The Life Issue

Photo from marchforlife.org.

amazon prime banner2
This post is sponsored by Amazon Prime.  Support EPIC Radio by trying Amazon Prime.

 

So God created humankind in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Children are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness. (Matthew 19:18)

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ (Jeremiah 1:5)

One of the first commandments that the Lord gives to us is to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).  Later, in Exodus, He tells us “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13).  The command here is very explicit.

The Pro-Life issue has become a contentious one in recent times, especially politically.  For example, there are some Catholics in office that “personally oppose” abortion but “publically support” it.  Now, it can be very easy for us to quickly judge those people, however we are also told “do not judge, so that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:1).  We do not know what is on people hearts.

That being said, it is up to the legistlatures in this country to out law abortion, euthinasia, and the death penalty.  Me, personally, as a Catholic, I think we should call upon all Catholics, Christians, and other pro-lifers to help us achieve these goals.

But let us be clear, this is not just an American issue.  Ireland (a Catholic state), under pressure from the United Nations, is considering repealing its eigth ammendment to its consititution, which says this:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland quoted Pope Francis in his 2018 New Years Address saying, “To serve human life is to serve God.”

In Iceland, a report was released saying that they had “eradicated down sydrome.”  This report was false, they were aborting all children who had been diagnosed with it.  It was very disappointing to see that the American news company, CBS News glorifying the report with a headline titled, “few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” (This link does not go to CBS, but the National Catholic Register).

This prompted the beautiful tesitmony by Frank Stephens, a man with down syndrome, about how the quality of life of people with down sydrome is really, not all that bad.  He also became the first man with down syndrome to testify before Congress.  I encourage everyone to watch his tesitmony.

But we have had a victory recently.  Ohio governor (and former presidential candidate) John Kasich signed a new bill into law that bans abortions on children diagnosed with down syndrome.

As I wrote back in October, we cannot settle for the small victories.  This is one of the reasons I will be in Washingdon, DC on January 19th.  I will be standing up for those who do not yet have a voice and who entitled to the same rights as you and I.

Thousands of people will be marching in Washington for the March for Life, and thousands more will be marching in their local communities, and millions more will be praying for the safety of the unborn.

My parish in Raleigh, like many others across the country, added an extra line to the prayer at the end of each decade of the Rosary.

O my Jesus
Forgive us our sins
And save us from the fires of hell.
Lead all souls to Heaven
Especially those who most need Divine Mercy.
Jesus, protect and save the unborn.

This January, I ask that you all pray for life.  Pray for the unborn, the disabled, those who do not choose life.  For politicians who make these decisions and for those that will be marching in Washington and all across the country for the protection of the unborn and the end of euthinasia and the death penalty.

 

amazon prime banner2
This post is sponsored by Amazon Prime.  Support EPIC Radio by trying Amazon Prime.

 

 

New Years Resolutions

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store.

As we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, it is common here in the western world to make new years resolutions in an effort to better ourselves for the new year.  However, our modern culture tells us these should be about how we look, what we eat, or where we shop.  All of those are good things; we should look presentable, should try to eat healthy, and we should buy products that support human rights.  But many Christians are passing up on an opportunity to better themselves as followers of Christ.  Today’s blog post is about what I am doing for the new year and lists some great resources to help you better your faith life and relationship with Christ.

My resolution this year is to memorize a Bible passage and reflect on it throughout the year.  A close friend of mine told me about this and it sounded like a great idea to me.  The passage I am starting with is Romans 12:9-12 (taken from NRSVACE):

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

We all struggle with things and I am certainly no exception, so by doing this small thing, I hope to overcome at least a few of my personal issues.

Reflecting on Scripture is always a good action as we are reflecting on God, himself (recall the beginning of the Gospel acorrding to St. John).  If you are thinking about doing this, find and pray about a passage that speaks to you.  Sometimes it can be hard to find the right passage, so ask a close friend or a spiritual advisor to help you, just make sure you’re ok with giving them a little time.

Perhaps you want to reinvigerate your prayer life in general.  Morning prayer is a great way to start your day.  It sets the mood and asks God and the saints to interceed for you during the day.  The following are a list of prayers that I start most morings with (no one’s perfect):

I also try to read the days Gospel readings (you can subscribe to those by email from the USCCB) and then Bishop Barron’s Daily Gospel reflections.  The titles above are linked to places where you can purchase, find, or subscribe to these products.

Also, the Laudate app is excellent source for daily readings, and daily saint reflections.  It also has a huge prayer database.  You can download Laudate for Apple, Android, and Kindle.

Other resolutions that you can make include going to daily mass at least once a week (or more), recieveing the sacrament of Confession once a month (or more), or volunterring with you local Catholic charity or Parish.

Let’s bring in 2018 with hopes of achieving our ultimate goal, Heaven.  Happy new year everyone!

Ps. New episode of EPIC Radio this Friday on Divine Mercy Radio and Saturday here!

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store.

 

Advent Reflections – Week 4

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store. They have an excellent selection and their products make great Christmas gifts!

Now, I want you to close your eyes and say, “It is the fourth Sunday of Advent” fifteen times.  It is also Christmas Eve, but we have four Sundays of Advent and that is what this post is about.  I would like to apologize for the absence of last weeks post.

Today’s post is short and simple.  In today’s Gospel, we hear the common story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary to tell her that she is to bear the child Jesus.  When Mary hears this she says, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).  American Catholics are more familiar with the traslation that we use in the Angelous (“Behold I am the haidmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to thy word”). 

Think about this phrase.  This is Mary saying yes to God.  Have you said yes to God in all that he has asked?

Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you have found this short reflections helpful in preperation for Christmas, the birth of our Lord.  We will have new episodes of EPIC Radio coming out in the new year and (hopefully) a few new blog posts coming out within the next few weeks.

Enjoy your time with family and have a blessed Christmas.

product_banner1

Advent Reflections – Week 2

This is something I mentioned in the last post I made.  We’ve noticed that lots of people read our blog and listen to our podcast, but very few people subscribe to our blog by email or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.  We would very much appreciate it if you were to do so.  Since we are a small program, any recognition or credibility we get by the amount of our followers is extremely helpful.  Thank you.

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store. They have an excellent selection and their products make great Christmas gifts!

A quick note to the reader:  These readings can be found from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  They use the New American Bible, Revised Edition.  The version I used in high school and prefer is the New Revised Version, Anglacised Catholic Edition.  The quotes may vary slightly from those found on the USCCB website.

So, we have made it through the first week.  Hopefully the reflection that I gave you and the link to Ignatian Spirituality was helpful.  I want to start this post with some selections from yesterday’s readings.

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

 

See, the Lord God comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms,

and carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead the mother sheep. (Isaiah 40:10-11)

 

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. (2 Peter 3:10)

 

[S]trive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish. (2 Peter 3:14)

 

‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’  (Mark 1:7-8)

 

As we can see in the Scriptures, Advent is still a time of perpetration and we are called to continue working on ourselves so that we can be ready for the second coming of Christ.  As I mentioned before this sort of preparation is difficult.  It certainly isn’t meant to be easy.

It is very hard to model ourselves based off of Jesus, who was perfect in every way.  But, in order to complete our goal, to be granted salvation we must try.  As we continue through Advent, this time of preparation, remind yourself of the questions you ought to be asking yourself at the end of every day:

Did I do as Jesus asked me?  Am I modeling myself on Christ?  At what points today have a fallen?  Am I ready to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven?

Again, here is a useful piece from Ignatian Spirituality.

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store. They have an excellent selection and their products make great Christmas gifts!

Advent Reflections – Week 1

Before I get on with the post, I wanted to mention something.  We’ve noticed that lots of people read our blog and listen to our podcast, but very few people subscribe to our blog by email or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.  I would very much appreciate it if you were to do so.  Since we are a small program, any recognition or credibility we get by the amount of our followers is extremely helpful.  Thank you.

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store. They have an excellent selection and their products make great Christmas gifts!

Happy new year everyone!  It is advent in the Catholic church and thus has begun our new liturgical year.  For these next four weeks leading up to Christmas, I would like to offer to you some weekly gospel reflections.

Before I get into this week’s though, I want to talk about what advent means.  The word “advent” means “coming.”  And it is true that during these four weeks of Advent, we are preparing for the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  These reflections are meant to prepare ourselves for Christmas.  In addition, similar to Lent, were are preparing ourselves for the Lord’s second coming.

Here is the Gospel reading from 12/3/17, the first Sunday of Advent:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”  (Mark 13:33-37)

Bishop Robert Barron tells us that it is true that Christianity is a religion of fulfillment (Jesus has already come to save us), but it is also a religion of waiting.  We wait and watch for Jesus second coming in the fullness of his power.  And we know that all great things must take time.

So we wait.  But as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, we cannot fall asleep.  We know not the day nor the hour.  Sleep here is analogous for turning away from the faith.  Faith is something that we shouldn’t just go through the motions with.  We must stay active within it.  If we go through the motions, it is easy for us to miss what God is trying to tell us.

So what is Advent for?  As I mentioned above, it is a time of preparation, a time for us to remind ourselves that there is more to this life than just us.  Everything a Christian does should be to work towards their salvation.  Advent gives us a time to think about ourselves and where we are spiritually.

As we enter this first week of advent, ask yourself these questions.  Am I just going through the motions?  Have I been paying attention in mass?  Where am I now with Jesus?  Finally you should ask yourself, if he came today, would I be ready?

For the majority of people in the world, the answer to that latter question would be no (it is certainly a no from me), but we can work towards that point.  I believe we should start by treating Advent similar to Lent.  Both are times of preparation, so in order to right ourselves towards God, perhaps we should give up something, make a sacrifice, or begin to do something that will further our lives spiritually.  Whatever short term goals you have now, just remember, the ultimate goal is Heaven.

I am going to leave you with this link to a site run by Loyal Press.  They offer some good resources to prepare yourself for Christmas.

Arts & Faith: Advent—First Sunday Imaginative Prayer Exercise (Cycle B)

Have a great week.

product_banner1
This post is sponsored by JMJ Products, the web’s first Catholic store. They have an excellent selection and their products make great Christmas gifts!

 

The Mass isn’t Boring

Its a common critique among young Catholics and often used as an excuse for not going to mass.  “It is boring.”  Well that depends on why you’re there.  I’ll be talking about that now on EPIC Radio’s blog.

in doctrine uncorrupt

It is a common critique among Catholics, young Catholics especially.  To a certain extent, I can understand that, it is certainly fun to be lectured at.  But I believe that mass is exciting.  It is one of the few times when Heaven meets Earth.

There are cultural reasons for thinking the mass is boring.  If you haven’t read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death (you can listen to it for free with an Audible.com trial (wink wink)), I highly recommend it.  It was written back in the 1980’s (there is more than a few references to President Reagan) but it is painful to see how accurate it is, even in today’s society.

In the book, Postman refers how that in our society, everything is being done for entertainment.  The news is cut into short little bits and stories jumped from one to the other (It is hilarious that “NowThis” is a reputable news source, since this used to be the saying when news casters  would make a switch from one topic to the next.  Usually the topics weren’t related).  I remember asking someone why they went to a non-denominational Christian church and I remember the answer was “well the people are nice and with all the singing and such it feels good.”

We are living in a society of pleasure seeking people.  People expect to be entertained where ever we go, and, unfortunately, people are expecting that in the mass.

Now, I have nothing against contemporary masses (AQ uses the music from the Mass of St. Anne, and I’ll admit, it’s grown on me), but I generally prefer an organ and a more classical mass.  It seems with some churches (obviously not all), they have switched to more contemporary tunes to draw in more young people (I’m not talking just about Catholic churches).  While there’s nothing wrong with this inherently, the pastor or priest needs to be questioning why young are only coming if there is contemporary music.  They might find that it is because of it’s entertainment value.

The point of the Catholic mass is not to hear a really good sermon, but that is good.  It is not to hear scripture, although that is good too.  It is to join in the Eucharistic celebration.  Jesus gave us his flesh and blood so we can one day meet him in His kingdom.  He says in John 6:54, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”  That is why we should be at mass.

I would like to encourage everyone to listen to the prayers that the priest is saying during the Eucharistic Prayer and after you receive the Eucharist, reflect on what was said while Heaven and Earth were meeting.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who according to the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, hast by Thy death given life unto the world, deliver me by Thy most sacred Body, which, I, unworthy, have presumed to receive, from all my iniquities and from every evil, and make me ever to hold fast to Thy commandments and suffer me never to be separated from Thee. Amen.

I want to know more about what you think with this.  Comment and share below.

 

Why?

So this wasn’t what I had planned to write about this week.  Similar to many priests and their homilies this past Sunday, I had to change at the last minute.  This post is going to be on the First Baptist Church shooting in Texas yesterday morning.  For a good synopsis on what happened, here is an article from the New York Times.

I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon to find on all the major networks a breaking news alert that there had been a shooting at a Texas church.  Like many people (unfortunately) I didn’t feel remorse or regret because this has become an all too common event in this country.

It is likely that many of us young Catholics and Christians, especially those of us that struggle to understand evil in the world, asked yesterday “Why would God let this happen?”  We probably asked the same question about New York last week, Vegas last month, the South Carolina church shooting in 2015, or any horrific event that has happened in our society.  If God is all knowing and all powerful and all loving, why would he allow evil things like this to happen in our world, especially against his own people?

Well (and I know I’ll get negative feedback for this answer) God gave us free will.   The Catechism says this about freedom and free will:

Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.

The evil that was committed in these atrocities was an act of free will that was not directed towards God.  In the next line of the Catechism it says ” there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning.”

God did not create a perfect world.  He did so within his infinite wisdom*.  Within his wisdom he created a world that would have to ultimately progress itself towards perfection.

God cannot stop us from doing stupid things, it would be a violation of our free will.  We can stop us from doing stupid things.  Now, we may all have to pray for strength or work hard to stop doing stupid things, but we, ourselves, are the only ones that can stop it.

So what are we supposed to do about things like these injustices?  There is a whole bunch of political answers that I could give here that I won’t.  For now, I’ll stick to a faith based answer.  Well first pray for the repose of the souls of those that lost their lives.  Then pray for the perpetrator, that this person may be penitential in the face of God.  Then pray for the world, that the people of the world will work together to end suffering, injustices, and expedite the perfection of the world.

Oh God, let all of those who have been treated unjustly and have lost their lives because of it, be welcomed into the light of your face.  Have mercy on us all we pray, though sinners, we may some day be worthy of standing in your presence and serve you.  

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.  (Let the Church say) Amen.

There will be a post on the Mass later this week or next.

*for a good explanation of this, click here and scroll down to “Divine Knowledge.”

Editors Note:  A previous version of this post had said “The Catechism defines evil as:.”  This has been changed to “The Catechism says this about freedom and free will:.”

My Conversion

in doctrine uncorrupt

I’m a cradle Catholic, so yes it is possible to claim that I have not had a “true” conversion to Catholic faith, but I would like that cradle Catholics have, at some point, chosen to remain Catholic.  I’m going to dictate my experience here.  Most of this post is me giving some background information on myself and why I’m qualified to give the advice I did at the bottom.  If you’re just interested in the advice, just skip to the last few paragraphs.

I was baptized in March of 1999 by (now) Msg. Ingam (last I heard he is the current pastor at St. Joseph’s in Raleigh) at Our Lady of Lourdes in Raleigh.  My parents then made the decision for me to attend Lourdes from Kindergarten up until partially through my 7th grade year.  In 2012 my family moved to Botswana because my father took a position at the American embassy there.

During my time at Lourdes, I don’t remember thinking much about the Catholic faith or why I was Catholic.  I was no St. Therese or St. Dominic Savio.  I was mostly there because that was the school my parents had chosen for me and I never gave it much thought.  I just went through the motions as a young Catholic kid.

When I moved to Botswana I attended a school called Westwood International School.  This had been my first time I attended a different school, and it was a very difficult change for me to go from a decent Catholic grade school to something that was completely different.  I want to be clear I’m not trashing public schools or non religious schools, but it was not a good fit for me.  However, I would like to say that Westwood is not a very good school, it has gotten a lot worse, since I went there, and the American embassy no longer recommends it to its employees.

This was really the first time I had encountered anyone that really didn’t hold the same faith and beliefs I did.  I remember Sam H. in my class vehemently denying the existence of God and bragging that his father would watch EWTN and other religious networks and make fun of their beliefs.  I also remember Danyas F. saying he thought there was something, but he didn’t know if it was God or not (Danays, if you’re reading this, there is a god or there isn’t, no in between.  I know that now, I’d be happy to argue it later.).  And I remember Preetha J. who went to the Cathedral’s Sunday evening mass, but never received.  I asked her why one time and she said that her family was Assyrian Orthodox, so they would go just to hear the Scriptures.

As I mentioned in a previous post, being a location where your beliefs and views are challenged can be very good because it will help you become more steadfast in them.  Westwood did not do that for me.  I remember quietly starting to ask myself what was real and what wasn’t  I don’t think I ever decided that God didn’t exist, but I started to think that some of the things in Scripture couldn’t possibly have happened, because someone in my class had said something.

My parents enrolled me into a Sunday school like class at the Cathedral (it was on Saturdays though) and that was hard for me too.  The teacher wouldn’t always show up, I never made any friends.  It was hard to become familiar with some of these people.  The official language of Botswana is English, but most of the locals spoke Setswana to each other in their day to day lives and the other kids would do that in the class when the teacher wasn’t there.

I have a feeling the teacher was trying really hard, but because I was in the class, she had to teach it in English as opposed to Setswana, which I couldn’t understand her translation.  Granted, I was probably not trying very hard.

Its funny to look back on times like this realize how much plans change.  At that time I was certain I was going to go to Millbrook High School and then go to NC State.  I thank God every day that didn’t happen.

Our time in Botswana got extended six months, and after discussion with my parents, we determined that it would not be optimal for me to jump into a public school after going to less vigorous education that I received at Westwood.  So the next choice was St. Thomas More Academy.  I remember not caring that the Headmaster was doing a personal interview with me over Skype, not caring he was a Deacon, not caring the school was Catholic, and not caring the school had a mass every week.  I was in pretty rotten shape for my faith.

I don’t blame anyone for that.  I didn’t put effort into it, and to me, it was just another thing that people did.  After being around Danyas, Preetha, and Sam, it was just “you have your faith, and I have mine.”  There was no desire to evangelize in me, at all.

I’m just going to sum up my first two years at STMA.  I was in the same rut that I was in when I was in Botswana.  It wasn’t until my junior year that I realized how important my faith was, it was not the center of my life until then.

I can pinpoint a few spots where I had a conversion in my faith.  I think one of them was getting to know my, now, good friend Gloria DeMoura.  (You should listen to her Podcast Exclusive.  It’s pretty good.)  Gloria was the first person that I can remember, who was Catholic, that I had an open conversation about faith and what it means to be a Catholic.

Prayer at that time was something that I didn’t understand at all.  I had no idea how to pray, how to tell if God was listening, or anything.  She gave me some advice and slowly, I got the hang of it.  Now, I have a daily routine (although some days are better than others) of prayer and I make sure I at least do some.

Later, Gloria asked me if I would be interested in helping create a Catholic podcast/radio show for Divine Mercy Radio.  I said yes very quickly.  And roughly a year later, EPIC Radio produced its first episode at the American Legion in Wake Forest.

For all of you who are struggling to figure out where you should be in your faith life or what any of this means, this next section is for you.

I think I’ve said this in all of my previous posts, but pray.  Now, I understand, if you’re struggling to believe what your praying, praying can seem pointless.  You don’t have to start with anything big or starting singing a Litany of Saints.  Start by saying a Hail Mary everyday before you go to bed.  I guarantee you that this will have an effect on you at some point.  After a while, keep adding to it.  Start praying to your patron saint, for your future spouse, or for politicians and leaders.

If you have questions that you’re having trouble answering through prayer, I would plan on talking to a priest at your parish.  If its a situation where he won’t be able to speak to you until few weeks or something, I would also check out Catholic.com, the official website of Catholic Answers Live on EWTN.  You can also send us questions and we’ll discuss them with Fr. Tighe on our program!

I would also find a place that does adoration and just spend some time there.  You don’t have to pray, you don’t have to read.  All you have to do is sit there and admire Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  If you’re in the Raleigh area, Our Lady of Lourdes has perpetual adoration in its chapel.

And while you’re doing this I would find a friend that is serious about their faith and someone that you can trust.  I am extremely luck to have a friend like Gloria, and I’m certain you probably know someone like her that you can turn to when you need help.

And with that, I’ll pray for you too.  All of you struggling in your faith and don’t know where to turn, you’re in my prayers and all of us here at EPIC Radio.

PS: I’m thinking about doing a post on Catholicism and Sustainability as well as one on the Mass.  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

in doctrine uncorrupt

Matthew Handley is a student at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids Michigan.  He is one of the original members of EPIC Radio and is a contributor to epicdmr.org.  He invites you to email him, mhandley@epicdmr.org and to comment on this post.

We Cannot Settle on Abortion

Check out Matthew’s Podcast Exclusive!

This post is sponsored by Audible.com.  Just for reading our blog you can get a 30 day free trail and a free audio book download.  Each trial generated using our link supports our efforts to evangelize the Catholic faith and share Jesus’ love, mercy, and message.

Christians and pro-life groups through out the United States saw last week as a victory for the movement.  The US House of Representatives passed a bill (237 yes, 189 against) banning abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions of rape, incest, and life of the mother.  In addition to this, the Trump Administration ended “the federal requirement that employers violate their consciences to participate in the provision of employees’ contraceptives and abortifacient drugs.”  These two combined make a big win for us pro-lifers here in the US.

Going forward though we face a few obstacles.  I’ll start with the abortion ban.  This bill passed in the house, mainly on party lines.  Meaning, primarily Republicans voted for the ban, and primarily Democrats did not (let’s be careful not to lump everyone into one side or the other).  Now, it is going to face the Senate.  Right now, Republicans have slim majority with 52 seats, Democrats have 46, and there are 2 Independents.  With the current platform of the Democrat party, it will be unlikely that many of them will vote for this bill.  The Independents are unlikely as well.  Back in 2015, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would ban abortion after twenty weeks (the vote was 54-42).  They way our government is set up, the vote has to have 60 votes for it in the Senate.  If the Senate amends or changes the bill, it will have to go back to the House (the House and Senate have to pass the exact same version of the bill before it can be signed into law).

Still with me?  This bill is likely to die in the Senate.  Now I can tell you as much as I want to write to your senator and tell him or her that you, their constituent, wants them to pass this bill.  Go ahead and do that, it won’t hurt at all.  But, there is someone upstairs who can get more done than they can.  Pray.  Pray that God will change the hearts and minds of those in government to support all human rights and the right to life.  This is extremely important.  Pray for the pro-life movement and for those that devote their lives to it.  It is this way that we can get things done.

The House ban is a victory and we should celebrate, we should not forget our end goal.  This goal is to outlaw all forms of abortion and euthanasia.  Yes, less abortions happening is good, but that implies and means that there are still abortions happening.  The purpose of our movement is to protect all unborn children and everyone that is weaker and needs our help.

So, pray that God might change the hearts and minds of those in government, but also remember to pray for all those who seek our help: the unborn, the sick, the elderly, everyone who is dependent on us.  And absolutely do not for get our end goal.  If we settle, our movement will lose momentum and die.

A brief note on the HHS mandate.  We should celebrate this victory as well but also keep in mind that we shouldn’t settle for this as well.  Our healthcare system is broken and healthcare should be made affordable to everyone who needs it.  We also need to make sure that our government keeps religious liberty in all of its laws and mandates.  This is one of the founding principles of our government.  In addition to the prayers for the dependent, we should also pray for those who have no one to turn to and are needy and ask that God may grant them grace and comfort.

Here is a link to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops list of intercessory prayers for public servants.

Here is a link to  a prayer for the unborn and here is a link to a list of our prayers and novenas.

Note: the links in this article are links to which I got the information on some of these news stories from.

This post is sponsored by Audible.com.  Just for reading our blog you can get a 30 day free trail and a free audio book download.  Each trial generated using our link supports our efforts to evangelize the Catholic faith and share Jesus’ love, mercy, and message.

Check out Matthew’s Podcast Exclusive!

Matthew Handley is a freshman at Aquinas College and is one of the original members of EPIC Radio.  He is also a contributor to epicdmr.org.

You can follow him on Twitter (@realhandlez) or email him at mhandley@epicdmr.org.  He also invites you comment and share these articles!

Staying Catholic at College

Check out Matthew’s interview in his Podcast Exclusive!

I remember the first time I toured Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The campus seemed so perfect I was certain that this was the place for me to go.  I proceeded to tour a second time back in January of this year and now I am a full time student here.  My views as to whether or not this was the right school for me have not changed, I’m still certain it is.

But I’ve become very surprised at how little this college is actually Catholic in its classes.  Now, I came from a very small, very traditional, Catholic, college prep school, (St. Thomas More Academy, Raleigh.  Go Chancellors!) so my views of what a Catholic education should be are likely very different than that of those of other Catholic (or even non-Catholic) students.

I was lucky that I got Fr. Stan, the school’s chaplain, as my First Year Experience instructor. (In case you’re wondering, First Year Experience is “how to college,” a class which while very redundant for me, may be very helpful to someone else)  And I have been fortunate to get to know him and he has also been very helpful for faith based questions that might, and have, come up.  I’m also coming to the school at a time when the new Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel is about to open.  I somehow won a lottery and got a ticket to the dedication.

Through orientation, I had heard the phrase “Aquinas (or AQ) is as Catholic as you want it to be.”  For a little while, I didn’t believe that.  I came to realize that was the case when, in my first Intro to Communications, the professor asked us which pronoun we wanted to referred to as.  That was certainly a question I hadn’t been asked before.

This is because of the “free research” identity that AQ takes on.  Free research means that the professors can teach what they like, and that they aren’t bound to specific curriculum.  Most colleges and universities in the United States are free research institutions.  Most colleges and universities also tend to have a bit more liberal leaning, as I have noticed from AQ.  I’m going to come back to that in a minute.

AQ is a different type of Catholic college, though.  Notre Dame (also a Catholic university) has a tendency to be known as a party school and has at (many) times strayed away from the teachings of the Catholic faith.  AQ hasn’t done that.  AQ keeps it’s Catholic identity in many of it’s things.  It upholds the four pillars of the Dominican faith: Prayer, Study, Community, and Service.

Back to the liberal/conservative thing.  Before I go further, I would like to say what I have said to many people before.  I am a Catholic first, an American second, and Conservative third.  And I do think being a more liberal Catholic institution has helped me.  Now, I didn’t come from a “sheltered” environment, as some have called STMA, but STMA does have the tendency to lean more conservative.  The only times I had been surrounded by “liberals” before coming to AQ was at my job at WIZS in Henderson, NC.

To wrap it up I’ll say this.  Being a Catholic conservative at a liberal institution can be really good for some people.  For those that are serious about their faith, it will help you find a group of friends that are as serious as you are.  It will also help you become more firm in your beliefs.  It has been a good experience for me thus far, and I hope and pray it will continue to be a good experience in the future.

And, a word of advice to all of those discerning what school they should go to.  Wherever you go, find your Newman Center or Catholic Center or what ever Catholic campus ministry is available on campus.  And by all means don’t stop praying!

Addition: Most of this article was drafted and written before the tragedy in Las Vegas.  I ask all of our readers and listeners to pray for those that were injured, for those that are mourning, and that God will let all of those who lost their lives into His embrace.

Grant them eternal rest unto you oh Lord, may your light shine on them for ever.  May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.  Amen.

Check out Matthew’s interview in his Podcast Exclusive!

Matthew Handley is one of the original members of EPIC Radio and is a freshman student at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI.  He is also a contributor to epicdmr.org.

You can follow him on Twitter (@realhandlez) or email him at mhandley@epicdmr.org and he asks that you please comment below!