Friday, September 22, 2017

On Human Dignity

I was listening to NPR this morning to keep tabs on what the left is promoting. There was a huge, lengthy, beautiful piece chronicling the plight of a refugee and his family in Germany.

It wasn't just a news story - it was an interview with a very noble purpose - to highlight the dignity of this man and his family.

The problem is that the left NEVER does this for the unborn....For the white Catholic father of 13 children...for the born and raised american business owner who sees his business as a means of helping his 200 employees grow in an awareness of their own dignity and support their families...the wall street worker who works crazy hours but gives a lot of her earnings away to charity.

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No one thinks NO person has dignity

So everyone thinks SOME people have dignity. That's not hard. We shouldn't congratulate ourselves for thinking that SOME people have dignity

The challenge is to believe ALL persons have dignity. All races. All immigrants. The unborn. The poor. The rich. Men and women. The imprisoned. Your enemy


When you believe ALL people have dignity, that's to be congratulated.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to overturn Humanae Vitae


Humanae Vitae is one of those pivotal documents in the history of the Church.  Everyone thought the Church was going to cave on the issue of artificial contraception.  Basically every other Christian denomination had caved.

And then the Church didn't and said artificial contraception for the purposes of impacting/influencing conception is ALWAYS evil.

It is, by all sober analysis, one of the most prophetic documents in the history of the Church as it lays out the serious things that would happen if contraception became commonly used.






Many still can't believe the document happened.

Many have stated a desire to overturn the document


Here are steps to follow if you want to overturn the document


1) Establish a group of experts to go back and look at all the source materials, letters, behind the scenes correspondence, etc. that lead up to Humanae Vitae's publication.


2) If at all possible, don't let anyone know this study group has been put together.


3) This process of discovery should come out with lots of complicated verbiage, giving the impression that the only people who TRULY understand Humanae Vitae's construction are the privileged few who have been able to look at all the "evidence".


4) Make sure that the discovery process mirrors the historical/critical process that has been used so often to deconstruct the Bible.  In having experts deconstruct the Bible, it was really important that it was done by scholars, so that simple peasants and lay people could not mount any sort of argument.  What worked with deconstructing the Bible were things like "You don't understand Hebrew, but actually Jesus DIDN'T say anything about Hell" or things like "We've learned that divorce IS okay, because that part of the Gospel was written in by a guy named Burt in the late 800's."


5) In announcing the things that you are overturning in Humanae Vitae, don't actually SAY you are changing anything, whether in doctrine or in practice.  Continue to emphasize that Humanae Vitae is going to be left unchanged, that it is an AMAZING document, that we love Paul VI, etc.


6) Only after all that, then come out and say, in language that is really pharisaically theological and technical in nature (impossible to understand for most believers):  "Well, surprise, when we looked at how Humanae Vitae was constructed, we were able to discover that the BEST way to live out this AMAZING document is by now doing things/allowing things to happen differently. WHICH ARE ACTUALLY A BETTER WAY OF DOING/ALLOWING THINGS, AND THIS NEW APPROACH IS 
a) IN LINE WITH THE ORIGINAL INTENT OF THE AUTHOR and
b) A FULFILLMENT OF EVERYTHING THAT'S EVER BEEN WRITTEN BY THE CHURCH ON THESE TOPICS








Monday, September 11, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ladies: call us men higher!

There is no doubt that we face a crisis of masculinity.

There are many things we can do to change that.

One I'd like to think about today involves women.

When I ran track in college, the language I used a lot was pretty horrible.

A young evangelical track team member one time basically pulled me aside and THANKFULLY she chewed me out for being a juvenile and immature and that I was better than that. I just stared at the ground, and when she was finished I apologized and never talked with quite the same colorfulness ever again.

My point here: ladies - I don't think many of you know how much influence and power you have. I probably weighed twice as much as that young lady and she could have cared less - she said what needed to be said and it helped me tremendously and we went on being friends afterwards.

I do college ministry, and the vast majority of college-age women are about twice as mature as the men. But I'd just like to affirm our young women - you have AN AMAZING influence on those young men.

It can be easy and tempting to simply sit at a coffeehouse or in Church groups lamenting male immaturity. I want to challenge our young ladies, though, to not just TALK about the problem but also to call these men higher.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Secularism and Racism




There were two major revolutions that took place at almost the exact same time: the French Revolution of 1789 and the American Revolution of 1776

BOTH revolutions had the same themes and goals, we could call them them “freedom” and “liberty”
But there was a major difference, the French Revolution was explicitly a secular one, and by secular we mean a sort of expelling of religion, a “non-religious” movement

The American Revolution, on the other hand, also seeking freedom and liberty, as is clear from even a brief reading of the documents of the founders, was a non-secular revolution.  The American Revolution was one founded on a sort of “mere Christianity”, an experiment on whether or not a country could be founded on Christian principles without having to fly a specific denominational flag.  All are created equal…endowed by their creator

Here’s the point of mentioning the two revolutions – we hear in the first reading a sort of prophecy: My house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples.

ALL PEOPLES!

This is a prophecy of the Church that Christ would found on Peter.  The Church is a house of prayer for all peoples!

Christ promises (and in fact is Himself) freedom and liberty – and this promised freedom appeals to the woman in the Gospel – she senses already, even prior to the Church’s creation, that Christ brings into the lives of all people a freedom and liberty not found outside Him.

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We’ve seen a lot in the news this week about racism in our country, and the Church stands up in the strongest possible terms and says this is wrong

At the core of the Church’s teaching on how we are to engage as a population is the idea that EVERY HUMAN BEING IS MADE IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD and so there is an inherent human dignity to every person

The argument against the Church here is simple: people in the Church, people under the banner of Christ have not always honored the dignity of every human person

But the counterargument to that is “we are well aware of that, but even in the failings something is very fascinating…it is through the Church, through the Judeo-Christian tradition that we are able to most strongly CRITICIZE the failings of people from the past

Yes, women were not equal to men in 1776.  Yes slavery remained after 1776, but those injustices were rooted out precisely by a deeper reflection on the Judeo Christian principles. 

Some will say – “Look, we will acknowledge that Christianity took the ball and advanced it down the field; you all did A FEW decent things to get us here, but now we no longer need to have a society rooted in Judeo Christian principles…we are post-Christian now…we’ve moved on…we secularists will take things from here.”

That’s why the French Revolution is so important for us – because what we see when we look at the French Revolution that we did NOT see in the American Revolution is that in France, not long into the Revolution, a REALLY disturbing insanity set in, the guillotine killing thousands of people a day, a frenzied distrust of one another – the two revolutions could not have been, at the end of the day, more different. 

And in the same way, people of all political persuasion, if they lack Christ, are left to try to rely on violence to drive out the opposition.  Even the language that you hear in the rhetoric is so telling as people on both sides of the secular coin describing the other as “less than human”….the moment someone is “less than human” it becomes okay to do to them whatever you want to them.

Only Christ and His Church have the ability to unite ALL people

Those of our parish who were blessed to be on World Youth Day last summer and those of you who saw the pictures know this – as far as the eye could see there were people of every race and tribe and language nation joined in prayer, joined in candle light vigils, kneeling together in silence, receiving the same Eucharist


God’s house will be a house of prayer for all peoples.  His Church is a house of prayer for all peoples.  Trying to build a house for all peoples on any other foundation will NOT work.  Just ask any secularist that has ever tried

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life is Worth Living!

At the foot of the Cross, Jesus entrusts Mary to John and John to Mary.

Jesus of course dies, is resurrected on Easter, and then 40 days later ascends into Heaven.

Scholars think that Mary lived another 10-20 years and then was assumed into Heaven by Her Son, which is what we celebrate today on this Feast of the Assumption.

It is this interval of time that I’d like to focus on.

Why didn’t Jesus bring Mary up to Heaven with Him?

She had no sin.  God doesn’t need errand runners, and if he desired to bring His Mother home to Heaven, why not just do it right away?

One thing that I’d like to focus on, then, is that in some mysterious way, to exist, on Planet Earth and to be here drawing breath in this moment is, for you and I and everyone else (as it was for Mary) BETTER than being in Heaven.

That seems to make no sense.  Heaven is perfect bliss, perfect happiness, no more pain or sorrw…

But Jesus left Mary here for 20 more years.

This fact speaks very powerfully to us, and I’d like to look at how.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a primetime television show for many years, and the show had a very interesting title: “Life Is Worth Living”.  That is certainly, on one hand, a very strange title.  It isn’t “Wheel of Fortune” or “Jeopardy”…”Life is WORTH LIVING!”

If Archbishop Sheen felt the world needed to hear that, how much more does our world need to hear this?!?!

“Life is Worth Living”

The enemies of Christ and His Church are constantly saying, in so many different ways “LIFE, at least in certain circumstances, is NOT worth living”

1)      If you are elderly and in a nursing home and your kids don’t visit you and you are sick all the time, the world tells you “life is NOT worth living.  Just kill yourself…fast forward to the bliss of Heaven”
2)      If you are a teenager and you are being bullied at school and you aren’t getting straight a’s and you aren’t going to get into the school you want to…just kill yourself…fast forward to the joy of Heaven…life is NOT worth living
3)      That baby that is going to be born with Down Syndrome…better to kill the child and let it skip straight to the joy of Heaven…life, for that particular child, is NOT worth living
4)      That baby that will be born into poverty in Africa or to that mother on drugs in New York…abortion is the merciful option…that kid’s life is NOT worth living

It is clear when we look at Today’s Feast and the fact that the Assumption was TWENTY YEARS after the Ascencsion of Jesus, what becomes crystal clear, although mysteriously so, is that in God’s mind it is in some way BETTER for us to be here on planet Earth right now, amidst the sufferings and crosses of deceased spouses, children starving, people suffering from diseases and poverty…that we be here, right now, on planet Earth, ALIVE!

It is clear that for Jesus it is His Will that right now we be here and NOT in Heaven, just as he left his Mother here for those twenty years.

For God, life is clearly WORTH living.  The question we need to constantly be asking ourselves each day is do WE think life is worth living?




I didn’t include it in my homily, but I thought I’d leave this here…the end of Uncle Walt’s best poem


“The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?  
                                                        Answer.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;  

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hypocrisy of the Modern World

- Nicholas Senz

"The Hypocrisy of Modernity"

Wearing a Cassock

An interesting article appeared recently - a lay person (in fact, I think, a non-Catholic) wore a cassock around town for a day.

He documents the experience HERE and it is well worth your time.  It is super short




Contrary to what some might think, I'm not a huge fan of the cassock in one sense.

I'm pretty introverted and like "flying under the radar" in the sense of not having people notice me.

And so, quite often, it is tempting to wear "regular clothes" because I know no one will stare at me and I can walk around undetected.


But...I also know that wearing a cassock helps people know that there are actually priests around, and I think seeing a priest is a sort of "walking homily" that gets to people and maybe even forces them to think about more eternal things


This article sums up the experience quite well

The Dictatorship of Noise

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Coaching for Christ

Would you take two minutes to watch this news clip from 1999 and then ask yourself "What if we could help all 3,500,000 coaches in the US to talk like that...

At the end, you should be able to click on the picture of coach and donate, or click HERE and donate to this awesome effort



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why We Get DESTROYED in the Culture Wars

When I first started raising money to try to make "The Third Way" 7 years ago, John-Andrew O'Rourke, owner of Blackstone Films and my partner in the whole crazy ride that was the project, showed me something very early on in the fundraising process.


He showed me a "Go Fund Me" page where a bunch of 30 something year old guys, who were particularly devoted to some completely obscure video game (we'll call it "Alpha Quadrant Gamma") were trying to raise funds to have someone make a documentary on "Alpha Quadrant Gamma".  I know all the cool video games...and this one wasn't one of them.


They had raised $420,000.


You can find project after project like this on Go Fund Me...stupid and pointless and even poorly executed fundraisers raising tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for stupid and pointless projects.


These guys were playing a video game in their mom's basements for 18 hours a day and got people to fork over a HALF MILLION from a very select group of people interested in this particular obscure game.


Those who are part of the "Culture of Life" are getting SLAUGHTERED in the culture war because while the culture of death is supporting stuff that is either inane or outright evil, many who profess Christ support nothing that tries to make our case to the world.  ZERO.


Catholics give 1% to the Church, on average, and to get people to support (and I don't mean buying girl scout cookies or doing the token donation to some project) and really get behind Catholic projects and ministries that are trying to make the case to the world is virtually impossible.



I had to jump up and down for months, call everyone I know, beg, email, etc. for 6 weeks to raise $80,000 so that I could do something that would use up my day off for two years...while in the secular world, people donate tens and hundreds of thousands to documentaries on donuts and video games...let alone the billions that are poured in to more culturally-destructive Hollywood and TV projects.


"The Third Way" has been viewed over 500,000 times around the world, so it certainly has had an impact, and I'm thankful for that.  But how many other good ideas are out there that people are just sitting on?  How many worthy projects and stories are dying because they aren't supported by people?


When we started raising funds for the "The Third Way" people said "WOW THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY!"


But break it down.  $80,000 for 500,000 viewings of a 40 minute documentary about the Church's teaching on homosexuality.  You know what that works out to?


SIXTEEN CENTS PER VIEWING


So for every 16 cents donated, it paid for one viewing of the third way (and some of those viewings have been entire classes or gymnasiums at once...so the real math would probably break down to less than 1 cent per viewing of "The Third Way")



If I sound frustrated, it is because I'm in the midst of another project.  In the US there are 3.5 million coaches coaching 45 million young people this year.  Ask any priest and they'll tell you - families aren't coming to Church anymore because they're all playing sports on Sunday.  So what are we doing about that?

When I was in high school, I had a TRANSFORMATIVE coach who was both wildly successful and who also used coaching to challenge us to become good fathers, sacrificial husbands, to tell our parents that we loved them, to become men of sacrifice, to treat women with dignity and respect, etc. etc.

I know for a fact that his story can be told in a powerful and clear way to try to get coaches to reach their young people and inspire them to become good, holy, virtuous people...it is one of the last ways we can reach kids today.

This project SHOULD BE a no-brainer: pass the hat around...some guys throw in a hundred, some guys throw in 20 bucks...a few people that haven't met coach but agree we need to reach coaches with a great story throw in a few bucks, and there we have it.  Goal achieved.


Despite getting word out to most of the over 600 players who played for him over 27 years, 20 of the 600 have donated.


I have $7,000 dollars to my name, and have already donated $1,700 to this project, and I'll probably put another 2-3,000 toward the project if need be.



I know many of the 600 guys who were coached by Bruce Scifres were equally impacted by him, and many recognize he could have coached for twice as much money at a public school, and most know that Coach is so excited about the possibility of this documentary coming together.  But only 20 former players have donated.



And that's why we get slaughtered in the culture wars.  We are blessed to witness great things but instead of supporting powerful story telling, instead of looking to support art, instead of getting the word out to others about the amazing things we've been able to witness, we sit on the Good News, content to let the godless tell their video game stories.

3.15 million youth coaches have little or no training

That is a shocking number.  THREE AND A HALF MILLION youth coaches in the United States.


This article (click here to read) says that NINETY PERCENT have little or no training.


So 90% of coaches coaching a kid in basketball have not had any training on how to coach a kid in basketball.


That means 3.15 million of our 3.5 million youth coaches have basically no training in coaching.






If 3.15 MILLION coaches have no training on the sport they're coaching, I have to believe the number that have been shown how to use coaching to help people become saints is even WORSE.



This project of mine (click here to visit the donation page) is an attempt to put something together to address this crisis and help show coaches how they too can use coaching to form people for life.


If you can help me raise the funds, I will be partnering with Spirit Juice studios to put together a 10-12 minute VERY POWERFUL, VERY INSPIRING video using one coach's story to show other coaches that they can easily do the same thing!


Again, if you want to donate to make this happen, please click HERE.



Thank you!

Bruce Scifres' Message to friends of Roncalli



This project is something people all across the country will benefit and find very helpful as we try to reach out and impact the 3.5 million coaches coaching across the country. Help is much appreciated!