Friday, October 29, 2010

Safety Warning

Apostles and Fathers

Two articles for your reading pleasure this fine Friday morning:

First, by your faithful local scribe and appearing over at the new Catholic Exchange: 'Built Upon the Foundation of the Apostles' which reflects on yesterday's Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude and the upcoming Feasts of All Saints and All Souls:

The month of November is set aside as a month to pray to and for our predecessors in the faith. Beginning with the Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (commonly ‘All Soul’s Day’), the last few weeks of the Liturgical Year cause us to dwell on our own destiny in faith as well. The readings for Mass turn to the Four Last Things (Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgment) as we approach the Feast of Christ the King and recognize our place in God’s Eternal Kingdom.

As I was recently praying over these mysteries, a new connection was made. The end of October finds the Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude on the Liturgical calendar. What is strange is that even though these two men are Apostles of the Lord, travelers with Him and part of His earliest missionaries, we know next to nothing of their lives. For all intents and purposes, these two great figures are anonymous to us today.

Yet, even in their anonymity, the Catholic Church is built upon their faith. In the Book of Revelation, we see the new City of Jerusalem built upon a foundation of twelve courses of stone, each marked with the name of one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14).

Secondly, over at The Integrated Catholic Life Channel, Dr. Donald DeMarco on the meaning of Fatherhood. I think it applies to both physical and spiritual fatherhood. You?

There is a certain immediacy about motherhood that cannot be said of fatherhood. Nature goes a long way in helping a mother know what it means to be a mother. Ovulation, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and breast feeding are natural and immediate experiences that teach a mother a great deal about the meaning of her motherhood. Motherhood is imminent, but fatherhood is transcendent.

If nature does comparatively little to teach a man the meaning of fatherhood, his wife, his children, and his culture must help to fill in the blanks. Yet, secular feminism, the high divorce rate, and abortion most emphatically do not help a man to understand the meaning of his own fatherhood. In fact, agencies are busy at work trying to “deconstruct” fatherhood and “deculture” paternity.

Yet, fatherhood and good fathers are of inestimable importance to society. David Blankenhorn, in his book, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Problem (Basic Books), provides evidence that fatherlessness is the leading cause of the declining well-being of children and the engine that drives our most urgent social problems from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women.

The following 10 distinctions shed light on the critical, yet subtle nature of fatherhood. Whereas motherhood is unmistakable because of the power of nature, fatherhood requires no small degree of sophisticated understanding.

Happy Friday, all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Politics makes for...

strange bedfellows, indeed:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An elections commission in Ohio will convene today to consider whether a pro-life organization can put up billboards criticizing a candidate on his vote for Obamacare.

A federal court Oct. 25 allowed Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus’ case to proceed against the Susan B. Anthony List.

The SBAL, which supports pro-life women running for public office, wanted to put up billboards saying Driehaus’ vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March was a vote for taxpayer funding of abortion.

The contentious sign reads: “Shame on Steve Driehaus. Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funded abortion.”

Taking SBAL’s side in the dispute is the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which said in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief, that the Ohio elections law Driehaus claims prevents the SBAL statement is unconstitutionally “vague and overbroad.”

Read the rest at National Catholic Register

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jason Evert

My friend Alicia reports on the upcoming appearence by Jason Evert at Cincinnati's 'The Underground.'

He speaks to over 100,000 high school students each year and is the author of “If You at Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity,” as well as “Pure Love.” He will be here at the high schools from November 3 – 5, and will also do a special presentation at the Underground in Cincinnati (1140 Smiley Ave) from 7 – 9 p.m on Thursday, November 4th. This FREE event is sponsored by Ruah Woods Theology of the Body for Teens Program. You can check out Jason’s website,, or check out a clip of one of his talks:


Reader (and sometime commentor) Jamie is pleased to announce the birth of her 11th child: Anne Therese.

reports are the mom and baby are doing well. Stop over at her place to wish them well. (gonna have to update the name on the blog!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ephesians 5 at the Seminary

Today was, I believe, the first time I had the opportunity to preach the community Mass at Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary in Indianapolis, where we currently have 7 men in formation. Archbishop Schnurr and I made our fall visit there over the last few days. As he prefers to preach 'every-other' time he visits, and the guys 'hear us all the time' (said the rector), lot fell to me to preach on that reading, reproduced (kinda) as follows:

This is one of 'Those' passages which is easy to dismiss as out of date, dictated simply by the age and milieu in which Paul lived and wrote, and no longer has any validity for today.

While it is easy to do so, it is not wise to do so. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that All Scripture is inspired by God and necessary for salvation (paraphrase), so we can't simply dismiss this as out of hand, we have to make sense of it, otherwise we might lose our salvation if we cannot grasp fully the meaning of this passage and present it for our people, today.

There is a distinction to be made, here. Prior to Mass, I saw one of the guys reading Pope Benedict XVI's 'Jesus of Nazareth.' While it is a phenomenal work of meditation on the Scripture, a Catholic can honestly disagree with what the Holy Father has written. (Not that it would be wise to do so, but it is simply his personal reflection for the face of Jesus. It is not necessary for Salvation as Scripture is.)

We cannot simply discount what is in Scripture because it is hard, or difficult, or uncomfortable, or 'dated.' We must examine it carefully to make sense of how this particular passage makes sense, even today; and not just in an allegorical or typological way; but as it is actually written.

So: wives are to be submissive to their husbands, so says St. Paul.

In reading any Biblical quote, as a Catholic, we place the verse in context. The initial verse of this Reading gives us a frame of reference in how to interpret this verse: be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ! St. Paul is drawing an analogy between our relationship with Christ and the relationship between a husband and wife. (In the spiritual masters, the soul is always presented as a feminine before the face of God; even for men.) (If I had more time, I would have gone down through the passage as well, I will come back to this later, too.)

Another key tool in interpreting a difficult passage is to see what the Church, in her wisdom, has said about a particular passage throughout history. I have only been alive for 33 years, not even a drop in the ocean to the Church's 2,000 year history of thought and development.

Of particular note for this passage is Pope Pius XI's Casti Connubii (1930), his encyclical on Christian Marriage. In this Encyclical, the Holy Father notes that this passage 'does not oblige her to yield indiscriminately to all desires of her husband, which may be unreasonable or incompatible wtih her wifely dignity.' He continues that while this passage from Paul stresses the authority of the household rests in the husband, the heart of the household rests with the wife. Once again, we note the complimentarity of spouses, even long before Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

Hence, we see the submission of the wife to the husband is tempered by his love for her, even as Christ loved his spouse, the Church. Jesus does not just talk about love, He shows it by laying his life down completely, to the last drop of His Blood so that she (the Church) might have life, and life abundantly. The husband is to do the same for his wife: give of himself completely, to die to his own desires and carnal pursuits so that he might hold her up as an image of Jesus' spotless bride in the Church. On a purely natural level, this is impossible (look at our culture, today). On a spiritual level, is it not only possible, but fruitful!

By looking at the roll of the husband in marriage, as outlined in this passage, we are then also able to apply this passage to our lives as priests and seminarians (God-willing: future priests). A husband who truly loves his wife more than himself will gladly sacrifice all that he is and has so that she might live life to its fullness. In his love for her, she becomes his all and he desires most of all to see her enter heaven.

As priests, we lay down our life so that our bride, the Church, might have life as well. When we as preists (or future-priests) have a deep and profound love for the Church, the sacrifice is easy. Yes, it is true that priests give up much; but we truly do receive so much more than we sacrifice, that the sacrifice becomes a joy and a burden that is easy and light.

When we come to a passage that is difficult; don't just dismiss it out of hand, but read it from the heart of the Church and in the heart of Christ; then we will be true and effective agents of salvation, as we have been called to be by Christ himself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inhale! Exhale!

Well, for the relative silence this week, a time to catch my breath this morning, return phone calls and stop for an noontime holy hour with priests. Until then, a few things:

First, my latest article that ran last week in Cincinnati's Catholic Telegraph has finally appeared at Catholic Exchange.

*As a side note, after the article appeared in the print edition, someone emailed me to say: 'You must be the smartest priest in the Archdiocese!' Honestly, I wasn't sure if it was a compliment or derision (I took it as the first), so I sent back: 'Not really, just the best plagarizer!' To which she responded with a laugh, so I guess it was the former, after all.

Be sure to look around the new site over there, looks great, more content, better layout, etc.

You know those prayers offered for my mom yesterday, well, keep em coming. Today is her birthday! (for the sake of staying in the will, I will not reveal what number it is....)

Last night, we had our first Andrew Dinner for this fall. 35 young men from the northern part of the diocese attended!!!! From my count, mainly from just 5 parishes scattered around a four county area. Vocations are out there, don't let anyone tell you different! Please offer a prayer for those who attended that they might truly be open to a vocation to the priesthood.

Finally, one last prayer intention: my spiritual director when I was in college died unexpectedly this week. He was only 61 and now serving as a spiritual director at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass. A good and holy Jesuit, he helped me walk through that difficult transition from secular college (THE Ohio State University) to life in the seminary, and I am eternally grateful. A favorite memory of mine regarding him. We were in a play together, I guess it was my first year at teh Josephinum; he, too, was in the play. At one point, I guess for the dress rehearsal, he walks in wearing a neck-tie, instead of his usual collar. One of the brothers quipped: 'Ah, Father, you finally look like a Jesuit!' He retorted: 'That was perhaps the unkindest cut of all!' God rest this laborer in the Lord's Vineyard.

three days in a row of leaving the house by at least 6:30 AM; the last two nights saw a return of 10:00 PM or later; today is dragging. COFFEE!!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There's hope, yet.....

The Saints Blog (no, not these Saints, go here for a priestly perspective, there!) at SPQN has a post on twins (or related to twins) who are saints.

Why strike my fancy? I have an identical twin* in Iowa (of all the corny places...)

Also, there was a set of identical twins in seminary for Detroit, I think they might be ordained now.

One of our seminarians (at least) is a twin as well.

And I saw a set of twins being carried into the penance service last night.

* My first weekend in the seminary, he showed up with his girlfriend (now wife) in tow, bout got me kicked out!

* At my ordination, everyone kept asking him why he wasn't in clerics and with an alb on. 'Seriously, I AM NOT HIM!!!!'

* My first weekend in the parish in my first assignment, I mentioned: 'If you see me around town with a girl, it's not me, but my twin brother.' Yep, got that disbelieving look; until they showed up at the festival five weeks later.

* He gets me back when I visit him, in similar ways.

* Best one yet, he and I were together in Iowa, he was wearing an 'I'm the evil twin' t-shirt (I was in civies), the waitress didn't get why it was so funny that he was wearing it, not me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We couldn't help but follow....

We had heard about John’s preaching down by the Jordan River for some time now; but to actually be experiencing it, that is a whole other story! He is passionate and zealous, and many say that he might be the one to restore Israel to her rightful place among the nations.

However, John pointed to Jesus with words I still don’t fully understand: ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ Something about Him drew me, and I had to follow. There is a peace in His presence, an obvious connection with the Lord God; I wanted to be a part of it.

And then Jesus turned, looked into the depths of my very soul, it seemed, and asked: ‘What are you looking for?’ I simply wanted to stay in His presence! I could tell He had a knowledge that seemed deeper, more powerful than anyone else I had met, even John! “Rabbi, where are you staying?” was all I could muster. “Come and see.” A simple invitation, a call to follow Him….

But I couldn’t, just yet. Something told me I had to find my brother first. We had left our boats behind in Galilee to come and see John, to be baptized by this preacher out in the wilderness. Now, here was someone John pointed to, someone he wanted us to follow, instead of following himself. Something told me that I had to get Simon. “We have found the Messiah!” The words were scarcely off my lips before I realized what I had said, but we rushed ahead anyway to find this Jesus whom John had indicated.

Simon fell to the ground upon meeting Him, especially at those words Jesus spoke to my brother: ‘You are Simon, Son of John, you will be called Cephas, the Rock.’ He drew us closer and we couldn’t help but follow….

Andrew Dinners upcoming:
A key component in so many who continue to follow Our Lord, even yet today, is the invitation by another to ‘Come and See’ that the Lord might be calling. The Vocation Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is sponsoring three upcoming ‘Andrew Dinners,’ named for this very encounter from the Gospel according to St. John, where priests and pastors are invited to bring young men from their parish or ministry to meet Archbishop Schnurr, to hear about the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, and to learn more about seminary life. Consider inviting, on behalf of your pastor, a young man (junior or senior in high school) whom you know and see in the makings of a possible vocation, to join us at one of the following dinners:

• October 13: Holy Trinity, Coldwater
• October 20: Cincinnati, St. John the Baptist, Dry Ridge
• November 3: Incarnation, Centerville

The Andrew Dinners begin at 5:30 pm and are completed by 8:00. For more information, contact the Vocation Office: 513-421-3131, x2890 or vocations (at) catholiccincinnati (dot) org.