example. When I kneel and pray before a statue I am not worshiping that statue, but am praying to and worshiping God.

The Iconoclast Heresy of the 7th and 8th centuries was the idea that all Christian art should be destroyed since it is distracting us from who God really is. This heresy was greatly influenced by the Muslim practices, and the Church was forced to authoritatively define into doctrine that art can be used to glorify God and is not objectively immoral. Do all things (including art) for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

6) Utilize the Great Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1)

The book of Revelation (Revelation 4,5,6,8) tells us how the saints in heaven are worshiping God, hearing our prayers and praying for us. As Christians we are all part of Christ’s body and Christ’s Church (one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism - Ephesians 4:5). We are one family helping, honoring and praying for one another.

7) Their Story Inspires Ours

We can relate to the lives of different saints in unique ways. Their stories inspire us to live for God as they did, just as we get inspired by the testimonies of other brothers and sisters in Christ that we look up to. It is God that makes saints and when we honor them, we are glorifying what God has done in their lives.

The saints are our family and fully alive with Christ in Heaven! They are our biggest fans - they are praying for us and rooting us on towards victory! Venerate the saints; remember the saints; honor the saints; ask the saints to pray for you; let their stories inspire yours; stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you - don’t do it all on your own; stand on the ceiling, don’t start from the floor. Remember that every saint has a past and through God’s grace we can have a heroic future - there are no ½ saints; God has made saints out of great sinners, but He has never made a saint out of a wimp; Be a warrior; be a witness; be a disciple; be a rebel; be a beast; be a SAINT!!!

How To Set The World On Fire!

"I have come to set the world on fire, and how I wish it was already burning!" - Luke 12:49

We want to set the world on fire ... this is a good thing; However, we cannot share the flame without possessing it first (burning bright and hot within us). If our evangelical efforts are to bare valuable fruit, it must come from the Holy Spirit. 

"He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." - Ephesians 3:20

I often put forth a lot of work and effort with the hopes of bringing others towards Jesus. While this is a worthy goal, it can not be effective without God's grace and Spirit. I continually find that my ministerial and evangelical efforts only make an impact when they come from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This interior life (where the Spirit resides), is where an effective apostolate must come from. Our efforts on our own are tiny compared to what can be done with God ("With God, all things are possible." - Mark 10:27)! 

"If their endeavor is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them." - Acts 5:39

Prayer is the means to nurturing and nourishing this deep interior life. Prayer is a channel for God's grace and the Holy Spirit. St. Therese of Lisieux says that "prayer is nothing more than an intimate conversation with the one who created us and loves us." Prayer is the foundation of the interior life and the place where a saintly active life flows. 

If we truly love God and have faith in His providence, we will make the time to speak to Him and a priority to LISTEN to Him through daily prayer! Pray! Pray often - Pray everyday! Set the world on FIRE!

"Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire." - St. Catherine of Siena 

Are You Saved? How to Respond ...

Have you ever been thrown off by this question? If so, this blog will give you a couple different ways to reply:
Option 1: “Yes.”

That is a good option, but it’s a bit boring for me. Let’s look to the Bible to come up with a better response.  

Salvation is a process which begins when a person first becomes a Christian, which continues through the rest of their life, and concludes on the Last Day.

The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith amongst many other things, but it all starts with FAITH!

The Greek word for faith is Pisteuo which means entrusting your life to a cause.

The early Christian understood of the word “faith” to mean Trusting God through our actions. Think Obedience or Faithfulness. It did not mean a simple belief of the mind; it is not believing without evidence, but it is an act of the mind and the will.

To the early Christians, belief was not a one-time thing and it involved action. You cannot separate faith from action. The Greek language has something called a “perfect tense” which we often translate into our English “past tense”. So a better translation of when the Bible says, “whoever believes in Him will have eternal life”, would say, “whoever is believing in Him is having eternal life.” – John 3:16

“Faith without works is dead.”- James 2:17 There is no faith, without action. Our actions as Christians are a manifestation of God’s grace working in us. It is not only an expression of our faith, but a necessary part of it. The Bible says, “I will show you my faith through my actions.” – James 2:18

In addition to faith, the Bible tells us that we are saved through many ways (How we are “saved”):

Baptism – Mark 16:16
Water and the Spirit – John 3:5
Endurance - Matthew 10:22
The blood of Jesus – Romans 5:9
The story of the Cross – 1 Corinthians 1:18
The faith of others – Luke 5:20
Righteousness – Isaiah 56:1, Matthew 25:46
Works – Revelations 3:15, James 2
Effort – Phil 2:12
Perseverance until the end – Matthew 24:13
The name of Jesus; Matthew 1:21
Righteousness and faithfulness. 1 Sam 26:23
Receive Him – John 1:12
Keep His word – John 8:51
Ask to be Remembered – Luke 23:42
Obedience – John 3:36
Grace – Ephesians 2:8
Forgiveness - Matthew 18:35
Saved by Fire – 1 Cor 3:15
Belief – John 3:16
Charity – Matt 25:40-46
Love – 1Cor 13:13
Hope – Romans 8:23
Mercy of God – Romans 3:23
Confessing Jesus with your mouth … – Romans 10:9
Not saying “Lord, Lord”, but doing God’s will – Matt 7:21
Not searching Scriptures, but coming to Jesus – John 5:39
Etc. Etc.  You get the point …

As Christians, we know that we are saved by “Faith through the Grace of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We know that we cannot earn salvation (it is a free gift from God) and we are NOT saved by works alone and we are NOT saved by faith alone. In fact, the only place the words “faith alone” appear together in the Bible is in the book of James where it says “you are saved by works and not by faith alone.” – James 2:24

So the next time you are asked the question: “Are you saved?”, feel free to respond with the following (Option 2):

I was saved, I am saved, I am being saved and will be saved. I was saved by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was saved at my baptism; I am saved through my faith in Him: I am being saved everyday by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit living in me; I will be saved at the second coming. Like the Apostle Paul, I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling and I will be saved through endurance and by persevering until the end.

James 2:14-26: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? … In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. …. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” - St. James 

Eucharist = Jesus

 Is the Eucharist a symbol or truly Christ's real presence? 

Is the Eucharist a symbol or truly Christ's real presence? 

Here are 7 reasons why we can know that Jesus is truly present (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) in the Eucharist:

1. Jesus said it! “Take, eat, this is my body. Take, drink, this is my blood.” (Synoptic Gospels - Matthew 26; Luke 22; Mark 14). If Elijah can have the power to call down a consuming fire from heaven (2Kings 1:10), why can’t the words of Christ transform the elements?

WATCH SHORT VIDEO OVERVIEW HERE

2. God gave us “Bread Crumbs” all throughout Scripture and Salvation History, starting with Genesis:

  • “And Melchizedek, King of Salem (peace), brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High…” (Genesis 14). The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:4) Jesus is a Great High Priest like Melchizedek (Hebrews 5, 6 and 7).

  • "For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure" says the LORD of hosts.” (Malichi 1:11) “You shall set the Bread of the Presence on the table before me on the table at all times.” (Exodus 25:30) "This day (Passover) shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution." (Exodus 12:14) “And surely, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)

  • Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35); He was born in Bethlehem (which means “House of Bread”) and laid in a manger (where sheep are fed and come to eat - we are the sheep); Christ is the Good Shepherd who feeds and provides for His sheep (Psalm 23); “Jesus appeared to them in a different form” (Mark 16:12). “They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35);

3. The Eucharist is the Fulfillment of the Jewish Passover.

  • On the second to last Passover Jesus celebrated with his disciples, He laid the groundwork for the Last Supper. At the start of John, Chapter 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish and has 12 baskets of leftovers. This refers to the “Bread of the Presence” (Exodus) and points to a new exodus. After this miracle, He goes on to tell his followers that He is the the new manna (New Covenant) and you must eat His flesh to have life within you. He backs up His claim 7 times in John 6 to emphasize His point! 
  • The Bible uses the word “Trogo” which means to gnaw or to chew and is never used figuratively; He lets the disciples who struggle with this teaching leave and He doubles down when His apostles question Him ("Do you want to leave too?"- John 6:67).
  • In the Jewish Passover, the Jews had to kill the unblemished lamb and actually eat the lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:36) who fulfills the the Old Covenant, and we know that ALL of the fulfillments are perfected in the New Covenant.
  • "God will provide the LAMB ... then Abraham beheld a RAM caught in the thorns..." (Genesis 22) Where is this lamb that God will provide? This is foreshadowing Christ, the pascal sacrifice; who takes our place (He paid a debt he did not owe since we owed a debt we couldn't pay), just as the ram took the place of Isaac. Isaac is obedient to his father and carries the wood up Mount Moriah (Jerusalem) to the altar where he (the child of promise, like Jesus) is to be sacrificed. The father, the son, the wood, the sacrifice, the covenant, the offering, the thorns ... God will provide the Lamb! JESUS IS THE LAMB!
  • While the Eucharist is a mystery, we can come to accept that Jesus has the power to give us this miracle: Jesus transformed water into wine (He can change the elements); God speaks things into existence - “Let there be light!” (Gen 1:3); Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) What Jesus says, is (little girl get up! - Mark 5:41) His words effect and transforms reality. “Lazarus come out!” (John 11:43); “Your sins are forgiven!” (Mark 2:9), etc. “When two or three are gathered in His name” (Matt 18:20), Jesus is truly present. He is truly speaking to us in His written word, the Sacred Scriptures and He is Truly present in the Eucharist. Ya gotta have faith!

4.  History.

  • While the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has never been an easy teaching (John 6:60), it has ALWAYS been accepted as doctrine for ALL Christians from the time of Christ through the 16th century (and Catholics and Orthodox Christians still accept this teaching).
  • Throughout Christianity, Christians have debated about everything; from the canon of Scripture, to the divinity of Christ, Circumcision, Baptism, Interpreting Scripture, the Trinity, etc. While the Eucharist is a mystery and requires faith, there was no serious theological concern with this doctrine until the 12 hundreds when the Church was required to define Christ’s teaching more fully (hence the term: "Transubstantiation").
  • Theologian, Dr. Peter Kreeft says, “If the first 1500 years of Christians were wrong about the Eucharist (and it is just a symbol), than they were not only idolators, but the stupidest idolaters in history! They’re bowing down to bread, and worshiping wine, thinking that it’s Almighty God. How could they be that stupid, and more important, how could the Holy Spirit fall asleep and wait until the reformation to reveal this mistake?”

5. The 4th Cup.

For those who study and understand the Jewish Passover (as Jews then and now know), you will learn that there are 4 cups of wine that are drunk throughout this sacred meal (as well as other songs and rituals). At the Last Supper, Jesus and the Apostles are celebrating the Passover, but they do not complete it. Jesus goes through all the traditional rituals, but He himself has taken the place of the lamb and He intentionally postpones the drinking of the 4th and final cup of sour wine: "Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God." (Mark 14:25) Jesus is then handed over, scourged and hang on a cross (turning this crucifixion into a sacrifice). From the cross He exclaims “I Thirst.” (John 19:29) He was given a sour wine (the 4th cup) “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He yielded up His spirit.” (John 19:28-31). What is finished? Is salvation complete? No! He hasn’t risen yet. The New Covenant (Luke 22:20), started in the upper room on Mount Zion at the Last Supper and completed with the final sip of sour wine on the cross at Calvary is now complete and FINISHED!

6. The Bible.

We’ve seen how the Bible repeatedly supports Jesus’ claims that the Eucharist truly is His Body. Another biblical approach would be to recognize that nowhere in the Bible does it claim that the Eucharist is just a symbol. If we are to be consistent and take the Bible as God’s word, we cannot say that the Eucharist is “just a symbol” since the Bible NEVER makes this claim.

7. Eucharistic Miracles.

While this tough teaching requires faith, God often strengthens our faith through miracles. There are numerous public miracles and countless private miracles attributed to Jesus in the Eucharist that can be researched, studied and understood to help strengthen our faith in His teachings. I encourage you to look up the “Miracle of Lanciano” that took place over a millennia ago and has been examined be scientists. You can still view the flesh of Christ (flesh from His heart) in the host that has been miraculously preserved today!

We are not only spiritual, but also physical. We relate to and comprehend things on spiritual and physical levels and that is why the physical is important and significant (“My words are spirit and life” - John 6:63). God took on human flesh (John 1:14) to fully reveal Himself to us. Jesus gives us his body in the Eucharist to nourish our bodies and souls and to help us grow in intimate union with Him. Reducing the Eucharist to a symbol is like reducing marriage to friendship. Like the disciples we “Beg Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’” (John 6:34) We want to see, touch, feel and be nourished by Jesus Himself. Jesus told them, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you … Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”  (John 6:53-58)

“They ate and had their fill, and what they craved the Lord gave them; they were not disappointed in what they craved.” (Psalm 78:29-30)

I close by asking the same question that Jesus asked his Apostles after the Eucharistic discourse in John Chapter 6: “Do you want to leave too?” (John 6:67). My hope and prayer is that you answer with faith in Jesus’ words and teachings, along with Simon Peter who replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”- John 6:68

"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 11:27

Is God Really Real? 15 Proofs - Best Arguments for God

 Is belief in God reasonable?

Is belief in God reasonable?

Is God real? Is it reasonable to believe in God? While our capacity to fully understand God is limited, there is more than enough evidence that proves God's existence well beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Here are 15 arguments for the existence of God:

  1. Practical Argument: Saints are happy, sinners are not. People who believe in God live longer, more fulfilled life. If you don’t believe me, ask your life insurance provider. If a car drives better on Gasoline rather than Vegetable Oil, it is reasonable to believe that the car was designed to run on gas and not vegetable oil.

  2. Ontological Argument: We can deduce God’s existence from the very definition of God. It is self-contradicting to deny that there exists a greatest possible being. God is the greatest possible being imaginable. If God exists only in the mind, than we can imagine something that is greater than God since reality is greater than imagination. God can be imagined and exists.

  3. Pascal’s Wager: If I am unsure of something, it is more reasonable for me to bet on infinite happiness than infinite nothingness.

  4. Cosmological Argument: Whatever exists has a cause. The Universe began to exist 13.8 billion years ago. Therefore the Universe has a cause. This cause must be greater than the result and God must be greater than space, time and matter. For there to be a Big Bang, there must be a Big Banger.

  5. Contingency Argument: The principle of sufficient reason states that Everything must have an explanation. Why is there something and not nothing? It is reasonable and scientific to believe that something did not come from nothing.

  6. Universal Consensus Argument: 99% of recorded human history has believed in the supernatural. While this doesn’t prove something to be true, it would be arrogant to say that nearly every rational being has fallen for the greatest lie ever invented and lived a fairytale or illusion.

  7. Heroes worth imitating: Even if share numbers aren’t persuasive, it is appealing to be on the side of all the saints and sages, all the princes and prophets.

  8. Miracles: Miracles happen! There have been 1000s of recorded, public miracles that can only be understood through supernatural intervention. Fortunately you don’t have to go far to observe them for yourself - just as your theist neighbor if they’ve had any miracles in their life. If that doesn’t do it for you, research the miracle at Fatima and the 60,000 eye witnesses; go to Italy and witness Saint Januarius’ blood liquify on his feast day; View the incorruptible bodies of many saint that died hundreds of years ago; there is a reason why most of the agnostic scientists studying the Shroud of Turin and the Stigmata of Padre Pio became Christians.

  9. Intrinsic Value: There is a hierarchy of value and worth. A baby human is more valuable than a rock and a snail. For there to be a hierarchy of value, there must be an objective standard for value and a creator of value.

  10. Probability argument: Edwin Conklin said, “The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the Unabridged Dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing factory.” There are over 200 criteria that must be met perfectly for a planet to support life and yet here we are, not only living, but talking about it. Could everyone of the parameters have been perfectly met by accident? The fine-tuning to support life on a planet is nothing compared to the fine-tuning required for a universe to exist at all. When you consider gravity, inertia, electromagnetic and nuclear forces, and all the wonders of the cosmos you cannot help, but be in awe. The odds are so inconceivable that the idea that it just happened defies common sense.

  11. Intelligent Design: If I found a pocket watch in a field, it would be reasonable for me to deduct that something intelligent designed that watch. When I consider the the universe, the eyeball, the nervous system, the rose, the seed, the atom, protons, neutrons, DNA, the stars and the amazing wonders all around me, it is reasonable for me to deduct that something intelligent designed all this. I know there is an artists since I’ve seen the artwork. I know there is an author since I’ve read His book.

  12. Intellect exists so there must be a Intellect Creator. Reason and Logic are real even if we can’t see, touch and measure them and they must come from somewhere. There must be a thinker of the unchangeable thought. If there were no Truth, there would be no point in debating yet we all seek truth.

  13. Moral Argument: Objective Morality Exists so there must be an objective moral standard independent of our own personal experience. Even if we can’t agree on what is right and what is wrong, we can all agree that right and wrong do exist. We can all agree that rape, child abuse, racism and terrorism is wrong. To know how good something is, we have to compare it with perfect goodness itself. We all have a conscience that is has an authoritative power over us and it cannot be eradicated. Even if we deny objective morality, we must abide by the natural moral law.

  14. Argument from Desire: All of our natural desires point to something real. We get hungry and there is food; thirsty, drink; desire intimacy, friendship; We all have a natural desire for God and it would be logical to think that, like all our other natural desires, can be satisfied. It would be perplexing if we witnessed aliens on another planet walking around hungry, but not having stomachs to feed.

  15. Meaning and purpose Exist which we receive from our creator. A shovel was meant to dig, watch to tell time, hammer created to hammer and humans were created to love. We all accept that we have meaning and, like everything else created, we are most effective and fulfilled when satisfying that purpose.

Love is real and did not create itself. Love is the meaning of life and when we live with love, though we may suffer, we feel most fully alive.

God is infinite goodness, truth and love. God is being itself. There are many smart atheists out there, but faith in atheism is not reasonable and not wise. While intellectual arguments can be extensive and manipulated in many ways, atheism is not wise because it removes the heart and soul of our human experience. Intellectual arguments are important, but it is love that converts and love that conquers. Share these valid, reasonable arguments, but most importantly love your atheist friends and pray for them. God Bless you.

“Faith, Hope and Love remain and the greatest of these is love.” - I corinthians 13:13

Does Jesus Hate Religion?

I love Jesus and I love His Religion! Yes, I know, this is out of fashion and unpopular at this moment in history … oh, well - take this as a challenge! There has been a negative connotation with the word “religion” in recent decades. There has been a popular movement of “Spiritual, but not religious” and “it’s just me and Jesus” theology. This mindset is fueled by relativism, individualism and secularism, and not the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The word “religion” is often associated with the religiosity that Jesus condemns in the Gospels, but we must remember that Jesus was a practicing Jew who came to fulfill the law and the prophets, not to abolish them (Matt 5:17). He established a Church, built a religion and created a Kingdom (Matt 16:18). Jesus doesn’t hate religion; He hates sin, evil, pride, hypocrisy, legalism and religiosity.

 Can we love Jesus and His Church?

Can we love Jesus and His Church?

When people hear the word “religion”, they often think about division and doctrines that confine and separate us. However, it is true religion that unites us and liberates us. Religion provides the channels to help understanding the overwhelming tidal wave of who Jesus is. The Bible teaches us that religion that is true is actually beautiful and leads us to a deeper understanding of God (James 1:27). The truth sets us free (John 8:32)!

In a world without truth, then yes, forcing opinions on others does seem harsh. But Jesus is the Truth and established a Church that He guides along with the Holy Spirit (John 20:23 & Acts 2:4). This Church is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth (1 Tim 3:15) and the religion known as Christianity. The Bible also describes the Church as the light of the world, the salt of the earth and a city set on a hill (Matt 5:14). It is not just vague opinions and personal interpretations of revelation (2 Peter 1:20) - Jesus left us a deposit of faith, real teachings and commandments and gave His Church actual authority (Luke 10:16).

I can understand the point of the religion haters out there since understanding doctrine is different than experiencing God. This experience of God is unfathomable and cannot be defined, but it doesn’t mean that religion should not exist. I join the haters in attesting most religions, but I am passionate about the religion Jesus established. If we don’t claim a religion than we end up subscribing to our own religion or unorganized religion.

While it is easy to hate on religion, we can’t ignore some of the good things in this world that we wouldn’t have without Christ’s religion. Christianity has brought us hospitals, universities, public education, orphanages; Christianity has championed science and medicine; Christianity has provided the morals and values that guide the western world and Christianity has been the largest charity organization decade upon decade.

I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I love His Church and I love His religion!

The Heart of Atheism - Discovering God through the Intangibles

Are there things you KNOW to be true even if you can't prove them physically?

While there are numerous arguments for the existence of God that apply to the reason, logic and intellect, I wanted to take a different approach with this blog. I want to appeal to the HEART (not just the emotions) in this blog and to the human condition (our true self without ignoring our emotional or spiritual aspects). 

Can we truly trust our reason/logic and intellect if our brains are just a bunch of matter, chemicals and firing neurons that came together by chance???

We can trust our mental faculties, but reason and logic are more than a result of random matter. We are far more than our physicality!

We sometimes try to deny truth and reality that exist if it cannot be proven using the scientific method, but we live by these truths everyday and they can't be ignored. Here are some examples: 

  • Morality - Right and Wrong exists independently of us
  • Reason/Logic/Intellect and Truth - we desire and seek truth
  • Faith & Hope - a crucial part of meaning and happiness - Atheists don't die happy
  • Desire - all of our desires can be satisfied; Why not our desire for God?
  • Meaning/Purpose 
  • Justice & Mercy
  • Intrinsic Value - we know that we have value and know we are worth far more than a stone or ant
  • Love - we seek it, we desire it, we experience it and know it to be real

While I understand these are not 100% undeniable proofs or physical evidence for God's existence that you can touch, feel and measure, my point is to encourage you to see the hand of God in the non-physical realities of our human experience. 

Ok, lets say you agree and believe that God is real, created you and loves you ... now, how can we effectively communicate this critical message in a world that doesn't believe truth exists and thinks that morality is just an opinion or personal preference??? Simple, the same way that Christians have been effectively doing this for the past 2,000 years ... LOVE! It sounds corny and cliche, but LOVE is the answer - they will know that you are Christian by your love! People will not be receptive to truth, nor will they act unless they see a living example. There is no love without truth and no truth without love. To love is to will the good of the other (with no altered motive). While this is simple, it is not easy. People will soon forget what you say, but they will remember the witness of your life and the way you loved them.  Remember, it is not us who converts, but God who changes hearts. We can plant seeds and be an instrument.  I hope this speaks to your heart and increases your faith in a personal God who is madly in love with you!

God bless you!

Set the World on Fire!

"If we became who we were created to be than we would set the world on fire." - St. Catherine

We are all called to be saints, to live the Gospel boldly and to become our best selves. St. Therese said, "there are no 1/2 saints. You are either a saint or not one at all." God is either the Lord of ALL or He is not the Lord at all ... He wants ALL of me and ALL of you! The point of this post is to inspire and encourage us to answer God's call to holiness; to Greatness; to become who we were created to be!

Motivational Video - A Father's Love is Powerful

Here are some of my favorite Bible verses that inspire me to answer God's Call (mentioned in video below): 

"With God ALL things are possible." - Matt 19:26
"Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart; Lean not on your own understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will guide your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6
"He is the Potter, we are the Clay." - Isaiah 64:8
"Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation." Sirach 2:5
"Be Strong and Courageous." 2 Samual 10:12
"I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." - Matt 10:34
"Take Courage, I have overcome the world." - John 16:33
"I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." - Phil
"Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." - Luke 9:23
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." - Phil 2:12
"Fight the good fight for the true faith." - 1 Tim 6:12
"Run the race to win." - 1 Cor 9:24
"Iron Sharpens Iron." - Prov 27:17
"Put on the full armor of God." - Ephesians 6:11
"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." - 1 Cor 10:31
"Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all else will be added unto you." - Matt 6:33
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate." - Luke 13:24
"Be not afraid!" -  the Bible 365 times
"We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-4
"I have come to set the world on fire; and how I wish it were already blazing!" - Luke 12:49

Jesus is LIFE - 60 Titles of Jesus

60 Biblical Names and Titles of Jesus
I Love Jesus! I want to tell the whole world who He is, but for this post, I will let the Bible do that...

SEE 1min VIDEO - Jesus is LIFE

Almighty One Rev. 1:8  Alpha and Omega – Rev. 22:13  Advocate –  1 John 2:1  Author and Perfecter of Our Faith – Heb. 12:2  Authority – Matt. 28:18   Bread of Life – John 6:35  Beloved Son of God – Matt. 3:17   Bridegroom – Matt. 9:15   Chief Cornerstone – Ps. 118:22   Death Destroyer – 2Tim 1:10   Deliverer –1 Thess.1:10   Faithful and True – Rev.19:11   Good Shepherd - John 10:11   Great High Priest – Heb. 4:14   Head of the Church – Eph. 1:22   Holy Servant – Acts 4:29-30   I Am – John 8:58   Immanuel – Is. 7:14   Indescribable Gift – 2 Cor. 9:15   Judge – Acts 10:42   King of Kings – Rev. 17:14   Lamb of God John 1:29   Light of the World – John 8:12   Lion of the Tribe of Judah – Rev. 5:5   Lord of All – Phil. 2:9-11   Mediator – 1 Tim. 2:5   Messiah – John 1:41   Mighty One – Is. 60:16   One Who Sets Free – John 8:36   One in 3 (trinity) – John 14:26   One with the Father- John 10:30   Our Hope – Tim. 1:1   Peace – Eph. 2:14   Prophet – Mark 6:4   Redeemer – Job 19:25   Risen Lord – 1 Cor. 15:3-4   Rock – 1 Cor. 10:4   Sacrifice for Our Sins – 1 John 4:10   Savior –Luke 2:11   Son of God – 1John 5:10   Son of Man – Luke 19:10   Son of Mary – Luke 2:7   Son of the Most High – Luke 1:32   Supreme Creator Over All –1 Cor. 1:16-17    Refuge in times of strife – Ps 46:1   Resurrection and the Life – John 11:25   The Christ – Matthew 16:16   The Door – John 10:9   The Way – John 14:6   The Word – John 1:1   True Vine - John 15:1   Truth – John 8:32   Unblemished Lamb – 1 Peter 1:19   Victorious One –  Rev. 3:21   Wonderful Counselor,   Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – Is 9:6   World Conqueror – John 16:33

7 Reasons Why I am Christian

There are dozens of reasons why I am Christian, but here are 7 of them: 

See Video HERE (7 Reasons Why I am Christian)

1. Jesus is God - This is the Christian claim and what I truly believe with ALL my heart.

2. My Environment - While the people and experiences in my life do impact my beliefs, I am not Christian simply as a result of my environment. While environment does not play a major factor in my faith, I didn't want to ignore this point since it always plays some role. 

3.  Jesus Claimed to be God - This fact can't be ignored. ALL of us must have a response to this point and there are really only 3 logical approaches to this claim (according to C.S. Lewis): Either He is a Lunatic, a Liar, or He really is the Lord (who He claims to be).

4. The Evidence Supports Jesus' Claims - The evidence certainly points to the Him being Lord: 100s of Prophecies fulfilled, miracles performed, witness of His followers, His teaching and wisdom, the amazing History of Christianity, etc.)

5. Grace - While reason and logic point to Christianity; ultimately I am Christian because of the Grace of God - His free gift of faith that I have been receptive to. 

6. Christianity is Practical - Christianity Work! It satisfies the deepest desires of our hearts.

7. I Know Jesus - Jesus is not only a historical figure, prophet and miracle worker; Jesus is ALIVE today and lives in you and He lives in me. I know Him. I talk to Him everyday and have a personal relationship with Him. I know He loves me and I love Him.