Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi

"Christ, "the living bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6: 51), is the only one who can appease the hunger of human beings of every time and in every corner of the earth." ~ Bl. Pope John Paul the Great

Read about the history of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ and the Eucharistic Miracle of Orvieto which is strongly connected to this celebration here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Monkey Couldn't Paint the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Yesterday a group of students and other community members began a summer study of Karol Wojtyla's (Bl. JPII) Love and Responsibility.  A dense and awesome philosophical work by the man who would become pope, L&R explores what it means to be a person and how the reality of who we are as persons effects our relationships with one another, particularly the relationship between man and woman.  The groundwork of what would later be known as the Theology of the Body, L&R heavily discusses the personalistic norm - that persons are not objects to be used by one another, but are subjects possessing inherent dignity and worth meant to receive and give love, not to be used.   Love is to will the good of the other.  So I'll be posting reflections, comments, thoughts, etc. as time permits about the text.  And now, drum roll please, by the grace of God, let us begin:

One of the first things Wojtyla does in L&R is to establish the fact that the human person is essentially different from the rest of the created world.  Man is not simply another animal on the level of dogs, cats, zebras, lions, platypus, etc. There is something different about us. He says, " has the ability to reason, he is a rational being, which cannot be said of any other entity in the visible world, for in none of them do we find any trace of conceptual thinking."  Animals cannot grasp concepts like justice, beauty, peace, truth, etc.  It would be utterly impossible for a monkey to ever paint something like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and even further impossible for him to paint it, sit back and marvel at it contemplating the truth, beauty and goodness that it reveals to him and then desire to be more true, beautiful and good himself and ponder the meaning of his existence.  Only the human person is capable of such a thing.  The image that comes to mind is a scene from George of the Jungle that has George's best friend, an ape, wearing glasses on the tip of his nose while reading a classic work of literature and, of course, talking to George like he earned a doctorate at Harvard.  Cute, but totally outside reality.  I mean, really, why do we think it's hilarious when movies show depictions of animals talking and doing things that only humans can do?  Because it's ridiculous so we think it's funny. 

As Wojtyla points out, only the person has an interior life, a spiritual life:
In man cognition and desire acquire a spiritual character and therefore assist in the formation of a genuine interior life, which does not happen with animals.  Inner life means spiritual life.  It revolves around truth and goodness.  And it includes a whole multitude of problems, of which two seem central:  what is the ultimate cause of everything and - how to be good and possess goodness at its fullest.
What immediately comes to my mind here is that the person asks the questions 'who am I?', 'why am I here?', 'how do I find happiness?'.  Animals don't ask these kinds of questions.  He also talks about how the person desires goodness.  How often are we seeking the good even if we often fail in recognizing the true good and falling for a lie?  And if I could just briefly venture into some theology here, I would like to point out that God himself is the Ultimate Good and as St. Augustine famously quoted, "O God, our hearts are restless until they rest in you."  Therefore, being that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that we were made to share in the eternal exchange of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we can say, yes, God, who is the Ultimate Good, is calling us back to himself and our hearts are ever seeking to dwell in that Goodness - the person desires goodness because the person desires God and we are restless until we rest in him - until we 'possess goodness at its fullest'.

Wojtyla goes on to discuss how the person is a subject who interacts with the world not only on a physical, sensual plane but also on a spiritual plane and that the person possesses free will. 

That's probably enough to chew on for the day.  In the next section he begins to discuss  the "first meaning of the verb 'to use'" and then "'love' as the opposite of 'using'" which I hope to discuss in the next post for the book. 

Feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Cardinal Fisher

If for some reason you happen to be looking for a lawyer, today would be an excellent day to choose one as we celebrate the patron of lawyers, St. Thomas More.  We also celebrate St. John Cardinal Fisher today.  Thomas was a layman in England who served as chancellor for King Henry XIII and was a devout and faithful Catholic.  When Henry wanted to divorce his wife to marry another woman, the Pope upheld the teaching of Christ that a valid marriage is binding until the death of one of the spouses.  This obviously didn't sit well with Henry, but Thomas defended the teaching of Christ and the Church, the papacy and marriage, which of course dissatisfied Henry even more so he had him beheaded.  And Henry actually liked Thomas, so I bet all of Henry's friends were gettin' nervous.
Here is an excerpt of a letter that Thomas had written to his daughter, Meg, before his beheading:
 I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.
Read the rest of the letter here.

If you're looking for a good movie to watch tonight, may I suggest A Man for All Seasons which portrays the story of St. Thomas More?

St. John Fisher was the bishop of Rochester, England and also defended the validity of Henry's marriage which, again, Henry wasn't so happy about, so he had him beheaded too - actually Cardinal Fisher was beheaded prior to Thomas and both were beheaded at London Tower. Henry proceeded to start his own church. 

Read a little more about Cardinal Fisher here.

On a related note, being the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, who were such heroic defenders of marriage, please pray for the state of New York today as the state legislature is deciding whether to legalize same-sex "marriage" or not.  As the family goes, so goes the nation as Bl. John Paul the Great would often remind us, so it is important for us to recognize, uphold and witness to the great sanctity and dignity of marriage between one man and one woman, for in this relationship we see a grand reflection of the love of God that is uniquely expressed between spouses and cannot be duplicated in the same way in other relationships.  As Archbishop Dolan has stated time and time again in his efforts to defend marriage in his state, marriage is a public and common good.  Study after study shows how detrimental it is for children to be deprived of a father and a mother and same-sex "marriage" would have dire consequences in this area.   The National Organization for Marriage, who have suggested praying through the intercession of today's saints, has been working hard with many people to uphold marriage in New York.  Prayer is powerful and effective, so let us pray with the archbishop today through the intercession of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher that marriage will once again be defended for the common good of the family and the nation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Presence Is Real

Watch this video about the Jewish roots of the Eucharist to strengthen your belief in the Eucharist, the Priesthood and our Catholic faith.  You can also buy Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist for more info regarding what you hear in the video.

Love & Responsibility Study

Join us for a summer study of Karol Wojtyla's (Bl. JPII's) Love & Responsibility every Tuesday night beginning June 21 at Calix Coffeebar at 7pm.  See you there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Learn From the Way the Wildflowers Grow..."

"...Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.  But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?" - Matt. 28:30
Wow, is our Marian grotto in bloom or what?
Love the yellow lilies! I think Our Lady does too!

Bright, sunny view from the Newman Center

"Forgive Those Who Persecute You"

If you're struggling to forgive someone in your life watch this story - if she can do it , so can you:

Thanks to Marcel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Alcohol Can't Satisfy

Many college students struggle with alcohol and drunkeness - it's a true and sad reality that so many young adults feel so empty and starved for authentic love that they try to fill their emptiness with whatever they possibly can - often turning to alcohol, drugs and sex - only to find that all these things are fleeting and the next day they feel even worse than they did before.  Working on a college campus I see it happen all the time.  But there's incredible hope, because what I also see happen all the time are students discovering what - or more accurately, who - can give them the unfleeting and authentic love for which they're looking when they have an encounter with Jesus Christ. 
This is all to lead up to directing you to a nice post about alcohol use and the dignity of the person over at Unshakeable Hope - check it out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Eucharistic Congress in St. Louis June 24-26- (and it's free!)

St. Anthony: Hammer of Heretics

St. Anthony, whose feast day is today, lived at the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th century, and is one of the most well-known and popular saints of the Church.  He was a gifted preacher and many miracles are attributed to his intercession both during his earthly life and his heavenly life.  Many people were spurred to repentance and conversion as a result of his preaching and he was well-gifted in refuting heresies leading to the nickname 'Hammer of Heretics'. 

Read this article to find out more about his life including why his intercession is often sought when seeking something that has been lost and why he is often depicted holding the Christ Child. 

St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal and in reading the article mentioned above you can read how he ended up in Padua, Italy.  Below are some photos relevant to St. Anthony's early life in Lisbon:

St. Anthony was born in 1195 where this small altar now
sits in the basement of a beautiful church named
in his honor in Lisbon, Portugal.

Bl. Pope John Paul the Great visited Lisbon and prayed
at the the site of St. Anthony's birth in 1982.

The baptismal font in which St. Anthony was baptized
located at the Cathedral which was a block from
St. Anthony's home.  "Anthony" is actually his
religious name - he was baptized "Ferdinand".

Come, Holy Spirit

From the Office of Readings in the Breviary - St. Irenaeus on Pentecost:
Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven.  And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above...If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God.  Since we have our accuser, we need an Advocate as well.  And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit.  Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Choose An Identity

So I was reviewing some comments on a blog this morning and noticed that on the right hand side of the page I was being prompted to leave my own comment and to do so you have to select what name you want to appear, so the screen prompts you to:
Choose an identity.  In reality, you have a true identity - you are a son or daughter of God - that is the truth of who you are - an unrepeatable person made in God's image and likeness.  So the question then becomes will you choose to live in the truth of who you really are or will you fall for a lie.  Will you choose your true identity or a false identity?   

Every person who has ever lived has had to make this choice all the way back to the beginning with Adam and Eve.  When faced with temptation from Satan it was not simply a question of eating a piece of fruit.  It became a question of trusting God and living according to their true identity or a false one.  Everyday you are asked this, too.  Every time you're faced with temptation, doubt, worry, decisions, relationships, vices, etc. it's as though you are being asked who you really are.  Will you recognize your dignity?  Or will you allow yourself to be degraded through sin?  This is why Satan is called the father of lies - he is constantly lying to us about who we are, saying things like 'you're not worth it', 'you're ugly', 'you're not loved', 'you aren't good enough, 'you can't be better', 'you're nothing'.  Lies, lies, lies - all lies!  Why do we listen to these lies so much!?

When we are tempted to succumb to the lies that are being thrown at us, we need to turn to our Blessed Mother.  She chose to live according to her true identity at every moment of her life.  "I am the handmaid of the Lord." This Woman knew who she was and never let a lie enter her Immaculate Heart.   Mary, the New Eve, and Christ, the New Adam, blew away the lies that were sowed in the garden. "The knot of Eve's disobedience, was untied with Mary's obedience" - St. Irenaeus.  Bearing the Truth Himself in her very womb, she shows us what it means to live in the truth.  As Catherine of Siena said, "If you are who you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire." And as a holy and Spirit-filled mentor once pointed out to me, you can see that Mary is on fire with the Holy Spirit:
"I have come to set a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!" - Luke 12:49.  If we lived according to the truth of our identity the world would be set ablaze with the love of God because we would see Christ more clearly and when we look at Him we see who we are and who we are meant to be.  Sin blinds, darkens and hides the truth from us - whenever we sin we lie to ourselves about who we are - but thank God, the Truth sets us free and by His grace our true identity is revealed to us. 

So next time you are tempted to sin, doubt and despair, say to yourself: "what is my identity?  I am a son or daughter of God.  I am loved.  I have worth.  God made me for truth, beauty and goodness.  I was not  made for sin.  I was made for love."  Then ask the Blessed Mother to reveal the truth to your heart and she will bring you her Son's grace and mercy to choose your true identity.   

"Christian, recognize your dignity!" - Pope Leo the Great


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CCM Europe Pilgrimage 2011

I'm still processing the prayer and effects of the CCM pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima, so I'll be writing some reflections on it as the days go on, but I want to give the students who attended an opportunity to share any thoughts, memories or reflections they may have as well.  So those of you who would like to do so, please share what you would like in the combox. 

Dome of St. Peter's - Fr. Barron

Happy Anniversary, Fr. Patrick!

Don't forget to wish Fr. Patrick a happy anniversary today - nine great years as a priest of Jesus Christ!  Smokes! 

Totus Tuus Maria

Quite appropriate after walking upon the soil of Fatima.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sr. Miriam James on Life on the Rock

Sr. Miriam James, SOLT who was a speaker at our women's retreat in April was recently a guest on EWTN's Life on the Rock.  Watch the video here: (this is a double whammy video because not only does it feature Sr. Miriam but it also has a short message about Fr. Michael Scanlan, former president and chancellor of Franciscan University of Steubenville!):

Follow Sr. Miriam's blog here.