Friday, July 30, 2010

Do Catholics really pray?

Last night I celebrated Mass with some classmates from high school. It’s been an annual event since I’ve been ordained. I am grateful to my mates from Gonzaga for doing this. It is so meaningful to us – especially me – to get together in the context of the Eucharist and then to catch up and reminisce over dinner and refreshments. Only a few guys showed up this year, but it was so good to be with them. After Mass, we went out to grab a bite. At dinner, one of the guys asked the Church’s position on contraception, specifically with regards to “snip-snip” (vasectomy). I replied with “no-no”. When I clarified what that meant and that the Church was against any form of contraception, I was peppered with questions and criticisms for the remainder of the meal, not surprisingly. It was a respectful and civil conversation, and these are good men (who have several children between them). There was mutual respect, but a clear disagreement on what the Church teaches regarding being open to life permanently.

My conversation with one of them continued later in the night. He heard my explanation of the family planning method (Natural Family Planning) the Church recommends and wondered how it differed from artificial contraception. I had explained at dinner (what a conversation for a mini high school reunion!) that NFP is the natural method by which a couple can gauge the woman’s fertility, based on her cycle. The couple is in conversation with each other and with God; if they discern that God is not calling them to have a child in a given month, then they would abstain from sex during her fertile period (4-5 days, typically). His argument was that NFP is similar to artificial contraception in that it attempts to avoid pregnancy and isn’t open to life.

He raised a couple of good questions. Isn’t the practice of abstaining during the fertile period in order to avoid pregnancy a contraceptive act? Isn’t abstaining during the fertile period preventing union between the husband and the wife? We talked about these specific questions for most of our time together and he revealed the practice of him and his wife in these areas. He is a deeply good man who gives himself so much to his wife, kids, and friends. He spoke truly and substantially about marriage, the importance of union with his wife, and how open to life he and his wife have been. He was talking to me in order to learn, for the most part. But, some comments he made revealed that no matter what I or the Church or God said, he wasn’t going to change.

I agreed with him that if NFP is used only to avoid pregnancy and is approached on a natural level only, then it is natural contraception. The second part of that condition is what I focused on the last part of our conversation. NFP is not to be on a natural level only; it is to be supernatural as well. It is meant to include God! It is meant to include prayer! This is a huge part of the method because it puts the couple under the heading of God’s Will. If they discern in their prayer that God is not calling them to have children in a given month (e.g., it would be irresponsible for them based on their resources), then they would abstain during the fertile period. This would be God’s Plan for them at that point; maybe His Plan will change for them in a few months. That is a far different approach than contraception because the couple is acting according to God’s Plan (NFP), and not their plan (contraception).

God doesn’t call every couple to have 100 babies and says through the Church that parents should be responsible in their family planning. In fact, the answer from God is much more often ‘no’ than ‘yes’ when it comes to couples conceiving children over the span of their marriages. The better way to put it would be “not right now” or “I have something better in mind”. These are often God’s answers to our prayers. Neither of these answers is worse than ‘yes’. If it is God’s answer (even though it is not our answer), then it is supremely good. If it is God’s Plan (even though it is not our plan), then it is supremely good.

If we combine the fact that God has given wives a natural method to determine their fertility and the fact that most months He is not calling couples to have a baby, then we see that abstaining during the fertile period can be God’s Plan. Again, it has to be done as a result of prayer in order to be in union with His Will. If it is from God, then it is good and can never be a sin. It doesn’t act against the union between husband and wife; it actually acts toward union! It involves a few days of sacrifice…a few days of sacrificial love. The husband and wife may not be uniting with their bodies, but they are uniting in love with their souls and spirits. Studies have found that couples who do this experience stronger intimacy when they reconnect in conjugal love. Also, studies have found that 96% of married couples that use NFP stay together.

The final point of all of this has to do with prayer. I don’t know if my buddy and his wife have been praying about all of this. But, it is an enormous part of the conversation. Without prayer, NFP can be natural contraception; it can be the couple doing their own will and not God’s. With prayer, it is a way to give glory and honor to God because it is putting everything in His hands, whatever that might be. On a larger level, though, last night’s conversations with my high school friends prompted some reflection on the disconnect between the Church and many Catholics. One of the main reasons for the disconnect might be prayer. At the heart of the Church and her mission is prayer. She has received and continues to receive God’s revelation in her mind and heart. His revelation is as real as anything in life and is of primary importance.

Do many Catholics approach God’s revelation (in public through Scripture and Tradition and in private through mental prayer and meditation) in the same way? Do Catholics really pray? I don’t just mean grace at meals or rote prayers. I mean do they really open their hearts and minds to what He is saying to them? Do they go to Mass regularly? Do they make time for mental prayer each day? Do they meditate on Scripture? Do they know the authority of the Church as entrusted by Christ himself?

If the answer were yes, then there wouldn’t be such a disconnect between Catholics and the Church, in my opinion. The Church would not be “out of touch” because people would be in touch with God and the Church. This is my opinion…what is yours?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"We the people" and God

A friend sent me the following which is a revealing contrast between the words of our president and those in the preambles of our states. The president's words do not directly contradict those found in the preambles. But, the word "God" is absent in his definition of who we are while some reference to God is present in the preamble of EVERY STATE in our country. The president's words can be interpreted to mean that we are an atheistic country which would be a direct contradiction to our states' preambles. So, they could represent a principle of the West that Pope John Paul warned us about: "the principle to which people aspire is to think and act as if God did not exist."

However you look at it, this is enlightening stuff about our president and about our states.

President Barack Obama said in Turkey: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

I found this very interesting. Do you know the Preamble for your state?

Alabama 1901, Preamble
We the people of the State of Alabama , invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution..

Alaska 1956, Preamble We, the people of Alaska , grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

Arizona 1911, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arizona , grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arkansas , grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble We, the People of the State of California , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom...

Colorado 1876, Preamble We, the people of Colorado , with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe....

Connecticut 1818, Preamble.. The People of Connecticut , acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.

Delaware 1897, Preamble Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences...

Florida 1885, Preamble We, the people of the State of Florida , grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble We, the people of Georgia , relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble We , the people of Hawaii , Grateful for Divine Guidance ... Establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble We, the people of the State of Idaho , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings..

Illinois 1870, Preamble We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble We, the People of the State of Indiana , grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble We, the People of the St ate of Iowa , grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a con tinuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble We, the people of Kansas , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble.. We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties..

Louisiana 1921, Preamble We, the people of the State of Louisiana , grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity . . And imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction

Michigan 1908, Preamble.. We, the people of the State of Michigan , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution.

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:

Mississippi 1890, Preamble We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble We, the people of Missouri , with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness . Establish this Constitution...

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution ..

Nebraska 1875, Preamble We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom. Establish this Constitution.

Nevada 1864, Preamble We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution...

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

New Mexico 1911, Preamble We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty..

New York 1846, Preamble We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble We , the people of North Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common.

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance....

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina , 1778, Preamble We, the people of the State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ....

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI..III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble We the People of the Republic of Texas , acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.

Vermont 1777, Preamble Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man ..

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other

Washington 1889, Preamble We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution

West Virginia 1872, Preamble Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God .

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility...

Wyoming 1890, Preamble We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...

Monday, July 26, 2010

17th Sunday - homily

Last year when I first started here, I was holding a meeting with some students on the bottom floor of the Newman Center. The door opened and in walked a freshman. He blew past all of us and headed straight upstairs. About an hour later, he came back down and introduced himself. I asked him, “where did you go? Where have you been for the past hour?” He replied, “I was praying in the chapel”. “Oh, ok. Good”, I said. Wow! This became the norm as the year went on. The students at the Newman Center pray. Dozens of them came throughout the year to pray each week…some for minutes, others for hours. I am convince that these students will be fine as they go through life as long as they keep up their prayer lives. They are shining and inspiring examples to all of us.

Today’s readings focus on prayer. Many Catholics want to become better Catholics by having a better prayer life but don’t know how. When they ask me about this, I usually put it on the level of friendship. If they know how to do friendship, then they know how to do prayer. To be friends with someone means getting to know them, spending time with them, talking and listening to them. It’s the same with prayer. Prayer is conversation with God. It means getting to know God, spending time with Him, and listening to Him. We need to be committed to prayer as we would a friendship; we need to be persistent and persevere in prayer. How persistent was Abraham in the first reading! Many people think that God is tired of hearing them pray for the same thing over and over again. And yet, it is right there in Scripture, so God must be telling us to pray persistently like Abraham.

So, if this is what prayer is, how do we pray? When we pray for something specifically, I offer two suggestions: 1) pray “thy will be done” and 2) pray for what you need. Praying “thy will be done” is probably the most prudent way to pray. If some of our students are praying about getting a particular job after college, they might think, “is this what God wants or is this what I want?” They should just pray for God’s will to be done. ..pray for what should happen and for what will be best. Pope Benedict has said that when we pray this third petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we become closer and close to God. We begin to see things the way God sees them, specifically with regards to the thing for which we are praying.

Also, we should pray for what we need as opposed to what we want. I remember one of my first nights in the seminary, praying in the chapel. I was alone with the Lord, freaking out about being in the seminary. ‘What am I doing here?’, I lamented. Then, someone else came in an sat down right behind me. It was one of the comedians of the house. He knelt down right behind my ear and said, “dear God, please give me….a million dollars!” I turned around and thought, ‘what the?’ I turned around and we both had a good laugh. We should pray what we need, not what we want. Pope Benedict also has said that we have the right and the duty to pray for what we need.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel that God knows what we need…more than we do. Today’s Gospel is all about God’s benevolence and graciousness. He knows us better than we know ourselves, so He knows what we need more than we do. Christ commands us to pray for what we need. Some ask why? If God knows what we need, why do we have to pray for it? So that we participate in the process. So that we begin to see what God sees. So that we begin to see what we truly need. Some people get discouraged because their prayers aren’t answered. They feel that they have asked, but haven’t received. But, a wise priest once said that all our prayers are answered; it’s not always the answer we’re looking for. He said the answer is one of three things: 1) yes, 2) not now, or 3) I have something better in mind.

Finally, where do we pray? We can certainly pray anywhere: in nature, in our homes or rooms. But, the best place to pray is in Church, in the presence of the Eucharist. It is so fruitful to make the time to be with Christ. I have seen so many people bring all of their “stuff” to Christ in Adoration and experience tremendous fruit and healing. My challenge to all of you is to make a chapel visit sometime this week. It can be five minutes, it can be an hour. But, go see your friend, Jesus Christ. I promise you it will be fruitful.

I will close with a story about a man in France a couple hundred years ago who went to Adoration regularly. He would go for hours at a time and bring nothing with him – no books, no Bible, no rosary. The holy priest at the parish finally asked him, “sir, what do you do all this time you are here in prayer?” The man’s response is the example for our prayer. The man responded by saying, “I look at Him and He looks at me”.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The first Christian thing

“Kevin” asked the following questions in response to my post, “If you miss Mass…” (8/8/06): “Why is missing mass considered to be a mortal sin. How many people are attending church just because of this rather than because they want to. Would Jesus prefer me to spend that hour helping others? Having grown up a strict catholic, I like many others stopped going to church once I left school, but am now going back with my children. I am beginning to question whether Jesus would prefer me to spend the hour with my child doing Christian things such as helping others or attending mass.”

Thanks for your questions, Kevin. I addressed this way back in 2004 when this site was just a baby blog. Here are my bullet points for why we go to Church every Sunday:

-God says so in the 3rd commandment: "Keep Holy the Sabbath". We give Him the praise that He is owed.

-Jesus commanded us to celebrate the Eucharist together: "Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you...Do this in memory of me"

-Jesus showed us how we are to worship God: when he worshipped the Father, it was with his friends, gathered around a table, and centered on a meal

-our obligation is not just to God, but to each other. We are a family of believers. Just like dinner in the home, every member of the family needs to be there for the family to be whole.

Regarding your point about doing “Christian things”, please remember that the first thing we do as Christians is love God. We love God first and foremost. Loving God means worshiping God. Being Christian means worshiping God. So, the first “Christian thing” that we do every week is to worship God. From there, everything else flows, including doing loving our neighbor.

The most Christian thing you can do for your children or others is to bring them to the Eucharist. You want them to get to Heaven, and Jesus promises that everyone who receives the Eucharist has eternal life (Jn 6). They, like all of us, need to be at Mass to receive the Eucharist. We can’t receive the Eucharist outside of Mass.

I make the bullet point that we need to be at Mass for others as well. To be Christian means to be in community….to be in communion with God and others. God wants us to worship Him together, not in isolated places or homes. We are a communion of persons.

Finally, there was an excellent point made in one of our comments this week. “Matt Shoemaker” posted the following comment about Sunday’s Gospel with Martha and Mary: “Couldn't it be also said that Mary represents the reasoning why we need to go to Mass every Sunday, to hear Christ and to see Him face to face in the Eucharist? While Martha's working and helping others is good stuff, the important thing is to take time out and be with Christ.” You and other bloggers might want to take another look at Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 10:38-42). Jesus says, “There is need of only one thing”. I said in my homily this one thing is the presence of God. We primarily and most fruitfully experience the presence of God at Holy Mass. So, for Catholics on Sundays, there is need of only one thing: to participate in Sunday Mass.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"God bless pro-lifers!"

I don't know if I've mentioned this here before, but there is an abortion facility on the campus of GW, one block from the Newman Center. Many people are unaware that abortions are performed at the Washington Surgi Clinic. When we have gone there to pray the rosary in front of the building, we have received surprising looks and comments from people. One student who lived at the dorm next to the "clinic" expressed anger and disgust when he learned that abortions were being performed next to where he lives. Overall, almost all of the reactions from people to our presence there have been positive.

Our peaceful and prayerful protest to abortion on this campus has been much less dramatic than ones that have taken place in Rockford, Illinois. I have been hearing about the battles between pro-lifers and pro-abortionists for sometime now. The following is the latest in the dramatic series:

ROCKFORD, Illinois, July 9, 2010 ( - The staff at the Rockford abortion mill, which has been blaring the radio through its speakers to drown out pro-life counselors for several weeks, got an unpleasant surprise Friday morning when a local D.J. found out what his show was being used for. has reported numerous times on the bizarre Rockford abortuary, which has taken to taunting pro-life witnesses with signage and other paraphernalia mocking Christianity and Jesus Christ, and even directing personal insults at local pro-lifers...

The facility’s latest form of harassment, blasting a radio talk show through its outdoor speakers to keep women from hearing the message of pro-life counselors gathered outside, backfired when D.J. Doug McDuff's scheduled talk show guest cancelled, and he opened the phone lines for comment.

Seeing his chance, Rockford pro-life veteran Kevin Rilott whipped out his cell phone and was on air within seconds, loud and clear outside the abortion centre where he was standing. Rilott took the opportunity to explain to McDuff and his listeners how the radio station, WNTA, was being used to silence pro-lifers' attempt to help mothers in need.

McDuff, none too pleased, decided to take matters into his own hands. "God bless pro-lifers! God bless pro-lifers! God bless pro-lifers!" the D.J. shouted.

One of the staff members, who was walking from across the parking lot at that moment, was so aghast, Rilott told, that "I thought she was going to have a heart attack."

"The abortion mill nurse who heard this began waving her arms around her head like she couldn't believe what was being broadcast over the abortion mill public address system," related Rilott. "The look of almost terror and confusion on her face was priceless as she scrambled into the mill."

The D.J. then gave Rilott airtime to explain how those who keep vigil outside the Rockford mill come "to offer love, help, and hope to mothers in need," and to request prayer for mothers in need and an end to abortion.

The landlord of the abortion mill, still determined to drown out both the radio and the pro-lifers, charged outdoors with a chainsaw running. But even that was not enough to prevent at least one mother from hearing the message and choosing life for her baby.

Rilott said that a woman who had entered the clinic earlier in the morning left after the incident, before the abortionist arrived for the day. "She certainly heard it inside the clinic, and when she left she gave us a big smile and thumbs-up, and she left before the abortionists arrived," he told LSN. "So it was a good day."

Monday, July 19, 2010

16th Sunday - homily

I spent last week on vacation with family at the beach. I spent a whopping 15 minutes on the beach itself…oh well. It was mainly a get-away to play some (bad) golf and get some rest. And, the short time I spent on the beach was at night. I went out for a rosary walk on the beach and was able to enjoy the serenity of the ocean. I really enjoy the serenity and calmness of the ocean. It really lends to meditation in general. But, specifically, that night, I had an insight about the ocean that I don’t know how many people pick up on when they go to the beach.

The ocean is an image of God’s love! It is so vast; it goes as far as the eye can see in any direction. It is an image of God’s love and presence. It is a proof of God’s existence! How did the water get there in the first place? Water is an image of God’s love in the Old Testament. God’s love is as deep as the ocean. The water of the ocean or rivers are images of God’s grace, especially with regard to Baptism. I don’t expect people to have these deep insights when they go to the beach, but how many enter into any kind of meditation about God when they are at the ocean?

I know that people are busy when they go to the beach. Vacations can be more work than work! Parents are busy making sure their kids are enjoying every minute of vacation; there are so many activities going on. Everyone is busy having fun and enjoying the sand, waves, etc. It’s hard to meditate on the beach amid so much busyness, but it’s also hard to miss the power and calmness of the ocean.

I am going on and on about this because I think this relates to today’s readings. People who go the beach and miss out on the ocean are like people who are so busy in life that they miss out on the presence of God. Martha is so busy – doing good things – that she misses out on the presence of Christ. She is busy being a good hostess while Jesus is in her home. But, she is filled with anxiety and worry. She is worried about all the things she needs to do. But, Jesus calls her out on missing the one thing she truly needs. “There is need of only one thing”, he says. I believe that one thing is the presence of God. Mary gets it and she is absorbed in the presence of Christ in her mind and heart. We are called to be busy like Martha and prayerful like Mary.

The most relevant example for us Catholics with all of this is with the Eucharist. Statistics from years ago say that seven out of ten Catholics miss out on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; they believe the Eucharist only a symbol of Christ’s Body and Blood. For some reason, they have missed the true teaching and thus, miss out on the amazing fruits of Christ’s true and visible presence on earth. Catholics who miss out on the Eucharist are like people who miss out on the ocean at the beach.

The Eucharist is the best way for us to enter into the presence of God with our minds and hearts. It is the best for us to imitate the prayerfulness of Mary. We are busy like Martha. We live in a busy world and are busy doing good things…busy working for justice. We can spend time with the Eucharist, not just on Sundays during Mass, but during the week. We can make chapel visits during the week and spend time with the Lord. Even if it’s for just a few minutes. If that is not possible, then we can spend some time in our rooms, praying over Scripture. This is how we enter into the presence of God in our minds and hearts. To be prayerful like Mary even though we are busy like Martha means to have a prayer life where we spend time with the Lord.

So, my brothers and sisters, we are called to be busy like Martha and prayerful like Mary. We are called to do good and work for justice. But, we are also called to spend time in prayer when we enter into the presence of God in our minds and hearts. It’s not an either /or; it’s a both / and. When we are so busy that we don’t spend time in prayer, we are filled with anxiety and worry. But, when we make time to pray, we enter into God’s presence and love. Just like a trip to the beach when we experience the vastness of the ocean, a trip to the chapel brings us an experience of God’s vast presence, vast love, and vast peace.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I'll be away until July 17.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Our five frozen storage"

“My husband and I could create embryos, freeze them and, essentially, donate them to our future selves… Our five frozen embryos, which we call our baby blastocysts, will remain in storage until we are ready to use them.”

These are quotes from a woman who wrote in the Washington Post yesterday about how her husband and she have discovered and used in vitro fertilization and the freezing of their embryos. Since embryos are children – the smallest of children – let’s substitute the word ‘children’ for ‘embryos’:

“My husband and I could create children, freeze them, and essentially, donate them to our future selves… Our five frozen children… will remain in storage until we are ready to use them”.

How messed up is this! What do they say when people ask if they have children? ‘Yes, we have five. They are in storage’.

One of the things I have learned about IVF – and all sin for that matter – is how self-serving it is of the parents. “Until we are ready to use them” – children are not to be used; they are to be loved!

Please click on today’s title to view the Post article in full. This is an example of what the following article calls “the devil…manipulating the very act of creation”:

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2010 ( - “Satan is normally ‘hidden’ … but nowadays he is walking tall in powerful structures of sin like abortion, pornography, sex slavery, rapacious greed and terrorism,” writes pro-life leader, Catholic priest and exorcist Reverend Thomas J. Euteneuer in his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant.

The devil, says the President of Human Life International, “flexes his muscles” with “pernicious ideologies like radical feminism and ‘pro-choice’ extremism, the militant homosexual movement and the aggressive mass media which is the ministry of propaganda for Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.”

Father Euteneuer has conducted exorcisms in several dioceses around the United States and spoken to thousands of people on the subject.
In the newly released book, Fr. Euteneuer warns: “Never in all of history have we seen evil promoted so effectively and the true good so roundly mocked and rejected as in this age of extreme technological prowess.” He explains, “the difference between the modern world and past generations is that Satan has a greater ability to use groups and institutions for increasing his wicked reach into human life and society.”

Far from hidden, suggests the exorcist, “Nowadays, objective evil is displayed out in the open air with impunity, celebrated in the public forum and strategized in plush board rooms.”

Fr. Euteneuer presents the case that “the devil's spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have no choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls.”

“The devil now,” he warns, “arrogates to himself the right to control the totality of human existence even in so-called free societies: from manipulating the very act of creation (in vitro fertilization, cloning, Human Genome); to the authority over life and death (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia); to the definition of human sexuality and marriage (birth control, divorce, homosexual unions); to the very prospect of human annihilation (nuclear war, genocide and the impending New World Order). “

Along with Exorcism and the Church Militant, Father Euteneuer is also releasing Demonic Abortion, the first of two companion works. This 120-page booklet is a meditation on the evil nature of the abortion industry, from the perspective of a priest and exorcist who has been fighting in the pro-life trenches around the world for well over a decade. With a release date of July 7, 2010, Demonic Abortion is now available for pre-order.

More information about both Exorcism and the Church Militant and Demonic Abortion can be found at

Monday, July 05, 2010

"The Meaning of the Folds of the American Flag"

A friend just sent me this; very cool and rich meaning to the folding of our American flag!

The Meaning of the Folds of the American Flag

Below is the text that is recited by honor guards when folding the American flag at the funeral of America's heroes.

1. The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

2. The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

3. The third fold is made in honor and remem­brance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our coun­try.

4. The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.

5. The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

6. The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

7. The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our Republic.

8. The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

9. The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have
been molded.

10. The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

11. The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew cit­izen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12. The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glori­fies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are upper­most, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."

Sunday, July 04, 2010

14th Sunday - homily

I have been leading a Bible study with about a dozen students at the GW Newman Center this summer. The students and I have been totally into it; it’s been great. We’ve been studying the story of the Bible from the Book of Genesis through the New Testament in an 8 week series. One of the main themes has been trust in God. It’s been fascinating to see the nation of Israel either show their trust in God or not throughout the story….to see a whole nation, a body of people show trust in God. As we celebrate our independence as a country today, we can look at the United States of America and ask, ‘do we trust in God as a country?’ There are some indications that we don’t. Some Americans trust in things other than God: themselves, money, the things of the world, etc. And, a small but powerful minority wants to kick God out of our schools, courts, and public square. But, then, all we need to do to know if we trust in God as a country is look at a dollar bill. On our currency is our national motto: “In God we trust”. We do trust in God! Way to go, U.S.A.!

I don’t want us think of trust in God as just a nice thing to do or something that we should take for granted. You might be thinking, ‘of course we trust in God if we believe in Him’. It can be a great challenge to fully trust in God. And, we shouldn’t overlook the value and significance of trust in God. One of the things that God reveals to us in today’s readings is that when we trust in Him, we receive tremendous power. When we put all of our trust in God, we have power that is stronger than anything in the world.

In the first reading, the Israelites’ trust in God is put to the test. They have just returned from being exiled from Israel for 50 years. They come back to find that their cities, lands, and homes are ruined. They have nothing. They are totally bummed out…totally depressed. Through the prophet Isaiah, God encourages them and invites them to trust in Him. He says that they will prosper and Jerusalem will be a mother to them. They will flourish like the grass. Better days are ahead. One of the key lines is “God’s power will be known to his servants”. At this point, they have nothing; if they trust in God, they will have great power.

This point is brought out in the Gospel. Jesus goes out of his way to say that the 72 disciples he sends out should have nothing: “no money bag, no sack, no sandals”. Again, the underlying point is that all they need is trust in God. And, when they return, they express that they have great power: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us”. They can drive out demons! God gives great power to those who put their trust in Him.

This scene is significant in understanding God’s power being known through his servants who trust in Him. At that time, the Jewish thought was that there were 72 nations in the world. So, Christ sends out 72 disciples which symbolically represents all of the nations. Later, he would really send out disciples to all the nations of the world, including the United States of America. When we look at the mission of the Church over the past 2000 years, we see the power of God made known to and through His servants! The harvest has been the whole world, and the laborers have been those who have fully trusted in Him. God has revealed His power in spreading the message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth through His servants.

St. Paul helps to name the power we receive when we trust in God: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”. When we talk about Grace, we talk about a share in God’s life. It is God’s power, strength, love, and life. We primarily receive His Grace through His sacraments. Grace is powerful stuff, especially for those who have little or nothing else!

I would like to end with an example of someone in our modern world who exemplifies full trust in God and the power that goes with it: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. We know the story of Mother Teresa: she fully trusted in God and worked with the poorest of the poor. What a lot of people don’t know is that she and her sisters began every day by participating in Holy Mass. They had Mass way early (like 6 am) before serving the poor. Mother Teresa said that if she didn’t receive the Eucharist every day, she wouldn’t have lasted more than a week doing the work she did. She recognized the power of the Grace of the Eucharist. She had great power every day. This is all based in her trust in God. God invites all of us to share in His power. He invites all of us to fully trust in Him. Through the Grace of this Eucharist, may we as a body of Americans and as individuals live out our national motto: in God we trust.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Skydiving priest!

Check out a video that a friend sent me of a French priest who has jumped out of an airplane over 1,000 times. It is way cool! Kind of makes me want to try it...well, maybe not. To see the video, please click on today's title.