Thursday, February 28, 2013

Video Of Benedict XVI's Last Day as Pope

If you missed seeing today's events:

His morning consisted of greeting the College of Cardinals:

Later, he left the Vatican.

He will reside at Castel Gondolfo, the Papal summer residence, until a monastery on the Vatican grounds is fully renovated. He will then move into the monastery permanently.

Please continue to pray for him, the cardinals who will select our next Pope, and whomever the Holy Spirit chooses to lead our Church!

My Favorite Benedict XVI Quotes

My favorite quotes of Benedict XVI almost universally come from when he talked to young people. He was always more energetic, more evangelical, and more direct.

Here is one of my favorites - It is a bit long, but well worth the read. It is joyful, alive with love, and proclaims Good News! From World Youth day 2008:
Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the “power” which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?

The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God’s Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today’s Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God’s promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ’s Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can “renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith’s rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God’s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished – not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning – the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity’s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In today’s second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say “yes” to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!

Lenten Reflection For Thursday, February 28

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 28, 2013
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 17:5-10 * Luke 16:19-31

“I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

Never has there been or will there be anyone who knows me as you do, Lord. You know my strengths, my weaknesses, the tasks and the people I struggle with. Help me to understand that you give me these trials because you love me; that you allow me to suffer not because I’ve done something wrong, but because you see my potential for growth. Growing can be painful, and I fear pain. Be with me, Lord; strengthen me to live each day embracing these opportunities to grow. Let me gain the wisdom to know what a gift each struggle can be, and to use each trial as a way to spread your love to those around me.

How have I embraced my trials today? How have I rejected them?

How has this affected the people around me?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Reflection for Wednesday, February 27

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 27, 2013
Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 18:18-20 * Matthew 20:17-28

In today’s first reading, we find the people of Israel plotting against Jeremiah. They had turned their backs on God and his covenant, abandoning him for false idols and pagan gods. Fed up with Jeremiah for his preaching, they began to dissect Jeremiah’s words to find some fault to have him destroyed, so they could continue their unfaithful lifestyles in peace.

Similarly, Jesus chastised many for becoming so wrapped up in traditions that they disregarded the meaning behind them or put them above God’s commandments. Insulted and infuriated with Jesus for addressing their flaws, rather than to correct their lifestyles, some chose instead to scrutinize his every word for an excuse to put him to death.

It’s easy to take offense when someone points out our imperfections. There is always a choice about how we respond to these moments, whether we recognize and improve or become bitter and hostile to the one who points it out. It’s tempting to seek justification for actions we know to be immoral. Yet our conscience exhorts us to take to heart the teachings of God revealed through the scriptures and his holy Church.

In your reflections on today’s readings, perhaps consider these questions:

Has anyone pointed out a flaw of mine recently? If so, how did I react?

Do I take to heart messages that address areas of my life that need improvement?

Who should I put my trust in for good, honest counsel?


The Last General Audience of Benedict XVI

Below is a tribute to Benedict XVI that Lifeteen did. Thanks to The Bible Geek, Mark Hart, for sending it my way.

Aggie Catholic Podcasts

Want to hear a very unique radio show? Awkward Moments, a new radio show I am doing with two young ladies who are students here, went live yesterday.
Here is the podcast. I guarantee it is like nothing else out there right now.

Also, Lino Rulli, The Catholic Guy, podcasted the highlights from his shows that he broadcasted live from our studio. You can find it on his website and on iTunes.

Finally, a number of homilies, presentations, etc can be found here. These include last week's "College Students and Dating" presentation I gave. Hit "Menu" to get to the list of talks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Are Made To Be Selfless...

When we live a selfless life we enrich the lives of others and our own.

Lenten Reflection For Tuesday, February 26

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 26, 2013
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Isaiah 1: 10, 16-20 * Matthew 23: 1-12

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that he is calling us to be servants for one another. He tells us that the Pharisees are in seats of power, but they have not put into action what they preach. We see that the Pharisees abuse their place of authority by living as hypocrites. So often, we too might find ourselves living as the Pharisees. It might be easier to say we “believe” in the Christ and his teachings than to actively live as a Christian. However, Jesus does not want followers who merely appear to be living out his calling. Jesus desires for us to live out his ministry in our words, actions, and interactions with others in everyday life. He never says we will be recognized here on earth and or that picking up our cross and following him is easy, but he does tell us that he is with us every step of the way.

Now is the perfect time to truly offer up our worldly desire to Christ. Through confession, we are cleansed of our sins–the times we might have fallen as the Pharisees. In Holy Communion, we are strengthened by his Holy Spirit to live out his vocation in our lives. If we trust in him, we will find that he provides what we need in every circumstance. I pray that you will take this Lenten season as an opportunity to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit to live out his call in your life.

What is God calling me to do?

What is holding me back from this deeper relationship with God?

Have I frequented the sacraments or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in order to be strengthened and guided by Christ?


Monday, February 25, 2013

This. Is. Real. Love.

Lenten Reflection for Monday, February 25

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 25, 2013
Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Daniel 9:4b-10 * Luke 6:36-38

In today’s Gospel, Christ calls us to an impossible life of love. We hear his command “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” We are to give and to forgive even as God does. Yet we are human, poor and weak in so many ways. Can we give as God gives? Can we be merciful as he? We cannot hope to match him, yet this is his Son’s command.

We must remember what it means for us to give and to forgive in God’s name. Christ tells us “give, and it will be given to you,” but his meaning goes far beyond a “tit-for-tat” way of interacting with the world. Our giving is not a mere exchange, expecting a return from God, but a response of gratitude to God’s first gift to us. Whatever we have to give others is itself a gift from God. We might extend Christ’s command as “give, for it has been given to you”–the gift is already offered us; a good measure is already, constantly being poured out to us by God. When we give, it is God’s gift that we share; when we forgive, it is God’s forgiveness of us that we allow to spill over. We give, because he first gave, and because we trust that he will give again. Our mercy and self-giving is joined to the Divine Mercy, and our true reward, eternal life united with God, is brought closer in the act itself.

Have I taken time lately to thank God for his abundant blessings to me?

What gifts has God given me that I can put at the service of my neighbor today?


You - Yes You - Are Lovable

There is a part of each of us that questions ourselves. That part of us questions whether we are worthy of love, especially the kind of love that is unconditional. A love without strings. A love that never ends.

It asks, "how could we be worthy of such a love?"

  • It isn't because of what we do. We couldn't ever earn such a love. It isn't something we purchase with our deeds.
  • It isn't because of knowing the right things. We can't know enough truth to earn such a love.
  • It isn't because we are "good people". That isn't enough.

Rather - it is because we are. We exist. We have a purpose.

God loves you, not because of what you do, what you know, how you act. He loves you before these things are manifes and never because of them. He loves you. For you. He loves you right where you are and there is NOTHING that could make His love for you stop or lessen.

God loves you so much He would die for you - and He did.

God loves you so much He built a purpose into your being:

  • To be with God forever is your purpose.
  • To be the best you that you can be is your purpose.
  • To love Him back is your purpose.

This kind of love is doubted because of our human failures in loving one another. When we don't experience a selfless, unending, and unconditional love from other people, we may not ever know what it is like to be loved and may close ourselves off from God's love.

This is why the video below breaks my heart - because there is so much raw truth in it. Too many don't know what love is.

It is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen on the internet.

We have to live love by loving those around us in order for them to be open to their purpose of living in God's love...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lenten Reflection For Sunday, February 24

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 24, 2013
The Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 15: 5-12, 17-18 * Philippians 3: 17- 4: 1 * Luke 9: 28b-36

The Gospel of today’s liturgy, the Transfiguration, describes an experience of contemplation. The apostles are brought, by the Lord, to Mount Taber to see the glory of God. Contemplation is a gift; we do not achieve it on our own. I believe keeping holy the day of the Lord (Sunday) and living it as a day of holy leisure truly opens us up for contemplation. The philosopher Joseph Pieper wrote a short book titled, Leisure: The Basis of Culture. He argued that a healthy culture and environment, in which the human person lives and is formed, requires the understanding of leisure.

What is proper leisure? The highest form is contemplation: first entering into silence, then meditation and “in there” being in the conscious presence of God.

The heart of leisure is celebration. We say the liturgy is the source and summit of all our activities. As Catholics we have Sundays, feast days and holy days. Each of these are to be regarded as days of rest, not to be idle, slothful or lazy, but to allow us to worship and celebrate and be re-created. “On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.” (Gen 2:2-3)

Leisure is essential to a person’s wholeness. It makes us better and improves communities. As a byproduct, it will make us better students and workers.

Some ideas for your leisure: Contemplation, prayer, worship, time spent with friends talking about great things, centered around a meal with good food and drink. Contemplating nature, listening to music, working the land or in a garden.

How do I live Sundays? Are they a day of leisure and rest? What am I doing on Sundays that I can avoid?

Suggested References: read John Paul II Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy).

Sr. Elena Morcelli
Apostles of the Interior Life Campus Minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Center

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lenten Reflection For Saturday, February 23

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 23, 2013
Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 * Matthew 5:43-48

When God asks something of us, whether it is small or big, we usually don’t understand why or what will come from his request. In this reading from Deuteronomy, we witness how adamantly the Lord wants us to follow his commands. Why is he so insistent? He wants to show us that only by following his decrees will we be happy! By trying to live out the commandments and ultimately by trying to love, we are filled with the peace of knowing that we are loved by the Father and that his love is so inspiring and so real. We come to draw closer to him and seek out more ways to say “Yes!” to him. A chain reaction occurs once you see that the God of the universe is calling you to be his child of honorable virtue. There is truly a reason the Psalmist says “Truly I love your commandments more than gold, more than the finest gold.” (119:127)

Have you recently been joyful as a result of following The Ten Commandments, or just deciding to do a simple act of love?

Has saying “yes” ever led you to do something further for the Lord?

How do you learn to trust God more?


Friday, February 22, 2013

Lenten Reflection For Friday, February 22

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:  
February 22, 2013
Friday of the First Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18:21-28 * Mt 5:20-26

In the first reading, God proclaims if a wicked man turns from his sins, lives righteously, keeps all of God’s statutes and does what is lawful and right, he will have eternal life. Likewise, if a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits sins, he will not be remembered for his righteous acts, and he will not have eternal life. A friend of mine once compared this to the flock of one hundred sheep. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will pursue the one sheep that leaves the flock and will rejoice in the returning of that one sheep to the flock. That lost sheep can be the righteous man or the wicked man. God will rejoice if the wicked man turns from his sin and comes back to him, God will also be sorrowful if the righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, but will rejoice if that righteous man renounces his sin and turns back from the wickedness he has committed.

We all have the choice of being the righteous person, or becoming righteous by turning from our sin. God’s will for us is to live in righteousness and is sorrowful if we choose sin. During this Lenten Season, I challenge you to reflect on your life: Are you the righteous man, or the wicked man?

Do you have any sins that you need to overcome? Have you confessed them and given them over to God?

Have you strived to avoid even the near occasions of sin–those persons, places or things that lead us to sin?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lenten Reflection For Thursday, February 21

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection:
February 21, 2013
Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25 * Matthew 7:7-12

So, there we were! Standing in the backyard, as we often did, talking about life. We had just finished another hard day of college, and we were each discussing the great trials of our current state in life. The topic of this backyard conclave was whether or not to ask a girl on a date and how to go about the question. Now, my dear friend in his deep understanding of Biblical history and the opposite sex provided an insightful piece of advice that I will now pass on to you. Are you ready? His words were “So...what is the worst that she can say?” Okay, so maybe you have heard that particular idiom. However, the point is that we are called to ask. Now look at the first word of Matthew 7:7! Ask!

“Ask and it will be given to you.” God wants us to ask for the things that we need. The Lord is calling us not to complacent reflection but to motion toward action. We must put ourselves into his arms so that we can receive the gift that God is so willing to give–if only we would ask and have the grace to receive. In the words of Josemaria Escriva, “In what human venture can you have greater guarantee of success?” Pray that the Lord gives us the humility to purify our request. To ask the right questions, to knock on the right doors and seek the right path!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lenten Reflection for Wednesday, Feb 20

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff). Here is today's reflection: 
February 20, 2013
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Jonah 3:1-10 * Luke 11:29-32

In today’s reading, Jonah brings God’s message to the people of Nineveh to inspire a conversion from their sinful ways. Upon hearing Jonah, the people begin to fast and cover themselves with sackcloth. When the king of Nineveh gets word of God’s anger, he removes his robe, covers himself in sackcloth and sits in a pile of ashes. He then orders the people to do the same in hope that God’s anger will subside when he sees his people with penitent hearts. And it is so, for when God saw that the people “turned from their evil way,” he did not destroy their city (Jonah 3:10).

The people of Nineveh seek forgiveness out of fear of the Lord and his wrath, but do we feel this kind of profound fear when we frequent confession? For me, this is not usually the case. Although the situation for us and the people of Nineveh is quite different, the Lord is asking the same thing of all of us: to approach him with contrite hearts so that we change from our sinful ways out of a deep love for him.

I believe that the Act of Contrition that we recite at the end of a confession is meant to be a plea, from the deepest part of our hearts, that God will be merciful to us–that he may forgive us because we love him and are truly sorry.

Am I sorry for my sins because of the pain they cause me or because of the pan they cause God, the one who loves me?

How can I show him that I am truly sorry?


There Are No Good Reasons To Use Contraception

Last night I taught a relationships class to a couple of hundred college students. In the class I told them there is no good reason to use contraception. I then told them I would post an argument to support my premise. Here is my post below:

This is a tough topic for many people to understand and to follow, but once the situation is examined in depth, I think it is easy for us to understand what the Catholic Church teaches about contraception and the surrounding issues related to it. History, Culture, Relationships, Theology, and more are affected by this issue.

Yet, before we start we have to answer this question - What is love?
Many people think it is a feeling or something that comes and goes.
How about these two definitions:
  1. Love is a gift of the whole person given to another.
  2. Love is choosing what is best for another regardless of the cost to myself.
Christ gave us one new commandment -"Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:35). How did He love us? He gave everything He had to each of us on the Cross. It is the perfect gift of His whole person. He also wanted what was best for us and offers it to us even though it cost Him His life. So, Christ is our model of love. Keep this in mind.

All of Christianity rejected Contraception until 1930 – where the Lambeth Convention of the Anglican Church allowed it in narrow circumstances.

Just a few years later a Protestant group of denominations (the Federal Council of Churches) allowed it. A day after the Federal Council of Churches declaration, a shocked Washington Post wrote the following:
"Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee's report, if carried into effect, would sound the deathknell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraception would be 'careful and restrained' is preposterous."
Can you imagine the Post writing that today? Regardless, they were right. Society had a common sense about contraception as well, which is why contraception was outlawed until the 60’s. This common sense wasn't something new, just look at the Protestant reformers.

Martin Luther:
"[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime.”
John Calvin:
"The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring."
Our choices in light of this history is this:

  1. Either 1,950 years of consistent Christian tradition (and the current stance of the Catholic Church) is wrong or;
  2. All of Christianity had it correct until 1950 (and the Catholic Church still does).
Here are some of the common predictions about what would happen once contraception was legal and widely used:
1 - Marriages would be better - Unwanted pregnancies would decrease - Abortions would decrease
But, what has happened?
  • Divorce rate doubled between 1965-1975 from 25% to 50%
  • One demographer has shown that access to the pill paralleled the increase to the divorce rate
  • Those that use contraception have fewer children and later in marriage.
  • Early years of marriage are fun, but there is a change in attitude
  • But, children are harder to walk away from - They also make you less selfish
  • Also showed there was more adultery because a women is more “available” and the natural consequences (babies) aren’t as easy to achieve.
2 - Less unwanted pregnancies?
  • In 1960 some 6% of white babies were born out of wedlock - 22% in 1992
  • In 1960 22%of black babies were born out of wedlock - 68% in 1992
3 - Fewer abortions?
  • 50% of women who have abortions go because contraception failed.
  • “I got pregnant by accident”…how? This means something went RIGHT not.
Even the phrase “unwanted pregnancies” was never known before contraception. Because humanity knew that pregnancy followed sex. But, now that people have tried to separate the two (and have a false sense of control), when contraception fails, they are shocked that babies happen.

Our culture now views pregnancy as a "disease" that needs to be "prevented".

Pope Paul VI’s predictions
In his groundbreaking encyclical, Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI predicted the following would happen if contraception was widely used:

1) “how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality”
  • he got this one right
2) “It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”
  • Pornography
  • Rape
  • The other person is no longer a person, but an object for pleasure.
3) “Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.”
  • Forced abortions
So, how did the Pope know that this was going to happen? 3 reasons
  1. He had Christian tradition
  2. He had the Holy Spirit
  3. He used natural law - We should use thing according to their nature.
  • If I want grass in my backyard, I better not pave it.
  • If you want to have a car run correctly – Don’t put oil in the gas tank.
  • If you don’t use your bodies and sex according to their nature, then it is going to mess things up.
Most people never ask the question, “what is sex intended for” or “what is the purpose of sex”. They merely assume it is for pleasure. But, God didn’t create us just to have a good time in bed. Sex has two purposes:
  1. Procreation – babies
  2. Union of the Spouses – bonding
If we take either out, then sex loses its meaning and becomes something it isn’t intended for. For example:
  • Rape – the purpose of rape is neither for babies or bonding.
  • premarital sex – It certainly isn’t for either thing, though many disguise it as bonding. Why isn’t it bonding?
Because is it a loving act (remember how we defined love above before you answer) to take a risk with getting someone who isn’t married pregnant? Is it loving to risk the emotional, spiritual or physical harm that comes with premarital sex (break-ups, sin, disease, etc)?

When sex loses it’s intended purpose, then it becomes something that isn’t good.
In fact, as Catholics we say sex is even better than good – which we will explore below.

How does society view children and portray them?
  • More children will take our money
  • More children take our freedom
  • More children will use up the earth’s resources
In other words, they are a burden.

But, the Bible has a different view.
  • As a blessing from God. Curse – to be barren in the Bible
  • As Gifts
  • That the Earth was made for humans to properly use
  • As immortal souls that we participate with God in creating. WE CREATE WITH GOD (pro – create)
God designed sex to be open to life. When one has sex and contracepts, they are, in effect, telling God that they want to have the effects of sex (pleasure) without the purpose. “NO THANKS GOD, WE DON’T WANT YOU TO BE A PART OF THIS”.

3 things that contraception does:
  • It blocks God out of the sexual act (violates procreation)
  • It treats children as a burden, not a gift.
  • It prevents bonding between the spouses.
Love = Total self-giving of yourself. To withhold your fertility from another, is partial gift at best. Use at worst.

Think of these two different phrases:
  • I want to have sex with you vs I want to have a baby with you - one says I want to pleasure myself and use you to do it the other says I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
When a couple has sex they are worshiping God with there bodies when done in the proper context.

God the Father and God the Son love each other so much and so powerfully that the result of their love is the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. This is why John could write that “God is love”.

We are made in God’s image and likeness. We image God in our relationship with our spouses and in sex. When the husband and wife come together as one, the result of their love is their children. Sex then becomes worship of God, which is why it is so much more than just pleasure. It isn’t just good. Sex is sacred.

How does the pill work? Makes the woman’s body think it is pregnant
  1. Stops ovulation
  2. If that fails then - it changes the mucus so that the sperm isn’t in a good environment
  3. It prevents implantation of a fertilized ovum into the Uterus - ABORTION
The Pill can cause blood clotting, and liver tumors among younger women. Fatal heart attacks are approximately twice as frequent among women who take the Pill. It can cause weight gain, decreased libido, depression, etc.

Moreover, all chemical forms of birth control can act as abortifacients – that is, a chemical abortion.

So how does NFP work?
NFP experts say that when a couple understands and follows the method, NFP is about 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy.
  • Billings method uses signs of cervical mucus
  • Sympto-Thermal Method monitors the cervical mucus, changes of the cervix and uses temperature as a cross-check. A second kind is ecological breastfeeding, which uses frequent suckling and longer feedings.
What is the difference between the two?
The difference is that using contraception is akin to speaking a lie with the body. When we have sex, we are saying with our bodies “I give everything I am to you, except my fertility”.

To use NFP is not to say anything with the body, because it is merely avoiding sex during the fertile times.
Remember that you can’t justify the ends by the means. The “end” of contraception as well as NFP (to not have a baby) are the same. BUT, the means are completely different.

The Church affirms that efforts at birth regulation "must be done with respect for the order established by God" (Humanae Vitae, 16). We may not act against our created human nature in pursuing some purpose or pleasure. When you have sex you are reaffirming your wedding vows. You are saying, with your bodies, that you love another person. You sacrifice yourself for them. You give yourself, ALL of yourself to them.

--NFP is like taking the 5th amendment in court. You can’t be held guilty for doing something if you never acted.

Think of Euthanasia -Active killing vs. passively letting another die.
NFP passively lets nature run its course while contraception acts against procreation (thus CONTRA)

Now think about Praying. It is good. The Church says to pray. But, we aren’t called to meditate on the Cross of Christ all the time. But, when we do…it should be done with reverence. At any time it is okay to pray or not to pray (that is our choice), but we are never to blaspheme.

Some of the Benefits to NFP
  • More sex on average.
  • Women have more self-respect for themselves
  • Sex isn’t about just feeling good and therefore the women don’t feel like objects
  • More satisfaction
  • Better communication and marriages. Must talk for it to work
  • Marriages last longer (less than 2% get divorced)
  • Freedom from guilt and sin
  • Grow closer to God
  • Cheaper than contraception
  • No side effects
Now, NFP isn't perfect. It is difficult for many couples to have self-control or to carry the cross that NFP might be for some couples. But, it is certainly worth it.

The Church gets the final word in answering the questions above. From the Catechism:
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self- observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.... The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

The Evangelism Linebacker - WATCH OUT!

Could be titled, "how not to evangelize"...


Your Guides To The Papal Conclave

1 - Here is a great interactive website about the conclave.
I highly recommend it!

2 - A great video explaining the process:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Evangelizing Through Beauty

Lenten Reflection for Tuesday, Feb. 19

St. Mary's put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. in order to have a daily reflection on the Mass readings for the day. Most of the reflections were written by students (a few by staff).
Here is today's reflection:
February 19, 2013
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Isaiah 55:10-11 * Matthew 6:7-15

The Gospel from Matthew emphasizes three points: the importance of quality prayer, the gift of the Lord’s Prayer, and an emphasis on perpetual forgiveness. First, quality prayer should never be disregarded. One should attempt to concentrate whether praying a self-written or a standard prayer. By focusing on the meaning, one can gain a deeper insight into both God’s presence and his will.

The Lord’s Prayer signifies our dependence on God, as well as uniting us all as one Church. It represents our daily challenge to live as Catholics in the world, while glorifying God and laying all we have and are down at his feet. This is why Christ reinforces the lines of forgiveness. It is an ever-present challenge to forgive those around us, especially our enemies. This is when great sacrifice on our part is necessary, as we give up our anger and turn our hearts toward God to forgive.

What can I do to improve the quality of my prayer life? Do I sometimes rush through prayers, or avoid prayer all together?

How can I better forgive those around me? Have I retaliated against those who have wronged me?

Have I lost touch with God’s own forgiving grace? When was the last time I went to the confession?

Jesus Tweets!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lenten Reflection for Monday, Feb 18

St. Mary's Catholic Center has put together a Lenten reflection booklet which we handed out on Ash Wed. Most were written by students and a few by staff. Here is today's reflection:
February 18, 2013
Monday of the First Week of Lent

Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 * Matthew 25:31-46

In the first reading, Moses reminds the Israelites about the love of God manifested in his liberation of the people when they left Egypt. For each of us, God also has an equally dramatic liberation–liberation from sin, sorrow and loneliness. We have many reasons, more than the ancient Israelites, to praise God and to offer him our lives. He created us and redeemed us as proof of his immense love. The text describes “the feast of the first fruits,” in which every Israelite is presented to the priest as a member of a people who has received the gift of the earth. In worship, Israel manifests her faith, and confesses that God has intervened in history in her favor. The rite invokes memory and thanksgiving to God who acts in the world. The offering of the first fruits of the soil expressed gratitude for the fulfillment of the promise land.

In life, there are moments when we forget all about the blessings in our lives because we are so busy lamenting the on suffering. Let us take this time of Lent to withdraw from all the temptations around us and, like Jesus, go to our own desert, where we will fight to dominate those things that tempt us to sin and forget to praise our Lord for all our blessings.


Why Did God Become a Man?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Pope Has A Touching Moment With Priests Of Rome

This is awesome:

Sad to hear him say he will remain hidden from the world, but my guess is that will make the man, Joseph Ratzinger, much happier.

Why I Love My Wife

God knows what He is doing, even if I don't. Because if I had met my wife 6 hours earlier than I did, she would have never talked to me.

While in college, at Texas A&M, I was a college boy running after everything the world said would make me happy - alcohol, women, pleasure, success, money, etc. None of it satisfied me. Some guys encouraged me to go back to church and I ended up going on a retreat. The first night of it changed my life because it was the first time I went to Confession in many years.

I met Jesus that night.
But, I also met my future wife, Kristy.

Kristy was a shy and beautiful girl from the Hill Country of Texas. We immediately hit it off, because she laughed at my cheesy jokes and I thought she was one of the sweetest and nicest persons I had ever met. We became friends.

At the time I was attracted to another girl I met at the retreat and she had a crush on a guy she met there too. After the retreat was over, we would call each other or meet for lunch and talk, but just as friends. 

One night a large group was supposed to go out to a baseball game, dinner, and dancing. But, the forecast predicted rain, so only 4 people went to the game - Kristy, myself, and 2 friends who were dating. We had a blast. Later that night, about 40 of us went dancing and the only 2 that didn't show up were the girl I was interested in and the guy Kristy was interested in.

God knows what He is doing.

By the end of the night, Kristy and I knew our relationship was changing and some romantic feelings had started. The next night we had our first date.

2 years later, we got married right after graduation, and to be quite honest the first year was very hard on both of us. More than anything I had to learn to be a man.

Kristy was patient enough with me to allow me to learn the hard way.
Being a man meant I had to learn to love God, my wife, my children, my family, others, and THEN myself.

I am still learning this lesson every day and Kristy is still patient with me.

Last night I told her I thought she was not only beautiful, but the most beautiful woman in the world. In fact, I am repeatedly stunned by her beauty. 

It isn't that I can't see the changes in her after 5 kids.
It isn't that I look past her faults.
It isn't that I believe she is perfect.

Rather, tt is what I see when I look at her with honest eyes:
  • She is kind
  • She is generous.
  • She puts me and the kids first constantly.
  • She sacrifices her own desires for others.
  • She is compassionate for the people on the fringes of society.
  • She is passionate about her faith.
  • She finds time to check in with old friends.
  • She reminds me that I do have feelings.
  • She challenges me.
  • She is prayerful.
  • She is smart.
  • She is honest.
  • She is still sweet, but very tough where needed.
  • She appreciates me.
  • She is (quite literally) my better half.
  • She smiles and tears up when I bring her flowers.
  • She makes us stick to family traditions, even when I grunt through them.
  • She is wise enough to stay away when I am grumpy in the morning.
  • She says "yes" every time I ask her to rub my aching back.
  • She loves me for who I am.
  • She (somehow) really thinks I am kinda cute.
  • She holds my hand and we walk together towards Jesus every day.
But, it isn't so much about what she does, but who she is.
  • She is my wife. 
  • She is God's daughter. 
  • She is the most loving, beautiful, amazing, awe-inspiring woman to walk the earth (after Mary).
  • She is my bride.
I love you Kristy. With all I my being.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Alligators, Beavers, and Capybaras Are "Fish"

When the Americas were being colonized and explored, many of the animals were unknown to the Europeans. Because many of the explorers were Catholic and bound by the law of the Church, sought clarification on what would be considered "meat" they could eat on Fridays - remember that you would abstain on all Fridays during this time.  Thus, they would send descriptions of the animals back to Rome and ask for clarification.

Interesting to note that because they are primarily water creatures, such animals as beavers, alligators, turtles, otters, manatees, and capybaras were all put under the "fish" title. In parts of South America, capybaras are still a regular item on the dinner table on Fridays in Lent.

I can imagine the letter about the capybaras (to the Pope) went something like this:
Your Holiness,

I have found a large tasty creature we all want to eat on Fridays.  Please advise whether this is would be considered a fish.  It stands several feet tall and looks like a gigantic guinea pig.  It is tasty, just as fish is, and swims in the water, just like fish.  The natives have taken a liking to the animal and if they don't get to eat it during Lent, they might all die.

Please advise whether this huge rodent is a fish.

In The New World,
I am,
Montel Montenegro Montemayor Monterey, S.J.

The Legacy of Benedict XVI

Fr. Pontifex on Lent

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

LENT 2013

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

Things you will find below include:
Scroll down to get to all the goodies.

When Does Lent Start in 2013?
Lent starts on Ash Wed, Feb 13 and ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which is the beginning of the Triduum. Easter Sunday is March 31.

What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is now a part of our Church's liturgical calendar and a season of conversion for all. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God. 

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

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

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

What is Ash Wednesday all about?
Ash Wednesday is so named because this first day of Lent is where we are marked with ashes to show the repentance of our sins and mourning. This is also a Biblical sign that we live today. We can see this in several verses.
  • "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:3)
  • Other verses include: 1 Sam 4:12, Jon 3:6, Esther 4:1 and Matt 11:20-21
Today, ashes are still this same sign of repentance and mourning for our sins. They also represent our mortality. "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27). We started as nothing and our bodies will become dust and ashes after our death. Reminding ourselves that nobody escapes physical death, we look forward to eternal life.

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

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

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

Is Ash Wed a holy day of Obligation?
No. But all Catholics are strongly urged to attend, because it is the start of the Lenten season. 

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

Why fast?
Again, this is because we are called to by Jesus. By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well.
  • "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16)
  • "and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)
  • Fasting also helps focus us in our prayer. *Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)
Why abstain from meat?
Because of the spiritual discipline it provides. "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Dan 10:1-3) We give up meat, which still today is a luxury in some parts of the world, as a good thing that we offer up in order to remember that Christ is better than food and needed more by all of us than anything else.

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

So, what are the other days of fast and abstinence?
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from meat, this is because Christ died on a Friday.

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

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

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


Increased Prayer:
  • Wake up 20 minutes early and start the day in prayer.
  • Daily Mass 1-2 times a week.
  • An hr. in Adoration a week.
  • Go to Confession.
  • Read Scripture daily.
  • Go to a Lenten Bible study.
  • Read a spiritual book.
  • Start to pray a daily Rosary.
  • Pray the Liturgy of the hours.
  • Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.
  • Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
  • Pray for your enemies.
  • Watch The Passion of the Christ and then meditate on Christ’s life.
  • Read about the life of a saint.
  • Do an extra spiritual activity at Church
  • Get involved in your parish if you aren’t already.
  • Memorize Scripture verses.
  • Check out a book on spirituality from the parish library.
Increased Almsgiving:
  • When you fast from a meal, give the money you would spend to the poor.
  • Use a coin box from and put all change into it for the poor.
  • Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul or another charitable organization.
  • Spend more time with your parents.
  • Visit a nursing home.
  • Start tithing.
  • Make a pledge to a worthy charity.
  • Forgive an old grudge.
  • Invite someone to Church.
  • Share your faith with someone.
  • Give someone a Catholic tract or CD.
  • Exercise patience and love.
  • Speak in a pleasant tone to everyone.
  • Look for extra ways to help others.
  • Go out of your way to talk to someone who is shy or difficult.
  • Offer to watch a mother’s child(ren).
  • Drive with love.
  • Write a letter to a relative you haven’t seen in a while.
Increased fasting:
The following are good things we can fast from and have back at a later time:

The following are things we fast from and continue to give up:
  • Fast from speeding.
  • Fast from sarcasm or gossip.
  • Fast from envying what others have.
  • Fast from being lazy or procrastination.
  • Fast from not studying / working hard.
  • Fast from complaining.
  • Fast from some other bad habit.
Here is a list of links about lent. If you have any to add, then leave in the comments or shoot me an email.

Prayers, History, Lenten Suggestions:

Archbishop Chaput on Lent:

Archbishop Gomez on Ash Wed and Lent:

Apostleship of Prayer on Lent:
Ash Wed and Lent in 2 minutes:

Listen and Pray along - Allegri: Miserere:
The goofiest Lenten video ever is by Nick Alexander (done to the song "King of Pain" by The Police) - This Time of Forty Days:

Please help me find more by putting links in the comments. Thanks.