It’s one of the questions I get asked most often in class, so I’ve put together my three best answers to one of the basic questions of our faith… is God really out there?
I’d like to say I’m a gamer – but it’s probably more accurate to say I’m a wannabe gamer. I’ve almost always played on outdated consoles – I had the original Nintendo when other people were running 16-bit systems; and today I’m still the proud owner of a Nintendo Wii and about a dozen games that I play occasionally – mostly on nights that I can’t sleep.
One of the great frustrations on the original Nintendo was the fact that many of the best games had no save points – meaning if you ran out of lives, you were forced to continue or start over, without the benefit of either the progress you had made or any upgrades/achievements you may have unlocked. It was incredibly frustrating – and more often than not, I would just turn the system off and walk away. Luckily, this was a challenge that went away as gaming systems progressed – so much so that many of today’s gamer’s probably consider this memory to be ancient history – right up there with rotary dial phones and black and white TV’s.
While I can’t blame the technology anymore, my gaming habits haven’t changed much. I’ve got at least ten games started that I’ve never bothered to finish – partly because, as a husband and father, I now have other priorities – but if I was to be completely honest, it’s also partly because I find them hard and I can’t be bothered to dedicate the time and effort required to get better at it.
You might be reading this and saying “So what? You’re a grown man now, a father of five… who cares about your inability to master video games? Aren’t you a little old for this?”
If it was just video games that get treated this way, I’d agree with you. But this lack of perseverance carries over into many other parts of my life. I’ve got a stack of books on my dresser – 26 to be exact – that I’ve been meaning to read (some of which I’ve had for more than four years!) I’ve got two virtual courses (public speaking and music lessons) that I’ve been putting off for months. There are many things I’d like to do to build up my spiritual life or to improve my general health and well-being… but my good intentions don’t always end up producing great results.
Fortunately for me – and you, if this sounds like you -it is the perfect time of year to do something about it.
On the night our parish youth group kicked off a semester of youth ministry programming on the Church, our guest speaker took questions from teens. One of them went like this: “You mentioned that it’s hard to get to Heaven. Do you really mean ‘really hard?”
A better word than ‘hard’ in this case might be ‘impossible.’ It is impossible for any of us on our earn merit to get to Heaven. This is why Jesus had to come. The Old Testament tells the story of the people of God who, after being created by God to love broke their relationship with Him (by sinning), and were never able to properly reconcile that relationship. God tries over and over again, covenant by covenant (think Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David…) but humanity is never able to uphold their end of the bargain. [Read more…]
Every Sunday, from the time I was seven years old, I would walk up the aisle of my local parish Church. When I got to the front of the line, the priest or auxiliary minister of communion would hold up a flat, round, white host and declare reverently “The Body of Christ,” to which I would reply with equal reverence “Amen.” What did all of this mean? I don’t know. What I do know is that afterwards, I was to return to my pew, kneel, and say a prayer of some sort.
In spite of the fact that I had attended Mass from the time I was a child, and that my parish priest had tried (in vain) to explain to me what was really going on at the Mass, this ritual was meaningless to me up until my teenage years, when I found myself on a retreat asking someone what the term “Blessed Sacrament” meant. The answer?