Collar

People know that I have an obsession with corgis, so when it came to writing a story about lost things during a poetry class, a corgi became the main character. This poem is about grief, and how it affects yourself and others. In the story, the corgi is grieving a loss, the loss of his collar, and he notices how big the changes in his life are, even with such a small loss.

I’m a corgi called Carlos, and I lost my collar.

And now, nobody can hear me coming.

I can’t run toward my person when she comes home

Tags jingling, ringing like a fire bell.

Silence. Running doesn’t sound the same anymore

I was running outside beneath a tree,

Feeling the low branches brush my back

I felt something tugging on my collar

I wriggled away from whatever was pulling it

I heard a snap, and then I was free.

It feels like I have a thorn in my paw.

Nothing’s really hurt but my pride.

I don’t have the status that the other dogs have.

The others lay their ears back and growl.

I can’t chew the rope toy with them.

I feel naked, like I forgot something

Shame. Grief. I lost what I hold dear.

I don’t have friends anymore.

I wish I could wriggle back to where I was

To recover what I lost.

That ring of an unknown color

(I can only see black and white)

Those metallic tags that warn I’m coming

I’m cold without them

Golly, I miss my collar.

 

I Worried All Day 

It’s not the question of whether or not the killing of Philando Castile was justified that’s bothering me. What’s bothering me is the fact that his 4 year old daughter was in the backseat of the car and saw this all play out. SHE WATCHED HER FATHER DIE IN FRONT OF HER. This will have a negative effect on her, mentally and emotionally, for the rest of her life: PTSD. This poor baby won’t understand any of what plays out: the nightmares, the flashbacks that come with the things that trigger her. This is a terrible thing to happen to anyone, especially a small child, and it all comes from one man choosing to pull a trigger. It bothers me that her life, and her mother’s life are treated like they don’t matter as much as mine, as a white woman, does. Racism exists on both sides, guys. It’s not just white people who can be racist. Black people can be racist, too. And it’s because of racism that a small child is going to bed tonight and probably crying herself to sleep because all she understands is that daddy isn’t there to tuck her in tonight. THAT is what’s been in the back of my mind all day. It absolutely breaks my heart.

From one girl who was at the scene of a parent’s death to another: you can do this. The journey is rough, but keep your head up. Remember, it’s okay to cry; crying is a sign of strength. Nobody expects you to get over this. You will carry this grief all your life. You saw something no child should see at a young age. I’m walking with you. Your daddy is with you, sweetheart. He loves you very much.

What Bipolar Actually Means

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Many people, unknowingly, use ‘bipolar’ as a word to describe someone who has crazy emotions, and has a negative connotation. That is not what ‘bipolar’ means. Here’s what it means: Being labelled as ‘bipolar’ is something I’ve have to deal with for a while now. I have to take medication for my disorder, and even then, the medication doesn’t cure it. It’s a disease; a disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a life sentence…there is no cure.

It affects relationships with everyone. I’ve lost friends because I have little to no control over my emotions, even on meds, because these people think I’ve gone crazy. Some have taken advantage of me, because my judgement is skewed during manic and depressive episodes. I really found out who my true friends are. My family’s been understanding and supportive, giving me the push I need, but it’s still hard to relate to them…they don’t have Bipolar Disorder, and I do. Romantic relationships are rocky for me. I’ve been broken up with because of my disorder, being called a ‘basket case’. Sometimes, my emotional ‘downs’ scare people away. But for now, I know I have to have someone who is rock solid in my life, and helps me through tough spots. I’ve found that my relationships need to be solid and consistent.

Bipolar disorder has definitely affected my faith. I know I’m headed towards a depressive or manic episode because my attitude towards it changes. Honestly, I need consistency in my prayer life, too. Outside of going to church, consistency is fine, but so much changes at church that I feel lost and everything seems to spiral out of control. I find myself depressed more often than not because I feel invisible when I’m there. As a result of this depression, I’ve withdrawn from God when I’m home. But when I’m at college, and there’s a routine established, it’s easier for me to go to Mass, because I feel like my needs are being met. It’s a delicate balance. I tend to go to confession and adoration a lot in a depressive episode because it makes me feel better. That’s sometimes where I’m at.

Bipolar means crying so hard it hurts, dropping to the floor because I physically can’t stand anymore. It means bursting into tears at the littlest things. It means not being able to sleep at night. It means waking up in the middle of the night hungry as a side effect of medication, and gaining weight as a result of eating so much. Bipolar can also, completely contrary to that, mean that I don’t eat at all. It sometimes means I snap at the ones I love without meaning to do it. It means that sometimes, I can’t get out of bed on a certain day, I stay in my room all the time, or need to be dragged out of bed. It means that I literally cannot function. It means being afraid to get married and have children because I know these children will have my disorder, because it’s genetic.

On the flipside, Bipolar means that I’m happy. It means laughter. It means jumping out of bed in the morning, ready to seize the day. Bipolar means that everything looks like it’s going to be okay. It means sunshine. It means strength. Bipolar means that I’m not overworking myself in school, but not completely blowing it off. Mania is that time when I feel light, healthy, and there’s not a care in the world…but it’s also dangerous. I might go off my meds because I feel so good. There’s a fine line between feeling good and being healthy. Bipolar means that I am ready to take on the future.

So, where am I at now? Good question. Newsflash: I’ve learned how to live with my disorder and sort of roll with the punches.

There are a lot of things that I am, but most of all, I am a college student, and I am strong and happy, and because I’m happy, here’s a picture of me laughing, something that has been easier to do lately. Sometimes, my disorder manifests itself in ways that I can’t control, like being sensitive to certain noises, but it’s nothing that I can’t handle. Sometimes, I’m happy or depressed for no reason, and those people who understand that my medications don’t cure it and that I can’t control it are appreciated by me, and I certainly let them know that. All my life, I’ve been told to do what I love, even if it’s multiple things, and I am going to school to do all of those things. I’ve gone so much further than I thought that I would go. I haven’t let my circumstances stop me from doing anything that I want to do, and go where I want to go.

Bipolar isn’t something that I am. It is something that I have. Stop making it an adjective for having crazy emotions within a relationship. Stop making it so negative. Some of the brightest, strongest people I know suffer from this disorder, and all you are doing is glamorizing it. Mental illness is not glamorous. It is not something that we make up. It’s real, and it’s affecting many people. There’s such a stigma put on it, albeit indirectly, and that needs to stop.

Withering

This is a poem I wrote about my parents’ deaths, and my struggle with grief magnified by depression due to Bipolar Disorder as well as my struggle with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which is known for manifesting itself in soldiers, but it is not known that civilians can have it as well.

A father tills the soil, 

bringing the best to the surface.

He helps his children, who are his plants

by planting them securely in the flowerpots

to grow and thrive, blooming in vivid colors

A mother is a gardener

She sees the flowers as her children.

As her flowers grow, she nurtures them

They flourish in her care.

She holds them close to her in the midst of storms.

Eventually they are transplanted into real earth.

Whiplash.

Everything jerked to a sudden stop.

Life was put on hold, as if the ‘pause’ button was pushed.

A pickup truck, speeding towards her like quicksilver

Crashing, the impact sounding like a blast from a cannon when it’s shot.

She dropped the flowerpot I was in.

The soil he tilled was suddenly scattered

My flowerpot shattered.

I had to be transplanted much too early.

I started wilting without my source of life.

Now, I am withering.

The Shadow: A Serious Problem

In JRR Tolkien’s Return of the King, as Sam and Frodo were traveling through Mordor, they have a conversation about the Orcs, who are the enemy. Sam asked Frodo how the Orcs have and keep life. Frodo replies,
“The Shadow that bred can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them.”
This “Shadow” is evil. Evil is a serious problem in the world, and this paper will discuss what evil is, where evil comes from, and what God’s answer to suffering (a consequence of evil) is. Evil is also one of the biggest and most often referred to objections to the existence of God. All of this will be done from the perspective of philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft.
What?
First of all, evil is not a thing. It is the privation of a something that should be present in a thing. It piggybacks on good, almost like a parasite. According to Dr. Peter Kreeft, we generally tend to view evil as a thing. We have a picture of what evil looks like in our heads. No one can escape evil while living in this world. “We naturally tend to picture evil as a thing—a black cloud, or a dangerous storm, or a grimacing face, or dirt. But these pictures mislead us.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that
God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil.”
“Evil is not a thing, an entity, a being. All beings are either the Creator or creatures created by the Creator.” God did not create evil because He is all-good. Kreeft writes:
If God is the Creator of all things and evil is a thing, then God is the Creator of evil, and he is to blame for its existence. No, evil is not a thing but a wrong choice, or the damage done by a wrong choice.
Although God is infinitely good, and evil is the absence of that good, evil is not infinite. It is a finite reality. Evil is a negative thing. Evil is “no more a positive thing than blindness is. But it is just as real.”
Where Does It Come From and What Causes It?
If God did not create evil, then what did? Well, the origin of evil is not the creator, but the created’s decision to freely choose sin and selfishness. If we were to take away all the sin and selfishness from the world, we would be living in near paradise. Even the physical evils on earth would not hurt us. “Where does evil come from? “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution”, said St. Augustine.” Well, since evil is the lack of a good, we can start there. Evil is caused by good being absent from a thing.
What Kinds of Evil Are There?
The two main types of evil are physical and moral evils. “Furthermore, the cause of physical evil is spiritual evil.” A physical evil is an evil that happens in the physical world. An example of a physical evil would be a child losing a parent, or the pain of falling and scraping a knee or an elbow. A spiritual evil is something different. It is not temporal. A spiritual evil is also known as sin.
After Genesis tells the story of the good God creating a good world, it next answers the obvious question “Where did evil come from then?” by the story of the fall of mankind. How are we to understand this? How can spiritual evil (sin) cause physical evil (suffering and death)?”
Kreeft explains that the fall of mankind brought about sin, a spiritual evil, into the physical world,
“If the origin of evil is free will, and God is the origin of free will, isn’t God then the origin of evil? Only as parents are the origin of the misdeeds their children commit by being the origin of their children.”
The spiritual evil affects much more than the physical body. It affects the soul, adversely. When the soul rebels against God, both soul and body share in the unavoidable punishment that the soul receives. A internal punishment can be something like breaking a bone or getting sick after eating something rotten. An external punishment can be something like getting a bad grade in a course, or getting a slap on the hand for stealing a cookie. Whether this consequence of sin was a physical change in the world or only a spiritual change in human consciousness—whether the “thorns and thistles” grew in the garden only after the fall or whether they were always there but were only felt as painful by the newly fallen consciousness—is another question.
“Evil Proves There Is No God”
Some would argue that since there is evil, there must not be a God. “Who would allow bad things to happen to good people?” they ask. “Why would someone so good and loving do something like that?” According to Peter Kreeft, “The unbeliever who asks that question is usually feeling resentment toward and rebellion against God, not just lacking evidence for his existence.” Because of this resentment, Kreeft says that “C. S. Lewis recalls that as an atheist he “did not believe God existed. I was also very angry with him for not existing. I was also angry with him for having created the world.”
Well, even Aquinas, when writing the Summa Theologica,
Could find only two objections to the existence of God, even though he tried to list at least three objections to every one of the thousands of theses he tried to prove in that great work. One of the two objections is the apparent ability of natural science to explain everything in our experience without God; and the other is the problem of evil.
Many people have abandoned their faith because of the problem of evil than any other reason. Evil is most definitely one of the biggest tests to faith, “and it’s not just an intellectual objection. We feel it. We live it.” How should we address these people? We must address them gently, almost like talking to a divorcée than to a skeptical scientist. The reason for unbelief is an unfaithful lover, not an inadequate hypothesis. The unbeliever’s problem is not just a soft head but a hard heart.
God’s Answer To Suffering
Often, in desperation, we ask God why he does something, because we want a human explanation for our pain that we experience. Most often, this “Why?” comes when someone is experiencing the loss of a loved one.
The answer must be someone, not just something. For the problem (suffering) is about someone (God—why does he… why doesn’t he …?) rather than just something. To question God’s goodness is not just an intellectual experiment. It is rebellion or tears. It is a little child with tears in its eyes looking up at Daddy and weeping, “Why?”
Believe it or not, God actually does have an answer and solution to the suffering in the world. The answer to suffering is in the fact that He came.
But even if you think the solution in thought is obscure and uncertain, the solution in practice is as strong and clear as the sun: it is the Son. God’s solution to the problem of evil is his Son Jesus Christ. The Father’s love sent his Son to die for us to defeat the power of evil in human nature: that’s the heart of the Christian story. The Cross is the solution to suffering and evil in the world. Spiritual evil no longer reigns free in our lives, although we feel the pain of things, still. “The answer is not just a word but the Word; not an idea but a person. Clues are abstract, persons are concrete. Clues are signs; they signify something beyond themselves, something real.”
He Came
Let’s go back to God’s answer for a while. The answer is so simple. Two words: He came. This is one of the greatest stories ever told. God sent his only Son to Earth to die for our sins, so death was not something that we feel.
He came. He entered space and time and suffering. He came, like a lover. Love seeks above all intimacy, presence, togetherness. Not happiness. “Better unhappy with her than happy without her”—that is the word of a lover. He came. That is the salient fact, the towering truth, that alone keeps us from putting a bullet through our heads. He came.
This is the answer that satisfies Job. Job is satisfied even though God gave him absolutely no answers at all to his thousand tortured questions. Why?
He did the most important thing and he gave the most important gift: himself. It is a l over’s gift. Out of our tears, our waiting, our darkness, our agonized aloneness, out of our weeping and wondering, out of our cry, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” he came, all the way, right into that cry.
God gave us himself. In giving us himself, he became sin but knew no sin. He “came also into our suffering. He sits beside us in the stalled car in the snowbank. Sometimes he starts the car for us, but even when he doesn’t, he is there. That is the only thing that matters.”
God is broken with us. He suffers alongside us, Kreeft says. Through his Son, God experienced all the pain that we experience.
Are we broken? He is broken with us. Are we rejected? Do people despise us not for our evil but for our good, or attempted good? He was “despised and rejected of men.” Do we weep? Is grief our familiar spirit, our horrifyingly familiar ghost? Do we ever say, “Oh, no, not again! I can’t take any more!”? He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Do people misunderstand us, turn away from us? They hid their faces from him as from an outcast, a leper. Is our love betrayed? Are our tenderest relationships broken? He too loved and was betrayed by the ones he loved.
Summing It All Up
Evil is something that is unavoidable in the world. We know that God did not create evil, and we know that Evil is not an infinite reality, because God is all good. But God has an answer to evil and suffering, a consequence of evil. He came. He gave us Himself.
Sources:
Catechism of the Catholic Church 385
Dr. Peter Kreeft, God’s Answer to Suffering
Dr. Peter Kreeft, The Problem of Evil

Christ, the Rebel

As surprising and blasphemous as it might sound, Jesus Christ was a rebel. He was someone who always maintained his integrity, was compassionate toward others, a healer, and a reconciler. What makes Him a rebel is how He lived. Christ treated the poor and marginalized like human beings, equal to the others. He showed them what love was. The Gospels say this, but they also say the opposite. The Gospels also say that Christ was executed as a criminal, pretty much all alone, without His friends nearby to help him get through the trouble He was in, and without that feeling someone gets when they complete a mission they were sent on. But He did conquer death.
The very things he preached were things that caused Christ to be considered a rebel. The Gospels say that Jesus did not teach and preach in the same way as the scribes and the pharisees did. He taught with authority, but not citing traditions and the opinions of former rabbis. Christ taught in the form of parables and other patterns. He also preached that one should love one’s neighbor, regardless of their cultural, religious, or social status. Through the parable of the Good Samaritan, He challenged the societal understanding of who one’s neighbor was. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 36-37). This, of course, caused the religious officials of the time to call Christ a blasphemer, but His point was brought across. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Christ also shocked many by referring to God in terms that were affectionate, like Abba, the Aramaic word for ‘Father’, or more precisely, ‘Daddy’. He prayed prayers in public that were direct, not containing any flowery language or unnecessary words, different from the prayers of his religious contemporaries. He made his own conclusions about what was proper on the sabbath day, and even to the point where He would heal on the sabbath. Christ was not hesitant to make his views known, and He voiced those views in a sort of silent confidence that drove his opponents to madness. The things He did also reflected his confidence.
He had a sense of mission. It was never extremist, but it was fearless, which was a common trait that His actions shared. It gave Him His sense of authority that made people question “What does this all mean?” (Mark 1:27). But, His sense of authority was seen as a threat to the religious and political state of Israel. He did, however, side with the pharisees in upholding the law. But this was only to a certain point. This sort of friendship between Christ and the pharisees ended with His critique of how they interpreted the laws and His challenging some of their priorities.
They decided. Something had to be done about this rebel, Christ.
One of his friends turned Him in, betraying the one he supposedly loved for something he seemed to love more: monetary gain. And then they killed that rebel in one of the worst and most painful ways possible: crucifixion. They treated Christ like a criminal. But they took things to the extreme, practicing things that Christ would never practice. They spat on Him and mocked Him. The officials tortured him unnecessarily. The people instilled fear in most of the disciples, and Jesus was isolated from everyone, making Him “less of a threat”, if He ever was a threat. He hung there on the cross, dying, suffocating. In some accounts, it shows that Mary and John are at the foot of the cross, but Christ was alone in His suffering. Nobody else knew how much pain He was enduring. Just to save us from our sins.
Then He rose from the dead. He appeared to his disciples, and it surprised, and even scared some of them. But the disciples were given a mission: to continue the mission of Christ and become rebels like Him. They did, and that was how the Church was “born”, so to speak. Christians are meant to be a Church of rebels. Rebels being those who decided to live counter-culturally, and to suffer for the sake of another, being a suffering servant. We, as Christians, are called to live like Christ did.

Response to Pro-Life Movement Being Framed for the Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting

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I’ve gotten sick and tired of all the hate that the pro-life movement is getting. The shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado was NOT an accurate representation of the pro-life movement. The man may have said “No more baby parts!!” but that doesn’t make him pro-life because his actions were what the pro-life movement goes against: senseless killing of any kind. His actions were those of terrorism. He claimed to be a Christian. His actions were not Christian. They go against the tenets of Christianity. In fact, I do not condone what he did. I condemn his actions. Those who are framing the pro-life movement for this and calling our movement “extremists”, need to think about what they are saying and think about the definition of the word “extremist” in our society.
‪#‎ProLifeProPeace‬ ‪#‎NotInMyName‬

The Practical Wisdom of Catholic Social Teaching: Applied to the Death Penalty in the Secular World

Recently, the United States was able to experience the presence of Pope Francis. During this visit, it seemed that the American public became interested in all things Catholic, even if there was some disagreement with Church teaching. The Pope showed that some teachings of the Church offer some practical wisdom on the life issues and the dignity of the human life, not only religiously, but in the secular world as well.1

In his recent address to Congress, Pope Francis expressed support for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. “The Golden Rule,” Pope Francis said, “reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” Since the beginning of his ministry, this conviction has led him “to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.” Francis goes on to say  that he is “convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

About twenty five years ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty”.  The bishops wrote, in A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, that  “Each of us is called to respect the life and dignity of every human being. Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.”

Pope Francis expressed his support for them, “Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.” So even the Pope and the Bishops of the United States, who know what the Church’s teachings on the death penalty are, advocate for the abolition of this unnecessary, aggressive violence.

First, I will discuss what the Church teaches on the death penalty in the Catechism, encyclicals and through theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas. The Catechism of the Catholic Church stated that the state has the right to exact the death penalty, but neither St. Thomas Aquinas nor any Magisterial text presumes this gives the state an unlimited right to make capital laws and carry them out. It is inherent in a just capital punishment law that there be proportion between the taking of the life of the criminal and the benefit expected to the common good.  

In article 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is taught that “assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against an unjust aggressor”. But even if a criminal is identified and it is known that the said criminal committed the crime he or she has been convicted of, where does the common good come into play? How does an execution benefit the common good? One will ask those questions since the common good includes the criminal as well.

The Bishops of the United States and people such as Sister Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, assert that the death penalty is a violation of Catholic Social Teaching.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states, in article 2267, that “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority should limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.” In other words, there are non-lethal ways of rendering a criminal unable to do harm. This is stated in the Catechism as well as in Evangelium Vitae article 56. “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

That being said, the next thing that needs to be discussed is the principles of Catholic Social Teaching that are being violated, and how these principles are being violated. There are ten total principles of Catholic Social teaching, and there are three that are being violated. So I will touch on those.

The first principle being violated is that of preservation of human dignity. This principle states that  all life is sacred and that the dignity of the person is a the core of a moral vision for society. According to Catholic Social teaching  “Our belief in the sanctity of the human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.” Capital punishment takes away the dignity of a criminal. In a complete and total disregard for the sanctity of a criminal’s life, we kill him or her, because it seems like the right thing for them to do. The U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that there are two essential human rights that every human being has: the right not to be tortured and the right not to be killed.  The death penalty is just that: torture and killing. It violates one’s rights.  

The second violated principle is stewardship of creation.  Stewardship of creation insists that we show our respect for what/whomever we see as a creator by caring for creation. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith (or lives in general, whatever we might believe), in relationship with all of creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored. This is a tricky situation when it comes to the death penalty. Some could cite reasons for the death penalty being that it helps protect the rest of society.  Capital punishment isn’t actually necessary. There are other alternatives. Tougher sentencing would discourage offenders from committing crimes. Longer jail times for felons and first-time offenders would keep them from entering into society until they are able to rehabilitate.  Requiring inmates to pay for their time in prison would reduce the cost to taxpayers. Allocating a portion of a prisoner’s earnings toward facility expenses and programs would force them to “pay” for their crimes, literally and figuratively, making keeping a convict in prison for life without parole even cheaper. A portion of inmates’ wages should also be put into funds for crime victims and their families. Although money can never replace a loved one or completely heal the damage, it could help families establish a new normal and get on their feet again. The prison system in place today, at least in the United States, is more sophisticated than the one we had in place 100-200 years ago, so people aren’t as much of a danger to society anymore once they are locked behind bars. There is a possibility that the criminals could escape. There are more constructive alternatives to the death penalty.

And, the third and final violated principle is providing options for the poor and vulnerable. This principle roots itself in Catholic teaching’s proclaiming of a basic moral test, which is how we treat the most vulnerable members of society. We must put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. Christ said it himself in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25: “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” The vulnerable person in this equation, so to speak, is the criminal. We as human beings are just so centered on being vengeful about the deaths of the victims, and cannot summon enough love to forgive someone for that, even if he is not showing remorse. We already have power over this criminal, so why not use this power for good?

It’s been seen in multiple cases where the death penalty has been dealt. The victim’s or victims’ family(ies) want the perpetrator dead. Others will find it in their hearts to forgive.

But let me ask this:  Is it really worth it, watching someone die in front of you, even if that person hurt you and your loved ones?

I would have to say no, it’s not worth it.  

Bibliography

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 1994.

John Paul II. Evangelium Vitae: Encyclical : The Gospel of Life. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995.

A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005.

The Story of A Student

I go to a small Catholic liberal arts college (in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame) called Notre Dame College, also known as NDC, which is twenty minutes away from downtown Cleveland. It sounds like it’d be an easy choice, right? Not so much. I actually needed divine intervention to make the decision to even come to Notre Dame College. Nobody knows about that part of the story, and it’s definitely worth telling.

Before I applied to any colleges, I wanted to enter the convent. Yes, I wanted to become a religious sister straight out of high school at the age of eighteen. That’s the reason why I was so slow at making a college choice. It took me until December, when everyone else was hearing about acceptances, to even go to the guidance office and get my transcripts sent out. Yes, I was kind of a slow bloomer. Or so they say.

So, you’re waiting to hear my college story. My story’s not something super crazy, like going on campus for the first time and having a completely life-changing experience or falling in love with it or something like that. At first, I resisted the thought of going to NDC. I think part of me knew I was home, but I wrestled with that feeling, saying “I really don’t like it here.” But as time went on, it really started to grow on me, and I decided that I would go for two years to get my general education requirements done, and then transfer to Franciscan University of Steubenville, my first college choice and the other school I had been accepted to, and study Theology.

I would often tell myself “If you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans!”. God must have been having a good laugh, just as He always does when I make plans.

It was late March into early April when it, the big breakthrough and decision happened, just a few weeks after my eighteenth birthday (March 13). I decided to start a novena to St. Therese, the Little Flower. The Rose Novena. I have a devotion to her, and I figured she’d be the best person to tell me if I was on the right path. I told her, “One rose, and I’ll stay for two years.” On the ninth day of the novena, I was on a retreat with my home parish’s youth group. This retreat focused on the Blessed Mother. Usually, when my youth group was on retreat, we would split into a men’s session and a women’s session, and would never really interact with each other. So that retreat, we decided to show the men how much we really appreciated them. Well, that night, we planned on doing something special for each other. The men went all out. They gave all the women roses. I immediately knew what was happening. St. Therese was about to say something, and it was something big. When I was being escorted into the room, there was some slight confusion, and I was given not one, buttwo roses. That night, the Little Flower told me that I was going to be at NDC for all four years of my college career. It was really no use arguing with it. And in the next week, I wrestled with what St. Therese told me through the roses, but to no avail. The Little Flower was more stubborn than I.

I made “my” decision during my tenth period study hall on April 8, 2014, that following week. There was enough silence in that room during study hall (a surprise considering that my high school was around 2,500 in student body size), and I just focused on things that were weighing me down. Then, I just came to terms with it. I was going to NDC. And I felt better. I told my aunt that I had chosen NDC, filled out my enrollment form, and sent it in the mail. The moment the form, in its envelope, was put into the mailbox was the moment I became a Falcon. I came to NDC just once before coming to school. That was for my freshman orientation. My aunt knew what I was thinking, and when I got into the car to leave campus, I confirmed it. I said “I’m home.” A month later, I came back to start my life as a college student; a Theology major.

That year wasn’t an easy one for me, because of all the transitional things that were going on. I was slowly learning to be an adult, and I was frustrated with school sometimes, because it, too, was an entirely new experience. When the idea of a transfer was presented to me, I honestly began thinking that I was wrong about staying at NDC for all four years of my college career. So I began considering the two year route again. And that’s when God decided to pull out all the stops.

I began praying the novena to St. Therese again, this time out of sheer frustration. Her sign to me wasn’t a flower this time, but my desire to read a book she wrote called ‘The Story of A Soul’. One day, when I was stressed about something, I had to write my full name on a form: “Ana Rose Plumlee”. That just blew my mind. Every time I wrote my name, I was receiving a rose. “What if I am one of St. Therese’s roses?” I thought. The thought calmed me enough to get through that day. Then, she and God brought an amazing professor into my life; a professor who taught me so much, and encouraged me to write, to play to my strengths. What really did it for me, though, is that no matter if a professor has me in class or not is that they care about me. The fact that everyone, including the college president, cares that I have dreams for my major and wants to know what’s happening in my life, and will take the time to sit down and ask about my life and goals (That happened to me close to the end of the school year last year, and truly made my entire day). At NDC, they care for and about me. I learned one day about what one of my professors truly sees in me, and I was stunned to learn that he sees a different me than what I see. Which has not only been huge in my deciding not to transfer, but has helped me become a lot more confident. It has helped me see myself in a better light.

Now, I’m beginning year two. And I’m not planning to transfer, or enter a Religious Order. Actually, I’ve almost completed my Philosophy minor, and I am declaring my second major soon. I’ve decided to pursue both English and Theology, because those are my strengths. I have a writing internship with Life Matters Journal. I write for Catholic365. I run three different blogs (one of which is my personal website)*. Not to mention that I’m involved in campus ministry, went on an immersion trip to Guatemala this past summer, I’m in Chamber Choir, and I’m in Philosophy Club (a new addition to the list as of this year). Without NDC, I wouldn’t be in this place. When I joke about how NDC ‘stole’ me from the convent, I mean it as a good thing. I was too young for that decision. And now, God is working in so many different and radical ways in my life.

My name is Ana, I am a Falcon for Life, and this is my story.

*the other blogs I run are as follows:

imago-amoris.tumblr.com: In the Image of Love- Reflections on life and random inspirational things.

the-fat-friar.tumblr.com: Harry Potter and Catholicism- How Harry Potter and Catholic stuff do, indeed, connect. For fans of the Potter series, and for the curious.

Rant

I don’t mean to start an argument about abortion, but here’s something that someone really must think about.

If someone kills a woman, and this woman is pregnant, it is considered a double homicide. However, if a pregnant woman gets an abortion, it isn’t considered killing a human being. I’m sorry, but what the hell? You can’t consider an unborn child as human when it seems convenient to do so. Why is the unborn child considered human when the mother is killed, but not when the mother decides to get an abortion? Don’t tell me that science determines it. Because that’s bull. If you were to use science to determine whether or not an unborn child is human, you would learn that yes, when a child is in the womb, it is still human. It’s alive, it still has human DNA, and (OH MY GOSH….SHOCKER) did you ever notice that it is growing inside of ANOTHER HUMAN BEING? Science says that human beings cannot produce offspring that isn’t human. So why are people saying that an unborn child isn’t human? FLAWED LOGIC.

Okay. Rant over.