Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Harry Isn't Worth It

The last Harry Potter movie is out, and thousands are flocking to the theaters to watch the final chapters of The Deathly Hollows enacted on the big screen. And though I know many who can't wait to see the film, I cannot wait until it's gone. As reflected in the poll, which ended today, many people love these books detailing the life of a boy sorcerer, yet almost as many people are willing to admit that they find them to be dangerous on a much deeper level. Why? How could "children's" books cause spiritual harm?

According to Fr. Gabriele Amorth (Rome's head exorcist), "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of darkness, the devil," (O'Brien 16). To clarify, this is not an accusation against J.K. Rowling; I do not mean to say that she herself is possessed, but her characters use magic and incantations that reflect "satanic arts," (O'Brien 16).

Before I continue, I must remind everyone of an important point. Movies will always water down the message behind the stories, especially when evil is involved. It happened with The Golden Compass- the movie misrepresented the books, causing parents to falsely assume that His Dark Materials Trilogy was safe for their children to read. It's happening again with Harry Potter. Does this mean the movies are fine to see, as long as one does not read the books? No, by going to see the movies one would still be exposing himself to some of the evil contained within the stories.

In order to fully understand the harm these books are causing, it would be helpful to pinpoint the biggest problem. To quote an interview with Michael D. O'Brien, regarding the Potter series, "Certainly, the themes were increasingly violent, although to some degree children’s literature has always had an element of violence. More worrisome was the corrupting of Western civilization’s traditional symbols of good and evil, and also the growing presentation of occult powers as the way to defeat evil, as though occult activities were morally neutral," ( 2). It's the blurring of the line between black and white, right and wrong. Suddenly, the "good" guys aren't so good. They too, use dark magic, cast horrible spells, and do many bad things. But they're nice, and ultimately they end up trying to do right, so without warning young minds are twisted into believing that a little wrongdoing is okay. This can be seen in the Twilight saga as well. The vampires are turned into heroes because they are handsome, their skin is shiny, and they restrain their desire to suck human blood. Yet, even Edward asks, "What if I'm not a superhero? What if I'm the bad guy?" (Meyer 92).

Now, many who adore these books love to talk of how well written they are. Yet, what aspect of Rowling's writing is earning so much esteem? "...the Potter stories are actually closer in style to television than to literature. They use in print form the visceral stimuli and pace of the electronic media, flooding the imagination with sensory rewards while leaving it malnourished at the core. In a word, thrills have swept aside wonder..." (O'Brien 17).  So, the readers of these books might not care what they're about. They're simply looking for the emotional and mental high that results after reading them. What a clever disguise...

Still not convinced that these dramatic tales are destructive? I will end with one final quote, "But there are hundreds of other incidents where Harry uses immoral means to destroy his enemies. For example, in an earlier scene one of Voldemort’s servants insults a professor at Hogwarts whom Harry is very fond of. Harry curses him with what is called a “cruciatus” curse — a crucifying curse. It is unspeakable torture; there is no pain like it in the world. Harry just simply decides to crucify him. This is the same Harry who throughout the whole series has lied, has committed violence against others — human enemies, fellow students — sometimes in retaliation for their attacks on him, sometimes to further his cause. Lying is a very big thing all the way through, as well as other kinds of deceiving, uttering hundreds of curses and spells, along with contempt and sneering, violence, bloodshed, death — it goes on and on," ( 10-11)

My advice, obviously, is not to go see the movies, not to read the books, and definitely not to promote them. But I would suggest that those who remain unconvinced go do some research, look into it, and pray about it. These articles helped me:

Michael O'Brien responds to his critics re: Harry Potter
The Potter Controversy: or Why that boy sorcerer just won't go away.

Any other articles on are very helpful. Just click, "Writings on Fantasy." Michael D. O'Brien is a Catholic writer and artist whose opinion I highly respect.

St. Michael the Archangel, Pray for Us!

Works Cited:

Meyer, Stephenie. "Blood Type." Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and, 2006. 92. Print.
O'Brien, Michael D. " - Interview with Lifesite News
Writings on Fantasy - Michael O'Brien." - Home - Michael O'Brien. 26 July 2011. Web. 30 July 2011.

O'Brien, Michael D. "Why That Boy Sorcerer Just Won't Go Away." St. Austin Review July-Aug. 2003: 16-23. Web. 
Picture from

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Art of Real Dancing

There is a blog called The Catholic Young Woman that I really enjoy reading. The main author, Clare, has written several posts about dancing. And though my experience with dancing has not been very extensive (that is, up until now), I loved reading her analogies as she compared the beauty of a dance to the flow of life (click here for an example).

While at Christendom, I was taught how to dance. Now, I have been to "dances" before- but they were nothing like this. Today's culture sticks a group of teenagers in a room, blares explicit music with a fast beat through large speakers, and tells them to jump up and down while twisting in provocative ways, then calls it "dancing." But, Christendom is all about being counter-cultural, which means they have a much better way of doing everything!

Now, in order to even begin to learn the moves (we were taught a form of Swing Dance), the ladies realized something very quickly. The gentlemen had to lead, or else nothing was going to work. Of course, we had to remember the steps as well, but we were not in control. The man had to ask us to dance, then we had to trust him to guide us through it. Once two people start to dance, as long as the guy knows what he's doing and the girl is allowing him to take control, their movements become very beautiful and glorious to watch.

I'll try to describe the thrill this new form of entertainment gave me. First, to be asked to dance at all immediately made me feel honored and respected. Then, as the guy was leading me out to the dance floor, excitement started building up inside. It's like that feeling one gets when he's just been handed a wrapped present. He can't wait to see what's inside! As the young man starts to move, he moves me with him, gently but firmly guiding me along his intended path. Then, surprise! He lifts up his arm and I respond without thinking. I spin around and face him again, eyes shining with joy because we just executed the steps perfectly. Throughout the rest of the song, it's the same way. He prompts me through his motions to respond in a certain way, and I do so to the best of my ability. When blessed enough to have a skilled partner, the song ends too quickly; everything seems to flow exquisitely. The gentleman then offers me his arm, and reluctantly I allow him to guide me back to my seat. He bows as he thanks me, and I curtsy while returning the thanks, mentally hoping he will come back again. And maybe he will, but another young man soon approaches, and the experience starts anew.

I would love to describe the way I think this compares to life, but I have already written too much! For now, I direct you to the link above, and to this link. They describe what I'm trying to say much more eloquently than I could, though I will attempt to give my take on it at a later time.

I highly encourage all of you to learn how to dance! I am just a beginner, and still have much to learn, yet I've already gained so much enjoyment from this beautiful activity! Please, revolt against the degrading nature of dances today. It will be such a relief, and so much more delightful!

May God bless all of you!

(By the way, the picture is called "Dance Me to the End of Love" by Jack Vettriano. Perfectly romantic!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

True Friendship

St. Thomas Aquinas said that, "There is nothing on this Earth more to be prized than true friendship," Over the past week at Christendom, I realized the truth behind this statement.

In order to fully understand the beauty of true friendship, one must understand what it is. Dr. John Cuddeback (the Philosophy professor at Christendom College) defines true friendship as, "when two people seek true happiness together," Of course, this then requires the definition of true happiness. Being a Catholic, I would define true happiness as seeking holiness- ultimately Heaven- in the best way possible. In other words, becoming more and more united to Christ. To put it all together, true friendship is when two people seek to grow in perfect holiness with each other, helping each other to get as close to Heaven as is possible while on Earth.

If one desires to grow this way through friendship, the two people must agree on some essential things. First, they must both be of the same religion. Now, can two people of different religions have strong friendships? Yes, but there will always be that very important and central difference dividing them from perfect union. While at Christendom, I met an amazing girl. There are some people who, as soon as they meet one another, they click. Their chemistry, personalities, and feelings are a perfect match. That is the way it was with my friend and me. The first thing that I knew we had in common was a strong Catholic faith. Yet, I had no idea what a blessing this was! As the week went on, we started spending more and more of our time together until people began to wonder if we really had only just met each other that week. Several of the other campers even called my friend by my name!

How, in one week, did we manage to become so close? Through our love for God. She had a strong devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and I have a growing devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Marian qualities within her drew me to her, and her beautiful practice of her faith inspired me to strive for an even greater holiness. I hope I did the same for her. All I know is that God brought the two of us together for a reason. This world is big, billions of people populate it, yet God hand-picked the two of us to be at the same camp, and to be in need of each other. Through going to Mass together, attending Adoration at the same time, praying the Rosary on our knees, side-by-side, we were able to witness the beauty of Christ glowing and growing withing each other.

This is true friendship, the kind that will help one take steps closer to Heaven. The kind that inspires deeper devotion. The kind that will last forever.

Pray, asking God to bring this kind of friend into your lives. I've been praying for a long time, and God finally answered my prayers. He will answer yours.

May God bless you all!

Picture by Claude Monet: The Promenade (Sketch).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Breathe Catholic

Hello Everyone!

Thank you for your patience!

I have just returned from the Latin Immersion Camp at Christendom College, and I must say it was the best week of my life.

I learned and experienced many things while I was there, and the next few posts will be reflections on these different things.

Christendom College describes their campus atmosphere by saying that, "Catholicism is the air we breathe," A seemingly simple statement, yet once one actually goes and lives "breathing Catholic," it takes on a whole new meaning.

Every day, the female counselors invited us to start the day with the Morning Prayer. It was so nice, sitting in the new sunlight as we praised the name of the Lord together. After breakfast and Latin classes, we had Mass. Every day. It was the first time I had attended Daily Mass for a whole week, and my soul profitted so much from it. By relying on that time in Church, my life began to center more around Christ and less around myself. I could feel His presence so perfectly in The Chapel of Christ the King, for everyone was quiet and respectful while waiting for Mass to start. Every other Mass was in Latin, the altar servers were Catholic men from the college, the golden patens were held under the mouths of all those receiving, the Church smelled like incense from the frequent Adoration/Benediction services held, and the bells were used! It was so refreshing to be at Mass and feel comfortable, to be surrounded by such Catholic surroundings.

All the buildings were named after Saints (I stayed in St. Francis Hall), religious statues and artwork adorned the halls, classes, and campus, we prayed the Rosary together every day, said traveling prayers no matter how short a time we were spending in the van, almost all the campers wore scapulars or four-way crosses, and all classes started and ended with a prayer. There was no forgetting that Christendom is unapologetically Catholic!

This constant immersion in Catholicism made me realize how comfortable I had become with the disrespect and lack of religion in our modern-day culture. It brought my soul back to life, and re-ignited the greatest spiritual longing hidden within all of us- the desire to live our lives for Christ, so that one day we might come into perfect joy in Heaven.

I hope my mind, heart, and soul never become used to the world's standards again. Through resisting the norms of today, we can work to build a better, more Catholic community for those around us. And though it is not always possible to escape to havens like Christendom, by praying throughout the day and sincerely trying to do God's will above our own, we can continue to grow closer to Christ.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pray for Us

May God Bless All of You!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Greetings Everyone!

I greatly apologize for the lack of postings lately!

I am leaving tomorrow and will be gone for over a week. I don't think I will be able to access the Internet while I am away, so I must ask you all to continue to be patient with me!

As soon as I come back, my postings will become more regular once again.

For now, enjoy your week, DON'T go see the last Harry Potter (more on this later)- instead, watch The Special Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings! :)

And may God bless all of you!

P.S. During the last week, two more people started following this blog! I am so excited! Thank you all for your support!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"There's No Pill for the Devil"

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Though often considered a horror movie, this film's disturbing nature goes beyond the ordinary shallow storylines of other scary pictures. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of a 19-year old girl who suddenly begins experiencing what she thinks is demonic activity while in college. From feeling a strong force pressing down on her, suffocating her, to seeing normal passers-by's faces becoming ghoul-like, Emily can't escape the evil forces seeming to surround her. As her case gets worse, she stops eating- insisting that the demons won't let her. The medical field tries to help her and fails. A priest is called to perform an exorcism and fails. Eventually, after much suffering and many strange occurrences, she dies. As soon as her death occurs, a court case immediately ensues as the priest who directed her is charged for negligent homicide. The movie starts with the court case, and the audience learns Emily's story through chilling flashbacks and testimonies.

What I liked:
I thought this movie was very interesting. The way the priest was portrayed and the explanation of the Church's beliefs were respectful and accurate. The director said he wanted the movie to make one think, to make one ask himself, "Is God real?" "Do I believe in demons?" "Was Emily really possessed?" The movie not only did that effectively but also (in my opinion) seemed to lean toward confirming Catholic beliefs. Overall, it would be hard for one to walk away from the movie without believing that demons do exist and that there is more to life than meets the eye.

Possible Concerns:
This movie is definitely not for young eyes. Normally, I would suggest this for 13 and up. But, if one is the least bit sensitive to visual images or disturbing occurences, this is not the movie for him.

I would encourage anyone who wants to watch this to read this article first. It is the true story the movie is based on, and it is always helpful to know what actually happened.

May God bless all of you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Model in Purity

St. Maria Goretti, ora pro nobis.

Today is the feast day of St. Maria Goretti. In a world increasingly losing it's love for purity, St. Maria is the perfect intercessor and role model for everyone, especially teenagers. Choosing to die rather than compromise her virginity, the twelve year old girl suffered a painful death as her attacker stabbed her fourteen times after a failed attempt to choke her. Even through all of this torture, Maria remained strong in her defense of her honor and proved her piety when, on her death bed two days later, she forgave the man who attacked her.
Amazing, isn't it? This young girl never even considered falling into sin, even to save her own life. Yet, teenagers are giving away their bodies every day, yielding to Satan's temptations for a moment's pleasure. And the world makes it easy for them to justify. Planned Parenthood teaches these children that intimacy is a good thing, even if it happens outside of marriage and with more than one person. Then, as the teenagers believe them and become promiscuous, Planned Parenthood is there to "help" them by killing the results of their actions. Now, the beauty of marriage and God's design for the conception of children is mocked. And the mother's womb, which used to be the safest place for a baby, is now even more dangerous than the battlefield.

Oh, pure and innocent Maria, please pray for our fallen country!

And may God bless all of you today!

Picture courtesy of St. Maria Goretti's Facebook page. Information from St. Maria Goretti.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Summons

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare, should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found, to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true if I but call your name,
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same,
In Your company I'll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Pictures courtesy of

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Midnight Musings

I love looking at the stars; their beauty always inspires me. As I looked up at the sky the other night, my mind began to ponder the point of human existence. Why are we here? If we're all going to die anyway, what's the point in all of this activity? If our true home is in Heaven, why worry about accomplishing anything here?

These kinds of questions bother me often. The universe, the world, God- it's all so huge! All so mind-blowing! It can make one feel very small and afraid, especially when these thoughts invade one's mind at 12 am! But, as I laid there in my bed, trying to make sense of it all- I finally found some answers.

First of all, as St. Francis de Sales reminds Christians in An Introduction to the Devout Life, we were made from nothing. At any moment God could decide to turn us back into nothing; He doesn't need us, we need Him. But He decided to envision us, create us, form us with a purpose. On a more personal level, He put me here in my family for a reason. I am reminded of It's a Wonderful Life as George sees what the world would be like without him, how awful and different everything was. And I wonder, " Do I really have that much of an impact on those around me?" But each and every one of us is here for something. God does have a plan for us, a task, an assignment, a quest! He made us because He wanted to share His creation with someone who would appreciate it. He wanted someone to share His love with and to love and praise Him in return.

As all of this was flying through my head, the conversation between Frodo and Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring brought me an unexpected ray of comfort. Frodo feels sad and overwhelmed with the task he has been assigned, and he sits down next to Gandalf and laments, "I wish the Ring had never come to me, I wish none of this had happened." And the wizard smiles lovingly at the hobbit, saying, "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." And that applies to all of us. We have been put here, during this age and time, with a mission. Only we can decide how we will spend our small vacation here. Then, based off of our actions and devotion, we will leave here.

My prayer is that all of us will reach the lovely white shores our Father has prepared for us.

May God bless you all!

Pictures courtesy of Hubble Telescope.