Thursday, April 26, 2018


This situation with this child Alfie Evans has disturbed and saddened me for several weeks in a way that not much else has in my priesthood.

1) Starving a child to death
2) Not letting Italy fly the child to try experimental treatment
3) Obliterating parental rights to care for their child
4) The social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook) and the traditional media silencing the pushback 

It is all sickening and disturbing on a MASSIVE scale

All I can do is say “Jesus, I trust in you”

Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation is helpful too:
“Woe to you, earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time.”

Two English mothers - one gets attention and excitement of the media and the world and England and would get all the care England could muster and the other England has decided to starve to death and not let the parents take him to Italy for experimental procedures

May God have mercy on our world

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Homily: Racism and Vocations

Most of you have seen DePauw in the news this week for incidents of racism. Just wanted to say here at the beginning that I’ve been REALLY proud of our Catholic students in standing in solidarity with all those who are suffering, and also working to try to be a light of hope to the campus.

Some in the past week, even some writing from a Christian perspective, have sought to minimize or even explain away the incidents themselves.

Two things about that. First of all, I minister at Putnamville prison a few miles from here. A few months ago, I attended an annual training night for all those who volunteer there at the prison. They went through all the gangs in the prison so we’d know what to watch out for. They went through the Mexican gangs, the black gangs, etc. but what blew me away was that while there were 5 or 6 of each of those gangs, there were close to TWENTY white supremacist gangs. Racism is still alive and well.

Archbishop Thompson wrote a letter a few months ago on a lot of issues facing our Archdiocese, including RACISM

At the heart of these issues (racism, drug use, abortion, immigration, gun violence, religious liberty, euthanasia) Archbishop pointed to HUMAN DIGNITY!

Archbishop notes: “We are one in Christ. This is not a metaphor.”

How true! So often we think “oh, one in Christ, that’s nice, we could make it a song title or we think “what a lovely image” but Archbishop Thompson makes it clear – this is NOT a metaphor. This is NOT poetry. We are to be ONE.

That’s also what we hear in the Gospel today. ONE flock.

Archbishop goes on: “It is a fundamental truth…This fundamental belief, which we accept as a fact, dramatically influences the way we are called to live our lives. We do not merely exist for ourselves and our own kind.”

It DOES dramatically influence the way we live our lives. If you think about it, this was precisely one of the key RADICAL notions that the Christian Church proposed to the world. Show me a culture, prior to Jesus Christ, that taught that every human person had dignity! You can’t! It didn’t exist. In every culture before Christ there were SOME people who had dignity, but then there was a group of the population that was “trash” that was disposable, they could be slaves or they could be killed or treated harshly because they were LESS human. The early Church, in bringing the Gospel to the various cultures and continents taught precisely this new idea, that, according to Jesus Christ’s teachings and the teachings of His Church that he left behind on Earth, EVERY person has dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God!

We have proof of this in our second reading. We hear Saint John: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” He’s saying “WOW! This is so amazing!

Finally, to conclude with the Archbishop’s excerpts, I’d like to finish with this line: “The Catholic Church opposes racism, sexism, nativism and all forms of prejudice against people who are perceived to be different from us, including strangers and enemies.”

There’s the great warning of Christ: SATAN DESIRES TO SIFT YOU LIKE WHEAT! He desires to breakdown relationships, marriages, families, universities, parishes, communities, states, countries, etc. He is an agent of DISunity. Whereas Christ says today that He is an agent of unity. “ONE flock. ONE shepherd!”

Turning for a moment to the teaching of the universal Church, The Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching, 144: since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness[281]. The Incarnation of the Son of God shows the equality of all people with regard to dignity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. Rom 10:12; 1 Cor 12:13, Col 3:11).
Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other men[282]. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class.

Compendium 431: For those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division

431 continued: From the day of Pentecost, when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language, the Church fulfills her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Through the Church, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences!

Let me state this clearly: “If you harbor racist beliefs or outlooks, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not taken root in you yet”

Look at that prayer card – you know why it is so powerful and speaks a thousand words – because of the collar – because of the visible representation of the Presence of the Church

Is the Church present in those who don’t wear a collar or habit? OF COURSE!!!!
Can we work for unity without a collar or habit? OF COURSE!!!!
But we need people who are willing to be VISIBLE signs of the Church BEING the glue, VISIBLE signs

Precisely in the fact that celibacy is a sign that we are all heading for an eternal home not of this world, religious and priestly vocations are also, at the same time, able to GIVE THEMSELVES COMPLETELY to THIS world to help work for that unity full time!

One thing I didn’t know until I became a priest – people stare at you a lot when you wear the Roman collar. I’ve become somewhat more used to it, but it is still startling
1) I see fascination/surprise
2) I see hope too – something that instantly seems to get them thinking about eternal things

In a world that so often looks for VISIBLE things to be divided over – skin color, race, clothing, wealth, - a GREAT way to fight back against that is to be a VISIBLE sign of UNITY

G.K. Chesterton said “Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.”
If you want to convert our culture, help pray for, encourage, and foster young men and women who will come forward to contradict the culture of division and disunity

A response to Rod Dreher on events at DePauw

I am certainly a big fan of Rod Dreher, author of “The Benedict Option” among so many other things, and so when I saw that he had written a piece on DePauw University and the racial issues that have popped up there, I looked forward to reading his take.

After reading his post, I would say, though, that some of it misses the mark.

Some of Dreher’s thoughts are certainly on target

1) The University is, in a sense, destroying itself. As with the entire secularist agenda, it is REALLY easy to tear something down, but what is to be built in its place? A situation where chaos is acceptable every time there is a grievance leads to chaos on a massive scale. But “Chaos University” or (to take it to the governmental national level) “The United States of Chaos”, is not a place where people CAN live, and certainly not a place where people WANT to live. Institutions (universities, states, companies, nations, etc.) have to both allow for protest, but also draw lines and say “there are also laws and due process”. The French Revolution showed us what happens when things are ruled via a mob mentality – 10,000 a day killed by the guillotine. Western liberalism rightly steered away from that approach.

2) The sad thing is that SOME (if not most or even all) of these ideas are being taught to students from WITHIN the University. So the university is teaching its students the ideas that are destroying the university.

3) Dreher also rightly points out that the University telling white people what they shouldn’t do (under the label “white fragility”), has an inherent and thus HIGHLY problematic flaw.  Here’s the excerpt from a DePauw email: “WHITE FRAGILITY TAKES THE FORM OF RAGE, ANXIETY, GUILT, FEAR, TEARS, REFUSALS TO ENGAGE, WILLFUL IGNORANCE, SILENCE, INTELLECTUALIZING, SEEKING COMFORT, ARGUMENTATION, AND LEAVING/OPTING OUT OF DIFFICULT DIALOGUES AND SITUATIONS.”

The problem with this is, of course, that the responses described in the email cover EVERY possible response. So, according to this email, no matter what a white student does, it is wrong. This email from the DePauw administration is literally setting up every white person for failure. This is, as Dreher points out, sheer lunacy, and, far from helping, this email literally makes the problem worse because a person who is upset can point to every white student on campus, and, under the rubric of this email, claim “That person is GUILTY!”

But here is where I diverge from Dreher.

1) As a factual correction, all of the incidents DID occur on campus. The nature park, the “Inn at DePauw” and the “Fluttering Duck” are all elements that are a part of the campus. None of the incidents were “off campus”.

2) More importantly as a rebuttal, though, is that racism is a serious problem in the communities I serve (two neighboring parishes in addition to DePauw). As I shared in my homily this weekend, I am the Catholic chaplain at the local state prison, and in my annual training update there a few months ago, we went through all the gangs that are currently operating in the prison. They showed us tattoos and behaviors unique to each gang. They went through the Hispanic gangs, then the African American gangs, etc. The thing that I found to be really surprising: there are twice as many white supremacist gangs as there are any other type of gang.  Racism is certainly real and present in our communities.

The Archbishop of Indianapolis recently wrote a letter talking about the issues he sees in our communities (drug use, abortion, euthanasia, gun violence, how immigrants and refugees are viewed and treated) and he identified racism as one of those issues that we still battle in our Archdiocese.

So my main concern is that all the instances of racism seemed to be either minimized by Dreher or even possibly explained away completely. I don’t have nearly as hopeful a belief about these incidents. When students say that there have been white people in pick up trucks yelling things at students of color, the proper response isn’t to minimize that at all, but to instead stand in solidarity with those students and to ask them how we can help.

A final conclusion, if I may. While standing in solidarity with those who are affected, we can and should propose again the Christian message by asking the question to everyone: “What is a path forward?” “Where can we get the language that will show us a way forward?” “On what can we build again a culture of unity?” And the answer to that seems to me to be exactly the revolutionary proposal of Christ in the Gospels, echoed throughout the New Testament letters, the early Church, the saints, the Catechism, the social doctrine of the Church, and Archbishop Thompson: the COMPLETELY RADICAL and, until the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, completely unheard of notion that EVERY human person has EQUAL dignity and the fact that every human person has dignity completely changes EVERYTHING!

We recognize that elements of the Truth are found in other faith traditions, but in this area in particular, the Christian proposal to the world stands out and needs repeated: there is no other credible way to build a system around the dignity of the human person without the foundational notion that the dignity of every person comes from the fact that they are created in the image and likeness of God.

Some will say, “Slow down there, Catholics, you all have failed in this realm of racism too!” To that we say, “We know, and we’re deeply saddened by the failures of the past and present, but we have these teachings not about things we’re all living perfectly but about things we still FAIL at. If they were things that we all could do automatically without teaching and guidance, we wouldn’t need the teaching. But we can also note that the criticism of the behavior of those who’ve failed in the past comes FROM the Christian notions of right and wrong. Put another way, the very notion of racism would not have even have been developed if not for the completely radical teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church on the dignity of the human person.

This seems like the discussion to be having with the form of liberalism that has stripped itself of its Christian roots. It seems like the best way to have that discussion is to start by standing alongside those who are expressing hurt and grievances, and, while standing alongside them, start to have the discussions about how we go about reestablishing a greater respect for every human person once again!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Position on Amoris Laetitia Footnote 351

“You are well aware that often the fidelity of priests — indeed, let us say, of the Church — to this truth and to the consequent moral norms taught by Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio often must be paid for at a high price. One is often mocked, accused of misunderstanding and harshness, and more...This is the fate of every witness to the truth, as we know."
- St. John Paul II -

I post this for two reasons:

1) My conscience requires it of me.

2) As a mathematics major in college, I am a subscriber to "Chaos Theory", the mathematical theory that "if a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon, it eventually has an effect on the weather in Tokyo".  I am a priest in rural Indiana, I am thus, hopefully like Therese, "small".  In posting this my hope is that this post, particularly as it is joined to other priests and bishops who have already or who will in the future make similar statements, might have an affect on the "weather" in Rome, if that be the Will of God.

The point of my post is this:

In case it matters to anyone, if it is ever said that the Church now teaches that it is at times permissible for individuals to potentially receive Holy Communion who
1) have divorced
2) that marriage, despite the divorce, has not been declared null by the Church (no annulment) and the original spouse is still living
3) are civilly remarried/cohabitating/etc.
4) are not willing to try to live as brother and sister (abstain from sexual intercourse)
Then I will not only not teach that, I will teach that this is, in fact, wrong

There is an orthodox reading of footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia (that couples who are described by numbers 1-3 above can attempt to live as brother and sister and have recourse to the Eucharist and Confession because they are not engaging in adultery)
There is also a heterodox reading of footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia (that couples described by numbers 1-3 above, without striving to live as brother and sister (abstain from sexual intercourse), can receive the Sacraments)

If the heterodox reading of footnote 351 is proposed as Church teaching, I will not teach it, but will teach and preach against that interpretation of Amoris Laetitia footnote 351 as often and as frequently as my conscience obliges me to.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Porn Addiction Ritual for Catholics

The priests of the Archdiocese were blessed in Lent to have a day of reflection with Fr. Sean Kilcawley on addictions, pornography, authentic love, etc.

Fr. Kilcawley's AWESOME work can be viewed by clicking HERE

I found this part of his presentation both informative and also easily shareable

The Typical Pornography Addiction Ritual for Catholics

1. Feeling vulnerable
2. Have time alone
3. Check Facebook, social media, email
4. Feel alone
5. Recheck social media
6. Trigger
7. Youtube soft core stuff
8. Tell yourself: "I'm not looking at porn"
9. Tell yourself: "I might as well be looking at porn"
10. Ask yourself: "Can I get to confession?"
11. Act out
12. Feel worthless
13. More behavior
14. Lots of shameful/negative self talk
15. Sacramental confession
16. Resolve to never act out again
17. Feeling vulnerable (back to number 1 above)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Why I Have a Punctilious Concern for the Church's Liturgy

There are two reasons that I would describe myself as having a punctilious concern for the Church's Liturgy

1) Humility

Having been formed in my celebration of the Mass largely through the writings of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict, I agree wholeheartedly with Pope Benedict's constant reminder that it is prideful to make the Mass about ourselves as the presider, even when some in attendance would prefer that we DID make the Mass about ourselves as the presider.

So there really seem two options for presiders - bend and change the rules of the Mass to what you think they should be or celebrate the Mass as it is given, getting out of the way and letting the Mass stand on its own.  This, to me, is a priest celebrating the Mass as an Icon of Christ - an icon is that which points to a reality beyond itself, unlike the art we find elsewhere, which has as its purpose to get people to focus on the image itself.

The particular challenge of celebrating Mass in this way is PRECISELY the characterization by some in the Church that in doing so the presider is aloof and distant and cold.

Do some priests who are punctilious about their celebration of the liturgy also actually distant and pastorally cold outside the Mass?  Yes.  Does that mean it is right to say that priests who celebrate the Mass with a concern to follow the rubrics of the Mass and, out of humility, let Christ be the principal agent of the liturgy are ALL aloof - no.  And I would also say it is INTENSELY problematic to make that accusation.

2) Vatican 2 

The Second Vatican Council said that to change anything about the Liturgy on our own authority is wrong

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Hell is REAL. And so is Divine Mercy!

No matter where you get your news from, you likely saw this week that Pope Francis apparently “did away with Hell”!

Now, of course, you can look it up yourself, but the Pope has preached TONS of times about the reality of Hell.  So the Vatican issued a clarification that what the Pope said was falsely reported.  The person doing the interview is a 93 year old reporter who doesn’t write anything down nor record his interviews, so we ought not be surprised.  The reporter accomplished his likely goal of selling newspapers because we saw how far the report spread.

As we think about this Divine Mercy Feast Day that we celebrate today, Hell is an important aspect of Divine Mercy.

The devotion of Divine Mercy has sprung out of the life of St. Faustina, who was visited numerous times by our Lord.  One of the times our Lord came to St. Faustina, she records the following:

"I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them.” (Diary 741)

Now those who think Hell is made up, whether it was made up by someone from the middle ages thinking of some way to keep people in line and paying their tithes, or whether it was invented by nuns to keep second graders in line…anyone who says Hell is made up is really saying that from a place of great “privilege”

This week I came across a poem by the English Catholic poet Francis Thompson, who authored the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven”.  I found a much shorter (6 line) poem by Thompson that I think is extremely relevant titled Heaven and Hell
The gist of what Thompson says is this:
“It is said that no one would have thought up hell, except that hell has been taught
And they say that it is obvious and self evident that there is a Heaven
But it is not so, it seems to me.
It seems that Heaven lies beyond our sights and rather it is Hell that is quite evident
For all can feel the God that smites, but ah, how few the God that loves.”

The only people who ever come up with the idea that there might not be a Hell are people from materially blessed, prosperous places, people who have had the “privilege” of living in a culture that has been GOSPELIZED already…that have heard about the joy and peace of Heaven…those are the only people who ever think that maybe there is not a Hell.

What Thompson is saying is that for the vast majority of Humanity, it is self-evident that there is a HELL.  Just looking inside myself for a moment, I recognize the destructive power of sin tearing me down and killing me in my own life.  And certainly looking beyond ourselves, for people who are parents or siblings of one of the 25,000 children who die every day from starvation, the people who lived through the Holocaust, the people who see their kids get burned alive by Syrian chemical weapons, the early Church who lived through the slaughters and tortures and the Church around the world that continues to be persecuted, for the people who lived amidst the cultures that had yet to be Christianized…for all such people, I think, Francis Thompson is rightly saying It is HELL that is almost self-evident.

If I don’t think Hell is real, one problem with that: I don’t really appreciate Divince Mercy, and in fact, Divine Mercy isn’t really that awesome.  To deny Hell, to say that there isn’t a place where evil can run and hide from God, then God’s gift of His own Son isn’t REALLY that spectacular nor is it that inspiring.

It is precisely because evil is real, in our hearts, in the world, and in eternal life if we so choose…precisely BECAUSE Hell is real that Divince Mercy is CELEBRATED!

There is a path OUT of and away from Hell, a ladder that Christ extends to us into the pit, His Divine Mercy that comes through the Church and Her Sacraments is given to us to bring us into the eternal joy of Heaven and the Peace that comes on Earth that comes from following Christ.

Finally then, an important implication of all this is that if I don’t think there’s a Hell, then I’m really not going to be that worried about myself NOR will I be worried about anyone else.  Everything is sort of “blah” and it is all the same.  If there’s no Hell, and there’s no Heaven, but especially if there’s no Hell, then I’m not really going to care what my neighbor Dave (or any other neighbor or any other person) I’m not really going to care WHAT they do.

But inherent in the Divine Mercy devotion is not just a desire for us to experience it, but a desire to help OTHER PEOPLE experience in their lives Divine Mercy too.

Do you really believe any of your neighbors might be living at risk of Hell?  Do you really believe that any of your classmates are at risk of Hell?  If you answer “no” to that, then you aren’t going to be a vessel of Divine Mercy to anyone.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells the doubting Thomas: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe!”

About Hell and about its antidote of Divine Mercy, Jesus says the same thing to us: “Do not be unbelieving but believe!”