Friday, November 25, 2011


As if it is not pathetic enough that we only have one day out of the entire year set aside for feeling grateful, our society seems intent on trying to forget even this measly twenty-four hours. Thus the scary Halloween props give way to joyful and slightly absurd Christmas decorations with nary a mention of Gratitude-Day. I have met more people holding a religious fervor for Black Friday than I have those who give thanks on Thanksgiving. Therefore, to be completely counter-cultural and completely in the spirit of perpetual gratitude to Our Lord, I write this blog post the day after Thanksgiving.

There are a million and three things that I can thank God for this year. I can thank him for my health, my family, my friends, my house, my truck, my career, and my education. And finding that there is an awful lot of “my”s in there, I can express a deeper, less mundane thankfulness for my life, for His forgiveness, and for my Faith. However, I think the greatest thing I can thank God for, as a Catholic—other than being Catholic in the first place, of course—is the Eucharist. Think about it.

God not only created us, He loved us so much He died for us. And not only did He die for us, but He allows us to be present, right here, right now, at that greatest moment in history. The Mass is an Immortal Moment. During it, God picks us all up, transcends time, and places us at the foot of Calvary. Jesus’ redeeming death was not some event that happened a long time ago and which is now gone. We witness it every Sunday. WE ARE THERE. And we actively participate in it. Just as the Passover sacrifice was not complete until the Paschal lamb was consumed, so is consuming the New Paschal Lamb an integral part of Jesus’ Sacrifice. This, friends, is the Eucharist. It would be the greatest blasphemy of all time if God Himself had not sanctioned and commanded it. (No wonder the Protestants are up in arms, eh?) Catholics eat God. There you have it, plain and simple. We consume Jesus. Don’t cringe! If a mother pelican feeds her babies her own flesh to keep them from starving, how much greater will God’s love be for us? Is it so strange, in the light of Love and History, for the Eucharist to be…well, the Eucharist? Not at all.

This Thanksgiving, I thank God for the Eucharist. Thank You, Jesus, for allowing us to actively participate in Your Testament of Love for us. Thank You for being with us—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in every Tabernacle throughout the world. Thank You for loving us more than pelicans do their chicks. It must be a long and lonely wait there in the cold, with few souls willing to visit You, our Divine Prisoner. Thank you for your Immortal Sacrifice, and please help me to fully understand and appreciate it. Amen.

(…Are you grateful? Do you ever visit the Perpetual Adoration chapel, or visit Jesus outside of Mass? Please join me spiritually, my brothers and sisters in Christ, before Jesus in the Tabernacle today. And if you can’t, pray for me on Sunday. I’ll be praying for you!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

BadCatholic on Feminism

So, I found a new pal in my crusade against feminism. BadCatholic beat me to posting such a rant on the interweb, as I found out earlier today. His post is similar to mine, but has a slightly different approach, so I highly suggest you find out how feminists are stupid.

That might sound cruel, but, frankly, it is true. Maybe. I have long suspected that such a level of ignorance is impossible, and that feminists are being illogical on purpose because they hate women. What feminists would like us to believe, is that they are rescuing women from the degrading mentality of men. What actually happened was this: Men said women are morally and mentally inferior, and feminists responded, "You're right! We are inferior, and you are superior. Let's all become men." Feminism is the worst thing that happened to women. That is it an ironic and stupid cause, you, reader, cannot grasp fully enough.

Now, in case you are thinking that this marks the end of my anti-anti-woman harping, rest assured that I am readying more posts for the Hidden Battles. I fully intend to explain how women should be treated if they are appreciated as women, and what happens when we don't treat them as women. So keep an eye out!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feed the Hungry

We are all obliged to do it. Do you do it? If so (or if not...) then check out Fish Out Of Water's upcoming magazine. Entertainment, job prospects, and Food for the Poor. Do I need another reason to support this project? Nope! So, if you want to read more of my writing, subscribe to

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Princess Lessons

In a break from the subject of Feminism, I present to you a post by Ana Marx. Enjoy!

“The traditional princesses are bad role models! The only thing your daughter
will learn from watching princess movies/reading fairy tales is that she must be
pretty, complacent, and catch her a nice hunk of man-meat before she turns 20 if
she wants to accomplish anything.”

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. To tell the truth, I'm quite sick of it. I don't understand why it's such a terrible thing to be virtuous now. Why is it a modern sin to be patient, long-suffering, or obedient? These are put on the same level as smoking, drunk driving, and violent intolerance, if you think about it. But let's leave that alone, because I know it's just too radical to cite virtues as, well, virtues. But I digress.

I've learned some quite radical lessons - aside from those unspeakable virtues - about dating and life in general from these "poor, oppressed women." You know what else? Princess stories don't just apply to girls, but they have pretty good tips for guys too, as you'll see.

(*A note of warning, these are the REAL princesses; not Disney's oft-times really messed up Princesses.)


Supposedly teaches: Abusive relationships are awesome!

Real lessons: Girls, happiness is a choice, whether you live in a hovel or a castle. Guys, chicks dig gentlemen, and even if you're ugly as sin, you'll have a pretty good chance with the ladies if you keep that in mind.

Snow White

Supposedly teaches: Cohabitation is where it's at.

Real lessons: Girls, beauty is only skin-deep. The Queen was beautiful too, but the only thing anyone remembers about her was that she was an evil witch. Guys, living in a pig sty isn't good for your love life. Did Snow White marry one of the dwarfs? That's right, she didn't.

The Little Mermaid

Supposedly teaches: Plastic surgery is a great way to get someone's attention.

Real lessons: Girls, if you can't get a guy to love you for who you are, no amount of change on your part is really gonna make him fall for you. Because if you change, he's falling for the imaginary girl that you've created. Besides, he's not worth your time if there's a chance you'll turn into sea-foam. Guys, pretty girls are just as capable of lying as the next guy. Try to keep that in mind the next time someone claims to have saved your life.


Supposedly teaches: You will never escape your boring life without Prince Charming.

Real lessons: Girls, don't be afraid to break a few rules to get what you want. Just remember that everything has consequences, and you've gotta deal with them like an adult if you're gonna break 'em in the first place. Guys, finding someone by their shoe size is not a good idea. 'Nough said.


Supposedly teaches: You should always marry the first guy you set eyes on.

Real lessons: Girls, if a guy doesn't stick around when the going gets tough, he's a big waste of your time. Guys, sometimes you gotta deal with some terrible things to get the girl of your dreams. But don't worry! Unlike this prince, you probably won't get your eyes gauged out. Probably.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Feminists Hate Women

Am I the only Catholic who has heard that irksome accusation against the Church—that She hates women? Apparently, She is anti-woman because She does not condone the use of birth control, or allow women to be priests. She even has the nerve to proclaim that men are the head of family, while wives must be submissive to their husbands. In defending my Faith, I, too, have received a share of these accusations, as any good Catholic will. Many people who have not met me assume that I am a guy, because I myself so obviously do not champion any of our modern feminists’ ideas. And when they learn I am a woman, they cry, “You are a traitor to women!” It is an accusation that I have heard many times over the course of my four-year pro-life, Catholic career. So, I am writing today to turn the tables and propose a scandalizing and appallingly apparent idea: that it is, in fact, our modern feminists who hate women.

Yes, they hate women. They despise that gender so much, that they want to turn them all into men. It is not enough for women to be equal with men; they—in the mind of our dear feminists—must be the same as men. Women cannot be submissive to men, but the men must instead be submissive to the women. For this reason do we see the fathers as fumbling bafoons in all our children’s cartoons and movies, while the mothers are the parent in control. Forget that men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves His Church (and this is no small command, for Christ’s love was a sacrificing one). That isn’t good enough for feminists. They will not be satisfied until the women take on the full role of the men. Hence, we have such arguments as “It’s good for a child to have two mommies!” while women who stay at home to raise and school the kiddos are scoffed at.

While walking in the store, my aunt was once asked the question, “Oh, are all these children yours?” “Why, yes, all four of them are!” she responded proudly, only to receive the reply: “I’m so sorry.” As if motherhood—that fundamental aspect of womanhood—was something to be regretted.

For the same reason do feminists want women to be priests. Forget that women have their own special and unique role as religious sisters. Again, that isn’t good enough. They must be exactly like the men.

It is self-evident, I think, why this is an anti-woman view. If I were to tell you that I was a 70s rock fanatic; that I adored the low, harmonic voices, repetitive and clear beats, simple drum pieces, all tied together with the clever use of a synthesizer… you might believe me that I loved 70s rock. But if I immediately turned around and began to complain that the singer needs to scream more, that there needs to be less synth and more distorted guitar, and that the music needs to be much louder and harder, would you really believe that I loved 70s rock? Or would you come to the conclusion that I needed to purchase a heavy metal CD and shut up?
The latter, undoubtedly, because one cannot claim to love something, and yet wish to change said something fundamentally. You cannot love something, and deny everything that something is. You either love it as it is, or you do not love it at all. Feminists hate women because they do not love women as women; they love them as men.

Not only does this betray a loathing of women as such, but such a mentality will truly make women lose all value. While it is true that men and women are equal in value, it is also true that they are opposites, and so find their identity in being opposites. How can one appreciate the light if they have never experienced darkness, or vice versa? Likewise, how can one appreciate warmth, if they have never experienced cold? Or music, if they’ve never known a lack thereof? They can’t. In each case, the two opposites are directly connected. They can be known through their existence AND their partner’s existence. They are as much defined by what they are not, as by what they are. It is the same with men and women. Women are not men, and it is in this very difference that we find their value. Banishing the difference between the genders would be to degrade them both. If the interest of feminists is to turn women into men, then it is the interest of feminists to devalue women, and so truly can I say that feminists hate women.

Sins of Omission

Okay, so it’s Saturday afternoon, and I am examining my conscience to make certain that I don’t need to go to Confession before Mass tomorrow. Like always, I go through the Ten Commandments. “No, I have not used God’s Name in vain. No, I haven’t murdered anybody. No, I haven’t been sassy to my parents…” After going through the entire examination of conscience booklet and responding “no” to all the little questions, I begin to think I have been doing pretty well. I haven’t done anything very bad or even anything sort of bad. In fact, I haven’t done anything at all. At that moment, I remember hearing once or twice that odd little phrase: Sins of Omission. Uh-oh.

Sins of Omission, in case you are unaware, are all those things which we should have done, but didn’t do. It means—as I so often need to be reminded—that ours is not a faith of passivity but of activity. The Commandments aren’t a list of “Thou shalt nots.” There are those in there which obviously call us, not to refrain from bad things, but to do good things. “Honor thy mother and father,” is not just a command to not lie to them, or not steal from them, or to not argue with them. Even those which say “No” are merely another way of saying “Yes.” To not bear false witness against our neighbor doesn’t mean to simply refrain from deceiving them; it obliges us to provide them with the truth in all things, to educate them, and to be fair in all our dealings with them. In short, it means to love them. In fact, Love is the ultimate calling of us all. And Love isn’t passive. It is a verb.

I hope I’m the only Catholic who needs to be reminded of this, because that would mean the rest of Catholics are fairly well off; but I seriously doubt that I am. See, there are a lot of Protestants out there, and even Catholic apologists, apparently, can be affected by sola fide. Yes, I think Catholics are affected by sola fide—that Lutheran belief that claims works do not matter for your salvation, but only your faith. If you have faith, these non-Catholics say, you are fine. And whether you are a second Mother Theresa or a lazy Refrainer, it doesn’t make a difference. Yet, Faith is not listed as the greatest of the virtues—Love is. We are called to Love. That four letter verb means action! It means to get off our duff and work! If you truly love your wife, or your husband, are you going to simply entertain warm fuzzy emotions about them? Or are you going to show them your love by doing things for them? If you truly love your children, are you going to stop at not abusing them? Or are you going to hug them, hold them, and try to give them the world? To Love means to go about visiting the people in prison, to feed the hungry, to take care of the sick, to teach children to read, and to donate clothes to people who can’t afford any of their own (sound familiar?). In fact, if we don’t do these things—if we merely sit on our duff pondering a general good will toward our fellow man—we will be rejected by Christ with the rest of the goats. These works are not a side-effect of Love. They are not physical evidence of Love. They are Love. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying (as some would accuse me of) that we work our way to heaven by our lonesome. Hardly. That we can Love God at all is—with our sinful, selfish, fallen natures—a miraculous act of the Lord. What I am saying is that our work is our Love, and our Love is our Faith, and that without these verbs we are goners.

“But I do do things,” we automatically cry in our defense. “I mean, I go to Mass every Sunday, and give 10% of my income to the Church, and I go to Confession and Communion at least once a year. I do do things!” But, there’s a flaw here, because we are doing the bare minimum. Would you do the bare minimum to help your kids? No. If you loved them, you’d try to give them the world. Then why do we take this “bare-minimum” stance in our relationship with God? If we truly Love God with all our heart mind and souls, then every moment of our lives is going to be a work in His service. If you haven’t had a conversion of heart—if your life isn’t one giant work for the Lord by being a long series of small works for Him—then your Love and your Faith are imperfect. You’ve misunderstood the meaning of a “verb”. And you really need to confess all those sins of omission! So, that is all for now. I’m off to Confession.

Note to Readers: I use the word "Protestant," here and elsewhere in a very general way. I know there is no one set of beliefs that Protestants uniformly believe, and that they differ on a million little points. So, I use the word to describe any non-Catholic Christian who disagrees on such-and-such point with the Church. Please forgive the imprecise terminology, or my perhaps imperfect pairing of beliefs with the word "Protestant." It might not apply to you specifically... but it does apply to some Protestants.

Saint Francis Wasn't Vegan

Today is October 4th, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi and so, being a Franciscan at heart, I just had to write blog post about him. Everyone, I think, is familiar with Saint Francis; common iconography depicts the friar in a brown robe, looking gentle and sweet, as doves flock around him. Stories are told of how he preached to his feathered friends and tamed a wild wolf. He is portrayed merely as a quiet and simple man who loved animals and nature. As an eighth grade catechism booklet I had the misfortune of picking up once said: he’s the patron saint of Environmentalism… right? No. Yet, to my immense disappointment, this seems to be an impression not at all rare. Lots of people miss the entire “point” of Saint Francis. Hence, this blog post.

Saint Francis was born in Assisi in 1182 and was named Giovanni Bernardone by his mother, after Saint John the Baptist. However, his father, Peter Bernardone, was a wealthy cloth merchant who despised his son being named after a wandering hermit in rags. Therefore, little Giovanni was granted the nickname “Francesco,” after the country in which Peter made his fortune— France.

Francesco was a very materialistic young man, and was encouraged in this by his father. However, one day while pursuing a worldly dream of obtaining glory in battle, Francesco was subject to a vision. He heard a voice ask him where he intended to go. As Francesco began to describe his grandiose plans, the voice interrupted him.

“Who can do more good for you—the master or the servant?”
“The master,” Francesco replied.
“Then why are you abandoning the master for the servant, the patron for the client?”
“Sir, what do you want me to do?”
“Go back to your own home and you will be told what to do. You must understand in another way the vision you had.”

Another marvelous exchange followed the first, and while the young man was praying in a dilapidated church known as San Damiano the crucifix above the abandoned altar came alive. The crucified Christ spoke to the twenty three year old, saying. "Francesco, don’t you see that my house is being destroyed? Go, then, and rebuild it for me."
Taking this literally, Francesco began a somewhat eccentric mission to do just that, taking and selling some of his father's cloth to raise money for San Damiano. Tension within the family grew as Peter Bernardone became increasingly angry with his son, whom he considered a thief and whose religious fervor he viewed as an embarrassment. To abbreviate a lengthy series of events, I’ll only say that it ended with Francesco disinheriting himself. There is no evidence that Francesco was ever reconciled with his family.

Thus began the second life of Francesco Bernardone, the life of a holy beggar. And thus we see the first virtue worthy of imitation in Francis: poverty.
Possessionless and content that way, he wore a plain brown robe with no shoes. He did not own anything, even the smallest shelter, but slept in doorways and under the starry sky. When other men began to follow him and it became necessary to find a more permanent place to sleep, even then did Francesco insist that the buildings and land not be theirs. His followers--known as the Friars Minor--were not permitted to beg for more than what they would require for that day. The life of these missionaries was a life of extreme poverty. I would like to think that I could live that way (though I probably couldn't) because there is so much to gain from owning nothing. We cannot rely on our own material wealth, but are forced to depend on God for our daily bread. The poor must trust in the Lord much more than the rich! Also, we are free from distractions--like facebook and television and worry--and have more time for Our Lord. Francesco would often remove himself from the world to meditate and to pray. How holy would we be if we could leave behind work and family to spend time in Adoration each day and night? Francesco also practiced poverty of education. Though he was more learned than most in his time, he was never well educated. He also did not permit his Friars to own books and, according to tradition, did not wish to join the Friars Minors with the Order of Preachers because he did not want his Brothers to be very educated. Education is a sore temptation. Oh, yes, God gave us our minds and our reason, and we most certainly should use them. However, education can be a grave hindrance to one’s spiritual well being. Here’s my logic: if one is extremely educated, they may come to believe that they know everything there is to know. A person who is used to knowing everything will be hard-pressed to admit that they are wrong, or that there is something they are ignorant of. Can you see how trust in God would be difficult, then? Perhaps that is why so many atheists seem such educated men: their education has led to a pride which keeps them from admitting that they do not know all and that there could be certain mysteries they will never understand.

Francesco was not only a model of poverty; he was a model of suffering. Self-imposed suffering, like that of poverty and fasting and being exposed to the elements, were everyday trials for him. In addition, he was often struck down by recurrent bouts of malaria, chronic gastritis, a gastric ulcer that refused to heal, a terrible eye infection and bad eyesight, and, some say, leprosy. He also had the Stigmata—and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the wounds of Christ in one’s hands, feet, and side. Saint Padre Pio had the Stigmata as well, and since he lived more recently, we have pictures:

Saint Francesco, like Padre Pio, received his Stigmata during a vision, in 1224. Some accounts say he not only bore the wounds of Christ in his feet, but also the nails themselves. Saint Francis lived with the Stigmata for two years, until his death at the age of 44. His suffering provides us with other examples of holiness and virtue. The first is patience. A man who is ill-burdened in life, weighted down by his personal cross, must be patient in order to endure. The second is humility. This is most obvious in illnesses which, like Francesco's as the end, require one to be cared for by others. This dependency shows us how weak we truly are as human beings, and helps us to learn dependency on God as well. Suffering also provides the cross-bearer with sympathy for his fellow man, the weak, and the struggling. Finally, the best part of suffering as Saint Francis did is that one is able to teach others these virtues. And if people don't pay attention? No matter. Offer the graces up for the souls in Purgatory, women considering abortions, priests, the conversion of sinners, etc. How many people one can help by giving to others the graces they have earned! From Saint Francis, we can learn to suffer well. If we do as he did, we will learn the above virtues, too!

Now, is the point of this post to say that Saint Francis didn't really like animals? No, not at all. I'm sure he did. But I think it would be wrong to say that he loved animals for their sake. Francesco liked animals because they were God’s creatures. Just as an artist reveals himself through his artwork, so does God reveal Himself through His Creation. One can come to know certain aspects of God by studying the animals, then, and trees, and bugs, etc. Francesco also used the animals to make a point. When the people wouldn’t listen to him, he’d turn to the animals and preach. “See! Even the dumb birds know their Creator and praise Him! Why don’t you?” So, the animals weren’t valuable in themselves; they were valuable insofar as they taught human beings about God, and I maintain that view today. There was very little tree-hugging in Francesco’s day, and Saint Francis wasn’t vegan. That is the point of this post. There is so much to learn from Saint Francis that it would be silly to know him as only the effeminate dude who talked to the birdies.

If you’d like to know more about Saint Francis, I suggest:
“The perfect Joy of Saint Francis,” by Felix Timmermans
“Reluctant Saint,” by Daniel Spoto
“Novena,” by Barbara Calamari & Sandra DiPasqua
And of course “The Rule of Saint Francis,” by the man himself


At some point in our lives--and often more than once!--we find that the road becomes obscured. We see before us several possible paths and all the arrow signs have mysteriously disappeared. Or perhaps the road itself may have disappeared, running dead-end into an impenetrable fog. Our map is gone; we have no idea how to procede. So, wth nothing else to do, we fall to our knees and pray.

Lord, please let me know Your Will. Should I become a priest? Should I marry my boyfriend? Do You want me to speak with Mark about his new "friends"? When is the best time to teach Christy about the Faith? Is now the time to take that new job? Buy that car? Have another child?

And sometimes... God doesn't answer. He seems to have abandoned us in the middle of the road.

Lord! I thought I was moving forward with You! What happened? I've always trusted You to tell me exactly what to do. Now, You're not telling me! Why?

All you can do is sit down in the last place you knew where you were at... and wait.
You know what I'm talking about. Chances are you've been there! I have, and at the moment I am there again.
The following is an inspiring poem written by Russell Kelfer for all those times you had to wait on the road. I found it an excellent reminder that--despite appearances--God actually does know what He's doing, and He has a reason for everything.

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
And the Master so gently said, "Wait"

"Wait? You say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers; I need to know why!
Is Your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming Your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and You tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!"

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of My comfort late into the night.
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true.
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, My child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know Me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still....

(Photo by Gage Seaux. All Rights Reserved)

Pre-Blessed Food

Pre-Blessed Food

"If you’re going to admit prayer is important, make it important.” ~Julian Smith

Sometimes, an absurd mentality, practice, or belief needs to be put in an even more absurd context for people to grasp just how silly it is. Sometimes, old ideas and lessons need to be presented in a new light to reach new people, a unique light to reach old people, and a different light to reach, well, different people. Julian Smith has, I believe, accomplished this brilliantly in his video "Pre-Blessed Food". And so, without further ado, watch his video....

here YOU take your prayer seriously?

Pax et bonum,
~Tally Marx

Why I Didn't Leave the Church

The other day I came across a forum on which ex-Catholics shared their testimonies of how they left the Church. Ridiculing Catholicism, they glorified the process by which they were “saved”, and alternately cursed and pitied those Catholics who are not “saved” (by which they meant those Catholics who are still Catholic). While the Protestants of the forum rushed to congratulate these ex-Catholics and thank them for sharing their testimony, I only became increasingly saddened. Post after post scrolled by and I found tales of ignorant or apathetic people coaxed away from the truth by rhetoric or promises of immediate emotional fulfillment. Though many of the posters hoped that a Catholic would read this and “come to see the light” each comment only made me appreciate my Faith more and more. As the ex-Catholics dwelt upon why they left the Church, I began to reflect upon why I didn’t leave the Catholic Church.

I was “born Catholic”. My parents had me Baptized when I was exactly two weeks old. Most cradle Catholics are not interested in their Faith; it has been a part of their lives for so long that it becomes a common sight taken for granted, a job that must be done. They are uninterested it, and so don’t know it. I must admit, that this was never a problem with me. My religious education was never neglected and never haphazardly delivered.
I don’t know why I didn’t lose interest. It may be that I was (and remain) a very curious person. I always wanted to know what things are, and why they are the way they are, and why they can’t be another way. I drove my mother insane with the “Why Game”, because I would go at it for hours and never get tired of asking “why?”

“Why are worms slimy?”
“Because they need it to breathe.”
“Because they breathe through their skin.”
“But WHY?!?”

I was always curious, and I possessed that unusual ability to question something without doubting it. I simply loved to learn. As I grew older, the issues became more complex. I asked questions and received two different answers to the same question. I became skeptical of the replies I received… but not so skeptical that Ring Lardner’s statement applied to me: “He’s been that way for years—a born questioner but he hates answers.” I wanted the truth of the matter, and was sure I could find it if I first searched for it, and second accepted it. The subject of abortion was the first complex issue I tackled. My Faith was the second.
I remember the day a twelve year old girl, the daughter of a Baptist preacher, came up to me and accused, “You Catholics aren’t Christian!”
“Why not?” I asked. “We believe in Jesus.”
“My daddy says you aren’t Christian because you worship statues. He says you bow to them and pray to them.”
Now, there were statues in my Church. I had my own little statue of the Blessed Virgin which I‘d gotten from Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, and of which I was proud, because my daddy had said I could get it if I was very good, and I had “earned” it. But I could not remember once ever bowing to it. What was this girl talking about? I racked my memory. Well, there were times when I’d knelt before the statue of Mary in our Church, to ask Jesus and Mary to help me be good. But I wasn’t praying to the statue. I was praying to Mary and Jesus. I said such. “It’s like… when you have a picture of a family member to remember them by. You don’t love the picture, or have the picture because you like the picture. You have the picture because of the person it is of, and you love the person. If it’s wrong to have statues, then it’s wrong to have pictures.”
“My daddy says you worship Mary!”
Well, that was silly. I’d never done such a thing in my life. Maybe she’d never heard the Hail Mary. I told it to her. “It’s all from the Bible. I mean, not the end, but that’s not worship. That’s just asking her to pray for us. You ask your friends to pray for you, don’t you?”
I was thirteen. The girl stopped her “my daddy says” after that; maybe she was surprised that what her “daddy says” wasn’t quite true. Maybe she just lost interest. I’d never picked up an apologetics book in my life before that time. But her accusations made me ask new questions. I began to look into my faith with more seriousness on my part. I’ve been asking questions and searching ever since. Many Christian non-Catholics have told me that if I only stopped blindly following the Pope I’d see the light. If only I read the Bible just once, I’d see the errors in my Papist ways. Well, I have read the Bible. I have looked at what the Church teaches, and why she teaches it. I’ve been looking into it for years, ever since I was thirteen. And you know what? I’ve never found a single thing which was wrong, or which I thought would offend Jesus. I still search for answers. I look at what the Church says, and what Protestants say, and what history says (really, I can argue against the Catholic faith just as well as an anti-Catholic). “Why do I as a Catholic believe such-and-such?” I always ask myself. But every answer I find only reinforces what I’ve come to understand and believe long ago: Catholicism is right. I think G.K. Chesterton put it perfectly when he said:

“The difficulty of explaining “why I am a Catholic” is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.”

The Church has the Truth. And with everything I have heard and read and seen, not a single thing has ever led me to seriously doubt that. But, it is important to note, that I am not just Catholic because I know in my head it is the truth. I know, also, in my heart that it is the truth.
“Catholicism just doesn’t cut it for me.”
“I wasn’t getting anything out of it.”
Some ex-Catholic relatives of mine told me that. I have to be honest; there was a time when I felt the same way. I was twelve and I felt absolutely yucky. I felt like everything I was striving for was worthless, and was bored with everything I did. I suppose I could have blamed it all on my Faith, but I had to be honest: the problem wasn’t Catholicism. It was a lack of it! I was Catholic, and I considered myself faithful, but I didn’t live my faith heart and soul. It didn’t permeate my life. It’s wasn’t my every breath. No wonder I didn’t get anything out of it! I’d never put anything into it! I was twelve, but I realized this and set out to remedy it. I began to live the Faith. It took effort at first; I wasn’t used to praying every night or offering up my chores for Jesus. But I began and I stuck to it, and my Faith became a source of joy for me again. I found a “favorite saint” (or two or three or five…), prayed the Rosary and the prayers of Saint Brigit. But most importantly I began to pay attention and truly participate at Mass. And there, I met Jesus in the Eucharist. Again.
The Eucharist is the greatest treasure of the Catholic Church, and I rediscovered it through Saint Padre Pio (that story, later). The Eucharist is Jesus Christ Himself! There is something awesome and so very sweet and fitting about that. Jesus loved us enough to die for us. He loves us enough to make Himself physically available to us, dwelling in the Tabernacle until the end of time so that He could be with us. And He loves us enough to become a part of us through Holy Communion! Furthermore, there is something exquisite about the entire Mass. Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice on Calvary wasn’t some distant event in the past that I can only know through the memories of others, like the Pax Romana or the French Revolution. It’s here. It’s now. And I can actively participate in it! I witness it myself! When this fact hit me (like a 2x4, over the head) when I was thirteen, I felt it. Oh, you can’t miss it. How can you miss it? It is such a sweet realization, the depth of Jesus’ love and His closeness. Such comfort, such love… I cannot explain it. But I’m not the only one to have felt it. Not too long ago I was debating with a newly converted ex-Catholic. He’d left the Church and become a Protestant only one week before, and had come to the forum to talk about his gripe with the Church. One of the problems he had was the Eucharist. Well, we debated about it, and I gave the Scriptural evidence, and the historical evidence, and all the hard facts. It didn’t make him believe. But it did get him to go to Mass again. And there he realized that Jesus was truly there. Or, rather, he FELT that Jesus was truly there. He’s Catholic again, now, because he knew in his heart that the Catholic Church has Jesus Christ. It’s not a feeling that can be explained. But you can feel it, if you are open to feeling it. If you put aside your hostility (or apathy, as in my case), you will feel it. Once I realized that there was something to get out of my Faith, I got something—and that was Jesus. I love Jesus in the Holy Eucharist! I couldn’t get Him that way anywhere else. That’s why I didn’t leave the Church!
I will never forget how I re-discovered the reality of Jesus’ Presence and what inspired my devotion to Him in the Eucharist. It came, as I mentioned before, through Saint Padre Pio. He was one of the saints I dug up after my bout of spiritual apathy. I was initially intrigued by him because of the extraordinary things which occurred to/around him. He could bi-locate, had the Stigmata, could see and speak with his Guardian Angel… What kid wouldn’t be captured by the idea of having—if you’ll excuse the expression—superpowers?!? However, the attraction became much less shallow when I found the book “Secrets of a Soul”. It contains letters of Padre Pio to his spiritual directors and through it I came to know the man who was Padre Pio. Humility, faith, courage, charity, obedience, humor… he had it all. I wanted to have it too, all of it, but especially his love of Jesus in the Eucharist and of the Mass. His love was so great in his writings and so obvious in the testimonies of others that I could not fail to miss it and appreciate it. I began to want it… and that’s all it took.
I would have never known Padre Pio existed, if he had not been canonized. If the Church had not pointed to him and said, “This man is holy and led a holy life; imitate him,” I would have never known him to imitate him. I am well aware that there are many un-canonized saints in Heaven who lived lives just as holy as those canonized. However, knowing that some people are saints is different from knowing that a certain person is a saint. You cannot point to lives in general and say, “Imitate that!” but you can point to one life in particular and say, “It is good! I will imitate that!” There is something very encouraging about this. We can look at a person who was a human just like us—no more, no less—and the struggles they endured, crosses they bore, and the degree of holiness they achieved. We can see in this hope that we too can achieve this state of holiness; we also find in this the key to achieving said holiness. The examples of the Saints are ones we can imitate. We have only to be like them to attain what they have attained. I can look at Gianna Molla and see in her struggle to respect life, my own struggle to respect life in this culture of death. I can look at Saints Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio and see examples of virtues that I want as well as the key to attaining them. Having the Saints can give so much hope and encouragement! It also provides a testament to the Faith. Saints exist! They are people who are undeniably holy and faithful, whose devotion and virtues permeated every single moment of their lives. Extraordinary people like Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Damien of Moloki: the fact that such people exist in the Church is a testament to the truth and power of the Faith!
Another treasure of the Church is the Sacrament of Confession. I remember my First Confession. I was seven, and I went up to the priest, and sat down face-to-face with him, and told him all my sins. I remember walking away feeling like I was floating. I remember feeling light and airy and happy and bouncy. I drifted back to the pew and sat down next to my mother, and wondered why I felt so happy. Maybe I was a precocious seven-year-old; I remember thinking, “Why do I feel so great? I just told him what I did bad.” My joy was seemingly disproportional to the act I had just done, and I realized this and wondered at it. But it felt great! Now, I know why I felt (and feel) so great after Confession. When I am truly sorry for my sins and tell them in Confession, I am truly forgiven them. I come out of the Confessional white as snow through and through. Not as a dung hill covered in snow, but like an actual snow flake. Jesus forgives me, truly forgives me; He doesn’t just forget or ignore my sins. It’s another testament of His love for me. And not only does He forgive me in Confession, but He gives me the grace and strength to never commit those sins again. I have to be honest—I have committed the same sins over and over, but that’s my fault and because I didn’t try hard enough. And there are faults that I have overcome with the grace I received through Confession. When I was young, I used to be very vain. I was also very apathetic, first toward my Faith in general, and then toward my vocation specifically. But through the grace I received in Confession, I overcame. I’ve become a better person, Christian, and Catholic through the Sacrament of Confession.
This is only the story of how I came to appreciate my Faith when I was twelve/thirteen. Since then, I have learned so much more about my Faith and my vocational journey (which isn’t over yet) has especially helped me grow in love of Jesus! I could go on forever giving examples of what my Faith has done for me, but I believe my point is clear. The day those Protestants on that other forum can give me what my Catholic Faith does, that’s the day I will begin to consider leaving the Church. And to all you Catholics out there (I know no one is ever going to read this, probably, but I just love saying it!)… remember often all the reasons you DIDN’T leave the Catholic Church. Remember often everything your Faith has done for you, so that you may always appreciate the fact that you are Catholic. I’M CATHOLIC AND PROUD OF IT! Are you?

~Tally Marx

(PS: If you have a "Why I Didn't Leave the Church" testimony, feel free to send it to me. I'd be happy to post it! Pax et bonum!)

A Change of Heart

Sometimes, being an apologist can be very difficult. We are often obliged to explain our Faith to people who are not open to that which we say. Hours can be—and often are—spent explaining Catholicism to and defending Catholicism from such people… to no avail. No amount of words and no amount of eloquence or clarity makes a difference. The non-believer remains just that—a non-believer. At such times, it is quite natural to experience a feeling of inadequacy.
“If only I had been clearer.”
“If only I knew more.”

Not very long ago I was speaking with a friend of mine about this. I told her what a very wise person once told me; that faith is a supernatural gift given by God alone, and everyone has the choice to accept it or reject it. We—no matter how knowledgeable—cannot give someone the gift of faith, and we—no matter how eloquent—cannot force someone to accept it. “There must be a conversion of heart, not just a conversion of mind. Unfortunately, I don't have an argument which brings that.” I said, assuring her that I would pray for her and her non-believer.

It just so happened that this non-believer, a self-proclaimed atheist, overheard our conversation and he later contacted me. He had been struck by one phrase: conversion of heart. He had recognized the need of this in his own life and goals, whatever those were. He knew that if he were to succeed in anything, he would have to throw himself into it heart and soul. He valued a conversion of heart. He also confided that his dislike of Christians stems from their lack of it. He called Christians “shallow” and their involvement in their faith “surface-level”. I would have liked to have told him that he was wrong, but I couldn’t. Because, he was absolutely right.

In a moment of honesty, I have to admit that many times I have picked up my faith and love of Jesus on the doorstep of the church and left it in the Holy Water on the way out. The times are rather scarce when I actually ponder the Gospel’s message and try to see how I can apply it in my own life. It is not often that I find the “ora in the labora” and offer my dish-washing and kid-sitting to Jesus. I realized that though my Faith is supposed to also be a lifestyle, a paradigm, the screen through which I see every moment of my life… though it is supposed to characterize every breathe I take… it is very easy to fall into the habit of only truly living it one hour a week, on Sunday. Have you noticed this? Have you seen the shallowness that my friend’s non-believer has seen? When was the last time that you were able to walk into Wal-Mart and, looking at all the people, pick out the Christians? When was the last time you were able to say honestly to someone, “You make Jesus real for me.”? Considering that we are all called to be saints, whatever number you give won’t be high enough!

When the rubber hits the road, knowledge isn’t worth much. You could have the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church memorized and it doesn’t necessarily prove anything. Faith is what counts, and it isn’t real unless it permeates every part of your life, no matter how small, as surely as our omnipresent God fills every space of the earth. If you are going to make a difference in someone else’s life, you must first show that there is something different about yours. So, if you are not an apologist, take heart: you don’t have to memorize the Summa! The best way and perhaps the only way to change someone’s heart is to make Jesus real for them. Do you make Jesus real for people?