Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
If you're interested in owning this yourself, go here.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
A woman who doctors believed could remain comatose indefinitely recently revived after her husband asked her for a kiss.The woman's husband, desperate for his love to awaken, tried everything he could. However, it was the simplest technique that eventually brought her back.
Just ten days after giving birth to her son, Telford, Shropshire resident Emma Ray suffered a heart attack and collapsed while shopping with her husband, Andrew. Andrew performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her, after which she was taken to a hospital where doctors were able to restart her heart.
“She could wake up the following day, she could wake up in a month, or you may be left with a sleeping beauty,” Andrew Ray said a doctor told him, according to the Daily Mail.
He asked for a kiss.
This sort of love is the mark of marriage - a love that accepts the beloved, truly, "for better or for worse ... in sickness and in health." It is a love, that goes on, even as one sleeps - or is comatose. Her condition doesn't weaken that love, nor does it make her any less of a person worthy of that love. Too often, when we do not get the responses we want from those we "care" about, we can simply begin to discount them. This man, because of his true love for his wife, wasn't going to do that. Rather than letting that love grow cold, rather than eventually accepting that she "wasn't there," rather than "pulling the plug" on life and love, he embraced her all the more.
Love really is the best medicine!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
A person cannot wander through the Magic Kingdom without noticing them: princesses everywhere! Disney is a place where the princess (or pirate) in all of us is not only welcome but expected. There is a special deference for kids that is unmatched anywhere. Young people are the guests of honor. In fact, this honor extends throughout the parks and resorts and touches also the disabled as well. No one feels different or "outside."
This honor that is placed on the "little ones" (or anawim, as they were known in Jesus' time) was a reminder to me of what we need in our "real world." Look at those we consider "to be seen and not heard"; look at those who don't meet our expectations; look at those most likely to be discounted, and see the hidden princess.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Disney does an incredible job of entertaining - all the time. Even when you are waiting in an hour-long line, you still feel like there's something going on and that you are a part of it. One of the fun aspects of the parks is something called the "hidden Mickeys." These are Mickey-shaped designs hidden in murals, on manhole covers, on the rides - basically anywhere. There's a sense of accomplishment and discovery when you find one - usually when you aren't even looking. Once you do find one, you want to see more, and I found myself looking for the design in any set of circles in just about every place.
This is what the gift of wonder can do for us as Christians. Wonder opens our eyes - sometimes widely - to see where God is at work next in our lives. It is, for me, much of the inspiration for this very blog. Once God enters your life - and you are aware of that Presence - you want more. You want to see what God has in store for you next, and where He is working right now. It takes some sense of attention sometimes, but when we are truly aware of God in our life, we cannot help but see His hand in everything - even in difficulty.
Who knows? Perhaps, I even saw Jesus in Disney World? Check this out:
Monday, January 26, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In anticipation of the forthcoming World Communications Day, I would like to address to you some reflections on the theme chosen for this year - New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship. The new digital technologies are, indeed, bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. These changes are particularly evident among those young people who have grown up with the new technologies and are at home in a digital world that often seems quite foreign to those of us who, as adults, have had to learn to understand and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer for communications. In this year’s message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called digital generation and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity. These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavour to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
In his message for the World Day of Communications (May 29 of this year), the Holy Father recognizes the unique and novel role that digital communications play in the lives of believers - and especially young believers. With this same awareness in mind, the Vatican launched its own YouTube "station" on Friday; and the Holy See is adding Google search capability to its arsenal of web searches.
Cyberspace is a scary place, for sure. There is no shortage of filth and manipulation and danger only a click or two away at any given moment. However, this is exactly why we as a Church must be present even there. For ever potential evil that lurks in the CPU's and circuitry of our laptops and iPhones, there are opportunities to bring Christ to a waiting World Wide Web.
That is Deacon Greg's point in his wonderful article. That's why I do this; it's why Greg does it; it is why the Church should do it. Evangelization is a matter of taking the message of the Gospel to all people and making it accessible in as many ways as possible to as many people as possible. It sometimes takes the courage of a lion.
And sometimes, it only takes a click of a mouse.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
St. Paul's missionary zeal is an example to all of us - not only preachers and priests, but all the faithful. And it all begins with the most important words from the First Reading today:
"He was baptized."
It was Paul's baptism - and ours - that instills the power of the Spirit in which we can speak of Jesus Christ as Lord, as Son of God. Paul, after receiving that new life and the revelation of the Gospel from Christ, could not be contained from that moment forward in preaching that Good News. It was as if he said, "Wow! How many people know about this Jesus? People have got to hear this message!" It reminds me of those folks on the infomercials on TV - like the "ShamWow!" - who are just sickeningly excited over their product. But Paul was not promoting a super absorbent cloth; he had the words of eternal life!
Today is the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope John XXIII's announcement of Vatican II. That council brought about a new understanding of the dignity of all the baptized as sharing in that priestly, prophetic and royal role of Jesus - just as St. Paul did. Evangelization is the task of every Christian - you, me, the pope, St. Paul - everyone. There are no exceptions. The "call to holiness" is universal and it starts with that wonderful moment of our baptism. Does everyone around you know the power of God's grace in their lives?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
You know how you can fall in love with a song and listen to it over and over? Then, it starts to get old, and you don't love it anymore? I've had that experience countless times. However, there is one song that I can listen to forever - honestly: it's never worn out for me.
Mom and Dad's first stereo after they were married and lived in a tiny house on a hill came with a bonus 8-track tape. It was of Frank Mills, a pianist and composer. Mills did a song called "Music Box Dancer," and that was on this tape. I have no memory of my time in the womb (like most people), but for some reason, I know this song from even before I was born. It seems a part of me.
Today, a sea of people will descend and march upon Washington. They march for Life. I cannot be with them, but my heart is. Every time I listen to this song, I can think of that dark yet meaningful time in my life where the only thing sustaining me was love and my parents' voices - and a little piece by Frank Mills.
Friday, January 16, 2009
After that, it's off to Disney World! So, I probably won't be posting for a while. I need this vacation - the university starts again that following Monday, and all my young friends will be back for the new semester. I am excited about that, too.
But first, I have a date with a Mouse!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
NORMAL, Illinois - Wedding bells meant the Mexican fast food chain Taco Bell for Paul and Caragh Brooks.
Customers inside the fast-food restaurant continued to order tacos and burritos as the couple sat Friday in an orange Taco Bell booth and exchanged vows.
"It's appropriate," groom Paul Brooks said. "It's an offbeat relationship."
The bride wore a $15 hot pink dress and the entire wedding cost about $200. Several dozen guests looked on as the couple's friend, Ryan Green of Normal, administered the vows while wearing a T-shirt. He was ordained online.
"This is the way to go — there's no stress," said the groom's mother, Kathy Brooks.
Caragh Brooks, 21, of Australia, met Paul Brooks, 30, on an Internet dating Web site. They already had the same last name.
The couple wrote back and forth and talked on the phone for nine months before Caragh Brooks moved to the United States.
"We have the same brain, just in two bodies," Paul Brooks said. "We think alike in virtually every manner. We have the same interests, viewpoints."
He proposed on New Year's Eve and, because they like to spend time at the local Taco Bell, they decided to wed there."I would never have expected in my life in working here there would be a wedding," restaurant manager Carl Hamlow said.
First of all ... this comes from "Normal," Illinois?!?!
Second, we need to remember the sacramental nature of Marriage. As a sacrament, Marriage is not simply about the man and the woman. Certainly, they are the matter of the sacrament. They are important, beautiful and dignified. Their love is a sign of God's love in our world - a love that is sustaining, uniting, and creative. When we see a couple on their wedding day, crying, laughing, gazing with untold love into each other's eyes, we are witnessing the infinite love of God, made real and tangible in the Sacrament of Matrimony. There is more dignity in that, I think, than in an order of Nachos Supreme!
Many people ask why Catholics have to get married in a church. Why not on the golf course, or at the reception site, or underwater? The answer is not, "Because we say so" - although it may seem that way to many. Rather, the answer lies in the dignity of the human person and the dignity of the Sacrament of their Marriage. Church is God's House, and only God's house is appropriate enough to share such a sublime moment as the union of man and woman in that holy bond.
If you want tacos at the reception, that's fine - you can even invite me!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Here is an example of Hilary's vigorous style: "Now it is time to speak, the time for silence is past. We must expect Christ's return, for the reign of Antichrist has begun. The shepherds must give the warning signals because the hirelings have fled. Let us lay down our lives for the sheep, for brigands have entered the fold and the roaring lion is rampaging about. Be ready for martyrdom! Satan himself is clothed as an angel of light." A favorite motto of St. Hilary was, Ministros veritatis decet vera proferre, "Servants of the truth ought speak the truth."
There's a novena and fast program going around Facebook these days too, in reaction against the possibility for the so-called FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act). I like how these things come together. Listen to Saint Hilary!
Anyway, this comes from Catholic Culture's Liturgical Year page.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Saying they see a spiritual nature to Barack Obama's inauguration, dozens of area churches and other faith groups are planning an unusual rush of activities to mark the occasion, from assisting food banks to Bible lectures on public policy to hosting of hundreds of out-of-town church members.
For the people involved, many of whom are mainline Protestants, the events are unprecedented; religion historians and local faith leaders say they can't remember anything similar for a presidential inauguration. Plans sound more like those for a mission trip than a political swearing-in.
The largest effort is being made by United Methodists, whose city churches are hosting such workshops as "Earth Care and Justice For All" and youth choirs from across the country and urging dozens of regional churches to focus on the theme of rebirth from the Book of Ezekiel next Sunday. A Sokka Gakkai Buddhist center in Northwest will be open all day, saying it sees the inauguration as a "teaching moment for Buddhists." The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington calls it a "special opportunity" for interfaith dialogue by placing visitors in homes of people of another faith.
Washington's Methodist churches are hosting people from across the country and holding blood drives, performances by out-of-town choirs and lectures on "The Politics of Jesus in the Gospel."
The Catholic Church is not out of this one either. Project Rachel will be posting ads in the Metro. Maybe this will do some good. Even though I'll be in Disney World, I'll be praying with you that day.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
"Attachment is forbidden," replies Anakin. "Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say that we are encouraged to love."
This eschewing of "attachment" and "possession" are hallmarks of many spiritual traditions and roads to enlightenment - including our Christian tradition. Love that possesses is not truly love in the Christian sense. When we believe that the object of our love must do, act, and be exactly the way we want them to be, act and do, then we are not really in love with them, so much as we are with ourselves. The Jedi tradition of detachment is not a running away from love, so much as it is a way of fulfilling love. Anakin's problem becomes that he fails to live by his own defined version of that Jedi admonition. He wants to possess, and therefore fears losing, the object of his love, Padme. Certainly, he truly loves her; but this love is imperfect since it seeks to maintain all control.
In a conversation with Yoda in "Revenge of the Sith," Anakin hears more of the Jedi's philosophy of detachment. Anakin describes his vision of losing someone close to him, and Yoda gives him some advice.
"Fear of loss is a pathway to the Dark Side," he tells the young Jedi. "Attachment leads to jealousy; the shadow of greed, that is.
"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose."
His advice, again, is not meant to create a cold, loveless person. Rather, this sort of "loving detachment" is meant to engender a response that is born of true love. For the Christian, we too are encouraged to love. We are called to fall in love - all of us - even me. However, this love cannot be a possessive, jealous love - that is really selfishness. Jesus bore this unconditional love for others. He was able to enter into loving, personal relationships, and these relationships did not exclude Him from still going on to have more and love more. This sort of love cannot be spent or exhausted, because it has as its Source the very love that is God.
Friday, January 9, 2009
The folks over at Busted Halo have a great Catholic time-waster. Check your Catholic knowledge - and avoid burning in Hell - but answering some (ahem) simple questions about the Church, prayer, history, theology, devotions, and the like. I made it to Heaven, but it's only because I managed to guess right on some of the Hollywood questions (what that has to do with the Catholic Church, I don't know)! At any rate, it's great fun.
Here's the link. Thanks to friend and colleague, Cassandra!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The American style of worship, like everything else in people's overloaded lives, is speeding up.So you're racing through another jam-packed day, late picking up the kids from basketball practice because you got stuck at the office. You still have to pay the bills, walk the dog and perhaps grab cold pizza before collapsing into bed.Or check out "5 Minute Theologian: Maximum Truth in Minimum Time."
When do you ever find time for God?
One publisher has the answer: "The One Minute Bible, Day by Day," whose brief readings promise to inspire your "daily walk with the Lord."
Because man does not live by bread alone -- and might be tempted to eat on the run -- there's "Aunt Susie's 10-Minute Bible Dinners: Bringing God Into Your Life One Dish at a Time."
This hurried search for the Almighty partly explains the rise of a niche industry of books, DVDs, podcasts, text messages and e-mail blasts that distill the essentials of faith, from creation to the crucifixion.
The materials offer bite-sized spiritual morsels that can be digested in minutes, or even seconds, on the daily commute, aboard airplanes or at the dinner table. As "7 Minutes With God" advises: "Take 7 minutes each day to: build your faith in God, grow closer to the Father, make progress in your spiritual life."
These "get-holy-quick schemes" are a reflection of the spiritual hunger that we all feel. We know we should pray, but we are so busy. We know God should have some time in our lives, but so do the kids, the boss, the government, the television, the iPod, the email, the instant messages.... Sound familiar?
Well, these various attempts to squeeze God in may be on to something. But do not think that reading a chuck of the Bible for a minute will do. Yes, start somewhere. But if you are truly serious about building your prayer life, believe me - God will take that minute and stretch it out on you. My recommendation is more on the line of the "7 Minutes With God." But whatever you do - do something! It just won't happen. We need to take that first step - turn off the TV; get up a little earlier; unplug the Wii, stop blogging for a minute (ahem).
Just do it. God is waiting for whatever you're going to give.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The jealousy and retribution against the king and queen is a fairly easily recognized stylization of the devil's rebellion against God and his seduction of humanity. Death, then, enters the world. Now, God could certainly have pressed the reset button on that one. He could have just banished the devil and healed the wounds that Adam and Eve's sin cast upon the human race. But, He does not do that. God's love respects our human freedom, and He works with what we give Him.
The three fairies recognize that their magic cannot undo the curse that Maleficent cast. However, the third fairy, Merryweather, offers a ray of hope - even in the midst of the terrible possibility of the princess' falling under the curse. The "death" she experiences is actually sleep, and the kiss of true love can undo the spell.
God's true love for us undoes the "spell" of sin and death. It is not magic, it is the Passion that God has for us - so much so that He sends His only Son to suffer and die for us, and through Him we have eternal life. God's respect for our freedom allows Him to work through the messes that our lives can become. No matter how rough we may have it, God can get there and bring us out. Because true love conquers all.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
In his book, Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser cites a disturbing statistic for me. In a study done among people from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and Australia (about 5,000 people), 81% readily recognized the Golden Arches as representing the McDonald's brand. In that same survey, 54% could identify the Christian Cross.
Just a little more than half.
This underscores for me the necessity of catechesis - and constant catechesis - for our young people. I tried this statistic out with the kids at a Children's Liturgy of the Word once. I showed pictures of President Bush, the pope, our archbishop, and then Ronald McDonald. They all seemed to recognize that familiar clown. A picture of Jesus brought almost as much recognition - much to my relief.
John is a good model here. Even before his personal encounter with Christ (beyond his in utero meeting at the Visitation), John fostered his relationship with the God Who would speak over the waters of the Jordan. Because he kept that relationship open and strong, he was able to point and say, "Behold! The Lamb of God!" It's the same for us. We must know our faith not only to pass it on to others, but also to recognize Our Lord as He encounters us daily.
Catechesis - I'm lovin' it!
Monday, January 5, 2009
What super power should you have?
As Christians, we are encouraged to have heroes - even superheroes. They are our saints - men and women whose lives of holiness can inspire us to even greater holiness in our own lives. They, too, have super powers. No, not the kind that we pray for and then expect "magically" to have all problems go away. The saints' super power is one that we already can possess. Their super power is faithfulness. It is this fidelity to God's Word and Law that makes them stronger than any evil they may encounter. You have this power too - God gives it to us all through His gracious gift of faith through our baptism. So, we can be heroes to each other.
Of course, I already knew that!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
These holy cards and icons have a special value for us Christians. They are more than "bubble gum cards". In fact, they are spiritual gems that give us a window to heaven, as the Orthodox so aptly able to see much more clearly than we do most of the time. These icons, like statues, are not objects of worship, but rather, they are representations of the holy, and they draw our attention in and lift us up to the thing they represent. Most Orthodox Christians have icons prominently displayed in their homes and have personal favorites as well.
I came across a blog that celebrates these holy images - holy cards and icons - and there are some beautiful ones there. Check out Holy Cards for Your Inspiration. And when you look upon an image of the Washing of the Feet, say a little prayer for me too!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Well, since we are stuck with a solemn feast that has been artificially bumped to a Sunday, for "pastoral" reasons, let me try to help. When I was in seminary at the North American College in Rome (where they still celebrate Epiphany on the 12th Day after Christmas), we were given a little "worship aid" to keep in our breviaries so that when we return we can celebrate appropriately. Ready gang? Here goes:
- The period from January 2 to the Second Sunday of Christmas, or to the Epiphany when it falls on a Sunday, makes use of the First Week of the Psalter. The Second Sunday of Christmas, or the Epiphany when it falls on a Sunday, begins the Second Week of the Psalter.
- A date rather than a day more correctly identifies the Propers for the period from January 2 to the Epiphany. So, on page 502 of the Liturgy of the Hours, vol. I, the Proper for the day that follows the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, should read "January 2," and not "Monday," and so on (This means that today, for example, read from the Proper labeled as "Tuesday", even though it is Saturday).
- A date rather than a day likewise more correctly identifies the Propers for the period after the Epiphany to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. So, on page 575 of the Liturgy of the Hours, vol. I, the Proper for the day that follows the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord should read "Monday or January 7," and so on. Thus, whether or not Epiphany is celebrated on Sunday or on January 6, the sequence of Propers is maintained.
Whew! I hope that this helps at least one person who might be as confused at this time of year as I am! The "Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate," I think, has it correct, but the above guide is for those who use the actual books. Peace, and happy prayer!
Friday, January 2, 2009
Thursday, January 1, 2009
As is usual at the end of the year, we all look back. When I did, I saw a few good friends who died, my father’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffering in Africa, and continued discord in the Holy Land. Then I heard the DJ’s words: “It all goes away and we start fresh…”
However, he is wrong – dead wrong.
It does not “go away.” All these things remain. It is not as if at 12:00 midnight on New Year’s Eve God – or anyone else – pushes the grand Reset Button, and everything goes back to “normal,” only to be made a mess of again in the new year. Everything that we struggle with will be there today, as it was yesterday – and, you know what? It’ll be there tomorrow too! We will have to return to work, to school, to life, and we will have to face it as usual.
Well, fortunately, when I looked back, I saw some good things too. I saw the inspiring faith of the students in my campus ministry; I saw my father respond well to his treatment; I saw a new niece join my family; I saw people come together to help others. That was part of the past year as well. That does not just “go away” either.
Certainly, New Year’s Day is a time to look ahead and expect good things. But, we Catholics do it a little different. We take our cue from Mary, the Mother of God, who “kept these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” None of the events of Christmas were lost on her; none of the visits, none of the angel’s words; none of the gifts; none of the danger – none of it “went away.” Yes, some of it was hard and scary, and yes, there was difficulty and suffering ahead. However, Mary faced all of it as any true Christian must – with faith, hope and charity.
Today, we celebrate her singular role in creation and in the New Creation. Mary, the Mother of God, knows what it is to be disappointed and what it is to have her hopes fulfilled one hundred times over. She is our model and our hope.
Today, sure, let’s start fresh. But let’s not forget lessons learned and help requested; let’s not forget the words of encouragement from friends and strangers and the cry of those who still need that encouragement. Today a new year begins. If we are true to our faith, this is an exciting time, filled with promise and grace.
Life is waiting for us, again, this year.
And so is God.