Friday, August 31, 2012

"Proud of GW (Catholic)"

A GW student posted the following message yesterday on Facebook.  This inspires us all!

"Something that actually made me proud of GW: (overseen)

A student wearing a green GW Catholics shirt went out out of his way to buy a meal for a homeless woman and her baby outside of Ivory instead of giving her money.  Just wanted to say you're awesome :)"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GW Catholics Promo Video

Praise God for last night at the Newman Center!  Over 70 students packed the chapel for Mass- the largest crowd for Tuesday Mass since I've been here.  It was so good to meet so many freshmen; my guess is they made up almost half of the group here last night.  To them, I say welcome to GW Catholics!  And, please check out our promotional video.  Special thanks to Dominique Bonessi, our Multimedia Coordinator, for producing an excellent first video!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pray for those in the Gulf States

Today classes begin for GW students.  They have many things on their minds - classes, goals for the semester, time management, student orgs, roommates, getting settled, missing home, and fitting in.  Hopefully, GW Catholic also have PIZZA on their minds - that is what we're serving tonight at TUESDAY DINNER at the Newman Center.  Mass at 5:30 pm, dinner at 6, student org fair at 6:30.
With all that you have on your mind and heart today, please include the people of New Orleans and the Gulf States in your thoughts as they brace for another big storm eerily on the seven year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Say a prayer for them, too, please.  You can say your own or this one that I found online:
Dear Heavenly Father,

We come to you today and we ask for your comfort for all those who are nervous, fearful and full of anxiety today. Lord, there are many that are waiting for the Hurricane Isaac to hit. Many have not fully recovered since Katrina hit seven years ago. Lord, in So. California, the earthquake swarm continues and the chance of a large quake looms large…if the same thing happens in California, that occurred in Japan…Lord we ask for your peace and your comfort to engulf each person that is scared about what lies ahead. Lord, you alone can calm the seas and the winds. We ask for your divine intervention, Father. We ask that the storm will weaken. We ask that the earthquakes will stop. We ask for comfort for those who have already lost loved ones in this storm. The temperatures are very hot in California and we pray especially, for the sick and elderly who are without power and ask that you would protect them.

Lord, we ask for comfort for everyone that is grieving. We ask for comfort for those who are heartsick over bad news for themselves or loved ones. We ask for comfort for every family who is watching a loved one in a struggle for life. We ask for comfort for all that are dealing with health issues. We ask for comfort for all that are missing a loved one. We ask for your comfort for all the caregivers and parents who are weary and overwhelmed and need rest, but they can’t find it. We ask for comfort Lord, for all those who are feeling lost and alone and abandoned…for all those who feel no one cares about them… for all those who are separated from family or friends. We ask for comfort for all that are in a fight to hold onto their marriages. Lord, we pray for comfort for those who are being persecuted for their faith. We pray for comfort for those who are weary from financial problems that are weighing heavy on their minds. We ask for those who need comfort because they are in spiritual battles.

Lord, we are asking for what only you can give….Lord, we are asking and believing that you will put your arms around those who are feeling cold and empty and alone in the darkness. Shine your light Lord. May it warm and sustain each one from the inside out. Our heart’s our your home…please go through each room and turn on the lights inside our hearts. May we feel your strength well up in us. May we feel your courage fortify us. May we feel your comfort as we meditate on your word today and know that your Holy Spirit is with us… and in us …and working through us to help us stand through all we face. Father, may we in turn comfort others with the comfort you give us. Lord, we thank you for hearing our prayers and we ask all these things in Jesus name, Amen

This prayer is from a wonderful blog "Hope for the Broken Hearted".

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homily - "Spiritual but real"

 Click here to go to GW Catholics website. Then, click twice on the smaller title in order to listen to Sunday's homily.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Welcome back, GW Catholics!

This weekend is move-in for all GW students. We welcome back returning GW Catholics! And, a warm welcome to new GW Catholics!! We're looking forward to a great year.

Check out our opening events by clicking here.  It will take you into our website and show you what we have planned for you this fall.

Student Masses begin this Sunday at St Stephen's Church (25th & Penn. Ave, NW): 5:30, 7:30, and 10 pm Masses.  See you at Church!

Monday, August 20, 2012

20th Sunday - homily

Put yourself in the scene of today's Gospel.  Hopefully, you've been doing that the past two Sundays as we've been hearing John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse.  We don't hear any other teaching on four consecutive Sundays like we do with the Bread of Life. Jesus teaches more on the Eucharist than any other teaching. Put yourself in this scene and keep in mind that there was a huge buzz about Jesus of Nazareth.  You would have been among those who had witnessed his miracles and healings and heard his teachings with great authority.  People were abuzz about who he was- the Prophet? The Messiah?

Then, he introduces a new teaching about bread.  The more he talks about it, the more you hear people question, complain, grumble, and even get angry.  He hears this and doesn't back down. In fact, he goes even deeper.  "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.  My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink".  The people respond by saying, "this is a hard teaching". And, they're right! And, then, they leave.  They walk out on the Lord's discourse (like people walking out on a homily...I know what that's like). They leave the Messiah over this teaching.

One of the most critical parts in all of this - in the scene, in the teaching, in the modern discussion about whether the Eucharist is the actual flesh and blood of Christ or just a symbol - is what didn't happen.  Jesus didn't stop them from leaving.  He didn't say, "wait, wait, wait.  You misunderstood me.  I wasn't speaking literally. Come back in". He didn't say that because he was speaking literally.  In this scene, he uses the word "bread" 11 times referring to himself, "flesh" 4 times, and "blood" 3 times.  His word for "to eat" is translated as "to gnaw". He uses very literal, real, and physical language. He is speaking literally and they hear him speaking literally.

You see almost all of the big crowd leave except for a small group of his disciples.  Jesus asks them, "are you leaving, too?" Peter's response is our way of life: "Lord, where will we go? You have the words of eternal life". So, who would you have joined: those who left or those who stayed?  What’s the right and true response?

One of the themes in today’s readings is wisdom versus foolishness.  Webster’s dictionary defines wise as “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right”.  Foolish is defined as “unwise”.  Apply that to John 6.  Who had the wise response?  Who had the foolish response? Were the people who walked away and have walked away from the Eucharist in the past 2000 years wise?  We’ve known some of them; they are family members or friends, maybe co-workers.  They might not have left specifically because of the teaching, but they have left the Eucharist nonetheless.  I would argue that St. Peter and the Apostles had the wise response.  With the help of the Holy Spirit (and this is key in being wise), Peter discerned properly that what Jesus was teaching was true and right.  He trusted that because Jesus says it, it’s true.  He doesn’t understand it – I’ve always imagined Peter thinking, ‘I have no clue what you’re talking about, Lord’ – but believes it.  The early Christians had the same wise approach.  They took him at his word in John 6 that “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” and “my flesh is real food…my blood is real drink” and at the Last Supper that “this is my body…this is my blood” is true.  The Church has continued the wise response ever since.  The whole reason we believe in the Eucharist is four words: “this is my body”.  He didn’t say ‘this represents my body’ or ‘this symbolizes my body’; but, “this is my body”.

The world’s response is that this is foolishness.  I would say that the Eucharist is as foolish as the Resurrection or the Cross.  St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that the Cross is foolishness to the world.  It is as foolish as the story of Jesus Christ in general! And yet, again from St. Paul, “the foolishness of God  is wiser than the wisdom of man”.

Finally, the wisdom of the Eucharist is the wisdom of his life in general.  Jesus lays out the wisdom of the Eucharist in several ways in today’s Gospel.  First, the Eucharist brings eternal life.  When we receive the Eucharist, we have a taste of Heaven! Second, we receive a share in the Resurrection: “I will raise him on the last day”.  Third, we remain in him and him in us.  Jesus wants to be so close to us that he wants to be in us.  The intimacy with Christ that the Eucharist brings! Fourth, we “will have life”.  The Lord makes it sound like a matter of life or death for our soul: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”.  Fifth, and again the wisdom of Christ’s mission in general, “whoever eats this bread will live forever”.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Spanish Olympic athlete to enter seminary"

Madrid, Spain, Aug 3, 2012 / 04:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Carlos Ballve – known as “Litus” to his friends – plays defense on the Spanish field hockey team competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
But as soon as the games end, he will head to a Belgium seminary to begin the process of becoming a priest.

According to the Spanish daily El Pais, even though he always considered himself a believer, it was only in 2005 that he became aware of the importance of God in his life.
In the summer of that year, everything began to change while he competed at the under-21 World Championships.

“We began the competition terribly. It was so bad that one Sunday I went to Mass and made a deal with God: I told him that if he fixed that Championship, I would go to Medjugore (where the alleged Marian apparitions are still being studied by the Vatican) with my father. We made history. Never before had a U-21 team won a medal, and we came in third,” he said.
Ballve kept his promise and visited Medjugore. However, he said his life still did not change, as he continued “to go to parties with girls, spend money left and right, and had little or no intention of praying.” 

 But “something inside of me said, 'Litus, you are free and you can do what you want, but right now you are not happy.'”
Although he was at the top of his game, he decided to quit again and go in search for God.

 “I told him, 'I don’t know what’s wrong. Strange things are happening. I want to come clean with you, so here I am, do what you want.'” 
His life began to change, and he only asked the Lord to let him fulfill his dream of playing in the Olympics.

Ballve called his time at the games thus far “an incredible and precious experience.” He said he hopes “not only to win, but to grow in my living of the faith, sharing this with people from so many parts of the world,” the newspaper reported.

Monday, August 13, 2012

19th Sunday - homily

Before I was ordained a priest I was stationed at a parish in the area.  I became friends with a family through the high school youth group.  The father and a few of his kids were having an awakening in their Catholic faith at that time.  The mother was not Catholic but was becoming more interested in the Catholic Church. She and I started to have conversations about the faith.  Ultimately, we talked about John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse, which we are hearing these Sundays...these awesome Sundays with John 6! Like many Protestants (and most Catholics), she wasn't familiar with John 6. She wasn't aware how much Jesus talked about his flesh and blood in this chapter, and how real and literal his language is.

I pointed out to her a distinction we can make between the Protestant Communion and the Catholic Eucharist based on the distinction our Lord makes between manna and the Bread of Life.  Manna was just bread; Protestant Communion is just bread.  The Bread of Life and the Catholic Eucharist are the same thing: the Body and Blood of Christ.  It is his actual flesh and blood; it's really Him. As she was learning this, she became more attracted to the Eucharist.  She paid more attention at Mass which she attended with her husband and children. She expressed a desire to become Catholic and receive the Eucharist.

But, she ran into a problem. She explained to me the problem she was having was with Catholics after Mass in her parish.  She said they were gossiping, cursing and telling inappropriate jokes in the parking lot...right after receiving the Eucharist. This caused her great scandal.  She couldn't make the final leap to believe in the Eucharist because of the malice she observed in Catholics within minutes of participating in the majestic feast of the Eucharistic banquet.

St Paul tells us in the second reading to avoid such malice: bitterness, anger, shouting, etc.  This grieves the Holy Spirit, especially after Mass at any parish.  Grief has to do with death.  The Holy Spirit grieved that this woman's faith in the Eucharist died because charity died in the parking lot. We hear about death in each of the readings today. In the first reading, Elijah's hope has died. He tells the Lord, "this is enough. Take my life". He has lost hope; he is in despair. In the Gospel, Christ teaches that those who ate manna still died.

But, the theme of life is the dominant theme. Life in Christ dominates death! The theme of life dominates because the theme is on the  Eucharist. In the Eucharist is life.  St Paul exhorts us to "live in love" and to be a "sacrificial offering to God". This is Eucharistic language. Elijah eats the food that the angel of God gives him and is filled with strength and hope.  The Eucharist gives us strength, hope, and life to continue on our journey. Jesus teaches that He is the Bread of Life...whoever eats this bread will live forever. The Eucharist is our life!

If you are struggling in any way like Elijah was, if you are losing hope or down of life, I invite you to come to the Eucharist.  Come receive the hope and strength of the Bread of Life.  Take the time during Holy Communion seriously as the Lord is inside you.  Stay after Mass for a few minutes to give thanks to God for the immeasurable gift of the Eucharist and Jesus' sacrifice.  Attend a daily Mass sometime this week.  Daily Mass is awesome! It's an incredible way to start the work day or spend part of your lunch break. Go to for a listing of all the Masses in your area. If possible, too, spend some time in Eucharistic Adoration.  This is the best way in prayer to experience the living Presence of God.

Jesus says in the last line of today's Gospel that this is all for real.  "The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world".  It is really his is really our life.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Journey of Hope"

Two GW Catholics, Sloan Dickey and Jacob Sutherland, biked across the United States this summer as part of the "Journey of Hope".  Sloan set up a blog site with videos and writings to chronicle this epic and inspiring trip.   He writes about the trip below; click here to view the videos on his blog.  Major thanks to Sloan and Jake for all the sacrifices they made this summer and for being open to the strength of God throughout the journey.  He helped get you through every leg of it.  Congrats on your accomplishments!!

The Journey of Hope is a 4000 mile bike ride across America for the purpose of raising awareness and funds for programs that support people with disabilities. On this ride we will be stopping at camps and community centers across the nation to show our support. Each day will consist of a combination of biking, visits, team events, and, hopefully, a little bit of rest.

For the biking portion of our trip, we will be covering anywhere between 60 and 120 miles per day. You can trace the day-by-day distances here. The Journey of Hope is divided into three sections, the Southern route, the Northern route and the trans-America route. All three have different landscapes, difficulties and destinations. My route starts in Seattle and heads through Montana and Wyoming. Then we meet up with the Northern route in Colorado as we head to Kansas. Next we head up to Ohio and back down to Kentucky. We end the trip in the Virginias and cap off our trip in Washington DC on August 5th.

For the service part of our trip, we will be visiting camps and community centers. Here we will play games, converse, and, hopefully, bring joy to people with a form of disability. I often wonder what it is will be like to bike across the nation while visiting people who may never have that opportunity because of some form of incapacity. The way I see it is that I will hopefully bring recognition to challenges that are visually smaller yet truthfully and significantly larger than any journey I face. Challenges such as learning to walk, or talk, or communicate, or adapt to a disability that was not acquired by choice. Hopefully we can bring to light some of these challenges that make our ride seem easy.

I am truly blessed to be a part of this experience and I hope that I can give back as much as I gain. It will be a difficult ride, but I think that it will be one that I will never forget.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Catholic Olympians (part 2)

Faith guides Maryland swimmer, youngest on US Olympic team, in quest for gold

By Maureen Boyle
Catholic News Service

BETHESDA, Md. (CNS) — (Katie Ledecky, 15, a sophomore at Stone Ridge school of the Sacred Heart and a parishioner at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland won the gold medal in the Olympic 800-meter freestyle last Friday and broke the U.S. record for women in her event).

She spoke with the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese, about her life, family, school, swimming career and strong Catholic faith, which, she said, keeps her focused on God and what matters most in life. She and her family are longtime parishioners of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda.

“I always pray right before a race,” Ledecky said. “The prayer I say is the Hail Mary.

“I also love going to Mass every week. It’s a great chance to reflect and connect with God. (My faith) has been a big part of my life since I was born,” she explained.

Ledecky said she has always loved St. Anne, the mother of Mary, and chose her name for confirmation. Because her birthday is March 17, Ledecky also has a special devotion to St. Patrick.

She credited the example of men and women religious she has known for inspiration. She called the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who taught her at Little Flower School in Bethesda, “great role models.”

Her godfather, Jesuit Father Jim Shea, provincial of the Maryland Province of the Jesuits, is a close family friend and another Ledecky supporter.

Meet Regis Jesuit's Olympic Hopeful Missy Franklin


DENVER, COLO., August 4 (CNA) .- (Missy Franklin, 17, from Aurora, CO, won five medals in women’s swimming: four golds and one bronze).

Q: I understand your experience at Regis Jesuit has deepened your spiritual life and you are considering converting to Catholicism. What is your faith background? Can you share a bit about how your experiences there have impacted your spirituality?

A: My experiences at Regis Jesuit have absolutely impacted my spiritual life, in so many ways. I am considering converting to Catholicism; I'm currently Protestant.

Going into Regis Jesuit my faith was not a very big aspect of my life. Taking my first theology classes, going to my first Masses, going on my first retreats, I began to realize how important God is in my life and how much I love him and need him. My relationship with (God) grew so much within my first three years at Regis Jesuit and I am very happy with where I am with him right now, although there is a lot of more work to do.

Junior year has really affected me because I have had two of the best experiences of my life. I was on the girls division 26th Kairos (annual retreat for juniors), then we had two weeks of service projects in the beginning of January. Both of these changed my life. I am also hoping to be selected for our winter delegation for the Belize mission trip. I am so thankful for Regis Jesuit, for they have brought God and so much meaning into my life.

Posted with permssion from the Denver Catholic Register. Official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Denver.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Catholic Olympians (part 1)

Athletes Putting Christ 1st With Daily Mass in Olympic Village
Mass Brings Highest Attendance of Any Religious Service

LONDON, England, AUG. 6, 2012 ( The Catholic Church of England and Wales is taking advantage of the Olympic Games to evangelize London locals, the thousands of tourists in the city for the events, and the athletes as well.
Speaking to Vatican Radio, James Parker, Catholic executive coordinator for the Olympic Games, reported that not only is daily Mass celebrated within the Olympic Village, it also has the "highest attendance at any of the religious services."

"There are a number of athletes and officials from various nations who are coming there every day and they are placing Christ at the beginning and the center of all they do," he said.
"People are beginning to come out of their homes they want to meet, to be together for festivities. The Churches have been preparing for this. The Catholic Church and other Christian communities have organized festivals to harness this community spirit. So that people have the opportunity to speak about what brings joy to their lives and an opportunity to speak about Christ," Parker said.

One year ago this month, Pope Benedict XVI told the future of the global Church that their task was to bring Christ to the ends of the earth and among contemporary society. Again this month he repeated this mandate in his missionary prayer intentions for August: "that young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the end of the earth."
Proving that they earnestly take him at his word, young Catholics from 21 nations have invaded London’s Olympic borough, pitching their tents on the green lawns of Bonaventure’s Catholic high school, creating their own "Joshua Camp."

Over the next three days, these young men and women, boys and girls will be attending daily catechesis, prayer vigils, Eucharistic Adoration and Mass in the shadow of the Olympic stadium.

Parker said these days of reflection, prayer and meditation are a vital part of the mission. "It's not just about street evangelization, it's about being open to the message of Christ in our own hearts first and foremost. It's not just a message that we share. We are sharing Christ with the people around us," he said.
On Tuesday, Joshua Camp will be out and about mingling with sports fans from across the globe and local East London residents.

"The Joshua Camp is about going to the poor and needy on the periphery of the Games," Parker said, "and saying 'come and see what it's all about' and not only but also ‘come and take part of this great banquet that God’s got prepared for us.'"

From professional athlete to the Catholic priesthood.   by Sheryl A. Englund,

When the IC football team took the 1991 Division III national title in the championship game against the University of Dayton, quarterback Joe Fitzgerald ’93 was in seventh heaven. Joe remembers with relish, too, standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the 1996 Olympic opening ceremony in Atlanta with fellow U.S. Olympian Shaquille O’Neal. Days later Joe heard the swelling cheers of the crowds when he scored a goal against Sweden for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team Handball Squad. (The U.S. team lost the game in the final minutes and was eliminated after six games; Sweden went on to win the silver medal.)
Losing was not a crushing defeat for Joe; the young athlete always put things in perspective. “When IC won the national [football] championship,” recalls the North Babylon, New York, native, “I said that if the birth of my first child or the day I say my first mass is not a bigger event than winning a game, then I don’t have my priorities straight.” Both paths seemed possible to him at the time.

There were many proud moments during his sports career — which included a decade traveling with the national handball team and a year playing professional handball in Sweden — but none compared to how he felt this past June 10. On that day he did actually celebrate his first mass as a Roman Catholic priest, after completing his studies at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Long Island. More than a dozen IC friends attended Joe’s ordination the day before at St. Agnes Cathedral. Since then he has been serving as one of four priests at St. Killian Church in Farmingdale, a large congregation with a bishop in residence.

A few weeks after that momentous day, on August 3, Joe married Lauren Avellino ’04 — to her Ithaca College sweetheart, Jason Macy ’03; it was Joe’s first time officiating at a wedding. “Ithaca College was such an important part of our lives,” says Lauren. “We were blessed to have Father Joe initiate our life together.”

Despite the great change in his life, much has remained the same for this athlete and believer. “The spiritual journey,” Joe observes, “is very similar to training for an athletic event. They both take a great deal of discipline.”

Joe still works out when he can — he completed the New York City Marathon last year with a time of 4:11:12 — but now he views athletics as a way to reach and relate to people. “People love their priest,” he says. “There aren’t too many Olympic priests, or priests who played football at a great school. My experiences help me get into lives in a different way.”

Monday, August 06, 2012

18th Sunday - homily

I've been able to watch a little of the Olympics and have been so impressed by these amazing athletes, many of whom are teenagers.  It's been so good to see the female swimmer from Aurora, Colorado win four gold medals; her town and state needed that after the summer they've had. By the way, she said before London that she is seriously considering becoming Catholic! And, our area received a dose of Olympic adrenalin from Katie Ledecky, a 15 year old swimmer from Bethesda. Katie won a gold medal and set an American record in her event.  She is a strong Catholic who prays a Hail Mary before every race.

But, the coolest event I have seen at the Olympics has been trampolining. It's the first time I had seen it and I couldn't believe what I was watching.  The guy I saw was from Russia and he had to have been bouncing 50 feet in the air! He was doing all of these flips, twists, and turns, and then coming down in the middle of the trampoline.  He did this at least five times in a row.  I was dizzy just watching him. And, then he walked off perfectly fine.  If I landed one of those bounces, I would be happy to be alive...and then walk away quickly.
Athletes can teach us so much about discipline, especially Olympic athletes. If we took care of our souls the way they take care of their bodies, we would be in great spiritual shape! When people come to me struggling to live one of the virtues, I often point to the example of athletes. They make a habit of doing what is right; that's the definition of a virtue. Athletes repeat the same practices every day, believing that "practice makes perfect". We approach prayer in the same way, repeating the same practices every day and every week.  The Church has always held up the discipline of athletes as something we should emulate in our lives of faith.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 9, St Paul writes, "athletes deny themselves all sorts of things. They do it to win a crown that perishes, but we for a crown that doesn't perish" (v. 25).

Jesus commands us in today's Gospel, "do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life" (Jn 6). Are we working for food that perishes? Do we put all of our time and effort into the things of this world only? Or, are we working for the food that endures for eternal life? Do we invest in the things of Heaven while on Earth? I’d like to go through some aspects of your lives to help see for what you are working as a whole.

The area in your life to which this command most directly affects is your vocation and career. Are you working to build up your own kingdom or the kingdom of God? Financially, do you spend money only on material items? Or, do you give to the Church and the poor through tithing? In relationships, are you looking for people who are rich in the things of the world or people who are rich in the things of God? How much of your free time do you give to the Lord in prayer? In November, will you vote only according to politics or according to morals? The biggest distinction between food that perishes and food that endures for eternal life might be in the moral life.  Are we working toward pleasure or joy? Pleasure is food that perishes; it doesn't last. The things of the world might bring pleasure.  But, the things of Christ bring joy. Joy lasts.  It is among "the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you".

This first part of the "Bread of Life discourse" is a lead-in to the Lord's teaching on the Eucharist which we will hear over the next few Sundays. He introduces the Eucharist as the "bread of God...which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world". The people's response to the Eucharist should be our response: "give us this bread always". If every Catholic knew what we are receiving in the Eucharist, we would all not only be here every Sunday…we would be on our knees coming forward.  The food that Christ offers, particularly the Eucharist, is the bread which comes down from Heaven.  It is different from all other food around us; it satisfies us and does not leave us hungry. "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst".

Friday, August 03, 2012

A tip to get rid of bad habits

GW Catholics are familiar with Fr. Tom Morrow.  He has spoken at the Newman Center several times and his writings on living faith and virtue have been helping GW Catholics for three years.  Among his many regularly published works is the “Catholic Family Quarterly”.  In the most recent issue of CFQ, Fr. Morrow addresses an issue we all need help with: overcoming bad habits.  As usual, his advice is well-researched (the sources are cited at the bottom of today’s post), based on real examples, and extremely helpful.  In particular, I ask you all to pay attention to the practice of putting dollar bills in a coffee mug.  I suggested this idea to two people who have temper tantrums; they tried it, and it has curtailed much of their anger.     It works!

Invert the Economy

Inverting the economy means offering yourself incentives to make the changes you want. An example the authors use is that of behavior that leads you closer to divorce. If every time you behaved a certain way–in our case got unreasonably angry–you lost $1,000, you might be much more motivated to change. (In fact, divorce reduces a person's net worth by 77%).2

What the authors of Change Anything found was that short-term incentives worked better than long-term. One young man had any number of long-term incentives provided by his boss for taking special classes to improve his computer skills, but he needed more. So, he provided himself smaller incentives each week he attended class and did the homework: he would take his girlfriend out to one of his favorite restaurants. That's what put him over the top.3

Authors Patterson and co. point out it is known among behavioral economists that we are more motivated to avoid losing something, than we are to gain something else. One man needing more motivation to go to the gym regularly hired a fitness coach to work with him. Missing a day at the gym would not have bothered him much, but wasting the money he was paying for the fitness coach would have bothered him a good deal and that kept him coming to the gym.4

They investigated a movie actress who was given a large monetary incentive for each pound she lost. Once she reached her goal what happened? She went back to her old weight. The point they draw from this is that we should us e incentives, but not large ones. A large incentive can become the main incentive for change and once it is gone, so is the good behavior. So, they recommend small, short-term incentives, rather than large long-term ones.5

I tried this myself recently. I wanted to get rid of a bad habit, so I put ten one dollar bills in a coffee mug. Each day I avoided the bad habit, I took a dollar out. Each time I failed I put two dollars in. If the amount in the jar increased to twenty dollars, I would give ten to the poor. Within 4 days my habit was almost completely wiped out! So what's a dollar to me or to you? Not very much. Nonetheless, when I knew the money was there and the consequences, it gave me sufficient motivation to overcome a habit I had not been able to beat. My interest in winning the "game" helped keep me aware of the goal.

 …So, if your problem is anger, you might try the same sort of thing. Perhaps put twenty dollars in a cup, and take out one dollar each day you don't lose your cool, and put in five each time you get angry. If the total goes to thirty, or forty, give al l but twenty to the poor. The psychological benefit of this little trick is amazing.

2  J. L. Zagorsky, "Marriage and Divorce's Impact on Wealth," Journal

of Sociology, 41 no. 4 (2005) pp. 406-424, as found in Change

Anything, p. 102.

3  Kerry Patterson, et. al., Change Anything, pp. 103, 104.

4  Change Anything, p. 106.

5  Change Anything, pp. 107, 108

Thursday, August 02, 2012

OLOL Gala, 1984

Dug up recently in the archives of the Shaffer home, here is a video to give GW Catholics a laugh (and an opening for sass).  It's your chaplain at 13 as the "Young MC".  For seven years until he died in 1988, my Dad wrote, directed, and produced a gala every Spring that our parish enjoyed thoroughly.  We thank God for his talents and gifts and for the years he was with us!  The video below it is him and his buddies in "The Henway Five".

OLOL Gala, 1984 (2)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The mandate has begun

Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 7/31/12

Despite one positive ruling in a case allowing a company to be exempted from the Obamacare HHS mandate, the pro-abortion mandate that pro-life groups strenuously oppose will take effect tomorrow.

A memo from the Catholic Association explains how the ruling was a positive step but not sufficient to stop the mandate nationwide.

“Last week, a federal court dealt a major blow to the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in their healthcare plans,” it said. ” In the first-ever legal victory against the mandate, the court granted a temporary injunction to the family-owned Hercules Industries in Colorado. The Obama administration argued that employers have no conscience rights if they engage in a for-profit business, and therefore the business owners — the Newland family – ought to be subject to millions of dollars in fines per year for non-compliance.”

“While this was a significant victory, it is only applies to the Newlands, and it is only temporary. The livelihood and religious freedom of countless other private employers hangs in the balance on August 1,” the Catholic Association continued.

The mandate adversely affects three categories of businesses and organizations in different ways and the Catholic Association spells them out:

Category 1: For-Profit Employers

For-profit private employers do not qualify for the one-year safe harbor and are thus completely unprotected as of August 1. This is especially harmful to small and family-owned businesses that tend to have boutique or custom insurance plans to conform to religious or value-oriented workplace cultures. Many businesses are suing the Obama administration seeking immediate relief from the August 1 deadline. The penalty for non-compliance is $100 per day, per employee. For the Newland family business, the fines would add up to millions of dollars per year.

 Category 2: Groups in Limbo

Some employers do not yet know if they qualify for the safe harbor. They may only object to some but not all of the services – for example, the evangelical college Wheaton, which has also filed suit against the Administration, objects to abortion-causing drugs but not contraception. These employers are left completely in the dark as to what will happen to them on August 1 and whether or not they will be slapped with crippling fines.

Category 3: Religiously Affiliated Employers
Objecting employers with a religious affiliation are essentially left with one year to scramble. The so-called accommodation, which has not been implemented, was widely rejected as an accounting gimmick. Even Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association (and a supporter of the President’s health care plan), originally supported the accommodation but after closer examination, called it unacceptable and unworkable. These religious entities are left with no option but to wait one more year before they have to begin violating the teachings of their faith or pay severe fines.

A one-year “safe harbor” allows some groups to not be affected until August 2013, but there is no overall religious accommodation.

Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate, also condemned the start of the HHS mandate implementation.

“August 1st will be remembered as the day our most cherished liberty was thrown in a government dumpster and hauled away,” he told LifeNews. “A day when family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide products and services for free. And if they don’t, they will be taxed and fined at a time when job creators are struggling with enough costs and bureaucratic red-tape at every level of government just to stay in business.”

“While the courts have provided a reprieve for one family business in Colorado, the government will never be able to repair the broken conscience of thousands of others until this mandate is removed,” Smith said.

Conscience Cause, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving the right of conscience, declared the beginning of the end of religious freedom as the HHS mandate goes into effect tomorrow. it strongly opposes the mandate because it forces businesses and organizations to pay for products and services that violate their faith or face massive fines. In phase two of the mandate’s implementation, one year from tomorrow, religious institutions will face the same devastating decision, the group complains.

“The implementation of this policy tomorrow marks the beginning of the end of religious freedom in our nation,” said Christen Varley, executive director of Conscience Cause.

“Starting tomorrow, employers with religious and moral objections must make an unimaginable choice: comply and deny your faith, or resist and be subject to crippling fines. Religious institutions have been given an absurd one year reprieve in which to decide the same. People of faith and those who believe in protecting our constitutional freedoms will continue the fight to repeal and bar any regulation that would compel individuals and institutions, including religious hospitals, schools and charities, to violate the tenets of their faith or be subject to penalty of law,” added Varley.

“Conscience Cause will continue our efforts to inform the public as well as to petition Congress to overrule this devastating policy. If we do not stand up and make our voices heard, it is only a matter of time before our other liberties come under direct assault.”