Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Twilight" and chastity -- love or use?

Twilight is frequently touted as a pro-chastity series. While I have not read the books or seen the movies, I have done some research on the topic. An article by Dr. Christine Schintgen in Catholic Insight highlights the message of the series, contrasted with an authentic understanding of chastity.

For those who have read or watched Twilight, or who have children who do so, I highly recommend reading the article.

A few highlights:

The effect of this kind of writing is no doubt to encourage young women, or girls, to find boyfriends with whom they can avoid going all the way, but with whom they can indulge their physical desires, just stopping short of the act. The result in reality, as we know, will be that they will end up having sex, because that is how our bodies are made. Twilight presents a kind of ‘mythology of the body’ in which ‘making out’ is of a totally different order from, and virtually unconnected with, sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, this myth is pervasive in our society, even, sadly, in many Christian circles. Very often we fail, in our catechesis, to explain the reality that any deliberate stimulation of sexual desire in the other or in ourselves is in fact a violation of the virtue of chastity. Such behaviour leads to and in fact participates in the Culture of Death by encouraging people to treat one another as objects for use rather than as persons, and by denying God’s laws with respect to sexuality.


Quite apart from the overtly sexual nature of the Twilight novels, readers should be concerned also about the extent to which they encourage a kind of romantic obsession that is itself unchaste. With great insight, John Paul II writes that the pleasure men and women sometimes use each other for may not be explicitly sexual; for some people—and women are particularly prone to this weakness—the emotional high associated with romance can be pursued as an end in itself, with a member of the opposite sex as the means to this end. Thus, the very fact that Bella and Edward are completely obsessed with each other—they live for each other, and don’t see the point of living without the other—promotes an unhealthy sort of monomania in readers that is very far from chaste, and that may leave readers vulnerable to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous suitors.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An interview with an egg donor

Jennifer Lahl offers a heartbreaking interview with "Linda," a three time egg donor, who wanted an opportunity to share her experiences with the process.

A couple of her thoughts:

Linda: I felt used and just like an egg producer. I felt like that all they cared about were my eggs, and not me and my health and well-being.

Lahl: Were you able to advocate for yourself? Did you feel they listened to you and were concerned for your health?

Linda: I don’t think so. They wanted me out of the hospital as soon as possible to take the liability off their shoulders.

Lahl: Tell me about your concerns about where your eggs ended up?

Linda: I have no clue what has become of my eggs. They could have brokered them to many people, and they could be capitalizing on them even more. Supposedly, a couple who really needed my eggs got them to make a baby, however, they harvested 12 eggs the first cycle, 12 eggs the second cycle, and 15 the third time. That’s a total of 39 eggs. But looking at the pictures on my ultrasounds showing the formed eggs, it looked like a lot more eggs each time.

Lahl: Do you know if you have children out there?

Linda: The director of the clinic, who was also my egg broker who paid me at the end of each donation, said that the baby boy was beautiful, but she could be lying. I really could not ask any more questions though, because I know psychologically it’s not healthy for my mind to really want to know. I have no rights to want to know because of the contract I signed with the clinic.

Lahl: What are your thoughts on the children created by your eggs?

Linda: Well, there are a billion people in China, so what difference would it make if there was another little mini me out there or not. However, me not having any ties to any baby would be ideal. I just hope that whoever decided to have these children are going to give them the nurture that the children need to have the best potential it could have. As a child growing up, I felt like my parents didn’t give me their fullest, and I hope that these parents, who decided to bring my genetics to life, decide to give and spoil this child with their 110 percent efforts.
But do read it all here.

Happy feast day of St. Gianna!

St. Gianna Beretta Molla is a favorite of mine, and we celebrate her feast day today. She was a wife and mother, and in a real sense a martyr for life. She gave her life so that her unborn child would be able to live. It is well worth reading her story and saying a prayer for her intercession.

This picture, by the way, is one that I took of her grave when I visited her small town of Mesero in 2006.

And in honor of the day, St. Gianna's prayer of consecration to Mary -- "O Mary, into your maternal hands I place myself and I abandon myself completely, sure of obtaining whatever I ask of you. I trust in you because you are the sweet Mother, I confide in you because you are the Mother of Jesus. In this trust I place myself, sure of being heard in everything; with this trust in my heart I greet you 'my Mother, my trust,' I devote myself entirely to you, begging you to remember that I am yours, that I belong to you; keep me and defend me, O sweet Mary, and in every instant of my life, present me to your Son, Jesus."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ciao, Roma!

Nearly nine years ago I was standing along a chain fence with hundreds of thousands of young people on a hot July day in Toronto. An indescribable level of excitement and nervous expectation filled the square. When helicopters were heard circling above us, the anticipation became nearly unbearable. Months before, when I had signed up for my first World Youth Day gathering, nearly everyone predicted that Pope John Paul II would be unable to attend. Most suspected he would no longer be alive. Yet, despite all the naysayers, I was convinced that I would see him.

On July 25, 2002, I knew instinctively which helicopter carried the Holy Father. Minutes later, he was a matter of feet away from me in the white popemobile, bravely striving to keep his head lifted, making eye contact and smiling.

Even nine years later, I can’t help but rejoice at what a gift it was to be so close to the Holy Father. My time at John Paul II’s final World Youth Day, a regular gathering he began in 1985, allowed me to hear his challenges to the youth and to experience with my own eyes, ears and heart that the Holy Father was truly a man who loved and cared for his people.

Throughout the week in Toronto, I heard John Paul II speak, as if he were speaking directly to me. I felt called to serve, and I knew that this service would someday, somehow, somewhere include the strong influence of this 82-year-old man in white who loved Jesus Christ so deeply that his love poured forth to the young people present.

In the past nine years I have seen John Paul II's strong influence in my life in my educational and career choices. I have felt his prayers for me since his death in 2005. I continue to learn from his writings and from his personal witness.

And today, I head onto a plane, arriving in Rome early in the morning on Thursday. On Sunday morning -- 10 am Rome time -- when we can officially add "Blessed" before the late Holy Father's name, I will be there.

Why am I going? I suppose in some ways it is to thank John Paul for the countless ways he has been a blessing in my life. It's also to celebrate his legacy. And it is a tremendous honor to stand with a million others in St. Peter's Square (I hope I can make it in the square!) during the moment when the Church officially recognizes the sanctity of John Paul II, and to say, "Amen!" And then to look around and see hundreds of thousands of others whose lives were profoundly impacted by John Paul, even though most of them never met him.

You can expect a full report on the blog when I return. In the mean time, I have scheduled blog posts to appear while I am in the Eternal City. I will pray for all of your intentions. Please pray for a safe and blessed trip for me.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

195 Dresses

Getting to know the Class of Priests 2011

As we prepare to change the calendar to May, priestly ordinations throughout the country are around the corner. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the 2011 statistics of those to be ordained. There will be 480 men ordained this year in the United States. Of the respondents to the survey:

  • Their average age is 34.

  • The age range is 25 to 63.

  • About one fifth of these men attended a World Youth Day before entering the seminary.

  • Twenty-four percent have five or more siblings.

  • About one half of the men reported that someone discouraged them from the priesthood.

  • Almost 50% were active in a youth group at some point before entering the seminary.

  • 71% reported being an altar server before the seminary.

Read more statistics here.

Get to know the ordination Class of 2011 here. It was such a joy to see so many familiar names and faces, many of whom I know from college. God is good!

Monday, April 25, 2011

How the young evangelize the ... not as young

Talk about an example of the JPII Generation ("Raising our parents Catholic," as one friend likes to quip)! Three New York dioceses recently sponsored a video competition to promote a day of confession during lent. The response was extraordinary. In an article about the effects of the contest, Msgr. Kieran Harrington noted,

“We looked at the demographics, and could see that the people creating these films were basically from 14 to 25. The people who were watching online were mostly from 45 to 54.”

He continued:

“This campaign really touched people who needed to hear about coming to confession. And I didn't need to say it – it was their neighbor's kid.”

He believes that the search for God's mercy is a deep undercurrent in modern culture, where alternate forms of “confession” – from tell-all interviews, to Facebook posts – pop up everywhere.

“Take a look at talk shows, and social media. Every element of people's lives is exposed, particularly for young people. Recently, everything – even sin – is out there for everyone to see. That's what it is to be the 'Twitter generation.'”

But the conventional wisdom of secular culture, urging people to “forgive themselves” and “move on,” fails to satisfy the real need to receive absolution and do penance, he said.

“I don't have the right to 'forgive myself' for something I've done wrong,” Msgr. Harrington noted, “whether it's an uncharitable word, stealing something, treating someone as a object.”

“Someone else has that right – I can convince myself that I can just forgive myself for these things, but I know it doesn't sit well with me … The reality is that sin weighs us down. Talking about confession enables us to get in touch with what's really going on at a deeper level.”

The monsignor is glad to see young people embracing the value and necessity of confession in a frequently permissive culture. “If you take a look at the videos, you can see that young people get it. A lot of them feel very overwhelmed by sin.”

“But God's grace is here. God is with us in the midst of sinful circumstances, offering us forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Read the entire story here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Alleluia! He is risen! The Exultet, sung at the Easter Vigil Mass, is such a beautiful and welcome sound each year:

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Nothing great is ever achieved without suffering."

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has a wonderful Triduum reflection, which you can read here. Just a snippet:

During the Triduum—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday—the Church invites us to remember that sin is real and that only blood can redeem it ... but also that God loves us so deeply that he sent his only son to offer himself for our deliverance.

In giving his life for us, Jesus asks us to live our lives for others. He asks us to share in his work of redemption. That’s why the Gospel is never merely a call to be “nice” to others. There’s nothing sweet about Golgotha. Life in Jesus Christ is a call to heroic and self-sacrificing love. If we want to rise with Jesus on Easter, we also have to share his work of salvation on Good Friday.

C.S. Lewis captured this basic Christian understanding very clearly when he wrote that, “Christianity is a thing of unspeakable joy. But it begins not in joy, but in wretchedness, and it does no good to try to get to the joy by bypassing the wretchedness.”

Read it all here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stations of the Cross with meditations by Kenosis teens, Part III

On Tuesday night during our Kenosis: Teen Disciples for Love and Life meeting, pairs of high school students were assigned a particular station of the cross, with the task of writing a meditation through the lens of self-gift. The first ten Stations were written by high school students, and the remaining four were written by young adult leaders.

You can read Stations I-V here, and Stations VI-X here.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

As I think about the nails piercing Your skin, I think about how sin pierces my life. What choices do I make that drive those nails further into Your hands and feet? You gave Yourself completely for my sake, suffering without complaint. Following Your example, help me to accept suffering and take opportunities to give of myself.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

In silence You suffered for me. In anguish beyond human comprehension, Your silence spoke the deafening truth of not just acceptance of this cross, but a choice, a desire. A King who chose to humble Himself, be broken, to bear every pain and affliction, to offer every ounce of Yourself … for me. Your eyes never left me, your heart burning with a love so deep and a thirst so unquenchable for my soul … it suffered everything. In this ugliness, there is beauty, and in this suffering, there is love. Love. A love so pure and true it gave all, and continues to again and again. Oh my sweet Jesus, allow my eyes to never leave You. My Lord and my God, I deserve not the greatness of your gift, but in humility allow me to accept Your love and offer the imperfect love of my own heart in return. My beloved, I love You … and everything shall I suffer, for in the love of Christ, nothing have I to fear.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Lord, in the moment Your life was exhausted completely, Your body became lifeless and limp upon the cross. You poured Yourself out completely. Your body emptied in full continues to bless us. Your death only emphasizes our need for You. This moment so complete is felt throughout eternity. This gift, freely given, not taken. This gift, faithfully given, foreshadowed in the Last Supper. This gift, totally given, through humiliation to the last drop of blood. This gift, fruitfully given, is already drawing us to a fuller communion with You. Joseph has given of himself in preparing without fear a grave for You. This gift, source of all true gifts.

Lord, help me to keep Your gift of self at the center of all my actions. You became lifeless so that my life can be a full gift.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh Jesus, what a gift you gave to us. You took upon the guilt of us all. You allowed sin to destroy You, in order to conquer it. You subjected Yourself to death in order to free us from it. As You laid in the tomb, the world now experiences life without You. The world grows dark, and sadness prevails. How often do we feel that life is void of You. Lord, what is it that needs to die in us? What is it that we need to lay in the tomb? What needs to die in us?

As a seed dies in order to spring forth life for a plant, let us die to self in order that we may have life in You. We lay ourselves in the tomb next to You, knowing that in You is life.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stations of the Cross, with meditations by Kenosis teens, Part II

On Tuesday night during our Kenosis: Teen Disciples for Love and Life meeting, pairs of high school students were assigned a particular station of the cross, with the task of writing a meditation through the lens of self-gift. The first ten Stations were written by high school students, and the remaining four were written by young adult leaders.

You can read Stations I-V here.

Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Think of Veronica’s self-gift to Jesus. By taking care of Jesus, she risks everything. Many of Jesus’ followers did not stay with Him on His way to Calvary, but Veronica had the courage and faith not only to follow Him, but to comfort Him and wipe His face. Like Veronica, we should be able to care for others and follow Jesus no matter what others might say or do. Whether this means doing something as simple as what Veronica did for Jesus, or doing something as powerful as what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross, let us pray that God will give us the strength to be a self-gift to others.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Dear Jesus,
Even though you are tired and weak, and you couldn’t walk another step, you persevered and saved the world. Even though there was much pain, sadness and mockery; even though you had the power to stop it all, you still carried your cross.

Through our difficulties, troubles and failures, you taught us to pick up our cross and follow you.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:29). Christ, it is easy to think of the cross on your back, the thorns on your head, and your children who rejected you, and feel sorrow. Help us to increase in this sorrow. Let your suffering surround our hearts so that we may be united to the crucifixion. Let our tears bring us conversion. Allow your example to inspire our souls to only illuminate your love to the world. Lord, let us die to ourselves, find joy in our suffering, and suffocate the lust of the world with the love of Christ.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Ninth Station: Jesus falls a third time.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

After meeting the women of Jerusalem, Jesus continues on His journey to Calvary. He once again falters under the weight of the wooden beam and falls to the ground for a third time, crushed as the cross lands right on top of Him. It was, however, not the cross itself which weighed Him down, but instead the sins of you and me that made His trek so arduous. His self-gift even during the final, most difficult and humiliating times of His life is the reason for our salvation.

Dear Jesus, help us to realize how much we have hurt you, and give us the strength to overcome any humiliating trials for your sake. We ask this through your name. Amen.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Exhausted. Abandoned. Humiliated. As I finally reach the top of the hill, the soldiers command me to drop my cross. I am almost happy to drop it, because its weight is crushing me. Just when I think I can be humiliated no more, the soldiers rip my garments off of my broken body. As I fall to the ground, I see God’s children laugh at me and gamble on my bloody clothing, as I lay here dying. And yet, I still love them. Even though they try to take everything from me, they cannot take away my will of love for them. My torn, broken body is my gift. Through my body, through my love, through sacrifice, I will save humanity, no matter what the cost.

Father, do not abandon me now. Give me the strength to embrace my suffering and to die at the hands of your children. I know they are made for so much more than this.

Dear Jesus: how many times do I take your sacrifice for granted? You gave everything for us in love – your emotions, your spirit, and finally your body. Help me to be your hands and feet, and to give myself in love to everyone I meet.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Stations of the Cross, with meditations written by Kenosis teens, Part I

Last night during our Kenosis: Teen Disciples for Love and Life meeting, pairs of high school students were assigned a particular station of the cross, with the task of writing a meditation through the lens of self-gift. (Kenosis is a Greek word signifying self-emptying or self-gift, and this key principle in Theology of the Body highlights a beautiful perspective from which to view Holy Week).

The meditations were so extraordinary, so compelling, that they simply had to be shared. Over the next couple of days, I will post the meditations. The first ten Stations were written by high school students, and the remaining four were written by young adult leaders.

First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Dear Jesus,
Out of love of us, you were condemned to death, even in your innocence. You willingly allowed yourself to go through so much suffering, pain, sweat and tears all for me. Your loving example helps me realize your unlimited love for all people and instills in my heart a special bond with others, even if it may be difficult. In my suffering, guide me to accept everything that comes my way and to glorify your heavenly name, even when it may be hard.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Second Station: Jesus takes up his cross.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Jesus carried the burden of the world when He carried His cross. He took upon Himself the weight of the sins of the world. Not one did He leave out. He did not think, “I am taking up this cross for everyone but Judas.” And He did not think, “This is only for the prostitutes.” No. He gave His whole life to us. We live because He sacrificed for us His whole being. Even so, Jesus continues to sacrifice Himself for us. The miracle of His life did not end at the Ascension; it merely had begun. Jesus takes the burdens of our hurt and our sin and carries it for us daily. Jesus is never going into retirement. His gift of self is daily and constant. We can learn from this that true love is unstoppable and never fails.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Third Station: Jesus falls the first time.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Complete and utter vulnerability. That is what Christ gives us. He sacrificed Himself, body and soul. There is a great and powerful love that comes from Jesus’ first fall. The God of the universe became flesh through the incarnation, and was willing to give His life for our sins! In taking the dive into this selfless love, He was willing to fall. Willing to allow His foreign, human body to show its weakness in front of His own creation. His love is so great, that He was wiling to give Himself to the clutches of death – God, subjecting Himself to our own human death. By showing this weakness, He truly defined love as the love we try to live today. Help us remember this sacrifice, this love, and reciprocate our own humanity and faults. Help up make ourselves completely vulnerable before Christ by allowing Him to help us when we fall.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Mother.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Jesus, even in your suffering you gave of yourself to comfort your mother in her own suffering. Your selfless gift of love in the moment you met your mother shows us how truly far reaching your love is. Even in the moments when our actions cause you pain, you are still there comforting us.

Mother Mary, by understanding that the gift of your Son would bring the world eternal life and salvation, you made a true gift of self donation. You have helped us understand how to make a true sacrifice.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …

Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His cross.

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Simon, an innocent bystander in the crowd, is randomly selected by Roman guards to help Jesus carry His cross. Although Simon didn’t have any say in the matter, he assisted Jesus anyways without complaining. He selflessly gave his time and energy in helping someone he didn’t even know personally.

Dear Lord, help us to be like Simon by putting the good of others before our own personal well-being. Give us the strength to help others with their crosses. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “God’s love for us is fundamental for our lives.” Help us to show that love to others as Simon of Cyrene showed it to Jesus. Amen.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

True Manhood blog

Check out Dave DiNuzzo's blog, TrueManhood, in affiliation with the King's Men. It's so encouraging to see this great work promoting authentic masculinity.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The gift of Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR

This is a powerful video about the impact of Fr. Michael Scanlan's priesthood and ministry at Franciscan University! It gives me goosebumps to think about the way in which he has impacted literally thousands (could one even say millions?) of Catholics throughout the world. It was a joy to be at Franciscan University for four years, while Fr. Mike was still present. The University recently announced his impending retirement as chancellor. I can't imagine not seeing his electric smile and firm wave on campus. May God continue to abundantly bless Fr. Mike and to inspire us in our call to share Christ's light with others.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Quote book

"One day at a meeting ... I told the people, 'Husbands, smile at your wives; wives, smile at your husbands.' They could not understand how I was able to tell them this sort of thing. One of them asked me, 'Are you married?' I said, 'Yes, and sometimes I find it very difficult to smile at Jesus because He can be so demanding." -- Mother Teresa

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Catholic trivia day

If you'd like to impress your friends and relatives with two Catholic trivia points today, be my guest:

1) Today is Pope Benedict XVI's 84th birthday. Happy birthday, Holy Father!

2) Today is the feast day of St. Drogo, the patron saint of unattractive people (yes, it's true) and of coffee makers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fertility is not a curse

Blogging is a bit more challenging this week, as I am away at a conference. However, I must recommend reading this article about the Holy See's challenge to the United Nations regarding the treatment of fertility.

To start:
Unfortunately many discussions in the present day continue to be led by a false notion that, in the context of population growth, the very act of giving life is something to be feared rather than affirmed. Such thinking is based on a radical individualism which sees human reproduction as a commodity that must be regulated and improved in order to encourage greater market efficiency and development. How can such a view be consistent with the objectives of the United Nations? Put most candidly, it cannot.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quote book

“There are places in our hearts that do not yet exist, so suffering enters in, so they may have existence.” – Leon Bloy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Speaking of Motherhood

A group of six mothers -- with a total of 44 children among them -- are speaking throughout the country about the gift of motherhood, "the greatest profession." LifeSite News recently profiled their work.
To a culture that buys into a one to two child ideology, these six moms challenge women to “surrender everything to God” and be open to His countless blessings. Giroux says that time and again many people express to her regret at having only one child or the grief they have at being an only child. She quotes Pope John Paul II, saying, “The greatest gift you can give your child is another sibling.” Yet, Giroux maintains the “Speaking of Motherhood” campaign isn’t to force bigger families on everyone, even though the moms do promote large families. “Our message isn’t just ‘have a lot of children’ because everybody isn’t intended to have 10 kids,” Giroux told LSN. “Our message is ‘trust God’ and accept the beautiful gift of children.” “All of us say, marriage and motherhood is stressful and has its challenging moments, but the blessings so far outweigh the difficulties. We had very scary moments where we had to trust God in our motherhood and as a result we were blessed with the children that we have.”
Read the whole story here. Check out the Speaking of Motherhood site here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quote book

"One cannot desire freedom from the Cross when one is especially chosen for the Cross." -- St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sr. Miriam James Heidland's story

Last weekend I was blessed to present at the Southeast Missouri State University's campus ministry-sponsored "Capture My Heart" womanhood retreat. Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, was also presenting. She gave two beautiful talks -- "The Beauty Wound" and "Healing in the Blessed Mother." You can watch her powerful conversion story below:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blessed are those who are persecuted ...

American Papist shares this disturbing video of Bishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Belgium being attacked with pies for upholding the Church's position on the sanctity of life and of marriage:

We need to pray for our bishops! They are called to be courageous in defending the faith in the midst of a hostile society. Let us especially remember Bishop-elect Joseph Binzer, the soon-to-be auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reflecting on skirts

Jennifer Fulwiler recently opined on the good of skirts, though she confesses to being (primarily) a "pants-wearing woman." As a (frequent) skirt-wearing woman, I found her reflections on the message of femininity communicated by (modest) skirts and dresses to be quite interesting. Here's a snippet:
A beautiful dress is a little inefficient. A colorful, flowy skirt is decidedly girly. Both draw a sharp line between the genders. Could we women proclaim some truths of the Faith in the public square with our wardrobe choices alone? Could we add something positive to the world by wearing pretty skirts? To someone with my background it sounds laughable at first, but this idea just might be more powerful than we think. To wear a skirt is to shout the messages that the Communists described in Jung Chang’s book once tried to suppress: that a full life isn’t all about efficiency and work; that men and women are different, and that’s okay; and that femininity is something to be celebrated, not squelched.
Read it all here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy birthday, Pier Giorgio Frassati!

Kristen at The Love of Christ Impels Us reminds us to celebrate the 110th birthday of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a wonderful model and witness for youth:
Today Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati would have turned 110 years old! Bl. Pier Giorgio is a favorite of mine because he was a normal young adult who enjoyed spending time with friends, hiking, mountain climbing etc., but also exhibited extraordinary holiness throughout his short life. He is such a great example of how we are all called to be saints - literally. Everyone is called to holiness from the small child to the teen to the young adult to the grandpa. Bl. Pier Giorgio was only 24 years old when he died and yet his life has made such an impact on the world. Pope John Paul II called him a "man of the beatitudes". So today, say a prayer through the intercession of Bl. Pier Giorgio and celebrate this great man's life who shows us what being a young Catholic means - to strive for holiness at every moment in both joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain - that God is our all in all - that heaven is our goal! As he always said, "Verso l'alto!" "To the heights!"
It is such a gift to have a recent increase of beatified and canonized young adults who lived within the last 100 years. There is something about looking at a photograph of a saint that makes receiving the gift of sanctity seem like a real possibility. For more information about Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, visit this site. The site includes a wealth of information about Bl. Pier Giorgio, including this prayer for his intercession:
"O Father, you gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in the service of the poor and the sick; through his intercession may we, too, walk the path of the beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. Through Christ our Lord, Amen." +Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, Archbishop of Turin

Congratulations, Bishop-Elect Binzer!

Although this isn't a "news" blog, I can't help but share the exciting news that Fr. Joseph Binzer has been appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Fr. Binzer served in my home parish when I was in high school, and I have long wondered if such an appointment would be made in the future. What a tremendous blessing for Cincinnati! From the Archdiocese of Cincinnati:


The Holy See announced today that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the Rev. Joseph R. Binzer, Chancellor the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and pastor of St. Louis Church in downtown Cincinnati since 2003, as auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati. He will be introduced at a news conference at 10 a.m. today in the Synod Hall of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. “I am very grateful to the Holy Father for appointing Bishop-elect Binzer to assist me in shepherding the Archdiocese,” said the Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati. “He is an excellent administrator, but also a priest of great simplicity and compassion. His love of the Church shines through in his tireless service to the people of God. He is extremely well respected by his collaborators at the Chancery, by the parishes he has served and by people in general.”

An auxiliary bishop is a bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist the diocesan bishop. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has not had an auxiliary bishop since the late Most Rev. Carl K. Moeddel retired in 2007. Bishop-elect Binzer succeeded Bishop Moeddel as vicar general, a post he will retain as auxiliary bishop. He will be ordained to the episcopacy on June 9 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. “I am honored and humbled that our Holy Father would make this appointment,” said Bishop-elect Binzer. “I will do my best to continue to work under Archbishop Schnurr to serve the people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to the best of my ability.”

The Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop Emeritus of Cincinnati, warmly welcomed the appointment. “The announcement of the appointment of Fr. Joseph Binzer to be auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Schnurr is good news for the whole Archdiocese,” he said. “We have all admired his energy and dedication, his generosity and his kindness. I, together with countless others, wish him well in this new service to the Church.”

Bishop-elect Binzer, a 55-year-old Cincinnati native, graduated from LaSalle High School in 1973 and earned a bachelor of science degree with a major in accountancy from Miami University. He worked for 11 years as a Certified Public Accountant before joining the seminary in 1988 to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1994.

He was associate pastor at St. Dominic parish in Delhi Township for three years, then earned a canon (church) law degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1999. After returning to Cincinnati, he was resident associate at St. Bartholomew parish in Finneytown, served on the archdiocesan Tribunal, and was master of ceremonies for Archbishop Pilarczyk before becoming chancellor.

As chancellor, Bishop-elect Binzer oversees the work of the chancery office, dealing with issues of canon law, collecting and preserving parish records, assisting parishes and priests with matters of civil law, and maintaining files on priests and parishes. He also supervises the Office of Communications, The Catholic Telegraph newspaper, the archdiocesan archives, the Office of Religious, the Tribunal, the Vocation Office, the Permanent Diaconate Office, child protection, and the victims assistance coordinator.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 38th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with almost 500,000 Catholics, and has the eighth largest network of Catholic schools in terms of enrollment. The 19-county territory includes 214 parishes and 113 Catholic schools.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research

While on the website of my alma mater, attempting to decipher the signatures on my newly mailed diploma (which is all in Latin, I might add), I discovered the new site for the Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research. This new initiative is affiliated with the John Paul II Institute. So far, the site has some good resource pages, including lists of recommended articles, book and movies. I hope the new site -- and the initiative in general -- will be fruitful resources for those seeking information about Theology of the Body in the future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"My very dear Sarah"

I've been debating all day whether or not to post this Civil War love letter, which I found referenced on Ten Reasons this morning. And my second point of debate was what to say about it. I've decided, though, it's best to not say anything and to allow the letter to speak for itself. It's a beautiful, though aching, look into one man's understanding of marriage, only a week before his death on the battlefield. And it stands in stark contrast to the "love" portrayed in the media today.
My very dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . . I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . . Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field. The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . . But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .
Read the full story here.

"Do our children belong to us or to God?"

I'm so glad Jennifer Fulwiler is tackling this topic! It seems that our world has forgotten that children are a gift, not a manufactured and produced entity that we can control and manipulate. These reflections bring home the reality that how we answer the question of to whom children belong affects our world tremendously. Read it here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quote book

"Here too we see as a distinguishing mark of Christians the fact that they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well." -- Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi #2

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy feast day of Venerable John Paul II!

It was six years ago today that John Paul II returned to the Father's house. It happened at 9:37 pm Roman time, and quite magnificently on both the first Saturday (Our Lady of Fatima) and the liturgical beginning of Divine Mercy Sunday. On May 1 of this year, he will become Blessed John Paul. How to celebrate the feast? May I suggest praying the prayer for his intercession:
“O Blessed Trinity, we thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.”
And if you are looking for some reflections on the gift of his life and witness, may I offer you two I have written for the past two anniversaries of his death: Venerable John Paul the Great: Example in Life, Witness in Death and The Anniversary of John Paul the Great.

Friday, April 1, 2011

TOB for Teens training: April 15 and 16

Today is the last day to register for the Theology of the Body for Teens training with Brian Butler, sponsored by Ruah Woods and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. For more information on the two sessions being offered on April 15 and 16, head on over to the Ruah Woods' website.

Brian Butler, co-author of the TOB for Teens curriculum will assist adults in learning how to engage young people with the dynamic message of TOB.