Thursday, July 26, 2012

Disconnecting From the Internet

I am currently in the process of moving to into my new house in Sarasota. After some consideration, I have decided not to get high speed internet, or cable television. There are a few reasons why I chose not to purchase these services.

1. The internet is a time killer. You can get sidetracked on to so many sites, that you waste hours that can be spent doing more productive things. One site leads to another, and to another, and another..
2. The internet is an easy portal for spending money. One trip to Amazon can cost me not only hours of time looking at books, but it also costs me money. At this point in time I have several thousand books. I know because I am in the process of moving them myself! A priest once gave me a bunch of his books from his old seminary days. I asked him why he wanted to get rid of them. He told me that once I move a couple of times, I will understand. I am beginning to see his point!
3. The internet is a source of temptation. No matter how holy you are, there is always the lure of indecent images on the internet. They are everywhere now including the advertisements, even on Facebook. I was talking to friend of mine recently and he won't let his kids on Facebook anymore because of the filth that shows up on there. This point is simple, no internet, less temptation.
3. Cable TV costs too much for what you get. I only watch TV maybe once a week for an hour or so, or I have it on for background noise. Either way I am not getting my money's worth.
4. Cable TV has nothing on worth watching. Yes I like the Military Channel, The History Channel, Fox News and EWTN on occasion, but besides that there isn't much worth watching. It can also be a time killer channel changing looking for something when I am bored.
5. Time spent praying, reading and writing is time that is largely invested wisely, while surfing around on the internet shopping, or watching TV, etc, is time largely wasted.

There are some disadvantages to not having high speed internet. For one I will not be putting up any audio or video loads any longer on the Catholic Champion podcast. At least this will be the case for the foreseeable future. I will however keep the podcast online so that people can continue to listen to the sermons and talks that are on currently available there.

Although I will not have high speed internet, I will have limited access to the net to pay bills, post up an article on this blog, or look up some info I need. With the technology now on the smart phones, I can easily check and send emails, so I won't be hindered so much there. As far as TV goes, I have a pretty good collection of DVDs and Blu-Rays to watch, and that is enough to keep me entertained. I hope that by foregoing these two services I will spend my time more wisely, allowing me to pray more, read more, and write more. Hopefully I will be able to get back posting here after I finish my move. I hope to be done by Sunday!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prayer. A Key to Holding Fast To That Which Is Good

How often we converse with God is an extremely important component to being a Christian. It is crucial in being able to hold fast to the true faith, and seek that which is good. When I use the term Christian of course, I am assuming that the term be understood to mean Catholicism. It is unfortunate that many false sects have hijacked the name of 'Christian.' Today's Gospel reading reflects this crucial issue, being that Our Lord told us to be on guard against false prophets. (Matt. 7:15-21) While we as Christians of the true faith live within the Church and enjoy the many graces we receive from the Sacraments, our spiritual lives do not go on vacation when we leave the doors of the Church. We carry Christ with us, and we keep Him in our minds and in our hearts, leading us into prayer throughout the day. Many Catholics have fallen away from the Church and have lost a sense for what is good because they did not seek God in prayer. They have either quit praying altogether or they have fallen victim to false preachers and heretics, putting their souls in jeopardy. Sadly, by abandoning prayer which is rooted in the Catholic faith, they extinguished the spirit of God within them, and as a result they have abandoned the true faith.

The early Fathers of the Church understood what Saint Paul said in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, in a very literal way. "Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things; hold fast that which is good." It is with this thought that many of them entered into the desert to live lives of prayer and penance. They sought to pray without ceasing, realizing that this was a key component to keeping the spirit of God within them, and holding to that which is good. The true Christian is one that has Christ at the center of their lives. Prayer must not be neglected. The story of one of the great early monastics, Saint Pachomius illustrates my point. The angel when giving the rules of monasticism to St. Pachomius said to him: "... He laid down that in the course of the day they should make twelve prayers, and at the lamp-lighting time twelve, and in the nightly vigils twelve, and at the ninth hour three. When the multitude goes to eat, he laid down that a psalm should be sung before each prayer. Pachomius objected to the angel that the prayers were too few ..." 

Although it would seem that many of us are unable to attain the lofty prayer schedule of Saint Pachomius, we are able to incorporate his zeal for prayer into our lives in other ways. We can begin our day with prayer, and we can continue to converse with God throughout the day as we go about our business, and we can close our day in reflection and prayer. We do not have to have long formal prayers throughout the day, although when we can do so it is good. But what is important is to keep God in our thoughts and converse with Him as we go about our day, realizing that without Him we can seek nothing that is good. When the great monastic Abba Macarius was asked, 'How should one pray?' The old man said 'There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one's hands and say, "Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy." And if the conflict grows fiercer say, "Lord, help!" He knows very well what we need and he shews us his mercy.' The 'Jesus Prayer' "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner" is a great prayer to say throughout the day.

When we approach important tasks during our day, we can seek God's help. It is also right that we thank Him for everything that he has given us in our lives. God is not just an errand boy that we call upon to get material things that we want. We pray first off to give Him glory, to seek His will, to give Him thanks, and petition Him only for things that are good for us and our relationship with Him. Do we seek God's council when we make important decisions in our lives, or do we go off doing our own thing only to come crawling to God after we realize we have made a bad choice? I can think of this scenario too many times in my life. One of the great desert Fathers once rightly said, 'The beginning of evil is heedlessness.' Can any of us hold fast to that which is good without prayer? Saint Paul tells us that we cannot. It is only when we keep Christ in our minds and in our hearts daily, engaged in unceasing prayer, that we can seek His will. It is only then that we can become more holy, and ultimately hold fast to that which is good.

Whether you are in church, or in your house, or in the country; whether you are guarding sheep, or constructing buildings, or present at drinking parties, do not stop praying. When you are able, bend your knees, when you cannot, make intercession in your mind, ‘at evening and at morning and at midday’. If prayer precedes your work and if, when you rise from your bed, your first movements are accompanied by prayer, sin can find no entrance to attack your soul. ~ St. Ephraim The Syrian

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cool Movie on Quebec City's Laval Seminary

Check out the movie 'Walls of Memory' made in 1964, which celebrates the great Laval Seminary in Quebec City. Just one year later in 1965 the Quiet Revolution would begin, which would eventually put an end to such things. You can see in the film that in 1964 the classrooms were full of young men. Now sadly, the seminary has been converted to an architectural college. There is also a cool movie below this one, which is in French, but it is well worth watching. It depicts how vibrant the convents in Quebec were before the great abandonment of Catholicism after the Second Vatican Council.

Here are some pictures I took of the once upon a time seminary. It is interesting and quite haunting to see in the film how these areas were so full of life back then with seminarians.