Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What are you doing tomorrow night?

Don't forget that Melanie Pritchard and Fr. John Parks will be speaking on February 1 (that's tomorrow) at 7 pm at the Underground in Cincinnati. Lee Roessler will be providing music. The event is free. We would love to see you there!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quote book

"Now is the time to begin to prepare yourself for family life. You cannot fulfill this path if you do not know how to love. To love means to want to perfect yourself and your beloved, to overcome your selfishness, and give yourself completely." -- St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

March for Life pictures

Some pictures from the March for Life are available here and here. Reports are saying half a million people were in attendance, which would make it the largest March ever, I do believe. And yet, once again, did you hear a report (and if so, an accurate report) from the mainstream media?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A young person's view of the March for Life

The National Catholic Register shares this great piece about this year's March for Life.

We come because we are the generation who has been hurt by abortion; youth are missing countless brothers, sisters, cousins, friends ...

Although the day was gloomy, the crowd was joyful, if not a bit too exuberant at times. For once, the group I was with made it to the rally early. We were right in front of the main stage and saw and heard the testimonies and speakers.

At first it was quiet. I have experienced the march before and seen the massive crowds, but every year I still wonder if they will come. Slowly they drift in, until, at last, you look up to find you are in a sea of people, mostly young people. It’s an amazing sight.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/witnesses-for-life-a-young-persons-account-of-the-march-for-life/#ixzz1kOt6LQc1

Monday, January 23, 2012

Life is worth defending

I'm marching for life today in our nation's capital. I hope to have a full report later this week. Please pray for the thousands (and by thousands I mean a normal turnout of 200,000-400,000) of people who have traveled to DC to stand up for life.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quote book

"If you really want to know if your attire is fitting for a Christian woman, ask yourself: If Jesus Christ returned to earth, would I want to meet Him while wearing this outfit? Although it may sound a bit apocalyptic, dress like you're ready for the Second Coming. It's not just about preparing to meet your judge. It's about preparing to meet your groom. Dress accordingly." -- Jason and Crystalina Evert in "How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul"

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Human

Marcel LeJeune shared this incredible video. One of my favorite topics is the fact that each human person is unique and unrepeatable. Each particular person has a particular story to share. This video captures that with stunning eloquence.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marching for Life from home

Sacred Heart Radio's newest feature, The Catholic Beat, has the scoop on pro-life events in the Tri-State area this weekend to participate in the spirit of the March for Life from home. I highly encourage you to check out the events, if you are unable to be in Washington, DC for the annual March. It's a wonderful opportunity to unite with others in seeking a culture of life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Damon Owens coming to Ft. Laramie

If you're a reader from the northern areas of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, or if you are interested in a beautiful drive in the country, check out Damon Owen's upcoming talks in Ft. Laramie, Ohio.

A life put to a vote

Elizabeth Scalia wrote about this terrible situation, found here:

“So you mean to tell me that as a doctor, you are not recommending the transplant, and when her kidneys fail in six months to a year, you want me to let her die because she is mentally retarded? There is no other medical reason for her not to have this transplant other than she is MENTALLY RETARDED!”

“Yes. This is hard for me, you know.”

My eyes burn through his soul as if I could set him on fire right there. “Ok, so now what? This is not acceptable to me. Who do I talk to next?”

“I will take this back to the team. We meet once a month. I will tell them I do not recommend Amelia for a transplant because she is mentally retarded and we will vote.”

“And then who do I see?”

“Well, you can then take it the ethics committee but as a team we have the final say. Feel free to go somewhere else. But it won’t be done here.”

They both get up and leave the room.

According to the mother who wrote the story, this is not uncommon. Why is this not seen as a form of eugenics, forcing the "unfit" to die? Why is there not more outcry that a little girl would be denied a necessary organ because of brain damage? Who makes the determination of who is "fit" and who is not?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Patron for the year

Some families pick saints' names out of a hat every new year, asking the particular saint to intercede for them during the next 12 months. If you haven't encountered this tradition, Jennifer Fulwiler has created a "saint generator" on her website. Just visit here and begin your year with a special patron.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vocations stories

Speaking of vocations (of the priestly and religious variety), check out Cincinnati Vocations for some wonderful stories from those who are living or are discerning these particular ways of growing in holiness.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

John Paul II on love, vocation and marriage

From "Crossing the Threshold of Love" --

"Clearly, then, the fundamental problem of youth is profoundly personal. In life, youth is when we come to know ourselves. It is also a time of communion. Young people, whether boys or girls, know they must live for and with others, they know that their life has meaning to the extent that it becomes a free gift for others. Here is the origin of all vocations -- whether to priesthood or religious life, or to marriage and family. The call to marriage is also a vocation ,a gift from God. I will never forget a young man, an engineering student in Krakow, who everyone knew aspired with determination to holiness. This was his life plan. He knew he had been 'created for great things,' as Saint Stanislaus Kostka once expressed it. And at the same time, he had no doubt that his vocation was neither to priesthood nor to religious life. He knew he was called to remain the secular world. Technical work, the study of engineering, was his passion. He sought a companion for his life and sought her on his knees, in prayer. I will never forget the conversation in which, after a special day of retreat, he said to me: 'I think that this is the woman who should be my wife, that it is God who has given her to me.' It was almost as if he were following not only the voice of his own wishes but above all the voice of God Himself. He knew that all good things come from Him, and he made a good choice. I am speaking of Jerzy Ciesielski, who died in a tragic accident in the Sudan, where he had been invited to teach at the University. The cause for his beatification is under way.

It is this vocation to love that naturally allows us to draw close to the young. As a priest I realized this very early. I felt almost an inner call in this direction. It is necessary to prepare young people for marriage, it is necessary to teach them love. Love is not something that is learned, and yet there is nothing else as important to learn! As a young priest I learned to love human love. This has been one of the fundamental themes of my priesthood -- my ministry in the pulpit, in the confessional, and also in my writing. If one loves human love, there naturally arises the need to commit oneself completely to the service of 'fair love,' because love is fair, it is beautiful.

After all, young people are always searching for the beauty in love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give in to weakness, following models of behavior that can rightly be considered a 'scandal in the contemporary world' (and these are, unfortunately, widely diffused models), in the depths of their hearts they still desire a beautiful and pure love. This is as true as boys as it is of girls. Ultimately, they know that only God can give them this love. As a result, they are willing to follow Christ, without caring about the sacrifices this may entail.

As a young priest and pastor I came to this way of looking at young people and at youth, and it as remained constant all these years. It is an outlook which also allows me to meet young people wherever I go. Every parish priest in Rome knows that my visits to the parish must conclude with a meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the young people of the parish. And not only in Rome, but anywhere the Pope goes, he seeks out the young and the young seek him out. Actually, in truth, it is not the Pope who is being sought out at all. The one being sought out is Christ, who knows 'that which is in every man' (cf. Jn 2:25), especially in a young person, and who can give true answers in his questions! And even if they are demanding answers, the young are not afraid of them; more to the point, they even await them."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pretty vs. Hot

Pat Archbold has some thoughts about the death of pretty in today's culture:

Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different. When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.

As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/the-death-of-pretty#ixzz1izhMd210.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vocations Awareness Week, part 4

In the final reflection during this week dedicated to vocations awareness, I wanted to say a word of thanks. How in the world is anyone supposed to embrace a life given wholly and irrevocably to the Lord without witnesses of joyful, peaceful, grateful fiats to the particular vocation which God entrusted to them? Vocations awareness is provided most profoundly by the silent eloquence of others who are living their vocation.

- Of the priest who spends every morning in the wooden confessional, praying for his penitents and offering them God's mercy through the sacrament.

- Of the wife and mother who struggles patiently with her two-year-old at daily Mass, wanting to receive love so she can give it.

- Of the religious sister who comforts another, giving advice, quietly listening and promising prayers.

- Of the husband and father who teaches his children how to pray, blesses them every night and wraps his family in prayer, even when he'd rather put up his feet and doze behind the opened newspaper.

Thank you to all those who have embraced their vocation, who time and again recommit to living more fully what the Lord has asked. Thank you to all who, whether they have yet found a concrete state of life from which to do this, respond to the universal call to holiness and witness to God's love in the simplest ways, often without realizing they are doing so.

Thank you especially to the priests who bring us the Eucharist, mercy in confession, a witness of fatherhood and of the love of Christ who gave everything to and for His Church. A priest's vocation is at the service of all of us. But we stand in gratitude and humility for their gift.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vocations Awareness Week, part 3

In our continued conversation this week about the nature of vocations, it seems appropriate to consider the question of vocations promotion. A major problem today seems to be that of continuity. We often consider that we can live our lives any way we choose and then miraculously be struck by a heretofore everlasting spirit of selflessness and generosity, which will result in our embracing a vocation and properly living our vocation for the rest of our lives.

It's not quite the case.

In "Familiaris Consortio," John Paul II said that we need to have remote, proximate and immediate marriage preparation. Proper marriage preparation cannot be squeezed into six brief months. Rather, it begins at birth. The same would be true of a vocation to priesthood and the religious life. If this is the case, then rather than approach the topic of preparation for one vocation or another on two different planes, perhaps we should approach them like a "Y." The same formation continues through childhood and adolescence and eventually branches into one particular preparation or another.

If our specific vocation springs from our universal vocation to love -- which we receive upon our first moment of existence -- then our specific vocation preparation should begin from Day 1 as well. This preparation is always a training in love. It is further specified as we discern, realize and receive the way in which God calls us to love.

How can we begin from Day 1?

• Awareness of being a child of God

• Desires as a prayer (hungry, tired, etc.)

• Receiving, not grasping

• Love = willing the good of the other

• Modesty = body is good, so we treat it as a treasure

• Priests/religious as a sign of heaven

• Marriage as a sign of God’s love

• Praying for priests/consecrated/married people

• Sexuality as a precious gift

• Language of the body

• Beauty = reflection of God’s love

• Prayer as communication with God in which God shares His life with us and leads us on a path to Him in heaven.

• Crucifix as a reminder of real love

• Suffering – “offer it up” as fertilizer for seeds planted by God.

If we want to pray for vocations -- which is a very good thing to do! -- we musn't sit back and wait for the Fairy Vocations Godmother to wave a magic wand and turn random people into faith-loving, Gospel-sharing, God's love-reflecting priests, religious and married couples. Rather, the pray for vocations must accompany a commitment to assisting others in receiving their call from God from the first moment of life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Need a little encouragement?

Then check out the Catholic Campus Ministry program at Southeast Missouri State University's top 12 moments of 2011. Goodness, they've been busy! It's well worth a few minutes to read how active the Holy Spirit has been on their campus. God bless their campus minister, Kristen, for so beautifully serving her students.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vocations Awareness Week, part 2

Yesterday I said a few words about the confusion of the definition of "vocation" and that we rarely hear the word ascribed to those called to marriage. Today I'd like to continue the topic in light of this Vocations Awareness Week by looking at how we define vocation.

We were created in and through love for love. Our body is called to love and we return this gift by giving a total gift of self in love. There are two ways of irrevocably giving self – marriage and consecrated life.
John Paul II summarized in Familiaris Consortio #11:

God created man in His own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love, He called him at the same time for love. God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.[…] Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy. Either one is, in its own proper form, an actuation of the most profound truth of man, of his being "created in the image of God."

Our whole life should be a training to love – in heaven we will give/receive love eternally. Our vocation is the particular way in which God calls us to learn to love Him. A vocation, therefore, isn't something we grasp for or determine ourselves. It requires listening, patience, discerning in prayer so we can receive all that the Lord has for us.

If our whole life is a training to love, and we do that in a guided way through a vocation, then we should be preparing for our vocation from Day 1. We aren't waiting for life to begin the moment we make vows, whether as priests, consecrated or married. We begin learning to love and are eventually called to further specify the way in which we love through our total and forever gift to God.

I once heard Matt Maher give some excellent advice: Don't make finding your vocation your God. He said we are often so intent on finding our vocation that we lose sight of the Vocation-Giver. Many singles place so much emphasis, focus and stress on their future vocation that rather than preparing themselves to receive God’s love and to love Him in return, they are training themselves (ironically) to be self-focused, to grasp instead of to receive.

When we pray for vocations, we need to pray for openness in discernment, for the ability to hear God clearly, for the conviction to act upon the call He gives. Once again, this is a thought often reserved for those called to priesthood and religious life. Yet, those preparing for or discerning marriage also need to receive the call in patience, trust, openness, surrender and discernment. If this is the beginning for both vocations, both states of life can blossom more fully in the soil of God's love.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vocations Awareness Week

It's Vocations Awareness Week, and this affords me an opportunity to let you in on a pet peeve of mine. Actually, "pet peeve" makes it seem smaller than it actually is (or perhaps that just underscores the fact that it is a "pet peeve"). Nearly every time someone refers to the word, "vocation" it is used as a synonym for the priesthood or religious life.

Once when in Rome, a priest asked me, "So, do you have a vocation?"
And I looked at him and said, "Yes, I do. I'm just not sure what it is yet."

He seemed a bit taken aback. And now a couple of years later the second priest witnessing that interaction will be witnessing my wedding vows in a few months.

On another occasion, I was speaking with a fellow parishioner who was asking about my family. He inquired about one of my brothers who had just gotten married a month or two before. But then he puzzled me by asking, "With all of those brothers, do you think there's going to be a vocation in there somewhere?" It took all of the politeness I could muster to not quickly reply, "Yes, I already told you, there is one -- my brother just got married."

It's a tricky situation. On the one hand, we certainly want to affirm the beauty, dignity and gift of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Please, please, contact Fr. Kyle Schnippel, or look into a religious order. But we cannot promote religious vocations to the exclusion of realizing that marriage is also a vocation. It is also a path to holiness ... not a lifetime vacation of getting whatever one wants.

At times, when we pray at Mass for vocations, we fail to realize that marriage is also a vocation. It leaves the idea that if I am holy, I can be called to more holiness in priesthood or religious life. But if I am not holy, I will be banished to the second-tier of marriage, which will not lead me to holiness. It's simply for the mediocre rest of us.

We need a way to promote vocations as a way of discerning the gift that God wishes us to receive -- the gift of growing in holiness in a particular way that He calls us to.

I'd like to spend some time during this Vocations Awareness Week exploring ways in which we can seek and celebrate the goodness and beauty of both the vocation to celibacy and the vocation to marriage. They shouldn't be set in opposition like the Steelers and the Bengals, but should wonderfully complement one another and highlight different aspects of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quote book

…"indeed it compels us to start out afresh on a new stage of the journey on which we become proclaimers and heralds.…The Wise Men were in a sense the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but made them set out anew on the paths of the world.

"We need to ‘set out anew from Christ,’ with the zeal of Pentecost, with renewed enthusiasm. To set out from him above all in a daily commitment to holiness, with an attitude of prayer and of listening to his word. To set out from him in order to testify to his Love by living a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness before the world." -- Bl. John Paul II

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"On the Transformative Power of an Observed Love"

Msgr. Charles Pope shares an incredible story about the transforming power of love. I can't find any small piece to excerpt because it really must be read in its entirety. So, click on over to the Archdiocese of Washington blog for a good read.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Archbishop Dolan on the Today Show

I just love Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The world in which we live

It's a world where a mother can report:
My daughter Liliana, who was 8 when we were playing the board game, tossed off this remark as she stuck the tiny blue husband pin into her car: "When I grow up, I don't think I'll get married. I think I'll just get some sperm."
And it's a world where mother can then describe why she has now come to see that marriage is valuable and something she would love to see for her daughter.

But then it's a world where mother doesn't give enough weight to her ideas by wavering about what actually makes marriage a good thing.

How to defend the goodness of marriage as an objective form in which we are invited to participate through marriage vows? An individual couple receiving and actually living these vows can say volumes more to the world than a 500-word op-ed. So how are we living in this world in which we live?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Meeting mom 77 years later

When Minka Disbrow was raped and found herself pregnant in 1928, she reluctantly placed her precious baby daughter for adoption. For 77 years, she wondered about her little girl. So, it was quite a surprise for mother and daughter to meet for the first time at age 99 and 82, respectively.

Read the beautiful story here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ma'am, you should be a priest

This article originally appeared on Catholic Exchange in 2009.

Recently I was volunteering at a local pro-life event, when a former fellow parishioner approached me to say hello. She asked what I was doing these days. At my reply that I am studying for a master’s in theology, she grumbled, “It’s a shame you’re into that theology of the body, or else you could be priest.”

Shocked, I attempted to collect my composure being answering.

I have had a handful of Protestants ask if my goal was to be a minister upon graduation. Despite my insistence to the contrary, middle-aged Brenda, from whom I purchased my car a year ago, eagerly told her mother that I was going to be a minister. The mother ran out of the house, arms flailing in excitement at the revelation that I would be preaching the Good News in such a capacity. My protests were met with wagging fingers and amused expressions as they told me that “God surprises us sometimes.”

Yet I think my run-in at the pro-life event was my first encounter with a Catholic who thought that I should be a priest. She had no interest in my words that the priesthood isn’t about power, but about service. “Tell that to the priests,” she quipped.

My reminder that the Blessed Mother was not a priest but enjoyed an incredibly privileged role in the Church, was met with, “That’s true, but that was 2,000 years ago.”

She mentioned the necessity of equality, to which I replied that equality is not identical to sameness. She disagreed and added that the Church must offer “equal opportunity for Sacraments.”

It’s interesting how much we let our culture’s ideas color our views of the Church. Society espouses that there is no difference between male and female. They are the same.

The fact that only one can be a mother, and only one can be a father apparently makes no difference.

Ephesians 5, which is typically used to discuss the meaning of marriage, is just as valuable in the discussion of male priesthood. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Priests stand in the person of Christ, in relation to His Bride, the Church. How, then, could a woman be a priest? How could a woman, a potential mother, “marry” Mother Church?

The male-only priesthood isn’t an exclusive club of cigar-smoking men in black who chuckle at their ability to fool women into believing they can’t join. Rather, it’s an invitation to service – an opportunity for men to “wash the feet” and sacrifice their lives for their beloved Bride, the Church.

This doesn’t make women sighing, whimpering, fragile creatures whose sole role in life is to be catered to by men. Rather, only women can be mothers. Only they can nurture life in such a way that two or more heartbeats can palpitate in their bodies at the same time. Only a mother can give birth to a priest. One can say that without women there would be no priests.

It’s all a matter of seeing the beauty of God’s plan – the unity that can occur because of the diversity in creation. Each of us exists as a man or as a woman. Neither is deficient or lesser than the other. But the fact that each is created in God’s image and likeness does not mean that they exist as the same. Rather in the difference they reflect something of God. It is because they are different, yet equal, that they are able to love in a way that can include a total and unique gift of self, resulting in the possibility of new life. And this union points us to the love of God that exists in the Trinity.

There is a particularly poignant scene in the film Pope John Paul II: The Movie, in which the Holy Father is driving through a group of angry, protesting women, holding signs advocating women priests and abortion on demand. Jon Voight, playing John Paul II says, “How can I tell them how much God loves women? His intention from the beginning, equality, balance, perfection.”

I don’t think these words were taken as a direct quote from the late Holy Father, but I think they certainly capture the essence of his love for women, and therefore his frustration that so many failed to receive his tender words.

Anyone who disbelieves the dignity with which the Church treats women should pick up John Paul’s “Letter to Women” or “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.” There they will find his careful treatment of the “genius of women” and their unique call to love.

John Paul II’s enthusiasm is apparent, for example, in the conclusion of “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”: “During the Marian Year the Church desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the ‘mystery of woman’ and for every woman – for that which constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the ‘great works of God,’ which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her. After all, was it not in and through her that the greatest event in human history – the incarnation of God himself – was accomplished?” (31).

When viewed through this lens, as opposed to the culture’s, we can see that the Church’s understanding of priesthood is a loving way of preserving the unique dignity of both men and women. And in the end, this guarantees that we will be truly happy.

I’ll take that over being called “Father” any day.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

"We should not be surprised that she is spoken of as a thought by God before the world was made. When Whistler painted the picture of his mother, did he not have the image of her in his mind before he ever gathered his colors on his palette? If you could have preexisted your mother (not artistically, but really), would you not have made her the most perfect woman that ever lived -— one so beautiful she would have been the sweet envy of all women, and one so gentle and so merciful that all other mothers would have sought to imitate her virtues? Why, then, should we think that God would do otherwise? When Whistler was complimented on the portrait of his mother, he said, "You know how it is; one tries to make one's Mummy just as nice as he can." When God became Man, He too, I believe, would make His Mother as nice as He could -— and that would make her a perfect Mother." -- Archbishop Fulton Sheen in "The World's First Love"