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.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Homily -27th 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.