Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Imagine" by John Lennon


"Imagine" by John Lennon is the most naive song ever written. 

I guess we can excuse him a bit in that he didn't have the same historical data that we have now, 50 years after he first yearned for a world without Heaven or Hell, without religion, without Christ, etc. but just a big happy brotherhood of people...but the historical data is now apparent for all to see.

We now know quite well what happens when Christianity is abandoned.  It is NOT some happy brotherhood of humanity.

Nietzsche was way more dialed in than Lennon.

Why would a world that doesn't have Christ, that doesn't believe in the dignity of the Human Person rooted in the fact that the Juedeo Christian God SAID the human person ought to have dignity...why would a world that jettisons God still keep that part of God's message?  

Loving our neighbor as ourselves is THE HARDEST PART OF THE GOSPEL!!!  If I'm getting rid of God, why would I keep the hardest part of the Gospel in my life?



Here's an imagined conversation between John Lennon and today's Post-Christians on the right and left:

Naive post-Christian hippy: "Hey everyone, God isn't real, so religion isn't real, so the teachings about the dignity of each person aren't real, and the teachings about loving your neighbor as yourself aren't real...but let's still love each other."

Post-Christian alt-right/Post-Christian Communist: "Why should we love everyone?"

Naive post Christian hippy: "Because haven't you heard the song by John Lennon about what the world would be like if we did it that way?"

Post-Christian alt-right/Post-Christian Communist: "I don't give a rat's rear end about any of that.  I'm here to win and defeat the enemies of my ideology."



We are beginning to see, in our own day, exactly what happens, on the right and left, when Judaeo Christianity is jettisoned. 

Charlottesville was a perfect example of what is left behind when right and left are not rooted in Christ. 


The idea that we can get to all the good things Christ has brought to the world without actually believing or acknowledging Christ is a fairy tale.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Respect Life Month

Tons of great FREE resources by clicking here: http://usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2017/respect-life-digital-resources.cfm


I  hope you consider downloading and sharing some of the resources with your friends and social media followers


Here are a few of my favorite images









Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Amoris Ghostwriter and St. John Paul II

A fact that people all across the ecclesial spectrum seem to agree on is that the man who had the major hand in helping pen "Amoris Laetitia" is Archbishop Tucho Fernandez.


In addition to being able to claim helping draft "Amoris Laetitia", Archbishop Fernandez wrote a book in 1995 titled "Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing"


You can read the English translation here if so moved: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/09/full-text-of-archbishop-tucho.html

.....

Switching gears for a moment, in not a few progressive Catholic circles, St. John Paul II was attacked for his "Theology of the Body" presentations and his book "Love and Responsibility" which he wrote before becoming Pope.  He was attacked for writing about things that priests are, as his detractors claimed, ought not to be talked about by the Church
 

I've read both of St. John Paul II's works, and find them to be pivotal documents in the life of the Church, and also extremely appropriate and properly couched within the Church's important moral teachings.  What I've read from Archbishop Fernandez's work is frankly disturbing and, based on my lowly theological assessment, a completely different TYPE of attempt to talk about Catholicism and sexuality.


But the reason I raise all of this here, though, is to note that I've NOT heard progressive Catholics venting their frustrations about the fact that Archbishop Fernandez takes up Catholicism and sexuality, although that was one of their major critiques of St. John Paul II

Some GREAT Respect Life free resources and beautiful shareable images!

There are some GREAT images that are free to download and share with your friends and followers 





Why do we help the physically suffering but not the spiritually suffering?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Catholic Masculinity and the Massacre in Las Vegas

So in the wake of Vegas, the secular left has identified the problems
1) guns
2) masculinity

A sample:



Here's the great irony in this - according to the secular left, masculinity is both not a real thing, and also, at the same time, while not existing, also the problem.


Something can't both not exist and be the problem



And here's what the Church says
1) Masculinity and Femininity are real

2) Trying to suppress masculinity or pretend it isn't real, and to NOT nurture authentic masculinity will only cause DANGEROUSLY WRONG ideas about masculinity to rise up in place of authentic masculinity


Our culture, in saying there is no such thing as masculinity, is denying reality.  Denying reality is what psychologists call REPRESSION


Our culture takes masculinity and says
1) It isn't real
2) Boys that won't sit still in second grade must be medicated
3) It's cool if men are actually in to purses, manicures, make up, etc...


We are ROBBING our young men of their identity by drugging it and explaining it away...and in the wake of this we are left with soft, over medicated young men who are bored out of their minds, and are encouraged to fall deeper into their boredom by slipping into the matrix of video games, staring at screens, medicating with drugs and alcohol, and indulging in pornography, masturbation, strip clubs and sexual encounters of all sorts outside the context of marriage.


We ROB our young men of their identity, and no longer encourage them to strive for anything.




The CURE to the problematic manifestations of a diseased counterfeit masculinity is NOT doing away with masculinity.  You can no quicker do away with masculinity than you could do away with the Sun.


The CURE is to NURTURE authentic masculinity, which is why I think our culture has very little hope of enduring.  I am, in that regard, quite pessimistic.  But hey, all things are possible with God.


The Church has always taught that it means something to be a man.  To lay down your life in service to the vulnerable, in service to the poor.  To protect and defend and sacrifice for others.




Sadly it is no great shock that in a culture that has tried to eradicate the notion of men who defend, even taking up arms if necessary, there has arisen, in the vacuum, a demonic and warped mockery of masculinity that has men taking up arms to murder the innocent


Here are some resources that can be of great help in righting the ship





Bishop Olmsted's letter on AUTHENTIC Catholic Masculinity:

http://intothebreach.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/INTO-THE-BREACH-ROMAN-CATHOLIC-DIOCESE-OF-PHOENIX.pdf



We will either call men to battle, call men into the breach, call men to use their spirit to combat evil, or counterfeit versions will continue to wreak havoc on our culture

Monday, September 25, 2017

Surprising Insights In Our Month With a Communion Rail

One of my two parishes was just restored, thanks be to God.


I know a lot of the arguments and theological advantages of the communion rail, and that the Church has never said anything about taking them out.  The following are advantages that I was NOT expecting



1) In announcing and catechizing about the new communion rail, I have said, from the beginning, that a person can kneel or stand and received on the tongue or in the hand.  I have never stated a preference in any way for how a person receives.

On their own, over half of our congregation has CHOSEN to receive kneeling



2) The communion rail provides people with about 20-30 seconds to NOT be shuffling up in a line, but to instead stand or kneel facing the altar giving them a few precious moments to contemplate Whom it is that they are about to receive.



3) It has severely cut down on the awkward potentially non-Catholic person receiving Communion.  Let's face it, the majority of Catholics today fail to prepare their visiting family and friends for how to handle Holy Communion (i.e. either stay in the pew or come forward for a blessing)...but standing there at a communion rail for 30 seconds before the priest arrives gives the Catholic friend a chance to say "No, don't hold out your hands, cross your arms on your chest" whereas this doesn't happen when Communion is done in the American style of emptying the pews in an orderly style and shuffle up in a line and then be offered the Eucharist as soon as the person arrives at the front of the line




A Holy Urgency

Friday, September 22, 2017

On Human Dignity

I was listening to NPR this morning to keep tabs on what the left is promoting. There was a huge, lengthy, beautiful piece chronicling the plight of a refugee and his family in Germany.

It wasn't just a news story - it was an interview with a very noble purpose - to highlight the dignity of this man and his family.

The problem is that the left NEVER does this for the unborn....For the white Catholic father of 13 children...for the born and raised american business owner who sees his business as a means of helping his 200 employees grow in an awareness of their own dignity and support their families...the wall street worker who works crazy hours but gives a lot of her earnings away to charity.

---

No one thinks NO person has dignity

So everyone thinks SOME people have dignity. That's not hard. We shouldn't congratulate ourselves for thinking that SOME people have dignity

The challenge is to believe ALL persons have dignity. All races. All immigrants. The unborn. The poor. The rich. Men and women. The imprisoned. Your enemy


When you believe ALL people have dignity, that's to be congratulated.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to overturn Humanae Vitae


Humanae Vitae is one of those pivotal documents in the history of the Church.  Everyone thought the Church was going to cave on the issue of artificial contraception.  Basically every other Christian denomination had caved.

And then the Church didn't and said artificial contraception for the purposes of impacting/influencing conception is ALWAYS evil.

It is, by all sober analysis, one of the most prophetic documents in the history of the Church as it lays out the serious things that would happen if contraception became commonly used.






Many still can't believe the document happened.

Many have stated a desire to overturn the document


Here are steps to follow if you want to overturn the document


1) Establish a group of experts to go back and look at all the source materials, letters, behind the scenes correspondence, etc. that lead up to Humanae Vitae's publication.


2) If at all possible, don't let anyone know this study group has been put together.


3) This process of discovery should come out with lots of complicated verbiage, giving the impression that the only people who TRULY understand Humanae Vitae's construction are the privileged few who have been able to look at all the "evidence".


4) Make sure that the discovery process mirrors the historical/critical process that has been used so often to deconstruct the Bible.  In having experts deconstruct the Bible, it was really important that it was done by scholars, so that simple peasants and lay people could not mount any sort of argument.  What worked with deconstructing the Bible were things like "You don't understand Hebrew, but actually Jesus DIDN'T say anything about Hell" or things like "We've learned that divorce IS okay, because that part of the Gospel was written in by a guy named Burt in the late 800's."


5) In announcing the things that you are overturning in Humanae Vitae, don't actually SAY you are changing anything, whether in doctrine or in practice.  Continue to emphasize that Humanae Vitae is going to be left unchanged, that it is an AMAZING document, that we love Paul VI, etc.


6) Only after all that, then come out and say, in language that is really pharisaically theological and technical in nature (impossible to understand for most believers):  "Well, surprise, when we looked at how Humanae Vitae was constructed, we were able to discover that the BEST way to live out this AMAZING document is by now doing things/allowing things to happen differently. WHICH ARE ACTUALLY A BETTER WAY OF DOING/ALLOWING THINGS, AND THIS NEW APPROACH IS 
a) IN LINE WITH THE ORIGINAL INTENT OF THE AUTHOR and
b) A FULFILLMENT OF EVERYTHING THAT'S EVER BEEN WRITTEN BY THE CHURCH ON THESE TOPICS








Monday, September 11, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ladies: call us men higher!

There is no doubt that we face a crisis of masculinity.

There are many things we can do to change that.

One I'd like to think about today involves women.

When I ran track in college, the language I used a lot was pretty horrible.

A young evangelical track team member one time basically pulled me aside and THANKFULLY she chewed me out for being a juvenile and immature and that I was better than that. I just stared at the ground, and when she was finished I apologized and never talked with quite the same colorfulness ever again.

My point here: ladies - I don't think many of you know how much influence and power you have. I probably weighed twice as much as that young lady and she could have cared less - she said what needed to be said and it helped me tremendously and we went on being friends afterwards.

I do college ministry, and the vast majority of college-age women are about twice as mature as the men. But I'd just like to affirm our young women - you have AN AMAZING influence on those young men.

It can be easy and tempting to simply sit at a coffeehouse or in Church groups lamenting male immaturity. I want to challenge our young ladies, though, to not just TALK about the problem but also to call these men higher.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Secularism and Racism




There were two major revolutions that took place at almost the exact same time: the French Revolution of 1789 and the American Revolution of 1776

BOTH revolutions had the same themes and goals, we could call them them “freedom” and “liberty”
But there was a major difference, the French Revolution was explicitly a secular one, and by secular we mean a sort of expelling of religion, a “non-religious” movement

The American Revolution, on the other hand, also seeking freedom and liberty, as is clear from even a brief reading of the documents of the founders, was a non-secular revolution.  The American Revolution was one founded on a sort of “mere Christianity”, an experiment on whether or not a country could be founded on Christian principles without having to fly a specific denominational flag.  All are created equal…endowed by their creator

Here’s the point of mentioning the two revolutions – we hear in the first reading a sort of prophecy: My house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples.

ALL PEOPLES!

This is a prophecy of the Church that Christ would found on Peter.  The Church is a house of prayer for all peoples!

Christ promises (and in fact is Himself) freedom and liberty – and this promised freedom appeals to the woman in the Gospel – she senses already, even prior to the Church’s creation, that Christ brings into the lives of all people a freedom and liberty not found outside Him.

---------

We’ve seen a lot in the news this week about racism in our country, and the Church stands up in the strongest possible terms and says this is wrong

At the core of the Church’s teaching on how we are to engage as a population is the idea that EVERY HUMAN BEING IS MADE IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD and so there is an inherent human dignity to every person

The argument against the Church here is simple: people in the Church, people under the banner of Christ have not always honored the dignity of every human person

But the counterargument to that is “we are well aware of that, but even in the failings something is very fascinating…it is through the Church, through the Judeo-Christian tradition that we are able to most strongly CRITICIZE the failings of people from the past

Yes, women were not equal to men in 1776.  Yes slavery remained after 1776, but those injustices were rooted out precisely by a deeper reflection on the Judeo Christian principles. 

Some will say – “Look, we will acknowledge that Christianity took the ball and advanced it down the field; you all did A FEW decent things to get us here, but now we no longer need to have a society rooted in Judeo Christian principles…we are post-Christian now…we’ve moved on…we secularists will take things from here.”

That’s why the French Revolution is so important for us – because what we see when we look at the French Revolution that we did NOT see in the American Revolution is that in France, not long into the Revolution, a REALLY disturbing insanity set in, the guillotine killing thousands of people a day, a frenzied distrust of one another – the two revolutions could not have been, at the end of the day, more different. 

And in the same way, people of all political persuasion, if they lack Christ, are left to try to rely on violence to drive out the opposition.  Even the language that you hear in the rhetoric is so telling as people on both sides of the secular coin describing the other as “less than human”….the moment someone is “less than human” it becomes okay to do to them whatever you want to them.

Only Christ and His Church have the ability to unite ALL people

Those of our parish who were blessed to be on World Youth Day last summer and those of you who saw the pictures know this – as far as the eye could see there were people of every race and tribe and language nation joined in prayer, joined in candle light vigils, kneeling together in silence, receiving the same Eucharist


God’s house will be a house of prayer for all peoples.  His Church is a house of prayer for all peoples.  Trying to build a house for all peoples on any other foundation will NOT work.  Just ask any secularist that has ever tried

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life is Worth Living!

At the foot of the Cross, Jesus entrusts Mary to John and John to Mary.

Jesus of course dies, is resurrected on Easter, and then 40 days later ascends into Heaven.

Scholars think that Mary lived another 10-20 years and then was assumed into Heaven by Her Son, which is what we celebrate today on this Feast of the Assumption.

It is this interval of time that I’d like to focus on.

Why didn’t Jesus bring Mary up to Heaven with Him?

She had no sin.  God doesn’t need errand runners, and if he desired to bring His Mother home to Heaven, why not just do it right away?

One thing that I’d like to focus on, then, is that in some mysterious way, to exist, on Planet Earth and to be here drawing breath in this moment is, for you and I and everyone else (as it was for Mary) BETTER than being in Heaven.

That seems to make no sense.  Heaven is perfect bliss, perfect happiness, no more pain or sorrw…

But Jesus left Mary here for 20 more years.

This fact speaks very powerfully to us, and I’d like to look at how.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a primetime television show for many years, and the show had a very interesting title: “Life Is Worth Living”.  That is certainly, on one hand, a very strange title.  It isn’t “Wheel of Fortune” or “Jeopardy”…”Life is WORTH LIVING!”

If Archbishop Sheen felt the world needed to hear that, how much more does our world need to hear this?!?!

“Life is Worth Living”

The enemies of Christ and His Church are constantly saying, in so many different ways “LIFE, at least in certain circumstances, is NOT worth living”

1)      If you are elderly and in a nursing home and your kids don’t visit you and you are sick all the time, the world tells you “life is NOT worth living.  Just kill yourself…fast forward to the bliss of Heaven”
2)      If you are a teenager and you are being bullied at school and you aren’t getting straight a’s and you aren’t going to get into the school you want to…just kill yourself…fast forward to the joy of Heaven…life is NOT worth living
3)      That baby that is going to be born with Down Syndrome…better to kill the child and let it skip straight to the joy of Heaven…life, for that particular child, is NOT worth living
4)      That baby that will be born into poverty in Africa or to that mother on drugs in New York…abortion is the merciful option…that kid’s life is NOT worth living

It is clear when we look at Today’s Feast and the fact that the Assumption was TWENTY YEARS after the Ascencsion of Jesus, what becomes crystal clear, although mysteriously so, is that in God’s mind it is in some way BETTER for us to be here on planet Earth right now, amidst the sufferings and crosses of deceased spouses, children starving, people suffering from diseases and poverty…that we be here, right now, on planet Earth, ALIVE!

It is clear that for Jesus it is His Will that right now we be here and NOT in Heaven, just as he left his Mother here for those twenty years.

For God, life is clearly WORTH living.  The question we need to constantly be asking ourselves each day is do WE think life is worth living?




I didn’t include it in my homily, but I thought I’d leave this here…the end of Uncle Walt’s best poem


“The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?  
                                                        Answer.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;  

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hypocrisy of the Modern World

- Nicholas Senz

"The Hypocrisy of Modernity"

Wearing a Cassock

An interesting article appeared recently - a lay person (in fact, I think, a non-Catholic) wore a cassock around town for a day.

He documents the experience HERE and it is well worth your time.  It is super short




Contrary to what some might think, I'm not a huge fan of the cassock in one sense.

I'm pretty introverted and like "flying under the radar" in the sense of not having people notice me.

And so, quite often, it is tempting to wear "regular clothes" because I know no one will stare at me and I can walk around undetected.


But...I also know that wearing a cassock helps people know that there are actually priests around, and I think seeing a priest is a sort of "walking homily" that gets to people and maybe even forces them to think about more eternal things


This article sums up the experience quite well

The Dictatorship of Noise

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Coaching for Christ

Would you take two minutes to watch this news clip from 1999 and then ask yourself "What if we could help all 3,500,000 coaches in the US to talk like that...

At the end, you should be able to click on the picture of coach and donate, or click HERE and donate to this awesome effort



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why We Get DESTROYED in the Culture Wars

When I first started raising money to try to make "The Third Way" 7 years ago, John-Andrew O'Rourke, owner of Blackstone Films and my partner in the whole crazy ride that was the project, showed me something very early on in the fundraising process.


He showed me a "Go Fund Me" page where a bunch of 30 something year old guys, who were particularly devoted to some completely obscure video game (we'll call it "Alpha Quadrant Gamma") were trying to raise funds to have someone make a documentary on "Alpha Quadrant Gamma".  I know all the cool video games...and this one wasn't one of them.


They had raised $420,000.


You can find project after project like this on Go Fund Me...stupid and pointless and even poorly executed fundraisers raising tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for stupid and pointless projects.


These guys were playing a video game in their mom's basements for 18 hours a day and got people to fork over a HALF MILLION from a very select group of people interested in this particular obscure game.


Those who are part of the "Culture of Life" are getting SLAUGHTERED in the culture war because while the culture of death is supporting stuff that is either inane or outright evil, many who profess Christ support nothing that tries to make our case to the world.  ZERO.


Catholics give 1% to the Church, on average, and to get people to support (and I don't mean buying girl scout cookies or doing the token donation to some project) and really get behind Catholic projects and ministries that are trying to make the case to the world is virtually impossible.



I had to jump up and down for months, call everyone I know, beg, email, etc. for 6 weeks to raise $80,000 so that I could do something that would use up my day off for two years...while in the secular world, people donate tens and hundreds of thousands to documentaries on donuts and video games...let alone the billions that are poured in to more culturally-destructive Hollywood and TV projects.


"The Third Way" has been viewed over 500,000 times around the world, so it certainly has had an impact, and I'm thankful for that.  But how many other good ideas are out there that people are just sitting on?  How many worthy projects and stories are dying because they aren't supported by people?


When we started raising funds for the "The Third Way" people said "WOW THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY!"


But break it down.  $80,000 for 500,000 viewings of a 40 minute documentary about the Church's teaching on homosexuality.  You know what that works out to?


SIXTEEN CENTS PER VIEWING


So for every 16 cents donated, it paid for one viewing of the third way (and some of those viewings have been entire classes or gymnasiums at once...so the real math would probably break down to less than 1 cent per viewing of "The Third Way")



If I sound frustrated, it is because I'm in the midst of another project.  In the US there are 3.5 million coaches coaching 45 million young people this year.  Ask any priest and they'll tell you - families aren't coming to Church anymore because they're all playing sports on Sunday.  So what are we doing about that?

When I was in high school, I had a TRANSFORMATIVE coach who was both wildly successful and who also used coaching to challenge us to become good fathers, sacrificial husbands, to tell our parents that we loved them, to become men of sacrifice, to treat women with dignity and respect, etc. etc.

I know for a fact that his story can be told in a powerful and clear way to try to get coaches to reach their young people and inspire them to become good, holy, virtuous people...it is one of the last ways we can reach kids today.

This project SHOULD BE a no-brainer: pass the hat around...some guys throw in a hundred, some guys throw in 20 bucks...a few people that haven't met coach but agree we need to reach coaches with a great story throw in a few bucks, and there we have it.  Goal achieved.


Despite getting word out to most of the over 600 players who played for him over 27 years, 20 of the 600 have donated.


I have $7,000 dollars to my name, and have already donated $1,700 to this project, and I'll probably put another 2-3,000 toward the project if need be.



I know many of the 600 guys who were coached by Bruce Scifres were equally impacted by him, and many recognize he could have coached for twice as much money at a public school, and most know that Coach is so excited about the possibility of this documentary coming together.  But only 20 former players have donated.



And that's why we get slaughtered in the culture wars.  We are blessed to witness great things but instead of supporting powerful story telling, instead of looking to support art, instead of getting the word out to others about the amazing things we've been able to witness, we sit on the Good News, content to let the godless tell their video game stories.

3.15 million youth coaches have little or no training

That is a shocking number.  THREE AND A HALF MILLION youth coaches in the United States.


This article (click here to read) says that NINETY PERCENT have little or no training.


So 90% of coaches coaching a kid in basketball have not had any training on how to coach a kid in basketball.


That means 3.15 million of our 3.5 million youth coaches have basically no training in coaching.






If 3.15 MILLION coaches have no training on the sport they're coaching, I have to believe the number that have been shown how to use coaching to help people become saints is even WORSE.



This project of mine (click here to visit the donation page) is an attempt to put something together to address this crisis and help show coaches how they too can use coaching to form people for life.


If you can help me raise the funds, I will be partnering with Spirit Juice studios to put together a 10-12 minute VERY POWERFUL, VERY INSPIRING video using one coach's story to show other coaches that they can easily do the same thing!


Again, if you want to donate to make this happen, please click HERE.



Thank you!

Bruce Scifres' Message to friends of Roncalli



This project is something people all across the country will benefit and find very helpful as we try to reach out and impact the 3.5 million coaches coaching across the country. Help is much appreciated!

Friday, July 7, 2017

HELP!

HELP!
In conjunction with Spirit Juice Studios, I am hoping to produce an 8-12 minute mini-documentary titled "Bruce Scifres: Coaching for Christ"

You can click HERE to donate!

Coach Scifres and his wife Jackie


The goal: $35,500

That sounds like a lot, but:

a) I'm donating the first $1,000
b) I'm obviously not making money on this (in case that needed stated)
c) Think about how many young people today are connected to sports - and how many coaches could be coaching our young people in transformative ways if they just saw and heard that it was possible!

I had such a coach when I played football, and I believe strongly that the word getting out about HOW he coached will strongly impact our communities.

Coach won SEVEN state championships, but all throughout his 27 years he preached constantly about
1) loving our parents
2) being men of prayer
3) being good fathers
4) being great husbands
and many other similar virtues

Think about how many coaches are out there coaching our young men and women right now, and then imagine if they all began to realize that through coaching, they could call young people to holiness!

I would be forever grateful if you would consider helping make this happen

Again, you can donate by clicking here

Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Pentecost and Becoming God

Poor audio quality and weird camera angle, but an awesome Catholic Solemnity!



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The dumbest "sociological" conjecture of all?

Every 5th grade science fair entrant knows that you make a hypothesis, and then you either prove or disprove the hypothesis with data (facts)

Of all the crazy hypotheses that have magically gone from conjecture to fact without ever having gone through the fact stage, perhaps the dumbest of all is the hypothesis that people "had children, up until our modern age, to help with farm work."

You see that statement everywhere!  Everyone used to have kids to help on the farm, and that's why they had so many kids, because they needed a lot of help farming.

Now, it is perfectly okay to HYPOTHESIZE aloud "I bet one of the motivations for people to have kids was to help farm"


But to say that we KNOW that's why people had kids up until "modernity"is because of farmwork....that's simply conjecture masquerading as fact.


Do we have ANY evidence of this?


Have we unearthed a diary from anyone over the past 4,000 years suggesting that the hypothesis has any merit?


Dear diary, me and Helga are really trying to conceive a child so that 8-10 years from now, we'll have a cow milker!

Sincerely,
Jedidiah


Not only do we not have any evidence that would suggest that people had kids to help with farm work, I think it is also worth questioning the conjecture itself.  Was the hypothesis put forward by anyone who has actually worked WITH a kid doing farmwork?  I remember the productivity of my brothers and I working and "helping" in my Dad's garden, and I am sure that our "help" fell into the category of "Dad probably being better off without the help"

So Helga and Jedidiah were willing to risk the mortality rate for mother AND child in child birth, then feed a "useless" mouth for 6-8 years, to risk and put forward all that in order for the CHANCE to get a teenager, 10 years later, who could help milk the cows?



It seems that to me, rather, that in order to justify our own society being the coldest bunch of utilitarians the world has ever known, we have to also project our frigid utilitarianism on everyone that came before us as well.

So, to make ourselves feel better, our child-farming hypothesis needs to very quickly become not a hypothesis but a fact.  I KNOW that farming is why everyone had kids for the first 4,000 years of civilization.


Maybe, just maybe, though, at least some people for the first 4,000 years (and maybe even most people) just loved each other as husband and wife, and were open to their marital love begetting children despite the risk of giving birth.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the people who predate modernity didn't just sit around and coldly calculate how many children it would take to produce X gallons of milk per week and then set out to make love according to that calculus.


Maybe they DIDN'T do it that way, even if people today would

Monday, May 15, 2017

As a member of our Archdiocesan College of Consultors...

...I am not sure but I am assuming we get a consultative vote soon on what we think of the next slate of priest assignments that would take effect the first week of July.

I have not seen the slate, but I am assuming that if it is something close to what I think it will be, I will not vote in favor of it for several reasons:

1) The vote is simply consultative, and so even if all the members voted against it, it could still be implemented

2) My spiritual director told me, when I was struggling over this past year or so, that St. Benedict said that as a priest or monk, you follow the assignment given to you by your superior, and if the assignment is bad/wrong, then that is on the superior.  Well, I will never have anything to do with assigning any priest to two parishes

3) I also can not support leaving any/all of our Archdiocesan high schools without a full time diocesan priest

4) I also can not support leaving any/all of our colleges and universities without a full time diocesan priest



People might say here: "give it time, the situation of 108 Masses within 7 miles of Monument Circle will get fixed, but it takes time."

Sorry, but no.

I had Mass every Friday with Archbishop Buechlein at his home right up to the time he moved back to St. Meinrad.  He said several times, in conversation, that he should have closed/reorganized parishes but that he just couldn't do it.

Archbishop Tobin pulled me aside when he first arrived at the Archdiocese and said "Fr. John, I know you pray, and I trust your feedback here.  Are a lot of the younger guys upset that I didn't close enough parishes in our cities?"  I told him Yes.  He said that he felt like there were ways to fix the issues without closing parishes.  5 years later, we can say that nothing along those lines happened.

Granted both of those men are great father figures to me, and I can only imagine all the pressures a bishop is under.

But my spiritual director has given lots of retreats for bishops around the country, and he said that a lot of bishops around the country know what needs to be done, but lack the courage to do it.

Well, tending to the Lord's vineyard means at times having to prune things so that they can remain healthy.


Someone else might say "hey, our diocese is getting ready to go through a planning process to work on some of this."  Pardon my skepticism, but we just finished a 7 year process that costs tens of thousands of dollars and saw the number of Indianapolis Masses go from 121 to 118...so that means we probably spent in excess of 10,000 dollars per Mass canceled.

If we need another "planning process" to cancel another three Indy Masses, then that would put us on pace for 20 more "planning processes" if we do in fact need to cut 60 Masses in Indy.

So we are currently on pace for losing three Masses every 8 years of planning, thus putting us on a 160 year path to getting close to what we need to do to make the Masses we offer line up with the number of people who are coming in the Indianapolis area.


Or, instead of taking 160 years, a shepherd can come in and fix it now.


But anyway, in the meantime, I would never symbolically vote for something that would give the appearance that I am somehow for the status quo

Priests are Burning Out

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A pro-life t-shirt

This was created by a former student of mine from Cardinal Ritter High School.  Help out a starving artist!



https://www.etsy.com/listing/512488802/pro-life-tshirt?ref=shop_home_active_2




Hell on Earth and the Good Shepherd

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An urgent recommendation for what needs to be done in our diocese (and probably yours too)

For all the talk about the Church embracing modernity, we are still often structuring our American dioceses as if people don't have automobiles


Problem: our priests are spread too thinly.  Many of our priests who have left active ministry in recent memory have left as a pretty direct result of being given multiple parishes.  There is no doubt that being a pastor of a giant parish with a huge staff presents its own challenges, and I have great admiration for our priests pastoring our mega-parishes, but there is something really problematic in having priests be pastors of multiple parishes

Related Problem: Vatican II said priests ought to live in community.

Related Problem: priests pastoring multiple parishes is not sustainable (the assignment of guys to being pastors of multiple parishes is often being done by people who have never been a pastor of two parishes.  It is not a healthy situation)

Related Problem: we have 17 seminarians

Analysis
            
            Within 7 miles of Monument Circle in Indianapolis there are 118 Masses on the weekend

I took the seating capacity of each church and added the numbers up

Our presbyterate is saying Mass for 71,210 seats within 7 miles of Monument Circle

Those parishes have 27,678 registered families

Most parishes see about the same number of people on the weekend as they have registered families

Using this as an approximation, there are a couple of amazing ways to frame the same stat:
a.       Our presbyterate is saying Mass each weekend for 44,000 empty seats within 7 miles of Monument Circle
b.      We are saying over twice as many Masses as we need within 7 miles of Monument Circle
c.       We could cut out roughly 70 of the 118 masses and still have a seat for everyone that is currently coming to Mass within 7 miles of Monument Circle
d.      Those 70 Masses we don’t need mean we have approximately 20 priests within 7 miles of Monument Circle saying a weekend’s worth of Masses we do not need

This is not just an Indianapolis thing.  The figures are even worse in the only other place I looked – Terre Haute city.  6,950 seats each weekend for 2,352 attendees.  That’s 66% of the seats unfilled each weekend (4 Masses at St. Patrick’s each weekend would cover every Catholic Mass attendee in Terre Haute with 600 seats to spare each weekend.  Terre Haute currently has 15 Masses).

As priests we are asked to demonstrate business skills – the Lilly Grant/pastor’s toolbox/the book we were all mailed by Patrick Lencioni and Amazing Parish that encourage priests to become more business savvy.

That’s Great!!!!   My classmates and I asked for this repeatedly in the seminary, and we noted it as a weakness in our class exit interview from our seminary.

But it isn’t just priests that could benefit from thinking corporately.  The diocesan leadership needs to also put some corporate principles to work as well, in my opinion

Solution: Studies show that 70 -90 percent of Catholics are walking away from the faith from 18-34.  What company would learn that it is losing 70-90 percent of 18-34 years olds and would not have alarm bells going off and having emergency board sessions?
            
    And yet we are pulling priests out of precisely the places where these kids are found.  In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis no priest is assigned just to a college.  No priest is assigned just to a high school.  I was assigned to a high school in my first few years, but the Archdiocese pulled all of its high school chaplains out of the high schools and replaced them with part time priests who are supposed to do high school ministry as a part of their slate of other jobs.               

Corporations pay attention to their key demographic, their future, and it is pretty clear we are not paying attention to that demographic.  Investing in FOCUS ministries on our college campuses has been a good start, but even FOCUS will tell you that there is no substitute on a college campus for a full time priest chaplain. 

Putting some kind of limit on the number of Masses at parishes would free up priests to be present to the generation that will provide us with our next generation of priests, nuns, and faithful lay Catholics

Doing something about the number of Masses HAS to come from the diocese and the bishop.  We would get killed as the boots on the ground pastors if we canceled Masses.  But if it came from the diocese we’d be okay. 

And here’s the thing – every parish I’ve gone to has had to cancel a Mass in order for me to only say 5 Masses each weekend.  They’ve all grumbled, but because it came from Canon Law (a priest can only say 5 Masses a weekend), they accepted it.  They’ve all reported liking it better several months later
A)     A full Church
B)      Better music
C)      Seeing people they didn’t know because they went to an earlier Mass

Addressing this issue of having about twice as many masses as we need in our Archdiocese would both

1)      alleviate the extraordinary and sometimes unsustainable burdens on our current priests

2)      Help provide more presence to our young people thus helping increase the number of priestly vocations, helping with priest numbers in the future

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parish Video

This is a video we put together for one of my parishes.  Please keep our campaign in your prayers!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ouija Boards and Demonic Oppression

I spoke with a young man who was battling authentic demonic oppression for over twenty years after being in a room where a Ouija Board was being used when this young man was in seventh grade.

He shared that he felt something come into him and that from that point on in his life, he knew he was battling a Demon that had considerable ability to harm him (head aches and weariness) and to suggest things to him denigrating himself, his family, discouraging him from going to Church, discouraging him from confession and priests, and much more.


Stay away from fortune telling, Ouija boards, Tarot Cards, and all that other garbage.  EVIL IS REAL.  


“All forms of divination are to be rejected:  recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.  Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.  They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone”
- Catechism 2116


Note that Deuteronomy compares all these evil consultations with killing children: “Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortuneteller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead."
- Deuteronomy 18: 10-11

St. Paul and Deuteronomy note that those who engage in these types of acts commit mortal sins.  It is SUPER SERIOUS 


As noted from this particular young man's story, even those AROUND this type of activity can be harmed in serious ways.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Baby Boom Changes to the Church

I ask this with all do respect: If the generation in the wake of Vatican II, in order to try to bring the Church and Christ to others, got to make lots of changes to things that the Church didn't ever say should change, why can't our generation change things around in order to try to bring the Church and Christ to others?


If baby boomers got to throw out stuff from their parents Catholicism without the Church ever saying those things should be thrown out, why can't we throw out stuff from OUR parents' Catholicism?


Perhaps our motivation here is not just anger towards baby boomer Catholicism.  I wonder if it could be considered that perhaps what is motivating our generation of Catholics is that we are looking around and we see 75-90% of our peers walk away from Catholicism as it was being practiced by baby boomer suburban Catholicism, and perhaps we want to do something about it and are trying to find things that might work, and are discussing among ourselves about would work and are in the trenches with fallen away Catholics --- maybe that is what is motivating our generation of young adult Catholics.  Could that be considered by other generations?  


So maybe what is motivating young adult Catholics today is not anger toward baby boomers but an attempt to do something that we genuinely feel might bring back the Faith to a culture for which the Faith has largely died out


The baby boomers got to do all their experiments and make the Church the way they wanted it, and it never seems to be asked if the new Church worked for anyone else but them.  I hear a lot from the generation of the Catholic revolution that "we really like what we created" - but I don't hear many of them asking if the remade Catholic product as that generation refashioned it is working for any other generation.


And I and many other young adult Catholics, looking around at our friends, our peers, the sociological data, and looking at the larger society we find ourselves in believe strongly that what we need is not a tweaking of suburban baby boomer Catholicism, but something that is, at least on many levels, radically different.


I don't think many in my generation on the front lines are calling for a return to 1955, but we are sifting through the rubble of American suburban Catholicism and saying what, moving forward, do we need from the distant past, the more recent past, and from the present to practice the Faith that was handed on to us from the Apostles in a way that starts to make a dent in the problem of 93% of our peers walking away from the Faith.






7 Reasons Why Your Smartphone Is Bilbo's Ring






1) You randomly worry that you don't have it, check your pocket, your heart rate quickens, you check your other pocket, find it, and then slowly calm back down again




2) Your phone is powerful and magical.  10 years ago, if you told someone all the things your phone would do, they would have thought of it as magic.  Your phone also gives you the power to do everything you would need to do to run a Fortune 500 company for weeks from thousands of miles away.




3) You think sometimes of getting rid of your phone, but every time you get ready to throw it away, you step back from the edge and change your mind

Image result for frodo wearing the ring
"I can't believe I was thinking of  getting rid of this thing!"




4) To the observer at a distance, for hours on end each day, you look at it, make faces at it, touch it and stroke it and talk to it.

Image result for bilbo my precious
"It's mine.  My own. My precious"



5) Your phone, as studies suggest, through the course of months and years, slowly changes you into a different version of yourself



6) Your phone gives you the impression that you have great power and are in control (see number 2 above) but it actually ultimately gives much more power to "the great eye" (i.e. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung) who, as everyone knows, is storing and cataloging and quantifying every move we make and every single act we perform with our phones, handing over to such corporations an ability to "dominate all life"



7)  When you use your phone, you disappear to all those around you and are instantly transported to something that is like reality, but is a warped and clouded version of it

Image result for frodo wearing the ring
"It's like living in reality, only different"


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday Homily: Realizing I was supposed to have stayed in Rome




I realized in prayerfully walking the streets of Rome last week that 11 years ago when I left the seminary in Rome, I should not have.

If I had known then what I know now about Christian suffering, I wouldn't have left

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Apostles of Wonder

Living in an age where the majority of people are leaving Christianity because of "science" (I.e. "I only believe in the measurable and observable and you can't measure or prove God so I'm out with regards to Christianity") I think perhaps our challenge is to be apostles of wonder

The Church loves science but says there is more to life than the measurable, and, frankly, to think that all that is real is what is measurable and quantifiable is not wisdom it is insane.

Aristotle wrote hundreds of years before Christ and he (and many before him) wrote much about "metaphysics" meaning BEYOND physics. The Church doesn't deny physics (the measurable) but says there is CLEARLY more to life than JUST the measurable.

Take the concept of love. No one who says "I just believe in science" should be able to say "I love you" because you can't measure or prove, with science, that loves is real.

So our job as believers, then, is to be apostles of wonder. To help people who are so focused on measuring, quantifying, weighing and experimenting to step back and see that every moment of life contains an infinite number of miracles happening, that every moment of existence itself is a mystery.

Sometimes we can be so buried in the facts that we miss the miracles. Our world is much like the Pharisees in today's gospel. "So, young man, you were blind and now you see. We have 100 questions for how this happened"

Similarly, we need to be like the blind man speaking to the rigid and overly scientific examiners of our day. Sometimes you just have to step back away from the data and the experiments and say "I think you're missing the miracle here. The big take away from my story should be that I was cured of my blindness. And frankly, having been blind my whole life, I don't give a rat's rear end about how it happened. That your hung up on HOW it happened is pretty amazing. I don't care how it happened. I want to go celebrate the reality that it DID happen!"

May Those who are focused only on what is measurable be gently nudged by us to see the bigger picture - that reality extends BEYOND physics. This reality beyond physics is something we can all sense, even as children (perhaps EASIER as children) and that which is beyond physics we can come to know if we take some time to put down our beakers and rulers and look at a child or a sunset and ask not what the child weighs nor what atmospheric chemistry causes the particular colors but instead ask "why are there babies and sunsets in the first place? Why does all that I can see exist at all?"

I look forward to doing a better job of trying to be an apostle of wonder. We've got work to do, but as Tolkien and Lewis and Chesterton knew, it is the fight of our age.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Devil's Playbook. Or Why the World is Winding Down

There is warranted concern on the part of some that we can't say that the state of things in the United States means that the world, through all of history, might be winding down to its conclusion.  That can sound prideful on our part to make such a statement: "Because things are bad around me, the world must be ending" certainly sounds as if a person has an unhealthy belief about themselves in relation to the center of the universe.


That being said, however, we do well to look at the TYPE of assaults on God coming from our nation and the first world.

(There was news yesterday that Chinese scientists have found a way to "scrub" human dna in an embryo of "imperfections"...and some scientists around the world have admitted to blending human embryos with animal DNA)


I submit that you will not find MORE theologically revealing chapters of Scripture than the first three chapters of Genesis.  


Let's look, broadly, at what God does, and the order that God does it:

1) "Let us make man in our (the Trinity's) image and likeness" (Genesis 1:26)

2) "Created male and female" (Genesis 1:27)

3) Establishment of marriage (Genesis 2:24: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.)


SO....

These three things, established in the very beginning of Genesis, in a particular order, are the most foundational aspects of humanity.  God doesn't do things out of order.


SO...

If you are going to try to attack God's creation because you can't actually attack God Himself, you would work to peal off the layers of God's work.  

And throughout the history of humanity, outer layers of God's creation have been assaulted.  His Church has been persecuted, people have abused the poor, slaughtered millions through war, etc.


BUT...

These last three layers, mentioned above, have not been attacked, EVER, until the past 2-3 years


Voltaire, who certainly played the part of antichrist quite expertly, whilst celebrating his black Mass of mockery in the Cathedral of Notre Dame at the height of the French Revolution whilst people were being murdered by the thousands each day...Voltaire would have never imagined 

1) that two men could marry one another
2) that men, if they believed it emphatically enough, might be women
3) that it might be possible to go in and alter human dna in a human embryo such that a human being would then be made in OUR image and likeness


That all three of these most fundamental truths have been assaulted and violated within the last three years in the United States and in the first world cause me to believe that although we will never know "the day nor the hour" that the world will come to its rapid and immediate conclusion, we might be able to take a pretty good guess at the month or at least the year