Wednesday, February 24, 2010


"The Light is on for You" - Confessions on Wednesdays during Lent, 8-9:30 pm, Newman Center, top floor.

A GW student approached me last semester about starting a discussion group in a residence hall with his Catholic friends. We've met four times now; I've posted my notes here from the discussions of the past three weeks (basically the same talks we've had at the Newman Center on Tuesday nights). We started out with about four students who hadn't been faithful to Mass but are now making a comeback, thanks be to God.

Last night, eight students came out for a discussion on Confession. It was one of those great, great discussions! One of the students went to Confession after the talk and another one is coming today. God is soooooo good!! Overall, the students seem very happy with the group. The one who started the group texted me last night, "this is turning out to be awesome".

Here are my notes from the talk:


Where did Confession come from? What is the basis for it?
-John 20:20- Jesus gives the power to forgive sins to the Apostles
- they passed it down to the next priests who passed it down...2000 years of Apostolic succession where priests like me in 2010 have Christ's power to forgive sins

Brief history of Confession
- in the early Church, publicly known sins (apostasy, e.g.) were confessed publicly in Church; privately known sins were confessed privately
- penance was done before absolution
- the form changed in the Middle Ages (?) to how we have it now

Is Confession necessary to get to Heaven?

Yes, if we’ve committed a mortal sin which breaks us off from God
No, if we haven’t committed a mortal sin and are always in a state of grace.

Yes, in order to live fully in Christ on Earth.

Is Confession only about sin?

No, it’s primarily about God’s infinite mercy.

-“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved” – Jn 3:17

- the woman caught in adultery: “has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and from this moment sin no more” - Jn 8: 11

- the parable of the prodigal son

'I thought only God forgives sins. How can the priest forgive sins?'

Jesus has the power to forgive sins
- “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” – Mt 28:18
- “your sins are forgiven” – Lk 7:48 (the woman who was a sinner) + Mt 9:2 (the paralytic), e.g.

Again, Jesus gives the power of forgiving sins to the Apostles (the first priests)
As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. After saying this, he breathed on them and said: ‘receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained”. – Jn 20:21-23

God reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (1 Cor 5: 18)

Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just confess to God privately?

- we can be forgiven of venial sins outside of Confession
- the Penitential Rite at Mass, Eucharist, sincere Act of Contrition, e.g.

- but, forgiveness of mortal sins is reserved for Confession

- what was the first mortal sin ever committed? Original Sin (Adam and Eve)
- after they sinned, the gates of Heaven closed; no one could go to Heaven because their mortal sins couldn't be forgiven. Christ had to come to Earth to bring the forgiveness of sins, mainly through Confession

- mortal sins kill our relationship with God and take us out of the state of His grace (which we need to be in order to get to Heaven)
- mortem = death
- “there is sin that leads to death” (1 Jn 5:16)
- Jesus’ list of serious sins from Mt 15

- if we are in state of mortal sin at the hour of our death, we will go to
Hell (Catechism, # 1861)

- “You have heard how it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say this to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery in his heart. If your right eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body thrown into hell” -- Mt 5:28
- example of how serious sin can cause eternal damnation

- Jesus speaks of Hell and eternal punishment over 100 times in the Gospels (theme, but not focus of his mission)

-we need Christ in order to be forgiven

- Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross = so that our “sins might be forgiven”
- our sins are taken to the cross of Christ and forgiven in Confession in a way that we can’t do on our own (confessing privately takes Christ out of the equation?)

- in Confession, we receive Christ’s sanctifying grace
- can’t get on our own (ala Baptism, Anointing of the Sick )
- if mortal sins kill our soul, the grace of Confession brings it back to life
- participation in the Paschal Mystery

What is a mortal sin?
1) Grave matter* – it’s wrong
2) Full knowledge – I know it’s wrong
3) Full consent – I freely choose to do it

* examples of grave matter: skipping Sunday Mass, getting drunk, offenses against chastity (fornication, pornography, masturbation, etc.), contraception, lying, cheating on exams, etc.

"I’m afraid to go to Confession"
- been many years
- forgot how
- priest will judge me
- priest will tell others my sins
- I will forget some sins
- I wouldn’t know where to start with my sins

Keep in mind:
- it is Christ in the Confessional; in persona Christi (the priest acts in the person of Christ when celebrating the's really Jesus absolving sins, saying the Mass, baptizing babies, etc.)
- “whoever hears you, hears me” (Lk10:16)

- we hear and know we are forgiven: “I absolve you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”

- Christ’s grace in Confession heals us and gives us the strength to overcome future sins (Mother Teresa, John Paul II)
- +the priest can give us advice on how to avoid the sins in the future

- confessing on the lips = shows true contrition; as when I sin against a friend, need to go face to face

"How do I make a good Confession?"
- examination of conscience
- contrition
- confession
- do your penance

"How often should I go?"
- at least once a year (required)
- whenever in mortal sin or think you may be (before receiving Holy Communion)
- once a month (MT, JP II)
- grow in grace and holiness; frequent Confession helps us to ‘forgive those who trespass against us’ so that we will be forgiven
- see our sins as they are (gossip, e.g.) and see ourselves as we are: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner”

How to go to Confession / Examination of Conscience

Monday, February 22, 2010

1st Sunday of Lent - homily

I always enjoy hearing the line from this Gospel, Luke chapter 4, about Jesus’ fast of forty days in the desert: “He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry”. Um, yes, after forty days of eating nothing, I think he would be hungry! (If I go forty minutes of eating nothing, I am hungry). Now, about Jesus’ fast of 40 days: our fast during Lent is patterned after the Lord’s fast. That is, it is 40 days. 40 days. I say this to settle a dispute that Catholics have every Lent about whether or not we can enjoy the things we gave up for Lent on Sundays. Let’s do the math to find out. It’s 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (the Lenten Season). If you minus out the 6 Sundays in Lent, you get 40 days of fasting and penance. Sundays are feast days; every Sunday is the feast of the Resurrection, so there is no fasting. So, have fun enjoying what you gave up the rest of the day today. We love our feast days!

Fasting does a body good! It is a real source of strength and grace for us. Fasting gives our bodies strength in the midst of temptation. Jesus fasted for forty days in order to resist the strong temptations of the devil. He was like an athlete who was in peak condition to take on his biggest opponent. This is true for us, too. We need to stay strong and healthy to win against temptation. If we are weighed down by overeating or overdrinking, we are weakest and most vulnerable to lose. We always need to do fasting in moderation, but even a small fast can bring great strength. Just as prayer gives strength to the soul, so fasting gives strength to the body.

Fasting is also a source of grace for us. We saw this on Ash Wednesday which is a day of fasting for the whole Church. There was tremendous grace at work at our GW Masses. Hundreds of students came out for Mass, of course (people love their ashes!). But, many students went to Confession which we offered during and after the Masses. The students seemed to have a very positive experience on Wednesday. As one of our students said, “it was a day of grace”.

We need strength and grace to fight temptation. Temptation is one of the three types of demonic activity in the world. Every person faces temptation, even Jesus. It is all around us. The second type is oppression. This is when someone’s spirit is oppressed by an evil force. It leads to a spirit of sadness or despair. This happens to many people. The third type is possession. This is when an evil spirit possesses a person. The key point about demonic possession is that it only happens to people who invite the evil spirits in. If you saw the movie from years ago, “The Exorcist”, you might have noticed what brought on the demonic possession for the little girl: she was playing with a ouija board with her Mom. We have to be very careful not to invite evil spirits in these types of ways. Even talking about them can invite them in!

We should respect the power of our opponent, but not be afraid of him. We hear in this Gospel and know in our hearts that Jesus has power over the devil. If we stay close to Christ and his grace, we have nothing to worry about! If we remain in close friendship with Christ in a state of Grace, then we have nothing to fear. Primarily for us during Lent, this means staying close to the Eucharist and Confession. If we are coming weekly to the Eucharist at Mass (even daily if we can) and go to Confession regularly (once a month), then we have the strength and grace to resist temptation and all the weapons of our opponent. If we are imploring the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother, the saints, and our guardian angel, then we are employing the full arsenal of Grace that God avails to us. There’s a great bumper sticker that speaks to this: “Need a weapon? Pray the rosary”.

Finally, may each one of us remain close to our Lord and His Grace , especially during Lent. Through God’s Grace, may we live out what St. James writes in his letter, “Resist the devil and the devil will flee” (James 4:7).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Can you donate $25 for a GW service trip?

Cardinal McCarrick is coming to GW! The former Archbishop of Washington will be celebrating the 7:30 pm student Mass at St Stephen's (25th & Penn.) this Sunday, Feb. 21. Papa John's pizza after Mass in the Parish Hall!
A group of GW students, Meg (our campus minister), and I will go on a service trip to South Carolina over Spring Break, March 13-20. It's called "Alternative Spring Break". We will be building and renovating homes for low-income families.

The students have to raise $10,000 in order to go on the trip. This covers their transportation, housing, project fees, tools, food, gas, etc. They have raised a little over $7,000 so far. Can you help them meet their goal?

You can help send these students on the trip by clicking on the PayPal "donate" button on the right of your screen. Your donation will go to the GW Newman Center which will put it toward the Alternative Spring Break trip.

A donation of $25 will pay for a student's housing for a night.

A donation of $50 will pay for a student's tools and equipment for the week.

A donation of $75 will pay for a student's project fee for the week.

A donation of $100 will pay for a student's transportation for the week.

On behalf of the students, thank you very much for your generosity!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Top Ten Ideas for Making a Good Lent '10"

We are giving out cards today at all the Masses that include ideas on how to make a good Lent as well as what we're offering at the Newman Center during Lent. Here is the info on the cards:

GW Catholics

Top Ten Ideas for Making a Good Lent ‘10

1. Attend Mass every Sunday
2. Attend a weekday Mass (in addition to Sunday)
3. Go to Confession
4. Attend Adoration at Newman Center
5. Pray the Rosary
6. Attend Stations of the Cross every Friday at Newman Center
7. Read a chapter of the Gospel every night
8. Fast (Ash Wed, Good Fri.) + Abstain from meat (Ash Wed, Fridays)
9. Tithe: Give 10% of spending money (food, drink, etc.) to Church/poor
10. Serve the poor*

GW Newman Center - Lent '10

Sunday Mass: 7:30 pm, 10 pm
- St Stephen’s Church, 25th & Penn. Ave.

Weekday Mass: 12 noon (M-F), 5:30 pm (Tues.)

Confessions: Wed, 8-9:30 pm (Newman Center), after Sunday Masses, and by appt.

Adoration: Wednesdays, 12:30 pm – 10 pm
Fridays during Lent, 6-7 pm

Stations of the Cross: Fridays during Lent, 5:30 pm

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"There's a little black spot on your head today"

Check out a youtube video which has some pretty funny satire about Catholics and Lent. Based on a cool song, too! To view the video, please click on today's title.

Lent begins tomorrow!

Monday, February 15, 2010

6th Sunday - homily

I would like to begin with a demonstration and need three volunteers to help me. I ask two of you to take hold of each end of this long cord (that stretches across the width of the church). Please raise it up as high as you can. Now, third volunteer, please stand near me. I ask all of you to imagine that this line represents our lives. Here at one end to the left is when each of us was brought into the world…when we were conceived. The rest of the line represents our lives on earth and our lives for all eternity. The line goes off to the right, past the volunteer for infinity…

Now, where on the line would we have the third volunteer put his (or her) finger if we were measuring our life on earth in relation to eternity? He would put it right next to where we came into this world! We think our lives are so long here, maybe eighty or ninety years. That is a long time, but in relation to eternity, it is a mere fraction only. It is a very small amount! Now, how we spend this small amount of time determines how we will spend all of eternity…! Whoa. Thank you, volunteers, you may return to your seats.

So, how do we spend this small amount of time? How do we live our lives in order to determine a good eternity? Jesus lays out a blueprint in today’s Gospel: the Beatitudes according to St. Luke. These beatitudes are a little different than we’re used to hearing: “blessed are those who are poor”…and are hungry…and are hated by people. This doesn’t sound like the most attractive blueprint on how to live. It reminds me of the quote from St. Theresa of Avila: “Lord, seeing the way you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them!” It’s a tough way to live in order to have a good eternity…to have eternal life. What these beatitudes are really describing is the life of Jesus Christ. He was poor…he was hungry…people hated him.

How do we live in this life? We live like Christ. We live in imitation of Him. With Lent beginning this Wednesday, we have an opportunity to see if we are living in union with Christ. . That’s what Lent is all about: being more like Christ. If we look at our lives and see that we aren’t living like Jesus, we make changes. For example, if we are so focused on being rich, then we try to be more poor. If we trust only in human beings, then we try to trust more in God. The little sacrifices we make should be for us to be more like Christ. We make little sacrifices in order to imitate Christ’s big sacrifice.

There is one event which determines how we live. It is the event about which St. Paul writes in our second reading: the Resurrection. The most fundamental question for any Christian is, ‘do you believe in the Resurrection?’ When people (either here or in the parish) have come to me saying that they don’t know if they believe anymore, the first question I ask them is, ‘do you believe in the Resurrection?’ St Paul makes it very clear that if Christ isn’t raised from the dead, our faith is pointless…it’s like, ‘Go home now. We are still waiting for the Christ’. But, if He is risen, then He has power over all things. The man was dead! He was dead. And, He came back to life…He rose from the dead. No one else has ever risen from the dead. This shows us that He is the Christ…He is the Son of God. Everything He said is true and He has power over all things. He has power over everything you’re struggling with in your life right now, especially sin. He has power over addiction, depression, anger, laziness…even doubt.

The Resurrection is the cause for our hope. It gives us true hope in this life and for the next. Keep in mind that before Christ, there was no real hope for a good eternity. It’s only through His death and resurrection that we have the hope of eternal life. It is the event that gives us hope and joy. We don’t walk around saying, “yeah, He’s risen from the dead (with our heads down)”. We say joyfully, “He is risen!” The Resurrection gives us joy that marks us as Christians. Mother Teresa (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) once said, “we should never be so sad that we lose sight of the Resurrection”. How do we live our lives? We live them in imitation of Jesus Christ filled with hope and joy.

Finally, when we come to the Eucharist, we have the same bold point as with the Resurrection because the Eucharist is the risen Body and Blood of Christ. If the Eucharist is not the risen Body and Blood of Christ, then you should go home now. The Mass would be a sham and your Catholic faith would be pointless. But, Christ is risen from the dead and is truly present in the Eucharist. The Mass, then, is the greatest event in the world! We not only see our Risen Lord, we get to receive Him in Holy Communion.

May the Eucharist give you strength to make a good Lent. May you be filled with courage and generosity in growing closer to Christ. May you all live lives filled with hope and joy that will lead to an eternity of happiness and peace.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Dividends of a Catholic Education"

1) Ash Wednesday Masses at GW: 12 noon, 5 pm, 7:30 pm
Marvin Center, 3rd Floor, Continental Ballroom
800 21st St., NW DC

2) This week, the Dominican Sisters of Mary appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show". Good for Oprah for inviting the Sisters!! My hunch is that the Sisters did this primarily to evangelize on behalf of the Church; they don't need to recruit for more Sisters. I regularly receive letters from them saying that they have a different vocations crisis: too many Sisters! To view clips from the show, please click on today's title.
Good friends from my last parish sent me the following essay which their 7th grade daughter wrote about the "Dividends of a Catholic Education". It's pretty incredible! I invite all bloggers to write a few dividends of their Catholic education whether it's been in a Catholic school, parish, Newman Center, blog site, etc.

I would echo the beautiful sentiments below by saying that the greatest dividend of a Catholic education is learning about the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. After 12+ years in Catholic schools, my Catholic education really started when a priest simply said, "'this is my body' means this is my body".

Christ’s Wonderful Gifts
Dividends of a Catholic Education

To me, the most important benefit that I receive from Catholic education is that every Sunday I witness an extraordinary miracle: the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It really opens my eyes, and makes me realize the amazing power of God. If you see this action, it can change your life. The phenomenal power of this deed gives me the chance of eternal life. It reminds me that God loves me so much that he gives up his body for my well-being.

Another benefit is that when I pray, I remember that every time I receive grace from Him. Also, in the sacraments, we tighten the strand of our friendship with God, and he loves us ever more. Any time we even give God thanks, he smiles, and the jagged nail is loosened.

So keep in mind that the littlest acts, whether it be praise to God or prayer, is pleasing in His eyes. He looks down on us with extreme care and love. With all of His great gifts, such as eternal life, we are given the chance to be with Him in Heaven. The Eucharist and grace are His presents to us, and are one of the greatest acts of love I know. So take time to just take time to thank Him for all of the benefits of being Catholic.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Good news about sex" has issued a blizzard warning for today in DC. Please take this seriously and be safe today!


Here are my notes from last night's discussion, "Good News About Sex":

How can a celibate priest give a talk about sex?
Same question as, ‘How could Jesus talk about sex?’

-I and any priest re-present Christ’s teaching (God’s revelation about sex)
What did Jesus teach about sex?
- reaffirmed what was taught in the beginning, for one
- Matt 19: 5 (sex within the context of marriage)
- “in the beginning”…what does that mean?

I. Sex is beautiful

One of the first things God reveals to us is the beautiful gift of sex:
Gen 1: 28 – “Be fertile and multiply
Gen 2: 24 – husband and wife “become one body (flesh)”

- Yahweh is speaking about marriage in Genesis, and to the first married couple(Adam and Eve)
-it is God’s command for them to have sex so that they will become oneflesh (union) and multiply (procreate)
-if it is from God it must be good, true, beautiful, glorious, wonderful (these are all qualities of God)
- The gift of sex is meant for us to understand what love is: the love between spouses + God’s love

- (example of engaged couple)

- “Good news about sex and marriage” ("Good News about Sex and Marriage", West, p.20): Sex expresses marital love

- So, God has given us sex for these two reasons: union and procreation
- where is pleasure in all of this? not there

- God has made the sexual act very pleasurable so that married persons
will do it!
- so they multiply (we need sex to survive as a race)
- those things we need to survive are pleasurable: eating, drinking, sleeping, e.g.
- but need to do it in right context and with moderation
- pleasure is not to be the focus

- any reason outside of union and procreation is not what God intends for sex
-unmarried persons can’t enter into one-flesh union; haven’t promised themselves to the other
-couples not open to life can’t be fertile and multiply; artificial contraception is from man, not God
-‘for pleasure only’ is an abuse of the gift of sex; selfish; focuses on what I get, not what I give

II. Sex is holy
- first of all, what is holiness?
- not just praying or being in Church
- holiness = otherness (living for God and others)
- second, how can sex be holy?
- within the marital act

1) husband and wife imitate God the Creator
Union:“the union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity” (CCC, #2335)... fecundity = fruitfulness

Procreation:Continuing God’s work of creation
- they are co-creators with God!

2) husband and wife imitate the life of the Holy Trinity
- (example of married couple)

- West, pp. 19-20

- when the couple gives themselves completely to the other in the sexual
act, they are acting in love
- love = gift of self
- God is love, and He gives himself completely
- so, sex is a way to imitate God in a very deep and powerful way
- worshiping God through our bodies
- holiness through our bodies
- marital act = sacramental

- bedroom of a married couple is analogous to a Church
sanctuary just like marital love is analogous to the Eucharist
- Eucharist = union b/w God and man
- marital love = union b/w spouses

III. Sex is pure

All are called to live sexuality as God intends – in a pure way

All (married, religious, single) are called to live chastity

What is chastity and how do we live it?
- chastity is sexual purity

5 ways to live it
1) Pray
2) Sacraments
3) Custody of the eyes
4) Use reason to control sexual desires
5) Read lives of saints / examples of living virtues

How important is chastity?
St Maria Goretti - martyred at age 11 for her commitment to chastity

Christ: Mk 7 (unchastity is among the most serious sins)

St Paul: Eph 5:22 (chastity is 1 of 12 fruits of Holy Spirit)
Eph 5:21 (those who live impurity…”will not inherit the kingdom of God”)

IV. Sex is good
a) Living sexuality the way God intends leads to:

Joy, happiness, peace, freedom

b) Impure thoughts and actions: “slavery” to sin

c) example of someone who is living chastity after many years of unchastity

Freedom v. slavery
Happiness v. sadness
Peace v. anxiety

d) I am a priest largely b/c of freedom of chastity:
-fervent prayer to the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary for chastity
-daily prayer as priest

e) All should pray and fast for chastity
Fasting – great way to control desires (small matters---> big matters)
- practices / disciplines of saints

Priests: at Mass, especially
Married – for self and spouse
Single – pray for self (at Mass, etc.)
- and for future spouse to be living chastity

Monday, February 08, 2010

5th Sunday - homily

Celebrating Mass on Super Bowl Sunday reminds me of an episode from “The Simpsons” years ago. It was Super Bowl Sunday and they show the scene at the Church as the service begins. There is one person in the congregation. The pastor seems a bit upset and says, “well, thank God at least one person came to Church and isn’t watching the big game”. Then, the one man who is there says, “oh my gosh, the big game!” , and goes running out of Church!

This year in the Church is the “year of the priest”. It began last June and will end this June. It is a year to celebrate priests and thank them for their service to us. In Washington, we have had a campaign in which people have been sending letters and cards to priests to express their appreciation, love, and support. It’s been overwhelming for us priests, but we appreciate it very much. So many people who we will never meet have been offering so many prayers and sacrifices for us all year. You all should send a note to your priests back home before June, thanking them for their service to you and your family. They have given up everything for you.

It’s important for us to realize that priests have given up everything for us. They haven’t always been priests! We think this, don’t we…that priests have always been priests…that they popped out of their mother’s wombs… as priests! Priests are normal people who live ordinary lives until they realize they have been called to live extraordinary lives. Today’s Gospel from St. Luke helps to clarify that. Some of the first priests – the Apostles – were fisherman. Again, ordinary guys trying to make a living. Then, something extraordinary happened.

They had closed up shop for the night. They hadn’t caught any fish and were cleaning up, going home. Then, our Lord comes over to them and asks them to cast the nets again. At his word, they did and then caught a huge amount of fish. Extraordinary! Incredible! Something happened to them in this scene that changed them forever. The focus here is on Christ – as it is with every vocation. But, their response is very powerful, too: “they left everything and followed him”.

They left everything and followed him. Catholic priests have been doing that for the past 2000 years. They have left family, career, hopes, dreams…everything. They have left it all to follow Jesus in serving us as priests. They have give up everything so that we might know Christ through the preaching of the Gospel…that we might receive Christ in the sacraments…that we might be saved. They have really left everything for the salvation of souls. They have given up their lives so that we might go to Heaven. Of course, this is all in imitation of Christ, the High Priest.

I remember helping out on a Confirmation retreat years ago in my parish. My pastor who was middle-aged was leading the day-long retreat for 8th graders. Here he was in his fifties talking to a bunch of thirteen year-olds. I started thinking, ‘what is this all about?’ Then it hit me, this is his life. He had given up his life to do this: to talk to these kids and adults about Jesus…to bring Jesus to others and to bring others to Jesus.

Finally, without priests, we would not have the sacraments – the sacraments of salvation – especially the Eucharist. There is a powerful and inspiring video about the priesthood called “Fishers of Men”. It’s fast-moving and hard-hitting. There are at least two great quotes from the video. One is “who will give the sacraments to the next generation?” We do need young men to become priests and give the sacraments to the next generation. God is calling men, especially here at GW to do this. Will they hear the Call and answer it? The other great quote is, “without priests, we wouldn’t have the Eucharist”. As we receive the Eucharist tonight, let us thank God for the gift of Himself in this sacrament and also the gift of the priesthood. Let us thank God for priests who have given up everything for the salvation of souls…who have left everything to bring Jesus to us and us to Jesus.

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Tebow's Super Bowl ad isn't intolerant; its critics are"

1)”Jesus and Burritos” is still on for tonight. Adoration at 6 pm, Chipotle burritos at 7 pm.

2) A few spots left for next weekend’s retreat, “No Greater Love”. Please sign up asap by emailing Meg (
The following is an encouraging, sharp, and courageous article by a columnist of the Washington Post, Sally Jenkins, regarding Tim Tebow’s pro-life Super Bowl ad. Obviously, we don’t agree with Jenkins’ position on abortion; the main point of disagreement is that babies in the womb are not just potential lives, they are actual lives…actual human beings. Overall, though, the following is a very well-written article; it’s refreshing to see a secular journalist set the record straight that pro-choice means pro-abortion. Hopefully, Jenkins will see that the crowd (NOW, et al.) that she condemns are the same ones who have fought so hard for the “pro-choice” legalization that she supports. It’s not pro-choice legislation, it’s pro-abortion. Please pray for Sally Jenkins who is most likely under heavy attack from those who are viciously pro-abortion.

Tebow's Super Bowl ad isn't intolerant; its critics are

I'll spit this out quick, before the armies of feminism try to gag me and strap electrodes to my forehead: Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time. I realize this stance won't endear me to the "Dwindling Organizations of Ladies in Lockstep," otherwise known as DOLL, but I'll try to pick up the shards of my shattered feminist credentials and go on.

As statements at Super Bowls go, I prefer the idea of Tebow's pro-life ad to, say, Jim McMahon dropping his pants, as the former Chicago Bears quarterback once did in response to a question. We're always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks. It therefore seems more than a little hypocritical to insist on it only if it means criticizing sneaker companies, and to stifle them when they take a stance that might make us uncomfortable.

I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow's 30-second ad hasn't even run yet, but it already has provoked "The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us" to reveal something important about themselves: They aren't actually "pro-choice" so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn't be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn't.

There's not enough space in the sports pages for the serious weighing of values that constitutes this debate, but surely everyone in both camps, pro-choice or pro-life, wishes the "need" for abortions wasn't so great. Which is precisely why NOW is so wrong to take aim at Tebow's ad.

Here's what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.

You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren't embarrassed to practice sexual restraint, and to say it out loud. If we had more of those, women might have fewer abortions. See, the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancy is to not get the sperm in the egg and the egg implanted to begin with, and that is an issue for men, too -- and they should step up to that.

"Are you saving yourself for marriage?" Tebow was asked last summer during an SEC media day.

"Yes, I am," he replied.

The room fell into a hush, followed by tittering: The best college football player in the country had just announced he was a virgin. As Tebow gauged the reaction from the reporters in the room, he burst out laughing. They were a lot more embarrassed than he was.

"I think y'all are stunned right now!" he said. "You can't even ask a question!"
That's how far we've come from any kind of sane viewpoint about star athletes and sex. Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn't shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him.

Obviously Tebow can make people uncomfortable, whether it's for advertising his chastity, or for wearing his faith on his face via biblical citations painted in his eye-black. Hebrews 12:12, his cheekbones read during the Florida State game: "Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." His critics find this intrusive, and say the Super Bowl is no place for an argument of this nature. "Pull the ad," NOW President Terry O'Neill said. "Let's focus on the game."

Trouble is, you can't focus on the game without focusing on the individuals who play it -- and that is the genius of Tebow's ad. The Super Bowl is not some reality-free escape zone. Tebow himself is an inescapable fact: Abortion doesn't just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers -- who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term. And their stories are every bit as real and valid as the stories preferred by NOW.

Let me be clear again: I couldn't disagree with Tebow more. It's my own belief that the state has no business putting its hand under skirts. But I don't care that we differ. Some people will care that the ad is paid for by Focus on the Family, a group whose former spokesman, James Dobson, says loathsome things about gays. Some will care that Tebow is a creationist. Some will care that CBS has rejected a gay dating service ad. None of this is the point. CBS owns its broadcast and can run whatever advertising it wants, and Tebow has a right to express his beliefs publicly. Just as I have the right to reject or accept them after listening -- or think a little more deeply about the issues. If the pro-choice stance is so precarious that a story about someone who chose to carry a risky pregnancy to term undermines it, then CBS is not the problem.

Tebow's ad, by the way, never mentions abortion; like the player himself, it's apparently soft-spoken. It simply has the theme "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." This is what NOW has labeled "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning." But if there is any demeaning here, it's coming from NOW, via the suggestion that these aren't real questions, and that we as a Super Bowl audience are too stupid or too disinterested to handle them on game day.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"Dating and relationships"

Ash Wednesday Masses at GW
Wed., Feb 17, 2010
12 noon, 5 pm, 7:30 pm
Marvin Center, Continental Ballroom, 3rd Floor
Last night we had another good discussion after Tuesday dinner. It was on dating and relationships. Here are the notes from my talk that started the discussion:

Dating and Relationships

I. “Don’t date anyone you wouldn’t marry”

II. Two models for dating

-From FG’s homily / 4th Sunday, 2nd reading (1 Cor 12)

1. World’s model: rush thru friendship into romance/sex
“Dating habits of teens are perfect preparation for divorce, not marriage”
-“Christian Courtship”, p.128, about Connie Marshner

If rushed, not love (lust??)

-FG in hs, pressured by friends to have sex with g-friend after 3 mos.

2.Christian model: love is patient / love waits
-Patient in every stage of dating (friendship/courtship)

If patient, love (agape…a share in it…preparing for it)

III. Stories
World’s model – AM
Christian model – KW

IV. Friendship dating
-friends 1st
- 1-2 months, at least
- if desire, friendship date more than one person at a time
- patient, communicate “friends only” / set boundaries (prudence)
- low-key, no pressure (pressure w/world’s model - locked in, engaged)
- testing period without emotional attachment
-see what the other is like and how you two get along
-free to remain as friends only if not going as you thought
-helps to avoid big-time hurt feelings
-STORY of the girl who could have used this model in college

For girls especially:
- able to screen out jerks /guys who are not for you
- if guy isn’t up for being friends first and waiting / sacrificing for you, then he’s not for you

- chaste hugs, no kissing or holding hands
- get to know souls, not bodies (what makes a relationship/marriage last)
- foundation for courtship
- contact: talk 2x/wk, see 1x/wk STORY of MH + JP
- Prayer: pray for other and for God’s Will to be done

V. Exclusive dating / courtship
-Communicate / decide to exclusively date the other (call off other friend-dating)
-Be patient…..“ short courtships often make for short marriages” – Morrow
-Hold hands, gentle kissing, chaste hugs

YG: video – incl. couple that wouldn’t kiss until marriage
-a bit extreme but got conversation started with teens
-at least one teen made a chastity pact that night at YG
-Contact: talk 2-3x/wk, see 2-3x/wk
-Pray for other and for God’s Will to be done

-Chastity: NOT JUST ABSTINENCE; sexual purity
-sexual habits you build when young stay with you when old
- “ in courtship stay with you in marriage
- if unchaste habits, then marriage in trouble
-God’s Grace and person’s will can change habits, but takes a lot of Grace and a lot of work
-if chaste habits now, then marriage will be much more fruitful

How to live chastity? (for another discussion)

Benefits of chastity and modesty
-Freedom- free to love the whole person: body and soul
- unchastity brings slavery; chastity brings freedom
-Mutual respect
-Mutual, sacrificial love (agape)
-Attraction–seeing the beauty of the other’s soul makes them more attractive
-Modesty – makes women more attractive; helps guys out

VI. What if you’re not dating?
-pray for future spouse
-prepare for future spouse: prayer + chastity, esp.
-trust that God will provide future spouse + be ready when He does
-wife / husband (marriage); Church (religious); Church (single)
Story of DP + TP

Monday, February 01, 2010

4th Sunday - homily

You might have seen the story on the internet this week about the professional baseball player who is quitting baseball to become a priest. Totally cool! Grant Desme is a 23 year old up-and-coming star with the Oakland Athletics who believes that God is calling him to be a priest, so he is acting on it immediately. It’s an incredible story and one that has caught many people off guard. But, it’s not a new story. A couple of years ago, there was a professional soccer player who retired in the prime of his career to enter the seminary. I know of a woman in the ‘90s who was a great college basketball player at a major university who entered the convent right after college; she is now a cloistered nun. Cloistered, whoa! A friend of mine was an all-American basketball player in college. She could have gone to the WNBA but chose to get married and raise children. These are great and heroic examples of people who had everything at their fingertips – money, fame, and success. They chose to follow their calling, their vocation instead. They chose love over all of those things. We have examples in our own community, too. There have been eight men and women who have entered seminary or a religious community after GW. They, too, chose their vocation over careers in politics, government, law, medicine, etc. They chose love. What examples they are to all of us!

Every one of you has a vocation, a calling from God. Every person in this Church, at this university, in this country, in this world has a vocation. It’s either to the married life, the religious life, or the single life. Your job is to figure out to which one God is calling you. Most of you are called to marriage, but some of you are called to be religious and some of you are called to be single. As we heard in the first reading, God gave you your vocation before you were born! He has put you on this earth for a reason. He has a plan for you that involves living out love in a particular vocation. What is the best way to find your vocation? I will reveal that in a few moments.

You are preparing for your vocation right now. You are preparing for love. So, you should be asking yourselves, “how do I prepare? What is love?” St Paul offers you a lot of help in today’s second reading. If you’ve been to Catholic weddings, you’ve probably heard this reading (1 Cor 12) before: “love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous…love never fails”. This is the Christian model for love. You can compare this model to your lives right now. For example, if you’re in a dating relationship, is it patient? Have you been patient in every stage of the relationship? If so, it is love. But, if you’ve rushed through the stages and been impatient, then it’s not love. This is the model of the world that comes to us mainly from movies and television. It’s the model that says to rush through friendship into romance…into sex. It’s the model that so many young people follow and that experts say is preparation not for marriage, but for divorce. It’s the model that has led to a 50% divorce rate in our country. Please…don’t follow this model. Follow the model of love. Love is patient. Love waits. Please wait and be patient… for the sake of love and for the sake of your relationship.

The Church also goes deeper in looking at love. Mainly with the help of Pope John Paul II, it has defined love as “gift of self”. Love means giving yourself to another. Love means sacrifice. If you really love someone, you are willing to sacrifice for them in big and small ways. Jesus says there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends (Jn 15). This will be the focus of our retreat next month, “No Greater Love”. We will focus on what it means to sacrifice…what it means to love. It will be a great weekend to help you prepare for your vocation. We will have student leaders who will tell their stories about how they have already entered into sacrifice for others…how they already entered into the greatest love. It will be powerful! You will hear from one of these leaders at the end of Mass.

Finally, the best way to find your vocation is through the Eucharist. I am utterly convinced of this because I’ve seen it happen with so many people. If you stay close to the Eucharist, I promise you will find your vocation. This means coming to Mass regularly and receiving the Eucharist regularly, coming to Adoration, making chapel visits…having a relationship with Christ in the Eucharist. It leads to us saying, “Jesus, you gave me your life, how can I give you my life?” He is the example for us in living out a vocation. He lived out the Father’s Plan even though it meant sacrifice; we hear of the beginnings of this sacrifice in today’s Gospel. He is the example and the source of our vocations. He has given you a vocation. He is calling you to something great! To whatever He is calling you, there is your happiness. God doesn’t want you to be miserable, so to whatever He is calling you will make you happy.

Through the help of Jesus in the Eucharist, may you find your vocation…may you find the reason God has put you on this earth…may you find the love to which He is calling you. And, in the process, may you find true happiness that God has desired for you since He formed you in the womb.