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Header - Family Tip 17 - Tattoos, to get or not to get? 

By Thomas Ryder

 

At a casual family gathering, my 16-year-old nephew, Michael, sat next to me and said: “Uncle, I want to get a tattoo. What do you think about it?”

I raised my gaze and fixing it on his asked, “Do you want to get a tattoo or are your friends pressuring you to get one?”

Squirming a bit in his seat, he conceded, “Well… I mean…. It’s both.”

I did not press the point and asked, “But, what do you think, Michael? Do you think it is a good thing? Because if you are asking me about it, it seems to me that you consider this a moral issue. And you would be right there.”

“What do you mean by ‘moral’”? he asked.

“‘Moral’ determines if the action you are proposing is good or bad. Morality is the rule or principle that distinguishes good from bad or right from wrong.”

At this point, expressing a little frustration Michael said, “I just want to know if I should get one—yes or no?”

The time had arrived for me to dig in a bit deeper.

“O.K., Michael. Unless you are in a rush, give me five minutes and I will tell you what I think.”

Michael moved to the edge of his seat and gave me a nod. I had his full attention; at least for the next five minutes.

I began, “First of all, you are asking me to tell you what to do and in a way to make a decision for you. But since you are not six years old anymore, you are now 16, I am going to tell you what I think about it, and I am going to ask you to make your own decision.”

Michael acquiesced, proud that I was treating him with adult respect.

I went on, “Tell me something, suppose you and I decided to put our fortunes together and buy a magnificent car. And we don’t go half way with this; we use every penny we have to get our dream car. We both go to the dealer, spend many hours shopping around and finally, after a difficult process of decision-making, come back home with a car. Then, for a few weeks, we enjoy our new car and all its perfections…until, one day, you wake up to find that I had painted the image of a beaver on the hood of the car.”

Tattoos - Image 1Michael’s expression left it clear he would not have liked the idea in the least.

I continued, “You would have probably come up to my room, banged on my door and then punched me. And I, quite honestly, would have done the same if the roles were reversed. Now, imagine what God thinks of the fact that after He gave us this wonderful body that He made—and ‘bought’ at the price of His death and resurrection—we go and tattoo all over it?”

“But is it a sin?” Michael asked with insistence.

I held up my hands, saying, “Now hold on a bit. Keep in mind that God wants us not only to avoid sin, but to actually live in a way that pleases Him. We must live lives as He wishes. Just staying away from breaking rules is not good enough.”

I continued, “Everything God makes is perfect, including our bodies. And let me tell you that He did not plan on us using our bodies as some sort of billboard. Our bodies are, just as the Church teaches us, temples of the Holy Spirit, when we are in the state of grace."

“Now I have a question for you: why do you want a tattoo? What is the reason?”

Michael started to open his mouth, but I kept on going. My five minutes were almost up.

“Again, our Eternally Good God gave us reason so we can decide what is right and what is wrong. So what could be the reason for us to tattoo our bodies other than pressure from others or pressure to conform to the culture? Is pressure alone a good reason for us to do things?”

Michael responded promptly, “Of course not!”

“When God made us, He did it based on His Infinite Wisdom. His Wisdom and reasons for doing things go way beyond our little puny understanding."

“Our bodies should be mirrors of what we have inside. Thus, a good and virtuous person has a certain shine about him and will carry himself and dress in a way that will display to the world what he is inside. The same thing happens the other way around."

“Evil and malicious people eventually look like it. Look, for example, at a bad woman who spends her life as a prostitute selling her body to whomever will pay more in comparison with a woman of virtue who protects her virginity with daring and courage. Their faces will be like night and day.”

Michael interrupted and said, “Uncle, one of the things my friends at school tell me is that there is nothing in Scriptures against it.”

Tattoos - Image 2I smiled. “Is there anything in Scriptures against taking drugs? Does this mean it is okay?

“Along with the Scriptures, God gave us a sense of right and wrong; moral law called natural law is written in our hearts. People without access to the Scriptures are still responsible for doing what is right. God did not mean for the Scriptures to be the sole manual for our behavior. But incidentally you may direct your friends to Leviticus 19:28, where God says…..”

I could see from Michael’s glance at his cell phone that I had gone over my allotted time. Not wanting to be a breaker of bargains, I ended my advice there.

Standing up, I placed my hand over Michael’s shoulder and said to him, “But Michael, you are practically an adult. You have a job, are preparing for college and, if I am not mistaken, you are saving up for your first car. Just think about what we have talked about here today and, then, I encourage you to make your own decision.”

Looking straight into his eyes I asked, “Will you go along with everyone else or will you do what you believe to be right? And that, my dear boy, is the real question.

“Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “‘Dead bodies float downstream; it takes live bodies to resist the current.’”

Michael gave me a huge hug and by the unusual tightness with which he held me I left with the impression he had liked our little chat.

That evening I silently prayed to our Good Lord for Michael. “Give him strength, for You alone know what sort of crazy opinions and peer pressure these young people have to fight against these days.”

 


 Image Credits:
© Jonathan Weiss | Dreamstime (sign)
© Vadimgozhda | Dreamstime.com (talking)
©Stocksnapper | Dreamstime (hands)

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 17, 2021

The heart of man is, so to speak, the paradise of God. Since...

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April 17

 

The heart of man is, so to speak,
the paradise of God.
Since His delights are to be with you,
let yours be found in Him.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Stephen Harding

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked a...

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St. Stephen Harding

Stephen Harding was an Englishman of an honorable family, and heir to a large estate. Born in Dorset, he was educated at the monastery of Sherborne and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.

Desirous of seeking a more perfect way of Christian perfection, he, with a devout companion, traveled into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and to Rome. On their return journey, the two travelers chanced upon a collection of huts in the forest of Molesme in Burgundy, where monks lived in great austerity. Struck by their way of life and finding kindred spirits in Robert the Abbot, and Alberic the Prior, he bid his friend goodbye and threw in his lot with the monks.

After some years, finding that religious fervor had waned considerably, Stephen, Robert, Alberic and others went to Lyons and with the support of Bishop Hugh struck a new foundation in the forest of Citeaux sponsored by Rainald, Lord of Beaune, and Odo, Duke of Burgundy.

Later Robert returned to his monks of Molesme who reclaimed him as their abbot, and upon the death of Alberic, in 1109, Stephen succeeded him as Abbot of Citeaux.

He immediately instituted such austere measures to keep the spirit of the world out that he alienated the support of many who had helped to establish the abbey. Novices ceased applying, and to make matters worse, a mysterious disease decimated his monks to the point that even Stephen’s stout heart began to quiver wondering if he were really doing God’s will.

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked at the abbey’s door seeking admittance. They were headed by young St. Bernard who in his zeal had convinced his brothers, uncles and a number of his acquaintances to give up the world with him.

Increasing numbers called for additional foundations and the first two were made at Morimond and Clairvaux. To the general surprise, Stephen appointed twenty-four-year-old Bernard as Abbot of Clairvaux. When nine abbeys had sprung from Citeaux, Stephen drew up the statutes of his Charter of Charity which officially organized the Cistercians into an order.

Stephen Harding died in 1134, advanced in age and nearly blind, and having served as Abbot of Cîteaux for twenty-five years.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is...

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Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?

Question:  I pray and pray, but I feel as if God is not listening. We always had a good, peaceful family life, but these last years have been tough. We don’t seem to be getting along and our finances have taken a turn for the worse.

I am so anxious about this situation that, not having anyone to turn to, I turned to God.

But God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists, who laugh at prayer, saying it is nonsensical and only a figment of the imagination with no real value?

Answer:  God is faithful to His promises, and God promised to answer our prayers. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).

If God promises to answer our prayers, He will do so infallibly. But in prayer there are two sides: he who asks and He Who gives.

Our part is to ask. How must we ask?

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, teaches in his book Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation that prayer must be persevering and humble.

So many times we hear people saying: “Oh, I used to ask God for this and that and the other, but He never gave it to me. Now, ten years later, how glad I am that He didn’t!”

One thing is certain: God will not fail to answer a humble and perseverance prayer. Whether He chooses to grant what we ask immediately or make us wait, we must trust that He, regardless of appearances, is doing us good. What we think is good and what He thinks is good may be two different things: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), but here is where we must abandon ourselves to His beneficent will. Our part is to be patient, calm and, above all, faithful, because this is the time for testing and later will come the time for full enjoyment.


Answering Atheists and Agnostics
As for atheists and agnostics, their skepticism proceeds from the fact that they, respectively, deny God’s existence or deny men’s capacity to know God.

In this case, we can only express our regret over their ignorance of this Supreme Being, our omnipotent Creator and loving Savior.

We may direct them to a few sources that may help in their search for the truth of His existence. Atheism and agnosticism can only be sustained in ignorance or ill will because the evidence of God’s existence is overwhelming.

Moreover, God will not hide Himself from those who seek Him sincerely and unconditionally.

Another consideration pertaining to non-believers is this: If God were to grant us absolutely everything we ask at a moment’s notice, such people might start believing purely out of self-interest.

They would look at God as a wand-wielding wizard. And God Our Lord is infinitely more than that. He wants us to know, love, and serve Him for Himself so that He can treat us as children and heirs and grant us unending happiness in Heaven.

"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God."  Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima.

 

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I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists,

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