Monday, June 30, 2008

The Theology of the Body Changes Lives

Check it out. Monica Ashour (a former campus minister here at St. Mary's) on her specialty – JPII’s Theology of the Body.

Vote for JC

Can't decide who to vote for? How about a vote for Jesus.
Nice way to stir up issues about the Gospel. Hopefully their message is a good one.

St. Paul

If you didn't already know. We have officially started the Year of St. Paul in the Catholic Church one the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which we celebrated yesterday.

The Pope kicked it off with a special liturgy at St. Paul Outside the Walls church in Rome. This is the papal church, not St. Peter basilica in the Vatican.

The Vatican has gotten better at preparations for such celebrations and they have a website up to detail the year. Check it out.

First Bishop on Facebook

Want to be a facebook friend with a bishop? Then ask Bishop Tony Taylor, the new Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas to be your friend.

Sally Quinn on Tim Russert

Sally Quinn, a religion beat writer for the Washington Post wrote this recently about Tim Russert and communion at his funeral:
Last Wednesday at Tim's funeral mass at Trinity Church in Georgetown (Jack Kennedy's church), communion was offered. I had only taken communion once in my life, at an evangelical church. It was soon after I had started "On Faith" and I wanted to see what it was like. Oddly I had a slightly nauseated sensation after I took it, knowing that in some way it represented the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Last Wednesday I was determined to take it for Tim, transubstantiation notwithstanding. I'm so glad I did. It made me feel closer to him. And it was worth it just to imagine how he would have loved it. After I began "On Faith," Tim started calling me "Sister Sal" instead of "Miss Sal."
Big mistake.

The backlash has been quick. The Catholic League fired first. Then Slate. It isn't very often that Slate and the Catholic League agree on anything. Of course the blogs and other periodicals have been going crazy about it and the disrespect she showed Catholics, which is very true. But, her reaction to the controversy didn't help things. She had this to say in answer to the criticism:

I was really close to him, and I was grieving. And I thought me taking the Eucharist would be a thing that he would really enjoy. And all these things are what religion should be about. ... There's no sign out there that says you're not allowed to take Communion. [The Catholic Church is] like, "Everyone is welcome. This is God's house." God doesn't turn people away, supposedly.

I think it's really an important issue. The Pope doesn't want people who are pro-choice to take it. John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Dodd, even the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, and others were not allowed. ... Frankly, none of that was going through my mind. I was feeling absolutely destroyed. It felt right to do it as a tribute to him. I wasn't thinking politically at all.

I've become a champion of pluralism and a spirit of inclusiveness. Any religious people who purport to be Christians, or whatever faith you might be, would do everything they could to welcome others--in the case of Catholics, to welcome others the way Christ would welcome others. This is a perfect example of WWJD. Would Jesus have said, "No you don't, Sally Quinn. You're not going to get away with this one!"

That really doesn't help things. A religion writer for one of the major papers in the country should have known better. The Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist is not secret, in fact, I would hope that she would know something about our basic teachings. Catholics happen to be the largest group of believers in this country. Is is too much to ask for her to read a book on Catholic basics before she writes about us? Also, the pluralism and WWJD arguments just make things worse.

Some unsolicited advice for Sister Sally - Apologize and don't do it again. Fr. James Martin has a good summation of it all.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Apes Over Humans

The Spanish parliament has extended the "rights" of apes. These "rights" include life and freedom.

I fully support humane treatment of animals, but when we try to extend human rights to animals, we don't raise them to our level, we lower ourselves to the level of animals. This quote, in particular, got my attention:
Philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri founded the Great Ape Project in 1993, arguing that "non-human hominids" like chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to be tortured.
Peter Singer would allow the killing of small children and infanticide.

Apes are more important than babies?
To some, yes.

For me, this is frightening.

Patience to Learn

Have you ever watched an infant play? I’ve had the joy and fascination of watching my little niece play these past couple of months: learning to lift her head, to roll over, to sit up on her own, to lean and reach for her most beloved toy, to push her self back up.

At first the learning does not seem like learning at all: the head flails, she gets stuck on her arm mid-roll, she topples over backward, or she does a face-plant into the beloved toy without the muscle strength to push herself back up. This phase seems more like failure, than learning.

But then one day, this phase gives way to the next. The muscles in her neck gain strength and the flailing stops. One day mid-roll she lifts the leg just right giving her the momentum she needs to pop over the “stuck” arm and complete the turn. One day leaning forward a bit too far, she stops her self and zips back to the upright position (the muscles pulling her back as if she is a little marionette attached to invisible strings) and she tries again. Of course, there is still some trial and error. Not every roll is successful and not every lean has a smooth recovery. Yet, she has tasted success and continues to have more of it. “Yes, this is what learning should look like”, we say to ourselves.

And then, just days later, it seems as if she’s known how to do these things all along: lift, sit, roll, lean, and reach. She moves on to new skills that will soon require baby proofing for a crawling toddler.

Some days I find myself a bit frustrated with the “pace” of my progress in Christ. Sometimes it feels like I’m flailing about and can’t keep my head on straight. Some days I find myself stuck on a particular struggle without the momentum to push past. And I’ve had a face-plant or two of my own, crashing face first into old habits or hurts.

But God has been reminding me that this is a valid phase of learning. One day the flailing will give way to a new strength, my being stuck to a new freedom in Christ, the face-plants to a new eye for what to avoid and how to avoid it.

Children have the patience to learn. (Though perhaps they are lacking patience for other things like car rides and grocery checkout lines.) They don’t know failure as failure (adults teach them that!); it is simply a phase of their learning. They have loving parents to pick them up, dust them off, wipe their tears . . . and cheer them on.

Today, may we all have faith and patience like a child. May we let our failures become phase-one of our learning and give way to the growth we long for. And may we allow our heavenly Father to pick us up, wipe our tears . . . and cheer us on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

15-Point Turns

A friend of mine lives a bit out in the country. She has a long gravel driveway that curves a bit through the woods. The first few times I went to visit I had a hard time getting out. Since the driveway is so long and curvy it only made sense to turn around before I headed home. But with the length of my truck, the narrowness of the drive, and the abundance of trees all around . . . this was a bit tricky.

What I first thought would be a simple Drivers Ed 3-point turn . . . turned into a 15-point one, trying to inch my way around between the cluster of trees in the front and the large tree in the back. I just kept hoping my friend wouldn’t peer out the window and laugh, but also wished someone was there to direct me.

In the middle of one of those tedious turnarounds, it hit me. Sometimes growth in the spiritual life requires a 15-point turn. We may expect an instant 180ْ or long for a simple, smooth u-turn, but we find ourselves inching our way into a new direction, navigating around the obstacles with a forward-turn-reverse-turn pattern that seems endless.

But it isn’t. Though it may not seem like it, we are making progress. We are gradually turning in a new direction. We have our sights set on a new path and we are making the effort to get there.

Most importantly, we have our eyes fixed on the Lord (Hebrews 12:2). He will enable the change (Matthew 19:26). He will provide the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7). He is with us in the struggle (Psalm 23:4).

So today if you find yourself in a 15-point turn, do not be discouraged! God is with you, sees your effort, and will help you make it through. And if you encounter someone else who is in the middle of such a tedious turn of their own, don’t laugh or become impatient. Pray for them. And perhaps take a minute to direct them or simply journey with them as they strive to turn around.

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:22

Monday, June 23, 2008

Deep Designs

Growing up Literature was my favorite subject. I credit a mother who encouraged reading and a string of wonderful teachers for my love of the subject.

In senior high I had an English teacher who could make what we read come alive. I recall reading texts at home in preparation for class, sludging through painfully, all the while cursing the author and crying “Why don’t you just say what you mean!?”

Then I’d arrive at class.

Full of enthusiasm and unwilling to let us passively disengage from the lesson, our teacher would ask us question after question and lead us to a deeper understanding of the text. She’d unpack the historical references, shed light on the double meaning of words, and explore with us the imagery that was otherwise lost to our teenage suburban minds.

And I loved it!

God recently brought to mind this depth of learning, as he has been teaching me more and more about the benefits of prayer. Prayer not only helps us understand who God is and what he has revealed about himself, but it is also the place where God stirs in us question after question and leads us to a deeper understanding of ourselves. Drawing close to the one who made us, we come to a better understanding of who we are.

“We are his workmanship” Paul tells us. (Ephesians 2:10) God is the author of our lives. If we go to him, let him guide us, he will reveal to us who we are and the meaning of our lives. He can unpack our history, helping us see how he has always been there even in times we couldn’t feel his presence. He can shed light on the true meaning of our lives, pointing out where real joy and true freedom can be found. He can help us glimpse his extraordinary plan for our lives which might otherwise be diminished by our sometimes hope deprived, virtue starved world.

Psalm 92 says “O Lord, how great are your works! How deep are your designs!” Indeed, his designs are deep. They are written deep within our hearts.

And if you meet God there in prayer, he will show up. Full of enthusiasm and unwilling to let you passively disengage from the lesson, he will reveal to you who he is and in turn show you the deep design he has written in you.

And you’ll love it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Notre Dame

Please pardon us if blogging is a bit slow this week. I am at a campus ministry institute at Notre Dame. Peace to you all.

I had dinner at a restaurant that had a view of Touchdown Jesus. While we were eating, a storm blew in and lightning appeared to strike the image of Jesus. The discussion which followed degenerated into a question of whether the lighting was coming down to the image or up from it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Fun - "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

This "blog" is greatness.
The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

I laughed. You will too.

This Could be VERY Big News

The Byzantine Catholic Church (one of the Eastern Catholic Churches) has requested a "dual unity" of full communion with both Rome and Constantinople (i.e., the Pope and the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople) and the Patriarch has responded favorably.

Many are hailing the decision as a breakthrough in Catholic / Orthodox relations that could eventually lead to full communion.

Lord may it be so! People of God - pray for this to happen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Need for Love

Thou movest us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You. - St. Augustine, Confessions.
When we haven't found peace in God, we will search for it in the world.
When we haven't realized our need for true unending love found only in a relationship with the Trinitarian love of God, we will search for it in other humans or things. All others will fail us.

This is why young girls will form a pact to all get pregnant together - to attempt to fulfill their need for true love.
The girls who made the pregnancy pact—some of whom, according to Sullivan, reacted to the news that they were expecting with high fives and plans for baby showers—declined to be interviewed. So did their parents. But Amanda Ireland, who graduated from Gloucester High on June 8, thinks she knows why these girls wanted to get pregnant. Ireland, 18, gave birth her freshman year and says some of her now pregnant schoolmates regularly approached her in the hall, remarking how lucky she was to have a baby. "They're so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally," Ireland says. "I try to explain it's hard to feel loved when an infant is screaming to be fed at 3 a.m."
The one thing they got right is that having sex means you might help create a baby.

But, they forgot that sex outside the proper context is always wrong, for you and the babies who now have teenage single mothers.

Our New Altar

If you haven't visited St. Mary's website to see the photos of the new altar and stations that we will be putting in this summer, then here area a few of them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Newest Catholic Scandal

I won't comment on this one too much except to say this. A lot of people need to be fired. Now.

Canada, oh, Canada

Wow! The Canadian government is at it again.
If you haven't seen some of what is going on up the the great white north, then check out a couple of examples - Example 1 & example 2. Pray for them, because apparently the future crimes division is now in force.

Deer Sighting

My house is across the street from a wooded area. Though I’m in a large neighborhood, we often see deer late at night or early in the morning crossing over from the woods to feed.

Three weeks ago I planted zinnias in my front garden. It was (notice I said “was”) a nice 3 by 6 foot bed with beautiful pinks, oranges, and yellows. For about three days the flowers thrived. Then a few disappeared, snapped off a couple inches above the ground. At first sight I thought perhaps the neighbor boys had bounced the basket ball into the garden and been afraid to tell me. The following night, with my dog barking at 1am, I peered out the window and saw 4 deer at the edge of the cul-de-sac. The next morning over half of the flowers were snapped off and there were deep hoof prints through the bed.

“Okay”, I optimistically thought, “maybe they’ll grow back.” And they did! 2 weeks later they were (notice I said “were”) thriving again, as if the deer “pruning” had done them good. Last night just after midnight (dog barking again) I peered through the window. This time the deer were still in the garden, about 20 feet from the window. Two were peering up at me (well, probably peering in the direction of the growling, barking dog) and the other was gingerly lowering his head, stooping in for another flower.

I was amused. I was caught between wishing they weren’t there (I’d spent money and time and energy and gallons of water on these flowers!) and being ever so delighted I could watch the deer up close (their gentle movements, graceful steps, big bright eyes).

The very thing I didn’t want to happen . . . allowed for something beautiful. And it hit me. God works in this mysterious way so very often:

  • The hard times (loss of job, loss of loved one, sudden illness) we do not want allow us to receive from others and rely daily and entirely on our God for strength.
  • The loneliness we do not want enables us to draw close to the Lord and understand ourselves better.
  • The ridicule or persecution we do not welcome provides for a deepened compassion and a firm resolute to love our neighbor.
  • The failure we do not desire inspires a new path and a new determination to succeed.
  • The difficult person or sticky situation we do not “sign up for” offers an opportunity to grow in virtue and thus glorify our God.
The very things we do not want (loss, loneliness, persecution, failure, daily conflict) . . . enabling something beautiful (trust, intimacy, tenderness, direction, growth). Amazing.

This is once again proof that our Lord knows what he is doing! Today may we look for the beautiful . . . even in the situations and circumstances we’d rather do without.

As for the zinnias, I’m sure they’ll grow back. And when they do, I’ll be waiting and watching for something beautiful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Catholic Carnival #177

Catholic Carnival for the week is up.

Chip Clips No Longer Needed

Don't worry - we aren't turning into a blog on Martha Stewart-like tips. But, this simple video must have been made to make me feel stupid. (plus the music is great - if you know where it is from).


One of the over-riding principles that we use in campus ministry is "connectedness". What I mean is this - many college students live a disconnected life. They profess their faith in Christ and in what the Catholic Church teaches, but live a life that is disconnected from their faith and beliefs. While everyone does this on some level (it is called sin, vice, addiction, etc.), college students struggle with it a great deal, and if we don't help them now, the disconnectedness might lead to a loss of faith in the future.

This is a huge hurdle to overcome in today's society. So, our job is to help students overcome this disconnectedness in a way that will help them live a life intimately connected to Christ.

But, some colleges don't work hard at this - even some that have the name "Catholic" attached to them. This is a shame, but the reality is that Catholic colleges are no better than their secular counterparts at fighting the prevailing culture. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but the overall findings of such studies are quite depressing.

Pray for our young people.
If you are a young person, then fight to live a connected life close to Christ.

As I have written previously, the antidote to this problem is found in JPII's Theology of the Body. Learn it, live it, and love it. It will guard us against this secular tide within the culture.

On a somewhat related note - Dan Brown's second novel-to-movie project is being shot. Angels and Demons filmmakers were barred from Churches in Rome. Give me a break - did they really think the Catholic Church was just going to roll out the red carpet to them so they can throw us under the bus again? Talk about disconnectedness...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Egg Drop

Perhaps you’ve done this team building activity before. You break into groups and are given a few random objects: usually a fist full of straws (the bendy kind are best), some tape, perhaps some rubber bands, and a raw egg. You are told that you have 5 minutes to build a contraption (out of the straws, tape and rubber bands) that will protect your egg when it is dropped from a certain height.

I’ve done this activity countless times and never had success. Sometimes we have grand ideas (meticulously diagramed on the back of a retreat folder) that are impossible to implement in the time allotted. Other times we have no ideas and haphazardly tape things to the egg at the last minute (which usually proves to be a hilarious bonding experience). More than once we’ve broken our egg mid-build.

As for the testing of our contraption, different facilitators choose different heights. But I’ve noticed that it makes no difference whether the facilitator stands at the second story Cafeteria balcony or on top a picnic table. Our egg always breaks. Eggs are fragile and hard boiling them, in this game, is cheating.

Recently God brought to mind this odd team building exercise as he has been showing me that hearts are fragile too, but hard boiling them is cheating.

When we love, we open ourselves to hurt. When we trust, we open ourselves to disappointment. When we surrender, we open ourselves up to . . . the unknown. And yet, to live a life without love, trust and surrender is to be hard boiled. It is to cheat ourselves, to squelch something deep within, to thwart the end for which we were made. You see, we are made in the image of God who is love: an eternal exchange of love, trust, and surrender between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are made for that exchange too. And not just with our fellow man. God welcomes us into his eternal exchange of love. Whoa.

Perhaps you’ve spent years diagramming the perfect contraption to protect your heart, to buffer yourself from hurt or disappointment. Maybe you’ve run out of ideas and are haphazardly taping things together, desperately preparing for impact. Maybe your heart has broken mid-build. Maybe you are hard boiled, unwilling (or unable) to let others in. Maybe it feels like you’re free-falling from the second story balcony with only bendy straws to break the fall. What do you do?

Love God. Offer him your heart daily in prayer. Your doubts and fears (all of them!), hopes and dreams (sometimes this is the hardest!), and sins and hurts (why would you want to keep those!). When you are tempted to hold something back, recall that you are made to love God and offer it to him anyways.

Trust him. He knows what he is doing. Really, he does. “O God; in you I take refuge I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good. I keep the Lord always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.” Psalm 16

Surrender. Go ahead, you can do it. God will not let you free-fall to a shattered oozing mess. “Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, For you will not abandon me . . .” Psalm 16

We may be fragile, but we need not be hard boiled. The Lord knows how to care for us and he invites us to love.

New Liturgical Translations

The English translation of the mass has been re-worked and it has raised quite a fuss about what kind of language we should use. Should it be simple? Should it be noble? Should it be balanced?

As usual, I have a few suggestions. Truthfully, many modern Americans may have trouble with some of the language. So, here are a few suggestions to help the modern American understand the translations with ease (please don't take this seriously).

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
God loves you and is like with you, you know what I'm sayin'?

:) lol

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
Like, God is big and stuff...yada, yada, yada.

Whoop! (for Aggie upperclassman and former students only)

The Mass is ended, go in peace.
Wake up and, like, go home!

Please add your own.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pope Heckling

I have never had an experience quite like this when I talk. But, I am not the Pope and I have never spoken before the European Parliament. Nor have anti-Catholics come to heckle me. Oh, but you never know...

President Bush and the Pope

The rumors are swirling again about Bush becoming Catholic. I don't think that it is outside of the realm of possibility (Jeb Bush is Catholic and the president has many Catholics in his inner circle), but I don't think it will happen soon. If the Pope calls me anytime soon, I will let you know what Bush told him.

Corpus Christi

Some friends of Katie, a former campus minister here who just left to join the Nashville Dominicans later in the summer, sent her this video of a visit to Rome and San Giovanni during Corpus Christi. The video was for their confirmation class. Nicely done.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

News and Notes

*Once again a Bishop in the Philippines has reminded the faithful on appropriate dress for church. This happened last year as well, but with diagrams last time.

*This is good news. Now they should work on evangelizing those participating in the parade as nuns and priests.

*Have you ever had a feeling that you needed to go exercise and yet you continued to type on a computer? This is how I feel right now. So, I will be bidding the computer adieu now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nine-Foot Monstrance

This is really cool. A nine-foot high monstrance that depicts the Eucharist in the belly of Mary as a sign of the Incarnation.

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Nine years of prayer, work and faith culminated May 31 when curtains parted in the sanctuary of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago to reveal an iconic monstrance of Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy.

It's just the beginning, however, of what will be the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, the official shrine to the Divine Mercy devotion in Chicago.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago was on hand to celebrate Mass and bless the new 9-foot, hand-carved and painted monstrance featuring Mary atop a gold-leaf decorated ark flanked by two kneeling angels, also in gold leaf, whose wings extend to shelter her. The 12-inch host, which had to be specially made for the monstrance, is encased in Mary's center.

Mercy Festival, a week of daily 24-hour eucharistic adoration, began after the Mass. Approximately 1,500 people packed the church and its balconies to see the monstrance.

This intricately detailed and symbol-laden monstrance is believed to be the world's largest and was created by Polish sculptor Stefan Niedorezo. It was paid for by anonymous donations and royalties from the sale of "A Mother's Plea," the memoirs of Resurrectionist Father Anthony Bus, St. Stanislaus Kostka's pastor.

"Everything that you see is unique," Oscar Delgado, one of the project's organizers, said about the monstrance in an interview with the Catholic New World, Chicago archdiocesan newspaper.

Each part of the icon has meaning; this includes how Mary is positioned. She's sculpted as though she is exhaling, with her arms extended outward. It evokes a sense of calm when one looks at her, because she's in a relaxed pose, making it easier to pray, said Father Bus, in an interview prior to the unveiling.

References to Mary in Scripture are inscribed upon her clothes, and other symbolism is worked into the design.

The Divine Mercy devotion was begun in the late 1930s by St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who said she had a vision of Jesus in which he asked for devotions to divine mercy on the Sunday after Easter.

For Malgorzata Sawczuk, working on the project was a spiritual experience. A Polish conservator, she applied the gilding and paint by hand to the iconic monstrance.

The studio where she worked became a "kind of holy space ... a space of true light and energy that always emanate from the world-class works of sacred art," she said.

It became "a space of living faith emanating from the people I was to meet there every day, so deeply engaged in the hope of creating something beautiful for God -- an iconic monstrance of Mary, the holy mother of God," Sawczuk wrote in an e-mail.

"It was also an opportunity to bring alive some ancient painting techniques, almost extinct today," she added.

The entire project for the monstrance and the future sanctuary -- which will be built between the church and school -- came out of a message from Mary that Father Bus writes about in "A Mother's Plea." He said Mary asked him to dedicate the parish to her; at the time St. Stanislaus was in poor shape. The building was in disrepair and the neighborhood poor.

In the early 1900s, St. Stanislaus was believed to be the largest parish in the country, boasting more than 40,000 families as members. Many neighboring parishes began out of a need to accommodate the large population.

Founded in 1867, the parish was the first in the archdiocese with an apostolic mission to Polish immigrants. Today, the parish continues to offer Mass in Polish but offers it in English and Spanish as well and has seen an influx of Hispanic immigrants in recent decades. And it hopes to serve many more through the shrine to Divine Mercy.

Architectural drawings for the sanctuary buildings are complete. But before building begins, the parish must raise $20 million.

"We're walking on faith," said Father Bus in a recent interview with the Catholic New World.

Elizabeth Murray came from St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in River Forest to see the unveiling of the monstrance. She said she's moved by what is going on at St. Stanislaus and the work of Father Bus.

"I think he's encouraging people to have a devotion to the Divine Mercy. It's inspiring," said Murray.

Michael Kendall sees the monstrance and sanctuary as part of a reawakening in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.

"It's my hope that in 200 or 300 years that historians will look back at this time of awakening in the Catholic Church and say St. Stanislaus Kostka had a significant role to play in bringing about this great Catholic awakening," said Kendall, who took a 50 percent pay cut to come and work part time as director of mission advancement for the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy.

He said he also hopes that people drawn to the monstrance will see that true beauty lies with Jesus in the Eucharist and that Christ can heal their pain.

Catholic Carnival #176

The Catholic Carnival is up. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Funky Friars

We had some of the friars in this video at our Catholic Underground this last semester. We will be having them back again and again. They rock (literally and figuratively).

Monday, June 9, 2008


Growing up I was like a fish during the summer months. I loved to be in the water.

I could not understand my friends who would take a quick dip in the pool and then sweat for hours to perfect their tan. Nor could I relate to those who refused to go under for fear of messing up their hair.

I loved to be submerged in the water: my hair flowing all around, water passing through my fingers, the sense of weightlessness as I flipped and swirled and dove deep. I’d dive to the bottom of the pool and sit as long as my lungs could take it or swim back and forth the length of the pool as many times as I could before coming up for air. And I’d challenge anyone to an underwater summersault-a-thon. (I always won.)

My mom tells stories of how I hated swimming at first, of how I fought my swim teacher and cried when she made me go under. I have no recollection of this. Once I learned to swim, running through the sprinkler lost its appeal and not even our beloved slip-n-slide would suffice. I’d rather be in a pool. Submerged. Swimming in the water, not playing near it.

Recently God brought to mind this childhood fascination of mine as he has been challenging me to be “submerged” in his love, to “swim” in his joy.

Often in life we settle for a “sprinkle” of love or a “dip” in joy. We have brief moments where we open ourselves to God and receive his love. We have brief encounters when we let go of our control and experience his joy. But then against all logic we hop out, towel off and bake ourselves to a crisp in the heat and trials of life. Yet a sprinkle here and a dip there won’t do. We were made to swim in it, to be submerged in his love.

“Abide in my love,” Christ tells us. (John 15:9)

But how do we do that? The same way we learn to swim. We take lessons and we practice. Prayer times are the lessons. Daily consistency is the practice. This is how we learn to enter into the mystery of God’s great love for us. Prayer is where we experience God’s presence, his grace, his mercy, his transforming power, his unending joy. And the more we pray, the more we can carry that presence, grace, mercy, power and joy throughout our day. We can “swim” in it all day long.

As we journey forward through ordinary time we may be tempted to settle for a sprinkle here or a dip there. Don’t settle.

Take a deep breath, jump in, and learn to be submerged in God’s great love.

“The more we pray, the more we wish to pray. Like a fish which at first swims on the surface of the water, and afterwards plunges down, and is always going deeper; the soul plunges, dives, and loses itself in the sweetness of conversing with God.” St. John Vianney

Prayers for Aggie Sailors

If you haven't heard, 4 Aggies and 2 safety officers had a boat capsize during a boating race from Texas to Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the safety officers, Roger Stone, died - but not until he saved the lives of some of the students. He heroically placed the lives of others before his own and in doing so lost his life for the sake of others.

God rest his soul.
Please pray for all involved in this accident.

One of the A&M traditions is to honor the heroes who "lay down their lives". Here we have living out of this tradition.
Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. - John 15:13

Bishop Cantu's Crosier

Here is a pic of Bishop Cantu's crosier.

Fr. David made it as a seminary class gift for him.


More nerdy video...

Tip O' the hat to Joe.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Few Friday Highlights

*A boy survived an abortion and is now expected to live a "normal life". Some politicians and abortion supporters think he isn't worthy of life, since his mother decided to try and kill him. Can you imagine looking at your child and thinking that you tried to snuff them out?
The mother said this:
"I was on the (birth control pill) when I became pregnant," Percival, 25, said. "Deciding to terminate at eight weeks was just utterly horrible but I couldn't cope with the anguish of losing another baby."
She didn't want the "anguish of losing another baby", so she went to get an abortion. Doesn't make sense to me.

*This video game lets you kill the authors of the Bible and behead Muhammad. Not a good idea.

Priest elected to serve as UN General Assembly President

Interesting development at the United Nations. A priest was elected to serve as the president to the General Assembly. While the powers of this position are limited, it is very significant that a priest has taken over.

In accepting the position, he already started a controversy in his acceptance speech:
They elected a priest. And I hope no one is offended if I say that love is what is most needed in this world. And that selfishness is what has gotten us into the terrible quagmire in which the world is sinking, almost irreversibly, unless something big happens. This may sound like a sermon. Well, OK.
Then goes on to cause the problems with this:
The behavior of some member states has caused the United Nations to lose credibility as an organization capable of putting an end to war and eradicating extreme poverty from our planet.
He didn't name names, but it is obvious he is talking about the USA. But, I think there are a few other problems than what the US diplomats pointed out.
1 - The UN is to blame for most of it's problems. It doesn't enforce it's own resolutions and is as bureaucratically inept as any other organization on earth.
2 - The policies of the UN have never been able to solve much of any problems. They still support abortion on demand and have an agenda that is God-less.
3 - Yes, member states like the US have done some bad things, but the USA isn't the only one to make mistakes. How about standing up to North Korea and other states?

So, I don't think laying the blame for the UN's ineptitude at the doorstep of "member nations" is a good first step. Maybe I am wrong.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Yesterday I was babysitting for some friends. I was sitting on the couch coloring with the youngest girl. For the first few minutes she asked me to spell different words. Then she paused for a moment and said, “Now you say a word and I will spell it. Pick easy ones.”

At first I complied with her request to “pick easy ones”. But after a little momentum of successful spell after successful spell, I’d throw in a hard one or two. When she’d stumble I’d help her sound out the words and correct her when necessary. After several hard words in a row she turned to me with slightly deflated enthusiasm and said, “You keep picking hard ones.”

“I know” I responded, “but this is how you learn.”

I threw in a few easy words and then pressed on once again to the hard ones. After a few more hard words she protested again, “You keep picking hard ones that I can’t spell.”

“I know” I responded, “but I am helping you.” And we continued on.

As those words left my lips a smile spread across my face. And it hit me. This was the conversation I’d been having with God for a while now.

These past few months God seems to have been stretching me, challenging me to grow, to leave my comfort zone. “The Lord is asking a lot of you right now,” a dear friend said to me. Indeed. Or at least it feels like “a lot” to me.

I’d say to God with deflated enthusiasm, “You keep picking hard ones.” He has been picking the hard lessons, asking me to tackle the tough issues, asking to heal the deep wounds. And sometimes, like a little child I beg, “Pick easy ones!”

And the Lord responds with a gentle challenge, “I know, but this is how you learn. This is how you learn to trust me, to hear my voice, to rely on me, to surrender, to hope in me alone.”

After a little while longer I say again, “You keep picking hard ones. I can’t do this.” Like a little kid who can’t spell and doesn’t know what letter comes next, sometimes I don’t know what comes next or how to go about the moving forward. I sincerely feel I can’t do it. And I can’t. None of us can. But then there are his words of comfort.

He says, “I know, but I am helping you.”

Indeed he is.

Whatever your struggle today - whatever the task, lesson, hurt, hurdle, valley, mountain, need, or pain you are faced with today – remember God’s words of both challenge and comfort: “This is how you learn. I am helping you.”

I will Derive

To quote Mark Shea, "If it cracks you up, you may be in danger of severe geekness. If you actually understand the lyrics, seek help immediately."

Mary the Musical?

Yes. It will premiere at the Vatican.

A singing Mary will make her debut this month when a musical on the life of the mother of Jesus has its world premiere at the Vatican.

The Vatican says the musical "Mary of Nazareth - A Continuing Story" premieres June 17. It is not clear if Pope Benedict XVI will attend.

The musical is an Italian production sponsored by the Vatican offices for Social Communications and Culture. The role of Mary will be sung by Italian soprano Alma Manera.

There have been movies and plays on the Madonna, and famous pieces of music dedicated to her.

The most famous musical on the life of Jesus, "Jesus Christ Superstar," was made into a movie released in 1973.

The Vatican announced the musical on Wednesday.


A friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Please pray for her and all others battling this disease.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Religious Order Video

Here is a nice video of the Nashville Dominicans - the order that several Aggies have joined and that Katie, one of our campus ministers, left to join later this summer.


Interesting possibilities with this one. May be good. May be average. May be horrible.

Bishop Cantu's Ordination

There are some great photos of Bishop Cantu's ordination (including the crosier Fr. David made for him) in the Express News' photo gallery found here.

There is video of the ordination here and here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

San Antonio Auxiliary Bishop Cantu + Women-priest "ordinations"

*Oscar Cantu will be ordained a Bishop tonight in San Antonio, and Fr. David will be in attendance. The two were classmates in seminary and Fr. David talks highly of him. As a gift from the entire class, Fr. David made the crosier for Bishop-elect Cantu, using his wood-working skills. I will try to get pictures soon. Rocco has more on the ordination.

*The Vatican has decreed that anyone "ordaining" a woman as a priest or any woman receiving such, is automatically excommunicating themselves. My former prof, Dr. Ed Peters, has the scoop on the change to canon law and the issues surrounding it all.

The Internet

I can't think of a better way to use technology, especially the internet, than this.