Showing posts from February, 2008

Talking with Teens about Love and Life

My guest for tonight's radio show was Jason Evert, author and national speaker on topics of chastity, true love and the Catholic Faith. He earned a master's degree in Theology, and undergraduate degrees in Counseling and Theology, with a minor in Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is the author of the books If You Really Loved Me, Answering Jehovah's Witnesses, Love, Sex, and Babies, and Pure Love, which challenges young people to embrace the virtue of chastity. Jason speaks to thousands of people every year, answering questions about Catholicism from people around the world. He lives in California with his wife Crystalina and their three children.

RESOURCES CITED: (click on seminars and find Jason Evert) (for Catholics) (for public schools)

Hear Jason speak through free audio downloads by clicking here.
The podcast of this episode is available here!

Carry On

I remember stumbling onto the works of Hieronymus Bosch, a 16th century painter, for the first time when I was studying art. I thought he was nuts. It was his famous painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Like a flash forward to a Tim Burton film or a Dr. Suess story gone bad, it was filled with bizarre contraptions, creepy creatures, and disfigured figures; surreal and completely unlike anything of his own era.

Then I found his painting pictured here; Christ carrying the Cross. Some of the same Boschian faces are back, but now they are juxtaposed with the serene face of Christ. His eyes are closed, He leans forward on His via dolorosa, His way of sorrows. Anger and rage swell around his peaceful, almost contemplative face. Screaming, laughing, conniving faces swirl in a sea of torment around Him. But He presses on. It is captivating. And in this cauldron of humanity, only one other face seems to mark the gravity of the moment, to be awake and aware of the redemption so n…

Down by the Water

Thanks to the generosity of a friend of Reb's, we're by the sea, in Avalon, as we were a year ago this time. And it's beautiful: quiet, empty streets, soft, salty breeze, and a massive, billowing, breathing ocean so close it's ominous. Beautifully ominous.

So I walked this morning by the sea, and took this picture with the sweet new Blackberry phone, camera, web browser, electric shaver device I recently purchased (and I hope this pic shows up for you). I love the solitude of Avalon in February! Time for deep thoughts as deep as the sea itself. Here's a little Wordsworth I always remember in the face of this majesty:

"It is a beauteous evening, calm and free; The holy time is quiet as a nun Breathless with adoration; the broad sun Is sinking down in its tranquillity; The gentleness of heaven is on the sea: Listen! the mighty Being is awake, And doth with his eternal motion make A sound like thunder -everlastingly. Dear child! dear girl! that walkest with me h…

Evangelization is Crazy Stuff

We’re going to talk about a scary word today. At least it seems scary to some people: EVANGELIZATION

Just saying the word can perhaps cause two spontaneous images to pop into the minds of many:
1. rock star preachers in pin-striped suits who seem really ticked.
2. nicely dressed folks knocking on doors on Saturday mornings. These are pretty extreme. Neither are very appealing. The first is too imposing, the second is too... inviting. Uncomfortably inviting.

I think the spin doctors of the media culture like to paint evangelizing Christians as nice but nerdy solicitors leaving something in our door rather than as Navy Seals saving us from drowning. The funny thing is, evangelization is more akin to the Navy Seal than to the nice guy.

Many Catholics are painted as people leading lives of quiet desperation, doing lots of spiritual gymnastics, surrounded by their statues and stained glass rather than as walking tabernacles bringing Jesus into the dreary workplace, malls of mediocrity, and mon…

The Human Experience

In a certain sense, I think it's never been so easy to evangelize, share the Good News, because never before have we had such bad news. Never before have we strayed so far from our roots, from human dignity, from a sense of purpose and a sense of wonder. They say it's always darkest before the dawn, and in the midst of shadow even the tiniest spark burns like fire. When all around us rises a cacophony of lies and fear and deception, the truth suddenly stands out so clearly. It's like the move from a smoky, crowded room onto the porch where wind and rain catch us up in their wet and misty swirls. If we only knew the right words to speak to draw souls out of the noise and haste! What would it take to wake us up and return us to the essence of being human? A film like the Human Experience is so ripe for our times. In the words of Pope John Paul II: "Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only ap…

Take a Hike

"Moses does not encounter the living God at the mall. He finds Him (or is found by Him) somewhere out in the deserts of Sinai, a long way from the comforts of Egypt... Where did the great prophet Elijah go to recover his strength? To the wild. As did John the Baptist, and his cousin, Jesus, Who is led by the Spirit into the wilderness."
- John Eldredge

I think our ancestors in the faith were natural hikers, minus the fleece caps, "sport-grip" water bottles, and Velcro bootstraps (I bet they would've loved Velcro though). They were simply in their element under a star-crowded sky. The smell of a wood fire, the rich, damp earth, the swell of the grapevine, the crush of grain between the fingertips, the smell of wool, thin air rocky climbs up craggy hills, sand and rock and the salt sea: all these were not extravagances for them. It was simply life. And everything became their teacher.

But when is the last time we walked on grass? Touched the cool bark of a tree, mov…

No Greater Love: The True Story of Fr. John Wessel

“More and more, I realize that love is the only thing that truly matters in life – to love and to be kind to one another.”
– Karin M. Burke

My guest tonight was Karin Burke. Her book on the life and death of a New Jersey priest is an inspiring story of faithfulness and sacrifice. No Greater Love: The True Story of Fr. John Wessel is available through

"Father John P. Wessel was a priest well loved by parishioners of St. Joseph Church, Toms River, New Jersey. He had been serving the parish for only three months when his life was forcefully snatched from him by a gunshot from one distraught member of his flock – a young Vietnam War veteran whom, with priestly concern, he was attempting to assist. The shooting occurred on December 17, 1971. Gravely wounded, Father Wessel died nine days later on December 26, 1971. He was only 32 years old. Thirty-six years since the fatal shooting of Father Wessel, his memory is still very much alive among those whose lives he has touched.&q…

You Might be One Holy Harmonica

When I was a kid, Dad would occasionally pull out his $5.00 harmonica and play us a tune; some rousing Irish jig or lullaby or Red River Valley. We thought it was pretty cool, and I guess that's what stirred me into playing the Irish tinwhistle.

Now as a kid, these two instruments, I have to confess, seemed to me more like glorified kazoos than orchestral implements. But then I heard Paddy Maloney play the tinwhistle, and that $7.00 piece of metal and plastic took me to the Aran Islands and beyond... to Tir na Nog.... to windswept rocks and crying gulls.

There's a line from Shakespeare that has a character pondering the power of the violin.... "Strange", he muses, "that sheep's guts should hail men's souls from their bodies."

Amen to that!

Now as a Catholic, I have daily encounters with ordinary stuff (water, wine, bread, oil) that's been supercharged and divinized by the God Who took on our flesh and became one of us. So it's not a puzzle for m…

Carved in Ethereal Realms

Carved in ethereal realms
Unique as a human soul
Tumbling through empty skies
They come.

Beauty hidden from our eyes
Resting on frozen slopes where no one walks
Deep as a pirate's jeweled treasures
Sharp as diamonds, glistening with promise
They rest.

Will we pass them by?
Will any eye stop to wonder
at these hand-carved theophanies?

Will the warmth of a human heart stop to see
take and treasure, imbibe their beauty?

For these little ones are ours to treasure
to take and see in their individuality
wondering which is me
Sharp as diamonds
glistening with promise.


Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity;
so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
- Henry David Thoreau