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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Married Priest Part 2

As a sort of follow up to my previous post, I think, as Canonist Ed Peters points out, a question that needs answering not just by Pope Francis, but by the Church in general in response to moves made by the LAST TWO popes as well is, to put it crassly, can permanent deacons, married priests (permitted by JP II and Benedict XVI) have sex with their wives?


Canon 277.1 says, clearly, NO


So do all of these (just some of many quotes from our tradition that say NO as well)

The bishops declare unanimously – “it pleases us all that bishops, priests and deacons, guardians of purity, abstain from conjugal intercourse with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep a perfect chastity.”
If priests do not behave as if they had no wife, they will be rejected from ecclesiastical duty.
Conciliae Africae a.345-525 ed. by C Munier in Corpus Christianorum, Servus Latina 149 (Turnhout, 1974):13

And this

Council of Elvira in the 4th century:
“It has seemed good absolutely to forbid the bishops and priests and deacons to have sexual relations with their wives and procreate children; should anyone do so, let him be excluded from the honor of the clergy.”
Hermann Theodor Bruns, Canones Apostolorum et Conciliorum sae. IV-VII, 2 (Berlin, 1839): 5-6

And this:
Pope Leo the Great in 456:
“Once ordained what had been permitted is not so. That is why, in order for their union to change from carnal to spiritual, they must, without sending away their wives, live as if they did not have them.”
Jaffe, 544. PL 54, 1159

and this:
St. Jerome: "In his “Treatise Vigilantum” in 406 – “Ministers of the altar must live in perfect continence.”
Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 39

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why I might be with Pope Francis on this married priest thing

I first read an article on this topic last year that mentioned a possible topic for the next synod being married priests.  After the ongoing disaster in the wake of the previous synod, I read up figuring I needed to steel myself for another potential uproar


Married men being ordained priests is not the topic of the next synod as the synod steering committee voted it down.  The next topic will be on youth and young adults.


Pope Francis made comments this week, though, that signaled he's open to talking about the issue and exploring it.


A couple of things to know:

1) There are already married men who are priests.  In the Eastern Catholic Church, married men are allowed to be ordained.  Click here to read the story

2) Pope Benedict, in allowing entire parishes of Anglicans to become Catholic, has permitted all Anglican priests who jump ship to become Catholic priests.

3) John Paul II set up a way where any married protestant minister who converts to Catholicism can be, at the bishop's discretion, a Catholic priest


So we ALREADY have married priests.  Celibacy is not a doctrine, it is a discipline, meaning something that the Church has done not because God required it in law, but because it is viewed to be helpful and beneficial.  When something is a discipline, it doesn't have to be that way.



Other important notes:

1) What is being discussed is not priests getting married.  It will always be the case that once a man is ordained, he will not be allowed to GET married after ordination

2) Women will not ever be priests.  Here's a helpful and compassionate explanation from Jason Evert: http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/why-can-t-women-be-priests.html

3) What is being discussed is whether men who are of good reputation in the parish/diocese might be brought forward to be ordained as a priest

4) Priests serve only in the place of the bishop and at the bishop's request.  If we had an Archbishop right now, he could call me tomorrow and tell me that I am not allowed to say Mass.  Or he could call me and say that I can say Mass but not preach.  He could take away my ability to hear confessions.  I would still be and always will be a priest, but the Bishop has full control over what types of ways I can put my priesthood to use.

In fact, it was the case in times past in the US that when you were first ordained you might only be given the ability to say Mass, and then, after a time if you were found worthy of preaching, the bishop would grant you that faculty, and then he might or might not also grant you the faculty to hear confessions.  

SIDE NOTE: I wish we would go back to that ASAP.  Some of the preaching we unleash on the people of God is scandalous, and most people would be better off in those circumstances NOT having a homily or having the horrible preacher read a sermon of the week from the bishop or a Church father or saint.  



After spending 3 years now over two parishes, a prison, and a university, this idea of possibly ordaining men priests and letting them utilize SOME of the faculties of the priesthood makes sense.  


Challenges:
1) Celibacy is SUPER important, and I think because it is the norm, there is a great deal of respect in our larger culture for priests even AFTER the horrible abuse crisis.  I just experience it on a day in and day out basis.  People think of Catholic priests differently and look at priests differently, and almost always in a good way. 

Fr. Guy Mansini, one of my profs in the seminary, drove home the point that I agree with wholeheartedly: "Men, the number one reason for celibacy is that it is a CONSECRATION, a marking and a setting apart for service"

Celibacy is NOT done so that priest labor is cheaper, it is not done so that a priest can work longer hours...it is done first of all as a consecration, and again, I see that people (Catholic and non-Catholic) look at priests as set apart for a particular mission, and that even most non-Catholics, in certain situations, are happy to have a priest around and even approach him in times of need.

In the Eastern Catholic Church, married men can be priests, but bishops can only come from the celibate clergy.  Whatever steps are taken, it is important to ensure that celibacy is still treasured and kept


2) I think ordaining guys FROM a parish to serve at the same parish is a bad idea, particularly if these men are given the faculty to preach.  A prophet is not welcome in his native land.  One of the LAST places I'd ever want to be assigned is my home parish, and I love the people there.  

It also takes a LOT of preparation and formation to be a good preacher.  You could teach a person to pray the Mass in a few months (mechanically speaking...hold your hands hear...move here...raise the host at this time...) but preaching is a whole other thing.  I would submit that a lot of the seminary academic work over 6-8 years has, as a primary goal, preparing men to preach well, or to at least not preach heresy. 

Some will surely say here that there are horrendous celibate priest preachers, and I agree.  I've been a victim of bad preaching as much as anyone else.  I am sure, as well, that some people in the parish ARE formed enough in theology, through their own study, and are good enough communicators to preach the Truth of Christ very well, even exceptionally.

I still think, though, that if married men were ordained, their ability to preach should be severely limited, and they should somehow have to prove their readiness in a much more rigorous way than is currently being done with our priests and permanent deacons.


3) I also think "ad orientem" Mass would be SUPER important if the priest were a local married man.  The point of Mass where the priest is not facing the people but instead all the people are facing, in expectation, liturgical East, is not so that the priest can have his own private devotion of Mass and exclude people, it is so that the people don't have to look at the priest.  The facial expressions of the priest shouldn't matter.  The identity of the priest, particularly a local man from the parish, would need to veiled so that people can focus on the Eucharist itself.  



Concluding thoughts:

1) It seems that perhaps, in the US at least, celibate priests would continue to be pastors overseeing the parishes, so that the local married man who would be ordained to help would serve in sacramental assistance but not have to worry about also "pastoring" (meetings, budget, marriage prep, finance council) etc.  

In my particular situation, I feel like I could probably be the pastor of several parishes if there was just sacramental help - i.e. other people who could celebrate Mass for me.  Five Masses on the weekend at two parishes 30 minutes apart is just not sustainable.  

I used to think that what should happen as the number of celibate clergy continue to decline is that parishes then should only have Mass every other week or once a month like the rest of the world.  

But is keeping intact a discipline of the Church worth people not having access to the Eucharist weekly?  Is keeping a discipline of the Church worth denying a lot of African Catholics Mass but a few times a year because there are so few celibate priests there (as with South America/China/India...and more and more the US)?

I don't think it is worth keeping intact a discipline that is already not followed in every case anyways.  

If you would have told me I would ever write that sentence five years ago, I wouldn't have believed you


We'll see where the Spirit leads the Church on this issue.


FOLLOW-UPS:

1) People aren't properly understanding what is being proposed in this realm of married priesthood.  What IS generally being proposed is that an older man in the parish would be ordained to say Mass and help with other sacraments while likely working in the world still (It might be possible for such a "Masser" to also get a job at the parish as, say, a director of religious education)

If you are 18 and considering the priesthood, you are still going to choose the standard path of celibate priesthood because the ONLY other option under what's being discussed is for that 18 year old to say "Instead I am going to get married, have children, wait until they are grown, and when I'm in my late 50's or 60's HOPE that the bishop might consider me becoming a priest who has limited faculties"

2) As the ALWAYS insightful canonist Ed Peters points out, Canon 277.1 still has to be reckoned with, which says "Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence"

What is "perfect and perpetual continence"? A cleric is to not have sex any more with his wife.  This goes for permanent deacons and married priests.  I haven't heard anything discussed about this with regard to this topic.

From what I've read on celibacy, this WAS happening in the early Church amidst married men being ordained priests.  It was apparently fairly common for wives of men coming forward to be priests to join a convent.

So while there have been married priests and married deacons going back to the beginning, Canon 277.1 has been in play as well.  I'm not sure if that is being lived out among married priests, nor do I assume that is being lived out among our permanent deacons either.  

The question I have here is not how would a move like married priests CHANGE Canon 277.1 but rather how have the steps that have already been taken in the East and West with married priests, and in the West with permanent deacons been done WITHOUT addressing, as far as I'm aware, Canon 277.1

Thursday, March 9, 2017

"Kristin Lavransdatter" vs. "Better Call Saul"

I'm looking forward to lots of things in April.  Holy Week.  Easter.  Time with family.  Spring.  The third season of Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is a wonderful show that I've really come to love.  It is the prequel to the wildly successful and very poignant Breaking Bad series.  
The series has awesome cinematography, acting, story, etc.  The gist of the show is exploring the interaction of two brothers.  Chuck is the eldest son.  Chuck is the cold and overachieving perfectionist, but we learn that he got that way partly because his mother loved his younger brother better.

Jimmy is the younger brother.  He's the life of the party, cuts corners, and has too much fun.  The show makes the case that he kind of got that way trying to win his cold brother's affection.


In essence, both are kind of messed up because of their "family dynamics", which is certainly a term that is more commonplace today thanks to the rise in pop-psychology.  More people are aware of the fact that our family relationships, notably to each of our parents and each of our siblings, has great effect on us.

It has certainly become en vogue these days to say something along the lines of "my family messed me up" and to believe that this understanding of family relationships is something we just stumbled across in the late 1960's.

*****

I just finished this week an amazing Catholic novel Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset.  I stumbled across the novel and author whilst looking up lists of great Catholic novels when someone had asked for recommendations.   I had never heard of the author, and so I did what any rational human being does, I bought 5 of her books off of Amazon!


Kristin Lavransdatter is Undset's most acclaimed work, having garnered a Nobel Prize for literature in 1928.  Undset was a Norwegian living at the beginning of the 20th century, and she converted to Catholicism despite great societal and family protest.  She was received into the Church in 1924.

Permeating throughout Kristin Lavransdatter is an intense awareness of family dynamics as well - an almost constant recognition throughout the entire life of the heroine that her mother liked her sister better, that her father liked Kristin better, when Kristin becomes a mother, she likes some of her sons better at stages throughout her motherhood.  She also recognizes that her husband likes some of his sons better than others. And on and on.


I was struck by how evenhanded all of these preferences were dealt with in the novel.  Although there were preferences that family members had for each other, no one acted like it destroyed their lives.  Kristin didn't throw herself on a fire or run off and rebel and drink herself into an oblivion because her mom was closer to her sister.  



It seems like the different relationships stemming from family dynamics really only have the power to crush people that aren't aware that not every relationship in a family system is going to be the same.  


If you know there are just going to be personality types that are attracted to each other, then you can take it much more easily that your mom is closer to one of your siblings or that your sister likes one of her siblings more than you. It's just life.   Undset got that.  

Often times we can be tempted to think that no one prior to 1960 had any valuable or worthwhile psychological knowledge, but Undset, in her 100 year old novel, suggests that past generations knew that relationships can't all be the same.  Perhaps it even proves that some people prior to 1960 understood this point BETTER than some of us do today. 


Family dynamics and relationships and preferences do shape us.  Hopefully we can see them and move forward as the characters do in Kristin Lavransdatter as opposed to having those relationships be as catastrophic as they appear to be for the two central characters in Better Call Saul

Sunday, February 26, 2017

If you had your child baptized Catholic, do you have ANY idea what you agreed to?




"Husband and wife, raised to the dignity and the responsibility of parenthood, will be zealous in fulfilling their task as educators, especially in the sphere of religious education, a task that is primarily their own."

Vatican II
Gaudium et Spes
Paragraph 48




The question every parents is asked before Baptism starts:  "You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?"


WOW!  That's awesome.  Humbling,  Challenging.  And scary. And Wonderful

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Annual Lenten Reminder

Annual reminder:

Going to Mass EVERY weekend is INFINITELY more important than giving up something for Lent

The Church NOWHERE requires Catholics to give up anything throughout Lent.

The Church does say that it is a grave sin to not attend weekend Mass (exceptions of illness/caring for someone who is ill/dangerous or overly burdensome travel etc.)

Sadly, some ignore the commandment concerning weekend Mass but would run through a brick wall in order to keep their Lenten pledge

Don't get me wrong - it is good to have zeal for a Lenten commitment, but it makes no sense if the more basic apparatus of the Faith is not in place as well

It doesn't make any sense to say "I'm giving up sweets for Lent even though the Church doesn't require it, but I go to Mass once a month even though the Church says Sunday/Saturday pm Mass is what I am to build my life around"

Said yet another way: don't give up anything for Lent until you have first committed to going to Mass every weekend of Lent


clarifiers:
1) I'm not saying "do something positive instead of giving something up for Lent" I'm saying go to Mass every Sunday before worrying about doing something for Lent

2) Also, this isn't me "judging" anyone. Neither is this me saying I'm better than anyone. This is me pointing out an ACTION that is problematic and in need of correcting in order for a person to find true happiness. I share this out of love - weekly Mass is critical for a person to find peace


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The black mass of abortion vs. the Eucharist







Homily for the Vigl of Life
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
1/25/2017
Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

In the Old Testament, people would bring offerings of animals to the priests
The priests would wash themselves, don their robes, grab the various instruments for the sacrifice, and then go before God to offer the sacrifices on the altar.

At daily Masses the past two weeks we’ve been reading from Hebrews talking about how Christ is now both the priest and the sacrifice. So what we see in the Mass is the perfect priest offering up to the Father the perfect victim – Himself

Mass then is a representation of this sacrifice – Christ the priest offering Himself.

And so at Mass, a priest too, as part of the preparation to stand in the person of Christ, also goes through rituals of preparation. The Church instructs the priest to first wash his hands and say a prayer “Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendum omnem maculam ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire” 

2) and then he dons his alb and robes, with the requisite prayers for each item

3) and then he picks up the the tools of the priesthood – the chalice and the paten consecrated by the bishop and goes forth to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Eucharistic Adoration that we participate in tonight, then, is the pausing in time of that moment when Christ the perfect priest offers up to the Father Christ the perfect sacrifice of Himself through the person of the priest

Pausing there for a moment, we must remind ourselves that evil is the complete perversion of that which is good. The greater the good perverted, the greater the evil

At the facility an abortionist washes his hands, dons his surgical robes, grabs his instruments and goes into the steel altar where the pregnant woman lays with her child, and the robed high priest of the evil one murders a perfect victim, not even yet born and that person which is a complete perversion of the perfect priest of Christ murders that which is perfect and offers it up to the god of “choice” or “convenience” or “fear”
Here we do well to note on today’s feast of the conversion of St. Paul that any doctor, any nurse, anyone that has had an abortion that repents of that sin returns rejoicing to the Lord and is cheered by the saints and angels in Heaven. People often say we don’t care about mothers, doctors, children born etc. when in reality it is the Catholic Church offering retreats for women who regret their abortion, offer housing and clothing and food to mothers and children in need. The place you won’t get any charity is at an abortion clinic. They are the ones who take money and then do nothing after the abortion.
I have been to countless Marches for Life, and the part that is always the most moving and beautiful for me is the women and men marching at the front carrying signs that say they regret their abortion – what an amazing and beautiful testimony. We do not condemn those who have participated in such evil sacrifice but we must call the act itself what it is – the purest evil. The blessed sacrament of the Devil

Image result for i regret my abortion

Who we worship here tonight, in this monstrance, is the Truth with a capital T and abortion then is a complete abomination and mockery of the Eucharist. But make no mistake, Christ in the Eucharist is now and will one day completely vanquish that which mocks it
Jesus Christ, the man at whom demons wailed and shrieked in agony, who fled possessed human beings for a herd of pigs and then ran head long into a pond and drowned – Jesus Christ THE exorcist is here in this place and he is in each of us each time we take Communion.

In the Old Testament the Israelite nation marched around the city of Jerricho carrying the Ark of Covenant and what seemed impenetrable came crashing down.

In the same way we bring Christ in us and Christ in the Eucharist out to the streets, out to the front lines of this battle between good and evil. 

I was told in physics class that when matter and anti matter meet, there is an explosion. That is what is happening all over the world where Christ meets the evil of abortion.

Allow me to end with a challenge. The saying goes without the priest there is no Eucharist. Christ has chosen to tie his appearance in the world his manifestation in the world to men whom he invites to be priests.

I believe there are a lot of you tonight sitting here that Christ is calling to be priests, asking you to allow Him to work through your hands and bring the Eucharist to a world so desperately in need of it. There is a beautiful reflection on the Annunciation that speaks about how the angels and saints and ALL of creation held its breath waiting for Mary’s “YES” to God, and how rejoicing broke out when she said yes. In the same way, all of Heaven awaits the “yes” of those whom God is inviting to be priests.
 Many others of you know people who are being called or may be called to be priests. Young men: SAY YES TO GOD!!!!! And if you know someone you think God might be speaking to, affirm what you see in that person by speaking to them.
The Eucharist is the antidote to Evil, and it is only through the hands of priests that the Eucharist comes into the world.

All vocations offer ways to fight against evil. But I have seen in my 7.5 years of priesthood that some are called by God but they do not respond generously to His invitation. If you are looking to be on the front lines of the battle between good and evil, the priesthood is a direct path to the front lines.

One of Pope Francis’ favorite books is a book titled the Lord of the World about the final showdown between good and evil.


Image result for "lord of the world" adoration


The antichrist has murdered almost everyone else on earth, but the Pope and one of his cardinals hide in a chapel in Jerusalem. The antichrist and his armies show up on a mountain outside the chapel, the mountain of Armageddon, and the book ends with the last pope carrying out a monstrance singing the Tantum Ergo and from the monstrance Christ reveals himself and conquers sin and death once for all

In that beautiful closing paragraph it says the Pope sang the Tantum Ergo “FOR THE LAST TIME” which is AWESOME. When we sing the Tantum Ergo we say, in Latin “Faith will tell us Christ s present when our human senses fail” – in what we do tonight our human senses fail. But at some point, we will in fact sing the Tantum Ergo for the last time because then we will see no longer that which LOOKS like bread, we will see Him as He is in his fullness

Image result for "lord of the world" monstrance


We too process through this place in a few moments the King of Kings. Against Christ’s sacramental presence here tonight, and in his sacramental presence at every Mass – evil knows it has no chance, and that is simply mocking that which is really good, and is doing so on borrowed time.

Come, let us adore Him!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Christian Unity: Just finding what WORKS for you?

In order to not talk about faith, a lot of people say to one another "whatever works for you"

"So if Buddhism works for you, or Lutheranism works for you or Catholicism works for you, who am I to judge?"

The problem with this (in addition to it being relativism) is this:

Why settle JUST for what WORKS?

You ought to be asking "What is BEST for me," and I ought to care what is BEST for you.

Utilitarianism (based on the word "utility" or "usefulness") is a HORRENDOUS and disastrous philosophical way of looking at things that, despite how horrible it is, is widespread in our culture today.  

Utilitarianism judges everything by whether or not it is "useful" (including other people).  Utilitarianism is the philosophy that underlies Communism.  If a loaf of bread "gets the job done" then why have steak?  If dilapidated and drab apartments are livable, then why have anything else?  

Of course, under utilitarianism, there ought to be no art, music, poetry, or feasts because they aren't "useful" in the way utilitarians use the word "useful"



So, in the life of Faith, settling for what "just gets the job done" is a sort of horrible communistic utilitarianism as well.


We ought to never settle for "what works" but rather always be asking "what is BEST"



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My favorite family quote

"The supreme adventure is being born. There we do walk suddenly into a splendid and startling trap. There we do see something of which we have not dreamed before. Our father and mother do lie in wait for us and leap out on us, like brigands from a bush. Our uncle is a surprise. Our aunt is, in the beautiful common expression, a bolt from the blue. When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world that we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale."

- G.K. Chesterton -


The Epiphany from the bedside of a dying parishioner

A parishioner shared this poem with me on Monday from his wife's bedside where she is in her final days. It is a beautiful poem that I had not encountered before, and it is from TS Eliot touching on birth, death, and the magi

I pray it might be something some of you find helpful and/or beautiful

The Journey Of The Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.