Living Catholicism: Consuming Media As A Christian

In our spare time, are we pursuing what God calls us to do? After work, taking care of family and friends, our homes, etc., we feel we earned a moment to ourselves. So, we plop down on the couch, pick up a book or magazine or the remote to the television, with a sigh, just to unwind. How we spend that relaxing time might be a reflection of our Christian values.

I belong to a book club that likes reading “award winners.” There are a lot of book awards — Pulitzer, Pen/Falkner, National Book Award, Nobel, just to name a few. Some of the books seem “edgy” and vulgar in content and theme. I have attempted to focus more on Christ-like reading and have had great peace. My mom used to remind me to consume the right things, including vegetables. What we “consume” should be good for us. Not only broccoli, but what we read and watch. That is consumption, too.

I have read the Bible many times. The Gospels are my favorite part of the Bible. I react differently each time I break open the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks to me differently each time I read. I think that’s why they call it the “Living Word.” In addition to Scripture, other Christian books and reading about the saints deepen my understanding of faith. I like to read right before I go to sleep. As I focus on Christian reading, my sleep seems more restful.

The same applies to television. My husband and I try to find something that isn’t vulgar or violent to watch on television. It’s a challenge to find something worthwhile. Further temptation
happens on websites and social media.

The more time I spend in consuming books and television programming that help me develop spiritually, the happier I am. Trying to achieve heaven by living an honorable life is my goal.

Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable
and perfect.”

Time on this Earth is short. I want to make the most of my spare time and increase my knowledge and faith in our Lord. So, I’ll consume what I think God wants me to read or watch. Besides, I sleep better, too.

ANN GONSALVES is a wife, mother, free-lance journalist, and volunteer for the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate dedicated to helping persons deepen their relationship with Christ. This column was published August 2016.

Living Catholicism – Changing the Trajectory of Fear

Fear. Today, there is much fear about our country and our world. I was born after 1980, and serve teens in my parish; thus, I’m on the receiving end of much worry. I often hear parishioners and parents ask the million dollar question, “How can we help change the trajectory of future generations?”

Allow me to briefly illustrate my answer. I entered college with a slight case of “stuck-uppishness” not uncommon among youth of any generation. However, that attitude was transformed, as I learned the core value of my Catholic university: servant leadership. “If anyone wishes to be first,” Jesus taught his disciples, “he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:35) Our campus motto was not “fulfill your desires” or “do whatever you want,” but that of the Blessed Mother: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5)

A primary reason for my transformation was the flesh-and-blood Gospel proclaimed by university leaders — lay professors and staff, religious sisters, brothers and priests — who taught this most valuable lesson through the examples of humility and service. They incarnated the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI: “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. […] All Christians are called to this witness, and in this way, they can be real evangelizers.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 21)

The Church is called not to worry, but to fill the world with hope. We are called to live in such a way that our very lives proclaim the meaning of life: “Life is not just a journey; it is a pilgrimage!” The meaning of life is Jesus; he is the way, the truth, and the life. We are called to be Jesus for others.

During my final semester, I was hired by the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Now in my seventh year serving in Catholic evangelization ministry, I am more confident than ever in Paul VI’s wisdom. “Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness.”

Dear concerned parents, fellow Christians, ministry leaders: The most powerful thing you can do is to become a servant. Deepen your relationship with Jesus so much that you are his living presence. This is how to help future generations. We are transformed by love.

Dear young adults looking forward to college life: Remember, your life is not just “about the journey.” Every journey has a starting and ending point. Your life has a purpose. What virtues do you most admire? Look for a school where you find staff, faculty, students, and alumni who embody those virtues. Choose a community that will truly be an alma mater, a nourishing mother, that helps you answer God’s calling for your life. That is how you will truly change the world.

ANGELA SEALANA is ministry coordinator for the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate dedicated to helping persons deepen their relationship with Christ. This column was published July 2016.

Living Catholicism – Importance of Father’s Day

The importance of fatherhood cannot be overstated. Fatherhood is not only about providing for the material needs of a family, it’s also about providing the emotional, physical and spiritual stability that is necessary for the family to be the domestic church, which is God’s plan for our marriages. When we began our lives together as husband and wife, we may not have given much thought to the idea of being a domestic church, nevertheless, in the sacrament of matrimony, the man and woman receive the grace necessary to discover that it is only in their relationship with God can they reach their potential for happiness and wholeness to provide the safe, secure environment the family is meant to be.

Everything begins with God the Father who is the source of all love and all that is good. It is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who will provide what we in our humanity are unable to provide.

One of the wonderful attributes of Almighty God is his patience. “May the God of patience and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus,” (Ro 15:5.) Although he longs for us to come to him early in our life, he waits until we finally realize we can never be complete as individuals or as a family until he becomes our priority.

So, Fathers’ Day is first about God the Father and his great love for us, and then how we as men can become the fathers he intends us to be when we humbly ask for his help. “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble,” (1 Pt. 5:5.). When we love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength, he will pour his love into our hearts so that we can reach our potential in loving our spouse, our children and ourselves. It is our love for God that will enable us to place the needs of our family before our own needs. This love will help us be aware when our loved ones need some quality time, words of encouragement or maybe a hug. There are some things the family needs that only the father can give.

The most important things parents can provide for their children, are that they know without a doubt that their parents love each other, love them and love God. Praying together as family is the foundation for the domestic church.

“Yes, the civilization of love is possible; it is not a utopia. But it is only possible by a constant and ready reference to the “Father from whom all fatherhood and motherhood on earth is named,” from whom every human family comes.” —St. John Paul II

Lord, we thank you for this Fathers’ Day as we remember our own fathers and the sacrifices they made for us. Bless the fathers who are still with us and pour out your mercy upon those who have passed from this life to the next.

DEACON TOM FOX is co-director of the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate which produces the annual Catholic Men’s Conference San Antonio. This column was published as our first installment of Living Catholicism, June 2016.