Recent News

Recent news and musings by the Catholic Center

 

Humanity’s greatest crisis

Posted by on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm

 

What is the greatest crisis that can afflict man?

 

  • Global warming?
  • Global conflict?
  • Deflate gate?

Moral confusion. 

Pope St. John Paul II wrote a letter to the world in 1993 called Veritatis Splendor, meaning, the Splendor of the Truth. In paragraph 93 he says: “the most dangerous crisis which can afflict man: the confusion between good and evil, which makes it impossible to build up and to preserve the moral order of individuals and communities.” If we want an ordered society of civil rest and peace, then it needs to be founded on moral certitude. It is a fact that man CAN know right from wrong with certainty and that this knowledge is absolute, not depending upon times, cultures, or seasons.

 

The dominant thought of our own day assails this fact with doubt- man cannot know moral truth. This is what most upset me about President Obama’s 2015 Prayer Breakfast address. I wasn’t upset by the Crusades/ISIS comparison- though it was a crude and artless effort. No, I am most concerned (but unsurprised) by his 1st guiding principle to be a person of religion: doubt.

 

“I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” Here, President Obama does two things: he assumes a moral epistemology of doubt and he equates moral certitude with a hardened heart towards one’s neighbor.

 

The Catholic tradition in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition both testify to the opposite. As Catholics we believe that we CAN posses moral truth with certitude and that Jesus Christ is the fullest revelation of the truth. Second, we believe and demonstrate that it is only in while standing “obedience to the truth.” “Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.” (1 Peter 1:22).

 

According to Pope St. John Paul II, we are living in the midst of the greatest crisis that can afflict human society. Our President, knowingly or unknowingly, is ensnared in this very culture destroying philosophy. Let us pray that we each might be purified by obedience to the truth to give effective witness to President Obama and to each and every soul we meet.

 

 

Argus Leader inaccurate on Catholicism & Homosexuality

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 at 12:49 am

I was surprised by today’s Argus Leader.

 

I was NOT surprised to hear that a varsity high school coach was coming out as gay.

 

I was NOT surprised to hear that this coach worked at a Catholic school-though I had no prior knowledge. I knew it was just a matter of time before such a story came to the forefront in South Dakota.

 

I WAS surprised that the Argus Leader would be so flippant and simplistic with it’s description of Catholicism and Homosexuality. Such a serious issue and such a prominent issue in today’s public square deserves much more serious than: “a faith that rejects homosexuality.”

 

Perhaps the author, Jill Callison didn’t have time. Perhaps the editor cut out information. Either way, twice saying things so simply is damaging.

 

Such a statement is deficient and detrimental to public conversation. The Catholic Church disapproves of ANY and ALL sexual activity outside of marriage. The Catholic Church loves and cares for those who sin in every way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Under no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved.” (paragraph 2357). At the same time the Catechism teaches: “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (paragraph 2358).

 

If you want a fuller treatment on this important issue, see this homily I gave on the Church’s teaching on homosexuality in the past, on the occasion of President Obama’s speech from May of 2012. Interestingly, I wasn’t supposed to have much time to give my homily that day but providence allowed me to give a full homily.

 

An even better treatment of living with same-sex attraction as a witness to the world to the nature of love was made today by Eve Tushnet in an amazing article written today. There is an amazing opportunity to give witness to the world. I pray this young man from Dell Rapids might choose that opportunity.

 

The lesson as always: Church teaching doesn’t reduce to a sound bite.

 

[Edited to add Eve Tushnet article shortly after publishing. Edited to correct title- “inaccurate” vs. “in accurate”- thanks to a reader]

 

 

How to help someone who struggles with porn?

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Pornography is a serious problem in our culture. I was talking with my FOCUS missionaries about how to help our students when they reveal they have a problem. These are important but not exhaustive tips to help you help them. You will encounter friends, disciples, and bible study members who struggle. This is a “triage.” Triage comes from battle field and emergency medicine. “What do I do to stabilize this patient so real work can commence?”

 

These five tips will help you to help them.

  1. Thank them for their hard honesty. Encourage them that they are not alone in their struggles. Their struggles do not mean that they are unloved or unwanted by God. Let them know that you respect them MORE now that they have revealed their struggles because this means they are trying to fight.
  2. Remind them that this is the first step in their path to freedom. It will take more steps, there may be steps backward, but it is a journey. Remind them you will gladly walk with them. Remind them of the freedom for manly/womanly excellence is at the end of their journey. This journey is possible and has been done by many.CA13081
  3. Encourage them to go to Confession and to simply name the sin. Father will not be appalled or shocked. Father hears confessions because he wants you to bring your sins to Jesus. Don’t speak around your sins, i.e. “I did bad things” but simply state them: I watch pornography x many times a week, I have never mentioned this before, etc.
  4. Equip them with tools for success. If the internet is their problem area, equip them with “Covenant Eyes” an online monitoring system (monthly fee). It doesn’t BLOCK sites but records them and then sends a weekly report to a chosen accountability partner—someone who will not be timid but ask you: “how are things going this week? Did something go wrong?”Another tool for success is becoming aware of the reasons why they go into porn. Is it to escape? To cover over feelings of weakness? To cover over feelings of anxiety? What? Try to address that problem as well. For example, some people get distracted, don’t finish homework, then get stressed out and so dive into porn.

    There are good resources too, such as Delivered by Matt Fradd or the Angelic Warfare Confraternity.

  5. Pray with them right then at the end of your conversation. Invite them, in a simple manner, to renounce the false pleasure of pornography. They can renounce it and cast it into the Holy Five Wounds of Jesus. Then lead them to invite Jesus more deeply into their heart. Invite them to experience the Father looking on them with love as they ask for healing.

 

 

Let me get that for you…

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I came across a comment on chivalry recently. Men should honor women because they have the capacity to give to us and to the world something that no man can. Woman have the capacity to bear life.

Not just the physical gestation of a child but to bear life. A mother does not simply carry a baby like I carry my cell phone. The baby is in their hearts and minds in a way that no other thing or person is. The type of tender love that a mother bears for her child makes all the difference in the world. We portray this truth all the time in movies- the love of a parent is irreplaceable.

So men, why be chivalrous? Because that woman will, is or has given the world something that you never can, life. Their nurture and care makes all the difference in the world so can’t you make a difference in her world? Open the door. Let her ahead of you in line. Give her a better seat. If she’s visibly pregnant, offer her anything.

At the very least, honor your own mother. Men, none of us will ever repay our own mother for the gift of life. Even if she was uncaring or hurt you, you are still alive. So be thankful by adopting the posture of chivalry. Be a man of justice by being a chivalrous man. Repay the dept you can never fully repay- to your own mom, to the mothers of your friends, to the mother of your bride, to the mother of your children, and even to the Mother of the Savior.

Let me get that for you…

 

 

Spiritual Lessons from Florida Gulf Coast University

Posted by on Mar 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Many sports fans- and even some non sports fans have heard of the darling team of this year’s NCAA Men’s Championship- aka, March Madness, Florida Gulf Coast University. FGCU was a lowly 15 seed and they fought their way into the “Sweet Sixteen,” one of only 16 teams let playing in the country. Makes this Jackrabbit fan jealous.

But there is an interesting spiritual lesson to be learned from FGCU. After their defeat, I caught some of the postgame press conference and FGCU’s senior Sherwood Brown was giving a  sport’s cliché: “We believed in ourselves and we did it.” Or something along those lines.

The real lesson is a little different. FGCU tested themselves- not against their own belief but against reality. In reality they played and won against Georgetown and San Diego State (the other SDSU). They tested themselves against reality and they REALLY won.

In our own spiritual life, the challenge isn’t simply self confidence but to test ourselves against reality. As a Catholic Christian, we test ourselves against reality all the time: Scriptures, Sacraments, accountability from friends, and the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. These are the real things by which we can measure ourselves and know: are we going in the right direction or not?

In the world of basketball, Florida Gulf Coast University entered the test and found themselves to be true and good- in the world of basketball. They faced real opponents in a real test: Georgetown, San Diego State, and Florida. They know they are going in the right direction. In your faith life, can you say the same? Have you tested yourself against Scripture, Sacraments, accountability from friends and the Risen Lord Jesus Christ?

Lord, save us from the trial and test of temptation but do not save us from the test of your truth and goodness.

“For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw —  each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1 Cor 3:11-15

 

 

9/11 and #YOLO

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Today is 9/11/2012, eleven years since the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. The memory of that morning is still fresh in my mind: the surprise, confusion and true shock. What exactly did this mean? From the beginning my fellow seminarians, students and myself at the University of St. Thomas could tell that this event was DIFFERENT. 

How different it would be, we didn’t know but we knew it was different. We didn’t know that thousands of our peers would end up dying thousands of miles away in Afganistan and Iraq. We didn’t know that our entire experience of air travel would change. We didn’t know how but we knew things were different. 
The biggest difference that the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 brought was a challenge to our innocence and mortality. What do I mean? That day and the aftermath have become a great challenge to how my generation thinks about ourselves. We are no longer invincible. There are 20 year olds missing limbs. There are 20 year old widows. There are orphans who’s mommy or daddy should barely be 30. 
What does that mean about the way we live now?

It makes me think of #YOLO. You Only Live Once. #YOLO has burned up twitter and facebook as a hot trend of the summer. If you look into it, you’ll usually find #YOLO as the reason for people doing things they normally wouldn’t. From the mildly innocent, like gorging on a cheeseburger or sneaking into a concert to much worse behavior that can lead to life long consequences and scars of emotional, physical and spiritual kind.

#YOLO in these cases is a throw-away line. A shrug of indifference as to why someone tried. But doesn’t that miss the point? “#YOLO, so don’t hold anything back. #YOLO, so take big risks and don’t think about the consequences, just think about the moment.”

If #YOLO is true: you only live once. Then it seems like they are both on to part of a big picture while missing the rest. You only have one life, one now that could end at any moment. 9/11/01 crystalized that for my generation. We are all one heart beat away from death. So what to do about it? Rare things are usually precious things. Gold, diamonds, championships, friends, love- we treasure them because they are rare. If we only have one life, it is should be the most precious thing we have. So while we don’t want to waste it by inaction (#YOLO!) we don’t want to waste it foolishly either.

#YOLO should be a call to find two things: true courage and a community that will help you live that life well. Since we only live once, need courage to make the most of it. True courage is neither foolhardy nor timid. The foolhardy woman takes every chance without any calculation. They might seem attractive for a moment or two but soon we realize that they miss out on the precious character of life. The timid man never takes any chances but allows the threats and possible downfalls to cut off his decisions. We should seek true and wise courage.
We also need a community that will help you live. A place where friends will treasure your own life as it ticks by into the unknown. A place where you can learn to love your friends lives as they tick off into the unknown. This is what I love about being a Catholic and being surrounded by intentional Catholic friends. They understand that each of us only has one life, one now, and that each of us is one heart beat away from death. They want me and want themselves to get the most out of life in the best way. They want me to know that I am known, loved, and cared for.

On this anniversary of the terror of 9/11/01, remember the truth: #YOLO. Seek to understand and possess true and wise courage. Seek to find a community that knows, loves and cares for you because #YOLO.

 

 

Denis Leary’s actions have no class.

Posted by on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:44 am

From the Catholic League comes this report.

On January 16, Comedy Central aired “Denis Leary & Friends Present Douchebags & Donuts.” On January 18, Comedy Central Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment released the DVD nationwide. The opening segment of this video is addressed by Bill Donohue today:

The standup special opens with a clip of Pope Benedict XVI talking to a crowd. But there is a voice-over that is dubbed in to make it seem like he is discussing priestly sexual abuse. Leary then appears on a stage with a large illuminated Cross in the background; he prances around extending his middle finger at it. On stage with him is a singing trio of women dressed as nuns in habit wearing short skirts.”

It gets worse from there. Suffice to say I don’t frequent Comedy Central other than a rare trip to the Colbert Report but now even that will end unless there is an appropriate response from Comedy Central.

“Comedy Central released this hate-filled video right after President Obama called for an end to incivility. In effect, they stuck their middle finger in his face…Contact Renata Luczak, the director of Comedy Central’s Home Entertainment: renata [dot] luczak [at] comedycentral.com”

 

 

The unthought of costs

Posted by on Dec 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Elizabeth Scalia, who blogs for First Things.com has an interesting article today concerning the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine, awarded to the developer of in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is immoral because it separates children from the natural act of reproduction within marital sex and it is immoral because it invariably involves the destruction of human life. Ms. Scalia offers other considerations as well, what she considers a “global by-pass of the heart:”

we increasingly talk about the “global community” and the need for humanity to get past geographical boarders and boundaries, yet we take every opportunity to circumvent our own heartbreak, our own spiritual challenges by any means necessary. In the case of infertility, it seems we first-worlders hold the needs of third-world global communities—like those with children who desperately need to be adopted—in abeyance, only bringing them into focus once our self-reliant technological options have been exhausted. Their needs finally pierce our awareness when our own desires force us to look their way.

Scalia wants us to consider not just the reality of artificial creation of a natural gift but also how this technology blinds us to those in need. This solution of science has created a larger gap between rich and poor as we find solutions within our power to control rather than our power to be generous. Scalia raises some interesting questions- maybe imperfectly- but they are still worth considering these unthought of costs of this immoral technological marvel. Read it all here.

 

 

The Heart of Matters

Posted by on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:15 pm

A priest in Boulder, CO, is being attacked and bullied for obedience to his archbishop and to Church teaching. Pray for him and support him as you’re able. This priest is in a very politically charged town and what is being done is a deliberate attempt to break his spirit and further normalize the idea of homosexual unions being equivalent to marriage. I think I’ll even send him a card.

Read from Father Breslin’s blog:

As I look around Boulder I recognize that there is ample love all around; but there is a scarcity of discipleship. I chose to be on the side of what was lacking. I chose to protect the faith over doing what would have looked like the loving thing to do. Perhaps some of you parents have been in the position to make a decision for your family that looked like the opposite of love, but was the right decision anyway.

My brothers and sisters, our school is a Catholic school and our teaching on the sanctity of marriage is as clear as a bell. So, the decision I made was based on my conviction that we needed to rest on the side of backing our beliefs and our values. We need to fight for our Catholic values because here in Boulder it seems, no one else is. In many ways, I feel quite alone, even though I know I am not alone. But I do feel like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner—“alone, alone, all, all alone- alone on a wide, wide sea.”

And then visit his site to leave an encouraging comment. He gets double props for quoting the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

If you want good advice and to mobilize some public witness, check out Father Z’s blog.

I’m going to get ready to say Mass including prayers for Father Breslin and Sacred Heart of Jesus.

 

 

Laboring for Purity

Posted by on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Last night, on my campus, South Dakota State University, a women’s study program invited in an anti-purity speaker, Jessica Valenti. Ms. Valenti’s main point is that notions of purity and virginity are means of male oppression. Very original. Her book is called: “The Purity Myth.” For a soul to write that, I truly pity her worldview. Our students have a three-fold response.

  1. We organized 20-25 women who went to the talk, their report is below.
  2. We organized 20 men who remained in the chapel interceding for all women during the talk.
  3. We organized 200 roses to be given away in the student union today: telling the women that they are worth the wait and quoting John 12.

Here is the account of Jamie, mother of 3 and wife to one of our FOCUS missionaries:

Wanted to briefly share with you what happened last night as 20-25 of us women went to Jessica Valenti’s talk. She spoke for about a 1/2 hour and to my surprise had questions afterward. I did agree with her some of the time about how we need to do something with the exploitation of women, unjustified rape cases, slogans on t-shirts that degrade women, etc. There was a commonality between us. She did fail to give REAL statistics, facts, that have been done. She generalized everything especially this stat of hers, “90% of Americas are sexually active and do you see 90% of us suicidal, depressed, high school drop outs?” Out of that 90%, do you know how many are married? AND, women who’ve had an abortion typically don’t come right out and said, “hey, I’ve had an abortion and I’m hurting.” They usually wait years and some don’t even know why they’re hurting. I’ve seen this first hand working with Rachel’s Vineyard.
After leaving her talk, I was so proud. 5 people (1 i didn’t know) from our group got up to ask questions! It was wonderful! We turned out to be the majority! The first question was about the modern feminist, Lila Rose (http://www.liveaction.org – need to check it out!!!) and how she is going under cover in Planned Parenthood Clinics to expose the lies that they have been feeding young women including covering up rape which by law they need to report – and it’s ALL on video. My friend Kathryn asked if she, Jessica, would comment on Lila’s work because the majority of her stories during this talk were about unjustified rape cases. Jessica said, “no, i won’t comment.” So Kathryn returned to the microphone and clarified herself so Jessica had to AGAIN dodge the question by saying, “First of all, planned parenthood has done more good for women…!” The crowd started to erupt in applause. I thought it was pretty unprofessional that Jessica first declined to answer a very legit point.
My sister, Katie very boldly and courageously got up and said…I’m paraphrasing…”I’m a 24 year old conservative Catholic virgin. I find that not having to worry about contracting some disease or the fear of getting pregnant propells me in my studies and keeps my sights on my career. So what’s the harm in remaining pure and being a virgin?” Jessica pulled the relativism card with Katie. She then said that by saying you’re “pure” puts others down who’s had pre-marital sex. ????
This was followed by another student, Emily, from the Newman Center who asked Jessica to clarify what she means in her purity myth book and it was amazing to see Emily keep Jessica to task on the question.. By this time, you could obviously hear annoyance in Jessica’s voice.
The director of the education program at the local parish, Rachel, got up and told Jessica that she found that they have a lot in common and she agrees with some of what she had to say. She explained what kind of programs (theology of the body) they have going at the church for the girls AND the boys as well as those in high school. She asked her what her goal was – again, a great question! Rachel was booed by the crowd when she mentioned that aweful “a” word, “Abortion” which meant she really hit a nerve. It was great. 🙂
I was incredibly proud to stand among all those beautiful women last night in defense of Truth. Please pray for those who will be manning a both in the student union today. Their sign says, “Ask me about the gift of purity.” As John Paul II stated via my friend Angela, “Purity is the quickness to affirm the value of another in every situation.”
I went to her website (jessicavalenti.com) and posted a comment about Lila Rose. We’ll see if it’s taken off the website after it’s “moderated”.
Thank you for all your prayers and especially to those who attended last night. Praise be Jesus Christ!!!

Pray for all women and for men to respect them.

St. Catherine of Sienna, pray for us.

h/t to Gustaf’s Greenery for helping us get the roses. Thanks Pat!

 

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