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Posts Tagged ‘lessons-learned’

PostHeaderIcon Thoughts on the Church and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

As I write this post, it is August 15, 2018.

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother. Today was a Holy Day of Obligation, and I went to the 8 AM Mass, just minutes after reading the report from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury and the reactions of people, Catholic and not, from across the globe.

This report, which covers the heinous crimes by the clergy, (of which an estimated 90% were from prior to the 1990’s) comes on the tail of the scandals in Argentina and Australia. A bit more personal to me, an investigation has also been launched against the major seminary in my own diocese, after an extremely damning piece on the conduct of some who have attended, was published by an ex-seminarian whom was one of my first JSO Instagram followers.

Considering everything that has been going on, and all the attention the Church has been getting from the major news media, it is safe to say that I, among many others, are beside ourselves, with a storm of incredibly difficult emotions.

I feel sick about the children who have been failed, their innocence destroyed and lost. I am angry about the coverups done to save face. I feel powerless to help clean up any of this mess and promote healing. I feel betrayed because the Church that I have fought for and defended for so long, is now being smeared by the hundreds of men who were unfaithful to the vows that they made. This goes beyond the breaking of promises though. This is pure evil, and it is unfathomable to me that this is the current face of the Catholic Church, especially since we know that our teachings hold us to the highest of standards when it comes to sexual conduct.

I am sad because for so many people I know who are not Catholic, this is only adding fuel to their fire. Whether it be outright hatred towards Catholicism in general, lukewarmness, or the deterrent of a faith journey that has barely begun, the damage has been done. I am sad for the practicing Catholics who are struggling with their faith right now. I am absolutely heartbroken for the many good, faithful seminarians, priests, and bishops (the vast majority of the clergy, actually,) who are being regarded with such hate and suspicion right now, trying to shepherd their parishes while also coping with their own feelings of grief, disgust, and betrayal.

The important thing to remember, and the driving reason behind this post, is that the clergy is not the end-all-be-all of the Church.

Good clergy members are guides for us, support for us in our journey as imitators of Christ. But they are not Christ Himself. It is Him, and Him alone, that we look to and follow. The Church does not contain any less Truth because of the unfaithful. The Sacraments are not any less valid. The Mass is not any less sacred. Lastly, we should not let this devastation damage our own relationship with God, nor our involvement in the Church.

I think this idea was best depicted while I was at church this morning. For an 8 AM Mass, on a Wednesday morning, the pews were surprisingly full. People of all ages attended. The Creed was professed just as loudly as usual. One voice in particular stood out: the voice of a child, no older than 6, proudly reciting the words louder than anyone else, mispronunciations and all.

I watched as my fellow parishioners exchanged glances with each other, no doubt taking note of the irony that this child, who, unknown to him, had been failed by the actions of unfaithful clergy, was displaying such pride in something that there is no way he could possibly understand at such a young age. But I watched it plant hope in weary hearts regardless.

Some are already speculating that the results of the jury are most likely just the tip of the iceberg. They say that more scandals will continue to unfold.

Unfortunately this is probably true, although it is important that they are all made public and are exposed. I think it is also worth noting that many of these abusers are thought to be part of a larger scheme; non-believers who entered the Church with the intention of destroying Its’ credibility from the inside out. This theory comes from a woman who testified as much in front of Congress years ago. (Google ‘Bella Dodd’.) Others though are clearly pedophiles, or living a homosexual lifestyle. (I want to make it very clear though, that pedophilia and homosexuality DO NOT go hand in hand with each other, and are completely separate from each other.)

Now, we are finally uncovering the damage done. The Church will suffer and the numbers of the faithful will continue to dwindle. No matter what happens though, I am staying in the Church because I believe in Its’ teachings, and I am praying that you will too. I am praying for the victims of this abuse. I am praying for my fellow faithful laymen. I am praying for the faithful clergy, who have given their lives in vocation to serve Christ and His people, many of whom I am so blessed to have in my life, including my own pastor. I am praying for those departed from the Church because of these scandals, past, present, and future. As hard as it is, I am praying for the men who have caused all of this wreckage too, with the evil they have done. I hope those still alive will repent, hold themselves accountable, and justice will be served.

Most of all, I will pray that the innocent bishops stop giving us empty statements, and instead work to deep clean and restore the Church once again. To my friends and followers of other Christian denominations, I ask that you pray for us as well, as we call for action and attempt to heal in the coming days.

 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” -Matthew 16:18 NABRE

Keep the faith.
~Alexis Grace

PostHeaderIcon The Confessions: Confess

“In failing to confess Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You.”
~St. Augustine

St. Augustine, one of the great Doctors of the Church, knows the meaning of his words above better than anyone. After 31 year of life, filled with sin and lacking God, he finally chose to confess his sins and he converted to Catholic-Christianity. One of his great works is “The Confessions of Saint Augustine”, an autobiography written with philosophical/theological tones of musing, from which this quote comes from. In simple words, St. Augustine points out an important truth.

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The ability to make a good confession is a Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon The Dugout

Last spring, I got into a conversation with a friend of mine about my favorite places to go relax on campus.


I told him that I loved to climb up onto the roof of one of the dugouts on campus, and look at the stars. I explained that it was dark on that particular field, away from campus lights and all the people. It was quiet and you could hear trees whisper. He then asked me a question that made me feel a little vulnerable:

Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon The Confessions: I Was Coming To Life

“You knew, but I did not, what the outcome would be. But my madness with myself was part of the process of recovering health, and in the agony of death I was coming to life. I was aware how ill I was, unaware how well I was soon to be.”
~St. Augustine

Sometimes when we are going through a tough time, it’s really easy to let the feeling consume us. We convince ourselves that we were so much happier before and that we will never be the same person again. We unknowingly wreak havoc upon ourselves mentally and emotionally, and sometimes it affects us Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon When Ecumenism Becomes Hard

 

 Ecumenical dialogue has always been important to me, almost as important as learning Catholic apologetics is.

I want to know everything about my faith, as well as I can. But I also want to be able to use that information I know, to participate in ecumenical discussion with anyone I meet. The more I have learned, the more I have been able to explain and understand, and have done so over the years.

I remember my first attempt at ecumenism, four years ago now, was very unforeseen, forced even.

In fact, it was somewhat of a hostile environment for me. I had posted a tweet about Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon You Can’t Save People

*****This was actually something I posted on on my personal FaceBook and Instagram, but the more I thought about it, I decided it would be a nice little blog post too. So for those of you who didn’t catch it, I hope you enjoy reading my little pep talk!*****

CantSave

I think one of the biggest lessons 2015 taught me, is that you can’t save people, you can only love them.

2015 started with me finding out that one of my teammates had run away from home. I begged him to come home, but I quickly realized that no matter how many times I called his dead phone, or texted him, or sent him FaceBook messages, he wasn’t going to change his mind. All I could do, was pray. Things have worked out alright for him, I’ve heard, and for that I am glad.

That was just the first of a few instances this past year, where I think  Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon My College Application Essay

It was just over 2 years ago, that I created my blog here, Just Shine On.  Naturally, it was time to update my About Page, so I just did that. My life has changed in some big ways! One of those big changes has been moving to college. I applied and was accepted to six Catholic colleges, and submitted the below essay, to each of them.   I recently found this essay on my computer, and thought sharing it with you all, might be a great post.  The essay prompt was: “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?” 

I hope you enjoy reading it. Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon The Wish Of 11 Year Old Me (It Came True!)

Firefly

Last month I celebrated my 18th birthday. But turning the big one-eight wasn’t the only thing that made this past birthday so special. It was also the fact that my birthday landed on a Sunday this year. I spent a good amount of time thinking about this one night last month, as I held one of our hens and watched fireflies glow in the dusk, on a perfect early July night.

Celebrating my birthday on a Sunday might not seem like much. But for me, it means the world. You see, Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Today’s Music & Drugs

TodaysMusic&Drugs

I wanted to get into a very tough subject, and talk a little bit about today’s music and drugs.

In recent years, I have done a lot of exploring in terms of different music genres. Lately, I have listened to ‘One Direction’ radio on iTunes radio, just because one day I decided, “Hey, I’m going to give them a try.” I was never into them when they first became big, and I’m still not a ‘Directioner’, by a long shot. Despite this, I found that they are indeed talented vocalists and I could appreciate their efforts.

But iTunes radio also plays songs from a variety of other artists in the same genre as One Direction. The more I listened to this music, the more I noticed some disturbing Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Be Brave

Being brave is an honorable character trait.

But I think we tend to forget that often times ‘bravery’ is also very closely intertwined with another honorable character trait: honesty.

I’ve been reflecting on this for a few months now, but it recently became very clear to me. In this light, before you can truly be brave…you have to be honest. For example, how many times have we had to tell someone, (like our parents!) the truth about something we really didn’t want to, because we knew it would get us in trouble? Probably more than we can count.

But as Christians, we are not only called to be honest with each other…we are called to be honest Read the rest of this entry »

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