Friday, December 23, 2011

“The Porn Post”

A GW Catholic who is a former grad student but still connected with the Newman Center runs her own blog. She sent me the link to a post she made earlier in the month that has drawn a big crowd to her site. It is quite long but very good. Excerpts of “The Porn Post” are below. To view the full post, please click on today’s title.

The Porn Post

…To address why women find porn a bit lame and not arousing: this is probably because women, in general, crave more of an emotional connection with people. Porn does not give emotional connections, but makes up really weird (and sometimes awkward) scenarios where mind-blowing sex just happens to occur with random strangers. Women, in general, do not sit around waiting for the UPS guy hoping to have pornographic sex with him. They wait for the UPS guy to deliver the latest clothing item they ordered off the internet, sign their name on the tracking device, and send him off with a polite smile. Even if the UPS guy has a nice body and a flirty grin, he is not arousing in that way because we ladies don't build an emotional connection in this 30 second encounter. Sex should not and cannot be made into a purely physical act, forgetting about the emotional union that is formed.

Secondly, the fact that Jake (whose words are in italics below-FG) just brushes off the fact that some of his gal pals (I hope they find a new guy friend now!) find porn disgusting, exploitative, and potentially harmful to the relationship is worrisome. But then again, I guess men statistically value beer, sports, and porn over the women in their lives. If porn offended their can of beer, I'm sure that would be an entirely different story!

Women's biggest question when it comes to their guys' porn consumption: Does he want me to do that? Simple answer: No.

Good to know. But why? Jake's friend "Faisal" answers the question for us:

I wouldn't want my girlfriend to act like that in bed. It's not how I like to think of someone I love…

It seems that Jake has convinced the female editors of Glamour that no harm is done by allowing men to love their porn. Ladies, don't let him convince you. This may only be the published opinion of 102 men and their female editors, but I can guarantee that many of the 137,999,898 men in America also find porn to be a normal practice. While it can be difficult to find accurate statistics on this subject (because, well, it is shameful to admit that you watch porn, as Jake points out), it was cited in 2006 that approximately 70% of men between the ages of 18 and 34 had viewed porn in the last month. 10% of adults admitted to internet sex addiction, and this has definitely impacted marriages:

"At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago."

Let's follow the money, too. The most recent financial statistics are from 2006, and I can only imagine how they have grown in the past five years. Worldwide, the porn industry rakes in $97 billion worldwide, with $13.3 billion coming from the U.S. The porn revenue in the U.S. alone exceeded the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC at this time, and it was even larger than the combined monies from professional football, baseball, and basketball franchises. It is clear from the money that porn has become a major part of the entertainment industry.

Ladies, we like to think that the good, Christian men in our lives aren't a part of these statistics, but unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Talk to any priest or religious leader, and they'll tell you that sexual deviances (pornography, masturbation, pre-marital sex, etc.) are what they hear about more than any other struggle. Julie wrote a great piece about how important it is to stand by the men in our lives, encouraging and praying for them in their struggles against pornography. For anyone who is struggling with pornography addiction, or who is interested in learning more about it from a spiritual and physiological level, I really encourage you to listen to Matthew Frad discuss how to break free from pornography here and here.

We have to stand against pornography, together. Even when people, like Jake and Glamour magazine, try to convince us otherwise, it doesn't change the truth that porn goes against our very nature. It's time that we re-prioritize the things in our lives, putting the relationships that truly fulfill us above the disordered and artificial ones that do not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Newman Center video: Fall 2011

Thanks to Kara Dunford for putting together this excellent video of the Fall 2011 of GW Catholics at the Newman Center!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Adoration is where I find myself and where I lose myself" - Patty Silva

Check out a video from featuring our very own Patty Silva, a sophomore GW Catholic, talking about the Holy Eucharist and Adoration.  Of course, I am biased toward Patty and anything that is pro-Eucharist, but this pretty much blew my mind.   Check out the video by clicking on today's title and send it your friends.  Thank you for your witness and insights, Patty!

Monday, December 19, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent - homily

If we have studied history, then we are familiar with and probably fascinated by dynasties. Dynasties are families which have had long reigns – hundreds or thousands of years – in a particular country. Dynasties have mainly been in Africa, Asia, and Europe. In the United States, our experience with dynasties is rather limited…there was a TV show called “Dynasty” back in the 80s, but that’s about it! Sports fans in the US have had limited experience with dynasties also, but the few “dynasties” that have occurred lasted only about five to ten years. Some family dynasties in history have lasted two to three thousand years!

The word dynasty can also mean “house”; for example, “house of Windsor”. It can be an imperial or royal house and depends on the title of the ruler. This is our entry point to today’s first reading (2 Samuel 7). King David wonders aloud to Nathan about building a house for God. Here, the word house means “temple”. God hears this and responds to David through Nathan by saying that He will build a house for David. But, God uses the word house to mean “dynasty”. The Lord will build a dynasty for David. “The Lord will establish a house for you…Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever…your throne will stand firm forever”. This dynasty will be different from all others because it will be forever. As great as some dynasties have been, they are permanent at best (most have ended already). This one, however, has a starting point, but no ending point.

David’s dynasty becomes eternal when God raises up an “heir” to David’s throne. The Lord says that He “will be a father to (the heir) and he will be a son to me”. This is the entry point to our Gospel today (Luke 1:26-38). We hear about the conception of the heir. The heir is conceived through Mary who is betrothed to Joseph of the “house of David”. Joseph is of the dynasty of David. Jesus is conceived and born into the house of David…the family of David…the dynasty of David. The angel Gabriel announces who this child will be at that he is the heir to David’s throne who will make the dynasty eternal: “you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end”.

Mary heard all of this and she most likely knew what it meant. She was a faithful Jewish teenager who knew her Scripture; keep in mind she was between 14-16 years old at the time of the Annunciation. She knew about the heir to David’s throne through 2 Samuel, the Psalms, and elsewhere in the Old Covenant. She heard how Gabriel spoke of the child. She knew the enormity of the situation. This is a lot for anyone to process, much less a teenager! And, yet, Mary said yes! She said yes to bringing the Son of God into the world. She said yes to bringing the Christ into the world. She said yes to bringing the heir to David’s throne into the world. She said yes to help make David’s dynasty stand firm forever. And, through her yes, we are invited to participate in this eternal dynasty.

Two points about this incredible event. The first is that through Mary’s yes we become “coheirs” to David’s eternal dynasty. We hear this word in the second Eucharistic Prayer of the New Translation of the Mass – “coheirs to eternal life”. This means that what God said about the heir in 2 Samuel refers to us! We share in that announcement and in the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel. We share in all of the power and majesty of the heir who is Christ Jesus. He transcends all other rulers and kings; he is the longest reigning king in history. In Christ, we have a share in his eternal reign!

The second point is that all of this comes about through Mary’s yes. Through Mary’s yes, the heir is born and we are given a share in his eternal dynasty. Thank God for Mary! All that we have in Christ is through Mary. All that we celebrate at Christmas comes about through Mary. All that we celebrate at Mass and in the Eucharist is through Mary. It is through her that the heir to David’s throne is raised up and we are raised up to be coheirs to eternal life.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"There is no heart that cannot be changed by truth"

Here are excerpts from an article by Kristen Walker at about her heroic conversion story - Truth converted her heart to not only be pro-life but also Roman Catholic!  Her heart was open to Truth, so it was changed by Truth.  To view the full article, please click on today's title.

How One Conversation Turned Me Into a Pro-Life Advocate

In several previous articles for Live Action, I have alluded to the fact that I used to be pro-abortion, and fairly recently. The conversation that convinced me that abortion was wrong occurred in the fall of 2006

Before that day, I would have told anyone who asked that I was pro-choice. I was never involved in activism, unless you call giving the middle finger to pro-life protesters as I drove by abortion clinics “activism.” In fact, I never really gave abortion much thought. But in political debates — in which I frequently engaged — one of the accusations I liked to hurl at the opposition was that they were “anti-choice.”

…I had a friend. I’ll call her Sadie. She was a fellow rebel with me in high school and up through our early 20s. In the past couple years, we had fallen out of touch. She had converted and married a Catholic and had two babies. She’d become a sort of Betty Crocker, a model suburban housewife, albeit one who retained a marked tendency to listen to The Cure and smoke cloves.

Anyway, Sadie and I reconnected somehow, and she asked if I wanted to come spend the night. Her husband was overseas with the Army, so we could put the kids to bed and stay up all night talking like we did back in high school. I said sure, and she said she’d come by to pick me up.

I knew Sadie had become a Catholic Army wife, and I was prepared for the mini-van, the car seats, and the munchkins, but not for the pro-life bumper stickers.

Later that night, after the kids were in bed and I had imbibed some Jack Daniels and whooped her butt at Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, I said to Sadie, “What’s with the pro-life bumper stickers? I mean, come on. I know you’re Catholic and all, but haven’t you gone a little bit overboard?”

Sadie replied with something I had not known. She told me she’d always been pro-life.

“I thought you were a feminist,” I said.

She answered, “I am.”

“Then how can you not support a woman’s right to choose?”

I don’t remember exactly how Sadie walked me through the pro-life argument. I know what she didn’t do, and that’s invoke religion or God in any way. At the time I would have described myself as an agnostic pantheist, so I would have immediately rejected such language.

After about an hour of back and forth, I knew I was had. I couldn’t argue with her anymore. Every talking point I had, she had shredded with logic and knowledge. But I was still wavering.

During the course of our conversation, she kept alluding to photos and what a large part they played in helping someone understand what abortion is. Finally — and this is important — I asked to see them.

She showed them to me, and I had a completely different reaction than the one I’d had when confronted with the accidental website, or protesters bearing signs. My reaction before had not been horror at the dead baby, but anger at the pro-lifer for making me look at it. I thought it was “disrespectful of the dead,” and somehow glossed over how disrespectful it was to cause that death.

But this time, I had just had my mind and heart opened. I had slowly over the course of an hour been made to hear the truth, and now I was ready to see it.

I looked at the photos, and I had a visceral reaction. No words formed. But something inside me, something simple and human, said, “That is not okay.” I knew that what I was looking at was a dead human being. I knew it.

At that moment, I was pro-life.

I kept saying, “You just made me pro-life!” I kept repeating it the next morning as well, awed by the change in me and how it had happened. It was completely unexpected, and more than a little unwelcome.

I went home and got on the computer and went immediately to pro-choice websites hoping to be unconvinced. Reality was setting in, and with it the understanding that a pro-life viewpoint was not compatible with my lifestyle, my friends, my political and religious beliefs, or my irreverent sense of humor. I felt a mild sense of panic, because if abortion was what I unfortunately now believed it was, then it was not only wrong, it was reprehensible. It was not just something I was going to disagree with, it was something I was going to have to fight.

The pro-choice websites couldn’t unconvince me of the wrongness of abortion, and the scientific information I found only made things worse. More than anything, I wanted to find those photos discredited as fakes or misleading, but instead I found more photos, and plenty of authentication. I found a video in which a former abortionist turned pro-life activist, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, handled an aborted fetus and described it to the viewer. I watched and wept.

I started to feel duped, and a little angry. I felt lied to by the pro-choice side. I felt the terminology they used, like “clump of cells,” was misleading. I knew the information my friends had gotten in abortion clinics, and I knew now that it was patently false.

At the time I was blogging on MySpace — remember MySpace? — and had a lot of readers. I posted about my newfound viewpoint with trepidation, and people went a little wild. Over the course of the next year, I would lose a few dear friends over this issue and similar ones. Other people have remained friends with me, but it’s never quite been the same. The issue is so divisive that it really can make or break friendships, I’ve learned, especially when you do what I did and become an overnight activist.

You see, I was committed to a belief in human rights before I became pro-life, and I understood more and more as time went on that abortion is the ultimate human rights violation. It violates the most basic right — the right to life — for the most innocent and helpless among us — the unborn baby. It is the ultimate in the kind of “might makes right” thinking people condemn when it comes to wars, but embrace when it comes to a mother’s tyranny over her pre-born child.

The night I learned that abortion was wrong, I would have told you I was not only not a Christian, but that I disliked and distrusted Christianity. Less than a year later, I was confirmed in the Catholic Church. This is not to say the pro-life philosophy leads one to religion necessarily. In fact, I know pro-lifers of every political and religious persuasion and sexual orientation. But for me personally, I believe God used this issue to open my heart and start me down a path that I never expected to walk.

In many ways, Sadie is a completely different person than on the night we had that conversation, and so am I. But we are still good friends, and we are both still pro-life. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for having the courage to stand up for life in the face of someone who was pretty direct and challenging (that would be me), and the knowledge and wisdom to approach the issue from a secular, scientific point of view.

I am living proof of several things:

First, that it is essential for the pro-life apologist to be ready to tailor the argument to the person.

Second, that graphic images can absolutely change hearts when used correctly.

And third… Well…

You know that friend you have that you don’t even bother mentioning abortion to? The one who is so prickly and such a smarty-pants that you feel like you’d be shot down if you even tried explaining the pro-life viewpoint? I was that friend. And look at me now.

There is no heart that cannot be changed by truth.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The digital story of the Nativity

I posted this video last year but it's worth seeing again. It's a funny depiction of the Nativity story which has been enormously popular on the internet and youtube (over 10 million views). I spotted one theological error in the story which is rather subtle. See if you can find it; the answer is in my post on 12/23/10.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homily - 3rd Sunday of Advent

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Confession this Sunday night: "An absolute miracle of freedom"

As we have been advertizing, we will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Sunday night at St Stephen's Church for GW Catholics after the 7:30 pm Mass.  Two priests will join me in offering individual confessions in the Church. 

If you didn't receive a "Guide to Confession", we will have copies on hand.  Also, you can click on today's title for a good examination of conscience.

Here's an excellent video to get us all ready for this "absolute miracle of freedom":

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"Giving people advice on how to get to Heaven" - GW Catholic

This week, one of our student leaders told the story of how she did some evangelizing in one of her classes. Btw, this is not the first time that a GW Catholic has courageously spoken up in class to either defend the Church or to clarify a teaching or both. I’ve heard of several instances of GW professors attacking the Church in class – the latest being a prof who stopped a class on the New Testament to ask, “For any Catholics here, where is the teaching on ‘Purgatory’ in the Bible?” (to which I would have replied, “Maccabees, Paul’s letters, Peter’s letters…and, professor, where does it say in the Bible that we only follow what’s in the Bible?"). Speaking of which, a couple years ago, a GW Catholic freshman brought in a pamphlet from the Newman Center on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory and shared the main points from it out loud with her class…! The Catholic professor (there are some good profs here) told me about it and was very impressed…apparently, so were the other students in the class.

So, in this student leader’s class, the discussion focused on St. Augustine. The point was raised that St. Augustine was critical of people (e.g., heretics). And, the question was then posed, how can he be a man of love and a saint if he is critical of people. That’s when the leader raised her hand and said some incredible things. Now, keep in mind that this student starting coming around Newman last year, and admits it was only for the “free food”. She has had quite a year, to say the least. She now comes for more substantial food – spiritual food – and leads others to do so.

The first thing she said was that St. Augustine was “giving people advice on how to get to Heaven”. Whoa, great line. She defended him as a teacher who was trying to help people know and live the Truth. I heard her amazing line and was visibly moved by it. Another student witnessed my reaction and said, “there’s more”. The student then laid out her main teaching to the class which I will paraphrase. She said that to be a person of love means to correct people when you notice something wrong in what they are saying or doing. She gave the example of someone who has a piece of food in their teeth which is visible to others. If you love the person, then you will tell him or her about it. If you love someone, she proclaimed, then you will tell them when they are in the wrong. Bravo!

Bravo for many reasons, the first of which is the courage to say all of this in a college classroom in front of peers. Also, what she said is solid Catholic teaching about fraternal correction based in what Christ taught (Mt 18:15-17). It comes under the heading of the “works of mercy” as defined by the Church:

Corporal works of mercy:

• To feed the hungry;
• To give drink to the thirsty;
• To clothe the naked;
• To harbour the harbourless;
• To visit the sick;
• To ransom the captive;
• To bury the dead.

Spiritual works of mercy:

• To instruct the ignorant;
• To counsel the doubtful;
• To admonish sinners;
• To bear wrongs patiently;
• To forgive offences willingly;
• To comfort the afflicted;
• To pray for the living and the dead.

So, she not only defended St. Augustine correctly, she defended love and mercy. She performed a spiritual work of mercy in her class by instructing others!

A plea to all GW Catholics based on all of this – if a friend of yours is in the wrong about something, speak to him or her directly about it. Speak the truth in love to them – to their face and not behind their backs. It is the adult thing to do. It is the Christian thing to do. As Jesus says, if he or she won’t listen to you, then bring it to the Church. Love calls you to speak to them about it. Mercy calls you to speak to them about it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

St. Nicholas = Santa Claus

Did you know that the legend of Santa Claus is based on the true life of St. Nicholas? Today, the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Nicholas, a bishop of the early Church.  The article below from helps to make the connection with our Christmas custom of gift-giving in briefly telling the story of this famous saint.

The absence of the “hard facts” of history is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of saints, as the devotion to St. Nicholas shows. Both the Eastern and Western Churches honor him, and it is claimed that, after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists. And yet, historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor.

As with many of the saints, however, we are able to capture the relationship which Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have had for him—an admiration expressed in the colorful stories which have been told and retold through the centuries.

Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast. In the English-speaking countries, St. Nicholas became, by a twist of the tongue, Santa Claus—further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this holy bishop.


The critical eye of modern history makes us take a deeper look at the legends surrounding St. Nicholas. But perhaps we can utilize the lesson taught by his legendary charity, look deeper at our approach to material goods in the Christmas season and seek ways to extend our sharing to those in real need.


“In order to be able to consult more suitably the welfare of the faithful according to the condition of each one, a bishop should strive to become duly acquainted with their needs in the social circumstances in which they live.... He should manifest his concern for all, no matter what their age, condition, or nationality, be they natives, strangers, or foreigners” (Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office, 16).

Monday, December 05, 2011

Homily - 2nd Sunday of Advent

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice

Friday, December 02, 2011

Andrea Bocelli tells a "little story" about abortion

I was talking with friends last week who told me the story of Andrea Bocelli. Bocelli is a famous Italian tenor, multi-instrumentalist, and classical artist. He has recorded many classical and pop albums and operas, selling over 70 million copies worldwide. He is the biggest selling solo artist of classical music ever and widely regarded as the most popular Italian and classical singer in the world.

The story they told me, though, was about the beginning of his life which blew me away. Then, a few days later, I saw on Facebook that a GW Catholic had posted a video about Andrea’s incredible life. I will let Andrea tell his story on the video below. Btw, the song at the end says:

“I want to live like this with the sun on my face, and I sing happily, gracefully. I want to live like this, with the air of the mountains, because this enchantment doesn't cost anything.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blessed John Paul II Seminary video

Please check out the following video from the Archdiocese of Washington on its new seminary, Blessed John Paul II.  Shout-out to Andrew Buonopane, GWU '11, who is one of the seminarians at the new house!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Religious map of the U.S.

A friend sent me a map which gives the percentage of Christians and all faiths in each state.  Very cool.  Click on today's title for the map and see the different religions by state and elsewhere by holding cursor over a state.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Homily - 1st Sunday of Advent

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homily - Solemnity of Christ the King

Earlier this week, I was watching a news talk show. A senator from the "Super Committee" was asked what he really wanted in the whole budget and deficit discussion. He said, "If I was king", and then listed a bunch of things he would do. We see that a king has absolute power and authority in his nation. If he deems X, Y, and Z to be right and just, then X, Y, and Z happen. That's the kind of power a king has.

When we come to this feast of Christ the King, we understand that Christ is the king of not just one nation, but all nations! He is the King of the Universe. He has power over all things..."every sovereignty and every authority and power". That's the kind of power that Christ the King has.

If we look at the life of Christ, there is one event that shows us that he has power over all things. I was just talking with students about this on a few different occasions this past week. It is the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ shows us that he has power over all things...even death. His body had died...and came back to life! He conquered death! No one else in history has had power over death. Christ wins victory over all things!

If we look at the news on the TV or Internet, we might wonder if Christ is really winning. It would seem that death is winning over life. We who defend the culture of life might be asking when do we see victory of the culture of death. When, Lord? It may not be until the end times. The story (of life) ends with good winning over evil. That, we know. We hear this in today's second reading. At the end of the world, the Final Judgment, Christ will "put all his enemies under his feet". He will give back to the Father all that the Father gave him in ruling as King of the Universe.

In our own lives, Christ has power over all things. Many of you students are stressing about going home this week for Thanksgiving...going home to problems in the family, with friends or ex's, etc. Turn to Christ the King and believe in his power. Years ago, just before I was ordained a deacon, we had some bad stuff going on in my (extended) family. During the ordination, I prayed really hard for peace and reconciliation in my family. It was heavy duty stuff going on, so I implored heavy duty Grace. Within a week, there was peace and reconciliation in my family.

He has power over all things and situations! He can win victory over fear, resentments, hatred, sinful habits, whatever. Pray to Christ the King on your flight home or on your way to Thanksgiving dinner for him to help you. Pray that he will bring you victory and that good will win over evil in your lives.

Finally, this Thursday we will give thanks as a country. Every day should be Thanksgiving Day! Studies show that people who give thanks regularly are the happiest and healthiest people in the world. When we come to Mass, we give thanks to God. The word "Eucharist" literally means "thanksgiving". We give thanks for all our blessings, especially the Eucharist and Christ's death on the Cross for us. May each one of give thanks a few times a day, not just on Thursday, but every day this week for all the blessings God has bestowed upon us.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Sexual Healing"

Check...this...out.  A great video! Thanks for the two students who recommended it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"God is like..."

A friend sent me the following.  It reveals how some fifth graders can creatively express what God is like with the help of common products and companies.  It's a great point to consider: in promoting the good qualities of their products, marketers and advertizers are tapping into the things of God (on a wide but basic level).  Brilliant, kids!

A fifth grade teacher in a Christian school asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in 20 ways to communicate ideas about God.

Here are some of the results: scroll down.

God is like. . .
He works miracles.

God is like. . .
He's got a better idea.

God is like. . .
He's the real thing.

God is like. . .
He cares enough to send His very best.

God is like. . .
He gets the stains out others leave behind.

God is like. . .
He brings good things to life.

God is like. . .
He has everything.

God is like. . .
Try Him, you'll like Him

God is like. . .
You can't see Him, but you know He's there.

God is like. . .
He's ready when you are.

God is like. . .
You're in good hands with Him.

God is like. . .
He holds through all kinds of weather.

God is like. . .
Aren't you glad you have Him? Don't you wish everybody did?

God is like. . ..
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor ice will keep Him from His appointed destination.

God is like. . .
The heart beat of America.

God is like. . .
Good to the very last drop.

God is like. . .
He is the quicker picker upper. . .Can handle the tough jobs. . .
And He won't fall apart on you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homily - 33rd Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thoughts on Penn State

The first thing to say about the news coming out of Penn State University this week is that we don’t know for sure what happened. All that we have been hearing has been surrounding allegations that have not been proven in a court of law. But, those at the university who are looking at the evidence and testimony to this point are making decisions which point to the allegations being true. There has to be much credible evidence to them that something seriously wrong did, in fact, occur in order for them to fire the university president as well as the long-time, legendary football coach, Joe Paterno. Anyone who knows how important Paterno is to Penn State knows that this is a knockout punch to the football program and maybe to the university itself. So, we can deduce from the decisions of the university’s board of trustees that the evidence points to the allegations being true.

If what we have been hearing is true, then the first thoughts are with the children (now young adults) who were victims of attacks by a pedophile. It’s unspeakable and unthinkable what they have gone through. Many of the heinous and criminal acts go back several years when the kids were very young. They had serious wounds inflicted upon them for which they have tried to find healing. These wounds have now been reopened with all of the public attention in the past week. And, new developments, statements, actions, and future trials might bring new wounds. Our deep, deep desire is that each and every victim of these and other sexual abuses finds some healing…some light in their darkness. We pray that they find healing.

One of the most pressing questions in all of this is how did nine years (or longer) go by without anyone doing anything about this? My guess at the main answer: pride. St. Augustine once said that, “pride is the root of all sin”, and I believe it. Pride in Penn State football and pride in Joe Paterno – they have become one and the same – is the only explanation, really, for how this can happen. In normal circumstances, there is nothing wrong in taking pride in a sports team, coach, or player. For example, I am proud to be a fan of the Washington Redskins (even though we STINK!). But, pride in college football teams runs deeper than most sports team, especially at Penn State. And, if the same man is coach at a very proud program like Penn State for 46 years and achieves much success, then there will be deep pride in him. This week, many people have described the situation at Penn State as a “cult”. Of course, he can become very proud in his own mind. While I wouldn’t say that Joe Pa is a proud man in general, it appears that his pride blinded him from doing what was right in regard to the sex abuse. Pride in him blinded others in the same way. This might have all been about him from the start. In other words, they were all thinking that if the charges against one of his coaches became public, what would happen to Joe and his legacy? They might have been thinking what would happen to Penn State, but, again, I think that Joe Paterno and PSU became one and the same.

One more thought from all of this is about the morality of our society on sexuality. It’s been intriguing to see how our relativistic society agrees with our Truth-filled Church on one aspect of sex: it’s good in some situations and bad in others. The difference is that society has reduced the amount of sinful sexual acts to almost nothing while the Church has maintained her view (any sexual acts outside of marriage are immoral). So, when society condemns a sexual act like abuse and actually shows an intolerance for evil, it is profound. I have heard the words “moral” and “immoral” on the TV more in the past week than in the past year(s). I just wonder, though: has tolerance of immoral sexual acts and opposition to moral absolutes by our society contributed to the sex scandals of our times?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Homily - 32nd Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Friday, November 04, 2011

"Jesus of Nazareth, Stand-Up Comic?"

A student sent me the following article on written by Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, culture editor of America magazine, and author of “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life“ (HarperOne). It’s pretty good in offering a different side of the Gospel stories and parables. Whether or not every example is true that Jesus was being funny or ironic, the point that we have being trying to make on different occasions is made: God does have a sense of humor (He’s the one who gives us our senses of humor!):

"Jesus of Nazareth, Stand-Up Comic?"

Was Jesus the Jerry Seinfeld of his day? Not really. His ministry on earth—to announce the Kingdom of God—was more important than being a stand-up comic or poking fun at surly soup vendors. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

On the other hand, the prevailing image of Jesus as the grumpy, dour, depressed prude who spent most of his life suffering is inaccurate. When you look carefully at the Gospels, you find a man with an obvious joie de vivre, a preacher who told funny stories to make a point, a leader who gave his disciples nicknames and a former carpenter who enjoyed a good joke.

So why do we often think of Jesus as gloomy, and why do all those statues, paintings and mosaics portray him as downcast? For one thing, it’s a reflection of the historical emphasis on the Passion and Death of Jesus. For the early Christians, the fact that Jesus was arrested, tried, tortured and crucified was appalling and confusing. So the Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) took care to explain this period of Jesus’s life, at great length, to help the early Christians make sense of what transpired before the Resurrection. But as a result, those passages tended to dominate the rest of the Gospels.

Think of it this way: the time from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion represent only about a week in Jesus’s life. Most of the rest of his ministry—which lasted from one to three years–was often spent doing joyful things: sharing meals with disciples, welcoming those on the margins of society, healing the sick and preaching the “Good News.” Along the way, he showed some good humor.

Where? Well, we may not notice it because we’re too removed from it—culturally and temporally. In Jesus’s time, for example, his parables were probably not seen as just clever but, as Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., professor of New Testament of Boston College told me, “hilarious.” For people in first-century Palestine, the idea that someone with a plank of wood in his own eye would critique someone with a speck of dust in his was probably laugh-out-loud funny. “The parables were amusing in their exaggeration and hyperbole,” said Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt.

Some of Jesus’s parables are ridiculous in their exaggeration. Take the story of a rich man who gives to his servants several “talents” to keep while he is away. Some of the servants invest wisely; one not at all. It’s usually seen as a serious story about the proper use of one’s gifts in life. But we may overlook the fact that a “talent” represented 15 years of wages. And to one servant the rich man gives five—the equivalent of 75 years of wages–a ridiculous amount, which would have made listeners smile. “Jesus’s parables are witty in their surprise,” said Professor Harold Attridge of the Yale Divinity School. Elsewhere Jesus bestows on the disciple Simon a new name: “Peter” or “Rock.” While most understand this as Jesus designating Peter as the foundation of the church (which he is) another possibility is offered. Peter (Cephas, or stone, in Greek) may also refer to the character of the tough fisherman—angular, sharp, hard-edged. In other words, it functions as a nickname: “Rocky.” And when the mother of James and John, two disciples, bossily ask whether her two sons will sit at Jesus’s right hand in heaven, he demurs. Later on he gives James and John a nickname: “Boanerges,” or “Sons of Thunder.” Is this a comment on their brashness, or perhaps even, as one scholar suggested to me recently, a playful way of referring to their strong-willed mother?

There are more overt signs of Jesus’s appreciation of a sense of humor. My favorite is the story of Nathaniel in the Gospel of John. When he hears that Jesus is from Nazareth he says, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” It’s a dig at Jesus’s hometown, which was seen as a backwater. What does Jesus say in response? You would expect the grumpy Jesus to castigate Nathaniel. But he does the opposite. Jesus says, “Here is an Israelite without guile.” In other words, here’s a guy I can trust! And Nathaniel joins the apostles. It’s an indication of Jesus’s appreciation of a sense of humor.

Christians believe that Jesus was “fully human and fully divine.” And being fully human means having a sense of humor. So let’s balance things out a bit and think not only about the “Man of Sorrows” but also the “Man of Joy.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Catholic Church on Divorce

There has been much talk online and at the Newman Center about divorce because of a much publicized celebrity divorce of the past week.  I found a good online tract on divorce from the Archdiocese of Denver which is below.  Please click on today's title to view the article in full.

The Teaching of the Catholic Church on Divorce

Among Catholics, one of the most sensitive and often-avoided topics is the stinging reality of divorce and its consequences. While there must be a pastoral response to assist those parties who seek counseling when their failed marriage ends in divorce, one must never compromise the truth of Christ’s teachings for the sake of the pastoral response. The words and teachings of Jesus Christ on divorce are clear, and it is the responsibility of the Church and its pastors to safeguard, proclaim, and defend them. Let us, therefore, turn our attention to the words of Christ Himself recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

“And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one”? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.’" [1]

These words sound like a great judgment upon a civilization such as ours, where there is one divorce for every two marriages and many consequent re-marriages after such divorces. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in his radio series “Life Is Worth Living,” eloquently shows how this teaching is not just for Catholics and other Christians. Divorces, he says, go against everything man and woman were created to be.

“They are, indeed, especially wrong for Catholics,” he said. “But they are a violation of the law of God, the Natural Law of God, for everyone, whether he be Tibetan or Moslem, or a so-called Christian. Original Sin and the Deluge did not block out the divinely established order of man and woman. Conjugal love conquered both the deluge and Original Sin and survived both.”

In our article on the theology of the sacrament of marriage, we saw how humanity is part of both a natural order and a supernatural order. Because marriage is a union made by God, it is unbreakable. The Church teaches that the man and woman, who commit the rest of their lives to each other, truly become one. This is the way God intended marriage, and it is important to remember that marriage was instituted by God, not by man. When reflecting on divorce, you must ask yourself whose rules you are playing by when you agree to marry. “Certainly there are judges who will grant divorces, but how does God look upon them?” Archbishop Sheen says. “After the divorce, they are not two separate individuals as they are before the marriage. They are fragments of a joint personality, like a babe who has been cut in two. That is the way God looks upon any divorce, regardless of who the person be.”

One of the great tragedies in our modern culture is that the family is under attack from all sides. Countless movies, television shows and song lyrics depict single-parent families or do not include the parents at all. Commitment is replaced by a distorted notion of love where it is seen as OK to leave a relationship if it’s “not working out.” After all, they say, you only live once and you deserve to be happy. But the true fallout is rarely shown. Despite the reason for any divorce, the impact is almost always traumatic on all parties involved, especially children. In his concluding catechetical talk on the theology of the body on April 8, 1981, Pope John Paul II did not hesitate to use the phrase “plague of divorce” to emphasize the gravity of such an attack on the dignity of marriage.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Defines Divorce

Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other until death. Sacramental marriage is the sign of the covenant of salvation, to which divorce does incredible injury. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery. If a husband, separated from his wife, becomes involved with another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself. [2]

Furthermore, the Catechism states that divorce is immoral because “it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.” [3]

But do we really believe that? Do we believe instead that the Church is “out of touch” with relationships and needs to “get with it?” The mentality of civil society challenges the divinely revealed truth that a valid marriage is an indissoluble union between a man and a woman. The Church responds by saying: “The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. Between the baptized, ‘a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.’” [4]

Innocent Parties

The Church is also fully aware that there are innocent parties who may be “the victim” of divorce by their spouse. Such spouses are unjustly abandoned and suffer the consequences of a civil divorce and the spiritual and psychological consequences accompanying a failed marriage. Many are concerned in their consciences whether their divorces which have been forced unjustly upon them constitute a gravely sinful act. The Church responds:

“…This spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.” [5]

All Decisions Have Consequences

All decisions have consequences, and divorce is no exception. Divorce is not wrong for Catholics only, but Catholics who are divorced have deeper spiritual consequences surpassing the civil responsibilities following civil divorce. It is critical for all who have undergone a civil divorce to understand that the Church still recognizes the validity of a marriage, even if it is a dissolved union at the civil level; for marriage is first and foremost a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman. The words of Jesus Christ, echoed in the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, remain unambiguous:

“Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ—‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’ [6]--the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence. [7]

“The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith .” [8]

The Church teaches that the separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases. The Catechism states: “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.” [9]

Showing Sensitivity to the Divorced

In The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.1651), the Church stresses that the community of the faithful should exercise a sensitivity to the divorced through works of charity.

Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons:

They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace. [10]

Monday, October 31, 2011

Homily - 31st Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Abortion hurts women

One GW Catholic started an online discussion about how to talk to Planned Parenthood supporters who have popped up consistently on or around campus trying to get support from passer-bys. Here’s what she wrote, “so I'm walking to class today and the Planned Parenthood people were out canvassing, one goes ‘Hi do you have a moment and want to help save Planned Parenthood?" I said "Sorry I'm late to class and I'm prolife".

In the discussion, she asked other pro-lifers for good, quick replies as they passed by. One of our classiest (she was called this by the others) students said that she always tells them that she will pray for them. That’s amazing, but I’m not sure that always goes over real well with them!

Another GW Catholic posted the following article which gives three simple points to make to Planned Parenthood advocates. It comes from and is pretty good. It helps make the point that I would make to them: abortion hurts women. While it’s a tragic reality, it’s probably the best argument currently in the debate. The article below touches on the physical and emotional harm abortion does to women. The link it offers for the abortion/breast cancer connection is very technical and scientific. Please click on today’s title for a more general site about how abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.

The article below suggests that money is the driving force behind the pro-abortion movement. It’s a big force, no doubt. But, the fact that 95% of all abortions are chosen as a means of birth control present other major factors that might be just as potent or even more so: lifestyle, freedom (or more accurately, license), and power. I might flush these out a bit more in a future post.

Here then, are three arguments to make in defense of women, and thus against abortion.

1. Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. This truth, evidenced in prestigious, peer-reviewed cancer-research journals is a very important truth to disseminate. Why? Because the anti-breast-cancer movement – in its walks, marches, fun-runs, pink ribbons, shirts – is one of the most pro-woman movements in existence. Breast cancer is a modern plague on the women of our society, and abortion is augmenting its power. To support women – one assumes – is to be against that one disease that so effects women, to stand strongly against the cancer that has caused such tragedy in the lives of our sisters. To be pro-abortion and simultaneously set against breast cancer is to say that the lack of a child is worth the risk of terminal illness. I don’t claim that this position cannot be maintained – perhaps one could weigh the various costs of feeding a baby versus having chemotherapy treatment. No, I simply claim that this position chips away at the pro-choice foundation, that their’s is a movement in defense of the woman.

2. Abortion makes women sad. I do not mean that in some vague way. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, synthesizing data from 1995 to 2009, shows that “women who had undergone an abortion had an 81% increased risk of mental health problems.”

From the European Journal of Public Health 2005: Researchers examining deaths among the entire population of women in Finland found that those who had abortions had a 3.5 times higher death rate from suicide, accidents, or homicides in the following year. Suicide rates among aborting women were six times higher compared to women who gave birth and two times higher compared to women who miscarried.

Have you ever brought up the issue of abortion, not knowing some one has experienced it? Now there’s a heartbreaking situation, akin to speaking flippantly about the death of a family member to someone who has experienced such a loss. I can only speak from experience: Away flies the tolerant “we all have our beliefs, you your own, and me mine” position. Instead, post-abortion women react violently, shakily, and tearfully, full of anger, or guilt, or both. If abortion makes women sad, which seems to be readily apparent, then once again, the pro-choice movement is placed in the awkward position of claiming to have the health of women as their highest priority, while attempting to increase the availability of that-which-makes-women-sad.

A study that has never been carried out: Suicide rates in mothers who were strongly considering abortion, but chose life. Why not? Probably because it would be a very boring study, with lots of not-depressed mothers being not-depressed.

3. There are other women in existence! And no, I’m not talking about the fact that most children aborted are girls, though it is an interesting question to ask: When, exactly, do women’s rights begin? I’m talking about mothers who want to adopt! A 2008 study by National Center for Health Statistics found that 33.1% of women have at some point considered adoption. Of that number 4.9% were currently seeking adoptions. That’s 901,000 women looking for babies. By most recent statistics, there are approximately 129,000 children seeking adoption. Now I’m no mathematician, but that’s 772,000 women who want to adopt a child, but will not. It seems that if we killed less of our children, this would not be a problem. Shoot, even if we take the women who were currently seeking adoptions AND had already begun taking steps – 560,000 – there aren’t enough children to go around.

Why, oh why, do we put women at risk of cancer, depression, and in the terrifying position of violence against their own children, when there are so many women looking for children to adopt? It seems obvious that between hurting one woman and helping two, the most pro-woman action one could take would be to counsel a woman to consider adoption. The most pro-woman action one might take would be to rapidly reduce abortions in America, and thereby increase adoptions.

Though I understand why there exists the rather insane idea that the better choice for all women would be an abortion: Abortion brings in cash. Who is going to pay for all those Planned Parenthood ‘don’t-defund-us’ campaigns if everyone’s putting their children up for adoption?...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homily - 30th Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"The largest genocide our world has ever seen"

One of our former grad students runs her own blog (click on today's post to view the blog). She sent me the following post which is very well written and thought-provoking:

"The largest genocide our world has ever seen"

I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently with a friend who was visiting from home. This is the second time I've been there, and for those of you who have been to the museum know that it is a profound experience no matter how many times you see the exhibits.

The museum is very well done, as it highlights not only the Hitler and Nazi regime, but also the factors that led to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. There is also currently a special exhibit on Genocide, and how it is still happening today.

This happened to be the first exhibit that I walked through while I waited for my turn to go through the main permanent exhibition. While I was there, I just had the greatest sense of unease. It is awful that the genocides such as those in Rwanda and Darfur have happened and are continuing to happen. Why can't our world learn that this is not right? But the greatest sense of unease hit me when I sat down to watch a film detailing Hitler's rise to power. In this film, they defined genocide as the systematic murdering of large groups of people deemed inferior.

Systematic... done or acting according to a fixed plan or methodical system.
Murdering... the wrongful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
Inferior... a person lower than another in rank, status, or ability.

This definition of genocide is when it hit me, when I realized why I was feeling such unease in my heart. It was because we are committing the greatest act of genocide today in our world, and the worse part is that it is a legal and systematic act that ends the lives of millions of unborn children each year.

In the pro-life circles, it is not anything new to compare abortion to genocide and the Holocaust. However, I think my sense of unease came from the fact that the museum kept portraying all the defining qualities of genocide - all of which can blatantly be applied to abortion - but yet there wasn't even a mention of abortion whatsoever. Not even in the exhibit highlighting the atrocities in the genocides of our generation. There was an area where you could make a pledge to take action against the atrocities of genocide around the world, and I wrote that I will "continue praying for the respect, dignity, and protection of all human persons." This, ultimately, is what it comes down to. A lack of recognition and respect for the dignity of human life - even human lives that are different from ours, those lives that seem to be "inferior" to our "superior" intellectual and physical abilities.

As I spent hours walking through the exhibits, I was continuously struck by the similarities between the atrocities committed against the oppressed, mostly the Jews, during the Holocaust and the unborn children of the world today.

There was a section that highlighted the Nazi's T-4 euthanasia program, which shed light on the atrocities committed against men, women, and children with disabilities. They were used as experiments, and then exterminated because they were deemed inferior. I don't think there are many people that could see these atrocities and not see how wrong these acts were.

Yet, we are doing this today. It has been estimated that 90% of babies with down syndrome are aborted. This statistic doesn't even include the number of aborted children who test positive for other disabilities in the womb. I really would like to know how this is different from what the Nazis did during the Holocaust. How is almost completely wiping out children with different intellectual and physical abilities than the average person any different from the Nazi plan for euthanasia and extermination of those deemed inferior?

Of course, it doesn't end there. We all know from our history textbooks that Hitler and the Nazis set out to make the "inferior" races obsolete. 6 million Jews were exterminated because they were inferior, but that's not all. I think the numbers speak for themselves:

(The sources that Wikipedia used are listed on the main article thread.)

This toll doesn't really account for those that publicly and politically opposed the Nazis, although many of those can be accounted for in some of the above numbers. I am especially thinking about the many Catholic priests and laypeople who were martyred for standing up for the dignity of the Jews and others who were murdered.

Of course, the numbers differ depending on what source you use, but it must be recognized that none of these values are entirely accurate. How can one possibly track that many deaths? However, all in all, estimates for the total death toll from the Nazi genocide come to around 17-26 million individual lives lost from 1933-1945, or an average of 1.3-2 million deaths per year.

In comparison, there have been multiple statistical analyses tracking the number of abortions since 1973. An analysis in 2010 showed that 52 million abortions have been performed since Roe v. Wade legalized abortions in the United States, an average of 1.8 million abortions per year. How on earth can some humans be so blind as to not see that abortion has become our modern day Holocaust?

When we expand this to include the concept of inferiority, all you have to do is look at the numbers to see that abortion targets minorities. If looking at a map to see where Planned Parenthood builds most of their clinics isn't enough to notice this trend, you can also look at the statistics. Abortions are performed on more than 3 times as many minority children as it is on white children. From the census data in 2000, African-American women comprised 12.3% of the female population but accounted for 36.4% of the abortions in America in 2006. Hispanic women accounted for 25% of abortions in 2008, while they only made up about 12.5% of the female population in 2000. Meanwhile, 69% of America's female population check the "non-Hispanic, white" box on the census, but only account for 36% of all U.S. abortions. From 1973-2001, abortion alone has claimed more than 2.5 times as many African-American lives as the next five leading causes of death combined. Between Roe v. Wade and now, about 30% of the African-American population has been lost to abortion.

It is time for America to WAKE UP! We claim to be the heroes of defending freedom and protecting those who can't protect themselves, yet we are the leader in the largest genocide our world has ever seen. Yes, the latest action to try to defund Planned Parenthood is a start, but we have to go deeper than that. We have to appeal to the hearts of Americans. We can't do that with facts and numbers and percentages, but only by showing the reality of recognizing abortion as genocide. It can start with looking at the aftermath of the Holocaust that people still deal with today, but it ultimately has to come from a conversion of the American mindset and heart.

Where can we find the steadfast leaders we need to undertake this challenge?

The Catholic Church. Today. Yesterday. Every day.

One of the things that gave me the most hope as I walked through the Holocaust exhibit was that the Catholic Church was recognized as being the only one who consistently opposed Nazi programs of sterilization, experimentation, and extermination of the "inferior" races (despite the fact that many claim the leaders of the Church either ignored the Holocaust or were Nazi supporters). It gave me hope - especially as a Catholic - to see that we continue to publicly oppose these horrors still present in the more modern forms of contraception and surgical sterilization, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion. We will not change our tune - even when we are publicly criticized for it - because this steadfast spirit in opposition is the right thing to do. People can now recognize the horrors of the Holocaust, and so they recognize that opposing the Nazis would have been the right thing to do. I hope and pray that the time comes soon when people will see this opposition against the atrocities in our modern culture as the right thing to do now as well.

As I walked through the exhibit and saw a wall that honored many priests and laypeople, who devoted their lives to hiding the Jews, and as I saw pictures of priests being executed for publicly opposing the Nazi regime, I started to keep true to my pledge. I asked those priests that were in the photos, by name, to pray for us and an end to genocide. We can't do this alone, and who better to turn to in our time of need today than the army who opposed these atrocities during the Holocaus

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"A young boy talking about death and the Eucharist"

My sister sent me the following video which blew me away.  Her description had me view this as soon as I could:  " a young boy talking about death and the Eucharist.  Amazing what he says!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Homily - 29th Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"33 minutes that will rock your world"

1) Parents Weekend Mass, 11 am, St Stephen's, Sunday.  Light reception after Mass in the Parish Hall - coffee, donuts, juice.

2) "DC Padres" baseball game, Sunday, 3 pm.  Email Amy today is interested in attending.

3)  Pizza after 7:30 Mass, Sunday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"A Label that Sticks"

Last night, we had an extraordinary speaker, Steve, who gave a powerful and inspiring testimonial about living as a faithful Catholic with same-sex attraction.  He explained how his father not being there for him as a child led him to confusion in how he viewed and approached relationships with men.  He had relationships with women and even got married, but eventually left all of that to be active with same-sex relationships that he knew in his heart were wrong.  With the help of "Courage", a Roman Catholic apostolate which ministers to those with same-sex attractions, Steve has been living a life of chastity, freedom, and peace for many years.  He is a heroic witness to the Gospel and the Cross of Christ.  

To view Courage's website, please click on today's title.  Here is an excellent article from its website which addresses the harmful labels given to those with same-sex attraction.

A Label that Sticks

Paul Scalia

When I was in high school, the students fell into many different groups: preps, jocks, cheerleaders, punks, deadheads, druggies, geeks, and all the rest. Just about everyone received an unofficial but virtually unchangeable assignment to a particular group. When I work in high schools today, I discover little difference. The groups still exist (with just a few changes in terminology), and the teachers and administrators still counsel against the labels. As they wisely explain, labels reinforce stereotypes and prejudices; they prevent us from accepting individuals and getting to know the real person.

There is one difference, however. While still warning children against stereotypes and labels, high-school administrations increasingly encourage one group of students to label themselves: those who experience same-sex attractions. With the assistance (and sometimes pressure) of such groups as the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, high schools across the country now routinely have student organizations dedicated to promoting the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality. Indeed, New York City has an entire school—Harvey Milk High School—devoted to “gay, lesbian, transgendered and questioning youth.”

Is it worth pointing out, even at this late date, that the teachers and administrators were right about the dangers of labeling—and wrong when they allowed and encouraged homosexual students to be labeled? As with most errors, this one proceeds from a certain truth and often from good intentions. The truth is that adolescents with same-sex attractions have a higher suicide rate and are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. Attributing these problems to persecution and harassment, the new groups pledge to create a safe atmosphere so that students will not be tempted to self-destructive behavior.

But in practice this agenda means more than just an end to the name-calling. It means the approval of homosexuality and, in a new form of name-calling, an insistence that adolescents who experience same-sex attractions “come out” as homosexual.

This is, to begin with, a failure of common sense. Such categorizations feed into the adolescent penchant for labels. High-school students want to belong to a group. They want an identity. Getting to know other people, figuring them out, sorting out who you are in light of who they are—that can be difficult work. Labels make it much easier. Many adolescents latch on to an identity for a time and then think better of it later. For this reason parents and teachers traditionally guard against pigeonholing students in certain categories.

The new approach, however, does just the opposite. It encourages labeling. Rather than struggle through the difficulties of adolescence, a high-school freshman or sophomore can now, with official support, profess to be gay—and he instantly has an identity and a group. Now he belongs. He knows who he is. Gone is the possibility that adolescents might be confused, perhaps even wrong. Adults typically display a wise reserve about the self-discoveries of high-school students: they know adolescents are still figuring things out, and they recognize their responsibility to help sort through the confusion. So why is all this natural wisdom somehow abandoned these days—in the most confused and confusing area of adolescent sexuality?

Of course, the phrases are tempting because of their convenience and efficiency. They are common, close at hand, and make quick work of a difficult issue. But they also identify an individual person with his homosexual inclinations. They presume that a person is his inclinations or attractions; he is a “gay” or is a “homosexual.” At some point adults have to admit that a fifteen-year-old who claims to be “a questioning transgendered bisexual” is really just confused.

Meanwhile, the schools’ endorsement of all this quickly undermines parents’ authority in an extraordinarily sensitive area. While the parents try to teach one thing at home, the school presents the opposite view, now not only in the classroom but also socially (which in high school might have a greater effect). And those parents who have a better way to handle their child’s difficulties will find their efforts thwarted. At home they strive to love their children, help them in their struggles, and teach a coherent truth about human sexuality. Meanwhile at school, children receive the propaganda and encouragement to argue precisely against what their parents say.

Much of this social engineering rests on the view that homosexuality is a fixed, inborn orientation. The school groups hold this as a dogma not open for discussion. In one of the presidential debates last year, when asked if he thought homosexuality was inherited or chosen, President Bush wisely and modestly answered that he did not know. With that he showed himself to be fairly well aligned with the scientific community, which itself cannot produce a uniform answer to the question. The supposed “gay gene” has never been proven or discovered. The most we can say is that certain people may have genetic predispositions towards homosexuality—which is a far cry from saying they inherit it.

The high-school organizations, however, have no qualms about pronouncing the matter settled. Insisting that homosexuality is inborn, they immediately conclude that an adolescent with homosexual inclinations must necessarily be homosexual, or gay, or lesbian, or transgendered—whichever label fits.

And once the label is assigned, it is awfully hard to remove. It lasts past high school and leaves the adolescent at the mercy of our culture’s extremes. What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? Increasingly, our high schools distribute stones and serpents to hungry children. Adolescents legitimately confused or anxious about their sexuality receive the advice to assume the homosexual label, truncating their identities perhaps for their entire lives.

Given the obvious errors of this new approach, the question still remains, especially for parents: How should one respond to adolescents with same-sex attractions? Love must be the leading edge of the response. The school organizations attract adolescents precisely because they pledge unconditional acceptance and affirmation of the person, no matter what “orientation” he has. Never mind that receiving this acceptance and affirmation in effect requires signing up for the gay agenda, adolescents still perceive it as acceptance and affirmation. Parents need to understand how effective this is. The first point to make known, then, is not what is wrong but what is right: The child is lovable, and is loved. That love, more than anything else, instills in adolescents the trust and confidence they need to struggle with whatever painful and saddening realities they face.

Difficulties arise when the child insists on being accepted and loved not as a person but as a “gay,” “homosexual,” or “other”—when he wants to be loved according to the label. And our culture willingly indulges these labels for the same reason we used them in high school: we find it easier to deal with labels than with actual persons. Clearly this situation demands tremendous patience and perseverance; it requires parents to insist continually that, no, their child is not just the sum of his sexual attractions, that they can love their child while rejecting some of his actions.

Adolescents need to hear precisely this: People’s sexual inclinations do not determine their identity. Nor does every so-called “homosexual” feel attractions of the same character or to the same degree. Some have strong and lasting homosexual desires; for others, such desires are slight and passing. Lumping everyone together as having the same orientation or identity is a grotesque reduction of a complicated reality, and it massively damages the very people it claims to help.

Resisting the labeling temptation demands that we reject the culture’s vocabulary and adopt more precise terms. In popular usage, the words “gay” and “lesbian” imply a fixed orientation and the living out of a lifestyle. Even the term “homosexual person,”which is used in some Vatican documents, suggests that homosexual inclinations somehow determine, which is to say confine, a person’s identity.

Granted, the more accurate phrases do not trip easily off the tongue. But what is lost in efficiency is gained in precision. Terms such as “same-sex attractions” and “homosexual inclinations” express what a person experiences without identifying the person with those attractions. They both acknowledge the attractions and preserve the freedom and dignity of the person. With that essential distinction made, parents can better oppose the attractions without rejecting the child. And as the child matures, he will not find his identity confined to his sexuality.

Further, opposition to homosexual attractions and actions makes sense only when it is rooted in the full truth of human sexuality. Gay school groups gain approval and support partly because heterosexual unchastity (contraception, masturbation, premarital sex, adultery, and all the rest) has compromised so many. Our culture’s deliberate separation of sex from procreation has destroyed our ability to articulate a coherent explanation of sexual ethics. Parents and educators have damaged the tools that would allow them to explain why homosexual activity is wrong.

Understanding the full truth of human sexuality produces an appreciation for purity. Of course, all young people need to strive for this virtue. But purity takes on a greater significance for those with same-sex attractions. Nothing will confirm a supposed “gay” identity more quickly and solidly than homosexual actions. After a homosexual encounter, the adolescent must either admit the error of his actions and repent—or more boldly identify himself with his actions and look for a way to justify them.

As sexual license increases in our culture, we will encounter more adolescents confused about their sexuality and perhaps experiencing same-sex attractions. The easy option is to dissolve the tension by approving homosexuality and even encouraging it. But the most charitable thing we can do for such youth is to love them as God’s own images, to teach them the full truth about human sexuality, and to enable them to live it. Anything less is giving our children stones when they ask for bread.

Paul Scalia is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, and chaplain for the Arlington chapter of Courage.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DC Padres (priests' baseball team) this Sunday!

Washington has a baseball team of priests and seminarians!  "DC Padres" are 1-0 and playing our second game this Sunday, Oct 16, at 3 pm in Germantown, Maryland (Montgomery County Community College).  I will be playing and most likely pitching at some point in the game (man, it's been a while since I 10 years).  Should be a ton of fun.  If any GW Catholics are interested in attending, Amy will be driving a van that will leave GW at 2 and return by 6:30.  Email me or her if you are in.

The first game which took place during our Opening Masses (d'oh, I couldn't play!) made covered by local and national media.  Between 700-1000 people attended the matchup with a local team which came down to the last at-bat. Here is an article from the National Catholic Register and a cool video about the game from the Archdiocese of Washington:

WASHINGTON (CNA) — A baseball team of 11 Catholic priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington will play a team of high school and college varsity players to help promote vocations. The team’s first baseman, Father Larry Young, can’t wait for the game.

“We’re going to start something where we can play three games a year around the archdiocese. This is a forum to promote vocations to the priesthood in a fresh, different way,” said Father Young, the pastor of Our Lady’s Church in Leonardtown, Md.

Many of the players have experience in college or high-school baseball.

“There’s talent among the seminarians and the priests. I think we’ve got a good team,” the priest said.

The team, named the D.C. Padres, has a roster of five priests and six seminarians. Their first game is scheduled for 4:30pm Sunday, Sept. 4, at Bowie Baysox Stadium in Bowie, Md. Tickets to the 2pm Sept. 4 Baysox game will serve as admittance to the later D.C. Padres game. The team is also offering discounted tickets through the parish office at Our Lady’s Church.

The Catholic community is rallying around the D.C. Padres. One parishioner at Our Lady’s Church ordered the shirts and hats for the men, while St. Mary’s Ryken High school is lending the team their equipment.

During the game’s “third-inning stretch,” the team will talk to the crowd about the gift of the priesthood. They will invite young men to pray and consider whether God is calling them to follow him as priests.

Almost 500 game tickets have been sold, Father Young told CNA on Sept. 1. “It should be a nice crowd of people to watch this. People seem to react favorably. It’s a novelty, the first time,” he said.

“It’s kind of extraordinary for people to hear that priests and seminarians are playing fast-pitch baseball. Softball is one thing, and there’s basketball. But playing varsity baseball is a little unusual.”

Father Young developed the idea with Father Larry Swink, pastor of Jesus the Divine Word in Huntingtown, Md. Both men witnessed the success of the D.C. Hood basketball team, which is also made up of priests and seminarians.

The basketball team has been around for several years, and Father Young has played in a few games.  “The basketball team this year is going to be awesome,” he reported. “Their team is stacked.”

The team travels to area parishes and has four or five games a year. During halftime, the crowd hears from a priest or seminarian, who talks about vocations.  The Archdiocese of Baltimore also has a basketball team called Men in Black. Father Young recommended that other dioceses consider similar sports programs to encourage vocations.

“It seems like it’s spreading,” he said. “If nothing else, it creates buzz, and people talk about these things. It just keeps it in people’s minds.  “It’s a nice, light, fun event that lets people see their priests out there in a different setting than they’re used to.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homily - 28th Sunday

I don’t know if we have marketing majors here tonight, but I want each of you to put on your marketing hat for a minute. It’s not to market products because the two things I will ask about are not products. They are more difficult to market than products. The first is Heaven. How would you market Heaven, especially on a college campus? You might come up with slogans like, “The greatest party forEVER” or “The eternal buzz…and no hangover”. I would use the phrase from the first reading (Isaiah 25): “A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines”. That sounds so good! It sounds so appealing. The second is the Mass. How would you market Sunday Mass? If you have ideas, let me know! And, if you struggle with this, well, welcome to my world. Again, we can use the same inviting phrase from Isaiah 25: “A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines”. This, of course, is describing the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s not just convenient to use the same slogan, it’s true. Heaven and the Mass are the same realities because Mass is Heaven on Earth.

The Church has described Mass as Heaven on Earth for a long time, but one modern book brings this out very well. “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn is an excellent read for those who want to learn more about Heaven, the Mass, and the Book of Revelation. Scott Hahn is a convert to the Church and one of the greatest biblical scholars in the Church. He used to be anti-Catholic and viewed the Mass as idol worship. But, then he came to a daily Mass one day and it changed his life. He is a genius but couldn’t make sense of the Book of Revelation which describes Heaven in vivid imagery. It was at Mass that he began to make sense of it all as he writes:

“I was giddy with the newness of it all. For years I had been trying to make sense of the Book of Revelation as some kind of encoded message about the end of the world, about worship in faraway heaven, about something most Christians couldn’t experience while still on earth. Now, after two weeks of daily Mass attendance, I found myself wanting to stand up during the liturgy and say, ‘Hey, everybody. Let me show you where you are in the Apocalypse! Turn to chapter four, verse eight. You’re in heaven right now’”.

We have copies of this book at the Newman Center library. What Hahn heard from the Book of Revelation is what we hear at every Mass. It is what is heard in Heaven: “Glory to God in the highest” and “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord” and “Behold the Lamb of God”. The language of the Mass takes us up to Heaven. When I say, “Lift up your hearts”, you say, “We lift them up”…to the Lord…to Heaven. When we come to Mass, we get a serious glimpse of what Heaven will be like. When Christ came, He brought Heaven to Earth. Now, He brings Earth to Heaven in the Mass. All of the language, gestures, and hymns of the Mass are to raise us up to Heaven. It really is a banquet…a wedding feast that is described in today’s Gospel. Jesus says Heaven is like a wedding feast; a wedding between us and God. The Mass is the preview to that feast because it is here that we come into union with Christ in the Eucharist.

The language of the Mass takes us up to Heaven. It is very important to have the correct language in order to have the fullest experience of Heaven on Earth. The language of the Mass used to be Latin, as you might know. Fifty years ago, Vatican II allowed the Mass to be in the vernacular (or native language) which for us is English. In the translation from Latin to English, some of the wording hasn’t been just right. The Church has tried for many years to get it right, and it finally has it. So, there are some changes coming to the Mass. The structure remains the same, but some of the wording will change on the first Sunday of Advent. Most of the changes will be said by the priest, but you will have some changes to your “script”. For example, I will say, “The Lord be with you”; your response will be “And with your spirit”. There will be changes to the Gloria and the Creed, too. You will need to relearn your responses, but we will provide cards so that you will know what to say. This is all so that the language of the Mass is faithful to the Latin and closer to the original.

Finally, a word about the man in the Gospel parable who didn’t have a wedding garment and was not allowed into the wedding feast. The host typically provided garments to all the guests; the man must have refused to wear it and was punished for it. I see the wedding garment as the “state of Grace”. The state of Grace is what admits us into Heaven, so we must always be wearing it. We never know when our time will come; we always need to be ready to go. A good friend that I have known since high school died suddenly on Saturday night. It’s such a shock. We had just talked that afternoon and he sounded great. He was an amazing and holy man who was probably wearing his wedding garment when he died. But, you just never know. We always have to be ready.

The state of Grace is what also admits us to Holy Communion at Mass, so we must always be in it to receive the Eucharist. If we have taken off the wedding garment through mortal sin, we need to go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist (receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is sacrilege and a mortal sin). A mortal sin is a serious sin (such as skipping Mass on Sunday, getting drunk, getting high, any sexual acts outside of marriage) that is done with full knowledge and full consent. We have to know it’s a mortal sin for it to be a mortal sin. If we’ve taken off the wedding garment in these or other ways, Confession puts it back on for us to be ready for Heaven and able to receive the Eucharist…able to share in the “feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines”.

Friday, October 07, 2011

"Abortion, Adoption, and Steve Jobs"

"Jesus and Burritos" + movie tonight, Newman Center.  Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7 pm followed by Chipotle and then a pro-life movie, "Juno".  Come on by!!

We ask God to grant eternal rest to Steve Jobs, genius and innovator. There are some serious reflections going on around the world about this man’s contributions to the world but also about life and death. Regarding the latter, even Steve Jobs reflected on death at his Stanford University commencement address in 2005:

“ No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.”

(As an aside, he also said this: “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” As brilliant as Steve was, this wasn’t his wisest philosophy. It contradicts itself for a few reasons. One, his dogma was formed and shaped by the dogma of others. Two, he wants the students to follow his dogma and opinions. And three, if they follow his dogma, then they will have to discount it. )

Regarding life, below is a thought-provoking article from It reflects on the impressive life story of Steve Jobs and asks an extremely important question on the inherent and yet global value of every human life.

Abortion, Adoption, and Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, is one of the most powerful figures in our society. In Jobs’ story, we see a man of humble roots starting a company in his garage and transforming it into the world’s most valuable company with a net worth of $337 billion. Frequently described as this generation’s leading visionary, Jobs led the creation of not only the Macintosh computer, but also the iPod, iPad and iTunes.

Apple has played a major role in society. Apple and Microsoft compete for the OS market. Apple and companies like Lenovo, HP, and Toshiba compete for the laptop market. Apple is also involved as the major player in the tablet and mp3 player market. In capitalism, competition creates benefits for everyone. Without Apple, competing companies wouldn’t have had as much incentive to develop the competitive technologically advanced products that we now enjoy. Apple created the first GUI (Graphical User Interface) for a personal computer, which led the way for all operating systems in use today, including major Microsoft products.

The world would truly have been a different place without Apple. The success of Apple stems directly from the successes and failures of Steve Jobs. Yes, failure is a good and necessary thing. If Jobs hadn’t failed as drastically as he did (in his multiple failed ventures), he wouldn’t have succeeded as much as he did with Apple.

This speaks volumes to our culture: We need to allow businesses and people to fail so that they can be resilient and succeed.

Jobs story normally begins with him attending Reed College for a semester before dropping out and subsequently auditing art classes that would later help him create fonts for Apple products. He worked briefly for Hewlett Packard and Atari before founding Apple with two of his friends. A few years later, he was fired from Apple following a disagreement with the CEO. Over the years he founded NeXT Computer, and owned PIXAR working with Disney. NeXT was later acquired by Apple, which brought him back into the company. He then transformed Apple into its present state.

However, his story actually begins before Reed College. In a 2005 Stanford University commencement address Steve Jobs painted a brief picture of his beginnings: “It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.

Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.”

Jobs’ biological parents were Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah John Jandali. Although the details of Simpson and Jandali’s relationship have not been made public, we do know a good deal about Mr. Jandali. A Syrian immigrant, he came to the United States to pursue his higher education in 1949. According to The Daily Mail, he is now vice president of a casino in Reno, Nevada. At the time, however, Joanne’s parents would not allow the two to get married.

For that reason, Jobs was given up for adoption to his parents Paul and Clara Jobs.

Eighteen years later saw the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which paved the way for hundreds of millions of legal abortions to take place in the United States over the following years. In 1955, abortion was nowhere near as prevalent as it is today. It was primarily rejected by society as the termination of innocent life.

Instead, adoptions were preferred. Adoptions ensure that children are given life. Jobs’ adoption was very beneficial, creating and shaping him into the leader that he would later become.

What would a world look like in which Steve Jobs had been aborted?

Out of the 52 million abortions in the US in the past 38 years, how many other Jobs’s have we extinguished?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

"Designed for sex"

Fr. Tom Morrow spoke about dating last night at the Newman Center which engaged our full house of students.  He laid out very clear and specific principles related to dating and preparing for marriage.  Everything he proposed ran in stark contrast to the "hook-up culture" so it was a bit of a culture shock for some folks. 

Along these lines, I found an excellent online article, "Designed for sex".  Check out the full article by clicing on today's title.  I'd be up for starting a discussion group for folks who like to discuss articles like this. Let me know via email if you're interested. Here is an excerpt:

Not Designed for It

The fact is that we aren’t designed for hooking up. Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together. Don’t we already know that?

In “Friends, Friends with Benefits​, and the Benefits of the Local Mall,” a New York Times Magazine writer who interviewed teenagers who hook up supplies a telling anecdote. The girl Melissa tells him, “I have my friends for my emotional needs, so I don’t need that from the guy I’m having sex with.” Yet on the day of the interview, “Melissa was in a foul mood. Her ‘friend with benefits’ had just broken up with her. ‘How is that even possible?’ she said, sitting, shoulders slumped, in a booth at a diner. ‘The point of having a friend with benefits is that you won’t get broken up with, you won’t get hurt.’”

But let there be no mistake: When I say we aren’t designed for this, I’m also speaking of males. A woman may be more likely to cry the next morning; it’s not so easy to sleep with a man who won’t even call you back. But a man pays a price too. He probably thinks he can instrumentalize his relationships with women in general, yet remain capable of romantic intimacy when the right woman comes along. Sorry, fellow. That’s not how it works.

Sex is like applying adhesive tape; promiscuity is like ripping the tape off again. If you rip it off, rip it off, rip it off, eventually the tape can’t stick anymore. This probably contributes to an even wider social problem that might be called the Peter Pan​ syndrome. Men in their forties with children in their twenties talk like boys in their teens. “I still don’t feel like a grown-up,” they say. They don’t even call themselves men—just “guys.”

Now, in a roundabout sort of way, I’ve just introduced you to the concept of natural law. Although the natural-law tradition is unfamiliar to most people today, it has been the main axis of Western ethical thought for 23 centuries, and in fact it is experiencing a renaissance.

The hinge concept is design. I said that we’re not designed for hooking up, that we’re designed for our bodies and hearts to work together. We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that literally—not just a biological design, but an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual design. The human design is the meaning of the ancient expression “human nature.” Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t.