Monday, October 31, 2011

Retreat recap

The Theology of the Body for Teens retreat came to a close yesterday afternoon. It never ceases to be amazing to watch dozens of teens line up for confession, praise the Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and join their voices together in prayer. It also never ceases to be amazing to watch six junior core members of Kenosis speak to their peers with confidence, grace, enthusiasm and authenticity about the way God has transformed their lives. And it will always be a gift to work with young adults who are beautifully present to the teens by giving up an entire weekend to lead small groups and witness to God's love.

Thank you for the prayers.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Please continue prayers for the TOB retreat. We end at 3 pm today! It has been a blessed weekend.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy feast of Bl. Chiara "Luce" Badano!


Our wonderful patroness of Kenosis, Blessed Chiara "Luce" Badano's feast day is today. If you haven't heard of this 19 year old saint, who died in 1990, then you will want to read about her holiness in the everyday.

"I've realized that if we could constantly keep our soul open and ready for everything, how many signs God would send us. I have also understood how many times God passes next to us and we do not realize it ... Young people are the future. I cannot run anymore, but I'd like to pass them my torch, like at the Olympic games. The youth have one life to live, and we should spend it as best we can." -- Bl. Chiara

Friday, October 28, 2011

Prayers please

It's time for another TOB for Teens retreat. That means we need your prayers! This weekend, a full house of 26 teens, 6 junior core members and 6 adults will embark on an adventure of growing closer to God through learning about Theology of the Body.

It's the sort of event that is impossible without prayer. So if you are able, please offer a prayer or two for all of us this weekend. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Why facebook is the devil"

This is a brilliant, thought-provoking reflection on the influence of facebook and social networking sites on experience. Marc Barnes has plenty of thoughts to share in "Why Facebook is the Devil."

After all, is that not dying to the present moment – moving on from it? Is a man thinking about the future not but a ghost, dwelling neither here nor there? When you’re in a group of friends and something insightful or funny is said, phones are whipped out and passionate mutters of “Tweet-worthy” are heard all around, everyone has removed themselves from the present moment and thrust their experience out to the world to be validated.

Thought Experiment: If you Facebooked/tweeted/blogged/shared the greatest moment of your life and no one ‘liked’ it, would you think less of the moment? Would you think less of your friends? Is either option any good? Is ‘liking’ something on Facebook actually ‘liking’ it, or is it usually validating that it exists, i.e. “Yes, you did say/post that.”?

That’s not at all to say things shouldn’t be shared, but we share them like words on a tombstone, brief summations of the life of the thing – that really amount to its death. Why? Because as soon as we move from the event to the status update, when we give the event a small conglomerate of signs and symbols that by their nature as words cannot fully describe – hence, “you had to be there” – we make our events small, and then we are done with them. We try and make ourselves, in some strange way, the victors of that moment. Our experience has been wrestled into submission by our adjectives.


It is definitely worth reading, which you can do here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remembering Michael

So often we overlook the reality of life of a miscarried child. Sarah Babbs has a beautiful reflection of the way in which she and her husband have been impacted by their little son, Michael, who died before his birth.

Confusion, as the ultrasound tech leaves to get the doctor. Hushed voices on the other side of the door. Poking and prodding. No tell-tale “thump,thump,thump,thump”, the sweetest sound you’ll ever hear. We never heard it. Condolences all around. The pregnancy stopped progressing at 8 weeks. “So sorry for your loss.” “You can try again soon, you are so young.” “A blessing in disguise.” Disgust. Pain. “Why God? Haven’t you taken enough?”

Tears. Sedation. Surgery. Recovery. No medication for the ache inside, for the aching of an empty womb.

A caring priest pours prayer, power, and oil of healing on our heads. “You are parents.” “The vocation of parenthood is to welcome souls that will glorify God in Heaven. He’s already there. Mission accomplished.” “Give him a name, a name you can call him, and remember.”

Michael John. “Who is like God? and God is generous.” He gives and takes away. Blessed be His name.

This month, our first baby, our little one in Heaven, would have turned two.

Read it all here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Welcome to the Culture

Once upon a time, when CatholicExchange.com had a Theology of the Body section, this article of mind had a home on the Internet. Now that the site is down, I thought I would reintroduce it to the web:

A couple of friends and I spent the first autumn-like Saturday evening strolling through the tiny town of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, clutching our pumpkin spice lattes to keep warm. The quaint town’s windy road, general store and 1950s pick-up trucks made me feel as if I had landed on the set of the Andy Griffith Show.

We meandered away from the live folk music played under a string of light bulbs on a small wooden outdoor stage, and spent 20 minutes in complete silence, praying, thinking and enjoying the clusters of sparkling stars above us.

Eventually we returned to the music, standing by a towering bonfire in order to feel warmth in the crisp, cool evening. Feelings of the days of yesteryear were jolted to reality by one brief conversation next to the fire.

“Do you ladies feel it’s difficult to find men who are your equal?” a 57-year-old woman asked, beginning a conversation none of us were expecting to have.

As we laughed, one of my friends asked, “What do you mean by that?”

The woman explained, “I have two daughters your age, and I was just discussing this with someone else. With women your age making more money these days, do you find it difficult to find men who are in your economic bracket?”

We were caught off guard. Since the three of us are engaged either in ministry work or in full-time studies, our economic bracket doesn’t pose much of a challenge.

Even more importantly, money doesn’t typically land on the top of our lists when considering what makes a man marriageable. One friend summarized, “That’s not really a problem for us, since we don’t make lots of money, but I find the equality issue is the case with other things.”

The woman seemed intrigued, fascinated that something other than one’s salary could elicit “three single women here tonight by yourselves.” Rather than begin a conversation on our desire for “equality” in faith and morals, one girl joked, “So, are there a lot of men in Rabbit Hash?”

Our new acquaintance quickly replied, “I found one.”

The three of us “aww’ed” in chorus, as she gestured to the man behind her. She must have met her husband here years ago, we all thought. We asked, “Are you from here originally?”

“No, I’m from Lexington, but I drove up today with a friend and we stopped at this man’s farm, and …. I think I’m in love.”

Speechless for a few moments, my friends attempted to say something, “Congratulations” was offered tentatively, as was, “That’s nice.”

The stranger around the campfire continued, “I’ve been divorced for four and a half years. I’m so happy now. And he’s really cute.”

With that, she walked away. Moments later she was in the arms of said man, both commenting along with their mutual friend about their excitement over their relationship.

Suddenly, it didn’t feel like we were in Mayberry anymore. In fact, our encounter with the 57-year-old Lexington woman jolted me to the reality of today’s culture. Money matters most. Love is just a feeling. Marriage isn’t indissoluble.

Fr. J. Brian Bransfield writes in his new book, The Human Person According to John Paul II, about the “perfect storm” that has caused a severe identity crisis for our world. With the swirling together of the Industrial Revolution (I am what I produce), the Sexual Revolution (I am what pleasure I obtain) and the Technological Revolution (I am getting things quickly), we have a new view of the identity of the human person.

In today’s world, one’s identity is viewed in terms of getting pleasure quickly. Despite the quaint backdrop of Rabbit Hash, our new acquaintance was a clear example of today’s vision of identity. Her focus on “economic equality,” and readiness to tell perfect strangers that she was “in love” with a man she had known for a few hours was the perfect – though painful in its eloquence – example of the human person getting pleasure quickly.

But that’s not the end of the story. Though the three of us never spoke about God, or explained Theology of the Body, or gave her a chastity talk, I suspect that we are not the only ones walking away confused. Clearly, seeing three young adults content without a date, without an overflowing wallet and without apparent concern for any of this was shocking.

The confidence of an identity rooted in being a child of God and the knowledge that love is a true commitment to will the good of the other, not an elusive feeling to chase, were just as surprising to this woman as her newfound “love” was to us. The bonfire encounter was a clash of cultures and identities. Our answer to the question, “Who am I?” can be glimpsed in our decisions, attitudes and desires.

Before leaving Rabbit Hash on that particular evening, we witnessed two proposals involving men fumbling for rings on the stage. One man asked his soon-to-be fiancĂ©e to hold his beer while he fished for the ring. Both proposals ended in a “yes,” sealed with much hugging and kissing before fading into the crowd. “Love is in the air in Rabbit Hash,” said the emcee.

No matter what each individual believed his identity was, each was searching for love, and each was created by God to be His son or daughter, receiving this gift before giving to others a love rooted in God’s. Despite the seeming allure of obtaining pleasure quickly, this countercultural message is the identity that will lead to happiness and bear fruit that will last. In the clash of cultures that occurred that night, the present ideology met what is hopefully the future in a setting of the past.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!


Happy first official feast day of Bl. John Paul II!

"Young people listening to me, answer the Lord with strong and generous hearts! He is counting on you. Never forget: Christ needs you to carry out his plan of salvation! Christ needs your youth and your generous enthusiasm to make his proclamation of joy resound in the new millennium. Answer his call by placing your lives at his service in your brothers and sisters! Trust Christ, because he trusts you."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Congratulations, Fr. O'Cinnsealaigh!


Fr. Benedict O'Cinnsealaigh was formally installed as rector of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary ("of the west") and the Athenaeum on Sunday. I have to admit to enjoying the timing of the event -- the anniversary of John Paul II's election as the Holy Father. Certainly, being a seminary rector does not include quite the same level of responsibility as the Vicar of Christ, but there was something about the humility and servant-leadership of Fr. O'Cinnsealaigh that was a sort of reflection of the love and service given by thousands of priests, bishops and popes over the years.

In any event, I highly recommend reading the new rector's inauguration address from Sunday. I want to highlight just a piece:

Priesthood is an invitation to fall in love, to fall in love with everything that God has created and through the “everything”, to fall in love with God. Fear of a shallow empty life is without foundation in the great love story of God and His people. This love story envelopes the whole Church and, in a very special way, invites the laity into a deeper sense of the opportunities they have to reach beyond the daily and the ordinary and embrace the needs of their fellow travelers in a communal and ongoing search for meaning and purpose.

Read it all here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting a haircut and defending life

Kelly Clinger, a former backup singer for Britney Spears, shared a recent encounter at a hair appointment:

I’ve been putting off getting my hair done for a while because it’s hard for me to rationalize spending the money AND spending 2 hours being still. (I know, first world problem!) ☺ But, alas, my roots were quite blond so I scheduled an appointment for today. I’ve been battling the blues for a few days and would probably have stayed in bed had it not been for the appointment.

I walked in and took a seat while I waited for my stylist to come get me. I can’t even make up what happened next.

On the other side of the wall, I heard this conversation:

Girl #1: “Well, I’ve always been pro-choice, especially if there’s something wrong.”

((I look around for candid camera.))

Girl#2: “Yeah I’ve been sick for a month. I just don’t think I can do this if there’s something wrong with the baby.”

((After I get over my shock, I begin to pray. I thought I was here to get my hair colored, but apparently You have other plans, Jesus.))

Girl #1: “I think you did the right thing by making the appointment. It’s harder to talk yourself out of it once you have a time to get it done. Will your husband drive you?”

((HUSBAND??))

Girl #2: “No, he doesn’t know I’ve been thinking about abortion. I think I will just tell him I had a miscarriage.”

((Here we go!))

As I round the corner with my “Pray to end abortion” t-shirt and my LIFE band, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “meekness and kindness, Kelly”, and I thanked Him for the reminder.

Me: “I couldn’t help but overhear what you guys were talking about and I’ve never felt stronger in my life that I was put in this room by God.”

((Their mouths drop open, and they just stare at me. I take a deep breath.))


Saturday, October 15, 2011

An inside look at cohabitation

An anonymous writer penned her thoughts in Great Britain about her decision to cohabit for a decade. It's a fascinating, heart-wrenching account of regret over lack of commitment.

Here's a start:

In that regard, we were like an increasing number of middle-class couples who co-habit, have children and see no reason to formalise their shared commitment to a lifelong future with a wedding ceremony.

And yet, it seems it wasn’t enough. Because despite all those years together, and all those children, David and I are now in the process of splitting up. We are divorcing without ever having married.

There is no one else involved; just a general growing apart. The reasons are many, from his feelings of being unloved to mine of being under-supported. He says I don’t respect him. And I think he’s probably right.

So now he has moved out. The day he left was the saddest of my life. I wanted to reach out to him, as he got into his car, and tell him everything would be OK — but I couldn’t. Which left me wondering: how has it come to this? How can we be taking apart something we spent so many years putting together?

And herein lies an uncomfortable thought. While it pains me to say so, I can’t help thinking that our situation might have been different if we’d got married.

For years, I told myself — and others — that marriage for me was just a word, a formality, and that David and I were as close as any married couple. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe, if we had made a proper commitment in front of our friends and loved ones, if we had said those binding, meaningful words, we might not be in this situation.


Read the entire account here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Novena to Bl. John Paul II

Want to pray a novena to Bl. John Paul II to end on his first official feast day? Start it today to end on Saturday, October 22. You can find a novena here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Madison Avenue's Vision of Love"

As usual, Elizabeth Scalia has some interesting and well-articulated thoughts. This time she is contemplating the vision of love set forth in advertising.

If the recent barrage of ham-handed television commercials peopled with foolish men, churlish women and hectoring, know-it-all children are any indication, Madison Avenue has no idea what love has to do with relationships or families, or natural desire. Even worse, it believes the rest of us don’t, either, and that things—lots and lots of things—can suffice, can provide reasonable facsimiles of love. We will love our new shoes or our new iSomething, we are told; we will love, love, love this new air freshener. These things will make us happy. As long as we are not looking to be loved back.

An astonishing percentage of our economy is dependent upon our willingness to substitute things for love, and to just keep buying. Is it any wonder, then, that our culture is consumed with loneliness and broken dreams, or that all of our empty bubbles—technology, housing, tuition for “good” colleges that will keep the love coming—are bursting one after another?


Read it all at First Things.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sacrifice not self-satisfaction

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Louisville, KY, has some great thoughts about defending marriage in a recent interview with the National Catholic Register.

When I speak on marriage, I spend most of my time not speaking on its legal ramifications, but on the need for renewal of sacrificial love in our culture, especially within family life. In general, that’s the greatest need. Too many people place their emphasis on individual satisfaction, a turning in on oneself and one’s perceived needs. Sacrificial love, in contrast, tends to lead people to happy lives. We need more examples of marriages based on sacrificial love. I would not be a priest had it not been for the chance to read the lives of the saints and be motivated by the great adventure of following Christ and with Christ’s grace of living a sacrificial life.



Read it all here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quote book


"The end for which we are created invites us to walk a road that is surely sown with a lot of thorns, but it is not sad; through even the sorrow, it is illuminated by joy." -- Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Made for More: TOB for Teens retreat

All high school students are invited to join us for a Theology of the Body for Teens retreat: Made for More. For more information, or to register, visit our website.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chivalry Week report

A few weeks ago I mentioned the Catholic Campus Ministry program of Southeast Missouri State University's student-led "Chivalry Week." Well, the week has passed, and the report is here. I would love to see more initiatives like this one popping up at colleges across the country.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pink


While sitting at a red light this morning, I noticed two men from a landscaping business trimming the edges of the corner gas station's grass. They were both wearing hot pink shirts. Slightly confused, I remembered it's October. And since the light was long, I also had the chance to look up and see a billboard, "Spinning for Breast Cancer," with more pink plastered across the board.

But what's the problem? Cancer awareness is not bad, but unfortunately October's pink campaign raises money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which in turn supports Planned Parenthood.





Matthew Hanley has an overview of this sticky situation in his article, "The Dark Side of 'Thinking Pink.'" Here's a bit:

Curiously, Komen also funnels millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood — already a recipient of considerable governmental largesse. By doling out tons of contraceptives and providing for more abortion than any other outfit in the country, Planned Parenthood virtually ensures that the breast cancer epidemic will persist, not shrink.

You don’t have to be a cynic to find this cozy relationship a bit fishy.

Yes, something is rotten in Pink Denmark — despite the good will that the awareness campaign evokes in many people, among other redeeming qualities. Awareness of Breast Cancer per se, of course, is not the problem. Forbidding awareness of highly relevant reproductive risk factors ineluctably undermines the overall effort, which reveals that it is committed to women’s health — only up to a certain point.

I’m sure marketing gurus could figure out a way to raise awareness of these factors tactfully and succinctly at the supermarket check out counter, where everyone without fail is regularly asked to pitch in. Or if NFL players are man enough to wear pink on the field, why couldn’t broadcasters mention these risk factors on the air — perhaps during a marquee game in New York City, where 40 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion? (The figure is 60 percent among African Americans — much higher than even Eastern Europe, which with 105 abortions for every 100 live births, has the highest abortion rate in the world.) Even if they framed it as “controversial”, that would be some serious awareness-raising.


Read it all here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quote book

"The encounter with the leper made St. Francis." -- Mother Teresa

Happy feast day of St. Francis of Assisi!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Temporary marriage?

What an oxymoron! But apparently, lawmakers in Mexico are proposing a two-year marriage license. Not happy after two years? Well, your marriage contract will automatically terminate. Happy and ready for another round? Then feel free to renew your contract.

First, marriage is a covenant, not a contract. As such it is not "renewable." It doesn't end (until "death do us part"). Secondly, since when is marriage simply about personal happiness?

There's plenty more to say, but for now, read Jennifer Fulwiler on the subject for more info.

Want to know the probability of you ever existing?

Then read here. But never forget, this only serves to shine more brightly on the fact that God literally loved you into existence! He wanted you to be here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Whither Marriage?"

First Things has a thought-provoking article, "Whither Marriage?" by R.R. Reno, tackling the issue of same-sex "marriage."

Some gems:

Changed attitudes toward sexual morality provide the clearest example. The one almost universal belief about sexual morality is that it must be “safe” and “responsible.” This means two things: respecting the autonomy and well-being of one’s partner and preventing pregnancy. Nothing men do with men, or women with women, stands in the way of satisfying the first principle, and their interactions positively satisfy the second. The imperative of fairness immediately presents itself. If traditional condemnations no longer apply to guys and gals hooking up, then why should they apply to guys and guys, or gals and gals? If John and Jane can live as they please, perhaps sleeping together in college, then living together for a few years, and then marrying, then why not Joe and James? It is indeed an awkward cultural moment.

and:

Moreover, because of the widespread acceptance of contraception (backed up by abortion), the male–female difference has precious little biological significance either. Nearly all contemporary men and women want to have children in the usual way. Nonetheless, most of us—the vast majority—tacitly presume that most sexual unions, whether casual or permanent, are appropriately sterile: the assumption behind the notion of “responsible sex.” Children are products of our wills (“planned parenthood”). They are private choices within an encompassing culture of choice, a way of thinking that, once again, makes it difficult to identify a real difference between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.

Thus, along with a fear that sexual repression is harmful, we have cultural assumptions about gender and reproduction that make it very difficult to articulate persuasive public reasons to resist same-sex marriage. If the woman can wear the pants in the family, then why can’t a man wear skirts, as it were? If women are to be encouraged to be active, independent agents in the public sphere and in family life—strong grooms of our older imaginations—then why can’t a man be the bride? If we are elevating choice and asserting the primacy of the affective over procreative aspects of the sexual unions of men and women, then why can’t gays and lesbians marry? Don’t they make choices and have affections just like the rest of us?

Read the whole piece here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quote book


Happy feast of St. Therese!

"For me to love you, Jesus, as you love me, I would have to borrow your own love and then only would I be at rest." - St. Therese