Search This Blog

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Lord of the Rings Mythology Explained In Four Minutes

I just recently finished reading Lord of the Rings! AND mostly read and skimmed through the appendices on Middle-earth history! It only took me a year of mostly reading during lunch breaks at work!

To celebrate, I'd like to share this YouTube video that explains the mythology of the Lord of the Rings ... in four minutes.

- JD

First saw video on Mark Shea's blog.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Favorite Verses: Day 7

Matthew 11: 28-30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Full passage here.

I've been dealing with a lot of internal struggles lately. Really, throughout my recent life, I've had to deal with internal struggles. It's very burdensome sometimes, especially lately. I've come to better appreciate and realize that I cannot handle these burdens on my own.

That's why these verses give me comfort. I don't need to be the only one to bear these burdens. I'm learning more and more that I can offer up my burdens to Christ, whose yoke is easy and burden is light. I relate this back to carrying my cross. Sometimes it feels like my cross grows all the more to the point where it seems absolutely impossible for me to carry it. Yet Christ, if I allow Him, helps me bear that burden. Only then do I find peace and rest.

Lord Jesus Christ, you carried the burden of the sins of the world. Even then, it was not too great for you. Grant me the grace to look towards you when my burdens seem too great. In your name, I pray. Amen.

- JD

Yoke // Mission Venture Ministries

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Favorite Verses: Day 6

Matthew 16: 18-19
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 
Full chapter here.


This is another one of my favorite verses because here Jesus elevates St. Peter-previously-known-as-Simon-but-recognized-Jesus-as-the-Christ-when-no-one-else-did. He imparts authority to Peter to lead his brothers. This essentially makes St. Peter as the first pontiff, and Pope Francis can trace his authority all the way back to St. Peter, who received his authority from Jesus Himself.

It's important to me because I can have confidence and trust that the Catholic Church maintains apostolic succession and authority from Jesus Himself.  I don't think most (any) Christian reverends, ministers, and pastors are able to say that (or even if they do, they can't back it up), but because of laying on of hands and the unbroken line of apostolic authority in the Catholic Church, our bishops especially and their priests perpetuate Jesus' authority.

And another thing--the Church is built on rock. Peter, which is an English-fied version of Petra, Greek for "rock".

Back in September, I visited a Benedictine monastery in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma. I overheard it said a few times how the founders and abbott of that monastery intend to build up the monastery and grounds to be able to last 1000 years.  In other words, built to last.

While the Church isn't necessarily the physical building (rather, she's a living thing, an organism), it's evident from history that she's lasted for the past 2000 years and will keep lasting until the return of the King (not Aragorn/Elessar).

And 2000 years is already a lonnnnnnng time. Through it all, the Catholic Church has survived civilizations, won other civilizations for Christ, and has managed to endure even the greatest of persecutions even in this modern age.

Why? Because she's built on rock.

So I just put that in there because of the song...

I jest.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for the gift of St. Peter and for his faith and trust in You. It was your will to call upon St. Peter to lead your church, especially after your passion, death, and resurrection. We pray for your continued blessing upon us, your Church, and grant us the grace to endure our journeying towards your glorious return. In your name we pray, amen.

St. Peter, pray for us!
- JD

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Favorite Verses: Day 5

Proverbs 27: 17
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Full chapter here.

Every time I read this verse, I think of accountability and how important that it is in our faith.  If we are part of the Body of Christ, we're accountable to one another to get each other to heaven to be in communion with God because that's how He made us.

What's awesome about living in a small community of a Catholic household with other like-minded and like-souled (is that a word?) guys is that we can hold each other accountable for our actions and our practice of our Catholic faith. I can remember the times when a housemate would ask me if I wanted to go to Mass or pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with him, and I'd say yes even though I initially didn't want to. I can remember a few times of inviting a housemate or two to men's groups so we can  deepen our faith together.

A lot of my free time is devoted to various ministries. I'm held accountable by the people I minister to because they expect me and desire me to truly live out what it means to be Catholic. Out of simple honor, I do not want to let them down.  They help motivate me to be stronger in my faith so I can be who God created me to be so that I may offer myself fully as a real Catholic to them.

A sword doesn't get sharp unless it is on fire and open to being formed by another piece of metal.

So, too, then am I.  I'm en fuego. My faith gets sharper if other people hold me accountable for the faith that I have. Because of this verse, I seek out ways and people to hold me accountable for my Catholic faith. And just as they hold me accountable, I hold them accountable.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for the people you have put in my life to help me grow in a deeper relationship with you. I pray that I am the man that you created me to be so that I can set the world on fire, as St. Catherine of Siena once said. All this I pray in your name through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!
- JD

Sharpening a katana // Extremely Sharp Swords & Knives

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Favorite Verses: Day 4

I sometimes pray in front of abortion clinics, typically with a group of people from my parish.  We used to go to a clinic that was also frequented by some particular evangelical Christian groups. I loved that they were there with the intent of witnessing to the Gospel of Life.

But this is where I totally disagree with their methods of being in front of abortion clinics.

Their leaders would pick up the Bible, get as close as they can on the public easement, typically near windows or doors of the clinic, and yell out Scripture.  And they would read (ie. yell) the verses that really highlighted God's wrath (ie. justice) because of sin, which abortion is a very grave sin. Or sometimes they would yell out some of the more hopeful verses of God's love and mercy, but still yelling with a vibe of malice.

I'm not a fan of this type of pro-life witnessing because it causes potential clients to put up walls and be closed off to our sidewalk counselors who are genuinely trying to reach out to the women needing help (without yelling at them). That whole idea of honey is sweeter than vinegar.

I mention this because it leads me to my next favorite verse, from 1 Peter 3:
15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 
Full passage here.

Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.

I wish those pastors would share God's word with those women with gentleness and reverence.

I like these verses because it reminds me that I should always be prepared to defend my faith (ie. the hope that is in me) but in a charitable way.  I've had my debates, mostly on social media, about aspects of my Catholic faith, and my pursuit of apologetics in knowledge and skill has taught me to be better about gentleness with reverence for seeing Christ in others that I'm debating with. I haven't arrived, but I'm constantly striving to be better!

Too easy it is to let emotions run high and let misguided words turn sour quickly.

I just have to know and remember that I can respond to my riled up emotions in a gentle, peaceful way when defending my faith. If the other party decides to get the very least I've done my part.

Because of my own pursuit of Catholic apologetics and my involvement in ministries, I also try to remind my fellow Catholics of these verses.

Come, Holy Spirit. Strengthen the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord within me. Perfect in me the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. With You, I pray that I'm always prepared to spread and defend my faith in word and deed with gentleness and reverence.

- JD

Ask A Catholic A Question member with visitor // St. Mary's AggieCAT

Monday, February 23, 2015

Favorite Verses: Day 3

First of all, it amuses me greatly when people use Ephesians 5: 24 to make some sort of radical feminist case. Here for your reading pleasure:
24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.
You can easily see how verse 24 standing on its own seems extremely troubling, especially with our modern sensibilities. And self-proclaimed pro interpreters of the Bible whose own interpretive authority eclipses everyone else's never seem to read on towards my next favorite passage:
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; 33 however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

We have such crappy examples in our culture of what love is and how to love. I grow weary of the unsatisfying examples of love that I encounter out there because it's not what I yearn for, and it's not how I want to love others.

Then I look to Christ. I see how He loved the Church, His Bride.

Through everything He taught...through His sorrowful Passion and death...We, as Christians, have the model of authentic, real, genuine love. Self-sacrificial love. A love that is absolutely free, total, faithful, and fruitful.

As I desire to be a husband and father one day, I know that I genuinely desire my future wife's ultimate good, no matter my cost. I want to love her just as Christ loves His Church.

No amount of shades of grey will ever satisfy my pursuit of Love.

So I look to the Cross, the Christ. There, I can ponder the mystery of Love, to know Love, to receive Love...and because of all this...I desire to share that Love.

Lord Jesus Christ, you gave your life for us, your Church, as an act of your infinite love. A love that is truly free, total, faithful, and fruitful. A love that bears great fruit. I pray for the grace to look to You and to love like You. Teach me how to love others, and by Your holy will, my future wife too. 

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

- JD

Christ on the cross from The Passion // DSD O'Connor's blog

Sunday, February 22, 2015

In Sickness And In Health

Last year, my housemates and I started a tradition of Bro Night Tuesday's. Basically, it was a designated night for us to hang out as a household because our schedules were all over the place.

One particular Tuesday, it was only me and one of my other housemates who were available to hang out. He pitched the idea of going to visit his grandfather in rehab and then going downtown nearby for dinner. I was totally down for the idea! I know my housemate previously told me how earlier in the year his grandfather had some bad health issues that resulted in him going into rehab. At that time, he recently had another health scare so my housemate really wanted to visit him.

I have decent experience in visiting nursing homes for the sick and elderly. But that's with the specific mission of ministering the Holy Eucharist and praying with my residents. This visit with my housemate was simply just that--a visit.

We go, we arrive, and we go to his grandfather's room. His grandmother was also there.

I got to meet my housemate's grandparents, and that was truly wonderful. I got to talk to his grandfather for a bit, and much of the time I stood in the background listening to my housemate and grandmother talk to him. Here before me lay a frail, elderly man but despite that, I truly experienced his full personality, mind, and wisdom. His mind was still sharp though his body slow.

What really resonated with me, and still does, is seeing my housemate's grandmother interact with her husband. I could tell that she was tired, and I know she visited him every day. Even then, with such tender love and care she made sure her husband was comfortable and got what he needed whether it was sips of water or readjustment of leg positions among other things.

I don't know that my words can adequately illustrate what clicked in my mind. But here in that rehab room that day, I experienced what authentic, married love looks like.

Those marriage vows found in Catholic wedding ceremonies came to mind. Something to the effect of: have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
In sickness and in health.

That offering of self for the good of the beloved, in particular when the beloved is in a time of sickness and suffering.

We live in such a throwaway culture in regards to love. It's difficult to find beautiful examples of what authentic, self-sacrificial love looks like. For me to have this bro night and witness this brief, beautiful example of my housemate's grandparents gave me a lot of hope and desire to love my future wife in such a self-sacrificial way.

In sickness and in health.
- JD

My housemate's grandfather passed away weeks later after our bro night visit. He converted to Catholicism just a few days before passing away.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Holding hands // The Guardian

Favorite Verses: Day 2

The archangel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary six months after her cousin, Elizabeth, conceives John the Baptist. Gabriel had previously visited Elizabeth's husband, Zechariah, letting him to know that they will conceive a child despite their old age and Elizabeth being barren.

When Gabriel visits Mary, he acknowledges that she is "full of grace"or "highly favored". He brings her the message that she shall conceive the Lord's son who shall be named Jesus. The Holy Spirit will overshadow her.

This sets up my next favorite verses from Scripture.

When the angel Gabriel presents this announcement, this annunciation, his parting words are:
36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
And her reply is so beautiful:
38...“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Full passage here.

I just have to type it out (copy/paste...) in Latin too because it sounds cool:
ecce ancilla Domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum
This is her "yes!".  Her great amen. Or as we say...her fiat--her powerful, resounding yes that gives us hope for salvation because through her yes we are given our Lord Jesus Christ.
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. (Nicene Creed)

I'm a big fan of Luke 1: 38 because it shows Mary's humility, obedience, and disposition to do God's will. She said yes!

So to have Mary as model example of what it looks like to follow God's will is important for me. Really, she's a model for all of us Christians because we are called to follow God's will taking up our crosses.

Man, I have such struggles following God's will. Or sometimes even desiring to do God's will. Lord, let my will be done according to my word. Yeah, that never works out. My crosses have been hardest to bear when I'm more concerned with my own will than God's will. And so I strive to look at Mary's example to remember that whenever God asks me to endure something major (or even something minor), I know that I can say "yes!".

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of Mary and for her yes. I pray for the gift of your graces so that I may respond to those graces in order that I follow your will, which out of your love for me, is what is best for me. All this I pray, as well as the prayer that honors your mother,
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
- JD

The Annunciation by Caravaggio // Wikipedia
Mary and Jesus from The Passion // No Ordinary Love Ministries

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Favorite Verses: Day 1

A friend of mine on Facebook tagged me in a challenge yesterday to post my favorite Bible verses each day for the next week.

Of course I was like...

It would give me a good excuse to use my blog to do this challenge as well as providing me an opportunity to ease back into posting blog posts because I've been gone for a while.

As I was returning home from work yesterday, driving home in silence, and thinking about my favorite verses, I decided that I cannot do this without first expressing a Disclaimer that will help explain where I'm coming from in doing this challenge.

I find it largely dissatisfying when people post Bible verses with A) no explanation why they are posting it, and B) not really considering the context, either within the passage or Scripture as a whole. Therefore, not only will I post my favorite verses (or even passages), but explain why through a some sort of contextual lens.

As largely tempting as it is for me to enter into lengthy theological explanations based on Scripture as I do this, I will reserve such opportunities for another time.  I don't have the time. Here, I simply just want to explain why these verses are my favorite.

Revised Standard Version(-Catholic Edition) is my preferred Bible translation for this blog and for study.  

With that said, let me kick off with my first favorite passage, from John 6:
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” 
Full passage here.

But this passage from John 6 finds greater meaning in the Last Supper, pictured above, whereby Jesus broke bread and shared a cup with his closest friends.

As recorded by St. Luke:
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Passage here.

Because of Jesus' teaching regarding how He is the Bread of Life--His very own flesh and blood--we have the Eucharist. We Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist: body, blood, soul, and divinity.


These passages are my favorite because the Eucharist is so central to my Christian life. Without the Eucharist, there's no need for me to be Catholic. If the Eucharist wasn't really Jesus, then Catholicism is a total sham.

We say the Eucharist is the "source and summit of our Catholic faith" (well yeah, because it's Jesus, who should be our source and summit of our Christian faith!). Through the Eucharist, everything else flows.

Jesus talking about Himself as the Bread of Life isn't symbolism. It's not a parable.

I mean, at face value this teaching is difficult. Without a greater understanding of God's divine revelation even from Old Testament times, it doesn't make sense. Even his disciples found difficulty with this and couldn't take it. Jesus didn't stop them. Jesus didn't retract or explain further.

So because of the Gospel, early Christians celebrated the Eucharist in remembrance of Him. To this day, the Catholic Church maintains that same teaching and understanding of Jesus' revelation and institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

Because of the Catholic Church and her understanding of the Eucharist, I'm able to encounter Jesus in a very literal way. He revealed Himself truly present in the Eucharist to me one time in high school during Adoration. It finally clicked for me that the Eucharist is Jesus in that moment, though I wasn't able to figure that out on my own. Suddenly I knew this is real. Since then, I've had very real and profound encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist through Mass and Adoration. Not every encounter I have with the Eucharist is met with warm fuzzies. Sometimes they are spiritually dry. But praise God for His graces, consolations, and desolations for drawing me nearer to Him through the Eucharist!

Because of Jesus' teaching on how He is the Bread of Life and His institution of the Eucharist for us to remember Him by (in the celebration of Mass, a re-presentation of the Last Supper) and because I've had real and profound encounters with the Eucharist, I cannot help but approach Him with love and reverence. I go to Him in the Eucharist with my woes, my anxieties, my faults, my successes, my joys, my love, my...entire self.  And there He is with His entire self in the Eucharist. Pretty awesome that we have this great gift in the Church!

So yeah. John 6 and the Last Supper passages are my first favorite because the Eucharist is so important to me. He is the bread of life. He is the blood of life.

I hunger. I thirst.
- JD

Barney, challenge accepted meme // Grog Blog
The Last Supper by da Vinci // Wikipedia

The Blog Break I'm Now Returning From

During the past few years, January through March tends to be a super busy time for me. I kind of disappeared from social media in general because everything happened.

Things like...

...attending the Texas Rally For Life.

...going on a snowboarding trip for five days.

...spending lots of time preparing for our annual Confirmation retreats.

...spending whatever free time I have helping my parents transition places of residence.

...increased responsibilities at home which includes cooking, cleaning, and upkeep.

Now, the dust has settled. Kind of. Lots more upcoming stuff to keep me busy.

If I could just bi-locate...


Will Return // PSD Graphics