Archives for July 2013

The Best Tool For Sharing Christ With The Youth

The World Youth Day celebration in Brazil was a huge success! Thanks to the millions of enthusiastic young faithfuls who made the effort to make the pilgrimage to Rio. The Pope gave strong and uplifting messages all throughout his trip in Rio, but I would like to give emphasis to what he said about how we can best evangelize to young people.

During the culmination mass of the World Youth Day, the Pope said, “Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow! It’s so simple really. The best tool for sharing Christ with the youth is other young people. 

As we all must know, the most effective way to lead a person to Christ is to reach them where they are and communicate with them in a way they can relate to. Who could possibly communicate and relate better to young people than their fellow youths? So if you are wondering why your parish is not drawing a lot of young people in, you might want to look into this counsel by our Pope. The best tool for sharing Christ with the youth is by having other young people talk with them. One dedicated Catholic teen can turn friends into faithful Catholics quickly.

Loving Life Now and Appreciating Heaven Always

I read some questions today from a post at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction that made me do some reflection. The questions that were raised by a Catholic reader were: “Am I wrong to love earth? Can’t I enjoy earth now and experience Heaven later (since eternity is, after all, so long)?” The question makes a lot of sense right? I mean with all the wonderful things that the Lord has put into our world, are we really not supposed to love it?

After much thinking, I came to a conclusion that it is not wrong for us Christians to appreciate the beauty and wonders of our world–to love it in a way that expresses adoration for the greatness of our creator. What is wrong is to love the world in a way that we are drawn to it, cling to it and crave for all that it has to offer.

As a guideline, we should look into the words of St. John in  I John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” I think the point is that loving life now and appreciating heaven always is the route for Christians to take.

What Nonviolent Parenting Can Do

Many decades ago, Martin Luther said, “Nothing good ever comes of violence.” And while history has proven this premise to be true time and time again, unfortunately, up to this day there are still parents today who choose to impose discipline on their children through violent means or as some would term it, “corporal punishment.”

I know for a fact that most parents who choose to punish their kids through physical means have their own good reasons, but I will always be a believer and an advocate for peaceful parenting. I believe it is more powerful than imposing any form of violent punishment. And here is a marvelous story from “Be the Change! The Power of non Violent Parenting” that can aptly demonstrate what nonviolent parenting can do:

“I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, ‘I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together.’

After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theater. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.

He anxiously asked me, ‘Why were you late?’

I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, ‘The car wasn’t ready, so I had to wait,’ not realizing that he had already called the garage.

When he caught me in the lie, he said: ‘There’s something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn’t give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I’m going to walk home 18 miles and think about it.’

So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn’t leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again.

I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don’t think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence.”

What a powerful story that proves what nonviolent parenting can do. Passively teaching your children lessons is the way to go, in my opinion.

Allow Yourself To Be Surprised By God

God Acts, and He Surprises Us,” this is Pope Francis’ message from when he visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. The message of the Pope wonderfully reminded all Christians of our need to constantly trust in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us, his children.

No matter what difficulties may come our way, we should never lose hope and allow ourselves to be surprised by the ways of our mighty God. In the Pope’s words, he said, “Always know in your hearts that God is by your side; he never abandons you.” It is only with complete submission and trust to the plans of our Father can we live a joyful life.

For every trial that you face, patiently wait for God’s help–be open to his surprises. As he promised in Deuteronomy 31:8, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Allow yourself to be surprised by God and his amazing ways.

The Best Advice For First Time Parents

I came across a post titled, “The only message for any first-time parent,” and I just could not help but read it and see just what this author had in mind. At first I thought this was just another run-of-the-mill advice post that I’ve already heard; but no, the message that the author wanted to share was some fresh advice. I hadn’t heard what this parent had to share yet, which was surprising to me. The best advice for first time parents that I’ve ever read is clear and simple. What is it, you ask?

Well, according to the author, the only appropriate advice we can give to a first time parent is this: “Love your baby. That is all.” And I couldn’t agree more. So the next time you see a first time mom and feel the urge to give an advice, keep this message in mind. This is easily the best advice for first time parents.

Trying To Understand Eternity

Have you tried understanding the concept of eternity? It’s kind of hard isn’t it? I have tried a few times to wrap my mind around the concept of eternity or living forever with the Lord. I can never seem to put together a solid picture. Today, I found the answer to why I am finding it so hard to understand the promised life eternal of the Lord. Trying to understand eternity is not possible for humans to do.

In a blog post titled, “Describing The Internet To An Ant,” the author said that us trying to imagine and comprehend what eternity would be like is the same as an ant trying to understand the concept of the internet. No matter how hard a tiny ant tries to use whatever thinking faculties it has, it will never really understand the complexity of the internet or even simply understand how it works. Just like us, no matter how much we try, we will never be able to fully comprehend the eternity.

So the next time you think about life eternal and find yourself faced with more questions than answers, remember the ant that’s trying to understand the internet. I thought this was a perfect comparison to trying to understand eternity.

The Best Time To Potty Train

A lot of parents wonder when they should start potty training their child. Some say that between 22 and 30 months of age is the best time to potty train your child. As for me, I would say that the best time to toilet train is “when your child is ready.” I do not believe that there is an exact time for parents to start introducing their kids to the potty. Rather, the start of this developmental milestone should depend on a child’s readiness. In other words, I side more on the child-led approach than the stringent toilet-training techniques imposed by parents. The best time to potty train your child is when you and your child are both ready to try it.

So how can you tell if your child is ready? Here are some signs to look for:

  • Has enough coordination to walk, and even run, steadily.
  • Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
  • Has words for urine and stool.
  • Has dry diapers for at least two hours or during naps.
  • Can sit down quietly in one position for short periods of time.
  • Shows interest in the bathroom habits of others.
  • Demonstrates a desire for independence.

For more tips on potty training, here’s an insightful read: “Potty Training: 7 Lessons Learned.”

Are You Really a Christian?

“Somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a  ‘Christian’ without being like Christ. A ‘follower’ who doesn’t follow. How does that make sense?” – Multiply, Francis Chan.

I picked up this quote from a blog entry I read this morning titled, “What does it mean to be a “Follower of Jesus?” Doesn’t the quote capture the prevailing attitude and belief of Christians these days? You know, the nonchalant verbal profession of their Christianity without actions to back it up. Are you really a Christian or do you just say you are? Because we all know that actions speak louder than words.

If everyone who call themselves “Christians” actually stopped and thought about what being a Christian really means, then the entire world would definitely become a much better place. As one quote says, “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

Take the time today to think about what you may need to do or change in yourself so that you can be more like Christ.

Lessons From St. Mary Magdalene

We celebrated the day of St. Mary Magdalene recently, and I would like to take the time today to remember some of the lessons that we can learn from her life.

Here are just a few lessons from St. Mary Magdalene:

1. Jesus can set us free from our past. The Scriptures tell us Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons (Luke 8:2); but Jesus set her free from her demons and acknowledged her as one of her important followers.

2. Jesus can forgive the sins that men find unforgivable. St. Mary Magdalene was mocked, looked down upon and condemned by many people. She continued to believe in Jesus’ promises–That no matter what sins we have in our lives, God is ready to forgive us. Her life teaches us that there is no one who is beyond the pale of his redemption.

3. Despite of all the sins we have committed in the past, when we surrender our lives to God, He will use it mightily for his purpose. Mary Magdalene, a woman with a dark and sinful past was the the first witness to Jesus Christ risen from the dead. From a sinner, God turned Mary Magdalene into a great witness of his love.

Ultimately, St. Mary Magdalene’s life teaches us that there is no one whom God cannot redeem and use for his purposes. What other lessons from St. Mary Magdalene have you learned?

If you want to know more about St. Mary Magdalene, here’s an interesting read: “Visit Mary Magdalene’s Hometown.”

God Will Test Your Faith: Perseverance

Testing Your Faith Produces Endurance,” prompted me to open my Bible to James 1:2 & 3. This verse says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” God will test your faith at many points throughout your life, but developing perseverance will help you continue to find joy.

Being followers of Christ in today’s world, isn’t it wonderful to be hearing these words from St. James? All of us have experienced trials in our lives, and I believe that you agree with me when I say that fighting through life’s storms can be quite disheartening at times. These words from one of Jesus’ disciples ought to remind us to feel joy instead of disappointment or frustration and anger whenever a trial comes our way. For it is only through the endurance of trials that our faith is fortified. It is not a matter of if God will test your faith, but when.

Do you know Job? The faithful man from the Old Testament whose faith was put through a series of serious trials? He endured all of them and remained faithful to God til the very end. He had this to say about his trials: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

May we all have an attitude towards trials and faith like Job.