Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Man gets mugged, turns the other cheek

I saw this story on yesterday. Talking about turning the other cheek (which I was on Sunday night)!! 

This Man Got Mugged At A Train Station. What He Did Next Was Genius.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Homily - "Make room for dessert"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

A friend of mine asked me to visit her in the hospital this weekend.  I told her I would try, but that it was an extremely busy weekend, and I couldn’t promise anything.  Her last message to me (we played phone tag) was, “I know you’re busy saying all those Masses”.  Do Catholics really think that all priests do is say Mass!  I guess so because that’s all that most of them see us do.  So, let me go through the weekend I had…it was busy, and not just saying Mass.

I took students out to Outback Friday night, a tradition we started years ago after our Alternative Spring Break trip.  We always joke about fasting for a couple of days so we can enjoy the feast of Blooming Onion, dinner, and dessert….and to expand our stomachs to make more room.  After that, I met up with a grad student for a late-night drink.  We talked about faith, God’s Will, and vocation.  It was awesome.  Woke up early Saturday morning to celebrate Mass and Holy Hour which I do every day.  Then, had two meetings for spiritual direction.  Went down the road to celebrate a baptism; the baby cried the whole time!  That was a quick baptism.  Visited people in the hospital – first Sibley and then Georgetown.  Came back to Newman, heard confessions, then went out with a student to a parish in Maryland to take up a collection for this year’s spring break trip.  Brought the student back to campus, then went back out to Maryland to hear confessions for 2 hours at a women’s retreat.  Returned to campus around 11:30 pm.  15 hour day which is pretty typical in the priesthood…but not always with all the back and forth.  Woke up at 6:45 this morning which was ridiculous (!).  Went back out to the parish to continue the collection with two other students, came back to two more appointments, confessions, and now hear for tonight’s Masses.  So, yeah, priesthood is a bit more than saying Masses!

I really just wanted to let you know what priests do, and don’t know if your priests back home have ever done that.  I didn’t intend to tie this into the readings, but there was a part of this that relates.  On Friday afternoon when the hospital visit calls came in, I basically said to the Lord, ‘my weekend is packed, Lord.  My plate is full.  I can’t do these visits’.  What came back to me was pretty much, ‘make room’.  Like, the equivalent of ‘leave room for dessert’.  This ties in to the readings because to love as God loves – to be holy as God is holy or to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect – is to expand our hearts to love more. 

Jesus gives us many examples of how to love as God loves and to be perfect as God is perfect, including love your enemies.  We might feel like our plate of love is full.  We love people who love us.  God is saying tonight to make room for dessert.  Make room in your hearts to love your enemies.  Expand your hearts, expand your love, expand your charity.  This is very hard to do, and so if we start to live this, then we start to believe that we are actually being perfect as the Father is perfect.  God loves those who love Him and those who hate Him.  “He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust”. 

The examples from the Gospel are telling us to show love in ways that people haven’t seen before.  Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, give your cloak, go the extra mile, and give to those who ask.  Let’s take “turn the other cheek” and see what that means to you right now.  Fr. Robert Barron in the “Catholicism” video series analyzes what “turn the other cheek” means and uses famous examples of people who responded to violence with non-violence: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Pope John Paul II. His main point was that turn the other cheek adds a third option in reaction to violence.  We are used to  the other two: fight or flight.  Turn the other cheek means to stand your ground and to effect a change in the one bringing violence.  Really, it means to turn the other one.  To turn the other from violence to non-violence, from hate to love, from lies to truth.  He gives specific, creative examples involving Bishop Tutu in South Africa and Mother Teresa.  Mother Teresa brought a starving child to a bakery, and asked the baker for some bread for the kid.  The baker violently spat in her face.  She turned the other cheek, and said, “thank you for that gift for me.  Now, how about something for the child”.  On campus here, it might happen during class when a professor attacks the Church in the middle of a lecture (which happens more often than I would have thought).  Turning the other cheek  might mean to raise your hand during class and say, “that’s not true” and why.  One GW Catholic did that (and the professor apologized to the class), and another went to a professor after class.   In friendships, turning the other cheek might involve fraternal correction when you correct someone in love for something they did or said.  The basic point is, “don’t do this to me again”. 

Finally, the best example of all of loving as the Father loves is the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He loved his enemies; he gave his life for those who were killing him!  He turned the other cheek, gave his cloak, and went the extra mile….for all of us.  We remember this in the Eucharist at Mass, and ask the Lord to give us the grace to love as God loves and to expand our hearts. That, in one way this week, we will love our enemies, be holy as God is holy, and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Gossip is very ugly!”


Vatican City, February 17, 2014 ( -
...The Holy Father reflected on the Sunday’s Gospel, which spoke of Christ’s desire to fulfill the Law of Moses...
Referring to Christ’s words about ‘killing’ a brother through judging, the Pope told the faithful that gossip is an example of this form of judgement.
“Gossiping too can kill because it kills a person’s reputation! Gossip is very ugly!” he exclaimed. “At the beginning it can seem pleasant, even entertaining, like sucking on candy. But in the end it fills our hearts with bitterness, and it poisons us too.”
“I will tell you the truth, I am convinced that if each of us were to decide to avoid gossip, in the end we would become a saint! It is a beautiful path!”

2) FROM TODAY's 1st Reading (James 1:19-27) at Mass:

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
for anger does not accomplish
the righteousness of God...

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"The Catholic Guy Show"


"Have you heard of the Catholic guy? I've never heard so much smack from anyone besides you!  Hilarious". 

This was a text I received from a good friend last week. "Smack" must have been a spell check error on her phone.  "Smart stuff" is probably what she meant to write...

I actually had not heard of "The Catholic Guy".  This show is pretty funny.  Check out some of the podcasts HERE.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Homily - "In search of the eternal buzz"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

Tonight, I’d like to do a little Q & A with you.  Don’t worry, I won’t be asking you the questions.  This isn’t Confirmation, and I’m not the bishop! These are questions I’ve been asked repeatedly here at GW the past five years.  And, they relate to tonight’s readings.  This will be intense because the readings are intense.  First question, how can we reconcile God’s omniscience with our free will?  If God knows all things and knows what we will choose in the future, then our choices are not really free.  If we’re really free, then God doesn’t know what we will choose in the future.  How do we reconcile all of this?  I found a good answer online from a Dominican, Father Serpa.  He says: “There is nothing to reconcile. Because you know that the sun will be in the sky tomorrow doesn’t mean that you will have caused it to be there! Even though God already knows what our free choices will be in the future, our choices are still ours and are still free. If our free choices change how the future will be, God already knows that and has known it for all eternity.”  I think of parents who know culturally what’s going on…maybe not all-knowing, but knowing.  They raise their kids to make the right choices.  By the time their kids leave home, they pretty much know what bad they choose, good or bad.  Just because they might know, their kids still make free choices.  Just because God knows what we choose doesn’t take away from our freedom.

Second question…well, more of a comment.  Jesus talks about divorce in tonight’s Gospel (Mt 5:17-37).  I know many of you are children of divorced parents.  You have experienced many wounds and hurt.  I want to make myself available for you to talk about it.  You probably still have a lot of questions.  There are many misconceptions about divorce, divorced Catholics, and annulments.  You probably heard the words of our Lord tonight with a particular attention; maybe it prompted more questions.  My door is open to help tackle your questions or just to talk.

Third question: how can an all-loving, all-merciful God send anyone to Hell?  He doesn’t.  Hell is a choice.  Heaven is a choice.  We hear much about choice in tonight’s first reading (Sir 15:15-20). “Before man (male and female) are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him”.  Pope John Paul II said that “hell is not a punishment imposed by God.  It is the natural consequence of an unrepentant sinner’s choice against God”.  You all know people who are choosing against God.  You are hoping and praying that their choice will not hold up until their death.  The key word is unrepentant which means that they have no desire to change.  If that holds up until death, well, that’s what we’re talking about.  I know people who have told me they are choosing hell over heaven.  Hell is a lack of heaven just like evil is a lack of good or cold is a lack of heat (as we’ve experienced much in the past few weeks here).  It means being away from God, what’s good, and others.  I think Hell is loneliness.  Some people choose to be alone rather than with others.

Anytime we choose mortal sin, we choose Hell.  Jesus gives a few examples of that in tonight’s Gospel - sins caused by the eye or hand can lead to Gehenna (Hell).  But, in general, hell is a result of free will, and ultimately, God’s love.  God has created us to choose Heaven…to choose life…to choose love.  But, He won’t force us.  Love can’t be forced; it has to be chosen.  If God intervened to keep people out of Hell, then it wouldn’t be love and we wouldn’t be free.  We really are free…to choose Heaven or Hell.  If all this talk about Hell is scaring you, well, that’s what Confession is for.  Confession keeps us out of Hell.

Fourth question, and more positive: what is Heaven like?  I love this quote from Isaiah to which St. Paul refers in the second reading: “eye has not seen, ear has not heard…what God has prepared for those who love him”.  In other words, we cannot fathom how awesome Heaven will be!  I like to think of Heaven as the greatest party or event we’ve been to.  Maybe all your friends or family are there.  It’s not too crazy, just a really good time.  And, it lasts forever.  That’s Heaven.  There are no regrets…no hangover…no last call…no closing time.  (Can you tell that I worked in a bar in college?!).  Heaven is an eternal buzz!

Finally, when you come here, you choose Heaven.  It’s amazing how committed you are to Heaven by coming to Mass every Sunday…in college.  It’s so inspiring / heroic...keep it up!  And, when you specifically come to the Eucharist, you choose Heaven.  Christ Himself says that “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”.  I’d like to close with a quote from St. Therese of Lisieux (it’s more of a poem):

"Living Bread, Heavenly Bread, Eucharist Divine
O Sacred Mystery! founded on Love's play...
Jesus, my white Host, come in this heart of mine
If only for today.

Here below our sweet office
Is to prepare for the altar
The bread and wine of the Sacrifice
Which brings ‘Heaven’ to earth!”


Friday, February 14, 2014

Our Lady of the Highways, pray for us


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Little Sisters with Big Hearts" (by Chris Crawford)

Congratulations to Chris Crawford, a GW Catholic senior, who wrote the following article for National Catholic Register that was published this week:


Little Sisters With Big Hearts  

At the Jeanne Jugan Home in Washington, the Little Sisters of the Poor care for the elderly with both quality health care and joy-filled hospitality.
by Christopher Crawford
More than 60 years ago, Leonard Donatelli was in search of a job in Washington.

“After World War II, I got off of a bus in a rough section of town,” he told the Register Feb. 5. “I was looking for a job. I knocked on the door of this brick building and said, ‘I’m a tailor. St. Joseph sent me to help you.’”

The brick building belonged to the Little Sisters of the Poor. They had been praying to St. Joseph, asking him to send them a tailor for the home. Donatelli worked and volunteered at the Jeanne Jugan Home, a residency center for the elderly poor, until retiring in 1988. Now 91 years old, he is a resident.

“The sisters walk the talk,” he said. “They really want to help the people. That’s the beautiful part. No matter where you come from, what race or religion, they want to help.”

As the Little Sisters’ homes continue to operate in this spirit, they are involved in a legal battle. The Little Sisters of the Poor and all similarly situated groups, including the Washington home, were granted a Jan. 24 reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court from having to pay fines as their lawsuit against the federal government’s contraceptive mandate continues. Opening briefs are due Feb. 24 at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The Little Sisters are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

A Vocation of Love

At the Jeanne Jugan Home, the Little Sisters’ day begins at 5:30am. The home, named for St. Jeanne Jugan — the founder of their order, who was canonized in 2009 — houses 37 residential rooms and 40 nursing-facility rooms for the elderly poor.

The sisters say a personal meditative prayer at 6am, before praying Morning Prayer together half an hour later. On most days, they spend much of the rest of their day taking care of the elderly in their home. While some sisters are trained to provide medical care, others oversee staff members, provide food for the residents and assist with their everyday needs.

Sister Marie Grace has been with the Little Sisters since 1995. “While working with the St. Joseph Sisters … I was moved by the work of taking care of the elderly. I realized that it was the face of Christ in front of me,” she told the Register. “I felt as though working with the elderly was what God was calling me to do.”

After spending one summer with the Little Sisters, she was invited to join the order. “And the rest is history!” she said with a laugh.

Sister Mary Bernard also followed her vocational path to the Little Sisters. During her early years attending Catholic school, she believed that she was called to the religious life but did not want to teach. In eighth grade, she visited the Little Sisters of the Poor in Cleveland. She fell in love with the work and spent “every free moment” volunteering. After graduating from high school in 1958, her parents gave her permission to join the Little Sisters.

‘Give Them a Home’

A lot has changed at the Little Sisters’ residency centers since Sister Mary Bernard first joined the order. “Back then, they weren’t even health-care facilities; they were just homes for the elderly,” she said. “Our founder’s philosophy was: ‘Give them a home and make them a part of the family.’ And that’s what we did.”

In the ’60s and ’70s, she explained, the Little Sisters’ homes changed dramatically. They became entire health-care facilities, comparable to nursing homes. As a result, the Little Sisters needed to be professionally licensed and employ a much larger staff to keep up with changing regulations. Even today, the Little Sisters’ homes face the same inspections as other nursing homes.

According to Sister Mary Bernard, “Our whole philosophy is: ‘Receive them.’ Give them a home until they die. And we are with them day and night when they are dying, and that is the climax of our mission. It’s gotten much more sophisticated, but through it all, we have tried to keep the spirit of our founder alive. And that is what has allowed us to endure so much.”

Sister Marie Grace agreed, saying that caring for the dying is the “summit” of their vocation.

“We never leave them alone,” she said. “We are there to be with them, pray with them and to keep them comfortable. We need them to know that someone is praying for them. ... You can feel God so present at the end of a person’s life. He is coming for that soul; you can feel him so close.”

Grateful Residents

Many residents are eager to express gratitude for the work of the Little Sisters.

One resident, resting in a wheelchair and barely able to speak, described her stay with the Little Sisters as “heaven on earth.”

Joe, a resident with cerebral palsy, said the sisters provide love even when it isn’t easy.

“They see the love of Christ in people, even when we don’t deserve it. Some of [the residents] are old, cranky and didn’t get much love at home. But the sisters see Christ in us — not that we are worthy. And that makes a big difference.”

The pervasive sense of Christ’s love is what led Sisters Anne and Miriam of the Third Order Secular Carmelite Discalced to move into the Jeanne Jugan Home as residents.

In the late 1990s, during a trip to Washington from their home in New Jersey, they visited the Jeanne Jugan Home to see the sister of a member of their order. They fell in love with the place and filled out paperwork to retire there before they left that day. They moved into the home in 2000.

Sister Miriam emphasized the Little Sisters’ vow of hospitality as the cornerstone of their work.

“We can see that in all they do,” she said. “They exceed that vow. When a sister walks into a room to get something done, five people stop her and ask for help. She helps them all and somehow still remembers why she came into the room in the first place.”

Sister Anne emphasized the quality of care in the home. “There are nurses here 24 hours a day, and we don’t have to worry about doctors. Doctors come here, and if we need to go to the doctor, the sisters bend over backwards to help us.”

Both sisters spoke highly of the activities office in the home.

“There’s always something going on in the café,” Sister Miriam said. “And they do special things throughout the year. Around Christmastime, they used to drive us around the town and bring us to see all the Christmas lights.”

When asked if the activities stand out as the best part of her experience, she said, “Everything stands out. Everything is a whole new part of life at the end of my life. This is a house of the Lord. They are even there when you die. They are doing everything that is in the Gospel. We are all one.”

She added, “We are their vocation. If you are just here for a job, you don’t have that spirit. The sisters have the spirit of those who serve.”

Another appreciative resident at the Jeanne Jugan Home is Cardinal William Baum. The longest-serving cardinal in U.S. history, Cardinal Baum moved into the home in May 2011.

“My relationship with the sisters is excellent,” Cardinal Baum said. “They have remained true and faithful to their founding. They manifest their love for the Lord in everything they do. There is such an atmosphere of peace and joy here.”

Cardinal Baum attributed the joyful atmosphere to the “spirit” of the sisters. “I’ve said it before, and I say it all the time,” he said. “They have a spirit about them that lights up this home. And I think I speak for everyone here when I say that.”
Register correspondent Christopher Crawford writes from Washington.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Homily - "Mercy through Chipotle"

Fundraiser at Roti for the Holy Land pilgrimage
Come support GW Catholics' trip to the Holy Land in May 2014! The fundraiser will be tonight from 6-8pm. Just mention our name at the cash register and we'll receive 25% of the profit. We appreciate your support; hope to see you there!!

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

One of my favorite books in our library is “Modern Saints” by Ann Ball.  We have so many good books; we try to have the best and most up-to-date resources for you.  “Modern Saints” is a collection of short biographies of modern-day saints.  I picked it up again last week because tonight’s readings refer to light; and, saints are lights in our modern world.  Jesus says, “you are the light of the world”.  This is amazing because…He is the light of the world!  And, yet He gives us that title, saying to each one of you, “you are the light of the world”.  Now, before we let our heads get too big, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that it’s not just us…it’s mainly from God.  Christ gave us His light at Baptism…that’s what the candle your godparents received symbolized.  He gave us His light, and has sent us out to be His light in the world. 

Tonight’s readings tell us how to shine our light brightly.  It is through “good deeds” that will “glorify your heavenly Father”.  From the prophet Isaiah: “share your bread with the hungry…clothe the naked…satisfy the afflicted”…”then light shall rise for you”.  If you know your Catechism, these should all ring a bell.  These sound very much like the corporal and spiritual works of mercy!  The corporal works are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, etc. (there are seven altogether).  The spiritual works are to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the afflicted, etc. (there are seven of those, too).  (By the way, it is said that priests are to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable; preaching the Gospel will do that.)

This book, then, is chalked full of the works of mercy.  One of my favorite stories from it involves St. Vincent Pallotti who was a priest in Italy in the 1800s. He had a special love for the poor, and he lived simply and humbly, in union with the poor.  He reminds us of Pope Francis.  Fr. Pallotti hated to waste money, time, or resources. One day, another priest was throwing away scraps of paper. St Vincent collected the scraps and sold them for 10 cents. The other priest thought he was nuts. They both went to a hospital to visit the sick. On the way, St. Vincent purchased a box of crackers with the 10 cents. At the hospital, there was a patient who was dying; he was notorious for hating priests. At the very sight of priests, her would foam at the mouth and yell out obscenities and blasphemies. The two priest prayed in the chapel of the hospital for him and the other patients.  When Fr. Pallotti arrived at his bed, he was asleep, so the priest immediately went over to bless him. The man woke up and opened his mouth to curse him.  Fr. Pallotti dropped a cracker in his mouth!  As the man chewed the cracker, St Vincent told him about Jesus and mercy. He finished chewing and was about to start yelling when St. Vincent dropped another cracker in his mouth. They did this several times until God finally won.  The man finally broke down and started crying.  He made an Act of Contrition and asked for Confession which he made to the priest.  At the end of it all, he cried out, “Jesus, have mercy on me”. A short time later, he died.

This was obviously a great example to the other priest about not wasting anything; even scraps of paper can help save a soul.  To all of us, it’s an example of creatively living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  We try to do that at Newman.  We just came off of our ski retreat.  We have pizza or Chipotle after Sunday Mass…free Tuesday dinners…white-water rafting retreat.  All of these are ways to open the door to instruct, counsel, comfort, etc.  It’s like the scraps of paper and the crackers: salvaging the paper and using it to buy crackers was inherently good.  And, it opened the door for the man to be instructed and comforted….and ultimately saved.  We do the same thing…Chipotle is inherently good!  And, it opens the door for the spiritual works of mercy. Those who went on the ski retreat said that they learned spiritual lessons even while skiing.  If they fell, they knew someone was there to help them back up.  “Comfort the afflicted” might be the way to describe helping those who tried snowboarding for the first time (and fell often)!   

Our mission is primarily to do spiritual works of mercy…for the salvation of souls. There is such an emphasis on the corporal works of mercy, and rightly so.  We emphasize both body (corporal) and soul (spiritual).  The corporal works can often lead to the spiritual and to the salvation of souls, as it did for the dying patient through St. Vincent.  Please join us in our mission of performing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy on this campus.

Finally, the Lord himself will perform a work of mercy for us tonight in the Eucharist.  He will bestow bread (the Bread of Life, himself) on us who are spiritually hungry.  Mother Teresa said that spiritual poverty is the greater poverty.  We come to the Lord tonight spiritually poor and ask Him to feed and enrich us….to give us the Grace to do good deeds, and to shine our light brightly so that each of us will truly be the light of the world.     

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Pope Francis: thank God for the Eucharist

Pope Francis: Eucharist Encompasses God's Love for Man
Continues Catechesis on the Sacraments During General Audience
VATICAN CITY, February 05, 2014 ( - It continues to rain in Rome but that didn’t stop thousands of people from gathering at St. Peter’s Square for the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience.

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Sacraments, focusing on the Eucharist.
The Eucharist, he said, constitutes the source of “the very life of the Church.” Calling to mind the physical signs of the Eucharist, such as the altar, the Holy Father said they resemble a banquet.
“Word and Bread become altogether one in the Mass, as in the Last Supper, when all Jesus’ words, all the signs he made, were condensed into the gesture of breaking the bread and offering the chalice, anticipation of the sacrifice of the Cross, and in those words: “Take and eat, this is my Body … Take and drink, this is my Blood,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father went on to say that the Last Supper was the gesture of thanksgiving from Christ to God for His love and mercy. Noting the meaning of the Greek word for Eucharist means thanksgiving, the Pope said that it encompasses God’s love for man through Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.
Although all the liturgical signs remind one of a banquet, the Holy Father stressed that it is much more than that: it is “the memorial of Jesus’ Passover, the central mystery of salvation.” Thus, the Eucharist is a focal point to God’s action of salvation, while giving us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet with God.
Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis invited the faithful to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist.

“Let us ask Him then that this Sacrament may continue to keep His presence alive in the Church and mould our communities in charity and communion, according to the heart of the Father.”
Before departing the General Audience, the Holy Father conveyed his solidarity with those suffering the torrential rains in Tuscany and Rome. Both areas have been affected with massive flooding after weeks of rain.
“Let us all pray and we are close to them with our strength, our solidarity and with our love,” he said. (J.A.E.)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

"Too Few People"

Interesting timing of this sad story from Zenit.  Monsignor Charles Pope is coming to the Newman Center tonight to speak about Humanae Vitae.

Too Few People
New Report Confirms Decline in Fertility
By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, February 02, 2014 ( - Recent years have seen a dramatic decline in the number of children being born, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The “World Fertility Report 2012" was published earlier this year by the population division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The data covers the period from 1970 to recent times.

“Fertility has declined worldwide to unprecedented levels since the 1970s,” the report stated. In fact, fertility fell in all but 6 of the 186 countries that the United Nations surveyed.

The trend to lower fertility is accelerating. The report noted that in the most recent period covered, 80 countries or areas had a total fertility below 2.1 children per woman, which is the level required to ensure the replacement of the current population level.

The population division observed that quite a number of countries have “remarkably low total fertility.” There are 20 countries with fertility that is below 1.4 children per women and 38 countries with fertility below 1.6 children per woman.

The report said that in the last decade no European or North American countries had total fertility above 2.2 children per woman and only four (France, Iceland, Ireland and the United States of America) had levels above 2.0 children per woman.

Overall, total fertility was below 1.4 children per woman in about half of the developed
A number of countries have experienced quite dramatic falls in fertility. One mentioned in the report was Iran. From 7.0 children per woman in 1985 by 2006 it had plummeted to 1.9 children per woman.
Not surprisingly the report said that the proportion of governments that considered their fertility levels to be too low rose from 11% in 1976 to 26% in 2011.
Age at marriage
Another significant trend is the rise at the age of marriage. The estimated mean age at marriage for women has increased in 97 of the 99 countries surveyed. The higher age at marriage was particularly notable in countries with a lower fertility rate.
When it comes to men the situation is similar to that of women, with the additional consideration that mostly men marry at an older age compared to women.
The report commented that the mean age at the first birth is an important measure of fertility as it marks the beginning of parenthood with all its social, economic and health implications. It also affects the overall level of fertility, given that the period for childbirth is shortened when the age of a woman at first birth is older.
The United Nations also looked at the number of women who do not have children. In low-fertility countries, levels of childlessness ranged from 3.8% in the Maldives to 23.1% in Singapore. In high-fertility countries, fewer women remain childless, but there were still wide differences, from 0.3% in Sao Tome and Principe to 15.9% in Jordan.
Another notable change is that childbearing is becoming less connected with marriage. According to the report, in 64 countries with data on extra-marital births for the time span covered, the median percentage of births that occurred outside of marriage rose dramatically, from 7.2% in the 1970s to 35.9% in the last decade.
In general Asian countries reported small numbers of births outside marriages, but in other areas there is a high proportion of such births. In the period 2000 to 2011 extra-marital births as a percentage of all births accounted for 80.3% in Colombia and 82.6% in Venezuela.
As well, contraceptive use has risen since the 1970s in nine out of 10 countries with data available. The use of contraception among women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union increased in 88% of the 74 countries that the United Nations had information for.
Overall, the median level of contraceptive use was 61.2% in the period 2000 to 2011, and contraceptive prevalence remained below 10.0% in just three countries.
By 2011, the report observed, 93% of governments supported family planning programs and the distribution of contraceptives.
The report raises the question about what will happen if more and more countries experience such low levels of fertility that their populations will decline and economic growth suffers as a consequence.
An article in the latest issue of the journal “Population and Development Review,” (December, 2013) looked at the case of Russia. Tomas Frejka and Sergei Zakharov explained that Russia was one of the first countries to reach below-replacement fertility after World War II.
Since then there have been various government initiatives to encourage more births. In spite of significant additional funding for families: “Russia’s pronatalist policies have failed so far and it is difficult to believe further population decline can be avoided,” the authors concluded.
Perhaps a fate that not a few other countries will experience, along with all the associated negative consequences.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Homily - "Waiting for God"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

It's pretty sweet to watch the Super Bowl tonight a GW Catholic family.  When the Redskins played the Broncos in the Super Bowl in '88, I watched it with my family.  The Broncos went up 10 points on our Redskins in the first quarter.  My Dad, brother, and I got so upset that my Mom and sister had to leave the room! Then, in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins scored 35 straight points..! That is still a Super Bowl record. My Mom and sister came back into the room to watch it. We could all be friends again (!), partying and celebrating a Redskins win, 42-10. But, that was 26 years ago. It's been over 20 years since Washington was in the Super Bowl.  We keep waiting year after year, hoping to return to glory.

Most of the players in tonight's game have waited their whole lives to play in the Super Bowl. One player has waited his whole career, 15 years. The athletes we most discuss about waiting for years for a few moments of glory are Olympic athletes; we have the Olympics starting up soon.  They train, prepare, and wait for years for a few moments of competition...and hopefully glory. With all of these athletes, they train, prepare, and wait for, as St. Paul says, "a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one" (1 Cor 9:25): eternal life.

Two characters from tonight's Gospel on the feast of the Presentation wait and wait and wait for a crown of glory. Simeon and Anna spend years in the Temple waiting for what Malachi prophesied in the first reading: "And suddenly there will come to the temple The Lord whom you seek".  They spent years waiting to see God. Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen God in the Christ. Anna was 84, and spent all day in the temple praying and waiting. And, then it happened! The Lord came to the temple where they were.

The players in tonight's game have waited and dreamed about this moment...and it's here. Their dreams have come true. Their hope is realized. The glory that they have been seeking and desiring is now here.  How much greater is the glory of God! For Simeon and Anna, they experience the awesome glory of God.  The promise has been fulfilled. Their hope is realized.

So many people - so many GW Catholics - desperately want to see hear have an experience with God. You have been waiting for a long time for God to come to you.  Look to Simeon and Anna.  Listen to what you heard tonight: "He is coming". The Lord whom you seek and desire will come to your life, to your heart.

Simeon looked at this little baby who was 40 days out of the womb and said, "my eyes have seen the salvation..a light to be revealed to the nations". His parents were probably thinking, "what are you talking about?" But, we know. Christ is our light and our eyes will see him in a few minutes in the temple / the Eucharist. We don't have to wait years to see him.  He will come to us in a matter of moments.

At my first Mass, when I consecrated bread and wine for the first time and elevated the Host, people there said that light came through the windows of the Church onto the Host in a spectacular way.  He is our light! And, He will come to me and to you...The Lord whom you seek.