The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third part of the trinity and is maybe the most difficult part to understand. Many times the Holy Spirit is overlooked, as it can be hard to explain. The Holy Spirit is not a physical being that we can touch, smell, taste, see, or hear, and that can be a hard fact to conceptualize. The Holy Spirit completes the trinity and ties the Father and Son together.

            The Holy Spirit is the Word, which is love. Jesus Christ was the Word infused with the spirit upon earth. In dying, Jesus breathes out the Spirit and lets it live within creation on earth. The Holy Spirit, although it cannot be seen, gives itself with you, and ultimately brings you back to the father. Ratzinger states, “The Church of the Spirit is the Church that recalls and understands more deeply, penetrates farther into the Word, and thus becomes richer and more alive. True selflessness, pointing away from oneself into the totality, is thus the mark of the Spirit, the image of his Trinitarian Being.”

            The Holy Spirit is active and interactive. It lives within us. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger states, “One cannot display the Spirit of God as one displays goods for sale in a shop. He can be seen only by the one who bears him within himself. Seeing and coming, seeing and dwelling belong inseparably together here. The Holy Spirit dwells in Jesus’ Word, and one possesses this Word, not through mere talking, but by keeping it, by living it. He who is the life of the Word lives in the lived Word.”

            With a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit, there is a healing of the modern imagination. Many times the Holy Spirit is sort of “lost” in that it just becomes that third part of the trinity with no full understanding. The Holy Spirit is hardly mentioned, or given a physical aspect for our human minds to grasp. But the Holy Spirit calls us to see the beauty of every day and brings us closer to God. The Spirit helps us draw the final connection between God the Father and Jesus Christ is Holy Son. I found class today very interesting when we ourselves tried to explain the Holy Spirit to a group of people. It was very difficult! In the end, we realized that the best way to explain it was through peoples’ own personal experiences. The holy Spirit can be seen in so many things.


The Sonship of Jesus Christ

Class today really opened my eyes to a lot of new things, and looking at Christian doctrine and teaching in a whole new light. God comes into being when he gave us His son, Jesus Christ. Today in class, many things came full circle for me as a Catholic in attempting to understand belief in God as the Father and as the Son.

            In understanding God and Jesus Christ, it is helpful to use the Nicene Creed. When really broken down, the essence and importance of God as the Father and Jesus Christ as His son comes into a greater sense.

            When listing the important aspects of who is Jesus Christ, we come up with five categories that detail what Christ means to us as Catholics and his place in the holy trinity.

            Descent is an action. It is God becoming amongst humanity. Jesus Christ begins his journey with his descent on earth. The incarnation allows humans to relate to Jesus Christ as fully human in substance, and not separate from humanity. He was brought on this earth as a baby and grows into adulthood. Jesus being revealed to us as the son of God, shows us who God the Father really is. It gave humans an almost sort of reference or name to God. Jesus is also consubstantial, or, one with God. They are of the same substance, with Jesus as divine. God and Jesus are one. In class we broke down the resurrection into two important subcategories. In the resurrection, death has conquered death, and death is taken up in the life of God. The resurrection itself is important because Jesus has died for us on the cross for all of our sins and suffering. Lastly, it is because the resurrection is in accordance with the scriptures that makes this event more substantial. This story has been written in the Old Testament. It has been revealed to us prior to it happening.

             The sonship is healing of the modern imagination in that it humbles us as humans and gives us a greater reference point to who God is. It is almost a way in which to overcome some of the obstacles to belief that Ratzinger spoke about. In overcoming cosmological and anthropological reduction, sonship really helps us see, in Christ’s actions and through love. 

Balthasar’s Love Alone is Credible

In Love Alone is Credible, obviously a major theme is love. Balthasar discusses Christian revelation as an important element of faith that is driven by love. An emphasis is put on love and its significant role in the shaping of our faith. Christian revelation is a difficult subject because a large part of our religion is based in trust. I would definitely admit that I had a less than easy time understanding this passage. Balthasar discusses a lot about how there is knowing without really knowing. Marilynne Robinson captures the ideas of Balthasar perfectly in her novel Gilead when she states, “Well, see and see but do not perceive, hear and hear but do not understand as the Lord says. I can’t claim to understand that saying, as many times as I’ve heard it, and even preached on it. It simply states a deeply mysterious fact. You can know a thing to death and be for all purposed completely ignorant of it. A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutual incomprehension.”  In essence, we just know, there is no scientific backing to faith.

            An important aspect that Balthasar mentions is that we must find a balance between understanding and naïve accepting. In perceiving the love we have for God this love, “must be something the world can recognize.” It must be a true love that is similar to the love God has for us. Balthasar writes, “When man encounters the love of God in Christ, not only does he experience what genuine love is, but he is also confronted with the undeniable fact that he, a selfish sinner does not himself possess true love.” True love is Christ dying for us on the cross for all of our sins, regardless of whether we stop sinning or not.

            We must come to accept that we may never fully understand God, but that the response of faith to revelation is what God grants to us, his creatures, which is shown in our response to God’s love with our love just as equal. 

Sex and Alcohol At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s

Wednesday night is Finny’s night. Thursday night; Club Fever. Friday night, Corby’s. And Saturday tailgating all day with CJs fresh after a Notre Dame victory. Alcohol plays a prevalent role on both the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s campuses. College, for many, is the first time young adults experience complete freedom (well almost). This freedom is fun, because you can experience so many new things you never thought were possible. In many cases college is also the first time teenagers try drinking alcohol. It’s a whole new world out there, and at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, I would say the students definitely like to have fun with it. With this fun comes some consequences, and I can tell you first hand, it’s not always fun and games.

            This past year I missed the very first home football game because I had to bring my friend to the hospital after she tailgated way too hard and got herself very sick. She swore off of alcohol because of that, and she was only twenty-two years old. I’ve witnessed alcohol do some very nasty things to people and it being wildly abused by so many. At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, underage drinking is normal, and a lot of kids do know how to handle themselves, but I know there are kids that use alcohol in abusive ways and only hope that it isn’t a cycle that continues after graduation.


            For a long time I did not believe that sex played as large of a role on campus as it apparently does. ND Confessions is a Facebook page where students submit their anonymous confessions about any and everything, and many of the submissions have to deal with a sexual nature. Although it may not be the most reliable source, some of the submissions can be downright shocking and vulgar. I keep finding more and more that being away at college, many kids are exploring things sexually, and from people I have talked to, they seem to not really think about any consequences of their actions.



            Being a student at Saint Mary’s I have grown accustomed to hearing comments from boys and girls alike that we are collectively, “sluts.” This kind of language is hurtful and demeaning. Although I know not every ND student feels this way, I have watched Saint Mary’s girls play in to this “easy, sleazy, stupid” stereotype because it is what’s expected and they let themselves get hurt. I watch as girls get aboard what some have so nastily deemed the “sluttle” and ride over to ND on the weekends. This joking culture of it being okay for girls to be “sluts” is not in fact okay. Instances of rape or sexual harassment have been reported and many students on campus make jokes about it. Something must be done because the problem only perpetuates itself when people joke around so much.


            The bigger problem that all of this hides is that students are taking advantage of their freedom and want to experience what they may not have been able to do before coming to college. Students have also become comfortable with joking around and being young and immature, don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Not everyone is perfect, and I feel like college is a time where it is more okay to make mistakes. I never viewed the two campuses as having a major problem with alcohol or sex, but the more and more stories I hear, and things I witness and experience myself lead me to believe there is a growing sense of leniency surrounding attitudes about sex and alcohol.  





This Old Spice commercial was aired during the 2013 Super Bowl. In the commercial Old Spice is trying to sell a new scent called “wolfthorn.” It displays the inner monologue of the female character and her questioning why she feels so compelled to follow this mysterious man at what appears to be a classy/ ritzy party. The man walks down the stairs wearing two live wolves draped over his shoulders and the woman finds herself immersed in the whole idea of him. She desires to run away with him, and at the end of the commercial she is seen driving away with him. At the end of the commercial he holds up a bottle of Old Spice body spray and while driving sprays it all over himself. This commercial although very outrageous in the scenario, creates the idea in men that if they smell like “wolfthorn” they will be highly desired by women. It also can be a product marketed towards women, showing them that this scent is irresistible and worth the adventure. the women is found doing and thinking crazy things for this man she does not even know; a fantasy created for both men and women. In a party filled with men, this scent will drive you to do mad things for that one man. In the minds of men this ad creates the sense of being an alpha, where no woman wouldn’t “go mad” for you.

In the article, The Desire and the Kingdom of God, consumer desire is categorized in two ways, “seduction,” and “misdirection.” In the case of this Old Spice advertisement, misdirection is used to prompt consumer desire. Misdirection can be described as “psychological notions of fetishism,” which is to say, the ad creates a false sense of sexual attachment or desire beyond anything that would ever actually happen. We as consumers are ill informed, and make quick, irrational decisions. A commercial or advertisement can only show us so much. You cannot smell the Old Spice spray through the television screen to know if you actually like the smell, and viewers more likely than not, will absolutely never be in the situation that this commercial portrays. It’s a commercial that is selling just a body spray, but in an over sexualized manner. In the consumers quest to fulfill these fantasies, we always will end up dissatisfied, and inevitably in failure; always consuming more to obtain satisfaction. Vincent Miller puts it best when he states, “images of products we will never buy associated with flesh we will neither resemble nor touch nevertheless train us to fix our desires out there, beyond where we are.”

When we allow our lives to be driven by consumer desire we sometimes forget the difference between want, need and enjoyment. Consuming is obtaining and loving the lesser, while our minds should be focused on God, “whom in the end is the only thing we can enjoy.” In Christianity, our desires can only be fulfilled by God, and our only true desire should be to be with God. Consumer desire begins to diminish our sense of hope and desire for justice. As we desire more and more products that promote change of ourselves, we only seek our own improvement, forgetting our own perfection in the image of God. In a modern world where consumers move from one thing to the next in order to maintain their satisfaction, this carries over into religious practices. People become “bored” and what they have becomes not enough. Miller states that the narcissism that consumerism produces, “a lack of long-term commitment to religious traditions, communities, and practices that hinders the development of spiritual transformation.” Consumerism “pulls us off track” and skews our ideals and Christian morals.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Christian Smith describes the religious imagination of adolescents in terms he’s identified as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. He starts out by characterizing modern times and forces as those which “corrode religious sensibility and undermine religious authority.” He is basically posing the question, “are modern times making it too difficult to be Christian?” We as Americans are so used to a secular society, but religion is not on the decline, rather, it’s undergoing a transformation, especially in the minds of youths and adolescents. Smith’s take is that, “whereas religious ideas originally played an important part in shaping the American Dream, today the secular ideas of the American Dream pervade church religion.” I found this to be an extremely interesting take on how the traditional church has changed to fit the mold to American ideals, instead of the opposite.

Why is there is great difficulty to maintain Christian religious tradition in today’s day in age and what can we do to strengthen it? Smith investigates the difficulties and challenges faced by youth today in the struggle to form their faith. The fact of the matter is that adolescents are misunderstood; especially by adults, and in the end it was found that youths “wish they could be closer to their parents.” It’s just assumed that teenagers should be left alone, to make any and every choice of their wildest dreams to themselves, but without realizing their need to connect, problems arise.

The second challenge that Smith addresses is “confusions about identity and discourse arising from life in a pluralistic society.” Everyone is so concerned with not offending others that we lose sight of what is important to the individual. Our culture begs us to live to please, and youths do not get a firm, distinct and articulate understanding of their faith practices and beliefs because things become overgeneralized.

After these challenges were analyzed Smith went on to describe how, because of these challenges, adolescent religious formation becomes a moralistic therapeutic deism. I must say, as I read through the readings, I found myself guilty of this very much immature faith description. Like the majority of teens that Smith describes, I used religion to make me feel good. I manipulated God to serve my needs. When I would have a soccer game, I remember praying to God beforehand to let me score a goal. This childish and selfish thinking plays right into Smith’s description of youths using God as a “cosmic therapist or counselor.” Looking back I realized that I used the catholic faith my parents baptized me with as an identifier, but never really allowed myself to become active in the particular faith traditions and teachings that are custom. More recently I have tried to become actively involved in my catholic faith, attending church on my own terms, not my parents, and engaging in catholic social thought and teaching.

The easiest way to describe what Smith calls Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is to break down the title into parts. We see the word moral and to teens this means “being kind, nice, pleasant, courteous, responsible, at work on improving oneself, taking care of one’s health, and doing one’s best to be successful.” It is therapeutic because it looks at God as a sort of helper and server to ones needs, and provides a helpful balance in one’s life. And finally deism can be described as “belief in a specific kind of God.” For adolescents, this immature way of thinking is typical, because it really focuses on our personal needs. I started to move past the stage of moralistic therapeutic deism as I matured, and because like Smith described, I had parents who encouraged a close relationship, instead of just “giving me my space” to make all of my own decisions without guidance. Smith does not see many adolescents moving beyond this point without working on a few things to strengthen their faith lives instead of accommodating their faith to fit their lives. “Work harder on articulation, practice talking about their faith, tell youths what is right and wrong in their faith, and nurture regular religious practices.”

One of my favorite lines from this reading is the distinction Smith makes in the very end when he quotes, “he is a practicing catholic.” This really summarizes the point of the article perfectly, because Smith’s point is that this moralistic therapeutic deism that he describes is not an appropriate way to practice faith. To really form the catholic faith in our youths and adolescents they must practice. I can definitely say, as I grow up, that is still helping with my formation.

The Christian Experience

What is the Christian Experience according to Mouroux?

The Christian experience incorporates three major themes faith, charity, and The Last End. Throughout the entire text, according to Mouroux, these themes play an integral part in shaping an individual’s Christian experience. Mouroux breaks down these themes and explains their importance and how a Christian can apply each aspect to his or her life. Before one can fully understand Mouroux’s take on the Christian experience, he must understand these themes.

            Mouroux first makes the distinction between uninformed faith and informed faith. Contained within uninformed faith is the notion that the individual is a sinner, lacking charity, while informed faith is perfect and in its “natural state.” This means that it contains charity, which is friendship with God. Faith, charity, and The Last End are all interconnected to one another, linked together by the grace of God.

            Faith is total belief in God. Mouroux explains that, “a movement of faith is thus implied in every movement of the soul towards God.” Without belief, faith does not exist. Mouroux discusses our intellect as individuals and stresses the importance of the connection between belief and intellect. All in all, you must have faith to have charity, or a friendship with God, because you must believe.

            Mouroux then links faith with the Last End by stating that, “having faith means believing in God as one who reveals himself, one who gives testimony of himself, one who offers himself and the End that brings beatitude—and it is in this last respect that charity completes faith.” The ultimate goal of the Christian faith is to attain the Last End, and be in union with God. Mouroux believes that with informed faith, a faith that contains charity, we can visualize the End and live life for that Last End. I found this to be a particularly interesting understanding of how faith works because it explore the unique transformation that Christians undergo throughout their lifetimes.

            When thinking back to the essay I wrote for my application for Vision, I defined faith for myself using three terms; belief, trust, and knowing. All of these terms I used to describe my relationship with God. I found a correlation in what Mouroux is trying to explain as the importance of full faith, that incorporates charity and the Last End, and my understanding of what faith means to me. It is only in complete and total faith that we can reach the Last End, and we can only have faith, if we possess charity, a friendship with God, and love. When I used trust and knowing as part of my definition of faith, I meant to draw a relationship that goes beyond just believing, but draws in our intellect as well.

            Mouroux describes the Christian experience as integrating; incorporating our intellect, our affectivity and freedom, our will to action, our body, and our communion with others. All of these aspects of being human are important in having a Christian experience. It is also dynamic, never staying put, and always calling us forward to achieve more. Our Christian experience, according to Mouroux is exploring our awareness of our relationship with God.

            Mouroux’s raises an interesting point though, when he states that, “the Christian cannot know, in this sense, that he possesses charity,” and that, “it is impossible to know whether or not one possesses charity.” Mouroux explains that we can act charitable by “doing good properly.” This all draws in to acting out of love for God because we are in relationship with God. Our relationship stems from our belief which comes out of faith. We do this to achieve the Last End. The Christian experience is a full circle in which everything is connected to one another and cannot equate to the Christian experience unless we have each element.  

            Towards the end of Mouroux’s document he raises three last points that I think culminate his explanation of the Christian experience. First, the Christian experience is an inclination towards God. This means our charity that lead us to the Last End. Second, it is a search for God. We expand our faith in a constant search for God in trying to know, understand, love and serve him. Lastly, it is joy in God, which is to say the peace we feel in knowing and experiencing God.