Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Balm of the Baby or How to Save America


This may not be pleasant. I’d like to start this reflection in the same way we start every Mass, with a confession of our sins. I don’t know if that part of the Liturgy ever bothered anybody else but it used to bother me. “Sheesh. At least we’re in church, now the first thing you do is throw our sins in our face?” But now I get it. To get to Heaven, or Happiness, or Wholeness, or Holiness (which is all saying the same thing) you have to have a starting point.

When I bring up directions in my Google maps app it always asks if I’d like to start from my “current location.” Great idea! In the Mall, the directory says YOU ARE HERE. I think we ponder our sins so that we can see where we are with God. The Penitential Rite is our Catholic GPS – God Positioning System.

So… Where are we? Typically, our locale is Sin City. The Heartbreak Hotel. We are sick, half-hearted, tired. We are too big, too full of ourselves, super-sized, maximized, stuffed and stunted in our spiritual growth… or is it just me? We are all the Biggest Loser…. We all need an Extreme Soul Makeover. Think about it. We are all in Divorce Court. As Peter Kreeft says, "All of history is a kind of broken marriage and God puts it back together again."

This being the case, let's not kid ourselves by saying "I'm OK, you're OK" but by saying "Hi, I'm ________ and I'm a sin-o-holic." Then God, the Higher Power, can set to work. We've told the Doctor of our souls where it hurts and now He can get some healing done.

Now to the main point of this reflection... Abortion. Oh, I know the word is a scar on the American landscape, I know it hurts us deeply, and I know no one wants to talk about it. Haven't we said enough? Can't we just leave it be, behind those locked clinic doors so we don't have to talk about it? No. It's a very real wound on our collective body and we need to give it air and space to heal, we need to get it out of the dark and find a real remedy. Like the woman in the gospel who had the hemorrhage for 12 years and was trying to touch Jesus. But we have more than triple those years bearing the burden of abortion, a self-inflicted wound. We need to touch the hem of His garment. And that means getting up and moving out of the shame and into the Light of Day. That day was last Monday, by the way.

It was the 38th annual March for Life, gathering nearly 400,000 people from all over the country and every stage and walk of life. And there I saw the antidote for our illness. God is touching us right where it hurts. His balm for abortion is the beauty of the baby. His medicine is a mother's child. These are the only ones that can slip past our cynicism, pain, pride, and our sarcasm. They have been spurned and rejected by abortion but they will return to us if we open our hearts (and bodies) to them! They can fill these empty wombs again, they can slip into the spaces in our cracked hearts and fill us up. God constantly comes into the world, it's been said, in two ways; at the altar in the Eucharist and in the womb, in the presence of new life.

Think about it. It’s the perfect antidote! Babies turn the toughest skins into the mushiest hearts. Babies get us out of our own heads and, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the Other. Before they ever learn their first steps, they are teaching us to walk in the Way of Love.

This is the scandalous beauty and power of Christmas, which is absolutely ridiculous. God becoming man? It’s the BIGGEST event ever to hit our tiny little planet. God becoming a tiny little part of His own creation… The Creator becomes His Creature – it’s like Shakespeare becoming Romeo, or Michelangelo becoming a figure on the Sistine Chapel ceiling… Forever locked in, so to speak, to the work of His own hands.

Christmas is too good to be true. It’s like a fairy tale, like a dream, like the romance to end all romances, for this is the story of how Heaven kissed Earth. How the author entered his own story, how the Master Painter allowed Himself to become a brush stroke on the canvas of His own creation. Christmas, and every new birth in a certain sense, is like the Eucharist…. it is inconceivable. Unable to be conceived by our 3½ pound brains. Only God could conceive of the Idea, or give flesh to this Word of His idea… which is exactly what Christmas is, and what the Eucharist is... His Word made Flesh. And what babies are supposed to be; the direct object of a husband and wife's sentence, "I love you."

To heal the wound of abortion, we must image this self-empyting love. We must not contracept it, terminate it, or withhold it. We must learn by Jesus's body language. "This is my body, given up for you." By the body language of every baby too, we can learn the steps to love. They become defenseless. Little, helpless, dependent… why? So that they can be loved, held, snuggled, yes, literally. So let us let them in again. For whosoever welcomes them welcomes He who sent them. And to such as these little ones, the Kingdom of Heaven has been given.

_________________________________________________
Originally published in a shorter form on www.tobinstitute.org

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Registration Open for TOB Immersion Course!

I'm happy to announce an upcoming course I've been invited to teach again: The Head and Heart Immersion Course on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. It's already opened for early registration and will be offered at Black Rock Retreat Center in beautiful Lancaster County, PA. It runs from June 12 to the 17th. You can download the flyer with all the info here. To register online, simply click here. All our week-long retreats include:


• Five days of learning and interactive lecture (30 hours of classroom time).
• Time for relaxation and networking with others surrounded by 100 acres of beautiful wooded countryside at Black Rock Retreat Center in Quarryville, PA (50 miles west of Philadelphia).
• Daily Mass, adoration, and confession will be available.
• Round trip shuttle from the Philadelphia Airport is available.


Teaching the late Pope's meditations on the gift of human sexuality and its connection to Divine Love will take on a whole new light this June. It will be just a month after John Paul II's beatification on May 1 in Rome! So I'll be relishing quoting again and again "Blessed" John Paul II! 




What is the Theology of the Body? Basically, a reflection on what it means to be human, male and female. Where did we come from and where are we going? It looks at the two greatest questions we can ask; "Who am I?" And "Who is God?" The starting point for getting to the answers is us. It looks at the human body not just as a biological organism, but as a theological reality; a work of God. We look at what it is about us that makes us so restless in this world, different from the animals, always hungry, always searching for More? And then it looks at love as a lead into the answer. The Pope says that in our call to communion with each other as man and woman, in human love, there is something of the Divine, something touching on the Infinite. All human love is a sign, an icon, a pointer to Something Beyond ourselves.


God has stamped right in our bodies a mystery that reveals Who He is! You see, a man is called to be a gift, in his very body, for the woman. And the woman is called to receive this gift right in her very body as woman. And this beautiful coming together of husband and wife creates new life! And the union, as beautiful, powerful, and wonderful as it can be, is really just the first sparks of the Love that we are made for beyond this world. The Church says that in the joys of their love, God gives spouses and families a foretaste of the joys of Heaven!


I hope you can join me for this powerful week of prayer and reflection. Those who attend find it a life-changing experience, and a transformation in the Spirit for both head and heart! Indeed, the whole person! To learn more about this teaching of Pope John Paul II's, visit TOBInstitute.org

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Bewildering Bizarreness of BEYAZ Birth Control



Just when you thought it couldn't get more bizarre, here is the latest from the oral contraceptive spin doctors. Young ladies stroll through a store of apparent sexual freedom and worry free bliss. They can pick out boyfriends, trips to Paris, picnic dates under waterfalls, and they can neatly and politely choose to ignore the Stork carrying the baby if they like. Really.

Now the freedom to shop around is not so bizarre actually, if in fact that shopping involves our education, or where we want to live, or what we want to be when we grow up. If it's meant to discover who we are and where we are going. But shopping for boys and treating them like toys, with a smiling sexual promiscuity along the way, have been statistically proven to break our hearts not build bright futures. More bizarre than this consumer mentality about the human person is the juxtaposition of words with images in this commercial. Watch it with no sound, and it's cute, albeit odd with that snubbing the Stork moment. Watch it with sound and no sight and you'll want to vomit
"Beyaz increases the risk of serious conditions including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. The risk of blood clots is highest during the first year of use... the most common side effects were headache/migraine, menstrual irregularities, nausea/vomiting, breast pain/tenderness, fatigue, irritability, decreased libido, weight gain and mood changes."

Watching the two streams together is just... beyaz. What are we doing to ourselves? Ladies, your fertility is not a disease or a stumbling block to happiness and freedom. And if the guys in your life are pushing you to such a pill, then I'd suggest breaking the shackles of that relationship and really finding freedom. Trust me, it lies far beyond Beyaz!

Visit www.theologyofthebody.com!!!

Please Pray for Mary

The following prayer request is from a colleague of mine at Malvern. Please pray for the following intention:

Dear Friends,
I have a dear friend who has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She is in stage 4 of 5 and it is progressing extremely rapidly. It began as subcutaneous t-cell lymphoma ( which is basically a cancerous skin rash), and has progressed into her lymph nodes, liver and now into leukemia. This has all happened within the last month. Her name is Mary. She is only 62. She has 4 children and and 12 grandchildren, with one more on the way. She is one of the most wonderful women that you could ever meet. She would literally give anyone the shirt off of her own back. She is a kind Christian woman, whom I have been blessed to know for 39 years. She is my wife’s best friend.  I beg you to pray for her. I would love for you to pray to Pope John Paul II, as we know that he is on his way to beautification and needs only one more miracle for sainthood. I am enclosing a devotion to John Paul.  I thank you all for your time and prayers. I will keep you updated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The world will be a much sadder place if Mary is not in it. Thank you.
- L.L.

Prayer for asking graces through the intercession of the servant of God, Pope John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity, we thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints.
Amen

To Make Us Uncomfortable



I love this woman, this young woman who is a gift of God and a passionate defender of life. Her mission, she says, is "to make us uncomfortable." She puts a face on an issue too many want to keep silent. She survived a saline abortion, she survived moreso the shame, pain, and despair that could have choked her like a dark cloud in the fact that she was supposed to be aborted. If this is not the work of Grace than what is? I love Gianna Jessen and you will too as you allow her into your heart in this moving testimony. She tells her story here in an address at Queen's Hall, Melbourne, Australia.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I made a visit to our parish's adoration chapel yesterday for some much needed prayer time, and I saw my future. Well, what I hope to be my future. I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!

Just after 3pm, the Hour of Mercy, the exceptionally loud beeps of our security code box gizmo sounded - a sad necessity today, they say, to keep churches "safe." An old man cracked open the door, a chilly breeze swept into the candle lit womb of the Presence. I looked up to see a face cracked with age and layered with what appeared to be hard years. He saw me, then a smile broke over his wrinkled face and the years dropped off like old brown leaves. He turned and closed the door, then wordlessly shuffled towards the Tabernacle, just a few feet from the door (it's a mighty small chapel - the best kind in my opinion).

First, he knelt before the altar and gave a loving pat to the Golden Box that housed Divinity (also exceptionally small, like our hearts you might say). Then he opened the door that exposed a glass partition, revealing the Heart of Hearts in His Veiled Disguise. I'd forgotten to do this - or perhaps I was subconsciously waiting for this Simeon to appear in the Temple?

Next, he pulled out a little case from his pants pocket and cracked it open. He placed it on the altar, and just inches away from the Eucharistic Jesus, he began to whisper the prayers of the rosary. I could hear his s's and his t's, pronounced in slow and solemn procession, and once in awhile a little groan would escape his lips. I recalled the line from scripture; "... for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings."(Romans 8:26)

His hunched shoulders, his worn black shoes, his gentle caresses of the statues in that chapel all spoke to me and formed the shape of my prayer for the next thirty minutes. I was reading The Old Man and the Sea, as Rebecca said to me later. A man lost in the Sea of God, and for how long? How long had he swam in these divine waters of adoration? Of this Sea of Mercy? I watched his rhythmic movements and thought they must be a daily ritual for this old gnarled sailor of the spiritual life. And I was just a landlubber, a lackey, a deckhand still getting my sea-legs! But I know what I want to be when I grow up. A sailing man, with eyes watchful of the waves, and the gulls, and the dawn, and the deep, and the stars. "Unfurl the sails and let God steer us where He will," sang St. Bede.

Oh Jesus, Who walked on the waters of this world, teach me, lead me, help me hear you in the stillness and in the storm. Steady as she goes... 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pope John Paul II to be Beatified!!! Yahoooooo!



"Benedict XVI has announced the beatification of of Pope John Paul II. It will take place on May 1. The announcement comes after a miracle was unanimously approved by the Vatican's congregation for the Causes of Saints."


I can't tell you how ridiculously happy this makes me!!! It also makes me a third class relic. Wooohoooooo!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

TONIGHT — Former Planned Parenthood Director Reveals Secrets about the Abortion Industry!

Former Planned Parenthood director and "employee of the year" to reveal secrets from behind closed doors of the abortion business -- and WHY SHE LEFT

Limited spots available for Abby Johnson's "Tell-All" Webcast on Monday, January 10 at 9 PM Eastern


Dear Pro-Life Friend,
After winning the legal battle against a massive Planned Parenthood lawsuit and restraining order – which was intended to silence her – former abortion clinic director Abby Johnson is finally ready to blow the whistle on her former employer and tell the shocking truth about everything she saw inside the abortion industry — and why she resigned her job to join the pro-life movement.

Abby’s entire story has never been revealed publicly … UNTIL NOW!

On Tuesday, January 11, Abby’s story will be released to the world in her landmark book, Unplanned, published jointly by Tyndale House, Focus on the Family, and Ignatius Press.

One night before — on Monday, January 10, at 9 PM Eastern (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific) – YOU are invited to join Abby for a live webcast “sneak preview” of the no-holds-barred revelations which fill the pages of her book.
Register below for the FREE webcast event, where you will discover:
  • What initially attracted Abby to volunteer and then work for Planned Parenthood — America’s largest abortion chain — even after being raised in a faithful Christian home
  • The hidden personal secret that Abby had kept buried for years
  • The shocking discovery that suddenly caused Abby to question everything Planned Parenthood had told her over eight years
  • Planned Parenthood’s confidential plans to expand its biggest money-maker –abortion – all across America
  • The abortion industry’s furious reaction when Abby decided to quit her job and join local and national pro-life efforts
  • What Abby’s court battle brought to light about Planned Parenthood’s REAL agenda
  • The single most effective way to reduce Planned Parenthood’s abortion business and change the hearts and minds of clinic workers
You won’t want to miss this eye-opening webcast event … and when you scroll to the bottom of this page and register, you will also be given the entire first chapter of Unplanned for FREE – before it is even released!
Here’s what prominent leaders are already saying about Unplanned:
ARCHBISHOP CHARLES CHAPUT, Archdiocese of Denver – “Beautifully written, intimate and honest. A wonderful portrait of the power of truth and grace working in the human heart.”
FR. BENEDICT GROESCHEL, CFR, Host of “Sunday Night Live” on EWTN – “The moving story of the shocking truth of abortion and how God’s love and forgiveness transformed Abby’s life.”


The Sacramental Vision

With Christians, a poetical view of things is a duty. We are bid to color all things with hues of faith, to see a divine meaning in every ...