Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Why Love Is More than a Feeling
What if we were to make all our decisions solely based on how we felt in the moment?
You may be familiar with the four types of love: eros (love of desire), storge (love of affection), philia (love of friendship), and agape (self-giving love). While each of these forms of love are good in their own way, they have to be accounted for correctly.
Eros is the most temporary of all the loves. Feelings and desires are fleeting. So when we try and make decisions that are based on these desires we have, they’re bound to fail before we even make them, just because eros is so fragile. Imagine choosing your spouse, or your vocation, or your profession based on how you felt about it 5 years ago. Would you be happy with the outcome?
Eros has its place in our life, but we need to make sure we’re acknowledging the more important elements, especially when making decisions. Eros is fleeting, but the agape love God has for you isn’t. Focus on the things that last, and attend to the feelings that don’t, and enjoy the life God has laid before you.
Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University.
A Martyr for the Faith vs. a Victim of Circumstance
What’s the difference between a victim and a martyr?
A victim is always described as dying “of” or “from” something. But when you describe a martyr, you talk about what they died for. While a victim is hurt by something, a martyr is suffers for something or someone. While a victim is having something happen to them, a martyr is choosing what happens to them by their will.
“...I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:17-18)
The word martyr comes from the Greek word for witness. So when we see Jesus in Acts 1 telling his disciples that they are called to be witnesses of the faith, he is also calling them to martyrdom for the sake of spreading the Gospel. The apostles were not victims—they were martyrs, because they lived their lives for Christ until death. This turns their death into the fulfillment of their lives—the crowning achievement—instead of something that defeated them.
While not all of us may be asked to lay down our lives for Christ at our death, we are all called to live our lives for the faith.
Learning Detachment from Your Stuff
Sometimes the things that we own end up owning us. Detachment prevents this from happening.
You may have heard of the minimalist movement that focuses on only having the things you need, and letting go of the things you don’t. Most people practice this by decluttering their house or storage, like you would if you were cleaning out a closet. But it’s not so much having a lot of stuff that’s the problem: it’s being attached to those things, and letting them have a sense of control over your life.
This can happen with anything we own, from entertainment resources like books or video games, to things like photos, letters from family and friends, or even notes from your favorite theology course. For some reason, our hearts hold on to certain things, even if we haven’t looked at them in years, just in case we need them someday. Maybe it’s because of sentimental value, or because we find joy in them, but most of the time, we keep these things for a sense of security.
There’s nothing wrong with having things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding joy in the things we do have. But if there are things sitting on our shelves, collecting dust because we’re keeping them “just in case,” maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is, “what does God want me to do with this?” Does he want us to keep it and use it, or give it away to someone who needs it, or just throw it away? But the important thing to remember is that everything we have should be looked at with the idea that we can do something good with it, and intend to use it for the glory of God.
If you still have use for it, then keep it. If it’s done all it can for you, and has more goodness for someone else, then give it away. And if all its goodness is used up, then toss it. But whatever we have, we need to give it to God, acknowledging that he gave it to us in the first place. Letting him decide what we do with the things we own is the perfect way to not only detach ourselves from our possessions, but to gain more freedom in our lives to bless others.
How to Keep Your Faith Alive and Growing
Why is it easier to fuel our faith at retreats and conferences? Can we have this same fire at home?
You can probably reflect on a certain moment or time period in your life that your faith seemed to flourish more than it ever has. Usually this happens when we go on retreats, mission trips, or faith conferences. But along with these moments of powerful formation comes the decline we experience when they’re over, and we go back home. Why is that?
Retreats offer us an opportunity to encounter our faith away from the distractions of the world. They are designed to make faith the center of our attention, which makes fueling our faith much easier. However, a lot of us don’t have that environment when we go home, and it can be really difficult to continue to keep that fire alive, especially when we live in a world that is constantly trying to extinguish it.
It comes down to our personal decisions, and how we choose to live. If we know that avoiding certain distractions, relationships, or environments help us grow closer to God, then it’s up to us to make those changes. It’s much easier to bring someone down than to lift someone up. The world won’t bring us into a deeper relationship with Christ—we have to make those choices ourselves.
Now, this might mean that we have to say goodbye to some aspects of our life, or even some people. It’s important to approach all these decisions with prayer and guidance from the Lord. He knows what you need better than anyone else in your life, so seek council knowing he will only allow what’s best for you in your path towards heaven. Try asking the Lord each day how you can become closer to him, and seek out ways to let your faith breath.
Are You Called to Be a Missionary?
Are you called to be a missionary? You may be one already!
Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Therese of Lisieux are co-patrons of missionaries, although they lived very different lives. While St. Francis traveled all over the world proclaiming the gospel of Christ, St. Therese was unable to travel and did what she could in her own town. Both were missionaries in their own right.
Being a missionary isn’t about traveling or living a crazy and unpredictable life. It’s about spreading the word of God to those who need to hear it. So the question is, are you called to be a missionary?
As baptized Christians, we are all called to be missionaries in our own unique way. By living the life God has laid out for us, we can evangelize exactly who God wants us to reach, just by doing our best to live according to his commandments. This is also a part of the universal call to holiness, which not only states that every person is called to be a saint, but also that every person is called to be an apostle—or missionary—of Christ.
St. Francis Xavier lived in a Christian era, and had to leave his home in order to evangelize. We, however, live in a post-Christian era, where the majority of people are not God loving people. The era we are living in right now holds the same kind of ignorance of Christ that the apostles lived in. This means that we don’t have to go anywhere to evangelize. We can start being missionaries right in our own home towns.
St. Francis and St. Therese weren’t missionaries because of where they went—they were missionaries because of their hearts. There are so many people in our daily lives that don’t know God. Let us live out our call as missionaries and bring Christ to those God has given us.
“Is This a Sin?”
If you begin to sin but don’t follow all the way through… is it still a sin? It depends.
We’re offered two different scenarios. In one, the person is prevented from sinning due to external factors that make it impractical or impossible to commit the sin they had planned on. In the second scenario, we see someone preparing to sin, but then freely and rationally choosing not to. The first scenario is a sin, but the second is a virtuous act. Why?
Because the second person freely decided not to commit sin, they morally aligned themselves toward the good when they had previously been aimed towards sin. They redirected their will toward God when they could have continued to go against him. In a simpler sense, they were headed down a bad path, but then turned around before making it to their destination.
That being said, while the second person did realign themselves toward virtue, the extent to which they consented to this sin ahead of time may be worth a confession. Even though the person chose virtue in the end, their soul was still burdened with those thoughts, and in confession, those burdens are lifted through forgiveness.
The beautiful part about our faith is that we have a Savior who is always ready and willing to forgive us. Surrendering our hearts to him creates a living relationship with God, where we trust his knowledge of our hearts, and run to him whenever we are in need of saving.