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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Christian Workout - Is It Holier?

Christian Workout - image by lululemon athelica via flicker
Have you ever wondered what on earth is a Christian workout?

Is it about the attire you wear when you workout? If you wander into a gym you'll soon realize that most of the women show too much skin. No it's not the clothes.

Although there's such a thing as pole dancing for Jesus, I'm not referring to it.

The women in the Pole Fitness For Jesus class strut in high heels and body roll to uplifting Christian music — not because they’re trying to be sexy, mind you, but because they are honoring their body as a temple. “God gives us these bodies and they are suppose to be our temples and we are suppose to take care of them and that’s what we are doing,” explained Crystal Dean, a pole-dancing instructor, who rightfully points out that judging others for pole dancing is not very Christian.

 It also has nothing to do with the music you listen to while exercising.

Music is important to many people. It can pick you up when you're feeling down, motivate you when you need a little push, and inspire you to go the extra mile during a workout. We love to share our favoriate workout music list suggestions here on dailySpark, and we frequently receive requests for Christian exercise music. So I've compiled a list of my top 100 Christian workout songs.
 So what exactly makes a workout Christian?

This morning I learnt that a Christian workout is dependent on the motive of your workout? Are you working out to look good for yourself so others gawk at you? Or do you exercise because commanded you?

Wow, was that heavy - that God commanded you to be fit? Most of us have no clue that God wants us to be fit physically. Where did I get such an idea from?

The BIble points out that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Most Christians are familiar with this, so we don't smoke or drunk. We also know we shouldn't be gluttons but most of us never linked being flabby to disrespecting the temple of the Holy Spirit. The essence of a Christian workout is that it transforms our bodies to become stronger and more beautiful we imitate Christ who was the the incarnation of perfect strength, endurance and beauty.

I found this book by Dr. Kevin Vost, who is a psychologist and... drum roll please... a bodybuilder - Fit for Eternal Life.

In his book he explains the basic principles of strength training and cardiac fitness in a way you can understand (even if you haven't been in a gym for years -- or ever). He then helps you build an effective, personalized workout program that can be performed in as little as twenty minutes per week. 

This is what you will discover in the book:
  • simple dietary tips without filling up on supplements or counting carbs
  •  how to incorporate prayer into your workouts
  • how to achieve strngth and vigor 
  • how to defeat gluttony and eat a balanced nutritious diet
  • how to develop a safe and simple fitness regimen and have time for yourself.
 This book is suitable for men and women and whatever your age. Oh yes, it should also work, even if you're not baptized. :)

 Click this link to get a copy on Amazon... Fit For Eternal Life.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mysteries of the Rosary - The Joyful Mysteries

Mysteries of the Rosary - Image by Michael 1952 via flicker
I tend to pray the Rosary while I drive to work, every morning.

Very often as I pray the Rosary, it truly hits me that the mysteries of the rosary, truly are a mystery.

I've come to the realization that the Joyful Mysteries should actually be called the Anxious Mysteries.

These are the lessons from the Joyful Mysteries that I get from each of the five decades.

Mysteries of the Rosary - 1st. Joyful Mystery

The Fist Joyful Mystery is the Anunciation. We have been taught from young to view this as a joyful occassion when God asked Mary to become the mother of the Savior and heaven awaited in suspense until Mary said Yes. You can speculate that when Mary agreed, Heaven erupted into  a raucous party.

But how often, do we contemplate the anxiety Mary would have felt with this responsibility. The gossip mongers would have wagged their tongues about Mary getting pregnant before being married. Being bethrothed did not give entitlement for sexual relations. Mother Mary would have known that this assignment would turn her life upside down.

We even have modern day talking heads who create fictional stories about the conception of Jesus...

Paul Verhoeven – who wrote “Jesus of Nazareth” – will direct the project which will show that Jesus is not the son of God and was conceived after Mary was raped by a Roman soldier.

Mysteries of the Rosary - 2nd Joyful Mystery

The Second Joyful Mystery is the Visitation. When we pray this decade we always think about how sweet it was that Mary went in haste to help her elderly cousin who was also expecting. But do we also think about how anxious both Mary and Joseph would have been about travelling. They didn't have the comforts of modern day cars that can handle any type of road condition and protect a baby in a mother's womb.

Mary and Joseph only had a donkey and it's not a comfortable ride. A mistep by the donkey could result in a fall and Mary could have had a miscarriage. Once again we see Mary looking beyond such negative possibilities and just trusting God.

Another lesson, I get from this mystery is that Mary went to help without any solicitation from Elizabeth. That's how Mother Mary works, even when you don't ask for her help, she intercedes. Another example is during the wedding at Cana, scripture doesn't record that the host requested for Mary's help. Mary wasn't a wine maker, so why would they even ask her - she was only a housewife and wife of a carpenter.

Mysteries of the Rosary - 3rd Joyful Mystery

The Third Joyful Mystery - The Birth of Jesus. Don't we all know the joy of Heaven during this event. Choirs of Angels were singing.

And this mystery we all know had some anxious moments when the Holy Couple were looking for a decent inn to give birth to Jesus in. In the end they had to make do with a stable. Could Mary have felt misrable (like an mother does) that she couldn't even give birth to her baby in a stink-free evironment. Would any mother today even consider a barn to give birth in?

Hang on, there was another moment of anxiety too. Joseph was a carpenter and who would assist Mary in delivering the baby. Did Joseph have the skill set of a midwife. Do you think they managed to get a midwife? I doubt it very much. Somehow, they managed and Mary embraced her baby who was born with the animals - probably the only living things who knew their creator was right next to them.

Mysteries of the Rosary - 4th Joyful Mystery

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the Fourth Joyful Mystery. Surely, you would think, that there could probably not be any anxious moments here. But I think that Mary and Joseph would have wanted to offer a lamb instead of doves. After all, wouldn't a lamb be more fitting when you present God's Son in His own Temple?

Probably Joseph was also anxious about whether he had sufficient funds to even buy a couple of doves. He was probably out of work for weeks since he left Nazareth for the census and subsequent birth.

Mysteries of the Rosary - 5th Joyful Mystery

I'm sure everyone can feel the anxiety of Mary and Joseph in this situation, when the teenage Jesus goes AWOL. Of course it's a joyful occasion when the missing child is found. Imagine the concern of the parents for 3 days! How do they even ask God for help? Do they tell him with a sheepish grin that they lost His Son?

Ironically, this joyful mystery is joyful not because Jesus was found but that He was found in the Temple. This is pointing out to us that we will find joy when we find Jesus in the Church and that is possible when we visit the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.

Although I've tried to highlight anxious moments in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, my biggest take home message is that despite being anxious, we have to trust in God like the Holy Couple did and things will be joyful in the end. Anxiety will surely turn to Joy. That's the promise God gives us.

Faith in God - The Climb

Faith in God - Image by Micheal 1952 via Flicker
If you're Catholic, then you recognize this image as the Divine Mercy picture. The tag line of this image is "My Jesus, I trust in You."

If you pray the Divine Mercy chaplet every day at 3pm as prescribed, then on a daily basis you are reminded to place your trust in God. You remind yourself to have faith in God.

In December 2008, I left a very high paying job to venture out into my own business. I had planned for departure for more than a year and on the day I left my day job, I was full or excitement on the new direction. I was also fearless that there was no longer any guaranteed monthly salary, because God had never failed me in the past in any endeavor and I was very confident because I had faith in God.

The business that I went into was something that wasn't tested while I was still in my day job. I had an idea and I went with it. I took a leap of faith. Everytime I say this phrase, "leap of faith", I'm reminded of Indiana Jones taking a leap of faith in the movie, "The Lost Ark".

Fast forward 6 months and my world had crashed. One major investment crashed and because of the domino effect, all the other investments crashed too. When that major investment went belly up, I knew that I had made a huge mistake in leaving my day job and until today I still regret that move.

Just as my world crashed around me, Hannah Montana The Movie the silver screen. This movie will always b win my memory because it propped me up. It's not the movie itself by one of the songs in the soundtrack that I found very profound - The Climb.

Ironically, Miley Cyrus is 3 months younger than my eldest son, Jared, and I was being encouraged by someone old enough to be my daughter.

If you reflect on the lyrics, you'll realize that life is always a roller coaster ride. It's how one reacts to the downs in life that are probably more important than the highs. The song is of a secular nature, but for me I wouldn't have come out of the troughs without faith in God.

Interestingly, today I read an article about people who think critically have less faith in God.

new research suggests that whether we believe may also have to do with how much we rely on intuition versus analytical thinking. In 2011 Amitai Shenhav, David Rand and Joshua Greene of Harvard University published a paper showing that people who have a tendency to rely on their intuition are more likely to believe in God.  They also showed that encouraging people to think intuitively increased people’s belief in God. Building on these findings, in a recent paper published in Science, Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia found that encouraging people to think analytically reduced their tendency to believe in God. Together these findings suggest that belief may at least partly stem from our thinking styles.

I find this a bit of a stretch for my brain. This means that those who have faith in God are subjective and those who don't are objective. Isn's that over simplifying matters? Is the Pope who is a Professor incapable of critical thinking because he has faith in God?

Mark 11:22 is the verse that calls us to "Have faith in God." However, if you read Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, you'll find that many people who are considered the intelligentsia always had difficulty accepting God's prophesies via His prophets.

Could there be some truth to the Scientific American article after all? Thinking too much makes us question if God can do something because God is outside of the physical realm and can measure him with any scientific instrument. The only tool that can detect Him, is our soul (our intuition?).

What exactly is faith in God?

Faith is what brings the things God has provided for us from the spiritual realm into the physical realm (Heb. 11:1). Our faith is the victory that enables us to overcome the world (1 John 5:4). Everything the Lord does for us is accessed through faith.

Ok, thanks for clearing that up. So, how do you have faith in God then? Is there a procedure to follow?

Is it possible to release all our fears and failures into God’s hands? Each time those questions are asked, the answer is always, “Yes.” There are times in our lives when the road ahead seems uncertain; when the answers we desperately seek are elusive. As long as we depend on our own understanding and reasoning, our faith will waiver.
Hang on, that last sentence, seems to corroborate the Scientific American article! Depending on our own understanding and reasoning seems to be critical thinking. Emm...

Is having faith in God some passive thing?

Knowing that God is our loving Heavenly Father makes it easier to release control of our lives to Him.
There will be times when our faith in God requires us to believe in the impossible.
Looks like having faith in God is a tough decision and takes a lot of guts.
What was my experience? I follow the advise of St. Augustine...

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.
A lot of Christians think that faith means abdicating your responsibility. Although Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow and that the Father even feeds the birds, the birds still had to fly to find food - they never ate out of His hand!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marriage Equality - Wishful Thinking

Is Marriage Equality Real? Imgae by Larry1732 via Flcker
The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 by the Clinton administration and not all marriages are equal. A marriage was defined as a union between a man and a woman.

DOMA was killed in 2011 by the Obama administration.

Clinton and key legislators have changed their views and advocated DOMA's repeal.

Makes sense - you have to destroy the law that states that there is no such thing as marriage equality. Then you can create any other marriage equality law you want to get the votes you need to remain President for another four years.

Those in favor of continued enforcement of DOMA say that this is the way God intended. If you don't believe in God, then of course you will ditch such thinking as bigotry. There are millions who claim belief in God (who is worshipped in various forms) and claim that God is not a bigot and you can marry anyone to anything too.

Anything can be inanimate objects...

The woman who married the Eiffel Tower.

... and even your pet dog...

Joseph Guiso, 20, married his 5-year-old golden Labrador Retriever named "Honey" in an elaborate wedding ceremony at a park in Toowoomba.

Let's just leave politics and religion aside and examine if sane-sex marriage can be equal to opposite sex marriage. In fact one guy decided to do just that. Last month Dr. Mark Regnerus of the Population Research Center of the University of Texas in Austin, published his findings.

His study graphically illustrates the differences between different types of same sex families against intact traditional families in terms of the impact on children.

The widely circulated claim that same-sex families are “no different” from intact, heterosexual families is not settled science. New studies suggest that children do best when they are raised by their biological parents in a stable, intact marriage.

Regnerus et al actually show that the best environment to develop a child is an intact marriage between a man and a woman. The benefits for a child in such a marriage are:

  • highest employment potential
  • lowest substance abuse
  • lowest criminal behavior
  • lowest sexual abuse
  • lowest mental conditions
  • highest relationship quality
Click to watch the animation on Regnerus' study...
Source: pinerly.com via James on Pinterest

With such data, you would presume everybody would be silenced. In fact Regnerus is being assailed by the LGBT segment...

The author of a new study showing some negative outcomes for young adults whose parents had same-sex relationships is under attack because his findings conflict with what, in some corners, has become conventional wisdom.
My advise to the LGBT group is to do your own study and disprove Regnerus et al. That's the way science works. It's ironic that the LGBT group attack the Church for being unscientific but they themselves don't don't understand how scientific studies work.

Here's a shocker - the paragon of liberal thinking, the New York Times, had in June 2012 reported that,

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.
Here's the above article's headline paraphrased by another publication...

Shorter front page Sunday New York Times: Married mothers do better financially than single mothers.
When the NYT publishes reports that disturb the comfort zone of LGBT people, then you know that everything's not fine at the Western Front.

Subscribe to the Institute for American Values and defend traditional marriage. Even if you don't believe in God, at least the science is right.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

YouCat Catechism - Youth Catechism

Youth Catechism
The Youcat Catechism
Quick! Which is the #1 selling Catholic book in the world?

Did you guess it's the YouCat?

In the short period of 12 months, this simple book has become the best selling Catholic book worldwide. It has sold more than 1,000,000 (that's correct - 6 zeros) copies.

What's the YouCat Catechism?

Actually that's a redundant word - catechism. YouCat stands for Youth Cathechism. The YouCat is the official short simple guide to the Catholic faith for youth. Interestingly, the YouCat was developed with the help of the youth themselves. The Catholic Church is consistently criticized for being run by old white men, so it;s a pleasant surprise that these old white men actually sought the help of supposedly ignorant youth, who only know how to use high tech electronic devices. :)

A bit of trivia - the editor himself is an old white man - Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Austria. 

The YouCat was launched during the World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. 

What's the content of the YouCat?

The format of the book is like a Q-and-A with lots of graphics. It includes:
  • commentary
  • summary definitions of key terms
  • Bible citations
  • quotes from Saints
The topics covered by the YouCat are:
  1. Doctrine (what Catholics believe and why)
  2. Sacraments (how Catholics celebrate the mysteries of the faith)
  3. Moral Life (how Catholics are to live)
  4. Prayer & Spirituality (how Catholics should pray)

YouCat Product Details

Paperback - 300 pages

Publisher - Ignatius Press (April 2011)

Language - English

Shipping Weight - 1 pound

Dimensions - 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches

YouCat  Catechism Sample Customer Reviews


I received my copy and have gone through many select sections to see how different issues are handled. This should be MANDATORY reading for all Catholic High School and College students. Fantastic, easy to read, q and a format and written in a style and language that the youth today will likely identify with. This makes the faith even more accesible and is faithful to the Catholic Church teaching and faith.


For one this is a high quality piece of publishing. This book was meant to be read and thumbed through and referred to again and again without falling apart. The paper is also glossy and highly durable.


"YOUCAT" does away with the ambiguous language and TELLS IT HOW IT IS. Imagine that! It also does a fantastic job of treating it's audience, teenagers, like they are smart human beings capable of understanding the meaning behind the Church's teachings.

There's been some negative reports and reviews from book reviewers, so please watch this video by EWTN interviewing Fr. Fessio of Ignatius Press, the publisher of YouCat in the US.

Click on this image to buy direct from Amazon and save and qualify for free shipping...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Roman Catholic Christian - Evolution of a Roman Catholic Website

In 2007, I started a blog that I titled, Roman Catholic Info. I set it up basically to pen down my thoughts and feelings about news, events and tidbits related to the Roman Catholic religion.
Evolution. Image by r.j.wagner via Flicker

I believe I had created a few hundred posts and one day, for some stupid reason, I uploaded a auto-blogging plugin that caused the site to be completely delisted by Google.

At this stage, like many people, I should be cursing Google. I did in fact curse Google as the Big Bad G.

However, it was entirely my fault. The guy I bought the plugin from, promised that with this super duper plugin, I would be able to monetize my blog and therefore make a good living.

Gradually, I found out to my horror, that the blog I had built with so much love, died a fast death. In a nut shell it was my fault rather than Google's. Should I even blame the internet guru who sold the plugin to me? Or should I rightfully blame it on my greed?

I decided to just ditch the domain name and forget about blogging on Catholic issues. That was in January 2012 that I snuffed out my blog. I guess the moral of the story is that acting on greed eventually will make you lose the actual goal you're after.

Greed comes from a deep rooted belief when we look at the world through a lens that points out that everything is in scare supply. Therefore, in order to lose out, we rush into things without proper due diligence.However, if we but take some time a view things the way God does - everything is in abundance, there's no need to rush, but just have the virtue of patience. And you need tp s[end a lot of quality time with God in order to achieve this level. Of course,  you know that the quality time I refer to here is via prayer.

Here we are in July 2012, am I reviving my interest in discussing about Roman Catholic issues - at least what I think are issues - random stuff that are roiling in my mind. :)

As much as I titled this post as the evolution os a Roman Catholic website, this will still be my opinionated thoughts.

Check out some these authentic Magisterium loyal Roman Catholic websites...