Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Death and Denial

Death and Denial

When I first graduated high school, I attended UCSB.  I spent two years living in Isla Vista, where my parents had met when they attended UCSB, and where my sister and brother would live after me.  I know the area of last Friday night’s rampage very well.

The carnage in Isla Vista was the latest (and no one expects the last) in a long list of senseless killings that have been plaguing our culture seemingly non-stop.  When are we going to address the real cause?

There are many issues at play here.  We’ve heard a lot already about gun control.  There is certainly a place for such a debate, but it concerns me deeply when I hear that floated as the solution to these problems.  It is not.  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of those whose loved ones were killed, and certainly keeping guns out of the hands of people like Elliot Rodger is imperative, but there are deeper issues at play here.  As long as we continue to be afraid to address them, these types of killings won’t stop.  (Three of Rodger’s six murder victims were stabbed to death.)

Mental health is a major concern, and ever since Sandy Hook, it has been high on people’s radar.  There is no question that there were warning signs that were missed with Mr. Rodger.  His family tried their best to intervene, and it is incredible that a person seeing multiple therapists would be allowed to purchase firearms.  Truly, there are many issues to address.

But, in my opinion, the fundamental issue that needs to be faced is the culture in which people like Elliot Rodger are immersed.  Look at his “manifesto.”  He seems to have been obsessed with sex, and driven to an insane rage by the lack of attention he received from the “beautiful blonde hair girls” whose affection he wanted.

He reveals that he moved to Isla Vista particularly to attain a sex-soaked college experience and was unable to cope with his disappointment in that area.  Combine that with his mental illness, and you have a powder keg ready to blow.

But for whatever reason, for all his obsession with sex, this young man had no idea what love is, or at least no desire for it.  This is the culture of our college campuses.  His rage was due to the fact that everyone else seemed to be attaining the disordered desires he aspired to, and he was missing out.

This over-sexed, anti-love environment is epidemic on college campuses, and let’s face it, in culture in general.

Add to that the fact that our youth have been born and bred in a culture of death, and there will be an unending stream of carnage, which is exactly the fruit we have reaped.

Our culture is based on death.  Every young person has had direct experience with abortion, if nothing else, as a survivor of the holocaust.  More innocent babies die every day (not to mention the women and men wounded so deeply by abortion) than victims of indiscriminate shootings each year.  We can not sow so much death and be immune to the deadly consequences.

Family breakdown is the norm.  The definition of marriage is trampled (reinforcing the notion that the desires of adults outweigh the legitimate needs of children).  The scourge of killing the innocent spreads from the beginning of life to the end of life, to those whose disabilities create for them in the words of some of our esteemed “ethicists,” “life not worthy of life.”

This is the culture we have created: founded on death and obsessed with sex.  God has been removed by order of the state.  These young people, all of whom have been created by God and for God, have been told by their public schools and their local government, that God is not allowed.  No Bibles, no pictures of crosses, no “offensive” prayer.  Our culture has taken away their hope, their true destiny.

So let our politicians continue grandstanding about gun control.  Let’s keep examining the issue of mental illness.  These are worthy of debate and consideration, it’s true. 

But whatever we do, let’s not look at the real problems: the culture of death, an economy driven by lust, the breakdown of the family, and the deeming of God as “offensive.”

As long as we keep our collective eyes closed to these issues, we shouldn’t have to rock the boat.  We’ll just need to continue ducking for cover.


Note: In every article including abortion, I try to mention the incredible healing and forgiveness available.  Abortion does not destroy the love of God.  Visit

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Raising Saints

Raising Saints

“I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.”  These are the words of a mother to her son.  Not surprisingly, the son became a Saint – St. Louis, King of France.

I suspect, however, that they could be the words of many mothers in eras gone by.  Really, they should be the words of every mother always.  But unfortunately, today those sentiments are far too rare.

What is it that St. Louis’s mother, Queen Blanche, said?  To have her son guilty of a mortal sin would mean that he had offended God terribly and not repented (otherwise, he would have been freed from his guilt through the sacrament of Confession).  Therefore, for love of God, and love of her own son, she would rather see him dead.  To lose his life would be a far lesser tragedy than to lose his soul. 

Considering how much every mother cares for her child’s life, these words must have had a powerful impression on the Saint.

The prudence of saying those words out loud may depend on the situation and the temperament of the child, but our children need to learn the message.

Do our children place such importance on the state and destiny of their souls that they really do consider it of more importance than their lives?  Do we?

Of course, many Catholic parents do acknowledge their children’s spiritual growth and ultimately, their salvation, to be the most important thing.  But it is certainly counter-cultural.

When someone is asked how their children are doing, the first thing they will say is what their job is, or whether they’re married, or if they’ve purchased a home, etc.  Now of course I am not going to go around speculating about the state of my children’s spiritual lives in casual conversation, but I’m sure many of us have had the experience of speaking to a Catholic parent who tells us something like:

“My son’s doing great.  He works for a mutual fund firm in L.A.  He’s got an apartment down there with his girlfriend and they’re thinking of buying a house.”

Wait…say that again.  They’re living in a state of mortal sin, and he’s doing great?  Do his job or prospects for home ownership really matter in comparison?

Of course I am not judging those parents (or children, either.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior and only God can judge culpability).  My point is the culture.  The children in the story above are simply doing what society tells them they should do; and the parent is simply saying what it says he or she should say.  The casual tone may very well mask a deeper disappointment, or just be “polite conversation” with a culture that just doesn’t understand.

And why would they assume people would understand?  According to modern American culture, St. Louis was eccentric, and his mother was nuts!

But we know better.  As Catholics, we want to be light to the world, and leaven in the dough, changing the culture for Christ.  But first, we need to be Christ for our own children.  It doesn’t matter who thinks we’re nuts, we need our children to know where we stand, and why.  May God give us all parental and Christian hearts like Queen Blanche, so that our children, too, may one day walk among the Saints.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Contact Harvard to Cancel Black mass!

     Contact Harvard to Cancel Black mass!

     Harvard University is allowing a satanic black mass, hosted by its cultural studies club, to take place on campus this Monday evening.  These events not only include worship of the devil, but desecration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Please sign a petition at to ask that the event be cancelled.  Also contact Harvard President Drew Faust at (617) 495-1502 and, as well as Jeff Neal at

The cultural studies club, if you choose to contact them, can be reached at

St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell satan, and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2014



As the world wishes to deny the pain of those involved in abortion, it is important for us who wish to defend life to acknowledge that pain and be sources of healing.  The following is a powerful video of a family discussing the pain from past abortions and the healing and wholeness they have found. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Movie Event - 'Irreplaceable'

Movie Event - 'Irreplaceable' - May 6


Pope St. John Paul II said that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family.”  There is no question that in the modern world, the family is in crisis.  In recent years we’ve seen a cultural shift whereby we’re told no longer to lament the breakdown of the family, but to celebrate it.  Therefore, the future of humanity is doomed.

Or can we recapture the truth about marriage and the family?  Can we as a culture begin to question what we are being fed?  On May 6, there will be a one-day nationwide showing of Irreplaceable, a film by Focus on the Family that explores marriage throughout the world, and challenges our modern post-Christian vision of the family.

To find a showing near you, visit the Web site

Thursday, May 1, 2014

'Heaven is for Real' Movie Review

Heaven is for Real Movie Review

When he was four years old, Colton Burpo nearly died from a ruptured appendix.  During his operation, he claimed to have had a vision of Heaven, where he met Jesus and deceased loved ones.  The movie Heaven is for Real, currently in theaters, tells the story.

Heaven is for Real is an enjoyable film, but reviewing it through the lens of Faith, I was less enthusiastic about it than many others.  The film has been well supported by Christians, and for good reason.  Near-death experiences are very often unexplainable by natural means.  They are valuable evangelistic tools, so much so, that the Magis Institute, founded by Father Robert Spitzer, is creating a video presentation documenting the miraculous quality of many of them, and suggests using it as a tool for discussion among high school students (and others).  There are certainly documented events that prove without a doubt the existence of a spiritual soul.

That being said, for Catholics, I think it is important that I relate some of my concerns with the film.  It seems to have been made as a celebration of the spiritual and casts Christianity in a very positive light, all of which is good.  However, I got the impression it is the product of filmmakers who don’t necessarily have the context or theological understanding to know what to do with it.

Though I have no reason to doubt the real-life story of Colton Burpo, I do fear the film could cause theological misunderstanding.  Allow me to give a few examples.

Whatever young Colton saw would be what God knew to be appropriate for a four-year-old to receive, and can not be taken to dogmatically define doctrine.  In the film, after his vision, Colton complains when he sees images of angels that, “That’s not what they look like.”  Obviously, angels are pure spirits with no bodies at all.  Yet, they can and do appear to people.  We see in Scripture, even, angels appearing in different forms in different contexts.  So how they would appear to a four-year-old child does not reflect how they are in their essence.  It is this type of thing that can be misconstrued and is never really cleared up in the film.  From the way angels look, to the nature of Heaven itself, there are numerous examples in which Colton’s vision could be used to define something in its essence.

I don’t expect Hollywood to be able to make such theological distinctions, but considering that everyone knows this is based on a true story, I fear it can lead to confusion for some viewers.

There also is a relativistic element that I found distasteful.  For example, at the end of the film Colton’s father, a Protestant minister, is preaching about his son’s experience, and he asks the question, “Is Heaven for real?”  His answer: “For me, it is.”

The film is not relativistic propaganda, and I doubt that is what the filmmakers intended with this scene (and a few others somewhat similar).  I also doubt that is what the real Todd Burpo said.  But again, in contrast to my first concern, when confronted with the reality of Heaven, this scene could encourage some viewers to take a relativistic view of it.

I will say that I greatly appreciate the pro-life spirit of the film.  Especially powerful is the scene in which Colton meets his sister in Heaven.  His sister had died as the result of a miscarriage when she was still in utero.

In all, there are some real merits to Heaven is for Real, but I would not go so far as to recommend it for everyone.  It may cause unbelievers to think, which I pray is the good fruit that comes from it.  Christians need to take it for what it is, and not let the film make dogmatic theological statements for them, perhaps other than, as the title states, that Heaven truly is for real.