Friday, August 26, 2011

How I Attended to My Mind & Soul as I Redecorated My Kitchen

Jimmy Akin books in my newly beautified drawers

Repainting my kitchen cabinets for the last two weeks (did a sort of faux antique wood look) left no time for reading or writing, but I listened to a lot of podcasts. One of my favorites is Jimmy Akin's podcast, where one can learn about all sorts of topics from the Catholic perspective such as Confession, Hell, Transfiguration, and Aliens. I hope you'll give him a listen.

You'll know Jimmy Akin from Catholic Answers (another podcasted thingie I listen to) and such massively useful books as The Fathers Know Best and Mass Revision: How theLiturgy is Changing and What it Means for You.

Speaking of the changes in the Liturgy, I recently went to a series of presentation at my parish that focused on the changes we'll experience at Mass when Advent 2011 rolls around. I hope to put together a little blog post about that. Until then, check out Jimmy Akin's vast collection of reading and listening materials and have a blessed weekend. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

10 Little Things Every Catholic Can Do to Be a Good Evangelist


As Baptized Christians, we are called to spread the good news of Jesus and to convey the teachings of God. It says in Matthew 28 that we should "make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." How are you doing that in your life?

If you've just come back home to the Catholic Church or are a recent convert, you might be scared to share the faith, especially if friends and family are hostile to your conversion. People may challenge you on the truth of the faith and you don't know how to answer them.

Some of them don't even want answers, they just want to challenge you. Their ears aren't open. I wouldn't worry too much about discussing religion with them. As it says in Sirach 8: 3 "Do not argue with a chatterer, nor heap wood on his fire."

What to answer those whose ears are open depends on what they are really asking. An atheist is looking for something different than a Protestant. An atheist can't or won't see the truth of God's existence, while the Protestant doesn't see the Catholic Church and her teachings as legitimate.

No matter with whom you're talking, remember one thing- there are good answers to why we believe what we believe even if you don't know it off the top of your head. No one expects you to be a cracker jack Catholic apologist right out of the box.

10 Little Things Every Catholic Can Do to Be a Good Evangelist
1 BUMPER STICKERS- You don't have to say a word, but a good bumper sticker can inform and move the emotions. Just the other day a woman at the gas station thanked me for my Catholic radio bumper sticker because she hadn't known about the station and was thrilled to discover it. I also have pro-life bumper stickers. Check out Catholic to the Max for bumper stickers.
2 CATHOLIC RADIO- Listen to it in the car, while cooking, exercising... You'll learn tons and it focuses your mind on good things. If you don't have a local station, listen on the internet or download podcasted episodes of Catholic Answers onto your iPod.
3 THE NEW MEDIA- Use it! Blog, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are all places to spread the message of Jesus.

4 SPECIALIZE YOUR SOAPBOX-  You cannot fight every battle. You may need to focus on a single issue or two when it comes to certain people... at least at first. Have any extreme liberal friends? You'll have to pick which issue to fight for instead of swinging your metaphorical sword wildly. I usually choose the pro-life issue. Bringing a fallen away Catholic home to the Church? Maybe focus on the real presence in the Eucharist. But if a question comes up that you can't answer, don't sweat it. Tell the person you'll find out and get back to them. Then make sure you do! and John Martignoni's Bible Christian Society are great web resources.
5 THE FATHERS KNOW BEST- Buy this must have book by Jimmy Akin. It gives the teachings of the first Christians. Filled with quotes, it's organized into topics such as divorce, homosexuality, etc. Available in paperback and Kindle.
6 LEAD by EXAMPLE- This is both the easiest and the most difficult one, depending on the day. You know the song, "They'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love..." Make an effort each day to live by that. When people know you're Catholic and you live in a loving and happy way, you're a witness to the power and love of Christ. But we all have bad days and we all stumble. Forgive yourself, go to regular confession, and start anew.
7 SPEAK UP FOR CHRIST- Don't be ashamed to be a Catholic Christian. If somebody makes mean remarks about those you love- your spouse, your best friend, or especially your Lord and Savior, you can and should say something. The Church is the bride of Christ. Stand up for her too. Focus on Christ on the cross and what He did for you so you can bear whatever comes your way.
8 INVITE SOMEONE TO MASS- Need I explain this one? Or if not to Mass, to other things at your parish such as Stations of the Cross, adoration, or even a parish festival. It's a start! :)

9 WEAR YOUR LORD on YOUR SLEEVE- Okay, I'm being cute. What I mean is, wear a Catholic themed shirt or bag. Wear your crucifix and have them in your home. You never know when you'll get a fallen away Catholic to thinking about church again. Maybe carry some pamphlets with you in case somebody has questions about what Catholics believe. As Catholics we don't tend to go door to door spreading the Word, but if somebody asks, it's nice to be prepared. Check out Romantic Catholic for some neat shirts. Take a look at the Catechim Tracts and Faith Tracts at

Available at Romantic Catholic

10 PARTICIPATE, VOLUNTEER & CREATE- I put these together because they deal with setting aside time specifically for evangelizing. You might participate in Mass as a reader or usher. Could you spare time to volunteer at the food bank, crisis pregnancy center (a pro-life one), or catechism teacher? If you're creative, create God-centered art- be it paintings, needlework, music, or stories. If you have kids, be sure you're praying with them and teaching them about Jesus and his Church. Even if they're going to a Catholic school or taking classes at Church, they need it from you too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Cowboys and Aliens" A Christian Review

Should a good Catholic family see Cowboys and Aliens? I don't know, but it's a fun movie. I'll tell you what I thought and you can decide if it's okay for you and yours. It's rated PG13 and that's a pretty good guideline. I think some pre-teens could handle it and a few thirteen-year-olds-- maybe not so much. I realize for some Christian families, this would be a firm no-go.

Now, I'm going to give spoilers, so don't read on if that bugs you.

Jake (Daniel Craig) is the anti-hero, a rough guy who turns out to have been the leader of a gang of bandits. But one finds heroic qualities in him. He defends a woman when one of the bad guys calls her a whore and he puts his own life on the line to save everyone from the aliens.

Does he go through personal growth? I didn't really see that. It seems that has happened before the start of the film. Jake spends most of the film trying to remember his past. He learns he had left the gang life for a woman. Whether it was because he was truly reformed, it's hard to say.

Harrison Ford's character, Woodrow Dolarhyde is the one with the growth in this film, though he didn't get top billing. I was disappointed at first when I witness how horrible his character was. Harrison Ford's supposed to be the hero! But his big turn-around scene brought tears to my eyes. I have to hand it to him; he's still a super actor. :) His is such a touching character arc that I won't give it away.

The film had a ton of violence. It was more violent than Pirate of the Caribbean- (Well, the first ones, I haven't seen the latest.) But it's not as bad as Starship Troopers. I make the comparison because the massacre in Cowboys is similar, but they don't show much (any?) of the humans getting killed. It felt like you were seeing it because it was such a wild scene, but they kept cutting out at the last moment. I honestly couldn't tell you if we saw graphically any human getting splattered or not.

(Big Spoiler)

There's a flashback scene of a woman tied down, with the alien experimenting on her that's more disturbing than the fighting or the aliens abducting people.

The aliens are freaky looking. Ugly, scary, ick! There's a scene where people are being taken away. (See my other blog for spoiler-typedetails.) 

 (Big Spoiler)

There is a kid in the story and he makes it through the film safely. So, the character your youngest teen might identify with will be unharmed.

Naughty content:

I was more worried about the previews before the film. Yikes! I didn't even think to worry about that. If you're thinking of bringing teens, especially young ones, just be prepared that many of the previews, though supposedly for all audiences, exhibit embarrassingly low morals, to put it delicately. At least, that was the case in my theater. They also had a preview for a super scary/disturbing movie.

Cowboys and Aliens has a lot of naughty words, but they're bad guys. That's what they do. And a lot of drinking, smoking, and one guy takes down his pants to do his duty in the river, but you don't see anything. A woman is seen nude from behind, but Jake quickly covers her with a blanket. And the context isn't sexual. I thought it was very gentlemanly of him to cover her like that.

Religious content:

I was okay with how they portrayed religion- a rarity with movies. The preacher was portrayed wonderfully. Characters talked about the Lord. Some questioned/explored their faith. One tried hard to embrace his faith because of the preacher.

There is a Native American ritual with some sort of medicine drink to help Jake get is memory back, but it wasn't given more credence than Christianity. This wasn't the typical -Native Religion is better than Christianity- stuff that you often get with Hollywood.

To sum up:

So, I think a grownup or older teen who enjoys a wild science fiction action movie will enjoy this. It's a movie where you come out of there feeling like you were well entertained and not morally corrupted (provided you don't mind monster on cowboy violence). If you think your younger ones might like it, I'd suggest waiting for video so you can skip the coming attractions- unless your theater has some other policy than mine.

There has been inquiry about what the preacher said to one of the characters who was doubting his faith. I wrote it down. (Yeah, I'm the geek who takes notes in the movie theater.)
"You have to earn God's presence, then recognize it, and act on it."

I don't know if I'd have worded it quite that way (especially the word "earn"), but the idea behind it seems to be that you can't just go your merry way without reaching out the Lord and then expect to recognize Him working in your life. And when you do recognize Him in your life, you have to respond with action.

At least that's how I understand the preacher's words.