Freedom Is Not Free

Today is Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in Canada). On this day, we remember the veterans who served us by risking their lives to ensure our freedom is protected.

We all know how important freedom is. People die to have it, and heroes die to give it to others (be grateful for them!). But freedom is not actually the highest value, is not the most important thing we can have. Freedom is not even actually free… freedom is a servant. Freedom is merely a slave.

Freedom is only a tool.

And like all tools, we need to use it correctly. In fact, bad things begin to happen when we incorrectly treat something: we do not use bleach to flush our eyes, we do not use sugar to brush our teeth, we do not use a hammer to trim toenails, etc. Instead, we use bleach to do what bleach does best: disinfecting things; we use sugar for what sugar does best: sweeten edibles; we use hammers for what hammers do best: fastening nails.

This logic goes for everything in life, including how we treat ourselves and other people. When we treat others with respect and dignity, we are being moral and good. When we treat others with disrespect and malice, we are being immoral and evil. We do not use people since people are not tools, but there is a way to treat them correctly.*

But as for freedom, many people treat it as the highest value, the end of all goals, when freedom is only a tool that exists for only one thing. Freedom is even useless if this higher goal did not exist. Take a moment and try to figure out what this “higher goal” is.

Answer: freedom exists only so that love can be real.

Example: if someone threatened that you must be their friend, then their friendship is not real, because they are not allowing you to freely decide to be their friend. In fact, stay away from people who do this to you!

Another example: if a man and woman were forced to marry each other, there is no freedom in their choice, and so there is no love (and for Catholics, in this case there is no true marriage).

Final example: if God made you without freewill and forced you to love Him, then that love is actually false, because in order for love to be real, you also must have the freedom to not love. (See my Lego Movie review for more about this! Worth it… trust me.)

Soundbyte: If you cannot say “no”, then your “yes” means nothing.

*So then how does someone use freedom correctly?

By freely choosing to love others, not treating others as objects, as tools, as disposable. Freely deciding to treat everyone with respect and dignity, despite how your emotions may sway or force you (because we cannot decide how to feel, and sometimes our emotions are just plain selfish).

But why should people be treated with love?

Simple: because as Christians, we believe God created all persons in His image and likeness, and we also believe that God is love. And so, all persons are made of His love. Logically then, the only way for us to live is lovingly, and the only way others should live is lovingly, and the only way we should live together is… lovingly.

Do What the Devil Don’t Want

In the last few years, I’ve come to see more clearly when the serpent is tempting me. I don’t always know, but it’s been easier to notice, especially when I keep in mind that I want to do what the devil doesn’t want me to do. I think it’s a pretty good motto for a Christian to live by: DO WHAT THE DEVIL DON’T WANT. Some examples:

  1. The last thing the devil wants me to do when I see a beautiful person is to pray for her. Instead, the devil would rather have me lust and abuse the woman. So what do I do?
  2. The last thing the devil wants is for me to start my day by offering it to God’s will. Instead, the devil would much rather have me forget God and go on with my life in my own selfish way.
  3. The last thing the devil wants is for me to forgive my friends when they betray me. The devil would rather me lash out and plot revenge.
  4. The last thing the devil wants is for me to ask God for help and trust in the Lord when chaos and danger happens. The devil really wants me to curse the day and turn my back on Him who is the o
    only person who can truly help me.

I think you get the trend, right?BetterWay

The better way is always the way the devil hates. So always choose the better, not the easier!

And I think you realize also that by doing what the devil doesn’t want, you almost automatically do what Jesus wants.

So do not let the devil win, because if he wins, you will always lose. But if Jesus wins, then you win too. And don’t you want to win?

Movies Are Nonrefundable


A typical Hollywood film runs two hours, and costs anywhere from five to twenty dollars at the theater. Think about that for a moment.

Because I sure did whenever I sat through watching garbage on screen.

I usually give a film the benefit of the doubt, and see how it ends. But in my moviegoing life, there are just some films not ever worth sitting through. In fact, I even feel dumbed and numbed by some movies… to the point that it insults my mind to keep watching.

So here’s what I do now before I throw any of my irreplaceable time and nonrefundable cash at movie studios:

  1. I read reviews from people who know what a quality film is. That means staying away from MTV and Rotten Tomatoes. Frankly, they just all work for the movie industry anyway. Instead, I read Deacon Steve Greydanus and Fr. Rober Barron‘s (look under the movies category) takes.
  2. I analyze the previews and trailers. And then I analyze them again. What do I look for? Things like: is it lame? is it cliche? is it original and new? is it just a money-maker? does it have a great storyline?
  3. And here’s the doozy: I read the entire detailed plot on Wikipedia. That’s right, boys and girls, I spoil it and read even the ending. My logic: if I know the ending, and it’s cathartic and epic enough to still make me want to see the film, then it’s worth my time and money. Furthermore, if I go into the movie already knowing the ending, but am still in awe of it when I see it play out, then the movie is truly a great one.

And I have never regretted doing this to movies ever since I started. It has saved me money, and more importantly, time. Time that Hollywood can never return to me even if it wanted. Keep in mind that most films out today and in the past decades have been huge wastes of resources and smarts. I won’t go into detail which films I mean, but I will hope that you give these steps a try and stop Hollywood from force-feeding feces into your mind and spirit. Seriously, it’s not good for you!

Nobody wants to see a stupid film, and nobody ever wants to pay for it. So stop financially supporting studios by watching their trash. Convince them you’re an intelligent viewer (because you are!) and demand a beautiful film, beautiful both cinematically and meaningfully (because superficial special effects won’t change your life, but a compelling and powerful story will change you forever). Otherwise, it’ll be like trying to shut down cigarette companies by buying all their stock and burning it in your backyard… [facepalm dumb!]. Let’s stop supporting lame movies and start inspiring future classics that actually deserve to be made.

Some suggestions worth your viewing:

-All Christopher Nolan films (he’s the only director I trust enough not to read spoilers to his films before showtime): Interstellar, Inception, Insomnia, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Momento, Following, The Prestige.

Ex Machina (2014)

Prisoners (2013)

Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Apocalypto (2006)

Cinderella (2015)

-And my Lent movie collection

Second Year Seminarian

After two blazing years of priestly discernment, two years of prayer and healing, Jesus made it clear to me what He made me for. Let me update you on my discernment:

And here are past posts why I had entered seminary:

—–Why Seminary? And Why Now?

—–What’s “Seminary” Anyway?

The Master Plan

And so Lucifer peeked at God’s plans for Eve.
He then realized the honor She would receive.

After being the light,
The brightest and best,
Lucifer was to be dethroned.

In envy he was shown
How he would lose his place
Before the face
Of the Holy Trinity.

SatanFalls GustavoDore

[“I beheld Satan as lightning falling from Heaven.” –Luke 10:18]

In pride he denied
The destiny God made
That though Woman would rise
Lucifer should behave.

In rage he disfigured himself,
Desperately trying to beautify himself.
Twisting his teeth, parting his hair…
Chewing his cheeks, nothing was spared.

God watched His angel deform,
Asked the seraph to reject the vile.
Lucifer stared back and said with a smile,
“Not so long as Woman is born.

Never will I accept She is my superior,
To only You I am inferior!
If You are to make Her so far greater…
I want nothing to do with Her maker.”

God’s love was crushed by Lucifer,
And His sorrow disgusted His angel.
Lucifer left Heaven.
His past and all he left abandoned.

Lucifer dwelled in hell,
Renamed himself satan.
He planned to thwart and rebel…

On the very day Eve saw Eden,
satan snuck into the garden…
Slipped past Adam…

“Hey Beautiful… want an apple?”

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

© Evan Pham . October 28, 2008

*Click here for the first part: The Masterpiece

Select Chants for DHHT

Hello Beloved HT of Miền Trung (and any eavesdroppers)!

This DHHT XI, we get to go a bit old school and do Adoration with some Latin chants. These chants are ancient, and the Latin is a major heritage of Roman Catholicism (stretching back over 1000 years). If you want to know more about Latin, please look here: The Romance Tongue and Why Chant Can’t Speed Up.

But, to help us all prepare, please put these three chants on repeat for the next month, and we’ll get together in mid-July to praise the King in the Church’s mother tongue. We’ve never done this together on such a large scale, so we’re a bit nervous… but let’s do this!

—–1) O Salutaris Hostia (by St. Thomas Aquinas)

Translation, history and full lyrics here.

—–2) Tantum Ergo (the last 2 verses of the Pange Lingua, also by St. Thomas Aquinas)

Translation, history and full lyrics here.

—–3) Salve Regina (anonymous and ancient)

Translation, history and full lyrics here.

Online Resources for Catholic Truths

—–1) is a great website to ask questions and discover answers. You can even call into Catholic Answers Live and ask professional and faithful apologists your toughest questions about God, His Church, His Book, the Catholic Faith, etc. Don’t be shy! These apologists (people who can explain well what the Church believes) are here to help. Give them your best shot.

—–2) is all about the Church’s guidance on healthy relationships between men and women. The world around us tells us one thing, but the Church invites us to much more beauty than the world can offer. In fact, it was this invitation to live more beautifully that saved my faith and my life (I am serious). Take your time and really explore this website in depth. There is much treasure here. Also, please dig into the Theology of the Body if you want to know what changed my life forever, because it can change your life for the better also.

—–3) is a great resource for any of us who want to know how the Church defends herself from atheists. Fradd is also excellent at explaining why and how pornography and lust destroys not only the Church, but also destroys everyone: men, women and children. If you think porn is not a big deal, or if you know it is evil but not sure why exactly, then please give Matt Fradd some time to explain and you will be blown away:

—–4) Because Big Media these days is so biased and anti-Catholic, please look at my top recommendations here: Choose Better News.

—–5) Because the YouCat is only a kiddie summary of the summary of the Catholic Faith (aka: the Catechism of the Catholic Church), you can see the CCC here online.

—–6) Saint Paul Street Evangelization is a great ministry that helps faithful Catholics understand and also share their faith with others in a productive way. Seriously explore their resources and take your faith to the streets (this is also my official provider of Miraculous Medals, not to mention I helped design one of their prayer cards!).

—–7) Most importantly, an online Bible in Greek, Latin and English. If you’re looking for a study Bible (with great notes and detailed explanations and citations, check the Revised Standard Version – 2nd Catholic Edition here).

—–8) Lastly, because I am conceited, let me post a link to my blog right here at Here you can keep up with my thoughts and reflections as my faith in God and His Church steers me through life (check out the movie reviews!).