Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fr. Barron on Faith, Hope, and Love

What Do You Need From The Church?



I have a friend who I went to Grad School with and who is now in formation to become a deacon.

A while back he emailed me the following question for a project he was working on:
"What do you currently need from the Church in helping you live a Christian life in today's society?"
My answer is below.
I had to keep it to 100 words or less - I used all 100:
I need the Pope to be a good shepherd of Christ's flock.
I need the Bishops to be courageous witnesses to the faith who can make tough decisions. I need a laity that is well-formed disciples of Christ.
I need the Church to do a better job forming adults and then children - in that order, rather than the opposite.
I need parishes and dioceses that are evangelistic and unafraid of spreading Christ's message to "all nations".
But, ultimately I need the Church to be a school for making saints.
This would solve every other issue.
Holiness is the key.
How about you? Tell me what you need form the Church in 100 words or less.

Movie Time With Tim Hawkins

Tim Hawkins talks about the perils of watching too many movies.


Since he decided to do a scene from the movie, "A Few Good Men" I thought it was appropriate to let you know, if you didn't already, that the opening scene with the military drill team is of Texas A&M's Fish Drill Team. One of my good friends from high school and college was in the team at the time and he gets 3 seconds on the screen by himself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Are Cities Bad For Families & Society?

Christian Leaders Sign Agreement on Baptism


This is a wonderful sign of ecumenism (Christian unity):
Leaders of U.S. Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches will sign a historic agreement Tuesday in Austin by which the two traditions will formally recognize each other’s liturgical rites of baptism.

The product of seven years of talks among five denominations, the agreement will be signed at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at a prayer service and celebration at St. Mary Cathedral. The service will be open to the public and will be part of the opening day activities of the national meeting of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., which will continue through Friday in Austin.

Representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Christian Reformed Church in North America, Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ will sign the document.

“This ecumenical effort, this mutual recognition of baptism, is part of our response to Jesus’ prayer that ‘we may all be one,’ ” said Bishop Joe Vásquez of the Catholic Diocese of Austin.
CONTINUE READING
The one concern is that we are sure to understand that the differences we recognize are not unimportant.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Take Heart. Rise. He Is Calling You.


My name is Bartimae'us and I have been blind from birth. I was born into a Jewish home during Herod The Great's rule. My parents tell me I was cursed by God who made me blind because of the sin of our ancestors  It is hard for me to believe this, but all the teachers of Moses' Law say it is true. Most people don't want anything to do with me.
I am pitied by many.
Loved by none.
Alone.

From an early age my parents left me on the side of the road to beg, because this was the only way I could earn my keep. Soon after my 13th birthday, when I became a man, my parents left brought me by Jericho's city gates and never came back.
I have never heard from them again.
I have no family now.
Abandoned.

Day after day I come to the same spot to beg. Years have past and I still barely have enough money to eat. My clothes are rags others throw at me. Yet, I have listened closely to the stories of my people and heard how the Prophets speak about the Messiah - the one who is to come from God. He will be born of the House of King David and the Holy Books speak of how the power of The Lord will flow through him to heal the sick and cast out demons. He comes to rule Israel and usher in a great time of blessing.
I wait for him. 
My hope is in him.
Hope.

There is talk of one man who works wonders. He heals the sick, drives out demons, and has even given sight to the blind! Some say he is of the Devil. Some say he is from God. Some say he is a fraud. But, what amazing things he does! Do I dare believe in him? I have met some of his followers. They talk to me about how wise and holy he is. They Feed me. Touch me. Love me? Their kindness lifts my heart. If only I could meet this man. Jesus of Nazareth. Could it be?
Could I be healed one day?
Lord give me faith!
Faith.

Then came the day that changed everything. I heard talk of Jesus coming to my town! Here, to Jericho. There were hundreds, maybe thousands gathered around him. My heart sank. Why would he notice me? I am the poorest of the poor. But, I tell myself not to despair. The stories about him talk of how he eats with prostitutes and tax collectors. He touches lepers. Why wouldn't he notice me?! The gate to the city where I sit is narrow. He must pass this way and the crowd must thin in order to go inside the city. Maybe. Just maybe.
Jesus is coming. I hear the crowd get louder!
I hear his voice! He teaches them!
He speaks with such gentleness!
Jesus!

He is only feet from me. My heart is beating so fast! Now I must talk to him. I still fear, but what have I to lose? So, I urgently cry out "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Most people around me try to quiet me. They yell at me, rebuke me, and curse me. "Quiet" they say. I will not listen to them. So, I yell even louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Then I hear Jesus says, "call him." The crowd quiets. My heart stops beating for a moment. Could it be? One of his followers, one of the gentle ones, tells me the words my heart has always longed for:
"Take heart; rise, he is calling you."
I rise.
Resurrection.

I throw off my mantle and jump up. What do I need it for anyway? 
I throw off my sin. 
I throw off my anger. 
I throw off my hate. 
I am brought before the most amazing man I have ever talked to and he asks me a simple question, "what do you want me to do for you?" 
What do I want? I want love. I want acceptance. I want a house. I want to belong.
I want to see!
I want to see The Messiah!
"Master, let me receive my sight!"
SIGHT!

Jesus responds with words I still in awe about, "Go your way; your faith has made you well."
I CAN SEE! I CAN SEE! I CAN SEE!
He is the one. This is The Messiah! He drove out the darkness from my eyes and my heart. He heals. He loves me. He chose me. I can see! What beauty! What brightness! What glory! Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus. Thank you...
My way, Lord, is your way.
I will follow you!
Follow!

Now my friends, it is your turn. Do you still doubt Jesus can perform miracles in your life? If He is God, and I assure you He is, then He can do all things. He forgives your sin, if you let Him.
He loves you. Will you love Him?
He chooses you. Will you choose Him?
He merely awaits your choice.

Will you follow this Jesus of Nazareth with me?

Come, I will show you what it is to know His way.
Take my hand.
Rise and let him heal the blindness of your heart.
"Take heart; rise, he is calling you."
"And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimae'us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae'us, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, he is calling you." And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Master, let me receive my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way."
-Mark 10:46-52

Overzealous Evangelizer Man

SuperAntonio!!!

From Spain comes an inspiring story of a child with Cerebral Palsy who shows others what it means to love.
If the captions are not working, you can get them by hitting the "cc" button at the bottom of the video.



Imagine what it would be like if our churches resembled this classroom? Reaching out to others, excited when someone comes to join us, inclusive of all...

H/T to Deacon Greg.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Help Us Name Our New Radio Show!


If you didn't know, St. Mary's Catholic Center has a radio station.

I am starting a new radio show soon, which will be co-hosted by two current college students. The show will be fun, interactive, and current. We will talk about:
  • culture
  • faith
  • Catholic teachings
  • whatever we want that day (i.e. random fun stuff)

The show will also have audience participation and call-in features. We will, of course, podcast each one.

The hope is that we will start off for 1 hour a week for now. The show's purpose is to engage young adults with the message of the Good News about Christ in a way that is engaging, relevant, informative, and fun. The primary audience would be baptized young adult Catholics who have not (as yet) taken hold of their faith as an adult. If the show is good enough and goes as we plan, we might try to take it to a broader audience by searching for a national partner.

So, with this in mind, what would you suggest we name our show! Please put your suggestions in the comments below. Thanks!

Stop Being Boring

Do you need a pep talk? This kid has one for you. You were made to be awesome.

15 Tips For Prayer



I once asked a class of college students to rate their spiritual lives on a scale of 1 to 10. Most were very hard on themselves and gave themselves a 5 or less. I then asked "how would you describe your relationship with God?" and again, most were not very positive. These were the ones going to Mass every weekend, trying to grow in their knowledge of God, etc.

There are several reasons most people are hard on themselves when it comes to prayer life, I will highlight only 2 of them:
  1. We compare ourselves to others - this is not healthy, especially in the spiritual life. Our prayer SHOULDN'T look like another person's prayer! This is a unique relationship with God. Furthermore, we must be patient with ourselves. We are all at different stages in our spiritual walk with God. The first step is being OK that you are terrible at prayer, you are a beginner, and that you might need some help. You didn't wake up one morning and stumble into a great relationship with a new friend. Don't expect prayer to be quick or easy either.
  2. We don't know what we are doing - welcome to the club. Only the perfected persons in heaven knows how to truly commune with God. The rest of us are amateurs. Distracted, stop-and-start, rank amateurs. This comes with the territory. The point is - we learn by doing.

Once our discussion continued, I discovered most of the comments, from the class, were about difficulties in prayer. Why do we have such difficulties? Simple - we are human. But, before I spell out some tips on how to overcome difficulties, we ought to talk about why we pray.


WHY WE PRAY
St. Paul writes:
"With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit." - Ephesians 6:18
Paul doesn't just suggest, but commands us, to pray "in the Spirit" at "every opportunity". If we are to follow this command, it is done out of love, not out of mere obedience. But, how are we to meet this high call? 
He writes in another letter:
"The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings." - Romans 8: 26-27
We can't do it alone. The Holy Spirit does, for us, what we can't do in our prayer. This is vital, because prayer is essential for success. But, by success, I mean success in the eyes of God, which is much different than success by the world's standards. The world says success is money, fame, power, possessions, pleasure, etc. But, God's idea of success is faithful holiness - being the person God intends you to be.  In other words, success = fulfilling the vision for your life that God has for you. Prayer is indisposable in attaining success.

In the Gospel of Luke, he writes:
"he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary." -Luke 18:1
We must make prayer the center of our lives. It isn't a choice for us as Christians. But, it requires perseverance and faith to achieve such a prayer life. So, with this in mind, you might ask - why would any Christian let their prayer life slip and what can we do about it?


7 REASONS WE LET OUR PRAYER LIVES SLIP
  1. Discouragement - Sometimes we don't know what to say, how to pray, what to do. Sometimes we are tired, feeling bad, or we just don't have a desire to pray. 
  2. Doubt - Is God really there? Can He hear me? Does He care, even if He exists? Does prayer really even matter?
  3. Impatience - Prayers can seem to go on forever with only silence coming from heaven. When will God answer me?
  4. Temptations - It is easy to pray when you aren't challenged internally through temptation. But, when the temptations enter in, it becomes drudgery. 
  5. Laziness - We sometimes just give up or never establish habits that sustain us in dry times or through the business of modern life.
  6. Dryness - God seems distant and prayer becomes a chore. This can happen at any time.
  7. Physical, Mental, or Emotional Problems - When we suffer, it is hard to pray, because we sometimes feel that a loving God would make it stop.

15 TIPS TO HELP YOUR PRAYER LIFE
  1. Frequent the Sacraments - If you can make daily Mass even once a week, you have doubled your access to the greatest gift ever given humanity. Now, go to Confession at least monthly and you are surely going to get a multitude of graces. Put these on a calendar so you don't skip them.
  2. Establish Good Habits - You should be able to rely on your habits to help you, and not hurt you, in your prayer. A good habit takes 66 days (at least) to establish. So, if you can commit to a routine of prayer for 2 months, you should start to lay the groundwork for healthy prayer habits.
  3. Accountability Counts - You need someone who is more objective than you are to look at your prayer life and see how you are doing and how the Holy Spirit is working. A spiritual director is invaluable in helping. But, if you don't think you are ready, even have a holy friend to talk to can be good.
  4. Try Different Types of Prayer - We all have different tastes in prayer, just like most other things in life. So, try out different types of prayer and see which ones work for you. One caveat - don't give up too soon on a type of prayer. It might take a good long time to discover whether it is good for you or not.
  5. Fast Regularly - There is great power in fasting. We see it in Scripture when Jesus fasts and calls his disciples to do the same. When we have better control over the desires of our bodies, we can pray better.
  6. Overcome Distractions - The simple way to overcome a distraction is to not give into it. Once you realize you are distracted turn your heart and mind back to your prayer, not to examining the distraction. This simple act is the easiest way to defeat distractions.
  7. Don't Over-think Prayer - Too often we tend to complicate something that should come naturally to us. We are made for communion with God. Prayer is merely directing your mind and heart in the direction of God. If we over-complicate it, we get caught up in the externals.
  8. Dryness is Good For Us - Dry prayers are a gift from God. Yes, we all long to have consolations in our prayer, just as a child longs for candy and having those denied is difficult, but healthy for us. It is in dryness that our faith is tested and strengthened.
  9. Pray for Humility - To the extent we are humble is the extent of the power of God's grace changing our lives. Without humble prayer, God is unable to reach us, because we have no interior need for Him.
  10. Work on a Proper Understanding of God and Self - I can not emphasize this one enough. Many of us struggle to understand how a perfect God could love us and want a relationship with us. But, this is due, mainly, to our bad perceptions of our own dignity and the way God loves us unconditionally.
  11. Quiet - Our modern lives are filled with noise. We need to quiet ourselves to hear God - both internally and externally. Find a peaceful and quiet place to pray. Church is helpful in this respect - so if you can stop at a church, even for a short time, I recommend you do so.
  12. Prioritize Prayer. Schedule it. Bump something else. Get up early. Do whatever you have to do, but don't let a day go by without spending time with the most important person in your life.
  13. Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself - Struggles in your prayer life do not make you a terrible Christian. They are a universal experience of everyone who prays. So, don't get down on yourself for struggles.
  14. Don't Wait To Start - procrastination is the enemy of prayer. If you feel called to pray, don't ever put it off.
  15. Find and Use Good Resources - When you don't know what to do or how to do it, the resources can help. Resources include people, friends, books, websites, sacramentals (e.g. rosaries), Sacred Scripture, etc.
Now it is time I go practice what I preach.

Pray for me and I will pray for all who read this.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What to Say to Catholics Who Struggle With Church Teaching?

Another great video from Matt Warner's series 'Ask Fr. Barron'.

What Is The Deal With Catholics and Mary?

My Mom and 40 Years of Abortion


My mother wrote me about this article on abortion and the cost of abortion to our nation. The following quote struck me:
Abortion was not a cause, but a reflection of our decadence and deviancy. One does not begin to kill babies until other dominos have fallen. And once they have fallen, it becomes difficult to set them aright because to do so would require an admission of something so horrible that those responsible for this fetal holocaust would have to acknowledge their sin and repent of it. Such a thing is not a character trait of this most pampered generation. 
I was very blessed. My mother and father raised all of us to be very pro-life.

  • They modeled it by showing how everyone needs to be loved. 
  • They took us to pro-life rallies. 
  • They prayed for the unborn and their parents. 
  • They talked about how horrible it was. 
  • They loved those that disagreed with them. 
  • They voted their consciences. 
  • They voiced their opinions. 
  • They took in foster children, when no one else would. 
  • They allowed the neighborhood kids who had broken families to spend lots of time with them.

So, when my mother wrote me back the following - it struck me to the heart.
In 1973 when I sat and cried the day the Supreme Court voted to allow abortion as a legal right, my first thought was that our nation had fallen into a great abyss, clouded by the great sin of killing one's own. How could we sink any deeper? Thank you so much for loving and caring for the little ones that God has sent you. 
My mother was a few months pregnant with me when on that day. I cried with her.
My family and I will be in Austin tomorrow for the Texas Rally For Life.

Thank you mom (and dad) for teaching me that talking and crying about abortion isn't enough.

Who Wants To Be Creeped Out?

If so, then watch this video - a Happy 40th Anniversary video celebrating the Roe V Wade decision. It is really creepy, yet it teaches us something. The mindset of those that support abortion is not shared with Pro-lifers. Just don't watch it if you don't want to be creeped out.



Remember, abortion supporters believe they are fighting for women.
They truly believe that sex is a commodity that needs to be free of natural consequences.

To change their hearts, we have to know where they are coming from.

Having  pictures of dismembered babies is going to change very few hearts. They don't see babies, they see burdens.

Throwing accusations of "murder" "holocaust" and such won't work. They believe themselves crusaders for justice and equal rights. The other side knows this, so be careful in what you say. But, also know that they see poor women who get pregnant, and are already struggling, and ask how someone could put the burden of caring for another child in their lap? Words matter. Social Justice matters, esp. for women and their children, who suffer most from the negative effects of the sexual revolution.

When we address the problem of abortion and talk to supporters of it, do not denigrate them, they are not the enemy. There is only one enemy and he is actively working to get all of us to hell.

When we fight for the dignity of the unborn, don't forget to see and love the dignity of those that oppose the pro-life movement. Take the high road.

As an answer to the creepy video, I offer this one:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

25 Inspirational Bible Verses

Sometimes you might need a little inspiration. Why not let the written Word of God help you out?

25 Inspirational Bible Verses
  1. 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you."
  2. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
  3. Romans 12:21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
  4. Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
  5. Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.""
  6. Revelation 21:4 "he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
  7. Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you."
  8. Matthew 6:20-21 "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
  9. Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
  10. Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
  11. John 4:14 "whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
  12. John 1:5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
  13. Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing"
  14. Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!"
  15. Isaiah 40:31 "they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
  16. Isaiah 41:10 "fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
  17. Romans 8:28 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose."
  18. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
  19. Romans 8:38-39 "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  20. 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
  21. Hebrews 10:19-23 "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;"
  22. James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
  23. 1 Corinthians 16:13 "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong."
  24. Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
  25. Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Abortion OK If Child Will Suffer?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pro BMX Rider + Med School + Catholic

Is Facebook Making You Feel Miserable? Maybe.


An interesting story:
LONDON (Reuters) - Witnessing friends' vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.

A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world's largest social network that now has over one billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.

The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

"We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry," researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin's Humboldt University told Reuters.
CONTINUE READING.
If you are suffering from envy - here is some advice on how to conquer it:
If when another person is praised or acknowledged you feel a twinge of displeasure, it is rooted in envy. If when another person is given opportunities for personal growth, education, or travel, you feel resentment, it is rooted in envy. If when another person shows the ability to do something well, you can resist the temptation to snipe and criticize, it is rooted in envy. Envy is an insidious sin. In community life it can be deadly, especially when it goes unconfessed and when there is no repentance for it.

A MUST-READ Story


This is a MUST-READ story of how our decisions have future implications we cannot see yet. Four Words I'll Never Forget...
Four years ago, my son Jonathan found me sitting in front of my laptop, tears running down my cheeks. I had read an email and had been stunned to tears and silence. I was in shock with joy. The email was about Abby Johnson, the director of our local Planned Parenthood (the number one abortion provider in the nation). Abby had just announced, after years of working for Planned Parenthood, that she had experienced something that made her walk out the front door of Planned Parenthood, drive over to the Coalition for Life offices and tell them, “I want out.”

I’m sure many shed tears of joy that day. But, I had a special, although distant, connection to the news. 10 years earlier, I had scraped together money left over from my grad school grant and quit my job at St. Mary’s to attempt the start up of a new non-profit: the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life. We became a group dedicated to helping mothers and fathers find alternatives to abortion. Specifically, we countered Planned Parenthood, offering their clients alternatives. I spent 3 years as Director. And, much of my time was focused on Planned Parenthood. I protested the ground breaking, protested a foundation being poured, protested walls going up. I prayed over opening day ceremonies. While Abby Johnson was a college student volunteer at Planned Parenthood, I stood on the other side of the fence, handing out information to moms willing to receive it.

Eventually, I passed the reigns over to those much better equipped to lead the organization, and it prospered and expanded greatly under their guidance.

So, on that day when Abby Johnson’s ‘defection’ became world-wide news, I wasn’t only joyful…. I could see us standing there on opposite sides of that black iron fence, two women who really thought they were doing the right thing for women, but with two completely opposing answers. And all of a sudden the fence was gone and our answer was the same.

To me, it wasn’t just a news story. It was a cosmic earthquake.
Continue Reading.
I am blessed to call both Lauren and Abby good friends and to play a small part in the story of Abby's conversion. To see the end to this story is nothing short than a miracle.

Aggie Catholics.
Changing the world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What "Judge Not" Really Means


Q - What do you do with someone who says the Catholic Church is too "judgmental", esp. in dealing with sex issues, abortion, homosexuality, etc.? They always seem to tell me, "the Bible say 'judge not'."

A - Thanks for the question. We have to understand that one of the most counter-cultural ways to live right now is to be a faithful Catholic. This means we will not be getting good press anytime soon and we have to start to understand that.

On a few other notes:
1 - The vast majority of people (including Catholics) don't know or understand the Catholic Church's teachings on sexuality and related issues. Some believe that being attracted to someone of the same-sex means they can't decide how they are to act, so to tell them they can choose not to act on the impulse is "judgement" (for more on this subject, click here). Others believe that sex has little, if any, meaning outside of pleasure (for more on this subject, click here).

2 - One of the most common phrases you hear in regards to the Catholic Church's teachings is "judge not". In other words, the Catholic Church is merely full of judgmental holier-than-thou people and is wrong.  I wrote an article (published in ENVOY) about this previously that I post below.  It is long, but I believe will help shine a light on how wrong our culture is about what judgement is:
JUDGE NOT?
One of the most misunderstood principles of Scripture is judgment. Many conversations have been brought to a screeching halt by the conversation killers of “Judge not” or “who are you to judge me”. Unfortunately the common interpretation of this passage is that we can make no judgment on whether an action is right or wrong. This is not what the Bible is saying, but rather the Bible tells us not to judge the state of another’s soul and therefore their eternal punishment or reward. This kind of judgment is reserved to God alone.

It never fails that when one of the above phrases is uttered, or one like them, the conversation takes a bad turn. This is due to the modern world-view, which is relativistic, meaning that truth is relative to a person or situation. Simply put, many people are offended by the Catholic Church’s teachings about their sin. These sentiments lead to an improper biblical interpretation of judgment.

Don’t Judge Judgment
Judgment is the act of forming an opinion. When we believe an act to be sinful we are judging the act, not the person who performed the act. When we believe someone is going to heaven or hell, we are judging a person’s soul. In Scripture the former judgment is acceptable (and obligatory in some circumstances) but the latter form is never an acceptable form of judgment for individuals to make. As the saying goes “love the sinner, hate the sin”.

Maybe an example can shed some light on the logical fallacy present in many cases of misjudging judgment:
Joe and Carrie are considering co-habitating. Joe is excited and nervous about the situation and is sharing his plan with co-workers. He decides to ask advice and is pleased to find that most are supportive. Sally Catholic decides to tell Joe that she doesn’t agree it is a good thing, because she thinks it is wrong and that such a decision might actually hurt their relationship. Joe tells Sally that the Bible says to “judge not”. The conversation ends, because Sally has no way to respond.

What should Sally do? She must gently inform Joe that his interpretation of the Bible is faulty. This kind of situation is a perfect place to plant seeds. In many cases, the person will not agree with your conclusion at that moment, but that should not be your goal. You should tell the truth and then let the Holy Spirit do what He does best – change hearts.

Misjudging Judgment
This perceived injustice (intolerance, judgment, close-mindedness, etc) is what many in our society – and unfortunately many Catholics as well – believe the Catholic Church and her members are constantly guilty of.But, the reality is that those offended by Catholics making statements of belief are really saying that only they have the authority to determine right or wrong. This is simply moral relativism, which is the false idea that morality is relative to themselves, a situation or time. It is a denial that there is an absolute truth, or if there is, then we cannot know it and we certainly shouldn’t “impose” it on others.

It seems if you profess your belief that an action is sinful or a law unjust, then you are committing an even greater sin, that is, believing something another considers good or even worse, pleasurable, to be sinful. In this view, vice and virtue are indistinguishable from each other and therefore determined by each individual as right or wrong for them. This is why so many object to the authority of the Catholic Church, because she dares to say that moral truth is true for everyone – regardless of one’s opinion about it.

Of course Catholics aren’t the only ones that believe we have the truth. Many Catholics have been told we are going to hell or something even more dramatic, we are pawns of Satan by other Christians. Such things can be a harsh reminder there are Christians who sincerely believe they can determine your final destiny just by your religious affiliation. The error of failing to separate the sin from the sinner is what makes another think we are headed for hell. This is the same error the modernist makes in believing Catholics are being judgmental when we say an act is sinful. They are two sides of the same coin. Both fail to make the proper distinction between sin and sinner. The modernist believes that judging the sin is judging the sinner and the condemning Christian believes that we can judge the sinner by the sin.

Many have the experience of walking down the street in a large city and hearing the shouts of Christians that you will “burn in hell” for your sins.

Judge Not!
So, how then do we balance these two errors? The Bible will offer the solution, of course. Let us start with the favorite of all “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37). To understand what Jesus is saying we must understand the first kind of judgment that we find in the Bible - the ultimate Divine judgment we all will receive when we die. We see this in the Old Testament, including
"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions” (Ezekiel 18:30).
The Old Testament prophets widely spoke of the Divine judgment the Israelites would face if they failed to repent. The prophets leave the Divine judgment of souls for God while speaking the message of repentance. This Divine right to judge our souls’ eternal punishment or reward is echoed by Paul.
“...on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:16).
The second kind of judgment we see in the Bible is judging the acts of another person to be good or evil. This kind of judgment must be done in love of others, with prudence, and should be done in order to steer our fellow man to his proper goal, heaven.
Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
“This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13).
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matt 18:15).
Thus, while we are to avoid the judgment of deciding another’s ultimate fate, sometimes it is necessary and good to direct someone to stop sinning out of love for them. While this isn’t the most politically correct thing to do, Jesus never failed to be politically incorrect when love was at stake. If we truly thirst for the salvation of all men like Jesus did, then in some situations we are obligated to speak the truth about the dangers of another’s sinful actions.

Jesus was also never shy about talking to another about their sin, and taking it a step further, he always told them they should stop. He constantly rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (John the Baptist was even more harsh), and He told the woman caught in adultery in John 8 (as well as others) to “go and sin no more”.  While in this passage He says that He does not judge (condemn) the woman, He does judge that she has sinned. Jesus never tolerated sin, and He was quick to show others their sinful actions were wrong, but He only did it out of love and with compassion. He knew eternity was at stake.

From this quick look at the biblical understanding of judgment and tolerance we can easily understand what Jesus means when he tells us not to judge others.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
This is referring to the ultimate judgment of someone’s soul that is reserved to God alone. If we continue to read, it becomes even clearer how we are supposed to act in these situations.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye” (Luke 6:41-42).
Jesus is saying to rebuke another out of love, with gentleness and kindness, but do not rub their noses in it.

Conclusion
When another person says not to “judge them” it may be that they are saying that you do not have the right to tell them that what they have done is wrong. However, Jesus tells us that as long as we do it out of love and we don’t presume to know their destiny, we can, and sometimes must, help our brothers and sisters see their own sin. If we then get labeled as intolerant hate-mongers or judgmental bigots, we might do just as Jesus did and correct their error. If they still refuse to listen, then we must do what Jesus taught and shake the dust from our sandals and move on.

Paul, who very well could have the greatest thirst for souls of all the apostles, sums it all up for us while writing to Timothy about the balance that must be brought to a Christian who wants to evangelize and preach the truth.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tragic Suffering: A Life Without Purpose

What a wonderful meditation on what it means to have meaning, what suffering means, and what part God plays in it all.

MLK Still Matters

U2's Pride (In the Name of Love).
Fr. Barron tells us why MLK still matters today:

On a completely different note, I offer a song from U2.
Not only is U2 one of my favorite bands, they have depth to their much of their music.

The following song is about those who have laid down their lives in the "name of love", including Jesus (betrayed with a kiss) and the last verse is about MLK.
Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sleepwalking Through Life!



My son, Dominic, sleepwalks. When he first started, my wife and I were a bit worried about him. He would ramble on about his dreams, which make no sense, (but are amusing at times) which makes it hard not to laugh at him. But, the most disconcerting thing we have seen are when he sleepwalks during a nightmare. He talks to us, while still remembering his dreams, but while still asleep. He gets very upset, esp. when he is sad or scared from something in his dream.

It is hard to comfort him, because he doesn't wake easily from his sleepwalking. I have learned that I have to have him look at me, with glassy eyes, and then tell him I am going to wake him up on the count of three. Once I hit three, I have to clap my hands to have him wake. This jars him from his sleep. Only then are we able to calm him down and comfort him.

Many people in our culture today are not much different from my sleeping son. The difference is they are sleepwalking through their entire lives, not just their night. What I mean is that many people don't know who they are or their purpose in life, and they don't act intentionally but rather they react to what happens to them.

God doesn't want us to sleepwalk, he wants us to live life wide awake!

What does it take to stop sleepwalking through life? It takes the following three things:


1 - Know Your Identity
You are a son or daughter of God, not a faceless cog in a machine or someone who doesn't matter. Each of us is unique and unrepeatable. Made out of love and for love. God has no need of us and yet he creates us because He loves us each individually.

God knows you. He knows what your desires and dreams are. He knows your pains and frustrations. All He asks of us is to let Him come into our lives deeply and truly. He understands us better than we can ever understand ourselves and His dreams and desires for our lives are much better, bolder, and bigger than our own could ever be.

To live as child of God, is to know your identity. We have an identity crisis in our modern culture, because we believe we are merely defined by our actions. If this were so, then all we could identify ourselves as is sinners. But, this is not the case, because we are made in God's image and likeness and by our baptism we are now adopted into His family.
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him." -Romans 8: 14-17
We are sons and daughters of the most high King. Knowing this is the first step to waking up from our sleepwalking lives.

2 - Know Your Purpose in Life
The purpose of life can be expressed in several different ways, I will list a few:
  • The old Baltimore Catechism says "God made me to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next."
  • The first paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says "God...in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength."
  • Scripture tells us that Jesus said "I came so that you might have life and have it more abundantly" -John 10:10
We are created to be great! But, great by God's standards and not the world's - which means you and I are created to grow into who we are created to be - holy saints - every day of our existence. This call to greatness is very challenging and one that is not easy to achieve. But it is worth everything else, because it is what we were created for.

The worlds tells us greatness is defined by how much we produce, who we know, how much power we have, the things we accumulate, and what people think of us. These are all lies!

Greatness is defined by the virtues. To be great is to be faithful, loving, hopeful, kind, patient, etc. To be great in the eyes of God is to be holy. This is why Jesus asks the rhetorical question -
"What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" -Mark 8:36
This call to greatness isn't just found by our own power. It is done by allowing God to work through us.

When we open our lives up to God's ultimate purpose, we can find who we were truly created to be. We can stop sleepwalking. To do this we must look to the one who teaches us what it means to be human - Jesus. Yet, there is only one way to connect to the person of Jesus and that is through prayer!

Vatican II tells us what this plan is all about and how our purpose is found in the person of Jesus - "He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart." (GS 22)

It then goes on to say "He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning." (GS 22)

This true meaning and purpose of life are only found in Christ. That is why "only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light." (GS 22)

Do you want to stop sleepwalking through life? Then look to Christ who teaches us what living a human life is all about. Get to know Him. Pray.


3 - Live Life Intentionally
Once we know who we are and why we exist, we must then choose to live in a way that conforms to this purpose. We must choose the narrow path

We go back to Vatican II documents to find - "man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (GS 24)

To live a life awake in the presence of God is to live as Christ did. Christ gave completely of Himself and found what a life of meaning and purpose meant - we have to die to ourselves to live for others.

Living our purpose and identity out intentionally means we apply our commitment to Christ in concrete ways. Daily. In other words, a life lived intentionally through the purpose God created us for is a life of discipleship.

Jesus give us a clear teaching about living intentionally when he describes discipleship in Luke 9: 23-26:
"Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Notice first the teaching is directed to "all". There is no person left out of this teaching, it is not optional for a Christian. To take up a cross is a choice we must make every day, not just when we feel like it or when it is convenient. Christ isn't a fad. We must follow His commands to be a disciple of Him.

Jesus goes on to tell us that we must our lives are found when we lose them and that we must proclaim Him to others.

To carry your cross is a life lived with intention.
To follow after Jesus is a life of meaning.
To choose to give your life away to God and others is a life or purpose.
Pray daily.
Celebrate the Sacraments regularly and frequently.
Ultimately - we MUST share this message with others!!!

To do all of this means we no longer sleepwalk through life, but are awake in Christ.

Lord may it be so!
  • "what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake." - Luke 13:37
  • "Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." - Matt 24:42
  • "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake on his arrival." - Luke 12:37
  • "Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."" - Eph 5:14
  • "But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." - Luke 21:36

Liturgy & The Flu


Common-sense liturgical practices from the Diocese of Austin in regards to the flu:
Liturgy and the Flu

Here are some common-sense liturgical practices to help everyone stay healthy and to care for one another during flu season and throughout the year.

How is the influenza virus transmitted?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza viruses are spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and spreads the virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. The viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it (for example, a door handle) and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Adults with the flu virus may be contagious from one day before developing symptoms to up to seven days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for longer than seven days.

How can the spread of the influenza virus be prevented?
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall. It is also helpful to avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick.

If you are sick, take care of yourself.
We care for the Body of Christ by first taking care of our own body. The obligation to participate in Mass is not required for those who are sick.
If you are sick, do not worsen your illness by trying to get to church, and do not put others at risk of catching your illness. It is not sinful to miss Mass if you are sick; it is an act of charity. If your children are sick, keep them home from Mass, religious education, or youth ministry meetings.
If you are seriously ill, the Church wants to celebrate with you the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. You can arrange for this by contacting your parish office.

Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue handy, do what school children are taught to do: cough or sneeze into your shirt sleeve and avoid touching the area of fabric you coughed into.

Wash your hands often, especially if you are a greeter, usher, or Communion minister.
Soap, water, and a good scrubbing are the best defense against the cold and flu viruses. Scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are not near soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or disposable hand wipe. Keep a small bottle or packet in your purse or pocket.

Avoid shaking hands with others before, during, and after Mass if you are sick or have been in direct contact with someone who sick.
At the Sign of Peace, you can offer a smile or a wave or a simple bow of the head to those around you. If you have come in direct contact with someone who has been sneezing or coughing, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands until you can wash them. This is a good practice at any time since germs can spread when we touch our eyes, nose, or mouth.
Respect should be given to individuals who refrain from sharing a handshake at the Sign of Peace. This is at the discretion of each individual person.

Refrain from receiving Communion on the tongue or from the Cup if you are sick.
When receiving the Eucharist, we receive the fullness of the Body and Blood of Christ under the species of bread alone or wine alone. The sign of Communion is more complete when receiving under both kinds, but receiving both is not required.
If you are accustomed to receiving Communion on the tongue, you will prevent preading your saliva to the hand of the Communion minister by receiving Communion in the hand during times of flu outbreaks or when you or someone in your household has been sick.

Should distribution from the Cup be suspended?
For the sake of caution, the bishop or the pastor of a particular parish may choose to suspend temporarily the distribution of the Blood of Christ at the Eucharist in order to prevent the spread of disease during the time of a flu outbreak.

If Communion ministers need to clean their hands during Mass, do this discretely.
All ministers of Holy Communion, both ordinary and extraordinary, should wash their hands with soap and water before and after Mass.
Then, if Communion ministers have practiced good hygiene during the Mass, there is no obligation for them to wash their hands again during Mass. But if Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion need to wash their hands during Mass, the best way is to clean their hands in their pew, using a sanitizing liquid or antibacterial wipe, after the Sign of Peace and just before they come to the sanctuary.
The action of sanitizing their hands should be done in such a way as not to delay the Communion Rite or distract from the focus at the altar.

What if the priest is sick?
If the priest is sick, it’s best that he not preside at the Mass. However, if this is not possible and he must preside while he is sick, the duty of distributing Communion to the assembly can be done by other ordinary ministers: assisting deacons and concelebrants at the Mass. If these are not available, the presiding priest may temporarily refrain from distributing Communion to the assembly in order to prevent the spread of disease, allowing the extraordinary ministers to be the ones to distribute Communion to the assembly.

Keep the holy water fonts clean.
On a regular basis, holy water from the fonts at church entrances should be disposed of appropriately, and the containers should be washed, dried, and sanitized with disinfectant before being refilled.

Visiting the sick:
All ministers of Holy Communion who visit nursing homes, hospitals, and private homes should wash their hands with soap and water before and after they make their rounds. Between patients they should use hand sanitizer.

Pray for the sick.
Especially during cold and flu season, remember to pray for those who are sick, for their caregivers, for those who have died because of sickness, and especially for those who suffer with no one to care for them.

This advisory from the Diocese of Austin includes some information from publications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Diocese of San Jose.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Soul-Mates


Q - Do I have a soul-mate, someone who God made for me and whom I am made for?

A -
Thanks for the question. The answer is yes and no. God didn't make you for anyone except Himself. Our ultimate relationship is with God, not with another human being, even our spouse. The romantic vision of having a soul-mate is made for movies, not Christianity.  Our one and only soul-mate is God.

There are a few problems with believing that God made us for one person in the world.  The first problem is the question some have about whether the person they are married to, or planning on marrying, is the "one".  This can lead to doubt about the relationship, a feeling of never being fulfilled, and ultimately it leads to problems in the relationship.  A second problem is the idea that we are destined to be with one other person.  This would be a cosmic swipe at the gift of free-will.  It is as if we mess up fate if we don't choose the right person or never find them.  Ultimately, this idea of a soul-mate is dangerous and un-Christian.

But, there is another, better, way of thinking about having a spouse to partner with. It is found in the spousal analogy of becoming "one flesh" with your spouse.  While souls are not fused in marriage, the bodies do become "one flesh" during sexual relations with each other. This is a reflection of the Sacramental bond that is created between two Christians when they marry. This bond lasts until death and nothing can break it. This is the more Christian way of understanding a mutual and exclusive relationship.

Furthermore, love is always a choice, it isn't something we fall into and out of. Love is not something that merely "happens" to us. This respect of free-will and the ability of each of us to choose love is more consonant with Christian understanding of relationships.  Marriage isn't just about romance and it isn't about fate at all.  It is about love, freely chosen, and being bound together (with God) into the union of man and wife. This is for the good of the spouses, the raising of children, and ultimately it is a call from God.

I think this quote sums it up well:
"Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to."
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Every College Student Should Know About Religion

Mary Poplin, Professor in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University does a great presentation of what every college student should know about religion and how spending time with Mother Teresa led her to conversion.

Jesus Passes By


Mark 6:45-52 has a strange episode (I have highlighted it below) in the recounting of the walking on water. Mark is the only Gospel writer to make this observation:
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Beth-sa'ida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Why would Jesus mean to "pass them by"? When I first noticed this it struck me as odd. Why walk on water if Jesus was merely going to pass by the apostles? Once I reflected on it further, it puzzled me further and questions started to arise.

First we notice that the apostles were "making headway painfully" it seems they are absorbed in trying to row the boat and having difficulty. Sometimes we too seem to make headway only with great struggle, through our lives. Life can be hard and we seem to be so absorbed in the reality in front of our eyes, we fail to see Jesus right next to us. Now, the apostles are no different than us and Jesus knows it. So, maybe, after seeing their focus is on the job at hand, he decides to pass them by. But, God wouldn't neglect us.

So, maybe Jesus wanted something more for the apostles and they were not ready for it. He told them to get in the boat and he only shows up at the most unexpected time (3AM during a crazy storm). Earlier in the chapter we hear their "hearts were hardened". They are struggling with the fact that Jesus isn't just a dynamic political leader who will become an earthly king. Rather, Jesus explodes all presuppositions and chooses some thing unexpected and even greater than expectations. He wants to save us right where we are - in the midst of our struggle. But, we have to open our hearts to him first. This isn't easy. This is why they don't recognize him and think he is a ghost. Yet, his voice calls out to us to have no fear. Can we?

The Greek word used "to pass by" is "Parechomai". It can mean to go past, to pass by, to pass away, to come near, and to pass over. When it is connected to the Divine Being, it can take on another meaning - "an epiphany". That is, a manifestation of God's power and presence. There are a few other Biblical events where God "passes by". One of my favorites is when God has His goodness "pass by" Moses, in Exodus 33:14.

Therefore, another reason Jesus might have "passed them by" would be to reveal something else - himself - to them. His divinity and mission had escaped them so far. So, why not give them another bit of evidence? But, why walk on water? Couldn't he have done it another way? It is because the water, to the ancient peoples, was the place of the demons. By walking on it, Jesus reveals that He is Lord of all - earth, heaven, the sky, the sea, and even hell.
He is God.
He is YHWH.

God wants to pass by us.
God wants to reveal Himself to us.
Even during the storm.
Even during the time we struggle to move against the wind.
Even in the middle of the night - God comes.

Will you let Him into your boat?

Monday, January 14, 2013

We Have Lost Our Minds


First Piece of Evidence:
Two deaf twin brothers in Belgium were euthanized by their doctor after realizing they were going blind and would be unable to see each other ever again, their physician says.

The 45-year-old men, whose names have not been made public, were legally put to death by lethal injection at the Brussels University Hospital in Jette, on Dec. 14.

The men, who were born deaf, had a cup of coffee and said goodbye to other family members before walking into hospital room together to die, their doctor told Belgian television station RTL.
CONTINUE READING.

Second Piece of Evidence:
A pro-life elderly woman has been arrested for sprinkling Holy Water on a public sidewalk outside the local abortion business in Huntsville, Alabama.

Kelly Manley, the president of Huntsville Right to Life, informed LifeNews about what happened to Joyce Fecteau, a 75-year-old Catholic lady.

“I have personally known Mrs. Joyce Fecteau since 2008 and have interviewed her on several occasions. She is a kind, compassionate lady who raised seven children of her own, and she has also spent most of her adult life reaching out to pregnant women in need in helping them to get the resources that they needed to choose Life,” Manley said. “She has helped to save hundreds of preborn babies and women from the pain of abortion, and many of the women that she has helped have returned to the sidewalk of the abortion business months and even years later to personally thank her for her efforts there.”
CONTINUE READING
God Save us...

Ask Fr. Barron: What is a Miracle?

Another great video from Matt.

A Lonely Place


In Mark 6: 30-32, after Jesus and the apostles learn of the murder of John the Baptist, it says:
The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.
Jesus called his disciples into "a lonely place". While praying about this, I found myself wondering why the place they needed to go would be "lonely". Then I became even more intrigued when the passage continued in verses 33-36:
Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat."
The Greek word used here, erēmos, can also be translated as "solitary, desolate, uninhabited." In other words, it is time to get away from others and be by yourself. It is time to be quiet. It is time to spend in prayer. We all need this.

Notice that the apostles were so caught up in work they "had no leisure to eat." We sometimes trick ourselves into thinking our worth is caught up in what we DO. But, in reality it is who we ARE that is what is most important, and WHO WE ARE is developed in leisure.

Now, I am not defining leisure as idleness, messing around, being bored, etc. Rather, the traditional understanding of leisure is an active form of working on being who you are created to be. It involves reflection, prayer, deep thinking and being in wonder at the work of God. It is NOT a time of productivity, in the modern sense of the word.

Most Americans think of leisure as a vacation we take in order to recharge our batteries to go do more work. This is the wrong way to think of leisure. We don't exist to work. We exist for God's sake and our own sake. The problem with the modern way of thinking about leisure is that it identifies our worth in our function. It it utilitarianism. We have to fight this understanding of the right place of work, by clearly understanding leisure. This properly orders things, makes us better people, and in turn it makes us better workers.

Even the apostles had to be called into leisure, as many Church workers do.
As I do.

The past 3 weeks were spent mostly in leisure. I spent time with family, reading, praying, laughing, exercising, reflecting, serving others, learning, etc. For the first time in a long time I feel like I have really grown in the leisure time I had. It was almost like a 3-week retreat.

This is because Jesus called me to a lonely place where I could partake in some leisurely activities. Where I didn't have a to-do list from work. Where I could listen and be quiet. Where I could think and learn. Where I could just be.

I thank God for the lonely places.

Fr. Barron Reviews Les Miserables Movie

WARNING - SPOILERS!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Archbishop Chaput's Keynote to Campus Ministers


Archbishop Chaput, from Philly, gave a compelling and challenging keynote to the Catholic Campus Ministry Association's conference. I was in attendance and he was very well-received. Here is the text of his address.

A snip from the keynote:
Your situations are obviously very diverse. Each campus is unique: secular or Catholic, urban or rural, commuter or non-commuter. Some of you serve at huge state schools, others at small private colleges. But all of you share one common pastoral problem: popular culture. The shape of today’s mass culture is different from anything the Church has faced in past decades. And for better or worse, it influences all of our campus outreach.

You know today’s environment as well as I do. Sunday Mass attendance has declined along with other sacramental indicators. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life have dropped. Marriage and family life suffer from crippling divorce rates; fewer people are actually getting married; and even marriage itself is being redefined.

Over the past five decades, we’ve moved from a culture permeated by religious faith to a culture that seems increasingly indifferent or cynical toward religion in general and Christianity in particular. Many Americans no longer claim any formal religious affiliation. And as Notre Dame’s distinguished social research scholar Christian Smith has shown, vast numbers of American young adults are, in effect, morally illiterate. They’re not “bad” people — far from it. But they often lack the moral vocabulary and roots in a living religious tradition that would enable them to reason independently through complex ethical problems. They believe in God, but in a generic, feel-good deism sense, with God’s main job reduced to giving them what they want when they want it.

At a minimum, this implies a massive failure of catechesis and young adult ministry, not to mention personal witness, on the part of my own generation. And I don’t think many of the men and women my age in the Church are really willing to admit that yet. But the results aren’t good. The results don’t lie, and now we need to deal with the consequences.
CONTINUE READING.