Do you know how sad it is when you are talking to a young man about becoming a priest, and we’ll start chatting, and you see there is an interest there, and he has his wits about him, and the know-how and the enthusiasm and the sincerity, and then you’ll say to him, “How can I follow through? Can I give you a call?” And sometimes — it will break your heart — he’ll say, “Don’t call the house, because mom and dad will be upset if they hear I am thinking about becoming a priest.”
There is what you might call the negative side of the family. I happen to think there might be a benevolent explanation for that, and that moms and dads deep down only want their kids to be happy, and they think that priests are unhappy. And if they think that priests are crabs, they don’t want their sons to be that. So that’s why I always say to priests, “We’ve got to be men of joy, or else what parent is going to want his or her son to be a priest?”
I think that is changing, and we’ve got a positive influence. When the family beams, when the family encourages, when the family fosters. You often see me write or speak about a “culture of vocations.” What I mean by a culture of vocations is that when our young people grow up in a culture that encourages you to do God’s will and that affirms one in his desire to be a priest, you are going to get priests. I grew up in such a culture. I said to my teachers in grade school, “I think I want to be a priest,” and they beamed and did everything possible to encourage me. My parish priest would. My folks would. My neighbors would. The parish would. I can remember as a kid — I must have been 9 or 10 years old — getting a haircut, and the barber said, “Hey shrimp, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “I want to be a priest.” And he wasn’t even a Catholic, but he said, “Hey, isn’t that great?” Now that is the culture of vocations that we need in the Church.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, a fire left the St. Malo Retreat Center in the midst of the Rockies in Denver a charred mess. It was a significant place for many reasons. Bl. John Paul II stayed at the retreat center during World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. His walking stick, Bible and other items from his visit have remained on display since.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
My very existence (as the Sebastian people know and love) is a contradiction.
I want to die for glory.
I want to live forever.
I want to be Peter Pan. Any one who knows me well knows this: I have an avid fear of growing old. Gerascophobia. Not so much a fear of dying, necessarily. Every one's afraid of dying (any one who tells you differently is trying to get your vote next November.) But I want to be always young and to have fun...to not suffer.
But we have to suffer. There is no love without suffering.
And if I do not suffer, I will life forever. And if I live forever, I can never die for glory. And if I never live with love and die for glory, namely God's, then I can never achieve eternal happiness and immortal life in Heaven with Him.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
-- From the Holy Father's visit to Benin this weekend
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Rushing out of my study cave with the great cloud of comprehensive exam induced stress hovering above my head, I plotted out my plan of attack for the grocery store shopping to which I was heading. Nothing was going to stand between the milk aisle and me because any second lost was a second I would not be fervently studying.
My perfectly constructed plans reached a fork in the road after two steps into the store, when a salesman invited me to sign up for a gift card giveaway. I stood hesitating, attempting to decide between blowing off the opportunity to win $100 and surrendering some of my study time. For some reason, I chose the latter.
As I filled out the raffle ticket, the salesman invited me to sign up for a newspaper deal. Still in a hurry, I explained that I would be moving in three months, so a 26-week subscription to a DC paper wouldn’t do me much good. And like any good salesman, he began a conversation: Where was I moving? First time there? Why was I in DC? What was I studying? What would I be doing after graduation?
That was the moment when I began to realize that God was calling me to share Theology of the Body. In the middle of the produce aisle, I began explaining, now with genuine enthusiasm in my voice, how the late Holy Father spent the first five years of his pontificate developing this beautiful teaching. Instead of a microphone in my hand, I held my shopping list, and instead of standing in a room full of people eager to hear about the pope’s words, I stood amidst the broccoli, bananas and bell peppers.
“See, a lot of people think the body is bad. They assume that when we die, only our soul will go to heaven. Or they think that the body is bad, and the soul is good,” I explained.
“But John Paul spent five years explaining that our bodies are good. He talked about how we are made in the image and likeness of God, and that includes our bodies. We can tell by the fact that He created us male and female, that we are called to love. We are called to give ourselves to each other – whether it be in marriage, or even in a smaller capacity like volunteering to help others. God isn’t sexual, but He is love, and in our bodies we are able to image that.”
Surprised, the salesman (who was also taken aback at having met someone who has never left the Catholic faith) asked if Theology of the Body is only for Catholics. I assured him that it isn’t, and that it applies to everyone. I gave him the example of a Protestant church I’m aware of planning to host a series of Theology of the Body study groups this year.
And right there in the middle of the apples, asparagus and arugula, the salesman shared the story of when his father, a Protestant minister, first explained to him that God is love.
In those few minutes, the salesman wasn’t making any commission, and I wasn’t memorizing what Aristotle wrote about matter and form. But God was calling. He was asking that the work be set aside for a moment, and that He be given the priority.
As I walked away, a little slower than before, I chuckled at God’s insistence that I remember what’s really important. There I was, placing my exams above everything, nearly ignoring the opportunity to talk to a person about God’s plan. Ironically, isn’t it for people that I am taking these exams and completing these studies? Isn’t my desire to help others come to see the beauty of Theology of the Body?
It’s a lesson we need repeated frequently. When preparing Sunday’s homily, or researching for next week’s CCD lesson, or reading a new book about Theology of the Body, how often do we get lost in what we have to get done and forget why we are immersed in this work in the first place? If it’s not about our love of God and neighbor, then haven’t we missed the point?
John Paul seems a wonderful example of a man whose work was for his love of God and neighbor. His encyclicals, letters, addresses and even Theology of the Body audiences weren’t an academic exercise for their own sake – they were for people. John Paul wrote, spoke and lived for the man working in a rice field in China, for the woman oppressed in Sudan, for the Polish couple contemplating marriage, for the El Salvadorian family having difficulty putting food on the table.
In Laborem Exercens, he wrote:
[H]owever true it may be that man is destined for work and called to it, in the first place work is "for man" and not man "for work. […] in the final analysis it is always man who is the purpose of the work, whatever work it is that is done by man – even if the common scale of values rates it as the merest "service", as the most monotonous even the most alienating work. (#6)
No matter where God calls us, reminding us of the constant necessity of reordering our priorities, it’s a lesson worth heeding.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
A car-full of girls in Kenosis were recently on a roadtrip, when they were engaged in an innocent encounter of waving to another car. The other car -- full of several teen boys -- was not content with a simple waving match on the highway. One of the boys held up a sign in the window with an inappropriate message.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
So, there I was, at the convention’s closing Mass, in front of the icon of the NCDVD patron, St. John Vianney, asking for prayers that I might be a good and holy priest for my family because, in that moment, I realized, that is my vocation; that is my responsibility; that is my gift.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
There is nothing on this earth so powerful as holy desire. The true solution to a sexualized society will not be a social remedy. The world is falling because our hearts have fallen first. The more tainted the things we desire are, the more tainted we who desire will be. The world cannot be purified without the purification of hearts. That means turning our eyes to things that are true and truly wanting what we see.
The Rule says “the eye is the herald of the heart,” and that means that the movies we watch, the places we go, the things we read, and even the conversations we have all call for an honest examining. For most of us, this examination will be painful, but it need not be scrupulous or guilt-ridden. If we don’t desire the things that we ought, we can at least desire to desire them, and the holy desires that we do have can serve as a focal point for our prayer and meditation. If we let Him, the Lord will kindle desires in our hearts and stoke them into a furnace that consumes the chaff of our old compromises.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Of course, not every woman in my position would resort to extreme measures. But I do believe that any man who moves in with a woman in her late 30s or early 40s should take it as read that she will want to use them to procreate, by fair means or foul, no matter how much she protests otherwise.
A 2001 survey revealed that 42 per cent of women would lie about using contraception in order to get pregnant in spite of their partners’ wishes.
Perhaps my husband should never have married me if he didn’t feel ready for a family. Perhaps I should never have married him. There are always two sides to every dispute, but I think the words I flung at him when we eventually broke up were: ‘You stole my last child-bearing years from me! ’
My own attempts at being a ‘sperm stealer’ failed. But there are plenty more like me who are willing to give it a try.
Among my circle, many girlfriends have told me how they have tricked their boyfriend or fiancé or husband. One found herself childless in her 40s, so she lied to a very new boyfriend that she was on the Pill. He is now in a new relationship having to pay support for a child he never sees.
Another friend was engaged but her fiancé walked out on her. She is 39, and told me she was hoping she was pregnant ‘so he would have to come back’. Yet men remain in blissful ignorance of such tactics.
While reading Liz Jones' words, I was struck by the emphasis that what needs to change is not women's behavior, but men's awareness of it. It seems as though women using men in order to become mothers is considered a reasonable behavior, so long as men know what is occurring.
Near the conclusion of the article, Liz Jones writes:
So when is a woman most likely to become a sperm-snatcher? If her career is not panning out exactly as she thought it would. If she is 37 or over and childless. If she worries the man might walk out on her. I believe these are the women who are most likely to be panicked into making the decision to get pregnant in whatever way they can.
Women today are used to getting what they want; they believe that ‘having it all’ is their right, not a privilege. Women no longer think merely being ‘married’ to their work is in any way satisfactory. Life without a child is seen as a failure.
This mutual gift of the person in marriage opens to the gift of a new life, a new human being, who is also a person in the likeness of his parents. Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman's "part." In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman "discovers herself through a sincere gift of self." The gift of interior readiness to accept the child and bring it into the world is linked to the marriage union, which -- as mentioned earlier -- should constitute a special moment in the mutual self-giving both by the woman and the man. According to the Bible, the conception and birth of a new human being are accompanied by the following words of the woman: "I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord" (Gen 4:1). This exclamation of Eve, the "mother of all the living" is repeated every time a new human being comes into the world. It expresses the woman's joy and awareness that she is sharing in the great mystery of eternal generation. The spouses share in the creative power of God! (Mulieris Dignitatem #18).
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
During this time they will send a staggering three emails, 12 texts and two photos, as well as posting three messages and two status updates on websites, such as Twitter and Facebook.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
- Don't spend too much alone-time, individual-attention, etc. with one particular girl if you are not interested in her. A guy may take facebook chats, long conversations after school and a CD of favorite music as no big deal, but a girl could easily think that special attention equals special relationship. Spending time in groups without exclusive attention is a good start.
- Being very clear in your intentions. "I'm really glad we are friends." "I want to be clear that I really enjoy our friendship, but I'm not interested in dating." Sometimes it's necessary to clarify where you stand on things. And sometimes it's necessary to clarify this on multiple occasions.
- Be careful to not compliment a girl too much. This might sound odd at first. On the one hand, we need a culture where young men can tell girls that they are beautiful, caring, gifted, etc. So, this is not to say that guys should never compliment girls. But, a guy who is always telling girls that they are beautiful, amazing, holy, etc., can give the wrong impression that he thinks of her as more than a friend. Therefore, compliments and affirmation have to be given prudently and simply.
- Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
- Be on guard against allowing a girl's desire for attention, affirmation, affection, etc., to feed into a masculine desire to feel protective, strong, needed, wanted, etc. Let me explain: Sometimes when a girl is (through words, behavior, etc.) making it clear that she might be interested in a particular guy, it can be tempting for said gentleman to act as if he is interested on the surface in order to feel a level of control, security, affirmation. But of course, this goes nowhere! The girl ends up feeling empty because the guy is not authentically interested in her. And the guy feels guilty because he used a girl to feel protective instead of being protective. Just a temptation to be aware of ...
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
At a local Catholic high school, a student recently asked, "Why do girls get emotionally attached right away?" I'm certain that the questioner is not the only one in the world asking, so I decided to share a few thoughts:
Simple answer! We all long to be loved, and love wants to say two things: total and forever. So, we are longing to meet the person who will commit to loving us for the rest of our lives. In our desire for this lasting love, we often get several steps ahead of ourselves emotionally (similar to how guys get two steps ahead physically/mentally). Just listen to five minutes of Taylor Swift! Her songs consistently show the yearning that she has for this guy to stay forever, or for this relationship to lead to marriage.
While there is nothing wrong with the desire to be loved, cherished, pursued, protected and respected, we have to remember that these things can only be authentically received, not grasped. Therefore, we have to allow our will to have mastery over our emotions – keeping our thoughts in check, and not fast-forwarding to a wedding day that may never happen.
A lot of times we call this “guarding the heart.” It doesn’t mean making our heart an impenetrable fortress that is incapable of love and vulnerability. But it means allowing ourselves to give and receive love slowly and in reality, instead of quickly in a fantasy world.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
“It is the great multitude of the saints – both known and unknown – in whose lives the Lord has opened up the Gospel before us and turned over the pages; he has done this throughout history and he still does so today. In their lives, as if in a great picture-book, the riches of the Gospel are revealed. They are the shining path which God himself has traced throughout history and is still tracing today.” – Pope Benedict XVI