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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Still Believe In Santa Claus

Ah, Jolly Old St. Nicholas!  Lend your ear this way!  ...I still believe in you!

Well, that's awkward because for someone in his mid-20's to still believe in Santa Claus is an absurd idea, especially after learning the truth of Santa Claus' reality when I was younger.  But see, being in my mid-20's, I've had opportunities to grow in knowledge, in faith, and in waist sizes (but that's not relevant).  With that said, perhaps Santa Claus is more reality than myth or legend.  Maybe years of commercialization has turned St. Nicholas into some jolly good old fellow whose generosity and reindeer has made him the hot topic of post-Thanksgiving conversations with parents and mall outings.

But see...we associate Santa Claus simply as that guy who shows up to your chimney one night a year and gives you what you deserve.  We never really focus on his history and where he comes from (I'm not talking about the North Pole).  Are we okay with letting some big red dude that we don't really know into our homes one night a year?!

Ummm. Debatable.
So as long as we're accepting of Santa Claus and assuming mommy doesn't kiss him too much or his reindeer doesn't run over grandma...perhaps we should take a little bit of time to know who Santa Claus is.  Now, it's fair to say that the Santa Claus we all know and love today is probably based on several characters in history.  But most (?) seem to point towards the original St. Nicholas.

Santa Claus --> St. Nicholas

Just who was the original St. Nicholas?  Was he fat? Jolly? Resident of the North Pole? Was there a Mrs. St. Nicholas? Did he have reindeer and/or elves? Did he have his own sled? Did he always say "ho" three times in a row?

Umm. Maybe not.

St. Nicholas was...actually...a Catholic bishop of Myra, an area now known as part of Turkey, back in the third century.

Jesus and Mary approve
Not much is certain historically about him because he lived a long time ago, but he seems to have consistent legends about him.  As popular as Jolly Old St. Nicholas is today, St. Nicholas of Myra was pretty popular to early Christians and the Church back in the day too, though for non-commercial reasons, haha.

Some popular legends (or historical facts taken with a grain of salt) include...
How St. Nicholas gave up his inheritance to ensure three sisters received their dowries
How St. Nicholas saved three kids from an evil butcher
How St. Nicholas saved the people of Myra from famine
...and many more here: Traditional Stories & Miracles

For a more complete biography,you can go here.  But again...we don't know much about him historically apart from popular legends and miracles attributed to him through the ages.  But he certainly was a Catholic bishop back in the day.

What sparked my blogging about St. Nicholas was reading about another one of his famous legends.  I can illustrate it as such:
Throughout Church history, the bishops hold councils to discuss matters of the faith.  One such council, the Council of Nicea, was held to discuss the issue of a rising heresy at the time known as Arianism, which basically denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.  There's a popular legend (again, not historically certain) of St. Nicholas freakin' punchin' the daylights out of Arius, the originator of Arianism at the Council of Nicea.  I mean, talk about defending the faith and knocking some sense into people!

Ok. Pause.  Think about this.  Santa Claus making a total baddonkey move and putting Christ back in Christmas with a fist punch.  Makes you want to rethink about the dude in the big red suit at the mall, eh?  You don't see Mr. I-Look-Like-Santa-Claus-But-I'm-Only-His-Helper defending the identity of Christ and punching heretics (oh that would be awkward to have to explain to children waiting in line..."Mommy, why did Santa punch that heathen?").

Anyway, I first read about that punch here: Bad Catholic Blog - On the St. Nick Punch.  And I was immediately wow'd and desired to blog about it too, but it was nearly Valentine's Day earlier this year when I first read Marc's blog post, and I felt like that would have been too late (early?).

Regardless...yes...St. Nick's one punch was sole enough of a reason for me to believe in Santa Claus once again.  But not so much that "Santa Claus" did that...but because...St. Nicholas, taking the average of his historical legends and life, is someone of heroic and holy character, which, in my opinion, is what constitutes a great saint.  We admire his generosity and compassion for the less fortunate which seems to be things that are hard to grasp today.  And yes, though the Santa Claus we know today is a caricature or commercialized representation of the real St. Nicholas, I'm Catholic--and as Catholics we appreciate how visible signs point towards greater realities.  Then yes, Santa Claus is a visible sign that points toward the reality of a man who once walked this earth (and you can find his relics primarily in Bari, Italy and scattered throughout the world) and whose life of legendary generosity is an important and relevant model for us all.

Fun fact!  St. Nicholas' feast day is December 6 or otherwise known as St. Nicholas Day in other parts of the world.  A tradition associated with St. Nicholas Day is for you to leave your shoes out on that day and hopefully you'll find it filled with goodies and/or monies (similar to the usage of stockings for Christmas).

So, I suppose all this talk about the real Santa Claus makes it awkward to talk to kids about it.  And I read a good blog post on how it can be handled.  You can read that here at the Aggie Catholics blog.

I'm lovin' the fact that I'm Catholic because I often find that some of the things we enjoy in society today has some sort of Catholic origin to it.  And man, saints' lives can be so cool to dig deeper into as we see with St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas, pray for us!  May you remind us of what it means to be jolly and generous!
- JD

One more time...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Apostolic Secession?

Huh? Apostolic secession? Is that like...where the the apostles seceded from their communion with Christ? Sure, but that would be terrible because the deposit of faith given by Christ to His apostles would have scattered and there would be no union. There would be no Church and no Christian faith.

Man, I'm so grateful that the apostles didn't secede from Christ (well, there was that one...)

Judas Seceded From The Communion
Haha and it's a weird way of associating political vocab with theological truth. Or maybe I just wanted to use that play on words: apostolic succession (#Catholicvocab) vs. apostolic secession (#notCatholicvocab).  And maybe I just wanted to draw a picture...

But hmm, it seems that secession is a popular topic these days. We're a few weeks past the presidential election, and it seems more than half of the United States have petitions to secede from the Union (, accessed Nov. 18, 2012). Kind of crazy, because that wasn't a consequence I was expecting immediately following the election. Didn't we Americans get what we wanted? We voted and now here we are again. How can we go from elections to secessions so quickly? Perhaps we don't know what we want other than wanting what we think we want. Or something. But either way, it seems that there is unrest and disapproval with the way things are going right now and secession seems to be the solution!

I started thinking about this, and it was hard not to think about it because both my Facebook and Twitter timelines showed expressed thoughts on seceding from the United States, whether "yeah we should!" or "this is such a dumb idea!"...or the "I'm indifferent but it's interesting that there are states petitioning for secession!"

For whatever reason, a Gospel passage came to mind as I thought about the idea of seceding from the United States. And because my life is Catholic, I started thinking about it more but through a Catholic mind. I know for us hardcore Catholics, the results of this election are disappointing. Careful examination of the status of our country and where we're headed is enough cause for worry, and so it is easy to buy into the idea of secession. But is seceding really what's best for us? Would that be a sort of band-aid solution? Would we be just running away from the issues that we are concerned with regarding the federal government? Aren't we called as Catholics to not be afraid?

With all that said, I would say that we are citizens of the kingdom of God first before we are citizens of whatever government rules over us.

Here's that Gospel passage...

From John 15: 18-27, The World's Hatred (NAB)
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.  Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.'  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word,, they will also keep yours.  And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.  Whoever hates me also hates my Father.  If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.  But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, 'They hated me without cause.'  "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.  And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
The parts that stick out to me are...

If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
In other words, we are in the world rather than of the world.  I always have to remember that I'm made for heaven. This world is temporal. My life on earth is temporary. I'm simply in the world, but I know this is not my final place. I'm made in the image and likeness of God, and God desires His children to be in union with Him in heaven. Humankind seceded from God in the Garden (Genesis 3), but God desires that we restore that friendship and union with Him because He loves us and sent His only Son to redeem the world by His cross.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first
No wonder! I mean, if the world hates Jesus, then surely the world hates His followers too. Makes sense. And if the world hates Him, I would imagine that the world would try to make it difficult for His followers to follow. Hey, let's photoshop out crosses, let's force Catholic adoption agencies to let homosexual couples adopt, let's force everyone to pay for contraception/abortion/sterilization despite your religious beliefs, and the list goes on and on.

Tying this all together, the idea of seceding from the United States does seem like a good idea because we have lost confidence in the future of our country and the idea that we're better off doing our own thing. But, we have to remember that doing our own thing means nothing unless we maintain our union with Christ.  Perhaps our country is falling apart because we're too busy trying to do our own thing instead of keeping Christ as our center and source of unity.  It doesn't matter which Caesar we serve, but we must still render unto God what is God's (Matthew 22)...and what is God's?  We are.

We are in the world, not of it. And even as the world tries to make it difficult for us to live out our Christian faith because the world hates God and thus hates us, we cannot be afraid. We are disciples of Christ and as such, our commUNION (#Catholicpuns) with Him gives us the strength to endure our trials and tribulations in this world.  We should strive not to break that union from Him through sin.  We should carefully reflect on what it is we ultimately desire...and what God ultimately desires for us.

O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.

Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.

Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people.  Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.

Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life.  Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God's law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.


Faith. Hope. Charity.
- JD

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Voter's Guides

I've been silent on this blog about this election. Not because I don't want to talk about it, but because the issues and importance of this year's presidential election are too great for me to spend time blogging about it at length, and I never seem to have a lot of free time as of late.  But...that needs to change.  Soon.

But that's okay since I've been putting real effort into talking about the major issues surrounding this election in real life, away from keyboard, to younger generations with the hope of empowering them to maintain their Catholic identity by the life they live and in their right to vote whenever they are old enough.  And praise God that resources are available online!  For free!

I voted on the Monday before the election (yay early voting!) and while I am motivated to vote the way I did for more than simply Catholic reasons, I did focus on learning what it means to vote like a Catholic, especially lately. And it's nice to know that my Catholic and non-Catholic motivations on who to vote for resulted in the same candidate.

I want to offer this blog post as a sort of summary of resources. Therefore, let's begin:

What does the Catholic Church teach on involvement in political matters?
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2234-#2246

CCC 2246...hmm...considering the status of our country right is clear that something must be done.  We cannot idly stand by and let things happen.

We are Catholic first before we are Republican, Democrat, or (insert your non-mainstream political party here). In communion with the Church, our consciences must be formed and carried out genuinely with the mind of the Church, regardless of which political party we associate ourselves with.

Another resource on Catholic voting from the Aggie Catholics blog:
How to Vote As a Catholic

Speaking of forming consciences, there are some hot topic issues to consider when voting for candidates. These issues are abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and so-called same sex "marriage." Collectively, these are non-negotiable issues that are intrinsically evil--they are not morally justifiable in any case. Here's a video summarizing the issues and see the following links for further reading:

Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics (PDF version)
...and what I like about this outlines principles as opposed to aligning with a particular political party based on their platform.  Because platforms can change, but Catholic teaching and Catholic morality do not.

Certainly, the heart of the five non-negotiables mentioned in that Voter's Guide have to do with attacks on human life and dignity.

If we can't get the right to life right, the other rights we hold dear mean nothing.

However, for those of us who enjoy our right to life, some other important rights guaranteed by our government are being infringed upon. This year marks a historic time for the United States. No other time in US history has the government walked all over our religious freedom, especially for us Catholics. To read more about it, read this:
Why Should I Care: The HHS Mandate and Religious Freedom
a list of entities suing the Department of Health and Human Services (growing list) through The Becket Fund.

You should also watch For Greater Glory, because it tells the story of what Catholics in Mexico had to deal with during the 1920's when the Mexican government persecuted and killed Catholics.  Or Google the Cristiada or Cristero War.  While I don't think the US government will resort to direct killing of individuals outside of the womb, at the very least...we should reflect on the possibility of martyrdom which I think is awesomely portrayed by certain saints in this movie.

And then, on top of all this ... I've been listening to a lot of Catholic radio, particularly Catholic Answers which finds its home at  Thanks to them, I've been informed and educated about the issues.

And even if you didn't vote in this presidential election, there are local and state elections in the near future that require the same responsibility and informed conscience from us.

I challenge you, dear Catholic brothers and sisters--get informed. Take ownership of your faith, live it out, and vote accordingly in future elections at all levels.

And oh...don't be fooled by such things as this kind of voter's guide:
Planned Parenthood Action Fund's Voter's Guide
...because simple check marks that highlight people who are in agreement with Planned Parenthood's ideals isn't enough.  Seriously!  You won't find in-depth information about the issues that Planned Parenthood cares about in their voter's guide.  But I suppose it's harder to talk about justifying intrinsic evils than it is to speak the truth.  And hey, at the very least...this voter's guide helps us know names of individuals who are for Planned Parenthood in our government.  It's up to us to dig deeper and find out why it is they support Planned Parenthood.

Bottom line...there will always be those entities that try to sway your mind away from Catholic truth.  Stand firm.  And know where you stand. Matthew 7:15-29 (NAB).

I hope this all helps!

- JD

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fact Check

First, watch this.

Second, check out Planned Parenthood's own website.
(accessed November 12, 2012)


See, not even Planned Parenthood's own website asserts that they do mammograms in-house.  But they will gladly give you a referral elsewhere.

- JD

PS But ... seriously ... President Obama needs some better advisors or something to tell him correct facts.  Or Obama needs to actually peruse Planned Parenthood's website since he loves them so much.

40 Days for Life 2012: Week 5

I'm two weeks late in posting this...but...that's okay.  Better late than never, right?

Two weekend's ago was the closing rally for this fall's 40 Days for Life campaign.  I wasn't able to attend the actual rally due to other Sunday obligations and responsibilities or maybe I was out of town, but I'm sure it was great.

But see, the funny thing is...I didn't know 40 Days for Life ended two Sunday's ago.  And I still went during my scheduled hour to pray at Planned Parenthood during the week.  I'm such a bragger and overachiever, I know, lol.

I totally went!  I totally drove there! I totally parked! I totally...waited in my car and saw no one standing on the sidewalk.  I noticed that the parking lot still had clinic workers' cars parked (I guess they hadn't gone home yet).  It was then I decided to go look up the schedule for 40 Days for Life and ... I totally missed the memo on it ending the Sunday previous.  D'oh!

I thought about sticking around and perhaps still praying on the sidewalk for an hour.  But...after seeing the parking lot still full and seeing random people walking around on other sidewalks nearby...and knowing that I would have no backup, I decided not to stay and pray because I felt the situation would be too dangerous for me.  I felt like a cop out, and I maintained that feeling of cop-outedness as I drove home...

BUT!  For whatever reason, I thought it would be cool to check out the new Planned Parenthood facility and decided this right before the highway split (between going home and going towards that new location).

15 or so minutes later, I found the new location of the new facility.  It's still under construction.  And it's definitely bigger than my favorite clinic we have been praying at.  :-/   I didn't stick around for too long because ... well...I didn't feel like being shady today.

And after finding it, I drove back home.

Having one week to reflect on my overachievement and two weeks since I last prayed at the clinic for 40 Days for Life, I ask myself...have we accomplished anything?

I'm happy to report that over 600 babies have been saved from this effort!  While that may seem low to me, I must remember that each save is worth it!  Truly a blessing!

But something keeps sticking out in my mind...

Several weekends ago, I attended a training session to be a sidewalk counselor.  And the thing that sticks out to me from that session is what the instructor said regarding 40 Days for Life.  He almost...criticized it.  He said that it's a good effort but it's dumb in that it's only 40 days (though sometimes twice a year, depending on the campaign/location).  And he stressed to us sidewalk counselor hopefuls to know that abortions happen everyday, year-round.  And I totally understood that.

Yes, 40 Days for Life is over for now, but the purpose and mission continues!

Last week we had the election.  And we all know that the result of that election isn't going to play in our favor.  And that's okay.  I welcome the challenge.  To be honest, no amount of law in the land should prevent us from doing what is amount of law in the land should inhibit us to do what we ought.  Human life and dignity are at stake.

Again, I welcome the challenge.  With the way things are right now, I think it's important ever so much that I stick to what is truly Catholic and not some pale shadow of that identity.  The light of Christ is within me.  Soy en fuego con el Espiritu Santo.  If I am who God created me to out world--I'm a pyro.

-raises glass-  Here's to being pro-life!  And I mean that in the Catholic sense--defending all human life and human dignity from conception to natural death.

Challenge accepted.
- JD

My blog post from last year.