The Battle Within

The struggle comes when many of our day to day challenges start to haunt us and would constantly linger in our heads trying to capture us in our weakness. The conviction to fight the battle within is continually diminishing because we let ourselves be filled with all the negativities, all the worries, and with doubt just around the corner, it suffocates us that we let bitterness control us. Our faith life suffers because our trust in the Lord is regularly attacked with lies constantly telling us that we are insignificant. Regrets fill us and shape us to grow weaker, and we ourselves become a distinct reflection of Peter walking on water with Jesus beside us saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt (Mt. 14:31)?” Everyday becomes a journey of self-assessment, self-assurance, and continual appraising of self worth. We become mere images of Thomas as he doubts (John 20:27). We forget to find peace within us because we forget Jesus resides in us. We forget to remember that the battle within cannot be won when we let our fears consume us. “Fear not (Is. 41:10)!” Jesus would say over and over, but still fear devours us and our hope falters evidently.

What happens next?

It is all up to us. It is up to us to constantly fight, no matter how difficult, because at the end of the day it is Jesus who puts our hearts back together. It is Jesus who constantly reminds us that in Him we will find peace (cf Jn. 16:33). The battle is not against the world, it is against ourselves. When we realize that our faith is bigger than our fear, we come to realize that Jesus is everything we ever will need.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

Five Books Every Lukewarm Catholics Should Read

1. The Bible

2. Rome Sweet Home – Scott and Kimberly Hahn

3. Ordinary Lives Extraordinary Mission – John R. Wood

4. Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic – Matthew Kelly

5. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

My faith grew, and the passion I felt, after reading these books definitely changed my life’s perspective. Of course, there are tons of books out there that can be added to this list.  I especially would like to commend authors such as Peter Kreeft, Curtis Martin, Allen Hunt, Fulton Sheen, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI (Read their books y’all!) All these authors shaped me to become the better version of myself, inspired me to create this blog, motivated me to share my faith, influenced me to save souls, and to find my life’s purpose–to become a saint. We can’t be lukewarm Catholics anymore, if we are to do this, we are to do this right, and we have to start with ourselves. Saint Catherine of Siena once said, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” 

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:15-16

Rome Sweet Home

rome

Written by Scott and Kimberly Hahn

This is a book written by a couple converting to Catholicism, sharing their difficulties and struggles into finding their way to the Catholic Church. It is written in first person point of view, alternating between the two couples in each of their own perspectives.

This is the first ever Catholic book I have read, given to me by St. Albert the Great Church last April of this year while I was fulfilling my Lenten obligations to attend daily mass for the 40 days of Lent. For the past years, I have given up material addictions, things, and favourite pastimes for Lent. I hoped that by attending daily mass, it would be more spiritual and more uplifting to experience this journey with the Lord. It was a fulfilling 40 day journey. Although I did not read this book until the month after Lent, this book definitely increased my love for my faith and the importance and purpose of being a Catholic.

As long as you’re open and willing, this book will definitely help you embrace the desire to share your faith of being a Catholic. The number of empty churches and parishes today are alarmingly increasing, and more and more young people are leaving the church. I hope this book will inspire more people to share the faith.

“It is the Church about which Christ spoke: “I will build my Church.” She is not your Church, nor she is mine; she is Christ’s. He is the builder; we are only the tools.” -Scott Hahn □

Why don’t you pray?

My dad once told me, “If you’re prayerful, it will show.” At the time I did not think much of this. I thought to myself, “I’m good enough. I go to church. I serve in my ministry. I pray often…” So when my dad told me, “If you’re prayerful, it will show.” I shrugged it off in a rather “I-knew-that” kind of response. Now I was faced with the dilemma of living up to that phrase. “If I am prayerful… what will show?”

To be honest, my prayer life has been a series of roller coasters. A series of waves–a never ending battle of ups and downs. I have my own struggles with daily meditation and I find that most of us struggle with prayer because of the need and the constant reminder to pray that it seems like a burden for many. Though there will be other hindrances, for most people the three concerns below tackle the struggles in praying.

1.  People do not know how to pray.

People often forget that praying is not only an act of asking, thanking, praising, and repenting. Praying also determines your relationship with the Lord. How often you come to prayer, and how often you open up to the Lord about your life determines the kind of relationship you have with the Lord. Sometimes it is difficult to keep a relationship with someone you can’t hear, feel or see, because most of the time we’d rather spend our time in ways that will benefit us throughout the day… like for example: sleeping. How many times have you fallen asleep praying? Now, how many times have you fallen asleep gossiping? The odds are you were probably more awake listening to gossip than your actual conversation with the Lord. One thing I learned when praying is that you can say anything you want, because what is the point of suppressing your thoughts when God hears and knows everything. There will be times when you are angry and that’s okay. Let it out; be angry with the Lord. There will be good and bad moments, just like having good and bad moments with our other relationships. The difference is that, although there will be difficult times; the Lord will always provide peace when we come to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

2. “God never listens anyway.”

You cannot simply complain about how God never hears you or how God never answers your prayers. One obvious reason for this common misconception is that when you pray, you only hear yourself. Prayer is a two-way communication where you talk and another listens, and another talks and you listen. You may think, “What am I listening for? It’s not like God is talking to me.” By simply thinking this phrase, you have denied yourself of praying. Of course God is talking to you! You simply do not want to listen because you have filled your ears, your minds with all the other noises of this world! Simply listen with your heart and your mind will follow.

Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

3. “I have no time for that.” 

I am guilty of having no time to pray, and I have noticed that the more we consume ourselves with the worldly desires, the less we feel the Lord in our lives. In C.S. Lewis’ book of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape (a senior demon) mentors Wormwood (a junior tempter) by giving advices and methods, through a series of letters, on how to lead a man away from God. In one of his letters he said, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” We fail to realize that the more we desire, the more we want, and the more we consume ungodly things, we forget our purpose, our goal, our mission. In Matthew Kelly’s, Rediscover Catholicism, he suggested to offer the things we do as a prayer, either a prayer of offering, thanksgiving, and/or praising. We all have time to pray, it just takes a little nudge in the back.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Now my question to you is not to ask you if you are spending a decent amount of time with the Lord, but rather to ask you your mission. What is your mission? What are your struggles? Being fully aware of our mission and struggles will help clear our minds of the noises. By simply letting go you let God in. □

Pursuit of Happiness

In his book Made for More, Curtis Martin mentioned that “all our choices—including the evil ones—are ultimately aimed at getting happiness.” If you evaluate your life and ask yourself why you did certain things, why you made certain choices, and why you responded to certain situations the way you had, it would become clear that the answer to those why’s are aimed at “us” being happy. We all want to be happy. We all want to be constantly happy, but what if the path to our happiness causes us to drift in our service to our family, our church, and our community?

Last Saturday, we had a Liturgical Bible Study (LBS). This was a very fitting session for me because my mind has been clouded with worries, fears, and uncertainties of the future. Being a recent graduate, it is difficult not to worry about your own future because this is the real deal. I am no longer a student who worries about classes, exams, assignments, projects, papers, or presentations. I am no longer a student who wants to graduate to make my parents proud, to make my family happy, to make myself happy. I have already reached the happiness stage of a graduate student. But why is it that when we reach a certain stage or a certain moment of happiness, a new path to happiness begins? Why can’t there be just one moment, one goal, and one path to happiness?

We fail to realize that the happiness we desire is our search for the kingdom of heaven. Pursuing the kingdom of heaven should be our goal – our ultimate and only goal. All other stages, whether it be through graduating, finding a career, raising a family; it should be focused on our journey towards heaven, because the pursuit of the kingdom of heaven is the path to everlasting happiness and unimaginable joy. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” [Matthew 13:44] Do we possess the ability give up all that we have for the kingdom of heaven?

Now I leave you with this thought. I know it is easy to lose sight of the goal. It is easy to forget that we are made for heaven, because honestly this path is not an easy path. This world is not an easy world to live in. It will be bumpy. It will be hard. You will doubt. You will fail. The important thing is to keep going, keep pushing, and keep praying.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Faith is Not Faith Until Proven

LIGHT

 Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.'” -Genesis 22:2

Merely saying that one has faith is God is different from actually having faith in God, which is the same as a person who “loves” another only during times of joy. It’s easy to love as long as things are going well. But when things are not and we feel like loving is too much of a burden, that is when our love is tested and proven. The same is true with our faith: faith is not faith until proven.

We’ve seen this throughout the Bible, where God’s people are constantly tested not to destroy them, but to strengthen them that their faith may be made pure. Think about God’s call for Abraham to…

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What’s so difficult about being Catholic?

According to George Weigel, “half of the world’s two billion Christians are Catholics” and yet you can never tell them apart from anyone else. Why is it that if you are in a secular place full of people, you would never be able to distinguish Catholics from non-Catholics (unless of course you have already seen them at church)?

There are 3 things (based solely on my own opinion and observation, and of course there will be more, but these are the top 3) I have experienced and still sometimes struggle in when practicing my faith.

1. People know it when Catholics pray.

Catholics do the sign of the cross when they start and end their prayers. Don’t you find it so difficult to start a prayer in public, because you’re afraid that someone might be looking? I rarely find Catholics in public who pray before meals at work, at school, at the food court. I rarely see the sign of the cross anywhere. I see it at church, yes. At home, yes. So why is it when we are in public, we are so ashamed of the cross? The sign of the cross signifies our faith. It’s like when you try to call a person, you would first have to dial their number. Someone told me that the sign of the cross is like God’s number–we have to dial first. We have to do the sign of the cross, because we show our faith. We show that we believe that our prayers will be heard. The sign of the cross is a sign of respect. Honor it. Do it. Don’t be ashamed.

Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” || Matthew 10:32-33

2. Catholics pray the Rosary.

Before, praying the Rosary seemed forever to pray. Fifteen long minutes of repeated Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s, it would drive me insane. I was born and raised Catholic and at home we would have our own family time before we sleep where we all get together to pray the rosary. We, as a family, have always believed in the saying, “A family that prays together stays together.” I remember a time when those 15 minutes of family prayer time were the most unbearable. My siblings and I would always find things funny during those 15 minutes, or would just repeatedly mumble the prayers as fast as we could so we could end it quickly. (Of course, our parents would always scold us for doing this.) I recently read in the book “Rome Sweet Home” by the Hahn’s couple where Kimberly stated, “Mary’s a warrior maiden who does battle through her motherhood.” Mary is our intercessor and praying the Rosary is a humble way of acknowledging Mary as our mother and having faith that Mary will provide to the Father whatever we ask of her according to His will. Just think about asking for permission to your dad and using your mom to convince him. Pray the Rosary because it is a powerful tool, tested and proven.

Woman,why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” || John 2:4-5

3. Catholics need to confess their sins to a priest.

Being sorry for our sins is one thing, but being able to confess it is another. When you’ve done something so serious, of course the natural reaction is to hide it. Hide it until you no longer can hide it. So asking for forgiveness to God in prayer is faith, faith that He will forgive us of our sins. Asking for forgiveness to God through a priest is humility, being humble enough to admit where you have gone wrong. Why do we need to confess our sins to priests when God alone can give us forgiveness, you ask? As Pope Francis noted, “someone can say, ‘I confess my sins only to God.’ Yes, you can say to God, ‘forgive me,’ and say your sins. But our sins are also against our brothers, against the Church. This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers, in the person of the priest.” (I could not have explained it better.)

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. || James 5:16

Now I tell you these things, not because I find glory in claiming the struggles of Catholicism, but for you to become aware of the blessings we neglect to share to other people through our Church. Catholicism is beautiful in its own tradition and practices and sometimes we forget to practice those things that make us Catholic. Going to church is one thing, but practicing it is courage and a way of evangelization. “We need more contagious Catholics,” as the Hahn’s would say.

If we don’t share the faith, who will? I am Catholic, and I am proud of it.