Ask Fr. Robert J. Spitzer Have questions? Ask Fr. Spitzer and find answers here at Magis Center. EverythingAsk Fr. SpitzerSort By NoneDateAuthor READ MORE Jesus Told us why Good People Suffer May 14, 2018 Does it mean that God loves us less if we suffer more? It's easier to understand suffering when it's something we've done to ourselves: we put off studying and end up stressing over an exam or speed on the highway and get pulled over. But what about when it really isn't our fault? A flood ruins your home, or a freak accident leaves a loved one injured or deceased - how are we to deal with these tragedies? Jesus actually address this question Himself in the Gospel of Matthew. Check out how in this clip from EWTN's Fr. Spitzer's Universe. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Other-Forms-of-Suffering.mp4 The Eye of the Needle In order to answer this question Fr. Spitzer brings up Matthew 19:24, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” A "rich man" was considered to be more than just someone with money. It described anyone who had talent, beauty, opportunity, power, influence, honor, skill, etc. In this period of time, wealth was thought to be God's blessing. They believed that a man who was blessed in this life would also be blessed in the next. This is partly why lepers and those with diseases were cast out of society - they were considered condemned by God. In this passage, Jesus tells them that this is not true. He says that those who are rich (i.e. talented, honored, skilled, influential) will have a more difficult time getting into heaven - it is those who suffer who are more likely to be welcomed through the gates. God vs. Materialism The logic of materialism tells us that whoever has less material suffering is a happier person. To put it another way, the "rich" person (who has more possessions, wealth, opportunity, influence, etc.) must be a happier person. But this just isn't true. Happiness is not defined by how long your life is or how many things you have, but it is defined by how you love others, and how you love God. It's not the suffering itself, but how we deal with it that changes our lives. READ MORE When Prayer Doesn't Help May 7, 2018 What should we do if we have a healthy prayer life, but still feel like we're missing something? A viewer asks Fr. Spitzer if she is being tested in some way when she finds herself growing impatient and angry with others, even after implementing a daily rosary and Eucharistic adoration. Father's answer, which is rooted in psychology, may surprise you. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/When-Prayer-Doesn27t-Help.mp4 Prayer and the Mind Everyone uses something called "executive function," which Fr. Spitzer referred to as "psychic energy". It's the mental effort we exert to take in information, make decisions, and communicate with others. Like our bodies, our minds can grow tired too, especially when we use up a lot of mental energy to concentrate on a specific task - like prayer. An article in Scientific America explains: "When you focus on a specific task for an extended period of time or choose to eat a salad instead of a piece of cake, you are flexing your executive function muscles. Both thought processes require conscious effort-you have to resist the temptation to let your mind wander or to indulge in the sweet dessert. It turns out, however, that use of executive function—a talent we all rely on throughout the day—draws upon a single resource of limited capacity in the brain. When this resource is exhausted by one activity, our mental capacity may be severely hindered in another, seemingly unrelated activity." When we commit too much executive function to certain tasks, we can encounter "decision fatigue". According to this article from the NY Times, "Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy." This can help explain why someone who spends a lot of time everyday in prayer may grow impatient and angry by the end of the day. We need to make sure that we save some of our mental energy for those we go home to. Finding a Balance We hear about saints who prayed for hours on end in the chapel, and of course we want to emulate them, but should we? Put it this way, if you wanted to run a marathon right now, could you do it? Assuming you're not currently training for a marathon, probably not. We can condition ourselves to be in the right physical shape to do so, but we need to have the time and opportunity to do so. It's the same way with mental energy. When we have the time and ability to do so, we can and should devote ourselves to time with God, studies even show that it's good for us, but we also have other responsibilities that God Himself has given us. A student must study, an employee must work, and a father must care for his child. God wants us to pray as much as we can, but it should be in its proper place within the greater vocation of our lives. You can also cut down on decision fatigue in other ways. Check out this article from Forbes for tips on how to reserve mental energy. READ MORE Do We Need Suffering? April 30, 2018 When it comes to suffering, we all agree on one point - we don't like it. But there are many disagreements on how to avoid suffering, and what to do when it inevitably catches up with us. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Anti-Life-Culture.mp4 Avoid Suffering We think of suffering as harmful (whether physical or emotional) because it causes us pain. When we have this view, we seek to avoid it at all costs - but how can we? You've probably heard the old saying about two things everyone encounters in life, death and taxes - and both of them involve some degree of suffering. This leads many people to reject God. After all, who wants to worship a god that causes them pain? Value of Suffering But in the light of salvation, suffering takes on a whole new meaning. As Father Spitzer points out in the video above, suffering can be a gift that purifies us in love and faith. When we accept our burdens, they help us get to heaven, to an eternity of joy. For more from Fr. Spitzer on suffering and happiness, check out this full article. READ MORE Why is the Shroud of Turin Still a Mystery? April 18, 2018 With all of the tests run on the Shroud of Turin, why are scientists still disputing its validity? https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FSU-26April17-Clip-1.mp4 The Shroud has undergone considerably more scientific testing than any other relic in human history. The 1978 STURP Investigation and subsequent investigations were remarkably thorough, and with the exception of the questionable 1988 carbon dating (see video above), all the evidence points to its being the burial cloth of Jesus. Contemporary Dating Tests The vanillin dating test of Dr. Raymond Rogers, the two spectroscopic analyses (of Dr. Giulio Fanti), and the compressibility and breaking strength tests (of Dr. Giulio Fanti) date the Shroud to a time commensurate with the life and crucifixion of Jesus. Extrinsic Dating Evidence Testing of pollen samples by Dr. Max Frei, roman coins on the eyes of the image on the Shroud, and 120 coincidences of blood and fluid stains between the Shroud and the Sudarium (Facecloth of Oviedo) give evidence of a date and location of the Shroud’s origin similar to that of Jesus. Blood Stains on the Shroud The blood stains tell a story very similar to the highly unusual crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth (for more information, check out this article) – they were imprinted on the Shroud before the image was made (the opposite of what would need to be done by a forger. Image on the Shroud The image was not formed by dyes, chemicals, vapors, or scorching. The only known explanation for the formation of the image is an intense burst of vacuum ultraviolet radiation (equivalent to the output of 14,000 excimer lasers) emitted from every three-dimensional point of the body in the Shroud. For more information on these tests and more, check out Fr. Spitzer's article, Science and the Shroud of Turin. READ MORE Where did Jesus' Y-Chromosome come from? April 13, 2018 Jesus, being fully man, must have had a Y-chromosome, but since he was born of the Virgin Mary, where did it come from? A viewer submits this question in this clip from Fr. Spitzer's Universe and asks if any genetic testing has been done on blood from the Shroud of Turin or Eucharistic miracles. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Jesus27-Y-Chromosome.mp4 For more on miracles, check out these articles on the intercession of Fulton Sheen and the miracles of Jesus from a historian's point of view. READ MORE Inconsistencies in Scripture April 5, 2018 Can we believe the scriptural accounts of Jesus' passion, even though there are inconsistencies? Fr. Spitzer tackles this question in this clip from EWTN's Fr. Spitzer's Universe. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Inconsistencies-in-Scripture-clip.mp4 To determine if we can accept inconsistencies in the bible, we must examine the reliability of eye-witness accounts. In addition to the six main criteria to examine historicity, historians, along with psychologists and lawyers, deal with human recollection in their work - here's what they already know. Inconsistencies in Memory Perhaps the biggest factor in recollection is memory itself. We often think of our brain as a video recorder, constantly taking in the feed and storing it in the recesses of our mind until we bring it to the forefront to press play. But according to an article from Scientific America, this is not true. "On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is 'more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.' " Even with the best of intentions, we inadvertently say things that are inaccurate. Telling a Story Have you ever started telling a story in the same room with someone who was there? At some point, they probably interjected with a statement like, "That's not how it happened!" or "That's not how I remember it." It is common for people to recount events differently, as each person has a unique point of view from which they view the world. An article from the Standford Journal of Legal Studies explains this phenomenon. "Every act of telling and retelling is tailored to a particular listener; we would not expect someone to listen to every detail of our morning commute, so we edit out extraneous material. The act of telling a story adds another layer of distortion, which in turn affects the underlying memory of the event." As we piece together events to make a comprehensive story, we either edit out or add details to make it more compelling and comprehensive. Conclusion If our memory is imperfect and we shape our stories from our point of view - can we rely on eye-witness accounts at all? Think back to the last story you told when someone else remembered it differently. Did that event really happen despite the inconsistencies? Of course it did. The details may vary, but the main events remain. For more videos from Fr. Spitzer's Universe, check out our YouTube page. READ MORE Did Jesus' Divinity Save Him from Pain on the Cross? March 30, 2018 Today, on Good Friday, between the hours of noon and 3:00pm, we reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The wounds of Jesus are horrific to think about – yet alone endure. As we reflect on His death, we may wonder if He was able to more easily withstand the unbearable pain of crucifixion due to His divinity. Fr. Spitzer discusses this thought in this clip from Fr. Spitzer's Universe. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Did-Jesus27-Divinity-Save-Him-from-Pain3F.mp4 Check out these links for related articles on divine intervention, the Shroud of Turin, and historic evidence for Jesus' miracles, as well as this video discussing the reasonableness of Jesus Christ. READ MORE The Catholic Church on Evolution March 22, 2018 The Catholic Church often gets a reputation as anti-science — especially when it comes to evolution. Is it possible for Catholics to believe in evolution without contradicting Church doctrine? https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/The-Catholic-Church-on-Evolution.mp4 For more information from Fr. Spitzer on evolution, check out this article that focuses on the bible and evolution and this video which discusses the historical relation between the Church and scientists. Also available is this article, God’s Periodic Table… & Evolution from Dr. Robert Kurland (AKA, Dr. Bob), a retired professor who taught Physics at both Harvard and Carnegie Melon. READ MORE A Relationship with God March 19, 2018 Today we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, the Husband of Mary. We can certainly learn a lot from St. Joseph, especially when it comes to his relationship with God. Fr. Spitzer talks about this relationship and how it teaches us to overcome temptation and engage with God. https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Mary27s-and-Joseph27s-Relationship-with-God.mp4 READ MORE What Exactly is the Magis Center, & What Part of the Christian Bible do You Deem as More Important, & What are Your Beliefs? July 19, 2016 The Magis Center of Reason and Faith is dedicated to looking at the evidence for a transcendent being from physics, philosophy, mathematics and metaphysics. READ MORE How do we know that the Direct Creator of the Physical Universe is the Unrestricted Intelligible Reality and not a Creation of the Unrestricted Reality? July 19, 2016 How do we know that the Direct Creator of the Physical Universe is the Unrestricted Intelligible Reality and not a Creation of the Unrestricted Reality? READ MORE What would be a Good Introduction to Philosophy? A Book or Primer that You Could Recommend to the Layman? July 19, 2016 There are several good books that can introduce you to philosophy on a rather serious level. Ask My Question Ask Fr. Spitzer your Reason or Faith-based question! Web Site Ask Father Spitzer your Reason or Faith based question: First name Email Address What's your question for Fr. Spitzer?