Friday, December 30, 2011

Shameless Popery: Why Celebrate Christ's Birth, Instead of His Conce...

With the pro-life movement being a part of my life, a question that I've discussed with many is "why is the Conception of Christ" treated with such little fanfare, while we make His birth a huge deal? Isn't His Conception (celebrated 9 months before Christmas) when he became a human person? This article below does a great job of treating that question.

Shameless Popery: Why Celebrate Christ's Birth, Instead of His Conce...: Since life begins at conception, why do we focus on celebrating the Birth  of Christ, rather than His Conception ?  After all, from a Cathol...

Mary the Mother of God

This is a post from a scholarly priest in Montana. While studying together in Rome, Fr. Ryan and I were good buds, and we actually (unsuccessfully) climbed Mount Eiger in Switzerland together. He's a true scholar and his reflection is worth the read

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A New Video

This is the latest video from my video production company that is not a company. I like putting together little mash-ups when I get the time.

Some might say this isn't real "Christmassy" but then again, neither is the stoning of Saint Stephen, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, or the martyrdom of Beckett, all of which we celebrate and remember this week.

Monday, December 26, 2011


A post about "hosts" and an issue that is arising more frequently at parishes across the country. There are ways around this, but anyone presenting hosts to be consecrated for wheat allergies ought to run the ingredients by their parish priest first. Appalled

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Same Lap, Same Child, 33 Years Later

This morning I was blessed to have Mass in a still-silent St. John's in downtown Indy around 6:30 am. Because I had no Mass scheduled, I went to my favorite place on Earth and had Mass by myself.

I celebrated Mass this morning at the side altar of the pieta (statue of Mary holding Her dead Son in her arms - first immortalized by Michelangelo's statue in St. Peter's Basilica).

As I celebrated Mass this morning, it hit me that just as we celebrate today the birth of a child resting peacefully in His Mother's arms, so the pieta memorializes that same Mother holding that same Child in those same arms. The two scenes will always now be intimately connected for me in a way that had not ever occurred to me before.

It was especially driven home to me when I elevated the Host and the chalice. At each elevation, because the statue is so big and so close to the altar, all I could see was the Host/chalice and the Blessed Mother in the near-background holding Her dead Son. It seemed as if I was showing to the Blessed Mother Her Son, and it was as if She was saying, "I believe, but look how the world treats Him!"

May we remember His coming as a child, and may we remember that, despite every effort on His part, some still choose to reject His message. May more people open their hearts to let Him make His dwelling with them - and may we live in such a way as to inspire that increase!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Homily for Christmas - Unto Us A CHILD Is Born

Why Pope Benedict Will One Day be Recognized as a Doctor of the Church

This is an excerpt from a Christmas homily that Pope Benedict gave almost 30 years ago. I found it in an obscure book titled "Dogma and Preaching" which is a collection compiled in the mid 1980's of some of Fr./Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's homilies.

This excerpt brilliantly and succinctly sums up so much of what the Church says to the world during this Christmas season. The excerpt combines real world wisdom with the best that psychology has to offer the world. I hope it brings a bit of holiday joy to you and your loved-ones this Christmas Eve!

"Today it is practically obligatory for a theologian or preacher to direct more or less withering criticism at the way we celebrate Christmas and to compare the placid comfort of our festivities with the hard reality of the first Christmas. Christmas - they tell us - has been commercialized beyond redemption; it has degenerated into a meaningless commercial bustle. Its piety has been sentimentalized; the celebration of the unfathomable mystery of God's Incarnation has turned into a cheap romantic melodrama that is focused on a pretty, curly-haired baby, accompanied by a bit of fantasy about the family and much emphasis on bourgeois self-satisfaction. In fact, in most instances all that survives of religion is a breath of sentimentality; people find it comforting once a year, on this night when all the lights blaze out, to be touched by a feeling that stirs reveries of childhood and an idealized time now long past.

The criticism is undoubtedly justified in large measure. It has not, however, perhaps been sufficiently observant of the fact that behind the facade of commercialism and sentimentality the desire for something great and primal has not wholly disappeared, and even that the sentimentality acts as a screen behind which a profound and pure feeling lurks, too shy to reveal itself to the gaze of others."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Magnificat and Cooking

Last weekend I had some of my siblings over for dinner. The main course went really well and tasted delicious. I went with one of my Mom's recipes, so success was a given.

Desert, on the other hand, was an unmitigated disaster! Long story short - I was going to fry up some beignets (New Orleans donuts) and the oil got to hot, started smoking, spread throughout the house, and I'm lucky the oil never caught fire and burned the house down.

Cooking has been on my mind even now (6 days later) because I'm still bombing the house with cleaning chemicals, taking apart the microwave to clean it, bleaching, mopping, vacuuming, wiping, etc. I've spent 80 dollars on chemicals, and I think today was the Battle of the Bulge; I feel like I finally got the upperhand and turned the corner on the stench in the rectory.

What in the heck does that have to do with the Magnificat of Mary which was today's Gospel reading? Mary begins her litany of praise to God by saying "My soul gives praise to God my savior" and as I prayed over those lines cooking came to mind.

Interesting that Mary says her SOUL praises God - if our soul's on board, it's like we're saying its a deeper level of commitment; it's as if the Blessed Mother is saying "This is not a surface-level thing. My whole BEING praises God."

This seems to me to be like cooking. You can't microwave a Thanksgiving turkey - if the heat is going to sink in, it has to do so over time...slowly...if it has any hope of getting down deep. I mean technically you can try and cook something too fast, but it gets too hot and gets burned up - kind of like those who expect to have a conversion experience as soon as they sit down to pray and think:

"Okay God...I just sat down here to pray so start talking to me...could you speed this up...I can't hear must not be working...God must not love much for this prayer thing!"

These last few days before Christmas we are encouraged in all directions to be frantic, to get stressed, and sometimes we're just authentically excited to the point where we don't WANT to wait for God.

Let us realize that if our SOUL is ever going to be involved, if our SOUL is ever going to be touched by God to the point where we can exclaim "My SOUL proclaims the greatness of God" then it will only be because we sat in the oven of prayer and spent TIME letting God slowly seep in towards our innermost being.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hobbit Trailer

If you've followed the blog at all my love for Tolkien is surely not a surprise at this point. This looks to be quite the movie experience!

Best to click on it, go to the Youtube site and watch it on full screen

Who Cares about the Dedication of the Cathedral??

Last night, after looking at a calendar, I realized that today is a feast day for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis because it is the anniversary of the dedication of our Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. A few weeks ago, I posted here about how some days are elevated depending on where you live.

Anyway, as I started thinking about today, it seemed a bit forced that I would celebrate the dedication of a Church building downtown. Isn't that almost like cheating for a reason to celebrate.

(Starbucks drive thru person: "Can I help you"
Me: "yes, I'd like a coffee please. It's the anniversary of the dedication of our Catholic cathedral downtown.")

As I prayed about it this morning, I came to a couple of realizations I'd like to share.

I've written often on here about how easy it is to conceive of things as "Spiritual or Earthly" - the tendency we have as human beings to put things on one side of the divide or the other. Nancy Pelosi gives nice voice to that tendency here. We may not go to the extremes that Mrs. Pelosi did, but we often get a lot closer to such an extreme than we would like to admit.

The Church and Jesus stand in the breach yanking the spiritual and the earthly together, not allowing people to get away with their attempts to sift through reality and decide what is "spiritual" and what is "earthly." The Eucharist is BOTH spiritual and earthly, Jesus is both spiritual and earthly, WE as human beings are both spiritual and earthly...and the Eucharist (all sacraments), the Church, Jesus, human beings etc. are BOTH spiritual and earthly IN A WAY THAT CAN NOT BE PULLED APART - I can never say "that's the historical earthly Jesus comments there...and those are the things that the transcendental spiritual Jesus said there." I can't say "that's the earthly church talking or acting there...and over here we have the spiritual church at work." No separating the wheat from the chaff until the end of time.

So celebrating the anniversary of a Church downtown is a good exercise because it, perhaps more than anything else in our Church's calendar, forces us to remember that the building is not JUST an earthly collection of brick and mortar, it is a place where God has CHOSEN to mix realities that, thankfully, despite our attempts to do so, can not be unmixed in this lifetime.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Actual Place that Bills Themselves as a Catholic College and Means It!

First a chillingly beautiful poem from the pages of First Things

Winter Concert
by N. E. Dunkle

At St. Progressive University
We toil to demonstrate diversity.
Before our concert, let me tell you how
We come to sing of winter solstice now
Instead of Christmas as we did until
Three students asked that ash tree Yggdrasil
Be raised beside each lighted Christmas tree
To show respect to Norse mythology.
So now you can feel safe; there’s nothing here
Denoting Advent or the Christian year.
Progressive is the light, and we have seen it;
We still hum Christmas tunes, but we don’t mean it.

I've heard many people say "The best place to lose your Catholic Faith is at a Catholic college" and from what I've seen the past 10 years or so, it is hard to argue with that statement.

If you are looking for a college that is Catholic and means it you need to look at supporting/attending Wyoming Catholic College. Watch the awesome trailer that they just released through my favorite group in the world --> Grassroots Films


Monday, December 19, 2011

Why it Might Be GOOD if Pope Benedict Does Resign

Let me begin by saying I am a gigantic fan of Pope Benedict and he helped form me into the priest I am just as much as the seminary did. I have a book I've written on his theological ideas, although I'm still trying to clean it up for publishing. Needless to say, I am a fan.

Stories are starting to surface that the Pontiff is aging and seems tired and worn down. He has himself called attention several times to the fact that a pope is able to resign if he so chooses, the only requirement being that he not be forced to do so.

I believe that if Pope Benedict were to resign it could be very instructive and catechetical for both the Church and the world at large.

Blessed Pope John Paul II chose not to resign, and I think it was because his NOT resigning allowed him an opportunity to teach the world about suffering, about the dignity of the elderly, and it gave him a chance to put into practice the teaching on end of life issues (specifically the teaching he helped clarify - the idea that all people should be hydrated and fed until life is no longer sustainable).

Just as JP II clinging to his papacy to the very end served to educate the world, I think Benedict RESIGNING could serve as a very helpful and much needed teaching moment as well.

Some writers have talked about the confusion that would exist in most people's minds if there were "two popes." That most people see "two popes" as somehow problematic illustrates exactly why we could be well-served by experiencing just such a scenario.

Many people completely fail to grasp the idea of papal infallibility. I myself did not properly understand the teaching until I was in the seminary and had a chance to study it in depth. In the mind of most people the Church believes that a pope can do no wrong - that God somehow protects the pontiff from any and all error and sin. This of course leads those both outside and inside the Church to scoff - "look at all the bad popes through all the years, clearly your doctrine of infallibility is laughable!!!"

But infallibility only applies to when the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) is teaching something in a very clear way or declaring something in a very clear way as being infallible, only then is said teaching actually held to be infallible. The times where a pope declares something infallibly are few and far between.

It would be very healthy for people to realize that INFALLIBILITY IS RARE AND ONLY APPLIES TO THE OFFICE NOT TO THE MAN. The Pope is a bishop like all other bishops. Pope Benedict has a cathedral, he oversees the diocese of Rome, he baptizes, he runs capital campaigns, he approves the building of new Churches in the diocese, he ordains priest for his diocese and so forth. What does set him apart is the fact that from the beginning of the Church there is a clear deference to the Bishop of Rome by the other bishops of the world on matters that needed resolution by an authority.

Being pope makes a person really no more SPIRITUALLY guided by God than any other bishop throughout the world. Becoming pope does not make a person into some super-human-angelic hybrid - a bishop who becomes the bishop of Rome takes on AN OFFICE which can be laid aside and assumed by someone else without any problem in the mind of those who understand what a bishop is and what the pope is.

Perhaps this would be a much needed lesson for both those in the Church and those who would perhaps enter under Her roof if only they properly understood what the office of the papacy is and what it is not.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Angelus

This weekend at Mass the opening prayer is the following

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.

This is a prayer used by many Catholics THREE TIMES a day!

I first encountered the Angelus Prayer when I was in my third year of seminary studying in Rome. We always prayed it before lunch, but I gradually learned that many Catholics pray the prayer at 6 am, Noon, and 6 pm. Below is a famous painting by Jean Francois Millet titled "The Angelus" which shows people stopping during their day to pray the Angelus.

The Angelus has three short strophes which are followed by a "Hail Mary". Those three strophes are the following

The Angel (first word in the Latin version is "Angelus" which is where the prayer derives its title) of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary...

Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your Word.
Hail Mary...

(genuflecting) The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
Hail Mary...

The Angelus is kind of a constant reminder of the key points of Marian doctrine.
1) Mary conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit
2) Her famous fiat (Latin for "be it done") that is a model for each of us each day
3) Mary actually gave birth to a real human being

I have found this prayer very helpful for me throughout the day, especially the "May it be done unto me according to your Word" phrase. This phrase is key, and that's why I preached on that phrase this weekend.

The Angelus prayer concludes with a short strophe
"Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray

and one concludes with the opening prayer for today's Mass (mentioned above).

This is a devotion that I have found very helpful and formative. Here a word of caution, though, before adding this to your devotional life. We ought to always be leery of adding other devotions into our life. It is possible to be what is known as "overly-devotional" in the sense that some people will recite prayers and devotions but never spend any time in silent prayer. I am VERY cautious about adding a devotion to my life. For the past 4-5 years my devotional life has consisted in a daily Rosary and the Angelus three times a day. One's devotional life is very personal and ought to be constantly examined to continue to strike a successful balance between being overly devotional and not having any devotional prayer in one's life at all.

In conclusion, for those of you interested in making the Angelus a part of your day, here is the whole prayer.

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary . . .

(genuflecting) And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Consubstantial? What the Heck is That? Fr. Romanus Cessario Offers a Good Explanation

Preparing for the Roman Missal, 3rd Edition: 'Consubstantial with the Father'

Father Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Posted: 1/14/2011

Early on, Catholic parents teach their children to bless themselves: "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The spoken words and bodily movement express Catholic belief in both the Holy Trinity, the three-Person God, and the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ. This familiar gesture introduces the child into the central Christian mysteries that will sustain his or her Catholic life. Significantly, it remains the last sign that the priest makes over the body of a departed Christian soul.

Some Background

As important as the sign of the cross is, no one should take this basic initiation into Christian doctrine and practice for granted. During the first centuries of the Church's history, not a few -- in some instances, even well-meaning -- persons got things wrong when they tried to explain the status of the Eternal Son, the Second Divine Person. It required an enormous effort on the part of holy popes and wise bishops both to expound and defend orthodox Catholic belief about the full divinity of the Eternal Son of God, the one and the same who "by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary."

Still, various errors spread throughout the Church, first in the East and then in the West. The most widespread of these heresies takes its name from a North African priest named Arius. Arianism offered an easy solution to those who found it difficult to envisage Three Persons in One God. The heresy also suited those who found it hard to accept that God could become man and still retain the fullness of divinity. Arians instead opted to revere Christ as a creature of God, albeit a very exalted creature. They wanted to speak of Christ as "like" the Father, one who resembled God. We still reject this Arian error when at Mass on Sunday the Church confesses of the Eternal Son that he is "God from God, / Light from Light, / true God from true God, / begotten, not made..." In other words, the Church rejects the suggestion that the Eternal Son is made or created in the way that all other creatures, including human beings, are made or created.

These words, "begotten, not made," come from the Nicene Creed. This ancient profession of Catholic faith ordinarily is prayed each Sunday after the reading of the Gospel and the priest's homily. It is called the Nicene Creed because of its initial formulation at the Council of Nicaea, an early ecumenical council (325) celebrated by the Church in what is today Iznik, Turkey. At the Council of Nicaea, the Magisterium of the Church had to confront controversy about the status of the Incarnate Son of God. Is the Second in God identical with the Father? Catholics know that the authoritative teachers of Catholic faith defined that the Eternal Son born of the Virgin Mary is fully God. As central as this belief remains to the Christian faith, the word chosen to express the sameness of the Son and the Father is a technical one that requires explanation.

"Consubstantial with the Father"

For the last 40 years or so, Catholics have become accustomed to express their belief in the sameness of the Father and the Son by the expression, "one in Being with the Father." This translation came about because certain experts had opined that a literal translation of the Latin term "consubstanialem," that is, consubstanital, would be too unfamiliar to the everyday churchgoer.

However, the expression "one in Being with the Father" does not translate "consubstantialem." The expression is too vague. Since God creates and sustains all that exists, everything in some sense can be said to be one in being with God. Not that everything is the divine nature but that everything outside of God remains dependent on the divine nature for its borrowed existence. The sameness that the Eternal Son enjoys with the Father is not like that. Instead, this sameness arises from the specific substance or nature of the Godhead. Catholic faith holds that each of the three Divine Persons share one and the same divine nature or substance. Just as the mystery of the Blessed Trinity stands at the heart of our belief, so also it grounds our salvation.

The Greek expression adopted at the Council of Nicaea is "homoousious," which is translated into English as "con-substantial." The Eternal Son, who was born of the Virgin Mary, is neither "like" the Father nor "practically the same substance" as the Father. The Eternal Son enjoys the very same substance as the Father. The Son possesses fully the Godhead of the Father. So today, the Church again confesses in the English rendition of the Creed that Jesus Christ is "consubstantial with the Father."

Significance for Christian Life

Discussions of translation of official texts may seem to interest only theologians and semantic experts. The fact of the matter is that we are dependent upon certain words in order to embrace the truth about the Catholic religion. The effort to learn words like "consubstantial" pays off huge dividends for the spiritual life. Why? The more we know the Truth about God the more we love him. This axiom applies especially to the Trinity, whose indwelling in the souls of the just is the reason that Catholics first teach their children to bless themselves. And as the Church confirmed at Nicaea, only God can save us.

Father Romanus Cessario, o.p., serves as senior editor for Magnificat and teaches theology at St. John's Seminary in Boston.

Reprinted from Magnificat, February 2011, Vol.12, No. 12, pp. 5-8, To order call 1-866-273-5215 Web site:

Who Says the Priesthood is Boring? - The Drumming Priest

My friend, seminarian Doug Marcotte, sent me this video of a priest from New York jamming out at an ordination party. Archindy has our dancing Fr. Meyer, and it looks like New York has their drumming Fr. Rich Mastrogiacomo. I love the sign of the cross at the end of the jam!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christ Does Not Annihilate Us: Homily for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we celebrate the apparition of our Blessed Mother to St. Juan Diego. We know the famous story whereby Juan Diego goes in front of the bishop carrying flowers from the apparition in his cloak, and when he dumps them on the floor in front of the bishop, emblazoned on his cloak is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Scientists have poked and prodded and have found no other explanation for the cloak beyond the idea that it is miraculous.

What I'd like to focus on today is the idea that the Blessed Mother appears to Juan Diego with the characteristics of the local people - skin tone, eyes, dress, etc. I think that is important. Our Lady has appeared in countless apparitions around the world, some much more famous than others, but all of them unique. In all of these visions, Our Lady manifests herself as one of the locals. This is very important for us because it shows us that Our Blessed Mother, like Her Son, does not annihilate our culture when we take them into our cultural experience. We do not give up our dances, our dress, our patriotic days (as long as they are just), our songs, our friends, our foods, our country. Many people spread fear about God (or the Church) - "They're like a cult - beware and steer clear - they'll make you drink the kool-aid!" Nothing could be further from the truth! God does not ask us to stop being Americans or Poles or Mexicans or Indians etc. God elevates our culture when we allow Him to infuse it, he does not destroy.

Just as God, Mary, Jesus, and His Church do not destroy our culture, they do not destroy us as individuals either. Neither God, the Blessed Mother or the Church do violence to us - even though secretly that is our fear - "If I give my life to Christ I will lose my own personal identity, I will be weird, I will no longer be myself anymore!" But nothing could be further from the Truth!

If Christ and His Church are the yeast and our society is the wheat, we do not lose our "wheatness" by allowing ourselves to be infused by the yeast.

As a society, but first as individuals, we need to let God in the door. Our Lady of Guadalupe...pray for us!

Whose Theology of the Body?

A few weeks ago in the Criterion there was an article about a 'Theology of the Body' workshop for college students. I am a huge fan of the 'Theology of the Body', but it is important to remember that the 'Theology of the Body' is a very specific set of teachings and reflections by the late Pope John Paul II. The 'Theology of the Body' is a collection of 129 talks given by JP II over the course of several years on very specific themes dealing with the interplay of spirituality and sexuality.

The 'Theology of the Body' continues to grow in demand and notoriety, and 'Theology of the Body' speakers are highly sought after for youth groups, high schools, college groups, Theology on Tap meetings and so on. The problem that I've noticed throughout the past few years is that sometimes someone brands themselves as a 'Theology of the Body' speaker when in fact they proceed to simply offer up their version of a chastity/sex talk.

An example of this is the speaker that the Criterion interviewed. About her recent 'Theology of the Body' talk, the Criterion noted that "Rather than discuss the specifics of Blessed John Paul II's teachings, she shared stories about her own experiences in high school and college." I found that to be pretty telling.

I remember one time hearing a famous presenter on the Theology of the Body (who, overall, was faithful to the themes of the 'Theology of the Body') who talked about how guys should, when they are tempted sexually, extend their arms out in the form of the cross. That is a great idea, but it isn't anywhere in the 'Theology of the Body.'

I have no problem with chastity/sexuality talks, and in fact I think they ought to happen often for young people, but we just can't be calling them 'Theology of the Body' talks. Sometimes speakers will attempt to add an aura of authority to their talk so they trace their ideas back to John Paul II when in fact what the speaker talks about isn't really mentioned in the 'Theology of the Body.'

I think we also do a disservice to our Catholic faithful if we say the 'Theology of the Body' can be understood in an hour or two. The book form of all of the talks put together is 500+ pages and every page is VERY deep. I think those who pretend to help someone grasp it all in an hour give the impression to those who've never explored it in greater detail that they now have the gist of the Theology of the Body when in reality it is something that would bear fruitful reading, or at least reading a faithful summary.

If someone told you that they've summarized the 'Theology of the Body' in a talk, then I hope you at some point go back to a more in-depth analysis of the talks, or, if you're feeling really adventurous, the speeches themselves.

Click here for a good summary

Click here to order a copy of a book that I have all of the couples that I prepare for marriage read through that brings in several themes from the 'Theology of the Body'

is a website that coordinates lots of resources for the 'Theology of the Body'

Friday, December 9, 2011

Movie Reviews

The Sitter
This one gets the big fat "O" as in stay away and take advantage of one of the other 4 billion fun things to do this weekend! Click here to read the review

New Year's Eve
This one has every person from Hollywood in it! It is rated A-III for adults and you can read the review here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Advent Conspiracy - Awesome Short Video!

I love the idea of giving "presence" - I've worked harder at that over the years but still could do better.

Jimmy Fallon on Wanting to Be a Priest and How the Mass Isn't What It Used to Be

This is from

On NPR's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Late Night Host Jimmy Fallon. Comedically speaking, I've always been a fan, even though on SNL, he could never keep a straight face. Maybe that's why I liked him!

In his interview, we learn two things. A) He wanted to be a priest and B) he's fallen away because
"There’s a band there now, and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole Mass now, and I don’t like doing that...there’s Frisbees being thrown, there’s beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go, ‘This is too much for me.’ I want the old way. I want to hang out with the nuns...that was my favorite type of Mass, and the grotto, and just like straight up, just Mass Mass." That may be the theme for this blog - stuff like this ultimately drives people away and doesn't speak to anyone who is actually seeking an authentic encounter with God. I was fascinated to hear it from someone like Fallon.

If you are interested, here is a transcript of that part of the interview:

GROSS: So you went to Catholic school when you were young.

Mr. FALLON: Oh yeah.

GROSS: Did you have…

Mr. FALLON: I wanted to be a priest.

GROSS: Did you really?

Mr. FALLON: Yeah. I loved it.


Mr. FALLON: I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to Mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning, serve Mass. And then you made money, too, if you did weddings and funerals. You’d get like five bucks. And so I go ‘Okay, I can make money too.’ I go, ‘This could be a good deal for me.’ I thought I had the calling.

GROSS: Do you think part of that calling was really show business? ‘Cause – like the priest is the performer at church.

Mr. FALLON: Yeah. You know what – I, really Terry, I’m, I recently thought about this. [...] It’s my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You’re on stage next to the priest, I’m a co-star.


GROSS: ‘Also starring, Jimmy Fallon.’


Mr. FALLON: Yeah, I have no lines but I ring bells. I ring bells and I swing the incense around. And you know, you are performing. You enter through a curtain, you exit through the, I mean you’re backstage. I mean, have you ever seen backstage behind an altar? It’s kind of fascinating.

GROSS: Right.

Mr. FALLON: So I think it was my first taste of show business – or acting or something.

GROSS: And there are comparisons, I think, between a theater and a church. They are just, kind of, places that are separated from outside reality.

Mr. FALLON: Yeah. And I remember I had a hard time keeping a straight face at church as well.

GROSS: Did you?

Mr. FALLON: Which – yeah…

GROSS: Did you do imitations of the priest?


Mr. FALLON: Oh, of course. Yeah. I used to do Father McFadden all the time. He’s the fastest talking priest ever. He’s be like…



Mr. FALLON: And then you leave and you go, ‘What was that?’


Mr. FALLON: That guy’s the best. I mean, that was church? Sign me up! I’ll do church. I’ll do it 10 times a day if that’s church! He was great.

GROSS: Do you still go to church?

Mr. FALLON: I don’t go to – I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was kind of struggling for a bit. I went to church for a while, but it’s kind of, it’s gotten gigantic now for me. It’s like too… There’s a band. There’s a band there now, and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole Mass now, and I don’t like doing that. You know, I mean, it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FALLON: Now, I’m holding hand – now I’m lifting people. Like Simba.


Mr. FALLON: I’m holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.

(Speaking) I’m doing too much. I don’t want – there’s Frisbees being thrown, there’s beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go, ‘This is too much for me.’ I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of Mass, and the grotto, and just like straight up, just Mass Mass.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Everything's Not Lost

This morning at Mass I got to the point where I was supposed to name the person the Mass was offered for. As I thought for a moment, I went ahead and offered Mass for a friend of mine for whom I've offered Mass many times. Matt took his life several years ago, but his death still comes to mind often, especially when I'm celebrating Mass.

Later this morning, I came across a Coldplay song for the first time that I absolutely love, and I listened to it several times this morning while getting some work done, and started paying attention to the words. The title of the song is "Everything's Not Lost" and I really liked the following verse:

When you thought that it was over
You could feel it all around
Everybody's out to get you
Don't you let it drag you down

A few hours later, with the song still playing in my mind, I learned of another horrible, gut-wrenching suicide.

I talked to our kids after school about the importance of talking to someone when things seem like they are going bad and getting worse. Often those who take their own life think that they won't be missed, or that everyone's life will be better if they are gone - and this is never the case. Suicide always rips apart many people and sends shockwaves throughout communities and families. Let us pray for families who are carrying the unimaginable cross of trying to put their life back together after the suicide of a loved one. To all who may be down right now, please know that no matter how bad things get, at the end of the day "Everything's Not Lost"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Description of Why the Revised Translation

Have young people in your family? Even if you don't, would you like a simple and entertaining little video about why we have the revised translation at Mass? This is from a guy named Mark Hart from Phoenix and is very well done and short

Friday, December 2, 2011

Obsessively Navigating One's Ipod During Advent/Christmas

Christmas songs are a tricky one for a lot of Catholics. There is always a twinge of guilt for most who are jamming to "Jingle Bells" on November 25th when the Church is saying "Watch," "Wait," "Listen," "Be Still."

I think most don't want to take the time to sort through it all and decide what they can listen to and what they can't (and that is understandable). Therefore, I present to you my obsessive leg work on what songs are okay and when. This is not Canon Law, and I'd appreciate feedback/suggestions/your favorites!!!

I made four playlists on my Ipod the day after Thanksgiving this year.
1) Advent Church Music and Carols
2) Carols and Songs for the run-up to Christmas
3) Christmas Church Music
4) Christmas Songs

How to construct the first playlist:
1) Buy St. Meinrad's Advent CD (click here to purchase)
2) Get some other Advent music. Here are some suggestions
O Come O Come Emmanuel

Ave Maria (both because of Dec. 8th being in Advent, and because Marian hymns are also "Adventish", especially Marian hymns that celebrate the visitation of the Angel to the Blessed Virgin.) Here is a WONDERFUL version of the Ave Maria worth the download!

Holy is Your Name (Mary's response when the Angel visits her)

Veni Redemptor Gentium

2) This is the trickiest of the playlists. People want to listen to something Christmassy in the run-up to Christmas. The Church is cool with this after December 17th when we begin the second half of Advent - the anticipation of the FIRST coming of Jesus in Bethlehem (the first half of Advent is preparation for the 2nd coming). So what "Christmas" songs would be acceptable in the run-up to Christmas?

First of all, you have the "Christmas" songs that you could listen to right now because they are simply a celebration of winter. Those songs that are "okay right now":
Let It Snow
Winter Wonderland
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bell Rock
The Holly and the Ivy
O Christmas Tree (it's just about a tree - although if you think it's wrong to put up your tree until Christmas day, then this song would be banned from this list)
It's the Most Wonderful Time of Year
Deck the Halls
Frosty the Snowman
Sleigh Ride

The most subjective part of all of this is whether or not there are songs that one could listen to BEFORE Christmas that nonetheless still MENTION Christmas. I say yes - but I have criteria. The song has to get me thinking about what happened in Bethlehem without being overly celebratory about it happening just yet. Also, since I'd be listening to these songs from December 17th on into Christmas, a big requirement for me is that they still be kind of quiet/peaceful/in the spirit of prayerfulness that ought to still be present in the last 8 days of Advent. Again, this is all subjective.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
White Christmas
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Please Come Home for Christmas
The Little Drummer Boy

3) This is the list of Christmas songs you might encounter at a Mass during the Christmas season. Of course, the St. Meinrad CD has some lovely renditions of Christmas Mass music on there as well. In addition, here are some of the more common Church songs during Christmas:
O Come All Ye Faithful
Silent Night
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Oh Holy Night
The First Noel
Joy to the World
O Come Let Us Adore Him
Away in a Manger
O Little Town of Bethlehem
What Child Is This?
Angels We Have Heard On High
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

4) This is basically everything that I believe you ought to hold off for until December 25th. That, again, is up to you.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town/Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer/etc. - you may have issues with these. Understandable. Last year I did a post about whether or not Santa Claus = the Antichrist. You can go there by clicking here. The comments that follow the initial post are helpful I think.

The Christmas Song ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire...")
Christmas Time Is Here (Charlie Brown TV Show)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
On Christmas Night
Carol of the Bells
Do You Hear What I Hear
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Holly Jolly Christmas
12 Days of Christmas

These lists are a little obsessive, obviously, but I do think putting a little time into it actually helps make Christmas even more blessed and enjoyable. Putting SOME limit on our music selections these next four weeks is really a type of fasting - we make the decision to not simply unleash the entire arsenal of our Christmas musical catalog on Black Friday, but instead are called to a gradual and measured approach to December 25th.

Okay, so what did I get wrong? Further suggestions? Favorite versions of songs?

St. Francis Xavier Feast Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is a solemnity in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis! It is the feast day for St. Francis Xavier our patron saint.

At St. Malachy we will be having Mass at 8:15, followed by adoration which will last until 10:30. Also during that time we will be having confessions.

In the evening, around 7:15 I will also be giving a talk at Holy Rosary to their women's advent reflection evening. I am super excited because I'm going to be talking about "Beauty", a subject I am most passionate about right now.

So who is St. Francis Xavier? I will simply insert here the passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Born in the Castle of Xavier near Sanguesa, in Navarre, 7 April, 1506; died on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China, 2 December, 1552. In 1525, having completed a preliminary course of studies in his own country, Francis Xavier went to Paris, where he entered the collège de Sainte-Barbe. Here he met the Savoyard, Pierre Favre, and a warm personal friendship sprang up between them. It was at this same college that St. Ignatius Loyola, who was already planning the foundation of the Society of Jesus, resided for a time as a guest in 1529. He soon won the confidence of the two young men; first Favre and later Xavier offered themselves with him in the formation of the Society. Four others, Lainez, Salmerón, Rodríguez, and Bobadilla, having joined them, the seven made the famous vow of Montmartre, 15 Aug., 1534.

After completing his studies in Paris and filling the post of teacher there for some time, Xavier left the city with his companions 15 November, 1536, and turned his steps to Venice, where he displayed zeal and charity in attending the sick in the hospitals. On 24 June, 1537, he received Holy orders with St. Ignatius. The following year he went to Rome, and after doing apostolic work there for some months, during the spring of 1539 he took part in the conferences which St. Ignatius held with his companions to prepare for the definitive foundation of the Society of Jesus. The order was approved verbally 3 September, and before the written approbation was secured, which was not until a year later, Xavier was appointed, at the earnest solicitation of the John III, King of Portugal, to evangelize the people of the East Indies. He left Rome 16 March, 1540, and reached Lisbon about June. Here he remained nine months, giving many admirable examples of apostolic zeal.

On 7 April, 1541, he embarked in a sailing vessel for India, and after a tedious and dangerous voyage landed at Goa, 6 May, 1542. The first five months he spent in preaching and ministering to the sick in the hospitals. He would go through the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. When he had gathered a number, he would take them to a certain church and would there explain the catechism to them. About October, 1542, he started for the pearl fisheries of the extreme southern coast of the peninsula, desirous of restoring Christanity which, although introduced years before, had almost disappeared on account of the lack of priests. He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of Western India, converting many, and reaching in his journeys even the Island of Ceylon. Many were the difficulties and hardships which Xavier had to encounter at this time, sometimes on account of the cruel persecutions which some of the petty kings of the country carried on against the neophytes, and again because the Portuguese soldiers, far from seconding the work of the saint, retarded it by their bad example and vicious habits.

In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year, and although he reaped an abundant spiritual harvest, he was not able to root out certain abuses, and was conscious that many sinners had resisted his efforts to bring them back to God. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to Molucca Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ternate, Baranura, and other lesser islands which it has been difficult to identify. It is claimed by some that during this expedition he landed on the island of Mindanao, and for this reason St. Francis Xavier has been called the first Apostle of the Philippines. But although this statement is made by some writers of the seventeenth century, and in the Bull of canonization issued in 1623, it is said that he preached the Gospel in Mindanao, up to the present time it has not been proved absolutely that St. Francis Xavier ever landed in the Philippines.

By July, 1547, he was again in Malacca. Here he met a Japanese called Anger (Han-Sir), from whom he obtained much information about Japan. His zeal was at once aroused by the idea of introducing Christanity into Japan, but for the time being the affairs of the Society demanded his presence at Goa, whither he went, taking Anger with him. During the six years that Xavier had been working among the infidels, other Jesuit missionaries had arrived at Goa, sent from Europe by St. Ignatius; moreover some who had been born in the country had been received into the Society. In 1548 Xavier sent these missionaries to the principal centres of India, where he had established missions, so that the work might be preserved and continued. He also established a novitiate and house of studies, and having received into the Society Father Cosme de Torres, a spanish priest whom he had met in the Maluccas, he started with him and Brother Juan Fernández for Japan towards the end of June, 1549. The Japanese Anger, who had been baptized at Goa and given the name of Pablo de Santa Fe, accompanied them.

They landed at the city of Kagoshima in Japan, 15 Aug., 1549. The entire first year was devoted to learning the Japanese language and translating into Japanese, with the help of Pablo de Santa Fe, the principal articles of faith and short treatises which were to be employed in preaching and catechizing. When he was able to express himself, Xavier began preaching and made some converts, but these aroused the ill will of the bonzes, who had him banished from the city. Leaving Kagoshima about August, 1550, he penetrated to the centre of Japan, and preached the Gospel in some of the cities of southern Japan. Towards the end of that year he reached Meaco, then the principal city of Japan, but he was unable to make any headway here because of the dissensions the rending the country. He retraced his steps to the centre of Japan, and during 1551 preached in some important cities, forming the nucleus of several Christian communities, which in time increased with extraordinary rapidity.

After working about two years and a half in Japan he left this mission in charge of Father Cosme de Torres and Brother Juan Fernández, and returned to Goa, arriving there at the beginning of 1552. Here domestic troubles awaited him. Certain disagreements between the superior who had been left in charge of the missions, and the rector of the college, had to be adjusted. This, however, being arranged, Xavier turned his thoughts to China, and began to plan an expedition there. During his stay in Japan he had heard much of the Celestial Empire, and though he probably had not formed a proper estimate of his extent and greatness, he nevertheless understood how wide a field it afforded for the spread of the light of the Gospel. With the help of friends he arranged a commission or embassy the Sovereign of China, obtained from the Viceroy of India the appointment of ambassador, and in April, 1552, he left Goa. At Malacca the party encountered difficulties because the influential Portuguese disapproved of the expedition, but Xavier knew how to overcome this opposition, and in the autumn he arrived in a Portuguese vessel at the small island of Sancian near the coast of China. While planning the best means for reaching the mainland, he was taken ill, and as the movement of the vessel seemed to aggravate his condition, he was removed to the land, where a rude hut had been built to shelter him. In these wretched surroundings he breathed his last.

It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542 - 2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many infidels. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He was canonized with St. Ignatius in 1622, although on account of the death of Gregory XV, the Bull of canonization was not published until the following year.

The body of the saint is still enshrined at Goa in the church which formerly belonged to the Society. In 1614 by order of Claudius Acquaviva, General of the Society of Jesus, the right arm was severed at the elbow and conveyed to Rome, where the present altar was erected to receive it in the church of the Gesu.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saint Andrew and My Brother

This is a written out version of a homily I gave at two very different Masses today, one was St. Malachy grade school (focusing on the jealousy piece), and one was for a Ritter senior retreat. I decided to type it out because I personally found it very enjoyable to deliver.

Growing up, my brothers and I were always around football. My grandfather is the second winningest coach in Kentucky high school history. My dad was a great coach for a long time at Roncalli until he needed to make more money for our family, and so he hung up his whistle. Since before I can remember, my brothers and I all wanted to play football.

When I finally got the chance in 5th grade, I wasn't very good. I wasn't fast, couldn't throw, and wasn't big enough to play on the line. I had fun with it and loved playing, I just wasn't very good.

My brother Matt, the brother immediately younger than me, was a much different story. He was tall, fast, and athletic. He could throw, run, catch, etc. He played quarterback and was one of the best players on his team.

Not only that, Matt was back then (and still is) the funniest person I've ever known. If he weren't called by God to teach math, I'm sure he would be doing standup comedy.

I say this to establish the fact that, while growing up, in grade school and high school, I had a lot of jealousy for Matt's humor and athleticism.

Which brings us to today's feast. Saint Andrew. As the Gospel relates, St. Andrew is the brother of...St. Peter. St. Peter in the Gospels is the star of the Apostles. Jesus tells Peter - "I'm building my Church on you." In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter gives the speeches and heals people. Peter settles disputes as the unanimous final authority. Peter gets the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. A quick look at some of the early writings of the Church, and we all see a similar pattern of deference to Peter...

...And then there is Andrew his brother. If the Apostles were ever characters in a school play, getting to play Andrew would be almost on par with starring as the tree.

St. Andrew had to at times struggle with jealousy - but I think the lesson is he clearly got over it. I can honestly say that today I don't have even a twinge of jealousy for my brother Matt. We both support each other, and when I see him do something hysterical (we work together at Ritter) or hear from another teacher about something he said or if someone tells me about what a great job he does teaching, I am filled with 100% pride and 0% jealousy. "That's my brother!" I think to myself. And I know he'd say the same for me at this point in his life.

If I've been able to get to that point, then surely St. Andrew did as well.

100 Psychologists will agree on nothing except that we are shaped in gigantic ways by our families of origin - ways that we may not see at the moment. Some of the ways that our families have shaped us we try to bury or hide away. Even people who come from great families have struggles to overcome - whether it be jealousy (me) or juggling the dynamics of balancing so many intersecting relationships, and the list could go on forever.

We have to be honest with ourselves about our families. We have to A) admit that they have a strong impact on us B) admit that we have gained many great things from our families and C) there are issues in our family dynamics that must be overcome and dealt with.

St. Andrew had no choice but to think, "who am I in relationship to "the rock" of Jesus' Church?" but he put in the hard work, and he surely got to a point of healing as well. Maybe he talked with Jesus about it, maybe he talked with his friends about thing is for sure, he put in the hard work to get to a spot where he was no longer haunted by the successes of his brother.

May we get to that same spot someday with the memories, relationships, and personalities of our own families.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Priest as Leader and Father

I've been thinking a lot about priesthood and leadership and fatherhood and vision for the past year or so - for some reason even more vividly recently.

The priest, going back to the beginning, has had a three fold mission laid at his feet by Christ and the Church.
1) Lead worship (dispense the Sacraments)
2) Teach the Faith
3) Govern (lead the community)

I think fatherhood is one of those things that is so absent from our world today, and because it is so absent, I think many people don't know how to be fathers (fathers of families or priestly fathers). The thing that I've been blessed with is my own father's example (and my grandfather's), along with many fatherly priests in my life, and also many good fathers to observe from afar (Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Buechlein) etc.

One of the key things that I'm trying to prepare/hone is the ability to lead/govern a community. I like to teach, so #2 is pretty natural for me, and I think #1 is pretty natural fit for me (although it is certainly more than simply reading the words) - it is #3 that I think is difficult for many men today, whether it be priests or dads.

What people secretly want from those who are their fathers is first of all a vision, and secondly the determination to get there without being paralyzed by fear of making mistakes. Any leader has people who whine and moan about decisions, but ultimately they would leave if they didn't, on some level, still want the person to be their leader. I've come to this conclusion through discussions with lots of people (priests, dads, moms, parishioners, etc.). Someone sent me a video clip from the president of Marian University, Mr. Dan Elsener, and I think it just does such a good job, in a few minutes, of kind of encapsulating the type of leader I want to be. Of course he talks about money and fundraising, but even then I think his answers strike me as profound, fatherly, and spot on. I hope this short clip inspires you to continue to reflect on the type of leader you are called to be, because we are all, in one capacity or another, leading people.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Talk on the Eucharist

What is the Eucharist? Is Christ really present? Can't we just as easily use Cheetos and Pepsi? Why can't non-Catholics receive the Eucharist? Why can't Catholics receive communion at other places of worship? Why does it still look like bread and wine?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Final Round of Chastity/Theology of the Body Presentations

Sorry for the lack of posting. This past week, starting last Tuesday, I felt as if I may have in fact contracted the Bubonic Plague, or something similar. I'm on the mend, and ready to take up posting again.

This is the final edition of CRHS Chastity Talks 2K11. This afternoon, I will have been able to speak at length with every student in our school on chastity. It has been AMAZING and has born MUCH fruit! Thanks for your prayers.

This talk doesn't have many new additions - the only one I can think of is the "Opposite of the Barney Theme Song - the "I'll use you, you'll use me, we're a happy co-dependency!"

Anyway, here you go for anyone interested:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How Did Our Economy Get Here?

Click here to read a fantastic and SHORT reflection on the sin of usury and the state of our economy. Usury is a subject that has been raised here before and it is important to continue to think about it as a society.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chastity Talk to Guys and Girls Using Twilight and Some Other Film Clips

The first few minutes are the same as the talks I've been giving at ritter, but then I bring in some different film clips than what I've been using, including some Twilight clips that I think are especially helpful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paterno and Pedophile Priests

"And we all covered up in it too. Ain't nobody clean." - Denzel Washington, Glory

If you don't follow sports, then you perhaps haven't heard of the imminent firing/"retiring" of long-time Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno, still coaching today at the age of 84, has been in the role of "college football grandpa" for the past 10-15 years. Penn State, under "Joe-Pa's" leadership, has had a sterling record of academic excellence and overall program integrity even as many other college football programs have spiraled out of control and into the abyss of scandal. Somehow, under Paterno's guidance, Penn State had managed to steer clear of disaster.

Or so it seemed.

This week it was revealed that long time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was caught in a Penn State locker-room shower with a young boy. The offense was brought to Paterno, and Paterno passed on the information to his superiors. That's the right thing to do...the problem was that he never followed up, and when Sandusky continued to be with the program, Joe-Pa apparently did nothing.

You can find all the commentary and breaking news elsewhere. Of course as a Catholic priest I can't help but think of the scandal that continues to hang over the Catholic Church in America when I hear all of the news on Sandusky and Joe Paterno.

As I've been listening to sports talk driving around town these past few days, the anger and rage are palpable, and rightly so. What I've also been thinking about is this: 70% of 18-24 year old men look at porn at least once a month. Another study suggests that 14% of men visit a strip club regularly. A lot of the guys calling in to the shows are in that same age range.

When people feed the sex-ploitation industries, we can't be shocked when some people in our society go wacko. Some guy out there peeved about Sandusky might say, "I look at porn, but I'm in control, I'm not like that Jerry Sandusky nut house." Obviously Sandusky's crimes are heinous, but anyone who helps fan the flame of the over-sexualization of our culture ought to realize that they had a part to play in these horrible crimes as well. This is not to in any way rationalize Sandusky's (or any other child abuser's) actions, but while we're sewing a nice big scarlet letter for Sandusky, many of those who are so outraged ought to also be looking to see if perhaps they helped feed the flame that led to these horrible crimes.

Some might say, "Yeah, we heard this line of arguing in the 1920's during prohibition - since some can't control alcohol, let's ban it all." But that line of reasoning could apply to anything - somebody can go wacko over anything. Somebody can abuse food, prescription pills, alcohol, TV, the internet, etc. Sexuality is a different beast. Unlike other things that people can abuse, there is no such thing as responsible porn use. Our culture is over-sexualized right now by any standard, and none of it is good.

I'd like to address two possible objections at this point: 1) "I'm a priest so of course I think everything is over-sexualized." I think this is pretty ridiculous; many sociologists and psychologists agree that this has reached previously unseen levels. 2) "Are you saying we need to have women wearing burqas and we need to have the government legislate sexuality?" No, I'm not; I think change is always up to lots of people making individual choices to start doing the right thing. News-flash: the government will never fix anything besides roads - real change starts with us.

A phenomenon I've noticed on this blog is that some people today think "what I do doesn't affect anyone else, and what other people do doesn't affect me." This is a REALLY dangerous mentality to have, and it is also flat wrong. Of course the things I do affect others. If I choose to patronize one company over another, my patronization of said company might make the difference in them being profitable vs. them closing up shop. Every second we spend on a website is a dollar sign for someone, every penny we spend is a vote for one company over another. Do you patronize those who utilize overly sexual advertisements? Do you look at porn, thus fueling an annual 12 billion dollar industry (greater than CBS, NBC, and ABC combined)? How do you let your kids dress?

Sandusky (and guilty priests and bishops) need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and all of us, in addition to following the Sandusky story, need to take a long look inward as well.

"And we all covered up in it too. Ain't nobody clean."

Very Good Documentary

The trailer for a film called "Demographic Winter." Young adults and teenagers alike who watch the film have been unanimously engrossed. It is a quality film, and I have high standards for films! Check out the trailer:

Awesome Catholic Speaker Coming to Indy Area This Weekend

Live near Indy?

Apparently, there IS such a thing as a Free Lunch! Popular Catholic author and radio personality Patrick Madrid will be at St Alphonsus Liguori Church in Zionsville (1870 W Oak St.—a.k.a. SR 334) this coming Saturday (Nov 12th) for a FREE seminar entitled “Why Be Catholic?” The day starts with their regular Saturday 7:30am Mass and the first of four talks will begin by 9am with the day concluding by 3:30pm. If you can only make it for part of the day (or for an hour) it will definitely be worth it. Patrick is one of the best Catholic speakers out there right now, and you will find him engaging, dynamic, and informative.

There is no cost to you other than your time and a little gas money, and their parish will even provide you with a free breakfast and lunch as long as you register in advance by clicking here. Don’t be misled by the lack of cost, because this guy is great! You can find out more about his work by clicking here

You are sure to find spending this Saturday in Zionsville worthwhile, even if you can only make it for part of the day.

Galileo? The Church Hates Science? A Presentation to a Ritter Physics Class

This is the class until someone started drilling on the roof and we had to move locations. I think there is some pretty important stuff presented in here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why Archbishop Buechlein Stopped Receiving the Indystar

The Archbishop told me on several different occasions that he stopped taking the star many years ago. He contacted the editor and told him of his decision, and the editor of the Star tried to talk him back into receiving the paper, but the Archbishop refused until the paper started publishing all the facts on stories.

Not that I had a good view of the Star before, but the sort of journalism on display in today's front page story has forced me into the same position - when I'm on my own as a priest, if I'm in Indy, I will not be receiving the Indianapolis Star.

As I read today's article, chills went down my spine. I didn't feel enraged or pound the breakfast table or anything like that, I just sat there reading the article and I guess the best way to sum up my feelings would be that it made me feel numb.

One of the first sentences of the article was what really made my heart sink - "[the law giving contraceptives to mothers who recently gave birth] undoubtedly would have led to fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer children born into families not financially able to take care of them and fewer abortions." UNDOUBTEDLY??? Is this authentic journalism? I'm not even asking for an article slanted to the Church's perspective, all that I'm asking for is real journalism, journalism that has enough integrity to present all the facts, and when it is a contentious point, you go to both sides of the debate and lay out the arguments.

This is a perfect snapshot of the type of bullying that the media has been engaged in over the last several decades or so. No longer do journalists present both sides of the story, they simply provide one side of the story and try to beat into submission all those who even raise the question that there might be another side to the story. "UNDOUBTEDLY"??? What arrogance.

We've been over this tired ground before. Who conducts the research on contraception and abortion rates that everyone quotes...the Guttmacher Institute. Who is the Guttmacher Institute - a research arm of Planned Parenthood. Wouldn't an 8th grader doing a story for his school newspaper recognize the conflict of interest there? Would anyone trust Snickers to do a study on the effects of chocolate on us? "Snickers Says Chocolate Consumption Will Reduce Obesity"...would anyone buy that?

"The Liberal Media" is a tired story, and yet the media continues to more brazenly push an agenda that many scientists and studies have flatly contradicted.

Here are some of the studies that have been done that contradict the studies done by Guttmacher et. al.

Here is just a snapshot of the many studies that have been done revealing that contraception does not reduce abortions (from the Bishop's website). If you'd like hundreds of other studies, especially if you work at the Indianapolis Star, I can put you in touch with those as well. All the Church is asking for is fairness - quit only reporting on studies conducted simply to give a veneer of respectability to those who believe in the contraception lie

Fact Sheet: Greater Access to Contraception Does Not Reduce Abortions
1. Contraceptive use is already "virtually universal among women of reproductive age."1

89% of sexually active women of reproductive age "at risk" of becoming pregnant use contraception, and 98% have used it in their lifetime.2 Among teenagers who are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant, all but 7% are using contraception.3

2. With typical use, contraceptives often fail to prevent pregnancy.

In the first 12 months of contraceptive use, 16.4% of teens will become pregnant. If the teen is cohabiting, the pregnancy (or "failure") rate rises to 47%. Among low-income cohabiting teens, the failure rate is 48.4% for birth control pills and 71.7% for condoms.4
Forty-eight percent of women with unintended pregnancies5 and 54% of women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant.6

Contraception expert James Trussell of Princeton says: "The Pill is an outdated method because it does not work well enough. It is very difficult for ordinary women to take a pill every single day."7 Pregnancy is so likely from even a slightly delayed dose that government guidelines advise women to use "emergency contraception" if they had unprotected intercourse within two days after taking their daily progestin-only pill 3 hours late.8

3. Why contraceptives work less well than we are told

Contraceptive effectiveness is often estimated on a misleading per-use basis, or as failure rates over 12 months of typical use for all women of reproductive age. This greatly understates failure rates among teens, and fails to account for cumulative risk from more frequent sexual activity.

Risk compensation: Numerous studies examining sexual behavior and STD transmission have demonstrated risk compensation behavior, i.e., a greater willingness to engage in potentially risky behavior when one believes risk has been reduced through technology.9

4. Studies show that greater access to contraception does not reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions.

Increasing access to contraception gives teens a false sense of security, leading to earlier onset of sexual activity and more sexual partners, which counteracts any reduction in unintended pregnancies.

Researchers in Spain examined patterns of contraceptive use and abortions in Spain over a ten-year period from 1997-2007. Their findings, published in the journal Contraception in January 2011, were that a 63 percent increase in the use of contraceptives was accompanied by a 108 percent increase in the rate of elective abortions.10

In July 2009 results were published from an expensive three-year program at 54 sites, funded by England's Department of Health, seeking to "reduce teenage pregnancy" through, among other things, sex education and advice on access to family planning beginning at ages 13-15. "No evidence was found that the intervention was effective in delaying heterosexual experience or reducing pregnancies." Young women who took part in the program were more likely than those in the control group to report that they had been pregnant (16% vs. 6%) and had early heterosexual experience (58% vs. 33%).11

David Paton, author of four major studies in this area, has found "no evidence" that "the provision of family planning reduces either underage conception or abortion rates."12 He sums up the U.K. experience: "It is clear that providing more family planning clinics, far from having the effect of reducing conception rates, has actually led to an increase…. The availability of the morning-after pill seems to be encouraging risky behavior. It appears that if people have access to family planning advice they think they automatically have a lower risk of pregnancy." 13

K. Edgardh found that despite free contraceptive counseling, low cost condoms and oral contraceptives, and over-the-counter emergency contraception (EC), Swedish teen abortion rates rose from 17 per thousand to 22.5 per thousand between 1995 and 2001.14

Peter Arcidiacono found that among teens, "increasing access to contraception may actually increase long run pregnancy rates even though short run pregnancy rates fall. On the other hand, policies that decrease access to contraception, and hence sexual activity, may lower pregnancy rates in the long run."15

5. Emergency Contraception (EC) does not reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion.
Twenty-three studies published between 1998 and 2006, and analyzed by James Trussell's team at Princeton University, measured the effect of increased EC access on EC use, unintended pregnancy, and abortion. Not a single study among the 23 found a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions following increased access to emergency contraception.16 For more information, including the conclusions of individual studies and researchers on this point, see "Fact Sheet: Emergency Contraception Fails to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion."

6. A decline in teen sexual activity does reduce teen (or unwed) pregnancies and abortions.
Concludes one analysis of the decline in non-marital pregnancies among teens from 1991 to 1995: "The reduction in numbers of 15-19 year olds having intercourse accounts for 67% of the decline in pregnancy rate."17 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that from 1991 to 2001 "53% of the decline in pregnancy rates can be attributed to decreased sexual experience."18

Uganda's success in combating the epidemic of HIV/AIDS has lessons for reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions among teens and young adults. According to 150 experts in this field, "when targeting young people, for those who have not started sexual activity the first priority should be to encourage abstinence or delay of sexual onset, hence emphasising risk avoidance as the best way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as unwanted pregnancy. After sexual debut, returning to abstinence or being mutually faithful with an uninfected partner are the most effective ways of avoiding infection."19

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advance Data No. 350, Dec. 10, 2004: "Use of Contraception and Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 1982-2002";
2 Guttmacher Institute, Abortion in Women's Lives,, at 6-7.
3 Id., "Facts on Contraceptive Use," January 2008;
4 H. Fu et al., "Contraceptive Failure Rates: New Estimates from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth," Family Planning Perspectives 31 (1999): 56-63 at 61.
5 Abortion in Women's Lives, note 2 supra, at 7.
6 Guttmacher Institute, "Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States," July 2008,
7 D. Rose, "The Pill 'has had its day as an effective contraceptive'," The Times (UK), June 26, 2008;
8 National Guideline Clearinghouse, "The use of contraception outside the terms of the product license" (2005), Recommendation No. 18;
9 J. Richens et al., "Condoms and Seat Belts: the Parallels and the Lessons," The Lancet 355 (2000): 400-403; M. Cassell et al., "Risk compensation: the Achilles' heel of innovations in HIV prevention?", British Medical Journal 332 (2006): 605-607; for extract see
10 J. Dueñas et al., "Trends in the Use of Contraceptive Methods and Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy in the Spanish Population during 1997-2007," 83 (2011) Contraception 82-87.
11 M. Wiggins et al., "Health Outcomes of Youth Development Programme in England: Prospective Matched Comparison Study," British Medical Journal 339.72 (2009): b2534; advance online publication (7 July 2009): 1-8 at l;
12 D. Paton, "The Economics of Family Planning and Underage Conceptions," J. of Health Economics, 21.2 (March 2002): 207-225; abstract at This study examined 16 regions of the U.K. over a 14-year period, and also focused on the effect of the Gillick ruling, which from 1984 to 1985 required parental consent for girls under 16 to obtain contraception in England (but not in Scotland). Predictably, a heavy drop in clinic visits occurred among English girls under 16. Many expected to see increased pregnancies and abortions in this group, compared to older girls in England and girls under 16 in Scotland; instead the study found no increase in pregnancies or abortions in the former group, and no decrease in underage pregnancies or abortions overall from greater access to contraception.
13 Quoted in K. Ahmed, "Abortions rise in under-age sex crisis," The Observer (UK), 17 March 2002;
14 K. Edgardh et al., "Adolescent Sexual Health in Sweden," Sexually Transmitted Infections 78 (2002): 352-6; available at
15 P. Arcidiacono et al., "Habit Persistence and Teen Sex: Could Increased Access to Contraception Have Unintended Consequences for Teen Pregnancies?", Working Paper, Duke University Department of Economics (Oct. 3, 2005): 1-38 at 31;
16 E. Raymond et al., "Population Effect of Increased Access to Emergency Contraceptive Pills: A Systematic Review," Obstetrics & Gynecology 109.1 (January 2007): 181-8.
17 J. Mohn et al., "An analysis of the causes of the decline in non-marital birth and pregnancy rates for teens from 1991-1995," Adolescent and Family Health 3.1 (Spring 2003): 339-47 at xx.
18 J. Santelli et al., "Can Changes in Sexual Behaviors Among High School Students Explain the Decline in Teen Pregnancy Rates in the 1990s?", Journal of Adolescent Health 35 (2004): 80-90 at 80.
19 D. Halperin et al., "The time has come for common ground on preventing sexual transmission of HIV," The Lancet 364.9449 (27 November 2004): 1913-1915 at 1913. 3/17/11

Friday, November 4, 2011

movie reviews

I just returned from seeing my first film at the theater in several months; I took in "The Way" on the south side at the AMC 17. I was glad to see it only cost me 5 bucks since I went at 1 in the afternoon. Anyway, I really recommend taking it in. This weekend will probably be the last opportunity to take it in at the theater. Other than the fact that throughout the film the dad spreads his sons ashes all along the pilgrimage route, it was a great film. Anyway, here are the reviews for the movies for this weekend:

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas
Not a big shock to see this film get the "O" tag for being morally offensive. If you are Catholic, go see "The Way" instead!!! Click here for the review of Harold and Kumar.

Tower Heist
Tower Heist gets a surprising "L" for a film like this. Some adults may be offended by this one. Click here for the review.

In Time
In Time is rated A-III which is a softer rating than I was expecting after seeing the previews. Perhaps it has a pro-life message in there somewhere? Check in and leave a review if you go see it. Here's the review.

Perhaps this is the "pessimist" in me coming out, but I doubt they get the Bard right in this one, nor do I think they'll go into the Faith that informed Shakespeare. The movie got the "L" tag, which means even some adults might be offended. Click here for the review.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feast of St. Malachy

November 3rd is a solemnity for St. Malachy parish. The day the Church designates as the day to remember a parish's saint is a BIG deal and ought to be celebrated on par with Christmas and Easter and the other solemnities. While not a holy day of obligation, it should be considered a very joyous day for all in the parish. As I always tell people on big feast days and solemnities - eat an extra dessert today!

Also, quickly, if you've ever wondered what the difference is between a solemnity/feast/memorial, here you go:

The highest rank a day can have is a solemnity. All Sundays are solemnities, and in addition to Sundays, there are approximately 19 others scattered throughout the year.

Here are the solemnities, in case you are curious
January 1st - Mary, Mother of the Lord
January 6th - Epiphany of the Lord
March 19th - Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
March 25th - Annunciation of Mary
Sunday after Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday
40 days after Easter - Ascension of the Lord
50 days after Easter - Pentecost
Trinity Sunday
Thursday after Trinity Sunday - Body and Blood of Christ ("Corpus Christi")
8 days after Corpus Christi - Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 24th - Nativity of St. John the Baptist
June 29th - Saints Peter and Paul
August 15th - Assumption of Mary
November 1st - All Saints
November 2nd - All Souls
Last Sunday before Advent - Feast of Christ the King
December 8th - Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 25th - Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Also, a parish's feast day is a solemnity, as well as the day that is the anniversary of the dedication of the parish Church.

After solemnities, feasts are the next highest rank for a day, and below feasts we have the celebrations that are known as memorials. Most saints, if they aren't "special" (well-known), their day is typically a memorial. Not all saints even make the calendar though. St. Malachy isn't in the calendar of celebrations that are celebrated throughout the world, but each saint has a day where those who have a special devotion to that saint are to celebrate that saint. For example,
St. Peter and Paul = solemnity around the world
St. Luke the evangelist = feast around the world
St. Theresa of Avila = memorial around the world
St. Malachy = not on the world wide calendar, but for St. Malachy parish, November 3rd is bumped up to a solemnity.

Anyway, St. Malachy was a bishop in Ireland whose story can be found here. What St. Malachy is most well known for is his prophecy. Here is the description of the prophecy taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia

"The most famous and best known prophecies about the popes are those attributed to St. Malachy. In 1139 he went to Rome to give an account of the affairs of his diocese to the pope, Innocent II. While at Rome, he received (according to the Abbé Cucherat) the strange vision of the future wherein was unfolded before his mind the long list of illustrious pontiffs who were to rule the Church until the end of time. The same author tells us that St. Malachy gave his manuscript to Innocent II to console him in the midst of his tribulations, and that the document remained unknown in the Roman Archives until its discovery in 1590 (Cucherat, "Proph. de la succession des papes", ch. xv). They were first published by Arnold de Wyon, and ever since there has been much discussion as to whether they are genuine predictions of St. Malachy or forgeries. The silence of 400 years on the part of so many learned authors who had written about the popes, and the silence of St. Bernard especially, who wrote the "Life of St. Malachy", is a strong argument against their authenticity, but it is not conclusive if we adopt Cucherat's theory that they were hidden in the Archives during those 400 years.

These short prophetical announcements, in number 112, indicate some noticeable trait of all future popes from Celestine II, who was elected in the year 1143, until the end of the world. They are enunciated under mystical titles. Those who have undertaken to interpret and explain these symbolical prophecies have succeeded in discovering some trait, allusion, point, or similitude in their application to the individual popes, either as to their country, their name, their coat of arms or insignia, their birth-place, their talent or learning, the title of their cardinalate, the dignities which they held etc. For example, the prophecy concerning Urban VIII is Lilium et Rosa (the lily and the rose); he was a native of Florence and on the arms of Florence figured a fleur-de-lis; he had three bees emblazoned on his escutcheon, and the bees gather honey from the lilies and roses. Again, the name accords often with some remarkable and rare circumstance in the pope's career; thus Peregrinus apostolicus (pilgrim pope), which designates Pius VI, appears to be verified by his journey when pope into Germany, by his long career as pope, and by his expatriation from Rome at the end of his pontificate. Those who have lived and followed the course of events in an intelligent manner during the pontificates of Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X cannot fail to be impressed with the titles given to each by the prophecies of St. Malachy and their wonderful appropriateness: Crux de Cruce (Cross from a Cross) Pius IX; Lumen in caelo (Light in the Sky) Leo XIII; Ignis ardens (Burning Fire) Pius X. There is something more than coincidence in the designations given to these three popes so many hundred years before their time. We need not have recourse either to the family names, armorial bearings or cardinalatial titles, to see the fitness of their designations as given in the prophecies. The afflictions and crosses of Pius IX were more than fell to the lot of his predecessors; and the more aggravating of these crosses were brought on by the House of Savoy whose emblem was a cross. Leo XIII was a veritable luminary of the papacy. The present pope is truly a burning fire of zeal for the restoration of all things to Christ.

The last of these prophecies concerns the end of the world and is as follows: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End." It has been noticed concerning Petrus Romanus, who according to St. Malachy's list is to be the last pope, that the prophecy does not say that no popes will intervene between him and his predecessor designated Gloria olivæ. It merely says that he is to be the last, so that we may suppose as many popes as we please before "Peter the Roman". Cornelius a Lapide refers to this prophecy in his commentary "On the Gospel of St. John" (C. xvi) and "On the Apocalypse" (cc. xvii-xx), and he endeavours to calculate according to it the remaining years of time."

Saint Malachy - pray for us!!