Showing posts from 2012

The Raising of the Cross

This early 17th century baroque piece,The Raising of the Cross by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, is a dynamic whirlwind of emotion and energy. The central panel draws us in with its dramatic diagonal slant. The artist has Christ's body gleam, rippling with strength and power, even in this moment of supreme weakness (for "power is made perfect in weakness" as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12). Gathered about the Savior is a host of men, equally virile, lifting the Cross high, like a flag of victory over a field where much blood has been spilled. It is the field of the world, and the fight lies within each one of us... "The 'heart' has become a battlefield between love and concupiscence" (TOB, 32:3).

The side panels show us the weeping women on the left, and on the right, Roman soldiers carrying out their duty. With the lens of the Theology of the Body, however, we see much more. The feminine panel glows with warmth, fragile beauty, and heartfelt …

The Overwhelmed Parents Prayer for Peace

OK. Deep breath.... pray!
Oh Father, Son, Spirit, Three-fold Family from Whom all families are founded...
Help us this day to rejoice in the chaos that is our family. To enter intentionally into the endless mystery of the exhausting energy and tempestuous roller coaster ride of our children’s emotions, all raw and real; primordial mixtures of humanity and divinity, wonder and awe, awful and angry, tender and tactile as newborn bliss breaking into each moment with passion.  Let us abide in this place of grace, touched by greasy hands, constant calls, clinging and crying. For in this place You have placed us, Father and Mother, to mother and father, in patience and with peace, as much as we can gather. For to You, we, father, mother, are as such, the same: crying, grasping, needing to be clean again; not wanting to be alone, to be filled, fed and led by You, Our Father Who is in Heaven.  So bless our family, these tired hearts and tiny hands, and help us all. Give us this day the daily bre…

My Heart And My Flesh Cry Out

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together... And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.
- Acts 2:1

This is one of my favorite works by the painter affectionately known as El Greco, The Greek (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). Simply called “The Pentecost” it is an oil on canvas, painted in the 16th century and housed in the Museo del Prado, in Madrid. El Greco came to Italy just about the time Michelangelo was dying, and the Greek is famous, or infamous, for later criticizing the work of the world’s best known artist. In a wave of artistic prudery, Pope Pius V threatened to destroy Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, streaming as it is with naked bodies of the redeemed and the damned. (Let’s recall that a later pope, our beloved John Paul II, called the Sistine Chapel a “shrine to the theology of the body”!). El Greco supposedly claimed he could paint it over again if such a thing…

Mexico, Volcanos, and the Scope of Human Love

It was a grace last week to travel to Mexico and share Pope John Paul II's teaching on "human love in the divine plan." This teaching commonly called a theology of the body has been interpreted by some as a teaching specifically intended for the married, as it touches so beautifully on the relationship between spouses and the intimacy of human love. But I spoke last week in Mexico to over 120 consecrated women... Women who have freely chosen to sacrifice the intimacy of married affection, children, and all the "joys" the catechism says God gives spouses "as a foretaste of Heaven" for something more (CCC 1642). So what did this "Theology of the Body" have to say to them? Everything.

The Theology of the Body holds within it the full truth and meaning of sexuality and therefore conjugal and consecrated love. After all, it is a reflection rooted in Scripture offered by a celibate man and priest of God, Pope John Paul II, grounded in his praye…

The Mystical Body Of Christ: Sacred Art and the Theology of the Body

This masterpiece is one of surrealist Salvador Dali’s best known works. Completed in 1955, "The Sacrament of the Last Supper" was commissioned by art collector Chester Dale. It is a shimmering, symmetrical feast of translucence, crisp edges and imposing angles. In the fashion of one of his inspirations, Leonardo da Vinci’s own Last Supper, Dali has Christ positioned in the center of the painting so that our eyes, while free to explore the air of reverence surrounding Him, are always drawn back to Christ in the end.

The Apostles appear around him as if in adoration, cloaked in glimmering robes, heads bowed. The bread and wine appear set in a triangular formation, pointing off center to the place where Christ’s side will be pierced by a soldier’s lance. Above and embracing the entire scene is another body, massive, encompassing the whole celebration. This is the feast of the Body of Christ, and the Theology of His Body has become, to the utter amazement of the cloaked men aro…

Touched by Touch

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? 
- C.S. Lewis
How many times in your life have you heard people say “Everything happens for a reason”? Countless times, I’m sure. 

People say it when something goes wrong, like the untimely death of a child or in the case of a person diagnosed with cancer. “Everything happens for a reason.”

But many struggle with this cold assessment of events that cut us to the core. “God’s will” they’ll say. But what a seemingly cruel force to be at work in the universe flicking switches in people’s lives that say “off” and “on.” Good luck, bad luck. Blessed, cursed.

I do…

Beyond the Blue

<p><p><a href="">Beyond the Blue by Josh Garrels</a></p></p>

Welcome to "Beyond the Blue," one of my favorite new musical romps through the human experience by Josh Garrels, an incredibly gifted young man from Portland, Oregon. The lyrics hit the ground running and take you on a journey deep into the heart and through it beyond the blue! Enjoy!

Beyond the Blue 

Stand on the shores of a site unseen
The substance of this dwells in me
Cause my natural eyes only go skin deep
But the eye’s of my heart anchor the sea
Plumbing the depths to the place in between
The tangible world and the land of a dreams
Because everything ain’t quite it seems
There’s more beneath the appearance of…

Everything is Holy Now

This painting by John David Waterhouse may not seem like "sacred art" at first glance. There are no angels, no bearded prophets, no sign or symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, or Christ Himself. But look again. "We are bid to color all things with hues of faith, to see a divine meaning in every event" wrote Blessed John Henry Newman.  Since the Word became flesh, "every thing is holy now," sang the artist Peter Mayer.  This image captivated me when I first saw it, as many images do from this school of painters known as the Pre-Raphaelites. It's called "Boreas," named for the Greek god of the north wind. But where is he? Look again. We see the evidence of his presence in the billowing folds of the young maiden's veil. We feel his weight leaning on the trees and the thick grass at her feet. He is literally everywhere, enveloping her, thick as the painted strokes on the canvas and at the same time just as fluid.  Every ancient myth hold…

Diamonds in the Rough

Teaching teenagers is FUN. By fun I mean Frustrating, Unbelievably taxing, and No where I'd rather be. After all, it's the front lines. It's mission territory! And the grace and privilege of playing a part in forming young hearts in Christ is a treasure beyond words. Even when the treasures are diamonds in the rough.   Back to the frustrating and taxing part. A high school teacher gets to empathize with the ancient prophets quite often. We feel like Jeremiah for instance, who was largely ignored in his instructions to the People. We say the same thing a thousand times. We "invite" the students to read the directions we so lovingly place at the top of the test, but alas, they often fail to see it. We'd love to give them more freedom, but too often it gets abused and we're forced to "take them by the hand" as God did in this Sunday's reading from Jeremiah. When the young "break the covenant" in the classroom we have to show ourselves …

Choosing this Movie is Choosing LIFE!

"The best pro-life movie ever made!"
Dr. Richard Land, ERLC

"It's a beautiful story that will open doors, eyes and hearts."
Pat Layton, author of Surrendering the Secret

"What a remarkable movie."
Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life

"POWERFUL! OUTSTANDING! I was not prepared for the impact this movie would have on me."
Dr. Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Today

"I always say that you do yourself a favor when you forgive. This film is a great reminder of this."
Joyce Meyer, Bible Teacher and Bestselling Author

"A great film with a great message!"
Alex Kendrick, Courageous 

"October Baby is a powerful story proving what we all know—that every life is indeed beautiful."
Melinda Delahoyde, Care Net

"October Baby not only has a beautiful message, it is beautifully made."
Karen Garnett, Catholic Pro-Life Committee

"In today's society with so many kids growing up without purpose, this film captures the essence of t…

Talk on Heaven Tonight Promises to Disappoint

But come anyway!!

I realize that "eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love Him" but we can sure speculate about it! Come join us at 7pm tonight, Wednesday, March 21:

St. Charles Borromeo Parish
3422 Dennison Avenue
Drexel Hill, PA 19026
Rectory (610) 623-3800

Ponder the deep thoughts of saints and mystics, philosophers, and dreamers. Bring your own questions and an open heart and mind! With the help of reason, revelation, and searching our own heart's deepest desires, we'll seek to answer questions like:

1. Is Heaven really real?
2. Will we know each other in the next world?
3. Will we have bodies in Heaven?
4. What will Heaven be like? What will we do "up there"?
5. Most importantly, how do we get there?

We should be meeting in the church basement, which is not as uncomfortable as it sounds, really. Bring a friend! Bring an atheist friend and get bonus points! In the meantime, ponder this:

The big, blazing, terrible trut…

ONCE Upon a Time...

...But certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of 'exile.' 
- J.R.R. Tolkien

Once upon a time.... is the phrase that begins a whole host of fantastic tales and stories so many of us have grown up hearing. Still today in 2012, these age old stories of princesses and fairy godmothers, castles and kings, dragons and dark lords can capture our imaginations.

Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the famed screenwriters of the hit series LOST, had an idea for a show called Once Upon a Time back in 2004, before teaming up with the writing staff of LOST. They let it germinate for awhile, however, until the stranded souls of Oceanic Flight 815 found their way home. That series ended and their new project is now off and running.
Once Upon a Time (appearing on ABC) centers around the conviction of a young boy named…

I Heart Ashes

Ash Wednesday. Yipee! Fasting, sacrificing, a crust of bread and a glass of water and the first day of giving stuff up... for 39 more days. Who's excited? (insert sound of crickets)
OK, let's be honest. No one really looks forward to a day of fasting and abstinence, especially from things like Taco Bell's new "Beefy Crunch Box." (I'm not making that up, it's real, and only $5 dollars, but not today friends, not today).

Fasting hurts. Fasting isn't fun, especially for we Americans who want everything fast. But if we're honest with ourselves, we know that a day like today (and a season like Lent) is absolutely essential for one reason: It shows us our addictions. It reveals the tiny strings or the thick cords that are binding us to things less than ourselves. And if we're bound to something less than ourselves, that means we are slaves to that thing.... and slavery isn't fun.

So let's do some introspection; let's look inside today an…

The Power and Purpose of Masculinity

I was invited to write a new pamphlet for Ascension Press's Theology of the Body series. Woohoo! Check it out here, and feel free to forward the link to your parish, pastor, deacon, seminarians, DRE, RCIA, CEO, bishop, cardinal, Men's Group, old high school buddies, college pals, every one of your Facebook friends, and... yeah. That should do it. It's time to man up America (for women's sake!)

What does it mean to be a real man? In this pamphlet, Bill Donaghy discusses the challenges men face in today's culture and the ways they are called to live. He outlines three male archetypes that provide a "blueprint" for living authentic masculinity. With energy and conviction, Donaghy applies the principal themes of the Theology of the Body to all men and husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, priests, enlightening man's deepest identity, and unique gift to the world.

Find it here:…

The Marriage Made in Heaven: Soul Meets Body

Ignore for a moment the strange name of the band, Death Cab for Cutie. If they knew how big they’d become on the music scene, lead singer Ben Gibbard confessed, they would’ve thought twice about picking that obscure name anyway. ("Ben Gibbard - Interview". Time Out Chicago. August 24, 2011) In this month of Valentine’s where we seek the warmth of love amidst the cold of winter, I’d like to take a look at this band’s sweet song “Soul Meets Body” and their search for meaning in life.

As with everything in this blog that references pop culture and Catholicism, we sprinkle a little holy water on it and voila! We have something mystical. It’s not meant to be an imprimatur sanctioning the entire life and work of the artist. Reading the lyrics to the tunes he’s penned, Gibbard seems to be a struggling soul who vacillates between a great hope in love’s lasting power and the hollowness that sees this world as all there is. But in this struggle for meaning, so often, great beauty is bo…

Illuminated Scripture Projects 2012

My students did a fantastic job on their Psalms Project! I heard one even started taking his notes in biology class in calligraphy. Haha! Mission accomplished!

Why I Love Being a Catholic Teacher

I absolutely love being a Catholic educator and I cannot imagine teaching in any other realm, or in any other light than that of the Sanctuary Lamp, nestled near the Altar of God.

For me, it means Jesus is close at hand. It means the Master is just a heartbeat away, and He is the heart of my classroom. For me, being a Catholic educator means exactly the opposite of what some might imagine teaching religion to be (religio means "binding"). I AM FREE.

I am free to think, to question, to seek and to explore the universe God made and to find the truth of things and the inexhaustible mystery of things. I can live and move and have my being in a relationship that God has joined and no one can tear asunder: the marriage of faith and reason, biology and theology, heaven and earth, at once the mathematically measurable and the mysterious. 

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and science.…

Illuminated Scripture Project 2012

Just a little teaser trailer for the Illuminated Scripture Project my freshmen do each year. A look back to the beauty and brilliance of the so called "Dark Ages" when words were Light and Treasure, and well worth our time illuminating. This is a great project for teenage boys, especially the freshmen level. They are bursting with the desire to excel and impress, they have incredible energy flowing through them, and they love to doodle. It's a match made in Heaven! Doodling for the Divine! I'll post their work in a subsequent video.

The Clarity of Clare

Every parent should consider their child a gift and a miracle, because every human life is an unrepeatable, absolutely incredible, physical manifestation of God's image and His love in this world. Our daughter Clare is a miracle because of that truth; but there's something even more miraculous about her story that merits repeating. In this month of January, when hundreds of thousands will travel to our nation's capitol, mourning 39 years of the legality of abortion in America, we need the clarity and light Clare brings us even more. Clare is an abortion holocaust survivor.
Before we knew she existed, our future adopted daughter was in a Planned Parenthood, in utero, having her life scheduled to be “terminated.” Through a miracle of grace, a technician let the sound of baby Clare's heartbeat resound in that clinical room of torture (This is not the current practice of Planned Parenthood, but there appears to be some current legislation urging this form of prenatal monito…