Showing posts from 2011

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?

There is a popular kind of atheism strutting about these days. Really, it's as ancient as that cry to Christ to "come down from the cross if you truly are the Son of Man."

The "New Atheism" has clear demands and expectations. "If God is real, then God should be clear and present to us. He doesn't appear to be, so let's shuffle off this hokey religiosity. Religion, they claim, is the root of all wars anyway" (This is a tremendous fallacy by the way. Millions of people died in the 20th century alone from godless communist leaders. More than in any previous century!)

Now I'm not at all shocked that certain people question the reality of Jesus as Savior of the world, the reality of miracles, even of God's existence. This is an age that demands proof and empirical data. For many, seeing still necessitates believing. And we can't see God. Or at least the god many expect we should see. Aye, there's the rub!

This man-made idea of the G…

Mass Changes and Changes in the Mass

So we've had nearly all of Advent pass by and I have yet to nail all the new responses in a single Mass. How are you doing with that?

Sometimes I get all the way to the final blessing, shiny card stock with bold responses in hand, and I toss out the old "and also with you." DOH! Old habits die hard I guess. But the kids will get it, rest assured.

Yes, we old heads often have deep ruts in the mind and heart, don't we? Change is never easy. It takes a constant act of the will and an attentiveness to the present moment. But the tracks of the years can really lock us in! Even with the best intentions, we can stay stuck in the old ways, the routine, and the stale responses to events and encounters around us that are actually very new.

For the children, however, the trail ahead is fresh. In a certain sense, all they have is the present moment. Their wonder meets the world head on, and everything is a "wow." Perhaps this is why Jesus urged us to become like them,…

The Hobbit

The long awaited trailer, the awesomeness of which cannot be measured. I particularly love the chanted song of the dwarves in tones rich and deep as the mines of Moria themselves. Yeah, I'm totally nerding out on this. December 2012 can't come soon enough!

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (Don't Buy it Either)

Christmas is crazy. And I'm not talking about the mind-blowing, superfluous leap of the God-Man Jesus into our world, becoming one of us, marrying himself to our humanity forever in order to love us into his eternal embrace. I'm talking about the commercials.

We all know how strongly we're pressured to purchase at this time of the year. As a father of two little ones, (and one of them exceptionally wide-eyed and wonder-filled in this season of lights), I confess it ain't always easy keeping it Franciscan, if you know what I mean.

But Advent is our saving grace... It shimmers like a little oasis in the midst of a desert of doodads and thing-a-magigs that would be "perfect" for so-and-so IF they show up at that party at so-and-so's. While the malls and the movies and the music play on their siren songs, luring us into the spending frenzy that Christmas can become identified with, Advent is the road less traveled. The still, small voice. A winding desolate pa…

Hollow Hearts Made to be Filled

Six hundred years before the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, Isaiah was dreaming. In a very modern sounding lament, he was yearning for a glimpse of the glory of the “old days” when God was more, shall we say, visible: "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old." (Isaiah 63) Isaiah yearns for God to be present in his time of exile and expectation. “For you have hidden your face from us...” 

Isaiah longs, as we all still do, for the veil to be pulled back; for Divinity to reveal itself to humanity. Little could he dream that soon Divinity would actually conceal itself in humanity! If he only knew what God was about to do! The Author will enter His own Story, and the Potter Himself become clay! 

Isaiah’s classic image of God as the Potter and we the clay has a very incarnational feel to it. And a feel of mystery too. Imagining o…

TOB Symposium in Rome!

What a gift that the message of love, truth, and beauty regarding the human body and God's plan is reaching the masses. A wonderful conference was just held in Rome and I pray the results will be fruitful!

The Libyan Sybil and the Longing for Christ

I was beginning my second year of college in the late 80‘s when the restoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling was coming to a close. It had taken nearly a decade to clean the famous frescoes of Michelangelo (he had painted them in just four years). The restoration brought a brilliance to his work that had not been seen for literally centuries. Roughly half a millennium of accumulated dust, grime, and black smoke from candles had drifted up and smeared nearly three hundred figures in that vaulted firmament. What the restorers found beneath the shadows of all those years was so astounding, so bright and blazing with color, that some actually objected to the project. “You're ruining his masterwork! You're changing Michelangelo’s images! Leave it the way it is! It's a part of history now, why change it?” 
But Pope John Paul II felt otherwise. Wipe away the dirt, remove the loincloths that later, prudish artists had put over the glory of the naked bodies Michelangelo was inspire…

The Musical Mysticism of Trevor Hall

“Love all, serve all, and create no sorrow.”
- Trevor Hall

God speaks in every language and to every heart through the visible world and through Sacred Scripture. But all of the universe cannot contain the Divine Whirlwind of His Trinitarian Love; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For humanity, the sacraments are our access point, our invitation into this Mystery of Forever Love, of the Exhilarating Mystery of the Divine Other. But God is not bound to those sacraments; He can work outside of them. The Eucharist is absolutely the source and summit of the faith, but it also shoots off tiny waves and streams of life-giving water that trickle into everything and can draw everyone back to that source.

This gospel of redemption, in short, is in the DNA of every great love song! With the lens of faith and the help of grace, when we hear it, and decipher it, and hold fast to what is good, then we can truly “dance to the rhythm of love” in the music of our culture. In the words of St. Paul we “te…



Family Bonding

The first thing that a person finds in life and the last to which he holds out his hand,
and the most precious that he possess, even if he does not realize it, is family life.
- Blessed Adolph Kolping

The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family...
The family is placed at the center of the great struggle between good and evil,
between life and death, between love and all that is opposed to love.
- Pope John Paul II

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.
- Pope John Paul II

The family is the great catechism God has given the world. The work of our lifetime is to learn how to read it and then study it prayerfully.
- Mike Aquilina

How to Love

I would not recommend reading the lyrics to any of his songs, save this one. Perhaps a diamond in the rough, Lil Wayne has given us a glimpse into the broken hearts of women so tragically used and abused by "men" who are anything but men. Watch as the story of this girl is redeemed. An incredibly pro-life, pro-family, pro-woman message. Thanks to Aggie Catholics for the heads up, but be warned, the imagery in this video is graphic and at times disturbing. For those with eyes to see there is great hope.

The Queen of Hearts

Maybe you've heard one or more of the following statements made in your various circles of life. "You Catholics put too much emphasis on the Virgin Mary." Or "Mary is a distraction! Jesus is who you should be praying to and through to the Father. He's the One mediator. Mary is only a human being!"

I confess in the early years of my reversion to the Faith, reading the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Louis de Montfort, I struggled with the same concerns. But by the grace of God I set myself to live within the tension of the question, rather than move too hastily towards an immediate answer (We Tolkien fans would call that a very "Entish" way of thinking). I tried to give the Church, which is 2000 years old, and these doctors and mystics of the Church who probably had the same concerns as I did at some point, the benefit of the doubt. I wore my scapular and prayed the rosary and I let the seed of Marian devotion germinate. Now at 40+ years old…

So I had a Couple of Hours... and iMovie

As our little princess Clare turns an historic ONE this Saturday (which we can't believe), I thought I'd toss up this fun little summer diversion. I have to say the Boy Wonder is a natural, and took extremely well to my direction ("surprised face!" "Throw this!" "Run over here.") Be warned there is a climatic cliff hanger. Part two should be out, oh, next summer. Life gets busy! I'm just glad they will have these little snapshots when they are 15 years old, to reflect on how cool their dad was, in his sharper moments. Or how nerdy. Only time will tell.

I have a feeling nerdy will win out. Yeah!

Listen to the Lion

I've long been a fan of Van Morrison's music for several reasons:

1. He is Irish. Born in Belfast.

2. He is deeply mystical. Just listen to his Poetic Champions Compose album.... brilliant!

3. He is not a fan of the music industry's obsession with merely selling music. He wants to make music, the way spouses long to make love.

Van reveals in his very body language that the music is bigger than he is. If you don't know this, then seeing him in concert for the first time can be a little befuddling. Like a priest before Vatican II, he often turns his back to the crowds. This is not to give them the cold shoulder in a sort of musical snobbery. He is leading us into the Fire. Like the priest turning to the East from whence the Son rises, he says "Look, He must increase, we must decrease. Come, let us worship!"

Now let's recall as we proceed, I'm sprinkling holy water on this one, as I do with all of my film and music references. Blessed John Henry Ne…

The Point of Everything

Try to answer each of the following questions in five words or less.

1. What is the deepest desire of the human heart?
2. What is the center, the point, the meaning of life?
3. How I can be truly happy?
4. What does it mean to be a woman?
5. What does it mean to be a man?
6. What does God look like?
7. How can we bring about peace in the Middle East?
8. How can we end world hunger?
9. How can we know if there is life after death?
10. What is the greatest of the seven sacraments?

OK, I’ve deceived you. There is a one word answer for each of these above questions, and it’s the same answer for each one. Can you guess it?

Some scientists and philosophers have been trying for years to compile one overarching, all encompassing "Theory of Everything." I believe we have it already in our midst. Present in millions of places worldwide, nestled in golden boxes beneath glowing candles that never go out, for two thousand years the secret has been with us; the center, the point of everyt…

What is It?

Our little boy has broken into the powerful realm of words and of communication; he has transcended the monosyllabic plateau! Yes, he is leaving his wee sister in the dust, for now. (I think her babblings are actually more advanced than any of us know)

When a road sign appears as we drive down the highways and byways, the oft repeated question comes, "What is it? What is it Daddeee?"

The signs are familiar to us, we've passed them by a thousand times. But for the Boy Wonder, everything is new. So we repeat them, we echo those words for him and he responds. The Greek word is katekhein. We call it catechesis!

Last week, at a beautiful retreat center in Lancaster County, I felt privileged to teach an intensive course on Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body to over 70 people from across the country and the world. In a certain sense, it was the same "old" Catholic teaching we've heard a thousand times; it was philosophical, densely theological, soaked …

Into the Wild

So it begins, the summer. I've a number of talks lined up and projects to continue but what I'm looking forward to most of all is getting The Boy outside. He is ready. 

The plan: pull into the nature preserve, and release him. Let him be drawn to anything and everything that he desires (except poison ivy), to see, feel, romp and roll through. Throwing rocks, splashing in streams, chasing geese. "We need the tonic of wildness" said Thoreau, and I heartily agree!

Caution: Contents May Be Hot

A few years ago there was a famous (or infamous) lawsuit filed against a certain fast food chain, claiming they were negligent in neglecting to tell the consumer who burned herself while spilling coffee that the contents of said coffee cup could potentially be, get this, HOT.

In lieu of this apparent no-brainer, many wagged their fries and threw up their cheeseburgers (sorry, that didn't come out right); "Are you kidding me? Everyone knows coffee is HOT!"

Next Sunday in beautiful Lancaster County, PA, I'll be starting off a week long Head and Heart Immersion course on Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Sure, it's been around since 1984, and the addresses began in 1979, and the seed form for this whole teaching can be found in his epic work Love and Responsibility written in the 1950's, and it's all inspired by the Bible itself which has been around for some time.... but I would daresay we'll need a label on it... CAUTION: CO…

Pope John Paul II Remembered


An Experience of the Father’s Love

An Experience of the Father’s Love “We love because He first loved Us” – John 4:19—
When:Friday, May 6th at 6pm – Saturday,               May 7th at 6pm Where:Malvern Retreat House 315 South Warren Avenue Malvern, PA19355
Cost:$110 (includes meals and accommodations)
$50 deposit due with registration, refundable before April 6 Remaining $60 due by April 20 (checks payable to Catholic Young Adults of Chester County) There will be a waitlist if retreat is full at the time of registration.
Join the Catholic Young Adults of Chester County (CYACC) as we celebrate the greatest love of all; the love of God!
We will be joined by Bill Donaghy of the Theology of the Body Institute as he leads us in a truly transformative retreat.
For more information, please go to or email us at

Everlasting Love

There is a reality series called Mobbed, which features orchestrated and extravagant ways of sharing news with friends or loved ones (all via hidden cameras on the unexpected recipients). My wife and I watched an episode of a young man proposing to his girlfriend. 

A surprise mob of over a thousand dancers and singers, swept her off her feet at a restaurant and swirled around her singing “Everlasting Love” right out into a town square. The crowd parted and her beloved appeared, strode up to her, and on bended knee, proposed. Wow. It got me wondering.... Do the angels do this each time Jesus “proposes” to us in Holy Communion? I think they do. 

St. Bridget had the grace of once seeing the guardian angels of the faithful bowing low as they went up to receive the Eucharist at Mass. I can't wait until the veil is pulled back and we can see His Love come tumbling down. The truth is, it IS happening now. "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not see.&q…

Two Doses of Cuteness

Our little ones continue to amaze and delight us with their little blossoming personalities. Behold their cuteness!!

A Course that could Change the Course of Your Life!

June 12 - 17, 2011
Quarryville, Pennsylvania
Taught by Bill Donaghy

Has your life, your marriage, your vocation been changed because of the life-giving teaching of Theology of the Body? Have you wanted to dive deeper into a study of TOB by attending our Theology of the Body I course, but just haven't had the chance? Don't miss out on attending our next course, offered June 12-17, 2011 at the Black Rock Retreat Center in Quarryville, Pennsylvania.

This course offers:

Five days of learning and interactive lecture (30 hours of classroom time)
Time for relaxation and networking with other TOB enthusiasts surrounded by 100 acres of beautiful wooded countryside.
Daily Mass, adoration and confession will be available.
For your convenience, round trip shuttle service from the Philadelphia International Airport is available.

John Paul II's Theology of the Body is not only intellectually stimulating. The truths it proclaims are life-changing, especially for those wounded by the lies of…

Luke Skywalker and the Spiritual Life

You've heard it said many times, "Seeing is believing." But in the walk of faith, in the realm of the spiritual life (which always envelops and permeates our physical life) the opposite is actually true: "Believing is seeing."

Don't believe me? Stay tuned!

Two weeks ago we heard in Sunday's reading about Abraham's walk of absolute trust. "Go forth to a land that I will show you." In other words, Abraham didn't see it.... yet. And neither do we see this Promised Land... yet. Though we're told the Kingdom of God is among us, and within us, can you put your finger in it? Can you place your hand in its side? Not exactly. But faith can.

Faith is like Superman's x-ray vision. The only thing blocking its power to "see through" things and events is human pride and self-righteousness. That's our Kryptonite. Our blind spot in the spiritual drive.

The best things happen when we trust in the dark. When we can't see around the…

If You Say YES Then...

If you answer YES to at least 5 of the following questions you must do the next logical step. Are you ready? Operators are standing by...

1. Do you want to be happy? 
2. Are you distressed by the current situation in Libya? 
3. Have you ever prayed that Lady Gaga and/or Madonna would turn their creative passion into a volcano of love for God and the beauty and gift of femininity?
4. Have you ever experienced divorce in your family or your extended family and wanted it to go away? 
5. Have you ever dreamed of finding perfect love? 
6. Do you like food? 
7. Do you enjoy intense and uplifting conversations about the deepest questions of life with people of all ages from all over the country and beyond? 
8. Would you like to lose yourself (and find yourself) in a deep heart and head academic immersion into the inspired meditations of a man about to be declared "Blessed" by the Catholic Church?
9. Are you intrigued by Amish people? 
10. Could you use a week of retreat with Holy Mass, adora…


A mother and child in the wreckage of Japan. I can't imagine the heartbreak of this woman. I believe she is the child's mother but I have no information about the photograph. Regardless, this anonymous image has been repeated all over, again and again, since the earthquake in Japan.

There is no comfort I can see except in the melding of this pieta with Mary's pieta; Our Lady holding her broken Son at the foot of that instrument of death, the Cross. I don't know what a person can do or say, or what a friend coming in to help can do or say. One can only hold the other. Feel the salt of tears, the sobs. The heaving chest, the blank stare. Absolute pain and loss requires absolute quiet and reflection; the earth feels the blade pierce and cut through, lifting up a patch of ground. Turning over the rich soul-soil of our inner life and exposing it to the light of day. It happens, but we don't like it. But at least we are not alone in it. The Sower sows the seed, the Word…
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 
"Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
- Author Unknown

What Shall I Say About the Irish?

What Shall I Say About the Irish?
The utterly impractical, never predictable,
Sometimes irascible, quite inexplicable, Irish.
Strange blend of shyness, pride and conceit,
And stubborn refusal to bow in defeat.

He's spoiling and ready to argue and fight,
Yet the smile of a child
fills his soul with delight.
His eyes are the quickest to well up with tears,
Yet his strength is the strongest
to banish your fears.
His hate is as fierce as his devotion is grand,
And there is no middle ground
on which he will stand.
He's wild and he's gentle,
he's good and he's bad.
He's proud and he's humble,
he's happy and sad.
He's in love with the ocean,
the earth and the skies,
He's enamoured with beauty wherever it lies.
He's victor and victim, a star and a clod,
But mostly he's Irish—
in love with his God.

- Unknown