Friday, June 29, 2012

To Clear Things Up

It bugs the tar out of my wife when I say "a couple" and mean more than 2.
So, naturally, I agree with this.

100% Organic Sex

HEY CATHOLIC YOUNG ADULTS - give 1Flesh some attention
(and some clicks):

More about 1Flesh:
If anything can be said of our generation, it’s this: We want sexy back. Our parent’s generation, well, they lost it. They delivered to us a world with sky-high rates of divorce, abortion, and STDs; a world bored with sex and bored with romance; a world in which more and more people are turning to pornography to find sexual satisfaction; a world in which 1 in 5 women report being sexual assaulted, and the human body — the sexiest thing in the universe — is used to sell cars.

After extremely little consideration, we decided we don’t want that. We want awesome relationships and mind-blowing sex lives. We want women and men to be respected and loved for who they are, to the very depths of their being. We want sex free from fear, love free from use, and a world of people who love and respect their own bodies. In short, we want sexy back. In fact, we demand it.

So we got together — a group of college kids — to find the root of this mentality. (aka what the hell happened!?) Well, though any cultural change contains all sorts of contributing factors, we think we’ve narrowed all the wackness down to its primary cause: The widespread use of artificial contraception.

This is a dangerous idea. It’s dangerous because artificial contraception is heavily promoted by big pharmaceutical companies — like Bayer Corp. — and contraception providers — like Planned Parenthood. It’s dangerous because it’s not an idea supported by those in power. But most of all, it’s dangerous because it’s true.

We found, by looking at the best available analysis from sociology, medicine, philosophy and economics, that the widespread use of artificial contraception has failed to decrease STD prevalence, increased the global rate of HIV, seriously harmed the environment, screwed up relationships, and is strongly correlated with increased divorces, abortions, and unplanned pregnancies. We found that hormonal contraception significantly increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease, and may very well be lowering her sex drive. We found that the safety and effectiveness artificial contraception is often falsely advertised by pharmaceutical companies, and that the health benefits of hormonal contraception are totally exaggerated.

So we were all like,

"The Church Is Not A Community Of The Perfect"

Pope Benedict XVI said:
"The Church is not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God's love, their need to be purified through the cross of Christ."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Protestant Bible Translators Take "Father" and "Son" Out of Bible Meant For Muslims

In an attempt to reach out to Muslims, who reject the Trinitarian understanding of God, the Wycliffe Bible Translators (an interdenominational group) has decided to take out the words "Father" and "Son". Several Protestant denominations are in an uproar about it all:
The Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly on Thursday approved resolutions that criticize Wycliffe Bible Translators new Bible translations geared toward Muslims that omit "Father" and "Son" from the Trinity. PCA delegate Rev. Travis Hutchinson reports the resolutions "passed almost unanimously."

Not even Wycliffe's move to submit to a World Evangelical Alliance's review could stop PCA from expressing its concern over Wycliffe's translation practices. At issue is Wycliffe's contention that in certain "Muslim contexts" where "a literal translation of 'Son of God' would communicate wrong meaning, an alternative form with equivalent meaning may be used."

PCA joins the Assemblies of God, which also has expressed serious reservations in its document about Wycliffe's translation philosophy. The Assemblies of God World Missions has threatened to sever ties if "Father" and "Son" are not translated literally.

Wycliffe has had a long and respected history of Bible translation, but the public rebuke from these denominations could have serious financial implications. The PCA resolutions recommend churches to cut funding not only for questionable Wycliffe translation projects but also for "persons advocating problematic approaches to translation."
Continue Reading.
To "water down" the Scriptures is not the way to get Muslims to convert to Christianity. The denominations pushing back are correct in this debate.

An Interview With Aggie Catholic Josh Simmons

MARCEL - You are the owner of a large Catholic website company (eCatholic). Can you tell us your story about how the company started and where you are today?

JOSH - To be honest, it all kind of started by accident.

After graduating from Texas A&M in 2000, I worked as a Catholic youth minister in Dallas for two years. While there, I taught myself web design so that I could create a website for our teens. In retrospect, the website was terrible. But for 2002, it was pretty cool.

Over the next couple months, I started designing websites for other people and realized that:
1) I loved creating websites and
2) I could make money on the side doing so. 
This would allow me to stay in full-time ministry with a growing family.

In July 2004, while recovering from a tonsillectomy, I taught myself to program and expanded from just web “design” to web “development”. By April 2005, between my role at the parish and my growing business, I was working 80-hour weeks with a wife and two small children at home. Life was beyond hectic and something had to give.

In June 2005, I left my position at the parish to begin the development of eCatholic, a custom content management system for Catholic parishes, dioceses, and schools. In December 2005, I released eCatholic with the hopes that I could get 10-20 parishes signed up. Seven years later, we have grown to a team of five and serve 850+ Catholic clients around the world.

MARCEL - How has your Catholic faith played a part in building your company?

JOSH First, when I quit my job working at the parish, my monthly income from creating websites was only 25% of what my family needed. It took a lot of prayer and a huge leap of faith to step out of the boat and trust that we would not sink. But God is faithful and provided exactly what we needed that first month – and every month since.

Second, I have always tried to incorporate prayer in the business. From day one I have asked God to “give us the customers you want us to have and take away the ones that you don’t.” I also try to apply the principles of discernment to decisions that I make regarding hiring, marketing, and more. In addition, I stop by Eucharistic Adoration on the way to work each morning to pray for my team members and their families, as well as our customers and their service to the Church.

Finally, I have strived to create a Catholic culture around the office. We try to attend daily Mass once a month as a team, as well as open team meetings with prayer. It has been my goal to always treat my team members with respect and dignity and to be a family oriented company.

MARCEL - What is the Catholic Church not doing in New Media / Tech that we need to be doing? Why?

JOSH A lot! The majority of Catholic parish websites are still really bad and very few parishes are utilizing social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. So what do we need to be doing? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Recognize and understand the important role that the internet should play in ministry.
  2. Understand why Catholic parishes need a great website as well as how to create one.
  3. Embrace new media by blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.
  4. Offer parishioners online tithing.

In short, we need to meet people where they are – online. Only then can we effectively engage them and bring them into the community of the Church.

MARCEL - What do you think will be the next big thing in New Media / Tech that we should plan for?

JOSH -That’s the billion-dollar question. If I could answer that, I would have created Instagram.

MARCEL - What was your favorite memory of St. Mary’s as a student?

JOSH As a Catholic “revert”, I did not find my way home to the Church until my Senior year at A&M, so unfortunately, I don’t have many memories at St. Mary’s. However, the two memories that I cherish the most were going to daily Mass after class each day with 150+ other students and meeting my wife while staffing Aggie Awakening.

MARCEL - What is your favorite Aggie tradition?

JOSH The 12th Man. After all, it’s so Catholic – 12 men, always eager and ready, one unified body, willing to sacrifice when called upon. Plus, living in College Station, I have the opportunity to experience this tradition on a regular basis.

Follow Josh:

Atheist Blogger Becomes Catholic

You can read about it here and you can watch the video below.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Is An Annulment?

The Loneliest Church in the World

When I walk around town or through campus, I notice how little people interact with others face-to-face in our modern culture. Think of all the multitasking we do in our lives these days, yet how little we spend in real human communication. It is more common for someone to be looking at a phone, than it is for them to look you in the eye and greet you. 

Facebook, Twitter, texting, email, etc. are full of information and have some communication built into them, but they are all impersonal methods of communication. There is no real person-to-person interaction and the results are that our culture is becoming less friendly, less personal, less intimate.

In the midst of this impersonal culture our faith calls us to become a community of people gathered together in God's name. We are called to care for one another. Love one another. Serve one another. We fail at this miserably, because we don't even KNOW one another.

God gives us the gift of a specific parish. A church family. Yet, we treat each other as strangers. We don't reach out to each other. God wants us to attack the loneliness in the parishes we are in. The heart of so many people is yearning for true communion with others in our parishes. Yet, we widely ignore most of those sitting around us. I imagine Jesus would weep at how unwelcoming and impersonal most parishes are today.

Church can be very lonely for a lot of people. Many come to church, participate, and then leave without any real human interaction, except for the sign of peace. It is very common to have to crawl over people into a pew, because so many sit at the edges of the pew, and give off the message that others aren't welcome to sit next to them. Even our body language says a lot. 

Our churches can seem to be like the wilderness Jesus entered into.
Our churches are sometimes the loneliest places in the world, because they are meant to be open, welcoming, warm, and friendly.

But, most are not...

What can we do about it?
What does God want out of our parishes?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fr. Barron on "For Greater Glory" Movie



These two videos are why Al Gore invented the interwebs. :-P

An Interview With Aggie Catholic Arland Nichols

Arland K. Nichols is the National Director of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. He is also an Aggie Catholic. He will be speaking this Thursday, June 21, at 6:30 in the Church on the threats to religious freedom and what Catholics should do about it. This talk is part of St. Mary's participation in the Fortnight for Freedom (prayer and fasting for religious freedom) our Bishops have asked us to participate in.

MARCEL - Tell us how you got involved in pro-life work?
ARLAND - Through my discernment and education over the years I was increasingly drawn toward education and in particular, education that had as its center the dignity of every human being. This led me to Pope John XXIII High School in Katy where I was the Director of Campus Ministry and Instructor of Morality and bioethics for 5 years. Teaching and writing on various topics within morality and bioethics quickly became my passion and so when Human Life International (which is the world’s largest international pro-life organization) offered me the job to develop a pro-life and pro-family educational ministry to the United States it was a natural fit and exciting opportunity. I am blessed to be able to approach my pro-life work from the perspective of an educator, theologian, and philosopher which gives me a unique niche in an important work.

MARCEL - How has your Catholic faith played a part in your work?
ARLAND - Without a doubt the gift of Faith has played an absolutely central role in my work. I like to say that we are Catholic before we are pro-life, or perhaps more precisely, we are pro-life because we are Catholic. That is to say, the Church, Magisterium, Scripture and our Bishops give us the guiding light that directs our pro-life and pro-family apostolate. To be fruitful pro-life work must flow from the heart of the Church, the heart of our Faith. Further, pro-life work can be quite trying, so faith sustains in those moments of need.

MARCEL - What do you want others to know about the pro-life movement?
ARLAND - Blessed John Paul II told our founder, Father Paul Marx, that he was doing “the most important work on earth.” I believe the life and family issues are the “social justice” battle of our day. The lives of the innocent, those impacted by broken marriages, and the vulnerable cry out to us all to act…to do something about it. The Culture of Death and “dictatorship of opinion” are destroying the fabric of society and the lives of individuals and we cannot be complacent and watch it happen. We must stand up and defend marriage, family, life, and religious liberty. Our world needs us, and we must pray for courage to proclaim His love in truth. If there is one thing that the young should know about pro-life work it is this: We need men and women who seek holiness, who desire nothing less than to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

MARCEL - What do you think will be the next big threat to our religious and civil liberties? How do we overcome the threat(s)?
ARLAND - There is no question in my mind about this important question – the push to normalize homosexual sexual acts and relationships, and to radically redefine marriage. It’s not really the next big threat because it is a frightening, militant, and destructive threat right now. I say this with conviction but also with pause because we must have the utmost respect for the inherent dignity of every person including those who are attracted to persons of the same sex. This cannot be forgotten. At the same time we cannot be neutral toward, or praise disordered sexual acts. Further, the radical redefinition of marriage that is currently being pushed throughout the whole world, especially here in the States will likely destroy what is left of marriage – a sacred and fundamental institution of nature that has been raised by Christ to a sacrament of his love for the Church. It cannot be understated that those who are pushing this agenda are more than willing to destroy religious liberty and rights of conscience in order to secure a so-called “right to love in the way that they choose” to quote a prominent politician. We need to pray ardently for this issue.

MARCEL - Can you tell us about your experience as a student at St. Mary’s?
ARLAND - These were days full of God’s favor and blessing. Most importantly I met, dated, proposed to, and married my better half at Saint Mary’s. My closest friends to this day were roommates and collaborators in the Saint Mary’s vineyard. As is my wont, I was involved in so many activities – looking back, I was over-involved – and I loved every minute of it. I tended to gravitate toward leadership positions and I am grateful to Father Mike, Father David and Father Keith for their patience as I “cut my teeth” in positions of leadership. I have the position I have at my young age today largely because these priests let me learn through my many mistakes. Like so many students today, Saint Mary’s was my home away from home. It is, I believe, the best college campus ministry in the nation and I was so privileged to be there for five years. Yes, five.

MARCEL What is your favorite Aggie tradition?
ARLAND - Why, the end of midnight yell when the lights were turned off, of course! I’m just joking, I promise. Actually, I didn’t care for that tradition. My favorite tradition is the “Howdy” offered to so many people. Not because there’s anything special about the word but because that cordial, joy-filled greeting symbolized an appreciation of people. It showed a respect and deference to the humanity and God-given dignity of the stranger and friend alike. To this day when I see Aggie students at talks I give around the state, I am blessed by their warm, “Howdy.”

Perhaps also, I might consider Saint Mary’s to be the best Aggie tradition. Texas A&M is a great University, and Saint Mary’s Catholic Center makes it the best public university for the next generation to go to school if they are serious about their faith. No doubt about it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Future of Social Media

A very informative video from the leading experts in the field of social media.

Friendship Evangelization

Friendship Evangelization

In a recent interview with Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, reminded us that
“Catholics can proclaim the Gospel through their acts of service for others…. Charity must be a kind of evangelization - not direct evangelization, but to make each one know who Christ is, and know the love of God.”
This is exactly the philosophy of the Catholic ministry ‘A Simple House’; they spread the Gospel through what they call “friendship evangelization” performed through words, actions, and relationships.

Following is an account from the year-long volunteer experience with ‘A Simple House’ of Kelly Deutsch, who spent the spring of 2011 at St. Mary’s with the Apostles of the Interior Life and is currently in formation in Italy with the Apostles.
Continue reading.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Same Sex Marriage Debate Flow Chart

It isn't perfect (missing some finer points) but it hits the highlights:
Tip o' the h to Tim Hsaio
Click the picture for a larger version.

An Interview With Aggie Catholic Abby Johnson

Abby Johnson was hired at the Bryan, TX Planned Parenthood in 2005, and progressed to the position of community services director and health educator, where she served as liaison between the community and Planned Parenthood as media correspondent. She was then promoted to health center director.

In 2009 Abby left Planned Parenthood and joined the local Coalition for Life as a volunteer. After her story hit the national news, I texted my friend, Shawn Carney (then Director of the Coalition for Life and now national Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life). I asked him what was going on and when he was going to bring Abby to come talk to me about becoming Catholic. Shawn, of course, told me to tap the brakes. I did. But, that isn't the end of the story.

Abby and her husband, Doug, eventually did come to talk to me about the Catholic Church. She was full of great questions and had a number of issues with the whole "Catholic thing". I did a one-on-two RCIA program with them, because here schedule was too sporadic to be able to do a regular program. By the time she came to see me, she was already traveling the country talking about her conversion.

Abby now serves as Chief Research Strategist for Live Action, Senior Policy Advisor for Americans United for Life, and works on projects with the national 40 Days for Life campaign. She recently started a new ministry aimed at helping abortion workers leave the abortion industry - it is called And Then There Were None. She and Doug have a young daughter (and another baby on the way).

Abby and Doug were both received into full communion with the Catholic Church this past Easter.

Did I mention that she has a B.S. in psychology from Texas A&M University?

Below is my interview with Abby:

MARCEL - Abby, you haven't always been an too interested in Catholic stuff. Can you tell our readers about your story?
ABBY - Well, I think Catholicism has always been interesting to me. While working at Planned Parenthood (PP) for 8 years, my house was covered in Catholic (in particular Marian) art. People used to leave Miraculous Medals outside on the sidewalks. I would go and pick them up and put them in a bowl in my office. I think I was always interested in Catholic "stuff" because it was a mystery to me. I felt a strong connection to Mary, but couldn't explore that until I left PP.

MARCEL What do you have to say to our non-Catholic readers about the Catholic faith?
ABBY - I have been able to unravel so many myths that I once believed about the Catholic Church. Once those myths had been revealed as such, I realized that all of the answers that I had ever wanted about God and "religion" were answered in the Catholic Church. Everything we know to be true is scripturally based...something I didn't realize. I'm not going to say that it was easy for me to get on board with everything that we know as certainly wasn't. But after much time in prayer, I realized that if I am going to believe in what Scripture says, then it made sense to fully embrace the Catholic Church.

MARCEL What do we need to know about the abortion industry?
ABBY - The abortion industry exists because of two primary reasons. One, people are under the false belief that abortion is convenient. Women and men believe that having an abortion will solve their problems. They can simply "get rid" of their babies and never think about it again. But we know that is not true. Abortion is the most unnatural thing a woman does to her child. Women never regret having children, but they do regret having abortions. Two, Christians have taken far too long to stand up for the sanctity of human life. Because of that delay, we now see that abortion has crept into our churches, including the Catholic Church. If we are going to fight this, we must stand up against this evil and take back the truth.

MARCEL You have started a new ministry for workers in the abortion field. What do you hope to accomplish with this new group?
ABBY - Our new ministry, And Then There Were None, focuses on reaching out to abortion clinic workers in order to transition them out of the industry. We provide four streams of support: financial, legal, emotional and spiritual. We know that many workers feel trapped inside the abortion industry and are looking for a way out. In the past four months, we have helped 17 workers leave the abortion industry and have conversions on the issue of life. For more information, you can visit

MARCEL What other plans do you have for the future?
ABBY - I currently work as Chief Research Strategist for Live Action Films. I am the Senior Policy Advisor for Americans United for Life. I serve as president of the board for the Austin Coalition for Life. And of course now serve as the founder and President for And Then There Were None. I believe it is important that we all get involved in as many pro-life organizations as possible. We need to cover activism and legislation. My hope is to continue these activities until abortion is not just illegal, but unthinkable.

MARCEL What is your favorite Aggie tradition?
ABBY - The Aggie Ring is my all-time favorite Aggie tradition. It truly is an outward sign that all Aggies are family. I loved getting it and now I love wearing it every day. It is a way that we are connected to all Aggies since 1894. I travel all over the world and have run into Aggies everywhere...and they can all spot me by my Aggie ring.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fr. Barron - It Is OK To Be Anti-Heresy

Top 35 Saints Names Rarely Picked for Confirmation

I want video of the Bishop who confirms any person who takes these Saint names for Confirmation.
In making this list, I do not intend to ridicule the Saints or those they intercede for.

No names are made up.

Top 35 Saints Names Rarely Picked for Confirmation

35 - Saint Abban of Magheranoidhe
-My tongue hurts from trying to pronounce Mag2#*yudrand.

34 - Blessed Rudolph Aquaviva
-Isn't a bottled water named after him? No that was Saint Flavian of Acquapendente.

33 - Saint Exuperance
-She was very enthusiastic.

32 - Saint Fabius Claudius Gordianus Fulgentius
-I wonder if his parents spoke Latin?

31 - Saint Zynovij Kovalyk
-The last Saint in the alphabet and one of the hardest to pronounce.

30 - Saint Gall
-He was brazenly bold.

29 - Saint Aceptismas
-He accepts the Mass.

28 - Saint Lancelot.
-No. Not THAT Lancelot.

27 - Saint Vimin of Holywood
-Holywood not Hollywood. Big difference.

26 - Saint Austin (AKA - St. Augustine of Canterbury)
-When will there be a St. College Station?

25 - Saint Artaxus of Syrmium
-Any Saint name that sounds like "tax us" probably isn't going to be awfully popular.

24 - Saint Christina the Astonishing
-Sounds more like a master of illusion show.

23 - Saint Januarius
-Followed by Februarius, then Marcharius, etc.

22 - Saint Alphege the Bald
-I like this guy.

21 - Saint Mamas
-One of a kind. This is the only Mamas that is not a woman.

20 - Saint Bairfhion
-Huh huh. He said "barf".

19 - Saint Teath
-Patron against cavities?

18 - Saint Tron
-The video game was better than the movie.

17 - Saint Kenny
-Only his mother called him "Kenneth"

16 - Saint John the Great Sinner
-I can relate to this Saint...

15 - Saint Conon
-That was close. I thought it was "Conan".

14 - Saint Bru
-Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "What's up Bru?"

13 - Saint Olive of Palermo
-Her mother was a Kalamata.

12 - Saint Vicelin, Apostle of Holstein
-Is this the patron of fresh milk?

11 - Saint Dora
-She discipled Boots and evangelized Swiper.

10 - Saint Rollox
-Always on time.

9 - Saint Nabor
-Nothing is known about Nabor. Of course, most don't know their neighbor.

8 - Saint Gwynnin
-Can I buy a vowel?

7 - Blessed Andrea Carlo Ferrari
-His once vice was driving very fast in fancy cars.

6 - Saint Olav the Thick
-Just don't call him that.

5 - Our Lady of Knock
-Who's there?

4 - Saint Pancratius
-I got over it with some strong antibiotics.

3 - Saint Peter Chanel
-Always smelled good.

2 - Saint Guy
-Patron of dudes?

1 - Saint Chillen of Aubigny
-Ah yeah. Chillin' with Chillen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Are NOT The Center of the Universe

The problem with our modern understanding of education is we have made the ultimate goal of education about getting a job and being a "high-achiever", not about learning for the sake of learning. If what we learn in school is true, then it is a good thing, in-and-of-itself. The good we get from it might lead to other achievements (e.g., good grades, jobs, etc), but the point of getting an education is to learn the truth and to conform our lives to that truth.

Truth is of God. God is truth, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John (14:6). So, every true thing we learn, whether it is a math problem, a history lesson, or a Bible verse is a participation in God's very nature. Therefore, education is a good thing because it draws us closer to the nature of the one who made truth; who is truth.

Our current cultural understanding of truth is muddled by relativism and utilitarianism. We find "our truths" to be sacred, but no other. This leads to a subjective understanding of education. It is not about finding and conforming our lives to what is true, but rather, it is about achievement. If I achieve, I am good. If I achieve, I am valuable. But, this is a lie. Our dignity isn't about whether we achieve anything or not, but rather it too is found in the truth about the nature of God and our sharing in that nature as God's sons and daughters.

So, this universal dignity means that in God's eyes (and in reality) I am not any better than another person, in my dignity or worth. But, I am still greatly valued. So, are you.

The culture will still tell you that you are worth only what you can do. This means every time you fail to achieve more than the next person, you devalue yourself. Another lie.

This is the point I take from the following video, where a high school graduation speaker tells the students they are not special and are not the center of the universe. They need to hear it, because too often the opposite is the message they receive from modern culture and life will then disappoint and show them they are not. He urges them to do things they love and find important. Not to seek self-indulgence, but rather to read, to work on their character, dream big, be selfless, etc. It is a great message which points out they have to work hard to have a good life - it won't be handed to them. Finally, he states everyone IS special, because we all share in a special nature - being human.

But, enough rambling. Watch:

Tip o' the hat to CMR for the video.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Entertainment or Advocacy?

I think this one answers itself. A new show from NBC coming soon. Here is the description from NBC:
These days, families come in all forms - single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors... It's 2012 and anything goes.

Bryan and David are a Beverly Hills couple and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed and loving partnership, the one thing missing is a baby. And just when they think the stars will never align, enter Goldie, an extraordinary young woman with a checkered past. A Midwestern waitress and single mother looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother, Goldie decides to change everything and move to L.A. with her precocious eight-year-old daughter. Desperate and broke - but also fertile - Goldie quickly becomes the guys' surrogate and quite possibly the girl of their dreams. Surrogate mother, surrogate family.
Try out the trailer:

Here is what we are being told by this show - The traditional idea of "family" is now passe' and culturally-unacceptable, so the discussion is over. In other words, we (the media/entertainment industry) get to define "family" however we want and you can't. Did we mention morals? Of course not...don't push your morality on me!!!

This is the kind of show that crosses from entertainment into advocacy.

Is Obedience a Virtue or a Vice?

Obedience: Virtue or Vice
by Kristine Cranley

The other day I was a guest at a farm. Going up to greet the resident livestock, I noticed one of them trying to get its mouth around the savory pieces of grass just beyond the fence. Although I had noticed signs asking guests not to feed the animals, I rationalized that that sign probably meant not feeding them ‘people food’, or something like that. I clandestinely plucked the coveted grass and gave it to the eager lips. Walking along farther I noticed another sign explaining the original: “please do not feed the animals because grass may contain pesticides which are toxic to them”.
Disobedience = Vice

Yet, is it that simple? Anyone who has studied psychology is familiar with the horrifying ‘Milgram experiment’ done in the aftermath of World War II in an attempt to understand how so many people could have gone along with the atrocities of Nazi Germany. In this experiment volunteers were asked to deliver increasing levels of electric shock to what they believed was a participant on the other side of the screen (but in actuality was a recording). As the experiment continued, the invisible receiver of the shocks emphatically voiced his protest, claiming that he had a heart condition which made such shocks extremely dangerous to him, and begging them to stop. Meanwhile the director of the experiment continued to order increased shocks. The results were that a majority of the participants obeyed to the end, even when they suspected it might cause the death of the one they were shocking. Milgram published his summary of the experiment in 1974, entitling it ‘the Perils of Obedience’.
Obedience = Vice

I would venture to guess that most Americans today would agree with the second conclusion; namely that obedience is dangerous and stifling to human development. Obedience has become almost a dirty word. Disobedience has meanwhile become ‘in vogue’. As matter of fact, Time Magazine declared ‘the protester’ as ‘the person of the year’ for 2011. The ‘spirit of rebelliousness’ has in many ways become the ‘esprit de corp’ of the day.

How then can we make sense of a Church, which claims to offer truths to be believed and obeyed? Can we trust such a Church, in the face of so much media coverage regarding the sins of some of its members? Simultaneously, how do we respond when we are ordered to act in ways contrary to the law of God? To help make sense of this question, I want to offer some thoughts on the concept of authority.

“All Authority Comes from God”
-Romans 13:1

Jesus shocked the people of his time because, unlike the religious leaders,
he taught them as one with authority” -Mt. 7:29
The dictionary defines authority as “the power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge”. God Himself is our ultimate authority. He has the authority to command us, and it is right and just for us to obey. Obedience to God is a virtue! Without it we cannot reach our full human potential. The people recognized in Jesus’ teaching the authority of God Himself. There was a supernatural weight behind His words. He affirmed this Himself on the day He ascended into Heaven, declaring
all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you-Mt. 28:18-20
St. Paul describes the charism which animated his entire preaching mission as
grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of the faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” -Romans 1:5
The obedience of faith.
Obedience =Virtue.

Scripture testifies to how pleasing obedience is to God. He chastises the disobedient King Saul:
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices; as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”  -1 Samuel 15:22-23
Jesus too tells his disciples that loving Him is equivalent to obeying Him:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” -John 14:15.
The beloved disciple in turn testifies to this mark of true discipleship, stating
“for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." -1 John 5:3
But what about obeying people? Frail sinful human beings who (unlike Jesus) are not God? In what sense is it ever good to obey them? Here is where the Catholic Church makes a radically unpopular claim. Our Lord has shared His authority with human beings, and we have an obligation to obey them when they command within their jurisdiction. In so doing, we obey God.

Authority Within One’s Jurisdiction

What does this NOT mean? We are NEVER obligated to obey a command which is sinful. This is because no one is authorized to command something which is contrary to the law of God. Remember, God is the true authority, from whom all authentic human authority is derived.

And God does not give His authority to every passerby who decides to order us around. The scientists in Milgram’s experiment had no authority to order their subjects to harm another participant (a truth which they were horrified to discover their participants didn’t seem to understand). Similarly doctors do not have the authority to order a woman to abort her child, even when the child is sick (although from the stories women tell, many doctors seem to have forgotten this truth). And yet we can say the Lord does continue to entrust his authority to certain people in certain situations.

A Few Examples …

In regard to governments, the Scriptures make a shocking statement:
let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” -Romans 13:1
This needs to be read with the understanding that God’s authority (which must always be obeyed) is only present when those in power rule according to His law. Laws must therefore respect the inalienable dignity of the human person to be binding. For St. Thomas Aquinas, laws are only valid when they are in accord with natural law, God’s truth written into the universe and capable of being understood by all (The 10 Commandments are a great summary of much of the content of natural law). Legislators exercise authority rightly when they rule for the sake of the common good of all, and not just certain groups (such as those outside the womb). Legislators have the authority to set the speed limit at whatever speed they want (within reason), and those laws are binding upon us. However, when governments command violations of human dignity, such as forced abortion, forced sterilization, and the violation of conscience, they step beyond their rightful authority and subjects are not bound to obey. God’s authority is never present when sin is commanded.

God also grants fathers and mothers His own authority over their children. Parents are supposed to mediate God’s providential care to the child. Again this is a topic wrought with difficulty and need for clarification. What about parents who manipulate children, abuse them, command them to violate Gods law, or suffer from mental illness? In so doing they step out of the line of God’s authority and no longer operate under it. Honoring one’s parents is not equivalent to obeying what ought not be obeyed, or allowing oneself to be abused, violated or manipulated. Parents are given God’s authority for the sake of ruling for the good of the entire family. Thus when parents command within their proper jurisdiction they exercise God’s own authority over their children, and it is right and just for the child obey them. However, once one has become an adult, parents no longer retain that authority. At that point, although it is often prudent to listen to the advice of wise and loving parents, obedience can become a vice if we refuse to take responsibility for our own life and decisions.

Likewise God’s authority is present whenever people are justly assigned to oversee certain tasks. Teachers exercise authority over the classroom, bus drivers over their bus, coaches over their team, and pastors over their parish. A coach is rightly obeyed when he calls a play, but if he commands the injuring of another player or the use of steroids, he loses his claim to obedience. Neither does his authority extend to non-game related activities such as dictating who you date. And speaking of dates, ladies your boyfriend does not exercise authority over you, even when he pays for your dinner (same to the men when the ladies pay). Authority is not bought. It is granted not because of whom someone is but because of the task assigned to them. Our obedience to right authority is not merely for the sake of politeness. Rather, in obeying we honor God from whom all authority flows (just as we honor Him by refusing to obey commands to sin).

My hosts at the farm had the authority to ask that I not feed their animals. I was a guest on their property and they had the right to command me in regard to what was for the good of their livestock. They did not even owe it to me to explain their rule as they did. My disobedience was far from virtue.

This doesn’t mean that there is not room for dialogue with those in authority. Dialogue is essential, especially when there are things the one in authority may not be aware of. But in the end when discussions have ended and decisions have to be made, obedience to right authority is a virtue.

Christ’s Authority within the Church

This teaching on authority makes Catholics an anomaly in the modern world. We believe Jesus has given his authority to the Pope and Bishops in union with him to govern His Body the Church with His own authority. We believe the Holy Father has been given a charism of infallibility such that the Holy Spirit will not allow him to teach in error when he teaches on faith and morals. Peter stood in the place of all the popes, in receiving Our Lord’s promise to
give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” -Mt 16:19
All who heard these words would have known that Jesus was referring to the conferring of authority over the kingdom spoken of in Isaiah 22:22. These keys of authority belong rightly to Our Lord Jesus, who assures us He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and yet He tells Peter that He is entrusting them to him so that he might rule in His name. When Peter was set free of his office on earth, he passed them to his successor.

Likewise Jesus assures His apostles that
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained” -John 20:28
This authority too has been passed on to all their ordained priestly successors, so that we today are able to take advantage of this wondrous gift in the sacrament of confession. How can we ever thank Our Lord enough for giving our priests His own authority to cleanse us of sin in His name?

Thus to obey the teaching of the Church is a virtue, because she teaches with the authority of God Himself. Jesus Christ has vested her with His authority, and it is to Him that ‘every knee will bow’ (Phil 2:20). The jurisdiction of the Holy Father and the Bishops in union with him is not unlimited. Our pastors cannot tell us which team to root for, which school to attend, or how to spend our summer vacation. They completely step out of the line of God’s authority if they were to command us to sin or to disobey church teaching. Such commands can never in good conscience be obeyed. But when they teach according to the jurisdiction to which Jesus has appointed them (namely that of faith and morals) they rule with the authority of God. They can be weak and sinful men just like the rest of their flock. They need our prayers and our love perhaps more than most, because their office can be so crushingly burdensome. But God is perfectly capable of making use of broken instruments. They, like the converted murderer St. Paul,
have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ”. Romans 1:5-6 (emphasis mine)

Laundry in College: A Diagram

Please Stop Using Words That Make No Sense. I Am Begging You.

Is it just me or do we have a large number of people who struggle to verbally express themselves? Like, you know?

Language matters. Words matter. The way we express ourselves matter. The national debate over "family" and "marriage" has been deeply impacted by re-defining of words as have a host of other issues.

The poor use of verbal language is rampant in our culture and is highlighted by the overuse of buzzwords. Almost every area of life has them. Even we Catholics have our own set of buzzwords. But, the two areas of modern life which have the most annoying buzzwords, in my opinion, are young people and the business world. Young people use "like", "you know", "lol", etc. But, the worst culprits are the folks in business. For instance, do you understand the following?
"You should meet this guy with the SIO. He's sort of this kind of social entrepreneur thinking outside of the box in the sustainability space and working on these ideas around sort of web-based social media, and he's in a round two capital raise in the VP space with the people at SVNP."
If not, then you are a normal human being who has trouble with business buzz-words. They drive me nuts and according to this article, I am not alone. A snip:
I'd say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me. The language of internet business models has made the problem even worse. When I was younger, if I didn't understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it's to people's benefit that I understand them but I don't, then they're the ones who are stupid.

There are at least five strains of this epidemic.

We have forgotten how to use the real names of real things. Like doorknobs. Instead, people talk about the idea of doorknobs, without actually using the word "doorknob." So a new idea for a doorknob becomes "an innovation in residential access." Expose yourself repeatedly to the extrapolation of this practice to things more complicated than a doorknob and you really just need to carry Excedrin around with you all day.
Continue Reading.
If you think his article is a bit of a stretch, then you must either be an undergrad or have a job that doesn't expose you to such verbal mish-mash. Below is an example, though I doubt you will make it through the entire video (and that is perfectly normal):

I am certain there are many of you that can relate to this silliness. If so, then I have the perfect video for you:

Because I have been thinking about the abuse of the English language, due to the article above, I feel compelled to post one of my favorite videos on the importance of expressing yourself:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fr. Barron on Evangelizing The Culture

Fr. Robert Barron gave the John M. Kelly Lecture in Theology on September 28, 2011, televised on Salt + Light TV in Canada. It is about an hour long, but worth a watch.

50 Ways To Reduce Stress

I don't stress out much, even though my personality can be pretty high-strung. I do it by applying these strategies to my life.

50 Ways To Reduce Stress

  1. Mental prayer (meditation) every day. I pray the rosary every day.
  2. Pray with Scripture daily.
  3. Frequent The Sacraments - Mass as often as possible + monthly Confession.
  4. Quickly forgive others when they mess up.
  5. Forgive yourself when you mess up.
  6. Go on a retreat.
  7. Take several days off of work / your normal schedule.
  8. Socialize with friends more often. Schedule if necessary.
  9. Go on dates with your spouse.
  10. Pray with your family.
  11. Eat dinner with your family.
  12. Learn to not worry about things you can't control.
  13. Don't work to please other people. Please God.
  14. Remember that you are wonderful and lovable, even if imperfect.
  15. Smile more.
  16. Do nice things for other people, just because.
  17. Spend time playing with your kids.
  18. Spend less time around negative people.
  19. Have difficult conversations, in a loving way. Don't avoid them.
  20. Work on your character flaws and poor communication skills.
  21. Ask for help more often.
  22. Be content with what your possessions. 
  23. Exercise regularly.
  24. Sleep more.
  25. Laugh. 
  26. Talk to a spiritual director regularly.
  27. Learn from your mistakes.
  28. Be OK with not controlling others.
  29. Reduce your to-do list by distinguishing 'must' and 'should'.
  30. Spend time with a pet.
  31. Read more good books.
  32. Listen to more good music.
  33. Turn off the TV and do #32 and #32.
  34. Spend time doing something you like to do.
  35. Volunteer to help others.
  36. Eat healthier.
  37. Stop an unhealthy habit (overeating, smoking, drinking too much, etc.)
  38. Temper the tone in your voice and the words you use when frustrated.
  39. Realize what upsets you and create a plan on how to deal with it in the future.
  40. Don't get upset in traffic or with other drivers. Slow down. Chill.
  41. Say "no" more often if you are over-scheduled.
  42. Don't procrastinate.
  43. Don't lash out at others. 
  44. Spend time improving yourself. This isn't greedy, it helps everyone around.
  45. Question worrisome thoughts. Are they rational / probably / helpful?
  46. Focus on the present. Not the past or future.
  47. Keep a journal or diary as an outlet of your stress.
  48. Say more positive things. I love you, you are wonderful, thanks, etc.
  49. Stop wasting time reading blog posts, Facebook, etc.
  50. Pray for an increase of faith and hope. Expect God will answer your prayer.

What else can you add to the list? Let me know in the comments.

Catholic Teen Chooses The Eucharist Over Academic Honors

UPDATE: There is more to this story than meets the eye.  I have a friend in American Legion leadership who tells me that the girl and her parents signed a document saying that they understood there would be only be a non-denominational service offered and nothing off-site would be allowed. While the policy and it's enforcement are problematic, it doesn't tell the whole story.

This is the kind of leader our culture needs. Someone with conviction and guts.
While the nation discusses and debates the attacks on religious freedom, a high school junior in Florida has put her academic reputation on the line to stand up for her faith. Margeaux Graham was selected this year to participate in The American Legion Auxiliary's prestigious 9-day leadership event, the "Girls State" program. When Margeaux learned she would not be allowed to attend Sunday mass during the event, she decided to decline the honor.

"God Is Dead"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Denmark Requires ALL Lutheran Churches Marry Same-Sex Couples

UPDATE: Another article from The Washington Post clarifies the issue. This applies only to the Lutheran church in Denmark at present.

Despite some ministers refusing to do the ceremonies, the law has gone through. Coming to a country near you soon? I know civil disobedience will happen in Denmark by some brave people. Pray for them and for us.
The country's parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

Denmark's church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote "historic".

"I think it's very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it's only heterosexual couples."

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

The far-Right Danish People's Party mounted a strong campaign against the new law, which nonetheless passed with the support of 85 of the country's 111 MPs.

"Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can't change something as fundamental," the party's church spokesperson Christian Langballe said during the debate. "Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman."

Karsten Nissen, the Bishop of Viborg, who is refusing to carry out the ceremonies, has warned that the new law risks "splitting the church". Continue Reading.

Do Not Read This Blog...

Do not read this blog...when you could be reading Bad Catholic's latest greatest post?
The whole problem with our culture can be summed up by the coffee we drink. The science, nay the art, of drinking black coffee revolves around enjoying that which is not enjoyable. The phrase “acquired taste” means just that – the acquisition of tastes we do not have: the taste for bitterness, the taste for harshness. Learning to love a dark cup of coffee means loving the unlovable, which is the definition of Christian charity. It does not mean ignoring the bitterness and choking the stuff down. That’s the mere toleration of the unlovable – which is the definition of cowardice, lameness and current American liberalism.

Our culture has worked to eradicate the cup of black coffee. Before there was a War on Christmas, before there was a War in Iraq, there was the far greater and far viler War on Joe. Lead by the hulking behemoth of diversity-in-coffee, Starbucks, the virtue of bitterness was all but spat upon. There is no end of foam, chocolate, corn syrup, chipped ice and vanilla cream you can drown a noble quarter cup of coffee in. There are, as we speak, growing mountains of plastic cups smeared with the remnants of whipped cream and flavor shots — stuff used to hide the bitterness of coffee.

In this sad state of affairs, people are less than likely to learn to love the unlovable.

Is this not a perfect parallel to our world’s view of suffering? Suffering is evil, it is confusing, we’ve no taste for it, so we do whatever we can to disguise it, to hide it. Oh, to be sure, there will be the broadcasting of well-dressed celebrities telling us to aid those suffering, but our slums will remain as far away from our suburban developments as we can get them. There will be laws passed to ensure that the homeless cannot beg where we don’t want them, or sleep where we can see them. When entire nations fall to the grip of AIDS epidemics, we haven’t the taste for walking among them, but we’ve enough moral fiber to send them billions of condoms with a “Hope for the Best!” card attached. We want the sweetness of sex without the reality of children. We want good health without having to diet and exercise.
Continue Reading.

Researchers Fear a New Genetic Test Will Lead To More Abortions

A new and relatively easy test, will check unborn babies for 3,500 different genetic faults. The new technology is not that surprising, considering the rapid advances we are making in the genetic field. But, the moral questions need to be answered as well.

Just because we can do it, doesn't mean we ought to do it. Even the scientists themselves raised the question. They are quoted as saying:
“The less tangible implication of incorporating this level of information into pre-natal decision-making raises many ethical questions that must be considered carefully within the scientific community and on a societal level.

“As in other areas of clinical genetics, our capacity to generate data is outstripping our ability to interpret it in ways that are useful to physicians and patients.”
I don't see how it won't lead to more abortions. Currently, about 90% of prenatal children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted.

I have friends who had several signs for Down Syndrome show up on their prenatal tests. One doctor asked "when do you want to schedule the termination?" He didn't even ask if they wanted to keep their baby! Their child does not even have down syndrome, but the assumption was the child should be killed if there is a chance.

 They don't go to that doctor any more.

Principles of Discernment

A great article on Six Principles of Discernment from Msgr. Charles Pope.
These principles are most often applicable to discern about a course of action, but many of them can also apply to discerning the promptings and urges that the faithful often sense in their walk with God, and which cause them to wonder, is this of God or just me?

Disclaimers. – None of these principles should be read in an absolute sense. They all admit of limits and distinctions. They are merely principles that guide further reflection. In a brief blog, not everything can be said about them, and you may wish to use the comments to elaborate some of your own thoughts and distinctions. Secondly, while not every principle applies to every situation, as a general rule, these principles ought to be used together and in tandem. It would be wrong merely to use one principle, and think discernment is complete. Generally these are all part of a process and their evidence should be considered collectively.

Principle 1 – State of life. There are many different states in life, some permanent, some long-lasting, some only temporary. We may be single, married, a priest, a religious, young, old, healthy, or fragile in health. We may be a student, a parent, rich or poor. Being clear about our state in life can help us discern if a call is from God or not.
For example, a young woman may sense a call to spend extended hours before the Blessed Sacrament. Of itself this is surely a good and fine thing. But what if she is the mother of four young children? Would God ask this of her? Probably not. Perhaps one hour will be more in keeping with her state in life. On the other hand a single woman, may be free to do this, and it may even be a part of her learning of her vocation to the religious life. Other things being equal it is more likely we can be open to this call being of God in her case.

State in life helps to do a lot of sorting out. A priest is not going to hear from God to leave the priesthood and marry the pretty woman in the front pew. An elderly and feeble man is not going to hear a call to go to walk the Camino in Spain, etc. We can be pretty clear that such notions are not of God. Yet other calls that seem to be in keeping with one’s state in life are something to remain open to, and apply other principles that follow.
Continue Reading.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Planned Parenthood Opens Location in a Los Angeles Public High School

No words can describe my outrage over this. But, others have them in much nicer language than I could ever use.

One thing I will add. My post earlier today - Talking to Your Kids About Sex - was never more timely.
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Planned Parenthood and the Los Angeles Unified School District have teamed up in an unusual collaboration to reduce the number of unplanned teen pregnancies at Roosevelt High School.

Students can visit the on-campus health clinic to get free birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted diseases – the first program of its kind in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Birth rates among teenagers are down throughout California and Los Angeles County, but certain areas within the county, like the heavily Latino and low-income neighborhood around Roosevelt High School, buck that trend.

The school’s health center is separate from the school nurse’s office and also serves as a primary care clinic, according to the Times. However, about half of the visits this school year have been for reproductive health.

Roosevelt High School started offering contraception and counseling in 1997, but in 2006, that support from a local hospital ended and the school could no longer provide free contraceptives.

Nurse practitioner Sherry Medrano reached out to Planned Parenthood, which now provides a medical assistant, contraceptives, pregnancy and STDs testing. The organization bills Family PACT, a public program that provides family planning to low-income and uninsured California residents, the Times reported.

Students are also trained as peer advocates to talk to their classmates about STDs and pregnancy prevention.
Continue Reading

Internet Pornography Statistics Infographic

The Stats on Internet Pornography

Talking To Your Kids About Sex

I spent this past weekend at the Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. In two of my talks, I briefly mentioned the dangers of pornography and the need for parents to talk to their children about sexuality. After the talks, I was flooded with questions from parents wanting to know how they should talk to their children.

One thing I told them is that just giving a "no" to their kids is not going to cut it. When I was a kid I never had a talk with my parents about sex and the message I got was "NO! Don't do it!" But, society is saying "YES! Do it now, as much as you can with whomever you can!" The "no" can still be a small part of the conversation, but should never be the heart of it.

We have to give our kids something to say "Yes" to. God is much bigger than pleasure or sex. Everytime you say "yes" to one thing you say "no" to others. When I said "yes" to my wife I ruled out loving all other women in a romantic and sexual way. Love sometimes means delaying gratification, limiting yourself, and being ready to sacrifice. Marriages are strengthened by people who have such virtue and self-control.

Furthermore, parents need to talk about the big picture of relationships with their kids:
  • Why do people date and marry? Because we are made for relationships and they can draw us all closer to God and heaven by loving others.
  • Why do we have these desires and feelings? They come from God and point to our need for Him. 
  • Is it ok to have these desires and feelings? Of course. 
  • How do we properly channel them? By learning chastity and self-control
  • What does appropriate intimacy look like (whether emotionally or physically)? It depends on the level of the relationship, but true intimacy should be reserved for marriage.
These questions and many more come up when you talk to your kids about sex and relationships. So, I have put together this post as a way to help parents (and future parents) work through the issue of talking to your kids about sex. Please add any thoughts you have in the comments.

  • If you don't teach them, someone else will. Schools, friends, and the wider culture (TV, movies, music) are shoving sex down your kids throats already. You need to have the loudest and clearest voice in this conversation. Time to be proactive about educating your kids, not reactive. Parents are the primary educators of their children. This is an obligation and a gift to teach our kids!
  • You need to educate yourself so you can properly educate your children. You can't give what you don't have and your kids can't love the truth if they don't know it.
  • Important conversations with your children can only help all of you. So, make sure this isn't the only topic of conversation about life you talk with your kids about. Spend time talking about important subjects in order to teach your kids communication within the framework of the family.
  • We should not merely protect our kids, but prepare them to change the world. So, the goal of talking to your kids about sex is not to put a virtual chastity belt on your kids, but prepare them for what they will face in life.
  • It isn't about you! Your own personal sexual baggage need not be a part of the conversation nor should it ever keep you from talking to your kids about sex.
  • Your job as a parent is to form, teach, model, and help your child. Ultimately, they will make their own decisions and sometimes mess up. Your goal isn't to control your child, but to set them on a course for success in life.
  • Your kids want you to help them. For a child, the most important people in their lives are their parents (even if they never admit it). So, when your kid initiates a conversation about sex, relationships, or any other important topic - drop everything else and focus whatever time you need to to listen.
  • The culture could destroy your kid's life. The negative realities of having sex with someone you aren't married to should be talked about, even if they are not a focus. Sometimes people need a negative reason to say no. Single mothers, STDs, broken hearts, failed marriages, etc. are all reasons not to have extra-marital sex, even if they aren't the best reasons. Natural consequences happen. Kids know this.
  • Your children's souls are worth it! Don't forget the spiritual reality is that sexual sin can kill the supernatural grace of God in you. Remember that there are two levels of forgiveness - fear and love. The lower is fear of punishment, but it is enough to have your sins forgiven. The higher is love of God. If it takes fear in order to get someone to do the right thing, use it. But, use it appropriately - hell and brimstone notwithstanding. 

  • Focus on what is most important. While you need to talk about biology, the conversations you have with your kids should focus on God's plan for our lives, character, virtue, morality, and relationships. Not biology.
  • Teach them the "big picture" of sex, using the Theology of the Body and the Church's other teachings on sexuality and love. There is a reason God made us sexual beings and a healthy human is a person who has integrated their sexuality in a healthy manner. We need to teach our kids how to do this.
  • Our bodies are a reflection of God. We are made in God's image and likeness and this includes our bodies, not merely our souls. Our bodies can be used for great good (imaging God, worship, love, etc.) or great evil. They are temples of the Holy Spirit made for good.
  • If needed, use good resources. There are many good resources for parents. I will mention some below. Go through materials with your child, don't just give it to them to use on their own. But, don't feel tethered to the resources you use. Add or take out whatever you think is best.
  • Be ok with the conversation feeling a bit awkward or your own limitations. Do your best and give your child what you have. There is nobody else who can take your place in this conversation.
  • Teach them what love really is. True love = choosing what is best for another, despite what it might cost me. This kind of love is not easy, but worth it. It takes sacrifice and effort and it is the kind of love we are created by and for. This is the kind of love that says "yes" to loving another person, by not having sex until marriage.
  • Sex has a dual purpose. As the Church has always taught, there is a dual purpose to sex - babies and bonding (aka - unitive and procreative purposes of sex). Talk about both.
  • This should never be a one-time conversation, but an ongoing series of conversations. There is no "birds and bees talk" that covers everything. Make this formation a part of your family.
  • The conversations need to start at a young age. How young? 7-8 is a good starting point. Why? 90% of 8-16 year-old children have viewed porn online. The average age for first exposure to hardcore online porn is 11. You have to talk to them before the culture gets them.
  • Start the conversation with both parents (if possible). This means mom + dad + child should be the formula, especially at early ages. Try not to do it with more than one kid at a time, to stress the importance of the subject. Are there times it should be one parent? Absolutely. Dad should also talk to sons about male issues and moms with their daughters. Naturally occurring conversations with the entire family are ok, as long as their is an age-appropriate filter that takes the younger children into consideration.

This list is by no means comprehensive and I would love to add others to it, so if you have one, please let me know. With any of the resources, the parents should careful read/watch them before going through them with their children.

Catholic resources:
Non-Catholic resources:
  • 4-part series entitled “God’s Design for Sex” by Stan and Brenna Jones from NavPress. While it isn't Catholic, my wife and I love the series and have supplemented with the Theology of the Body and fullness of the Church's teachings on sexuality. We only found 1 small issue with the entire series.

Here Is A Random Video. Just Because.

O Fortuna = dramatic music. It is one of the most popular pieces of classical music, because of it's striking crescendo. Used widely in movies, everyone knows the tune, but do you know what the lyrics are?

After watching this you still won't...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Protestant Leader Considers The Catholic Argument Against Contraception

Albert Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a national radio show host, author, and leading Evangelical theologian. He is very influential in the Evangelical Protestant circles.

He takes on a subject that few Evangelicals even consider - whether the Catholic understanding of contraception is accurate.

His conclusion is that the Catholic Church gets most of it right, but goes too far. Regardless of his conclusion, he honestly takes up the issue and is challenged by it. I recommend a reading of his article. Here is a snip.
The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age–and one of the most ominous. This awareness is spreading among American evangelicals, and it threatens to set loose a firestorm.

Most evangelical Protestants greeted the advent of modern birth control technologies with applause and relief. Lacking any substantial theology of marriage, sex, or the family, evangelicals welcomed the development of “The Pill” much as the world celebrated the discovery of penicillin — as one more milestone in the inevitable march of human progress, and the conquest of nature.

At the same time, evangelicals overcame their traditional reticence in matters of sexuality, and produced a growth industry in books, seminars, and even sermon series celebrating sexual ecstasy as one of God’s blessings to married Christians. Once reluctant to admit the very existence of sexuality, evangelicals emerged from the 1960s ready to dish out the latest sexual advice without blushing. As one of the best-selling evangelical sex manuals proclaims, marital sex is Intended for Pleasure. Many evangelicals seem to have forgotten that it was intended for something else as well.
Continue Reading.
Further Reading:
**Is Using Contraception a Sin
**NFP and Contraception
**Social Science Proves Humanae Vitae
**Birth Control and College Students
**Why Contraception Is A Long-Term World-Wide Disaster
**The One Thing Contraception Can Guarantee 100%

How To Confront Anti-Catholicism

Good answer from Tim Staples:

Time To Fight! War Is Here!

There is a spiritual battle that rages in places we cannot see with our eyes or hear with our ears. It rages in our hearts, our culture and in our world.

In the Sacred Scriptures God continually warns His people to prepare for war. Yes, He is The victorious King who has entered the fray, but he calls you and I to take up our weapons and fight with Him.

All of hell knows there is no hope of final victory, but out of spite, they fight to ruin whatever souls they can. The rest of creation cries out for salvation.

Our war will not be fought with weapons made of our own hands, but of the grace of God. How have you prepared for war this day? What are you doing to help others survive it?

Now is the time to fight. Now is the time to put on the armor of God and take up the sword.

If we fail to pick a side in the war, it means we have already chosen - "he who is not with me is against me."

Can you not hear the bombs falling and the guns firing? Pick up your cross - it is your weapon against the enemy - and follow The King of All into battle.

He will come again, but until that day - it is up to you and me to take up His cause and fight the enemy.

Here are a 9 strategies in fighting the war:

9 Ways to Overcome Temptation: 

1. Avoid and/or flee from it. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
“She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” -Gen 39:12
2. Submit your thoughts to God. He knows better than we do what is good.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Phil 4:8
3. Overcome your selfishness. True Love doesn’t know selfishness. Because, if you love Jesus you don’t belong to yourself
“and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” -1 Cor 3:23
4. Expect and be ready for temptation. We need to be prepared for Spiritual battle.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” -Eph 6:13
5. Remind yourself of the consequences of sin.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Gal5:19-21
6. Memorize God’s Word. Filling our minds with the thoughts of God and having them readily available to us is very wise.
“He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” -Luke 11:28
7. Cultivate a sense of God’s presence But don’t just listen – obey.
“Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.” -Deut 5:27
8. Frequent confession heals us and we start over spiritually healthy.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” -James 5:16
9. Accountability helps us avoid sin. When we are accountable to both man and God it helps us overcome temptation.
“Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.” -Genesis 4:9-10