Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Opioid Crisis and Advent




While driving around recently, I came across a fairly popular song on the radio with the following lyrics

"Medicate" by the band "Theory of a Deadman"

Got no job, mom pays my bills
Textin' ex's get my fill
Sweatin' bullets, Netflix-chills
World's out there singin' the blues
Twenty more dead on the evening news
Think to myself "really, what's the use?"
I'm just like you, I was born to lose

Why oh why can't you just fix me?
When all I want's to feel numb
But the medication's all gone
Why oh why does God hate me?
When all I want's to get high
And forget this so-called life

I am so frickin' bored
Nothin' to do today
I guess I'll sit around and medicate (medicate)
I am so frickin' bored
Nothing to do today
I guess I'll sit around and medicate (medicate)





I'm not sure if the artist is celebrating this reality, or just pointing it out, but either way I think it is helpful for us to pay attention to this.


We are all probably familiar with the opioid crisis in our country.  Just two stats

1) Opioids are the leading cause of death among people under 50 

2) Heroin alone (just one form of opioid) killed more people in 2015 than carr accidents and guns COMBINED!


We are asked to be people who bring comfort to God's people as we hear in the first reading.  Well, folks, this is the atmosphere in our world that we are asked to bring comfort to.

Some Christians are asked to be bring Comfort in the midst of severe famine and poverty.  Some Christians are asked to bring Comforth in the midst of religious persecution.  In our culture, we are asked to bring Comfort into the world amidst a culture of people that are medicating themselves at epic levels.

And there are lots of ways to medicate...not just drugs.  Shopping, food, caffeine, nicotine, my phone, etc.


So how do we bring "comfort" to God's people in the midst of all this?  The Gospel gives us a start - tell people to REPENT!

That sounds like it would only make people more depressed, more down on themselves...but here's the thing...people went out into the desert to see John.   John the Baptist wasn't bothering them in the middle of town...people went out to see HIM!

Why?  Because no matter how many drugs we take, no matter how much we try to medicate, we know that 

a - we sin (or, if you're atheist, "make decisions that harm ourselves and give us guilt") and
b - we can't fix it

So this invitation to repent is an invitation to acknowledge that these burdens I'm carrying around...God can HEAL them


Another thing the Church offers the world hopped up on medication and hating the burden and "boredom" of reality is the gift of a rhythm of life

1) Each day, we're invited to introspection, to prayer, and to celebration

2) Certainly also weekly we're invited to give something up like meat on Fridays and spend more time in prayer and on Sundays we celebrate

3) But also, as we are aware right now, the Church structures our year with this rhythm of life as well - we have seasons like Advent and Lent where we enter into more silence, perhaps giving some things up and then we have these great seasons of Christmas and Easter, and of course throughout the year we have "Feast days" for great saints and great moments in Church history.  So precisely when the world is trying to tell us to run around like a chicken with our head cut off and be frenzied, we step back and celebrate the quiet and peaceful and anticipatory season of Advent.

In a world of instant gratification, to choose to patiently wait for something is an act of rebellion against the frenetic; and act of rebellion against the evil one.



This rhythm of life given from God is something that the Israelites thanked God for regularly in the Old Testament.  People today often mock the laws of the Old Testament because some of them talk about clothing and shellfish and pork etc...but the Israelites said "We thank you, God, for this way of life you teach us!"

This rhythm of life given to us from God helps us recognize that not every day is the same. If I just think every day is the same, and there is no purpose or rhythm to anything, then things start to get boring REAL quick...

and so I look for a way out...

and I medicate and flee reality



Let us bring the comfort that only comes through Christ to a culture that is so afraid or bored by reality that people are turning to anything they can find to escape.  


Let us show people that the invitation to repent and the invitation to live out purpose and a rhythm of life are actually great gifts from our Loving Father in Heaven!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Are we living in the worst times?

Often times we hear from progressives that the times have changed so much that our sacramental laws have to change to keep up


But is that true?


Is our time really MORE hostile to the Faith than the Diocletian Persecution?  Is our time MORE hostile to Catholicism than 20th century Russia?  Than China over the last 50 years?


I think St. Agatha who had her breasts cut off or St. Bartholomew who was skinned alive for the Catholic Faith would laugh at the notion that today things are so much more hostile to the Faith or that the times are so much worse than any other time in the past.


From my vantage point, the notion that "Woe is us, we have to bring the Gospel to a world infinitely more hostile to the Faith than anything encountered in the first 2,000 years of the Church" is both

1) wrong

and

2) lazy


It is lazy because in believing that we live in a time "SO much worse" than anything else ever encountered, we can also, in the back of our mind, excuse our failure to do a better job because "things are so much worse now"

"Wow, things are so much worse in your time?  I was skinned alive 2,000 years ago for being Catholic


Hebrews 12:4 - "you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

We have this moment

With all the sexual misconduct/rape/abuse reports coming out against Hollywood moguls and media superstars, it is easy to get cynical and retweet and join in the piling on and the "I told you so".

This seems particularly tempting for Catholics, as our teaching on sexual morality has been skewered for the last two decades in the wake of the priestly abuse crisis.


However, it seems to me that we have this opportunity where a lot of people in our culture are awaking to the fact that perhaps our culture's approach to sexuality is not working, and are looking around and wondering "Is there a path out of this?"

 I think we as Catholics are gravely mistaken if we do not step in and help explain what our Church says with regards to sexual expression and also what our Church teaches about the role that morality and Christian principles can play in shaping public policy and law without insisting that a nation become an explicitly Catholic theocracy.







I think many fear that if there is anything in our public sphere that even SOUNDS Christian, we can't utilize it because of the separation of Church and state. 



But the Catholic Church has a lot of well-reasoned non-threatening non-seeking-to-take-over-the-country things to say and engage on this question of how laws can be more rooted in Truth while maintaining our Nation's Constitution.





Let's share these ideas and engage in these conversations - the time seems right, and people seem to want to have this conversation unlike any other time in my lifetime

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Conscience

If a person's conscience is telling them to

1) stockpile nuclear weapons

2) turn away immigrants

3) pollute a local river

4) utilize the death penalty


Should that person follow their conscience?

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Form to Weed out the Church

Here's a first draft of a letter a Pope might consider utilizing to address the informal but de fact schism that is only widening:


"For immediate distribution to all priests, religious, bishops, theologians, parish staff, and teachers at Catholic schools of all levels from kindergarten to the university and to all who claim to in any way be a theologian in the Catholic Church:

Please sign and return this document stating that you agree to the following

1.  Abortion is always and everywhere a grave evil.  If procuring or assisting in an abortion is freely done with the understanding that it is a grave evil, then it is a mortal sin.

2.  Sexual activity outside the context of a valid marriage is always and everywhere a grave evil.  If sexual activity outside the context of a valid marriage is freely chosen with the understanding that it is a grave evil, then that act is a mortal sin.

3.  Marriage, even civil marriage, can only exist between one man and one woman.  An attempted marriage between persons of the same sex is a grave evil.  Attempting or participating in an attempted marriage between persons of the same sex, if freely chosen with the understanding that it is a grave evil, then the act is a mortal sin.

4.  Artificial contraception (chemical or otherwise) is always and everywhere a grave evil.  Any use of artificial contraception, if freely chosen with the understanding that it is a grave evil, is a mortal sin.

I understand that I must always and everywhere publicly profess and teach the above teachings, and I will never work to teach otherwise, either directly or indirectly. 


________________________________________

Please submit this form to your local bishop at your earliest convenience

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sasquatch Fitness

I just joined a student for his podcast last week.  We talked about Faith, sports, working out, Catholicism, the Mass, and MUCH more


Help out a young Catholic student as he ventures into new media



Homily: Harvey Weinstein and AUTHENTIC masculinity




To love is to the will the good of the other

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Give to God what is God's




The prayer of Clement XI mentioned in the homily


Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.I love you: let me love you more and more.I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.


I worship you as my first beginning,I long for you as my last end,I praise you as my constant helper,And call on you as my loving protector.


Guide me by your wisdom,Correct me with your justice,Comfort me with your mercy,Protect me with your power.


I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;My words: to have you for their theme;My actions: to reflect my love for you;My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.


I want to do what you ask of me:In the way you ask,For as long as you ask,Because you ask it.


Lord, enlighten my understanding,Strengthen my will,Purify my heart,and make me holy.


Help me to repent of my past sinsAnd to resist temptation in the future.Help me to rise above my human weaknessesAnd to grow stronger as a Christian.


Let me love you, my Lord and my God,And see myself as I really am:A pilgrim in this world,Christian called to respect and loveAll whose lives I touch,Those under my authority,My friends and my enemies.


Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,Greed by generosity,Apathy by fervor.Help me to forget myselfAnd reach out toward others.


Make me prudent in planning,Courageous in taking risks.Make me patient in suffering, 
unassuming in prosperity.


Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,Temperate in food and drink,Diligent in my work,Firm in my good intentions.


Let my conscience be clear,My conduct without fault,My speech blameless,My life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.Let me cherish your love for me,Keep your law,And come at last to your salvation.


Teach me to realize that this world is passing,That my true future is the happiness of heaven,That life on earth is short,And the life to come eternal.


Help me to prepare for deathWith a proper fear of judgment,But a greater trust in your goodness.Lead me safely through deathTo the endless joy of heaven.


Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Imagine" by John Lennon


"Imagine" by John Lennon is the most naive song ever written. 

I guess we can excuse him a bit in that he didn't have the same historical data that we have now, 50 years after he first yearned for a world without Heaven or Hell, without religion, without Christ, etc. but just a big happy brotherhood of people...but the historical data is now apparent for all to see.

We now know quite well what happens when Christianity is abandoned.  It is NOT some happy brotherhood of humanity.

Nietzsche was way more dialed in than Lennon.

Why would a world that doesn't have Christ, that doesn't believe in the dignity of the Human Person rooted in the fact that the Juedeo Christian God SAID the human person ought to have dignity...why would a world that jettisons God still keep that part of God's message?  

Loving our neighbor as ourselves is THE HARDEST PART OF THE GOSPEL!!!  If I'm getting rid of God, why would I keep the hardest part of the Gospel in my life?



Here's an imagined conversation between John Lennon and today's Post-Christians on the right and left:

Naive post-Christian hippy: "Hey everyone, God isn't real, so religion isn't real, so the teachings about the dignity of each person aren't real, and the teachings about loving your neighbor as yourself aren't real...but let's still love each other."

Post-Christian alt-right/Post-Christian Communist: "Why should we love everyone?"

Naive post Christian hippy: "Because haven't you heard the song by John Lennon about what the world would be like if we did it that way?"

Post-Christian alt-right/Post-Christian Communist: "I don't give a rat's rear end about any of that.  I'm here to win and defeat the enemies of my ideology."



We are beginning to see, in our own day, exactly what happens, on the right and left, when Judaeo Christianity is jettisoned. 

Charlottesville was a perfect example of what is left behind when right and left are not rooted in Christ. 


The idea that we can get to all the good things Christ has brought to the world without actually believing or acknowledging Christ is a fairy tale.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Respect Life Month

Tons of great FREE resources by clicking here: http://usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2017/respect-life-digital-resources.cfm


I  hope you consider downloading and sharing some of the resources with your friends and social media followers


Here are a few of my favorite images









Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Amoris Ghostwriter and St. John Paul II

A fact that people all across the ecclesial spectrum seem to agree on is that the man who had the major hand in helping pen "Amoris Laetitia" is Archbishop Tucho Fernandez.


In addition to being able to claim helping draft "Amoris Laetitia", Archbishop Fernandez wrote a book in 1995 titled "Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing"


You can read the English translation here if so moved: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/09/full-text-of-archbishop-tucho.html

.....

Switching gears for a moment, in not a few progressive Catholic circles, St. John Paul II was attacked for his "Theology of the Body" presentations and his book "Love and Responsibility" which he wrote before becoming Pope.  He was attacked for writing about things that priests are, as his detractors claimed, ought not to be talked about by the Church
 

I've read both of St. John Paul II's works, and find them to be pivotal documents in the life of the Church, and also extremely appropriate and properly couched within the Church's important moral teachings.  What I've read from Archbishop Fernandez's work is frankly disturbing and, based on my lowly theological assessment, a completely different TYPE of attempt to talk about Catholicism and sexuality.


But the reason I raise all of this here, though, is to note that I've NOT heard progressive Catholics venting their frustrations about the fact that Archbishop Fernandez takes up Catholicism and sexuality, although that was one of their major critiques of St. John Paul II

Some GREAT Respect Life free resources and beautiful shareable images!

There are some GREAT images that are free to download and share with your friends and followers 





Why do we help the physically suffering but not the spiritually suffering?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Catholic Masculinity and the Massacre in Las Vegas

So in the wake of Vegas, the secular left has identified the problems
1) guns
2) masculinity

A sample:



Here's the great irony in this - according to the secular left, masculinity is both not a real thing, and also, at the same time, while not existing, also the problem.


Something can't both not exist and be the problem



And here's what the Church says
1) Masculinity and Femininity are real

2) Trying to suppress masculinity or pretend it isn't real, and to NOT nurture authentic masculinity will only cause DANGEROUSLY WRONG ideas about masculinity to rise up in place of authentic masculinity


Our culture, in saying there is no such thing as masculinity, is denying reality.  Denying reality is what psychologists call REPRESSION


Our culture takes masculinity and says
1) It isn't real
2) Boys that won't sit still in second grade must be medicated
3) It's cool if men are actually in to purses, manicures, make up, etc...


We are ROBBING our young men of their identity by drugging it and explaining it away...and in the wake of this we are left with soft, over medicated young men who are bored out of their minds, and are encouraged to fall deeper into their boredom by slipping into the matrix of video games, staring at screens, medicating with drugs and alcohol, and indulging in pornography, masturbation, strip clubs and sexual encounters of all sorts outside the context of marriage.


We ROB our young men of their identity, and no longer encourage them to strive for anything.




The CURE to the problematic manifestations of a diseased counterfeit masculinity is NOT doing away with masculinity.  You can no quicker do away with masculinity than you could do away with the Sun.


The CURE is to NURTURE authentic masculinity, which is why I think our culture has very little hope of enduring.  I am, in that regard, quite pessimistic.  But hey, all things are possible with God.


The Church has always taught that it means something to be a man.  To lay down your life in service to the vulnerable, in service to the poor.  To protect and defend and sacrifice for others.




Sadly it is no great shock that in a culture that has tried to eradicate the notion of men who defend, even taking up arms if necessary, there has arisen, in the vacuum, a demonic and warped mockery of masculinity that has men taking up arms to murder the innocent


Here are some resources that can be of great help in righting the ship





Bishop Olmsted's letter on AUTHENTIC Catholic Masculinity:

http://intothebreach.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/INTO-THE-BREACH-ROMAN-CATHOLIC-DIOCESE-OF-PHOENIX.pdf



We will either call men to battle, call men into the breach, call men to use their spirit to combat evil, or counterfeit versions will continue to wreak havoc on our culture