Monday, December 30, 2013

50 Encouraging Bible Verses

Sometimes you might need a little encouragement.
Why not let the written Word of God help you out?

50 Encouraging Bible Verses
  1. "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you." -1 Peter 5:7
  2. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11
  3. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." -Romans 12:21
  4. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6
  5. "Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."" -Joshua 1:9
  6. "He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -2 Corinthians 12:9
  7. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." -Revelation 21:4
  8. "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you." -Deuteronomy 31:6
  9. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23
  10. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." -Matthew 6:20-21
  11. "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Matthew 7:7
  12. "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." -Psalm 119:105
  13. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." -John 4:14
  14. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." -John 1:5
  15. "The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing" -Zephaniah 3:17
  16. "O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!" -Psalm 34:8
  17. "They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:31
  18. "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." -Isaiah 41:10
  19. "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28
  20. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  21. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39
  22. "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10
  23. "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." -1 Corinthians 10:13
  24. "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;" -Hebrews 10:19-23
  25. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -James 1:2-4
  26. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
  27. "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong." -1 Corinthians 16:13
  28. "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." -Psalm 32:8
  29. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:6-8
  30. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:4-7
  31. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16
  32. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:2
  33. "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6
  34. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13
  35. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" -Ephesians 2:8
  36. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." -Galatians 5:22-24
  37. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." -John 10:10
  38. "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
  39. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." -1 John 1:9
  40. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5
  41. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33
  42. "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”" -Genesis 1:26
  43. "He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." -Ephesians 2:17
  44. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" -2 Cor 5:17
  45. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33
  46. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." -2 Timothy 1:7
  47. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13
  48. "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies"" -John 11:25
  49. "The prayer of a righteous man is very powerful." -James 5:16
  50. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14:27

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Blogging Break

Unless one of us gets a burr under their saddle to write something over the Christmas break, we won't be back until 2014.

We wouldn't have a reason to spend time writing if you were not faithfully reading. Thanks!

May you invite Jesus into your heart once again this holy season.
Merry Christmas!

Fr. Barron on Luke's Nativity

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent and the Drumbeat of War

When we view a nativity scene, we generally think of a baby born to a virgin in a manger. We think of peaceful animals, humble St. Joseph, and of a bright star. But, something is missing.

It is the drumbeat of war. Can't you hear it? It is the spiritual battle that rages in places we cannot see with our eyes or hear with our ears. It rages in our hearts.

Even in the peaceful image of Jesus being born, we need to see God warning His people to prepare for battle. The victorious king has entered the fray and he calls us to take up our weapons of prayer, righteousness, chastity, faith, hope, love....

General Satan knows he will lose the final battle, yet he fights to ruin as many as he can. He will tempt, deceive, and push you to sin.

Notice how the manger scene cries out WAR IS COMING!
  • The star of Bethlehem is a warning flare that signals the victor is now on the battlefield. 
  • The gifts the babe receives include myrrh for embalming the King after His death. 
  • The angels are singing battle songs of a victorious King - "Glory to God in the highest".
  • The first casualties in the war are the innocent sons of Bethlehem.
Now it is our turn. 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."

The drumbeat of war is pounding. Pick up your cross - it is your weapon against the enemy - and follow The King of All into battle. He is about to be born as a poor babe to a virgin.

The Cognitive Dissonance of Tolerance

Words have meaning.
Thoughts have consequences.

These are important concepts that have escaped many modern people.

Take, for instance, the word "tolerance". In modern use, it has a unique meaning to some and a completely different meaning to others. The result behind the differing definitions of the word, mean that by subscribing to one definition above-and-over another will lead to different consequences.

True tolerance means we need not accept an idea which is false or an action which is wrong, but it should accept the full dignity of other human persons and their basic human rights. Thus we should always uphold another's dignity and human rights (true rights, not made-up ones), because this is how we are bound together. We do all of this, because it conforms to what is true and good. In other words, we accept and "tolerate" the person at all times, even when their actions are offensive or immoral.

As a consequence of true tolerance, we must accept the freedom of others to believe as they wish, speak as they wish, and act (within the bounds of natural and civil law) as they wish. Thus, we should strive to live in peace and we should try to understand one another as much as possible. THAT is true tolerance.

Many who have a radical social agenda have used a much different understanding of tolerance to push their agenda on our society. It holds the following 2 ideas out as both true:
  1. We must be tolerant of other people's ideas, lifestyle, choices, etc.
  2. You must agree with certain modern ideas, lifestyle, choices, etc or you are a bigot and we will not tolerate you.

This is the definition of modern cognitive dissonance and we have bought it - hook, line, and sinker. How?
It has been done in five steps:
  1. Separate tolerance from truth.
  2. Expand the definition of "tolerance".
  3. Placing tolerance among the highest of the "virtues" of a Western democratic society.
  4. Ignore the logical inconsistencies.
  5. Malign those who hold-out against this idea of tolerance as prejudiced and bigoted.

Step #1 - Separate tolerance from truth.
Our culture, as is the case in many other things, has bought the lies about what tolerance should be and it goes well beyond the definition of true tolerance given above.

If we do not know the truth, then we can accept almost anything. But, if we know the truth and act in accord with the truth, then we are limited to what we can accept, because the truth is, by definition, not tolerant of that which is not true. It creates boundaries and is exclusive.

G.K. Chesterton said
"Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions."
As I said at the beginning. Thoughts have consequences. If we have true thoughts, then the consequence is we ought to live according to that which is true. When we don't live according to the truth, we face natural consequences to those actions. For instance, if a woman chooses to ignore the truth an affair could ruin a marriage, then she must live with the consequences if her husband leaves her.

EXAMPLE FROM CULTURE - All proponents of the modern idea of tolerance will reject some traditional understanding of morality. It might be on issues of abortion, same-sex relationships, etc. but they all have a relativistic understanding of truth.

Thus, the truth is merely anything you want it to be in the cafeteria of choices.

Take for example the reaction to what Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, recently said. NOTE - he didn't exactly speak words of gentleness, nor did he make an important distinction. Those who have same-sex attraction are not sinning unless they act on their sexual desires in a sinful way (which would be sinful for anyone). Merely having a same-sex attraction is not sinful. Nonetheless, the backlash is telling. Here is a comment from one opponent:
"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe."
So, here we have one person being intolerant of another's perceived intolerance, which then leads to a divorce from truth (who is lying?) and the decision to be able to determine who is Christian and who is not.

BTW - some are saying the big issue is lumping homosexuality alongside bestiality, but if you read his entire comment, he also lumped heterosexual sex outside of marriage in there too. Where is the outrage about this?

Step #2 - Expanding the definition of "tolerance".
The modern idea of tolerance = you must not "judge" another person's actions as wrong. You should accept (plus approval of and permission to) whatever lifestyle they live and choice they make. Even if the choice is sinful or harmful to their mental or physical health, we still must tolerate (e.g. accept) it.

If you don't agree to this kind of tolerance, then you are intolerant. we should "live and let live". Of course, this kind of idea false apart quickly when we oppose someone's views.

Other say that tolerance is "open-mindedness". The problem is that most who say they are "open-minded" have very set beliefs about a lot of things and when you disagree with them, their minds seem to close very quickly. Once again, GK Chesterton said it best:
"Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid."
EXAMPLE FROM CULTURE - No Catholic I know would think that harming a person with same-sex orientation was good. In fact, it is wrong to do so and this is what the Church clearly teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph #2358). But, it only takes one act of violence (which no Catholic should ever think is ok) against a student who is same-sex attracted in a public school to give license to teach that we all have to accept the gay lifestyle by implementing tolerance programming into the schools.

This is the modern idea of tolerance is being taught in public schools today and trumpeted to our culture.

Step #3 - Placing tolerance among the highest of the "virtues" of a Western democratic society.
A generally accepted definition of the word "virtue" = the habitual and firm disposition to do the good. This means that I do what is good easily and frequently.

The modern idea of tolerance is said to be a virtue. The problem with this idea is that it then leads to the conclusion that if it is a virtue, then it is morally "required" of all sane people in society and we are "obliged to cultivate the virtue of tolerance" (note - pdf in link).

Tolerance by intolerant demands has become a false virtue.

EXAMPLE FROM CULTURE - Studies within Academia prove that there is a conscious effort to change the view of modern tolerance into a virtue, and thus an obligation. Here is a quote from the abstract of one such study (emphasis added):
Some political theorists argue for a view of political tolerance that requires more from people. These theorists define positive tolerance as peoples’ beliefs that they have a duty or obligation to take action to protect people’s freedom to be different. Such an obligation should lead people to take action to help people who belong to disliked groups so they can “lead the good life” and share in society’s benefits. Employing undergraduates in a study at a metropolitan Midwestern university, we develop the first such scale to measure positive tolerance. We demonstrate it is reliable with exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. We also find that among those prejudiced against gays and lesbians, positive tolerance leads to some support for the rights of gays and lesbians to both marry and adopt children. We conclude with a discussion of how some of the positively tolerant overlook their negative group affect to support gays and lesbians in “living the good life.”

Step #4 - Ignore the logical inconsistencies.
This radical understanding of tolerance is only useful if we ignore the logical inconsistencies inherent in it.

**We must be tolerant. Except when we are intolerant of intolerance.
**We must be open-minded. Except when we are close-minded about close-mindedness.

If you say that tolerance is accepting everything about others, then you should never have a problem with another disagreeing with you. If one thinks tolerance means acceptance of all actions (even actions another considers wrong), then the "tolerant" one must accept that others do not accept certain actions or those who are "tolerant" are being intolerant.

EXAMPLE FROM CULTURE - Catholics who say that marriage should only be between one man and one woman are charged with bigotry and intolerance. The fact is that Catholics are limiting themselves as well with this idea, not just others. No person can marry another person of the same sex. So, it isn't about picking on one group, because the rule applies to all.

Some say it is about the "right to marry someone you love". But, as we have discussed in other posts, it is never loving to have ANY sexual act which might cause harm to the other, and a same-sex sexual act is, by nature, harmful to the both persons. Thus, it can't be about love.

It also isn't about "equality" either. The purpose of the state recognizing marriage and giving certain rights to married couples is because the state depends on the family to raise the children that naturally come from the family, so the state can survive and thrive. Same-sex couples, by nature, cannot have kids. Thus, they should not get legal recognition of their relationships or preferential treatment. I won't even get into the other reasons why gay marriage is a bad idea, but you can read about it here.

The logical inconsistency is that those who support same-sex marriages are intolerant of the Catholic Church's intolerance of same-sex marriage.

Step #5 - Malign those who hold-out against this idea of tolerance as prejudiced and bigoted.
The examples for this step are too numerous to give, though I have posted a few above.

It is obvious that this step is very important, because most people do not like to be told they are being mean, exclusive, or rejecting others. But, the problem is that the Church isn't doing this. They reject certain actions, because we believe they are harmful to others. This isn't mean - it is a LOVING ACT. If I think you are doing something bad and don't tell you - then I am acting cruel toward you.

But, if I am looking out for your best interests, then I am acting out of love.

Christianity IS INTOLERANT of :
  • sin
  • immorality
  • scandal
  • injury to another persons dignity
  • etc.
But, the Church is not intolerant of people.

We must fight against this false understanding of modern tolerance as a virtue and obligation. We must fight against sin. But, we must also tolerate other human beings and their human rights.

Words have meaning.
Thoughts have consequences.
"Are tolerance and belief in revealed truth opposites? Putting it another way: Are Christian faith and modernity compatible? If tolerance is one of the foundations of the modern age, then is not the claim to have recognized the essential truth an obsolete piece of presumption that has to be rejected if the spiral of violence that runs through the history of religions is to be broken? Today, in the encounter of Christianity with the world, this question arises ever more dramatically, and ever more widespread becomes the persuasion that renouncing the claim to truth in the Christian faith is the fundamental condition for a new universal peace, the fundamental condition for any reconciliation of Christianity with modernity."
-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
One more:
"We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty - these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square — peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.”
-Archbishop Charles Chaput
Fr. Barron on the limits of tolerance:

More from Fr. Barron:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CULTURAL STATE OF AFFAIRS - Couple Wins $50 Million For "Wrongful Birth"

A truly outrageous story.
  • Couple gets prenatal test.
  • Test was mishandled.
  • Parents have a child with disabilities.
  • Sue because they would have aborted child had they known of disabilities.
  • Win $50 million.
  • Ug.
More details:
After his severely disabled cousin was found to have a rare genetic defect called an “unbalanced chromosome translocation,” Brock Wuth discovered that any future children of his were at risk.

In fact, Brock and Rhea Wuth were told they had a 50-50 chance of having a child with that defect or a related translocation. So they sought genetic counseling and testing and carefully followed all the recommendations.

When Rhea Wuth became pregnant, genetic tests pronounced their unborn child normal.

But as soon as their son was born on July 12, 2008, the Burien couple knew something was very wrong. Oliver, who has the genetic defect, was born with profound mental and physical disabilities.

On Tuesday, a King County Superior Court jury placed the blame — $50 million worth — equally on Valley Medical Center in Renton and Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp), based in North Carolina.

According to court papers in the wrongful-birth case, Valley ordered a prenatal test that can be counted on to find this type of chromosomal abnormality only when the lab receives additional information — a “road map,” essentially — showing it where to look for the specific problem. Valley failed to send that information to the lab, and never told Rhea Wuth that without the additional directions, the test results might not answer the crucial question.

Although the lab’s own procedures specify it should follow up with a phone call when such information is missing, that call was not made, said the family’s lawyer, Todd Gardner, of Renton.

The lab missed the translocation. Had the couple known of the genetic defect, they would have ended the pregnancy, according to court filings in the case.

The verdict is the largest individual award in Washington state history, according to Jury Verdicts Northwest, which tracks jury awards.
This sounds akin to child abuse.
--We love you, but really wanted to kill you and wish you weren't alive. At least we are rich because of it all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Speak With Conviction!

Believing in something enough to state it clearly and with conviction truly means something.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fr. Barron on Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Videos Of Bishop-Elect Michael Sis

From the San Angelo press conference:

Video from the Austin press conference:
Local news coverage (they couldn't get Fr. Mike - so they got me.):

*****Audio from another interview*****

Thursday, December 12, 2013

BIG NEWS - Msgr. Mike Sis (Former Pastor of St. Mary's) Named Bishop of San Angelo!

As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants. If there are any giants in the history of St. Mary's Catholic Center, then Msgr. Mike Sis is certainly one of them. Today he was named Bishop of San Angelo, by Pope Francis. As Rocco Palmo told me this morning on the phone, "Francis came to Aggieland".

Fr. Mike was assigned to St. Mary's in the summer of 1992 (and made Pastor in 1993), along with Fr. Dean Wilhelm as Associate Pastor (now the Pastor of the biggest parish in the Austin Diocese - St. William), Fr. Mike quickly won the hearts of the students and parishioners, with his smile and welcoming personality (and the way he starts counting with his thumb during a homily). He also found out that the facilities were old and inadequate. We frequently had to have meetings outside, due to the tight space.

Mud Lot Groundbreaking Ceremony
Fr. Mike led the effort, unequaled in the Austin Diocese at the time, to build a new
Student Center, Chapel, and Activity Center. The campaign brought thousands of donors together and taught the staff at St. Mary's how to form relationships with benefactors. Due to this success, St. Mary's grew astronomically from the mid 90s into the new Millennium. When Fr. Mike arrived arrived in the early 90s, the staff had four people. It now has more than 10 times that number!

Due to the first campaign's resounding success we continued to expand and grow even bigger. Today, we are (once again) so big we have no more room in our buildings and are in a campaign to expand to a size once unthinkable. 

Fr. Mike grew up in Bryan, TX - which borders College Station, for those of you who are not local. He received his 1st Communion with his friend, and our current pastor, Fr. David Konderla. He attended Notre Dame and then entered the seminary after college. He studied in at both the Gregorian and the Lateran in Rome. He was assigned to several parishes until he landed at St. Mary's. Since his time in Aggieland he has been Vocation Director for the Austin Diocese, pastor at a large parish, and Vicar General.

Known for being detailed-oriented and an extremely dedicated worker, Fr. Mike will frequently answer emails late at night and sometimes into the early morning hours. His work as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Austin has merely added to his reputation. Many consider him to be a model priest, which would explain why so many Aggies become priests and religious (135+) and we average around 10 students entering formation or seminary annually. The big wave started when he was pastor.

Fr. Mike at the site of Aggie Bonfire - where 12 Aggies died.
One of my best memories was when I was a student and he was a young priest (early 30s). I went to him struggling with my faith. I told him all the stupid things I had been doing. Somehow, he inexplicably told me to shape up and made me feel good at the same time. I walked out of his office feeling both a sense of purpose and happiness, knowing he had a keen pastoral touch, that thought with the mind of the Church. After I graduated we became friends. Once I started in campus ministry, he became a mentor to me.

Just a few weeks ago, he sent me his bio to post for our 100th Aggie Awakening Retreat Reunion and Conference. I wrote him back and told him it was the best bio I had read in a long time and that it brought a smile to my face.
It reads:
Msgr. Mike Sis is a priest of the Diocese of Austin. He served at St. Mary’s Catholic Center in 1989, and then from 1992 to 2005. He participated in various ways in all the Aggie Awakening retreats during those years.

He grew up in Bryan, Texas. He is the son of Ray and Jan Sis. His father was a professor in the Veterinary School at A&M, and his mother was the coordinator of religious education at St. Mary’s. When he was in the second grade, he made his First Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s Parish in Bryan, along with Fr. David Konderla.

While everybody knows that he loves the Aggies, he never attended Texas A&M. He received degrees from the University of Notre Dame, the Gregorian University and the Lateran University, and he was ordained a priest in 1986.

He was the pastor of St. Mary’s when the current student center was built, when we bought the Mud Lot, when Kappa Theta Beta was established, when Bonfire fell, when we applied for a federal license to get a radio station, when we first made those little maroon Aggie Catholic bumper stickers, when we did our first car raffle, when we got our first website, and when the Aggie football team had a Wrecking Crew defense.

After turning over St. Mary’s to the capable leadership of Fr. David Konderla, Fr. Mike served for a few years as the Vocation Director for the Diocese of Austin. He is currently serving as the Vicar General and the Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Austin. This is an administrative position where he oversees diocesan staff, assists Bishop Joe Vásquez, and learns something new every day.

He is an avid racquetball player, he is proud to be Catholic, and he considers the most precious treasure in his life to be his loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Ordination of Fr. Brian Eilers
St. Mary's is excited and blessed to see Fr. Mike Sis join the rank of The Apostles. Please join us in praying for our former pastor and the soon-to-be Bishop of San Angelo, Michael Sis!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How College Students Can Survive Christmas Break

The primary authors of this are the sisters we have here at St. Mary's - the Apostles of the Interior Life. They wrote this originally for students going on Summer break.  I changed it a bit for the Christmas break.

AKA - How To Survive Christmas Break

Christmas can hectic and then slow all rolled into one for college students. But, it can also be a very fruitful time for spiritual growth, if done with the right attitude in mind. We have found that there are more spiritual, personal, and emotional problems during the break than at almost any other time of year. This is because students get out of good habits, fall into bad habits (or renew old ones they had previously), dredge up family squabbles, have too much time on their hands, etc. As an answer to these issues, I first offer these thoughts:
“In this oasis of quiet, before the wonderful spectacle of nature, one easily experiences how profitable silence is, a good that today is ever rarer. The many opportunities of relation and information that modern society offers sometimes run the risk of robbing time for recollection, to the point of rendering persons incapable of reflecting and praying. In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free. And vacations can help us rediscover and cultivate this indispensable interior dimension of human life” --JPII ,Angelus, July 11, 2004.
It is important to enter Christmas break with a “plan” for your spiritual life. Otherwise it is so easy to drift away even from the prayer commitment that you had during the semester.
  • First of all be faithful to your daily prayer. Establish how much time you want to devote to it, how (rosary, meditation on the Word of God, adoration…) and where (home, the chapel, your parish…). It is better to start with a little commitment (for example 20 minutes every day), and then in case increase it, than to start big and then give up because you can’t keep up with it.
  • Continue to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with frequency. Get information about the days and times for Confessions in your parish.
  • If it is possible, you ought to go to Mass during the week as much as you can, according with your academic/work commitments.
  • Christmas break is usually a period when you have free time on your hands. It is ideal to read some good spiritual books that can inspire you and nourish your faith. You will find a great treasure in the lives of Saints, their writings, and in books about specific topics in which you are interested (e.g., spiritual discernment, virtues, faith and reason, Church history, apologetics, morality, etc.). You can ask your spiritual director or a campus minister for some good titles or you can check out this list here.
  • Try to be in touch with some good friends, with whom you share the same values. You can either pray together sometimes, or take a commitment at the parish together (e.g., helping with teens, Bible study, working in a soup kitchen, etc.), and certainly keep each other accountable for your spiritual life. If you can’t be physically in the same place, at least you can call each other regularly.
  • If you are going to spend time at home, you might find difficulties because you don’t have the St. Mary’s community around. Families are not always supportive of faith, some parishes seem to be less alive than St. Mary's, and you don’t get to see so many young people around. Remember that God is at work also in your parish, in your family and in your home town. Try to see the positive aspects there, and to think of that as an opportunity to give something of what you have received here at St. Mary’s during the semester. With your family, try to be strong about your decisions, but also understanding of where they are at and not judgmental. You can be a witness to them, with your peace and gentleness.
Have a Merry Christmas and we are praying for all of you..

Monday, December 9, 2013

What The Immaculate Conception Is & Why It Matters

Q - Can you tell me what exactly the dogma of the Immaculate Conception does and does not teach for us and why it matters?

A - Thanks for the question!  The dogma of the Immaculate Conception (IC) is a widely misunderstood teaching of the Catholic Church, so I am glad to try and clear up some of the misconceptions (pun intended) about it.  Before I do so, I want to remind everyone that Dec 8 is normally a Holy Day of Obligation (Opportunity). But, since it fell on a Sunday, we don't have the obligation, though the feast was moved to today. So, come celebrate with us in Mass at 5:30!

First, the I.C. is not a teaching about Christ being without sin or being conceived without a father.  These are different teachings.  The teaching of the IC is the following, from Pius IX - defined in 1854:
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
Here is what the Church teaches about the I.C. - Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother without original sin.  This grace is the same supernatural grace we receive in baptism, but is given at the moment of her creation, thus freeing Mary from the affects of original sin - in her soul. Humans, after the fall, are not created in the state of grace, but in a fallen state and in need of grace.  Mary is the one special exception, chosen not for her own sake to do this, but for the sake of being the Mother of God.

The I.C. does not teach that Mary is in any way God or non-human. She is in need of God's salvation, as we all are, but she was given this special grace because she was chosen by God to be the Mother of our Lord and be a pure vessel that could carry Christ.

Mary is sometimes called the New Ark of the Covenant by the fathers of the church. The original Ark of the Covenant was the holding place for the staff of Aaron (Jewish high priest), a piece of manna, and the tablets of the Ten Commandments. In Jesus we have the fulfillment of all that these foreshadow. Jesus is THE High Priest, He is THE Bread from Heaven, and He is THE law. Thus, to be made ready to bear God Himself, Mary was created in purity and without sin. Just as the Ark of the Covenant was considered the place of the "holy of holies", so Mary is made pure and holy in order to have the holiest thing of all (God), inside her. Below are several quotes from Church Fathers:
"Every personal sin must be excluded from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the honor of God." - St. Augustine, 390AD

"Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain." - St. Ambrose of Milan, 340AD

"You, and your Mother are alone in this. You are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your Mother." - St. Ephraem, 350AD
Remember that the Angel in Luke 1:38 says that Mary is "full of grace". This is more of a title than a statement. If she had sinned, she would not be full of grace, nor would she have been a worthy tabernacle to carry our Lord in. God predestined Mary for a special honor. This teaching is important because it teaches several things:

  • The utter need we have for God's grace.
  • All spiritual good comes from God acting first.
  • Mary is a model of what it means to be a disciple and say "yes" to God's grace.
  • We are all called to grow in holiness and be full of God's grace.

Come praise God this week with us as we worship Jesus - Mary's Son - and the wonderful things He has done for us, through Mary, Immaculately Conceived.

For more on this dogma, I recommend these articles:
*Deacon Greg Kandra's homily on the IC - magnificent.
*Catholic Answers article on the IC.
*Catholic Encyclopedia article on the IC.
*Fr. William Most on the IC.
*History of the IC.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2 Great Videos on Pope Francis' New Document

Recently, I gave 10 reasons every Catholic should read Pope Francis' new document, Evangelii Gaudium. I still think every Catholic ought to read it. With that being said, there are some issues that have been brought up, most in regards to the comments on economics. Here is Fr. Robert Sirico, of the Acton Institute, commenting on these issues:

Also, Fr. Robert Barron comments on the document, but from a different perspective and emphasis:

Monday, December 2, 2013

BREAKING: War Is Upon Us!

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 against the enemy - Satan.

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?
Are you prepared to go into battle?
Whether you are or not, war is upon you.

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.

If you want to fight - 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