Sunday, September 30, 2012

"The sinister side of love stories"

This is an excellent reflection!  College sophomore Makena Clawson articulates why women's proclivity to emotionally use men is wrong, why it's selfish, and why it trains us to be unsatisfied.  

So you saw him, his dreamy eyes and gorgeous hair and knew that he was preparing a date for his girl. How did you feel? Bitter that some woman out there had her prince while you are still waiting? Or did you dream that you would come home and he would prepare the date for you, the first of many in your happily ever after?
Wait, did you even know his name? Realize that he has a story all his own? Take a second to think that he is infinitely loved by his Creator? Well … no. Instead the fantasy revolved around you. How he could please you, make you feel loved and wanted.
Is this any different from the way pornography works?

Be sure to read it all here. I hope Makena keeps writing. She certainly has a gift for challenging all of us to love more.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy feast day!

It's a feast day worth celebrating ... three times over!

St. Michael -- the one who is always at work protecting us in our numerous spiritual battles.  

St. Gabriel -- the bearer of good news -- the Incarnation! -- and the one to whom we can turn in our desire for good communication (whether personal or on a mass media level).

St. Raphael -- known for leading singles to their future spouse and interceding for healing.

The three archangels that we celebrate today aren't just fluffy angels floating with their cherubic wings.  They are warriors for each of us in  various aspects of our lives, with the goal of assisting us all on our journey to heaven.

Happy feast!  (And I don't think it's coincidental for the feasting department, that today is also National Coffee Day.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Archbishop Fulton Sheen -- the Uncle

This is an interesting interview with Archbishop Fulton Sheen's niece. She reminisces about personal stories about her uncle, whose cause for canonization is underway.
CWR: What was his personality like? He referred to himself as a serious man.
Cunningham: He was serious, but he also had a terrific sense of humor, and managed to see the humor in things. He knew how to have a belly laugh. In fact, two of his friends were comedians Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle. When my uncle visited California, they’d arrange to get together.
Two of his best friends were Bishop Toolen of Mobile, Alabama, and his brother, who was also a priest. They’d always play gags on one another. On Bishop Toolen’s birthday, for example, my uncle sent him a St. Bernard dog with a keg around his neck.
At home, he loved to introduce people to his dog Chumley. I don’t remember the breed, but it was a big dog. He trained Chumley himself. He’d say, “Come here, Chumley, and sit. It’s Lent, time to sacrifice.” And he’d balance a piece of meat on the dog’s nose. The dog wouldn’t move until he said, “Now, it’s Easter.” And the dog would eat the meat.
He also taught Chumley to pray: he’d put his paws together and growl.

The entire article is available here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Humans are useless"

The ever-creative Marc Barnes has posted one of those reflections that will likely have you nodding your head, exclaiming surprise and thinking deeply:
To appreciate a thing as beautiful is to appreciate it as useless, not because it is trash, but because it is real treasure. That which is beautiful is good in and of itself. We do not appreciate the beautiful in regards to how we can use it, change it, or by what it can do for us. We appreciate the beautiful for being, for presenting itself to our intellect — for existing.

Think of a few things which most human beings would agree to crown with the predicate “beautiful”. The Pieta, Mozart’s Requiem, the cool morning sun spilling through summer leaves, a fiery New England autumn, stained glass: What could we answer the man who asks us for the use of these things? We couldn’t, besides to babble an incoherent, self-contradicting set of phrases: “Its use is to be. It is for its own existence. It is here to be beautiful.” We may — in an attempt to make ourselves at least partially rational beings — say that we do use these things: We use them to experience the peace and delight they give to us. But this is only to say we experience beautiful things in order to have an experience of beauty. There is no outside end.

It's quite good and can be found in its entirety here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fashion designer ... and modesty?

This story is a little old now, but it's still worth sharing.  A British fashion designer is giving lessons on dressing modestly and stylishly.  After her twin brother, whose faith was inspiring to her, passed away in his twenties a few years ago, she questioned the value of her own work.  Now she wants to leave something worthwhile with the next generation.  

Of young people she said,

“I want to have them embrace their femininity by modest and attractive dress and in doing so fulfil their God-given potential. It’s a voluntary project so I am juggling it around other commitments but I will give as much time as I am able.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"The Rich Gift of Love" -- Part III

The third installment of Sr. Jane Dominic, OP's series on Theology of the Body is now available: "Family -- The Kind You Come From and the Kind You Dream Of, Part I."

I've watched the first two lectures and have greatly enjoyed them.  It's a wonderful introduction for those who are new to the topic, and an excellent refresher/opportunity to grow deeper for those who have studied John Paul II's work in the past.  

The Hookup Culture: a commentary by Fr. Barron

Monday, September 24, 2012

Problematic high school dance? Cancel it ...

A public high school in Florida did just that. Citing lack of adult supervision, dress code violations and inappropriate dancing as their reasons, the Lincoln Park Academy administration decided to cancel the December homecoming dance. Watch the video at the link below for more information:

High school students, officials at odds over homecoming cancellation | Education - WPBF Home

The school is receiving a great deal of criticism. Parents are upset that their children no longer have a "reward" to look forward to, seniors are crushed that their final homecoming has disappeared, other students are furious that their administration is not "with the program." Being upset is understandable. It's a disappointment to many, I'm sure.

But what no one wants to discuss is the disappointment of students, teachers, administration and parents at high schools all across the country at the dances that do occur. Public high school, Catholic high school, private high school .... This past year, we had a Kenosis meeting centered on the topic of prom. Our students were frustrated -- by the dress, by the dancing, by the music, by the disrespect. Many of them have taken matters into their own hands. They have shopped for modest dresses. They have taught dance lessons so that students will know how to do something other than bump and grind. They have invited other students to sign a "prom promise" to be respectful. They have challenged their friends who are not dressing or behaving in a way that respects themselves or others.

But even with these grassroots efforts, often, not much changes. With the radicality of the Lincoln Park Academy decision, a message is truly being sent.

Instead of saying: "Don't wear a dress that barely touches your thigh, has cut-outs, no back and is low cut ... but you can wear a dress that goes to your mid-thigh, has a couple of cut-outs, almost no back and shows the top of your chest ..."

Instead of saying, "Please don't bump and grind. You are young ladies and gentleman and should know how to act ... but we are going to play music that lends itself to bumping and grinding, and we are going to allow you to stand so close together on the dance floor that we won't know if you are bumping and grinding or not ..."

Instead of saying, "We want you to be safe, have fun and have prom because it's your right to have a school dance ..."

This school is saying (in effect), "We aren't going to put up with mediocrity. We aren't going to put our students in compromising positions. We aren't going to settle for these clothes, these songs, these dance moves because 'everyone is doing them.' We just aren't having the dance."

It sends a message loud and clear. It's good that it's controversial, because it just might be the radicality that leads people to accept an alternative.

And what would an alternative be?

Well, I've considered a few:
  • Change the music.  Even if it's the "edited" version, dancing to songs that talk about body parts, sexual activities and degrading attitudes toward the opposite sex are not likely to encourage dignified dance moves.  So, what about Oldies, swing dancing, square dancing ... there are many genres out there, many of which don't come to mind at the words, "School dance."  But just because it's not the first song to play on the radio or be listed on the top downloads on iTunes doesn't mean teens wouldn't enjoy dancing to it.

  • Make a theme.  Have a square dance or a 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s dance.  It's not traditional for a homecoming or prom, but who says it can't be done?  This would impact the music and the dress code.  (For good measure, see how many decades -- even centuries! -- back you can go.)
  • Mandate a drastic dress code.  The dresses can't just be about length and cleavage.  There's tightness, other revealing areas, cut-outs, sheerness, etc.  Is it difficult to find a modest dress?  Certainly.  But it's not impossible.  Some dresses can be altered as well.  When I was wedding dress shopping, I was impressed to see a high school girl trying on her prom dress.  It was long and poofy, so there weren't length and tightness issues.  But she asked the seamstress to please sew in a path of material where the dress dipped down a bit to reveal cleavage.  I don't know how many girls think to ask for these alterations, but it's important to know they can be done.  The point here is not to pick random standards for the sake of having standards, but to invite young women to see that they are worth more, that they are called to more, and that they are capable of more.  (More in this case not only referring to cloth, but to respect, dignity and other wonderful attitudes and virtues that they desire.)
  • Teach students about dignity, modesty, chastity and other related topics throughout the school year ... not just during the week before the prom. With only a few days before the dance, the dresses have been bought, plans have been made, and behavioral problems have been set.  I'm not discounting conversion and change of heart, but we need to start early and often to be heard in our MTV culture.  

Many teachers, parents and students question the way dignity is upheld at high school dances.  Many administrators feel the pressure of providing fun opportunities for students.  But school dances and the dignity of the human person do not have to be at odds.  We just might have to be a bit creative -- and even radical -- to see how they can work together.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Ma'am, you should be a priest"

It's my latest on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's "Being Catholic" blog.  Yes, it's been posted on this blog before, but I like to dust it off every now and again.

A few years ago I was volunteering at a local pro-life event, when a Catholic acquaintance 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 a 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 few years 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.

You can find it here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The witness of Chris and Angela Faddis

I requested prayers a couple of days ago for Angela Faddis, a 32-year-old woman in the final stages of colon cancer.  Just this morning her husband Chris announced that she has passed away.

If you are not familiar with the witness of Angela and Chris Faddis' trust and understanding of suffering, this brief interview will introduce you to their story.

Does chastity really need God?

It was a question I heard frequently -- alarmingly from junior high and high school students -- when I worked for two years as a full time chastity educator.  So many wanted to know if they could go it alone.  If it's merely abstinence that one is describing, then certainly some amount of willpower is liable to accomplish the task.  

But if one desires chastity -- a virtue, a "yes," a constant growth in authentic love and self-gift and self-mastery, then without receiving from and relying on God, it's an impossible task.

Fr. James Brent, OP, the Director of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity (which itself deserves a separate post), recently wrote about the role of the Holy Spirit and surrender in the life of chastity.

 The Spirit lives in us and gradually plunges us more and more into God. The Spirit opens our eyes to Christ and makes us to trust him more and more. The Spirit turns our attention to God the Father and makes us realize more and more how the Father loves us and knows our needs and cares for us. The Holy Spirit is a mighty wind, a blazing fire, a radiating light. And this Holy Spirit seeks to change us down to the very roots of our being.

It's a good read, and is available here.

"The Rich Gift of Love," Part II

Picture from 
The second video in Sr. Jane Dominic, OP's new series is now available here.  The Newman Connection has also released a list of the topics of the upcoming videos

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Prayer request

Many are probably already aware of the story of Angela Faddis -- a devout Catholic 31 year old mother of two young children who is dying of Stage IV colon cancer. On the "Support Angela Faddis" facebook page, her husband, Chris, posted this picture with the words:

As if I could keep you longer, I placed this ring back on your finger today - it had fallen off a few times.

Oh that this ring could keep you here longer. It is a mark of our commitment, it is my promise to love you with my whole heart, and yet there is a love greater than mine that will take you soon. How could this mere piece of gold compare to the love of God which loves you completely, wholly, and perfectly?

It cannot, so I will hold your hand a little while longer, I will keep putting this ring back on your finger. But when the time comes and he asks you for your hand, you can go. Go to that perfect love which makes all things new. Go and be whole again. For now, till death do we part.

Please keep the Faddis family in your prayers today.

Writing contest -- Love and Fidelity Network

Are you a college or graduate student or a recent graduate?***  Do you believe in upholding the institution of marriage, seek to offer an alternative voice to the popular campus hook-up culture, and recognize the unique role of the family within society? Do you enjoy writing about matters of marriage, family, or sexual integrity? We invite you to enter our Blog article contest! The winners will receive the following:
First place – $150
Second place – $100
Third place – $50
The top articles will also be featured on the Love and Fidelity Network’s blog, State of Affairs, and acknowledged at our 5th Intercollegiate Conference on Sexuality, Integrity and the University in November. Entries will be evaluated by the LFN staff as well as Ryan Anderson, editor of Public Discourse, based on their creative and compelling approach to a question or topic, ability to articulate a clear and coherent point in a limited space, potential to generate discussion, and overall quality of writing. Entries should be between 300 and 500 words in length.

Get the details here.

*** Recent graduates include those who have completed undergraduate studies in the last three years, and graduate studies in the last two.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The difference

This post on FoxNews had a bit of a condescending tone, which made me not the biggest of fans.  Yet, one story shared by author Steven Crowder painted an all-too true picture of today that seems worth sharing.  Steven and his new bride waited until their wedding night to give themselves sexually.  In the post, Steven talks about how hostile the culture is to this approach, yet how worthwhile it is.  

But he also shares:

I’d like to tell you a story of our morning after, however. One that transpired into one of the most glaring epiphanies I’d ever had.
As my wife (again, still not used to that) and I ate breakfast at a local inn, we discussed how excited we were to start the rest of our lives together, how scary it was that everything was now so different. At the same time, we overheard the table next to us discussing their very own wedding from the night prior. What a coincidence!
“The thing is, nothing’s really changed,” the bride said.
Puzzled, my wife asked, “Did you get married last night too? So did we!”
“Congratulations!” the other dame said. “Yeah we did, just last night.”
“Where’s the groom?” my wife innocently… scratch that, naively asked.
“Oh, he’s sleeping. There was no way he was coming out with me this morning!” She paused and smirked. “Let’s just say that he’s got a lingering headache from a really good time last night.”

Read more.

This young man's experience of two jarringly different pictures of a brand new marriage paints the scene in such a way that only sad eyes and a sigh can really be the response. And the reality is that most people will never see the Steven Crowder side of the picture. The contrast is certainly alive and well in the world, but many are either too preoccupied or stunned or defensive to see it.  And many others may not have the opportunity to sit so close to a couple who did things the "odd" way -- waiting until marriage for sex, living together and combining lives in the way that only a vow fully grants permission to unfold.  

Those who are dating chastely, living engagement in a spirit of preparation for a Sacrament (not a party), and those who are living single life with a trust in God's plan, are witnessing to the world without perhaps ever realizing it.  Even the simplest holding of hands, gentle conversation, choice of clothing or act of chivalry can speak volumes to a good friend or a complete stranger.  And the world needs this witness.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What we can learn from a contraception ad

Brad Bursa has some great thoughts on the topic on his latest post for the "Being Catholic" blog.  
The allusions are obvious.  Taking the pill everyday creates some sense of fear-driven bondage – eg. “If I mess up and forget one day, I will get pregnant.” Though it pins itself up as the savior, I’m not so convinced by Nuvaring’s scheme.  I see it presenting something like an invisible fence to a dog, one who is elated to no longer be chained around the tree – even though he can travel the same limited amount of space with the fence as with the chain.  He just can’t see the chain anymore.  By this point, the dog’s idea of freedom has been entirely reduced. 
Read it all here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ever wonder why Christian movies seem kind of dull?

Br. Gabriel Torretta, OP -- always an excellent writer -- pens his thoughts to the complicated question.  As someone who has asked the question quite frequently, I'm glad to read this perspective and give more consideration to how Catholic art can more fully be ... art. 

If this is the dynamic of art—reaching into reality, being changed by it, and revealing that transformative truth to others—then we can understand why books, films, or paintings that only serve as a vehicle for spreading an idea fail as art. Formally speaking, they are more akin to propaganda, even if they use the material of art. Writing a song because I want more people to buy my brand of toothpaste may be a valuable commercial move, but it is not art. Making a movie because I want more people to acknowledge St. Augustine as the greatest doctor of the Latin Church may be laudable catechesis, but it won’t turn into art.

Read it all on the Dominicana Blog.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Blessing to One Another

An exhibit about "Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People" is returning to Xavier University.  It looks wonderful!  Apparently it was in Cincinnati when I was away at college, in DC when I was back in Cincinnati, and now in Cincinnati when I've returned to DC.  Funny how that happens.  Anyway, I'm hoping for a Christmas-time visit before the exhibit departs for Europe.  

If you're in the Cincinnati area, check out the details here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Exaltation of the Cross

September 14 is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and I can't help but reflect on how appropriate a few of today's happenings are.

First, as I posted yesterday, Amy O'Rourke is beautifully bringing faith, hope and love to the world following her police officer's husband's tragic death on Sunday evening.  Today was Officer Patrick O'Rourke's funeral Mass.  Amy addressed the hundreds in attendance, and once again took the opportunity to celebrate the gift of faith, marriage and family:  

Amy O'Rourke is an incredible, tear-jerking witness to the conviction of the hope of the cross.

Secondly, today marks the beginning of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Lebanon.  It is a dangerous one.  Already, a KFC was burned in the country, with protesters shouting anti-Pope slogans.  One person was killed.  The Holy Father is a brave witness to the light of faith, drawing his strength from Christ.

Thirdly, today is the birthday of Kenosis: Teen Disciples of Love and Life.  It's been only two years since our first meeting with a dozen teens at Ruah Woods.  Now, dozens have become involved and are sharing their conviction of God's love and self-gift with others.  

So, we continue to exalt our Savior who died for us on the cross, asking for the courage to embrace the cross with Him, and to know how to receive His love more every day.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An incredible testament to faith, marriage and trust in God

There aren't really words to describe the beauty of Amy O'Rourke's testimony the day after her police officer husband was killed in the line of duty.  Just watch: 

  Officer Patrick O'Rourke's wife speaks with 7 Action News about her husband Keep the family in your prayers. Officer O'Rourke's funeral is tomorrow, which is also the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Quite fitting.

It's here! "The Rich Gift of Love"

I've written before about my anticipation of Sr. Jane Dominic, OP's new endeavor -- a multi-part video lecture series about the gift of self and Theology of the Body for "Newman Connection."  Well, Part I is available.  If you go here, you can watch the video.  The rest of the series will be released throughout the year.

*** Update: I just finished watching the first lecture.  It's wonderful!  I'm looking forward to the rest.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quote book

"To have divine love as its inner form, a woman's life must be a Eucharistic life.  Only in daily, confidential relationship with the Lord in the tabernacle can one forget self, become free of all one's own wishes and pretentions, and have a heart open to all the needs and wants of others." -- St. Edith Stein

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A different sort of gift

I found a link on Jennifer Fulwiler's blog to a post she highly recommended about a mother who just learned of her daughter's profound hearing loss.  Little did I know when I clicked on it that the mother is a friend from college pro-life work.  

I suppose that makes it all the more personal to me, but I still must recommend this brief reflection on the news, as well as the reaction of Anne's older daughter, who was also diagnosed with profound hearing loss when she was 14 months old.

Gianna was the person I wanted to share the news with the most; I knew the only reaction I would get from her would be unmitigated joy. She doesn't see herself as having a disability. Her Deafness is a fact to her in the same way she would say, "I am a girl. I am in kindergarten." It is not a negative. And it's with that spirit that I'd like to state, "Pia Catherine is a girl. She is 7 weeks old. She is Deaf."

Read it all here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An interview with Jason Evert

Nearly two years ago, Jason Evert arrived in Cincinnati for a quick visit -- packing in nine talks in three days.  All but two of the talks were mandatory all-school assemblies.  Even in the voluntary audiences, seats were packed, as hundreds (500 people at one of the evening events) strained to hear every word.

The topic?  Chastity.
A packed house at the Ruah Woods- sponsored event in 2010.

The audience?  Primarily teenagers.

When Brandon Vogt opened this year's list of 100 Catholic Speakers for bloggers to choose a speaker to research or interview or otherwise introduce to the blogosphere, I didn't hesitate to choose Jason Evert.

After earning an undergraduate and graduate degree at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Jason Evert became a staff apologist for Catholic Answers.  His chastity speaking ministry has taken him across the world, speaking to more than 100,000 people each year, often times along with his wife Crystalina.

The attractiveness of Jason and Crystalina's message is not simply the content of their words ... it is their authenticity.  The passion, creativity, humility, and genuineness of their witness and work are not based on their sheer willpower, but on their receptivity to what the Lord has given.

For "Support a Catholic Speaker Month," Jason Evert graciously accepted my request for a written interview to learn more about how he approaches his role as a Catholic speaker.

What first led you to public speaking ... and specifically in the realm of chastity?

Jason: I began helping out with youth group retreats when I was in high school. By the time I was in college, I began leading the retreats for a youth group near my campus while also volunteering as a sidewalk counselor. These experiences gave me a deep understanding of what teens are going through in their relationships, families, etc. Many of the teens on the retreats were wrestling with their faith because of sexual issues, and just about every one of the young women who entered the abortion clinic was there because of the absence of chastity in her life. Because of all the hurt I was seeing, I wanted to reach out to the teens, in order to show them how to find the real love they deserve. When I would talk to women who were 30 minutes away from getting an abortion, all I could think of was "Why couldn't I have met this girl six months ago, or back when she was in 7th grade? If I had talked to her then about the benefits of chastity, maybe she wouldn't be in this difficult situation today."

After I graduated from Franciscan University, Catholic Answers hired me to do apologetics work in 1998. While explaining and defending the faith, the beatitude “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” often came to mind. This verse from Scripture tells us that those who are not pure of heart will have a difficult time seeing God in this life, or in the next. As I began to direct more of my energy to bringing the message of purity to teenagers, I found that it was a terrific way to evangelize them. You take the subject that’s most on their minds (sex), and wed it to their ultimate end (God) by teaching them the truth about both.

What is the greatest challenge of being a Catholic speaker?  What is the greatest gift?

Jason: The greatest challenge isn't having to deal with those who oppose the message of purity. Rather, I think the greater challenge is attempting to be humble when people constantly thank you and praise you for the work you're doing. I have more than 100 convents of nuns praying for my ministry, and when I'm the one who receives all the applause for my work, I need to remind myself that the contemplatives who intercede for me are the ones who deserve the praise. I receive the applause in this world, but they'll receive it in the next!

In terms of the greatest gift, it has to be the joy of witnessing young people change their lives. Following the presentations, I keep in touch with many of the teens through email. My favorite ones are when the students write to me years after the assembly. I love hearing about how their future relationships are so much better than the old ones.

Here are a few examples of stories that have brought me tremendous joy:

A stripper watched the chastity DVD of our talk, and quit her job . .
.  after making a visit to the strip club and showing it to the other women. She now gives pro-life talks.

A few years after having been found innocent when he lied in court, a rapist turned himself in after watching our chastity presentation on DVD.

A teen in Michigan told me she had planned to kill herself the night of my presentation. Her suicide note was written, her funeral clothes were laid out on her bed, and the pills were sitting on her nightstand. However, after the chastity talk, she realized there was hope for her, and she chose life.

A teenage couple emailed me the picture of the baby they were pregnant with during my assembly. They said that they probably would have aborted her if they didn’t hear the talk.

A 17-year-old girl was invalidly married to a 24-year-old abusive drug addict. After the presentation, I met with her and encouraged her to drop him, return to her family, and pursue her dreams of becoming a Broadway dancer. She emailed me years later, saying that she’s a junior at a university in New York city, and plans to send me tickets to her first show. She added that she’s now dating a great Catholic guy who treats her like a queen.

I never cease to be amazed at what the power of a hundred convents of praying nuns can do!

Did your approach, content or method in presenting chastity change during your stages of engagement, marriage and becoming a father?

Jason: Some people wondered if my chastity presentation would still be effective after I was married with children. Thankfully, I've come to realize that the teens are still engaged by the message and are even better able to see the fruit that comes from practicing chastity prior to marriage. Furthermore, I'm now in more of a position to explain the necessity of the same virtue within marriage.

What keeps you from burning out?

Jason: When I was single, I would sometimes travel and speak up to 28 days per month. But now that I'm married with a family, we've made some guidelines to keep the ministry in check. For example, my wife and I have worked out a plan where I only travel 9 days a month, and only two nights at a time. We also restrict my international trips to 3-4 visits per year. Also, I only give about three or four talks each summer. So, for 22 days of the month during the school year and about
28 days of the month during the summer, I'm home with my wife, helping with the kids. My vocation comes before my ministry, or neither will last. Setting those boundaries and sticking to my prayer life has helped me from getting burnt out. As one priest taught me, "The most important word you need to learn in order to become an effective apostle is 'no.'"

 It's no secret that many chastity speakers and educators throughout the country rely on your books, resources, analogies and stories for their own presentations. But how do you continue to grow as a Catholic speaker?

Jason: Much of my content consists of encounters I've had with teens around the world. As I experience new stories, I try to incorporate them into my presentations. Also, I try to keep up to date in terms of my statistics, research, and theology by staying in tune with the latest findings and insights from the CDC, sociological journals, theologians, etc. But in the end, my goal is for my speeches to be not only the result of my personal study, but most of all, my contemplation. My hope is that God would speak to my heart, and that from that fullness, I can speak to the hearts of the teens.

If you could summarize the goal of your ministry in one sentence, what would it be?

Jason: To help people to become pure in heart, so that they will see God in this life and in the next.

 Any new projects you're excited about?

Jason: My wife just recently launched a website called that ministers to women who feel broken and are longing to feel whole again. Also, she and I wrote a book called "How to find your soulmate without losing your soul" and people can get copies for only $2 a piece at The point of the steep discount is to encourage people use the book as a low-cost evangelization tool. For example, the woman cutting my hair two days ago opened up to me that God saved her from a life of prostitution and prison, and that she now ministers to girls in the same situation. I offered her copies of the book, and she asked for more than a dozen to share with the young women!


If you are unfamiliar with Jason Evert's speaking gifts and articulation of the virtue of chastity, then it is certainly worth your time to watch a few clips of his work.

The beginning of "Romance Without Regret" (though an older version, before Jason and Crystalina were married):

A clip from the television program, "The Pure Life" about modesty:

Jason Evert tackling the question of pornography:

So, how can one learn more about bringing Jason Evert to deliver the beautiful message of chastity to local youth?  For starters, visit Jason and Crystalina's website, a resource packed with insightful Q&A, saint quotes, encouragement, statistics, downloadable talks, and information about Jason's books and recorded programs.  

Next, call Catholic Answers at 619-387-7200 for booking.

In closing, I'd like to add that Jason seems to me a model for Catholic speakers. He has a true gift for articulating the beauty and goodness of the Church's teaching. And this gift is grounded in a humility, prayerfulness, and authenticity that says, "Jesus is the one you are looking for, and He is the one who is looking for you too."

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Cosmo Girl and the Cardinal

I came across this piece by Dawn Eden about Helen Gurley Brown, the woman who revolutionized "Cosmo."  Although I found the entire article a good read, I would have to highlight the portion that most struck me -- an encounter that the late Mrs. Brown had with now-Cardinal Dolan.

Although she attended Protestant church services during her youth, Helen Gurley Brown as an adult dismissed religious faith. She was fond of saying that “good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere.” All the more surprising, then, that two years before the end of her life, she was moved to donate $1 million of her bad-girl fortune to a heavenly cause. Instead of writing yet another check to NARAL, she opted to give the seven-figure sum to Cardinal Hayes High School, a Catholic school for boys in the Bronx.
For Brown, the gift led to an invitation that must have been unusual even for a celebrity used to high-ticket events: an opportunity to attend a special Mass and ceremony at Cardinal Hayes in honor of another donor, Regis Philbin. And so it was that on an autumn morning in 2010, the 88-year-old widow, who by then required the support of a cane, was drawn into a most unexpected waltz.

To learn what happened, read the rest.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quote book

"'Purity of heart' is gained by the one who knows how to be consistently demanding from his 'heart'" from his 'heart' and from his 'body.'" -- Blessed John Paul II

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Being more than Doing

At the heart of Theology of the Body, I think, is the truth that our identity and dignity and unrepeatability is in our being, not in our doing.  It's a challenging thought and one that we continue to learn in new ways over and over again.  Cardinal Dolan recently tackled the topic:

Once, as a parish priest, I had the heart-wrenching duty of sitting with a family sobbing over their husband and dad’s suicide.  This young father had sunk into a deep depression six-months previously when he had lost his job.
He had left a note, somberly writing his wife and kids, “I’m of no use to you anymore because I can’t work.”
Never will I forget his ten-year old son tearfully whispering, “But he was still my dad.”
That boy got the distinction: his dad might not be able to do what most dads do — work, so the family could have what they need.  But, he was still his dad.
Being is more important than having or doing.

Read all that he has to say in the piece here.  It's a good (and short) read.