A Call to Sacrifice

I recently had the chance to re-watch Mel Gibson’s acclaimed 2016 blockbuster film, Hacksaw Ridge with a small group of fellow young adult Catholic men. For those unfamiliar with the film, it is a big-screen adaption of the true story of WWII hero Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to earn the Medal of Honor in the United States Army. Doss is unwilling to carry a gun, owing to his Seventh Day Adventist beliefs and a prior experience with his drunken father, yet still wishes to serve his county even when faced with tremendous pressure to carry a gun or drop out of the Military. Doss is sent to Okinawa, where he partakes in the last two attempts to take Hacksaw Ridge, which were as violent and gruesome as any battles in the war. He braves the enemy fire during the fights and even risks his life to stay behind to help the wounded following an order to retreat, calling upon God for help. In the end, he saved the lives of 75 of his fellow soldiers, including his own sergeant.

 

What stood out to me as I watched the film was that even in the bloodiest of battle scenes (or even especially in the bloodiest of battle scenes), I found within myself a sense of desire to be there. To be a part of it. Not to get killed, not to see my friends be slaughtered all around me, but to have the chance to really lay my life down in courageous sacrifice. To run into enemy fire to save my comrade’s life, and in the bigger picture, fight for my country and family and all those I love back home. There’s something there that really speaks to the masculine soul. And I know I was not alone, as evidenced by the occasional sniffle from the other guys in the room or need to “wipe dust out of my eye.”

There are attempts in our modern culture to label that desire we men all felt watching that film as merely a perverted and sick desire towards violence. Indeed, the vast majority of violence in the world today and through history was perpetrated by men. Yet, this “desire” is not at its core towards violence for the sake of violence. It can often be, tragically, perverted into a pure wicked wish for violence, but that is not its identity at its core. In fact, I believe attempts to stifle this desire in boys are attempts to stifle something that God put there.

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Doers of the Word, Not Just Hearers

It started with a visit to Nissan. I was only there because it had looked like I had won a brand new 2016 Nissan Altima as claimed by their “instant win game” which landed in my mailbox. It was really a lure to get me to try and buy their older, preowned vehicles.  I found I had gotten at least something out of this instant win game: a lottery ticket with a prize worth two bucks. Continue reading

He Showed me My Heart

Reflections from a Haiti Mission Trip

This past March I had an opportunity to leave my work and school projects to go to Haiti for a week long service trip, with a small group of people mainly from the Baltimore area. I took the opportunity, even though I knew it would be difficult managing my work before and after the trip. I gave it to God, as something told me it would be blessed and life-giving.

Unlike past Haiti service trips (I have gone twice before), this time around I felt like I was able to be truly present (not thinking of work or people back in the U.S.). I was given the grace to remain in the present, which enabled me to connect with people and pray in a much more tangible way. I walked into this experience with the prayer: “Lord, I am here, make of this what you want it to be.” What the Lord showed me blew me away.

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An Abundance of Gifts

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Driving to the ChristLife retreat I felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement. The parts of me that were nervous were operating under an old system based on fears from past retreats. The parts of me that were excited were the voices of truth longing for and believing I could have new and better retreat experiences. Even though I was nervous I really wanted to attend the retreat. I am so grateful I did because the weekend became a huge blessing.

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Encountering the Light

 

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Two weeks ago I participated in an event called “Encounter the Light.” The purpose of “Encounter the Light” was to provide the opportunity for people to have an encounter with the Lord by coming to spend time with him through quiet time, reflection, and prayer. This opportunity was made available because Holy Cross Church in Federal Hill opened their doors on a Saturday night from 9pm – midnight.  I heard about this event through ChristLife, the young adult group I am a member of. The idea sounded neat to me and since I like new experiences and the faith I wanted to see what this “Encountering the Light” was all about. Continue reading

Jason’s Personal Testimony

I was born and raised Catholic in an all-Catholic family.  We went to church every week and knew to always strive to do what is right.  There was a very serious problem though: I only understood things about God at a very basic level. Notably, I did not understand why God was so important and didn’t have a deep enough understanding about the importance of Jesus’ victory on the cross. I also believe I just wasn’t well-taught in Sunday School nor in my family how Jesus wants a relationship with each and every one of us; a father to child relationship. I also didn’t know that I needed to respond to that relationship. Beyond that, during all my school years (including college), my understanding of love was limited as well as immature.

Accepted into UMBC, I figured college had to be my time to shine; my time to find someone I would marry and my time to become successful.  That was on my mind more than God was.  I was also getting added stress from family to find someone. After all, my brother and sister went to college and during their time in college, they both found their significant others. Now, it was my turn. As I reflect on my college days however, I came to realize that in grade school and in college, with respect to things like dating, I had been progressing all that time on a thin line between lust and sensuality. I understood pornography and premarital sex were wrong in the Church, and I didn’t engage in either or these practices, but I still struggled with things like impure thoughts as well as what marriage really was.
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