Taking a Stand

White Pizzo Sticker

“A society that pays protection money is a society without dignity”

All that is necessary
for evil to triumph
is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

Just a few days ago, Pope Francis excommunicated the Mafia from the Catholic church.  That’s right!

He visited Calabria, southern Italy, and denounced the Mafia “using the strongest language he has to date” saying, “Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the Mafia, they are not with God.  They are excommunicated!”

As a prelude to this visit, he unflinchingly declared to the Mafia in no uncertain terms, “Hell…awaits you if you continue on this road.”

And then he decided to visit an area where the Mafia tries to portray themselves as upstanding religious men.  It was there in an outdoor mass that he boldly delivered his power-punch message for all to hear.  No apologies.  No side-stepping.  No mincing words. No kidding.  Then he left by helicopter back to Rome.

Can we just all arise and give this man a standing O?  Bravo Pope Francis! Continue reading

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Faith Sign

You can’t always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you might find,
you get what you need.
Mick Jagger

Faith is one of my favorite subjects.
It’s simple, it’s strong.  It’s rudimentary, it’s robust.  At one end of the spectrum is faith as small as a mustard seed.  On the other end is faith powerful enough to move mountains.

Faith at its basic level was described by King Benjamin:

Believe in God; believe that He is, and that He created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that He has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth…
Mosiah 4:9

Most have basic faith that God is all-powerful, all-knowledgeable, and can do all things. We’d agree that God can respond and we can trust His strength. Now, will God do anything we want when we need Him to?  That’s a trickier question.

Displaced Faith
Some Christians have the naive assumption that if something bad happens, all you have to do is pray, have faith, and God will fix it.  Some believe that if they have just enough faith then God will grant whatever their hearts’ desire.  But then when they don’t get what they want: the job offer doesn’t come, or the life isn’t spared, or the tragedy wasn’t averted – they question.  Was my prayer not fervent enough? Was my faith not deep enough? Is God even there?

Maybe the problem was not with the depth of prayer, the level of faith or the absence of God.  Maybe the problem was simply a misunderstanding of what true Faith is. Continue reading

See the Stars

space-galaxy-1401467341oQIWhen it comes to exercise, I am a power-walker. To get my daily 30 minutes, I usually go on walks with my mother or my sister around my neighborhood – sometimes in the morning, and sometimes at night.

While I enjoy walking at night better than walking during the morning (less people at night, less congested), it can get a little…

…shall we say, sketchy?

I don’t live in a dangerous area, don’t get me wrong, but anything in a nighttime setting becomes a bit creepier.
Our nighttime walks are no exception.

About halfway through our exercise route, there lies a section of about two blocks that I have always disliked.

There are no sidewalks, no lanes, and no streetlights. The lights in the houses on this street are always off – as if all the houses were abandoned. Barely any cars travel down the road. And it is quiet – only the crunch of gravel from your own footsteps breaks the silence. Not to mention the drooping trees that may be hiding crazed attackers or rabid beasts in their overgrown branches.

Creepy, right? Continue reading

1/8 of an Inch

Almost exactly a year ago, I spoke at my high school graduation (Westmont High School Class of 2013!).

Me and my friends at graduation (I am the one on the right)

Me and my friends at graduation (I am the one on the right)

It was hot, it was gross, my shoes were ruined by the freshly painted stage and the astroturf – but President Obama was present for my speech.

Well, he flew over in Air Force 1 during my speech, but it still counts.

With everyone posting graduation pictures and sappy status updates about their years in high school, I started reminiscing a little bit. So here is my graduation speech from 2013 (thank you John Green for the inspiration!).

 

Class of 2013: Congratulations, to all of you. Revel in this moment – this is all for you. Continue reading