Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Paul II to be Beatified This Sunday

From the US Bishops:
As the Vatican prepares for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, this 17-minute commemoration looks back at his pontificate through images and video clips of his extensive travels, highlighting his seven visits to the United States and the mutual affection that developed between the pope and the American people.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sex-Change and the Catholic Church

Q - I know someone who was diagnosed with gender-identity disorder and then received treatment for it. Does this diagnosis then allow for a sex-change operation as a therapeutic treatment? Does this become elective surgery, allowed by the Church? Is it left to the prudential choice of those involved? The person I know has gone to confession and talked to a priest about this. They were told by the priest that they can proceed. Currently this person is celibate, but has been told by another person they need the blessing from the Vatican to proceed. If you could give more insight or help I would appreciate it. Thanks.

A - What a tough situation. The person whom you are writing about certainly has a heavy burden to carry. I will certainly pray for them and ask our readers to do so as well.

I must first say that the person you are writing about has something in common with everyone else ever created - they are made in the image and likeness of God and loved infinitely by our heavenly Father. When God looks upon us as his children, he always does so with love and

compassion only wanting what is best for us, even when we are challenged at times up to our limitations and even in our imperfections and sin. Still, there is a law we must follow.

While the impulses the person might have are hard to live with - the desire to become someone of the opposite sex - they, as all of us, are called to live a life in conformity with the natural law. Thus, they cannot do anything which would take away their bodily integrity (wholeness & health). As Vatican II states:
"Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day."- GS, 14
Then the Catechism says this about the body:
"The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature." - CCC, 365
In other words, we are not just spirits and minds "trapped" in bodies, but are humans that are both body and spirit, united into one human being. Thus, to be human is to be both physical and spiritual. In fact, we can say that because the soul is the form of the body, we have either a male or female soul - which is defined by our bodies. Thus, to be transgendered, is not a physical or spiritual problem, it is a mental one.
These kinds of surgeries are not allowed by the natural law, thus the Catechism states:
"Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reason, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law." - CCC, 2297
I should point out that these kind of surgeries never are able to fully change the sexuality of another person - even physically. A transgendered man who has this kind of surgery will never ovulate or bear children naturally nor will a transgendered woman ever be fertile with sperm. There are also problems with the vast amounts of hormones required, which have been known to cause a number of problems, including cancer and early deaths.

Note that the Church does not allow someone who has undergone sex-change surgery to enter into marriage or become a priest or religious.

All persons who are carrying such burdens should be treated with love and compassion, because the weight of such a cross is difficult beyond measure.

I would recommend that you tell this person to contact someone at The Institute for Psychological Sciences to see if they know a professional who can help. I would also recommend they seek out another priest who knows the Church's teachings in this area, because the priest this person talked to does not.

We are all created good and our sexuality is willed to be male or female (as our bodies tell us) by God:
"Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator." - CCC, 369

How Does the Vatican "Prove" a Miracle

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fr. Barron on Bob Dylan in China

Praying In Front of an Abortion Clinic

St. Mary's is home to many young people who commit to regularly pray outside of our local abortion clinic. It is also the home of some of the best pro-life leaders in our country right now. Our community is the birthplace for 40 Days for Life in addition to the local Coalition for Life, which is a model for local pro-life activism. This story in The Battalion (A&M's student paper) tells about sidewalk counselors who sacrifice to save lives. A snip:
As I drive down semi-dark, empty streets toward an inconspicuous building on 29th Street in Bryan, there are already a few people lined up, just off the sidewalk, careful not to obstruct the walkway. Their heads somberly bowed. They face a tall fence of metal bars and a screen that inhibits those outside from looking in and those inside from looking out. I seek out Katie Higdon, director of communication for Brazos Valley Coalition for Life and class of 2010.

"There's already one girl inside," she says.

It is 7:03 a.m. and the sidewalk counselors are already praying in front of Planned Parenthood. This is a medical abortion Saturday at this location.

One organization stands out to Aggies: the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life. According to ABC News, this organization has entered the national awareness by making the Bryan location one of the most protested Planned Parenthood offices in the nation. Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood, labeled Bryan-College Station a bastion of anti-choice sentiment.

Regardless of one's stance on the issue of abortion, this organization's rise from a single Aggie concerned with an issue to a large, effective grassroots organization that sponsors the internationally observed 40 Days for Life campaign is remarkable. All this began in Bryan in 1998. Thirteen years later, I stand on the sidewalk with counselors in the middle of the campaign.

Neither of us knew what to expect on arrival. Higdon informed me Planned Parenthood had a volunteer who escorted women from their cars to the front door. According to Higdon, this was to keep the women from interacting with the sidewalk counselors.

Carl Paustian is a first-year biotechnology graduate student at Texas A&M. Paustian stands in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan with his head bowed in prayer for the first woman who arrived promptly at 7 a.m. that morning for her appointment. Over the next few hours, I witness Paustian leave his prayerful stance and spring into action the moment a new patient arrived at the clinic. He never shouts, only raises his voice enough to be audible over the sporadic traffic and the fence. Most of the morning, Paustian's pleas, suggestions and statements of "we love you and are praying for you" go unacknowledged or unanswered.

"Coalition for Life is not there to judge the men and women going to Planned Parenthood. I, and so many of the other volunteers, are there on the sidewalk because we care about the health and safety of women in our community," Paustian said. "We are out there to offer a loving hand to women who might want help and [don't] know of the many options that exist here in Bryan-College Station."
Continue Reading.
Pray for those that pray and sidewalk counsel outside of abortion clinics.

JPII's Beatification Process

You might ask - how did the Catholic Church decide that John Paul II should be declared a "Blessed"? The answer is found in the video below:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Is Jesus Present in the Eucharist?

Q - I was in adoration last night reading a meditation on the Eucharist and the prayer read "enlighten my mind to understand the Eucharist not as a thing but as a person" Bam it hit me right over the head I had always thought of it as a thing. Like part of the flesh of Jesus of something. So then I asked my self a question I never had before. How is Jesus present in the Eucharist. Seems I've spent so much time focusing on how we know he is in the Eucharist I never thought to think of how he is present in the Eucharist. How is Jesus present in the Eucharist? Where do we find the teachings about this presence?

A - Thanks for the great question! First let us explore what it means to be "present". Vatican II in Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) says that Christ is "present" to us in five different ways. I will highlight them in the text below from SC, 7:
To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" (20), but especially under the eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes (21). He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) .
So, we have Christ truly present:
  1. In the priest,
  2. In the Sacraments,
  3. In the Scriptures,
  4. In the people,
  5. Especially in the Eucharist.
We could even add others. He is truly present in each individual believer who is in the state of grace as well as his Mystical Body, the Church. With this being said, the Church has always taught that there is a difference in the way that Christ is present in the Eucharist. The council of Trent gave us the formula of "body, blood, soul, and divinity".
So, while we say Christ is "truly present" in several different ways to us, there is a different kind of presence that the Church speaks of when talking about the Eucharist and not in the other ways. He is present in the Eucharist in a way that changes the reality of what is there.

The Catechism tells us more about how Christ is present to us:

CCC 1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."
So, what the Church is saying is that Jesus isn't only present in a spiritual way. But, rather there is a substantial change and all of Christ is now here for us.

In Benedict's first encyclical he writes on this topic:
Mysterium fidei! - The Mystery of Faith!”. When the priest recites or chants these words, all present acclaim: “We announce your death, O Lord, and we proclaim your resurrection, until you come in glory”.
In these or similar words the Church, while pointing to Christ in the mystery of his passion, also reveals her own mystery: Ecclesia de Eucharistia. By the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the Church was born and set out upon the pathways of the world, yet a decisive moment in her taking shape was certainly the institution of the Eucharist in the Upper Room. Her foundation and wellspring is the whole Triduum paschale, but this is as it were gathered up, foreshadowed and “concentrated' for ever in the gift of the Eucharist. In this gift Jesus Christ entrusted to his Church the perennial making present of the paschal mystery. With it he brought about a mysterious “oneness in time” between that Triduum and the passage of the centuries.
The thought of this leads us to profound amazement and gratitude. In the paschal event and the Eucharist which makes it present throughout the centuries, there is a truly enormous “capacity” which embraces all of history as the recipient of the grace of the redemption. This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist. But in a special way it should fill the minister of the Eucharist. For it is he who, by the authority given him in the sacrament of priestly ordination, effects the consecration. It is he who says with the power coming to him from Christ in the Upper Room: “This is my body which will be given up for you This is the cup of my blood, poured out for you...”. The priest says these words, or rather he puts his voice at the disposal of the One who spoke these words in the Upper Room and who desires that they should be repeated in every generation by all those who in the Church ministerially share in his priesthood. (EE, 5)

So, how is Christ present is best answered by saying that it is a "real presence" of the "whole Christ" in his "body, blood, soul and divinity".
What a great thing to meditate on more!

I hope this helps.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Marriage?

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse spoke on Apr 8 as part of St. Mary’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Her topic was "Natural Marriage: Lifelong, Exclusive Union - Woman and Man".

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the founder and President of The Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage to promote life-long married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.

The video of her presentation is below:

First Comes Love: College Students and Relationships

All of the videos for the three relationships classes can be found below. I can't believe I wore the same shirt in two of the videos. I am a dork.

Class #1:

Class #2

Class #3

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Next Time You Get Bored In Mass...

The next time you get bored in Mass, watch this video below...

While It Was Still Dark

“while it was still dark” These five words jumped off the page at me this morning during Mass as I followed along with the priest. “On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.”

While it was still dark. Mary came while it was still dark. The stone had been removed while it was still dark. Jesus had risen while it was still dark.

Somehow I’d always pictured Jesus’ resurrection taking place after sunrise, perhaps as the light peaked through the clouds and gently filtered through the rustling leaves. Or sometimes in my imagining it was a glorious light filled spectacle. Just as the brightest rays of the morning sun hit the tomb, the stone blew off in some dramatic way and Christ came forth. Son met sun.

But what hit me this morning was this: it was still dark. Christ’s resurrection is precisely what brought the light. It is His rising that brings day. It is His new life that ushers in the new creation. And it all begins when it is still dark. Morning didn’t signal Jesus to rise. Jesus signaled the new day by His rising!

Wow that sounds magnificent, but what does this mean for me and for you?

It means He brings light to our life while it is still dark. When we can’t find our way and are bogged down in blindness and not-knowing . . . He comes. Jesus comes into that darkness and brings His light.

It means He brings joy into our grieving hearts while it is still dark. When we are weighed down with sorrow or paralyzed by sadness . . . He comes. Jesus comes into our burdens and brings His hope.

It means He brings peace into our chaos while it is still dark. When we are twisted up in anxious knots and searching desperately for a secure place in the world . . . He comes. Jesus comes into our unrest and brings His calm.

Perhaps this Easter Sunday your circumstances and emotions are not cooperating and aligning with the joyous celebration of the day. Perhaps you find yourself still burdened by darkness, weighed down by sorrow, or riddled with anxiety. Do not fear. Christ comes while it is still dark.

We have these fifty days of Easter (and a lifetime if we need it!) for His light to dawn in our hearts. Welcome Him in though it may still be dark and let Him rise in you. Let Christ our light signal a new day in you.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter!!!
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20:1-9

The Easter Story - Animated in Chalk

Have a Blessed Easter - HE IS RISEN!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

During the Easter Vigil the Exsultet is sung, which is one of the most beautiful of all liturgical chants. This video is from the Oratory Birmingham in the UK.

English translation:
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What is Good Friday?

Good Friday - why is it "good"?
This picture tells us why today is good.
Christ died for us. For me. For you.

Johnny Cash - Were You There: (When They Crucified My Lord)

A Prayer For Good Friday

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our
daily bread,
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is Holy Thursday?

Holy Thursday celebrates the Institution of the Eucharist and Priesthood. The Evening service will include the washing of feet and the procession out of the church with the Blessed Sacrament for a time of communal Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." -John 6:51

Holy Thursday

"He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love.

While they were at supper, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.

In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."
-Eucharistic Prayer IV
Panis Angelicus (Bread of Angels) from St. Thomas Aquinas - English Translation:
The angelic bread
becomes the bread of men;
The heavenly bread
ends all prefigurations:
What wonder!
consumes the Lord
a poor and humble servant.

Triune God,
We beg of you,
that you visit us,
as we worship you.
By your ways,
lead us who seek
the light in which you dwell.

Panis angelicus
fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
figuris terminum:
O res mirabilis!
Manducat Dominum
Pauper, servus et humilis.

Te trina Deitas
unaque poscimus:
Sic nos tu visita,
sicut te colimus;
Per tuas semitas
duc nos quo tendimus,
Ad lucem quam inhabitas.

To Be a Priest

Holy Thursday is the day that Christ instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist. 
So, here is a great video from the Diocese of Rockville Centre (New York) - 7 men answer 9 questions about the road to the priesthood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Is Wrong With Us???

When I see stories like the following ones, I can't help but ask - what is wrong with us (humans)?

  • Boy, 10, the youngest Australian to have sex change.
    10 years old? He isn't capable of knowing what is going on yet or truly capable of comprehending what is happening. 10?
  • A state-funded sex education Web site that tells teens an abortion is “much easier than it sounds”. They also tell teens how to get around parents and give the impression that everyone is doing it. With tax dollars.
  • Planned Parenthood ads target lawmakers over defunding votes. So, they need our tax money to provide services, but have enough money to lobby against those who would cut their money?
  • 3-D porn movie sets a new opening day record, in Hong Kong, to beat out Avatar.

So, what is wrong with us? We have lost our way. We do not know who we are (or who other humans are), we do not know how much value we each have, we do not know Jesus Christ, and we do not know our faith. But, the biggest problem is that those who might have answers to these questions aren't doing enough to change our culture, teach others their own dignity, or love others enough to share their faith.

We need to rise up and fight against a culture that devalues the human person!

Fr. Barron on God and Government

Christ Became Sin For Us

Q - Why does the Bible say that Jesus "became sin"? 

A - Thanks for the question. Here is the verse you are referring to.
"For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him." - 2 Cor 5:21
What Paul is doing in this verse is setting up a paradox. We are the sinners. God alone is righteous. So, for us to share in God's righteousness, Christ shares in our sinful nature. Not sinning himself, but rather, taking on our fallen nature and redeeming it by his sinlessness.

This statement is basically a restatement of other verses such as:
For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, - Rom 8:3

Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree," - Gal 3:13

He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Pet 2:24
This is the Gospel. We have been redeemed by Christ's suffering. He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave in order to ransom us from death and sin and offer us life eternal. This was done by Christ's passion, death and resurrection and our joining him in faith and baptism.

If we get more technical as to why Paul says "made sin" there are different interpretations, but all reach basically the same conclusion which is summarized above - that Christ became an offering for our sins.

In the Greek Old Testament "sin" is shorthand expression for a Levitical priestly "sin offering". Hence, we see this in:

This bullock must also be brought outside the camp and burned, just as has been prescribed for the other one. This is the sin offering for the community. - Lev 4:21
We also see it in the suffering servant of Isaiah:
(But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. - Is 53:10
God reconciles us to himself through Christ's offering.
The good news in one verse.

What A Wonderful World...

Tip o' the hat to AmP.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Struggle Of Being Single

While I am not a big fan of this genre of performance poetry - this one is absolutely amazing. A young woman's honest struggle with being single and doing God's will.
One part that I love:
I will no longer date, socialize or communicate with carbon copies of you
To appease my boredom or to quench my thirstiness I have for attention
And short-lived compliments from ‘sorta kindas’.
You know…. He ‘sort kinda’ right, but ‘sorta kinda’ wrong?
His first name LUKE,
His last name WARM.

The Vows of Cohabitation

A pretty honest look at what cohabitation says to the other person:

Penguins Are Ticklish

I didn't know it either. But, this little guys laughs.

Why Do Some Go To Hell If God Loves Them?

Q - I still do not understand why people might go to hell. I believe that there's hell, but the question that was tormenting my mind lately was: does Jesus stop to love those who go to hell ? I know that those who go to hell do not want God or Jesus in their lives, but why does this relationship have to end when there is permanent mercy. I know that Jesus' love is eternal and infinite; if that is true why does it let this happen (going to hell eternally, losing God after a certain finite point)?

Loving Jesus is the life itself but why is it almost a quiz from the time we were born, that we fail or succeed eternally. It seems both as if we have a choice but we do not have a choice. Help!

A - Thanks for the questions. I can tell that you are wrestling with these quite a bit and that is a good thing.

There are a few things we must understand about the nature of God, the nature of humans, and our relationship with God.
  • God is the source of all good.  God does not create evil (which isn't really a "thing", but rather an absence of a good).  
  • God cannot act in a way that is not good (evil).
  • God allows humans to choose to do good or evil.  We have free will.  It is possible to reject God's grace.
  • God wants (wills) all be saved.
God loves us so much that he allows us to choose hell - God allows us to choose it, against what he wants for us.  Why? Because God respects our freedom so much that He would allow us to choose something bad for us. Without such freedom we could not choose to love freely either.

Love doesn't always equal nice, clean and pretty. Love isn't about feeling good. It is about what is best for the other, despite the cost to myself. As a parent this is certainly the case. I see parents make the common mistake of being a friend to their children and end up not disciplining them, which leads to spoiled brats. They then ask how they could have turned out as they did. I remember the first time I punished my oldest child. I cried more than she did. But, I did it because I truly love her.

God wants what is best for us - that is freedom to choose to love Him. Without the option to choose something else, it wouldn't be true freedom.

Thus, the Catechism says:
1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny
Ultimately, hell is being separated from God for eternity. Since we are created for union with God, it is unnatural for us to be in Hell. But, God never stops loving us. We are the ones who stop loving Him. He cannot stop loving us, because by his nature, God is love.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. - 1 John 4:8-9.
God values one of us more than all of the rest of His creation added up. Christ died on a cross and rose again so that we might have life eternal with Him. He didn't die for the stars, the mountains, the animals, the planets, etc.

He died for you and me.

The Catechism says:
220 God's love is "everlasting": "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you." Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."
To be loved by God does not mean He won't allow us to choose not to love Him - even eternally.

I hope this helps.

The Sexualization of Children

Here is a good article about why parents are to blame for much of the over-sexualization of our children.
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- I saw someone at the airport the other day who really caught my eye.

Her beautiful, long blond hair was braided back a la Bo Derek in the movie "10" (or for the younger set, Christina Aguilera during her "Xtina" phase). Her lips were pink and shiny from the gloss, and her earrings dangled playfully from her lobes.

You can tell she had been vacationing somewhere warm, because you could see her deep tan around her midriff thanks to the halter top and the tight sweatpants that rested just a little low on her waist. The icing on the cake? The word "Juicy" was written on her backside.

Yeah, that 8-year-old girl was something to see alright. ... I hope her parents are proud. Their daughter was the sexiest girl in the terminal, and she's not even in middle school yet.

Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire this spring for introducing the "Ashley," a push-up bra for girls who normally are too young to have anything to push up. Originally it was marketed for girls as young as 7, but after public outcry, it raised its intended audience to the wise old age of 12. I wonder how do people initiate a conversation in the office about the undeveloped chest of elementary school girls without someone nearby thinking they're pedophiles?

What kind of PowerPoint presentation was shown to the Abercrombie executives that persuaded them to green light such a product?

That there was a demand to make little girls hot?
Continue Reading.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The (il)Logic of the Sexual Revolution

Anthony Esolen issues a challenge - defend the Sexual Revolution, if you can. I don't think it is possible...
Why should two men who are sexually attracted to one another not be allowed to pretend that they are married? That we are even asking such a question is the result of our having accepted the premise of the sexual revolution, which is, essentially, that what people do with their bodies is their own business, so long as no one is harmed. By “no one” we mean the people involved in the sexual act, and sometimes, though much less reliably and without a great deal of concern, an unwitting spouse who happens, at the moment, not to be in the bed but, perhaps, shopping for dinner, or laying pipes at a construction site. By “harm” we mean obvious physical or psychological violence. So we frown upon rape and, after two generations of knowing smiles and winks, pedophilia. Everything else goes.

Now the odd thing about this premise is that, despite its being so widely taken for granted, it is astonishingly weak. The person who proclaims it severs himself, in effect, from all considerations of the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. For he says, “With regard to sexual behavior, so long as no one is being coerced into the act, and, perhaps, so long as no spouse is being betrayed, the claims of virtue do not apply.” The justification of the sexual act is located in the desire itself, and the desire is taken as a brute fact, a given. But this is a premise we would reject out of hand in any other sphere of human action. We know, indeed, that the very reason why we inculcate the virtues in ourselves and in our children is so that we will do the right thing despite what we happen to desire, and, more, that we will learn to desire what is right, because it is right, just as we should wish to know the truth because it is true. We would not say, even to a man of independent wealth, “Your desire to spend twelve hours a day playing video games should be respected, because it is your desire.” We would instead say, “You should not be doing that; it is a truncation of your humanity; it is the wrong thing to do, and you should learn to desire something else.” We would not say to a person who spent a thousand dollars a month on shoes, “If this is what you want, I must respect it.” We would instead say, “You are squandering your money, which could be put to far better use. This also is a truncation of your humanity. Of course I know that you want to do this; that’s the very problem. You should learn to want something better.”

Now the playing of pointless games and the buying of rooms full of shoes are trivial matters in comparison with our sexual behavior. About trivialities, the law should have little to say. But our sexual behavior is far from trivial. In fact, the same people who, in one way, claim for it such triviality that it must fall beneath the notice of the law, in another way, exalt it as the lodestone of human life, such that any curtailment of sexual autonomy must strike to the very heart of our beings. We cannot have it both ways at once.
Continue Reading.

High-Def Art From Google.

Sometimes Technology does great things. This is one of those times.
Google now has high-def artwork, from tons of museums in the "Google Art Project".

When Is The Last Time You Went to Confession?

In high school I started to rebel against my parents. By my sophomore year I was in the party-hard crowd. By my senior year I was also a very good football player in addition to my partying. When I graduated high school my life revolved around my friends, beer, girls, and popularity. This carried over into college.

After entering Texas A&M, I was arrogant and confident on the outside, but these traits were hiding my dislike of who I was inside. I found a group of buddies who supported my search for beer and girls, because they were doing the same thing. My grades were poor, I was unhappy and life wasn’t very good. This triggered a grace I denied for too long deep in my soul. I wanted more in life, but didn’t know where to get it. I started to talk to some other young men in my dorm who I found interesting because they always seemed to have a good time, but didn’t party. They intrigued me with their lifestyle and joy.

This group of guys became some of my closest friends. They were a mixture of Catholics and Baptists. They didn’t like me all too much at first because I was too drunk and lazy for them. But, this still didn’t keep them from encouraging me to go back to church. I did this once in a while and had many seeds planted. One Sunday I attended and found out about a parish mission coming up the next week. I wanted to go, but I also didn’t want to seem too Christian, so I went to third and final night only. That night, the priest told a story of how he failed to see Christ in an annoying homeless woman on a bus in New York City. After the story I thought to myself “if I were Fr., I would have beat the woman up” and this thought troubled me greatly. I found that I didn't like the person I had become.

Because of the Holy Spirit’s kicking me in the pants and my new friends’ encouragement I decided to attend a retreat at St. Mary's Catholic Center. I only did so because of the promise there would be many good-looking Catholic women there or at least that is what I told myself and others. It took two other friends going as well to finally get me there. I thought of backing out several times. But, I was at a point where I needed something and I was hoping I could get whatever it was from this place. I needed a change.

Once there I was taken aback by the fervor and zeal of all the “Jesus Freaks” and “Bible Thumpers”. I had never met Catholics like these people before. On Friday night of the retreat there was a talk about Confession and the need to repent of our sins. I was convicted that I was a sinner, but decided Confession was useless and I wasn’t going to go. I grew up thinking that Confession was about giving your laundry list of sins quickly and then getting it over with as fast as possible.

After the talk there was an examination of conscience. The examination went through the Ten Commandments and was geared toward college students. I think I could have checked every one of the hundreds of sins covered. This was an eye-opener for me and for some inexplicable reason I found myself walking to Confession. I didn’t want to go and still don’t know why I did, because I was scared, angry and confused all at the same time.

I waited in line for a priest I had never seen before or since. The waiting scared me more, because I had never gone to Confession with a priest face-to-face before. When I finally sat in front of the priest, I immediately started crying. The weight of all my sins hit me squarely between the eyes.

For the first time in my life I talked about all the sins I didn’t even want to confess to myself. It was both painful and amazingly beautiful. After the priest calmed me and told me about God’s love for me, I laid it all on the line and let my heart open up. This is where I had my initial conversion to Christ as an adult. This is the moment I allowed Christ to enter my life. After Confession, I felt like a new person and knelt in the chapel where I truly prayed to God for the first time. I told him I was now belonged to Him.

From that moment on, I have tried to live my life for Jesus. I became involved in my parish community, started to pray daily and go to Mass. From that moment I began my journey again from where I left off as a child. Christ welcomed me home with open arms. Of course the road has had it bumps and problems, but I still find Christ in going frequently to Confession, about once every couple of weeks.

My question to you is this - what are you waiting for?

Christ is waiting to hear your Confession, heal your wounds, forgive your sins, and walk closer with you.


The Voice of Autism

I know a number of people with Autism and have to say that this video changed my perspective of them.

Tip o' the hat to Mark.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Random and Fun Stuff

**If you like the game show Jeopardy!, then you will love to hear that you can see every question and every answer of every show here.

**This is stinking cool:
In technology that is lifted straight from Robocop, Brazilian cops will be outfitted with glasses that can scan faces in a crowd and automatically pick out criminals. The glasses use advanced facial recognition technology that can scan 400 faces a second at 50 yards away.
Read more.
**Yo-Yo Ma collaborates with a LA street dancer in this video:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fr. Barron on How To Read The Bible.

The Federal Deficit - In an Easy-to-Understand Example

This is a great way to understand the problem our Federal government has with the deficit right now.
We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.
We need some serious reform in our federal deficit spending.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

St. Mary's Featured in Our Sunday Visitor

Thanks to Brandon Vogt, the author of an article in Our Sunday Visitor entitled "Imagining (digital) parish life 10 years from now", which has St. Mary's prominently featured.

Brandon is also the author of “The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops who Tweet” (OSV), which will be released later this year. The book has contributions from various leaders, Bishops, and new media visionaries who are helping the Church evangelize using new media. There are 5 Aggies who are contributing to the book, including myself.
Here is part of the article.
“Please silence your cell phones and other electronic devices.” Millions of Catholics hear this mantra every week before Mass. And in response, we power down, disconnect and turn off our devices.

But imagine a priest instead requesting parishioners to “please, take out your cell phones, and turn them on.” You would surely hear gasps as people wonder whether the priest had misspoken or if their hearing aids need new batteries.

Yet this petition is increasingly being made at parishes all across the country. St. Mary’s Catholic Center, the campus parish at Texas A&M University, provides one example. One weekend last September, at the end of each Mass, the presiding priest asked all parishioners to whip out their cell phones and turn them on. He then asked them to text message some basic information to a number associated with the parish, including their name, phone number and email address.

Within a couple of minutes, thousands of parishioners beamed their info to a registration database, establishing a digital connection between the parish and its parishioners (those without cell phones were still able to fill out traditional registration cards).

Later, parishioners were sent an email inviting them to complete their registration on the parish website. There, each parishioner could create a unique account through a tool called flockNote ( This tool allows each person to choose which parish groups and ministries they wish to receive updates from. The parish’s college students became especially excited about the option to choose how they would receive these messages. Email? Twitter? Facebook? Text messages? Each person decided how the parish connected with him or her, not the other way around.

As new media increasingly dominate our world through blogs, social media, podcasting, interactive websites and text messaging, among other tools, parishes can’t afford to sit out this digital revolution.
Continue Reading.
Thanks to Brandon for the article. Please read more at his blog - The Thin Veil.


When is the last time you went to Confession? In an effort to get more Catholics to return to the Sacrament of Confession, a new video contest has been going on. Here are some details:
In an effort to help promote New York’s All Day Confessions event, happening Monday April 18th, The Diocese of Brooklyn in conjunction with both the Archdiocese of New York and Diocese of Rockville Centre are launching a grassroots digital campaign called i-Confess. Using both social and digital media, the goal of this campaign is to generate interest in the act of Confession.
Continue Reading.
Here are some of the best videos:

Get Clean:

Go Be Forgiven:

Throw Away Your Sins:

Don't Forget to Friend God:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Where Do You Set Your Limits?

We all have different gifts and talents. Some are better than others at music. Some at sports. Some at science. Some at writing.

Regardless of our gifts, few of us really push ourselves to discover where our limits really lie. A few people do push themselves. One of those persons is Nick Vujicic. See below.

Nick speaks to youth about the lies about not having worth.

Nick surfs with Bethany Hamilton.

Nick stars in an award-winning short film - The Butterfly Circus.
Part I:

Part II:

Movies You Should See

There Be Dragons.
Coming May 2011 - A film about St. Josemaria Escriva. I saw the film last summer (review here). It is excellent.

Soul Surfer.
Out currently, it is a story of a young girl's faith in the midst of suffering. Steven Greydanus reviews it here.

Of Gods and Men.
A film about Monks in Algeria who are martyred. Getting rave reviews and winning awards. In limited release.

About the Mexican Government's persecution of the Catholic Church and religious freedom. A story too few Americans know about. Not yet released.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

October 22 - JPII's Newly Announced Feast Day

Good news. Oct 22 is looking better than it ever has.
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2011 ( Pope John Paul II's liturgical memorial will be observed every Oct. 22 in Rome and Poland, according to a decree issued today by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The decree, which acknowledged the "exceptional character" of the Pontiff's beatification, regulates the public liturgical observance, also known as the "cult," of the soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II. The Pontiff's beatification will take place May 1 in the Vatican.

Even though Mass of thanksgiving following a beatification are normally limited to the places where the blessed lived or worked, the Vatican has granted permission for local Churches around the world to celebrate a thanksgiving Mass during the year following the Pontiff's beatification.

The date for the thanksgiving Mass is to be selected by the diocesan bishop for his diocese, and by the general superior for religious congregations and orders, but it must take place before May 1, 2012.

An Oct. 22 liturgical memorial will be automatically inserted into the liturgical calendars of the Diocese of Rome and the dioceses of Poland, and other local churches and religious families may request permission to do the same.

Scariest Tsunami Footage I Have Seen

I thought I had seen the most dramatic and scary video a few weeks ago. That one is scary, but not as bad as this one, where villagers literally run for their lives.

Pray for Japan!

UN Might Try to Give "Mother Earth" Same Rights as Humans

This is quite frightening. The consequences are legion.
UNITED NATIONS — Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.

The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.

The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia's Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January.

That document speaks of the country's natural resources as "blessings," and grants the Earth a series of specific rights that include rights to life, water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution.

It also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature's complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.

"If you want to have balance, and you think that the only (entities) who have rights are humans or companies, then how can you reach balance?" Pablo Salon, Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, told Postmedia News. "But if you recognize that nature too has rights, and (if you provide) legal forms to protect and preserve those rights, then you can achieve balance."
Continue Reading.

Celibacy, Vocations and the Priesthood

Q - Having read in the news about the discussion in some circles concerning the lack of new men entering the priesthood and the issue of celibacy I am fearful for the future of the Church. In what ways can the Church address this shortfall so that we won’t end up with a situation where it will have to deviate from its beliefs on celibacy? We already see in some places, especially in the western world, one priest in charge of several parishes. Your views would be greatly appreciated.

A – Thanks for your question! I think it is understandable to have some questions about the situation, but the problem is two-fold. 1) The mass media does not understand the Church, the Vatican, or the teachings of the Church and they mess it up often. They really don't understand celibacy, because it is contrary to most reporters' world view. I will clarify below. 2) There isn’t as much of a crisis as what many people believe and there are many signs for hope, not worry.

First off, (in 2006) the media portrayed the discussion in the Vatican about the issue to seem as if the practice of allowing married priests in the Latin Rite was up for grabs. That isn’t the case. It was a very specific question – should the Church allow Latin Rite priest who have left active ministry and gotten married to come back to active ministry? The Vatican has now answered the question and the answer is "no". You can read about it here. From this, we can see that the Vatican was not looking at allowing any priest to marry, just in this one particular situation.

We must remember that the teaching on priestly celibacy is not doctrine, but a noble practice. There have been, and are presently, priests who are married, though they are exceptions to the norm in the largest part of the Catholic Church – the Latin Rite. In other the smaller Eastern Rites married priests are more common. Also, ministers from certain Protestant denominations that are married and then become Catholic are allowed to remain married when they become priests, if they receive a special dispensation from the Vatican.

Secondly, there isn’t as much of a vocations crisis as it is made out to be. For instance, in the Austin Diocese there are more seminarians than there have ever been. While things are much tighter in other areas and may become even worse in the next few years, we are starting to see an upswing in the number of seminarians across the country. We should not fear that God will provide shepherds for His people, but we all need to do our part to help pray for and foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

In fact, here at St. Mary's we are pojecting between 7-10 men and women to enter formation for the priesthood and religious life this year. We are also getting close to 150 Aggie priests and religious (in addition to the high number currently in formation). Think of these young people when you need hope.

Some believe we need to abandon celibacy in order to get more priests. This really won’t help when we look at it objectively. Most Protestant denominations (who allowed married clergy) are suffering for ministers as well. Also, married clergy would cost more, have less time to devote to the Church, and there are no guarantees would help the numbers. Celibacy helps the priest to live as a more perfect “sign” (or sacrament) of Christ. St. Paul says in 1 Cor 7 that it is better to remain celibate in order to serve the Church.

Celibacy must not be seen in the negative “giving up sex” manner. It is a positive. The priest gives a good thing away in order to point to something even better – life with Christ forever. Both married life and celibacy are gifts from God.

One of the problems with vocations come from the misunderstanding of the priestly life of celibacy as well as the over-sexed nature of our society and the problems many young men have with remaining celibate and chaste while single.
Matthew 19:11-12: "Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.
I hope this helps.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2 Of The Worst Jobs Ever...

Here are a few examples of some of the worst jobs ever. Stay in school might be the moral of the story...

Cobra Pit Janitor:

Sewer Diver:

Gerry Hince - Finalist for The Jefferson Award

Gerry Hince, our Director of RCIA, is a local finalist for the Jefferson Award. This award is given for public service. Gerry certainly is involved in our community and this video shows just how much she does for us all.

Abortion Clinic Sidewalk Counseling

One thing we know how to do here in College Station, TX is train pro-lifers.
  • The Coalition for Life is now a model for community organizations in the pro-life movement. 
  • 40 Days For Life started here. 
  • We have Aggies throughout the nation leading pro-life movements.
With this kind of success and history, when one of our Former Students, Heather Gardner, recently moved to Austin to help with the Austin Coalition for Life, I knew it was only a matter of time before she started saving babies there. Heather happens to be one of the prime reasons that Abby Johnson walked out of Planned Parenthood and Heather has many "saves" under her belt already while working and volunteering here in town. The following story is about one of her recent experiences on the sidewalk:
Yesterday I went to the sidewalk at the North I-35 prayer vigil outside "Whole Woman's Health," (an abortion clinic in Austin, TX). As I was praying I looked up and saw a very young petite woman walk out of the clinic. I reached out to her and she did not respond. I persisted. She was on her cell phone, which sometimes can discourage a sidewalk counselor from talking to a client. But I kept trying anyway. She walked all the way across the parking lot and down the driveway.

She kept walking down the street and I almost gave up. Then I thought, "no, keep trying." I proceeded once more. "Hi ma'am, I would really like to talk with you and share some information with you." She stopped and turned around. "Hang on" she said to the person on the phone. She walked toward me. "I'm sorry to interrupt your conversation," I went on, "but I was hoping to talk with you for a moment."

I asked her what brought her to the clinic today. She was there for a pregnancy test. She had hung up the phone by this point. "What did you find out?" I asked. Her expression changed to a disheartening look. "I'm pregnant."

"Oh? And how do you feel about that?" I asked. She said she was worried and didn't know what to think. She didn't expect this at all. "But I'm going to get it taken care of." "What are you going to do?" I asked. "I'm gonna take the pill while it's still early enough. I have to go to the Medicaid office right now though so I can pay for the abortion."

I offered her a ride, and she was very grateful. I told her to wait for a few moments so I could go tell Christine, another Sidewalk Counselor, that I was leaving. As I started walking toward Christine, she motioned for me to come over to talk with some other clients. She had two women that walked over to her from the clinic parking lot. They were Spanish speakers and Christine wanted me to talk to them. I speak little Spanish, but I can usually get by on the sidewalk. It was a mother and her 18-yr-old daughter. They were there for a pregnancy test but they hadn't gone inside yet. I explained to her that she could go to a pregnancy resource center (PRC) nearby for free services including a pregnancy test.

I glanced back over to the other girl that I talked to, making sure she was still there. The Spanish speaking mother told me they wanted to get the pregnancy test here. I explained that this was an abortion clinic and they didn't have to be here. At first she didn't understand, she kept saying that they weren't there for an abortion, just a pregnancy test. I encouraged Christine to call Austin Life Care (the nearby PRC) and ask for a spanish speaker to talk to these two women. Christine did just that, and I left so that I could go take the other girl to the Medicaid office.

I walked back over to her, told her my name and asked her for hers. We'll call her "D." I started asking D about the appointment she just had in the clinic. She said that the worker that "helped her" told D that she was "very proud" of her for coming as early as she did so that she could "take care of this." Those words always make me cringe.

The clinic told D she was 3 weeks along, so it was early enough to take the abortion pill "since it's not a baby yet, it's just an embryo." D said they scheduled an appointment for her for next Wednesday to get the abortion pill. "Did they even ask you if that's what you wanted?" "No," she replied. "I didn't even know what to think." GAAHH!!! I maintained my composure (by the grace of God).

"D, did you know that it actually is a baby? You're pregnant with a baby!" I told her that technically it's true, it is an embryo, but that's a word they use to confuse women to make us think it's not a baby. Embryo is just a stage of development, just like toddler, teenager, and adult. It's still a baby, a very tiny baby. Since she looked so young I asked her how old she was and she said 19.

We got in my car and talked for about 15 more minutes about fetal development, abortion procedures, and about how abortion clinics deceive women because abortions are their biggest money maker. "They didn't tell me any of this! I can't believe this!" Then she told me that she should have just gone to Planned Parenthood because she's heard they are better. Oh girl, don't even get me started on Planned Parenthood! I told her about Planned Parenthood and how they are the largest abortion chain in the world. I reassured her that I knew this information because I have friends who have had abortions, and that a close friend of mine had actually worked at a Planned Parenthood for 8 years. She was even more shocked!

We drove to the Medicaid office. The line was too long so she picked up an application to take home and fill out. I wasn't sure if she was completely against abortion at this point, so I asked her if she'd like me to take her to Austin Life Care to get another pregnancy test, just to make sure. She told me that she was looking for a job and she wasn't with her boyfriend any more. I explained that Austin Life Care could help her with a pregnancy test, ultrasound, more information about abortion (and of course about her other options), help with her pregnancy, help finding affordable healthcare, and help finding a job - all for free!

She was thrilled! On the way to Austin Life Care she revealed that her mother had her when she was 15! "Wow!" I said. "Think about that...your mother was very young, four years younger than you are now, and she must have been so scared! But she chose life for you!" D raised her eyebrows. "Yeah, you're right. I know I know. My mom even finished high school, and got a college degree!" "See, you can do this!" I reassured her. "No matter how tough things are, there is help for you!! No mother looks at her kids and thinks, I wish I would have aborted them, but sooooo many women regret having abortions." D agreed, saying that she has friends who have had abortions and have suffered a lot because of them. But she never knew what abortion really was until now.

Austin Life Care received D right away. While I was waiting, the two Spanish speakers that I had spoken with earlier on the sidewalk walked in, smiling. Awesome.D's pregnancy test said positive, and we discovered that she was actually about 5 or 6 weeks along. D scheduled an ultrasound for about 3 weeks from now. She was a bit overwhelmed with all the information and help she was given, but she was very very thankful. She said she couldn't wait to get home and read it all! I gave her a ride home, and gave her my phone number. She thanked me again, seemed relieved, and smiled.

Nice try, Whole Woman's Health.


Please pray for D and her baby and her family.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Making Another Into An Object For Sexual Gratification

A new study finds that when you consume media that portrays others as sex objects, then you tend to see the real thing the same way. This is not any ground-breaking study, but it does back up the common sense that this is happening commonly.
More on the study:
Sure, it's nice to have a looker at your side. But it turns out that concentrating on their partners' physical attractiveness may make people less happy in relationships, new research suggests.

The study also saw that magazines and movies that portray people as sex objects can cause you to see your partner in that light, though not yourself.

Self-objectification — when a person is obsessively concerned about he or she looks — has been shown to affect women's self-image, school performance and life happiness. But this quality hasn't been studied much in the context of romantic relationships. Partner-objectification, where that focus is placed on a partner's physical qualities over everything else, hasn't been studied at all in this context.

"If you have these kinds of thoughts and beliefs about your partner, it might be a block that stops you from having that intimacy, which is important in relationships," said study researcher Eileen Zurbriggen of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Studying students

For her study, Zurbriggen polled 159 sophomores at her university. The students were asked to fill out a survey on their romantic relationships (current or previous), their media consumption and their feelings of objectification.
Continue Reading.

Going to Rome?

I am ready to go to Rome to participate in a newly announced gathering of Catholic Church officials and Catholic bloggers. All I need now is a sponsor to pay my way. :-)

More info:
A meeting for bloggers will take place in Rome on the afternoon of Monday 2 May 2011.

The aim of the meeting, which is being organised by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications, is to allow for a dialogue between bloggers and Church representatives, to listen to the experiences of those who are actively involved in this arena, and to achieve a greater understanding of the needs of that community. The meeting will also allow for a presentation of some of the initiatives to engage with new media practitioners being taken by the Church, both in Rome and at the local level.

In two panels, speakers will open up some of the key issues in order to set up a more general discussion open to all participants. The first panel will involve 5 bloggers – they will be chosen to represent different language groups and each will address a specific theme of general relevance. The second panel will draw on people involved in the Church’s communications outreach – they will speak of their experiences in working with new media and initiatives aimed at ensuring an effective engagement by the Church with bloggers.

Among those participating at the meeting will be Cardinal Ravasi of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Celli of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and Father Lombardi of the Vatican’s Press Office and Vatican Radio. An important dimension of the meeting is to allow an opportunity for informal exchange and contact between those attending with a view to opening further avenues of interaction.

The meeting is taking place on the day after the Beatification of Pope John Paul II in order to take advantage of the likely presence in Rome of many bloggers. The invitation is open to all, but bloggers who wish to attend need to apply by emailing and sending a link to their blog. As space is limited to 150 seats and there is a desire to have a representation of the entire blogosphere, entrance passes and further details will be distributed with a view to the diversity of language and geography, typology of blogs (institutional or private, multivoice or personal), subjects of blogs, and timeliness of request.

Simultaneous translation will be provided for Italian, English, French, Polish and Spanish.
The venue is the Palazzo San Pio X, in via della Conciliazione, 5.

"Same Sex Marriage: Why Not?"

Tonight we will host Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse as part of St. Mary's Distinguished Speakers Series (7pm in the church - FREE). She will speak on "Natural Marriage: Lifelong, Exclusive Union - Woman and Man". She will answer questions such as:
  • Why is cohabitation a problem?
  • What is the big deal with homosexual marriage?
  • Why should we care if it doesn't hurt us?
Here is a video of Dr. J presenting at Franciscan University.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chilean Government Produces and Airs Pro-Life Ads

This is wonderful. Absolutely wonderful! Ads from a pro-life government. So pro-life they recently won a pro-life award for their constitutional protections of life.

Ten Strange Bible Verses

Some are taken out of context, some have no context, some are funny, some are just straight out of left field. This is not meant to make fun of the written Word of God, rather, it is to show that there are some times Christians need to laugh at themselves.

2 verses From the "I would rather not have heard this" category (AKA - OUCH):

10 - "No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may be admitted into the community of the LORD." - Deut 23:2

9 - "Saul commanded them to say this to David: "The king desires no other price for the bride than the foreskins of one hundred Philistines, that he may thus take vengeance on his enemies." Saul intended in this way to bring about David's death through the Philistines. When the servants reported this offer to David, he was pleased with the prospect of becoming the king's son-in-law. (Before the year was up,) David made preparations and sallied forth with his men and slew two hundred Philistines. He brought back their foreskins and counted them out before the king, that he might thus become the king's son-in-law. So Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage." - 1 Sam 18: 25-27

Two verses from the "ew" files:

8 - "Ehud went in to him where he sat alone in his cool upper room, Ehud said, "I have a message from God for you." So the king rose from his chair, and then Ehud with his left hand drew the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon's belly. The hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade because he did not withdraw the dagger from his body." - Judges 3:20-22

7 - "He said to Jacob, "Let me gulp down some of that red stuff; I'm starving."" - Gen 25:30

Two from the "don't tell my wife I posted this" file:

6 - "For a persistent leak on a rainy day the match is a quarrelsome woman. He who keeps her stores up a stormwind; he cannot tell north from south." - Pro 27: 15-16

5 - "Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, ah, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down the mountains of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of ewes to be shorn, which come up from the washing, All of them big with twins, none of them thin and barren." - Song of Songs 4: 1-2

2 from the "yes that is in the Bible" file:
4 - "When the ass saw the angel of the LORD there, she cowered under Balaam. So, in anger, he again beat the ass with his stick. But now the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she asked Balaam, "What have I done to you that you should beat me these three times?" "You have acted so willfully against me," said Balaam to the ass, "that if I but had a sword at hand, I would kill you here and now."" - Numb 22: 27-29

3 - "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. "Go up, baldhead," they shouted, "go up, baldhead!" The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the children to pieces." - 2 Kings 2: 23-24

Lastly, two from the "um k" file:
2 - "But the commander replied, "Was it to you and your master that my lord sent me to speak these words? Was it not rather to the men sitting on the wall, who, with you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?"" - Isaiah 36: 12

1 - "The LORD said to me: Go buy yourself a linen loincloth; wear it on your loins, but do not put it in water. I bought the loincloth, as the LORD commanded, and put it on. A second time the word of the LORD came to me thus: Take the loincloth which you bought and are wearing, and go now to the Parath; there hide it in a cleft of the rock. Obedient to the LORD'S command, I went to the Parath and buried the loincloth. After a long interval, he said to me: Go now to the Parath and fetch the loincloth which I told you to hide there. Again I went to the Parath, sought out and took the loincloth from the place where I had hid it. But it was rotted, good for nothing! Then the message came to me from the LORD: Thus says the LORD: So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, the great pride of Jerusalem." -Jer 13: 1-9