Summer (Jesus) Lovin’

Summer (Jesus) Lovin’

Every summer, no matter what our occupation in life is, we usually find ourselves “taking a break.” We might not be in school and have the traditional summer hiatus from work, but there’s still a moratorium on many routines. Bible studies and prayer groups go on break because too many people go out of town at different times to make them feasible, the weather’s warmer and it stays lighter longer, so we’re more inclined to be outside, and our patterns of normal day to day things are interrupted by vacations, out of town guests and special summer projects. These interruptions of our usual routines can either work for our faith lives or against them. As a big fan of routine myself, I usually struggle when I don’t have my weekly Bible study to renew my spirit and get me excited about my faith. One of the beautiful things about Catholicism is that wherever you are in the world, chances are you are near a church that offers the sacraments at the bare minimum of once a week, usually multiple times a week. Allow Sunday to be your day to spiritually recharge and pray about how to make your week ahead a spiritually fit one! I understand daily Mass as my “recharger,” a way to replenish my heart with the faith that will keep me going until the next time I can attend Mass. I usually challenge myself every Sunday to go to x amount of daily Masses or confession a week, depending on my schedule and the availability of the sacrament. Additionally, getting involved by singing in the choir,...
10 Tips for New Catholic Bloggers

10 Tips for New Catholic Bloggers

A month and a half ago, I wrote a piece on the 10 signs you might be called to be a Catholic blogger. Among those signs, I mentioned passion, humor, knowledge, dynamism, and facial hair (h/t to Mark Shea for linking to the post after having a good laugh). Since then, I suspect some of you have moved forward with your plans to be bloggers. Therefore, in addition to the aforementioned personal qualities, I’ve compiled a list of things that may help you form your blog. Pick an awesome name. If the blog name is up to you, I suggest making a Venn Diagram between your personality, your audience, and your topic area. Anything that relates to all three is an automatic win. Then again, many blog titles are just so odd that they’re hits. Either way, there are awesome possibilities to explore. Need to feel inspired? Here are a few great blog names being used right now: Southern Fried Catholicism, Standing on My Head, I Have to Sit Down, Bad Catholic. I wish someone in my neck of the woods would start one and call it Redneck Catholic. Marketing. 90% of blogging is in the marketing. You have thoughts and opinions. You want them to be known. You want to get them out there. Unfortunately, we suffer from – to use a term coined by the late American philosopher Neil Postman – information glut. Your idea is competing with a million other ideas. If you want to get it out there – and I assume you do, or you wouldn’t be blogging – you need to deal with...
Confessions of an Ex-LifeTeen Musician

Confessions of an Ex-LifeTeen Musician

Music is a very, very dear thing to me and I think I was born with rock in my bones.  In my most tender years and onward, my siblings and I were not allowed to listen to anything other than religious music.  I tended toward a few select tracks by Michael W. Smith, Rick Cua and Petra.  Now, I realize that I must have been yearning for Peter Gabriel(?), Led Zeppelin(?) and AC/DC(!).  As I eventually grew my own music collection (almost exclusively Stevie Ray Vaughan and Christian contemporary through high school), I found it important to correct the errors in musical taste that I found in the people around me.  I quickly discovered that a general gluttony for Texas blues did not exist in the populace.  Regardless, my best friend and I dedicated ourselves to learning to play blues on the guitar and progressed on parallel paths; he became proficient on the electric guitar (he owned only an electric) and I on the acoustic guitar (my dad owned only an acoustic).  This is the only thing we did during high school.  With the additional plus of a friend teaching me how to sing, I became an entertainer (Old evidence here… if you dare). A musician who loves to play for a crowd will adapt to whatever crowd is available to listen.  When my musical high school youth minister moved away from Plano, I took over playing the praise and worship music that had been a regular part of the Wednesday night youth group.  This eventually led to the forming of our high-school band, Opus Dei and the Knights,...
Dyslexia of the Soul

Dyslexia of the Soul

Mikki and I married in Summer 2005, and immediately tried to have children.  We used NFP to try to conceive, and she took all the necessary vitamins to try to increase the chances of conception.  After a few years and no babies, my wife decided she wanted a dog – something small which she could nurture and cuddle. Eventually we bought a dogWe eventually bought three dogs, but one didn't like the kiddos, so it went away. We still have two.. Mikki and I gave up on the prospect of conceiving our own children, and began to explore adoption.  Once we adopted Mary, the dogs lost the affection of my wife and soon became mere spectators in our mammal-raising experiment. The point: Every action taken is based on the idea that it will bring about a perceived good.  Whether watching TV, mowing the lawn, feeding your children, or persecuting Christians, all tasks are executed because the actor believes they are acting to bring about good fruit.  It may not be objectively good, but it is a perceived good. My wife yearned for children, but when denied, she sought an imitation which she perceived might have fulfilled her mothering instinct.  The same is true when we seek out God.  Our soul’s compass always points North, toward God, but sometimes we get distracted and take shortcuts or nap in a field of poppiesWizard of Oz along the way....
Can Catholics Be Transcendentalists?

Can Catholics Be Transcendentalists?

Note: this question is about the Transcendentalist movement of the 19th century, not the Transcendentalism of Eastern meditation practices. When I was in high school, my sophomore English teacher made us read the works of Transcendentalism (e.g., Thoreau) and Anti-Transcendentalism (a.k.a. Dark Romanticism, e.g., Edgar Allen Poe).  I’m a very slow reader and have never cared much for American literature, so I simply pretended to read it (sorry, Mrs. Roberts), picking up details here and there.  By way of preface, both sides of the argument are incorrect.  As a high school student, I was shocked by the rugged simplicity found in Thoreau’s Walden.  What seemed senseless then later became an obvious fact of life at my college seminary in a monastic setting.  Out in the middle of nowhere with no means of transportation and little exposure to mind-numbing entertainment, my first semester came with a painful withdrawal from the usual pace of life.  Over the course of the year, though, I found myself loving simplicity and the joy it brought me.  Ever since then, I’ve had a strong desire to go out away from the hustle-bustle of the city and enjoy a simple life in the country, contemplating the transcendentals – truth, beauty, and goodness.  Over the next few months, my family will be doing just that.  It raises a question: is there a way to baptize Transcendentalism? Transcendentalism seems quite a bit like secular humanism and Unitarianism combined, a boundless confidence in the goodness of human nature and a condemnation of the violence supposedly done to it by social structures, such as political bodies and organized religion.  Anti-Transcendentalism,...