An Exorcism Experience

IMG_20141003_145844By now, most of America is in Halloween mode.

And I’ve been saving a special something for Halloween mode.

A few months ago, a dear friend shared with me about her exorcism experience. Now, just to be clear, she did not undergo the Ritual of Exorcism. What is meant is that she experienced the power of the exorcism prayers in the Medal of Saint Benedict (do yourself a favor and click the link!). And when I heard her story, I felt she should share it with others also, and so I offered her the chance (and SO glad she responded generously! Thanks, Sarah!). In many ways, it reminded me of the Exorcism of Emily Rose, and ultimately because both Emily and Sarah became witnesses not to the devil’s tricks, but witnesses to Christ’s power and love.

But that’s enough from me. Have a look and a listen yourself:

 

Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

Hello Holy Smack Readers!

On this Memorial of St. Teresa of Avila, may I present to you the first Holy Card I had the honor of designing for Saint Paul Street Evangelization [SPSE], a group of Catholic Apologists and Evangelists who volunteer to introduce Jesus and His Church to others in public, across the United States! I’ve even heard that this card itself has been slowly spreading throughout America’s cities.

One of the priests here at seminary asked if I would be interested in helping with this mission, and needless to say I was humbled and grateful to God for such a chance to offer my talents to this work. I only hope the Holy Spirit continues guiding me in the good fight against hatred and ignorance of the Faith.

Thank you for reading, and I’d like to especially thank the artist who shared her work so generously for this project: Nadia Kelaidinova (please visit her gallery here). May God bless her ever more abundantly!

Lastly, if you would like a card or so, please feel free to leave me a message on the Holy Smack FaceBook page, or email me at EvanPham@HolySmack.com (Of course, you’re also welcome to support SPSE by ordering from their site. The cards are sold for non-profit purposes only to keep the ministry running.)

 

JesusAtDoorCardSample

 JesusDoorBack3Sample

Re-post: He Doesn’t Need Your Sext: a Response to Jennifer Lawrence

I loved this post from Matt Fradd so much that I’m re-posting it here for your ease of access:

HE DOESN’T NEED YOUR SEXT: A RESPONSE TO JENNIFER LAWRENCE.

Why are you still on this page? Click the link above! Do it now (in Schwarzenegger accent)!!!

And if you need another supporting argument:

DESPITE WHAT JENNIFER LAWRENCE SAYS: MEN DON’T NEED NUDE SELFIES

Final thoughts: How sad the woman who thinks she needs to do such a thing to keep her relationship going, and how much more tragic the man who made her think this way.

Lord, give us the grace to love, forealz.

Stay Strong Hong Kong!

It’s another David vs. Goliath story. If you haven’t heard of the anti-communist protests taking place right now in the city of Hong Kong, here are a few articles to bring you up to speed:

But bringing you up to speed ain’t the purpose of this post. Instead, I want to share with you how stupid I once was (thank God I’m so much smarter now… right…).

When I was a high schooler, first learning about different kinds of government,

I did what most teenagers do: think they know everything. And so we get to the topic of Communism, and being omniscient, I believed that it was a great idea with only one flaw: humans were involved, and since it involved people, it would fail because people are usually greedy, stealthy and selfish.

Hong Kong_pro-democracy_protest_092814.jpgI was only partially correct — and the worst lies are those that are partly true (because that little bit of truth masks the deception from being obvious).

The real corrupt core of Communism only became noticeable to me years later, and when I noticed, there was no way to un-notice: Communism is atheist. And not only is it atheist, but it is anti-Catholic, anti-God, and anti-freedom.

Communism holds that there is no God, and so there is no religion… none except one: Communism itself. A devout communist has faith in his party, is devoted to the party’s principles, and worships its supreme dictators: Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong-il, etc.

So the Communist party is pretty full of itself. It believes it can last forever and can control everything and everyone. It believes it has the authority to give life and to take it, to grant freedom and to cancel it, because if there is no God… then what’s stopping any one from trying to be a god? This narcissistic outlook has led from atrocity to atrocity:

  1. The Iron Curtain
  2. Cold War
  3. Fall of Saigon
  4. Division of Korea
  5. Failed Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward campaigns in China
  6. Millions of aborted Chinese children (mostly girls)
  7. Infanticide, forced abortions and sterilizations
  8. Tiananmen Massacre and the Tank Man (seriously, have a look at this documentary)

[Do you see him? The lone man against the column of tanks?]

[Do you see him? The lone man against the column of tanks?]

And Hong Kong has had enough. After merely 17 years of Communism supervising it, the city of seven million is demanding free elections and a democracy. It is a tiny pinch of China, but a really important and influential pinch — and its pinching back. The rest of China has suffered for over sixty years, and I’m hoping this little pinch becomes a Holy Smack.

Pray for Hong Kong, please. If the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre taught us anything about the Communist Chinese bully, we may be seeing another atrocity soon. May God raise saints from this good fight.

HKProtest

[Has there ever been a protest this high-tech before? Can the communists cover this up at all, like they did with Tiananmen 1989?]

Modesty at Mass

Recently I received a thoughtful question from up the TNTT vine…

“If the Theology of the Body teaches that our bodies are beautiful and reflect God, why must we be modest in Church?”

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[Audrey Hepburn's quote illustrated by Alicia Vasquez.]

Modesty is not about covering up something because it is ugly. Instead, it’s about cherishing and protecting the beautiful, especially about safeguarding love and respect. Since Woman (and all things women) is the more beautiful sex, there is an emphasis to safeguard her. Women do this by dressing and behaving appropriately to help others see that there is more beauty to them than just their skin and hair (because it’s so easy to stop just there).

Since women are so attractive, it is easy for men to get caught up in the physical and external looks. By dressing and behaving modestly, they are helping others find where their true beauty is. I like to remind myself with this quote: “The most beautiful part of a woman is her.” Meaning ALL OF HER. The moment we focus on just one aspect of her person, is the moment we objectify her and abuse her. Her whole person (body, soul, mind and heart) is beautiful, and modesty helps us find that total beauty by guiding our attention to her as a person instead of getting caught up in and stopping at the external beauty. Modesty helps us treat others and ourselves with the dignity and respect we all deserve. Modesty done right, it makes us free and happy!

At Mass, we also dress modestly* to help others find where the true beauty is… where Beauty Himself is: Jesus (God). After all, God invented beauty itself! He is Beauty itself! And everything that is beautiful is only beautiful because He knows how to make it that way. So if we behaved and dressed immodestly, we are not just disrespecting ourselves, but God (because we’re distracting others from realizing where Beauty is).

Here are two posts I wrote before addressing this question:

Even the Blind See Her Beauty

How Women in Veils Inspire Males Like Me.

I hope that helps!

*Note: dressing modestly does not mean making yourself look ugly! It means having good taste, class and dignity. For tips about this, I recommend these:

1) Verily Magazine (yes, I do read this once in a while and not ashamed about it!)

2) Leah Darrow (once competed on America’s Next Top Model)

3) And a whole bunch of short articles about Modesty from ChastityProject.com (by Crystallina and Jason Evert)

Dancing at Dusk

LastDancing HT weekend, a strange group of young Vietnamese Catholic adults gathered beside a lake in rural Wisconsin and found themselves dancing for the Lord at dusk. The following is video footage providing evidence of the ocurrence, and that Evan has learned to shed his shyness of the camera (with much gratitude to the fellow dancers and videographer!)

Yet, before (or after) you enjoy the evidence, please consider why it is that we dance? Why is it that we find it difficult to sit idle and still when a good song comes on? Why can we not brush off beautiful music, or ignore terrible music either? Why do we respond with shudders or dancing?

These are questions for the Theology of the Body to answer, and without drilling into the depths, I’ll say this for now: we have bodies. We were made body-soul, and our body makes visible our invisible soul. Music is a special art that cuts easily into the soul, and depending on the type of music (yes, there are types we should avoid), we respond physically and in certain ways that make sense.

So with these two songs presented below, I’d like to say that I did not sit down and draft out the movements in a technical and premeditated way. Instead, I listened to the music and moved the way the music steered me.

And many others can move way better than I. But this is my blog, so hah…

Lego Movie Theology

LegoMovieWhen I first saw the trailer for The Lego Movie, I thought: “Dude, who wants to watch Legos when you can play with Legos?” But now I realize: why not do both?

So after reading the ever trusty [soon to be Deacon] Steven Greydanus’ review, I finally had the chance to see the film for myself and I noticed a few things…




—SPOILER ALERT—


—–1) The movie revolves around a tyrannical perfectionist who tries to brainwash, dominate and freeze the Lego-world into what he thinks is the perfect Lego world and society. Opposite this obsessed character is a resistance group trying to inspire people to be creative, to think for themselves and use their free will.

SheenTIMERight away, this reminded me of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s talk on a Perfect World versus a Moral World: essentially, what kind of world did God create… a perfect one? or a moral one? and why?

Well, we all know the world is far from perfect. Even in the beginning, when Adam and Even sinned, we were imperfect, since why could they sin if they were perfect? In fact, even before our beginning, one-third of the angels sinned and fell from Heaven! So… if even 33.33333333 percent of the angels crashed, what in the cosmos was Almighty God thinking when He made everything?
Again, we can see here that God had two choices: make a perfect world, or make a moral world. And obviously he chose a moral world. That leaves us to ponder: WHY?????!!

Because a perfect world would mean he is a puppetmaster, an overlord, a slavedriver, a Matrix. He would call all the shots, make all the moves, think all the thoughts, and do all things done. There would be no possibility for anyone else to have freewill, self-determination, self-mastery, etc., etc…. including LOVE.

That’s right — if God created a perfect world, there would be no love, because we would all just be programmed to love, we would all merely love because we would be forced to. And if love is forced… guess what? it ain’t real. We need to be able to decide to love. If we cannot choose, we cannot love. This is why we inherently feel there’s something off about a 100% arranged marriage (some parts may be arranged, but to the point of forcing the man and woman to join against their will? that’s not gonna fly in the Faith.)
HelixNebulaSo God took the humongous risk: to create so that his children have free will. Free will for what? Free will to decide if they will love each other, to love Him back. If He forced them to love, that’s not good enough because it ain’t real. So He let us choose, and many choose not to love others, not to love Him… but those who do choose love, well then their love is true, real, free, total, faithful, and fruitful (or at least become that way eventually).

God made us with freedom not so that we can do whatever we want, but so that we can choose love. Love was worth it for God to forsake perfection. Love is always worth it for Him to forsake perfection. And if even He believes so, then we should also believe perfection is worth losing for the chance to love. And once you have real love, then the true creativity begins, because no one creates something to hate it, but to love it!

And last thing: God is the only person who can make something better than perfect… over and over, for forever. What was great, He can make even greater. What was super, He can maker superer (I know that ain’t real word), and yes… what we think is “perfect,” He can upgrade into eternity.

—–2) There’s a line in the film where Morgan Freeman says: “Sometimes you have to believe in order to see.”

Well, as awesome Freeman is, this line is not his. Saint Augustine already thought this thousands of years ago, and I just learned this a few months ago! A lot of people think we need to see something before we can believe it, like an “I’ll believe it when I see it!” kind of attitude… but actually, the reverse is more important!

If scientists didn’t believe in the logic of the scientific method, if they didn’t believe the laws of nature were consistent and non-contradictory, if they didn’t believe the facts and the data, then they would never see the truth. They would be closed to their own illusions, unable to see the intricacy and complexity of what they observe.

This also goes in our relationships: if we don’t believe our mother loves us, if we don’t believe our father protects us, if we don’t believe our siblings care for us, then we will always be suspicious of them, make up reasons to think they’re untrustworthy and lying, make up a fantasy that fits our disbelief.

Augustine and ChildThis is similar in our faith in God: if we don’t believe He is real, we will not know how to see Him. If we don’t believe he could be real, we will not know where to seek Him. If we don’t believe, we close our mind (and heart) to Him and will make up reasons that explain Him away instead of thinking more, meditating and contemplating into the deep.

And so, keeping an open mind involves leaving the window open, but also keeping the screen on… since there are always pests that want to sneak in and distract you.

—–3) Lego is successful because it teases our creativity. There’s a line that Saint John Paul II once said: “Man is, in a sense, condemned to create.”

When I first heard this, it hit me hard, because it’s so true. Our creativity is a powerful gift. We can create — like no other creature can! Our cities, stories, songs, sagas, civilizations… our arts, technology, cultures, societies… these are amazing things. Yet, at the same time… these can be a burden, a curse, a condemnation to us. How many times does an artist slave over her work? How many engineers become workaholics? Creating is laborious, tedious, and exhausting… yet our creativity drives us on (like right now… I should stop writing to get to my studies, but… just… one more… sentence!). Creativity is a mixed blessing, given to us by God. I only hope we use it for love and not evil.

LegoEnemy—–4) Finally, we see in the film an example of the best way to crush an enemy: by making him into a friend. After all, if you kill your opponent, he dies as your enemy, he dies in evil ways (assuming you are right and he is wrong) and you become his killer. But, if you can win him over, get him to understand and believe in your cause, then he becomes an ally, a friend, and the evil in him dies and leaves nothing left but love and friendship. The person is not the enemy, but it is the evil he thinks, believes and does that is the true enemy.

That’s all I got! I hope you enjoyed those insights! Thanks for reading. Now go play with some Legos!