Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where Renewal of The Catholic Church In The USA Is Starting

  • Morality is relative.
  • Right and wrong depend on the situation and people.  As long as they do their best, they can't do wrong.
  • What is true for you may not be true for me.
  • That might have been considered wrong in the past, but we have progressed beyond such ancient fears.
  • Dogmatically proclaiming you are right and everyone else is wrong is really just dogmatic exclusivity based on myth.
  • We shouldn't judge others, but should each follow our own conscience
Relativism, and relativism's sister - utilitarianism, are the biggest issues in our culture today.

Relativism is the belief that truth is relative to people, situations, time, cultures, etc.  Truth can change and is subjective. There is nothing which is universal to us all or which binds us to something universally objective.

Why is this a problem?  Because without moral absolutes, objectively - there is no sin or human failure. No action can be wrong at all times.  It leads to a society with moral license and each individual can do whatever they please - forget the consequences. It is a philosophy that will ultimately be the end of any society that owns it.

Utilitarianism flows naturally from relativism. Utilitarianism is the philosophy that the best way to live my life is to maximize my happiness and minimize my suffering and this is primarily done by using other people and things to attain my happiness. In other words, it means humans use other people as objects.

Both relativism and utilitarianism are getting worse in our society.  From a 2008 study by the Barna Research Group:
"We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America....The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them - the Baby Busters - pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents - the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness."
But, it isn't just outside the society as a whole - it is inside the Catholic Church.  From a 2010 poll done about the Millenial Generation and the Catholic Church:
**82% of Catholic millenials believe morals are “relative.”
Here is how that is lived out - Catholic Millenials believed the following practices are "morally acceptable" at these percentages:
  • 61% - a Catholic to practice more than one religion
  • 33% - having a baby outside of marriage
  • 35% - same sex marriage
  • 37% - medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos
  • 20% - euthanasia
We, the Catholic Church and our allies against relativism, have a lot of work to do. As Pope Benedict said:
"To have a clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of "doctrine," seems to be the only attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the "I" and its whims as the ultimate measure."
Pope Francis has also echoed B16 in saying:
"There is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth."
The questions then arise:
Where can the Catholic Church hope to turn the tide?

My thesis is this - I believe it MUST be done in the young adult stage of life. Previous research shows that college-age adults are more open to ideas and change than at later stages in life.

Also, the Church has consistently taught (if not implemented on the ground) that evangelization and catechesis of adults is where the focus of our efforts should lie. JPII said catechesis to adults is the primary form of catechesis, because it is:
“addressed to the persons who have the greatest responsibility and the capacity to live the Christian message in its fully developed form” Catechesi Tradendae 43
Therefore - if we miss the young adults in college, we lose the culture war!

So, how can the Catholic Church best meet the challenges in this age with young adults? Many argue it must be done in Catholic universities. I agree that having a good system of Catholic colleges and universities is a great way to form Catholics. The Catholic Church started the university system and it is still extremely important. But, here is the problem - Catholic universities are not doing enough and don't have enough influence to stem the tide.

First of all, I am not saying to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Catholic colleges and universities play an indispensable roll in our Church and country. We cannot give away higher education to secularism. Nor can theology or Catholic philosophy be maintained in non-Catholic schools. But, the tide isn't turning in the Church's favor quick enough at Catholic institutions.

Studies show that female students are MORE promiscuous at Catholic universities and Catholic colleges and universities not forming students any better than secular universities in the Catholic faith.

This is shameful.  Especially when we stop to consider the state of campus ministries in the USA and the way resources are distributed. There are some campus ministries, such as St. Mary's, who have modern facilities, large staffs, and adequate resources (which they have gone out and worked hard to find the funding). Others have nothing at all - no staff, no activities, no ministry...nothing.

In other words, we have allowed generations of Catholics who go to many colleges to go through college without any ministry. Many leave the church.

90% of Catholic college students go to non-Catholic schools.  If we are to renew the Church, then we need the renewal to start where young Catholic students are going to school - at non-Catholic institutions.

Even if we start to turn the tide in some of the Catholic universities that are losing (or have already lost) their Catholic identity, it will take generations to turn them around. On the other hand, a campus ministry at a non-Catholic school can be ratcheted up quickly, within a few years - if it has visionary leadership and enough support (from both Church leaders and laity who help financially).

In other words, we need a paradigm shift.
  • We need to re-focus our priorities of ministering to the millenial generation toward the non-Catholic campus ministry centers.  
  • We can no longer be satisfied with understaffed and underfunded campus ministries (or having none at all).  
  • We need dynamic and visionary leaders to start programs that challenge and form Catholics to go out into the world and change it - not be changed by it.
Pray for Catholic higher education and campus ministry.

Support campus ministry - it is where I believe reform will start - with young adults. Pope Francis thinks young adults will be the catalysts of change too - here are a few quotes from World Youth Day in Rio:
"I will always place my hopes in...the young around the world: through them, Christ is preparing a new springtime all over the earth. I have seen its first fruits and I know that others will joyfully reap the full harvest."
-Farewell Ceremony
"It is the young who want to be the protagonists of change. Please, don’t leave it to others to be the protagonists of change. You are the ones who hold the future! You … Through you the future is fulfilled in the world. I ask you also to be protagonists of this transformation. Continue to overcome apathy, offering a Christian response to the social and political anxieties, which are arising in various parts of the world. I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world. Dear young people, please, don’t be observers of life, but get involved. Jesus did not remain an observer, but he immersed himself. Don’t be observers, but immerse yourself in the reality of life, as Jesus did."
-Prayer Vigil
There are many positive signs in campus ministries around the country:

  • Many campus ministries are growing and becoming more dynamic.
  • Some campus ministries have implemented strategic plans and development offices to increase outreach and funding.
  • FOCUS, St. Paul's Outreach, Evangelical Catholic, and other organizations continue to flourish.
  • Some campus ministries have gone from nothing to something.

We have a start. But, we must have a broader vision on helping the church nationally and universally, if we are to have real change. This means focused efforts to increase the growth of campus ministries throughout the country in a collaborative and strategic way. How can this happen? I don't know for sure. But, it must if real reform is to take place.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Catholic Case Against Same-Sex Marriage

Recently I spoke at a conference and stated I could see no argument for same-sex marriage which was logical enough to withstand scrutiny. Some responded they wanted to talk about the subject more, because they struggled to counter the arguments for same-sex marriage and not come off as hateful.

Before I begin, I want to be very clear, we cannot accept the fallacy that opposing same-sex marriage = "hate" of persons who have a same-sex attraction. Nor is it "homophobic", mean, discriminatory, etc. This is rhetoric and ad hominem which is a distraction and does not add anything to the discussion at hand.

In fact, if you believe same-sex marriage is not good for someone and say nothing about it, that isn't love at all. Love compels us to seek out what is good for the other.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says (emphasis added):
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
I write this post in the spirit of respect, compassion and sensitivity for persons with same-sex attraction. I also do so out of love - because I believe same-sex marriage is bad for them and for society. Every one of us is a sinner and yet all still deserve to be loved and treated fairly, because we are human beings who share the same dignity.

NOTEYou are free to disagree, but if you put want a comment posted below, be careful that you follow our comment rules and engage in a dialogue on the subject, not ad hominem or attacks. They won't make the cut.



WHAT IS MARRIAGE?
Is it unfair, unjust, discriminatory and homophobic to oppose marriages of two men or two women? Many today would say it is. Yet - treating different things differently is not discrimination.

So, WHAT IS MARRIAGE? The answer helps us understand what is going on.

A monogamous, lifelong, faithful, loving union between one man and one woman - till death = the traditional definition of marriage. Marriage is meant to instill true self-giving love and a marriage between a man/woman is the best place where love can grow to be total, faithful, fruitful, and free.

Marriage is personal, but not merely private. Marriages are by definition, a part of society. Marriage is also not merely about two people. While marriage might lead to a happy life and wonderful feelings of mutual love, that isn't what makes a marriage a marriage. Rather, it is about seeking the good of the other - including the children that naturally come from marriage.

So, marriage is about the spouses, but it is also about the others that become bound to them - their children.  The natural way a child is created and brought into the world is through sexual relations between a man and woman. Studies consistently prove the common sense notion that the best place for a child to be raised is in a stable marriage of their mother and father (see NOTE #1 for studies supporting this). Thus, the state has a compelling interest in helping marriage become stronger and more stable. Promoting a re-definition of marriage undermines these efforts.

We can see that marriage is not merely a religious or social construct. It is a natural one, which in every culture, throughout history, has shown that one man and one woman bond together for the good of themselves, their children, and their society. Thus, the natural order between male/female sexual relationship includes reproduction as an inherent part of that relationship. Which is why reproduction does matter in marriage. In a culture that has separated sex and babies (due to the contraceptive mentality) it is no wonder we have started to widely accept sexual relationships that cannot naturally reproduce life as "normal".

Some will argue infertile couples are an exception to the rule just as same-sex couples are. False. Infertile couples prove the point of natural marriage. An infertile couple is naturally oriented toward procreation and something is medically wrong. The reason a same-sex couple cannot procreate is because nature is working correctly.

Furthermore, children have the right to have their best interests furthered by our laws and by our society. The government should protect the rights of children to live and flourish.

The family is the fundamental building block of human society. In fact, because of the natural ability to procreate, marriage is the very source of life and even the future of our world. The role of the government is to promote the common good. So, promoting relationships which re-define marriage harms children (the future of our society) and is a failure to promote the common good.

Marriage isn't just about the romance and feelings between two people. There are serious social and familial consequences.


SEX MATTERS
What is the most powerful thing two people can do together? Create another unique, unrepeatable and eternal human being - that is, create a new life! When we step back and reflect on this, it is earth-shattering. Sex is naturally ordered toward the creation of new life and the bonding of two people. When one of these two purposes is intentionally removed, then sex is lowered to something that it was not meant to be. Something without the high and lofty meaning and reality it should have.

Sex matters because it has such amazing power. Homosexual sex is deficient in achieving either goal. By nature, there can be no procreation and because our bodies were designed to compliment the other sex, there can be no true "partnering" between same-sex couples. What sex becomes then is selfish pleasure and using another human person - as it does in any sexual act outside of marriage.

This complimentarity of the sexes also matters in parenting. No two fathers or two mothers can give a child what a mother and father can. Thus, no same-sex union can give a child all they need from both a father and a mother.

Marriage forms the bedrock of the "common good" of society. It is where we learn (for good or ill) how to live. Why would a change to the definition of marriage, in order to accommodate a relatively small number of people, have such big affects on our culture? Look around at the evidence.
  1. The law is a teacher. We know that law influences how people think morally. If we re-define marriage, we undercut the basic institution that our society rests upon.
  2. Such a change begets the misunderstanding of the roles of fathers/mothers. Note that even birth certificates have changed to include "parent" and not "mother/father". This understanding makes fathers and/or mothers dispensable. This is cultural suicide as fatherless households attest to.
  3. What other "sexual minorities" are also being excluded? How far does our redefinition of marriage go? If marriage is merely about good feelings, bonding 2 people together, etc. then we must eventually include polyamorists, polygamists, etc.


THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
We know marriage is the glue which has held together communities, cultures, and peoples for generation upon generation. The values that are within a culture are given within the family and that is then taken out into the wider culture to nurture and perpetuate that culture. Traditional marriage is the foundation of the values that govern life in our society and therefore the core social unit of society itself.

Marriage isn't just about self-fulfillment and the promotion of same-sex marriage is an attempt to change what is the essential character of marriage. What are the results? One man, one woman, and their children unite as a family - every bit of evidence shows that families thrive in monogamous and stable homes with two biological parents of opposite sexes who remain married. This means that there is less poverty, crime, strife, etc. in homes where marriages do well. When families suffer the rest of our culture suffers.

Marriage naturally involves a public acceptance of the relationship. It is not an acceptance merely of the relationship itself, but it is a recognition that life is naturally transmitted through this relationship and that through the marital relationships of men and women - society itself not only should recognize this, but support it.

This issue is about all of us. Cultural norms and values are for the greater-good, not just about what feels right. For society to change a basic and fundamental building block of the culture could be cultural suicide.


NOT JUST A RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT
Notice, I haven't used the Bible or religious teachings to argue against same-sex marriage. This is because the public advocates of same-sex marriage do not care what the Bible says (or will try to twist it to fit their agenda). So, I have avoided the religious arguments and stuck to natural law, logic, and sociological facts.

Notice the fruit of our modern culture's understanding of marriage, family, life, and sexuality:
  • porn
  • abortion
  • divorce
  • fatherless homes
  • addiction
  • declining morality
  • etc
Do we really believe our modern culture's momentum is leading us to a better place on marriage, family, sex, and society? I have not heard anyone reasonably argue this is the case.

If you want to continue to moral decline, then do nothing. If you want to turn the tide around then start to become more informed on the social consequences of such radical ideas, speak out, vote, and influence others. Don't forget to do so with kindness, love, and courage - covered in prayer.

The burden of proof lies on those who want to change marriage and no argument yet passes muster. But, our culture sees it the other way around. So, we have to prepare ourselves to be able to defend what is true.

May God's peace be with us.

------------------------------------------------------------

NOTE #1 - some have asked for data which supports the statement that children do better in homes with a mom/dad. First of all, there is tons of data on natural marriage of one man and one woman. Stable homes with both a father and mother are best. The long-term data on same-sex parenting is new and much of it is being framed with an agenda in mind (e.g. some studies compare single-parent homes to same-sex parent homes, some have very narrow studies, etc). But, nonetheless, here are a few:
  • Married parents:
  • W. Bradford Wilcox, et al., Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005)
  • Paul Amato, “The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation,” in The Future of Children, “Marriage and Child Wellbeing,” Volume 15, Number 2, Fall 2005, (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton and The Brookings Institution)
  • Ronald P. Rohner and Robert A. Veneziano, “The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence,” Review of General Psychology 5.4 (2001): 382-405
  • Kyle D. Pruett, Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, (New York: The Free Press, 2000)
  • Michael Stiffman, et al., “Household Composition and Risk of Fatal Child Maltreatment,” Pediatrics, 109 (2002), 615-621
  • MORE HERE
NOTE #2 - In regards to Pope Francis recent comments on the "gay lobby" and when he said, "who am I to judge" someone who is gay - there is no change in anything the Church has or ever will teach. Rather, he is re-stating that our mission to bring the Good News that Jesus can save us from our sins is for all and that if anyone repents of those sins, they should be forgotten. See more here.
------------------------------------------------

If you want more on this subject, then I recommend the links and videos below.
**Frequently Asked Questions About The Defense Of Marriage
**Q&A About Marriage And Same-Sex Unions
**The Best Article On Why Same-Sex Marriage Is A Bad Idea
**Why Same-Sex Marriage is NOT a Civil Rights Issue!
**Two Reasons Same-Sex Marriage Is Gaining Ground
**Special Report: Gay Marriage 
**Religion, Reason, and Same-Sex Marriage
**What Marriage Is—And What It Isn't
**Same-Sex Science
**On gay marriage, stop playing the hate card







Monday, July 29, 2013

The Pope Is The Pope


I have had discussions with some who say one of these two things:
  1. I liked Benedict XVI, but don't like Francis.
  2. I like Francis but never liked Benedict XVI.
Funny thing is, Francis hasn't taught, preached, or discussed a single issue, doctrine, or Catholic teaching that Benedict XVI didn't. There is a clear continuity from one Pope to the next.

Is there a difference in style and approach to the office somewhat? Yes. But, don't get caught up too much in this. Benedict XVI was a very humble, intelligent, holy, and good man. So is Francis, but in his own unique way. Each has brought different talents to the office.

We shouldn't expect them to have similar styles or to emphasize the same things. Rather, we should remember that the Pope is the Pope. Peter is Peter. The office is always given to a man who is not worthy of it (look at St. Peter for proof of that fact).

Don't look at the differences in style as a contradiction, but as a way of our two Popes complimenting each other.

Let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and for Benedict XVI as well! Thank God for two wonderful men who have each brought what they thought was best to the office - themselves. 

In the end, that is all they have to offer us!

Friday, July 26, 2013

St. Mary's Catholic Center Sets New Record!

Aggie Catholic Priests
We here at St. Mary's Catholic Center are very blessed to have a lot of students who discern the priesthood and religious life seriously.

This has led to a number of Aggie Vocations - we have at least 135 Aggie priests, deacons and religious who have taken permanent vows. We also have over 50 Aggies currently in the seminary and in formation for the religious life.

This year we have set a new record for Aggies entering the seminary and religious life at 15 men and women!

Please pray that God might continue to call men and women to holiness through vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

If you want to see a map of what kind of impact Aggie vocations are making, you can click on this map of where our Aggies are serving and have served (NOTE - some of the data on this map is dated a few years).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Top 20 Ways To Mess Up A Marriage


Top 20 Ways To Mess Up A Marriage: 
  1. Have Premarital Sex - This can be with your future spouse or not. Regardless, the statistics show that it means a much higher chance of a failed marriage. 
  2. Cohabitate - This doubles your chance of divorcing your spouse! Go with this one if you almost certainly want to mess up a marriage. 
  3. Cheat on your spouse - Nothing rings the death knell of marriage like this one.
  4. Use porn - only the fastest growing reasons couples divorce today. Duh!
  5. Drink too much or use drugs - This one is a great way to love a thing more than your spouse. 
  6. Marry for the wrong reasons - Marrying someone merely because you have strong emotions about them (which will eventually go away) or because they are good looking (which won't last) is a great way to eventually ruin a marriage. Attraction is all that matters.
  7. Never Work on Communication - talking is over-rated. You should just learn to tolerate one another, not really communicate. 
  8. Be a Workaholic - being rich and successful is the most important thing on earth. Right? 
  9. Be selfish - expect your spouse to serve your every need and never expect to return the favor. 
  10. Have Different expectations about money or debt - Spend too much, live beyond your means, and then pay the price. Money is the #1 reason that couples argue. 
  11. Don't tithe - The money is your own, do what you want with it. 
  12. Use contraception - kids are a burden that make life miserable. Why take the risk? Of course couples that use NFP are happier, have better sex-lives, and stay married more than 95% of the time
  13. Talk negatively about your spouse - who needs to be built up anyway? 
  14. Make big purchases without talking about it first - want that new car? Go get it! 
  15. Spend more time with your friends than your spouse - they are probably more fun anyway. 
  16. Never let love mature - let your love remain all about the emotions and sex (neither are bad in-and-of-themselves) so that love never matures.
  17. Never go to church or pray together - marriage doesn't need God. Does it?
  18. Once you have kids focus all your attention on them - you shouldn't still work on the marriage, because the kids are most important.
  19. Marry a non-Christian - There are certainly marriages that succeed between believers and non-believers, but the least you are doing is putting a strain on a relationship. 
  20. Never grow or change - no need to say you are sorry, no need to humble yourself, no need to make changes. Just stay who you are.
This list is not exhaustive. You could be inventive and come up with another way to mess up a marriage. If you have one, let me know. We did this previously and got some additional ideas I posted here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Catholics Stop Too Soon In Evangelizing


Last week I was blessed to be asked, once again, to teach at the St. John Bosco Conference at Steubenville. It is a conference that helps campus ministers, youth ministers, DREs, catechists, and others learn how to impart the faith more effectively to those we serve. I enjoy myself immensely, because I get to work with my peers who are also in the trenches doing the work of the Church - evangelizing and catechizing.

Among the many wonderful conversations I had, I noticed something interesting. Catholics stop too soon when they evangelize. Here is what I noticed:
  1. Catholics are getting better at voicing the Kerygma - the initial proclamation of the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ. More people are comfortable doing so and are learning more effective ways of doing it. In fact, one of the themes of the conference focused on integrating the kerygmatic preaching of the Gospel into what we do.
  2. Catholics are good at teaching others about grace. God is the first to act, He is the one that empowers us, His gift of grace is the reason we have the opportunity for salvation in the first place.
  3. Catholics are comfortable with free will working in union with grace. We understand that it is every person's choice to say "yes" to God's grace and that the choice is now up to us whether we respond to God's invitation.
  4. Catholics still stop too short when they get to this point. Rarely do Catholics then offer the opportunity to choose God!
God won't save us without us saying "yes" to His grace! This means our choice makes all the difference in the world, so why aren't we offering more opportunities to others to make this choice?

It can be as simple as asking, "would you like to make the choice to turn your life over to God today?" or something similar. There are several reasons someone might choose not to do this:
  1. we are uncomfortable with asking because we don't know what it looks like ourselves.
  2. we find ourselves not wanting to be "pushy".
  3. we are afraid they might say "no". 
  4. we believe it sounds "too Protestant", but that simply isn't the case - look at the biblical evidence - God invites, we are to choose to respond:
"Come, follow me," Jesus said -Matt 4:19

"After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him." -Luke 5:27-28
Notice that not everyone chooses to follow Jesus:
"Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be [a]complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property." -Matt 19:21-22
The apostles and the rich young man have to respond to the call and grace of God for it to work within them. Some choose it, some do not. Just as Jesus did, we have to respect their freedom as much as God does - which allows them the freedom to say "no". This does not mean we give up on them though.

The Eunuch chose to receive God's grace:
"The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him." -Acts 8:34-38
Notice that Philip asks the Eunuch if he believes. It is his choice that is voiced publicly! The only place we Catholics have kept this explicit statement of faith is in the Sacraments - you have to choose baptism (or have your parents do it for you), choose reconciliation, choose to receive Communion, choose to marry, etc. The choice is paramount.

The first European convert, Lydia, also chose to follow Jesus:
"The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized" -Acts 16:14-15
The jailer and his family as well:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household." -Acts 16:30-33
There are many other stories like these - so, the ample Biblical evidence of giving someone the opportunity to choose teaches us we need to do the same. This is part of the evangelistic process of making disciples and the one where Catholics need to become more bold and intentional.

Something else that I should point out. Catholics don't believe that offering this choice to someone (and their acceptance of Jesus) is the end of their journey of justification/salvation. We are not a people who believe in once-saved-always-saved. Rather, this choice is the first step (or another step) in continuing to choose God.

One last point. Offering someone the opportunity to make a decision for Jesus is not taking anything away from the primacy of grace or the sovereignty of God. Rather, it is a participation in the grace and a reminder that God always acts first.

From the Catechism (emphasis added):
"Those who with God's help have welcomed Christ's call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world." -CCC 3

"Faith is man's response to God" -CCC 26

"By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith." -CCC 142

"By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith"." CCC 143
Let us end with this quote:
"Our love for Jesus and for our neighbour impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith." -CCC 166
Time to go evangelize. Time to offer an opportunity to choose Christ.

FYI - I was able to incorporate this into the way I got to evangelize a man on the plane coming back from the conference and others recently.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fertility Care Center at St. Mary's


Did you know - St. Mary's Catholic Center is home to a Fertility Care Center?

This means that we have an affiliated center which provides professional instruction in the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare™ System which features the new women's health science, NaProTECHNOLOGY.

Melissa Buchan, one of the practitioners here at St. Mary's talks more about it in the following interview at Austin Catholic New Media blog:
1) Please introduce yourself and let us know how you came to be involved in working with in Natural Family Planning?
My name is Melissa Buchan, and I am a FertilityCare Practitioner with the FertilityCare Center of St. Mary’s (FCCSM) in College Station, TX. I have been teaching the Creighton Model for the past 7 years. I work with 4 other practitioners at the FCCSM. We provide diocesan approved NFP Introductory Sessions and work with women and couples teaching them how to chart their cycles and implement this knowledge into their marriage. Many probably wonder why in the world I would spend my days talking to women about their cycles. It sounds so taboo. This work has really become a passion of mine. It all began with my introduction to Theology of the Body. At the age of 17 I was already on the pill for irregular cycles. The first time I heard of NFP I was amazed by the concept. I found charting my cycles very liberating. Not only was I able to understand my body, my view of human sexuality took a 180 degree spin. It was a life changing discovery.

2) How can we as a church community be encouraging young people and married couples about practicing NFP, who have not encountered it before, or have been sitting on the fence about it?

Do your research! There are many methods of modern NFP. Find a method and start charting. You will be amazed at how easy it is and how well you can know your body. God created us beautifully and with purpose, including our sexuality. When a couple understands the meaning of their sexuality and can accurately identify times of fertility they gain an amazing respect and reverence for their bodies. This lends itself to growing in the virtue of purity. (further reading to come)

3) What advice can you give to women that may be on the pill and are interested in something different?

I am seeing more and more women dissatisfied with the pill. They want an alternative…Continue Reading.

Does It Make Sense To Believe In God?

Monday, July 15, 2013

What Does Success Look Like?

Atheist and Christian Economists discuss the question of success.
Tell me, which answer do you think is better?



"We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone."
-Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

"God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful."
-Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Does Sex Mean?

My friend, Dave, sent this to me. He likes to attend poetry readings. At one particular poetry reading, a young man, who is an acquaintance of Dave, kept going on and on about wanting to have sex with a particular young woman. So, Dave asked him "what would it mean?". The young man ignored him (except to wonder out loud what meaning had to do with sex), but Dave asked again, "what would it mean?". Because the young man never got what Dave was asking, he wrote this poem.

I love it.
WHAT would it MEAN?

WHAT would it MEAN?

The sounds we speak and the scrawlings we write may be formed to symbolize meanings.
But one can speak more loudly, deeper, clearly, in a language that spans space and time.
As if it were poetry from before the dawn of time,
            written into the fabric of the universe,
            it speaks in ways our utterances and writings never could.

WHAT would it mean?
What could we and would we 
            say if we spoke this language tonight?
Would it be beautiful?
Would it be music that burns in our hearts forever?
Or would we cover our ears, and yell, “I can’t hear you!”,
            trying to drive it away,
            but we cannot drive it away -- it speaks directly into the core of our beings.

What would it mean?
What could we and would we 
            say if we spoke this language tonight?
Would it have a creative force?
As god spoke the world into being, will we proclaim, 
"let there be something here more than was here when we started", 
with such force that what we speak becomes reality?
Or will we proclaim division and opposition?
Two opponents, playing a game, 
having fun, perhaps, but proclaiming,
“let me defeat the other, taking what I can”,
with such force, that the world is less than what it was when we started?

WHAT would it mean?
What could we and would we 
            say if we spoke this language tonight?
You and I together, making music that shakes the stars in the heavens,
and rumbles the pillars that hold up the earth.  
Would it be something worth saying?
Would the stars burn brighter?
Would the earth resonate and dance joyously for the rest of our lives?
Or would a surge of intense, passionate
... banality
suck the life out of a star?
And isn’t that what we often do?:
USING this language
            and USING each other
voraciously consuming, unsustainably
            in something we call love, but is it?

WHAT would it mean?
What could we and would we 
            say if we spoke this language tonight?
I don’t want us to open our mouths and
shout out to all creation
absolutely
            nothing 
                        at all
                                    worth 
                                                saying.

So what would it mean?
It would mean nothing to speak of.
You’re beautiful and sexy and a lot of fun.
But you and I have nothing to say worth saying.
So why don’t I just give you a ride home and a goodnight hug?
And I’ll call you sometime.
I hope you’re not disappointed.
Let’s keep gazing at the stars;
maybe,
someday
you and I will have something to say
that will make one of them burn brighter.

-Dave Jones
-----------
Dave understands something the young man he was talking to did not - our bodies speak a "language" when two people have sex. When a husband and bride take vows, they pledge their love, fidelity, permanence, etc verbally. The same happens when they have sex! They speak the words of love, fidelity, permanence, etc with their bodies. In fact, we are created in order to speak this sexual language honestly and when we have sex outside of marriage, our bodies speak a lie. To say "I love you, I want to be bonded to you, I want to be with you forever" with your body and yet you are not married, it is a lie of the body. This is why JPII said:
"The body, in fact, speaks the truth through conjugal love, fidelity, and integrity, just as non-truth, that is, falsity, is expressed by all that is the negation of conjugal love, fidelity, and integrity." -JPII

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Heart

"It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness, he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal."
-John Paul II