Thursday, May 31, 2007
I've been reading randomly from two very different books: 1. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and 2. The Evidential Power of Beauty by Thomas Dubay. They are as alike as a granite boulder and a piece of cheese. One looks at life in the universe as happening purely by chance (no God or gods, no supernatural presence whatsoever), and the other sees God present all the while, supercharging every proton and particle that is, peering like a lover through the lattices of all things created. (Can you guess which book I'm diggin'?)
Now this is just a thought (a weak analogy, actually). I want to put it out there without a hint of sarcasm. I am serious. Let's get beyond agendas, either to the right or left, materialist or theist. Let's strip away everything but a desire for the TRUTH.
Look at a building. Think of its foundation, the complexity of its structure, the electrical system, the plumbing, all of these parts working in harmony to provide shelter and comfort for people. You could conceivably live and breathe and move about in this building your whole life and not once find any trace of the architect. Perhaps you might see his likeness on a wall, a painting of him from the early days of the building's history. Maybe there are those in the building who remember hearing stories of how he once visited the place and walked around the halls and even took the elevator once or twice when the place was still new. But none of it can be proved now, seemingly. At least you'd have to go on human faith and trust that the Man made the place. It just shouts of a designer from every delicate curve and arch, from the lighting to the fountain in the lobby, to the care put into each office, each room, each resting place.
But you've never seen the Man Who made it. Would you conclude that the building had no maker? Would you conclude that particles of steel and iron and glass must have randomly coalesced over the years and happened to form by chance this magnificent structure, with its indoor plumbing, electricity, spa and fine cafeteria?
To my mind that would just be... silly. Kinda ridiculous. I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm being a realist. I'm using my reason. It's only logical to admit in the midst of such design a designer.
This admittance, like it or not, will take us into a number of other places.... which we can comment on tomorrow.... I hope.
I love this stuff.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
My guest will be Fr. Kevin McGoldrick, a gifted young priest from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. We'll speak on his vocation story, music ministry, the New Evangelization and working with teens and young adults in the Church today (how to get the Gospel through the culture and to the kids!)
To call into the show with your thoughts or questions..... in the Philadelphia region: 610-527-2906 or outside the Philadelphia region, call toll free: 888-343-2484
Monday, May 28, 2007
+ babysitting for Peter and Ali, watching little Aileen and Michaela at the house Peter built in the woods. Singing Michaela to sleep to the sound of the crickets "sleep sleep.... sleep sleep."
+ eating chips and watching Planet Earth with the father-in-law. Those snow leopards are awesome!
+ sleeping at the lakehouse, sitting on the dock before the cool, clear water, watching the sky moods reflecting in its watery face
+ Pentecost Sunday at the little country church, which is really a kind of gym. Standing room only, and Jesus in our midst
+ breakfast at Benny's in Wurtsboro with the relations. Teaching Taylor and Travis the drawing game on the placemats (great homefries, by the way!)
+ laughing at Friday's, that huge mojito, popping into Barnes & Nobles for the Pope's new book, and Tolkien's too!
+ the town parade, and little Hanna waving. And for the troop of bagpipers, blasting their shrill cries through that sleepy mountain town
+ sunburn and windburn
+ spotting orioles today in the trees
+ bald eagles sweeping over the island, swirling over our cameras
+ the kids making mud castles, swimming and splashing on the edge of Yankee Lake
+ ambrosia with cherries
+ for my wife and her tenderness, her attentiveness in everything, and for the way she holds those little babies, her nieces, Aileen and Rebecca.
+ for the desires we have for a family of our own, which only grow stronger day by day.
Friday, May 25, 2007
"...the great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: But what has Jesus really brought, then, if he has not brought world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought the God who once gradually unveiled his countenance first to Abraham, then to Moses and the prophets, and then in the wisdom literature—the God who showed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love.”
I haven't read any reviews yet but I know it will be a powerful portrait of Our Lord. Here's the link to Ignatius Press if you're interested. Come on, let's be Catholic Nerds and bring this book to the beach this Memorial Day weekend! What do ya say??? Woohoo!!
Monday, May 21, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
"The witness is one who speaks with his life. A believing father and mother must be "the first witnesses of faith" for their children. (The Church asks this for them from God in the blessing that follows the rite of matrimony).
Let us give a specific example. At this time of year many children are preparing for first Communion and confirmation. A believing mother or father can help the child review the catechism, explain the meaning of the words to him, and help him memorize the responses. Such parents are doing a beautiful thing and if only there were more who did this!
But what would a child think if after all that his parents said and did for his first Communion, they never go to Mass on Sunday, they never make the sign of the cross and never pray? They have been teachers, but they haven't been witnesses.
Naturally, the testimony of the parents must not limit itself to the time of the first Communion or confirmation of their children. With the way they correct and forgive the child and forgive each other, with the way they speak with respect of those who are not present, with the way they conduct themselves before a poor person begging for alms, with the comments they make in the presence of the children when they are listening to the news, parents have the possibility of bearing witness to their faith every day.
The souls of children are like sheets of photographic film: Everything they see and hear in the years of childhood leaves a trace and one day the "film" will be "developed" and will bear its fruits -- for good or for bad."
- from www.zenit.org
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.... This I command you: love one another."
I remember hearing a story about St. John the Apostle, who in his older days was exiled to the island of Patmos. Legend says the local community would carry him out each week for prayer, supporting his aging and frail body, like Simons bearing a human cross. Then St. John, the last of the Twelve Apostles, would simply say to the crowds around him "Love one another."
A new member of the community grew a little impatient with these seemingly tedious and unoriginal sermons, mumbled softly every week. So he asked if John ever said anything else.
"What else is there to say?" said a woman beside him.
Whoa.... what else IS there to say? If we stop and think about all the nonsense, the bickering, the sarcasm, the anger, fear, lust, laxity and indifference in the world, and asked ourselves what's missing here, what's the antidote to this poison of angst and indifference, the answer would be love. Oh yes it would.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. The sad thing is, it's the only thing that there's just too little of!
I think sometimes we imagine we know what "luv" is and assume it just hasn't worked. But remember, it's not "Be nice to one another, as I have been nice to you." Laying down your life for someone isn't "nice." When Ben Kenobi took a lightsaber for the team and the Star Wars gang escaped from the Death Star, Luke Skywalker didn't yell "Ben! That was so nice of you!" He just yelled "Beeeeeeeennnnnnn!!!!!"
I'm learning about this real love more and more each day. Marriage is teaching me this in a very real way. Marriage is a school of love. And this can be a messy classroom. More like a workshop actually. I'm learning that I can try to love on my own, using my own tools, but I'm a greedy guy and a selfish one. I think the power tool is always the way to go, but sometimes love just needs a hammer and a nail, if you know what I mean.
When my attempts at real love fail, I turn to Jesus. Here's the source of Love. When I sit with Him, read the gospels in His presence, letting Him slip in between the words of the scriptures, or let my heart get filled up with Him in the Eucharist.... then BLAM! that power comes too. His power to love.
As Rebecca always says, "It takes three to get married" .... oooo, ponder that one!
I still get in the way, a lot (ask my wife). But I know I must look to Jesus if this love revolution is to be successful, triumphant, victorious! (in me first, then anyone in my vicinity) I think the saints are like love grenades.... boom. They hit those nasty encampments of sin with a dynamo of selfless love, blast 'em with beatific love, and the shrapnel of sanctity goes flying.
Like a peeled orange people look up when real love is in the room. "Who's peeling an orange?" We smell it and know it, and it diffuses so quickly! Faster than the rancid smell of sin. Love is like a fragrant wine. Is this making any sense?
Maybe I should have just said "Love one another?"
Monday, May 14, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
For Amy Welborn's book for teens, Here. Now: A Catholic Guide to the Good Life, visit www.amywelborn.com
Monday, May 07, 2007
- too many jokes
- too many bad guys
- too much violence for the dozens of 9 year olds in our theater
There could have been some real sublime moments, but with a foundation of cheesy jokes, we almost weren't allowed to reach them. Like the scene where Spidey scales to the top of a cathedral, and beneath the shadow of a stone cross, he struggles with his inner demons.
Like a medieval gargoyle, we see his rain-soaked silhouette.... But just as the power of this image starts to permeate us, a third bad guy (yes third) appears down below, steps into a pew and looking up at a beautiful crucifix prays "Dear Sir, I know I've made mistakes, I humbly come before You and ask just one thing.... Please kill Peter Parker."
Huh? You want Jesus to kill Peter Parker?
Who writes this stuff? Who the heck talks like this? That would've been a fantastic spiritual battle up there until Jealous Boy showed up!
Now there were some great lessons about pride and humility, revenge and forgiveness, and the key to being a man and a good husband. Aunt May says to a jittery Pete, as she gives him the ring for MJ, "a good man has to be understanding. He has to put his wife before himself." Amen sister! I loved that one!
Nontheless, the distractions seemed to outweigh the distinction of what makes Spidey a hero in this third, and seemingly final, installment.
Maybe more later. I'm kinda bummed out right now. The way I was after Superman Returns (see previous post). I think I need to go home and watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
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Thursday, May 03, 2007
- Maybe you're about to make the sign of the cross in a restaurant or a diner before a meal and there's that brief second of indecision; "Am I being showy or saintly?" (ACM)
- A friend\co-worker says "You're Catholic, right?" (you swallow hard) "So what's the big hang-up with birth control? Are you guys trying to take over the world?!" (quick answer is yes, we are. See Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:19)
- Maybe someone at work or school drops a bomb on the table and says "they" should just let priests get married and that would solve the "problem," and in the seconds ticking between talk, you wonder if you should speak a clarifying word from Matthew 19:12 or the Catechism? (ACM)
- or maybe you're actually a little unsure about the meaning of the whole celibacy thing yourself and don't know what to say. (ACM Deluxe Edition)
- You're walking down the aisle of a massive movie theater to grab a seat and you genuflect before you enter your row (ACM Platinum Edition... and yes, I did that once.)
Everyone has a little ribbon on their car bumper or lapel these days: Support Our Troops, Breast Cancer Awareness, Save Darfur. Imagine wearing a little I Love the Priesthood ribbon? Support Our Bishops? In light of the last few years, that ain't easy. In light of some workplace/lunchtime/water cooler gatherings, it's downright embarrassing.
But when was it ever easy to believe in an incarnational Church, a Church that professes that God Himself established and is literally working through this sinful mess of people, promising a grace and mercy that can save us, even though it may sometimes seem to be flowing over dirty hands and through clogged pipes? With the episcopal shipwreck of the last few years, and the laxity in the laity, many of us still feeling "holy stuff" is what Father does, not me, I'm just a pew potato, it can be awkward to be Catholic today. As awkward as it was for a certain crusty fisherman standing outside of a praetorium, warming himself by a charcoal fire, painfully self-conscious as his Master takes a beating behind those walls.
"Aren't you one of his disciples?"
"I've seen you with the Nazarene, aren't you one of them?"
I guess the question in our ACMs these days is the same as it was for Peter.
So what will your answer be? Do you know the Man? Will you claim allegiance to Him, even as He comes to us in the distressing disguise of a sinful Church? Will you have the eyes to see through the humanity and into the divinity, to the spotless Bride of Christ that is forever wedded to the Lamb of God? For that is Her deepest identity and our ultimate end. We will all be one. And He will wipe away every tear, and He will defend us who have been fearless in our defense of Him. And if we have fallen, He will come and seek us out, saying "Do you love me?"
And then, we can enter the unending bliss of that Wedding Feast with a simple... "I do."
And that love will cover a multitude of sins....
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Now "renting a movie" at the video store is an activity practiced ritually by millions of Americans every day (and especially on Friday), even with the advent of Cable TV, Netflix, and those spy satellite dish thingees that you sometimes see resting ominously on people's homes, which allow you to access 348,431 channels ("I wish we had that Eskimo Cooking Tuscan Style Channel.... wait! We doooooo!")
Regardless of the plethora of programs available to us here, we still make our pilgrimage to "Movie Land Rentals!" in the hope that perhaps there we will find what our hearts are longing for... the quintessential "great movie." And some Jiffy Pop.
But what we find nearly every time we visit the video gore, I mean store, is an assault on our senses, and a degradation of the human person that one would think of finding only in a concentration camp. Here's where I get really serious... and angry.
- About a third of the DVD covers I perused in the "new releases" section had a twisted and bloody face, severed limbs, or a weapon of some sort on them (needles, chainsaw, axe, bombs, guns guns guns!)
- Another third showed half-naked women in various positions on them.
- Several movie covers had demonic faces peering out at us.
- Many of these were placed about twelve inches from the "children's section"
- The covers were nearly all at a child's eye level; some I had to stoop to investigate in my study of what Pope John Paul II aptly named a "culture of death."
Now, I'm sure none of this diet of violent or sexually explicit films has anything to do with the bad news we've been fed recently or with the ever increasing statistics of domestic violence, child porn, hate crimes, or homicides: the second grader who brought the handgun to school (right here in Philadelphia), or the teenagers who beat a homeless man to death a few months ago "for fun," or any of the school shootings that have taken place in the last decade:
Moses Lake , Washington 2/2/96
Bethel , Alaska 2/19/97
Pearl , Mississippi 10/1/97
West Paducah , Kentucky 12/1/97
Stamp, Arkansas 12/15/97
Jonesboro , Arkansas 3/24/98
Edinboro , Pennsylvania 4/24/98
Fayetteville , Tennessee 5/19/98
Springfield , Oregon 5/21/98
Richmond , Virginia 6/15/98
Littleton , Colorado 4/20/99
Taber , Alberta , Canada 5/28/99
Conyers , Georgia 5/20/99
Deming , New Mexico 11/19/99
Fort Gibson , Oklahoma 12/6/99
Santee , California 3/ 5/01
El Cajon , California 3/22/01
Blacksburg, Virginia 4/16/07
I mean, we all realize that what we see in the movies is just fantasy, right? And the games we let the kids play are just vehicles for them to get their anger out, or just have "fun" or relax; doing things in video games they can't do in the "real world"?
Hmmm... I remember learning, back in my art school days, that art always reflects the spirit of the age in which we find it. In other words, we can come to know a people by the art they make (like a window into their soul); through poems, paintings, music, and yes, the movies they create. If this is true, and I know it is, then what we can glean from our culture today is that we have reached a level of obsession with sex and violence that parallels if not surpasses the late decadence of the Romans before the fall of their empire. That's a sobering thought.
Ever hear of the expression "You are what you eat"? I wonder sometimes, as I see us perusing the isles of the Blockbusters across America, numbly leafing through piles of celluloid gore and sexual gratification, I wonder if it is the "thought that counts"?
I wonder sometimes if I should go cold turkey and unplug the beast. Go plant a tree. Watch a sunrise. Look at people and wonder about their lives.
Or maybe we need a return to the classics, to films that portray stories that are not violent for violence's sake, but redemptive in their portrayal of human love and suffering.
We ended up renting Blood Diamond, coincidentally a very violent film inspired by the bloodbaths in Sierra Leone where child soldiers and so many innocent were (and are) sacrificed for money and power. It was a powerful film that left the three of us in a reflective silence. It was ultimately redemptive.
So.... just a thought:
What are we eating with our eyes and ears? What are we "clicking on" and spending time with before we surf on to the next channel? Is it good for us? Does it build us up? Does it lead me to the light, or does it leave me in a fog and darkness?
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Theology of the Body for Beginners
by Christopher West
Good News About Sex and Marriage
by Christopher West
This easy-to-read, question-and-answer book by Christopher West offers a fresh, relevant, and convincing presentation of the Church's teachings on human sexuality and marriage. Rooted in Pope John Paul II's revolutionary Theology of the Body, this book is great for RCIA, Pre-Cana, and adult education classes.
See also - Theology of the Body Institute
My guests will be two young adults from Generation Life, Colin and Katherine.
Tune in and discover the freedom and joy God calls us to, and the reason why we're called to be the clean of heart who can see God, in and through the body! Hope you can join us!
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A much repeated sentence we hear at our Theology of the Body retreats and courses is "I wish I heard this when I was younger!" ...