Catholic vs. Catholic - 2018-06-16 - Christopher Agron

Author Recorded Saturday June 16th, 2018

There are 44 episodes in the Versus:Catholic series.

Recorded September 13th, 2017

Catholic vs. Catholic - 2017-09-13 - Thomas

I met Christopher on his YouTube channel. He is a fine young man who served 4 years in Korea and was raised in a Catholic military family. Chris started the 'Task Force 75' project to aid Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria in 2017.


Catholic vs. Catholic - 2018-06-16 - Christopher Agron

Author Recorded July 26th, 2017

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hello my name is Christopher Agron and you're listening to Catholic versus Catholic so just tell us a little bit about yourself if you would please who you are what you believe and how you came to believe it well like I mentioned my name is Christopher Oregon I'm 25 years old Puerto Rican I grew up in actually my father's in the military so I moved around growing up a lot like a really interesting experience actually think it's a good one that I wished on everyone that everyone gets a chance to move and experience different cultures I'm Catholic I'm a cradle Catholic a little disclaimer right there but just because you were born into a faith it doesn't mean you really take it seriously so and I don't I don't think it's a family thing I think it's very much an individual thing that I had to cultivate myself how did I get to where I'm at and what I believe well I think like most fatal Catholics I just kind of was going through the motions up until a certain point where I decided to take it more seriously and for me that was shortly after confirmation I started attending retreats and they were phenomenal I kind of became a retreat junkie I went to like all of them like probably met everyone in my diocese because I was in every retreat in the taxis and that was really good for me you know it really surrounded me with with positive role models and help me learn the faith there was like a really funny defining moment it was around like midnight to 1:00 a.m. when I was had just graduated high school and I was just locking up the church because I had done whatever youth meeting I was doing at the moment and I bumped into the priest who was also locking up the church and he's like what are you doing here and I was like you know God's work never ends I'm just locking up it just finished and he's like you should really apply for the youth minister position I was like oh okay like I don't have a formal education and theology or anything like that and he's like no but really should so it was a really good experience as for like you know struggles in the faith I would be being disingenuous if I didn't say that in the military it was super hard to practice the faith for me it really would but I think that's kind of normal I feel like most people have looked something similar to that when they go to college and it's more like not being in the normal environment not having control over who you're surrounded with can you talk a little bit more about your parents your grandparents do you have any childhood memories like I'm talking about your early memories where there's maybe this the first whiff of incense or the first sight of a religious or a priest and what impression did that have on you and what is your early introduction to prayer can you just talk about the family and then the community from a very early childhood perspective what impressions do you remember now and how did that impact you Wow yeah nobody's ever asked me that before I really appreciate it I actually like I said I was a cradle Catholic but I think I understand it my parents were both youth leaders and just generally extremely involved in their respective communities in the faith and that definitely gave me a very positive impression to begin with I can as far back as I can remember we've been going to mass on Sundays and I have to have to have to have to honor my parents and give credit where credit is due and say they've been like phenomenal phenomenal phenomenal role models but it there's like this weird bias you know of they're your parents so you kind of unfortunately don't there's certain things that you have to learn from other people and have other mentors and I think that's like a normal part of like child development psychologically like you have to leave your family and kind of get into the environment to learn but um my grandfather he was the choir director actually at his church and my mother was in the choir and my dad met my mother because he was also in the choir so like that that kind of says it all they have known each other since they were like in high school and they're like childhood sweethearts and they were very much a face-centered couple and what about your own vocation do you see yourself getting married or entering the priesthood or becoming a religious or what sort of ideas are you even playing with I'm really think I'm called to marriage most people that I encounter usually and it's almost frustrating maybe you've gone this to man when most people are like oh you should you should be a priest or you should consider priesthood and it's like I almost feel like it's like a a way of rationalizing the fact that you love Jesus so much and puttin my high at a high priority and kind of you know you're different you should be a priest where it's like dude I think everyone should love Jesus and put him at this high priority there's a certain beauty that people can easily recognize and acknowledge when it comes to loving our Lord but there's always a rationalization with it and I was I've been I've been studying the work of a psychologist his name is dr. Gabor Matta if I'm not mistaken and he says and has come to the conclusion that addiction isn't only related to a substance addiction as any behavior that has chronically a negative outcome that you continue to do any behavior and I think that's really interesting because under that definition I think it's fair to say that everyone has addictions that's just another way of describing something that we in the Catholic faith have known all along which is that we are enslaved to sin there are things in our lives that are really negative and it's and it's not as simple as hey I'm just gonna stop doing that and I really am really fascinated by the study of addiction and how they've been able to treat that by addressing underlying trauma his pains or self-esteem issues because I really feel like by growing in community with the church growing in your love for God by growing your love for your neighbor it becomes a lot easier for you love yourself and it becomes a lot easier for you to not be a slave to addictions or to sin or to XYZ I've been like super fascinated by this for like the last moment I'll be total nerd about it well because you're so young and you're dealing with young people I do want to ask about sexual morality and masturbation and pornography because those are that I think aren't talked about enough and they're deadly for the family for marriage for society at large do you deal with those issues directly or indirectly and how do you deal with them you can pray the rosary all day but if you have triggers that are gonna lead you through a path that will lead you to sin like whether it be with like you know your laptop is there but and from pornography as one click away or you are in a occasion of sin with your significant other praying the rosary is extremely effective but if you are setting up your logistics badly you know you're putting yourself in an occasion of sin and if you look at the Catechism if I'm not mistaken it says that to make it out of an occasion of sin without sinning is like almost miraculous you know so you're banking on a miracle by not setting up your logistics so I'm when I when I when I speak with youth about this I really heavily emphasize of like it's not a fair fight when you're dealing with an occasion of sin you are setting yourself up for failure so yes absolutely you should absolutely pray the rosary getting your community and bolster your faith in your relationship to Jesus as much as possible but also don't forget that like if you remove the temptation then you're setting yourself up for success because you know like that how how hard is it to say okay well my computer I'll use it for pornography at this time and has happened you know over and over and over like it's a pattern of saying in my life how hard is it to remove that like really like it's not hard so I feel like it's underrated like playing logistics properly there's a big dichotomy in the States I think between the left and the right and it's a fairly recent thing I think it was the French Revolution that introduced this left versus right notion but it seems to be a big pressure for people that live in the United States of America can you talk a little bit about that and how you deal with it as a Catholic because I always identify as a Catholic I don't identify on the left or on the right and I don't see how anyone could feel comfortable putting themselves into a neat and tidy little box on those political scales can you talk from your perspective personally and in a more general way about the atmosphere in the United States with politics how it dominates or it seems to at least from my perspective in Canada I I think it's even more prevalent to people in colleges to there's like a weird agenda colleges to where they're really pushing the left for some reason especially in California I am very particular about my decisions to allow things to come into my life I think whether or not we are consciously choosing our influences we're being influenced that can be with what we choose to watch on TV that can be what we were music we choose to listen to and so I do not indulge in regular news media there's certain certain media's that I trust more than others when it comes to news but it's just such a joke because they're they both have their own agenda you know the right and the left they go for exaggerating to get their way and so there's I it just ruins the credibility of both and politics here is hilarious like he like oh man I just got back from from UK and I was talking to a friend who's Irish and she was complaining about her politics and I was like your politics are laughable compared to how awful how controversial and obscene the politics in the US are it's ridiculous but I think honestly the your your stance and that you very much clarify and identify that you are Catholic politically as well because if you're Catholic you're Catholic all the time I think that's just the right answer and that's how I go about it as well this brings to mind the issue of abortion and pro-life pro-choice so-called how would you assess the situation today particularly among the youth is there a strong movement towards pro-life stance or how do you see that today it's polarized its polarized I'll put it that way I don't think I honestly don't feel like we're winning the battle i but i but i'll tell you what it's polarized the people who are pro-life are very pro-life the people who are pro-choice are very close-minded I had a funny exchange about pro-life somebody on Instagram commented on a photo that I you know to explain the photo briefly it had like different stages of people's lives you know starting with like you know a fetus going up to like a small baby than a child and uh an older gentleman didn't like even older than that and then like you know like a senior citizen and I was like a clump of so I was at different stages you know it was something like that and then this person commented oh yeah well if you were in a burning Hospital and there was a ton of like an 11 year old child or five year old child and then also a jar full of a thousand fetuses which one would you save obviously that situation is awful but it's hilarious because I actually was a it when I was in the military I was I was like a medic so like emergencies are my thing and it's like mission enemy's troops terrain time and civilian considerations and when someone says the answer is meant to see what they're saying is gather all the information you can at that situation and then make a decision based on that situation and so my answer to her is if I were in that situation I would make the best decision I could in that situation and I wouldn't lose sleep about it because my decision was the best decision that I could make at that moment I would not like trust me I wouldn't lose it like a wink of sleep it's crazy it's hilarious that they want to do all these mental gymnastics to slip people into philosophical and logical fallacies but it's like it's a simple question is a human or not like it's just a simple question yeah so speaking of philosophy I came to God through philosophy in 2009 I don't know if you know that about me but what role does philosophy play in your own personal journey do you spend a lot of time reading those sorts of things or you are you not interested at all in philosophy and natural obviously I've completely completely completely appreciate it and love it I I'm not really a smart person I'm not I'm like a really good at looking stuff up like I'm a technical person I had us one friend who was like a brilliant human being we walked home together he was like full-on atheist and so we would just have these conversations like every single day boy I walked home together like you know 30 or 45 minutes and that was actually how I got my formation is because like I said like I'm not the smartest dude and I'll admit it like I don't expect me to know things off the top of my head but I'm like a champion and looking stuff up like so like I'll get back to you and that was cool and you know it was like a really very fruitful thing he actually is its Christian now so I mean that was awesome what is the role of suffering in your life and in the lives of people around you and how does that play in with the call to holiness and the path to heaven the path to God can you talk a little bit about obstacles and pain and suffering having just gone through some trials in terms of health I think it's probably fresh on your mind rank I know about it until this morning like first of all so what this would happen just so that the listeners also know what happened with my health I went to UK and I had some Lebanese barbecue and if you haven't had Lebanese barbecue before I'll pray for you because you need to like and so there's Lebanese barbecue plays it was like a little hole in the wall you there was nowhere to say it was just like you go there grab your barbecue and leave was like the best barbecue ever and so I went there like literally literally I went there like 12 times but it was it was delicious I know know catching a above and but luckily I didn't get sick until I got to the US so luckily I didn't have to go to the emergency room the UK that would have been scary and so I you know I went to the emergency room with my mtech with my dad now because I'm helping him move to California here shortly and so it gave me this antibiotic named azithromycin now I've used this term iesson before I've given prescribed it before just because in the military I had that kind of scope of practice but I did not know that if you were low in magnesium does it or myosin because of its mechanism of action would affect your nervous system and alter the electricity is being sent to your heart and also your heart rating could legitimately cause heart failure and kill you like straight up this fatal and so I'm taking this antibiotic and I'm having trouble what I what I thought was shortness of breath had trouble breathing but what's really going on is that my heart isn't pumping oxygen everywhere so I think I can't breathe but it's that I'm having very little oxygen distributed through my body and I'm like hey Dad I think you should go back to the hospital and while we're going over there my whole world started to get the size of my fist like I started getting tunnel vision and again in retrospect it's because I had no oxygen being pumped effectively so I was like it felt I knew what it felt like because I've done jujitsu before I felt like someone was choking me out and I was running out of oxygen and so I'm walking to the emergency room with my dad and I realized that I'm probably gonna lose consciousness so as I'm losing consciousness I'm just telling my dad like hey Dad so they should do an EKG on me they should monitor my heart make sure I don't die they should give me oxygen and fluids I need and I just sorted like a rattling off like all the medical treatments that I expect them to do if I lose consciousness so that if it happen he would like know what's going on you know and you know luckily they were able to get me my heart under control and I didn't lose consciousness but then it was like a running joke that I like I couldn't do anything because I really couldn't my heart had swollen due to the damage they had gotten and so I couldn't do anything that increased my heart rate or I just passed out or died so it was like a running joke of like I can't listen to good music like I can't have fun I can't make a joke I can't speak it was fun because I was with my dad I think enough like and like this is super cliche and I totally for being so cheesy but that's exactly what I imagined my faith to be like it's like dude it's like really difficult super hard but it's totally cool because of God my dad in heaven is with me it's totally cool it's gonna be alright and I'm enjoying our quality time together but it's like pretty much super super difficult and hard Wow that is intense so is that the closest you've come to die no I'm glad like I'm super over it I've had so many near-death experiences do they all reinforce your faith in mom the F cloud you know I've never thought about that most typically if I'm gonna be super honest with you most of the times that I've been close to dying I've not been as casual as this time ten times out of ten if I'm dying I'm trying to not die and doing everything in my power to not die this was one of those times where I've completely knew that it was out of my control so I was just having a good sense of humor about it but I honestly feel a lot more relaxed going into near-death experiences if I'm in a state of grace so can you tell that can you talk a little bit about confession and some of your own personal experiences just in terms of the the power of liberation and what you've seen in terms of transformation in the people around you people you've worked with in terms of youth ministry and that sort of thing the power of confession I think is really underrated in our world I think if people knew what it's like they would rush there would be lineups for the confessional 24/7 so can you talk a little bit for your perspective of a confession Wow yeah I absolutely agree with that a hundred percent there's this it's like a weird thing to wear when you I feel like if we talk about confession and you know getting vulnerable and and admitting your faults that doesn't sound like something you want to do but if you do it you realize it's something phenomenal and you want to do it all time it's one of those things that like in practice it's way cooler than been talking about it you know I wasn't I was telling you that I was nerding out recently about studying an addiction and and the psychological side of that well there's a the research deleting the bleeding edge research in psychology now is saying something that we've known all along which is that making yourself vulnerable admitting your faults asking for forgiveness being forgiving all these things are extremely extremely beneficial and healthy and good for your psychological well-being to do these things and this is like oh that's funny because we do that like as awful for me as often as possible do you like to go even if you don't have mortal sin if you only have venial sins do you still know what I actually do because here's here's my thing with that and actually I was once told by a priest that hate that's a venial sin he didn't have to come in for that like don't don't come into that and I was like first of all that's the worst thing you could ever tell anyone you should never separate someone from the graces of God shame on you okay second of all um the thing with that like the whole thing with venial sin is that there's that there's like gray area of like how much intention was behind the venial sin is it really venial and I'm just like I don't I back to like lit just like how I like to be like very logistic base or like just very I'm very rational like I'm just gonna not play that game and go as often as possible because why not because like what do I have to lose like oh I'm now I'm gonna stay to grace if I wasn't and if I was then I still got her Grace's like thank you Jesus I just want you to talk a little bit about your prayer life what are some of your habits what are some of the prayers that you do and so on and so forth can you just talk a little bit about your prayer life I'm sure you would love my my good friend Paul Sigmund he's a either author he's written like 50 theological books and he he was the first person I ever saw who was extremely deliberate about praying for others he would write down on paper name and intention and then he would actually like bring it up in adoration twice or three times a week and that was really interesting to me the way that he explained it to me is that by praying for others you are growing closer to them you're going closer to our Lord you're helping them grow closer to our Lord like it's like a win-win in all directions and I really really really love that and I kind of started following in his footsteps a little bit in that I'm very particular about my intentions being for others like if I tell you hey I'm praying for you I'm praying for you if you give me a prayer request it's gonna happen but how do you manage that so it doesn't become too much of a burden on you in terms of just the sheer number of people on your list you know it sure it's all you don't have to go I don't I don't feel pressured to go through every single person every time I pray and then also as much as possible if someone asks me to pray for an intention I do it on the spot and again like I didn't I feel like a lot of people do this but it's something that I thought was extremely resourceful from call has just been like super super super positive not just a role model in my life what do you think about the set it and forget it style of Prayer because I I've consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary with Lois demo for consecration and so if I meet someone and they request prayers I ask Mary to add them to my virtual list of daily intentions and so they're gonna benefit every time I say any prayer and so the upside to this set it forget it technique is I don't need to have a paper list that becomes unmanageable very quickly the downside is that I can in my own conscious mind pretty quickly forget about that person and what they're going through so what advice do you have for me in terms of maybe balancing that set it and forget it approach with what your friend Paul does where he is very literal with a list is there some sort of happy medium I feel like I thought in my my list would grow faster than it actually grew I do find it helpful to have the concrete list so say oh I just remembered so and so's intention let me text that person a little quick test to see how they're doing see if there's anything that I could actually logistically help with other than prayers and I think it I think if nothing else I really really appreciate Paul's style because it builds community really really well but I mean what you're doing is phenomenal like it's great and so I just wanted to like affirm that 100% because quite frankly like they're receiving he said they're receiving the graces every time you pray this brings to mind the idea of indulgences do you consciously think about indulgences every chance you get or is it something that's in the back burner for you this cereal I wish I wished your listeners could see the giant grin in my face there was like a time in my life specifically when I was like 15 and I just found out what intelligences were and I became so obsessed I took it like a video game or something I was like I'm on a mission right and you do these little side quests and then you get an indulgence so let's do it and it was like I look like all fun and games I honestly don't do that anymore but I just I was obsessed every time I did a prayer I would make I would make sure to add him like in any indulgences that I could receive from X Y & Z that I may have forgotten or whatever and just add that in because I think if I'm not mistaken I think you have to be intentional about receiving dental jizz yeah yeah you do basically every time you lift your thoughts to God you are eligible for indulgences and you have to be mindful that your intention is to gain indulgences in order to gain the indulgences that's why I try to keep it on my mind in the forefront of my mind I don't think there's any moment of any day that you can't get an indulgence for as long as you lift your thoughts to God and you offer it up it could be like hey something good happened give thanks get an indulgence hey something Bad's happening to me offer it up get an indulgence it's like moment by moment all day long or all these opportunities like there's something you know psychologically to getting small wins and having build momentum and I think it's something about indulgences in my brain at least kind of gamified practicing my faith and doing my best to be the best me that God wants me to be and it was really positive like that's such a good train to be on so speaking of good trips and good times and positive vibrations I do always like to wrap up my interviews by having my guests speak directly to the audience so what could you say to sort of give hope to anyone that's out there listening because a lot of my listeners haven't found religion they haven't even found God yet so what could you say to anyone that might be out there listening now I mean first of all I'm like I told you before I feel like my forte is talking to people who have not had an encounter with our Lord and don't share the same faith Catholicism and as you're well aware of since you converted due to philosophy is just the most truth seeing the objective good that comes out of our faith and I want to share this with you I don't know if you saw on my social that I was blessing not to have the opportunity to go serve and give bring relief in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria it was good completely God given blessing completely out of my hands it was almost surreal how things fell into place I resigned as a youth minister started a GoFundMe gathered five or six thousand dollars use that communicated with a company that has tiny little water filters because Puerto Rico is a tropical island it rains daily so bringing people water bottles you know which is a finite and trash producing thing is completely useless compared to bringing people a tiny water filter they can filter one hundred thousand gallons of water you know that's solving the problem and so I was able to bring a ridiculous amount of aid for and and I say that respective to like the fact that I'm just one person but I'm backed up by a phenomenal unity of people of faith and when I got there to Puerto Rico I met up with other people like me who were taking matters into their own hands because you can say what you want about the political state of Puerto Rico and whether or not organizations like red cross and FEMA did a good job but that was the biggest disaster the worst hurricane on record and it was a death it was devastated and when the government was failing the communities were not at the end of the day it was loving your neighbor it was literally people setting up in churches aid stations setting up in churches relief stations communicating with their friends and families and communities and people helping people it was what brought the the biggest amount of aid and what made the biggest difference and in blew my mind to show up to help these organizations there were just a bunch of ragtag veterans for the most part and where were they where were they based off of churches who were they working with the faith communities it's like there's so much objective good there's so much objective good it's undeniable but unfortunately it doesn't get as much attention as you know whatever so there's way more good people in the world than there are bad the bad people are just loud all you got to do is all you got to do is all you got to do