I was raised in a very small town, roughly 1,000 people all together, even including the surrounding countryside. To say everyone knew everyone would be an understatement! Despite the small size, and the fact that only 50% of the town is Catholic (Lutherans and Methodists make up the rest), my home parish has sent five sons to the seminary in the last 20 years. Two of us have been ordained, two were in the seminary and left, one is currently in the college seminary. A remarkable feat, which continues to stun me, even seven years after my own ordination.Want to know why? Read it all here.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
"When I want to be short or get irritated or whatever I can't because Ace is standing right there," she [Meredith Morton] said. "It's not like it's a huge sacrifice," she added. "Honestly, the gift that I give Ace by having us both in the same place" is worth it.Ms. Morton, if it's worth giving your son the gift of being with your "ex"-husband for a week or two, then how inestimable of a gift to give the witness of your marriage for a lifetime?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
- "Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology -- that is, the science that has divinity for its object -- I would say, through the main door" (TOB 23:3). The Annunciation is the day we celebrate Mary's yes to the Incarnation.
- Adam and Eve chose to grasp at happiness instead of receiving everything from the hands of their loving Father. Mary, on the other hand, opened her hands to receive all that God had for her. We see this concretely in her "fiat" at the Annunciation. Mary is saying yes to God and saying yes for all of us. She opens a space that allows our own response to God's incredible love. Theology of the Body shows us the greatness of our call to receive ourselves made in God's image and likeness, rather than following the example of Adam and Eve to grasp.
- The Annunciation shows us the spousal and fruitful dimensions of celibacy for the Kingdom. Mary's gift of self was spousal -- a gift to another -- and fruitful -- a gift that brought life for the world.
We have a lot to learn from our Blessed Mother about how to live Theology of the Body in our daily lives. She is a gift to the world.
Today is a wonderful day to reflect on the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in "The World's First Love." You can read an excerpt here, but I'd also like to highlight this paragraph:
Every man who pursues a maid, every maid who yearns to be courted, every bond of friendship in the universe, seeks a love that is not just her love or his love but something that overflows both her and him that is called "our love." Everyone is in love with an ideal love, a love that is so far beyond sex that sex is forgotten. We all love something more than we love. When that overflow ceases, love stops. As the poet puts it: "I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more." That ideal love we see beyond all creature-love, to which we instinctively turn when flesh-love fails, is the same ideal that God had in His Heart from all eternity—the Lady whom He calls "Mother." She is the one whom every man loves when he loves a woman—whether he knows it or not. She is what every woman wants to be when she looks at herself. She is the woman whom every man marries in ideal when he takes a spouse; she is hidden as an ideal in the discontent of every woman with the carnal aggressiveness of man; she is the secret desire every woman has to be honored and fostered; she is the way every woman wants to command respect and love because of the beauty of her goodness of body and soul. And this blueprint love, whom God loved before the world was made, this Dream Woman before women were, is the one of whom every heart can say in its depth of depths: "She is the woman I love!"
Enjoy the list from the teens of Kenosis: Teen Disciples for Love and Life:
Alternative ways to show affection that maintain purity:
- Compliment your boyfriend/girlfriend’s purity
- Learn to swing/salsa dance rather than grind
- Go to Mass/Adoration with your boyfriend/girlfriend
- Court them/be courted
- Pray for and with your boyfriend/girlfriend
- Write your boyfriend/girlfriend handwritten letters.
- Get to know your boyfriend/girlfriend’s friends
- Dress modestly
- Introduce your boyfriend/girlfriend to your friends
- Speak purely
- Be proud of your boyfriend/girlfriend’s good qualities
- Call the person instead of texting!
- Dance lessons
- Make a handshake
- Volunteer together
- Write a love letter
- Go to Mass/Adoration together
- Take a TOB class at Ruah Woods
- Write a poem.
- Family parties.
- Tandem bike riding (builds trust and good communication
- Holding hands
- Small gifts (teddy bear, rose)
- Notes and letters.
- Young men opening doors, pulling out chairs and paying for things on dates.
- Talk to and get to know his/her family – spend time with the family
- Go for a walk.
- Hobbies together
- Girls: Be modest, be pleasant, not dramatic, be respectful
- Write letters.
- Exchange Bible verses
- Challenge each other to become the best version of yourself
- Dress modestly
- Go to Church/Adoration together
- Write Valentine’s Day cards to your future spouse
- Hang out in groups with friends or family
- Talk one-on-one, face-to-face
Thursday, March 24, 2011
A beautiful church, that required great sacrifice to build, on the other hand--combined with beautiful liturgy and an awesome and reverent worship of God is more likely to inspire the reverence and awe and sacrifice required of our young people who are thinking about a vocation.
This is my theory: sacrifice much to build a beautiful church and you will find that your children will sacrifice much to become the priests, brothers and sisters to fill that church for a next generation.
Read it all here.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
But it's easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn't dream of dropping our
daughters off at college and saying: "Study hard and floss every night,
honey—and for heaven's sake, get laid!" But that's essentially what we're saying
by allowing them to dress the way they do while they're still living under our
Read it all here.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
While infertility is a heartbreaking cross for a couple to carry, Jesus Christ always calls us to trust in His love, knowing that He can bring great good from our suffering.
For more information on the topic, please refer to my recent Catholic Exchange article, "Of Twiblings, Terminations and Twisted Generosity."
Monday, March 21, 2011
Another tremendous blessing was watching our six "junior core" members -- teens involved in Kenosis -- who spent the weekend serving their fellow high school students. Their testimonies were outstanding and their witness of lives radiating Christ's love was priceless.
Please continue to keep the retreatants in your prayers as they settle back into "normal" life again, grappling with the difficulties of immersing new found knowledge and conversion into the daily routine.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Saint Joseph, father and guardian of virgins,
Into whose faithful keeping were entrusted innocence itself, Christ Jesus,
And Mary the virgin of virgins,
I pray, and beseech thee through Jesus and Mary,
Those pledges so dear to thee, to keep me from uncleanness,
And to grant that my mind may be untainted,
My heart pure and my body chaste,
Help me always to serve Jesus and Mary in perfect chastity,
Happy Solemnity of St. Joseph!
Friday, March 18, 2011
It's going to be a wonderful retreat! Your prayers are invaluable.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Just to get you started:
Why is the body so crucial for the understanding of our life? The body is not important in itself, but in its service to the truth of love, which gives meaning to our existence. The body, when accepted as part of our identity, and not as a mere object and instrument, tells us that we are not autonomous and isolated beings. First, in the body we understand that we have been born into the world, and this means that we don’t have in ourselves the secret of our origin: We come from another; we come ultimately from God, who fashioned our bodies in our mothers’ wombs.
Thus, what the theology of the body offers us is not only a doctrine on sexuality, but a whole vision of the human being, of the world, of God, rooted on the truth of love. From this viewpoint, many other aspects of human life are illuminated, such as the meaning of working, of suffering, of healing, of the common good. The theology of the body, therefore, shows us that love is not only interesting or funny, but also solid enough so that we can build our life, and our whole civilization, upon it.
Read the rest here. Fr. Granados is considered the world's leading expert in Theology of the Body at the moment.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Here's a bit of Ashley's thought:
In this frantic and busy world, many women are longing to be relational, but not willing to commit to the time and effort that is necessary for building a healthy relationship of authentic love. Instead, a woman may expect love and the feelings of love to happen to her, as if she found love by stumbling into it, rather than deliberately making choices to create and nurture it. By summarizing a few snapshots of time, brief conversations, and connecting the dots together, a woman may find herself creating a depiction of the man in question that is often skewed, one-dimensional, or even, completely disconnected from reality. She may live with these imaginations for any length of time, waiting for a date that may never come, refusing dates from other men, or at worst, becoming emotionally “married” to the idea of a relationship with the man who exists primarily in her head. While her emotions and feelings for him may be very real, unfortunately, the man with whom she believes to share a “connection” doesn’t exist. She idealizes the idea of romance with him to the detriment of her well-being.
Read the rest here.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Watch the clip here.
It's a tragic story, and I don't think anyone would deny that. But to think that having a late term abortion -- a partial birth abortion -- would have solved the pain for all involved is even more tragic. The couple's excruciating pain is obvious. But to hear the father say, "We certainly shouldn't have had to go through this," followed by remarking that they hope that by changing the partial birth abortion law "some good will come from this" was baffling.
It's heartbreaking that the couple cannot value the gift of their daughter's life, even in her brief 12 hours of life. The fact that they would say they would have preferred partial birth abortion "to put an end to this nightmare" speaks of an underlying misunderstanding of life, love, compassion and suffering.
These comments are meant in no way to diminish sympathy for the couple. But until we understand life -- all life, every life -- as a gift from God, which He created for and with a purpose, then we are never going to embrace a culture of life.
As a contrast, watch another family's response to a painful situation:
Friday, March 11, 2011
Two men on Thursday began the 900-mile (1,500-kilometer) journey from Olbrachcice Wielkie, in southwestern Poland, planning to walk down Europe's roads and across fields, counting on the hospitality of people they meet on the way. They are equipped with sleeping bags, a small tent, mobile phones and some food.
"I am walking to show that there are people who still remember John Paul II and his teaching of love of others," one of the men, Pawel Bibulowicz, told The Associated Press by telephone as he tromped through a muddy field. The 21-year-old works as a volunteer at a hospice for children in the eastern city of Bialystok.
Read the rest here.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Reminders of the lack of the principles of Theology of the Body are around every corner. This morning I was struck in the face by one as I sat in the dentist’s chair. The hygienist had completed the herculean task of removing all of the tartar from my teeth, and I was simply waiting for the dentist to inform me that I was cavity-free.
As I was waiting, the hygienist, in all of her sweetness asked if I wanted anything.
“No, thank you,” I replied.
“What about a magazine?” she inquired.
“No, I’m fine.”
“Do you want your purse, so you can text?” she asked with a smile.
“No, thank you. I’m okay.”
Her final question moved me to answer that it’s sometimes good to have time with no distractions. And that’s when I was reminded that today’s culture is always looking for a distraction. From flipping between stations in order to watch two football games at the same time, to texting (or pretending to text) to avoid unwanted social interactions, to needing one’s headphones to be surgically removed rather than be parted for a few moments from one’s iPod, there is plenty of noise to fill everyone’s lives.
But is there quiet?
As a commuter in Washington, DC, on my way to work and to grad school, I am continuously struck by the sea of newspapers, bobbing heads to one’s iPod, and Metro-riders’ amazing ability to continue reading a book while boarding and exiting the train. When I arrived in the nation’s capital, I was ready to use every spare second of my commute in studying.
God had other plans. It only took about five minutes on the Metro to realize that any type of reading, writing, or activity would ignite my motion sickness. There I was with an hour a day in which I could accomplish nothing.
Then it struck me. I have a built in hour to think, to pray, to just be. Rather than schedule in a rosary, or plug in my headphones, I decided to leave my commute as an open block of time in which nothing would be scheduled. It’s time I have to contemplate, to wonder at my surroundings, to pray for the woman across the aisle who is silently crying, or for the young boy who looks like he’s had a rough time at school. It gives me time to rest.
John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is first about receiving. If we aren’t able to exist in a relationship with God in which we first receive ourselves from Him, then we won’t know the first thing about giving. The problem is we don’t build in time to just listen to Him and rest in Him.
In a speech to youth in New Orleans in 1987, John Paul II said,
"Prayer can truly change your life. For it turns your attention away from yourself and directs your mind and your heart toward the Lord. If we look at ourselves, with our limitations and sins, we quickly give way to sadness and discouragement. But if we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, then our hearts are filled with hope, our minds are washed in the light of truth, and we come to know the fullness of the Gospel with all its promise and life."
Whether it’s the newspaper on the Metro, the radio in the car or texting at the dentist’s office, there are plenty of distractions to go around. The question at the beginning of this new year is – how will you make time to receive all that God has to give you, and in turn, be able to give yourself to others?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
In our training we learn to slow down. As we slow down, we awaken to a new momentum. As we awaken to this new center of gravity, we learn that the nucleus of love is the gift of self, found first in the sacrificial self-gift of Jesus on the cross. On the cross, the Son of God reveals the Father and his love. The Holy Spirit invites us into this communion of love. The only thing better than reading or reflecting about the gift of self is risking it. And we dare once again: Husband and wife take the risk. They risk seeing beauty — the beauty of the communion of persons — and are led beyond themselves in love.
Through patient reading and careful reflection, the teaching on the gift of self, on the communion of persons, finds its way to marriage-preparation programs, RCIA, homily preparation, catechetical instruction and daily life. Husbands and wives, engaged couples, and each one of us are released from the hypnotic spell of acquire pleasure quickly as we discover again the happiness of the vocation to give beauty slowly. We learn to see the other as a person rather than a thing.
Read it all here.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Melissa gives a face to those whose mothers chose abortion (willingly or not, knowingly or not). She reminds us of the 50 million Americans we are missing because of legal abortion since 1973.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Just a taste:
Inside Catholic: How do you address the restlessness and inability of many people to commit themselves to a place, a marriage, a community; they feel compelled to stay on the move?Read the rest here.
Wendell Berry: Gary Snyder said the right thing: Stop somewhere, just stop. Finally, this thing we are calling mobility keeps people from learning their lessons. They keep moving away from the problems they've caused. Their idea is that you can completely mess up somewhere and then go somewhere else, or you can completely succeed somewhere and go somewhere else. In either case you don't know what the effects are. Sometimes people cause worse effects by their success than they do by their failure. To go back to the metaphor of marriage. What marriage does is say to you to stay and find out. It doesn't say what you are going to find out. When you think this is it, we are at a complete dead end here, the marriage says to you: Wait, stay, and find out. Always you find out more. The thing is too great to be belittled by any decision that you can make about it. This is the same for your relation to the community or anything else. Wallace Stegner said that we Americans divide into two groups, boomers and stickers. The boomers are always thinking that something is better somewhere else, that whatever they have or whatever they are is no good.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Regarding overcoming his addiction, he says:
“It didn’t happen overnight, and I’m not trying to say it could never happen again,” he says. Purity, he explains, is a daily battle. “It isn’t a destination that you reach and you wake up and think: ‘Oh, look at this, I’m pure.’ As a Christian, purity isn’t the destination; heaven is the destination.”
It's worth reading the whole interview.
An opening post gives a glimpse to the purpose:
Women are beautiful. All of them. Our beauty is both physical and interior to different extents. You are born with your looks but inner beauty (goodness, grace, virtue, and character) is practiced. It takes work. Physical beauty is captivating. It draws people in. Interior beauty is compelling. It moves people’s hearts. In other words, this beauty we have is powerful. It can change the course of a person’s life. Beauty causes people to want to know us, to like the thinks we like and to love the things we love. Most of all, our beauty makes others want to be loved by us.Read more here.
Beauty gives us profound influence for good or for bad. Friends influence each-other all the time. Why? They see something attractive in the other person and they want to be like them.
Browse through the “stories” that are attached to this tab. Think about the women whose stories are told. Each woman has a great deal of physical beauty. Not all of these women, however, exhibit inner beauty. Consider each woman. Who does she love most in the world? Does she use her beauty selfishly or generously? Does her use of beauty affect how other people act? How do we see her in light of her actions? Do her actions add to or detract from how beautiful she appears to us? You might be surprised. A little selfishness does a lot of damage to a pretty face. A little character goes a long way in forming a beautiful image.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
John Paul II wrote: “Chastity is a difficult, long- term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness” (“Love and Responsibility” 172). How can young women today pursue the virtue and gift of chastity?
• Start with God’s love. You are his precious daughter. When you begin to understand your dignity rooted in God, then you will want to be treated with respect.
• Don’t “missionary date.” The only person who can change him is God.
• Dress modestly. The way you dress sends one of two messages: “I am a unique, unrepeatable daughter of God, with thoughts, emotions, talents and a personality – respect and love me,” or, “I am a collection of body parts – use me.”
• Set high standards. Men will reach them. Good men do exist.
• Our attitudes affect our behavior. Constantly evaluate your attitude
toward dating and relationships. Are you grasping for attention,
affirmation or a self-esteem boost? Or are you trusting God
and opening your hands to receive whatever he has for you in his
perfect timing? Chastity begins with seeing love as a gift from God.
• Be on guard against using men to satisfy your emotions.
Grow in respect and authentic love by the way you think about, speak about and behave toward men.
• Ask God for the grace to live the beautiful virtue of chastity. Frequent prayer and reception of the sacraments are necessary to live a chaste lifestyle.
• Pray for your future husband. In the difficult moments of saying “no,” remember that you are saying “yes” to him and to the One who created him.