Catholic Exchange: Turning the Other Cheek in a Digital Age

The Internet and mainstream media have been set ablaze with the latest outrage that seems to be manufactured every five minutes. Each side rushes to judgment and paints the other group as the villain. Meanwhile supporters canonize the person or persons they agree with and the vitriol reaches an intensity that should startle every person of goodwill. Round-and-round it goes, this cycle of anger in our culture and even within the Church.

This piece is not specifically about the Covington Catholic controversy. Nor will I make any judgments about what transpired. The aim of this piece is to offer an alternative tactic that goes back to Our Lord Himself, but that is applicable in an age when any one of us could become the topic of a social media frenzy should a video be taken of us that could provide an ambiguous depiction of us that can easily be taken out of context or manipulated to appease the angry masses.

Our careers could be ruined, our families and friends threatened, and we could become the target of the social media mob if we are not careful. If you think I’m overreacting, keep in mind that I happen to pray regularly at the Planned Parenthood where a teenager was assaulted during a 40 Days for Life campaign that made national news. A town of 90,000 people. That video became viral in a matter of minutes and people were ready to draw and quarter those involved depending on what political side they happened to be on. This is what it is like to live an an age of never-ending digital consumption and intentionally manufactured outrage. Someone is always watching, even when we don’t think that is the case.

There are some situations during which we can’t avoid confrontation. However, while I was at the March for Life, I witnessed and exercised an approach that will help us to avoid becoming social media fodder in the future. It’s how Our Lord responded to similar situations that arose during His ministry and Passion. It is one we seldom want to use because we all desire tangible justice.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

Little Blogging as of Late

I have not been blogging regularly as of late. Any writing that I have been doing has been for my graduate studies.  The same goes for reading.  The good thing is that I am studying precisely what I enjoy studying: philosophy and theology.  I have also been taking a break from reading a lot of Catholic blogs.  I started to get frustrated with the political nature of the blogs, whether it is on the Vatican or American politics.  The more I study Church History the less I worry about the Church.  Yes, disturbing things come up, but that is how it has always been.  Perhaps when I have time, I can revamp some of my writing to focus more on holiness and less on the Fallen nature of the world.  There needs to be a balance, but I want my writing to help people on the journey, not fuel anxiety and anger.

I want to thank any of you who have supported Help Nasara.  The plight of Christians in the Middle East is dire.  We have raised $429 for CNEWA.  Please continue to get the work out as well as pray and fast.

Changes in My Writing

For some of you who have been reading my blog off and on for months, you may have noticed a shift in focus in my writing.  Yes, my writing is sporadic.  I am a wife, mother, Lay Dominican, and now, a full-time graduate student in Theology.  So my time is limited.  The shift you will notice is a changing in my own understanding and deepening of what it means to be a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.  It is to suffer with the other Members.

The world will change drastically over the next few decades.  Demographically, the rise of Islam and secular humanism will be great.  The world has always been Fallen, but we are here to serve now.  I am no longer in a position to rush to the aid of those in need.  Instead, my vocation is teaching me that I must pray, fast, give alms, and raise awareness of different issues.  We can no longer go about woefully ignorant.  In our decadence we have forgotten that we are engaging in very serious, and very real, spiritual warfare.  There may come a day, on THIS side of eternity, where you and I will have to give testament to what we believe.

This is not meant to be gloomy.  Rather, it is a reminder of the things that truly matter, namely our Faith in Christ and His Church.  We must prepare and grow in holiness.  We must remain vigilant because the Enemy is on the move.  Yes, I post a lot about Help Nasara right now and that is because over a hundred thousand Christians are being openly and violently persecuted in Iraq and Syria alone.  That does not include the countless other countries being impacted.  We are not impotent.  God hears our prayers and cries for justice.  Trust in God and that he will answer our prayers.  Fast for others, but also to prepare and discipline our own bodies.  Give alms to help others.  This is how we will defeat this enemy.  God bless you and thanks for reading my blog.

Remember this prayer daily.  My dad sent it to me when I was a 9-11 relief worker.  It brings great courage and hope.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

Help Our Persecuted Christian Brothers and Sisters

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As I was folding laundry this afternoon, I began to pray the intentions for my Rosary.  I did not get far because I began to contemplate the horrors Christians and other minority groups in Syria and Iraq are facing today.  It’s not just a Middle Eastern problem.  Islamists like ISIS or ARAQ, are setting up shop around the globe.  There are countless countries already impacted besides our own on 9-11: Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Indonesia, UK, Spain, Bali, etc.  This is a growing threat and danger, but more than that, we need to do what we can to help.  I cannot call up our President and demand he take action, but I can raise awareness and give alms.

As I contemplated the plight of hundreds of thousands of people, my mind was drawn to an article I read earlier today.  In the article it detailed how an Iraqi Christian woman and her husband lost their 3 year old daughter to the ISIS.  They kidnapped their daughter last month and this family has not seen her since.  You see, I have a three year old daughter.  I tried to imagine what that would be like.  I was horrified, struck with terror, and pierced by intense pain.  It is my greatest nightmare for something like that to happen to my child, and yet, this is the lot of hundreds of thousands to millions of people globally.

We Americans are pretty insulated from the intense daily suffering.  Yes, people get terribly sick, there is violent crime, and loss, but we do not live day-in-and-day out in the fear that today will be the day we die at the hands of murderous thugs.  I do not walk out of my home worried that a group of ISIS thugs is going to rape me, sell me into slavery, or behead me, or my family.  I go about my day in peace.  I go about my day in freedom.

These stories and others like it coming out of Syria and Iraq are the reason a bunch of us got together on Facebook and started our group Help Nasara.  The mainstream media and our current President are not mentioning the plight of Christians at the hands of ISIS.  We are selling custom designed bumper stickers and car magnets for $3.50 each plus shipping (.75 cents).  We are too small to cover our printing costs, so $2.30 will go to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and the rest covers our printing.  Help us get the word out about these grave injustices.  Like us on Facebook and check out our website: www.helpnasara.org

Thank you so much for your support and may God bless you always.

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Why You Should Buy Our “Nun” Sticker

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It’s hard.  You are inundated with letters and emails asking for money.  There are starving children everywhere, unborn babies being murdered, children are sick, diseases are all over, and the list goes on and on.  I get it.  I receive address labels from various charities every year and I feel a pang of guilt every time I use one because I did not send money to that particular charity.  We can’t all give money to every group that asks us.  I completely understand.  Then it hit me. This matters because it impacts everyone, throughout the world.  If we cannot live freely in our beliefs then no one has freedom. 

My experiences may be drastically different from yours.  I feel the suffering of those fleeing from ISIS in Iraq and Syria acutely.  You see, I have seen in person the horrific nature and unspeakable acts that are going on there right now.  Thankfully, God is merciful and I have not yet seen someone beheaded, but I was a 9-11 relief worker at the Pentagon.  The first time I saw the crash site a dark wave washed over me and I felt like I was staring into the gates of Hell.  I wasn’t standing there alone.  I was there with over 400 people who had lost loved ones.  People whose entire lives were wrapped up with the 184 people who were slain when those men chose evil and drove that plane into the Pentagon.  I wept with the survivors.  I listened to their stories.  I witnessed their agony. 

Those same men who chose evil are of the exact same bent as the men who are massacring Christians and other minority groups in Northern Iraq and Syria.  They have stolen their homes, their freedom, sold women and children into slavery, and murdered thousands of people.  And the real secret is, that this will not just stay in Iraq.  It will not always be over there.  In fact, its already been here through the multiple terrorist attacks on our own soil.  This is not just an Iraq and Syria problem.  This is not just a Christian problem.  This impacts every single human being on this planet.

So why on earth should you spend $3.50 (FREE SHIPPING IN THE US) on our bumper sticker or magnet?  We have an obligation to stand up to evil.  No you and I cannot go over there and provide food, shelter, water, and other necessities.  However, we can give a small part of our money to groups who do exactly that.  The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) does precisely that.  But, I am not just asking you to give up your latte today.  I am also asking you to pray and fast in solidarity with the persecuted throughout the world.  We also show strength when we stand up in solidarity with others. My sticker on my car tells the world that I have taken notice of the atrocities taking place and my heart is with those people.  It also educates others on what is going on.  We will regularly update our website: www.helpnasara.org so that you can get the latest news on what is going on in Iraq and Syria.  Even if one person sitting behind you in traffic checks out our site, then somebody else knows about the persecution that is going on.  Let’s face it, our mainstream media is completely ignoring the slaughter of Christians.

I know it does not seem like much to buy a sticker and give a couple of bucks to CNEWA, but one person multiplies into two and three and so on.  This is a grassroots movement.  A bunch of Christian Facebook friends got together and built this website, logo, and Facebook page.  This is the power we have to help others.  We can unite and serve.  That is precisely what Christ calls us to do.  This is not a scam.  Your money will go to CNEWA. We are too small to cover printing costs, so that will come out of the $3.50 and $2.30 of every item WILL GO to CNEWA. Please buy one sticker or magnet.  Slap it on your car or your laptop and show the world that you stand with the suffering.  You can purchase a magnet or sticker at our Etsy page.  They cost the same.

Check out our homepage: www.helpnasara.org
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/helpnasara

You can get the word out, share our website, Facebook page, and Etsy store with your friends.

Thank you for your support and may God bless you always.

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If there are any issues with the store of any of our sites, please let me know immediately in the comments section.  Thanks!

Help Raise Awareness and Funds for the Persecuted in Iraq and Syria

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A group of us got together on Facebook to raise awareness and funds for Christians being persecuted in Iraq and Syria. All funds we raise above printing cost will go to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). We designed a car magnet and sticker to sell. Please go on Facebook and like our page, www.facebook.com/helpnasara and then share it with your friends. We are in the process of linking to Etsy and Ebay in order to sell the product. There will be updates on both the Facebook page and our homepage which is www.helpnasara.org. Your support is greatly appreciated. If you are interested in purchasing magnets or stickers in bulk at cost in order to sell them at your church or to family and friends to raise funds for CNEWA write a comment on this post and I will get in touch with you.

Also, be sure to pray, fast, and give alms. This is very much a spiritual war and we are well armed in Christ. It may seem like there is not much we can do from here, but every little bit helps and prayers will win this war. God bless you.

If you have a blog, we would greatly appreciate if you shared our effort. Thank you!

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Wake Up America: A Call to Prayer and Fasting for Our Persecuted Brethren

I have been watching with horror as Christians are being systematically murdered, exiled, or placed in dhimmi status in Syria and Iraq. Over the past few years, Christians have endured public executions to include crucifixions, the loss of their homes and property, rape, torture, and the total loss of their homeland. Nary a word has come from our President. A President who is either so inept at foreign policy that he does not know what to do, too arrogant to mind, or worse, supports the persecution of Christians. I don’t know what the answer is, quite honestly. His actions tell me that he has very little regard for the dignity of any human person, but himself. But, no matter what, it should be deeply distressing to Christians here. I have no control over our current President who I believe is totally morally corrupt. But, I do have power to pray and work to bring awareness and funds to those who need it.

As Americans, we live in an insular bubble. Most of us have a roof over our heads, too much food, water, and a plethora of possessions. We go throughout our day oblivious of what is going on throughout the world. It does not matter that a good portion of the world is in flames, and that Russia has decided to make a power grab reminiscent of the days following World War II. It cannot last. I repeat, our oblivion cannot last. Human nature has always been at war. That is why Christ came. Peace is a wonderful blessing, but one that never lasts. We need to wake up and pay attention. We need to fall on our knees and pray for those countless slaughtered and for the conversion of souls throughout the world. My weapons of choice: the Rosary and the Holy Eucharist. Only Christ himself can save us. We are soldiers. Our weapons are spiritual and we are waging a battle against the forces of evil: Satan himself. It is time to wake up from our stupor and get to the business of working and serving Christ.

What can we do? First, since our mainstream media refuses to give air time to the murder of Christians, share news stories that detail the horrors of what our brethren are enduring in Syria and Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, China, etc. Second, show the world that we stand in solidarity with all Christians. As the Cross was turned into a symbol of hope, we shall turn any symbol (see the picture below) used to murder Christians or take away their history or livelihood and turn it into a symbol of power: The power of Jesus Christ. Third, find reliable charities who provide resources to persecuted Christians and donate. It does not need to be a large donation, whatever you can spare. Give up a couple of lattes or a trip to McDonald’s, then use the money for charity. Fourth, pray, go to Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, however you pray, do it. Pray for the persecuted, the dead, the persecutors, and for our leadership and leaders around the world. Fifth, fast. I mean serious fasting. Take a day a month or a week and live on bread and water. Offer it up in solidarity with the victims and the poor. It is good for you and fasting can save souls. Did I mention, PRAY?!

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This makes a great social media profile picture.  It is no longer a symbol of fear, it is a sign of strength, solidarity, and the power of the Living God, Jesus Christ.
This makes a great social media profile picture. It is no longer a symbol of fear, it is a sign of strength, solidarity, and the power of the Living God, Jesus Christ.

We all must wake up from the slumber that peace, wealth, and prosperity has put us in. We have it all, so why does the rest of the world matter? First, because we are all members of the Mystical Body of Christ and when one portion is hurt, the whole body hurts. Second, because this mess is not always going to be “over there”. History tells us that war and violence is common, not peace. Prayers can prevent wars and bring peace. So let’s get on our knees and pray now before the cancers of secularism and radical Islam spread even more. May God bless you always. Onward Christian Soldiers!!!

Do you have any suggestions to add? 

 

 

 

 

The World Did Not Know Him: Understanding Christian Persecution

 

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The amount of information we ingest each day from the Internet is staggering. In 5 minutes I can see what is happening worldwide.  Most of that news is bad news.  In fact, a good deal of it is horrifying. From gruesome murders to terrorism to starving children to the erosion of religious liberty in this country, it becomes overwhelming.  The forces of evil are on the march and Christ has called us to be a light in the world even though we face incredible odds on this side of Eternity.  The battle for man’s freedom from sin has been won by Christ on the Cross, but we still have to live in this Fallen world.

 
Yesterday I spent too much time looking at the train wreck that is the news.  I had to catch  my breath as I read one too many horrors.  I was also once again reminded that my freedom as a Roman Catholic in this country is washing away.  Not that this country has been too friendly to Catholics, but it was a nice reprieve.  Actually, all Christians are in great danger, at least those who hold to biblical teachings on human sexuality, of losing their freedoms as well.  There will come a day,  much sooner than any of us think, when we will have to make a choice to either stand with Christ or cave to the secular will.
 
As I prayed Vespers last night, Our Lord gave me a much needed reminder.  Sometimes I forget that the world did  not accept Him, so why should I expect those of us who follow Him to be accepted by the world?  Living in a country that had religious liberty for all, notice how I said “had”, we can forget that we were promised persecution.  What is  happening now is only a natural response by those who do not know, or who have denied that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  That He came to redeem us and save us from ourselves and He came to save us from sin and death.  That His call to love and serve is universal.  He is the much needed medicine for this sick world.  Here is the reading from Vespers last night:
 
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
in letting us be called children of God!
Yet that is what we are.
The reason the world does not recognize us
is that it never recognized the Son.
Dearly beloved,
we are God’s children now;
what we shall  later be has not yet come to light.
We know that when it comes to light
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him
keeps himself pure, as he is pure
 
1 John 3:1-3
 
As I watch the outright assault worldwide on Christians, I am reminded of a scene in The Return of the King.  Aragorn has led a small army to the gates of Mordor.  The gates open and evil in all its fury marches forward to swallow up the small battalion.  Aragorn rallies the troops and they run into battle.  A battle that seems pointless.  A battle they seem sure to lose.  But, this moment is a great reminder that somethings are in fact worth dying for.  It is better to die than to live and choose evil.  In the end, Frodo quite accidentally, destroys the Ring and Middle Earth is saved.  We must daily remind ourselves in the face of great ignorance, hatred, and evil, that Christ has won.  There is nothing that can change that fact.
 
If, like me, you struggle with moments of despair in the face of the world, remember that the world hated Christ first.  Humanity put Christ on a Cross, drove nails into His body, and killed Him.  As hard as it is for me to even imagine at this point in my spiritual journey, what makes me think that I can avoid such a fate?  Not all are called to martyrdom, but many are in fact being called worldwide to die for their Faith.  My family and I must pray for the strength to stand firm when we are called to defend the Faith, in whatever capacity Christ calls us.  No matter what, the tidal wave is coming, but there is always HOPE.

What Recent Elections Have Taught Me

Where I stand
Where I stand

In 2009 I went to internship at The Heritage Foundation. I believed that I wanted a career in politics, I was wrong. There are brilliant minds at Heritage. I was horrified by Congressional staff we met with, though. As a Veteran, I was keenly aware of the support our military needed and I quickly discovered that our service members were numbers and a bottom line. Service members were not seen as people at all. In that moment I knew politics was not for me.

As I have watched the last two elections a couple of things have become clear to me. First, that I made the right decision leaving DC. Second, things are once again going to get rough for faithful Catholics in this country. Secularism and its clarion call to relativistic dictatorship are on the march, and at this point all we can do is pray and serve others in response.

The last two elections, one presidential the other the VA gubernatorial race, have shown me that we no longer look to men and women of character to lead us. Instead we swallow the lies and deceit and vote accordingly. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not happy with either Party. But the last two elections have come down to a fictitious war on women. That big bad Republicans will take away birth control, merely because they are Catholic. It has never been an agenda, even though we faithful Catholics know the great damage birth control has done.

I live in Virginia and I was disgusted by ALL of the political ads. But, more than anything, I am disturbed by what this country stands for now. I have absolutely no idea what the issues were for this race, except that most ads I saw were about people taking away birth control. A flat out lie, but people don’t know how to think anymore.

This is a brilliant move because it is winning elections and it works for the war on the Catholic Church that this Admin is waging. It is a subtle way to vilify Catholics that will become more overt, as things like “gay marriage” gain traction in this country. You have to alienate a group of people before you can work to push them out of the public sphere and launch a full scale attack.

None of this is new. Church history, as Christ promised, is full of persecution. Human history is bloody which is precisely why the God-Man had to offer his blood for us. We, in our depravity, would accept no less, and our sin demanded it. If the world killed God, what makes us think that we are somehow exempt? We have enjoyed a few decades of relative peace in this country, but that is not the historical norm, and it will not last. Enlightenment is merely a philosophy that denies faith and focuses solely on reason. It ignores human nature and sin. The 20th Century was the bloodiest in human history and perpetrated by atheistic regimes, secular regimes.

My husband and I have become increasingly more detached from politics, because we know what is coming, and it will not be pretty. We work in our community serving the poor and the Culture of Life. We no longer harbor illusions that politicians really want to do good. This is a spiritual war between principalities. We fight with prayer, love, and service. In the end that is all we can do.

What is going on in this country is distressing, but we always need to remember that we are a Resurrection people. The battle is won by Christ. That does not mean that we will not suffer, but it means that good triumphs over evil.

Praying for those Who Persecute Us-Government Edition

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the hardest things that we are asked to do as Christians, is to love our enemies.  For many of us those enemies can be in our family or in our community.  For a lot of Americans these days, it is our government.  The response that we are called to in this situation is prayer.  Sure we can call and write our Representatives and vote, and we should, but after that we must pray.

 
The government shutdown has been maddening.  It has revealed a thuggish, petty, and downright evil government that is bent on making people miserable.  I personally was livid that World War II Veterans were being denied access to their own memorial.  My grandfathers, may they rest in peace, fought against tyranny and thuggery at great sacrifice to themselves and others.   It reminded me that our current President is a toddler and a bully.  But, it also reminded me that he is depraved and in need of saving from Our Lord, just like the rest of us.  Without Christ, this is who we become, empty shells who are only concerned with power and hurting people who do not uphold our self worship.
 
When I  heard that Catholic priests could be threatened with imprisonment if they ignored an order not to perform the Sacraments, if they were contract employees for the government, I felt physically ill.  I felt this way because many of us have noticed the increased attacks on the Church (HHS mandate anyone) and her priests (GWU). A lot of us, especially priests of my generation, know that things are going to get a lot worse.  Once a government or people start to attack the Sacraments things are in full on persecution mode.  To deny Catholics the very center of their Faith is to deny them the right to practice their God given right to religious liberty.
 
It can sound trite, but we must learn to pray for our enemies.  Why?  Because prayer changes us, as C.S. Lewis would say, and it can bring about conversion.  Yes, prayer can be petitions to God for the sake of others, but it also frees us from hatred.  It is very difficult to hate someone if you are truly praying for their salvation.  Prayers helps us to keep our own humanity intact in the face of barbarism or evil.  That does not mean that we are not righteously angry.  It does not mean that we do not fight and defend the Faith.  It just means that we cannot allow sinful anger to destroy our hearts.  We must fall on Christ.
 
We are all sinful and in need of a Savior.  Looking at the people in charge of our government, we can see a greatly depraved and craven generation of people.  They have turned in so much on themselves that they are blocking out the good and only serving their own interests and their own egos.  They have forgotten their place in life.  They have forgotten their place in the Mystical Body of Christ, especially for those who claim to be Catholic but work hard against her teachings and God’s moral law.
 
The call to prayer is absolutely necessary for the future of our country and the purification of our own souls.  It teaches about pruning away irrational anger.  When we are justifiably angry about what is going on in this country, we must also pray for the conversion of sinners.  We are all capable of great evil, and it is those who have chosen good, who must help others to turn away from the Enemy.  Christ calls us to go out to the people and bring them to Him.  We are all lost without Him.  So, even though it is difficult, pray for those who persecute and hate us.  It has been this way since the Fall.  If it is hard to utter words,  I would suggest a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  It is short, done on a Rosary, and full of the power of the Cross.
 

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you

and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Rejoice and be glad,

for your reward will be great in heaven.

Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

St. Matthew 5:10-12