Thursday, September 23, 2010

One of my great loves is world music.

Not that I have much time to put into it.

Indeed, I have only just discovered, quite by accident, that there is an official 2010 FIFA song. I also like techno/dance/electronic music, so, for your listening and viewing pleasure, I present to you Shakira's official 2010 FIFA video and a re-make that's more dance-y (you should watch them both in the highest definition):

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If you are a woman in the Atlanta area who is looking for a Courage group...

...check out the Atlanta Women of Courage web site!

Information on Courage is here, and contact info for the Atlanta Women's group is here.

Courage is a Catholic apostolate (evangelicals would use the word "ministry"), but it is open to non-Catholics who are striving to live chaste lives while dealing with same-sex attractions.

It has been a great help to me and to some of my friends (the Catholic SSA ones, of course).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Living with SSA.

It can be quite a challenge! I find myself in a back and forth between despair and hope. That is sometimes I despair that I'll never learn how to be chaste, that my sexual desires will rule me my entire life, that I'll always put myself in temptation's way, that I'll always use the fact that our entire culture is over-sexualized as an excuse to not take responsibility for my behaviors. Other times I have an exceeding great hope in God's infinite mercy, in His trustworthiness to give me every grace I need to overcome my unchastity, in the helps He gives me through Courage and Courage Online and similar support groups, and in the great priests, family, and friends He's blessed my life with.

For much of this year I've been away from the sacraments and Mass (and have kept up the appearance of it, even to the point of lying to inquirers), but have returned to them in the last month. I can see how much ground I've lost in my battles by not making use of the sacraments: lust is a habit, masturbation is now a more severe compulsion, telling the truth about my attitudes and behaviors is a more difficult thing to do. I know I have grieved the Holy Spirit. My spirit is grieved, too.

I have been to Confession four times in the last month, and I'm grateful for it. I went today. It makes a difference. I'm looking forward to the aggregate of sacramental grace I will receive from it and from the Mass through my frequent reception of them both. Today I also received the added graces of the Anointing of the Sick because, in addition to the spiritual sickness and weakness I experience, I have some physical problems, too: dystonia of the wrist, restless leg syndrome, a prostrate infection, and HPV. Part of the rite consists of praying for those who are sick in nursing homes, hospitals, and other care centers, and also for their caregivers. One thing that made that part particularly meaningful for me is that, because of my work, I was able to picture specific patients and nurses to pray for.

May God, in His infinite mercy and kindness grant me healing, especially healing of the spirit, and grant it to all who are in need of it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Anchoress has a great post about Confession.

Read the entire thing here.

If you were to ask me my favorite sacrament, it would be a tie between Confession and the Eucharist!

Quoting the Anchoress's quote of David Mill's Inside Catholic article:

. . . we need to recover the use of the word “confession,” while quietly dropping “the sacrament of reconciliation.” We need to hear the blunt word, because, before everything else, we want to say, “I did this and I’m really sorry.” That’s the appeal of confession, the chance to get it all out in the open. To emphasize the result is a bit like renaming the emergency room the “healing center.” It’s true, but not as helpful or as encouraging as you’d think, particularly when you really have an emergency.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Christopher Hitchens discusses prayer in a recent article.

Update, 9/5/10:
A great article about this situation (much better than mine which is just random thoughts that occurred to me during my reading of "Unanswerable Prayers") from Wesley J. Smith at First Things's Secondhand Smoke blog. I completely agree with this: "But I also think that to force prayers on an atheist is to not support the person as he or she is, but to be prideful, by using the ill person’s illness to make oneself feel virtuous. If one wishes to pray for such a person, by all means do, but in the closet. If God is there, he will hear the prayer."

Continuing my post:
Perhaps it would be better to say that he discusses people who are praying for him and their reasons for doing so. [Article here.]

I'm one of those people, although I'm not one of the many who have written or e-mailed him to inform him of that fact. So many people have such odd ideas about prayer. Despite the fact that I've been a Christian for 32 years now ("Saved at the age of four!" as the Baptists would say), I certainly don't think I know everything there is to know about prayer. It is a mystery. I hope I know enough to keep from making some of the mistakes reflected by people in Hitchens's article.

Not technically a prayer (posted on a presumably Christian web site:

"Who else feels Christopher Hitchens getting terminal throat cancer [sic] was God’s revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme him?"

Well, I don't. And I'm ashamed of you for doing so!

The post continues:

"Atheists like to ignore FACTS. They like to act like everything is a “coincidence”. Really? It’s just a “coincidence” [that] out of any part of his body, Christopher Hitchens got cancer in the one part of his body he used for blasphemy? Yea, keep believing that Atheists. He’s going to writhe in agony and pain and wither away to nothing and then die a horrible agonizing death, and THEN comes the real fun, when he’s sent to HELLFIRE forever to be tortured and set afire."

What is wrong with this idiot? Rejoicing in someone's (potential) eternal damnation? Somehow I missed that in the Gospels. Let us pray for that particular poster to have a change of heart, lest he/she "likewise perish".

Hitchens asks, "… would this anonymous author want his views to be read by my unoffending children, who are also being given a hard time in their way, and by the same god?"

Unfortunately, I can think of several people, all of whom, interestingly, are Fundamentalist Christians, who would indeed want his children to read that post because it might warn them of their presumable fate. I used to be one of them. Thankfully,  because of God's grace, I know better now. Let us pray that Christians who hold this or similar views will repent, lest they "all likewise perish".

Hitchens writes: "Almost all men get cancer of the prostate if they live long enough: it’s an undignified thing but quite evenly distributed among saints and sinners, believers and unbelievers. If you maintain that god awards the appropriate cancers, you must also account for the numbers of infants who contract leukemia. Devout persons have died young and in pain. Bertrand Russell and Voltaire, by contrast, remained spry until the end, as many psychopathic criminals and tyrants have also done. These visitations, then, seem awfully random."

Indeed, who can know the mind of God? I wish some Christians would stop behaving as though they do. God allows good and bad things to happen to everyone. Let us pray for the grace to accept and endure the hardships that we either are experiencing or that we will experience.

"As with many of the Catholics who essentially pray for me to see the light as much as to get better, they were very honest. Salvation was the main point. 'We are, to be sure, concerned for your health, too, but that is a very secondary consideration. "For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul?" [Matthew 16:26.]' That was Larry Taunton. Pastor Wilson responded that when he heard the news he prayed for three things: that I would fight off the disease, that I would make myself right with eternity, and that the process would bring the two of us back into contact. He couldn’t resist adding rather puckishly that the third prayer had already been answered…"

Let us indeed pray for the healing and conversion of Christopher Hitchens, but let us not make the mistake of thinking "If Hitchens becomes a Christian, just think of all the atheists who will have to reexamine their beliefs and become Christians, too!" Very often, God does great works for the hidden sanctification of individual souls. We tend to think that a grand, public witness does great good for God's kingdom, but I think many of our attempts do great harm (televangelism, for example). The early Christians were known for their charity and their chastity. In America, Christians are known for being against abortion and against "gay rights". Perhaps the primary reason we're "losing the culture war" is that we are no longer known for our charity? How often do we talk about "loving the sinner and hating the sin" while demonstrating hate for the sin and no compassion for the sinner? I'm just as guilty. Let us pray that we all may grow in the virtues, lest we "all likewise perish."