Monthly Archives: December 2010

Where is God?

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by Alex Petric

It’s a question that’s been brought up multiple times. If we assume that God exists, where is He? How do we find Him?

Oftentimes, the majesty found in nature, such as a view from the top of a mountain, or the sheer magnitude of the phenomena seen in outer space, has been equated with the magnificence of God. But does this mean God is only found in the greatest places? In the most noteworthy moments of our lives? To the contrary, God asks in Jeremiah 23:24, “Do I not fill the Heaven and the Earth?” Likewise, a common proverb simply states that “God is everywhere.”

I’ve often wondered at this idea, especially when it came to very menial tasks, like cleaning something or going to the grocery store. In the 2010 movie, Tron: Legacy, Kevin Flynn mentions that he found God, religion, and philosophy inside computer programs he worked with. The smallest of things, things without physical form, end up revealing aspects of God to him, in part because of how devoted he was to the study of them.

Perhaps that’s an answer, then. God can be found everywhere; it’s just a matter of how hard we’re looking. Even in the Gospels, Jesus states, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Sometimes, though, it can be rather difficult to find God.

Whether God can allow evil to exist has been a stumbling block for many people in their search for God. It’s difficult to find God when a child dies or a family loses their home in a natural disaster. Personally, I don’t have much of a solution to the entire “problem of evil.” I think this is partly where trusting in God plays a key role. For now, we just have to believe that there is an ultimate plan in the end, or a reason for the evil we see in the world. I know it’s not a very satisfactory response, but I don’t think anyone has all the answers. And to those discontented with mixing the ideas of a benevolent god and an imperfect world, I simply hope they can find an answer that brings them closer to the truth (whatever that may actually be).


Hijab

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by Nadieh Esmaeil

What is the purpose of wearing hijab (scarf) in Islam?

Ever since I got to Canada, I have encountered quite a few incidents where I realized the purpose of the “Hijab” was fairly misconstrued.It surprised me to find out that a lot of people thought we wore them to sleep as well! Therefore, I thought what better way than this blog to clear this misconception and educate the readers regarding this matter.

Muslim girls have to wear hijab when they reach puberty .Hijab (or scarf ) literally means   veil or cover. The holy book orders us to wear it so that we show our modesty and decency. When a woman wears a hijab a man cannot judge her by her appearance and therefore will be forced to judge her by her personality and morals. As I mentioned, there are many who don’t know when we are supposed to wear it and so they think we will be wearing it 24/7 even in our sleep. The fact however is that , a Muslim woman has  to wear hijab  infront of any male whom she can be legally married to. This helps prevent  indecent thoughts and acts. This means she doesn’t have to wear it in front of her father, brother, uncles, grandfathers, nephews and husband.

So by now you should realize that we don’t have to wear hijab at home or in places where only  women are present . Many people also think since I am away from family  as well as country, I can remove the hijab to be free. But the fact is that , I only feel comfortable when I have it on since it makes me feel modest and protected from the evil things. When I go out in public with my hijab I have a great  feeling of  comfort and security in myself for being assured that no man can harm me, since the purpose of hijab is  to protect you from the temptation of men and any evil thoughts. Another advantage of hijab is that it tells people who I am and what my religion is; in other words its an identity. When I go out with hijab most of the men know that they can’t shake hands with me since I am a Muslim female. In case you are not familiar with this concept ,I want to make it clear that in Islam Muslim women can’t touch men whom they can legally be married to  just as mentioned  above. In addition I would like to provide you with some of the  verses and proofs in the holy Quran about wearing hijab which hopefully by now would make more sense to you.

1)      “O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember”.(Quran 7:26)

2)      “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

I hope I was able to make you better understand about hijab after reading this blog. I also provided you with the proofs from the Holy book just as I mentioned in my earlier blog. If you have any questions or more doubts about Islam and you are looking for answers, feel free to ask me and I would be more than happy to help you.

Allah knows best.

Introduction

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By Aubrey

I was browsing around this blog trying to find out where to start, and I found an introduction. So, I’ll just start there.

I guess you might say I have my own religion, or that I’m ‘in between’ religions. I’m not an atheist, though at one time I thought I might be. I was raised Pagan (Wiccan), though I am not a part of the faith anymore, and was not raised in any other religion along with it. From about the year 2000, when I left the Pagan faith, until about 2005 I was not religious at all. Looking back now, I know I was, but then I wasn’t really anything one would call religious. I believed in a simple philosophy: treat others (as best you can) like you would want them to treat you. I never heard about this from any gospel or from any other religion. It was just a concept that made sense to me. I believed in God, in that I prayed to God, but had no system to defend my actions with.

Around 2007, I started becoming greatly concerned with my beliefs. I can remember it all started with horoscopes. I used to read mine every day, and one day, I really looked at what I was doing. It all started from my own superficial attitude. I began a new life, one that has lead up until this day. Faith, for me, is not superficial. Faith isn’t like reading my horoscope, feeling good, having faith, and just going with it. I want to feel God, not just feel good about God.

With my new found religious fever, I sat out on my own. I never touched a text, I didn’t want to be tainted; I wanted to face off with God alone. But, I would find God wouldn’t come to me, until I came to people. Later that year I came to Newman [Catholic Campus Ministry], not as a convert, but with friends. It would prove to be the most wrenching time of my life. The tough question came, “how was I going to believe with people so different than me?” There was one face in that church that comforted me, Jesus (Yeshua). Not because he was the messiah or was actually god (I don’t believe either of those), but because he seemed to love people. I learned I loved people too, and that’s when I found God.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it…

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by Allyne Ferreira

My grandmother passed away October of this year. I remember the moment when I found out. I was in my scene painting class learning how to paint a square that when painted the right way it appeared as if it were jutting out of the wall, three dimensionally. Sometimes we go through life without ever realizing what we are doing, or sometimes we focus so much on the most menial of things that when something extremely upsetting happens, what was so extremely important before, doesn’t matter so much anymore.

As I was painting I felt my cell phone vibrate through the pocket of my hooded jacket. I took it out of my pocket and glanced at it quickly. I saw my father’s number and immediately I felt very strange. I started asking myself questions, why would my father call me during class? He knew that I was in my class. It must be an emergency. I asked to “go to the washroom” and stepped outside so that I could call my father. When I reached him he asked me if I was sitting down. “What do you mean am I sitting down dad? What happened?” After my father gave me the news about my grandmother, my immediate reaction was to hang up the phone. This had not happened; I had not heard what I originally thought I had. How could this happen? When? I called my father back and I began to cry. Tears were streaming down my face as people walked by with curious looks. My father asked me where I was, to which I replied, “I don’t even know, I’m outside”

I meant that in more ways than one. I felt like I was outside of myself. I remember my father telling me that he would call me back. I recall walking into the classroom and seeing my friend Cassiah. She looked at me and knew something was wrong immediately. I was shaking. My body couldn’t process the information fast enough. I was confused, I was scared, I wanted to just fly on a plane and do something for my grandmother but I knew that it was too late. What the heck was I supposed to do next? Go home? My grandmother had been on her annual vacation to her home land, Portugal. There was no way I would be able to go there. I left class alone and walked home because I didn’t know who to call to walk with me or where I was going. I arrived home and called my best friends and roommates but no one was home. I felt so completely out of it, I felt as if I was a zombie or having some sort of an out of body experience.

My good friend Chantal volunteered to drive me home (to Brampton) so that I could be with my cousins who were driving in from Ottawa and my uncle who had decided to stay and take care of the house while my aunt left for Portugal to be with my mother who was already there. When I arrived home my cousins were not and it was so strange to walk into a house that I was so used to greeting my grandmother in. I told myself “its okay Ally, she’s still on vacation…” I lied to myself a little because I didn’t want to cry. My grandmother passed away October the fifth which was one day before my Cousin Joshua’s birthday. On his birthday we decided to at least buy him a small cake so that his birthday wouldn’t be forgotten. The whole family was in a lot of pain and shock but we tried to maintain as much normalcy as possible.

The next day I felt even worse than I had before so I put on a sweater and ran towards my grandmother’s garden in the backyard. It was starting to really sink in that my grandmother was gone and that she wasn’t coming back. I began to look back on the way I used to lose my patience with her when she would always tell me to eat or ask me if I was hungry. I remembered one moment in the summer when she asked me for the tenth time that day, when my cousin Jacy and I were to leave for our road trip to Ottawa. My grandmother was starting to be very forgetful and my family believes it was the beginning stages of dementia. Anyways, I had had a rough day and became frustrated and angry with her tell her to “Just leave me alone bubba (that’s what we used to call her) I told you already, Jacy and I are leaving on Friday! How many times do I have to tell you!?” I noticed that she did leave the room but I could hear her sniffling. I had made my grandmother cry! How could I have been so cold with the woman who loved me more than anything in the world? I walked into the hall and I apologized to her. She had long forgiven me and I had long forgotten that story had ever happened. For some reason I sat in her garden and I cried, harder than I had cried before. I looked up at the sky and apologized again, telling her I was sorry for taking her for granted, for believing that she would always be there. As soon as this happened I remember the clouds parting and a ray of sun shining through them. This was the sign from my grandmother that she did love and forgive me for all the times I had taken her for granted or lost my patience and yelled at her.

So what have I learned from my grandmother’s passing? Other than the really cliché, don’t take any of your loved ones for granted because you don’t know when they will leave your life forever…

I have learned that life is a series of moments, big and small, joyous and tragic. It is these moments that give our life shape and meaning, that call us to examine the path we’ve taken and what the future holds. In time I will have to let go and forgive myself for being frustrated or taking my grandmother for granted, and I can do this by looking at all of the amazing memories that I shared with her. She was a wonderful woman who taught me a lot about life, about suffering and about never giving up. I know that I will carry her good memories with me forever.

I love you bubba, and I always will. R.I.P. Lisette Ribau 1932-2010.


Reflections on Prayer and Relationships; Small Things Adding Up

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by Alex Petric

In my hometown, there are a few churches I often pass by that have roadside signs where they post phrases in an attempt to draw more attendants. These phrases usually put a smile on my face when I see them, since they’re often little religious aphorisms that bring my attention back to my faith for a moment. One phrase that has really stuck out to me, even years after seeing it, asks, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”

It’s an interesting question: how great a role does prayer play in one’s life? Do we work with God every day or do we only turn to Him in times of struggle and hardship? I’ll readily admit that I don’t pray as often as a practicing Catholic like myself should. I often focus on my relationship with God when at church on Sunday, which is a good foundation, but it still leaves 6 more days when prayer only stays in my peripheral vision. Perhaps the most confusing aspect is that I feel I’ve personally experienced the results of prayer in the past and nothing really holds me back from engaging with God more, yet I still falter in my prayer life from time to time.

However, prayer isn’t the only test of our character. With each day that passes, there are countless chances to improve our relationships with others, whether it comes in the form of something as simple as holding a door for someone, or as complex as counselling a person going through great suffering and adversity. Every day becomes a chance to become a better person. Although each choice may seem insignificant, over time they can actually show much about a person’s true character. By changing how we act in these everyday interactions, we can slowly change ourselves for the better.

The Catholic Church is currently observing Advent: the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, which are traditionally a time for Christians to prepare themselves for the holiday season. Hopefully, whatever our religious background, this season we can take some time out of shopping and decorating to develop our “Christmas spirit” and focus on and improve what is truly important in our lives, namely our relationships with God (through prayer) and other people (through our actions).

 

I’m not crazy. It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the one night when we all act a little nicer. We…we smile a little easier. We…we…share a little more. For a couple of hours we are the people we always hoped we would be. It’s really a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you’re gonna burn for it. I know. You have to do something. You have to take a chance and get involved. There are people that don’t have enough to eat and who are cold. You can go and greet these people. Take an old blanket out to them or make a sandwich and say, “Here. I get it now.” And if you give, then it can happen, the miracle can happen to you. Not just the poor and hungry, everybody’s gotta have this miracle! It can happen tonight for you all! If you believe in this pure thing, the miracle will happen and you’ll want it again tomorrow! You won’t say, “Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud.” It’s not! It can happen every day! You’ve just got to want that feeling! You’ll want it every day! It can happen to you! I believe in it now. I believe it’s gonna happen to me, now. I’m ready for it! And it’s great. It’s a good feeling. It’s better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody.

–Bill Murray, Scrooged


No Sex Until Marriage

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by Joshua Cadieux

We all know that the bible (and all religions that I know of for that matter) says we should not have sex until we find the person we are going to spend the rest of our lives with. My problem comes with the fact that the time is very dated to say the least. In the early 1900’s even up to the early 70’s people were getting married pretty much as soon as they hit puberty. People were getting married at the age of 18. Anyone can wait until they are 18 to have sex. In this day and age even that is hard to do. If people tell you they are a virgin still in university, not that it’s a bad thing, just a rarity. People now aren’t getting married until they find their career and have some sort of stability in their lives. I won’t be done school until I’m 24 years old. Add on at least 2 years until I find a career ad that makes me 26. How can you wait 26 years without having sex, its science people, we have hormones. Obviously sex should be inside a loving relationship, I’m not questioning that. I just think that there is too much peer pressure and media pressure for young people to be sexually active at a very young age. The problem is that young people are not valuing their sexuality enough. I think there is a mentality that once you have sex one time before marriage, what’s 10 or 20? I have friends who are only 21 years old and have had sex with nearly 100 different girls. And before you start saying guys are all dogs, girls are not any better. Girls these are equally ok with the proverbial one night stand. Instead of telling young people to wait until they are married to have sex, THE END. They should be teaching them to wait until they are married, but if they can’t to respect themselves and be safe.

Am I Asking the Right Question to Get the Right Answer?

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by JC Girard

It’s no walk in the park. Life’s problems are not solved simply because I believe in a God, simply because I have a Saviour, simply because I have a supporting Catholic social network, or simply because I immerse myself in my religion and my faith. The answer to life is not my faith or my walk with Christ, the answer is that there simply is no answer, there are only questions.

Before I continue, let me give you a tid bit of information: I was raised as a practising Catholic. My family (both my mom’s side, and my dad’s side) are practising Catholics. The majority of my friends were met through Catholic retreats or youth groups.

Growing up was not easy for me; actually, I think that fact that I am proud to say I am Catholic and that I practise my religion openly has made life more difficult for me. (I’m by no means a martyr! Let me explain myself…) Even as a child in grade school, I was consistently tagged stereotypically. My friends would watch what they say around me because they thought I would be judgmental. The most common phrase I heard was “JC won’t, she’s Catholic.” or “Isn’t that against your religion?” I’ve even had people say “What are you complaining about? Don’t you go to church every Sunday?” I fail to see how that should make my life easier. What frustrated me the most was that in many cases, they were Catholic as well.

Sometimes a person who practices religion (and I believe this to be true for most, if not all religions) gets stereotyped simply because they believe in something wholeheartedly. It’s hard to explain why we believe in something – in some cases we don’t even know the answer. But that just makes the “walk in the park” that much harder. But I think that’s all part of the journey.

Notice that the majority of this blog are questions. Notice that the majority of this blog did not have answers. It is not easy to be a practising anything – let alone a practising Catholic. Life, faith, and religion, are not meant to be easy. We’re not meant to have all the answers; we’re meant to ask the questions. Why do we have to ask the questions instead of being given the answers? That’s the first question, and certainly not the last.

“I would rather have 1000 questions without answers, than 1000 answers without questions.”