Monday, October 31, 2011

Every Life is Worth Living

Is he not the cutest kid you've ever seen??  His sign says:
I may not be perfect
but I'm happy.
I am God's handiwork
and I bear His image.
I am blessed.
I am the 10%
of children born
with Down's Syndrome
who survived Roe v. Wade.
LifeSiteNews interviewed his dad recently:
“In writing the sign we wanted to let people know that though our son is not perfect (nor are any of us), he is happy and his life is worth living,” Reigstad said.

“We had hoped that this photo might be a small part of the tide that is turning against abortion. We wanted to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.”

Currently, in the United States and most Western countries, as many as 95% of children who are diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are aborted. Critics of aborting Down syndrome children say that the practice is simply a resurrection of eugenics, and observe that most people with Down syndrome are extremely happy. One recent study found that 99% of people with Down syndrome say they are happy.
Read the rest here.


Did you miss Fill These Hearts on Friday night? Here's a taste of the awesomeness:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cardinals or Rangers?

Even the bishops are getting in on the World Series excitement:
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson from the Archdiocese of St. Louis has prompted a World Series wager with former Cardinals fan, Bishop Kevin W. Vann from the Diocese of Fort Worth, TX, official home diocese of the Texas Rangers....
...If the Cardinals win, Bishop Vann will send a taste of authentic Texas BBQ along with a Stetson cowboy hat. If the Rangers take the pennant, Archbishop Carlson will send a taste of local St. Louis favorites that include toasted ravioli from The Hill, Gus’s pretzels, locally-brewed Schlafly Beer and Fitz’s Root Beer, along with a Cardinals baseball cap to replace the caps Bishop Vann discarded when he moved to Texas.
Adding to the bet and further supporting the charitable mission of the Catholic Church, the winner will also receive a donation for the local Catholic Charities in the amount of $10 for every run scored throughout the series.
Read the whole story here.

Closer to Sainthood?

Thanks to Emily.

If Only More Interviews Were Like This...

Thursday I was in my car scanning through the radio stations and happened upon an interview of Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez and David Alexanian about their new movie The Way.  I haven't seen the movie, but the interview was amazing - I was literally saying 'Wow.' out loud in my car as I listened to some of the responses that Sheen was giving to the interviewer's questions - just to hear some of the things he was saying on a secular program and coming from an actor well known in the secular world was shocking yet refreshing and hopeful.  He was essentially sharing how the human heart longs for God, that we have a 'yearning for transcendence', that every heart is searching and what, or Who I should say, we are searching for is God - he may not have said it that bluntly, but there's no doubt that his message was very focused on that reality (what do you expect I guess from a guy who changed his last name in honor of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen?).  I didn't agree with every single thing that was said in the interview but, wow, were there some shining lights in it.  I'd like to just share some of the things that they said - first I should mention that the film is about a father who is grieving the loss of his son.  His son had gone to Europe to walk the Camino de Santiago which is a major place of pilgrimage for Catholics (though many, both Catholic and non-Catholic, hike the Camino each year).  The Camino ends in Santiago de Compostela at the Cathedral where the remains of St. James, one of Our Lord's Apostles, are buried.  On to the interview [their comments are in black and my reactions are in blue]:

Sheen: [he begins by talking about how his character in the film is in a dark place and is in despair over the loss of his son and goes on to say the following about his character in the interview] "...somewhere in some mysterious part of his being there's a yearning for transcendence and he grabs it, and he decides to make this journey for his son, in fact he's making it for himself, but he doesn't come to that realization 'til he's well into the journey...but I think all of us are looking for a sense of transcendence, you know, who am I, why am I here?"  [can anybody say Theology of the Body!?  These are the very questions that TOB and our Faith seek to answer. The 'yearning for transcendence' is that longing in the human heart for God Himself.  He is the Transcendent One - we are drawn to the higher realities of life, like truth, beauty and goodness, because we are drawn to God who is Truth, Beauty and Goodness itself - you can imagine what I looked like in my car when I was hearing him say this! haha!]

Alexanian: "Simplifying your life doesn't mean that you're missing out on something; it actually means that you're gaining everything." [boy, is that true - when you live simply you are set free of becoming attached to things and therefore have more of an opportunity to enter into the transcendent realities of truth, beauty and goodness thereby growing in deeper relationship with God Himself. Notice that the majority of saints lived very simply whether they were married, religious or single, they were able to be detached from the things of the world in order to attach themselves to the things of God - or better yet, God Himself.  Our culture has such a hard time with this because we are so desperately seeking God - but seeking Him in the wrong places, so we continually to try to fill our longings with more stuff, more relationships, more money, etc., etc., and the more stressed and lost we become because we have packed so much stuff around us that we can't even see ahead of us anymore - but the good news is that God can break through even the most cluttered piles that lay within our hearts and clean it up so that we can have peace resting in Him, realizing that He alone can satisfy all our longings.  So Alexanian's quote is quite correct because when we live simply we have more room for God and in letting Him in we most certainly gain everything.]

Estevez: " has nothing to do with has everything to do with finding out who we are." [then he quotes a line from the movie: "Religion has nothing to do with this, nothing at all."] [I disagree with this statement because finding out who we are is essentially finding out who God is and discovering who we are in relation to Him.  Isn't that what religion is about?  The two really can't be separated, can they?  Even someone who doesn't profess a particular religion is likely searching for the transcendent and we just discussed how ultimately that means searching for God - and that's a religious activity whether we label it so or not.  I think I understand why he is saying that the movie isn't about religion - it could obviously turn some people off from watching it if were labeled as a religious movie, but I think it's a little much to say that it, especially if you're talking about the Camino itself, has nothing at all to do with religion.  The Camino very much has to do with religion - it's a Catholic pilgrimage site.  It seems that the world wants nothing to do with religion at times because of misconceptions, unfaithful examples, etc., but religion isn't a bad thing when seen in light of the truth.  I doubt he would disagree with that, but was simply wanting to convey that the movie isn't just for people who consider themselves religious.]

Sheen:  " of art...have to cost you something if they have value, otherwise you're gonna question it's value...I believe pilgrimage takes place in our own do have to be open to transcendence in your own heart [then he talks a little about having a balance between the spirit and flesh] have to give yourself time for the have to be willing to open up your grip on yourself [then he talks about community and 'what a wonderful thing that is.'] [Obviously the quote about something having value and it costing you is huge and there's lots of things to say about that, but he talks about that more later so I'll hit on that when he expounds on it, so let's look at the part about pilgrimaging in your heart - how true is that?  Very.  The ultimate pilgrimage that we are all on is that pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem and we get there through the path of the cross.  This means prayer and charity. When we enter into prayer we are making a pilgrimage in our hearts hoping to arrive at the destination of Heaven.  It's also awesome how he mentions having a balance between the spirit and flesh - talk about TOB - the integration between the body and soul is definitely part of this pilgrimage we are all on - and it is a journey that takes time - we don't get there in an instant and we don't fully reach it until Heaven.  It's also lovely how he mentions the beauty of the community of humanity - that we're all in this together and life is about relationships - with God and with one another.]

Estevez:  "...we live in a culture that says, 'take this pill and you'll be happy', 'go on this diet and you'll be thinner', 'have your teeth brightened and people will love you more', and on and on and its false... none of that stuff makes you happier..." [whoa. preach it brotha!  Live simply - authentic happiness is found in God, not liposuction.]

Estevez: "...I make movies that are personal, that are a reflection of climbing a little higher in that tree, ya know, this cynical and pessimistic, that vibe is a low hanging fruit and it's a go-to fruit which is why so many of us have become cynical and pessimistic, and so I invite people to climb a little higher in the tree and taste fruit that's  a little sweeter and the view is certainly a lot requires some effort..."
Interviewer:  "what's the cost?"
Estevez:  "Well, you don't always have a lot of people that wanna climb up in that tree with you. Whether it works or not a hundred percent, I don't know, but I know that I feel better about the types of pictures I'm making...if it doesn't cost you anything, you question its value." [I love it!  This analogy of inviting us to a higher place in the tree for tastier fruit and a better view - wow, wow, wow.  Again, TOB and the Faith so so so soooo evident here.  The Church doesn't impose the truth, She proposes it.  It's an invitation to discover the fruit that satiates the hunger. "...whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst..." - John 4:14.  Why don't you find a lot of people that want to climb up the tree with you?  Because it takes effort and sacrifice.]

Interviewer: What did you learn [in making the movie] and what did it cost?
Sheen starts off his answer with an Irish story about a man who dies and goes to the gates of Heaven and asks St. Peter for entrance and Peter replies, 'of course, just show us your scars'.  The man replies, 'I have no scars.'  Peter then says, 'what a pity.  was there nothing worth fighting for?'
Sheen:  "I think we have to find something in our lives worth fighting one has ever made a valid or meaningful contribution to humanity or themselves really without suffering.  It has to cost you something and very often the more it costs you the more important it is that you keep doing what you're doing..."[w.h.o.a.  awesome.  The very life of Jesus Christ proves everything that he just said.  We must have scars because there must be something worth fighting for.  God loves you so much and values your worth so much that He was willing to receive scars for you.  Will you be willing to receive scars for love of Him?  The things that are most valuable are the things worth fighting for and dying for - and what is most valuable aren't even actually things - they are God, people and the transcendent realities.  Suffering is the soil from which beauty springs. The most beautiful realities in the world are the ones that involve sacrifice:  the crucifix, the Eucharist, a baby, an elderly person, friendship, love, peace, marriage, etc.  There is no authentic beauty and no authentic love without sacrifice.  Think about the fact that God knew it would cost Him dearly - the death of His Only-Begotten Son - to create you, but here you are because He loves you.  If you ever doubt your value, simply look at the crucifix and there you will remember your worth.]

Great interview.  Wouldn't it be awesome if more movie interviews were like that one?  If you want to listen to the whole thing you can click here and scroll down to find the Thursday, October 13 Podcast with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.  The interview is in the middle of the podcast starting at about 43 minutes remaining in the show so you'll have to wait until it gets through the first interview of the program with another guest.  Here's the trailer for the movie:

As mentioned earlier, I haven't seen the movie, but I have seen the trailer and clips from the movie and it looks to have a really great message and it's promoting the Camino in a way, of course, so that's wonderful, but I thought I could also use this as a catechetical opportunity regarding what the Church teaches about burial, cremation and the resurrection of the body. You'll notice in the trailer that the son's remains are in a box after he had been cremated and the father decides to hike the Camino while carrying the box and all kinds of problems in that regard ensue.

What does the Church teach regarding cremation and the sprinkling of ashes? 
Catechism 2300 & 2301:
The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection.  The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit.
...The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.
The Church recognizes that the body is not simply a shell for the soul but that our humanity is an integration of both the body and the soul - both of which were created by God and are, therefore, good and sacred.  A major theme that we profess as Christians is the resurrection of the body.  We believe that God will raise up the body again to have eternal life in union with the soul.  We believe this because that is what happened to Jesus - He rose from the dead, body and soul - even still retaining His holy wounds as reminders of His great love for us.  So the body is not simply something disposable or something with which we can just do whatever we want.  This is why burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy.  Throughout history some would cremate the body as a denial of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, therefore the Church did not permit cremation until recently.  Now cremation is allowed as long as it is not being done as a denial of the resurrection of the body.  Burial is obviously preferred, but cremation can be permitted.  However, even when cremation is permitted and done, the scattering of the ashes or keeping the ashes in a home or anywhere other than a tomb or grave is not permitted for the very reasons demonstrated in the trailer of the movie.  For example, there is a scene where his backpack, which contained the box with his son's ashes, falls into a river; a scene where someone steals the backpack which again contained the ashes, etc.  I remember watching an episode of Family Matters once where the ashes of one of the family members was kept on the mantle of the fireplace, the urn fell on the groud, the ashes went everywhere and they ended up cleaning up this person's ashes with the household vacuum cleaner.  You can easily see the wisdom in the Church in not permitting cremated remains to be kept anywhere other than a tomb or grave.  Out of a sacred reverence for the body which God created and which will rise on the last day, the ashes may not be kept or scattered.  Quite a wise and reverent discipline.  You can read more about all of this at Catholics United for the Faith.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Got Tickets for Fill These Hearts?

...if you signed up to go with CCM then yes, you do!  But if you didn't sign up and you still want to go you can get tickets here. The tour is coming to Springfield on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7pm-11pm.  What is Fill These Hearts?  Check out the website here and watch this video, then come with us to the event.

Sisters of Life Rhapsody in Madrid

Yesterday I received the magazine that the Sisters of Life send out and this issue featured their experience at World Youth Day in Madrid.  One article highlighted a rhapsody written by Sr. Mariae Agnus Dei and it's awesome.  Eight Sisters of Life along with three people from the band that were performing at the Love & Life Center at the Palacio de Deportes and three Franciscan Friars of the Renewal led the youth in singing it.  It was a rhapsody where they split the crowd up into four parts: guys, girls and two groups of both guys and girls with the following lyrics:
Guys to the girls: You are beautiful, you are precious, you are sacred in the eyes of the Lord.
Girls to the guys: I must confess, I look for holiness - a man strong in virtue.
First guys and girls group: My Savior and my God, I lay my life down before Thee.  I place my faith in your truth.  I trust in your mercy. 
Second guys and girls group: I thank you Lord for making me.  For truth, goodness, and beauty.  I thank you Lord for your ways do bring me greatest peace and freedom.
Watch it and listen to it here:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Savor the Moments

Tess over at Catholic Young Woman has a nice reflection on schedules of undergrads and it's quite sound advice: 
During Freshman Orientation, I attended a special Mass for all of the new freshmen at which our vice-president of Student Affairs, Father Mark, gave a beautiful homily about enjoying our time at Notre Dame.
He told us about a recent conversation he had had with an elderly Notre Dame alumnus whose love for the school had only grown in the decades since his long-ago graduation.
“If I could go back there, and be an undergraduate again,” that old man had said to him, “I would squeeze every last drop out of that place.”
As a freshman, I pondered those words and internalized them. Squeeze out every last drop, I often thought, and I promised myself to do just that. So began an endless whirl of fun activities, the sort I’m sure you’re familiar with. Every weekend brought movie nights, dinner parties, and other outings with my friends, while weekdays were busy with lectures, plays and evening discussions on top of classes and homework. It was a charmed life and so much fun, but in the midst of it all, I would sometimes feel restless, as though my activities lacked a center. True, I tried to attend Mass daily, but at times even this beloved “date with Jesus” (if you will) became just another thing to check off on the to-do list, another activity to squeeze in between class and dinner.
Now that I’ve graduated, I find that the times I remember most fondly are not all the activities and events but rather the rare quiet moments between them all ... And I realized that I had the order wrong the whole time, after all. To “squeeze out every last drop” did not mean to go to every single event and activity on campus. It meant to savor, to cherish, to enjoy the small and simple moments that happen every day.
...I have to remind myself sometimes of what I learned from my undergraduate career: savor every moment, don’t cram it with activities.
So as one of the resident college grads and working women here at the Catholic Young Woman, that’s the advice I want to share with my high school and undergraduate readers: don’t fill up your schedule. Say no to the occasional activity. Make time to sit in silence, to write, to read, to think, to dream, and most of all to converse with God.
Read it all here.

Sometimes if your schedule is packed so full you can easily have a difficult time really appreciating all the moments and end up just rushing through them, checking things off your list.  It's important to be involved and take advantage of the opportunities that you're being given during your time in college, but don't let it become a hailstorm of activities to the point where you can't enjoy the activities.  Silence, prayer and quiet moments with friends are so important during this time of your life as you try to discern what God wants for you and lots of decisions are being made.  Be sure that you make time for prayer and daily Mass.  Prayer and Mass will lay the foundation for everything else to be built upon.  Be sure to truly enter in to the Mass rather than just going through the motions.  If you pray, seek counsel, develop strong friendships and spend time in silence you will be more at peace and better able to make healthy decisions. 

He'll Make A Saint Out of You

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Ladies deserve...our best actions."

Some of the guys who participated in
Ultimate Chivalry Week.
 An article by Daniel Ruble was recently published in the Arrow about Ultimate Chivalry Week hosted by the men of CCM. 
Kristin Kuhl, a Southeast senior, said she thought Chivalry Week was a beautiful way for women to know how much they are treasured.
"I am blessed to have amazing guys in my life who want to treat women with respect," she said. "I pray that more men can understand why others believe that women should be kept at a higher standard. Chivalry Week was a week full of hope that the world can be a better place, if we all just give a little effort."
John McLain said he also hopes that men and women will learn to have respect for one another.
"Ladies deserve our best. Not just our best dress, but more importantly, our best actions," he said. "Whatever you do, show women they deserve respect. If we can affirm their dignity with our actions, we can uphold the truth of their nature as daughters of God."
Read the rest here.

We are very blessed with many young men who know who they are as sons of God and in turn know how to respect the dignity of their sisters in Christ.  Way to go guys!  CCM is very proud of you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When You Look in the Mirror Today Think of God and Say 'Wow.'

Emily at Unshakeable Hope led me to an article for the Archdiocese of Washington about the probability of your existence.  Another example of God's glory reflected in your face. Read it here.  Every morning when you wake up let the first thing you think be "God loves me."