Monday, January 28, 2013

Courage and Homosexuality

"Are you or a loved one experiencing homosexual attractions and looking for answers?"  Thus begins the introductory greeting on the website.  The "rc" in the name stands for "Roman Catholic" and indicates that this apostolate works in full communion with the teachings and mission of the Catholic Church.  The "courage" indicates that this ministry understands the strength that's necessary to address the issue in a holistic and fully human way. is dedicated to helping people responding to the call to holiness, which alone fulfills the deepest longings of the human heart.

We all want to stand in solidarity with our friends or family members who have same-sex attractions.  And, because we love them, we all want what's best for them.  The question often becomes how best to affirm both that they are infinitely loved for exactly who they are and that they are invited to live a life of deep communion and intimacy with God and others.  The Courage website offers not only resources, but a network of relationships with those who are walking a similar path: "In Courage you will get to know men and women who share in your concerns, meeting them online through our Listservs, or in person at Chapter Meetings, Conferences, Days of Recollection, and Retreats."  In addition, the EnCourage website offers a similar network of suppordedicated to the spiritual needs of parents, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attractions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hope After Abortion

Faith                       Hope                     Love

Whether we realize it or not, we all know and love someone who has been impacted by abortion. After forty years of legalized abortion--at over a million per year--the sheer number of mothers and fathers who have been affected is staggering (not to mention the grandparents and extended family members). We are a nation in need of profound healing.

This week, with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, our nation has an incredible opportunity for conversion.  Within a polarized and contentious cultural environment, the pro-life movement is often accused of being judgmental and self-righteous; and perhaps the bad behavior of some has warranted these charges.  But the pro-life movement is intrinsically compassionate.  It is a movement of mercy for mothers and fathers, and an invitation to stand with those who are most defenseless.  It is a reminder that our weary culture doesn’t have to continue wandering down a dead-end road.  In many ways, the pro-life movement is encapsulated in the wonderful website,, which speaks to the solidarity at the heart of the pro-life movement.  With opportunities for healing and shared testimonials, plus resources and support, this website stands as a reminder that we have all been recipients of God's overwhelming mercy.  It also gives witnesses to the possibility that our nation can discover a renewed future.

Monday, January 14, 2013

IHS or HHS: Proposing or Imposing?

SPOILER ALERT:  In this month of reflection on the theme of the Holy Spirit as
“Lord and giver of Life,” the following reflection takes seriously the beauty of
the Catholic vision of love and human sexuality.
 If you are open to (re)considering it, please read on!
Were you ever fortunate enough to have a teacher who helped change your life?  As a junior in college in the mid-80s, I took a morality class with Prof. Janet Smith who had the audacity to make us read and debate Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the transmission of human life, Humanae Vitae.  I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t have my marriage and family without having read this papal document. Quite simply, it opened my mind and heart to the beauty of the Church’s vision of married love and human sexuality.

In that class, many of us were 20 year-old masters of self-justification.  Even if we weren’t simply rationalizing our own moral decisions, we were all pretty clear that no one was going to tell us how we should live our lives—particularly the Church!  Prof. Smith was persistent in proposing the fullness of the faith, however.  She made it clear that we were being invited to a way of life which not only required virtue, but also brought the potential for lifelong transformation.  And we knew from experience that, if we didn’t open ourselves to the Christian vision of love and sexuality, the world was more than ready to impose its way of life on us.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Celebrate Life--The Gift of the Spirit

"When he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth."

(Jn 16:13)
The Holy Spirit is clearly on the move.  As the Church's new evangelization continues to unfold, powerful winds of transformation are bringing forth the Kingdom of God--on both a personal and a communal level.  And in the Diocese of Joliet, this month's theme for our ongoing observance of the Year of Faith centers on "The Holy Spirit--Lord and Giver of Life," who is the primary Agent of authentic change in the world.

But who is the Holy Spirit? And how can we "see" and really “know” the Spirit?  It seems to me that we come to know who the Holy Spirit is by noticing what he does--that is, by being attentive to his "workings" or his “fruits.”  Jesus himself said that "The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (Jn 3:8).  When we are attentive to the gift of the Spirit, we can “hear” the sound He makes in the quiet and beautiful moments of our daily lives.