Avengers: End of Time

So I just spent approximately six hours of my life watching Infinity War and Endgame, and here are the most meaningful moments I noticed–mostly hinted in Infinity War, and fully displayed in its sequel.

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. The overarching theme of the films revolves around Thanos’ goal: controlling overpopulation. This applies to our society today, considering many politicians and scientists who claim the world will end unless our numbers are drastically cut. They tout the necessity and value of sterilization, contraception, euthanasia, and abortion. However, Thanos brings it all together to the logical conclusion, and from this epic, we see truly the flaws of this overpopulation control: it is unjustifiable and unheroic. Let me explain with examples from the films: [First], the longer abortion is promoted, the more we reach Thanos’ coveted ratio: 50% decimation. In America alone, the ratio is already currently 1/6 (missing 50 million out of 300 million)! If this trend continues, we’ll be at 1/2 soon. So, do we really want to fulfill Thanos’ dream in our reality? Especially when we’re so invested in the Avengers countering his actions? Don’t we want to imitate the Avengers and end this legalized decimation? [Second], many who support abortion and population culling may claim that this mischaracterizes their goal since living people were just abruptly wiped out in the film, whereas abortion in reality is more tolerable since those lives never even got to start living, thus if they never got to live, it doesn’t cause any suffering to anyone: they don’t miss us, we don’t miss them, because we never got to meet. But, here’s where Thanos comes in: after realizing the inability of the surviving Avengers to accept his necessary evil of 50% decimation, Thanos revises his scheme. He will destroy 100% of life in the universe, and then recreate new life that is oblivious to the fact that there was life before it. In short, Thanos thinks that ignorance will make the universe’s recreated inhabitants gratefully accept his benevolent decimation, sort of saying: “If I never knew what I lost, I’d be happy, so that’s all that matters.” Yet this fails to satisfy the Avengers’ morality, and more importantly, this fails to satisfy audience’s morality. We know in our rational core that this remains evil, and ignorance is not a tolerable solution.
  2. And just in case we still couldn’t tell the Avengers are pro-life (although some of the actors contradict themselves here): when Warmachine hatches the idea of time-traveling to abort or murder baby-Thanos, the rest of the team not only dismiss the idea, but revolt against it. They rightly protest the idea of assassinating a young, innocent Thanos, because such a Thanos simply remains innocent of his future undecided crimes! This reminds me of when certain people pilloried a political commentator for defending another baby before his possible-future-undecided crimes, when actually he was just arguing the same thing the Avengers would in Endgame. Have a listen to Ben Shapiro’s point here, and why the logic of aborting criminals (while they are innocent infants) is unethical and absurd.
  3. One of the most moving moments of Endgame must be Natasha’s martyr-like self-sacrifice, and Clint’s competing with her for the mission. This scene drew some sort of moisture from my eyes, because I saw that this is how we are called to live and die, especially as Christians. If only we all fought to die for one another like these two did. Truly an inspirational moment here, and one that applies not only to times of great struggle, but also to moments that only seem mediocre. Get your tissues (or sleeve) ready for this scene.5cc2039a24000035002308f3
  4. Another great moment was when Hulk/Banner realized that there was no mistake with his Jekyll-Hyde condition; there was a meaning, a purpose. He volunteers to use the Infinity Stone gauntlet to snap the decimated 50% back into life, knowing that doing so would cripple him as it did Thanos when he had snapped that same 50% into death. Banner says, upon realizing that he alone must do this: “The radiation [from the stones] is mostly gamma. It’s like I was made for this,” meaning that his radioactive condition happened so he could rise to this challenge. Banner [the super scientist] understands here that everything truly does happen for a reason.
  5. Speaking of everything happening for a reason: notice how traditional the Avengers are. Each one of them either gives up marriage to be celibate and serve others with their lives, or they marry, start a family and have children the natural organic way. Stark and Potts, Clint and Nicole, Rogers and Carter. Their relationships are healthy, wholesome, and heartening. In a culture so confused about marriage, family, and children, this reminder in the film is subtle and important, but very needed.
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    [Some quality daddy-daughter time.]

  6. After overcoming the final battle with Thanos, Clint mentions that he wishes Natasha somehow knew they had succeeded, that her sacrifice was not in vain. Wanda responds that Natasha does know, even though she had been long dead. This hints at the reality of an afterlife, a life that is beyond the physical universe, and in our current hyper-materialistic culture, any reminder of this reality is welcome.
  7. Which leads into what will happen to us at the end of time, the end of this material universe. Endgame‘s ending depicts the joy of reuniting with long-lost loved ones, with the global (and even universal) reunion of all. The cathartic joy in the film is palpable, and I don’t recall any popular film that presents this universe-wide reunion so well. In our true Christian faith, the film’s ending hints at the coming communion of saints, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting, where we who have chosen God will have the life, the family, and the love that He has originally made us to know. For more about this epic reunion, please see here where I daydream how the New Heaven and New Earth might be like. It’s really the only thing worth daydreaming about, and unlike Endgame, it’s only the beginning of a far better life than any human could dream up, because it’s God’s dream for us.
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Order and the Border

060617-A-3715G-017In the last few weeks, there’s been a ton of yelling and shouting about the immigration system and situation in America. But sadly, because our national discussions are manipulated by an unreliable media, all this attention will be replaced in a few weeks with another topic–whatever topic makes the media more money. Think about it! What topic was dominating our time and minds just a few months ago?* And today nobody in media remembers or cares.

So before immigration is replaced with another money-making topic, let’s order things out and think through the deeper issues that all the hateful yelling and ad hominems are smothering:

  1. pexels-photo-311884Asylum seekers do not want to come to America. Some might, but they all want their own nation of origin to have been worth staying in. Refugees wish they never had to leave their homeland. Nobody desires to abandon and forsake the country of their culture! When my parents (and hundreds of thousands of other refugees of the Vietnam War) escaped to America, they longed for freedom and dignity to determine their lives. If Vietnam was a free country, with human rights respected, nobody would have risked death crossing jungles and oceans to find freedom elsewhere. So the deeper crisis is how to help nations of origin improve their economies, governance, and societies so that their own citizens are glad to stay and build up their nation. Just imagine how bad the reality must be for refugees to flee the only home they’ve known! If we don’t think creatively and effectively here, then we’re not solving any core problems–we’re just putting bandages on a busted Titanic. America cannot physically and realistically take in every Earthling–even if she wanted to–and especially when so much of the rest of the world is gorgeous but tragically doomed because of corruption and poverty. But corruption and poverty are solvable through hard work! Let’s stop overthinking how to bandage the sinking ship, and focus on how to prevent ships from hitting icebergs, and then people will stop desperately resorting to lifeboats because their own ship is in great shape! Long-term solutions typically have long-term results.
  2. 34984422_10155910751409032_4960135220503248896_nAmerica is not safe for anyone. There is a secret system of legalized prejudice and murder in this country responsible for at least 50 million victims since 1973. Anyone serious about welcoming immigrants and refugees must be even more serious about abortion, or else risk being a hypocrite. How can we say we care for those in danger when we allow children to be murdered in hospitals and clinics? How can we fight for children being separated from their mothers when we already allow children to be slaughtered from the womb of their mothers? If we want America to be a land of welcome to every human life, then we must actually welcome every human life. That’s only consistent and to be expected. We can start by diverting federal funding for abortion (millions of bucks) to helping refugees and Americans in need (babies and struggling parents included). If we do not generously love our own children, then how can we… (finish the logical conclusion).
  3. America is not at her best right now. For our nation to be even better, she needs to know Christ and His Church. The only reason why we have a culture and civilization that seeks to care for the suffering and the struggling is because Jesus Christ taught us to (and slowly His teaching became general civil law). So do not think we will solve this situation, nor any situation, without God. We need prayer to replace all the shouting and attacking. If only the most vociferous and outspoken among us and in government and media were just as insistent with their prayer life… if only…
  4. Lastly, I leave you with balanced thoughts from this insightful and real article, and from Fr. Mike Schmitz:

 

*Hint: it was about school violence.

Don’t Meddle with this Medal

CollectionIn 1830 France, our Blessed Mother went out of her way to design a medal for us earthlings. That’s right: there’s a medal in our Catholic Christian heritage that originated from Heaven–truly out of this world.

Popularly known as the Miraculous Medal, the Medal of the Immaculate Conception (Nov. 28th feastday) has the reputation of working wonders for those who live or seek a life of faith in Jesus Christ. Basically, the medal is a sign we can wear to remind us who our Mother is, what it means to be her children, and how to follow her Son–our Lord. I myself have worn the same Miraculous Medal for over five years now; I intend to wear it for the rest of my life. I’m sure I will eventually know how this sign of faith has helped me, but for now, let me share how it has truly been miraculous for these two sons who did not know her Son:

  1. A Jewish man who became an atheist has a crisis of meaning in his life. He meets a beautiful woman, knows intuitively that she is from Heaven, and asks if she has a favorite prayer. What she eventually admits is the very same prayer on the Miraculous Medal: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. But don’t settle with my measly summary, have a listen for yourself!
  2. An ex-Satanic high wizard receives a Miraculous Medal and is pulled out of Satan’s slavery. The Blessed Virgin Mary recruits him to join her Son’s army instead. But like I said above, don’t take my summary as is; listen for yourself! And trust me, just have a listen…

So there! Two testimonies about why you don’t meddle with this Medal. It’s connection to the super-saint (Mary) means you should respect it, wear it, and pray it. In fact, it’s probably my most often used prayer, and I customize it most of the time, replacing the us with any specific names of persons I know who need her prayer and power. Example: O Mary, conceived without sin, please pray for Pope Francis who has recourse to thee.

head-logoAnd now allow me to introduce Rosa Mystica Medals, a small family business based in Atlanta, GA that salvages and recasts replicas of traditional medals so that we can enjoy them today (they definitely make medals like they used to!). Rosa Mystica was kind and generous enough to send me a sterling silver antique Miraculous Medal to review, and I must say that I am very impressed with the quality of the cast (made in Murica). Please visit their site and have a look at their extensive collection, and pray for their continued success!

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Mary Points the Way

the-nun-movie-posterToday, for the Feast of Mother Mary’s birthday (every September 8th!), I decided to take a break and celebrate with a show: The Nun (a prequel to the excellent Conjuring movies). Though I had high expectations for the film, and was disappointed, it did leave me with enough surprises to merit a review! Here’s what’s worth sharing:

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. The Nun is Marian… very Mary focused! Throughout the film, we hear the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer in LATIN, almost constantly! And not only are the characters praying Rosaries to fight off evil, a statue of our Blessed Mother actually (and literally) points the way to Jesus. So, I was very happily surprised to see the Divine timing here (today is Mary’s birthday, after all).
  2. And the Divine timing continues: during the last month, the scandal in the Catholic Church has been rising to terrible heights. We see in our present time that hell has hijacked our priests, bishops, and perhaps even our Pope. We see Satan has taken on the look of our ordained servants of Christ and His Church, and have corrupted the image of the holy priesthood. We see in this movie the same: a demon has disguised itself as a deformed nun, using the distortion to terrorize us. May we not let this deception of Satan continue!
  3. 5b9148b872977-imageLastly, the film started drawing some tears from me when the lead character–Sister Irene–decides to profess her final vows amidst terrible evil attacking her. You would think that any sane woman would flee if she knew that the closer she drew to Christ, the more Satan would attack her. But not so for Sister Irene: she knows the truth that Satan would keep attacking anyway, and that her love for Christ was worth the onslaught.
  4. Which leads to Sister Irene being a bride of Christ “worthy of carrying something so sacred” as the Precious Blood of Jesus. Here, the priest in the film surrenders the care of the holy relic of Christ’s Blood to Sister Irene. And of course, she knows how to use this relic, and isn’t afraid to! But even how exactly she uses Christ’s Blood to defeat the demon is insightful:
  5. She puts the Precious Blood into her mouth (as in receiving Holy Communion). By doing so, this allows her to ambush the demon with the secret weapon. The symbolism shouldn’t escape us: when we receive the Eucharist worthily, we all become bearers of the secret weapon against hell.

So, the Nun was an overall surprise for me, especially during the current crisis in our Church. The movie could have easily taken advantage of the evil events plaguing us today, but decides to show us a Church with good nuns and priests who are doing their job following Jesus: caring for souls and fending off the true wolves in wool.e2842e035b9195c11199d2-31682311_

Note: see here for another positive review.

 

Wolves in Wool

NOTICE: any minors who read and are affected by this article, please talk immediately with your parents or any trusted adult about what you feel and think.

Our Lord warned us they would come–wolves dressed in wool, disguised as priests, and even as bishops, but actually minions of Satan working to deceive and sow dissent. Jesus went so far as to give us examples in Judas Iscariot, and also St. Peter (before his repentance).*

The brutally bare warnings are throughout the New Testament, but my personal fave (if there must be such) is from the repentant St. Peter himself (2 Peter 2:1-2):

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.

The rest of the passage is even more brutal, yet this is my favorite passage on false shepherds because it comes from a man who denied our Lord, knows the terror and despair of denying Christ, and returns to the Church to strengthen us evermore as our first pope (Luke 22:31-32):

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

This gives me hope that despite the vomit-inducing evils of some members of our Church leadership, the grace to repent and convert exists for them and for all of us sinners.

paedophileThat being said, I must also clearly say that any child or young person who has been harmed in any way (mentally, physically, spiritually) by any cleric/teacher must not only inform their parents immediately, but must also report everything to police without delay–even if it happened long ago. Tragically but realistically, we can no longer only trust our Church’s authorities to protect our most vulnerable; we must also turn to civil law and authorities (yes, call 911).

After scandal after scandal, cover-up after cover-up, victim after victim, and even a full-length film, I can no longer in good conscience remain publicly silent about this filth in the Church (quoting Pope Benedict XVI). My students, the youth I mentor, and my god-children (and all adults who love them) deserve to know the truth and how to hold abusers accountable. We must not fear any threats from any abuser! Criminals frighten victims because they are afraid of what victims can do to them. Criminals actually fear victims because they do not want to face justice. Helping false shepherds keep their evils a secret only encourages their abuse to continue, and even keeps them from a chance to repent.

We must help the Church clean house. And mark my words: if any of my beloveds are abused by false shepherds and teachers, I will not hesitate to report everything to police. That is a promise to my Lord and my God, and to the little ones and to the Church that He loves.

Mother Mary, protect us and keep up close to your Son, especially those furthest from Him.

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For more information on this filth, please see these articles (click author names for full statements):

  1. Dr. Janet Smith: It is very painful for any Catholic to learn of the shocking and immoral behavior of Cardinal McCarrick, which exploited, violated and betrayed the trust of so many young men. Even more appalling is the fact that his success in the Church reveals a continued existence of a culture within the Church that permits such behavior to take place and prevents it from coming to light. Bishops, priests, religious and laity must band together to find a way to eradicate what has been repeatedly spoken of as a network of homosexuals who abuse people and who control too much of what goes on in dioceses, orders, and even in the curia.
  2. Christopher R. Altieri: At a bare minimum, you must see to it that the children and young people everywhere are safe, and that vulnerable people are protected; that no seminary should become or continue to be a farm for perversion, nor any chancery or chapter a hotbed of corruption and disorder – for, so long as they are, parishes and schools and oratories cannot fail to become playgrounds for perverts. I say again: it is your duty to see, and to act – even to see and to denounce your brother bishops’ failures and misdeeds and miscarriages of duty when and where you do see them.
  3. JD Flynn: But when a bishop behaves with sexual immorality, the effects ripple across his entire diocese. Priests and seminarians who object to that sexual immorality leave quickly, or find themselves marginalized. Those who rise to leadership positions are those who are left: those who are willing to accept the bishop’s sexual immorality, those who are complicit in it, or those who are too naive to notice it. Those in the first two categories, being willing to accept some rejections of Catholic teaching, are usually also likely to accept other rejections of Catholic teaching. That can be reflected in their pastoral leadership and catechesis, and consequently, an entire diocese can be formed with a theological perspective framed by relativism, tolerance of immorality, or compromise. The effects of a bishop’s sexual immorality can lead to spiritual and catechetical decline across an entire diocese.

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*A possible reason Jesus gave us the example of Judas and pre-repentant Peter: to show us that we are all capable of betraying and denying Him, and to rely on His grace to not fall away, and to repent if we do. Moreover: to show us that our faith, hope, and love must be in Jesus alone–not in any mere man, even if he is a priest/bishop/pope.

Chris Pratt is Wrong (a little)

jurassic_3So it’s no surprise the famed Chris Pratt is a believer, and a brave believer! He went before a public audience and shared (in between jokes and sarcasm) that:

  1. We have a soul, and it must be cared for.
  2. God exists, and He is love.
  3. We must pray. MUST.
  4. We are imperfect, and God’s grace is sufficient for us. Anyone who says we are perfect the way we are is deceived, or lying.

Please watch his award speech if you haven’t already. It really is something! But while you listen, see if you can pick out his small error that can have huge negative consequences on our Christian faith.

Now believe me, I hate being a nit-picker, but as soon as I heard Pratt’s error, I couldn’t ignore it. I tried ignoring the whole past week, but I would remember it and shudder… until now I must say something. I believe that’s how the Holy Spirit usually works on me; He nags my conscience and makes it obvious I must respond.

So here goes: at the 3:33 mark, Pratt says “there is a powerful force that designed you [as imperfect].” THAT IS NOT TRUE. Everything else Pratt says about God (and about feeding meds to dogs, and pooping, and helping others, and being a turd) is true, but NOT THIS.

God did not and does not make us imperfect. He absolutely did not design us that way. Instead, sin made us imperfect. From Original Sin* to each personal sin we commit: a little bit of us dies with every sin we choose. When we commit venial sins, a bit of us dies, and when it’s a mortal sin, a huge chunk of us dies.

Our sins deform us, like drugs and alcohol in the womb of a mother. Our sins corrupt us, like lies and evil in our minds. Our sins fool us, like pride and selfishness, into thinking we are the most important person in our lives. Sin makes us imperfect, and God’s grace, given to us through the precious blood of Christ, pulls us out of sin so that we can choose to live forever in HIS perfection, in a perfection that goes beyond perfection, forever better than perfect.

If you’re curious why God would even allow us to freely sin, please see my post on the Lego Movie.

So I hope that clears things up, because I haven’t seen anyone call Pratt out on this little error (with big ripples). May God continue blessing Pratt and his beloveds, and all his fans, and may Pratt continue glorifying God more and ever more!

Image: 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Show

*Original Sin was a doozy: it took out the entire human race until Jesus nuked it with His Passion and Resurrection. While Original Sin can now be washed away in Baptism and free us for Heaven, its vestiges still linger in biological disease, concupiscence, psychological disorders, etc.

The Snow Children: Human Life from Zygote to Zombie

SnowChildrenSince completing my MA Theology thesis on Our Lady of the Eschaton, I just thought I’d finally get around to sharing the thesis from my past B. Philosophy studies as a seminarian (2015), fully titled The Snow Children: Human Life from Zygote to Zombie.

That’s right: I used the word zombie in my thesis title (I considered posting a picture of zombies here, for effect… but am afraid it would have been a tad too effective in the wrong direction).

The thesis is about the consequences and controversies behind freezing human embryonic persons–namely how are they actually persons, and how should we care for them? And there are perhaps millions of them, frozen and forsaken.

If that sounds interesting, it’s because it is! And very important as medical science continues to creep on human rights and the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. So take a look for yourself at my attempt to tackle this question philosophically (not theologically, though that can be done as well and in a different post).

*May our Blessed Mother watch over these poor banished children, forgotten in storage.