Saint of the Month: St. Peter

Birth: Unknown

Death: 64 AD

Feast Day: June 29

Patron: Fishermen

Symbols: Boat, keys, rooster

Bio: St. Peter was originally known as Simon. He was a native of Bethsaida and worked on Lake Genesareth as a fisherman. His brother was Andrew. Both are believed to have originally been disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin. He was present at the first miracle, the turning of water into wine (Jn 2:1-11). He’s mentioned in the Bible more than any other apostle.

What marvels me the most about Peter is his humanity. Out of all the apostles, Peter is the one I identify with the most. I love the scene in Luke when Jesus calls Peter (Lk 5:1-11) When Peter witnesses an honest-to-goodness miracle, he does what I’m sure quite a few of us would have done. He immediately says “Go away from me, for I am a sinful man!” (Lk 5:9) He knows that Jesus is a prophet, a man that he must follow. When Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God, it is at this moment Jesus gives him his new name and rank. (Mt. 16:16-18)

But it is also important that Peter is one of the two apostles who betray Jesus. Why is Peter so revered, while Judas is scorned? I think it is because of what happens afterward. When Judas betrays Jesus, he is so fraught with guilt that he does not even consider that there may still be hope. Instead, he commits suicide. Peter, on the other hand, is repentant and attempts to seek forgiveness.

I have often wondered if I were in Peter’s position, what would I do differently? Would I be bold enough to acknowledge Jesus? Would I, when pressed by someone who could persecute me, instead show cowardice? Probably so, and yet, I know in my heart that Jesus acknowledges my shortcomings. He knows perfection is impossible for me, but he sends me trials to bring me closer to Him; to force me to realize my own fallacies and to attempt to improve myself.

This is why I consider Peter someone all of us, Catholic or not, to admire.

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Film Freak: Dogma

Welcome to Film Freak, where I review movies I’ve seen.  I figured what better way to start this than with one of the most controversially negative takes on the Christian religion (to be fair, Kevin Smith mostly takes stabs at Catholicism, but still, you take stabs at one denomination, you’re taking stabs at all of us.), Dogma.

Release: 1999, Columbia/Tristar

Genre: Action/Comedy/Fantasy

Studio: View Askew/Columbia/Tristar

MPAA: R (Graphic violence, strong language, nudity)

Director: Kevin Smith

Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

My Rating: 5/10

Summary: Loki (Ben Affleck) and Bartleby (Matt Damon) are two fallen angels who want to get back into Heaven and decide to do so by staging a massacre at at celebration of a Catholic Church’s centennial in New Jersey. God sends five beings to stop them: Bethany (Linda Florentino), a disillusioned Catholic woman working at an abortion clinic; Metatron (Alan Rickman), a seraphim acting as “God’s voice”; Rufus (Chris Rock) the 13th apostle; Seredipity (Salma Hayek) a muse; and it wouldn’t be a Kevin Smith movie without the potty-mouthed Jay (Jason Mewes) and the aptly-named Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) Complicating matters is a demon named Azrael (Jason Lee) and his minions.

Review: Believe it or not, I liked this movie more than I thought I would. It brought up some good points and some bad points. First, let’s talk about the good points:

1. The Disclaimer was hilarious! Smith reminds us about the famous line people keep forgetting exists in the Bible: Judge not, lest ye be judged.  He also reminds us God has a sense of humor. The evidence: the platypus. I agree, the platypus is certainly a funny animal. Think about it, it’s a mammal that lays eggs, it has venom on its webbed feet, and let’s not forget the bill. Seriously, God, what were you thinking when you created this wonderful creature? (For the record, the platypus is one of my favorite animals) And then he apologizes to those who would be offended because now he got on the platypus’s case.

2. The movie starts off with an excellent line that really sums up something I’ve learned myself: “Faith is like a glass of water. When you’re young, the glass is little, As you get older, the glass gets bigger and the liquid just doesn’t fill it anymore. So, periodically, the glass needs to be refilled.” No matter how deep into the faith you are, you will need to refill it so you can still maintain the “childlike faith” that God wants us to maintain. I have problems with this myself. My solution: look at the beauty of nature. Sunsets do it to me every time.

3. When Serendipity said she takes issue with anyone who sees faith as a burden  and not a blessing. This reminded me of how people often don’t consider thanking God enough and will only come to him when things go sour and even then, they whine and complain. As Christians, we are supposed to involve God in both our successes and failures. We are supposed to see each day as an offering to lay at God’s feet as a gift. After all, if it weren’t for God, we wouldn’t even have the day in the first place!

4. The “Buddy Christ” statue Cardinal Glick (George Carlin) unveils at the church. I thought it was funny, personally. Who says all the pictures of Jesus have to be depressing? He was human too, don’t forget.

5. The two fallen angels. Smith remembered that since Loki and Bartleby are fallen, that technically puts them on the “wrong” side.  So naturally, everything they do, we aren’t supposed to approve of. I especially liked the scene in the boardroom where Loki named off every sin the executives had committed and comes across one woman who hasn’t done any major sins. He actually spares her. It reminded me of that scene in Genesis where Abraham asks God if there was at least one good person in Sodom, would he spare that one person. God said yes.

6. When Bethany doused the burning bush with a fire extinguisher, I laughed hard.

7. Rufus. Just Rufus. Especially when he complained that the whole reason he was left out of the Bible because he was black. Yep, that’s Chris Rock for you. But the best line he said? How about this:

Bethany: Christ? You knew Christ?
Rufus: Knew him? *bleep* owes me twelve bucks.

Okay, now for the bad points:

1. Kevin Smith is, at best, what you would call a “lapsed Catholic”. It’s basically the same thing as being nominally Christian. He doesn’t want the trappings of the church–the rules, the doctrines, none of that. He really just wants to keep right on sinning. It just doesn’t work that way, folks. Yes, our sins are forgiven–but you have to be truly sorry. We have to do our part. I don’t think Kevin Smith wants to do his part. This brings up another problem.

2. Rufus tells us that God wants ideas, not beliefs. He believes the whole problem started when we wrapped a whole religion around Christ’s teachings. Look, that’s not what Jesus was about. He himself said “I come not to abolish, but to fulfill.”  Yes, he wanted us to pass his teachings along. That is the point of religion.

3. My biggest beef was when it was revealed that Mary had other children besides Jesus. This is a heresy.  According to Catholic faith, Mary was a virgin both before and after Jesus’ birth. His depiction of Jesus having siblings can be considered a bit blasphemous for this. Now, there are times when we do see people referred to as Jesus’s siblings, but this is what you call circumlocution. Those people were actually Jesus’s cousins, a word that doesn’t exist in Aramaic. It was simply easier to say “brother” or “sister” than “son of my mother’s brother”. Also, if Jesus did have brothers, then why would he have left Mary in the care of John the Evangelist, who wasn’t even a blood relative?

4. The second scene with Cardinal Glick. He had the audacity to imply that Christianity wants to “hook [kids] when they’re young”, prompting Jay to compare it to the tobacco industry.  Look, the whole reason any religion is taught to the young is to keep the faith alive.  If we don’t teach the young, the faith won’t spread. This is  nothing like the tobacco industry, which poisons people. Faith enriches people.

5. The scene where Metron claims that Jesus didn’t want to fulfill God’s mission that was laid out for him. Sorry, I don’t buy that. That doesn’t sound like someone who loved us enough to lay down his life for us.

6. When we finally see God in the flesh, so to speak. Now, I have no issue with God being played by a woman. Here’s a little something that may sound heretical to some of you: I believe God has no gender. So no, having Alanis Morrissette as God didn’t bother me. What bothered me was how she was portrayed. She’s portrayed as a gleeful child. To me, this almost makes me think Kevin Smith is implying that we are all God’s playthings and that God is, well, a jerk.

All in all, this isn’t really that bad a movie if you have a strong enough faith to take some constructive, well-deserved criticism. I know full well the church’s people aren’t perfect, so I took all that in stride. I guess what helped was what I knew–Kevin Smith isn’t Richard Dawkins or Bill Maher. He actually is a believer. He just has his doubts. And God certainly has room for doubters, just ask Thomas.

Bio of an Aspie Catholic, Part II: What is Catholicism

Now I want to close my intro by explaining the basic tenets of Catholicism.

Here is how the Catholic church defines itself in the catechism.  (the catechism is sort of “user’s manual” on Catholicism.) The word Catholic means universal. There are two senses to this. First, it is catholic because Christ is present in her. She receives Him “the fullness of the means of salvation (Eph 1:22-23) Secondly, the church has been sent out on a mission from God to bring His kingdom to Earth [Catechism paragraphs 830-1]

The Catholic church sees the sacraments as signs of God’s grace on Earth, not mere symbols, as most Protestant denominations do. There are seven in all: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance (confession), Anointing the Sick, Holy Orders (joining the priesthood), and Matrimony. [Catechism 1113]

The Catholic Bible is bigger than most Protestant Bibles. The following books are included in the Catholic Bible: Tobit, Esther, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1st and 2nd Maccabees. (for more info, go to this site: http://www.beginningcatholic.com/books-of-the-catholic-bible.html

At the core of Catholicism is the Eucharist–the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is called “transubstantiation.” We Catholics believe that Jesus is present in both the bread and the wine, but the bread and wine remain the same in appearance.

So, why have I chosen to be Catholic? Actually, I’m what you call a “cradle Catholic.” That means I was baptized as an infant. There are many things I like about being Catholic:

1. The communion with the Saints.

2. The actions required for the Mass.

3. The fullness of the traditions within the church.

In fact, most of the times I have visited Protestant churches, I have felt awkward and out of place. It’s not that I’m prejudiced against Protestants, far from it.  I just feel so uncomfortable because they celebrate Jesus so differently from what I’m used to.

Bio of An Aspie Catholic

Welcome. Come in and sit on the comfy chair. The name’s rocklobster, and I am an aspie and a Catholic.

What, you don’t know what all that means. Here, let me tell you.

Aspie means I have Asperger Disorder.

For most of my life, I was unaware of my disorder.  I spent most of my school years in special education, but it never seemed like I “belonged”. I did not seem mentally disabled; it was mostly my questionable social skills. As my stepmother would say, I’m book smart, but not street smart.

It was not until I started college that I learned the truth.  My stepmother was quite surprised, to say the least.

Asperger Disorder is named for Dr. Hans Asperger, who discovered it in 1944. His work was not translated until 1991, which explains why there is so little info on it. Dr. Lorna Wing calls it a “triad of impairments affecting social interaction, communication, and imagination, and accompanied by a narrow, rigid, repetitive pattern of activities. [“The History of Asperger  Syndrome” in Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism?, Current Issues in Autism Series (New York: Plenum, 1998), pp 11-27] It shares qualities with the following PDD’s:  Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Integrative Disorder, and Fragile X Syndrome. Because most AS people hit developmental peaks early, they appear normal, albeit with unique interests and styles of of social interaction. The condition currently has a ratio of 1 in every 80 births, according to new research I’ve heard about. It’s more common in boys than girls.

Some of the common autistic behaviors I exhibit are as follows:

  1. Persevation– Repetitive Behavior: In my case, I like to make lists because it helps me to organize.
  2. Lack Of Eye Contact— My stepmother has worked very hard to correct this, but it is still a problem.
  3. Linguistic Comprehension–In my case, in my youth, I had inability to differentiate between rhetorical and non-rhetorical questions.
  4. Stereotypies–Repetitive motor movements. In my case, I pace a lot if I’m bored.
  5. Preoccupation with special interests–Aspies like myself may collect lots of info associated with our interests (my parents dubbed me the “little encyclopedia” because of all the stuff I had learned from books I’ve read)
  6. Lack of Empathy regarding others’ feelings.
  7. Increased sensitivity to certain stimuli — I find loud, ringing noises EXTREMELY irritating.

I usually not depressed about my situation. I consider my AS a gift from God. My willingness to interact with others has led to meeting interesting people, both in real-life activity as well as online. Many of these people have actually helped to enhance my spiritual journey. The years I spent in special education classes exposed me to people with various mental and physical disorders, and made me see them as people, not as objects of ridicule, disdain, or pity.

So what are my interests?

They include the following:

My buddy!

God

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sci-Fi:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Wrestling:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Music:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Christian Music:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I hope you will follow me as we journey together with Jesus. Remember the words of G.K. Chesterton: “The Christian ideal has not been made and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”