From the Mouth of the Bible Geek

Here's something I found on lifeteen that discusses an idea I mentioned a long time ago. It's an article by Mark Hart, the Bible Geek and can be found on www.lifeteen.com

Check it out.


It's about that old discussion of FAITH VS. WORKS

--Joe Martinez

Something to Think About...

So, school's out and this is the time of year where I know personally, my faith life starts to slip. I wanted to bring up the the passage under Mark 1:17. Jesus says, "Come after me, and I will make you Fishers of Men."

I was thinking about this during my youth group meeting last week. We were doing Lectio Devina and I started thinking about those words. I've had a lot of people tell me I've played a part in bringing them to church for one reason or another. So, I didn't feel like the fisher of men part was what I should have been hearing.

But don't think I'm being arrogant until you hear the next part. I thought and prayed some more and realized that though I had nrought people to church, I myself was currently not in a good state right now. My faith life was in a bad spot. It's not enough to bring people to Jesus. You yourself need to know him as well.

Think about this: Judas the Iscariot also heard the call to be a fisher of man. I'm 100% certain he converted some people. He was a desciple! Of course he led people to Christ. Yet, he was not himself converted to God which led to his downfall.

Don't be like Judas. Leading people to Jesus is awesome. It's all of our goals. But make sure you are converted, or that you are on the road to conversertion before you try and push anyone else in that direction. You must practice what you preach as they say.

Anyway, as far as my story goes, I'm doing better. I was kind of in a St. Augustine, "Lord, Convert me, but not yet." But I'm working on it day by day. It's the summer guys. Schools out. No more pressure (hopefully). Time to get away from all that bull pucky you surrounded yourself with and find something better.

Fight the good fight guys,

--Jeo Martinez


Your Calling

Your Calling
By Jerome Placido

The past few weeks I was visiting family in Australia and my cousin posed a problem to me which I found very interesting. She said her youth group in Melbourne had such a hard time recruiting girls to join their prayer meetings and the guys greatly outnumbered the girls at this point.

It was interesting because with my experience in youth groups I’ve always found that the girls ALWAYS outnumber the guys in any event that didn’t involve a sport when it came to youth ministry gatherings. Thought I’d share what I told her I would say those girls interested in deepening their spirituality. I suppose you could say the same things to guys as well.

How many times have you been disappointed? Has anyone ever hurt you in your past and even betrayed your trust? It’s natural for anyone guy or girl to at times feel weak and in need of someone to hold on to but were there ever times that there was no one there for that?

The truth is life is full of those moments and everyone we meet in this world will at least once bring some sort of disappointment in our lives because no one is perfect. But that doesn’t mean we should close off ourselves to the world and the possibility to love, because then what’s the point of living? There’s got to be something more, that makes sense of all this madness and there is.

Imagine someone who loved you before anyone else did, who cared for you and held you gently in his mind before anyone else could do so in their arms. Has never, nor will ever, hurt you, disappoint you or betray you. He lived and died for you, and gladly offers Himself for you daily to speak with Him. Love unites the two of you, and your pains only strengthen that love when you run to Him. He won’t push you away when you hurt Him nor will he walk away from you when you move further from Him. No one has ever loved you the way He has and others can only imitate it but never surpass it. I’m sure you know who I’m talking about, but this is only the tip of the iceberg and the more you think about it the stronger you’ll feel the pull to be closer to Him.

Sure some of you may not be called to religious life and take Christ Himself as your spouse but if you do not know the love He has for you and, in some way, reciprocate that love then any other attempts to love will always fall short of perfection.

He’s waiting for you and has been waiting for you since the beginning of time. Take a moment and imagine all the planning that had to be done to bring you into this world and understand it was not by chance that you were created. Daily he perpetuates or continues the offering of Himself because he desires to be united to you, accepted by you and give you the peace and love that only comes from Him.

He has given you all the means and asks you like he did to St. Peter, “come.”

How do you become a Saint?

How do you become a Saint?

By Eric Sammons

APR. 18,2010 (http://ericsammons.com) - Yesterday I wrote that the Catholic’s proper response to the scandals is to become a saint. Someone then emailed me and reasonably asked, “How do you become a saint?”

I have always taken a very practical view of this question. I don’t see sainthood as something mysterious or ethereal. I see it as something every person can obtain if they take concrete steps to do it. Here are five steps I would recommend:

1) Ask God to make you a saint. Frankly, without His help, it’s a losing battle, so you better begin with this. The good news is that He is more than willing to help you in your battle for sanctity.

2) Frequent the Sacraments. Frequently. Most spiritual directors advise attending Mass daily if possible, and confession at least monthly. I would recommend going to confession even more frequently, for it prevents our little sins from growing into big ones.

3) Pray. Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day in private prayer. You can’t know what God wants from you unless you talk to Him a lot.

4) Practice the virtues. This is the least flashy of all the recommendations, but it is vital in the battle for sanctity. One cannot be a saint without being patient with your spouse and kids, kind to your co-workers and loving to your parents. The first step to being a saint is being human.

5) Read the Bible and the lives of the saints. If you want to be a professional baseball player, you are going to read about those who have already achieved that level to see how it is done. Likewise with sainthood: reading the Bible and the lives of the saints gives great guidance for becoming a saint yourself.

Obviously, there are many other things you can do on the path to sanctity, but if you just follow the five steps above, you will be well on your way. And don’t be discouraged when you fall in your attempts to practice these steps. A distinguishing mark of the saints is that when they fall, they always get back up.

View this article in ParishWorld.net


A Tip for Temptation

A Tip for Temptation
By Joe Martinez

Sorry guys,

I know its been a while since I've written anything. I can always make excuses, but I'd be more productucive if I were to just start writing, right?

Anyway, I have a tip for you guys.

I've been listening to some cds by Jason Evert who works over with Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com) and I learned an awesome strategy for dealing with things.

You ever been in a really tempting situation?

Like, let's be honest, you ever hanging out with your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you find yourself about five minutes from doing somme crap you said you weren't going to do again?

Or guys (Girls, skip this part a sec), let's say you're trying to kick that habit. Let's say you know what habit I'm talking about (because right now I'm not talking about drugs or alcohol and this habit sometimes involves a computer.)

Girls, you can come back now.

Maybe you're habit is drugs or alcohol and you find yourself really tempted.

What do you do when you're in that moment and you find yourself ready to plunge over the edge into sin? Well, what Jason suggests is offering up your temptation to God. He expalins it like this, "If I were to tell you, 'Don't think of an elephant. Everyone DOn't think of an elephant. Whatever you do, DO NOT think of an elephant ok?' What did you just do? THink of an elephant right?" He goes on to explain that when you're being tempted by something, simply telling yourself to not think of it will not work. In fact, it will never work.

Instead, invoke the name of God.

Let's imagine I'm a guy who has cheated on an ex-girlfriend in the past (hence the ex-). I have promised myself and my future girlfriend that I will never do it again. Oh crap, but ahead of me is this bombshell babe. No! Don't think of her. Don't think of her. <-----That's not going to help.


I see her, and think-- "God, I am very tempted right now by this girl, who is very beautiful (it's key to use clean language in prayer), I offer this temptation up to you so that you might make my heart pure. Please let me have eyes only for my girlfriend.

And I promise, that if you do this enough, your heart WILL be made pure.

And this doesn't just work with purity..

"Jesus, right now I really want to go buy some beer, but I don't want to get involved in that again. But I'm really tempted right now, God. Help me, God. I offer this temptation up to you. Make my body clean so that I do not crave alcohol anymore because of what has happened to me.

Or whatever you're struggling with.

God doesn't ever give you more than you can handle. And he will always give you help in breaking through temptation. All you have to do is ask.

--Joe Martinez



By Jerome Placido

This past week I walked into church waiting for daily mass to begin when I noticed that there were more people there than usual. Actually the entire church was filled as opposed to being less than a quarter filled, which is the usual for daily mass. Then I remembered that it was the scheduled time for that parishes special Healing Mass for this Lenten season where a visiting priest was there to celebrate the Mass then afterwards pray over individuals who had some sort of sickness, injury or any other ailment.

As I stood there in the back, because there was no where left to sit, I reflected on this whole “healing” that people expected to happen. I suppose I’m a little cautious when it comes to these things and I do reserve myself a little bit more when it comes to having someone pray over me for healing. But then again I do not doubt at all that there are those given by God with the gift of healing as is the case with Fr. Fernando Suarez (if you’ve ever heard of him).

Then I was moved by the thought that there is a much more silent killer, a more subtle ailment, which all are vulnerable to but are unaware of. It is the sickness of sin that stains the soul and ruptures our relationship with God. More than a healing of physical afflictions we all need healing on a more spiritual level. Whoever we are, where ever we’ve been or haven’t been, in the light of Christ we can see the spots and cracks of our very souls and must realize that we need to approach Him to be healed.

Whether it’s healing from the sickness of anger that maybe we’ve inherited from our parents our learned as a “self defense” mechanism from hard times in the past or maybe healing from a brokenness of some type of substance abuse, alcohol or drugs. Let’s not forget lust, sloth, pride, and the rest which are spread wide and far by men and by the devil. The problem is that most don’t even see these as something negative, or serious, which makes it all the more deadly. But truth is that we more than just sprain or bruise the spirit, but we paralyze our souls and create our own wall separating ourselves from God’s Grace which is the very life of our souls.

It’s not hard to know what we suffer from. Actually for the most part we know our own predominant vices, those bad habits which we can’t seem to kick. But it’s not enough to have a general idea on what ails us, that’s why it’s a good idea to regularly examine ones conscience. In the Ignatian Exercise (look it up if you have to) it states even twice a day is a good practice when it comes to examining ones conscience. Basically we ask ourselves, “How do I stand in my relationship with God?” For this we might need a little help, and there are plenty of resources online and in our local parishes, but here’s one link I found handy

So what happens now? This is where most people, including myself, get stuck. For one reason or another we see the problem but don’t see or approach the solution. What is the solution? Well for afflictions of the soul let us consult the Divine Doctor whose image and likeness we were molded in. We can resort to simple things like sacramentals (i.e. rosary, devotional prayers, medals, images, etc.) but our best bet, especially if that particular ailment is mortal sin (meaning an act of grave matter done with full knowledge and full consent), is the sacrament of Confession. In confession it is Christ Himself who embraces and envelops us with His mercy and healing grace.

The Church teaches that its members should avail to Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year, but that is not a maximum despite the practices and opinions of many. In fact the truth is many don’t go to confession for years which is both sad and dangerous. The great saints didn’t weren’t always perfect, where did they obtain the grace to reach such tremendo us heights of sanctity? Confession is one essential element of that equation.

How often must one go? Well let’s look at it realistically. For as long the soul is stained with mortal sin “it causes exclusion for Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell…” (CCC 1861). Basically mortal sin, even one, is enough or the soul to lose Heaven. The means which Our Lord gave us to free ourselves from this is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and we should run to it when we have knowingly and willingly offended God gravely.

But what if it’s not mortal sin? Then its venial sin, which means one of three elements which make sin mortal is not present. Now I know and have heard personally much of the complaints or concerns about frequent confession especially when it comes to confessing venial sin so let’s quote directly the teaching of the Magesterium because we know with them we cannot go wrong.

In 1943, Pope Pius XII wrote:

"As you well know, venerable brethren, it is true that venial sins may be expiated in many ways that are to be highly commended. But to ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue, we will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased in virtue of the sacrament itself" (Mystici Corporis 88).

St. Thomas Aquinas and many other saints practiced daily confession. I know many today who do the same. But this must be done with caution lest we begin to become scrupulous or begin to take the beauty and grace of the sacrament for granted. It would be best to find a good spiritual director or regular confessor and ask him whether or not this is something worth trying.

We have the problems but God has always been and will always be the solution. It’s both an act of faith and humility when we approach God in this sacrament where he is more than ready to let his mercy pour out upon all His children willing to accept it. Great saints weren’t born holy or perfect, most of them had their fair share of time in the confessional. In reality it’s in the confessional where the saints truly had their beginnings.

(I didn’t get into many of the smaller details of confession but here are a few more helpful sites about the sacrament of confession)


A.C.T.S.: A Wonderful Format for Prayer

A.C.T.S.: A Wonderful Format for Prayer
By Jerrome Placido

When was the last time you told someone, “I love you”? We’ve heard the phrase about 50 times on the last hit comedy-romance. It’s a theme popular for most of the songs playing on the radio, and it’s something we dream of saying to a special someone. But when was the last time we said those words to God?

When was the last time someone made you cry because of something they did or didn’t do? When was the last time you made someone cry for the same reasons? Think about the swirl of emotions that goes through someone in the midst of heartache or disappointment. How often do we go through that surge of emotions when we offend the one who loves us most?

During this last leg of the Lenten season we should reevaluate two of our goals in all our practices. We must increase in both Love and Repentance. How do we do that?

One major obstacle would be to see God as He truly is. What’s that? Well… God. Yes God is our friend, our companion, greatest example of love and sacrifice, our Provider and Redeemer but above all of these He is God. How can one grow in love or feel sorry for having offended Him if he doesn’t realize who He is. The danger of this is for those already matured in their spirituality or for those just beginning. It’s the danger of becoming over familiar with God and lukewarm in our spirituality. How sad it is when one realizes that he has not said to God, “I Love You” in quite some time. Even the gestures which show love and reverence like a simple genuflection become outward signs of nothing within.

But you see the beauty of our faith is that daily we are given so many different ways to express our love for God. So when one does nothing at all to express his/her love and falls into the trap of tepidity God becomes greatly offended for He first loved us and desires only that we love Him in return. But how can we love God if we do not recognize Him for who He is.

I remember the very first confirmation retreat I did, we had one talk entitled “Jesus is my Homeboy.” There were a few violent reactions and some negative responses but at the time I had a hard time understanding why. But it wasn’t the talk which brought concern to some of the participants more than it was the way in which we referred to Jesus. Not to say that it was wrong, but I can now see the fear and caution now that others saw. It was a concern in the way one views Jesus and how we approach Him.

There’s the concern that one might be intimidated or simply clueless on how to speak to God, the common response would be to speak to Him as if He were any average Joe we meet on the street. It’s great for starters but we have to realize that our relationship must progress to something more, something deeper. Let’s not forget we are the redeemed and He is Redeemer, we are creatures and He is Creator.

That’s why the common format used for prayer is A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). We first make an act of adoration, that is acknowledge that it is God who we speak to, who deserves reverence, awe and adoration. Then we make an act of contrition, understanding that no one can remain blameless in His sight and so we recognize before God that we have offended Him and express sorrow for doing so. Thanksgiving is then needed because He gives us so much already and before we can ask for more it is right and just that we thank Him for all He has already given us. Then we pray in supplication, that is, we ask God to supply for us all that we need materially and spiritually and have faith that we are heard and He will give us what is best for us.

But it’s not only in prayer that we show our love for Him; let us maintain always that presence of God. That is, realize that He is always with us, in a special way when we receive Him truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. So with that in mind, and with a growth in our love for Him, let us realize that when we offend Him, we in a certain way forget ourselves, forget that we are the creatures who owe everything to our Creator. We finite beings offend God who is infinite and his pains run deeper than we can ever imagine when He see’s man, His greatest work, rebel against His infinite love and mercy by our disobedience to His will and commands. How can we be sorry for our sins or show Him the love he deserves when we forget who He is, and forget that He’s ALWAYS there.

The challenge is to not forget the object of our love, and to grow in that love for He has never for a moment forgotten us. We can easily fall into the trap of indifference but the solution is to entrust ourselves to the Blessed Mother who knows perfectly how to love our Lord, for she loves Him endlessly and that love is ALWAYS new.

That is why I suggest before praying in the ACTS format, entrust your prayer to her who prays for us and with us. It’s nothing new, there is no saint who was not Marian and many of our modern day saints in the making now already have made it their personal practice, rather than ACTS let us follow a MACTS format (Marian, Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).

“To Jesus through Mary.” – St. Louis de Montfort