Pro-life is Cool

Some rights reserved by Beechwood Photography

By Chris Stefanick

In many ways, coolness wasn’t a big help to adolescent development in the ‘80s and ‘90s. As a member of “generation Jeff Spicoli” (see “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”—or better yet, don’t see it!), drinking, messing around with girls, and skating by in school with a C- would have all been socially acceptable for me.

The ever-shifting parameters of “cool” drove hordes of teens to put grease in their hair in the ‘50s, sleep outdoors for three days in the mud at Woodstock in the ‘60s, wear bellbottoms in the ‘70s, and popularized disturbingly neon clothing in the ‘80s.  Much like the wind, “cool” is hard to pin down, but its effects on youth culture are hard to miss.

Thanks to an early conversion to the Catholic faith, I wasn’t a casualty of cool. In high school I wore baggy pants, had long hair and had a rosary dangling visibly from my pocket. I could rip on electric guitar and knew every John Michael Talbot (a Catholic quasi-monk musician) song ever written. I wasn’t the norm. The fact that I was deeply religious and regarded as cool by my peers was an anomaly. And as a teenager I stood out like a sore thumb at pro-life demonstrations.

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The Ripple Effect of Faith

Rights reserved Andy B Photography

By Chris Stefanick

Eleven years ago I sat with my wife at the edge of the baptismal font with our hands on Ryan’s back, along with the priest’s.  Three dunks later he was a child of God.  It was no small journey.  He, like St. Augustine, was a philosopher. His questions flowed like an endless stream over late night beers.  He became our dear friend, though we knew he might never become a brother in Christ.

It wasn’t until Holy Thursday that Ryan willed to believe in God.  While listening to the Nicene Creed at Mass, he allowed grace a small opening when he asked himself, “Do I believe that?  And if not, what do I believe in?”  His walls of resistance fell, one after another, as the creed went on, “Yes! I believe in God the Father almighty. …Yes! I believe in the resurrection of the body! ... Yes! I believe in the forgiveness of sin, too! …Yes!  I do believe!”  Two days later the waters of baptism rippled with yet another convert.

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The 'Lost' Art of Evangelization

By Chris Stefanick

More than 13 million viewers tuned in for the final episode of “Lost” on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2010.  Those 13.5 million people got a profoundly Christian message, courtesy of secular media.  This led me to ponder why the non-Christian world is so much more effective at using mainstream media to evangelize than Christians are.

“Lost” never made direct mention of God, but the viewer was caught up in a profoundly Christian world.  “Lost” painted the picture that this brief life is a test with eternal consequences, and that there are forces for good and evil attempting to win us over to their side.  The story of the redemption all humanity desperately needs was woven through the life of every character—broken individuals given the chance to start over on a mystic island.

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Where is Your Fruit? Where are Your Roots?

During my high school and college years, I worked quite a few summers at a local feed and seed store here in Wichita, KS, which happens to also specialize in grass seed and lawn care products. And for those of you who have put in a new lawn at your own house or do so for a living, you know that well, it can be a pretty time-consuming process.

Not only do you have to pick the right grass seed and fertilizer, but you have to get the soil ready for planting, and then once the seed has been planted, you have to water, and water, and water it again…not just so that the grass will come up…but so that the roots will go deeper and deeper into the ground, because roots naturally follow the moisture…and without a good (deep) root system, that lawn won’t make it in a Kansas summer heat. Even then, we still have to water it at times.

Now your typical fescue lawn is probably the most common grass for Kansas lawns (OK, I know this sounds like a lawn and garden education class but stick with me). Your typical fescue lawn has roots that are about 12-14 inches deep into the ground…now that sounds somewhat deep…but if you’ve ever driven on Interstate I-35 between Wichita and  Kansas City, you’ve seen and driven through the Flint Hills…And the roots of the native grass on those hills, believe it or not, are 12-14 feet deep in the ground…and so because of their root system, they’re able to handle the summer’s heat (without sprinklers) and the winter’s cold so well…and that’s why native grass grows back even after a fire.

And so as I was reflecting on the Parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew’s Gospel (Ch 13), the question popped into my head: “Where are my roots? Where are the roots of my spiritual life? What type of soil is my soul? What kind of fruit am I producing?”

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Are You Ready to Answer the Ultimate Question?

If someone was to walk up to you today, someone of a different faith denomination or even of a different religion altogether, and ask you this question, how would you respond? How would you respond when they ask you the question: “Why are you Catholic?”

What would we say? How would we answer that?

Would we say, “Well, my family has always been Catholic, and so I’ve just continued that tradition…and it’s important to me.”

Or would we say, “Well, I’m Catholic because it’s where I really feel at home with my relationship with God.”

Or would we say, “I’m Catholic because I’ve come to realize how much God has to offer to me, through the Church, especially the graces that I can receive through the Sacraments. I’m Catholic because my faith is what keeps me on the right path in following our Lord Jesus Christ…and I’ve come to realize that I can’t get this anywhere else.”

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