By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Catholic Messenger columnist Jenna Ebener’s column “Focusing on the beauty of our inner selves” clicked with CMC2 video podcast host Chase Mason and his conversation partners Luke Johnson and Ian Cawthon. They reflected on her column’s message in their latest CMC2 podcast for young adult Catholics like themselves.
CMC2 stands for Catholic Messenger Conversations 2, or as Mason likes to say, “Catholic Messenger Conversations Squared,” in reference to the Messenger’s other podcast aimed at a general audience. He and his conversation partners are students at St. Ambrose University in Davenport who embrace their Catholic faith in their lived experiences on and off campus.
One of the first questions they addressed regarding inner beauty was how to recognize it in other people. Cawthon said it begins with getting to know a person through conversation and a willingness to accept that person. Listen to what is on that person’s mind, Johnson said. Do something with someone, “whether that be service or sport or any activity.”
The three talked about the implications for someone labeled as “weird.” Johnson pointed out that even the saints – St. Paul the Apostle, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Therese of Lisieux – had their quirks. “Nobody’s perfect, nobody’s normal,” Mason said. “We all have different characteristics, things that make us unique and that’s what makes us all so special.”
Mason asked his conversation partners, “How important is it for us to truly self-reflect, and block out the noise … and make ourselves beautiful so that we can make others beautiful?” “Just having that good ground work, especially from a faith-based perspective,” Johnson said. “Jesus, he loves you. I know that’s such a cliché message. Oh yeah, Jesus loves you, but (he does).”
People need to know that Jesus is the “one person in this entire world who cares about you, no matter what, even when your friends, your family, anybody, will let you down,” Johnson said. “He won’t stop loving you, no matter what you do. … You find peace with that recollection …you find better self-love in that. You know you are beautiful in some way, shape or form and that you have talents … we all have different talents.”
“Not everyone is going to be for you, Jesus told us that and not everyone will love you the same way Jesus will,” Cawthon said. You have to know someone is always going to love you, especially Jesus. You can’t let those negative comments get you down. They don’t really matter because you know who you are.”
“God made each and every one of us beautiful in every way. Why do we decide what is beautiful and what is not?” Mason asked. Johnson shared that he worked as an EMT over the summer and that EMTs see a lot of people on their worst day. The physical and mental challenges with which people live does not define them, he said. Johnson thinks about Moses, and the discussion in St. Ambrose University Professor Micah Kiel’s theology class about Moses as a reluctant leader.
“We talked about Moses having a speech impediment and not wanting to lead his people … but God doesn’t just let him go. God almost forces him to lead the people even if Moses is scared. Oftentimes, I think people are scared to be who they are (because of their challenges). We should find that peace in God and be who we are and try our best. God asks us to try. God is working God. He asks us to work.”
The final half of the video podcast focused on reaction to an anti-Semitic social media post that Brooklyn Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving made and for which he was suspended without pay.
“We like to undermine our brothers and sisters of other faiths. We always find the flaws,” Johnson said. However, he pointed out, Church documents — such as Vatican II documents — call Catholics to love people who are of different faiths.
Johnson also spoke of God’s mercy, as it relates to the Irving controversy. While Irving had to pay the consequences, the NBA also is working to educate him rather than condemning him for his actions. That education applies to the greater community. “We need to educate ourselves about other religions,” Johnson said. “You’ll find so many more similarities than differences.”
To listen to the podcast, go to www.catholicmessenger.net and click on the podcast button or go directly to the podcast web address www.catholicmessenger.net/podcasting. Listen to the podcasts by date of publication. The label for the first CMC2 podcast is CMC2 Episode 2. To view that podcast go to our YouTube channel The Catholic Messenger, https://www.youtube.com/user/catholicmessenger.