Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer spiritual reading

Yesterday officially commenced summer "projects" at the Newman Center.  The first project underway is the re-filing of both offices - mine and Amy's (campus minister).  When it is finished, it will be sweet to actually be properly organized (thanks in large part to Michael Russo)!  But, that seems so far away with tons of files and years of paperwork piled up in each of our offices.  One good result from going through years and years of paperwork is finding some really cool stuff from prior chaplains and campus ministers.  Below is a spiritual reading list from over ten years ago...a timeless gem!

Every GW Catholic should be doing some spiritual reading this summer; 5-10 minutes a day, at least. Sacred Scripture is most preferred; reading a chapter of one of the Gospels each day might work well for you. The suggestions below are some of the most common in the Church for spiritual reading because they are the best for any Catholic.  They are mostly in the first category of books.  Things get a little more advanced as you go through this list, but I know GW Catholics who have read some in each category. The last category is more along the intellectual and cultural lines of Catholicism.  This is a good find!

Spiritual reading

Initial text: I Believe in Love, Pere Jean D'Elbee

I. Confessions, St. Augustine of Hippo

    Introduction to the Devout Life, St Francis de Sales

   The Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola

   The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

   The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis

II. On Spiritual Friendship, Br. Aelred of Rievaulx

     Spiritual Passages and The Courage to be Chaste, Fr. Benedict Groeschel

    Transcending All Understanding, Walter Kasper

    New Seeds of Contemplation, Spiritual Direction and Meditation, and the Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

    To Know Christ Jesus, Frank Sheed


III. The Eucharist, St Alphonsus Ligouri

      The Dialogues, St Catherine of Siena

      Apologia pro Vita Sua, John Henry Newman

     The Way of Perfection, Interior Castle, St. Theresa of Avila

      The Cure de Ars, The Life of St. John Vianney, Trochu

IV.  Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy, and Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

      Short Stories, Flannery O'Connor

      Orthodoxy, The Father Brown Stories, G.K. Chesterton

      The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Test of Fire: "Incredible ad"

Last week, a friend sent me the link to a video below which vividly illustrates the most important issues for Catholics in the 2012 elections.  Within an hour, another friend sent me the link and asked if I had seen this "incredible ad".  Not long after, a GW Catholic sent it to a bunch of other students, describing it as "SO EPIC".   So, this video/ad has gone viral.  There have already been 1.5 million views on YouTube.  8,800 likes and 1,700 dislikes. Below is the video with its preceding summary.

"Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? Some things are more important than high gas prices or a faltering economy. They are life, marriage and freedom. This November, Catholics must stand up and protect their sacred rights and duties. Produced by:  Please share this video with your friends!  Visit http for more details."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pentecost - homily

In twenty years of youth ministry one of the things I've learned about young people is that they don't speak on their own, by and large. When I've talked with them about faith and morals and what they believe, they usually just repeat what they've heard from their parents, other adults, media, celebrities, or politicians. This is mostly true of kids in grade school, high school, and at the start of college. In college, they begin to make their beliefs their own and either separate from their "sources" or fine-tune what others have told them. Many of us adults still do the same thing - we don't speak on our own. This isn't a bad thing...although it does depend on the viewpoint and the source.

We celebrate the feast of Pentecost today. This is the solemn feast of the Holy Spirit coming down on the Apostles and beginning the Catholic Church. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that the Spirit doesn't speak on his own. Even the Holy Spirit doesn't speak on his own! The powerful Spirit of Christ who is from the Father and came down on the Apostles as tongues of fire, animated them and has continued to guide the Church for 2000 years, the Spirit of Truth who is the third divine person of the Trinity...He doesn't speak on his own. He speaks what Christ tells Him and Christ speaks what the Father tells Him. So, the Spirit speaks on the authority of the Father. The Father is the author of life, and so He is the true author-ity for all to base their beliefs.

"What is your authority?" This is a question I asked a Catholic couple with whom I'm good friends years ago when we were having a friendly debate about in vitro fertilization. I said my authority was Jesus Christ and His Church. They paused, and then said their authority was their feelings...and science. When I told them the science of IVF - that for every one embryo that implants on the mother's uterine wall, several other embryos die - they realized that they didn't have any real authority. They changed their belief on that issue by the end of the conversation.

Today's second reading helps us to see that we have a choice when it comes to authority: either the Holy Spirit is our authority on matters of faith and morals or the world is. The Spirit and the world are opposed to one another, St Paul writes. And, when we talk about the Spirit, we mean the Spirit that Christ sent...the Spirit of Truth that has guided the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals for 2000 years. The Spirit continues to speak through the Church in keeping us rooted in Truth...rooted in Christ. We belong to Christ! We don't belong to the world. We don't belong to the Washington Post or Fox News or the Internet or the culture or a political party. We don't even belong to our parents. We belong to Christ. We speak on His authority and on the authority of His Church.

What we think and say will lead to how we act. If we think as the world thinks, we will act as the world acts. St Paul refers to these as "the works of the flesh" – some that he cites are immorality, impurity, lust,...hatreds...and selfishness. And, he warns "that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God". But, if we think as the Spirit thinks, we will act as the Spirit acts. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Life in the Spirit is what each one of us truly desires!

I have had that quote from Galatians 5 about the fruits of the Spirit next to my bed for many years to remind myself every day that that's the life I want. I recommend all of you to do the same - make Galatians 5:22 visible to you on a daily basis. Make the Eucharist the center of your life in the Spirit so that it will nourish all the fruits of the Spirit. Our lives are like trees bearing fruit. Hopefully, they are bearing the fruits of the Spirit in our speech and actions - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Friday, May 25, 2012

For Greater Glory (movie) starts June 1

The other night, two women stopped me on the street to say, "You are a man of the cloth.  You need to see the movie, 'For Greater Glory'.  We just saw the trailer for it, and it looks incredible'".  I had heard of the movie before, but was more intrigued to see it because of their reaction. Thanks, ladies! Then, a pamphlet from the Knights of Columbus promoting the movie just came in the mail.  It includes a quote from Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles: "For Greater Glory is a top-flight production whose message of the importance of religious freedom has particular resonance for us today".

Below is the movie's synopsis from its website and a documentary about the film by EWTN:

What price would you pay for freedom?

In the exhilarating action epic FOR GREATER GLORY an impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country, as the film's adventure unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War ­the daring people¹s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.

Academy Award® nominee Andy Garcia headlines an acclaimed cast as General Gorostieta, the retired military man who at first thinks he has nothing personal at stake as he and his wife (Golden Globe nominee Eva Longoria) watch Mexico fall into a violent civil war. Yet the man who hesitates in joining the cause will soon become the resistance's most inspiring and self-sacrificing leader, as he begins to see the cost of religious persecution on his countrymen . . . and transforms a rag-tag band of rebels into a heroic force to be reckoned with. The General faces impossible odds against a powerful and ruthless government. Yet is those he meets on the journey ­ youthful idealists, feisty renegades and, most of all, one remarkable teenager named Jose ­ who reveal to him how courage and belief are forged even when justice seems lost.

Director Dean Wright brings a visual power honed from years as a leading Hollywood effects guru ­ on such blockbusters as TITANIC, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and CHRONICLES OF NARNIA ­ to this real-life tale that has never been told on screen before. The film is written by Michael Love. The producer is Pablo Jose Barroso. Garcia and Longoria lead a stellar multinational cast that includes the legendary Peter O¹Toole, rapidly rising star Oscar Isaac (DRIVE), recording star and actor Ruben Blades (SAFE HOUSE), Bruce Greenwood (STAR TREK, SUPER 8), Nestor Carbonell (THE DARK NIGHT RISES), Bruce McGill (LINCOLN), Santiago Cabrera (³Heroes,² CHE), Oscar®-nominated Catalina Sandino Moreno (MARIA FULL OF GRACE) and Eduardo Verástegui (BELLA).

Shooting on historic locations throughout Mexico, the equally accomplished behind the scenes team includes director of photography Eduardo Martinez Solares (BAD HABITS), Oscar®-nominated editor Richard Francis-Bruce (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, SEVEN, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER¹S STONE), production designer Salvador Parra (VOLVER) and Oscar®-winning composer James Horner (AVATAR, TITANIC, BRAVEHEART).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"A New Generation of Catholics"

Here's a joke from a golf website (Swing by Swing):

One Sunday morning, a priest wakes up and decides to go golfing. He calls his boss and says that he feels very sick, and won't be able to go to work.

Way up in heaven, Saint Peter sees all this and asks God, "Are you really going to let him get away with this?" "No, I guess not," says God.

The priest drives about five to six hours away, so he doesn't bump into anyone he knows. The golf course is empty when he gets there. So he takes his first swing, drives the ball 495 yards away and gets a hole in one.

Saint Peter watches in disbelief and asks, "Why did you let him do that?!!"

To this God says, "Who's he going to tell?"
By Ann Schneible

VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2012 ( Benedict XVI today greeted the final group of United States bishops to come to Rome for their ad limina visits, praising the bishops for the welcome immigrants find in the Church in the U.S..

Bishops and archbishops from Region XV hail from the Eastern Rite eparchies and archeparchies throughout the United States, having been given their own Ad limina visit separate from their Latin Rite brothers.

"I am particularly pleased," said Pope Benedict, "that this, our final meeting, takes place in the presence of the Bishops of the various Eastern Churches present in the United States, since you and your faithful embody in a unique way the ethnic, cultural and spiritual richness of the American Catholic community, past and present."

"Historically, the Church in America has struggled to recognize and incorporate this diversity, and has succeeded, not without difficulty, in forging a communion in Christ and in the apostolic faith which mirrors the catholicity which is an indefectible mark of the Church."

The Holy Father praised their efforts to respond to the phenomena of immigration with compassion, taking into account the many complexities that society faces as a result. "The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families… It is thus of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defense of the human dignity of immigrants."

"The immense promise and the vibrant energies of a new generation of Catholics are waiting to be tapped for the renewal of the Church’s life and the rebuilding of the fabric of American society,” he added.

Dignity of consecrated life

The Pontiff also spoke about the need to strengthen the rapport of friendship and trust between bishops and their priests, and offered encouragement for those many consecrated sisters who have given their all in service. "The urgent need in our own time," he explained, "for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel makes it essential to recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life, to pray for religious vocations and to promote them actively, while strengthening existing channels for communication and cooperation, especially through the work of the Vicar or Delegate for Religious in each Diocese."

As the Church approaches the Year of Faith in October, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic community in American will "awaken a desire… to reappropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith,” the Pope said.

This Year of Faith, however, comes at a time when progressive ideologies threaten to overturn many of the Christian values in society. "The truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated and defended,” he affirmed, “but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfillment and to the welfare of society as a whole."

Concluding his speech to the bishops and archbishops of Region XV, the Holy Father thanked God "for the signs of new vitality and hope with which he has blessed the Church in the United States of America. At the same time," he continued, "I ask him to confirm you and your Brother Bishops in your delicate mission of guiding the Catholic community in your country in the ways of unity, truth and charity as it faces the challenges of the future."

"With great affection I commend you, and the clergy, religious and lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Church is fighting for her life

Yesterday was a sad day in the Church in the United States.  The Archdiocese of Washington and over 40 other Catholic dioceses and organizations filed lawsuits against the U.S. government over the HHS mandate that would force them to provide health services that violate their consciences.  While the lawsuits are necessary for justice to prevail, the lawsuits represent an unprecedented and unwanted first step in the fight for religious freedom.  The time, energy, and money involved will drain many of these institutions' resources.  Winning these lawsuits will help them to avoid the fatal blow of bankruptcy which would result from the exorbitant fines of the mandate.  But, victory will come at a steep price.

My hope is that all Catholics finally get that this battle transcends contraception.  The Church in the U.S. is fighting for her life....and the life of all religious institutions.   She is fighting for religious freedom and the freedom of conscience. 
Here is the letter from Cardinal Wuerl which explains the reasoning behind the lawsuit.  Also, and on a brighter note, he announces a rally on June 24 for freedom of conscience which will take place at GW!  This is fitting because the first rally of this kind in the country was held by GW Catholics on this campus (click here for my related post)...! 


May 21, 2012

Dear Friends,

This morning, the Archdiocese of Washington filed a lawsuit to challenge the mandate, recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, that fundamentally redefines the nation’s longstanding definition of religious ministry and requires our religious organizations to provide their employees with coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Just as our faith compels us to uphold the liberty and dignity of others, so too, we must defend our own.

Joining the archdiocese in this local lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, are three of our related corporations: Archbishop Carroll High School, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Consortium of Catholic Academies. We are joined by the Catholic University of America in this action as well. Ours is one of twelve lawsuits filed today on behalf of 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations nationwide. The lawsuit in no way challenges either women's established legal right to obtain and use contraception or the right of employers to provide coverage for it if they so choose. This lawsuit is about religious freedom.

The First Amendment enshrines in our nation’s Constitution the principle that religious organizations must be able to practice their faith free from government interference. As is generally the case with laws that may burden religious exercise, the mandate includes an exemption for religious organizations. And if the religious exemption in the mandate were reasonable, there would have been no need for this lawsuit—after all, we are indeed “religious” under any sensible definition. However, the mandate’s exemption is the narrowest ever adopted in federal law. Crucially, it does not include any organization that serves the general public. So under this mandate, our Catholic hospitals, schools, and social service programs, which serve all people, are not “religious enough” to be allowed to follow our Catholic beliefs.

For Catholics, the practice of faith has always required not just acts of worship, but also – necessarily – loving, charitable service to others. The understanding of charity as an essential religious activity goes back to the foundation of Christianity. Jesus Christ taught that obeying the first great commandment -- loving God -- must impel us to fulfill the second great commandment -- loving our neighbor as ourselves. As put by the Apostle St. James: “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:14-26). When asked what “love of neighbor” requires, Jesus commanded his followers to act like the Good Samaritan, explaining that Christian love must impel us to concrete action and must be universal – extending not just to those of our own kind, but also to outsiders and even enemies (Luke 10:25-36). And Jesus describes the Last Judgment, where he will say to those he has placed at his right hand:

“Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. … Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 31-46).

Thus, for two millennia, Roman Catholic entities have been engaged in charitable works – serving not just Catholics, but non-Catholics as well, with the understanding that these works are an essential part of Christian love and the practice of the Christian faith. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has recently put it, “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to [the Catholic Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.”

Considering the dedicated efforts put into these good works, it is understandable to feel somewhat disheartened to see our government attempt to force the Church out of the public square. To be clear, that is the message that the HHS mandate conveys: our beliefs are not welcome. Those who have the temerity to hold onto their convictions will be fined.

The First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, however, was not meant to protect merely the right to worship, but also the right to contribute the fruits of our faith to the common good. And until now, our government had chosen to honor that guarantee. Never before has the government contested that institutions like Archbishop Carroll High School or Catholic University are religious. Who would? But HHS’s conception of what constitutes the practice of religion is so narrow that even Mother Teresa would not have qualified. We know that such a law cannot stand. So above all we find cheer in the worthiness of our cause and in the love of our Creator, who imbued us with the very dignity and freedom that this lawsuit seeks to protect.

The Church did not choose this fight. It is HHS that has departed from long-standing practice and precedent to change the law; our response merely aims to preserve our existing rights. Although the Church would naturally remain open to good faith negotiations with the Administration, previous discussions yielded no reasonable compromise, and the Church has been given little reason to think further attempts would be fruitful. Bringing this claim to the courts ensures a fair and impartial hearing—one that we believe we will win. For up-to-date information on this matter, please visit

To further advance our support for religious liberty, I invite you to a special event to publicly witness to our faith and our freedom in the nation’s capital. On June 24, 2012, the Archdiocese of Washington will host a “Celebration of Freedom.” The rally will be held at the Smith Center of The George Washington University. Together with prayer and inspirational music, this rally will feature a video that highlights our heritage of religious freedom and the vital contributions of Catholics to building this nation. I hope you will join us for this wonderful event to celebrate our faith and, most importantly, to pray for our liberty. Your presence at this archdiocesan event will be testimony to how important it is to celebrate our faith and, most importantly, to pray for our liberty. This headline event is part of the Archdiocese of Washington’s response to the “Fortnight for Freedom” called for by the bishops of the United States. For more information and to register, please visit

In the coming weeks and months, may God remind us that the freedom of religion is only meaningful when we exercise it. And may God look with favor on our prayers for the success of this endeavor we have undertaken in His name.

With prayerful best wishes, I am

Faithfully in Christ,

Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington

Monday, May 21, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

You are worth it

Congratulations to all graduating GW seniors!! The entire GW Catholic community applauds your many accomplishments and wishes you the best for the future. For GW Catholic seniors, we will see you at the Baccalaureate Mass tomorrow (5/19) at St. Stephen’s, 5:30 pm, with a light reception in the Parish Hall afterwards.

DC Hood game tonight! I will be joining other priests and seminarians for an outdoor basketball game against Holy Redeemer in Kensington, 6 pm. Go ‘Hood!

They taught us in the seminary that the primary task of a priest is to teach. The main purpose of my post last Friday was to teach. It was to bring an important teaching to an all-important discussion in our country. I knew that in presenting the teaching and in the way that I did, I was taking a risk. I was risking criticism, personal attacks, condemnation, and hatred. But, it was worth all of that to proclaim the teaching in a firm, clear, and passionate way. You are worth it. I love you so much, GW students, that I am willing to risk everything for you. You know that I love you because I have sacrificed everything for you. I laid down my life for you, my friends, six years ago in becoming a priest.

Coinciding with one of the comments from last Friday’s thread, my love for you requires me to say no to some behaviors that are harmful to you. God has revealed these to us in the form of the commandments. God is the first person to love us and God is the first person to say no to some behaviors which are hurtful. It is because He loves us that He says no to our sin. For three years as chaplain, I have explicated why acting against the commandments is harmful. It is because I love you and want what’s best for you that I have done this. If I didn’t love or care about you, I wouldn’t talk about God’s commandments… I would join the world in saying do whatever you want.

But, I always say yes to you, the person. People on this campus who know me know that I have consistently been available for all students for three years. Celibacy frees me to be always available for you. I have given up everything – wife, family, career – to be available for you. I am playfully ridiculed for being available 24/7 for Confession. That is my policy for anything. I am always available for you, no matter what your religion, sexuality, race, or ethnicity is. I have been open to all GW students and the Newman Center has been open to all. That will continue as long as I am here. Even if you disagree with me… even if you hate me…I am available for you.

You command respect. You are a human being. You are a person. You are a child of God made in His image and likeness. This gives you amazing dignity. I respect your dignity as a child of God and I honor it through respect, openness, kindness, and love. Christ gives the greatest example of love in laying down his life on the Cross. And yet, that love is seen as “foolishness” to the world (1 Cor 1:18). It is that love that I have tried to offer you. It is a love that says I will give up everything for you…I will risk it all for you…you are worth it….I love you so much that I will even risk being rejected by you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Water, Water Everywhere" (video)

Congratulations, GW students, on finishing your exams!!  Thanks for another amazing and fruitful year.  Keep it up through the summer - bearing fruit on the vine of Christ. 

Here are two more videos from "That Catholic Show".  The first is about the significance and use of water; hopefully, you are enjoying outdoor water in some way where you are.  The second is about the priesthood.  Btw, I went to seminary with the two priests who help produce these videos!

That Catholic Show - You Are A Priest Forever

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"The Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body"

In last week's Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, I (and all priests and religious...even the Pope) read the following reflection which we do every Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter.  An ancient writing called "A letter to Diognetus", it gives a profound overview of being a Christian in the world. 

“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language, or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based on reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in...

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven...

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life...

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

6th Sunday of Easter - homily

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"No human being can redefine marriage, especially a politician in an election year"

As Vatican II states, God is the author of marriage. He has defined marriage as between a man and a woman. So, marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. This is not just divine law, it is natural law (the law imprinted on each of our hearts about good and evil). Every single rational person knows that sexual relationships between persons of the same sex are unnatural and immoral. They know it in their hearts. And, yet, they go against what their hearts tell them when they try to argue for same-sex relationships and “gay marriage”. President Obama is the latest person to enter into this with his comments this week in support of same-sex marriage. He knows in his heart that marriage is between a man and a woman; he stated this as recently as a few years ago. Neither he nor anyone else has the authority to redefine marriage. God is the author of marriage; He has the sole author-ity to define marriage. No human being can redefine marriage, especially a politician in an election year.

Voters in North Carolina affirmed divine and natural law this week by passing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Good for North Carolina in defending marriage! It is the 32nd state to vote in support of traditional marriage...32 out of 32.

Below are two statements from the USCCB website in response to the North Carolina vote and President Obama’s comments. Pray for our bishops!


May 9, 2012

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement:

President Obama’s comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.


May 10, 2012

Marriage protection essential to the common good, says Bishop Cordileone

Cites right of every child to be raised by mother and father

North Carolina is 30th state to protect marriage via constitutional amendment

WASHINGTON—The decision by the voters of North Carolina to define marriage in a constitutional amendment as the union of one man and one woman “affirms the authentic and timeless meaning of marriage,” said Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, California. Bishop Cordileone, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), applauded the May 8 decision with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The success of this amendment demonstrates people’s awareness of the essential role that marriage, as the union of a man and a woman, plays for the common good,” said Bishop Cordileone. “Despite his comments yesterday, I would hope that President Obama would recognize this essential role as well. This is not a partisan issue, but a matter of justice, fairness and equality for the law to uphold every child’s basic right to be welcomed and raised by his or her mother and father together.”

He added, “I extend my gratitude to all of the people in North Carolina who worked tirelessly to make this a reality. The people of North Carolina join millions of other Americans in affirming the importance of marriage in our society.”

North Carolina is the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The statement of Bishop Burbidge is available online:

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Georgetown Scandal

I have joked for a while that GWU is becoming more Catholic while Georgetown University is becoming more secular.  In regards to the HHS mandate, it's serious!  GW has had a more Catholic response (click here to see) than Georgetown.  The write-up below from the Cardinal Newman Society sums up GU's response which is highly offensive to faithful Catholics.  Please click here to sign a petition which urges the university to withdraw Kathleen Sebelius from speaking at its graduation ceremonies.

In what can only be interpreted as a direct challenge to America’s Catholic bishops, Georgetown University has announced that “pro-choice” Catholic Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and lead architect of the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom through the HHS contraception mandate, has been invited to speak at one of Georgetown’s several graduation ceremonies.

The Cardinal Newman Society has posted a petition to protest this outrage here: It has also alerted Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and sent a letter to Georgetown President John DeGioia urging him to immediately withdraw the invitation.

The nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has chosen to honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute graduation ceremony, despite her role as the lead architect of a healthcare mandate that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization against their religious beliefs. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has termed the mandate “an unwarranted government definition of religion” that is “alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law,” “a violation of personal civil rights” and “a mandate to act against our teachings.”

But Secretary Sebelius’ record on abortion is at least as troubling as the mandate. When Governor of Kansas, Sebelius supported abortion rights and vetoed pro-life legislation. In 2008, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City reportedly told Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, to stop receiving the Eucharist until she publicly recants her position on abortion and makes a “worthy sacramental confession.”

Monday, May 07, 2012

5th Sunday of Easter - homily

Listen to Sunday's homily via the GW Catholics site by clicking here.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Stamping Out Pornography Addiction

Stamping Out Pornography Addiction

Psychologist Peter Kleponis on the New Cocaine and How to Get Rid of It

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 23, 2012 ( After a half century of vigorous efforts to educate the public on the dangers of tobacco use, the prevalence of smoking and its level of acceptance dropped dramatically. According to Catholic psychologist Dr. Peter Kleponis, the same effort can and should be made regarding pornography.

Dr. Kloponis is the assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. ZENIT spoke with him about pornography use and its addictive qualities -- and how to know when someone is addicted.

ZENIT: When have people crossed the line between the sexual imagery that is so prevalent everywhere in our culture, and actual pornography? Or is there a clear line?

Kleponis: To determine when a person has crossed the line between sexual imagery and pornography, we first need to look at how we define pornography. I define it as "any image that leads a person to use another person for his own sexual pleasure." The key word here is "use." Thus, the image doesn't have to be of an unclothed person. The woman seductively portrayed in a beer commercial during a football game can be just as pornographic as a woman shown in a hardcore pornographic movie on the Internet. The "line" is different for everyone. For some men, that beer commercial is a form of pornography because they may find themselves briefly lingering over the image and sexualizing it. Other men may not even notice the woman in the commercial. For those men, the image is an example of the sexual imagery that is prevalent in our society.

We also need to look at how images are designed to be used. It's obvious that hardcore pornography is meant to be sexually arousing. However, there are images of women in our society that are not defined as or marketed as pornography. However, common sense tells us that these publications are also designed to be sexually arousing for men. These would include the Victoria's Secret Catalog and the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition. Few men purposefully watch football games specifically for the commercials; however, most men view these publications specifically because they are sexually arousing. Thus, they could also be considered pornography.

ZENIT: The prevailing view for a lot of people is, "why is pornography so harmful; they're just images?" In a nutshell, how would you respond?

KIeponis: There are many reasons why pornography is harmful. First of all, pornography leads a man to use a woman for his own sexual pleasure. God never intended for us to use anyone. When a man is viewing pornography, he is usually not thinking that the woman is a person, with thoughts and feelings. He's not thinking that she's somebody's daughter or about the terrible circumstances that led her into the pornography industry. He is not aware of how the pornography industry abuses and exploits women. All he knows is that she is there solely for his sexual pleasure. This is using her.

Pornography is harmful to marriages and families. When a woman discovers her husband using pornography, she often feels devastated. Many women view this as serious as an extramarital affair. Marital trust has been broken. She loses all respect for her husband. She is no longer able to see her husband as a good role model for her children. Many women experience symptoms of severe emotional trauma because of their husband's pornography use.

Pornography harms young people's ability to have healthy relationships. The message it sends to young men is that women are there solely for their sexual pleasure. For young women, the message is that in order to be loved and desired, one has to look and act like a porn star. This may account for "sexting" and the spike in sexual promiscuity among young people. It's warping their view of what healthy sexuality and relationships are all about.

Finally, we now know that pornography is just as addictive as drugs or alcohol. Internet pornography has been called "the new crack cocaine" because of its addictiveness. As with any addiction, it can take over a person's life. This addiction is tearing apart marriages and families, ruining careers, and costing men thousands of dollars.

The bottom line is that pornography is not "just images." It is extremely damaging and should be avoided at all costs.

ZENIT: Is this just a problem for men?

KIeponis: Currently the breakdown of pornography addicts is 83% men and 17% women. Although it is still mainly a men's issue, more and more women are becoming addicted. However, the addiction is different for women. To understand this, we need to realize that men and women are "wired differently." Men are visually stimulated, and therefore they are attracted to the sexual images of pornography. While women enjoy looking at attractive men, they are not as visually stimulated as men. Women are more relationally stimulated. This is why they prefer romance novels, soap operas and "chick flicks." While some women are attracted to sexual images in pornography, most are attracted to Internet chat rooms.

In a chat room, a woman can be whoever she wants to be, and she can indulge in an online sexual relationship. She is, in essence, writing her own romance novel where she is the heroine. While there are no visual images used, the text is very pornographic in content. With this addiction, a woman can end up spending hours engaging in multiple online sexual relationships. What's more frightening is that women are more likely to meet in-person the men they have met online. This places them in potentially dangerous situations. Since it is a well-known fact that people lie about themselves in chat rooms, the man a woman meets could really be a dangerous predator. While women currently make up only 17% of pornography addicts, I believe this number will rise as more and more lonely women turn to chat rooms for comfort.

ZENIT: As you just noted, pornography use actually becomes an addiction. What are signs of this addiction?

KIeponis: Two common signs of an addiction are the development of a tolerance to the substance and a physical/emotional dependence on the substance. When a tolerance develops, a little of the substance is not enough. More is needed to get the same desired effect. With pornography addiction, a man will find himself spending more time online searching for porn. A few minutes turns into a few hours, and the content becomes more extreme. Instead of viewing it for a few minutes, he will end up spending several hours online. In addition, the type of pornography viewed becomes more extreme. Instead of soft porn, he now seeks out hardcore porn. This can include violent porn, fetishes, homosexual porn, and even child porn. This is because extreme pornography becomes the only kind of pornography that will arouse him.

Along with tolerance, a pornography addict will develop a dependence on it. Physically the body becomes dependent on the substance in order to function in daily life. Without a regular "fix" a man can experience real withdrawal symptoms. These include depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, difficulty with concentration, stomachaches and headaches. The dependence develops because the brain has become so accustomed to operating at an extreme level of stimulation (caused by the pornography use), that it can no longer function normally without that stimulation.

The ultimate symptom of an addiction is a life that is totally unmanageable, ruled by the addiction. The addiction has taken over and rules a man's life. Life becomes a constant search for the next fix, which in this case is viewing pornography and masturbating.

ZENIT: Is this addiction prevalent? What can be done to stop its growth across society?

KIeponis: Pornography addiction is highly prevalent in our society. Research has shown that there are approximately 16 million sex addicts in the United States; many of these people are specifically addicted to pornography. Another study found that 40% of Christians believe that pornography is a problem in the home, and 10% would admit to being addicted to pornography. Because of the shame attached to sex/pornography addiction, few people are willing to talk about it. Also, because this addiction is being fed in the privacy of people's homes, no one sees it. Thus, it seems invisible. However, every day thousands of people are becoming addicted to pornography. It's damaging marriages and families, ruining careers and enslaving people.

Because of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, pornography will always be available in our society. I believe the best way to stop the spread of pornography addiction is through education. I compare this to tobacco use. Fifty years ago, doctors knew that smoking was killing people. They knew it was causing cancer, lung disease, heart disease, etc. However, it was politically incorrect to say anything negative about smoking. Every adult had the right to smoke. It took 50 years of massive public education, and the example of millions of people dying from tobacco use, to convince Americans that tobacco was dangerous. Today, most Americans don't smoke and are aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use. I believe that pornography addiction will have to be addressed in the same way. We need to educate Americans on the true dangers of pornography so that they too will choose not to use it.

* * *

Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA. He has 15 years of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families and organizations, specializing in marriage & family therapy, pastoral counseling, resolving anger, men's issues, and pornography addiction recovery (

Dr. Kleponis is giving an IPS Online Seminar on "Causes, Treatment and Prevention of Pornography Addiction" for 3.5 CEs May 11, 2012. For more information and to register, click here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Why YOUNG Catholics Should Pray a Daily Rosary

As we begin the month of Mary, here's a timely and inspiring post about the importance of praying the rosary from "Young and Catholic" blog -

5 Reasons Why YOUNG Catholics Should Pray a Daily Rosary

Let’s be honest. The rosary isn’t the most popular prayer amongst our age group. It’s the prayer that we sometimes got guilt-tripped into reciting on long car rides with the family, or guilt-tripped into reciting while at the Lenten prayer service, or guilt-tripped into reciting when…well, you get the picture. For many of us, the rosary is pretty much just the result of a guilt trip.

However, despite what preconceived notions or feelings you may have towards the rosary, I submit to you that it should be a regular part of your daily life as a young Catholic. Why? Five main reasons:

1. In the fight against temptation and against Satan, a wimpy and sporadic prayer life simply will not do.

What does the prayer life of most people our age look like? Most likely: whatever we feel like that day. This is, quite simply, a recipe for disaster, and a fast-track to grave sin.

If you’re not accustomed to it, developing the habit of praying a daily rosary (or any consistent daily prayer) is difficult. Because of this, we can easily come up with a thousand reasons why getting in a rosary every day is just not all that important. The Catechism describes this battle of prayer:

2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The “spiritual battle” of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.

So, we turn to the one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal: the rosary.

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -Saint Josemaria Escriva

“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” -Bishop Hugh Doyle

2. Because “World Peace” isn’t just a go-to answer for beauty pageant contestants

Prayer may be described both as an internal struggle and as a spiritual battle, but as Christians, we are always faced with the task of bringing the peace of Christ to a confused and hurting world. How are we even to begin to go about this?

Mary literally gave us the answer to this herself. And then she made the sun dance.

If you’re not familiar with Mary’s apparitions at Fatima, she appeared several times to three children at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her message:

Our Lady stressed the importance of praying the Rosary in each of Her apparitions, asking the children to pray the Rosary every day for peace. Another principal part of the Message of Fatima is devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, which is terribly outraged and offended by the sins of humanity, and we are lovingly urged to console Her by making reparation. She showed Her Heart, surrounded by piercing thorns (which represented the sins against Her Immaculate Heart), to the children, who understood that their sacrifices could help to console Her.

Again and again, Mary has appealed to us in her apparitions to pray the rosary daily. Why not do as she says?

3. Because Jesus listens to his mom

We see this in John’s account of the gospel, when Jesus transforms the water into wine after Mary tells him they had run out at the wedding (John 2:1-11). In a similar way to the Old Testament, when the King listened to and respected the Queen Mother, so Jesus respects and listens to his Mother, Mary, Queen of Heaven.

“And the king said to her, ‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” -1 Kings 2:20

Of course we can go straight to Jesus, but he has given us his Mother as well (John 19:27). And as we know from the gospel, Jesus hastens to answer his Mother’s requests.

4. Miracles Happen

“Among all the devotions approved by the Church, none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary.” -Pope Pius IX

Books could be filled (and, in fact, have been filled) with stories of miraculous healings, conversions, and other events brought about by the regular recitation of the rosary. There’s no reason to expect the rosary not to bring about some dramatic and powerful change in your life as well.

5. Because meditation helps us to “see for the first time”

The rosary is meant to be the “epitome of the entire Gospel”. When we pray the rosary, we are engaging in the practice of mediation

CCC 2708: Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

Mediation is meant to lead us as a step along the way to true knowledge of the Lord, to personal union with Jesus. As GK Chesterton said, “If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first time.” This is what we attempt to do in mediation – to see for the first time. We meditate on the stories of the Gospel as we pray with Mary to help us see Jesus for the first time, to fall in love with Him by meditating upon his life.

So get the beads out and start praying! You won’t regret it

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Two more GW Catholic bloggers!

We have another GW Catholic blogger!  That brings the total of three, that I know of.  I have posted his most recent reflection which is very timely with today's Gospel..."my sheep hear my voice".  And, the second one fits in perfectly because when we hear the voice of Christ, it is often that we hear the phrase that the disciples heard, "peace be with you". To this second blogger, I apologize for not posting her insightful spiritual reflections sooner.  The links to each blog is below their posts.  Oh, and btw, they are sophomores...sophomores! 

Today's Gospel (Jn 10:22-30)
...My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.
The Father and I are one."

Taking Time to Creep on Jesus' Profile

It's dead week here at THE George Washington University and the tension on campus is palpable right now as we approach the merciful end to another semester. Folks are sleep-deprived and more apt to start spontaneously murmur incoherent babble or let their tempers get the best of them. In times like this, when it is so very easy to get caught up in chaos of papers, finals and a comically endless slew of e-mails reminding us to fill out online course evaluations, it is more important than ever to try and set aside some quiet time each day for prayer and reflection.

Back at home, there's a framed picture on one of the walls of my living room that says, Make time for the quiet moments as God whispers and the world is loud. If we fill our lives with too much studying, too much Facebook or too much idle chatter, we can make it virtually impossible to hear the Lord speaking his will for us, to us. The risk is that will fall prey to the devil, who speaks very loudly through temptations, especially at our most stressed and weary moments.

Back at home, there's a framed picture on one of the walls of my living room that says, Make time for the quiet moments as God whispers and the world is loud. If we fill our lives with too much studying, too much Facebook or too much idle chatter, we can make it virtually impossible to hear the Lord speaking his will for us, to us. The risk is that will fall prey to the devil, who speaks very loudly through temptations, especially at our most stressed and weary moments.

Now, one cannot simply ignore their responsibilities as a student or as an employee or as a friend. The challenge is to make time for God. We can make time by subtracting what you really do not need. Rather than eating in front of the TV or the computer, eat silently in prayer or do 10 minutes of spiritual reading. Instead of spending study breaks with Facebook, spend them with Our Savior. After all, amongst your 900 billion notifications, don't forget to check and see what Jesus is writing on your Wall!

This week and next I'm trying to take just 10 extra minutes per day and devote them to my spiritual formation. I hope you will join me! It should help us all to be a little more patient and a little saner. Remember, no time devoted to God is ever wasted and overlooked.

Give Peace a Chance

Dona nobis pacem. Give us peace. It's a phrase every Catholic is familiar with, even just in passing. Most people are accustomed to hearing about peace every week at Mass in the Agnus Dei, but nowhere else. That is only the most obvious example, because if you pay attention to the Bible, you know Jesus preaches about peace. If you listen to hymns, many of them devote lyrical space to peace. Even the Blessed Mother has a title devoted to peace (as in, Our Lady, Queen of Peace). Clearly this is an important aspect of our Catholic faith, but so many people don't seem to know it. I myself am a champion at not being peaceful. I can be boisterous, I can be active, and I'm great at worrying, but peace is something that eludes me rather often, and I notice that it seems to elude many others, as well. I'd like to outline a few reasons we should all be paying more attention to and striving after peace in our lives.

Reason #1: Peace is Scriptural. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus preaches specifically on having peace. Chapter 6, verses 25-34 are all about peace. Not peace with others, which is important, but peace within ourselves, which I believe is more important because if there is peace within people, it becomes easier for them to achieve peace with others. In particular, verse 34 says, "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." This advice is helpful both practically and spiritually, as we can no more affect our vocation, job prospects, or family life by worrying than we can the weather. Work one day at a time toward your desired end in accordance with God's will, and try not to worry. God knows what He has planned for you, and it will come along much more easily if you're at peace about it than if you worry yourself to pieces.

Reason #2: Peace is part of Tradition. Quick! Do you know what precedes the Sign of Peace in the Mass? It's five rapid-fire mentions of the word peace. We give peace to each other in the Mass, but how many of us bother to receive it? Paul exhorts us to greet each other with the kiss of peace, and Christians actually used to do it! Now we hardly want to give each other the Sign of Peace when we're told to, and although I understand the arguments against allowing the members of the congregation to give each other the Sign of Peace during the Mass, I find that for the most part, people who do actually give it are more at peace, or seem to be, anyway. If we've been conveying the peace of Christ to each other in some way for two millennia, why stop now? It must be important if it's lasted this long.

Reason #3: We're going to have to be at peace at some point. How many times have you worried about something, only to completely deflate when it was over? For me, that's pretty much every stressful thing I do, and I become utterly useless when I finish, neither allowing myself peace when I need it most, nor when I can actually enjoy it. Why do so many people seem to be afraid of being at peace? Why would we rather pull our hair out over things than handle them as the (mostly) relatively minor situations they are? I have no clue, but sooner or later, we're going to have to relax a little. Saint Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God, but even he acknowledges that our hearts have to rest at some point, even if it's only in heaven. Some day, each of us is going to have to be at peace, so why not cut ourselves a little slack now and practice?

Yes, I realize that saying this now is a little hypocritical, as I'm sitting on my friends' couch, surrounded by books, food, empty pizza boxes, and the clothes I changed out of earlier this morning, having just finished two ridiculous final assignments. However, I know that once Tuesday afternoon comes, I'll be able to relax just a little bit, take my time, and maybe even get in a little time for being peaceful. And I'll enjoy that. No running around, no worrying, just hanging out with my friends for a bit before finals. I'm looking forward to being at peace this week, even if I'll start to stress again next week. For now, the peace of Christ be with you. You could probably use it.