Monday, October 31, 2016

A Gift for All Saints and All Souls who Experience Same-Sex Attractions

Whether we realize it or not, every baptized Catholic knows someone who experiences same-sex attractions.  Whether it is public knowledge or not, every faithful Christian likely loves some saint or holy soul who has experienced a homosexual orientation and/or attractions.

These are just a couple good reasons why everyone should know about the Courage Apostolate--as well as the EnCourage Chapters, for family members of those who experience same-sex attractions.

The Courage Apostolate is a movement whose voice is often ignored because it doesn't fit convenient narratives. In an either/or world it's difficult to find a tertium quid, a third path, which embraces the Catholic both/and vision.  Courage manages to uphold both the dignity of every human person, and fidelity to the deepest longings of the human heart--both the inherent worth of people understood as children of a loving Father, and fidelity to the fullness of God's self-revelation in Jesus.

Is the Catholic Church really bigoted against those who experience same-sex attractions? Are human beings really defined by their sexual attractions?  Is their a deeper, common longing of the human heart which Jesus alone fulfills? The Courage Apostolate addresses these questions and many more in a variety of ways.

In striking ways, a beautiful film from Courage entitled Desire of the Everlasting Hills opens the window into the lived reality of men and women who experience same-sex attractions. Through the compelling witness stories of three holy souls of humble heart, this sixty-minute movie invites renewed reflection and more meaningful discussion of today's pressing questions.

The world certainly needs to hear an authentically Catholic expression of the call to holiness and mission. And Catholics need to hear about a path to embracing our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attractions--a path which avoids the false poles of either condemnation or accommodation. 

Enjoy it, and then share it with all those future saints and holy souls longing for more!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Interfaith Leaders Call on President and Congress to Reject Biased Religious Liberty Report

In case the real and present threats to religious freedom are being under-reported by the secular media, here is an update about an inspired and inspiring response by interfaith leaders:

In addition, the following link provides the full statement from religious leaders across the country; the Open Letter to President Obama, Senator Hatch and Speaker Ryan addresses the ominous statements from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patron of the U.S., pray for us-- 


Monday, October 17, 2016

JP2: We Love You!

Whether it's Homer's Odyssey, Dante's Divine Comedy, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, epic stories are able to speak to people in a variety of different ways, at different stages of their own life journeys.

So what are some of your favorite moments from the epic life of St. John Paul II? If you're like me, perhaps some of these highlights may continue to inspire you:
  • A host of dramatic new initiatives, such as: bringing the Papacy to the people, through countless visits to countries around the world; initiating World Youth Days; expanding his beloved Holy Rosary to include the Luminous Mysteries; forging new paths toward ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue; instituting Divine Mercy Sunday and globalizing this powerful devotion.
  • A mountain of magisterial insights, including: A Catechism for the ages, to provide a foundation upon which future generations could stand firm; dozens of encyclicals and apostolic exhortations inspired by God's revelation of the dignity of the human person in and through Jesus Christ; a Theology of the Body for a world in which human sexuality has come unhinged.
  • A witness of personal holiness, at the service of the Church in the world: From deep devotion to Christ's presence in the Eucharist, through total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the daily recognition of God's merciful love poured out in Confession, this holy Holy Father maintained the prayer life of a mystic amid the most active service to the Church and the world.

Of course, the very effort to list a few favorite moments only calls to the countless other scenes left off the list!  From the prophetic opening words of his papacy, "Be not afraid," through the courageous way he embraced his final months of suffering, JP2 managed to remind us that the Lord is always near when we take up our daily Crosses.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ten Tips on "Love in Marriage" (AL, Ch. 4)

Has any Scripture been read more often at weddings than 1 Corinthians 13

Brides and Grooms dare to remind themselves that, if they do not have love, they will become resounding gongs or clashing cymbals. They turn to the Apostle Paul for inspired words to describe the love to which they aspire. The love for which they long is:
  • Patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or rude;
  • Generous, not irritable or resentful;
  • It forgives and rejoices in the other;
  • It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things.

At the heart of Pope Francis' powerful reflection on Christian marriage, we find a beautiful meditation on Paul's poetic passage (AL, nn. 90-119). Let's ask for the grace to appreciate love in marriage as Holy Father Francis does:

  1. Love is patient; it "does not act on impulse and avoids giving offense" (n. 91). It is a covenantal love which never allows itself to be used or abused, but which compassionately accepts the other person as he or she is.
  2. Love is kind, at the service of others, because it means "to do good" to the other; it embodies "the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving" (n. 94).
  3.  Love is not jealous, or envious, of the other person's good fortune. "True love values the other person's achievements," Pope Francis reminds us, "It does not see him or her as a threat" (n. 95).
  4. Love is not boastful, nor does it tend toward vainglory; it avoids being "haughty, pedantic and somewhat pushy" (n. 97). Love should never become "puffed up" with its own knowledge or power. "In family life, the logic of domination and competition about who is the most intelligent or powerful destroys love" (n. 98).
  5. Love is not rude, or impolite, or harsh, or abrasive, or rigid (n. 99). Pope Francis offers the practical advice that "To be open to a genuine encounter with others, a 'kind look' is essential....In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another" (n. 100).
  6. Love is generous because "love can transcend and overflow the demands of justice, 'expecting nothing in return'" (n. 102).
  7. Love is not irritable or resentful; rather, it uproots hostility and resentment. Like a good Papa, Francis advises that a family never let the day end without making peace: "Just a little caress, no words are necessary" (n. 104).
  8. Love forgives, since it seeks to understand the weaknesses of others and even excuse them. How is this possible?  "All this assumes that we ourselves have had the experience of being forgiven by God, justified by his grace and not by our own merits.We have known a love that is prior to any of our own efforts, a love that constantly opens doors, promotes and encourages " (n. 108).
  9. Love rejoices with others--rejoices in the right--rather than secretly rejoicing in the failure of others. "If we fail to learn how to rejoice in the well-being of others, and focus primarily on our own needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence" (n. 110).
  10. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things: "Here we see clearly the counter-cultural power of a love that is able to face whatever might threaten it" (n. 111)! This includes holding one's tongue, trusting and setting others free, being transformed by Christ's resurrection, and standing ready to confront any challenge.
Love never gives up, Pope Francis reminds us, and "In family life, we need to cultivate that strength of love which can help us fight every evil threatening it" (n. 119).

Viva la famiglia!

Monday, October 3, 2016

What if Catholics "Took a Knee" to Defend Life?

USCCB's 2016 Respect Life Program

Abortion is sucking the life out of our country.  Everyone knows it--even those who try to act like it empowers women.

Of course, abortion literally sucks new life out of the womb, but it also sucks the power to protect and defend the innocent from vulnerable mothers in need of support.  Abortion also sucks murder off the streets and into the medical marketplace, as doctors become agents of death rather than life--in many cases with the support of governmental tax dollars.

Each year the Catholic Church devotes the Marian month of October to the theme of respect for human life, and the abortion issue again threatens to suck the life out of a politically divided body of Catholics in the U.S.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with countless individual Bishops and courageous priests, will again devote considerable energy trying to help Catholics confront the uniquely sinister reality of abortion in our country and around the world.

But this "original violence" is no mere political issue about which people can simply agree to disagree; it will continue to haunt us as a nation, unless and until it is uprooted.

The respect life message is simple: Love is what all human beings desire, and the rules of Love clearly call us to stand with and for Life.  If we traffic in death, we forfeit the right to tell anyone else that they cannot kill.

What if Catholics actually dared to defend life?  What if we got on our knees publicly and prayed in reparation for the ways that we have been complicit with the abortion industry?  What if we apologized for helping perpetuate the myth that contraception will solve the abortion problem--for abandoning couples who have seen contraception fail and for leaving them feeling trapped in an "unwanted pregnancy"?  What if we asked for mercy for not doing more to help?