*Best of DTB #291* 7 Quick Takes: We’re Number One!

Posted by Christie Martin - March 8th, 2014


Have you heard the good news? Deeper Truth was Number 1 in Religion at Blogtalk Radio in 2013. The numbers put us at the top of our category. Let’s celebrate by producing even more quality shows!


This week’s Garden of Holiness podcast is up over at Blogtalk Radio. The topic was the relationship between prayer, fasting, and mercy.

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Next week’s Garden of Holiness podcast will again be about fasting and the lead up to Lent. After having heard a lot of negative reactions to the fact that we Martins were having a Mardi Gras Party to celebrate the upcoming season, I thought I’d bring on an expert on the Catholic season of Mardi Gras to explain what it really is all about. Tune in to hear from Jeff Young, The Catholic Foodie, a  true blue New Orleans Catholic!


The Holy Spirit has gifts to give. Do you know what yours is? Find out here by listening to last week’s Garden of Holiness podcast.

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In two weeks, the podcast will be about Sex Trafficking. It may seem an odd topic for Lent, but it is essential that all Americans understand the dangers to our children of all races and socioeconomic classes. Tune in to find out how the game has changed.


Deeper Truth interviewed Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary! Listen in to hear her conversion from atheism to Catholicism.

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Garden of Holiness is temporarily off line.

Jeff Young, The Catholic Foodie, and I are in the process of moving The Garden of Holiness blog from Blogger to WordPress. We’ve been doing this for about a year now. I’ve just been poking along on the process until a hacker struck two weeks ago and shut down the blog. I’ll post here when it is up and running again!


*BEST OF DTB #254* Sackcloth and Ashes

Posted by John Benko - February 14th, 2013

One of the nice things about having a blog is that you get to stand on a soap box any time you get an urge to string more than 140 characters together. So, I’d like to take a moment to pretend all the network and cable media are out there listening so that I may educate them about what they either do not know, don’t care to know, or pretend not to know: the Catholic Church is not a political entity or a democracy. It is neither a denomination nor a bunch of sinless saints either, though that last one is something it really ought to be.

No, the Church, most closely, is a family, a big one. The members, past, present, and future are in various stages of sanctity from the most depraved sinner who refuses to step foot in the door, to the grossest hypocrite enthroned in the pew front and center, to the saintly old lady offering her sufferings unnoticed from the back pew.

Like any large family we squabble. This one with the beam blinding him wants to take the mote out of that one’s eye. You know how it goes. Some of us are best buddies, some of us best enemies, and some of us just can’t stand sitting in the same car with others of us, much less the same pew. “His politics are touching me!”

The only thing we have in common is Christ, the Eucharist. Well, Him and sin. We all fall short in some way and we all need Him. I guess that makes three things we have in common. But that’s it.

I forgot the other Sacraments. We have Baptism in common and Marriage, Confirmation, Last Rites, Holy Orders, and Confession. Some of us really need to make that list way more common, but I digress.

We don’t even speak the same language, aside from Latin, so it really is hard for us to have a decent conversation across the dinner table or the Altar. Who needs it anyway? We go to Mass to hear, not to be heard, so really, that’s not as big a problem as it could be.

Our biggest problem is ourselves, that “falling short” business. Our second biggest problem is that whole “bear wrongs patiently” injunction. Nobody but a saint could manage that with people like *insert name here* around.

Oh. Right. Sainthood. Holiness. That’s what we’re supposed to be shooting for. That’s that mark we keep on missing.

Which brings us to today. It’s that time again, time for repentance. It’s time to fast, rend our garments, get all ashy and penitent. Yes, my sweet Evangelical friends, of course we could do this any time and on our own initiative just like David did. We can also do it when the Powers That Be call us to do it just like Nineveh did. Or we could do it this way, too, the way most of us are much more likely to do it, just like our elder brothers and sisters, the Jewish faithful, do each year, we can be called to a scheduled and seasonal ritual of repentance.

Which brings us to Mass and Ashes today and you, my usual audience of people who read to the last paragraph or so. You’re used to endurance, so this season may just be your kind of thing. This year it you may be called to offer up your regular seat and parking space to someone new showing up for their Ashes. You may be called to offer up the knee jerk response of jerks just because our faith happens to be in the news. And hardest of all you may even be called to give up a gentle and faithful Papa to ill health and old age long before you are ready.

It’s going to be a long haul this year. We’ve got a lot to offer this year. Might as well get to it because it seems that now is a very acceptable time, like it or not.

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*Best of DTB #156* The four persons

Posted by John Benko - March 13th, 2012

In a counseling session some years back, our Catholic counselor told me that each person is actually 4 persons- an intellectual person, an emotional person, a spiritual person and a physical person. I certainly came to agree that she was correct. Dr. Lyle H. Rossiter Jr. later confirmed this reality to me.

Yet, two days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see this concept clearly enunciated by Our Savior in the greatest commandment. (my emphasis)

Mark 12

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart (emotional), and with thy whole soul (spiritual), and with thy whole mind (intellectual), and with thy whole strength (physical). This is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

The key to understanding this concept is to understand that, in a healthy individual, each person interacts with, and is dependent on the other 3.

A ruthless genius with no compassion. An athlete with no ability to manage his own life. A person with the best of intentions that sleeps his life away. An emotional cripple who spends her life lamenting all the evil in the world to no good effect. These are all examples of a life out of balance.

I have found out late in life that problems in one area of life are not usually confined to that area. Depression, for example, is an emotional weakness. Science has determined that it may be partially rooted in the physical realm, including diet. That is true enough. Yet, depression can also be caused by an ill-formed intellect- the frustration that results from having not developed basic problem solving skills. By the same token, some people are depressed simply because their souls are sick. They are overcome with selfishness, anger, pride, envy, unforgiveness…any number of things. Often, all 4 are involved.

Likewise, conditions have outward consequences to all 4 persons.

Jealousy of a neighbor (spiritual) causes Bob to become despondent (emotional). As a result, he concludes that God doesn’t exist (intellectual) and gives up going to church. He grows spiritually weaker and falls into drinking which has consequences on his health (Physical). All 4 of Bob’s persons suffer consequences of the one sin- Pride.

So, what does Jesus mean?

Exploring this question is what makes being a Catholic so great. It is the very essence of Catholic worship that we endeavor to worship the Creator with all 4 persons.

With the Sacraments and prayer, we serve Him with our soul. With tears of remorse and a joyful, giving heart, our emotions. With Spiritual study, our intellect. With fasting, devotions and acts of charity and work, our bodies.

In this season of lent, I’m starting with the men in the mirror- all 4 of them.

I have come to accept the fact that my poor health is no mere inconvenience, it is something that is robbing my family, friends and the world of what I can offer and for how long. I am trying to eat better, walk more and get that blood sugar down. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, of not being able to sleep at 1 AM or stay awake at 7 Pm.

I have come to realize the difference between the remorse that chastens and straightens and the scrupulosity that enslaves.

I have come to realize that I need to spend less time feeling sorry for my self and more time empathizing with others.

I have come to understand that I have much to learn and study.

Most of all, I have come to understand that the natural consequence of loving God with all of you is that you would learn to finally and truly love yourself. The fruit of that, naturally, is love of your neighbor.

I guess Jesus knew what He was talking about after-all. We are all-in. All 4 of us.

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*BEST OF DTB #155* The Catholic Defender: Look At The Man in the Mirror

Posted by John Benko - March 12th, 2012

Hebrews 2:1 states, “Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it”.

The Season of Lent is a great opportunity to reflect on ourselves and to be honest about our faith. Are we growing in the Faith or are we slipping?

The world seems to be constantly tugging at you to get your eyes off the mark.

Hebrews 2:2 continues, “For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience recieved a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”

How shall we escape the coming judgment if we do not take the Faith seriously?

I know that the pressures of life can be a challenge. We got to pay the bills, we got all the problems to solve. Seems like there is always a storm around us.

I love what Hebrews 2:8 continues to say, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one.”

Through Jesus suffering, we are enjoined with him through our own suffering. But with this suffering, the Lord santifies us in him.

So my encouragement to you is to embrace the grace the Lord offers you for your own sanctification.

In doing so, you will find joy and peace in the midst of the swirling sea. Look at the mirror and see the one whom the Lord has called.

When you go to Mass, you offer up your whole being as Jesus comes to you in the Eucharist.

The following song was performed at an outdoor concert at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Oak Grove KY.

It was an all day event which was attended by thousands of people.

This was also the day that the great Rich Mullins, A Catholic Convert, died in a tragic car accident. He was on his way to recieve Jesus in the Eucharist.

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*BEST OF DTB #144* The Catholic Defender: Our Desert Experience

Posted by John Benko - February 26th, 2012

We all can reflect on the road we have traveled. Many of us can identify what the “desert experience” is. Lent is a great opportunity to take self-inventory to see what stands in our way or what we need to do to grow closer to the Lord.

You may know someone who has been addicted to drugs, pornography, alcohol, cigarettes maybe gambling. When we or a family member has been addicted to something like the above, it can be very difficult for the family.

Sometimes we tend to bring on these desert experiences on ourselves. But not all, some of us have faced abuse, neglect, due to someone who was in control.

There are many people today who are in prison because they themselves were abused and unloved, regardless of any desert experience we have endured or gone through.

There is a light on the other side of the tunnel. There is hope!

Soldiers who are deployed and face danger can identify with this. Families who sacrifice normal family life give daily when their loved ones are on a year long deployment. This is a sacrifice few can appreciate because they do not know what it is for a parent to be gone for a 12-15 month deployment.

The Catholic Church gives us a wonderful opportunity to place our journey and unite it with Jesus Christ.

Through Jesus Christ, we can find strength and necessary healing from our past desert experiences.

Luke 4:18-19 quotes Isaiah 61:1-2, saying “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”.

Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, has brought salvation to the world. No matter what sin we have done, no matter what has happened to us, we all need his help.

St. Paul writes, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you become a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10).

There is a lot here to consider. We see the importance of prayer in the working of our faith, the labor of love. We see a glimpse of the Trinity as St. Paul invokes the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, showing our hope, our love, and his choosing of us to accomplish his will.

St. Paul infers the Catholic Faith on a couple of instances, “our gospel” covers all the deposit of faith given to the Apostles.

St. Paul also notes that his listeners were “Imitators” of the Apostles which comes through the Holy Spirit. This gospel is proclaimed by the Catholic Church as they went forth teaching and spreading the Faith despite great affliction.

Through their preaching and witness, they turned people away from the worship of idols.

Jesus delivers us from whatever desert experience we have faced. Jesus established the Catholic Faith that is sent by Jesus to proclaim the “Good News”, to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to recover the sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

This is the Catholic Faith, it has been handed down to us, yes, entrusted to us by the Lord himself through His Apostles.

If your sitting on the fence, if you have been abused or have been living in sin, St. Paul offers this advice: “Working together, then, we appeal to you not to recieve the grace of God in vain. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, ond on the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

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*Best of DTB #139* Have a miserable Lent, y’all!

Posted by John Benko - February 21st, 2012

Wednesday’s Garden of Holiness Show topic will be on the spiritual practice of fasting. Here’s a bit of a preview…

Tomorrow’s the big day!
Yo, Joe, you got some schmutz there…

Tomorrow is the beginning of the season of Lent. I know that plenty of nonCatholics practice it, but most of the ones I know don’t. They look at me a little funny when I mention fasting, so I am taking a minute to once and for all sing the praises of fasting!

Why Fast? Two Reasons…

Fasting Increases Compassion

If there was ever a need for the American Christian, it is fasting! We have such an appalling abundance that we actually think a car, a computer, heating and air conditioning, and cable are basic necessities. Here in the West, we base our very lives on increasing our comfort, not our discomfort. Fasting goes against the grain. In fact, it runs counter to our culture (ergo, if you ever want to be cool and counter cultural fasting is for you!)

Why voluntarily suffer? I’d pose that there are plenty of reasons. Fasting and being hungry is a type of suffering because it is uncomfortable. It’s the rare Middle Class American who can actually distinguish between true, gut-wrenching hunger and the nagging, “Yeah, I could eat” feeling. Fasting puts you in that gut wrenching place and helps you to understand this a little more.

Let me take that back. There is nothing comprehensible about this.

Voluntary suffering through fasting, helps you to feel the misery of the world more personally–a world where in some places hunger is the norm. Through fasting you may only have a taste of hunger, but that taste is enough to make you more viscerally aware of another’s real and completely involuntary suffering. So, one reason to fast is to increase your compassion and to assist you in commiseration with others. Muslims fast during Ramadan, in part, for this very reason.

Fasting Strengthens Your Will

Another reason is to strengthen your will. I am going to make the controversial statement that we Americans are becoming weak willed. I say that for two reasons: we don’t exercise it and we don’t respect it.

You calling me a weak willed wimp? Sort of, but fasting can fix you by…

Exercising your will
First, our lives are physically easy. There is much less to endure. In the summer, we are cooled. In the winter, we are warmed. Our food does not come to us through our labor in the fields, it comes from quick visit to a store. There are less physical demands on our bodies that our minds have to willfully force us to endure. Our determination, our will, to stick with a physically demanding task is exercised much less these days and is therefore weaker. Fasting answers that weakness directly. Fasting is voluntarily taking on a hardship. The longer that you endure it, the more you exercise your will. In fact, because it is voluntary, it is incredibly easy to abandon. The act of the will involved to sustain a fast is immense!

Respecting your will more than your whims
Number two, we have been told since the 60s that our feelings were more authentic than our reason and our will. “If it feels good, do it!” has been the rallying cry for the hedonists among us for decades now, and as a result, we have little respect for personal grit and determination until the fruits of them are made conspicuous by success. Even then, we are more apt to respond with jealousy rather than determination to mimic the behavior that led to that success. A fast doesn’t feel good if you do it. It takes endurance… meh. It takes determination… ugh. It takes an act of the will to conquer the self… that is so ickily Catholic!

So what? Start small. If you are physically unable to sustain a fast for a day, skip a meal. If that is impossible, fast from a food item, like dessert. If even that is too much for you, and this is entirely possible given the amount of diabetes and eating disorders in the world, fast from something other than food.

Some nonfood items to fast from…

  • Wearing your favorite color
  • Drinking soda
  • Wearing eyeliner
  • Sarcasm (good luck with that)
  • Complaining (these are getting harder)
  • Pride (good, Lord, help me!)

Actually, He will…

About.com’s section of Catholic Fasting
Cool spot to reference if you want Biblical support on the topic of fasting

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