Thursday, October 16, 2014

Support our youth programs AND evangelize your local community!

If you'd like your order shipped, each shirt would be $18.00, but they're totally worth it!  Just send me an email with the number of each size that you'd like, and I'll get you your shirts!

Please place any orders by October 25th.  

Thanks for helping us out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Humorous Story

I hope this makes you smile!

Today I spoke at my alma mater, Roncalli High School, with 300 freshmen about the Theology of the Body.  I was asked to do the same thing five years ago, the first year I was a priest, and I said yes then as well.

Important pieces of information:
1) I was pretty crazy busy figuring out my new parish, my high school chaplaincy, coaching football, and teaching three classes

2) My good priest friend Fr. Meyer is known throughout the country as a great presenter to teens on the topics pertaining to St. JP II's Theology of the Body

Because of those two factors, I asked Fr. Meyer to email his PowerPoint presentation that he uses (I had never seen his talk; I only knew it was good from others).  Fr. Meyer agreed and sent me the PowerPoint.

I meant, for about three weeks, to look over the PowerPoint presentation BEFORE giving the talk to the kids, but I procrastinated, and in the moment I decided to just go into the presentation cold and just try to make it work (I know, I know, terrible decision).

There were some tough transitions, but I did a decent job making the transitions seem somewhat reasonable.


A cartoon popped up on the screen of a guy in a hockey mask and overalls burying a chainsaw into the chest of another guy and there was blood flying everywhere!

You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium as we all looked, for the first time, at the three story tall screen with the above mentioned slide projected onto it.

I stammered and stuttered and tried to make it work somehow.  My brother, a freshman at the time, said I did a decent job of covering it all up, but I think he was just trying to be nice.

To his defense, when Fr. Meyer gives the talk, it all fits in as he talks about violence in video games...but know that I certainly learned a lesson that day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Distort the Synod - Quote Priests Like Fr. James Martin, SJ

I have been saddened to see a priest who is an editor of a national magazine saying things that are highly misleading, and thus providing fodder for all those looking to paint a completely distorted picture of the Synod on the Famly.

Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit, edits the national magazine America, and has been saying things that the national media have been quoting quite fervently.

One such statement from Fr. Martin is the following:

Did the Church ever say people living with same-sex attraction don't have any gifts?  Can he point to where the Church USED to say that?  Of course not.

Instead, Fr. Martin irresponsibly perpetuates a gigantic myth - namely that the Church "used to hate gays but are now warming up to them."  It is extremely irresponsible for a priest to perpetuate this myth because it is wrong on so many levels.

"gay people" is such a simplistic and false term.  Does Fr, Martin mean:
1) people living with same sex attraction
2) people having homosexual sex

EITHER WAY - even if a person is in a state of mortal sin - the Church doesn't say such people HAVE NO GIFTS!

Wouldn't that be a fascinating statement: "The Catholic Church would like to declare that those who are in a state of mortal sin have no gifts", or, even worse, "those who are in a state of mortal sin are not welcome."  It is sad to see a priest of the Church perpetuate these childish myths.  Perhaps it helps sell books, though?

Also from the desk of Fr. Martin:

We all struggle with humility in our own ways, but to put oneself forward as knowing when the Spirit is afoot and when it isn't so much afoot is not a power most claim for themselves.

We can't, in the same tweet, simultaneously PREDICT what the Holy Spirit is doing while saying it is UNpredictable.

The Synod and the Media

We are being given yet another reminder that the Holy Spirit is, without a doubt, unquestionably steering and protecting the Church, because, as per usual, there's no other way to explain how this is all being held together.

I want to comment on one aspect of the Synod as a guy "in the trenches" who has actual real life parishioners who are asking really key questions about what is going on in the Synod because the topics of the Synod are VERY important to them in their situations in life.

The Synod has two things going on with regards to the media, and the fact that both are happening at the same time is, in my mind, highly problematic.

1) No one is allowed to know what is actually being said in the discussions themselves
2) Attendees of the Synod are being encouraged to talk with the media

For the sake of the people I minister to, I hope one or both of these change, and here's why:

We are currently relying on a telephone game to get the word out on the Synod, and the telephone currently has two relayers - 
1) Anonymous Synod attendees
2) Media folks

I challenge anyone to please draw up a more disastrous way to have news about the Synod trickle down to the average lay Catholic.

The most disturbing tweet I've seen on this entire Synod is the following:

So let's recap:
1) We have the media telling our story for us
2) We can't fact check the spin because we aren't releasing what actually is being said
3) We have bishops that are surprised that the media isn't getting it right

*Insert face into open palms*

I would have thought, after the Humanae Vitae rollout debacle (that we're still dealing with), we would have learned our lesson about letting anonymous sources and the media get the "truth" out.

But again, on a positive note, we are left with yet another reminder that the Holy Spirit is definitely steering this ship, because if the Catholic Church wasn't being protected by God, it would have surely sunk by now.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Synod on the Family Homilies and Classes

Happy NFP Awareness Week!:

A talk at the Indiana Catholic Youth Conference:

A homily on homosexuality:

Warp-speed catechesis: why the Church only ordains men:

A homily on abortion:

A homily to Ritter High School about sex:

Class on Contraception at Ritter part 1:

Contraception Class Part 2:

Contraception Class Part 3:

A warp-speed version of a class on homosexuality:

Class on celibacy, part 1:

Class on celibacy, part 2:

Second class on celibacy, part 1:

Second class on celibacy, part 2:

We Hunger for Earthly Feasts...But How About Heavenly Ones?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Call to Action and Macklemore vs. Jesus and the Church

This is from Call to Action, a group that labels themselves Catholic but have, time and again, done things which suggest that they have removed themselves completely out from under the umbrella of Catholicism.

This graphic of course includes two same-sex partners with children, and cites one of the worst "rappers" I've ever heard - Macklemore - whose song last year "same love" took the country by storm as he noted that all love, whether between a married man and woman or two people of the's all the same, and it's all beautiful.

Call to Action, in the run up to the Synod on the family, is apparently hoping to ride the tidal wave of Macklemore's "theology" by picking off people who understand very little about what Love really is when Jesus, St. Paul, the Church etc. speak of the word.  

Of course people can think they are loving each other even if they aren't actually expressing what Christ means by the word Love.

Everyone acknowledges that love means so many different things, and yet this graphic seeks to pretend that there AREN'T different types of love.

People love cinnamon rolls
People love their pets
People love the NFL
People love their siblings
People love their friends
God loves all of us
God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit love each other
a Man and wife love each other

These "loves" aren't the same thing...unless you work for Call to Action...then Love means whatever you want it to mean and all loves are the same.

I'll take the Bible, the teachings of Jesus and St. Paul, the writings of the saints, popes, theologians, the Church, etc. over the theology of Macklemore.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"In It, Not of It!"

A Nursing Home Nativity

"Can I help you find someone?" asked the kindly nursing home staffer.

"I'm trying to find Beth"

"I think she's still in the dining room waiting for her aid to take her back to her room.  Let's go see."

I followed her down a hall and into the dining room.  "There she is, over in the yellow sweater."

"Thank you for your help ma'am.  Have a wonderful day."  She smiled and got back to whatever task she had taken time out from to help me.

The woman in the yellow sweater sat in a wheel chair at a table that looked to have had other occupants not too long ago, but now it was just her.  A few other elderly folks remained in the now mostly empty dining hall.  Most of those who were still at their tables had some family members sitting with them and making conversation.  A warm light shone in through the windows on this fall Sunday afternoon.

I introduced myself and got down on one knee so I could speak more easily with her.  I told her I was the new pastor and was out visiting the folks who couldn't come to Mass.  She thanked me for coming, and told me a little bit about her self and her past.  She told stories about being baptized by this priest, confirmed by that monsignor, and some stories about her family and her Faith.  Most of the time she didn't look at me, but instead stared off over my shoulder, as if her past was a film playing behind me and she was describing to me what she was seeing as it played.

After maybe ten minutes of conversation, I asked her "would you like to receive Communion?"

She responded "Oh yes, very much, thank you."

I took out the pyx of Hosts from my pocket and sat it on the table.  There on the table, amidst spilled granules of a half-used equal packet, sitting next to a partially-consumed piece of bread pudding and a cooling cup of coffee sat the King of Kings.  A few employees were busy in the background as they were picking up trays from other tables and trying to clean up the day's lunch.  Some family members moved about as well, but no one even glanced in our direction as we prayed an Our Father and then I offered her Communion.

I was struck, in the moment, by how similar this must have been to the first appearance of our Lord on Earth in a little town of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.  Hardly anyone noticed.

And why should they have?  I didn't fault the people in the dining room because why would they know better?

It was, though, a reminder to me that I have been anointed (and so have you if you've been baptized Catholic) to help all of these people to get to the point where they DO recognize Him in the Host.

We have the job of proclaiming what the Angels sang about at the first Nativity, we have the job of going to the rich and the poor alike, to the kings of this world and to the shepherds, and telling them "unto you this day a Savior has been born, and He is Christ the Lord."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My YouTube Channel Trailer

YouTube encourages you to put together a short trailer to let people know what is on your channel.  Here's mine:  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why I Sometimes Think About Leaving Diocesan Priesthood and Becoming an Order Priest Even Though I Never Will

I may some day run off with some woman and go get married…we all have to always be open to the fact that we are prone to falling into all sin…but that being said, I really don't think my greatest temptation is quitting the priesthood for a woman.  

I once heard someone say that if the Devil can't get you through things that are sinful, he'll try to use things that are good.

And so I think, for me, the greatest temptation is to leave the path God has called me to for something that I perceive to be "good" and "holy"

Let me make some comments up front:

1) I'm not writing this for sympathy
2) I'm not in any sort of existential crisis
3) I'm not actually going to leave the diocesan priesthood
4) I'm writing this in case it might help other priests or seminarians struggling with this (I know several that are)
5) I'm also writing this because I think what I sometimes feel as a diocesan priest is also nearly exactly the same sort of thing that a lot of married couples feel after being married for a few years, and so maybe this will help them as well
6) I don't think I'm better than anyone else
7) This also has nothing to do with my current assignment (I really do love both of my parishes and the university ministry!)

That being established, let me remind folks that as a diocesan pastor I am charged with caring for and working for the salvation of EVERY soul that lives in my parish boundary.  For me, that currently is 2.1 counties in Indiana, and roughly 40,000 souls.  

Out of that 40,000ish, perhaps 900 come to one of my 5 weekend Masses.

This percentage is about right for most pastors of most Catholic Churches in the USA.  

And so I spend a lot of time asking and praying about "what is the way to reach the unchurched?"

(note: people will always reject the Truth, so I know not all will likely return to the Spring of Life, but the numbers are clear - we have a lot of work to do!)

So we have a lot of work to do.  We have to go out and invite folks.  We have to EVANGELIZE and knock on doors and engage folks kindly and let them know we want them with us.  We have to celebrate the Mass the way the Church asks so that it will draw them in and not, as is often the case, actually repel those who do happen to come one time to check us out, etc. etc.

So my struggle, and the doubt that is certainly of the Devil, takes the form of something like this - 

"I will likely be spending the rest of my priesthood at least spending the first 5-10 years at a new assignment having to convince people that:
1) Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist
2) mortal sin is a reality
3) I can't receive Jesus if I'm in a state of mortal sin
4) I have to go to Mass on Sundays and holy days
5) confession has to be part of my spiritual life
6) because Jesus IS truly present in the Eucharist, flip flops and Colts jerseys and gum and cell phones and boat shorts probably aren't appropriate attire and behavior for being in the presence of the King of Kings, given the fact that we dress up infinitely better for many other occasions in our lives
7) That you can't, as a Catholic who takes their Faith seriously, vote FOR someone who votes in favor of abortion and/or same-sex "marriage" etc.
8) That pop music has no place in the Mass and actually has the function of reverse-evangelizing
9) That the priest ISN'T the center of attention at the Mass, nor is he an MC, but instead is to serve as an icon (read: get out of the way of Christ)

And so I think about all of this, and how long it takes to get today's parish to understand the basics, and I begin to think:

"It would be a HECK of a lot easier, and a better use of my time, to go to a parish that already GETS the above listed concepts so that we, as a parish, could worry more about what REALLY matters - the call to go make disciples of all people who AREN'T at Church."

Look, I know that religious orders that only staff parishes that do the Traditional Latin Mass and the orders that only staff parishes that do the TLM and the Novus Ordo Mass the right way, I know those priests have challenges.  I know in those parishes people struggle with pride, some people want to go to confession every half hour, some people think Vatican II was demonic, some people think Pope Francis is the enemy, etc.  Every place has its challenges.

But when I look around today, not at my own parishes but just at future potential parishes in general…man alive…am I really going to have to always fight over the basic stuff that a properly catechized kindergartener understands and believes?  Am I really going to have to take down video screens, tell people for the first time that they're supposed to be at every Mass, tell people they are supposed to NOT receive Communion if they're in a state of mortal sin, that they SHOULD get an annulment and not, despite what the last priest told them "just go ahead and take Communion anyway", and tell people that they're NOT at a barbecue?

If I were an order priest of, say, the FSSP or St. John Cantius or something like that, I would be able to show up at a parish where I wouldn't' have to spend 10 years convincing people that
1) Chant does a better job of drawing people into the Mass than pop music
2) A Communion rail doesn't "cut people out" it is highly catechetical
3) Mass on Sunday is non-negotiable (barring illness)
4) Mortal sin is real and it is in the Bible
5) Confession isn't psychologically damaging, it is actually a Sacrament
6) Adoration isn't "from the Dark Ages" it is actually edifying 
7) The Church has never said Mass should be said facing the people
8) Mass with the priest facing the people has real philosophical, spiritual, and catechetical implications that DO matter even if most people don't care

That's why it is tempting to leave and join an order…because then I think in my mind I could get right to trying to go reach out to the 98% of my people in my future parish boundaries who AREN'T Catholic.

But, at the end of the day, I realize that this is very similar to a spouse that wakes up early one morning, and lays in bed staring at their beloved, and the sinking feeling hits them - "This person isn't what I had in mind when I married this person."

And I'm sure that my current and future congregations feel the same way about me at times - "who do we write to in order to get rid of this guy?"

And so, at the end of those days where I'm especially struck by thoughts about what COULD be, I remember that I made a vow, and that vows don't happen on accident, and since I promised, before God, to be a diocesan priest for the rest of my life, that's what I need to be.  

Maybe I will get some future parish assignment where I have to spend 12 years convincing people of the basics, and I maybe that parish will do very little to reach anyone outside the walls of that parish, and maybe those 12 years would have been more productive for the kingdom if I was the pastor of a parish that already understood the basics…but a vocation isn't first and foremost about production…we only measure the performance of machines by production…a vocation is a person's particular path to holiness that God has called that person to…even when it seems like the grass is greener on the other side…

Let me end by saying I'm fine, I love being a priest, and I'm not asking for sympathy.  If anyone has issues, it is me.  I do not think I'm better or holier than anyone else.  My current assignment is great.  
The Devil doesn't use our ACTUAL and CURRENT situation to discourage us, it is always some hypothetical future reality, because the Devil can only suggest thoughts to us about what MIGHT be.

If you are struggling with a fear about your vocation as a priest, a seminarian, a married person, etc…kick the Devil out of your head…press on…recommit your vows to your spouse…or your vows to your bishop…say a quick prayer…and then press on laboring in the field that God has given you to care for and quit worrying and thinking about hypothetical futures.

May we all be able to say, at the end of our lives,

"I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me" (2 Timothy 4:7)

"We have to make Mass more relevant!!!"

"What people actually want to experience in the Mass is something they DIDN'T create" - Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Has Anything Happened SINCE Vatican II?

As discussed ad nauseam, the problem has not been The Second Vatican Council, but rather the way things that were never taught at the Council have been implemented by some priests and bishops.

So it is my belief that if we simply began to be faithful to the actual documents of the Council, a lot of our issues in the Church today would begin to evaporate.

That being said, it is also pertinent to ask a question: "has anything happened SINCE Vatican II?"

If the claim of "progressives" is that "Vatican II was an attempt to modernize things" then even by their own statement it would seem that the Church would need to KEEP MODERNIZING today.

An example of what I mean by this would be the homily.

Vatican II noted that the homily should, all things being equal, more often be a reflection on the Scriptures, as opposed to a "sermon" where a priest would focus more on doctrine.  Common in the Church throughout most of the Church's history have been the "preaching manuals" that would even have sermons that a priest could simply read from.

Of course the "sermon" frightens progressive Catholics because it is seen as "stifling the Spirit" - a progressive Catholic might ask how the Spirit could possibly flow through the reading of a sermon.

Here I must note that I've heard a lot of "homilies" where it would have been INFINITELY better had the priest read a sermon from some great saint like St. John Crysostom as opposed to the "flowing of the Spirit" that was dumped on the assembly.

However, I fully respect the 2nd Vatican Council's call for more homilies.

That being said, since it has now been fifty years, is it possible that things have happened SINCE Vatican II that would require an "updating" of the getting with the times?

It seems odd to request that the Church "get with the times" by going back to 1965.

And so, back to the homily...Pope Benedict remarked on several occasions that a "sermon" or a catechetical teaching during the homily time is, at times, most appropriate and most needed.  This was, of course, met with howls and shrieks by some progressive Catholics.

But Pope Benedict is simply trying to "get with the times"... he recognized the utter wasteland that is the knowledge of the Faith possessed by the average Catholic today, and he was saying we have to "get with the times" and respond to what is going on today by making sure to mix in sermons on Church doctrine.

The same could be asked about the placement of the tabernacle.  Vatican II called for it to be placed, ideally, in a side chapel.  Can we now recognize the disaster that this has caused and thus "get with the times" and say "okay, responding to data and lived experience SINCE 1965, we are going to move back toward placing the tabernacle in the center of Church."

I just find it odd that progressive Catholics don't ever want to talk as if anything has happened since 1965 that would warrant a reevaluation of anything, unless, of course, we're talking about a loosening of any and all Church teachings that restrict complete and free sexual self-expression.