Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beauty, infinity and babies

Marc Barnes, the 19 year old author of "Bad Catholic," is anything but a bad Catholic, and is more like an incredibly intelligent Catholic whose thinking finds the paradoxes, ironies and logic of all things Catholic (and, remember, "Catholic" means universal).  In one of his latest posts, Marc considers one of his favorite topics -- beauty -- and its relationships to .... well, I don't want to spoil the ending, so I'll give you a sneak peak and then  a strong recommendation to read every bit of lengthy piece.

But if Beauty, by its very nature, creates this experience of dissatisfaction in the human person, then it is reasonable to conclude that beauty is infinite in quality. 
 For dissatisfaction is the term given for “not-having”. We want to eat, but we don’t have food, and so we are dissatisfied. But at some point we will be full. At some point — after dinner, most likely — we will say, “no more food!” The experience of hunger, then, is finite. It can be sated, as can the experience of immaterial things, like anger. 
 But Beauty is never sated. No man in recorded history has ever said “no more Beauty, please.” No man, gazing on Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel or watching the sun sink below the Blue Ridge Mountains, has ever said, “This is far too much Beauty. Take it away, for I am full.” If a thing can never be conceived of reaching an end point, then as far as we are concerned, that thing is infinite. We can never think of too many numbers — it is an infinite progression. We can never think of too much Beauty. We can never have too much Beauty. This implies that it too, is infinite.

Here's the link to read it all.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"We want God!"

CNS photo (

Peggy Noonan has an incredible way with words.  The thoughts she has penned about Pope John Paul II are particularly beautiful and well-crafted.  Her Wall Street Journal piece, "We Want God" from many years ago, chronicles our late Holy Father's incredible pilgrimage to Poland in 1979, beginning with the Pentecost vigil.  Since today is Pentecost, I thought it relevant to resurrect her column.  In case you are unsure of the worth of clicking, let me assure you with this:

Why, the pope asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Perhaps it was because of how Poland had suffered for centuries, and through the 20th century had become "the land of a particularly responsible witness" to God. The people of Poland, he suggested, had been chosen for a great role, to understand, humbly but surely, that they were the repository of a special "witness of His cross and His resurrection." He asked then if the people of Poland accepted the obligations of such a role in history.
The crowd responded with thunder.
"We want God!" they shouted, together. "We want God!"
What a moment in modern history: We want God. From the mouths of modern men and women living in a modern atheistic dictatorship.
The pope was speaking on the Vigil of Pentecost, that moment in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit came down to Christ's apostles, who had been hiding in fear after his crucifixion, filling them with courage and joy. John Paul picked up this theme. What was the greatest of the works of God? Man. Who redeemed man? Christ. Therefore, he declared, "Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man! Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland." Those who oppose Christ, he said, still live within the Christian context of history.
Christ, the pope declared, was not only the past of Poland--he was "the future . . . our Polish future."
The massed crowd thundered its response. "We want God!" it roared.
That is what the communist apparatchiks watching the mass from the hotels that rimmed Victory Square heard. Perhaps at this point they understood that they had made a strategic mistake. Perhaps as John Paul spoke they heard the sound careen off the hard buildings that ringed the square; perhaps the echo sounded like a wall falling.

Read it all.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Catholic & Homosexual

This is a thought-provoking answer of the "role" of a person with same-sex attraction in the Church.  I think it's one worth pondering.                                      

Friday, May 25, 2012

Speaking for life

Having been involved in the pro-life movement for many, many years, I have heard a number of post-abortive women share their stories.  Still, each story is unique, even when sharing common elements, and each story is touching.  

Katrina Fernandez recently chose to share her story of two past abortions, in the hopes of convicting other women not to make the same mistake.

She writes with sobering honesty, clarity and boldness.

There is no consolation to be had for the mother that loses a child. She will grieve in her heart for the rest of her life. Abortion; however, not only robs a child of it’s life and a mother of it’s child, it also robs the mother of her grieving. She is not allowed to grieve because she cannot publicly claim the title Mother.
I was a coward in my youth, unable to take responsibility for my sexual actions and I am a coward today because I’ve failed to honestly speak out against abortion for so many years. I failed to shout from the highest building all the ugly truths for every ear to hear. I tried to help a friend once who was considering abortion but there only so much I could say without giving away my own horrible, awful secret. In the end, withholding that information was not enough to convict her otherwise and she had an abortion. I failed her with my silence.
I refuse to be a coward anymore. In these times, no one can afford to be a coward. The price of our silence is paid in the blood of millions of innocent aborted babies. This is a deplorable evil and it must end now.

Read the blog post here.

Thank you, Katrina, for your boldness, your courage and your generosity in sharing the work of Christ's mercy.   

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Law of the Gift

I could read Cardinal Dolan's speeches (or better yet, listen to them) all day.  Even his commencement address at the Catholic University of America was one that I enjoyed reading.  His theme was the "law of the gift," a topic that John Paul II expounds upon throughout Theology of the Body.  But it's all broken down quite succinctly in the Cardinal's speech, along with this thoughts on Catholic education.  Like this:

Is not a big part of our gladness and pride this happy morning of graduation a grateful recognition that this university does indeed exude such “ecclesial communion and solidarity?” That this university is both Catholic and American, flowing from the most noble ideals of truth and respect for human dignity that are at the heart of our Church and our country? That a university’s genuine greatness comes not from pursuing what is most chic, recent, or faddish, but what is most timeless, true, good, and beautiful in creation and creatures? That the true goal of a university is to prepare a student not only for a career but for fullness of life here and in eternity?

Read the whole speech here. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why does marriage matter?

Elizabeth Scalia does a wonderful job of articulating the difference between marriage and living with one's partner, a concept that is embraced frequently by young adults today.

The Incarnate Word did not have to come to us as a baby, raised within a family unit, with a mother and a father. He could have materialized fully-grown; or he could have come to Mary, alone — or, for that matter, to Joseph, alone. It matters that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in a commonality we recognize; not as a lofty king, but as a boy in a family, with a mom and a dad. Would he have bothered, if it didn’t matter?

See what I mean?  It's a lengthy piece, but so worth spending some time to complete.  Read it all here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's graduation time

This past Sunday I was honored to be the commencement speaker at the Alice of Montbar Home Education Association graduation.  Congratulations to the 32 high school and 8th grade graduates!

What follows is a large excerpt from my speech.  Although they were words addressed to those about to embark on new academic or career pursuits, they are concepts we are all called to ponder throughout our lives.

Yes, graduates, as you sit there and dream of the path the Lord has for you, you will not be able to begin to dream of the wonderful plans He has. This is an exciting time, a time of increased trust in the Lord’s providence, a time of joy as you look with thanksgiving at the work God has already done in your lives, at the fruit your parents’ love has already born. 
 But during this time of graduation, there is also need for a word of caution. Think for a moment of the most common question you have received during this senior year. 
 “What are you going to do?” 
 “Where will you go to school?” 
 “What will you study? 
 You’ve undoubtedly answered so many times that your response can become robotic or bored or short. As common as this question is, and as good as it may be to inquire as to another’s future plans, there is a danger. 
 You see, graduates, who you are is not what you do. Your identity is not whether or not you attend college, which college, receiving how much scholarship money, and what major you have chosen. 
Who you are at your core is not determined by your grades, your future salary, your achievements. The core of who you are has simply been given. 
A true gift is one that is freely given – not forced – not the thoughts of a four year old who says, “I’ll give you my green M&M if you give me your blue and red ones.” A true gift is given simply in order to love.  
And our identity – at its absolute core – is a gift from God. He loved you into existence. He didn’t have to create you. He wanted to create you. 
 Whether you become a doctor or a janitor, a stay at home mother or a priest, nothing can change the fact that your life is a pure gift from a God who loves. 
Walking to receive your diplomas in a few minutes, as monumental as it may be, is not going to change your identity. God has been working in your lives – perhaps in ways that are perceptible, perhaps in ways that are hidden. But He has been working and He will continue to work, to love, to form, to guide. 
 He has a plan for you – for your vocation, for your learning to love and be loved, for your faith. While your life is a gift from God, and your dignity is based on His goodness and love in creating you, we can also learn a line from Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” 
Your dignity as a son or daughter of God is revealed to the world in the way in which you interact with others, the way in which you serve, the way in which you love. And as you love and serve, you, in turn, may awaken in others an awareness of their own dignity. 
This is, I believe, a strong aspect of the New Evangelization – to witness to a culture that has forgotten the dignity of the human person, that each and every person was loved into existence – created and redeemed and longed for in heaven.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Hidden Motherhood"

A wonderful college friend penned her thoughts about Mother's Day and motherhood after three miscarriages.

I am touched by the thoughtfulness of my husband who always gets me flowers on Mother's Day and the occasional family member who will wish me a "Happy Mother's Day." My motherhood continues to remain hidden, but I am blessed to have carried those three precious babies. I may not have them with me physically, but they are my intercessors in heaven whom I call upon frequently and God willing I will meet them some day in eternity.

Read it all here.  Cassie beautifully articulates the simultaneous ache and joy of a hidden motherhood.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Radical Love"

A few days ago, I posted a new video in the "Where is God Calling?" series.  This time, we profiled the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey.  A friend passed along information about the original photography project by Toni Greaves, who spent time at the convent.  The pictures are beautiful, and I highly recommend taking this unique look into a cloistered convent.  The project is entitled, "Radical Love," which eloquently describes the sacrifice, joy and self-gift of this vocation.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy birthday, John Paul II!

Yes, our late Holy Father would have been 92 today.  Praise God for the gift of his life and papacy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Franciscan University cuts health insurance

So proud of my alma mater:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No subject suffices ... just watch this!

In a world that argues that marriage is a right, the sort of thing we just do because we can, we often forget the type of self-sacrificing love that marriage requests, involves and allows. But there are still some who know this and live this:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some modest proposals

Kristine Cranley has written some wonderful reflections on the topic of modesty on Aggie Catholics.  Ladies and gents, it's well worth the read.  Kristine has a very balanced position about the level of responsibility and respect we have toward one another.

 It is important to note that dressing modestly doesn’t mean looking sloppy or unfashionable or ‘frumpy’ (do people still use that word or am I dating myself?). When I was leaving the religious community I spent a number of years discerning with, the sisters there gave me strict orders: “not to dress so that people say ‘Oh yeah, she used to be a nun, that’s why she dresses that way’”. It can be a challenge to dress becomingly in this culture whose fashions often militate against modesty, but I have witnessed many women whose modest dress is fashionable and stunning, as befits their dignity as a women. They have also taught me to be much more creative with wonderful accessories like scarves, camis, sweaters, leggings, boots and the like. Along with the magic of transforming an immodest outfit into a modest one, they are also a great way to accentuate one’s unique personality. 

 Kristine and I were in graduate school together, so I can affirm that she practices what she preaches. Read what she has to say here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ordination Class 2012

I love that the USCCB publishes pictures, names and quotes of those to be ordained throughout the country each year.  I know nine of the men being ordained this year, and I am so excited for them and for our Church.  Take a look at the ordination class of 2012, and say a prayer for these young men as they prepare to serve the Church as priests.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hope remains

It's been awhile since a legitimate, original post.  Things have been busy, and I'm suffering a case of "writer's cramp."  Never a fun thing for a daily blogger.  I've tried to find stories that are of interest and things on which to comment.  There are plenty -- maybe too many -- but they aren't very uplifting.  We have the continuing debate following the HHS mandate, a president who has vocalized his support for same-sex "marriage," and the usual issues of the day.  At times, it's overwhelming to offer commentary on all of these topics.  There are so many!

So, rather than choose an issue for today to examine and critique, I'd like to share some good news.  

Our Kenosis teens are such a gift!  And I am quite confident that they, rooted in Christ, will transform the culture in yet-to-be-seen ways in the future.  After all, look at some of their projects and missions thus far:

- Beginning outreaches to teach Theology of the Body for Teens: Middle School Edition to 7-8th graders.

- Speaking about Theology of the Body in high school classes.

- Entering college seminary.

- Incorporating Theology of the Body concepts into college admissions essays.

- Creating videos to share Theology of the Body.

Some of these moments of evangelization occur one conversation, one mouse-click, one keyboard-strike at a time, but all together they are working to transform our culture of death into one of life, our civilization of use into one of love.  

So, amidst the sad stories of lost freedom, misunderstandings of love and life, we are blessed in the Tri-State area with dozens of high school students who desire to draw close to Christ and bring His love to the world.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy birthday, Archbishop Fulton Sheen!

It's Archbishop Fulton Sheen's birthday, and it seems a fitting time to watch once again this wonderful clip of his appearance on "What's My Line?" many years ago. This clip always puts a smile on the viewer's face.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quote book

"Prayer makes your heart bigger, until it is capable of containing the gift of God Himself." -- Bl. Mother Teresa

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Run for the Call

In an effort to support college seminarians with their educational fees, dozens of people are joining Run for the Call this weekend.  The Flying Pig 5K and 10K races are today, and the half and full marathons are tomorrow.  

Keep the runners in your prayers, and consider joining them ... on the sidelines to cheer and support their journey.  One of our Kenosis teens is running the full marathon on Sunday.  Congratulations to all of the runners for their dedication to Run for the Call.

For more information, visit their site here.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Glimpsing God's love through a pair of feet

Recently, a picture of a young man washing his bride's feet at their wedding reception has taken the Catholic Internet world by storm.  As a graduate of Franciscan University, this is not an uncommon practice at weddings.  In fact, I wrote about one washing of the feet moment at my friend's wedding three years ago (for Catholic Exchange).  Below is the article resurrected again.

No one seems to bat an eyelash at the often sensationalized garter fetching and tossing that occurs at most weddings. I've seen my Franciscan University friends terrified by the insistence of DJs in torturing unsuspecting bouquet-catchers. Yet at a friend's recent wedding, the cries of confusion and discomfort were uttered at a completely different practice -- the groom's washing of the bride's feet.

As the groom explained to the guests the significance of his desire to wash his bride’s feet, the fellow theology of the body enthusiasts in the room smiled with understanding. Yet an older man behind me insisted on cracking jokes about the event. “He should use ice water so she screams,” he said with a chuckle. “Well, she’s a priss,” he remarked about the bride, who I can assure you is anything but. “Hey, he forgot the soap,” he cracked in reference to the simple practice of pouring water over her feet, followed by a gentle kiss of the feet and drying with a towel.

The silence and reverence in the room was all that suppressed me from turning around to explain to the gentleman that his remarks were unwarranted and unwanted.

Later in the day a few of my fellow bridesmaids discussed the incident. We concluded that the negative comments were made out of discomfort. He may have never been presented with such an example of self-sacrificial love. Consequently he handled his proximity by joking in order to shield his eyes from the brightness.

One bridesmaid astutely noted that it was wonderful to see that although the couple had only been married a matter of hours, they were already serving as a countercultural witness to the world of Christ’s love for the Church. Countless couples who have been married for decades fail to see the significance of their marriage as an icon of God’s love to the world. Yet here was a newly married couple who understood the gravity of their vows and were able to serve as witnesses without even being aware of the situation.

Certainly they knew that by the groom washing his bride’s feet, some guests might have been privy to a new explanation of the love of service in marriage. Like most moments of our life, however, they were unaware at the time of the actual comments from the uncomfortable gentleman.

And so it will be for the rest of their marriage. And so it should be for your marriage – serving as a living icon to the world. Those who see you in church, or pass by you in aisle 10 of the grocery store, or who work with you, should be reminded by your physical presence, your wedding ring, your affection to one another, that God loves each of us so much that He gave totally, freely, faithfully and fruitfully in a gift of Himself to humanity.

Part of the meaning of the vows you uttered – perhaps 50 days ago or 50 years ago – was to live that witness of life and love every moment of your married life. Perhaps you will be unaware when individuals are affected by that witness, but certainly God will allow your love to be an example to friends and strangers alike. Those moments may come when you least expect them, but they will come.

This doesn’t leave those of us who are single off the hook. We have an obligation to pray for married couples to continue in God’s grace to be able to live as unique witnesses of the great love of God for His people.

It’s a tall order, and it can’t be done without God’s grace, a strong prayer life and a willingness to be rooted in Christ. We can all be part of that mission, though in different ways. Individually, we are all called to witness to God’s love, but there is a unique way in which married couples do this.

John Paul II always says it best: “The spousal relationship that unites the spouses, husband and wife, must – according to the author of Ephesians – help us to understand the love that unites the Christ with the Church, the reciprocal love of Christ and the Church in which the eternal divine plan of man’s salvation is realized” (TOB 90:2).

He continues, “[…] marriage corresponds to the vocation of Christians only when it mirrors the love that Christ, the Bridegroom, gives to the Church, his Bride, and which the Church (in likeness to the wife who is ‘subject,’ and thus completely given) seeks to give back to Christ in return.”

It’s amazing how such profound truths can be glimpsed through something so simple as washing feet.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The "yes" of celibacy

Chris Stefanick has an excellent article about the "yes" to family that priests say in their vow of celibacy.  Here's a piece:
The sacrifice of celibacy that our priests make requires being alone in many ways. But the most intimate experiences of life and death, usually only shared with close family members, are also shared with them. They are there at our deathbeds, straddling time and eternity with us. Even if someone hasn’t practiced the faith in years, a priest is often their final escort. They are there at our weddings, standing as close to the bride and groom as they are to one another, a sign of Christ in the sacrament of marriage. They are holding our babies with us at baptism when they become children of God. At our lowest moments, they are waiting to lift us up in the confessional. Before a surgery, when only your spouse might be there holding your hand, your priest is also there, anointing you. And in tragic moments at 2 a.m., they are on call. These men have sacrificed family to be part of everyone’s family.

Read it all here.  At the very least, the story at the beginning is worth clicking!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The laughter of the Pope

One year ago

Speaking of beatifications and canonizations, a year ago I was standing in the midst of a million people in St. Peter's Square, eyes glued to the Jumbo Tron to watch Papa John Paul II become, "Blessed."  It was certainly an adventure to manage to arrive in Rome, stand all night long in the chaotic "line" to enter the Square, and to be there when Pope Benedict XVI's declaration of the beatification was met with minutes and minutes of cheering, applause, smiles and tears.

It's definitely a gift to our Church to have the intercession of Bl. John Paul II.