Thursday, 27 June 2013

What? You're Christian AND Catholic?!

It was early 2008 and I sat in a room surrounded by Protestants fighting over who would at World Youth Day in Sydney be the one to show (at the time) Pope Benedict XVI the truth and have him invite Jesus to be his Lord and Saviour.

Being the only Catholic in the room, I must admit, it felt a little like this:
©20th Century Fox

It was the second time I'd ever heard of such a statement - the first time I heard it, I laughed unashamedly thinking it was a joke. It seemed like such a ludicrous statement, because in my mind Jesus already was my Lord and Saviour.

Ironic that His Holiness Benedict XVI should say such a thing as this, two years prior to my previously mentioned encounter?:

"Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience: someone else's testimony is of course important, for normally the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation handed down to us by one or more witnesses. However, we ourselves must then be personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus." (General Audience, October 4, 2006)

To be Christian means to believe in and follow Jesus Christ. Most of the people I surround myself with are Catholic and I can assure you that they believe in and follow Jesus Christ. My Protestant peers were clearly misinformed.

Spread the word - to be Catholic means to be Christian.

For further information, hear Douglas Bushman on Catholic Answers.

God bless,


Thursday, 20 June 2013

The undesirables

I don't recall it ever saying in the Bible to only love the desirable and popular. Actually, I'm pretty sure Jesus said the exact opposite: the lowly, the poor, those on the outskirts, the unclean, those whose sins everyone knows about...

I'm going to take a leaf out of Pope Francis' book and get a bit annoying here - a bit uncomfortable. If you start to feel hot around the collar, take this as a hint from the Lord to take a long, hard look at yourself.

I hear it being preached about all the time at youth events: love thy neighbour, love the least of these, befriend that loner at school. In fact, I hear it being preached by people who I have personally witnessed doing the exact opposite. People who, in a public setting, have outright badmouthed others and projected their distaste of a person on the rest of the on-listeners.

Words can be poisonous- bad words about another person in particular. I cannot count the amount of times where I have heard someone speak poorly of another and how my perception towards that person has changed. Suddenly I notice that annoying habit, bad breath or their daggy clothes.

I come from a background of being subject to schoolyard bullying. What the experience has taught me, among many things, is how it feels to be an outcast.

Can you imagine, that for a reason unbeknownst to you, you are a reject, a loser, an outcast? That everyone around you has shunned you and you try desperately, oh so desperately to find someone, anyone who can validate your worth and show you love? Every day you face, you face alone. You belong nowhere. You miss out on invites to parties. People fall silent when you enter a conversation. They avoid your eye contact in fear that you will strike a conversation with them and they will be stuck talking to you and someone may see. So, you take advantage of the checkout lady who routinely says "hi, how are you today?" You quickly invite yourself to any Facebook event that was accidently left on "public" before the creator realises and changes it to "private". You cling to anyone who takes pity.

Can you imagine this life?

Now perhaps it is a perception problem - nasty rumours that led people to believe that you're not the type of person they want around them. Perhaps there is something particularly confronting or irritating about your personality that others cannot seem to get past in order to spend enough time with you to appreciate the person that you are. Perhaps you are a bit socially awkward and people just don't know what to say or how to hold a conversation with you.

Whatever the reason, being treated as an outcast is unacceptable. It is contrary to what we have been commissioned by God to do. We go on and on about sharing the love of Jesus, preaching the Gospel message, and evangelising the world. But what about the world we live in? Our local parish community, our youth group, our wider group of friends? Do these people not need the love of Jesus, just because they're already "coming to stuff"?

Why do you think they come in the first place? Because Christians will at the very least give them a friendly smile or humour them by a polite "hey, how are ya?" before quickly wrapping up the conversation and moving on. That sliver of love is more than the rest of society will give them, so of course they keep coming back. Let me ask you this: when was the last time you greeted them with a genuine, "HEY!! You're here! Awesome. So, how are you? What's going on in your life?"

Now think for a moment about those "undesirables" - list them off in your head. Picture their faces. You cannot deny they exist. Take a moment to do so now.

If you are reading this sentence without having done so, this is your second and final chance - if you don't, you may as well not even bother to read the rest of this post because you're not ready to be the person Jesus has called you to be.

Step One: Ask yourself why they are considered (in your eyes) to be undesirable
Step Two: Try to imagine life from their perspective
Step Three: Think of one positive thing about them

It takes 30 days to break a habit. Your challenge is to think about one positive thing about these people every day for 30 days. If you run out of things, it means you don't know them well enough - so go and get to know them! I will admit that as I write this, in my head I am thinking, "dangit, now I have to do it too." I guess it's not called a challenge for nothing.

If everyone started to do this: welcoming and befriending the undesirable, then no one would be undesirable in the first place. True, all would still be different and some easier to get along than others, but all the same, you would be free to love and be Jesus to all without fear of rejection by association. The newbie who didn't know that the person was undesirable would not get "caught" in a conversation for forty-five minutes. There would no longer be hushed voices about the post-Mass Maccas run.

Remember this: there is nothing wrong with the undesirable. There is only something wrong with the person who sees them as undesirable.

God bless,


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Am I not beautiful as I am?

See this picture here:

It was taken at my friend's wedding in 2011. I have received multiple comments on the way that I looked that day, most often accompanied with a look of surprise and awe on the commenter's face.

You see, on a regular day I do not wear make up. I'm not the most punctual person, so I rarely take the time to stop and look at myself in the mirror to make sure my outfit matches before I leave the house. My hair is the last thing I do as I dash out the door. What I'm trying to say is that this picture does not capture me in my most natural form, but as an "enhanced" me. It is for this reason that I hate this photo.

Comments about it genuinely upset me because whilst they might be saying "wow - you look stunning", what I hear them saying is "if only you looked after yourself a bit more, you could be really beautiful." Am I not beautiful as I am?
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4)
The thing is, I know already that I am beautiful. I know it because God created me that way - just like how He created everyone else that way too. It is not vanity - to deny is would be to deny what God has created.
"God saw all that He had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)
I refuse to lead the world to believe that the "enhanced" Michaela is the real Michaela. I don't want to marry some guy one day and for him to wake up the next morning and think "holy crap. What did I marry?" I want to show the world me, as I am, always. I want to show the world that there is beauty beneath the fading beauty of youth.

Clearly the problem I have is not with myself but with the world. The world says that women must look beautiful. I say women should be beautiful. Looking beautiful comes from money spent in beauty salons and time in front of the mirror and buying into fads of magazines. Being beautiful comes from within; from loving, nurturing and serving.

©Michaela Hillam 2013

Here's some reading material on how to be beautiful and reflect the beauty of God:

So maybe I don't fit the mould of beauty in the eyes of the world, for my thighs will always be a bit more muscly than the average woman, I'm pre-disposed to tuckshop lady arms and one day I will be an old woman with wrinkles, sunspots, saggy skin and grey hair. I'll probably smell funny too. But in the end I know all will be well because I will have spent my life striving not to look beautiful but to be beautiful.

God bless,


Thursday, 6 June 2013

On the ordination of women

My Uncle said that one day I'll be Pope. I'd like to remind you at this point that I am female. He was joking of course, but unfortunately there are many people out there who would have taken his proclamation quite seriously and encouraged me to show the world that women can do anything. These people are misinformed.

Since Pope Francis' inauguration in March, I have encountered as many as five different people wonder aloud if the Church will now allow the ordination of women. I find the idea personally offensive.

First, I know my place as a woman in the Church and it is certainly not behind any altar.

Second, is the Pope Catholic, people??! It's not like political party voting based on differing policies. Pope Francis is not going to go 'round changing Canon Law because he disagrees with the multitude of Popes gone before him (or Christ Himself) just for the sake of "getting with the times" or pleasing secular society or trying to find "the answer to diminishing numbers of Australian priests" (which, I'll have you know is actually an additional myth, as many seminaries around the country are currently overflowing with young men).

Third, all you have to do is open your Bible and read it plain and clear:
"In these days He went out into the hills to pray; and all night He continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom He names apostles. Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became the traitor." (Luke 6:12-16)
Of these, not one was female, though Jesus had many female disciples. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994) spoke definitively upon this saying that based upon Christ's original ordination of the apostles,
"The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women."
Christ was not subject to social or political persuasions of the time. He is God: He is outside of time. Jesus commissioned it so and we as a church must not doubt His reasons for it.

Fourth, as my Dad says, having a license to drive is not a right but a responsibility. The same can be applied here:
"No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1578)
"One does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was." (Hebrews 5:4)
If this still isn't convincing enough for you, have you ever thought about what a priest is referred to as? I'll give you a hint. It's another word for Papa. As the Church is the bride, Christ is the bridegroom and our priests are representatives of Christ (see Pius XII, enc. Mediator Dei; and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica). How could a woman possibly fill this role as husband?

No, as a woman, what I have to offer the life of the church is entirely different: a deeply personal relationship with God. Or as Papal Theologian, Fr. Wojciech Giertvch so eloquently put it,
"To convince the male that power is not most important in the church, not even sacramental power. What is most important is the encounter with the living God through faith and charity. So women don't need the priesthood because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway."
I'll admit I am no theologian. I have no formal qualifications in study of scripture. Please excuse me if I am not 100% on anything that I've proclaimed to be truth. Know, however, that I did my research using reliable sources. Feel free to correct me or lead me in the right direction for further study resources via the comment box.

Having said this, I am not writing for me. I am writing for you. Get motivated and get informed about the truths of our Church! For further reading on this topic, see Why Not Catholicism and Pope John Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

God bless,