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Filtering by Tag: Young People

The Chains of Calumny and Detraction

Allie Reis

“The tongue of the scandalmonger is like the worm which gnaws at the good fruit, that is, the best actions that people do, and tries to turn them all to bad account. The tongue of the scandalmonger is a grub which taints the most beautiful of the flowers and upon them leaves behind it the disgusting trace of its own slime.”

This quote is from St. John Marie Vianney when he was speaking about those who spread rumors and gossip about their neighbor. Such gossip can be defined by two words, calumny and detraction. The sins of calumny and detraction are very harmful to the soul, and are so easily committed in our modern world. But what are the exact definitions of calumny and detraction?

In the Catholic Encyclopedia, calumny is defined as: “Any form of ruse or fraud employed to deceive another, particularly in judicial proceedings. In its more commonly accepted signification it means the unjust damaging of the good name of another by imputing to him a crime or fault of which he is not guilty.”

And detraction is defined as, “The unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer.”

In other words, calumny is when you tell others lies about your neighbor's reputation, and detraction is when you use something the person is guilty of to harm their reputation.

St. John Marie Vianney compares such sins to when worms gnaw at fruit. The reason for this is because when we gossip, we are harming the part of our neighbor that can be very difficult to heal – their name. Every person has a right to their reputation and good name, and as Catholics we should always be aware of what we say of others and how we treat them. Each soul we come across is a reflection of God, and an opportunity to either offer up an act of love to Him or betray Him. Let us then focus on what we can do to fight these vices and grow in holiness.

Charity as a Beautiful Virtue

Though charity can be difficult at times, especially if our neighbor is testing our patience, it is a beautiful virtue that will help us grow in sanctity. St. Albert the Great says: "It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for ‘God is Charity’.” (1 John 4:8)

Because God is love, and created us all out of infinite love, He desires us to also love one another and help each other reach eternal happiness in Heaven. Our neighbors do have their faults, but so do we. And every time we are charitable to them, and offer up the times when it is difficult, God will take our acts of love and use them to draw us closer to His Sacred Heart as well as help us grow in virtue.

Charity towards our neighbor helps us with patience, humility, and many other virtue. In times of difficulty let us pray for the grace of charity and humility, so that no matter who we come into contact with we will be able to see a beautiful creation of God and treat them as God’s wills us to treat them.

Being Watchful

When we are trying to do our best to grow in charity, it is important to be watchful in what we say, how we act, and the way we associate with others. It is one thing to be careful with speaking negatively against someone, but another thing when those around us are speaking uncharitably. St. Francis de Sales says: “When you hear ill of anyone, refute the accusation if you can in justice do so; if not, apologize for the accused on account of his intentions … and thus gently check the conversation, and if you can, mention something else favorable to the accused.”

St. Francis de Sales has a great perspective on when we hear someone being spoken of poorly. Mentioning a kind remark, or even managing to change the conversation is extremely helpful, and will always help in protecting someone’s name. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we should burn with the desire to protect their reputation just as we would with our own. It may not be easy at times, especially if we do not get along with someone, but the more difficult the act is, the greater God will help us.

When It Happens to Us

Even if we try our best to be kind and generous, a time may come when someone will desire to tarnish our reputation. They may bring up the past or make up a false story entirely, but let this not dishearten us. We should pray that God gives us a perfect balance of being able to defend our reputation, as well as being humble if we have been given this cross.

Our Lord Himself, who was perfect in every way was spat upon and crucified! If others are putting us down and we feel the weight of our crosses on our shoulders, Jesus will be waiting to strengthen and support us in our pursuit for sanctity. When God gives us a particular cross to carry, He never makes us carry our crosses alone. In fact if we did not have God helping us, we would not be able to walk even the shortest distance.

St. Ignatius of Loyola once said: “If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ.”

Every moment of suffering in our lives is an opportunity for holiness, merit, and offering of love to the Most High. Our time on earth is short, and if we are going through hard times it is simply a sign that God wants us to be great saints.

So when people attack our name and reputation, let us defend ourselves tactfully, offer up all that we can, as well as always keep in mind to surround ourselves with people who will lift us up rather than pull us down. If we place ourselves in the hands of those who do not care for us and our well-being, it will be much more difficult to live a life of peace in the presence of God. On the contrary, time well spent in Catholic company, with those who are walking the narrow path with us, will be much more beneficial to our well-being and spiritual lives.

Let us always pray for the grace of humility and discernment when situations are difficult. God will give us all the inspiration we need if we pray for the grace and depend on His infinite and eternal love.

The Devil's Many Masks

Allie Reis

Recently I heard a talk from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen about the devil, and all the ways he hurts and deceives us. We can get so caught up in life and the distractions around us, that the presence of the devil begins to fall behind shadows.

Archbishop Sheen begins his talk by first explaining how the devil tries to convince us that he does not exist:

“Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death. The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: 'I am Who am.' The essence of the devil is the lie, and he defines himself as: 'I am who am not.' Satan has very little trouble with those who do not believe in him; they are already on his side.”

He will first try to convince us that he does not exist. He first whispers in the ears of modern thinkers: "The spiritual cannot possibly exist! Never mind some evil being who is plotting your destruction. Think logically, believe what you see alone and all shall be well." He convinces them that the only beliefs they should have are in things visible, and to eliminate the spiritual. This may be fine for a time to the modern mind, but the human soul cannot live off of material things forever. The reason for this is because the soul and mind are not material and need more sustenance than what the material world offers. Once these people realize there is more to live than materialism, the devil will return and whisper, "Well if I do exist, I'm not that bad at all! If there is a guy with horns and a pitch fork tail, it's a pretty funny concept that should not be taken seriously."

Fulton Sheen goes on to give three characteristics of the demonic, to help us understand what to look for: "Our Blessed Lord one time went into the land of the Gerasens… and He found in this land a young man possessed of the devil. (Luke 8: 26-40). The Gospel mentions three characteristics of this young man. First, he was nude. Secondly, he was violent and aggressive. They could not even keep him in chains. And thirdly, his mind was split, schizophrenic. Our Lord said to him, 'What is your name?' He said, ‘My name is Legion.’” Archbishop Sheen explained that impurity, violence, and a destruction of inner peace are all characteristics of the devil.

We can see all of these traits in our modern world today. Firstly, we have impurity all around us these days – whether it be in advertisements, in the way people dress, in popular music, etc.  Then, there is the trait of violence, which can also be found all around us, especially in entertainment for the young. Finally, we have the absence of peace. Without peace, we cannot function. It helps keeps us motivated and focused, it keeps our eyes raised to Heaven. If the devil can take away our peace, fill our minds with violent and upsetting thoughts, as well as corrupt our flesh with sins of lust, it will be easier to drag us down to hell.

These things may appeal to our fallen human nature at the beginning, but our soul in grace turns away from the things of the devil. Pray always for the grace of modesty, humility, and peace of soul. The devil may have the power to tempt us, but he will never have enough power to drag us to hell without our consent. A soul goes to hell, always because a decision has been made, not because they were tricked or broke innocently under pressure. God allows temptation from the devil mainly to strengthen and test our souls. After all, if we were never put to the test and have opportunities to prove our love for God, the love we have for Him would grow dull and weak. We must choose to use temptations for His greater glory and the salvation of our souls.

If we begin fighting against the devil and become aware of his temptations, he will try especially at this time to prove he’s a nice guy. ‘It’s in your nature, you know you want to commit this sin,’ he whispers to us, reminding us of the sins we struggle with the most. He pretends that he’s your friend, that he wants you to obtain all that you desire on this earth.

If we do happen to commit a certain sin, he immediately turns on us and tries to convince us there is no hope. “How could you sin again, after God has forgiven you so many times? Surely there is no way He can forgive you again.” The devil may seem to be your friend while he tempts you, but will show his true colors – of his wish for you to burn in hell – after you’ve fallen from the state of grace. Our Lord, on the other hand, has the opposite approach. When we are being tempted, He encourages us with His grace, to stay faithful in order to gain strength and prove our love and fidelity to Him. After we fall, He calls us back to His side, opening His arms in mercy to us. If we have true contrition, He assures us that His mercy can cure all injury and weakness.

Therefore, we must be very aware of the reality in which we live. We do not just live in a material world, but rather live on a spiritual battlefield, fighting for eternal life. This may be easy to forget at times, especially when we are young, but if we are confident in God and His Providence, He will protect us even when we forget. Follow the Commandments, receive the Sacraments, fulfill your daily duty, and all shall be well. Winning this spiritual battle does not necessarily mean we have to be praying at all times, or being constantly aware of the devil’s presence, but simply following our beloved Shepherd on the narrow path.

Let us then pray for the grace to be aware of the spiritual, and have that balance between worldly duties in this world, and spiritual duties. The devil may be smarter than us, and hate us to our very core, but we have God, Our Lady, and all the Angels and Saints on our side to defend us. What is satan, compared to the infinite power and goodness of God? The devil’s power is but a drop of water compared to the oceans of God’s love. We need not fear, or watch in anxiety, but fight bravely with the sword of St. Michael, all throughout our lives in order to defeat the enemy. We were put on this earth to fight for Christ in peace and joy, because it is fighting and proving our love for the Heavenly Father that will make us truly happy.

Answers to Arguments against Modesty

Allie Reis

If we find ourselves being attacked from all angles when we defend modesty and purity with our actions and principles, there is a reason for this. Our modern world has been so plagued with immodesty that any remnant of tradition and good morals needs to be snuffed out according to the modern man. Especially for the young, these new ideas of “body positivity” and “self-expression” are meant to destroy their appreciation of modesty and grow their desire to dress improperly. How then should we defend our rights and duty to dress modestly when these arguments come up?

We should first be clearly confident in our mind that modesty is the right thing to do. If we are doubting, for example, wearing skirts all the time, and deep down have a desire to wear skinny jeans, how are we ever going to properly defend the virtue of modesty? Modesty is a beautiful virtue where we set guidelines concerning proper dress, action, and speech, in order to be respectful to God, ourselves, and our neighbour. Once this beauty is established in our minds, it will be much easier to defend when we are being questioned about our choices. Below are a few common arguments that can be easily worked out if we have the confidence and knowledge we need.

“It’s my choice, and if people don’t like it they don’t have to look.”

This argument has become stronger and stronger as feminist ideas poison our world more every day. They argue that it is their choice to dress however they want, and if men have a problem with it, they simply need to stop looking and objectifying women. What feminists don’t realize is that they are the ones who are objectifying themselves. Immodesty takes away the beauty and sacredness of the human body, and makes it into an object for lust. If this is the “empowering” choice they want to make, how are they doing a service to women?

If we ever come across this argument, we should use the beauty of modesty as a counter. When we dress modestly it is far more empowering because we are not only showing a respect towards ourselves, but to those around us. We are choosing not to show our bodies, because as humans with eternal souls, we are so much more than that!

Also, the idea that people can look away is a very uncharitable argument. Do we also ask people to look away when we are committing other sins, like theft or murder? We should take into consideration the effect we have on others, especially if we are a young girl around men. They are not objectifying us if they feel tempted towards us, it is simply a natural trait that humans follow. And because it is natural and can be a temptation, we should be considerate of this and show our beauty through modesty rather than by showing too much. Modesty does not mean not beautiful, it simply means dressing properly and appropriately in order bring out natural beauty in the best of ways. Those who are against such principles should be distant from us in order for us not to be influenced in a poor way.

St. Francis de Sales once said: “Frequent not the company of immodest persons, especially if they be also impudent, as is generally the case; . . . these corrupted souls and infected hearts scarcely speak to any, either of the same or a different sex, without causing them to fall in some degree from purity; they have poison in their eyes and in their breath, like basilisks. On the contrary, keep company with the chaste and virtuous; often meditate upon and read holy things; for the word of God is chaste, and makes those also chaste that delight in it.” Let us then not be deceived by arguments that try to blanket the things that harm us as liberty, for it will only lead us to unhappiness and emptiness in our heart.

“I need to follow fashion trends, and modesty takes away from my style.”

If we think that modesty will take away from our style, we need to rethink what modesty is. Modesty is not defined by overly long skirts and baggy sweaters that hide our figure completely. It is not the absence of color or expression, but really the true definition of beauty and style.

Coleen Hammond, in her book Dressing with Dignity, speaks of the effect of modesty and how it brings out the best in ourselves and others:

 “In the past, I have found that when I am dressed in a neat, modest and feminine manner, men will hold doors for me, help me find things in the store, and offer to carry the items to the car for me. However, if I run to the store dressed in my ‘work clothes’, I am treated as ‘just another one of the guys’. No one holds the door for me. No one helps me find what I need. No one offers to carry the wood to the car for me. So, before going to get the saw blade, I put on a nicer dress, a quick coat of mascara, and fixed my hair. Guess what? The guy at the hardware store helped me find the saw blade. Not that I was fishing for his help or was trying to manipulate him, but more that it feels good to be able to help bring out the best in someone else. Isn’t it nice to see men who still have a sense of chivalry and treat women with respect.”

The idea that modesty takes away from your fashion or style is then simply ridiculous. Is it easier to be fashionable with short shorts rather than a skirt? Let us then defend our ability to be creative and fashionable when people argue that we can have no sense of style with modesty. Through modesty we return the value of beauty to ourselves, and this form of beauty can easily be built around our fashion style and preferences of color, material of fabric, etc. Nothing is stopping us from being fashionable; all we must do is set guidelines for ourselves and all will fall into place.

“I will wear a skirt for church, but the rest of the time does not matter.”

Many traditional Catholics can fall into this error of modesty. They believe that they should be modest in church and around their fellow Traditional Catholics, but as soon as they go back into the real world they no longer need to dress the same way. If we begin thinking this way, perseverance in the Faith will be extremely hard, if not impossible. Because as we grow older and begin making decisions on our own, modesty will begin to become farther and farther away, until one day it disappears completely.

As Catholics we need to decide what side we are on: the side of modesty, or the side of immodesty. There is no middle ground where God says it is ok to dress in revealing clothes in this circumstance, but not in that one. When we begin thinking this way, other aspects of our Faith fall into the danger of being compromised as well. Perhaps impurity will be okay sometimes, or drunkenness occasionally is permissible – we will begin finding ourselves in a variety of pitfalls that will compromise our Faith. As Catholics we must be firm in our beliefs in principles, or there is no point at all.

These few arguments are just the beginning to what we will hear by worldly people when we decide to be modest. Yet we should not be afraid of such questions, but see them as opportunities to stand up for the Faith and deepen our confidence in our principles and standards. Asking questions is part of life, and should not be something we run away from. If we ask ourselves these tough questions, it will deepen our confidence and prepare us for when others wonder about our way of life. If we pray for this confidence, modesty will turn into a life-changing virtue, rather than a burden.

With St. Padre Pio, let us pray for this confidence in God’s holy ways:

“O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence and trust in Thy Divine Mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of Thy Church. Help us to love Thee with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath Thy Cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our crosses that lead to heavenly glory. May we receive Thee with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow Thee to act in us as Thou desirest for Thy greater glory. O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of Thy heavenly Father. Amen.”

Video Games: A Good Form of Entertainment or Unnecessary Distraction?

Allie Reis

As Traditional Catholics, topics like video games may seem unimportant until they begin affecting those around us. We may be a parent who is struggling with children playing too much, or a spouse whose significant other has become too distracted and is neglecting their duty of state, or even recognize that we personally struggle with an addiction to video games. In any case, small topics like this should be discussed on occasion in order for us to have material to use and think about when a temptation or struggle like this crosses our path.

Our world is doing a very good job with filling our lives with distractions, that if we do not educate ourselves and set boundaries and lines when it comes to things such as modern technology, modern fashion and the like, it will become far too overwhelming and seem impossible to be a Catholic. But it is not impossible at all. In fact, our times offer us the greatest opportunity to fight for the Faith and become the greatest of saints. If God has placed us in this time of the world and this situation, He knows we can become very holy and merit great rewards in the here and now. Let us then take a look at the issue of video games, and what we can do if those around us are struggling

A first point that has to be taken into consideration is what kind of video games are being played. If these games involve anything unnecessarily violent, impure, or promote any other kind of sin, such games should be avoided entirely. This may seem harsh to those who play such games, but how will we resist sin if we are constantly looking at it and becoming desensitized?

Pope Pius XII in his 1954 encyclical Sacra Virginitas on holy virginity, speaks about the occasion of sin: " On this point it should be noted, as indeed the Fathers and Doctors of the Church teach, that we can more easily struggle against and repress the wiles of evil and the enticements of the passions if we do not struggle directly against them, but rather flee from them as best we may. For the preserving of chastity, according to the teaching of Jerome, flight is more effective than open warfare: ‘Therefore I flee, lest I be overcome.’ Flight must be understood in this sense, that not only do we diligently avoid occasion of sin, but especially that in struggles of this kind we lift our minds and hearts to God...."

We can tell ourselves as much as we want to, that even if great amounts of violence and impurity are always in front of us that we will not be affected, but this is only what the devil wants us to think. Before we know it, the impurity online, on the television, and all around us won’t seem like such a big deal anymore and it will become much easier to sin. So  regarding whether we should play video games with questionable themes, it is better to avoid them and protect our eternal souls, rather than put them in danger and become unfeeling when we see sin and corruption.

Once it has been determined that the video games we are playing do not have bad content, we should ask ourselves if they are taking us away from our duty. In this article I will not condemn video games altogether, since at the end of the day playing games on a screen is not a sin. Also when you treat something that is not necessarily evil and condemn it, people who are struggling will not find the encouragement and comfort they need to break such a habit. Therefore, if we find the games we are playing are not making us sin or putting us in the occasion of sin, we should look at how much time it is taking up in our lives and if it is distracting us from our daily duty.

If we are saying our daily prayers, doing our duty of state (whether we are a student and are studying properly, or a mother taking care of her children and the house, or a father making his wages to support his family), and having a bit of time to play games as a form of entertainment and relaxation, then there is no evil in such an act. All things should be done in moderation and common sense, and if this is your intention when playing video games, God is not going to look at it as one of your faults.

To give a contrast, St. Anthony the Abbot says: “The devil dreads fasting, prayer, humility, and good works: he is not able even to stop my mouth which speak(s) against him. The illusions of the devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.” If we are doing things like fasting, saying our prayers, and doing our best to follow God’s Will, video games are not an evil. As long as we follow the will of God we need not worry or be anxious, but trust that God will take care of us and take us to Heaven.

Finally, if we are going to use video games as a form of entertainment, let us take time to reflect on other hobbies we could get involved with, instead of gaming. Hobbies such as drawing, reading, or playing a sport, all these things not only relax us but help us grow and strengthen our minds and bodies. Video games may be satisfying in the moment, but between what they do to our eyes as well as our minds, perhaps we can spend time in a better way. We should always try to use our time wisely, and considering how video games can be very addicting, it is usually best to try and distance yourself from them as much as you can. After all, we do not have much time here on earth, and would not want to waste the precious time God gives us.

Therefore, if we find ourselves struggling with wasting time, especially with video games, let us pray to God that He will make His Will known and help us find good ways to relax and spend our days. It may seem like God has no time to be prayed to about something like video games, but if we place absolutely everything in His hands, we will find the happiness and peace we are looking for.

As St. Francis de Sales prayed:

“Lord, I am Thine, and I must belong to no one but Thee. My soul is Thine, and must live only by Thee. My will is Thine, and must love only for Thee. I must love Thee as my first Cause, since I am from You. I must love Thee as my end and rest, since I am for Thee. I must love Thee more than my own being, since my being subsists by Thee. I must love Thee more than myself, since I am all Thine and all in Thine. Amen.”

The Saints did not keep a part of themselves for God and a part of themselves for the world, but rather gave all to our heavenly Father in order to reach perfection. At the sound of this, the young might think the path to perfection is too strict and boring; but when the same young people feel empty because they have sat in front of a screen all day and have gotten nothing done, the path to perfection won’t seem so dreary. God did not create us for dreariness; rather He created us to love Him and in turn will give us bliss in this life and the life to come.