Friday, October 28, 2011

We Hit 100,000 Views On Here!

I wanted to note a historic moment that occurred yesterday - the blog hit the 100,000 view mark!

As I noted at 50,000, I really am shocked and thankful to see how God has used this whole thing. There are certain things in my life that I've done that, in the back of my head, I knew it was only because of God's grace, but in the moment it really felt like I was willing it to happen. Here I'm thinking of things like playing football, teaching, and also some of the adventures I've had traveling across the U.S.

There have been other things where I have been so aware of the fact that God is the one really steering that I really do not find it difficult to remain humble about. For example, when a priest friend and I helped lead several Katrina clean-up trips, despite some people giving me the credit, I really had a profound sense that it was God's doing. This blog has been another one of those events for me in my life.

A quick story about one of the reasons this blog has hit 100,000 - A post that continues to draw a couple hundred views a week is the post on the litany of Yoda. The reason...Google images somehow routes people to my blog a lot of the time now when people search for an image of Yoda. I have no idea how that happens, but the good Lord brings a couple hundred people a week to the blog who are simply looking for a picture of Yoda to download. Now most of you that have done a Google image search will know that you don't even have to truly visit the site to get the picture, but undoubtedly a person or two has actually checked out the blog. Because I kind of talk bad about Yoda, I'm thankful no Star Wars computer science major has gotten mad at me and hacked the blog in protest of me talking bad about the little green guy!

Anyway, thanks for being a part of a great community on here. Know of my prayers for you, and if you ever need some specific prayers, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. Also, if you ever have a topic that you think would be interesting to see a post on, please know that I'd love suggestions!

God bless!
Fr. John Hollowell

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chastity Talk to the Jr./Sr. Ladies

Film is edited not because I said something bad or heretical but because I had battery issues, so I had to end up putting two of them together. I actually did the presentation 7 times! Lot of talking, but it was a GREAT experience for all of us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

2 Catholic Films This Weekend

This weekend sees the release of two films that Catholic sites and commentators have been talking about for a while now. The first is "The Way" starring Martin Sheen. Sheen travels the pilgrimage to Compostella, a famous and ancient pilgrimage through Spain that ends at the Basilica where St. James the Apostle is buried. I will be seeing this one. I like Sheen, I like movies, and I want to one day hike the pilgrimage myself. A new feature for Catholic movies - here is the preview of the film!

Click here for the review from CNS. It is rated A-III for adults.

The second film is called Mighty Macs. It is a sports drama in the setting of an all girls Catholic college staffed by nuns. Here is the preview:

The film is rated A-I, acceptable for all people. Click here for the film's review.

Johnny English Reborn
This film is rated A-II teens on up. Click here for the review.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

St. Malachy Parishoner Writes and Perfoms Song Headed for Platinum!

Click here to listen to Rachel Worden's song "Be My Voice"

Besides the fact that the song is pro-life, it is a beautiful song artistically speaking as well. We need good faithful Catholics in the arts, and Rachel is doing a great job trying to follow God's path for her. Other good Catholic artists out there? Let me know in the comments below if you know of other Catholic artists spreading the Gospel through their work in the arts.

Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can't Teach? Tips for Effective Teaching

This is a presentation I gave to our lay catechetical team (those who will be giving presentations to our RCIA group this year). Many people, from parents to teachers to catechists have to teach topics at some point in their life, and most usually underestimate how hard it is to effectively teach until it is too late. Here I presented our team with a few "tricks of the trade" that can help make any theological presentation more digestible.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interesting Piece on Justifying Things Like Sloppy Dress at Mass, Reason Being "At Least They Were There"

From the OSV Blog: Click here for a read.

Marriage Prep Weekend

This weekend I helped with a program at Holy Rosary for couples preparing for marriage called "One In Christ." It is an exciting new program that came from a priest in Chicago and it is a nice mix of working on practical skills like communication and finances, but also bringing in some theology along the way as well.

In addition to myself, the actual facilitators of the weekend were Mark and Michelle Overhalt, and they do a fantastic job and they treat this program as their main ministry for the Church and it is a fantastic ministry! There were also two other married couples who help facilitate the weekend and give some of the talks. One of the couples was Eric and Sarah Babbs, and Sarah is a fellow Catholic blogger. She is part of a blog that features thoughts from lots of young Catholic authors. Her work (and the work of her team) can be found by clicking here. When she's not contributing to that blog, she maintains her own blog, Fumbling Toward Grace, which can be found here. Both are very much worth your time. It is just great to be in the same room with a bunch of people who like being Catholic!

These were my talks from the weekend (the battery ran out on the third talk) which were the more theologically centered presentations, but perhaps someone may find them interesting. The first talk is on sin/suffering, the second is on redemption/forgiveness and the third talk is on the difference between a covenant and a contract. Let's all pray for a continued strengthening in marriages throughout our country!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Movie Reviews

The Big Year
This film is rated A-III acceptable for adults and older teens. Click here for the review

The Thing
This film is rated "L" - contains content that may disturb adults. Click here for the review

This film is rated "O" - it ought to be avoided by Catholics. Click here to read the review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Might Be Our Next Archbishop?

I thought it would be fun to just start to share some information about some potential people who might become our next archbishop. Certainly everything on here is complete speculation, and mainly an exercise in excitement as we wait for our new shepherd.

There are a couple of principles in play that will help whittle down the list of potential candidates considerably.
1) What we can say 99% for sure is that the next archbishop will be a guy who is currently serving as a bishop of his own diocese. Because we are an archdiocese, we wouldn’t get a guy who is currently serving as an auxiliary somewhere. In order to become an archbishop, you almost always have to establish that you can run a smaller diocese on your own first.
2) We likely will not get a guy who is already an archbishop somewhere else. The only time archbishops get moved to become archbishops elsewhere is if the new destination would be one of the top-tier archdioceses – usually denoted by the fact that the archbishop of those archdioceses typically becomes a cardinal (New York, LA, DC) Indianapolis is, in all likelihood, not to become an archdiocese with that type of “prestige” in the foreseeable future, so we should be very surprised if we get a man who is already an archbishop elsewhere.
3) The third principle is related to the first. While we can be sure we’ll get a guy who has been tested a bit, we can also be pretty sure we won’t get a guy who is getting closer to the retirement age of 75.
4) While the first three principles are pretty much rock-solid, the last is less solid. It is LIKELY but not guaranteed that our next archbishop will be from somewhere in the Midwest. Of the current archbishops in the U.S. 14 of the 30 are not from the region they are currently serving in; obviously, then 16 of the archbishops are serving in the region they came from. Let’s take a look around the region.

Indiana – It doesn’t seem likely that our new Archbishop would come from Indiana. Bishop Chuck Thompson is brand new in Evansville, and Bishops Kevin Rhoades (Fort Wayne – South Bend) and Bishop Timothy Dogherty are in their second years. Bishop Joseph Melczek from Gary in set to retire in two years. Some people have been asking about Bishop Coyne’s chances. I read somewhere that I have a better chance than Bishop Coyne – because Canon Law requires that the apostolic administrator of a diocese can not be made the next bishop - however, when I went to look for that source again, I was unable to track it down - so that may in fact not be the case. Nonetheless, due to the fact that Bishop Coyne has not yet served as a bishop on his own, I think his chances are, unfortunately, small.

Illinois has a couple of possibilities. Likely out of the running are Bishop Doran of Rockford who is 75, and Bishop Conlon of Joliet and Bishop Paprocki of Springfield have only been bishops on their own for one year. Bishop Jenky from Peoria is an interesting candidate in that he is a member of the Holy Cross Brothers from Notre Dame, giving him an Indiana flavor. Bishop Jenky has also been a bishop on his own for 9 years, but at the age of 64 would have plenty good years of service ahead of him. Bishop Braxton of Belleville is similar in age (67) and time spent at the helm (6) to Bishop Jenky, but financially there has been some rumblings and contentions in the diocese the past several years.

Ohio has some possibilities as well. Bishop Lennon of Cleveland looks good age wise (64) and experience wise (5 as bishop) but has recently asked Rome to review his leadership. Bishop Lennon closed approximately 50 parishes, and many people were upset by that, and the rumblings continue. Bishop Campbell of Columbus is a little old (68) which would give him 7 years – but then again, that’s what they said about Cardinal Ratzinger before the conclave! Two strong candidates from Ohio would be Bishop Blair from Toledo and Bishop George Murry SJ from Youngstown. Both are in their early 60’s, and Bishop Blair has been leading Toledo for 8 years, while Bishop Murry has been at the helm of Youngstown for 4 years. I have met Bishop Blair on several occasions because he sends his seminarians to St. Meinrad, and I was able to hear him preach many Masses where he dropped into St. Meinrad for a visit. He seems like a really good guy, pretty laid back, excellent, relatable homilies.

Finally, Kentucky and Tennessee. I put it last not because I dislike the state (which is the case with most Hoosiers) but it simply fell there randomly – I promise! Bishop Steib in Memphis is Archbishop Buechlein’s successor there, but is likely too old now at 71. Bishop Foys of Covington is 66 and has been at the helm for 9 years, giving him some considerable seasoning. Bishop Stika of Knoxville is only 54 years old and has been a bishop for 2 years, but I’ve heard he’s on the rise, could Indy be his next stop? Bishop Gainer of Lexington is also a candidate at the age of 64 with 9 years as bishop. Bishop Choby of Nashville is 64 and has been a bishop there for 6 years.

Last but not least – our own Bishop Paul Etienne. On the illustrious Catholic blog Whispers in the Loggia, maintained by Rocco Palmo, who, unlike myself, is actually connected and in the know on such things, Bishop Etienne was profiled last Spring as one of the 5 young bishops who are “on the rise.” There’s nothing I can add that would speak to Bishop Etienne’s suitability any more than that nod.

With all that being said, here, then, are my top 5 candidates for people in the region (or from around here) who could succeed Archbishop Daniel Buechlein.

Bishop Paul Etienne of Wyoming
Click here to read up on Bishop Etienne's blog. 5 of the 30 current archbishops are serving in their home diocese - will Pope Benedict make it 6?

Bishop Blair of Toledo
Click here to visit Bishop Blair's homepage. Bishop Blair and his diocese of Toledo have also been in the news recently because they have taken the lead on banning all support for the Susan G. Komen Foundation until they stop donating to Planned Parenthood. Click here to read the story on this current issue.

Bishop Stika of Knoxville
Bishop Stika is a blogger as well. Click here to visit his blog.

Bishop Jenky, CSC, of Peoria
Read here about Bishop Jenky's new puppies, his visit with Pope Benedict, and the recent news-making decision to cease adoption services through Peopria's Catholic Charities. For a story on that decision, you can also click here.

Bishop Foys of Covington

Bishop Gainer of Lexington
Click here to visit Bishop Gainer's homepage

The size of the pictures is not meant to convey any personal preference - Google Images gave me these photos. Also, it should be noted that we could very easily get someone from the east or west coast (or Kamchatka for that matter) - this is just a preliminary look around the region to see who might be eligible. I hope this has been helpful, and if nothing else, at least it might help raise a greater awareness of some of the people working in the Church throughout the Midwest. Let's continue to pray for our new archbishop, whomever he may be.

Monday, October 10, 2011

WANTED: Pastors!

The following is excerpted from the Rite of Ordination

16. The candidate goes to the bishop and, kneeling before him, places his joined hands between those of the bishop.

If the bishop is the candidate's own Ordinary, he asks:
Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?
Candidate: I do

Bishop: May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.

Even as a young priest, I have realized the temptation to see myself with a "special mission." I have two main things that serve as temptations to become for me my "special mission." The first temptation for me to be a rogue worker in the vineyard of the Lord is as an educator. I like teaching, it gives me life, I feel like I do a good job, etc. I will be presenting this year at the National Catholic Educator's Association (in one of several hundred break-out sessions). Sometimes it is tempting to think "I ought to demand or at least really beg the bishop to let me stay in a high school."

Another temptation is electronic in nature - I'd love to start some kind of archdiocesan evangelization outreach through blogging/social media/video production - I think it could be important work that would bear a lot of fruit.

I share these two examples because there have been a lot of priests in recent memory who have been out doing their "special mission" who have run into serious problems. One example is Fr. Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life. He started his own abortion outreach program that has been very successful nationally, even though during the meteoric rise he was always under his vow to his bishop. Now that Fr. Frank is being asked to back away from his "special mission" we're seeing some problems letting go. Also we have as another example the crash and burn of Fr. Corappi (someone impersonated me on message boards defending his actions - it wasn't actually me). While being under vows of obedience to his superior, he started an outreach organization that also became wildly successful, only to fall into serious trouble. As he fell, it seems like Fr. Corappi has believed that his mission is bigger than his vows. Another example from the recent past would be the downfall of the now deceased Fr. Maciel, founder of the once BOOMING religious order the Legionaries of Christ (who have since been heavily restructured and brought under MUCH closer supervision). A final example of a priest having a mission and getting himself into trouble would be the priest who hosted EWTN's wildly popular "Life on the Rock" for several years...before running off and getting married.

As I think about my "special missions" and I dream "what might be" and the possibilities if I were granted "pure potency" to create whatever I saw fit from scratch, I am reminded of something simple - I was ordained to be a parish priest, a pastor. I'm not saying no diocesan priest can do special ministry, but one's ego has to be kept in TIGHT check because the devil loves working on people for whom "the normal rules don't apply." Not only am I reminded that I was ordained to be a parish priest, I remind myself that that is ALL I envisioned when I discerned the priesthood. I didn't think "huh, I'll join the priesthood to become a high school teacher/administrator" or "huh, I'll join the diocesan priesthood so I can create my own new little ministry from scratch."

I like teaching, and I like doing electronic evangelization, but I am also thankful that I'm in a position to say I don't NEED them. I made a vow to Archbishop Buechlein and his successors to go and do what they ask of me - and usually what the Archdiocese needs is parish priests. I like doing things that aren't "pastoring" but that is precisely why I'd be happy to get sent somewhere 300 miles from a school where video and electronic evangelization are not the parish's primary concerns. As Thomas Kempis notes "it is good for a man to have his will thwarted." I've seen what believing "I'm not a normal priest, I'm a special priest" can cause.

"Special missions" always attract men because, again, they involve pure potency, an opportunity to create something where there was nothing. Special missions also allow a man to have the satisfaction of being able to point to stuff and have that masculine adrenaline rush of being able to say "I made that from nothing." Parish priests can get that sometimes, but it is often much slower - the parish was there before a pastor gets there, and it will be there after the pastor leaves.

We continue to ask God to send us men who will serve in the priesthood, and I pray not just for men willing to serve in the priesthood, but for men willing to serve as pastor.

In the Breviary which contains the Liturgy of the Hours that priests and deacons pray at least 5 times daily, there is a beautiful poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which is excerpted from his epic masterpiece "The Canterbury Tales" entitled "The Parish Priest" I thought it might be a fitting end

"A good man was there of religion,
And was a poor Parson of a town;
But rich he was of holy thought and work
He could in little thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses far a sunder,
But he neglected not, for rain or thunder,
In sickness or in mischief to visit,
The furthest in his parish, great and little,
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staff.
This noble example to his sheep he gave,
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught,
Out of the gospel he these words caught
He set not his benefice to hire,
Nor let his sheep, encumbered in the mire,
To run unto London, unto St. Paul's,
To seek a chantery of souls,
Or with a Brotherhood to be withold;
But dwelt at home, and kept well his fold.
So that the wolf ne'er made it miscarry:
He was a shepherd, and no mercenary."

FOLLOW UP: I think some good questions have been raised about this post's origin/intent that I need to clarify

1) Every diocese has priests that are asked to do non-parish assignments. Some guys serve faithfully in the tribunal, mostly working on annulments, and that is just one example of many non-pastoring posts that diocesan priests can be asked to serve in. The type of temptation I spoke of in my original post involves the type of "special mission" where there is virtually no accountability - an assignment where there is a blank slate to make something into whatever that priest wants it to be (made even more dangerous if it was that priest's idea in the first place) - those situations are dangerous and need a lot of humility on the part of the person carrying them out. A priest working at the tribunal didn't think up the tribunal himself, so it is a lot easier to be humble. Fr. Pavone created Priests for Life from scratch, and Fr. Corappi created his "brand" from scratch as well, and thus it can be much more dangerous under that scenario.

2) The reason I shared this post is because guys who have been priests for 3-4 years in our Archdiocese typically start to get put in new roles, and so I've had to do a lot of discerning about that as I prepare to fall into that time frame in my priesthood. I had to pray a lot and ask myself "okay, what if you aren't in a school next year" and I can say I ultimately came to peace because I realized that I was ordained to be a pastor, so if that happens next year, I'm now at peace with that.

3) I also wanted to spread affirmation for guys who are already pastors. It is often a less-than-glamorous post when compared to "special missions", kind of like the difference between stay at home moms and a mothers who travels around the world - but there is a lot to be said for our priests serving faithfully, day in and day out, in our parishes throughout the world and they often go unrecognized.

Does Jesus Hate Denim? Homily from the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friday, October 7, 2011

Movie Reviews

Real Steel
This film is rated A-III for teenagers and adults. Click here for the review

Machine Gun Preacher
This film is rated "O" for morally offensive and Catholics ought to find another film to watch. Usually, a film is problematic because of its portrayal of either violence or sexuality without consequences. Rarely, a movie is rated "O" because of philosophical problems - i.e. "Million Dollar Baby" which glorified euthanasia. This film seems to be problematic because it suggests that violence can be a path for those in ministry. Click here to read the review.

This film is rated A-II pretty much everybody but little kids. Click here for the review.

Ides of March
This film is rated "L" because it contains content that some adults might find troubling. Click here for the review.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great Article on What a Parish Priest is, and What a Parish Priest is Not

Click here to read

Brett Favre Go Away!

Some say a blog can get in trouble for going off the normal path of the kind of posts that are typically on the blog.

This post is about sports, which isn't normally found on here, but I do think there is some spirituality in all of this as well.

If you don't follow sports, it's okay, I think it will still make sense. Brett Favre is a retired quarterback who used to be in Green Bay for a long time. His last years in Green Bay a young new guy showed up - Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers has always publicly been nothing but class. Favre, for about the last three years of his career in Green Bay, would wait until the last minute before the season started to announce his return for another year - and every year Rodgers, the guy waiting in the wings, would be a class act about and not complain about the prima donna act that the older guy would display every year.

Today Rodgers is considered the best quarterback in the NFL and continues to be a class act publicly, and has handled his success really well. Last year, despite tons of injuries, he led the Packers to a Superbowl win.

So what does Brett Favre do a few days ago? Now that he can't play anymore and doesn't have the spotlight on him anymore, Favre goes on a radio show in Atlanta and puts on the greatest display of backhanded complementing I've ever seen. Here are Favre's comments:

On ESPN 790 Favre said he wasn't surprised Rodgers won a Super Bowl, saying "the biggest surprise to me would be that he didn't do it sooner" and that Rodgers "just kind of fell into a good situation."

He's got tremendous talent, he's very bright and he got a chance to kind of sit and watch and he saw successful teams do it right, (translation: watching me play was what helped him)

and so he just kind of fell into a good situation. (translation: he got lucky. My response: No Brett, you got lucky landing with the 2009 Vikings when you had every play maker under the sun...but you threw an interception in the fourth quarter in crunch time. Everyone was hurt on last year's Packers team and Rodgers still won a Superbowl)

And on top of that, he's a good player. (translation: he's not great. My response: he's the best quarterback in the NFL)

I don't think anyone would question now the talent around him is even better than when I was there. So I really was surprised it took him so long. (translation: it is his fault they didn't win earlier. My response: Brett, you had tremendous talent in Green Bay also. Rodgers had a banged up team and he got it done.)

Really, the early part of last season, it hadn't quite clicked yet and I didn't know if it would. I just figured at some point, when they hit their stride, they're going to be hard to beat. And that's what happened." (translation: "I'm a genius!")

Rodgers response to the whole incident: "It takes 53 guys to win a championship and we had the right recipe last year and we're trying to do the same thing this season." - Now that is what real class looks and talks like.

The reason I include all of this on here is that stuff like this happens a lot in conversations, even among "churchy folk" and I think we need to be mindful of it when we do it because it always has, at its core, anger, and if we don't acknowledge anger, it will poison us. I wonder if Favre knew he was angry or not, but regardless, it happens too much and we need to monitor it. It also pops up a lot on the internet and in our electronic conversation, so we pray that we may guard and monitor our tongues as St. Paul encourages us.

Mass for Our New Archbishop?

"I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11: 10-11

Today at Mass I prayed for the first time a Mass found in the back of the Sacramentary (Roman Missal) titled "Mass for the Election of a Pope or Bishop." It was really quite beautiful, and I made the decision before looking at the Gospel, part of which is found above.

In the Gospel, Jesus first recounts how, just a man trying to sleep will get up if a visitor keeps knocking, so persistence in prayer pays off. What are we to make of the fact that Jesus says, essentially, "ask for things in prayer a lot and you are more likely to get them." A similar paradox would seem to be present in the fact that the Church would even have a Mass so that we could pray for the process of discovering our new Archbishop. Doesn't the Holy Spirit guide the Church? Will the process not work if we don't pray? It is similar to the fact that the Church says our first petition at Mass ought always to be for the Church or the Pope. I always pray something like "for Pope Benedict..." but then I'm stuck - what to say that wouldn't imply that God doesn't know what Pope Benedict needs? Sometimes I say something like "For Pope Benedict, that God may sustain him in his ministry." But then I think does that mean that God doesn't know that Pope Benedict needs sustained? Maybe the prayer should just be "For Pope Benedict...let us pray to the Lord."

The point, I think, and this was what I shared in my homily today - the point is that God asks us to be persistent in our prayer NOT because persistent prayer changes God but because persistent prayer changes US! May God be persistent in His changing us!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex Some More!

Phase 1 of our new chastity program - this presentation was given to our junior and senior guys several times to ensure small group sizes so that we could have discussion. The girls remained in their classes and participated in a presentation on Humanae Vitae from their theology teacher. Round 1 of the program went very well - thanks be to God. Hopefully something in this video might be of use to a young man that you know.

Chastity Class to Jr./Sr. Boys from John Hollowell on Vimeo.

Monday, October 3, 2011

St. Theodora

Today is the feast of St. Theodora Guerin (Mother Thodore) - and within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis today is a solemnity. It is pretty rare to have a saint who comes from an American diocese (although she was born and raised in France). Mother Theodore and her fellow sisters who left France to found a religious order in the upstart diocese of Vincennes (later renamed the Archdiocese of Indianapolis) endured travel and living conditions that are barely imaginable today. Mother Theodore and her sisters founded what would become the Sisters of Providence. Mother Theodore - pray for us.

Here is the collect (opening prayer) that the Church has issued for use in Masses on her feast day.

Loving God,
In Mother Theodore Guerin
You have given us an examle of a religious woman
who trusted deeply in Providence.
Through her intercession,
inspire us to dedicate our lives
to proclaiming the Gospel
through works of love, mercy, and justice.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.