Friday, July 29, 2011

Loss and Redemption of Renaissance Men

A renaissance man is a gentlemanly scholar who has a wide array of many different talents and interests. He is well versed in manners as well as the ability to defend and protect. A renaissance man has an interest in many fields. The motto 'Jack of all trades, Master of none' is laughable to the man with more vision than most. The Renaissance man has a want, almost a need, to learn about his surroundings, to know and to feel what true love is and to find out if and when it exists. He has a deep appreciation for beauty; beauty of nature, poetry, literature, and human dignity. Well versed in the Word of God and easily held accountable when one needs a friend. He holds himself at a much higher standard than he holds the others around him. Knowing of fallen human nature he has mercy and forgiveness flowing from his heart yet a stern position held upon his own manners and sinful nature. He has an extensive knowledge of how to defend himself and how to keep his body at its pinnacle. He can see the unknown through the lenses of faith, reason, and the sciences. He feels just as comfortable in a tuxedo as he does in a camouflage fatigue aiming a rifle at a white-tail buck from 100 yards away.

When a person speaks with him, that person is left with an everlasting impression of the most passionate yet humble man with the aptitude to truly listen. He is willing to pay attention to the opinions of others yet forms his own off of objective truth. He does not care about the fads of his time, all the while having more sensibility about the falsehoods of the sad broken world that he was born into. He strives to be the best with the abilities and talents given to him from an Almighty Creator yet never wanting the fame or fortune associated with today's celebrity worshipping culture. He longs to know, love and serve something greater than he is, and that fulfillment of his desires is found within his Catholic faith.

Are there still men out there that are striving to live up to such a lofty lifestyle? Or are most men sneering at someone like this and considering his way of life a sham? Is this something that can be revived with our world? I think that it can and that true leadership into the real change that we all need depends upon it. I fear that we no longer are striving for the well rounded human being in today's society. If a person is not specialized into a field he is looked upon as a dunce. Intellectual curiosity has all but left the typical male today, as well as a deep appreciation for tradition and classical rhetoric. The ancient philosophers as well as the greatest minds of the so called 'dark ages' have left us with an everlasting ancestry of men who desire to know about their surroundings as well as why they exist. Whether it be the need for survival, a round table discussion of virtue or Bach's Mass in B minor, or leading a crowd in prayer and devotion, the real man is ready for anything, even death. It seems that men today are in great need to revive and restore the tradtional values and morals of the greats. Our current society fills our curiosities with garbage and tells us that it is gold. But we have to see things for what they are garbage can only beget more garbage, a mind filled with secularly materialistic nonsense could never write the next 'Wealth of Nations' or compose the next 'Mythopoeia'. If we are going to save our world from possible disaster we have got to start with ourselves.

The redemption of the Renaissance man is in the ability of finding one to emulate, and in finding one to emulate the best place to look is at who raised the ultimate Renaissance man. Saint Joseph is our ultimate example of becoming the all-around best we can be. In him we find strength, courage, knowledge, appreciation of beauty and ultimately the ability to raise the Divine Renaissance Man. Strength can be found in St. Joseph mentally, by overcoming all of the obstacles that he approached, physically, because he was a carpenter, and spiritually because he raised the rabbouni that would teach the world how to love. He showed an appreciation for beauty in his longing for and marriage to the most beautiful creation God has given us in our blessed lady, Mary. He knew what it took to protect his family physically as well as spiritually. He had a love for the simpler things in life and the knowledge of how much hard work can truly pay off in the end. He had the love of poetry as he was well versed in Scripture. Nothing could deter him from his faith. His ability to listen was proven when an angel appeared to him in a dream and he followed his divine orders without hesitation. He was able to woo the most feminine and exquisite woman known to man yet was able to control his passions as he knew that the womb of Mary had a special and divine purpose that he was unworthy of. He possessed the kind of wild tranquility that our Lord craves in a leader. He has an unparalleled knowleadge of the savior of the world. The decisive example of the contemplative life fused with the heart of a soldier of God produces the Renaissance man for the ages. It is extremely challenging in today's world to slow down and take in everything that is useful and beautiful but we do have an example of how to take these lofty goals to heart.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beauty is in the Eye of The Creator: Part 1

The theology of the body has awakened in our culture a true sense of what it means to appreciate our bodies. We were created by a loving and generous God whose only desire is that we get to know Him better, love Him deeper and serve Him with conviction. As a gift from our Almighty we should aim to treat our bodies with the utmost respect and admiration. This admiration calls for many things, one being that we take care of it. Physical fitness has received somewhat of a bad rap these days because of the culture of ‘body-worshipping’, which in its own right has earned the bad reputation it receives. But just as everything else that has a good heart; the devil will try and twist it into his own ideal. Keeping our bodies beautiful and presentable in the presence of God is a divine calling that we must all adhere to. God had a plan for all of us, every single shape and size, to become more united with Him through the healthy striving for beauty in this world.

We are all very susceptible to over-eating or not being physically active. Between all of the garbage we are fed through the media it is very easy to become overweight and lazy. The ‘get-fit-quick’ dreams are ultimately ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes for the fat cats in the fitness world. So where is it that we can find a real definition of truly authentic appreciation of the gift that is our bodies? Scripture. For example, Romans 12:1-2 states, ‘I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ We can allow our times of fasting or our times of physical pain in the gym or during a bout of exercise to be a spiritual sacrifice to our Creator. We can unite the beauty of the body with the beauty of the soul.

Our culture today is one of extremes. People are either living in a state of pure gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins that is basically never even spoken of today, or they are on the extreme other side of ‘no carbs, no sugar, no flavor’ and aim to be more perfect than Hercules. But these are not the lifestyles that bring glory to God, in fact, proven by the latest increase in obesity and eating disorders, these lifestyles are killing us! But I am here to spread a message of hope! 1 Corinthians 3:17 says that, ‘If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.’ There can and should be a balance of health in mind, body and soul and there are very effective and easy ways to intertwine these ideals into our everyday lives. There are proven fitness routines, eating habits and daily activities that can help us appreciate the gift of our physical bodies without tearing down our human nature or desecrating the beauty of a healthy body. The routines and habits will not be as easy as the culture promises, but they will allow a healthy timeline of real results. Uniting our goals with the will of God can and will lead us to mental, spiritual and physical perfection. Just as St. Francis always said, 'Preach the Gospels at all times and when necessary use words' we can preach the love of a Creator by keeping our bodies in a state of health.

Here is a link of a great article by Dr. Kevin Vost, one of my favorite authors, about some of these simple practices we can introduce into our everyday lives in order to become more appreciative of the physical bodies God has given us.

In the next post of 'Beauty is in the Eye of the Creator' I will speak of the dangers of some of the latest fitness fads as well as how to determine which program is best for your goals. I will also include a brief explanation of the spiritual dangers of Yoga and similar practices.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's the Difference?

Josef Mengele, also known as the ‘Angel of Death’, was a physician and researcher that performed experiments on human beings during the Holocaust of World War II. His evil motives and works are now and will be forever cringed at. When a person speaks of a mad scientist willing to perform unspeakable acts upon a human being, all in the name of ‘progress’, his work will be remembered by many. Physical sterilization of unwilling young women and girls without anesthesia, trying to physically conjoin two twins together, and performing vivisections on pregnant women before sending them to the gas chambers were a few of his horrifying procedures. All the while giving candy to the children and convincing some of the prisoners that he was good ole’ ‘Uncle Mengele’. He wanted to find out how to create a super-human being and, right along with Nazi belief, he thought that the ‘useless’ people of the world should be used in order that the ‘genetically enhanced’ people can have better lives.

Embryonic stem cell research is intrinsically evil. A God-fearing person could never reasonably believe that human experimentation can ever lead to good ‘ends’. The USCCB said it this way, ‘Because life is our first and most basic gift from an infinitely loving God, it deserves our utmost respect and protection. Direct attacks on innocent human life are always gravely wrong. Yet some researchers, ethicists, and policy makers claim that we may directly kill innocent embryonic human beings as if they were mere objects of research…’ Secular physicians have now embraced the credo of ‘the ends justify the means’ and have engrained that ideology into the very heart of productive research. We are killing off innocent and unwilling human beings for the ‘betterment’ of those that think they are going to live forever and are still striving to find the fountain of youth. Treated as yesterday’s trash we dissect and murder the most dignified and precious human beings we have!

So I ask you what is the difference between these two horrific and demonic practices? The same liberals that want Josef Mengele’s head on a plate want to fund the exact same horror on their own people! We cannot kid ourselves, the evils of the Holocaust of the 40’s has never ended, between abortifacient contraception, In-vitro Fertilization, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research, we are killing off our own race and still trying to create and find an ‘Ubermensch’! There is no difference between the horrifying and utterly Satanic attacks on the innocent! We are still on the platform of the Pharoahs who thought it would be better to kill off all of the innocents rather than possibly have a deliverer from slavery!

I will leave you with another quote from the USCCB’s document ‘On Embryonic Stem Cell Research’
“As believers who recognize each human life as the gift of an infinitely loving God, we insist that every human being, however small or seemingly insignificant, matters to God—hence everyone, no matter how weak or small, is of concern to us. This is not only a teaching of the Catholic Church. Our nation’s Declaration of Independence took for granted that human beings are unequal in size, strength, and intelligence. Yet it declared that members of the human race who are unequal in all these respects are created equal in their fundamental rights, beginning with the right to life.”

- Document can be found at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Man's Need for Adventure

I consider myself a very nostalgic person. History can help us define who we are as a person, a Church and a nation. All throughout history this world has offered men an opportunity for exploration and adventure. The sense of journeying into an unknown area or discovering an unknown civilization has been so engrained into men that we yearn for it from the time of toddlerhood. My toddlers are always finding ways to test their physical limits as well as discovering their surroundings. What is it about adventure that heaves at the soul of every man?

I recently read the novel ‘Toward the Gleam’ by T.M. Doran, an amazing book loosely based on J.R.R. Tolkien and his masterpiece ‘The Lord of The Rings’ and it made me wonder; what kind of adventures are men offered in this day and age? What new and exciting venues are we offered to fulfill that innate desire of adventure? At first, I was somewhat disheartened because for the ‘average Joe’ we do not have that great crusade or continent to conquer. We are not given a new territory to explore or treasure to be found. I was reminded of an excellent quote from ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ that says, ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us’. God put you and I in this exact moment in history for a reason.

Then I began pondering the history of the Catholic faith, what an adventure story! From heroes burned at the stake to villainous heretics whose aim was to destroy the majesty that is the Church. And it dawned on me, our Catholic faith is the adventure offered! When we decide to take our faith seriously and desire to know, love and serve the Almighty God we are called to an everlasting adventure story that will continue from death into eternity! When we decide to be men and women of action we are put in the front lines of a battle for souls! No other time in history has offered such a potent opportunity for white martyrdom. Just living out your faith in the face of materialistic hedonism is an adventure all by itself! Every single day we can find a new and interesting way of 'going against the grain' of this self-gratifying culture in which we live.

The courage and tenacity that it takes to stand up for truth when the world is sitting on their ‘Herodian washed’ hands is a higher calling than that of a physical crusade. Our civilization to be discovered is the Catholic minority that is and always has endeavored to be heard and spread the Gospel of the Son of the Living God. Our treasure to discover is the knowledge and understanding of a 2000 year old faith! We have in our possession the ability to feast on the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Christ sent to save us from eternal damnation! In a faith that desires suffering for the sake of souls we have the only righteous adventure left!