Monday, February 28, 2011

Do You Want St. Josemaria Escriva To Kick You In the Backside?

If you want St. Josemaria Escriva to kick you in the backside, then read his quote below.
"You drag along like a bag of sand. You don't do your share. And so it's not strange that you are beginning to feel the first symptoms of lukewarmness. Wake up!"
-St. Josemaria Escriva

Who Needs To Smile?

Nothing like a baby laughing hysterically. This is so darn cute, I couldn't help it.
Not only that, but they are ripping up a job rejection letter. Puts it all in perspective...

Contrast and Compare

Contrast and compare these videos, then vote on which one is the best in telling the story. I have my own opinion, but want to hear what you think.
They are all about the same issue - federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Watch and then take the poll below.

Ad #1


Ad #2


Ad #3


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Canadian Bishops Offer Practical Tips On Living a Chaste Life for Young Adults

The Canadian Bishops have issued a very nice pastoral letter on Chastity (download here in pdf format).
It is accompanied by a video to introduce the letter:

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bible on Eating In The Living Room?

Not exactly, but this is a fabulous article from Ian Frazier on what the Old Testament would say about parenting today. A snip:
Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.
Continue Reading.

Seminarian With Inoperable Brain Tumor Reflects on Life

Pray for him.

Check out his blog here.
Tip o' the hat to Jen.

My New Hero - Come Meet Him

This man's life will touch you. I guarantee it will.
He gave up his easy life to feed those dying of hunger in India...

Tip o' the hat to Deacon Greg.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fr. Barron on Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and the New Evangelization

Interesting take.

Dating and Discernment

Q - How does dating fit in as far as discovering our vocation? I have been of the mind that I shouldn't date until I feel more sure about what I am called to. More generally with dating, I understand that it has a place as far as discovering a spouse but I am not sure how you would go about it in a truly faithful manner. Could you provide some guidance on these questions?

A - Thanks for the question. It is a big one, so it may take me a while to adequately answer it. First off, you are on the right track. Dating is a big issue with many Christians, because of the culture and expectations that go along with it. So, I will try and help you out by approaching it from several different angles.

1) Dating is a new phenomenon. What we call dating and how we date currently in our society is a very new and novel way of going about forming a relationship. There are both good and bad elements that go into it. Remember that throughout most of history and most cultures marriage was not discerned through a dating process. So, we have had arranged marriages, courtships, and other ways of planning marriage. But, for the most part, dating exclusively is novel.

2) You do not need to date to discern your calling in life to marriage or the priesthood. Don't think that your life experience in this area is the only way that God will call you. He can call you with or without the experience of dating.

3) You should examine your heart and emotions closely. If you want to date, why? Is it just to have companionship, is it to fulfill a desire, etc.? Do you want to date a particular person? Do you feel a desire to be married? All of these questions (and more) should be part of the decision-making process. You should also talk them over with a spiritual director who can provide a more objective viewpoint for you.

4) Are you spending adequate time in prayer? If not, then this is where the discernment process should start and end. Without prayer, we cannot truly hear God's call.

5) If you do decide to date, there are certain guidelines that I think can help. First of all, you should make sure that you are guarding your heart, mind and body for the proper intimacy that the relationship ought to have. For instance, a dating relationship should never go into too much intimacy emotionally or mentally. Your girlfriend need not know everything about you. The same goes for physical intimacy and emotional. You need to make sure there are appropriate levels taken as the relationship progresses, all the while making sure you have clear boundaries to protect both of you.

Every relationship should be an avenue to holiness. So, you should continually ask if the two of you are helping or hurting the other person's relationship with God and if the relationship is glorifying to him. Ask yourself these questions throughout the time you might date:
  • Are you in the state of grace?
  • Is this person getting in the way of my continued growth in relationship with God?
  • Is there some sexual sin I need to deal with?
  • Can you get beyond the emotional infatuation you might feel?
  • Is the relationship not dragging me away from my other relationships with friends and family or my other commitments?
  • How is your prayer life?
  • Do you communicate well?
  • Is there any kind of abuse or addiction?
  • Do I know that love is a choice and not a feeling?
  • Is it romance that I seek or true love?
  • Have I bought into the deception that God has made me for one person whom I need to find?
These and other similar questions may help you see the big picture.

Furthermore, this should be a discernment process. If you decide that you could not marry this person, then the dating should end. Otherwise, you are just using them. If you start to go beyond the boundaries you set, then you need to slow the relationship down, take a break from it, or end it.

Now, if you think that God is calling you into a deeper dating relationship with a woman in order to discern the future and to help you grow in holiness, then you ought to obey his will.

So, to sum it up. If you do date, then make sure it isn't dating in the way that our culture has defined it. It should be dating for the purpose of discerning marriage with this person or not. During all of these times, make sure you are seeing a spiritual director who can help you cut through the noise and confusion that surrounds us, especially in dating.

We all have a vocation to holiness. So, make this your goal. With this in mind, develop a deep prayer life, find a good spiritual director, do God's will even when it is hard, and seek what is best for the other regardless of how much it costs you. Do these things and you will be on the path of discernment.

I hope this helps.

For those that want to learn more, we will be hosting a short-term relationships class on 3 Tuesday nights during Lent (3/22, 3/29, and 4/5). More info here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LENT 2011


Once again, it is time for our Aggie Catholics annual Lenten mega-post.  Links, videos, and resources will be added and updated throughout the Lenten season.  Please leave your feedback in the comments and anything that needs to be added.  Thanks for reading.

Things you will find below include:
  • LENT FAQ
  • MORE QUESTIONS ON LENT
  • LENTEN SUGGESTIONS
  • LENT LINKS
Scroll down to get to all the goodies.

LENT FAQ
When Does Lent Start in 2010?
Lent starts on Ash Wed, March 9.  Easter Sunday is April 24.

What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is a season of conversion for all. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, the first day of the Triduum, the three holy days before Easter.

Are Sundays a part of Lent?
Sundays are always a day of celebration of Christ's passion and Resurrection, so we celebrate on these days. While still part of the season of Lent, they have a mixture of both celebration (because it is Sunday) and repentance (because it is Lent).

Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you do not have to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping! Since the Church has some conflicting information (different documents state different things) I think you should do what you feel is best regarding the Lenten season and Sundays. In other words, follow your conscience.


2011 Liturgical Calendar UPDATE - Friday, March 25th is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Therefore, the Solemnity takes precedence over the Friday of Lent, which means that you need not abstain from meat on this Friday.

Why forty days and not some other number?
Because 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special - as in the 40 day flood of Noah.
  • *Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai forty days (Ex 24:18),
  •  Jonah gives the people of Ninevah forty days to repent (Jon 3:4) - (there are many other Old Testament stories)
  • *We also see this with Jesus, before starting his ministry, he spent forty days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2).

So, as in the Bible, we spend forty days in preparing ourselves to rejoice at the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter.

So, what is Ash Wednesday all about?
Ash Wednesday is so named because this first day of Lent is where we are marked with ashes to show the repentance of our sins and mourning. This is also a Biblical sign that we live today. We can see this in several verses.
  • "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:3)
  • Other verses include: 1 Sam 4:12, Jon 3:6, Esther 4:1 and Matt 11:20-21

Today, ashes are still this same sign of repentance and mourning for our sins. They also represent our mortality. "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27). We started as nothing and our bodies will become dust and ashes after our death. Reminding ourselves that nobody escapes physical death, we look forward to eternal life.

So, why are the ashes made into a cross on the forehead?
Because it is the ancient sign of being marked by Christ in our baptism. We are no longer our own, but Jesus Christ owns us. The book of Revelation tells us that all the elect will be marked by the sign of Christ - "On Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." (Rev 14:1)

Where do we get the ashes?
They come from burning the palms from last years Palm Sunday Masses.

Who can receive ashes?
Anyone can receive ashes on Ash Wed. While we have communion only for Catholics who are in good standing with the Church, all may receive ashes.

Is Ash Wed a holy day of Obligation?
No. But all Catholics are strongly urged to attend, because it is the start of the Lenten season. It is the day with the most people in Mass for Catholic Churches in the United States.

Do we have to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wed?
Yes. This means that all Catholics from 14 and up are required to abstain from meat and Catholics 18-60 are required to eat only one average meal and two snacks without anything else. Children, the elderly and those who are sick are not obligated to do this.

Why fast?
Again, this is because we are called to by Jesus. By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well.
  • "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16)
  • "and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)
  • Fasting also helps focus us in our prayer. *Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)

Why abstain from meat?
Because of the spiritual discipline it provides. "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Dan 10:1-3) We give up meat, which still today is a luxury in some parts of the world, as a good thing that we offer up in order to remember that Christ is better than food and needed more by all of us than anything else.

Why is fish not considered meat?
Because it was the food of the poor who could not afford meat, yet could catch fish to sustain themselves.

So, what are the other days of fast and abstinence?
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence - Friday was the day Christ died.

So, why do people "give up" things during Lent?
While we are not required to “give something up” we are required to do something penitential. Lent is a great time to break a bad habit and give it to the Lord. These sins and vices we should not take back after Lent. It is also a time to give something up that is good during this season. This is why people give up something they enjoy. In doing so we can draw closer to God by our temporary sacrifice. We should find an appropriate balance of giving something up and not completely cutting ourselves off of good things. We will find our need for God if we do it correctly.

What else then IS required during Lent?
The Church asks us to increase our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is assumed that we are already doing these things and should merely increase them.

Got any suggestions?
First off, pray about what you are going to do for Lent. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your spiritual practice of Lent. Then find a few things that you feel called to do. Don't do too much or too little. Stretch yourself, but don't pick things you won't stick to.

MORE LENT QUESTIONS

LENTEN SUGGESTIONS
Increased Prayer:
*Wake up 20 minutes early and start the day in prayer.
*Daily Mass 1-2 times a week.
*An hr. in Adoration a week.
*Go to Confession.
*Read Scripture daily.
*Go to a Lenten Bible study.
*Read a spiritual book.
*Start to pray a daily Rosary.
*Pray the Liturgy of the hours.
*Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.
*Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
*Pray for your enemies.
*Watch The Passion of the Christ and then meditate on Christ’s life.
*Read about the life of a saint.
*Do an extra spiritual activity at Church
*Get involved in your parish if you aren’t already.
*Memorize Scripture verses.
*Check out a book on spirituality from the parish library.

Increased Almsgiving:
*When you fast from a meal, give the money you would spend to the poor.
*Use a coin box from and put all change into it for the poor.
*Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul or another charitable organization.
*Spend more time with your parents.
*Visit a nursing home.
*Start tithing.
*Make a pledge to a worthy charity.
*Forgive an old grudge.
*Invite someone to Church.
*Share your faith with someone.
*Give someone a Catholic tract or CD.
*Exercise patience and love.
*Speak in a pleasant tone to everyone.
*Look for extra ways to help others.
*Go out of your way to talk to someone who is shy or difficult.
*Offer to watch a mother’s child(ren).
*Drive with love.
*Write a letter to a relative you haven’t seen in a while.

Increased fasting:
The following are good things we can fast from and have back at a later time:
*Fast on bread and water on Fridays.
*Fast from TV.
*Fast from snacking or candy.
*Fast from the radio in your car.
*Fast from ‘facebook’ / internet.
*Fast from caffeine.
*Do not use seasoning on your food.

The following are things we can fast from and continue to give up:
*Fast from alcohol (especially if you drink too much or are not 21.
*Fast from speeding.
*Fast from sarcasm or gossip.
*Fast from pornography.
*Fast from being lazy or lying.
*Fast from not studying / working hard.
*Fast from complaining.
*Fast from some other bad habit.

LENT LINKS
Here is a list of links about lent. If you have any to add, then leave in the comments or shoot me an email.


Prayers, History, Lenten Suggestions:
*EWTN.com - Lenten reflections, questions, and more.
*AmericanCatholic.org - Lent 2011 pages
*Creighton University - Lenten prayers.
*Catholic Encyclopedia - entry on Lent
*Catholic Culture - Personal Lenten program.
*Our Sunday Visitor - Lenten resources.
*Catholic Online - Lent 2011
*Jimmy Akin's Annual Lent Fight - good stuff if you like details.
*Byzantine Catholic - Lenten resources for Byzantine Catholics.
*DomesticChurch.com - exploring Lent.
*Catholic Pages - Lenten links.
*National Catholic Register - Fasting for lent.
*North American College - the Station Churches of Rome for Lent.

Catholic New Media on Lent:

*Fr. Barron on Lent:


*Apostleship of Prayer on Lent:


*Listen and Pray along - Allegri: Miserere:


*The goofiest Lenten video ever is by Nick Alexander (done to the song "King of Pain" by The Police) - This Time of Forty Days:

Remind Me Not To Do This...

At least the bulls have a fighting chance in this arena.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pulling the Plug

If you have ever had the idea that you want to "pull the plug" if you ever enter a coma or a palliative state, then you need to read this. It is gut-wrenching.
A snip to get you started...but please. Read the whole thing!
Advance Health Care Directive

If the extension of my life would result in an existence devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning, then I do not desire any form of life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration, unless necessary for my comfort or alleviation of pain.

My agent shall consent to and arrange for the administration of any type of pain relief, even though its use may lead to permanent damage, addiction or even hasten the moment of, but not intentionally cause, my death…
That’s the document my Uncle Larry signed fifteen years ago when he first got his HIV diagnosis. He had always seemed like a devil-may-care sort of guy who planned to live fast and die young. Linger for months, attached to tubes and machines? No way! “Just shoot me now” was his signature expression, often used to express sarcastic disapproval of anything unfashionable, but taken literally in the case of his “Advance Health Care Directive.”

I actually knew very little about my uncle (whom I’ll dub “Larry” here to maintain his privacy) until he collapsed in public a little over a month ago. He never got along with his brother (that is, my father), and he lived 3,000 miles away on the East Coast, so he rarely showed up at family events. But on those rare occasions he did, he fawned over me, called me his “favorite,” and once I had grown up he told me that I was the only relative he could stand to be around.

As a gay man, Uncle Larry never had any children of his own, nor did he (as far as I could tell) ever have a long-term romantic relationship; so I shouldn’t have been surprised that when the time came for him to name an “emergency contact” on various health-care forms, he wrote my name down.
Continue Reading.
Tip o' the hat to CMR.

unPlanned Documentary

A trailer for the documentary coming soon. Several of our students and former students are prominently featured.

Representative Christopher Smith (NJ) Quotes Abby Johnson On the House Floor In Abortion Debate

Rep Christopher Smith quotes Abby Johnson's book, Unplanned, during his speech on the House floor on Feb 17th. The next day the House voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood.


Contrast this with the following speech which says eating Ramen Noodles and Mayo Sandwiches is worse than being aborted:


Come listen to Abby Johnson this Friday at Rudder Auditorium at Texas A&M.

Limbo no Longer?

Q - I have a question. What is the deal with the Vatican now saying that there is no Limbo? Isn't this a change in doctrine?

A - Thanks for the questions! As we always do, we need to define some terms. Jaroslav Pelikan defines doctrine as "what the Church believes, teaches, and confesses on the authority of the Word of God." The "Word of God" is a person, not just a thing. Word of God = Jesus. He is the fullness of God the Father's revelation to us. This revelation is handed on in two forms that make the whole of the Word of God = Sacred Scripture + Sacred Tradition. Thus, doctrine has to have an apostolic dimension to it (from Jesus and the Apostles) . Does it have to be explicit in Sacred Scripture? No. From this we can see that:
  • "believes" is seen implicit in the way we worship, live and pray as a Church.
  •  "teaches" is explicit and in day-to-day teachings of the Church.
  • "confesses" is about solemn confessions of faith in times of crisis. Found in Creeds and dogmas.
Furthermore, Dogmas = Truths officially proposed by the Church as being part of or necessarily connected to Revelation in a binding or definitive way.

Limbo, as understood here, is speaking about the place where unbaptized babies (or children who haven't reached the age where they can personally sin) go after they die. Some theologians (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas) have hypothesized this is the most we can hope for.

There is another limbo that isn't being addressed, which is commonly called the Limbo of the Fathers. This is where the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets, and righteous people would have been before Christ came to open the gates of heaven. This was not part of the discussion of the Vatican.

So, the questions we have to answer:
1 - Was Limbo Doctrine?
2 - Is this still an acceptable theory?

1 - No. It was never part of what the Church believes, teaches and confesses on the authority of The Word of God. It is theological conjecture. While certain Popes/Bishops/Theologians have furthered this teaching, it isn't part of the deposit of faith. Limbo is not a dogma or doctrine of the Church and never has been.

2 - Is it still an acceptable theory? Yes, but it is not a preferred theory. This is because the Church does not believe it adequately answers the question of what happens to babies who are unbaptized. In fact, we just don't know what happens, but we hope for the best. We cannot say with certainty what happens to those souls.

Here is what the document, The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Before Baptism, said, after saying limbo is not doctrine, but theological conjecture that can be considered still valid:
The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness, even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in Revelation. However, none of the considerations proposed in this text to motivate a new approach to the question may be used to negate the necessity of baptism, nor to delay the conferral of the sacrament. Rather, there are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible to do for them that what would have been most desirable— to baptize them in the faith of the Church and incorporate them visibly into the Body of Christ.
Another reason for this document is because of all of the aborted babies we have in our world today. This is a better and more theologically precise answer. Guessing at limbo doesn't help a mother who is seeking an answer and healing (after repenting). That being said, a Catholic can still hold that Limbo is true as long as they prayerfully consider this most recent teaching of the Church.

There is no back-tracking here or change in doctrine. Not everything the Church explores as a theological possibility is doctrine, even if a Pope or Bishop write about it. There are levels of teaching in the Catholic Church that unfortunately get jumbled together by many. I often see the error of saying that anything the Pope says is infallible. This is just a failure to understand the levels of Church teaching.

Suffice it to say that it is a common error by both Catholics and non-catholics as seen in how the mass media has portrayed this exploration as a "change in Catholic doctrine".

I hope this helps.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Video Game Addiction Infographic

Jeux
Infographic by JeuxJeuxJeux.fr

The Anti-Child Movement

Certain segments of our culture believe the answer to many of our modern problems has a simple solution - get rid of the children. Some come from the radical environmental movement. Some are just looking out for #1. Regardless, the position is now being pushed as the best moral choice for the sake of the planet.

Here are some of the reasons given as to the reasons why not having kids is morally superior to having them:

1 - Because humans are destroying the planet.
Their solution - get rid of humans...
"More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet," Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.

Population experts, meanwhile, called for more funding for family planning programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations.

"For 20 years, there's been very little investment in family planning, but there's a return of interest now, partly because of the environmental factors like global warming and food prices," said Bongaarts.

"We want to minimize population growth, and the only viable way to do that is through more effective family planning," said Casterline.
2 - Because children make parents unhappy.
Their solution to being happy, have fewer kids or no kids...
The idea that parents are less happy than nonparents has become so commonplace in academia that it was big news last year when the Journal of Happiness Studies published a Scottish paper declaring the opposite was true. “Contrary to much of the literature,” said the introduction, “our results are consistent with an effect of children on life satisfaction that is positive, large and increasing in the number of children.” Alas, the euphoria was short-lived. A few months later, the poor author discovered a coding error in his data, and the publication ran an erratum. “After correcting the problem,”it read,“the main results of the paper no longer hold. The effect of children on the life satisfaction of married individuals is small, often negative, and never statistically significant.”
3 - Because you can have more "adult toys".
Children aren't nearly as good as things, so don't have kids and get toys...
"When you don't have to spend for baby furniture and private schooling, you have more disposable income for adult toys," Folkes noted.
4 - Travel, "adult conversations", career, education, "stretches of quiet", etc.
Because that is what makes life fulfilling - more things for me - not children - and all without guilt...
Time and emotional energy to invest in friendships and a romantic partnership. Space to focus on a career or education or avocation. Uninterrupted "grown-up" conversations. Travel that's truly impulsive or leisurely or adventurous (and never involves zoos). Unpremeditated Saturday nights on the town and Sunday brunches out. Opportunities for political or community engagement. Stretches of quiet for reading or writing or relaxing. A non-child-proofed, non-toy-strewn, non-goldfish-cracker-crumb-riddled home. Eight peaceful, uninterrupted hours of sleep a night. All without any guilt that one should be spending more quality time with the kid.
Is it immoral to have kids? Some say it is.

Then there are those that have created a language that despises parenthood and children. Here are some of the terms (these are some of the nicer ones, I really don't recommend you read the others):
Breeder -- Refers to a crappy parent. We’d rather not lump all parents together and make even the good ones look bad. So when we encounter a crappy parent, we call them a “breeder”
Bovine -- Another term for breeders. I personally use it to describe slack-jawed, slow-moving breeders – they move about the same speed as cattle.
Dud -- Loser male breeder.
Duh -- Slack-jawed, clueless male breeder.
Mombie -- Combination of the words Mommy and Zombie. Occasionally used to describe a woman with placenta brain -- she's turned into a "mombie".
Furthermore, there are some who actively seek to have world powers and national governments enact laws and policies that will use contraception, abortion, and other ways of reducing pregnancy. Some of the groups doing this include:
**Population Connection
**The United Nations
**UNFPA
**World Health Organization
**Planned Parenthood
**NOW

What I believe has happened is that our culture has put a premium on pleasure at all costs. This has come from the "contraceptive mentality" that has divorced the act of sex from fertility. Thus, sex is all about pleasure. This creates a me-first attitude in other areas of life as well. In other words, we don't think of others before ourselves. Therefore, why would we want children?

This is what happens when their is no higher purpose; when atheistic humanism and secularism drive the meaning of life, there ultimately is no purpose.

The world needs families, children, and traditional morality not contraception, abortion, and the extinction of humanity. But, we also need generosity, charity, and a just way of distributing the necessities of life.

Look at the evidence:
China's one-child policy has been disastrous and even China's government is waking up to the facts.
Li Weixiong, vice-chairman of the population, resources and environment committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), elaborated the awful outcome of sex disproportion in a keynote speech at a full meeting of the CPPCC annual session.

Li said the normal newborn sex proportion is 100:104-107, and if China's disproportionate figure is allowed to continue unchecked, there would be 30 to 40 million marriage-age men who would be single all their lives by 2020.

"Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation's population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution," Li said.
We haven't even mentioned forced sterilizations, forced abortions, and eugenics.

Somewhat less problematic is Western Europe's low birth rate, but it is still a huge problem:
The number of elderly already exceeds the number of young people in many countries, and the European Union's executive arm, alarmed by the trend, estimates that the bloc will have a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030 if the low birthrates persist.

Immigration from non-European countries, already highly contentious across the EU, would not be sufficient to fill the gap even if Europe's relatively homogenous countries were willing to embrace millions of foreign newcomers, experts say.
Some European countries will be half the size they are today in 50 years and some countries will have a Muslim majority in that time if trends continue. Yet, they won't give up their contraception and abortion...children are the problem - right?

We have bought the lie that we are over-populated and that our existence is the problem in our world. The Population Research Institute fights these myths with facts. Here is just one of their videos:


Don't buy into the lies. The world was created for humans, not humans for the world.
Live and love pro-life.

Abby Johnson on O'Reilly Factor

Abby's latest appearance on the O'Reilly Factor.

You can see Abby live this Friday at 7PM in Rudder Auditorium at Texas A&M as part of St. Mary's Distinguished Speaker Series. The night will be kicked-off by The Daughters of St. Paul choir.

Fr. Barron on Confession and the New iPhone App

Catholic Pickup Lines Song Goes Viral

David Casper is one of our former students. His Catholic Pick-up Lines song was recorded by Seth Demoor or OneBillionStories.com when he came through town. It has become a viral hit.

First the song:


Here is a story the local news did on it:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Catholic Church Now a Frat House...

I don't like this at all.
Two years after St. Francis de Sales parishioners attended their final Mass, the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity has moved into the former church.

The transformation from sacred site to frat house is a first for a parish church closed by the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.

"It will be great to have a house for real instead of meeting in apartments," said Eric Otto, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute senior and the house manager.

The fraternity's 19-member Gamma Tetarton chapter bought the church and rectory for $250,000 and took title to the property on Feb. 4.
Continue Reading.
Tip o' the hat to New Advent.

Why Some Women's Religious Orders Are Booming - Happy and Prayerful Sisters

I know Sr. Michela, who is featured in the story. She is the daughter of Deacon Waldo Martinez, who I worked with while I was the Director of Campus Ministry at Texas Tech. I got to see her several years ago when she was a postulant in Nashville. She was beaming, just as she is in this video.

No wonder her order is booming.

Tip o' the hat to Josh.

Respect. Protect. Love. Serve.

I have five kids. Four are girls and one is a boy. Because I only have one boy (Dominic, 9), we have a pretty tight father-son bond. We do boy things together, that his sisters do not get to do. He likes to rough-house all the time and I don't do that as much with the girls. He has even started to challenge me to a contest of plucking each other's knuckles until one gives up. He hasn't won yet (even though I take it easy on him), but he keeps challenging me.

One of the boy things we do is we talk about God and our role as men. We have a little saying between the two of us that sums up what our mission in life is - "respect, protect, love, and serve." This is the job of a man - to respect, protect, love, and serve those in his life, esp. the women. I know that some might find this kind of thinking antiquated, but I do not. I call it chivalry.

This is exactly the mission that Christ came for. He respects the human dignity of others no matter who they were. He protected those who were rejected by society. He selflessly loves us all. He serves us still and His life is a sacrifice still being poured out for us.

Dominic does a great job of following this mission God has given us. He is, for the most part, the type of boy who sticks up for his sisters, is respectful to his mother and I, gentle when he ought to be, and he rarely complains when asked to help. He also has a great desire to please God and to know Jesus. He is my little dude and I have little doubt that one day he will make a great husband or priest / religious brother who will lay down his life for others.

Respect. Protect. Love. Serve.
Our mission as men.

On a related note - it seems another young man is being raised in a way that echoes this upbringing. Recently a state title-contender in wrestling decided not to wrestle in a qualifying match because he didn't want to hurt a girl he was matched up against. I call this chivalry. Good for him.
Tip o' the hat to CMR for this story.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Messianic Secret

Q - Why Jesus so often, after performing a miracle, tells the healed person not to tell anyone about what has happened? Is it to prevent boasting? To keep the thanks just between God and the person? They then always go and tell everyone what happened, which I think I would also be inclined to do. Why does Jesus want this to remain a secret?


A - Thanks for the question. Here is one of the passages that fits what you are describing:
"Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do will it. Be made clean." And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray." - Luke 5: 12-16
Jesus tell the people who witness His miracles (and exorcisms and professions of His mission) are told not to tell others frequently. This is sometimes called the "messianic secret". It is a pretty common theme in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of Mark.

To understand what was going on, we have to understand how the Jews viewed the Messiah 2,000 years ago. They thought the Messiah would be a political and military hero who would free Israel from the Romans. This kind of expectation permeated the people in Jesus day - and Jesus didn't fulfill this expectation.

Christ came to set us free from sin and death - not the Romans! So, he asked others to keep quiet so He could teach the people not to expect a military or political leader, but a spiritual one.

Some others say that he didn't want to inflame his enemies or that he wanted to avoid being seen as just a miracle-worker. Both of these are also valid points, but I believe the messianic secret makes the most sense in reference to why Jesus would ask others to keep quiet.

I hope this helps.

Different Levels To Heaven?

Q - I was reading your response to the question about hierarchy in heaven, and I was really confused by one of the sentences. it says
These both are referring to the fact that even though all in Heaven will see God face-to-face (the beatific visions), those who lived more virtuous and holy lives, will be more perfectly united to Him. 
This confuses me because I thought that through Purgatory, we are cleansed of our original sin and w/e else we might've clung to on Earth, and then purified, ready for Heaven. It doesn't make sense to me that some people would be more "perfectly united" with God than others? Wouldn't that be like ranking people and what they do?


A - Thanks for the question. There are not "levels" to heaven, as if we are in different places. Rather, each of us who make it to heaven will enjoy "degrees" of heaven. So, depending on what level we lived a life of holiness on earth, we will be perfected in that holiness in heaven.

The bible implies this in the following passages:
"For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct." -Matt 16:27
"The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor." -1 Cor 3:8
"Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." - 2 Cor 9:6
Think of our holiness on earth in this way. God gives us His grace, which is His divine life poured into our souls. When He gives us His life, He gives an infinite amount - similar to a never-ending waterfall of grace.

We are the containers who catch His grace. Those who are more holy will catch more grace. John Paul II and Mother Teresa are swimming pools. I am a dixie cup. To the degree we cooperate with God's grace on earth at the moment we die - we will be made perfect in that grace and holiness. This is the reason there are "degrees" of heaven for us. We will all experience it to the level we are made capable and to the level we merit. But, all of our containers will be full.

I hope this helps.