Friday, July 7, 2017

HELP!

HELP!
In conjunction with Spirit Juice Studios, I am hoping to produce an 8-12 minute mini-documentary titled "Bruce Scifres: Coaching for Christ"

You can click HERE to donate!

Coach Scifres and his wife Jackie


The goal: $35,500

That sounds like a lot, but:

a) I'm donating the first $1,000
b) I'm obviously not making money on this (in case that needed stated)
c) Think about how many young people today are connected to sports - and how many coaches could be coaching our young people in transformative ways if they just saw and heard that it was possible!

I had such a coach when I played football, and I believe strongly that the word getting out about HOW he coached will strongly impact our communities.

Coach won SEVEN state championships, but all throughout his 27 years he preached constantly about
1) loving our parents
2) being men of prayer
3) being good fathers
4) being great husbands
and many other similar virtues

Think about how many coaches are out there coaching our young men and women right now, and then imagine if they all began to realize that through coaching, they could call young people to holiness!

I would be forever grateful if you would consider helping make this happen

Again, you can donate by clicking here

Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Pentecost and Becoming God

Poor audio quality and weird camera angle, but an awesome Catholic Solemnity!



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The dumbest "sociological" conjecture of all?

Every 5th grade science fair entrant knows that you make a hypothesis, and then you either prove or disprove the hypothesis with data (facts)

Of all the crazy hypotheses that have magically gone from conjecture to fact without ever having gone through the fact stage, perhaps the dumbest of all is the hypothesis that people "had children, up until our modern age, to help with farm work."

You see that statement everywhere!  Everyone used to have kids to help on the farm, and that's why they had so many kids, because they needed a lot of help farming.

Now, it is perfectly okay to HYPOTHESIZE aloud "I bet one of the motivations for people to have kids was to help farm"


But to say that we KNOW that's why people had kids up until "modernity"is because of farmwork....that's simply conjecture masquerading as fact.


Do we have ANY evidence of this?


Have we unearthed a diary from anyone over the past 4,000 years suggesting that the hypothesis has any merit?


Dear diary, me and Helga are really trying to conceive a child so that 8-10 years from now, we'll have a cow milker!

Sincerely,
Jedidiah


Not only do we not have any evidence that would suggest that people had kids to help with farm work, I think it is also worth questioning the conjecture itself.  Was the hypothesis put forward by anyone who has actually worked WITH a kid doing farmwork?  I remember the productivity of my brothers and I working and "helping" in my Dad's garden, and I am sure that our "help" fell into the category of "Dad probably being better off without the help"

So Helga and Jedidiah were willing to risk the mortality rate for mother AND child in child birth, then feed a "useless" mouth for 6-8 years, to risk and put forward all that in order for the CHANCE to get a teenager, 10 years later, who could help milk the cows?



It seems that to me, rather, that in order to justify our own society being the coldest bunch of utilitarians the world has ever known, we have to also project our frigid utilitarianism on everyone that came before us as well.

So, to make ourselves feel better, our child-farming hypothesis needs to very quickly become not a hypothesis but a fact.  I KNOW that farming is why everyone had kids for the first 4,000 years of civilization.


Maybe, just maybe, though, at least some people for the first 4,000 years (and maybe even most people) just loved each other as husband and wife, and were open to their marital love begetting children despite the risk of giving birth.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the people who predate modernity didn't just sit around and coldly calculate how many children it would take to produce X gallons of milk per week and then set out to make love according to that calculus.


Maybe they DIDN'T do it that way, even if people today would

Monday, May 15, 2017

As a member of our Archdiocesan College of Consultors...

...I am not sure but I am assuming we get a consultative vote soon on what we think of the next slate of priest assignments that would take effect the first week of July.

I have not seen the slate, but I am assuming that if it is something close to what I think it will be, I will not vote in favor of it for several reasons:

1) The vote is simply consultative, and so even if all the members voted against it, it could still be implemented

2) My spiritual director told me, when I was struggling over this past year or so, that St. Benedict said that as a priest or monk, you follow the assignment given to you by your superior, and if the assignment is bad/wrong, then that is on the superior.  Well, I will never have anything to do with assigning any priest to two parishes

3) I also can not support leaving any/all of our Archdiocesan high schools without a full time diocesan priest

4) I also can not support leaving any/all of our colleges and universities without a full time diocesan priest



People might say here: "give it time, the situation of 108 Masses within 7 miles of Monument Circle will get fixed, but it takes time."

Sorry, but no.

I had Mass every Friday with Archbishop Buechlein at his home right up to the time he moved back to St. Meinrad.  He said several times, in conversation, that he should have closed/reorganized parishes but that he just couldn't do it.

Archbishop Tobin pulled me aside when he first arrived at the Archdiocese and said "Fr. John, I know you pray, and I trust your feedback here.  Are a lot of the younger guys upset that I didn't close enough parishes in our cities?"  I told him Yes.  He said that he felt like there were ways to fix the issues without closing parishes.  5 years later, we can say that nothing along those lines happened.

Granted both of those men are great father figures to me, and I can only imagine all the pressures a bishop is under.

But my spiritual director has given lots of retreats for bishops around the country, and he said that a lot of bishops around the country know what needs to be done, but lack the courage to do it.

Well, tending to the Lord's vineyard means at times having to prune things so that they can remain healthy.


Someone else might say "hey, our diocese is getting ready to go through a planning process to work on some of this."  Pardon my skepticism, but we just finished a 7 year process that costs tens of thousands of dollars and saw the number of Indianapolis Masses go from 121 to 118...so that means we probably spent in excess of 10,000 dollars per Mass canceled.

If we need another "planning process" to cancel another three Indy Masses, then that would put us on pace for 20 more "planning processes" if we do in fact need to cut 60 Masses in Indy.

So we are currently on pace for losing three Masses every 8 years of planning, thus putting us on a 160 year path to getting close to what we need to do to make the Masses we offer line up with the number of people who are coming in the Indianapolis area.


Or, instead of taking 160 years, a shepherd can come in and fix it now.


But anyway, in the meantime, I would never symbolically vote for something that would give the appearance that I am somehow for the status quo

Priests are Burning Out

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A pro-life t-shirt

This was created by a former student of mine from Cardinal Ritter High School.  Help out a starving artist!



https://www.etsy.com/listing/512488802/pro-life-tshirt?ref=shop_home_active_2




Hell on Earth and the Good Shepherd

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An urgent recommendation for what needs to be done in our diocese (and probably yours too)

For all the talk about the Church embracing modernity, we are still often structuring our American dioceses as if people don't have automobiles


Problem: our priests are spread too thinly.  Many of our priests who have left active ministry in recent memory have left as a pretty direct result of being given multiple parishes.  There is no doubt that being a pastor of a giant parish with a huge staff presents its own challenges, and I have great admiration for our priests pastoring our mega-parishes, but there is something really problematic in having priests be pastors of multiple parishes

Related Problem: Vatican II said priests ought to live in community.

Related Problem: priests pastoring multiple parishes is not sustainable (the assignment of guys to being pastors of multiple parishes is often being done by people who have never been a pastor of two parishes.  It is not a healthy situation)

Related Problem: we have 17 seminarians

Analysis
            
            Within 7 miles of Monument Circle in Indianapolis there are 118 Masses on the weekend

I took the seating capacity of each church and added the numbers up

Our presbyterate is saying Mass for 71,210 seats within 7 miles of Monument Circle

Those parishes have 27,678 registered families

Most parishes see about the same number of people on the weekend as they have registered families

Using this as an approximation, there are a couple of amazing ways to frame the same stat:
a.       Our presbyterate is saying Mass each weekend for 44,000 empty seats within 7 miles of Monument Circle
b.      We are saying over twice as many Masses as we need within 7 miles of Monument Circle
c.       We could cut out roughly 70 of the 118 masses and still have a seat for everyone that is currently coming to Mass within 7 miles of Monument Circle
d.      Those 70 Masses we don’t need mean we have approximately 20 priests within 7 miles of Monument Circle saying a weekend’s worth of Masses we do not need

This is not just an Indianapolis thing.  The figures are even worse in the only other place I looked – Terre Haute city.  6,950 seats each weekend for 2,352 attendees.  That’s 66% of the seats unfilled each weekend (4 Masses at St. Patrick’s each weekend would cover every Catholic Mass attendee in Terre Haute with 600 seats to spare each weekend.  Terre Haute currently has 15 Masses).

As priests we are asked to demonstrate business skills – the Lilly Grant/pastor’s toolbox/the book we were all mailed by Patrick Lencioni and Amazing Parish that encourage priests to become more business savvy.

That’s Great!!!!   My classmates and I asked for this repeatedly in the seminary, and we noted it as a weakness in our class exit interview from our seminary.

But it isn’t just priests that could benefit from thinking corporately.  The diocesan leadership needs to also put some corporate principles to work as well, in my opinion

Solution: Studies show that 70 -90 percent of Catholics are walking away from the faith from 18-34.  What company would learn that it is losing 70-90 percent of 18-34 years olds and would not have alarm bells going off and having emergency board sessions?
            
    And yet we are pulling priests out of precisely the places where these kids are found.  In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis no priest is assigned just to a college.  No priest is assigned just to a high school.  I was assigned to a high school in my first few years, but the Archdiocese pulled all of its high school chaplains out of the high schools and replaced them with part time priests who are supposed to do high school ministry as a part of their slate of other jobs.               

Corporations pay attention to their key demographic, their future, and it is pretty clear we are not paying attention to that demographic.  Investing in FOCUS ministries on our college campuses has been a good start, but even FOCUS will tell you that there is no substitute on a college campus for a full time priest chaplain. 

Putting some kind of limit on the number of Masses at parishes would free up priests to be present to the generation that will provide us with our next generation of priests, nuns, and faithful lay Catholics

Doing something about the number of Masses HAS to come from the diocese and the bishop.  We would get killed as the boots on the ground pastors if we canceled Masses.  But if it came from the diocese we’d be okay. 

And here’s the thing – every parish I’ve gone to has had to cancel a Mass in order for me to only say 5 Masses each weekend.  They’ve all grumbled, but because it came from Canon Law (a priest can only say 5 Masses a weekend), they accepted it.  They’ve all reported liking it better several months later
A)     A full Church
B)      Better music
C)      Seeing people they didn’t know because they went to an earlier Mass

Addressing this issue of having about twice as many masses as we need in our Archdiocese would both

1)      alleviate the extraordinary and sometimes unsustainable burdens on our current priests

2)      Help provide more presence to our young people thus helping increase the number of priestly vocations, helping with priest numbers in the future

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parish Video

This is a video we put together for one of my parishes.  Please keep our campaign in your prayers!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ouija Boards and Demonic Oppression

I spoke with a young man who was battling authentic demonic oppression for over twenty years after being in a room where a Ouija Board was being used when this young man was in seventh grade.

He shared that he felt something come into him and that from that point on in his life, he knew he was battling a Demon that had considerable ability to harm him (head aches and weariness) and to suggest things to him denigrating himself, his family, discouraging him from going to Church, discouraging him from confession and priests, and much more.


Stay away from fortune telling, Ouija boards, Tarot Cards, and all that other garbage.  EVIL IS REAL.  


“All forms of divination are to be rejected:  recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.  Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.  They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone”
- Catechism 2116


Note that Deuteronomy compares all these evil consultations with killing children: “Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortuneteller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead."
- Deuteronomy 18: 10-11

St. Paul and Deuteronomy note that those who engage in these types of acts commit mortal sins.  It is SUPER SERIOUS 


As noted from this particular young man's story, even those AROUND this type of activity can be harmed in serious ways.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Baby Boom Changes to the Church

I ask this with all do respect: If the generation in the wake of Vatican II, in order to try to bring the Church and Christ to others, got to make lots of changes to things that the Church didn't ever say should change, why can't our generation change things around in order to try to bring the Church and Christ to others?


If baby boomers got to throw out stuff from their parents Catholicism without the Church ever saying those things should be thrown out, why can't we throw out stuff from OUR parents' Catholicism?


Perhaps our motivation here is not just anger towards baby boomer Catholicism.  I wonder if it could be considered that perhaps what is motivating our generation of Catholics is that we are looking around and we see 75-90% of our peers walk away from Catholicism as it was being practiced by baby boomer suburban Catholicism, and perhaps we want to do something about it and are trying to find things that might work, and are discussing among ourselves about would work and are in the trenches with fallen away Catholics --- maybe that is what is motivating our generation of young adult Catholics.  Could that be considered by other generations?  


So maybe what is motivating young adult Catholics today is not anger toward baby boomers but an attempt to do something that we genuinely feel might bring back the Faith to a culture for which the Faith has largely died out


The baby boomers got to do all their experiments and make the Church the way they wanted it, and it never seems to be asked if the new Church worked for anyone else but them.  I hear a lot from the generation of the Catholic revolution that "we really like what we created" - but I don't hear many of them asking if the remade Catholic product as that generation refashioned it is working for any other generation.


And I and many other young adult Catholics, looking around at our friends, our peers, the sociological data, and looking at the larger society we find ourselves in believe strongly that what we need is not a tweaking of suburban baby boomer Catholicism, but something that is, at least on many levels, radically different.


I don't think many in my generation on the front lines are calling for a return to 1955, but we are sifting through the rubble of American suburban Catholicism and saying what, moving forward, do we need from the distant past, the more recent past, and from the present to practice the Faith that was handed on to us from the Apostles in a way that starts to make a dent in the problem of 93% of our peers walking away from the Faith.