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There are now two more “Saints” recognized by the Catholic Church. I know some of my Protestant friends are probably rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. I wanted to share some thoughts.
From the time I began arguing with Catholics five years ago about how wrong they were on so many different things, until I was confirmed into the Church on Easter Vigil, I’ve noticed something that I find difficult to put into appropriate words: everything seems “bigger.” What do I mean by this? I mean the Catholic Church really emphasizes how we’re all in communion with one another, as well as those who have gone before us and will come after us. All of the souls on heaven and earth who are in Christ are part of one huge family.
You know how some families are families, while others are FAMILIES? I mean, some families obviously love and respect each other, but there are others who seem to know everything about every family member and make huge deals about every single event relating to each one of them, from birthdays to ball games to graduations, but instead of only the parents celebrating all of that, the second cousins twice removed also show up and are just as into it all. Know what I’m talking about?
THAT is what the Catholic Church does. A faithful Christian from centuries ago is celebrated like we’d celebrate some family member, still walking the earth just across town, whose valiant acts are bringing worldwide attention and honor to our family name.
All of this comes from the rich celebration of Christianity past and present, and the belief that all Saints are still alive and well, just in heaven interceding for us. Christ’s Bride is a very deep, complex, amazing bride.
I’ve had those close to me roll their eyes and say skeptically some comment or other about statues or paintings or stained glass or… any number of things. I like pointing out that such traditions started at a time when most humans were illiterate. Statutes and paintings and stained glass were all teaching tools, which clergy used to share the stories of the faith with an audience that couldn’t read about it for themselves. I love it.
The Church acknowledges that God gave us five senses, and it firmly believes all five of them should be engaged in worshipping our Creator. Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, and hearing are all important. This is why such things as incense and bells are used during Mass (which is a prayer to God, I might add, and contrary to the belief that Catholics don’t read their Bibles, each Mass has more scriptural readings than I’ve ever heard at any one particular service in my life prior to having attended Mass). Each of these things has a deep, historical meaning.
While some might not appreciate it, it is my opinion that such things make the big picture… even bigger.
I’m reposting this here, because clicking through to it on YouTube brings up videos in the “suggested videos” section on the right side that most of our target audience does NOT want to see. This video was recorded on 31 March 2014 at the University of Notre Dame. Watch it for an eye-opening look at the realities of what pornography really is – it is my opinion that you’ll particularly enjoy the Q&A section.
PLEASE NOTE: when you get to the end of the video, close the window as soon as the screen goes black. If you watch until the very end, YouTube shows suggested videos in the window, and the images are explicit. I’ve complained, but don’t know if or when they’ll take the offensive videos down.
This 4-person panel presentation, sponsored by the Institute for Church Life and The Gender Relations Center at the University of Notre Dame, focuses on the subject of addiction to pornography and its devastating effects.
Christina (Chrissy) Moran is a former pornography star; entered the industry at age 26 and over the next six years, starred in over 30 videos and numerous photographs.
Donny Pauling is a former producer of both picture and video pornography; he produced over two million photographs and thousands of hours of video. He left the porn industry in 2006.
Sam Meier is a former pornography addict who developed an addiction when he received his first laptop in college. His addiction brought him to the brink of despair.
Beth Meier is Sam’s wife; the consequences of Sam’s addiction nearly ruined their marriage.
I’m re-posting this from my Facebook Page. Here on my blog there are other posts about this topic, for those interested in more detail on my reasons for converting.
More than 5 years ago, a Catholic ministry asked if I’d be willing to be interviewed for a documentary they were making regarding pornography. I was surprised, because from experience, those leaders in the Protestant churches with which I was familiar would never have asked a Catholic speaker to be part of a ministry project. I got curious. I’ve always been the type to go directly “to the source” if I want to know what someone believes (for example: if I wanted to know about YOU, should I ask YOU, or should I read a book that was written by someone who doesn’t like you?). I began asking questions about the things Catholics believe, and began arguing with Catholics about how wrong they were about certain issues. Matt Fradd and I even had recorded debates on issues such as baptism and other important topics.
Fr-Carlos Martins invited me to speak to students at York University in Toronto. We stayed up until 2am discussing theology and other things. He told me that he saw I would become Catholic. I told him that would never happen. He told me that not only would I be Catholic, I was called to be a Priest. Little did he know, I’d had such thoughts myself, and they were becoming more frequent.
Father James Mallon from Nova Scotia had me speak for his parish. All of you who have been around me for any length of time know that I’m not afraid to say what I’m thinking. I told Father Mallon that a good friend had recently told me that the Catholic Church is the biggest mission field in the world, because so many Catholics don’t realize what a deep, personal relationship they can have with Jesus. I asked what he thought of that statement. He replied, “Both I and the Pope would agree with that.” He then asked if I planned to stay outside taking pot shots at all that I thought was wrong about the Catholic faith, and criticize it incessantly, or if I would instead get in and help educate people, becoming a “missionary” to an enormous group of people who are dearly beloved by God. That challenge really moved me. Honestly, that challenge gnawed at me then and still does to this day.
I started digging deep into Catholic theology. I had many questions, many issues, and many disagreements. Yet I felt drawn to the church. I really do feel like there is much for me to do inside the Church. And although most of the Catholics I’ve met when they’ve had me come speak for them have VERY close walks with Jesus, I’ve also run into just as many who seem intimidated to approach him directly, particularly amongst the hispanic, spanish-is-their-first-language Catholics. I firmly believe it is perfectly fine to ask the Saints and Mary to pray for us, as there is scriptural evidence that they already do so. But I also began sharing with my Catholic friends that we are the bride of Christ, meaning Jesus is our spouse. The Bible tells us that in our natural lives, when we are married we are to leave father and mother and cling to our spouse. This means we can and SHOULD therefore go directly to Jesus. Going to Him through a saint or His mother is not necessary (but again, asking for their prayers is great). The thing is, this line of thought does NOT conflict with Catholic theology in any way. I’ve been told, even by a Deacon, “Thank you for the reminder that we can have such a personal relationship with Jesus.”
I feel the unmistakable call of God to be a missionary to His Church, and I have pursued it. I am willing to be used in any manner He wishes. That pursuit continues tonight, as I am to be confirmed in just a few hours and will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I have NO DOUBTS whatsoever that I’m where HE wants me to be. I’m home.
I love it. I’m listening to it as I post this. Goosebumps, my friends. Goosebumps.
There’s no excuse to be ignorant of Church History. Through it, we see what came before us and the price paid by others to bring us to where we are today. Studying it makes my faith stronger. Here are a few recent posts I put up on Facebook, sharing church history. Be sure to read the comments, as more is added within them.
When speaking about porn, I’m often told that the perspective I share is different than what people are used to hearing. I make it a point to try making things very personal. I want people to realize that pornography involves real people with real feelings and real lives. I want people to consider those on the screen as if it was someone they deeply love.
Not long ago, I took the stage of a church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, just moments after a group of young children had departed it. I’d watched these beautiful, bright-eyed, hopeful little people sing their hearts out. As children often do, they’d brought tears of happiness to many eyes, mine included. In fact, their innocence had struck me in a way I couldn’t describe; as they sang I had to turn towards the walls because I was embarrassed to be seen literally weeping, yet not being able to put into words why I’d been so affected.
Standing in front of the parents of these children, I paused for a moment of silence before beginning. I was afraid of their potential reaction to what I was about to say, but I also had a point to make.
“Your children are beautiful. It won’t be long until they’re 18 and can make decisions on their own. How would you feel if, on a Sunday morning, I walked up to you before service and congratulated you on the scene your little girl performed for me the day before, when I’d paired her up with a few men for my latest pornographic production? Legal adult or not, and regardless of whether she’s ‘an adult making her own decisions,’ I guarantee you wouldn’t be okay with it, and you’d undoubtedly hate me. So if it’s not okay to watch porn when it’s your little girl in the starring role, why’s it okay when it’s someone else’s? They’re all someone’s little girl, and they’re all daughters of The King, which literally makes them princesses. No princess is supposed to be treated like that.”
People were impacted.
These children had not yet hit puberty. That being the case, I wonder what the impact would have been if I’d have said, “Your children are beautiful. It won’t be long until they’re old enough to really start feeling butterflies inside as they discover a new love interest. What if that love interest shares their same gender? … so if it’s not okay to make your little boy or little girl feel like crap about themselves based on who they find attractive, why’s it okay when it’s someone else’s…. ?”
If it’s not already obvious, I’ll admit this article is inspired by the recent flap over Phil Robertson’s comments. I’ve read the entire article in question half a dozen times, and personally find nothing offensive about it. When it comes to my opinions on gay marriage, they are quite similar to those shared by Elton John in 2008 (for the record: Elton later changed his opinion). It’s easy to share these opinions freely. Perhaps too easy. I wonder if it would be so easy for me if one of the children I love were in tears before me, begging me to pray with them in asking God to remove a same-sex attraction with which they didn’t want to live.
When I leave the stage, few people in the audience feel judged or condemned. Many of them come up afterward and share their personal struggles relating to pornography. Because they feel it is safe to do so. Even though they’ve heard me share a message against pornography for the last 45 minutes to an hour.
God help me and God forgive me if there’s ever a time in the past, present or future when a person with a same sex attraction doesn’t feel equally safe around me.
What if it was my son? What if it was your daughter?
We’re all children of the King. May I always keep in mind that I’m called to bring people to His love. May I remember that His love is what changes lives. May I always recall that when it comes to “fishing for men,” God has a “you catch ’em, I’ll clean ’em” motto, releasing me from the need to clean up anyone other than myself, and that only with His help. I really don’t need to concern myself about whether or not God wants something changed in any life other than my own. Admittedly, it’s quite hard for me to keep that in mind.
There’s lots of preachin’ to myself going on here this morning. God help me to listen.
An email to a friend who asked if I think I’ll ever fall back to my old life:
You asked a question that I’m sure many have wanted to ask me: if I think I’ll ever fall back into my old life.
I’ll share a few thoughts.
I got into porn for a handful of reasons. I’ll share one: I thought it would be fun to be paid to be around naked women. I started by looking. I was only into solo photos; women posing all alone. It did nothing for me if they were with others, male or female, or if they were doing things to themselves. What got me going was a woman showing off her body. When I first started shooting porn, I was a prude by adult industry standards. Clients purchased what I created because I was great at recruiting people they weren’t used to seeing naked. I’d walk up to normal, everyday college girls and talk them into posing. I’d talk female professionals into posing. I’d talk moms whose bodies showed the evidence of having children into posing instead of being ashamed of their bodies. As time went on, clients demanded that I produce more graphic content, so I slowly did. What had repulsed me at the beginning of my career didn’t seem so bad by the end of it.
But the appeal of working with naked women was only part of the reason I started. Money was another, but that was actually far down the list. What really motivated me was hatred toward Christianity. Like anger, hatred is usually an expression of pain. I was deeply hurt when I started believing that all I’d been taught to be true was, in fact, a lie. To this day there is nothing I despise more than being lied to… it just feels like the ultimate form of disrespect. It was so disappointing to feel like a fool who had believed lies, and I channeled the pain of that disappointment into anger, bitterness and hatred.
I loved my parents, so it made no sense to take my disappointment out on them, even though they were the primary source of guidance into the Christian life I was ever increasingly believing to be a lie. So instead I hated people from their churches who displayed hypocrisy. I hated the legalistic denomination with whom they had chosen to align themselves. And soon I hated all Christians in general.
After XXXchurch started changing my perceptions of Christianity, I started praying and challenging God to prove to me that He is real. I did this while at the same time blogging about being an atheist. When He physically touched me in 2006, I no longer doubted He existed. But that touch isn’t where it ended. After I asked him to take control of my life, He started speaking to me. Sometimes in dreams, but other times in whispers right in my ear. It was amazing. That went on for a handful of months but then stopped. It didn’t happen again – His whispers in my ear – until October of 2012 as I sat on the porch of a seaside cafe, having coffee with a new friend in Australia. That was the last time to date. But it doesn’t have to ever happen again for me to be sure it was God speaking directly to me.
Some might say I’m crazy and haven’t heard God whispering in my ear, but am just hearing voices in my head. I know better. Some might say the shock I felt in September of 2006 wasn’t God, but something more realistic like a short in my car’s electrical system. But I know better.
The pain of disappointment is gone. I know He is real. I don’t want to rebel anymore. I have no reason to express pain via hatred anymore. I have no reason to “go back” to that life.
Instead I am driven to dig deeper, learn more, love more, keep inviting Him to change the yucky parts of me, and keep asking Him to let me see others the way He does. I love Him. I don’t want to betray Him anymore.
I’m posting this in order to make it easy for myself to find these articles on my Facebook page at a later date, when the links become buried by time.
Two Fascinating Articles on Mary (written by Protestants)
From Church History Magazine, Issue 83, comes this:
From the same issue of the same magazine, comes more of Mary’s history, including a bit about her parents, Joachim and Anne:
I’ve also been told Mary’s father, Joachim, was a Jewish Rabbi, and she (Mary) was given back to God at birth, in a very similar way to the story of Samuel.
When I first started being asked to speak for them, a man I greatly respect told me that the Catholic Church is the largest mission field in the world. He said a large percentage of Catholics don’t comprehend that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus. Honestly, my Catholic friends, I quickly discovered that he’s RIGHT.
At a recent RCIA meeting, we were discussing what prayer means to us. I shared that I talk to Jesus as if he’s sitting in the chair right beside me. A DEACON in the church said, “Thanks for the reminder that we can have such a personal relationship with Jesus.” Folks, that’s a deacon. He’s as close to being a priest as a married man can get.
I feel very called to get involved, become a priest if that’s what God wills, and tell as many Catholics as I can that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus. The church does so many beautiful things for God, yet SO MANY are missing out on something they need to know.
When I spoke of this to a few of the priests I’ve met, who’ve had me in to speak, they’ve not argued at all, but rather agreed! One such priest told me, “Both I, and the Pope, would agree [that more Catholics need to realize they can have a personal relationship with Jesus].” I have been challenged by these priests: I can stand outside and criticize them, or enter in and help!
So… that’s it. That’s a huge motivation for me. There are plenty of other reasons, which I’ll share over time, but that’s a biggie. I don’t feel a draw to be a pastor in the protestant church and never have, but for some reason i strongly desire to be a Catholic priest. The church Jesus founded needs more people WORKING, rather than criticizing it.