Thursday, August 30, 2018

On a Lighter Note

My brother at dinner with his kids: “If the baby is a boy, what should we name him?

5 year old niece: “Pope St Pius XII
My brother, laughing: “Why?
Niece: “it’s just cool

4 year old nephew: “I think we should name him “Charles our bishop”

My brother: “Okay. Thanks for the help!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Marriage and St. John the Baptist

What are Bishops and Priests Afraid Of?

On the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, I think it is important, at this time in the Church, to ask a simple question:

"What are the bishops and priests that aren't speaking up...what are they afraid of?"

So let's say you are a bishop of some middle-sized diocese.  You don't call evil out because what?  You want a bigger diocese?  Why?  What could that POSSIBLY matter?  Did John the Baptist, the prophet par excellence (all bishops and priests are called to BE prophets)...did you learn to care about "getting a bigger diocese" from St. John the Baptist?

Or maybe you want to be on some committee in the USCCB?  If you play your cards right, maybe you'll get to be  on some committee on the liturgy?  WOW!  That is totally worth NOT being a prophet so that you could land something like that.  I mean if you were on a USCCB committee, then you'd be famous.

And what about priests?  "I'm going to be quiet so that I get a bigger parish assignment"????  Why do you want a bigger parish?  Did you get that from St. John the Baptist?  Did St. John the Baptist say "Be a prophet...UNLESS getting a bigger parish is a possibility....then play it cool and don't say anything...don't rock the boat."

Or maybe, as a priest, you don't speak out so that you can be on the priest council?  Or be in the running for the vicar for clergy?  Or the seminary vice-rector?  Or...gasp...the vicar general someday?  Your mom would then be able to brag at Euchre club about her extremely successful son.

WHO CARES?  We need priests and bishops in the mold of St. John the Baptist..."I don't give a rat's rear end what you do to me.  Your marriage is not a marriage...I'm calling evil for what it is...I'm going to speak truth to power and I could CARE LESS what happens to me."

Worrying about some of the things that bishops and priests worry about is so laughable.  And even leads to absolutely boring and irrelevant and unprophetic priests and bishops.

"The Beheading of John the Baptist" by Caravaggio

The Misplaced Fear of Rural Parishes

I caught the tail end of Teresa Tomeo's EWTN Radio show yesterday where Ralph Martin was sharing that a lot of priests do not speak out because they are afraid of being moved to rural parishes.

I don't understand this fear in the least.

I'm in rural parishes and I love it.

What are the benefits of being in an "urban parish"?  As I rack my brain, I can think of the following limitations of being in a rural parish

1) No art museum
2) No sushi bar
3) No symphony


So I can't stare at a Monet all day, I can't eat raw fish and I can't spend a night at the symphony without driving 45 minutes.  The horror!  I'd have to drive an hour to get those things (if I wanted any of them, which I don't)

I absolutely love being in rural parishes and I love the people of my parishes.  Priests (and lay people) that think rural assignments are exile have no idea what they are talking about.  People and priests who crave the completely insignificant comforts of "the city" are precisely the ones that need to be rehabilitated by the fresh air of the country.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Weird Wuerl Story

I know a person who was a seminarian in Rome when Cardinal Wuerl was the Bishop of Pittsburgh.  At the time Bishop Wuerl would come over a few times a year (as did most bishops) to visit the seminarians studying at the North American College, the seminary for American guys in Rome. Nothing weird about the fact that he visited a few times a year.

But here's the weird part.

Every morning, Bishop Wuerl's seminarians had to bring up fresh-cut flowers and pressed shirts for the bishop, and some other similar duties.

When I first heard that story about 8 years ago, it made my skin crawl.  That is just so weird.

It shows a completely different mindset, and a clericalist mindset.

I know bishops that live in simple homes and ride the bus.  Pope Francis did some of that it sound like when he was an Archbishop.

I'm not saying simple living is going to guarantee holy bishops, but for most normal people, a bishop that lives a clerical lifestyle, that tells you all you need to know.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

Wuerl, Rosica, and McCarrick

The tone-deafness in which you would say sexual assault was a "DISAPPOINTMENT"???

Fr. Rosica acting like the big harm here is that his friend was a molester???  How about saying the thing that is terrible here is the fact that PEOPLE WERE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

Wuerl also says, in this same interview, "I don't think this is a massive scandal".  He later apologized but wow.  Just wow.

Sins I Would Never Commit

Some will read this and think I'm seeing things or hearing things or wearing a tin-foil hat as a conspiracy theorist.  I share this not because I'm worried about these things

But I have been reading and hearing about how the Communists would kill priests and then plant evidence (gay pornography, etc. etc.) to get everyone thinking that 
a) the priest committed suicide and
b) was in to some kind of sexually deviant behavior

And this was done, of course, to discredit the priest and his teaching.

And if you think about it, it is a WAY more effective way to try to attack the Church than just killing a priest.  If you make it look like he took his own life and was into all kinds of sins, that is way more destructive to the Church than martyrdom.  A martyred priest would RALLY the Church, whereas the approach the Communists and others have taken can both get rid of a priest AND break the Faith of some of the flock.

So I thought I should go on record on a few things:

1) I would never commit suicide

2) I am a virgin

3) I've never looked at pornography as an adult (we found some magazines at a friend's house when I was a kid, and porn was on at a few parties I went to in high school)

4) I've never masturbated

5) I've never experienced same-sex attraction

6) I would never violate my vow of celibacy

7) I have never and would never harm a child or anyone else

8) I could care less about money and would never steal money from anyone nor would I steal money from the Church.  I enjoy simplicity of life a great deal.  

I'm not bragging.  There are probably BILLIONS of people who have done some of the things I've listed above who are INFINITELY better people than myself.

Again, those are all just things I felt like it was important to go on record about.  I don't feel threatened in any way, but trying to preach the Truth has never been a particularly safe mission.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Priests stand in the breach

My Focus team director took this photo last night as I was doing a house blessing.  Thought it turned out pretty awesome.

Priests stand in the breach between light and dark, between good and evil.

Do not be afraid!

#LoveWins #EvilLoses

Yes, a part of me wants to leave

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Shepherds, Abuse, and the Media

Most of the response by leadership in the US and around the world to the various interwoven scandals plaguing the world and local Church has been through press releases.

Some people believe that is because the leadership just doesn't UNDERSTAND the power of media.

I'm not so sure

Going back several months, many in Church leadership seemed to FULLY grasp the power of the media and social media, the power of images, the power of not speaking through lawyers and press releases when they had a Mass on the border.

They seem to grasp the power of this.  Do this for the other crises too.

If you took all the millions of press releases, the blog articles, the USCCB bulletin inserts....if you added all that up and compiled it all, the image of a bishop handing the Eucharist to a hand sticking through a border fence spoke more than all of that other stuff combined.

On the multiple crises in the Church, do something like this:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sometimes, as a priest, you just sit down and cry

Speaking with a victim of clerical sexual abuse

"They're only as good as the world allows them to be"

Christopher Nolan's portrayal of evil in his "The Dark Knight" is so spot on in our own day.

I think his atheism/agnosticism keeps Nolan from seeing well what makes a hero, but Ledger's "The Joker" is such an unbelievably accurate trip into the heart of evil.

Evil says true things in order to get people discouraged. I find this line from the Joker to Batman (to attempt to get the hero to break) to be VERY accurate about the "Catholicism-lite" that we see today:

"They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. THEY'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE WORLD ALLOWS THEM TO BE!"

Indeed many today are only as good as the world allows them to be.

Ask yourself this, "when was the last time you took a stand against what Hollywood and the general culture said you should believe?"

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thoughts on "Wrongcalli"

I graduated from Roncalli High School in 1997.  Roncalli is a Catholic high school on the south side of Indianapolis.  I shared in just the previous post about my Dad's 40+ year career there, and he still serves as the school's president.  I also, sadly, just got to a place in my life where I publicly acknowledged that Roncalli had in fact done so much for my Faith as I wrote "An Apology to Roncalli" HERE.

The school has been in the local news for placing a guidance counselor on administrative leave when the school learned that she entered into a same sex "marriage" several years ago.

I think it helpful to share some thoughts on this situation as even many people WITHIN the Catholic community itself are being vocal AGAINST Catholic teaching.

1) First of all, up front, it should be noted that the Church's teaching on same-sex marriage is nuanced.  Many "Catholics against Catholicism" in this instance are saying "The counselor is being punished for being gay"

That isn't true at all.  The Church teaches that people who experience same sex attraction are to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity and none of us are judged by God for whatever attractions we experience, whether heterosexual or homosexual attractions.

What the Church teaches about MARRIAGE, however, is different.  The Church (and, frankly, everyone else on both sides of this issue) says marriage is a BIG deal.  It MEANS SOMETHING.  It is why we give up Saturday's to go to them, and buy people gifts, and travel great distances at times...because marriage is a BIG DEAL!  If marriage didn't mean anything, then people wouldn't have been fighting for same sex marriage in the first place.  

So the Church (and you and I) see that marriage is something REALLY central to its teaching.  The Church says it this way officially: "Marriage is not a simple agreement to live together but a relationship with a social dimension that is unique with regard to all other relationships"

Here, if you'd like more on this topic, I'm including a podcast I did with Catholic Radio Indy.  I think even if you hate me you might find the discussion interesting

2) There has been an utter failure on the part of the Catholic Church in America to teach what it believes about marriage.

If we could rewind for a moment, I was a high school teacher at Cardinal Ritter when I was first ordained. My classes on homosexuality went viral and in teaching the topic I realized that a lot of the young people had ZERO idea what the Church teaches and why (and that I, as a priest, didn't know nearly enough).  That's why I set out to make "The Third Way" (which has been translated into 9 languages and seen about 500,000 times online).  I had no idea how it would turn out, but I think it has helped show a lot of young people what the Church teaches about homosexuality.

When it was time to do the "sequel" - "What the Church teaches about same sex marriage" people scoffed at it and we didn't raise hardly any money.

So again, as I did 3 years ago when we tried to put the marriage film together, "Where can you go to show someone clearly, quickly, and beautifully why the Church teaches against same-sex marriage" there literally is NOWHERE to go.  So the fact that even a lot of people in the Catholic community hate the Church's teaching is not a surprise to me.  We've done nothing to teach it as an American Church, and for that we'll have to answer.

NOTE: People have said a lot over this past week to me, "Why do you always talk about homosexuality, and blog about it and preach about it?"  I've done about 2,000 blog posts and I bet 20 at most are centered around homosexuality or marriage.  I've preached about 600 different weekend homilies - and I think 3 or 4 of them are on homosexuality or same sex marriage.

Here IS the video we were able to put together with the little bit we raised to cover marriage.  This is a video called "What Catholics Get Wrong About Marriage".  This has 750,000 Facebook views, which isn't bad, but we, as a Church have to do more on a scale about 1,000,000 times larger if we want to reach the culture today

3) There is a rumor that I turned this guidance counselor in.  I can say clearly I did not.  Jesus said "let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no."  I did not turn her in, or her certificate, and, as I've shared elsewhere, if you'd told me this person's name Sunday morning and asked where she worked, I would have had no answer.  

I do think it is interesting, though, that some would try to paint this as me and my Dad pulling this off.  First of all, I'm honored to stand next to and with my Dad.  But I also think perhaps the rumor spread around because if orthodox Catholicism is a leprosy that some in the community would like to drive out so that our Catholic Church looks more like the world, well then it is more convenient to blame it on two people from the same family.  It is more frightening to those who would want to drive out orthodox Catholicism to think that anyone outside the two of us had anything to do with this.

Along these lines, too, many people who believe what the Church teaches are contacting me privately.  "Hey, Father, we just want you to know we totally appreciate you explaining and defending the Church's teaching" and "We're with you on this."  That's very kind, but I'd say this - don't tell me privately, tell everyone else!  It is COMPLETELY shocking to me that faithful Catholics are afraid to tell other Catholics that they believe the Catholic Church's teachings!  Look, I get it, I get a lot of flack through the years on the blog, social media, etc., but you also find out that a lot of other people that you didn't know before who DO believe what you believe.  If you say "I'm Catholic and I uphold Church teaching," and you lose friends over that, sure it is hard, but ultimately, WHO CARES?  Jesus said "If the world hates you, know that it hated me first."  And you'll find new friends who do believe what you believe, and you'll have made a stand for what you know is right. 

Affirming Catholicism, the Archdiocese and/or Roncalli privately and quietly is meaningless.  No one ever gets credit, in the long view of history, for being privately in favor of something but not telling anyone they are for it.

4) The Catholic Church, as G.K. Chesterton notes, puts itself forward as a truth-teaching machine.  Either what the Church teaches is the Truth or it isn’t.  You can’t cherry-pick which truths you like and which you don’t.  That’s called cafeteria Catholicism.  If a person decides that the Catholic Church is wrong about its teaching on same-sex marriage, that person should have the moral courage to run as far away from Catholicism as possible because if it isn’t teaching the Truth, then the Catholic Church is an abomination set up by the Devil.  


I would first of all say that I've preached the two strongest and most forceful homilies I've ever preached have been this month, and they've been condemnations of those who've committed these crimes (if you want to watch either, they are HERE and HERE).   My heart absolutely breaks for all these sins, and I simply sat down in the confessional this morning after Mass and just wept for 10-15 minutes by myself for all of this awfulness.

But, at the same time, it is completely illogical that the failure of some Catholic prelates to live by Catholic teaching somehow invalidates the Church's teaching.  

Either the Church teaches the truth or it doesn't.  If it doesn't teach the truth, you should want to leave it.

5) This reminder about the larger American Church's failures to teach what we believe as Catholics is also I think partly explained by the fact that I can introduce you to a priest on the South side of Indianapolis (and any other side of town) who would teach just about anything, particularly with regard to human sexuality and marriage.  

a.  I could introduce you to a priest who will tell you contraception is okay in marriage "in certain circumstances"

b. I could introduce you to a priest who will tell you that you can be divorced and remarried without an annulment and still take the Eucharist.

c. I could introduce you to a priest who will tell you that you can go to weddings that are contrary to Church teaching.

And on and why would we expect anyone to understand the nuanced but CRITICAL teachings of the Church on same-sex "marriage"????   The Catholic Church also says it is a pillar-esque teaching of the Church that we have to go to Mass every weekend and holy day of obligation and 80% ignore THAT teaching, and that teaching is really simple.

Given all that, why would we be shocked that a lot of people don't understand why a person would be let go from a Catholic institution after having made a permanent and public vow to live in direct opposition to a core teaching of the Catholic Church?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Reflection on My Father

My Dad

Joe Hollowell was born August 23rd, 1954 to James “Mojo” Hollowell and his wife Jeanette.  The oldest of three children, he spent his childhood growing up in Henderson, Kentucky, where my grandfather was the head football coach for decades.  My Dad was the water-boy and, like my brothers and I 30 years later, grew up around a high school football program as a coach’s son.

My Grandfather eventually took a job in Indianapolis as the head coach of John Marshall High School, and my Dad went to high school at Scecina.  My Dad doesn’t talk about himself unless he has to, but the stories we’ve been able to coax out of him, my mom, and their friends revealed that he was 155 pounds but he played on the offensive line and was described by an anonymous source as the toughest player, pound for pound, that had gone through Scecina.

He went on to Butler and studied Chemistry.  By all accounts he was a chemistry genius, getting some kind of scholarship to go study at the University of Colorado for free.  While there, he was bit by the hiking bug, and stopped taking classes and flunked out because he was always climbing the flatirons or out hiking.  He had to come back to Butler, but a love for the outdoors was born there. 

My Dad took a job at Roncalli High School as a chemistry teacher and football coach.  One of the few things my Dad has revealed to us about himself – he felt like he probably should have been fired after his first year of teaching because he felt he wasn’t any good.  But the principal worked with him, and he became a wonderful teacher and a very successful football coach at the same time.  Some that he coached with have told me they’ve never seen a better football coach.  I remember as a boy hearing some of his pregame talks that he’d give the team, and I was so fired up I was ready to run through a wall!

My parents were raised Catholic, and raised all of us kids Catholic as well.  There was about a year, when I was really young, where we stepped away from the Catholic Church and went to a non-denominational church.  I barely remember it, but looking back, when we came home to the Catholic Church, I can now see a steady increase in the strength of my Dad’s Catholic Faith from that point on.

My Dad became the dean of students at Roncalli High School and, after a few years of that role, the principal position came open at Roncalli.  He was already working on his administrators’ license, and the board took a chance on him, and, it is safe to say, they made the right choice.

In those early years of my Dad being the principal of Roncalli, there was no development office, no fundraising office, no high school president, and so my Dad learned everything he could about fundraising, and then he took on that role in addition to his principal’s job.  Roncalli High School had really not received anything other than maintenance work to its campus, and my Dad saw the need to fix the situation.  He did a lot of the fundraising work for the school after hours and at home, and most of the Hollowell kids have “fond” memories of working on school mailings out to alumni and parents and everyone else.

In 1993, they commissioned a campus master plan.  What do we want Roncalli High School to look like in 30 years?” was the question they asked, and they put it all together with architects and meetings, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw the painting of what my Dad hoped the campus would look like in 30 years.

Pretty soon after that, Roncalli High School decided they needed to hire a president who could focus more on fundraising and administration, and my Dad was selected to do that job.

I have never seen someone throw themselves into something so completely as my Dad has to his job as President of Roncalli, while at the same time sacrificing himself for us as his kids as well.  Growing up as a Hollowell any of us would have answered “yes” in a heartbeat to the question “does your Dad love you?”

Roncalli’s campus and the school exploded under my Dad’s leadership as President.  Capital campaign followed by building project followed by the next campaign followed by the next building project.  But it wasn’t just the buildings.  Test scores continue to climb.  Athletic programs continue to thrive.  The spiritual life of the school continues to grow as well.  In 35 years of a program he started called "Summer Field Studies" he has brought some 5,000 students and faculty and community members out to the mountains of Colorado for a two week experience each summer that has sparked major spiritual conversions in the lives of almost everyone who has been a part of the program.  It now has daily adoration, daily Mass, spiritual reflections by staff and students, morning and evening prayer, etc.  He works on this program year round AFTER his 70 or so hours he gives to his President's job every week.

Somewhere along the way during one of the campaigns Roncalli hired a Catholic school consulting firm to come in and assist.  They were so impressed, they hired my Dad.  He now has it built into his contract that he gets to travel three weeks a year with Catholic School Management going in and helping other Catholic schools work through whatever struggles they might be having.

At one point, at the behest of the board at Roncalli, they did a salary study to look at my Dad’s pay.  The study found that someone doing his amount of work, overseeing the number of people that he oversees at the success rate that he has would earn $350,000 in the corporate world. 

I was struggling as a priest last year, and I sat down with my Dad and asked him how he got through those moments where he had 7 or 8 young children and had some huge issues blowing up at school – I asked for some advice on why he didn't walk away.  My Dad shared with me that he asked, when he was praying, right before the principal job opened up at Roncalli, for “something I could throw myself into.  My whole self.  Something I could do to give everything I had so that I could both support my family and make a difference.  And about a week later, the principal job opened up.”

He has done exactly that for the better part of 40 years.  He has given everything he has, even at the expense of himself.  He has suffered health issues because of the tireless 80 hour work weeks.  In 2010 he suffered a mild stroke that slowed him down for about a year, but he’s been right back at it, giving everything he has to Roncalli, his family, and now, most enjoyably, to his grandchildren.

He earned his doctorate in Catholic leadership two years ago, and what the future holds for him, exactly, I don’t know.  But I do know that it has been amazing to see what he has done as a father, what he has done as a grandfather, and what he has done at Roncalli.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Catholic Church on Gay Marriage and Homosexual Attraction

What the Catholic Church teaches about same sex ATTRACTION:

What the Catholic Church teaches about same sex MARRIAGE:

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

When I’ve preached on abortion, I’ve been accused of being a right wing republican

When I’ve preached about the REQUIREMENT that Christ makes of us to help the poor I’ve been accused of being a left wing liberal

When I’ve preached on religious freedom – right wing republican

When I’ve preached on the Church’s teaching on immigration - left wing liberal

This Comes with the “job.”  In fact, it just comes with being Catholic.  That being said, it is important to note that despite the accusations, the Church is not a political party.

I suspect, in this homily, that some will again accuse me and/or the Church of meddling where it ought not to go, but, I guess after being a priest for 5 years now, I just don’t care.

There is a wolf coming that is threatening the sheep that must be preached on as well because our Church is very clear on this topic.  Like the prophets, like Christ, like the Apostles, like those being martyred today for their Catholic Faith throughout the world, we preach the truth in season and out of season.

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

This week at the Supreme Court arguments will be heard about whether marriage ought to be redefined
What I’ve been amazed at over the past few years is how quickly the tone of this debate has turned.
If you even raise the possibility today that marriage is between a man and a woman you should prepare for an all-out assault.  You should prepare to be labeled a bigot, angry, hateful, a Pharisee, etc.

One Catholic evangelist notes that we hear a lot about tolerance.  Tolerance is a good thing, but it implies that I first disagree with a person before I can tolerate them.  We don’t tolerate the sunshine, we tolerate the rain, and so tolerance can only take place in a climate of disagreement, and yet tolerance is no longer extended to those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

One objection to this homily is that “The Church should stay out of politics”

But this, at the end of the day, makes no sense

If something is talked about by politicians or judges or whomever, does that mean it is no longer in the realm of Faith?  If something is part of our civil discourse, that we have to STOP talking about it here?

People likely told Fr. Theodore Hesburgh to keep his religion out of politics when he walked arm in arm with Dr. Martin Luther King to protest discrimination against African Americans – but he did it any way, and thanks be to God that he did.

People likely told John Paul II to keep his religion out of politics as he worked in the political realm to take down Communism – but he did it anyway, and thanks be to God
The idea that if something is being talked about in the political sphere means it can’t be talked about as a religious issue just doesn’t pass muster
If murder were up for discussion at the state house, no one would tell priests not to preach against murder

Pope Francis, in a daily homily recently, attacked this belief that if something is in the political realm we should stop talking about it in Church.

He said: “Some say a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.  That’s not true. That is not a good path.  A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern… Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands

The Church actually compels us to be active in the political sphere because it is in the political sphere that decisions that affect the world are made. 

The Church has a most important book called the “Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church” – and it is a guide to how we are to be active and what we are to work for as people who are engaged in the civil realm.  To say that we should stay out of these issues civilly is a non-Catholic stance.

Now, on the particular topic of same-sex marriage – what does the Church say?  This is absolutely crucial and so often confused, and if we want to continue to see marriage being only between a man and a woman, we have to understand this crucial teaching.
The most important takeaway from this homily, if you remember nothing else is that the Church says in its book on these issues - in order to defend marriage you don’t need the Church, the Bible, or Jesus.

So often people make this mammoth mistake in talking about this issue.  Someone asks you: “Why do you believe marriage is between a man and a woman” and people  respond “because Jesus said so”, or “The Bible says so,” or “The Catechism says so” – but the quick follow up question by those who want to redefine marriage is quite clear – “you can’t make me do something because your religion says it!”
At this point – most Christians and Catholics go slinking back home telling themselves “They’re right; I can’t say something ought to be this way because of religion.

The Church says, however, that in order to say that marriage is between a man and a woman you don’t need the Bible or Jesus or the Church to win the argument.  Marriage being between a man and a woman, according to the Church, is a first principle – something that you need not be a follower of Christ to understand.

The Church is not in the government running business anymore.  We were for many centuries – Popes and Cardinals were highly intertwined with governments, kings, etc. 

We don’t run countries anymore, and as George Weigel notes, “In separating the Church from the State, what is clear is that the Church is better off for it.  What isn’t clear is whether the state is better off for it!” 

The Church sees its role as political advisor – particularly in offering first principles up to nations.  What the Church does is say to all governments, kingdoms, etc. – “here are some first principles, short, simple, to the point, some things that all just societies must put into practice if they hope to endure.  If you build your nation on other principles that contradict these, your nation will not endure.”

And everyone has first principles.  I was on a marriage panel at Rose Hulman about a year ago and one guy who was arguing for redefining marriage said “I really think it ultimately comes back to harmony and justice” –
Okay, so those are your first principles, the axioms on which you think the country should be founded, the non-negotiables that everything is built off of.  Of course the question quickly becomes “what is harmony to you?”  “who defines harmony?”  “What does justice mean?”  “Who defines what justice is?” 

Others say a founding axiom should be that “the government should honor all love because love is love.”  Okay, fair enough, you think that should be a first principle of our society.  Let’s flesh it out.  You think that all love is the same?  What if 8 people all love each other…is that marriage?  What if two cousins love each other?  What if a 55 year old and a 16 year old love each other?  Is the government in the “congratulating people on being in love” business?

Everyone has first principles, and we have just as much of a right to work for the first principles that we think our nation should have as anyone else has a right to work and advocate for first principles that they think our country should have.

So as Catholics, we work to ensure that marriage being between a man and a woman is a first principle in our government.  We believe that if it is not, then what will result is vastly different than a just and healthy society.

"If, from a legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good." (Compendium of Social Teaching, paragraph 228).

A solution that some propose but which can not actually work because it does not actually understand what the Church teaches is the proposed solution that the Church “get out of the civil marriage business” – civil marriage and if you want to get married in the Church, go do that too

It is NOT appropriate for Church authorities to remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to Church organizations and institutions. The Church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws” - Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith
Over the next several months, there will be some opportunities to gather and talk about these hot-button topics.  Our parish council has asked for these sessions, and I think they will be most helpful.  We will put some dates together and have an opportunity to continue to grow towards a deeper understanding of what the Church teaches on these issues.

These are not easy issues.  I spent the last two years working on a documentary on what the Church teaches about same sex attraction.  I interviewed a lot of beautiful people who experience same sex attraction and heard their stories.  It was an amazing experience for me.  The way we grow toward unity is through dialogue – not through name calling, labeling, and ignoring what the other side is saying.  I look forward to these opportunities to gather and keep the conversation going.

In Conclusion – I am not the only shepherd in this room.  we are all, through our baptism, called to shepherd those around us.  Do we see our role in society to be a light to the world – do I believe that I am called to shepherd and get involved in the civil society I find myself placed in – or do I retreat to my home or my Church building and say to God, like Cain did – “AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”

“A hired man, who is not a shepherd sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”

We pray for the strength to be authentic shepherds, to work for the first principles that our Church puts forth for all societies.  Pope Francis said that we shouldn’t always talk about contraception and same sex marriage, and I wholeheartedly agree!  What the Pope implies in that comment is that we should talk about them some of the time.  May we have the courage to do that, and not see problems arising in our country and simply run away.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Catholic Scandal Podcast

In light of the recent homily I gave on the sex abuse scandals continuing to flare up again, I was invited onto several Catholic podcasts.

This is the one that I think turned out the best.  I share it because many people find podcasts to be their preferred method of media digestion because it is a conversation.

The advantage to this podcast is that it is about 50 minutes, and so it allows for time to dive deeper into the issues and possible solutions.

I think this podcast might really benefit those who've left the Church AND those who've stayed.

I hope you find it helpful, and maybe even something worth sharing with others.  It can be listened to here:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Laity and the Abuse Scandals

”Lay people have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful”
- Canon Law 212.3

St. Thomas Aquinas: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal” - Summa, II-II, question 33, article 4, reply to objection 2

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Homily: to the Bible-preaching Christians attacking Catholicism

Some of you may have heard a local radio station this past week playing essentially a marathon of Protestant preaching against the Catholic Church in light of the most recent round of scandals.  And on one hand I get it.  If you already protest the Catholic Church, then the sins of some of the highest ranking leaders in the Church would probably be worth banging a drum over.

First of all, let me say from the pulpit, yet again, that I am exhorting all of you to continue to demand transparency, accountability, and thorough forensic investigations of what all has happened with money, sins, cover-ups, and more.

This is not an overnight fix, and I think we have more dark times ahead as thankfully more information will continue to come to the light of truth.  For those who hate the Church, this will make for a royal feast.

But I would also say this.  The Catholic Church is a family.  And if you come into our family and try to talk people into leaving – if you try to take advantage of this situation to preach against the Catholic Church then I directly rebuke that and I say  “Get behind me Satan, you are thinking as men do and not as God does.”  I do not think they are actually Satan, as Jesus didn’t think Peter was actually Satan, but I say as Jesus to the tempter – get behind me

The thinking of men is this – the higher in the Church you move, the holier you must be

I became Catholic because
1) My awesome parents baptized me and brought me to Church 
2) Wonderful teachers, lay people, sisters, priests etc. formed me and walked with me
3) Catholic education for 12 years

BUT, I’m STILL here for two simple reasons:
1)  I believe that when Jesus said in the Gospel today that “I am the Bread of Life” He meant it literally and
2) When Jesus said to Peter “On this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it” he also meant that literally.  Not an ethereal theoretical merely spiritual Church, a real concrete THING with sinful people leading it

And so to return for a moment to the preachers on the radio.  I listen quite often to them as I’m driving around.  I hear lots of good things.  But let me tell you something, I also here insanity.  There is a lot of solely Bible preaching that goes something like this:

“Friends, I want you to take out your Bibles and turn to Acts such and such…(teaching) and then friends, I now want you to turn to verse such and such…(teaching)”

Let me say this really clearly – if you let me pick 5 verses from the Bible I can teach anything you want.  You could literally put every topic under Heaven, even quite contradictory topics, in a hat, pull one out, and you could justify it with 30 minutes of Bible preaching.
Topics could include:
1) Why God wants you to have a yacht
2) Why God wants everyone to own nothing
3) Why war is good
4)  Why war is always evil
5) Why the Bible says you must vote for Pat the politician
6) Why the Bible says you CAN’T vote for Pat the politician
7) Why you should leave your family and join a cult

And so to the Bible preaching folks trying to get people to leave the Catholic Church, I would say there are 30,000 different and very contradictory denominations of protestant Christianity.  Get your own house in order before you invite anyone to leave THIS home.

It is hard right now (and it will be hard for the rest of time) to stay in the Catholic Church
It is even harder when you hear your priest say something, and you turn on the radio and you hear someone attacking that idea

If it is Father Hollowell vs. Bible preachers on the radio, you might start to wonder

So here’s what I ask you to do.  READ the lives of the Saints and READ Church history.  It isn’t Father Hollowell vs. Bible preaching people attacking the Church

This is an ENTIRE BOOK of 2000 years of quotes of saints ALL saying the same thing: The bread and wine truly become Jesus Christ on the altar, and that changes everything

This book includes Men and women.  Lay saints.  Pope saints.  Cardinal saints.  Monks and nuns.  Black saints.  White saints.  Asian saints.  Mexican Saints.  Saints that walked with Jesus and His Apostles.  Saints that lived 2,000 years later.

Through the next two weeks of Gospels Jesus will reiterate seemingly 100 times “I am the bread of life, you must consume me, it is true flesh and true blood, if you don’t consume my flesh you will not have eternal life”…at the end of all that Jesus turns and asks an amazing, beautiful question that gets me teared up every time he looks at his Apostles as lots of people are bailing on him and He says “Do you want to leave too?”

He looks at us and asks the same question in the face of these scandals – “Do you want to leave”.  I pray every day that my response and yours is the same as Peter’s: “Where else could we go Lord?  You have the words of everlasting life”