Monday, January 31, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

Homily to Ritter students about sex!

March for Life Homilies

Deacon Dustin Boehm

Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, VA

Great Source for the New Translation

I've talked before about the new translation of the Mass that is coming out and how I think it will be a great opportunity to get people into the text of the Mass. I believe people will, at least for a while, will be more intentional and more thoughtful about what words they are using at Mass. Here is a great resource from the USCCB that has the texts the priest will be using AND, AND, AND... the scriptural references footnoted at the bottom of each page! This is an absolutely wonderful resource for people, and I urge you to take a look at it some time, especially if you are looking for something to pray over in adoration or during your prayer time. Also, this would make a great Lenten discipline - maybe taking one page a day and looking at the words of the Mass just on that page - it works out almost perfectly because there are 43 pages to the document. Click here to access the link or go to

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Kids are NOT All Right

The movie "The Kids are All Right" is coming to a theater near you soon, and the Oscar hype is already building. The movie has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Annette Benning), and Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo). The premise for those who haven't seen the trailer is this: two lesbian women (Benning and Julain Moore) use the sperm of Mark Ruffalo's character to conceive two children. They raise the kids, but then Ruffalo's character starts to come back into the kids' lives when they are teenagers, upsetting the harmony of the lesbian characters' relationship.

This post is not about homosexuality. I covered the Church's take on that elsewhere (click here to read). What this post is about is the arrrogance on the part of society today when people pretend to know how decisions affect others, especially children.

Last year as a first year theology teacher I had in my head the classes that were going to be difficult to teach; the classes that the students were going to get fired up about. In my mind, I was ready for battle on issues like evolution, contraception, and abortion. Interestingly, my seniors were pretty okay with the Church on those issues. The issue that they were most fired up about, which surprised me, was the issue of adoption of children by homosexual couples.

The mantra that has been beaten into society's brain is this - if it wasn't for homosexual couples adopting children, then orphanages would be overrun with children. People ask how it could be a bad thing for a kid without a home to at least be surrounded by two parents who love the child.

These myths about orphanages and "gay-parenting" are addressed elsewhere, and so what I'd like to look at here is the problem which is suggested by the title of the movie mentioned above - "The Kids are All Right." The title suggests the following - we are all messed up, we live in a big ambiguous and relativistic world where right and wrong are merely constructs of our culture, and some of us are gay, and some of us are straight, but we're all completely messed up, and we just hold on for dear life and try and look for the silver lining....but at least the kids are all right!

What arrogance on our part!!! Nobody thinks they are being arrogant, of course, but peel back the surface just a bit here and I hope you will see that this mindset is teeming with arrogance. The mindset that "the kids are all right" suggests that no matter what we do as a society, no matter what environment a child is placed in, no matter what type of a mess they find themselves in, kids are fine - AND I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. So our arrogance ascends to new heights as we now claim for ourselves omniscience - the ability to know all things that, for countless centuries, was only attributed to God.

"Kids are resilient" we tell ourselves, kids can handle whatever we throw at them, and we thus dismiss and excuse ourselves from the last thing that would tether us to some kind of moral behavior - responsibility to our children and young people. One of the many key components to this mindset is the denial of the idea that my actions affect anyone else, and so that is one of the problems that needs to be addressed. Do we think that our actions affect others, even those who may seem unaffected, like, for instance, children?

Kids are not ontologically and de facto "all right" - trust me - I work with kids - and a lot of them have serious issues that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Were some of those issues caused by hetersosexual parents - you better believe it, but the issue that I'm speaking about in this post is the fact that we believe that the kids are all right. I am certainly acknowledging that heterosexual parents sometimes also take on the mindset that "the kids are all right" as well, which is equally damaging to their children - and which is also scandalous in that the failure of heterosexual parenting is often the central argument for ALLOWING homosexual couples to adopt, and so the failure of heterosexual parenting in this regard becomes a scandal in the true sense of the word.

For a long time in this country the idea was prevalent that we sacrificed for our kids, that we protected and nurtured and raised our kids; there was an understanding that children are vulnerable and actually were in need of some guidance. Now we arrogantly presume to tell ourselves that no matter what we do or how we act - "THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT." How truly disgusting and weak and lazy on our part if that is our mindset. May the arrogance of our society dissipate and may we once again see children for what they are - in need of our help, and may we start taking responsibility for our kids again, and may we stop allowing ourselves to live whatever self-absorbed and morally untethered life-style we feel is best for us.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Don't Like Your Blog!

I was disappointed and saddened by a comment that someone made on my post about Officer David Moore which read something like "I don't agree with what you usually write on here but this was pretty good. Thanks!"

A) I was mostly saddened that someone would use THAT post to convey to me their frustration. If someone has been reading the blog for awhile, why not say something earlier - did you have to go there on that post which was meant to be a tribute to a fallen officer?

B) I was also saddened by the fact that it was such a backhanded compliment. Passive aggression is never a healthy thing. (Also, "John" is what my family and close friends call me. Otherwise my preference is "Fr. Hollowell" because I am partly formed by the love that my family has given me)

C) Here is the main disappointment though, and what I wanted to share with this post. If you disagree with someone, isn't it best to talk about it directly? Isn't the importance of conversation the major lesson we've learned from Tuscon, and the virtue that our president and others have been praising? Why do people no longer talk about issues? Why do people hide behind anonymity on a computer and bring things down?

If I had a disagreement with someone I would tell them. I would first of all say "Hi, my name is..." and then I would work for a way to examine differences. But it is baffling to me that someone would just continue to read the same blog while disagreeing with it but not doing anything about it. Are people who do this LOOKING for a way to make themselves unhappy? Also, what is a blogger supposed to do with "I don't really like your stuff"? That just sits there in cyberspace as a negative statement that can't be addressed by anyone because you haven't even identified what you have a problem with.

If people don't like what they find on a blog they should do one or more of a few honorable things
A) start your own blog and have the bravery to put your thoughts and beliefs out there.
B) quit hiding behind screen names, identify yourself, and start talking in a way that looks for SOLUTIONS.

We HAVE to be a people who look for unity and, when we don't find it, we have to roll up our sleeves, talk to people and engage ideas because that is how change happens...

Or you can continue to read a blog you disagree with and take occasional pot shots at someone who has stepped out of the shadow and dared to enter the ring of engaging public discourse.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Officer David Moore - A Martyr for Freedom

"Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have stationed watchmen; Never, by day or by night, shall they be silent" Isaiah 62:6

In the past two months or so my petitions at Mass have tended towards mentioning policemen, firemen, and our soldiers. I wasn't exactly sure where that inspiration came from, but it always seemed like a very important prayer to be making each day. Perhaps it was our beautiful Veteran's Day Liturgy here at Ritter, or perhaps it was the fact that my classes a few months ago were looking at what the Church teaches about freedom, and how we respond to and what we do with that VERY HARD fought and vigilantly defended freedom.

Given the fact that policemen, firemen, and soldiers have been on my mind the past few months in a special way, tt was with great alarm that I learned of the shooting of policeman David Moore while attending, ironically, the March for Life this past weekend. I knew David only from a distance. One memory that I have of him is from my junior year at Roncalli. In the Spring, for several months, some friends and I would gather at Tony Agresta's house and play football after school. David Moore lived across the street, and he started coming over to play. Even though he was four years younger than us, we quickly looked for a way to stop inviting him because he was faster and more ferocious than us! As soon as games ended, however, he was humble and kind and respectful. I did get to see that ferocity and tenacity put to a use that I could wholeheartedly support when, 4 years later, he was a co-captain with my brother Tony on one of the great Roncalli teams of all time. The 1999 Rebel football team had some unbelievable victories on the way to a 15-0 state championship. The Rebels took down a football powerhouse in Cincinnatti Moeller in a game that will always be my favorite of all time. Moore always seemed to personify the intensity and desire that that team exhibited. In a community that continues to see how young men play football as more of a reflection on their soul and character than anything else, Moore's legacy will always be remembered.

It was also rumored at one point that Moore wanted to be a priest, and my mom was recounting to me how he took the podium at a senior awards dinner and offered the best prayer she has ever heard from a high schooler. From Roncalli Moore went on to Purude to prepare for his service as a police officer, and the arc of his life came to rest in the perfect career. His tenacity and intensity mixed with compassion and a love for life found a footing in his decision to become a police officer.

The Acts of the Apostles talks about how the Apostles and early Christians considered martyrdom an honor reserved for a select few; only the holiest and most honorable saints were given the grace of martyrdom. Listening to Moore's parents talk throughout the past week it has seemed that Moore and his parents believe that this is the case for them as well. There are an infinite number of ways one can pass from this world and I can think of no better way to go than to offer up your life for the sake of freedom - the honor of standing against the agents of chaos who prowl in the shadows and say "You may take my life, but you will go no further. I give my life so that others may live free."

Moore's death has mostly caused me to think about what exactly it is that we do with the freedom that Moore fought for and defended. What do we do with it? The Church says freedom is only realized when I choose to do the GOOD, the Will of God, and that settling for less than that is to somehow shy away from my freedom and to let it sit dormant. One thing that I think we all need to do as we remember Officer David Moore is to think about what we can do to maximize the gift of freedom that he has handed us - will we let it sit on the shelf through making sinful choices and letting that freedom have nothing to show for it, or do we take that freedom and build a lasting memorial out of his gift?

The 62nd chapter of Isaiah verse 6 is a promise from God to His chosen people that He will always provide watchmen for our walls - sentinels and soldiers who see evil coming from a long way off and who lead the charge to look for good. A soldier has fallen, mortally wounded while protecting us who live inside the wall. We honor him and we thank God for the service that he provided us in this life. We now pray for him, and ask him to look out for us once again as he likely takes up a new position on a new wall. Officer David Moore, a community prays for you and your family - please pray for us!

Fr. Barron on Abortion Numbers Out Of New York

UPDATE: Leary Video Pulled From Youtube

Almost as soon as people started filing complaints, Viacom pulled the Denis Leary song mocking the Church from Youtube. Good work - but I think we still need to have our voices heard and file complaints with the people I listed in the last post.

For those who missed the video let me first set the scene. Leary is first of all visibly mad and angry. It is supposed to be a comedy show, but no one that you see in the crowd is really laughing. Someone wrote a review and asked a good question - what would you need to ADD to these lyrics to make them hate speech?

Here are some of the lyrics:

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned--yeah, pull down my pants and put your penis in."

"Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not lie, and don't drop the soap when the pope is nearby. Cause they may hate gays but they do love the guys."

"Well, the nuns are goin' down on other nuns, and the priests are chasin' after altar boy buns, and the pope will move you when the damage is done."

"Jesus, Mary and Josephine, well this church is full of some giant queens, so break out the candles and the Vaseline."

...introduced by Pope Benedict proclaiming, "Oh yeah, I'm the f***ing pope, for Christ's sake, the god**** F├╝hrer."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Denis Leary on Catholicism

I came across this video in several places - Denis Leary singing a song that mocks (and mocks is too soft) the Church.

Before you watch it, a lot of caution. The video starts with Leary making a cross out of two middle fingers, and he goes on to say some of the most unbelievably horrible things about the Church, the Holy Father, the priest abuse crisis, etc.

Freedom of speech is in the constitution, but this can't be what the framers had in mind.

I and many of priests and Catholics I talk to believe that Catholics will, in the not too distant future, be persecuted again. Watching this might be a day I'll always look back on as some kind of turning point.

This video is not made by some guy in his mom's basement - Denis Leary is the spokesman for Ford Trucks for crying out loud! This video was done by Comedy Central, not MTV 7.

There are a few things I'd urge you to do to protest this - the time is running out in my mind to speak up as a faith and say - "we don't support this!"

1) Email the woman who appears to have direct oversight at Comedy Central at

2) Send an email to Ford here: My next car will not be a Ford unless he is let go and there is some kind of apology.

3) On Youtube, engage the people in the comments section. The world needs to hear what we are about in a positive way, and I think we go right to the source of wretchedness and we present who we are and we talk to people who think this is a good idea. It may not be pleasant but it is needed. If you don't do it for your sake, do it for the sake of your kids.

Finally, if you can stand it (not all of you will be able to) the video is here. If you want to engage people on the youtube site, double click on the video below and your web browser will open the Youtube page directly.

God bless!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Does the Pill Work?

Great video from a great site called If you don't want to know what the Pill does and you want to remain uninformed, don't watch this video!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do You Talk in Church?

Great blog post by my favorite writer George Weigel. A snippet here

The Chattering Classes Are Us
Jan 19, 2011
George Weigel
Catholics once had an intuitive understanding of sacred space: To enter a church, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, was to enter a different kind of environment, one of the hallmarks of which was a reverent silence. Some of that intuition remains. But much of it has been lost. Thus, within the past few months, I have noted three habitual behaviors, not in parishes that are otherwise sloppy in their liturgical practice, but precisely in parishes that take their liturgical life seriously:

1) The demarcation between the narthex (or, as they say in AmChurchSpeak, the “gathering space”) and the body of the church (a.k.a. the “worship space”) has been severely eroded. Conversations begun in the narthex often continue when people reach the pews; new conversations are initiated in the pews. Both types of conversation sometimes continue during the choral prelude, if there is one. In any case, the new convention seems to be that in-pew conversations are quite appropriate until the processional hymn is announced.

2) The exchange of peace, which ought to be accompanied by the briefest of greetings, often becomes the occasion for a general conversational free-for-all. This breaks the rhythm of the Liturgy of the Eucharist and is anything but conducive to the gathering of mind and spirit appropriate to the period before the reception of Holy Communion.

3) Immediately after the conclusion of the recessional hymn, conversation, often quite loud, immediately breaks out in the pews (among those, that is, who have not already bolted for the door during the recessional). Choirs who have spent time and effort preparing a choral postlude must therefore compete with a torrent of chatter that not infrequently drowns out music that has been carefully rehearsed. This chatter is both bad liturgical form and very bad manners. Attempts to remind one’s fellow congregants of the proprieties, through a pleading glance, are met with either incomprehension or hostility.

Click here to read the rest

The Decision to Preach on Abortion

I get the impression from my very infrequent perusal of varous liberal "catholic" media that people from that camp mostly view young priests who preach on abortion and/or contraception as all coming from the same idealistic mold.

Often the caricature (with a bit of embellishment) goes something like this:

All the young priests in each diocese gather monthly in the basement of a gothic Church for a secret meeting. After 2 hours of devotions and novennas, they recite the "creed of conservative priests" (in latin of course), the creed being mostly a tribute to John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We then recite the syllabus of errors and share strategies for how to anger and antagonize unorthodox Catholics. The climax of these meetings, however, is when the leader of the young priests asks, "Has anyone preached on abortion or contraception this month?" Several young priests stand up, and the rest applaud raccously, and the young priests are congratulated for their bravery and given a metal of honor for their preaching.

In reality, the decision to preach on abortion is a most difficult one. I want to walk you through how I came to my decision in the hope that it will slay some of the stereotypes that are out there.

When I am preaching the coming weekend, I almost always get my nose into the readings on the Monday prior. On Monday, I'm not necessarily looking for a topic just yet; I'm more trying to get a sense of the themes, and I'm also trying to get the words in my head so that I can kick them around in class, when I'm running on the tread mill, or driving to work. Last monday was no different; when I read the readings nothing jumped out at me, and I let them stew. I picked up the readings again on Wednesday, and the word "womb" jumped out at me so clearly that I knew instantly that God was asking me to preach on that. It is always that way with homilies for me; there comes a certain moment where it is quite clear what I'm to preach on. My first reaction, far from being one of joy or excitement, was authentic dread. I literally said to myself "oh no!" I became instantly anxious and nervous, and remained that way through the weekend.

On Friday I was so nervous that I called a priest friend from Tulsa, OK, Fr. Brian O'Brien (hands down the coolest priest name in the country). Fr. O'Brien and I were good friends at the seminary, and we were both active in pro-life work there. He is an extremely humble man but is also a fantastic leader (he is the president of Bishop Kelly High School in Tulsa). I was so nervous on Friday that I asked him if he had any advice for how to preach on abortion. I knew Fr. O'Brien had broached the topic by now because of the fact that he was ordained several years before me. We talked for a long time, and he gave me unbelievably helpful advice. At no point was there any "congratulations"; both of us are well aware of the solemnity with which such an issue must be treated.

I then went in to Ritter at 6 am on Saturday and worked on the homily until 3, with a 2 hour break to root on the Raider Swimmers at Speedway). I wrote, rewrote, read it out loud, rewrote it, practiced it in the chapel, and rewrote it again.

At no point was there joy in my heart about preaching on such a topic.

May we reach the day when NO priest has to preach on the issue of abortion!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Abortion Homily Video

Abortion Homily Text

As I prayed a Rosary on the sidewalk that frigid morning in downtown Louisville, I saw something that will be forever burned into my mind. A young girl, 12 or 13 years old and who looked a lot like one of my sisters, was being escorted by 3 men down the street. One was her father, the other 2 men may have been brothers, I couldn’t tell. The girl had tears in her eyes. One of the women praying next to me called out to the girl “you don’t have to do this.” And the little girl looked at us, started crying, and screamed, “I don’t want to do this.” She probably thought of running, but knew it was useless and the wall of men continued to funnel her forward, past the policeman, and into the abortion facility.

The prophet Isaiah tells us today that “The Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb” How does our mind not go toward abortion?

Abortion. No word in the history of words is more charged and carries more emotion. In college, I took a speech class. One day we were told we had to give a persuasive speech on any topic under the sun…except abortion. The professor had allowed the topic the year before and a fight broke out in class.

The word divides families, it divides friendships, it divided a supreme court right down the middle, it divides nations,…and it divides Churches- and it divides our Church as well.

So why talk about it? Why in Church? If it divides us, why not ignore it? Hope it will go away? There are reasons to confront it – in a good and healthy relationship there is no fear about clarifying key issues. The second reason to talk about it is to think about what we can do about abortion, and another reason is to take an opportunity to say to the people in our community that have been involved in an abortion, as a mother, father, doctor, or friend, to say to them – “The Church doesn’t judge you!” It works tirelessly to destroy the evil of abortion in our country PRECISELY because the Church is also there along side you, the victims of abortion. It is often assumed that the Church’s outspokenness on the issue of abortion comes from some lofty philosophical realm, that the Church’s teaching is made by old men who don’t know what it is like to live in the real world. In reality, though, the Church is the number one entity working with women before and after abortions. I worked for a year at a crisis pregnancy center in Louisville that counseled women and provided women with formula, heating payments, diapers, cribs, clothing, and support. It is the millions of people that work and volunteer at these places, the millions who pray outside abortion facilities, the millions of Catholic doctors around the world, the nurses, the nuns who work with the poor daily, these people compile the evidence that gives flesh to the Church’s teaching. We know that women and men everywhere are hurting because of this devastating plague, and the Church wants to help!

One third of all abortions are obtained by Catholics, and Catholics abort at essentially the same rate as the rest of society. One of the myths about abortion is that it is mainly utilized by the poor, when, in actuality the statistics don’t bare that out at all. From my Saturday mornings in Louisville I can tell you that the majority of women walking into that abortion facility were not poor folks. There were young women from nearby Louisville University, there were affluent and middle class women as well. It affects all of us.

Abortion has been shown to have a devastating effect on many men as well. I worked last year with a young man at Ritter who was absolutely destroyed by the fact that his girlfriend had aborted their child. Men and women affected by abortion – the Church stands up and says that while it will continue to fight the sin – it wants nothing but reconciliation and peace for you. The Church knows your hurt and through the sacrament of reconciliation, the Church wants to ease your pain.

Because of this, everyone agrees on one thing – abortion is a terrible evil in our midst. 52 million dead since Roe v. Wade is an incomprehensible number. The tragedy of Tuscon has rocked our nation this week, and rightly so, but it is important to realize that since I began this homily, the Tuscon tragedy has already repeated itself twice, because an abortion happens in the U.S. every 24 seconds.

Everyone wants to reduce abortions, the rub is the how. Some say that we can’t make it illegal, but if we work for greater access to contraception then the abortion numbers will go down. However, a statistic was just released by Planned Parenthood this week (the largest provider of abortions in our country, so no bias here) that 54% of women getting an abortion report using contraception in the month leading up to conception of their child that was aborted. 54%!!! Contraception doesn’t reduce abortions, it increases them.

The Church, contrary to saying let us throw contraceptives at the issue, has put forth a different message. If a child’s right to be born is not recognized by law, the Church says that to speak of any other right, the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, etc. is a farce. The Church’s Social Teaching is very clear on something – THE fundamental right is the right to be born.

Some here bemoan the political ramifications of this discussion and say that the Church is getting to political and they bemoan the fact that abortion has been made a political issue. But of course it is a political issue – any important issue in the history of humanity has been politicized, that doesn’t mean we ignore it. Does the fact that people on both sides of the debate have sought to use it to gain power mean that the Church should go silent on the issue? Of course not. Do people fault Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for preaching about the sin of discrimination and racism when it became a political issue? Of course not! Furthermore, as Pope Benedict has said, what good is a religion if it DOESN’T speak on the difficult topics?

I will always remember in 1994 when Mother Theresa was invited to give the address at the National Prayer Breakfast. She was this iconic figure who, for various reasons, all of America thought of as holy. And she stood up and said the following in her speech: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” She went on to say contraception is not the answer, we must be a culture of life. Here was the woman who worked with the poorest of the poor, her sisters and her worked in areas torn by war, famine, AIDS, disease, and starvation, but what does she say is our biggest issue – legal abortion. We celebrate Mother Theresa’s every word, but those words were swept away so that the Church’s teaching could continue to be portrayed as coming from out of touch men completely devoid of any pastoral experience, as the caricature goes.

This week begins Respect Life Month in our Church, the highlight of which is next Monday’s March For Life which commemorates the Supreme Courts decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. Interestingly enough, Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of the landmark case entered the Catholic Church and has become an outspoken opponent of abortion in our country.

At the March For Life you will see that the SIDE OF TRUTH is winning. 250,000 youth pour in to the annual event, sleep on gym floors, eat less than stellar meals, wait in long lines, and stand out in the cold, and yet there is an electricity in the air everywhere you go. A priest friend of mine is coming from Tulsa OK, driving 25 hours on a bus, and yet when he posted the sign up sheet he had 150 students signed up. Young people from all over the Archdiocese and all over the nation descend upon our capital and bring enthusiasm and hope and a positive spirit. If abortion proponents had a rally, I wonder how many youth would show up?

We are winning. The Church’s message is slowly getting out. Women who once felt condemned for a past abortion are seeking healing in record numbers. The Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for mothers of aborted children offered in our Archdiocese several times a year are packed. The youth of this country and this Church are standing up and saying enough – the age of destroying our future is over, but the work continues.

What can we do? The Church asks us to do several things – first of all to reach out to those considering having abortions and get them help and counseling. Archbishop Dolan of New York, in wake of learning that 41% of the pregnancies in his Archdiocese end in abortion, offered to take any unwanted child. We can also encourage women to instead consider adoption as an amazing opportunity.

We can fast and pray. The Old Testament is very clear that fasting and prayer on the part of entire nations brings healing to those nations. Our Blessed Mother is a great spiritual ally as well in this battle to drive evil from our land. Is Christ asking you to keep a vigil outside an abortion facility nearby once a week or once a month? Have you thought of attending the Mass for Life at our Cathedral next Monday at Noon. There is also a prayer vigil following Mass as well. Our Knights are heavily involved in pro life ministries continually and our pro life committee here at Malachy is very active. There are opportunities if you are looking for them!

Isaiah says in todays reading that the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb. May all the children the Lord continues to form in the womb be given the opportunity to be His servants.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reflections from Bishop Designate Coyne: Day 1

I share my reflections from day 1 of Bishop Designate Coyne

1a) Yesterday, I was referring to him as "Bishop-elect" but, after listening to the Archbishop's press conference, and hearing Archbishop refer to him as "Bishop-Designate" Coyne, I realized that is the more proper term. Bishop-Designate Coyne was not elected to his post, so it doesn't really make sense to call him "Bishop-Elect."

1b) It is interesting that the press conference was held at St. John's and that the Bishop Designate's ordination will also be held there. St. John's is my favorite place on earth (as I've blogged before). The Cathedral would be the logical place to hold a press conference like this, but the Cathedral is not that aesthetically pleasing (some refer to it as the "Cathedral Bank and Trust" because of the facade that looks very "bankish"). Archbishop Buechlein has told me on several occasions that he would love to move the Cathedral to St. John's (which was, for a time, our Cathedral, hence the big chair in the sanctuary at St. John's). The thing that has kept us from transferring the Cathedral to St. John's, as the Archbishop has noted, is the parking problem. St. John's can park about 50 cars if they use the sardine-packing method. Anyways, that the press conference was held at St. John's is an indication that more and more people are starting to realize that we need to build Churches that look like Churches again.

2) The Indianapolis Star did a great job with their article this morning. The details were covered and the authors covered their bases and actually knew the words that they were using. I especially found the part of the article that talked about the contrast between the two men to be very poignant. The article talked about how Bishop Designate Coyne was talking without a script, while Archbishop Buechlein spoke from a script that he read with a shaky hand. This difference could have been talked about in a way which would be derogative towards the Archbishop, but the Star treated the Archbishop with grace, not bemoaning his more quiet and guarded manner, but instead noting that it came from his more "deeply theological" background. I found that part of the article to be especially insightful and well done.

Of course, the Star gave some time to the founder of I have no doubt that every priest has a more than willing webmaster who could put together a website devoted to the downfall of their priesthood. Usually, the people who start these websites really want to preach themselves and have already decided what they need to hear. I'm not faulting the Star for quoting these people, but I think it is worth noting that every priest has these types of people out there.

3) Bishop Designate Coyne, as a priest, was absolutely dumped on! Fr. Coyne was the spokesperson for Boston and Cardinal Law, and who would want that. Hearing other people talk about his service through all that, even the otherwise hostile media, you get the sense that everyone was very impressed with his ability to do the duty that was asked of him. Some have tried to paint the picture that he was INVOLVED in the cover up, but again, if you look at what even the media was saying, everyone seems to sense that he was just the messenger in the most difficult position in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.
He was rewarded with...getting to replace the most liberal priest in Boston who had been at a parish for years and had the opportunity to sculpt it into a din of liberal dissent. The former priest marched and preached at a gay-rights parade and you can just imagine. Again, despite the former priest's absolute hatred for all things outside of his idea of what things needed to be, the man still PRAISED Fr. Coyne! That is a pretty amazing fact.

4) Msgr. Schaedel is owed some kind of badge of honor for his service. He served often as the de facto Archbishop, and did a great job. For a few months, people will let you do that, but after a while, I have no doubt that it gets extremely difficult to carry on the task that he had without the "badge". Whether or not Msgr. Schaedel is ever appointed a bishop is not known, but he has certainly carried out his job with fidelity, grace, and compassion, and all owe him a great deal of gratitude.

5) Until an encyclical entitled "I Definitively Announce that Indiana Dioceses Will Not Be Redrawn" is written by a Pope, the going on 20 year old rumor of the potential merger/redrawing of Indiana diocesan boundaries will continue to live on and be at the center of any Church move in Indiana. Who knows, at this point, what will happen with all of that. Certainly the Archbishop, a few years ago, was certain that a redrawing of Indiana boundaries was imminent. Then Lafayette got a new Bishop, and the plan seemed to be dead. Now some again think that Bishop Designate Coyne is being brought in to assist with that (and/or the closing of parishes in the Archdiocese); this is all strictly rumor, and I think that we should just trust the Church's leadership, let the Bishop get settled, and not spend energy trying to figure out what is going to happen down the road - "sufficient for a day is its own evil" and sometimes getting too worked up over things that we have no control over can be a form of escapism which distracts us from continuing to plow on in the field that we've been asked to tend.

6) After 24 hours, this move already is a very energizing event for the people throughout the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. May God be with Bishop Designate Coyne, Archbishop Buechlein, and all of us in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Press Conference With Bishop Coyne

Courtesy of WTHR. Seems like a GREAT GUY!!! Of course I love the football reference, even if it is to "the hooded one"

Video of Our New Bishop

Wanted to share this video, one in a series that our new Bishop Elect hosted in Boston for Here, Bishop Elect Coyne speaks about what Sunday is for Catholics.

New Auxiliary Bishop

Well, it is official on Rome's end - we have a new auxiliary bishop. Fr. Christopher Coyne from the Archdiocese of Boston. Rocco, of course, has all the details on his blog (click here for the story), seen as pretty stunning in that he is A) 52 yrs. old, B) a parish priest (no experience as a bishop yet) and C) from so far away.

An auxiliary bishop is one who obviously assists the bishop, but it is not a foregone conclusion that he is the Archbishops eventual successor. A coadjutor bishop is the title given to a bishop by Rome if Rome intends to make the man a certain successor. Usually, bishops don't want a coadjutor because it creates a "lame duck" atmosphere, although Archbishop Buechlein DID petition for a coadjutor. Interesting that he did not receive one, but there are reasons for that. One reason that Fr. Chris Coyne wouldn't be named a coadjutor is because it is unheard of that a person would go essentially from parish priest to Archbishop, one almost always has to spend time as a bishop of a smaller diocese before receiving the upgrade to ARCHbishop, something Bishop Elect Coyne would not be able to do before succeeding Archbishop Buechlein here.

Speculation then is swirling as to why Rome would only bring in an auxiliary, and most of the speculation is returning to the seemingly 20 year old rumor of the eventual combination/break up/realignment of the dioceses in Indiana. An auxiliary can be moved on quite easily if a change is to be made. Speculation also swirls that perhaps Bishop Elect Coyne might be a facilitator of some of the changes, which would help explain why he would then get moved on elsewhere after a change would be made.

Bishop Elect Coyne has a blog (yeah!!!) and it contains some good stuff on Catholic education, so it looks like we'll be getting someone who shares Archbishop Buechlein's passion for Catholic Schools. You can read Bishop Elect Coyne's Catholic Ed. pieces by clicking here to go to his blog.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Worst Vocations Poster Ever

This is from the American Papist blog - Indiana making the news...for the wrong reasons. Click here to see the story. I think this reaffirms what I wrote yesterday - what is our message and how do we put it out there as a Church? This can't be the answer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Litany of Yoda, the Church, and Social Media

This weekend I saw a few minutes of a special on ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), George Lucas' company that started (and has since continued to constantly be on the leading edge of) the special effects era of Hollywood. Lucas started the company to help him pull off the effects he was looking for in Star Wars, and the company has gone on to be involved in basically any movie that has had revolutionary special effects - E.T., Indiana Jones, Terminator, Transformers, and countless others that I'm sure I've missed.

I bring this up here because I like the word at the end of the company's name - MAGIC. Since the first cave man made a rock disappear and then pulled it out of his friend's ear, magic has been something that has made us do two things a) partly believe that it actually happened, and b) wonder how they pulled off making us believe that it actually happened. Special effects in movies, then, are just a continuation of magic; we believe, on some level, that it is actually happening, and we also wonder, in real time, "how are they doing this?"

There is a problem with magic, though, in terms of how we sometimes respond to it. If a "magician" (or "movie director" or "entertainer") is using magic to entertain and to inspire wonder. However, if a "magician" is using magic to get people to be impressed with him or her, so that THEN the magician can "preach"; if magic is used as a way to wow crowds into THEN listening to a message (much like a medicine man rolling into town) then there are problems. And we must admit that many are wowed today by magic, and will much more readily listen to a "magician's" message simply because they are impressed with the magic.

Which brings me to Yoda. In the Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." That is, to me, a very jarbled and confused litany. I don't pretend to say that George Lucas had an evil or delusional purpose in making Star Wars (although one must admit that there is a vague spirituality behind the movies); Lucas' intent doesn't really matter, what matters is that lots of people, impressed by the magic of Star Wars, more readily listen to the philosophy spouted by a puppet than would listen to a real flesh and blood person. When I coached football at Chatard, each week a senior gave a reflection on Scripture. One week, one of our seniors stood up and gave a reflection on the above quote from Yoda. Yoda over the Scriptures? Really?

Thus we come to the Church. There is a tough balance that the Church is trying to walk. The question we need to ask seems to me to be two-fold: 1) how much magic should we employ to get our message across and 2) if we get in to the game of using "magic" to make our message seem more credible, how much are we validating the idea that it is in fact the case that magic does make the message more credible.

Perhaps an example would be best at this point. In the lead-up to the 2008 election, the Bishops of the U.S. put out a 40 page document on how a Catholic should approach the voting booth. The message, if you could cut through all the theology and philosophy (no small task), was that "you can't vote for Obama, McCain isn't ideal either, but he is a way better option. Obama no, McCain, maybe." You can disagree with that message if you want, this post isn't about that, what it is about is that no one actually READ the document because no one reads 40 page documents anymore. The message was not heard, and the vast majority of Catholics voted for the candidate who was (and is) committed to making abortion/embryonic stem cell research/euthanasia/homosexual marriage etc. some of his top priorities.

People who have a message that is the direct opposite of the Church crank out videos and tweets and songs etc. that get people to listen to their message because they use "magic." What the Bishops of our country need to look at is the question of how to speak to that type of culture. How many dioceses have an office devoted to publishing youtube clips about the messages they are trying to send? How many Bishops are on Twitter and Facebook, how many Bishops use this "magic" to help get the message of the Gospel out? Those that enter the fray and join in the social media crusade and who are involved and passionate about film and so forth also need to constantly remind themselves and others that the "magic" is simply a means to make the message more appealing; that the magic is not the pill, it is simply the coating around the pill to make it more digestible, because we will never win going head to head with ILM and the many other organizations that have billions of dollars to devote to magic. How do we use this "magic" to draw people in so that, some day, they will be people who will want to look at a 40 page election document that talks about forming one's conscience, objective truth, the hierarchy of truth, etc.?

May we be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adoration Sign Up

People have been asking where to go to sign up for some adoration time at the Divine Mercy Chapel (the Chapel I wrote about in the past Malachy News From the Pews). Sr. Mary Ann Schumann is the contact at 926 1963. No pressure, no commitment necessary, just give her a call if you are thinking about taking an hour a week, every other week, or once a month. It is her apostolate, so she will work with you.

Someone once asked St. John Vianney what he was doing when he would spend an hour in adoration. The Saint responded, "I stare at Him and he stares back at me."

Proof that Everybody is Looking for Jesus

Comedian Steve Harvey at the end of a comedy show although it is tough to tell. I love the shout out to the Catholic Church as well!

Why Doesn't the Church Sell Everything?

This is a question I've received a surprisingly high number of times in my priesthood. When you start to talk about making the sanctuary of a Church look like more than a used carpet sale room, some raise the question - "If the Church is for helping the poor, why not sell all that stuff, like Jesus said, and give it to the poor?"

Two comments about that:
1) My friend, Fr. Jonathan Meyer, had his Church broken into a year ago. The thieves were hoping to get the collection money, but ended up taking all of the chalices, a nice monstrance, and some ciboria. They tried to take them to a pawn shop to get some money for them and they pulled in a whopping 14 dollars for the items. Candlesticks, monstrances, chalices, etc. that look expensive are, at best, PLATED in gold, which means there is a microscopically small layer of gold on them. Apart from that layer of gold, which it costs more to remove from the metal than the removed gold is worth, the items are worth nothing to people. No one is looking for monstrances for their home or work, and obviously Churches aren't buying monstrances or chalices on the black market.

2) A couple of years ago, the government passed a gigantic spending stimulus and I kept hearing the totals for the bill hovering around 900 billion dollars. A big part of the bill was to return money to people for spending to help stimulate businesses. I kept thinking about how much money that would translate to me getting, but when I got my check and it was 400 dollars it made me realize how many people there are in our country. I was grateful to God for another 400 dollars, but it just didn't seem to fit the magnitude of the overall total I heard floating around.

So, let's pretend that the Church has a gigantic yard sale. Let us also pretend that someone actually WANTS the stuff the Church is selling. Let's pretend that outside the Church there is actually a demand for monstrances, candlesticks, chalices, and buildings. Let's pretend someone would actually pay one tenth of what St. Peter's Basilica is worth, let's pretend that all of the stuff the Church owns besides the artwork (probably the only thing that would actually fetch a remotely fair price at the "Catholic Church Yard Sale")... you see where I'm going here. Now divide the profits of the yard sale by 6 billion. What does that work out to? I would venture to say that the Church yard sale profit divided by the number of people in the world would work out to be a few dollars per person. What good would it do for people after they took their money from the Church and bought a few candy bars?

The fact is that our Churches are, as one author put it, living and real homilies; they convey truths to people through a simple but important beauty. The proclamation to the Truth that the real artifacts of the Church make to believer and unbeliever alike is infinitely more important than what those items could fetch on the market with the profits split among all the poor.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Two Great Articles on Life and One Good Blog Post

The New York Times gets it right (or at least one of their writers does. Click here for the read).

New York Magazine on a good look at "the Pill" (click here to read)

I came across a wonderful post about something that I have often thought about as well - what will future generations condemn us for? What are our moral blind spots that people will look back on and ask "what were they thinking?" Click here to read the blog entry at First Things' site.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Drives Young Priests?

This Summer I picked up U.S. Catholic Magazine for the first time as someone dropped it in my mailbox. I didn’t realize how garbage it was when I saw it for the first time this Summer. The lead article was about what Catholics are to do about these “new priests.” The article was a journalistic farce full of sociological data about new priests, always followed closely by the author’s pronouncements about exactly what the new data means.

The question is asked often in various circles of progressive Catholics – “what to do about these new priests?” Often, the impression is given that all of us young priests got together in the seminary and decided to be conservative, or that John Paul II made us all conservative through some magical dust he sprinkled in the water systems of the world’s seminaries. The other explanation I hear often is that we are reacting to the confusion in the world and we need the order and structure of rules and laws to make ourselves feel safe, and so therefore we’ve retreated into the den of pharisaical and slavish observation of rules and regulations because it gives us security in a confusing and turbulent world that we lack the courage to face.

In place of sociological hypothesizing, I’d like to explain why I love the Church and why most of my fellow younger priests seem to be much more faithful to the Church and Her teachings and think that the teachings of the Church do in fact lead to happiness. My reasons are not fear or JPII or anything else, my reasons are simple – I have seen the absolute shipwreck of what happens when several generations have been given NOTHING worthwhile about the faith, and I’ve seen what happens when a generation receives no credible defense or presentation of the faith. My generation is FLOCKING from the Church because we were told (although usually not with words) that the Mass is just a meal with friends that should leave us feeling better about ourselves when we’re done. I’ve looked into the eyes of parents who have said “Can you give me a straight answer – all my friends are getting sterilized and using contraception; is it wrong? I never hear about it from the pulpit.”

Most of us young priests are not acting out against older priests like children acting out against their parents, most of us are just trying to pull our friends and our flocks back from the precipice of death, with most of us realizing we were hanging from the same precipice ourselves not so long ago.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Dialogue Between the Two Forms of the Latin Rite

We're nearly a month removed from the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but at the time I was busily preparing young minds for their final examination over Catholic Social Teachings. Besides the obvious fact that the celebration has exploded on these shores as the Church in the U.S. becomes more and more Hispanic, there was a more subtle thing that took place that I think deserves some commentary.

This year, Our Lady of Guadalupe fell on a Sunday. As the largest devotional day of the year for the Catholic Church in America, this presented the Bishops of our country with quite the conundrum. When the Mass was revised by Pope Paul VI following the directives and initiatives of the Second Vatican Council, one of the many changes that was implemented was the doing away with multiple commemorations at Mass. In the Extraordinary Form (the Latin Mass) it is possible to remember more than one saint or celebration on any given day. The way the Extraordinary Form (the EF from here on) handles this is by simply having more than one opening prayer and more than one closing prayer. For example, if there is a Sunday Mass that falls on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the priest would offer up a prayer at the beginning of the Mass composed for the Sunday, everyone would respond "AMEN" and then the priest would say a second time "Let us pray" followed by the opening prayer for Our Lady of Fatima, and people would again respond "AMEN".

This is important and relevant because this practice was done away with, and the highest ranking celebration on a day is the only one that can be used. Therefore in the Mass after the Council, a priest must always, on a Sunday, use the prayers and readings for that Sunday ONLY (unless, of course, GIGANTIC celebrations fall on a Sunday such as Easter, Jan. 1, etc., which happens next year FYI). The Bishops of our country had to send out reminders to their priests for Guadalupe weekend that they were not allowed to use any of the prayers, prefaces, or readings for Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The reform of Paul VI with regard to the number of prayers had a practical purpose - cleaning up the number of prayers (I believe it is possible to have up to 5 opening and closing prayers on a day in the EF). Certainly simplifying the number of opening and closing prayers down to one seems appealing and is more functional. HOWEVER, in cases where the people are clamoring for a way to honor a patroness or some other person with great devotion (as was and will continue to be the case with Our Lady of Guadalupe) the Church is NOT ABLE to make any part of the Mass devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe (other than perhaps a nod in the petitions). So a reform that seemed to make sense and seemed to be very sensible is now exposed as having flaws over time.

I find it ironic here that the "old, stale, conservative, and curmudgeonly Mass" as it is often viewed, was able to be pastoral and to still honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, while the Mass in the Ordinary Form was unable, because of the reform mentioned above, to meet the needs of our Hispanic brothers and sisters who have such a strong devotional life. The only option the Bishops were left with was transferring Guadalupe to Saturday or Monday, but most Hispanics balked at that.

I bring this all up in order to talk about a larger issue - the "reform of the reform" that Pope Benedict has occasionally talked about. It is well documented that most of the reforms that priests have carried out around the world in the liturgy were never envisioned by the Council or Pope Paul VI. Pope Benedict has also brought up, though, the idea that even some of the reforms that the Council and Pope Paul VI implemented should now be open for discussion and possible reform. For making this comment he has been blasted by Catholic progressives (who, ironically, seem to lose their penchant for reform and change when reforming the reform is mentioned). The issue that I think the Holy Father wants us to think about, though, is this - what can we do to A) first and foremost actually implement what the Council ACTUALLY SAID but also B) what things, now that we've lived with them for approaching 50 years, can be tweaked now that we've got a body of experience built up after living with the changes for so long.

We'll see what Rome has to say on this topic in the future, but I think this is an important issue to look at and discuss.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tolkien Post

I just read a great blog post on J.R.R. Tolkien. Check it out by clicking here

Adoration Article

This is an article that I wrote for our bimonthly St. Malachy newsletter:

Looking for a Deeper Prayer Life – Try Adoration!

For 21 years on the near Westside our Lord has been adored ceaselessly at the Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel (the building between Ritter and St. Michael’s). Over the course of 21 years there have been times where it seemed that it might not be able to survive because it is tough work getting people to sign up and commit to an hour of prayer every week, but nonetheless, the little chapel has endured. It is no secret that Catholicism can be fairly parochial in that our understanding of the Church is often our immediate parish. It is very important that we have endeavors such as the Divine Mercy Chapel that allow for parishes throughout the West Deanery to unite in working to help sustain it while also uniting us in providing a common opportunity to enjoy the fruits of Christ dwelling in our midst.

Mother Theresa once noted, "The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth." Similarly, Pope John Paul II once stated “The best, the surest and the most effective way of establishing everlasting PEACE on the face of the earth is through the great power of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament." We have so many amazing people doing amazing social outreach here at St. Malachy! The bulletin is stuffed full of possibilities for people looking to carry out Christ’s command to work for the poor, the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, etc. The interesting thing about this is that Mother Theresa was arguably the greatest social justice worker of our time, and yet she says the best thing we can do to bring peace to our world is to spend time with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament! Likewise, the late Holy Father was one of the true champions of peace in our time, working tirelessly to bring an end to wars and regimes of hate throughout the world. However, like Mother Theresa, he says the best thing to do is perpetually adore our Lord.

In my own life I can certainly testify to the power of making a holy hour. When people ask me what I’ve experienced to be the most profitable spiritual endeavor of my life I always answer without hesitation, “the holy hour.” The beauty of spending an hour with our Lord when we are able is that it allows us to spend some time ridding ourselves of all of the distractions that can occur when we sit down to pray.

With regards to the Divine Mercy Chapel, first of all, I hope you use it when you are able. To have Jesus gaze upon you and to gaze upon him in the Blessed Sacrament will alter your life. Also, I ask you to consider signing up for a weekly hour that you can commit to if you feel God leading you in that direction. It is easy to find subs if something springs up, and I firmly believe that you will reap a copious spiritual bounty that will really amaze you. If you are looking to deepen your spiritual life, and you’ve tried some other things but they aren’t working, I urge you to try spending some regular time in prayer in the presence of the Lord.

Let’s continue to ensure that Christ will be adored perpetually at the Divine Mercy Chapel; it is a deanery-wide effort that I believe deserves our time.