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.”