Articles Under: Personal Witness Stories

I have a pretty realistic looking human skull on my desk, positioned to face my high school students. It’s constantly “looking” at them. I acquired the skull years ago from an old classroom closet and placed it on my desk. Students immediately started to notice the skull and asked, “Mr. Bitting, why do you have a skull on your desk?” I responded with Sirach 7:36, “In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.” I also tell them about the Latin phrase memento mori (remember your death) and show them images of saints depicted with skulls... Read more
What is holiness? In our lead article, Dr. John Cavadini describes holiness as the Second Vatican Council did, as “the perfection of love.” [1] How can we begin to imagine love’s perfection? Considered abstractly, we cannot wrap our minds around it. We need to somehow see it, if we are to understand the aim above every other in the Christian life. For this, we look to the Trinity, and to Jesus, Holiness Incarnate. In every page of the Gospels, divine, self-sacrificing love emerges in its splendor. We also need to see holiness reflected in people who began life under the... Read more
Love is an act of the will that seeks the highest good of the other. It is not a feeling, or an emotion, and certainly is not about self-satisfaction. It is a choice to join our will to the will of God, and sometimes this demands that we totally step back and let God do the work. The choice to love God cannot be coerced or be based in deceit, guilt, or shame. For my wife, coming to love Christ and his Church was a journey of love that could not be forced. It took time, patience, faithful catechesis, and... Read more
It is truly amazing what God can do when you focus on him. Lately, I have been reflecting on the “Smith” family, who came to our parish after beginning the RCIA process at two other parishes. When they came to our parish, I met with them to see how we could help. I was amazed at their story and how much they desired to become Catholic! Mr. Smith shared with me how he was formally a leader in the Church of Christ and had begun to study Catholicism to prove it was wrong. His intentions may have been misdirected, yet... Read more
I Give Thanks to God As a confirmation facilitator, it feels like a “rescue mission” trying to re-ignite faith, hope, and charity in souls that are growing cold and are in need of conversion. The young people I serve do not always receive the witness of fervent or healthy families. Parents sometimes value their child’s résumé over their religious formation. Many things, like sports, compete with time for God on the weekend. The result is an attitude that religious formation is more of a burden than a blessing. I often assume that those who come to be catechized do not... Read more
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Paul’s Search for God Saint Augustine famously wrote, “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new! Late have I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you” ( The Confessions , Book X). This statement marvelously summarizes the sublime mystery of God’s action in a person’s conversion. Augustine recognizes that his search for God was a return to the self; an interior restoration of self. Augustine also indicates here that God dwelt within him, waiting to perform his salvific and regenerative act. What was he... Read more
Victory Over Death and Darkness Ten years ago I woke up from a medical coma in Billings, Montana. Five days earlier, while I was working at a Catholic ranch for delinquent youth in northwest Wyoming, I was nearly killed. One night, while we were camping out at a site in the middle of the Wyoming high desert, in an attempt to steal the keys to a truck so they could escape from the ranch, four teenage boys waited until I fell asleep. I was in a sleeping bag under the stars. They snuck out of their tent and picked up... Read more
In Weakness People don’t brag about how weak they are. People want to think of themselves as confident, capable, self-sufficient... strong . I certainly don't recall being cheered on for how physically weak I was as a freshman in gym class! And if there had been an award for that, I certainly would have won. I couldn't bench press the bar. These are not the stories we celebrate or share with others—we love sharing the stories in which we were the heroes. The paradox of the Christian faith is that when we are weak, God's greatness and his strength are... Read more
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis speaks of two necessary “arts” for evangelization: the “art of accompaniment” and the “art of listening.” The Holy Father stresses that these intrinsically linked arts should mainly focus on the persons being evangelized, by truly seeking to know them and binding ourselves to walk with them wherever they are at in life: The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” … The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth... Read more