Friday, January 29, 2010

"A's prospect leaving baseball for call of the priesthood"

DC 'Hood vs. St. John the Baptist, tonight, 7:30 pm, at SJB gym. Go 'Hood!!
Several friends sent me the following story about a young man who is leaving a promising career as a professional baseball player in order to pursue the priesthood. My man! The story below comes from Yahoo! Sports and reminds us of the story on our blog a little while ago about the professional soccer player who retired to enter the seminary. There have been other stories like this in the past involving both men and women leaving fame and fortune in sports to enter religious life. What heroes they are!!

"A's prospect leaving baseball for call of the priesthood"

Well, here's a story you don't see every day.

Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor league outfielder in Oakland's system, is retiring from baseball to follow a calling into the Catholic priesthood.

The story was first reported by Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi — perhaps appropriately with that first name of his — and this isn't a case of a struggling player going through an early-life crisis. Desme was ranked the A's eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in A ball in 2009 and he was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

Desme might have even been a late-season callup to the big league club in 2010. Our Y! Sports 2010 fantasy guide has him ranked the 40th-best minor-league prospect for near-term fantasy purpose. However, ESPN's Rob Neyer disagrees, saying that he didn't see Desme as a future star by the Bay.

Susan Slusser has more on Desme's decision to leave playing against the Padres and Cardinals so he can start praying with other padres and cardinals at a Catholic seminary in Orange County. He said the news came as bit of a shock to Billy Beane, but that the Oakland GM and entire A's system have been supportive of his decision.

Said Desme on a Friday afternoon conference call:

"I'm doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things."

Desme spoke with Baseball America last year about baseball being only "a game" and we wish him success on his spiritual path. In a selfish age when churches struggle to recruit young male Americans, his sacrifice of possible riches is a very admirable thing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"How Do I Pray?"

Here are notes from my talk that started the discussion on prayer last night at the Newman Center.

“How Do I Pray?”

I.General question / points about prayer

What is prayer?
-“the rising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” – St John Damascene

-many forms of prayer: liturgical, private, communal, prayer in action
- the Mass is the greatest prayer

-focus tonight is on private, mental prayer
- Conversation with God

How do I pray (in general)
=how do I talk to a friend
=how do I listen to a friend
=how do I spend time with a friend

I have called you friends” – Jn 15:15

II. Specific questions about prayer

-Like a friendship / relationship
-w/ stages

FG in 1st part of college: prayed only when I needed something; not a friendship with Christ

How do I pray?

A.As a beginner / beginning stage

1) Get to know God
-Go to where He’s revealed Himself to us:
Sacred Scripture (written word about God) – Bible
Sacred Tradition (oral word about God) – Catechism

-this is like when someone friend’s you on Facebook, you check out their profile (what they’ve revealed about them) to get to know them initially

2) make time to talk with God
-formal prayers (Our Father, e.g.)
-informal prayers (“Jesus, help me”…”Lord, I love you”)

3) make time to listen to God
-“speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (Samuel)
..not “listen, Lord, your servant is speaking” (!)

What if I get distracted?
-focus on the person of Christ
-don’t get discouraged (greatest tool of the Devil is discouragement)

Where do I pray?
-Nature / creation: “the first book God wrote” – Groeschel
- rosary walks, rosary in car, walk on beach talking to God, e.g.

-In our homes / “prayer corners”
-w/ Sacred Scriptures, icons, e.g.
when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Mt 6:6)

-Church – best place to pray
-“privileged place of Adoration” (Catechism of Catholic Church, #2691)
-reserved + exposed adoration: be in the presence of Christ

STORY – Woman at the well
-first time in presence of Christ
-encounter that changed her heart / changed her life

B.As Intermediate

-stay with it; make habit
-even with distractions in prayer / at Mass
-person, friendship

-“watchfulness” (=’vigilance’ in U.S. w/terrorism)
-“in prayer, the disciple keeps watch” – CCC, #2612
-in specific prayer time and in habit of prayer

-“when Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night” (CCC, #2730)

STORY – Mother Teresa
-ties in w/ quesrions:

What if I don’t ever feel God’s presence when I pray?
What if I feel that I’m all alone, and that God isn’t there with me?
-spiritual dryness (more common among advanced pray-ers)

-Recent book (how true?): her letters of past 60 years which show that for most of her life she did not feel the presence of God and even doubted the existence of God and heaven
-continued to pray constantly, keep watch daily
-even amid great spiritual agony, her friendship w/ Christ was rock-solid (faith was rock-solid)

-faith is key; faith-fulness
-in spiritual life / prayer life, there will be ups and downs, highs and lows, dry times and wet times…key is to be faith-ful

-“prayer…is a cry of gratitude and of love, in the midst of trials as well as amidst joys” – St Therese of Lisieux

C. As advanced

Meditation + contemplation (on handout)
-Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross (FG took class on them taught by Fr Dubay)
-meditation: put self into God’s presence
-contemplation: God infuses His spirit in us

STORY – FG w/ vocation
-ties in w/ question:

How do I hear God?
- thru prayer, Scripture, people, experiences

III. How do I pray (for something specific)?

1) Pray for “thy will be done”
-best / most prudent way to pray
-“what we are ultimately praying for in this third petition of the Our Father is that we come closer and closer to (God)” – PB XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth”, p.150
-constant prayer / intercession
-changes heart, see thing as God sees it
-what’s best for us, others = what we need

2) pray for what we need
-“we have the right and the duty to ask for what we need” – PB XVI, p.151

STORY: Conv. w/ friend who asked “why pray when God’s will is already set?”

1) Know God’s Will / needs
2) God’s Will can include our intercessory prayers (it’s complicated)
-Moses / Ex 32
-the Lord threatened wrath against the Israelites
-Moses implored the Lord – “let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people”
-“the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people”

-Moses’ prayer led to Lord relenting
-God’s Will was to relent in wrath / punishment
-God’s Will included Moses’ prayer

-God’s Will can include our petitions; be generous in praying for others!

What if my prayer isn’t answered?
Fr Byrne: one of three answers from God
1) Yes
2) Not now
3) Something better in mind

CCC (#2735-36)
-“we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions”
-“are we convinced that ‘we pray as we ought’?”
-the Spirit intercedes for us (cf. Rom 8:25-27) to help us to know how to pray (God’s Will)

How do I pray at Adoration?
STORY of Frenchman / Vianney
“I look at him and he looks at me”
-personal encounter (friendship)

Monday, January 25, 2010

3rd Sunday - homily

One of the most common complaints that I’ve heard from young Catholics over the years is that Mass is too boring. Granted, Mass isn’t the funnest event in the world, but it is the best and most beautiful event. Mass blows away any sporting event or movie or any kind of entertainment. It is amazing what happens here. We hear God speaking to us in the readings and then through the eyes of faith witness Him present on the altar in the Eucharist. What we are really witnessing is Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross; we are witnesses to Calvary. Can you imagine being present at Mount Calvary, walking by the Crucifixion, and thinking to yourself, “geez, how boring”. I don’t think so. People who say the Mass is boring don’t know what happens at Mass and how amazing it is.

We can make it more lively here, though. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a priest do this in a homily, but it’s pretty cool. After making a strong point, he says to the congregation, “Can I get an Amen?” So, let’s try that now. Can I get an Amen? Can I get an Amen? Also, if you’ve ever been to a youth conference or rally like the one at Verizon Center on Friday before the March for Life, you’ve probably heard this one. When I say, “God is good”, you say, ”All the time”. When I say, “All the time”, you say, ”God is good”. Let’s try it. God is good, all the time!! All the time, God is good! Can I get an Amen?

Now, the point of this is not just to make the Mass more fun, but it is about doing a little R&R. It’s about being R&R Catholics when we come to Mass. I don’t mean rest and relaxation, I mean respect and response. We should come here with respect and leave with a response. We hear of people like this in the first reading. The people in the Jewish assembly were definitely R&R Jews. They totally respected the Word of God. When the priest read the Word to them, they all listened attentively and tried to understand it. They were completely into it. After hearing the Word, they responded with an “Amen! Amen!” Wouldn’t that be great if that was the experience at the Catholic Mass? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone listened attentively, tried to understand the readings, and responded enthusiastically with “Amen!” I don’t mean just to the readings, but to the prayers. It would be powerful to hear a loud “Amen!” whenever the priest closed each prayer of the Mass…”through Christ our Lord. Amen!”

Today’s Gospel is also a scene involving R&R Jews. Jesus was a R&R Jew and is surrounded by others like him in the synagogue. They hand him the scroll that contained the Scripture from the prophet Isaiah. Jesus was a great teacher of the Scripture, so they were hoping that he would illuminate the prophecy for them. Boy, did he! He said, ”today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing”. The Jews believe that Isaiah and all the prophets prophesied about the Messiah, the Christ. Jesus is basically saying that Isaiah is prophesying about Him! For these R&R Jews who completely respected the Scripture, this provoked a strong response, and I don’t think it was, “Amen!”. Many of them didn’t believe Jesus and took great offense at him. They would ultimately call him a liar and a blasphemer and kill him. There was another strong response to Christ’s huge claim…and it was Amen! It probably wasn’t an Amen in the synagogue that day, but it was in their lives. Many people believed in him, followed him, suffered for him, and died for him.

We are called to have a strong response, too. We are called to say, “Amen!” to the claim that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament….that He is the Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the Old Law. The Old Testament points to Christ. It is so powerful when we hear parts of the Old Testament speak specifically to the person of Christ (indirectly) and to the events of his life…written hundreds of years before they happen. When we come to Mass, it is our job to listen attentively and learn about Christ in the Old Testament as well as the New. We are called to respect the Word of God and then, with the help of the Eucharist, to respond to it. Basically, we leave here and live lives that say “Amen” to what we have heard. This is what it means to be a R&R Catholic.

Finally, there are some here tonight who are preparing to become R&R Catholics. They respect the Word of God and are attentive to what He is saying to them. They are now responding by preparing for the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation in becoming full members of the Church which is the Body of Christ on Earth, as St Paul tells us in the second reading. It is so impressive and inspiring to see college students actively choose to be R&R Catholics. May all of you here tonight take courage and not be afraid to respect and respond to the Word of God, which is Christ. May you be attentive to Christ and respond to Him with lives that say, “Amen! I believe!”

Friday, January 22, 2010

March for Life now a "World Event"

This morning almost 20 of our students went to the Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center. For almost all of them, it is their first time going. Hope they enjoy it! Several other students are coming to Mass here at the Newman Center at 12:45, and then we will head down to the March together. Praise God that many of our students are responding to His Call to be involved in this great day for life!

For those who cannot go, please pray and offer a sacrifice for life today. Also, you can participate in a "virtual March for Life" by clicking on today's title.

The following comes from

D.C. Pro-Life March Now a World Event

Filipinos, Africans Tell Obama: "Stop Paying to Kill Our Children"

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 18, 2010 ( International pro-life leaders are arriving to the United States to join in this Friday's march to protest the legalization of abortion.

"America’s March for Life is now the world's March for Life," according to Joseph Meaney, director of International Coordination for Human Life International.

Each year since the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, marchers have taken to the streets in the nation's capital in protest.

Meaney said that now the world is joining in: "It has become the world’s pro-life protest because of the aggressive promotion of abortion and population control that is now official policy of the United States, thanks to the administration of President Barack Obama."

"This is not only the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which has led to the destruction of almost 50 million American children," Ligaya Acosta, Human Life International regional coordinator for Asia and Oceania, explained. "This is now the anniversary of President Obama’s allowing Americans' taxpayer funds to be used to promote abortion and other assaults on life in my own country of the Philippines, in Africa, in China … all over the world where 40 million babies are killed every year.

"It is wrong and we are here to tell him and Congress to stop paying to kill our children!"

Obama reversed the Mexico City Policy on Jan. 23, 2009. That policy kept federal funds from supporting organizations that promote abortion outside the United States.

"We are tired of the arrogant American government trying to tell us how many children we should have," said Emil Hagamu, Human Life International regional coordinator for English-speaking Africa. "President Obama is of Kenyan descent. How can he do this to his own people?"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Why Forgive?"

1) 12:45 Mass for Life this Friday, Jan. 22, at the Newman center chapel. All are welcome. GW students who haven't signed up to join us for lunch and to go to the March need to sign up today!

2) Ski Trip to Whitetail Ski Resort for night skiing: Sat, Jan 30, 3:00-11:00pm. $50without equipment/$30 with equipment, food not provided). RSVP by today!

3) Retreat - Feb 12-14. Sign-ups have begun for our retreat, "No Greater Love", which will be in Southern Maryland. Cost is $50. Open to all GW students. Please email Meg if interested.
The past two nights I have led discussions on the topic of forgiveness; Monday night was in a residence hall and last night was at the Newman Center. I was very impressed with the respect, questions, and insights of the students who attended. Also, they had solid suggestions for topics in the coming weeks. Here are my notes from the talk, "Why Forgive?" Additional comments and questions are welcome here.

Why Forgive?
I. Time Magazine cover in early 1980s of Pope John Paul II forgiving man who tried to kill him with headline: “Why Forgive?”

II. Why should God forgive?
- Original Sin
- Sins that followed against 10 commandments
“after that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin. There is Cain’s
murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which follows in
the wake of sin. Likewise, sin frequently manifests itself in the history of
Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant and as
transgression of the Law of Moses” (CCC, #401)
- Persecution against prophets God sends
- Why send Christ to forgive us??

- God’s essence: mercy/ love (God is Mercy; God is Love)
- God cannot NOT forgive; God cannot NOT love

- He is Father Almighty with “infinite mercy, for he displays his power at
its height by freely forgiving sins” (CCC, # 270)
- Father of Prodigal Son, e.g.

- God is Love; “the first effect of the gift of love is the forgiveness of sins”
(CCC, #734)

- infinite wisdom / providence
When He created us, He knew that we would sin / reject Him
- His Plan from all eternity was to forgive us
- not caught off guard by our sin / need for forgiveness

- God forgives us because of our dignity
- created in his own image and likeness
- we are the only creatures made in his image
- “ “ who receive the fullness of His mercy
(course, we are only ones who sin so offensively against Him)

- greatest sign of God’s mercy in the world
- even within that, “Father, forgive them, …”

III. Why should we forgive? (to live God’s mercy)

a. others
Story of the family of a murdered priest offering friendship and forgiveness to the family of the murderer at the trial

- to be forgiven by God – Our Father
- we’re not perfect…why hold others to perfection
- God doesn’t hold grudges against us if we’re sorry
- we shouldn’t hold grudges
- to be God-like (most Christ-like when forgive)
- what it means to be a Christian
- “defining moments” – people / families / counseling
- dignity / respect of human person
- Jesus says so
- forgive not seven times, but “seventy times seven times” (Mt 18:22)
- forgive always; limitless mercy
- radical forgiveness
- live God’s (radical, unlimited) mercy
- FG’s stories / examples – forgiving murder (seventy times seven)
- our own healing
VA TECH massacre, e.g.

b. ourselves
- Healing

-confessing sin from past confessions: LET IT GO!
- God forgives us, others have forgiven us, need to forgive
ourselves (hardest part of process)


- Healing of wounds
- lighter burdens
- peace

IV. Why should the Church forgive?
- to extend God’s (radical, unlimited mercy)

- “there is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive” (CCC, #982)
- “the Church is the sacrament, that is to say, the sign and means of reconciliation in different ways…which all come together to obtain what the divine initiative of mercy desires to grant to humanity” (JP II document: Reconciliation and Penance, #11)
- “means of the divine initiative of mercy”
- i.e., God forgives through the Church
- Power of forgiveness to Church; Mt 16 + Jn 20
- w/out Church, wouldn’t have God’s forgiveness, wouldn't know Christ, wouldn’t know about God / have sacraments

- God has given the Church the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18)
- continues Christ’s ministry
- begun with Christ
- done in Christ

- through the Church, we are reconciled to God and each other

- “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (very similar to Christ’s prayer at Crucifixion, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”)
- Church and Christ are one

Monday, January 18, 2010

2nd Sunday - homily

We have several big events coming up in the next month; I want to tell you about them and ask you to sign up for them after Mass. First, we have the March for Life this Friday. I’ll talk about that in a minute. Second, we are going on a ski trip on Saturday, January 30. It will be night skiing at Whitetail in Pennsylvania (about an hour and a half away) and should be a lot of fun. The cost is $50 which covers ski rentals, lift ticket, and transportation. Third, tonight is the last chance to sign up for Alternative Spring Break. We’ll work on homes for low-income families in South Carolina. From what I’ve heard, this is a really cool week. Last, we are having a retreat from February 12-14 which is open to all GW students. It is also $50. We’ll go down to Southern Maryland for the weekend. The theme is “No Greater Love”. Some of you have asked when you can sign-up for the retreat, so it begins now. Please email Meg if you are interested. We have information about all of these events in our bulletin which you can pick up after Mass.

Last week, I told you that we are asking you to take this Friday off and skip classes. This is not a joke! Thousands of college students across the country are taking Friday off for a good cause: the annual March for Life. For those of you who have been to the March, you know it’s a great day. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. There will be hundreds of thousands of people coming to DC from around the country, many of whom are college students. Many of these students will travel hundreds of miles, sleep on floors, and go without showers for a few days. It’s incredible. There will be about 50 students from Hillsdale College crashing at the Newman Center on Thursday night, sleeping on the floor, all crammed in. This is the spirit and sacrifice that so many young people bring to the March.

Our events for the March begin Thursday night with a Holy Hour for Life from 8:30 to 9:30 at the Newman Center chapel. Then, on Friday, we’ll offer you two options for Mass. You can go with Meg who will be taking a group of you to the Verizon Center for a rally and Mass for life. There will be about 25,000 young people there. It rocks! It’s a really spectacular experience. After Mass, that group will come back to the Newman Center for lunch. You can either do that or join me for Mass at the Newman Center at 12:45. After Mass, we will all have lunch together and then walk down to the March on the Mall. So, we have two sign-ups tonight – one is for the Verizon Center Rally and Mass and the other is for the Newman Center Mass. Either way, you’ll get lunch and it’s all free of charge. We need you to sign up so that we know how much food to get for lunch.

What’s this all about? Why do we march for life? We march because we believe very firmly in the sanctity of life. We believe that every human life is sacred, created by God in His image and likeness. We believe that what we hear in the first reading applies to every person: that every one of us, especially young people, is God’s “delight”. God has infinite love and places infinite value on every person. And, this begins in the womb. We hear it mentioned several times in Scripture that God knows us, forms us, and loves us in the womb. We believe that life begins in the womb, specifically at conception. This has been confirmed by science and modern technology. Science has made it irrefutable that life begins at conception and technology helps us to see that the little baby in the womb is a person with hands, feet, brain waves, heartbeat, etc. The baby in the womb is a person…a person with rights. The most basic human right is the right to life.

When this right is taken away, we “will not be silent”, we “will not be quiet” as the prophet Isaiah says in the first reading. We speak up for those who have no voice. We defend those who are defenseless…i.e., those in the womb. We will do this on Friday, basically saying “enough!” There are almost 4,000 abortions in the United States every day and about 50 million since 1973 when abortion became legal in our country. Enough!

Two of the most impressive groups at the March are young people and women who have had abortions. These are repentant mothers who regret the choice they made and are now atoning for their sin by being very active in the pro-life movement. If you all know of anyone (especially at GW) who has participated in an abortion, please tell them that the Catholic Church offers mercy and healing. The Church offers more post-abortive healing than any other private institution in the world. Please tell them to come see me. I will offer them mercy, healing, and counseling. I can refer them to Project Rachel which does so much good in our area for women who have had abortions. I have their brochures in the back of Church tonight. It’s so important that people know that forgiveness and healing are available to them. No sin is greater than God’s infinite mercy.

Why should you all go to the March? Quite simply, God is calling you to go. First, because it’s right here! It’s right down the street from where you go to college. One of the reasons you go to GW is for events like the March for Life. More importantly, God is calling young people to join the movement. And, not just to join, but to lead the movement. You will see on Friday how many college students (your peers) are leading the cause. It’s unbelievable! So many people of your generation get it. They get it! They get it that abortion is the greatest injustice of our time, that they could have been aborted (thank God their mothers and your mothers chose life), and that there is a battle going on all around them. There is a conflict going on all around you - the conflict between good and evil, God and the world, between what is said in here and what is said out there. Jesus says, “you’re either with us or you’re against us”. You’re either pro-life or you’re not. He is calling you to be with Him for life on Friday and beyond. He is calling you not to be silent, not to be quiet, not to be paralyzed with fear, and not to be “pro-life, but…” He is calling you to be pro-life period and to be active and passionate for life. He will give you the strength and courage to stand up for what’s right. He will give the grace to do what He is calling you to do.

Finally, as we prepare to receive the Grace of the Eucharist, there is a challenge for you all for Friday from this Gospel : “do whatever he tells you”. You might talk to people about going to the March and they might tell you not to go. It might be friends, classmates, or maybe even family. They are telling you what the world tells you. Don’t do whatever they tell you. Do whatever Jesus tells you. He is telling you to stand up for what’s right, to speak for those who have no voice, and to defend those who can’t defend themselves. He knows it’s hard to be pro-life in college but He will give you courage and strength. He has great confidence that you will rise to the challenge. I have great confidence that you will rise to the challenge. We have great confidence that for Friday and for the rest of your lives you will not be afraid and will do whatever He tells you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Exorcism, dessert, and prayer - powerful stuff!

1) DC ‘Hood at St John the Baptist, Silver Spring – Fri, Jan 29, 7 pm. Go ‘Hood!!
2) Please donate to the Newman Center by using PayPal! Click on the “donate” button on the right side of this page. No donation is too small. The students and I would be grateful!
This week at Mass we have been hearing some stories from Mark’s Gospel from when Jesus performed exorcisms. Tuesday’s Gospel (Mk 1:21-28) included the following exorcism that “amazed” all who were there:

“In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!’
Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Quiet! Come out of him!’
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him”.

At both the noon Mass and the 5:30 Mass, I told the story of an exorcism I attempted to perform right after I was ordained in 2006. It occurred at a house-warming party for friends of mine. I met one of their friends who engaged me in a conversation about faith. He is probably a few years younger than me and might have been raised Catholic, I don’t remember. We began talking about faith and he made some disturbing comments. The more we talked, the more he went on the offensive. He seemed to have no problem at all offending our Lord and one of His priests.

As offensive as he was being, he was even more confusing. He was really all over the place in his attacks on God, faith, and believers. It was very hard to follow his logic. We spoke for a while and he wasn’t drinking that much, so he wasn’t drunk. He was very confused. When I pinned him down on one illogical point, he would make another outrageous statement. This went on for a while. It’s very hard to talk with someone whose philosophical or theological views are so chaotic! I’ve had many of these types of conversations over the years, and they have confirmed for me a theological truth: order (and Truth) is from God, chaos is from the Devil.

My new friend then made an unimaginable comment. He said, “I would rather go to Hell than go to Church and live a life of faith”. I couldn’t believe what I just heard, but then again, I could. The spirit of his contempt for God and all things that are good grew while we spoke, and so this was simply the apex of it. It was the culmination of about an hour’s worth of confusing, evil statements from him. When I heard this come from his mouth, something inside me (I hope it was the Holy Spirit) told me to perform a minor exorcism. So, I raised my hand toward his head, and said, “Evil spirit of chaos, come out of him. In the name of Jesus Christ, come out of him”.

This was in the kitchen of my friends’ home in the middle of a party..! As I was doing this, I bet he was thinking, ‘what are you doing?’ Part of me was thinking, ‘what am I doing?’ It wasn’t long after I finished my dramatic display of supernatural power (!) that he took a couple of steps back and walked away. With the power having gone out, I had to collect myself for a few minutes before hitting the dessert table.

I and my friends have been praying for this man every day since. There wasn’t any news about him until recently. A few days ago, my friend who hosted the party emailed me and said that he has come back to Church! He is dating a young woman and they go to Church together. I don’t know how serious he is about faith, but just the fact that he is going to Church is a huge victory for Grace! One of the main points of my friend’s email was about the power of prayer. It’s more likely about that than about the exorcism. Btw, it was an exorcism, it just took some time to kick in!

God is soooooo good and prayer is soooooo powerful! I invite bloggers to post stories involving the power of prayer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catholic Trivia!

Last night, we played "Catholic Trivia" after the Tuesday dinner. The students here did very well, getting every question correct except for one (the first question of Round 2). These are not the most difficult questions in the Catholic trivia world, but they did get the students thinking. Some who participated said they actually learned some things (one of the main points of the game). Here are the questions and answers; see how you do!

Catholic Trivia

Round 1

1. All the following are sacraments of initiation except:
a. Baptism
b. Confession
c. Eucharist
d. Confirmation

2. Which pope issued Humanae Vitae:
a. JP II
b. Pope St. Pius X
c. Paul VI
d. John XXIII

3. The first five books of the bible are called the:
a. Pentecost
b. Pentathlon
c. Pentateuch
d. Pentagon

4. The book of prayers used at mass is called:
a. Missal
b. Missalette
c. Lectionary
d. Sacramentary

5. All the following were Apostles except:
a. Matthew
b. Paul
c. Luke
d. John

6. What year was Jerusalem destroyed:
a. 70 BC
b. 44 AD
c. 70 AD
d. 68 AD

7. Drunkenness is a sin against which commandment:
a. First
b. Fifth
c. Seventh
d. Eighth

8. Which saint translated the bible from Greek into Latin:
a. Augustine
b. John Chrysostom
c. Jerome
d. Hilary

9. In the Beatitudes, Jesus promises that this group of people will see the “beatific vision:”
a. Peacemakers
b. Merciful
c. Pure of heart
d. Meek

10. In which Marian Apparition did the Blessed Mother ask all Catholics to pray the rosary daily for the conversion of sinners:
a. Lourdes
b. Fatima
c. Madjugore
d. La Salette

Round 2
1. Who is the second longest reigning pope:

2. In the gospel of John what is Jesus’ first miracle:

3. The Summa Theologica was written by:

4. What is the name given to the series of 129 Wednesday Audiences delivered by JPII on the meaning of human embodiment:

5. Who administers the sacrament of holy matrimony:

6. How many books are there in the Catholic Bible:

7. The four cardinal virtues are justice, fortitude, prudence and

8. What was the name of the papal bull issued in response to Martin Luther’s criticisms of the Church:

9. What is the name of the 20th C Italian Saint who sacrificed her own life for that of her child and is now the patron St. of the pro-life movement:

10. The first Catholic Church in the United States was founded where:

Final Round

1. At Mass, when does the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ?

2. What are the three conditions of a mortal sin?

3. What was the heresy that the Church fought against which said that Jesus was not truly God?



Round 1
1 b
2 c
3 c
4 d
5 c
6 c
7 b
8 c
9 c
10 b

Round 2
1 Pius IX
2 Changing water into wine (wedding feast at Cana)
3 Thomas Aquinas
4 Theology of the Body
5 The man and woman
6 73
7 Temperance
8 Exsurge Domine (Rise up Oh Lord)
9 St. Gianna Beretta Molla
10 St. Augustine

Final Rd
1 When the priest says the words, “This is my body”…”this is the cup of my blood”
2 Grave matter, full knowledge, full consent
3 Arianism

Monday, January 11, 2010

Baptism of the Lord - homily

Have you ever noticed that whenever we look forward to something in a really big way, when we have high expectations for something, it often doesn’t meet our expectations? For example, let’s say you all had big expectations for your winter break; and I hope you all had a great break. Let’s say you were thinking it would be a great time seeing friends, hanging out with everyone home…that it would be an amazing three weeks. Well, you’re sitting here tonight looking back on it, thinking, ‘it was good but it wasn’t all that’. The opposite happens often too. Let’s say you weren’t setting the bar real high for the break and it turned out to be really good. It’s an interesting dynamic between our expectations of something and the way it actually happens.

We hear in today’s Gospel that the people were “filled with expectation”. They set the bar very high and were really excited. And, this is all for John the Baptist. People were thinking that John was the man. They thought he was the Christ because of the way he spoke – he spoke with great authority – and the way he acted. They thought he was a man sent by God to be the Christ. Now, the thing about John is that he was very humble. He immediately responded to all of this saying that he was not the Christ and that another was coming after him who was “mightier than I”.

A modern analogy for us – this would be like all the expectation and hype for Tiger Woods (before all the stuff starting at Thanksgiving). For so long, we’ve been setting the bar so high for Tiger, saying basically, ‘ you’re the man. You’re the greatest golfer in the world. You’re the greatest athlete in the world.’ Now, imagine if Tiger at one point said, “there is one coming after me who is better than I am”. We would be blown away with expectation, wondering ‘how good is the next guy going to be?’ We would set the bar so high for the next guy because we had already set the bar so high for Tiger.

We do this with people. We set the bar so high for them and set ourselves up for disappointment. Sadly, people (like Tiger Woods) often don’t fulfill our expectations. We have all learned the tough lesson of disappointment through athletes, celebrities, priests, family members, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. We have learned to lower the bar with people because we realize they are not perfect. Regarding your expectations for a future spouse, you all would be wise to lower your expectations just a smidge. It’s wise to be realistic about him or her, not just idealistic.

There is one person for whom we can set the bar very high. There is one person from whom we can expect great things. There is one person about whom it’s realistic to be idealistic. That person is Jesus Christ. He has already met the very high expectations set for him. Remember: John the Baptist raised the already high bar for Jesus. And, looking at the body of work in the life of Jesus Christ, we see that Christ not only met expectations, he infinitely exceeded them. We see his miracles, healings, teachings, and the event that blows away all expectations: the Resurrection. Jesus Christ has the power and intention to do great things, not just for the people who lived 2000 years ago, but for us today.

As you begin a new calendar year and a new semester, Christ is asking each one of you to be filled with expectation…to be filled with faith…to be filled with great confidence in Him. He has great confidence in you and wants to do great things in your life. Expect Him to do great things. He is the one person in your life who will never disappoint you. He will never let you down. Set the bar very high for Christ. I promise you, He will do great things for you this semester, this year, and for the rest of your life.

Finally, whenever we come to Mass, we are filled with expectation that God will do
something great, primarily in the Eucharist. Jesus will be present on this altar under the signs of bread and wine. Where there is the Son, there is the Father and the Spirit. We will be in the presence of the Trinity, just like the crowd at the Baptism of Jesus was. But, it gets even better for us: we receive God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit in Holy Communion. This is the greatest thing that God will do for us this week and every week! May this Eucharist help us to be filled with expectation, to set the bar high, and to have confidence that God will do great things for us this semester, this year, and for the rest of our lives.