Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Every Family Needs



Growing up in my home parish, being the oldest of 11, people would come up to us after Mass and say things like "Oh, what a lovely, well behaved family you have" and my brothers and I would all laugh quietly to ourselves because we knew all the stuff that had been going on during Mass between us while we were punching each other, stealing things from each other, and squeezing each others hands as hard as we could during the "Our Father" and the sign of peace.  We also, knew, as all families do, about all the stuff that went on at home - the fights, the losing of patience, the arguments, etc.

I know as a priest walking with lots of families as a pastor that ALL families have struggles and adversity.  All families have relationships that are strained, all families have struggles and challenges and pain and woundedness.  Sometimes there are strains and problem spots that are decades long!


And it seems to me that it is a great temptation for people to look around and think that other families are good, other families are well-behaved, OTHER families are "perfect" but that our family is a dumpster fire.


If that's the temptation for families, then how much more so is that the case for the Holy Family???  How in the world would we ever feel like they have anything in common with us???  They are up on Mt. Olympus, and we're down here 100 miles away looking at them - how could we look to them, as the opening prayer of Mass says, as an EXAMPLE??? 


But what does Scripture say?  I think, when we look at the evidence in Scripture, we see a family that, although we have no record of sin being in their family, they still faced great difficult, adversity, and temptation

1) The Annunciation - Mary is visited by an angel and told that she's going to become pregnant by God, and that her child would become the savior of the world.  That's HARD.  That's ADVERSITY.  God coming and telling you all that.

2) Joseph, too.  He had these plans to "divorce her quietly" to do the honorable thing so that no shame or harm would be brought to Mary.  But God comes to him and says "I hear your plans, but I'm changing them"  That's HARD.  That's difficult to accept from God, to learn that our plans that we had come up with need to change dramatically.  That's adversity.

3) In Today's Gospel, Mary and Joseph, in bringing Jesus to the temple when he's 8 days old, they are told by the holy sage prophet at the temple - "Mary, your heart will be PIERCED because of this child"  That's HARD.  That's ADVERSITY. 

4) Finally, Mary watched her son be tortured and murdered.  Are you still tempted to think of the Holy Family as a family of virtuous robots whose lives were the equivalent of vacationing in Tahiti? 

The Devil wants you to think that the Holy Family is so aloof from your family, so different that your dumpster fire of a family has nothing it can learn from the Holy Family because your experiences and struggles are SO different from your own.


So what is needed to help families move closer to the example of the Holy Family?  In our second reading St. Paul says one of the biggest keys for families that I've seen - FORGIVENESS!!!


Forgiveness is the oil that keeps the engine of the family working properly and running well.  Oil keeps parts of an engine that would otherwise get overheated and strained - oil keeps those spots of the engine cool enough to not fall apart.

FORGIVENESS is just that.  So many families need forgiveness in so many relationships.


But forgiveness is certainly hard.  It is hard to offer, and it can be hard to receive. 

So let me suggest one way to get better - the sacrament of confession.  Everyone is afraid of confession and dreads it, but everyone experiences a great freedom and peace afterwards.  It is place to ask for and receive the forgiveness of God, and after that, you are so much better disposed to forgive and seek the forgiveness of others in your family.


Finally, then, let me conclude by noting that through our baptism we are adopted brothers and sisters with Christ.  So the Holy Family isn't JUST a virtuous example, it is also true that St. Joseph is our adoptive father and Mary is our adopted mother - so they live now to intercede for us, for fathers and mothers and husbands and wives and children and siblings...so if you are struggling, know that the Holy Family knows adversity too, and also that because of your connection and life IN their family, we can draw strength from their prayers for us in our earthly families as well!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas 2017




In 1914, as World War I was breaking out, something spectacular happened on Christmas Eve.  The great truce broke out.  A soldier named Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described the event in detail:

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”


It is estimated that up to 100,000 troops all along the Western Front participated, and that there were barbecues, gift exchanges and even games of soccer that broke out Christmas Eve into Christmas Day

There seems to be, every year, a peace and a silence that descends upon the Earth, a silence and peace that people literally feel not just because of food or lights or celebrations, but because it is a real and tangible thing at Christmas.  This silence and peace is mentioned in all our favorite Christmas hymns and carols – “Silent Night,” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” as a few examples.

A silence that could bring to a grinding halt humanities first attempt at a global war, bring it to a halt such that both sides were celebrating and feasting together on the field of war.

Here’s the question I’d like us to consider – is this silence and peace something that God wants us to experience only one night and one day a year?

The answer to that is, quite clearly, no!

The silence and peace of Christmas are what God wants for us to experience year round by living our lives in Christ and living our lives from within His Church.

Sometimes, people fault God for being too silent, too quiet.  But the failure of those people is a failure to recognize that God, in a sense, is FOUND in the silence.  God prefers silence.

Let’s look at the evidence, beyond the peace and silence we experience and love tonight

The three people we particularly look to tonight, Joseph Mary and Joseph, were all people who cherished silence.  Mary has just a few lines in the Gospels.  Joseph has none.  Most of Jesus’ life is lived in silence and anonymity and it is only has final three years or so where he begins his public ministry.

There’s also one of my favorite passages of the Old Testament where God comes to Elijah – and Elijah stands in the cave and God promises to pass by.  It tells us that there was an earthquake, but God was not in the Earthquake.  There was fire and wind, but God wasn’t in any of that.  Then there was a still small sound, an almost silent whisper, and Elijah knew that it was God.

We can also look at the great changes that God brings about – they almost entirely happen in silence.  Baptism, ordination, confirmation, Transubstantiation of the Eucharist – these things are brought about silently

We live in a world of constant noise bombardment – we are addicted to it because we fear silence because we think in silence we are alone.  But this celebration of Christmas I hope is an opportunity to remind you that the peace that comes to us today amidst silence is accessible year round

Our Catholic Faith is one that encourages us, gently, to not be afraid of silence.  We do not fill every moment of our worship with noise.  We have opportunities to pray in silence in this Church, and before Mass, and after Mass.  Yes we have our Glorias and Alleluias, but I talk with a lot of non-Catholics, and they are always telling me that they are surprised by two things when they come to a Catholic Mass
1)      The sitting and standing and kneeling
2)    The silence

If you want to keep Christmas year round, flee the noise daily and do not fear silence.  Run to it.  Seek it out.  If you are assaulted by distractions, don’t worry about it.  Press on.  As Psalm 46 says so beautifully, “Be still and know that I am God”

May this taste of peace and silence these days of Christmas give us the encouragement to seek God where God may be found – and not despair anymore that God is silent.

The Second Best Homily I've Ever Come Across...

...Is St. Bernard's homily on the Annunciation, which we read this morning for the 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B.  His homily is here:


"Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

"Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.


"Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the Desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If He should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek Him afresh, the One Whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. 'Behold, the handmaid of the Lord,' she says, 'be it done to me according to your word.'"

Saturday, December 23, 2017

URGENT prayer request

Friends, I ask of your prayers for a brother priest, Fr. Dan Bedel, his family, and particularly his younger brother David has been given a short time to live.

The family is asking for a miracle through the intercession of Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel

Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Last Jedi and Catholicism


1 inconsequential spoiler is included in the post below:


Look - if you're watching any movie hoping that the Catholic metaphysical awareness of who God is and how God operates is PROPERLY portrayed, you'll be disappointed 99% of the time.

I also think you can enjoy a fantasy story and not worry the Catholic worldview right.


BUT.  At the same time, it should be noted that when I coached football we had a tradition of "Senior Scripture" on Thursday nights, and one week a senior stood up and read and then gave his speech on a long quote from Yoda


So...


There was one scene that Catholics ought to be somewhat troubled by in the newest installment of the Jedi - Episode 8 - "The Last Jedi"


There is a scene where one of the "saints" of the Jedi "religion" returns to help one of the living "Jedi Saints" by destroying the last of the religious texts that had preserved the religions past.


There was then some mumbo jumbo about how the past isn't needed, the books aren't needed, they were boring anyway, and to be a Jedi is just something that happens inside us.


Essentially, it would be like St. Peter coming back and torching, with Mother Teresa, every library, saint book, (and I guess Church too) because "Jesus is actually just inside us"



Now again, its just a movie.  However, this does coincide with a real-world crisis in our Catholic Faith that goes back at least 50 years known as the "Death of God" movement


In the "Death of God" theology put forward by Catholic and non-Catholic intellectuals, the point is this - RELIGION CAN BE DISCARDED BECAUSE NOW THERE'S A NEW PATH OF UNITY AND RELIGION IS BAD - WE MUST MOVE BEYOND RELIGION TO GET TO GOD


It really is also at the heart of the "I'm spiritual but not religious" movement of today, the simple and straightforward slogan is one of the greatest ideologies pulling people away from Catholicism today.



So here's the point - those who say 'I'm spiritual but not religious" will surely be dancing with joy along with Yoda and Luke at the destruction of the last earthly elements of religion


But we, of course, as Catholics, believe that's all hogwash.  The Bible, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Mother Teresa, St. Francis, (and Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Connor, G.K. Chesterton, and J.R.R. Tolkien) and countless others OUGHT TO BE PRESERVED AND READ


There's a gross arrogance involved when you think that everything that has come before us has nothing to teach us.


That's the whole point of our Catholic Faith - and that's why we preserve what was handed onto us, because we can't all figure it out on our own, and we certainly get great assistance from those who came before us, and those who maybe, just maybe, have something to share with us that will help us grow closer to Christ and discover who we really are.



Destroy religion at your own risk

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Opioid Crisis and Advent




While driving around recently, I came across a fairly popular song on the radio with the following lyrics

"Medicate" by the band "Theory of a Deadman"

Got no job, mom pays my bills
Textin' ex's get my fill
Sweatin' bullets, Netflix-chills
World's out there singin' the blues
Twenty more dead on the evening news
Think to myself "really, what's the use?"
I'm just like you, I was born to lose

Why oh why can't you just fix me?
When all I want's to feel numb
But the medication's all gone
Why oh why does God hate me?
When all I want's to get high
And forget this so-called life

I am so frickin' bored
Nothin' to do today
I guess I'll sit around and medicate (medicate)
I am so frickin' bored
Nothing to do today
I guess I'll sit around and medicate (medicate)





I'm not sure if the artist is celebrating this reality, or just pointing it out, but either way I think it is helpful for us to pay attention to this.


We are all probably familiar with the opioid crisis in our country.  Just two stats

1) Opioids are the leading cause of death among people under 50 

2) Heroin alone (just one form of opioid) killed more people in 2015 than carr accidents and guns COMBINED!


We are asked to be people who bring comfort to God's people as we hear in the first reading.  Well, folks, this is the atmosphere in our world that we are asked to bring comfort to.

Some Christians are asked to be bring Comfort in the midst of severe famine and poverty.  Some Christians are asked to bring Comforth in the midst of religious persecution.  In our culture, we are asked to bring Comfort into the world amidst a culture of people that are medicating themselves at epic levels.

And there are lots of ways to medicate...not just drugs.  Shopping, food, caffeine, nicotine, my phone, etc.


So how do we bring "comfort" to God's people in the midst of all this?  The Gospel gives us a start - tell people to REPENT!

That sounds like it would only make people more depressed, more down on themselves...but here's the thing...people went out into the desert to see John.   John the Baptist wasn't bothering them in the middle of town...people went out to see HIM!

Why?  Because no matter how many drugs we take, no matter how much we try to medicate, we know that 

a - we sin (or, if you're atheist, "make decisions that harm ourselves and give us guilt") and
b - we can't fix it

So this invitation to repent is an invitation to acknowledge that these burdens I'm carrying around...God can HEAL them


Another thing the Church offers the world hopped up on medication and hating the burden and "boredom" of reality is the gift of a rhythm of life

1) Each day, we're invited to introspection, to prayer, and to celebration

2) Certainly also weekly we're invited to give something up like meat on Fridays and spend more time in prayer and on Sundays we celebrate

3) But also, as we are aware right now, the Church structures our year with this rhythm of life as well - we have seasons like Advent and Lent where we enter into more silence, perhaps giving some things up and then we have these great seasons of Christmas and Easter, and of course throughout the year we have "Feast days" for great saints and great moments in Church history.  So precisely when the world is trying to tell us to run around like a chicken with our head cut off and be frenzied, we step back and celebrate the quiet and peaceful and anticipatory season of Advent.

In a world of instant gratification, to choose to patiently wait for something is an act of rebellion against the frenetic; and act of rebellion against the evil one.



This rhythm of life given from God is something that the Israelites thanked God for regularly in the Old Testament.  People today often mock the laws of the Old Testament because some of them talk about clothing and shellfish and pork etc...but the Israelites said "We thank you, God, for this way of life you teach us!"

This rhythm of life given to us from God helps us recognize that not every day is the same. If I just think every day is the same, and there is no purpose or rhythm to anything, then things start to get boring REAL quick...

and so I look for a way out...

and I medicate and flee reality



Let us bring the comfort that only comes through Christ to a culture that is so afraid or bored by reality that people are turning to anything they can find to escape.  


Let us show people that the invitation to repent and the invitation to live out purpose and a rhythm of life are actually great gifts from our Loving Father in Heaven!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Are we living in the worst times?

Often times we hear from progressives that the times have changed so much that our sacramental laws have to change to keep up


But is that true?


Is our time really MORE hostile to the Faith than the Diocletian Persecution?  Is our time MORE hostile to Catholicism than 20th century Russia?  Than China over the last 50 years?


I think St. Agatha who had her breasts cut off or St. Bartholomew who was skinned alive for the Catholic Faith would laugh at the notion that today things are so much more hostile to the Faith or that the times are so much worse than any other time in the past.


From my vantage point, the notion that "Woe is us, we have to bring the Gospel to a world infinitely more hostile to the Faith than anything encountered in the first 2,000 years of the Church" is both

1) wrong

and

2) lazy


It is lazy because in believing that we live in a time "SO much worse" than anything else ever encountered, we can also, in the back of our mind, excuse our failure to do a better job because "things are so much worse now"

"Wow, things are so much worse in your time?  I was skinned alive 2,000 years ago for being Catholic


Hebrews 12:4 - "you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

We have this moment

With all the sexual misconduct/rape/abuse reports coming out against Hollywood moguls and media superstars, it is easy to get cynical and retweet and join in the piling on and the "I told you so".

This seems particularly tempting for Catholics, as our teaching on sexual morality has been skewered for the last two decades in the wake of the priestly abuse crisis.


However, it seems to me that we have this opportunity where a lot of people in our culture are awaking to the fact that perhaps our culture's approach to sexuality is not working, and are looking around and wondering "Is there a path out of this?"

 I think we as Catholics are gravely mistaken if we do not step in and help explain what our Church says with regards to sexual expression and also what our Church teaches about the role that morality and Christian principles can play in shaping public policy and law without insisting that a nation become an explicitly Catholic theocracy.







I think many fear that if there is anything in our public sphere that even SOUNDS Christian, we can't utilize it because of the separation of Church and state. 



But the Catholic Church has a lot of well-reasoned non-threatening non-seeking-to-take-over-the-country things to say and engage on this question of how laws can be more rooted in Truth while maintaining our Nation's Constitution.





Let's share these ideas and engage in these conversations - the time seems right, and people seem to want to have this conversation unlike any other time in my lifetime

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Conscience

If a person's conscience is telling them to

1) stockpile nuclear weapons

2) turn away immigrants

3) pollute a local river

4) utilize the death penalty


Should that person follow their conscience?

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Form to Weed out the Church

Here's a first draft of a letter a Pope might consider utilizing to address the informal but de fact schism that is only widening:


"For immediate distribution to all priests, religious, bishops, theologians, parish staff, and teachers at Catholic schools of all levels from kindergarten to the university and to all who claim to in any way be a theologian in the Catholic Church:

Please sign and return this document stating that you agree to the following

1.  Abortion is always and everywhere a grave evil.  If procuring or assisting in an abortion is freely done with the understanding that it is a grave evil, then it is a mortal sin.

2.  Sexual activity outside the context of a valid marriage is always and everywhere a grave evil.  If sexual activity outside the context of a valid marriage is freely chosen with the understanding that it is a grave evil, then that act is a mortal sin.

3.  Marriage, even civil marriage, can only exist between one man and one woman.  An attempted marriage between persons of the same sex is a grave evil.  Attempting or participating in an attempted marriage between persons of the same sex, if freely chosen with the understanding that it is a grave evil, then the act is a mortal sin.

4.  Artificial contraception (chemical or otherwise) is always and everywhere a grave evil.  Any use of artificial contraception, if freely chosen with the understanding that it is a grave evil, is a mortal sin.

I understand that I must always and everywhere publicly profess and teach the above teachings, and I will never work to teach otherwise, either directly or indirectly. 


________________________________________

Please submit this form to your local bishop at your earliest convenience

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sasquatch Fitness

I just joined a student for his podcast last week.  We talked about Faith, sports, working out, Catholicism, the Mass, and MUCH more


Help out a young Catholic student as he ventures into new media



Homily: Harvey Weinstein and AUTHENTIC masculinity




To love is to the will the good of the other

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Give to God what is God's




The prayer of Clement XI mentioned in the homily


Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.I love you: let me love you more and more.I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.


I worship you as my first beginning,I long for you as my last end,I praise you as my constant helper,And call on you as my loving protector.


Guide me by your wisdom,Correct me with your justice,Comfort me with your mercy,Protect me with your power.


I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;My words: to have you for their theme;My actions: to reflect my love for you;My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.


I want to do what you ask of me:In the way you ask,For as long as you ask,Because you ask it.


Lord, enlighten my understanding,Strengthen my will,Purify my heart,and make me holy.


Help me to repent of my past sinsAnd to resist temptation in the future.Help me to rise above my human weaknessesAnd to grow stronger as a Christian.


Let me love you, my Lord and my God,And see myself as I really am:A pilgrim in this world,Christian called to respect and loveAll whose lives I touch,Those under my authority,My friends and my enemies.


Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,Greed by generosity,Apathy by fervor.Help me to forget myselfAnd reach out toward others.


Make me prudent in planning,Courageous in taking risks.Make me patient in suffering, 
unassuming in prosperity.


Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,Temperate in food and drink,Diligent in my work,Firm in my good intentions.


Let my conscience be clear,My conduct without fault,My speech blameless,My life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.Let me cherish your love for me,Keep your law,And come at last to your salvation.


Teach me to realize that this world is passing,That my true future is the happiness of heaven,That life on earth is short,And the life to come eternal.


Help me to prepare for deathWith a proper fear of judgment,But a greater trust in your goodness.Lead me safely through deathTo the endless joy of heaven.


Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Imagine" by John Lennon


"Imagine" by John Lennon is the most naive song ever written. 

I guess we can excuse him a bit in that he didn't have the same historical data that we have now, 50 years after he first yearned for a world without Heaven or Hell, without religion, without Christ, etc. but just a big happy brotherhood of people...but the historical data is now apparent for all to see.

We now know quite well what happens when Christianity is abandoned.  It is NOT some happy brotherhood of humanity.

Nietzsche was way more dialed in than Lennon.

Why would a world that doesn't have Christ, that doesn't believe in the dignity of the Human Person rooted in the fact that the Juedeo Christian God SAID the human person ought to have dignity...why would a world that jettisons God still keep that part of God's message?  

Loving our neighbor as ourselves is THE HARDEST PART OF THE GOSPEL!!!  If I'm getting rid of God, why would I keep the hardest part of the Gospel in my life?



Here's an imagined conversation between John Lennon and today's Post-Christians on the right and left:

Naive post-Christian hippy: "Hey everyone, God isn't real, so religion isn't real, so the teachings about the dignity of each person aren't real, and the teachings about loving your neighbor as yourself aren't real...but let's still love each other."

Post-Christian alt-right/Post-Christian Communist: "Why should we love everyone?"

Naive post Christian hippy: "Because haven't you heard the song by John Lennon about what the world would be like if we did it that way?"

Post-Christian alt-right/Post-Christian Communist: "I don't give a rat's rear end about any of that.  I'm here to win and defeat the enemies of my ideology."



We are beginning to see, in our own day, exactly what happens, on the right and left, when Judaeo Christianity is jettisoned. 

Charlottesville was a perfect example of what is left behind when right and left are not rooted in Christ. 


The idea that we can get to all the good things Christ has brought to the world without actually believing or acknowledging Christ is a fairy tale.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Respect Life Month

Tons of great FREE resources by clicking here: http://usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2017/respect-life-digital-resources.cfm


I  hope you consider downloading and sharing some of the resources with your friends and social media followers


Here are a few of my favorite images









Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Amoris Ghostwriter and St. John Paul II

A fact that people all across the ecclesial spectrum seem to agree on is that the man who had the major hand in helping pen "Amoris Laetitia" is Archbishop Tucho Fernandez.


In addition to being able to claim helping draft "Amoris Laetitia", Archbishop Fernandez wrote a book in 1995 titled "Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing"


You can read the English translation here if so moved: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/09/full-text-of-archbishop-tucho.html

.....

Switching gears for a moment, in not a few progressive Catholic circles, St. John Paul II was attacked for his "Theology of the Body" presentations and his book "Love and Responsibility" which he wrote before becoming Pope.  He was attacked for writing about things that priests are, as his detractors claimed, ought not to be talked about by the Church
 

I've read both of St. John Paul II's works, and find them to be pivotal documents in the life of the Church, and also extremely appropriate and properly couched within the Church's important moral teachings.  What I've read from Archbishop Fernandez's work is frankly disturbing and, based on my lowly theological assessment, a completely different TYPE of attempt to talk about Catholicism and sexuality.


But the reason I raise all of this here, though, is to note that I've NOT heard progressive Catholics venting their frustrations about the fact that Archbishop Fernandez takes up Catholicism and sexuality, although that was one of their major critiques of St. John Paul II

Some GREAT Respect Life free resources and beautiful shareable images!

There are some GREAT images that are free to download and share with your friends and followers 





Why do we help the physically suffering but not the spiritually suffering?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Catholic Masculinity and the Massacre in Las Vegas

So in the wake of Vegas, the secular left has identified the problems
1) guns
2) masculinity

A sample:



Here's the great irony in this - according to the secular left, masculinity is both not a real thing, and also, at the same time, while not existing, also the problem.


Something can't both not exist and be the problem



And here's what the Church says
1) Masculinity and Femininity are real

2) Trying to suppress masculinity or pretend it isn't real, and to NOT nurture authentic masculinity will only cause DANGEROUSLY WRONG ideas about masculinity to rise up in place of authentic masculinity


Our culture, in saying there is no such thing as masculinity, is denying reality.  Denying reality is what psychologists call REPRESSION


Our culture takes masculinity and says
1) It isn't real
2) Boys that won't sit still in second grade must be medicated
3) It's cool if men are actually in to purses, manicures, make up, etc...


We are ROBBING our young men of their identity by drugging it and explaining it away...and in the wake of this we are left with soft, over medicated young men who are bored out of their minds, and are encouraged to fall deeper into their boredom by slipping into the matrix of video games, staring at screens, medicating with drugs and alcohol, and indulging in pornography, masturbation, strip clubs and sexual encounters of all sorts outside the context of marriage.


We ROB our young men of their identity, and no longer encourage them to strive for anything.




The CURE to the problematic manifestations of a diseased counterfeit masculinity is NOT doing away with masculinity.  You can no quicker do away with masculinity than you could do away with the Sun.


The CURE is to NURTURE authentic masculinity, which is why I think our culture has very little hope of enduring.  I am, in that regard, quite pessimistic.  But hey, all things are possible with God.


The Church has always taught that it means something to be a man.  To lay down your life in service to the vulnerable, in service to the poor.  To protect and defend and sacrifice for others.




Sadly it is no great shock that in a culture that has tried to eradicate the notion of men who defend, even taking up arms if necessary, there has arisen, in the vacuum, a demonic and warped mockery of masculinity that has men taking up arms to murder the innocent


Here are some resources that can be of great help in righting the ship





Bishop Olmsted's letter on AUTHENTIC Catholic Masculinity:

http://intothebreach.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/INTO-THE-BREACH-ROMAN-CATHOLIC-DIOCESE-OF-PHOENIX.pdf



We will either call men to battle, call men into the breach, call men to use their spirit to combat evil, or counterfeit versions will continue to wreak havoc on our culture

Monday, September 25, 2017

Surprising Insights In Our Month With a Communion Rail

One of my two parishes was just restored, thanks be to God.


I know a lot of the arguments and theological advantages of the communion rail, and that the Church has never said anything about taking them out.  The following are advantages that I was NOT expecting



1) In announcing and catechizing about the new communion rail, I have said, from the beginning, that a person can kneel or stand and received on the tongue or in the hand.  I have never stated a preference in any way for how a person receives.

On their own, over half of our congregation has CHOSEN to receive kneeling



2) The communion rail provides people with about 20-30 seconds to NOT be shuffling up in a line, but to instead stand or kneel facing the altar giving them a few precious moments to contemplate Whom it is that they are about to receive.



3) It has severely cut down on the awkward potentially non-Catholic person receiving Communion.  Let's face it, the majority of Catholics today fail to prepare their visiting family and friends for how to handle Holy Communion (i.e. either stay in the pew or come forward for a blessing)...but standing there at a communion rail for 30 seconds before the priest arrives gives the Catholic friend a chance to say "No, don't hold out your hands, cross your arms on your chest" whereas this doesn't happen when Communion is done in the American style of emptying the pews in an orderly style and shuffle up in a line and then be offered the Eucharist as soon as the person arrives at the front of the line




A Holy Urgency

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