A Gift? More Like an Invitation 

When I first began teaching right out of college in 2013, I worked a low-paying teaching job with two classes , morning and evening. Thankfully,  it was all for public service. 

While at this organization,  I had a coworker who occasionally gave me rides to our weekly Friday meeting at home office.  On our commute,  we would chat about many things such as politics, our passionate social causes , and Christianity. At the time, I was a very strong Protestant, so in our conversations I managed to sneak in small bits about my beliefs. 

Apparently,  she must’ve been a Catholic because one day she said “I have a book I want to give you” and I gladly accepted her gift. To my surprise,  it was a book called Answering A Fundamentalist. Essentially, it’s a introductory book on answering objections from Protestants.   Initially,  I didn’t pay attention to it. I read the table of contents, and figured she was trying to persuade me away from my beliefs, but I accepted her gift because she was a very kind hearted person. I Wasn’t offended at all.

Anyways, I glanced over the book many times and didn’t pay attention to the proofs. I didn’t receive an “aha” lightbulb moment for many years after I received the book. Occasionally in my spiritual studying,  I’d read the book and glance through chapters that had similarities to beliefs I was familiar with in my faith tradition. At times, I’d read the other chapters about , let’s say, the Magisterium and wouldn’t be convinced. Similarly,  I did this with the catechism I purchased in the fall of 2014 too. Picked the portions I knew were essential to the faith, and ignored or attempted to read the ones that were foreign to me.

Fast forward to now

When I look back at the title of the book, I kind of giggle a bit. Considering what I know how a fundamentalist is portrayed by a few Catholics,  I ask myself “was I really like that to her?” It’s funny to reflect and poke fun at yourself from time to time.

When I reflect back on the last 4.5 years I can definitely see this book was the first encounter with Catholicism I had. I appreciate it’s simplicity and concise answers with not a lot of technical advanced scholarship. The average chapter is 9-10 (some shorter) pages unlike many books I own that are 20-30 pages that deal with Catholic apologetics. This book managed to capture all their heavy  information while using economy of language (term we use in teaching that means use fewer words to get across clarity in your message). Accessible for beginners, but not rudimentary for those that are well learned or advanced in the faith.

This book is very sentimental to me. It was a gift,  but most importantly an invitation to experience God in the one, holy, catholic,  and apostolic Church. No greater love than that which seeks the best for another. Now,  I read it from time to time and always find something more interesting than the last time. 

What a great earthly gift, with an eternal reward, and divine invitation to fellowship. 


Why Our Past Matters to God

As Christians, we sometimes are forgetful of God’s involvement in our past.  We can become so fixated with our present condition and are obsessed with our future that we don’t stop to realize God’s provisions of our yesterday. 

Throughout the Old Testament, it is replete with references with God constantly reminding Israel about their redemption out of bondage from Egypt to have them as His chosen nation (Deu 29:2, Josh 2:10, 1 Kings 8:9, Jer 2:6, Hos 12:13, Amos 2:10, Mic 6:4). 

A reason why God emphasized the significance of Israel’s past was to stress how important their redmeption was correlated with the covenant of Israel’s patriarchs (Ex 3:15-17) and later with the Mosiac covenant (Ex 19:3-6).  He wanted them to never forget how powerful he was for them in the past and how he would be faithful to Israel in the future (Deu 1:30). 

When we stop to consider the many signs done to Pharaoh and the division of the sea, these miracles attested to God’s work in deliverance for those whom God sees as his possession (Ps 91:14-15). Centuries had gone by since Israel left Egypt, but God reminded them constantly about His covenant relationship by their redemption.
 Those days have long passed, yet the application remains the same. The Soverign Eternal God who has caused us to be born again to a living hope (1 Pet 1:3) desires us to remember his past miracles in our lives so that we may serve and worship him better daily. 
It’s those moments when our crosses are too heavy that we shouldn’t retreat from God, but instead draw closer to him and remember all that he has done.

When we stop to think about all the miracles in the past, all the underserved blessings, his fine care for our lives, it is evident that God truly will help us throughout any struggle. In moments of despair we tend to throw our hands up in defeated groans. Then, we embrace a teeter-totter embrace of God’s love and faithfulness. However, In these moments, remember that the same God who fought for us in the past and ransomed us from our futile ways will strengthen us in the present to ultimately give us victory in the future which is the salvation of our souls

Thoughts on the Moral Life 

In the mid to late 00s, I remember glancing  through my favorite monthly subscription  magazine and noticing an album titled The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me. I thought the title was very peculiar.  I wasn’t much religious at all , but the blending of a religious title in a rock magazine caught my eye.

Since then, I understand further and more deeper a practical understanding of this title. When referring to Christian moral life,  the title seems to convey the ultimate struggle Christians face, the balance between moral freedom and responsibility. 

The moral life is such a deep thought provoking topic! Considering that there are many philosophies on morality, free will, and human nature and all of these popular thoughts collide with each other. But what does the Church authoritatively teach on such matters for us to know for our lives as Christians?

A key point about the moral life is that since the Creator himself is the highest good, we are created with a desire for goodness by bearing his image. This means we have rational and logic to discern truth.  Internally,  we have conscience that is demanding we follow the objective law of God. Externally,  the Commandments,  Scripture,  and Tradition all our there to form our conscience in unity with God’s grace.

As the psalmist said “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart (37.4). Interestingly, goodness equates to following and obeying God which ultimately leads to happiness. For example,  Adam and Eve were made to experience blissful beatitude in the garden with God by simply following his commands. Before the fall, man enjoyed a wonderful intimacy of happiness with God. What a marvelous event!

On the flip side, God created man with free will to choose good and avoid evil. He didn’t create robots or string puppets , but instead agents with choice. Adam and Eve both had free will, a choice to obey or disobey God. Unfortunately,  they chose their freedom to choose evil which is how original sin came to be. By their choice of choosing evil, they forfeited the pleasure of being spiritually alive. Therefore since we all share in the unity of the human race from Adam, him being the original ancestor therefore we all share in his sin as descendants. 

Although original sin hasn’t wholly tainted our will, it does incline our will to be under influence to choose sin over goodness and experience suffering. This internal struggle over choosing good and evil is the one we all face.  If they were tempted in the garden, we can only imagine what really lurks in our society with literally thousands of mediums and devices demanding hearts.

Which brings us to a very important key point on freedom and responsibility. It’s our duty as moral creatures to use our freedom as a means of restoring the goodness we’re striving to attain on our quest to be perfect. By choosing to do good, we are slaves to goodness rather than sin thereby weakening the influence of sin in our life.  

Seeking to do good, implies the acts we perform are important, therefore our acts need to be good. Our object  (what we do), intentions (how we do it) and circumstances all have to align to ensure we’re engaged in good moral acts.

If I choose to volunteer at a local men’s shelter (good object), but am only doing it because I can get notoriety from a local news showcase  (bad intention) my act is flawed. My intention weakens the goodness of the act. Often times we hear horrible ends (abortion or theft) with a good intention (not cause a woman poverty or helping alleviate poverty), but even that’s flawed because it’s violates the commandments of respecting our neighbors goods and murdering life. Some acts are intrinsically evil, aside from any influence and inherently naturally bad. We should avoid those!

Moreover, when we discuss sin, venial and mortal, we begin to assume more responsibility for our actions. We can choose to destroy charity and severe our ties with God through knowingly and deliberately choosing sin (mortal) or storing up smaller offenses (venial) that eventually turn into large scale offenses.

 The goal of the moral life as a Christian boils down to virtues or vices.

Do you want to be a saint? Practice good habits. Want to lose God’s love? Continue to choose those habits that are destructive or weaken God’s power.

In all, the moral life is something we all have to learn and grow at; as a result,  patience with the Holy Spirit is essential. No over night changed life results. This is something I need to take heed for my own struggles at times that I feel won’t go away and creep in. Im respond like “(sigh)….not you go again” 
The more you from your conscience,  the better equipped you are to grow in virtues.

Reflections on Martha (Luke 10:38-42)

Remember that scene in Scripture when Jesus visits Martha and Mary. One decides to sit at the foot of Jesus, while the other is attending to hospitality probably cooking and cooking.

After so much time of tending to her own duties, she finally turns and directs Jesus to push Mary to help her. Jesus warmly tells her that Mary decided to do what’s  right,  that is seek intimacy with Jesus rather than being anxious about things around her. Even though I’m sure Martha loved Jesus,  she chose to do something minor than behold the Son of God in a close manner.

 Interestingly,  Jesus often communicated that his call demands obedience on the spot. When he called Matthew,  he left his post. When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they left their job as a fisherman to follow him. In a recent daily reading,  Jesus response to kid who needed to bury his dead relative was essentially the same message; my authority and obedience transcends your earthly priorities.  

Far too often,  we allow our earthly priorities to override seeking closeness of God. We (even myself at times) will say ” I’ll get to it later” then later gets pushed back to an hour then all you want is one more our of free time then next thing you know you forgot to pray, attend mass,  read the scriptures, read the catechism  or whatever your devotion is.

I challenge you (and myself) to abandon our inclination to subvert our intimacy with God. Find a balance between intimacy and your freedom in Christ. Practicing temperance helps us moderate our desire for pleasure but helps us maintain a healthy balance as we use our Christian freedom. The person who practices this understands why too much pleasure is disastrous and why self-mastery is needed. It’s not that God wants us to live boring lives, but God wants us to experience the joy he offers when we foster intimacy with him. Just like many who think the commandments are boring list of do’ s and dont’ s from a cosmic killjoy; on the contrary,  loving God and neighbor brings us true happiness!

Though you may not be in an Abbot or can dedicate hours to prayer and reading such as those that are in religious life,  we all can consider small practical things in our lives to help us learn and communicate with God. St. Peter Claver stayed up in the morning hours to pray while the world was asleep. Maybe you can’t fulfil his shoes (because those are exactly his shoes God created for him and not you), but at least you can offer morning prayers to God. Maybe set an alarm through your day to keep the habit of praying daily. Consider,  reading at night whether the bible or catechism or even the works from the Saints.

Regardless of what we do, make sure the end is always fellowship with God.

Thoughts on Religious Liberty 

If you remember the April 1991 Easter Mass in Lvov,  Ukraine, then what a magnificent event this was I imagine.  This was the first of its kind in 43 years. The Communist government returned the authority of the Church back to the Catholics and the towns people came in hundreds. Complete with processions , hours of liturgy, hymns, partaking of the Eucharist,  the people of Ukraine were filled with immeasurable joy!

When I think about religious suppression, I’m reminded of its various forms it can take. Some are very noticeable,  some are very strict, some are defenseless,  but in America it’s becoming more regulated to private individual beliefs.

In recent years,  more and more politicians have inclined themselves to endorse Freedom of worship than freedom of religion. The latter is more inclusive to all parts of an individual’s life,  while the new is strictly private. 

The logic of freedom of worship , I think, was recently most summed up by CA Sate Senator Scott Weiner. In response to CA new law of placing fines on those who disagree with gender pronouns for the elderly, Townhall quoted him saying, 
“Everyone is entitled to their religious view,” Wiener said….But when you enter the public space, when you are running an institution, you are in a workplace, you are in a civil setting, and you have to follow the law.”

In contrast,  Jesuit Fr. Thomas Rease , Senior Analyst of National Catholic Reporter and Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), defined freedom of religion as , “It includes worship but also the right of believers to evangelize, change their religion, have schools and charitable institutions, and participate in the public square.”

When I reflect on freedom of worship,  im amazed by what a bizarre concept it really is if fulfilled to it’s end. This view is so out of touch with many Americans and institutions who hold beliefs that guide and dictate their conscience. It tells me “you practice what you want in the confines of your synagogue,  mosque, or church , but don’t you dare share that with anyone or let it inform how you think where you go.”

Im reminded of last year in CA and their attempts to infringe on religious freedom. CA attempted to impose new regulations in post-secondary institutions  that would violate their religious freedom. If SB 1146 would’ve passed, the law could possibly strip faith-based schools of state funds if they didn’t adhere to state regulations on non-discriminatory practices. Many of these new practices would violate freedom of religion, their deeply held mission statements, and code of conduct for students and staff. 

People of faith and non-Christians who care about religious freedom were outraged. Thankfully,  the bill didn’t pass, but what’s stopping something like this from happening in other state or even at the federal level?

At the heart of this debate is conscience, the internal objective law of God that isn’t created by us in our minds that we must obey.  To what extent does the role of conscience impact our daily lives?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1778 says , ” Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right.” 

Therefore, we’re mandated to obey the greater law of God than follow civil law that goes contrary to truth. We see this multiple times in scripture,  from Rahab hiding the spies by lying, the three young men in the Book of Daniel refusing to bow down to a king, or even the Apostles refusing to listen to the Jewish leaders requesting they stop preaching about Jesus Christ. 

When I reflect back on some of the major  religious liberty cases in the last 7 years, they all revolve around conscience and freedom of religion vs freedom of worship.  Business owners can’t operate their industry by their faith,  employers have to violate natural law to accommodate employees on contraception, and even colleges can’t provide opportunities to students of low-income or minority backgrounds because their code of conduct is somehow discriminatory. 

When I think about Pope Saint John Paul II , I can’t think of a stronger modern defender globally of freedom of religion. He realized that human dignity,  being made in the image of God, and humans having the right to seek the Creator was a right everyone is endowed with.

Considering he saw the devastation of persecuted Jews in his native Poland , religious suppression and persecution of many believers in his pontificate really gave him much power to speak authoritatively on the subject. In his World Day of Peace speech in 1988,  He called freedom of religion , “an essential requirement of the dignity of every person, is a cornerstone of the structure of human rights, and for this reason an irreplaceable factor in the good of individuals and of the whole of society, as well as of the personal fulfilment of each individual.” 

He later went on to say that infringing religious freedom damages peace, which should be a no brainer for many people.  Unfortunately,  freedom of worship is a subtle form of religious discrimination that is rampant in many parts of the country. We most advocate and do more to ensure that our voices and beliefs are “Coming out” and approved just as much as those in the GLBT community.  

Suggestions for Accommodating Student Work

When I first began working for my district last year, hearing words like “accommodated” and “modified” really scared me. Previously,  I  worked in various teaching roles and never thought about what it means to reach all learners,  especially special pops such as English Language Learners (ELL) and students with IEP (Individualized Education Program)

My district is an inclusive education setting, where those that are ESL and have IEPs are integrated into the classroom with general ed. Students. At first, this was sort of weird because I was used to separate classrooms for ESL and IEP students (both depending on the scale of their disability and English proficiency level). Saying things like “reaching all learners ” definitely sounded like a stretch given that I had a classroom with diverse needs.

In Texas , we use Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS)  to assess students with limited English proficiency in reading, writing,  and speaking.  Students can be placed in beginner,  intermediate,  advanced,  advanced high depending on their individual performance. On a IEP, this can vary significantly from student to student and their own academic goals agreed upon by stakeholders such as school staff, parents, and students.

Given that my district is inclusive setting,  we have to constantly think of accommodations that can be useful for all not just a select few.  This is great because worksheets or strategies that can work for one student can apply to all your students. This is great for educational equity!

Reflecting on last year, regrettably I didn’t do as many accommodations as I should’ve done , but there were a few that always came in handy on a daily basis. However,  after doing tons of research, speaking to other teachers,  and being 7 weeks into my 2nd year in my current role, accommodating seems like a natural thing.

Here are a few things that you can do to accommodate those special pops in your class that can easily be given to all students.

1. Spanish dictionary or English dictionary

Have these readily available to students. Students have choice about which language they are most proficient in because choice is always great. Ideally,  we would want to teach context clues,  but instead not 100% of students will demonstrate consistent mastery on questions such as “using reference material” objective on a standardized test, so providing that extra support in either language is helpful for vocabulary acquisition.

2. Making copies of English and Spanish material

This is a good tool for students. Depending on what language they’re most comfortable with,  they can still read an article just as those who are native English readers. I usually place the copies side by side and inform students as they enter about one is Spanish and the other is English. Yes , its extra paper I use, but depending on that student it might help them read an article better. Newsela is an amazing website with tons of informational text that are translated in English and Spanish.
3. Provide an article with less words

This could be an article with reduced reading level or you manually going through the article and simplifying the vocabulary to better smooth fluency while reading. Again, Newsela is an amazing website that has non-fiction articles based on 4 different reading levels:3rd grade, 5th grade , 8th grade, and maybe it’s an upper high school grade. Depending on the article,  I’ll print a 3rd grade one for lower readers and a 5th grade copy with copied & pasted phrases from the 8th grade article to ensure they’re reading rigorous text.  Both the articles still convey the same information,  only the how is changed.
4. Provide list of words as they read 

Fast mapping,  giving the definition of a word as they appear, is good. However, when students are reading independently,  which is most of the time, I try to create simple definitions for words I know they’ll stumble over. For example,  if the word in the text is “ambiguous ” I will put an asterisk next to the word  and write “something unclear.” Surprisingly. This helps students a lot while they reach all learners

5. Bold main phrases in paragraphs 

Bolding words in the paragraph can help students pick up on main ideas of what the story is instead of reading a 20 paragraph story.

In sum, reaching all learners is critical at how we help prepare the next generation of students into a world with global competition and skills are a must have. Again, whatever could be used for one could potentially be used for all.  To me, this is the most fair way to assist those that are struggling. It would be a grave mistake for us as educators to withhold or shortchange those we’ve been entrusted to

Did Jesus Go To Hell?

In one of the symbols of the faith, the Apostles creed, it states ”  He [Jesus Christ] descended into hell.” Was this the literal hell we all hear so much about for the damned or was it a different place?

Much has been said about this verse. Using the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 632-637) and the Compendium of the Catechism  (paragraph 125) we’ll establish well rounded background information to help clarify this common misconception about an ambiguous phrase in the creed. 

2 Eternal Destinations

When we discuss Last Things , there are only 2 places ultimately we all can go. Heaven or hell. 

Heaven is where the faithful can experience perfect beatitude, happiness,  with the Holy Trinity.  Essentialy, its eternal happiness where we are surrounded by angels, the saints, and Mary. The original design  that Adam fractured is again made anew for us that seek to know and Love God. In this eternal state, man is in communion with the Holy Trinity; in addition, man can embrace the greatness of the beatific vision, the splendor and joy of knowing intimacy with the God.

On the contrary, hell is for those that willingly chose to deny God’s invitation to fellowship and obedience. Its not a place that God has destined humans to enter before their birth, but instead a place that humans make a choice to enter in. Heaven is happiness and beatific vision; on the contrary,  hell is an absence of love and happiness. Heaven is an eternal fellowship with God; on the other hand, hell is a eternal isolation from the awe-inspiring joy of God.

Definition of Terms

When hell is being used in the both treatments to refer to the place of the abode of the dead. These inhabitants could be righteous or sinners. These people in this state are deprived of God. 

 In Hebrew the word “sheol” and Greek word  “hades” convey this world for these dead individuals. Also, in the new testament “gehenna” is translated for hell to convey a similar realm for those departed souls.

What the Creed Actually Means

When we combine ALL of what’s been said we actually come up with a very great explanation that reveals the extent of God’s mercy.

When Jesus died,  his death was surely a literal  death. He descended into hell , place for departed beings, to reveal his saving plan to those awaiting their Redeemer. He didn’t go into hell to free those that were awaiting punishment,  but instead gave the light of salvation to the just that awaited his coming. St. Peter notes that Jesus proclaimed the Gospel to the imprisoned spirits (1 Pet 3:19). Jesus did this so that those waiting in anticipation could have the doors of heaven opened for them. 

Thankfully,  as the creed continues we learn that Jesus ascended into glorification to the Father.  Therefore,  death had totally lost its power over Jesus in the Resurrection.

It’s so great and full of joy to hear that God’s message of salvation extends beyond the living and reaches the dead. Truly, it is a message that seeks to be inclusive as possible leaving no one behind. 

Thoughts on Iconoclasm 

In former Protestant churches I attended, rarely did I notice pictures or designs within the walls of the Church. Some mandatory things that were in the Church were a empty cross, a Lord’s Supper picture, and maybe a Black Jesus portrait. For the most part, these churches I sat in week after week were really white walls and space. 

It wasn’t until I started attending mass and becoming a Catholic that I got the experience that I longed to see which was a church engraved with stories and art.

 During Christmas season, I stepped into a nearby parish for Wednesday evening mass and was encountered by the pastor who was seated on a pew. Him and another guy was speaking, and there the three of were in an empty church. I spent most of my time observing the statues of the saints and the stations of the cross depiction on the walls. At the altar, was the tabernacle.  Never had I really been in a space with so much spiritual things. It was a complete 180 for me. I was wholly intrigued!

As I’ve visited other parishes, I’m always fascinated by the beauty and depth of their icons and stained glass windows with their detailed depictions of saints and the ministry of Jesus on earth.  When I see them, I can’t help but be in awe at their design. I heard it said best by an Eastern Orthodox blogger “the Bible is the faith in words, Icons are the faith in pictures.” 

Honestly, many non-Catholics find icons and statues disturbing. Almost as if it is idolatry the way Catholics adorn themselves in scapulars, a rosary, pictures of saints and other aids for faith. If we’re being honest, there have been times when someone’s loved one has died, you can hear them say “I know they’re up In the sky praying for me. ”  Or at times you might  see a photo of their departed family member as a reminder of their impact in that person’s  life. Little do non-Catholics know that they somewhat too share In the intercession of a saint when they perform these tasks. 

Continuing on the idolatrous nature of icons, Iconoclasm, as the practice of removing images is commonly referred to, isn’t something strange to the history of the Church. For example, the Second Council of Nicea (787) discussed the usage of veneration of icons. Apparently,  there was a dispute in  the Church regarding idolatry and the use of icons for worship.  The Church eventually settled the dispute in an ecumenical council affirming the usage of icons in worship. 

Also, post Protestant Reformation many people ravaged  churches in Europe to rid them of their statues and any sign of veneration to saints.

Iconoclast today aren’t bursting through churches to strip the Church in hostility,  but today it’s done in an entirely new way. This new era of iconoclasm is perpetuated by our cultures attack on Catholicism. In recent years, there has been a number of statue removals and vandalism  across the country due to people being I’ll informed or doing “justice” by attacking “white chauvinist religion.” 

Take for example vandalism of St.Junipero Serra who was an early American saint that performed missions across the west coast toward Native-Americans. During his canonization a few years ago, an intense debate surfaced about the legitimacy of his sainthood due to his participation with colonists who mistreated the natives. Just as most saints that were dedicated to a group such as St. Peter Claver or St. Francis Xavier, Serra showed immense love to the Indians and often times got in conflict with those in authority over their treatment to the Indians. Nonetheless,  his statue was vandalized in California a few years ago, but recently another statue was beheaded with red paint splattered over it.

Saint Louis University in 2015 removed a statue of Pierre Jean De Smet, Jesuit Priest , that depicted him blessing two native Indians. The student’s deemed the statue as a clear showcase of colonialism and culturally insensitivity. 

I read recently in August, that California’s first Catholic school is removing approximately 160 images to appear more inclusive to their student body which is predominantly non-Catholic.

These are all examples of modern day iconoclasm. Just as removing a statue from a museum serves no other purpose than to revise history,  same goes for the history of the Church when the statues and icons are no longer valued. We essentially neglect an entire Body of the Church.

The practice of venerating images, relics, or statues of a saint or martyr is a very ancient practice in Christianity. There is nothing we should fear about embracing those holy righteous friends of God to intercede for us,  giving proper honor to the saints (dulia/hyperdulia NEVER latria which is the praise and adoration reserved for Father, Son, And Holy Spirit), and remembering their lives through pictures. Ultimately,  All these things help us get closer to Jesus Christ. Therefore,  it would be a grave mistake for Catholic institutions to further appease the growing wave of hostility toward Christianity.

The Church has to defend its practices against those that want to strip it’s saints of their honor.

Thoughts on Bumper Stickers


Some months ago, the Catholic Answer apostolate sent a sticker for my support in their fundraising efforts. Within the thank you letter was a very influential comment regarding the use of bumper stickers. In so many words, the author said “people are influenced by bumper stickers, maybe this one will lead other to further investigate the answer the question ‘What’s stopping you from entering the Catholic Church?’“

As I reflected on the contents within the letter, I thought the editor made a point. I reflected on the use of Catholic Answers tracts and Catholic Answers Live podcast that I’ve watched for many years has impacted my lukewarm interest to ultimately crossing the Tiber. I figured that the Church is perhaps one of the most misunderstood longest institutions with various misconceptions on old historical inaccuracies to modern day attacks. If anyone had the answers to these objections, it would be Catholic Answers.

At times, when I see hyper issued stickers, the inquisitive nature in me has to find the deeper meaning of the sticker. Sometimes I’m not phased by them. Personally, I turn down many of them out of sheer repulsion. In order for me to place a statement on the car, It has to be something really deep, captivating, or that moves me to even consider defacing my property. I have never been a fan of bumper stickers. In fact, my years of owning a car, I’ve only placed two bumper stickers on my car. One was a political part sticker (4 years ago) and most recently has been one from Catholic Answers.

Bumper sticker messages are fundamental things many people admire, and it would seem like a natural thing since we’re all created differently. Whatever your interest is there is a sticker for you. If you believe in religious pluralism then you might subscribe to the famed Coexist sticker. If you were “feelin the Bern” then the Bernie Sander’s ticker was and still is popular to you. A popular one I see in local Houston is the 100 Club that provides support to families of first responders or those injured severely in the line of duty.

It’s not so much the stickers that catch my attention, but the messages behind them. Make no mistake that the person with the Baby on Board sticker isn’t just placing it on their car for show, but actually is informing you that “hey, drive responsibly please..my babies life is important.” Granted not all stickers are created equally and have varying degrees of political, social, and religious implications for you as the driver to research.

That to me seems to be the point of a bumper sticker; Not to leave you unchanged, but instead be urged to dig deeper into someone’s statement they published publicly. Find answers! This was the point the Catholic Answers letter was making.

When I reflect on bumper stickers, I can’t help but be punched in the face with how many things place an impression on our lives. Some things I think of that should be prerequisites for bumper stickers:

When placing bumper stickers on your car, make sure the issue will lead people to a deeper moral enhancement.

Ultimately, help people get closer to God’s call to love our neighbor and loving God above all things. For example, I can recall in the last year someone gave me a bumper sticker of highly polarized political candidate. I felt the gift was a thoughtful gesture, but I would never place their sticker on my car. I know that is great way to advocate a candidate and their positions, but would it ultimately serve a larger purpose that would lead others to become righteous in living? Given that the candidate himself was a figure, to a debatable degree, of disunity and inappropriate character, I didn’t want to send the message of hate or love to people who I stand in solidarity with (depending on the issue). Be it a morally just cause, supporter of a specific charity, or even a coexist sticker, these all help us be more inclined to showing mercy and bridging divides; consequently, a society where God’s love is evident.

Avoid profanity, promiscuous, or vulgar messages/illustrations that could cause others to sin

We live in an amped culture. The bare minimum is not acceptable enough. Seems like many mediums are pushing the level of shock value. Whether that be from movies or songs, I notice an unofficial competition amongst many to have the most shocking product. I have seen some pretty nasty and uncharitable stickers. Exercising prudence in a necessity for the moral life, so asking yourself “does this image or illustration influence others in a negative way?” If so, chances are you might need to take it down.

Avoid things that tear down human dignity, worth, and tarnish the Image of God we all have

Things like prostitution, advocating strip clubs, or adult video shops are all definite no no’s. Pornography is a huge problem for millions of American ranging from very young to elderly population. A lot of times pornography industry preys on marginalized women and men, offers them a pseudo lifestyle of glamour, fame, and money, but as a result erode their dignity in the process. We should all be careful to not give support or advocate to these types of interest.

Leave something that leads to make a positive lifestyle change

There are tons of unhealthy habits we have. From eating fast food, to wasting money, or ignoring our improper use of resources. Post things that make the reader more aware of concern for others and concern for our bodies. We get one body, so we should cherish it! A sticker that influences someone to abandon gluttony, perhaps an affirming sticker on healthy eating, would influence someone to reevaluate their lifestyle choices.

I’d like to see bumper stickers reflect more concern and care for our neighbor and God and less on indulgence, pleasure, or messages that keep people from embracing a transformed life. Whether than be a life toward full Communion with God in the Catholic Church or just a better quality of life in general these are things we could all strive to help others find.

Maybe your sticker will be the one that helps someone find the purpose or change their life for the better.

Thoughts on Greek Mythology 

Make no mistake about the influence of Greek mythology on our literature. For centuries,  the stories of epics and tragedy have influenced many authors and great pieces of writing. Despite the gods not actually existing , their stories still resonate with our lives because the people and themes are so memorable. 

Even though Greek mythology isn’t compatible with the Christian Worldview (polytheism vs. monotheism),  there are tons of morals and lessons that are emphasized in the myths that are truths in Christianity. Along with many differences that highlight the stark contrast between the two. 

Let’s examine a similarity. 

In the myth Arachne , it teaches a good message regarding conflict with the gods. This myth tells the story of Arachne who is a very talented weaver. She boasts and brags about being better than Athene , the goddess of arts. Athene mysteriously disguises herself as an old woman to get her to take back her remarks, but Arachne refuses. Suddenly,  Athene comes to challenge Arachne to a weaving contest to prove her wrong. Ultimately,  Athene wins and turns her into a spider for her punishment of claiming equality with the gods.

Also, the myth Daedalus informs us about the error of attempting to be like the gods instead of giving them worship as they deserve.  Daedalus and his son Icarus were held captive by a king. Daedalus, being a brilliant craftsman , decided to make wings to flee the king’s house. Daedalus gave specific instructions to his son that the wings they have are not to be compared to the gods because theirs are far more superior. Daedalus shows the way by flying first off the island, then Icarus follows his fathers steps. Tragically, Icarus disobeys his father’s advice and takes a joy ride in the wings and ultimately gets burned by the sun all under the assumption that he was imitating the gods.

On the surface, these stories are bizarre as heck! But both of them maintain a very important moral for even Christians to follow: That humans are finite and God is beyond our abilities , and far superior in might. 

From Scripture,  we know that God is the Eternal All-Powerful Creator of the universe. He simply spoke and boundless stars, universe, animals, planets, and galaxies came into being (Gen 1: 1-27). In addition, Job emphasized God’s rule and sovereignty we he exclaimed , “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (42:2).”  Against God’s Omnipotence how can man, God’s pinnacle creation, stand up to such a Being? This is the same God that caused those to tremble at His presence (Ex 20:19) , fall to their knees (Lk 5:8), and make mankind realize their overall unworthiness before His holiness (Is 6:5). 

For humans to attempt to compete or outperform tasks ordained by God, its a losing cause. Just as the Psalmist realized that the nations that plot against God are counterproductive and futile because he causes derision and laughs at their plans (Ps 2:4), we too must not attempt to emphasize our humanly pride over God’s power. Lest we make the mistake of those at the Tower of Babel.

Tomorrow,  I will discuss the nature of the gods of polytheism in Greek myths vs. myth monotheistic nature of the Biblical God.