Thursday, June 30, 2011

"When we go above the norm ..."




Preparations for the Called to be More vocations pilgrimage walk are almost complete! From July 3-10, ten high school students and five adult chaperones will embark on a 150 mile journey, from the Shrine of Maria Stein to St. Peter in Chains cathedral in Cincinnati. Quite the adventure!



In preparation, each of the young people has prepared a letter providing their answer to the question, "What does it mean to be called to be more?" The letters are too good not to share, so I plan to post one or two per day on the blog.



Next week, stay tuned for reports from the road as well.




Letter #1:




Dear Friend in Christ,

Life on Earth is a relatively short journey compared to the immense eternity of Heavenly life. And so, it is important to live every day to the best of your capability. However, the definition of what is truly and objectively, “best” has been skewed in today’s society to meaning one’s own enjoyment and pleasure. Yet what is truly best in objective truth is so, so much more. To love, to do what is truly best for another person no matter the consequences to yourself, and to love to the fullest of your ability is our true calling in life. When we love as such, the way God created man to love, we transcend the norm of humanity and, through the grace of God, we get a small taste of what it is like to be in Heaven; to be with God for eternity; to be more. And when we go above the norm, we are truly blest. For it is only through God’s blessings that we are able to be more, and it is through being more, loving more, that we receive God’s blessings.

May God’s graces always shine upon you and bless you as you go through your journey of life here on earth, a journey that ultimately leads to a greater life with God in Heaven.




God Bless,
Sebastian



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"How to destroy a culture in 5 easy steps"

Joe Carter has a phenomenal article on First Things' blog, outlining the steps to destroying a culture. In this case, he is particularly looking at the legalization of same-sex "marriage."

It's well-worth a read now and archiving for future reference.

To get you started:

In his book The Future of Marriage, David Blankenhorn, a liberal, gay-rights-supporting Democrat and self-professed “marriage nut,” offers this sociological principle: “People who professionally dislike marriage almost always favor gay marriage.” As a corollary, Blankenhorn adds: “Ideas that have long been used to attack marriage are now commonly used to support same-sex marriage.”

Blankenhorn provides almost irrefutable proof that this is the expressed agenda of many—if not most—professional advocates of same-sex marriage. Other scholars have noticed the same and have attempted to present the public with the facts about the less-than-hidden agenda to use homosexual rights to deinstitutionalize marriage and to separate sexual exclusivity from the concept of “monogamy.”

Since the agenda is an open secret, how has this anti-marriage program been able to advance to the level of public policy? And how did it happen so quickly?

[...]

All issues fall somewhere along this policy continuum, which can be roughly outlined as: Unthinkable, Radical, Acceptable, Sensible, Popular, Policy. When the window moves or expands, ideas can accordingly become more or less politically acceptable.
Read it all here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No more "him" and "her" at this preschool

Well, Sweden has a gender inclusive preschool that forbids using words like "him" and "her." Instead, you can refer to "hen," which is a blend of Swedish "him" and "her."

You can stroll over to the reading corner and pick up a book about two male giraffes, who adopt an alligator egg since they can't have children of their own.

And then you can meander into the toy kitchen -- right next to the Lego's, so you know the two play areas are not mutually exclusive. Rather than fight over who gets to be the mother, multiple mothers in the same family can be involved at one time. (Side note: If we can't say "him" and "her," then why can we say "mother"?)

It's all in the name of casting off gender in order to allow the children "to be who they are meant to be."

Please tell me it won't get any crazier.

Read more here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

God In the Streets of New York City

A day after Corpus Christi, but it's never too late to thank God for the great gift of Himself in the Eucharist:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quote book

"Genuine love ... is demanding. But its beauty lies precisely in the demands it makes. Only those able to make demands on themselves in the name of love can then demand love from others." -- Blessed John Paul II

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A "tragic presumption of government" in New York

Last night, the state of New York legalized same-sex "marriage," an act that will go into effect within the next 30 days.

The bishops of the state had a quick response, beautifully articulated:
The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.


Read more here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sacred Heart Novena for a special event

On July 3, ten high school students and five adults will embark on a vocations pilgrimage walk -- "Called to be More." Over the course of the week we will walk approximately 150 miles, ending at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati. Along the way we will stop at parishes within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, reflecting on the lives of saints and enjoying opportunities to discern God's call to grow in holiness.

As you can imagine, such an adventure requires a great deal of prayer. The pilgrims are beginning a novena to the Sacred Heart today, ending on July 2. It would be a gift to have your prayers as well.

If you are interested in joining the novena -- for the safety and fruitfulness of the pilgrimage -- you can find the prayers here.

Stay tuned for more information about the walk, before, during and after.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teen sex leading to divorce?

A new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family says yes:

IOWA CITY, June 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A University of Iowa study has found that women who first engage in sex as young teens are more likely to divorce.

Published in the April issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, the analysis found that 31 percent of women who had sex for the first time as teens divorced within five years of getting married, and 47 percent divorced within 10 years. The divorce rate for women who delayed sex until adulthood was far lower: 15 percent at five years, and 27 percent at 10 years.

Author Anthony Paik, associate professor of sociology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, examined the responses of 3,793 ever-married women to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.

A first sexual experience that was unwanted or not completely wanted was strongly associated with divorce. If the young woman chose to lose her virginity as a teen, the results were more nuanced.

When the first intercourse took place early in adolescence - before the age of 16 - the women were more likely to divorce, even if that first sexual experience was wanted.
Read more here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Mommy, I'm fat"

So, what does our world teach little six year old girls about their value, worth and beauty? What do moms teach their daughters when they obsess over eating a second brownie or complain of needing to work out more frequently? How does the culture train young women -- very, very young women -- to view themselves as imperfect, less-than and unloveable whenever they turn to a mirror or to the often more cruel "mirror" of another person? Where are we living when 50% of 3-6 year old girls in a survey worry about being fat?

Well, this might tell us something we don't want to know:

Hmmm, apparently the clip below is not working, so just click here to watch the video.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Calling all prayer warriors

New York is on the verge of legalizing "marriage" between those of the same sex. Let's join in prayer for the defense of the gift, vocation and Sacrament of marriage.

TOB for Teens immersion week began at Ruah Woods today. Any prayers you can offer for the high school students delving into Theology of the Body this week would be greatly appreciated!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quote book

"Do not just be a channel for grace, but a reservoir, an overflowing reservoir. No sooner has a channel received grace than it pours it out. A reservoir waits to be filled up and then offers grace to those who come to draw from its superabundance." -- St. Bernadette

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Courtship: A Journey Toward the Love that Moves the Stars"



I highly recommend reading the opening remarks from a colloquium held at the John Paul II Institute in 2009. My professor Dr. Margaret McCarthy offers some thought-provoking analysis of authentic courtship vs. today's general view of dating and relationships.

For example:



The first theme concerns what life is for, where it is going. Implicit in the idea of courtship is the (almost imperceptible) idea that human life has been placed on a path (an “Odyssey”) that is going somewhere. And that where it is going is something to be “stepped into.” There is nothing about it that is simply “made to order,” in the manner of improvised make-it-up-as-you-go tour (“walk-about”). Indeed neither the being on the path nor the nature of the destination are simply “choices.” Its terms are given, even if, then, consent will be asked, and even required!

And that requirement of consent indicates another factor, and that is that the “being put on the path” is not a forced march toward bondage, but a liberating journey—an adventure—toward an awaiting presence, love, a home (Ithaca).
In the absence of courtship we are not given an alternate path, but rather a kind of aimless wandering—a kind of vagabondage. If there was the idea of a “ladder” with courtship, there is now the idea of a “cyclical relationship system,” serial relationships, which may or may not lead anywhere (Barbara Dafoe Whitehead). This new generation has been called by David Brooks the “Odyssey Generation,” because there is now no longer an idea of growing up into an adulthood defined as getting a job, finding a mate, and having children. Significantly, it is an Odyssey Generation because it is on an adventure and on an adventure because it avoids bonds. For this generation, if there were an Ithaca, there could by definition be no odyssey, no adventure.

And:



Implied in the courtship idea is that the most fulfilling things (at the end of the path) are had through the taking of a risk.11 Happiness and joy are associated with engaging oneself whole and entire with the life of another (Another), and into the mystery of another who is beyond one‟s grasp. One looks forward to, and eventually consents to, a future which is “in the hands of another,” not a “life goal” achieved through the discipline of time-management skills.
On the contrary, in the post-courtship world it is almost impossible to think of such risk as anything but “unsafe.” One must in the very movement toward the other already prepare for separation. “The energies people should use in the common enterprise are exhausted in preparation for independence”12 with conditional attachments and “pre-nuptial arrangements.” And this, again, as Bloom suggests, is not a mere moral failure. It exists on account of the fact of separation assuming, that is, an anthropology of the whole and self-sufficient individual (of “social solitaries”) in which “one cannot risk interdependence. Imagination compels everyone to look forward to the day of separation in order to see how he will do.”13

Also:



If indeed there is this coincidence between “being in want of a wife” (or of a husband) and the desire for God, then we have much more than a moral problem on our hands. Absent a desire for the eternal—and the perception that it is the depth of the world, of this woman and of this man—there can be no love, only “relationships.”18
Read it all here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TOB for Teens immersion week



It's not too late to register for next week's Theology of the Body for Teens immersion program. We will be meeting Monday-Friday and delving into John Paul II's work and its relevance for our everyday lives. Spread the word if you know a high school student (from incoming freshmen to outgoing seniors) who would like to dive into learning about God's incredible plan for our lives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gender confusion ... for fourth graders?

Gender confusion is abounding these days. I keep coming across stories about children whose parents raise them "without" gender, or who give their sons pink, sparkly dresses to twirl around in, or who encourage shedding the "enslaving" stereotypes of boys and girls.

And now there's this:



Isn't it just heartbreaking to see these beautiful, innocent, wide-eyed, confused but listening nine-year-olds? When in the world did we begin to think it's a good time to come into a public school and "celebrate diversity" by telling the students that they can be anything they want? Not that they can be an astronaut or a doctor or an explorer, but that they can be a boy, or a girl, or a boy and a girl, and can create their ideal gender style, just like they can choose their ideal career choice.

Gender matters. We seem to have forgotten that. We seem to think we can determine sex/gender by how we feel. And gender isn't something that's reduced to pink, sparkly dresses or playing with toy trucks. Gender is about masculinity and femininity, about different modes of giving and receiving (and we both do both, but differently), about being created with absolute dignity but not "sameness," about a difference that matters.

Gender is a beautiful reminder that I am not God, that I cannot encompass the whole of reality, that I cannot be everything ... there is always someone different from me, "other" than me. And that difference and "otherness" is good. And it reminds me that I did not create myself, nor did I create the "other." I was created. I am a child. My life has been given.

Gender is a beautiful reminder that I am called to love. In seeing that there is another with whom I have unity (same gift of humanity) and difference (gender), I see that it is possible for me to give to another and to receive from another. I begin to see that love is possible, that it is good and that it is the meaning of life.

Gender is a beautiful reminder that I am called to love fruitfully. When I realize that I did not create myself, that I come from God, and when I realize that I can love another with whom I share a unity and a difference, I can see that my love can be fruitful. It can grow and be more. It doesn't have to collapse in upon itself. It can open me up to new experiences, new wonder, new gratitude as I watch love unfolded as something I am given and not as something I create, dominate or master.

So, why do we think it's a good idea to march into classrooms, and onto national television shows and into newspapers and tell children, tell parents, tell the world that we don't need a reminder that our life is a gift? In fact, we don't want a reminder that life is a gift, thank you very much. We'd prefer to take out the mystery, take out the wonder, take out the gratitude, take out the fact that we did not create ourselves. And this is supposed to lead to happiness and freedom?

It's no wonder that as I watch the fourth graders on the video clip above, I have to reach for the tissue box.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Richard Hogan



Last July I met Fr. Richard Hogan, a pioneer in the spreading of John Paul II's Theology of the Body. In fact, I met him at the TOB Congress, where he won an award for his work in sharing the late Holy Father's work.



Yesterday, I received news that Fr. Hogan recently died. Please pray for the repose of his soul and in thanksgiving for the great work in Theology of the Body and the pro-life movement to which he dedicated his life.



You can read more about Fr. Hogan from Priests for Life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Raising the question of drinking

If you are looking for a way to kill the mood at a Catholic young adult party, just raise the question, “Is it a mortal sin to get drunk?”

Whenever the topic is raised, I see flaring tempers, incredulous faces and hear every excuse in the book. It appears to be a relatively common trend for Catholic young adults to spend their weekends downing a few too many, only to be back in the pew on Sunday morning (or evening) to fulfill their Sunday obligation, as if nothing had happened the night before.

But is overindulging in alcohol really an innocent activity? Is it okay to have an indifferent attitude toward too much drinking?

Maybe the place to start isn’t with the argument of whether or not it’s a mortal sin to get drunk, but instead with whether or not we are truly living up to our greatness.

Church teaching has consistently taught that we are made in God’s image and likeness in our capacity for intellect and will. If these two capacities are gifts from God that allow us to reflect Him, then are we accepting the gift with gratitude when we choose to take a hiatus from them?

I’ve heard countless arguments – that one is not truly losing reason unless they “black out,” that it’s okay as long as they are with “trusted” people, that the intention is not to lose reason. But don’t the excuses and the justifications point to something deep inside that doesn’t feel comfortable with the “getting drunk is no big deal” attitude?

For what insecurities, unhappiness or fears is getting drunk attempting to provide a mask? It seems to me that if we are truly placing ourselves in the presence of God, trusting Him to provide for us exactly what we need in every moment, then we won’t be seeking ways to live an alternative existence for a few hours, or to forget our troubles, or to be more comfortable with “who we are.”

So, perhaps that’s it – downing a few too many isn’t only a sin of gluttony, but a sin against trust. It’s bringing us back to the garden once again, where the paradigm of all sin, the Original Sin, consisted in a lack of trust and an attempt to manage one’s own plan of happiness.

It’s effectively what we’re doing when we reach for one-drink-too-many – we are taking the fruit from Eden once again. We are standing along with Eve, made in God’s image and likeness, and yet effectively telling our Creator that we’d rather take care of ourselves.

Imagine – “Yes, God, I’m more able to be myself if I take that extra drink. All of my friends are doing it too, and they are good Catholics. We aren’t hurting anyone or driving anywhere. And what’s wrong with a little fun?”

And there is our Creator and Redeemer, who made each and every one of us as unique and unrepeatable persons, chosen by eternal Love. He stands watching, knowing that another drink is not going to satisfy us, or bring us true joy, or allow us to be who we truly are. He offers us everything, and yet we try to walk away with so little.

God has given us the ability to exercise our self-control, along with the choice of whether or not to use it. Even if getting drunk is done with no clear-cut reason or premeditated purpose, it’s an opportunity to exercise the gift of self-control when we limit drinks. And the more we are exercising our self-control, the more we will be able to use the virtue in the future. It’s a training in virtue, and we have the opportunity in so many day-to-day experiences, yet how often do we decline the workout?

Of course for a moral authority on the topic, we can also turn to St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote that drunkenness is not only a sin, but is a mortal sin (Summa Theologica II-II, Q. 150, a. 1-2). But I think the real question is, if God gives us everything we need in every moment, why would we want to get drunk?

Some may read this and wonder what crowds I spend my time with, though I assure you I have heard conversations and questions on the topic from people across the country, and in settings as mundane as coffee shops and classrooms. There will also be those who will attempt to ignore the thought that the dignity with which we were created could impact the morality of our decisions regarding overindulgence in alcohol.

Yet, the invitation still stands – God is calling you to something more. Will you respond to His gift and His love with trust, sacrifice and a desire to see that what He offers is infinitely better than a drink too many?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reasons for modesty

Marcel LeJeune provides a wonderful list of "Top 10 Reasons Women Should Dress Modestly."

Here are the first five:



10 - Modesty reflects an understanding of who a woman truly is.
Modesty starts inside a person's heart and mind. Who am I? Why do I exist? If a woman answers she is a beautiful daughter of God, then modesty will naturally follow.


9 - Modesty isn't about dressing in unattractive clothes as some think it is.
There are too many options in clothing to not give modesty a try. Yes, it might not be the first thing on the rack you go shopping for, but it is worth finding clothing that brings out a woman's beauty without revealing too much.


8 - Modesty attracts the kind of guys you ought to want to attract.
If a woman is afraid that she must turn a man's eye by dressing immodestly, then she should ask herself just what kind of guy does she want to attract?


7 - Mary dressed modestly.
Truly there is no more beautiful woman who ever lived than Mary. Why wouldn't any woman want to be more like her?


6 - It helps protect women.
A woman can still dress to be beautiful, but the mystery of a woman's body is protected from being used. Modesty provides a needed defense against usage.

But you'll need to head over to Aggie Catholics to read the rest.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Needed: Good Families to Restore Hope"

This is a phenomenal article! And it's not just because my good college friend and roommate wrote it. Valerie Pokorny has always had a wonderful way with words, and her journalism and theology background allow her to articulate some profound truths. It's well worth the time to peruse her reflections.

To further convince you:

It was a summer holiday (pick any of them) and the majority of my mom’s side of the family was gathered at my grandparents’ small lake house. The adults were inside — sitting at the table, doing dishes in the kitchen, feeding the little ones — engaged in a lively discussion about some current event in their community. The kids — almost two dozen of them, the oldest in high school and the youngest barely born — were EVERYWHERE. Snitching cookies, catching frogs, playing tag, vying for a spot on the hammock, gathering the uncles for a backyard game of softball. The oldest kids were talking to their favorite aunts or uncles, raving about the latest Christian rock band or answering questions about sports and school. The youngest, sweetly sleeping or cooing infants, were being passed around ­— or, rather, snatched as often as possible from Grandma’s greedy hands.

This was an almost weekly occurrence for our family. All six of the children in my mom’s family are to this day happily married with kids. My mom had five, the next brother four, the next brother six, the next sister and brother four apiece, and the youngest brother three.

Each and every child was welcomed, a cause for celebration, a much-anticipated drama to watch unfold. Each baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation offered the opportunity for a mini family reunion. Every Christmas found us gathered in a tiny cabin somewhere in that hometown area, a flurry of food, fellowship, and tiny fingers itching to unwrap the presents under the tree. As family members (like me) grew older and pursued careers and vocations outside of the community, Grandma exercised her legendary arm twisting methods to try to keep the family as close together as possible.

Sure, there were disagreements and difficulties. Sure, the family’s high standards would challenge each budding young adult as he or she came of age. Certainly, parents sacrificed time and again to make sure their children received quality education and even more important, quality family time.

But the beauty of life as I knew it growing up was that no child was ever seen as a burden. Everyone in that family community created a loving, safe, encouraging environment that expected great things of each and every little person entrusted to them. And by “great things” I mean a happy, moral life leading to a fruitful vocation in the form of either marriage and family or priesthood or religious life.

Read it all here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quote book

"For love is never something ready made, something merely 'given' to man and woman, it is always at the same time a 'task' which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never 'is' but is always only 'becoming,' and what it becomes depends upon the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment. This commitment is based on what is 'given.'" -- Pope John Paul II, Love and Responsibility 139.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kenosis, year one




I'm always one for remembering the dates of random occurrences -- things that have happened in my life, saints' feast days, JPII encyclical anniversary days, etc. So, this week it occurred to me that I had arrived at one year since beginning my position at Ruah Woods. And goodness, has it been a busy year!



When Courtney Brown and I arrived to begin jobs that had never before existed, we were given the task of creating a new program or group or ministry for high school students. Through lots of prayer and through the ever surprising Holy Spirit, Kenosis: Teen Disciples for Love and Life was born.



What a year! When we had our closing meeting for the school year, one of the Kenosis teens, only a week or two from graduating high school, said with tears in her eyes, "I would kill to be a freshman right now." Her brief time in Kenosis had been such a gift to her that she wished she had been able to experience four years of its formation and community-building.



So, what exactly happened within the last year?



- Kenosis meetings were held twice a month, addressing a range of topics that incorporated Theology of the Body -- prayer, silence, suffering, the hook-up culture vs. dating with purpose and purity, etc. We were sure to emphasize the many ways in which TOB impacts our daily lives, moving beyond a sole emphasis on sexuality.



- Kenosis retreat, "Restore" was held in December to rave reviews from the teens, who enjoyed talks, small groups, silent reflection, the Sacraments, and an awesome talent show.



- Jason Evert spoke to 500 people at the Underground in November, captivating his audience with the compelling message of chastity.



- A small junior core team of Kenosis teens assisted with our TOB for Teens retreat in the spring. They were such a joyful witness to both the teens and the adult leaders.



- Kenosis teens gave their testimonies at an 8th grade Theology of the Body presentation this past winter. What a gift to watch them pass on the ways in which God has worked in their life.



- We watched multiple Kenosis/TOB for Teens students apply for college seminary!



And in the past year there have been countless conversations, times of prayer and brainstorming sessions with incredible high school students who are striving to live the message of Kenosis (self-emptying to Christ, leading to self-gift to God and others) in their daily lives.



So, praise the Lord for His many gifts during the past year! We pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the mission of Kenosis, and enable us to be His instruments in building a culture of life and a civilization of love.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our new bishop!




The episcopal ordination of Bishop-Elect Joseph Binzer is today! The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has done a wonderful job of allowing us to participate, even though there are limited tickets to the Mass. So, sit back this afternoon and watch the streaming of the Mass, or listen to it on Sacred Heart Radio. You can even follow along with the program, which is available online.



Bishop Binzer's episcopal motto is, "Hope in the Lord."



When I was in high school, Bishop Binzer served as an associate at my parish. It was always a gift to see his joy, peace and love of the Lord. What a tremendous gift that our entire Archdiocese will be served by him in the coming years.

So, maybe freedom isn't just about me

This is a great post from Barbara Curtis, reflecting on the ways in which mantras of reproductive "freedom" might make today's young people feel.

Here's the start:


"Mom, how's this supposed make kids feel?" Sophia was waving a Newsweek with a cover on "The New Science of Sex Selection." Showcased inside were families who had "too much" (two or more) or "enough" (one) of one gender to cast their fate to the whim of their own reproductive capabilities.

Enter the brave new world of gender engineering.

From its humble beginnings with techniques familiar to cattle ranchers sorting livestock sperm, it has evolved into the more ethically-challenging practice of creating a bunch of in vitro embryos for the gender-deprived parents to choose from.
Say you have a girl already and want a boy. Say your Petri dish contains four of one and three of the other. Say goodbye girls.

They call it "family balancing."

With solid reporting, engaging sidebars, and crackerjack graphics, Newsweek had it covered - well, almost. For a young teenager with an inquiring mind - that is, thinking beyond the movies and malls - the story had some holes.

But do read it all here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pope Benedict on the family

Pope Benedict XVI was in Croatia this weekend to celebrate the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. He had some beautiful words to share about the role of the family in the world and in evangelization, including:

Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family – your concrete testimony – is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them. Dear families, be courageous! Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person! Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them! The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: “the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her ... And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a ‘small domestic church’” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005). Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!
Read it all here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How does contraception affect vocations?

It might not be as simply obvious as it seems.

For instance:

Now, because of artificial contraception, the whole underlying assumptions and expectations about marriage have shifted. Marriage is no longer a way to give all, but a way to have it all. Therefore, when a young person today considers a religious vocation, they are not choosing between different paths of self-sacrifice; they are choosing between a life that seems to have it all and a life that seems to have nothing. They must choose between a home in the suburbs, 2.5 nice children, and a double income or total self denial. The choice is between a familiar form of hedonism or an inexplicable form of heroism.

Read a fascinating look at the topic by Fr. Dwight Longenecker here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Exploring Euthanasia through the Arts"

Jack Kevorkian's death has focused the world's attention on the topic of euthanasia. Barbara Nicolosi reflects on the media's treatment of the topic in her piece, "Exploring Euthanasia through the Arts."

To whet your appetite:

If we lose the fight on euthanasia, we lose our souls. By removing suffering and the meaning of suffering from our culture, we make the final step in denying and defying our creature-hood. Once again, the seductive lie of Eden will trip us up: “If you will do this thing, you shall be like God.”

And:

If we would save our culture from this latest onslaught, we believers need to adopt the spirit of a new crusade. Christians who have been blessed with means must shift attention and support to intelligent efforts to combat support for euthanasia in our culture. Musicians, storytellers, and filmmakers of faith must find new ways to communicate the truth of human dignity and the value of suffering. In this fight, it may be that our best weapon is the power of beauty.

Read it all here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fight the New Drug



I've come across this new resource a few times in the last few days. Fight the New Drug is a website to unite people in the fight against pornography. There is an impressive bank of scientific and social arguments against pornography, as well as personal testimonies from those who have been affected in the past. It looks like a promising site to educate others about the reality of pornography.

Friday, June 3, 2011

TOB for Teens essay winners

Be sure to take some time to read the winning essays from Ascension Press's TOB for Teens scholarship contest. It's always inspiring to read of young people's lives touched by Theology of the Body.

You can find the essays here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI: Married love and the Sacred Heart



I'm so glad to know that my JPII Institute friends who were just married over the weekend were present for this General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI! From ZENIT:



VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today noted the
beginning of the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart and encouraged married
couples to make their love a witness to God's love.

The Pope offered this invitation during the traditional conclusion to the Wednesday general audience, when he greeted youth, the sick and newlyweds.

Married couples within the first two months of their marriage are invited to special seating at the audience and many attend in their wedding garments.

Referring to the beginning of June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the Bishop of Rome exhorted: "Let us often pause to contemplate this profound mystery of divine Love."

He invited youth to enter the "school of the Heart of Christ" in order to "learn to assume with serenity the responsibilities that await you."

"May you, dear sick, find in this infinite fount of mercy the courage and patience to fulfill God's will in every situation," the Holy Father said.

And he told newlyweds: "Remain faithful to the love of God, and may you witness to it by your married love."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quote book

"To call God my Father and to know myself His child, that is heaven to me." -- St. Therese of Lisieux