Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mike Landry

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wish to thank Jeremy Keong for his wonderful interview. I enjoyed reading your answers and learning more about your faith. Thank you for sharing with us Jeremy!

Today we have a new participant so please welcome Mike Landry. Mike is a Catholic and I know you'll enjoy his interview as well!

Here Is Mike Landry's Introduction:

For his entire adult life, Mike Landry has dedicated himself to some kind of ministry: six summers on staff at a Catholic camp, three years coordinating and leading retreats across Western Canada, many roles in music ministry, ten years as a parish youth minister, and now as the full-time Chaplain for Evergreen Catholic Schools (serving schools in Devon, Hinton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Westlock, Alberta). Mike is firmly convinced that each of us is a product of the love of God, and that it is in knowing God and responding to that love that we discover our purpose in life. Through Scripture, stories, and music, all infused with the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith, he hopes to to inspire young people to live the fullness of life which God has created them for.

1) What religion do you practice?
Roman Catholic.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
Was born and raised Catholic, although it wasn't until I was in grade 9 and a member of the youth group at my Church that my faith really became important to me. It was at this time that God really became real and not just a character in a story.

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Certainly. Within the Church there are many who would identify themselves in all of these degrees. There are those who think the Church should be more democratic, and are constantly trying to reform doctrine and practice. You might call these 'liberals,' and they often loosely associate themselves with the Church. There are those who will only do things if they've read it in a Papal document - and often put themselves at odds with their local priest or Bishop, and you might call these conservatives. There are some who are not really a part of the Church who still refer to themselves as Catholic on both extremes; but most Catholics find themselves somewhere in the middle, trying their best to live an authentic Catholic life, but unsure as to why the Church teaches some of what she does.

It would also be worth noting here that there are various rites within the Catholic Church - Latin, Byzantine, Alexandrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean. The largest of these, at least in North America are the Latin (Roman) rite and the Byzantine (or Ukranian) rite. The theology among the rites is the same, although the means of expression is different. I have only experienced the two I mentioned before, and you'd notice that in the Byzantine rite they use no musical instruments and have an incredible artistic heritage (music, icons, etc), where as the Latin rite is what most people identify as being Catholic.

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
If I had to identify myself with one of these degrees of observance, I'd be on the conservative side - although, I think I'd be a little closer to the middle. I am currently on my second degree studying theology and the Catholic religion, and the more I study, the more I come to believe in God and understand what the Church teaches. I have had great working relationships with my pastors and Bishops over the last fifteen years that I have worked for the Church, so I'm by no means at odds with any of them.

What I recognize is that within my Church there are many of us at various points on the same journey of faith... and for the most part, those I've encountered who even take the extreme positions do so out of a sincere desire to love God.

5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
I usually explain this question as a forty-five minute presentation (I've posted it on my website as well), but in brief, the understanding is that when we die, our soul goes to God to face judgment. This isn't the arbitrary judgment of some mean, cruel God, but rather is our own free choice, made by the way in which we've chosen to live our lives. In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis explained it well: There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says in the end “Thy will be done.” Those who look to God and say 'thy will be done' do so because this is how they've lived their lives, loving God and neighbor, and so they are welcomed into Heaven with God and the other saints for eternity. This experience of Heaven fulfills every human longing, and is a state of supreme, definitive happiness (see Catechism of the Catholic Church #1024). On the other hand, those who have lived a life which is selfish and self-centered are those to whom God gives exactly what they've always wanted. Lewis' lasting image for Hell in The Great Divorce is an experience of infinite and eternal loneliness, for those who are in hell are experiencing loneliness. But the key here, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that this experience of hell is the result of our own free choice (see CCC #1033).
We also await a final judgment, a moment at which Jesus will return, set everything right, and our bodies, too, will rise from the dead. It's right in our creed ("I believe in the resurrection of the body"). But the only thing that Jesus says about when this is going to happen is that “of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone …therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:36, 42)

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
That would be up to them. God offers it to everyone, Jesus died for everyone, but it is forced upon no one. Love, by its very nature, needs to be free.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
It's home. It makes sense, and I can trace it right back to the time of Jesus. The fact that it's still here in spite of the scandals which have sprung up over the past 2000 years tells me that there's a divine authority behind it.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
We celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead every Sunday by attending Mass - where we hear readings from scripture, and celebrate the Lord's supper. We also have five liturgical seasons: Advent (the four Sunday's prior to Christmas) which are meant to prepare our hearts not only to celebrate Jesus' birthday, but also to remember that He is coming again; Christmas (from Christmas day to the Baptism of the Lord in early January), celebrating the gift of God become man; Lent (roughly forty days before Easter), the Church's annual retreat which is meant to encourage us to turn from sin and delve deeper into the treasures of our faith; Easter, the fifty days from Easter until Pentecost, when we celebrate Jesus' resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit; and then what's called ordinary time - the rest of the year that doesn't fit into those four other seasons. Each comes with it's own set of practices things like Advent Calendars/Wreaths (Advent), Christmas carols/trees (Christmas), a renewed dedication to prayer, fasting, and giving to others (Lent), and great celebrating (Easter.)

We also have particular feast days for specific heroes of our faith - from people like St. John the Baptism or St. Stephen (the earliest of martyrs) to St. Kateri Tekakwitha (a native American saint recognized just a few months ago) throughout the year, people whose faith, hope, and love we are encouraged to imitate.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Definitely. We have a particular kinship with Judaism & Islam, whose lineage we share, as well as a connection to other Christian denominations, who also believe in Jesus.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Our local Church has an office for Ecumenism (relations with other Christian denominations) and Inter-religious affairs who often arrange shared prayer experience, mutual dialogue, and who will send greetings to some on their holy days. I have never been invited to one of these, but I would likely go provided it was a friendly invitation and would be based on a mutual respect for one another.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I don't know enough about either to really make a comment.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Yes and no. While women are not ordained priests in Catholicism, they play an indispensable role in our Church. While the priesthood is certainly a visible role, every baptized person has a call and a part to play in building up and sharing our faith - men, women, young, old. Some of our greatest heroes (saints) are women: Mary, Jesus' mother; St. Theresa of Avila, St. Theresa of Lisieux, and St. Maria Goretti to name a few throughout then history of the Church.

How do I feel about it? I've studied it at length, and I have no problem with it. As a married man, I am also ineligible to be ordained a priest. There are many good reasons, though the one that has always made the most sense to me that the way in which we celebrate our sacraments represents what we believe. We baptize with water because this sacrament is all about cleansing sin. The priest needs to be a man because the priest stands for Christ (we call this in persona Christi) and the whole Church as His bride... you don't get the same reality if that role in the Church is a woman.

That being said, this is a short answer to a deep question; and this distinction of roles is in no way intended as a slight to women. Where it is properly understood and lived, that is the reality.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
We don't segregate.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
My faith is at the center of all that I do. I spent three days on retreat discerning whether to propose to the (amazing) woman who is now my wife. I have worked in some way, shape, or form to build up my faith ever since I finished high school - nearly fifteen years now. I've spent the better part of the last 7 years doing some form of study about my faith, and I do my best to have a daily routine of prayer - always being aware of the guidance and influence of God in my life.

It certainly does affect my views on controversial issues. It gives me a treasury of resources, beginning with the Catechism, spiritual writings, Biblical commentaries, etc, spanning nearly two thousand years which help me to understand why marriage should be one man/one woman (and indissoluble), why we don't agree with contraception, and how life begins at the moment of conception (and should be defended.) Each of these could again get a much longer answer, but in study and in prayer, it all makes sense.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
I would turn to prayer, first, to make sure it wasn't just an immediate, emotional reaction. I would want to understand where my child was coming from, and honestly talk about some of the challenges that this might bring to their faith. And then I would pray again.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
That would again be up to them. God offers everyone the chance to get to Heaven... did they, to the best of their abilities, love God and neighbor? But again, God won't force Heaven on anyone.

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I don't really understand the question. But I have great confidence in the way that the popes of my lifetime - John Paul II & Benedict XVI -have made an effort to speak on behalf of our faith. I am also grateful for some of our Bishops, like Thomas Collins (Toronto), Richard Smith (Edmonton), Fred Henry (Calgary), and Timothy Dolan (New York) are often speaking publicly on behalf of Catholics. In addition to them, and many good and wonderful priests and religious I've been privilege to know and read, I also look to examples like Mother Teresa or Catherine Doherty, whose writing and influence continues long after they've died.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
I can't say that I have.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Never. One of my favorite quotes comes from Pope Benedict's first homily as Pope "Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary." I often share this with my students, because I want them to understand the inherent value that God - and the Church - places on each one of us.

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Knowing that I am a part of something much bigger than me, that there's two millenia of history behind what I believe is certainly reassuring, but there are days where living my faith is difficult, moments where what God asks of me is hard or that it might be easier just to go along with what society wants. On those days, I don't always have peace, but what I do have is a relationship with a God who sticks with me through it all- when I succeed and when I fail, and especially when I feel that I don't deserve it. I know in my faith that I am loved - even when I don't feel it.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No. There is a uniqueness in each soul and each life, and this life is a gift we get on a pilgrimage to get to Heaven, where we were always intended to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment