Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Magnificent by U2


Magnificent
Oh, oh, magnificent

I was born, I was born
To be with you in this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven't had a clue only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born, I was born to sing for you
I didn't have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice from the womb
My first cry, it was a joyful noise, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar
Justified, till we die you and I will magnify, oh, oh
Magnificent, magnificent, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts
Justified, till we die you and I will magnify, oh, oh
Magnificent, magnificent, magnificent

Fr. Barron comments on the HHS Contraception Mandate

Monday, January 30, 2012

Love is Here by Tenth Avenue North

Fr. Robert Barron: Who is Jesus?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pope John Paul II and U2

The following comes from the ministryvalues.com site via Spirit Daily:

A few years ago Bono paid tribute to the deceased Pope, John Paul II, during U2's show in Anaheim, California.


Five songs into the Dublin band's sold out concert at the Anaheim Pond the singer began speaking about the head of the Catholic Church, who passed away at the age of 84.


"I met the Holy Father and I was so taken by this showman, even if I didn't agree with everything he said," the singer, whose father was Roman Catholic, said to the crowd as the band began playing the intro to new song 'Miracle Drug'.


Bono carried on speaking about a time six years ago, when he met the church head and gave the Pope his trademark sunglasses.


"I said 'Holy father, do you want a pair of fly shades?' and he said 'yes' and he put them on and he made a face kind of like this."


After scrunching his face to resemble Pope John Paul II, Bono showed the crowd he still carries with him a token of their meeting.


"He reached out and gave me this sort of crooked cross. It was designed by Michelangelo. They're my rosaries and I wear them around my neck, and I take them off and put them in my pocket during a rock show, you understand why."


The band then launched into the full version of 'Miracle Drug' which Bono dedicated to "anyone who is sick." Before the U2's next song, recent single 'Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own', Bono called out the name of the Pope - "John Paul" to the crowd and described him as "an a man who knew the right person to get into heaven."


This is a beautiful tribute to Pope John Paul II





Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let Me Feel You Shine by David Crowder Band

Fr. Robert Barron on St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fall Apart by Josh Wilson

Media and New Evangelization


Do we need modern media to proclaim the Good News? We have a duty to evangelize, but is there a wrong way to evangelize? Can modern media, such as Youtube and Facebook, effectively communicate the depth of revelation? Can a tweet bring you one step closer to an encounter with Jesus, the icon of the Living God? To answer this, we speak with Father Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries, creator and host of the 10-part documentary series Catholicism, as well as Nicole Myshak of the JP II Media Institute, who produced Dogmatic Theology. They share their perspective on the role of new media -- both the opportunities and the inherent challenges. We will also learn how their ministries use new media to invite people to rediscover the Faith.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

40 by U2


40
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me right out of the pit,
out of my miry clay.
I will sing a new song,
How long to sing this song?
He set my feet upon a rock,
and made my footsteps heard.
Many will see,
Many will see and fear.
I will sing, sing a new song.
How long to sing this song?

Fr. Robert Barron: Is Hell Crowded or Empty?

Fr. Robert Barron comments on St. Paul and the Mission of the Church

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pope Benedict emphasizes need for silence in digital world


The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI believes that in a noisy world of constant communication people need silence more than ever.

He outlined his thoughts in his message for World Communications Day 2012, which is entitled “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.” The Pope’s letter was released Jan. 24 at the Vatican press office by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

“When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary,” the Pope says in a statement that will be read in Catholic churches around the world on May 20, 2012.

“This makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge,” he writes.

Pope Benedict recommends making this interchange possible by developing “an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds.”

He suggests that silence is required to make sense of the constant stream of information that people now receive via television, radio, the Internet and various forms of social media.

“In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves,” he says.

He also observes that silence can allow other people to express their thoughts. In this way “we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested,” and therefore, “space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.”

Pope Benedict believes that this use of silence is “often more eloquent than a hasty answer,” because it “permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path towards knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts.”

The Pope sees this need for silence as a part of Christian life from the earliest times. He points to the “eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift,” which is seen “in the silence of the Cross,” when, after Christ’s death “there is a great silence over the earth.”

Silent contemplation also “immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbors so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love,” he writes.

Archbishop Celli summed up the Pope’s message as reminding everyone that real communication involves pairing “words and silence” so that people are not “overwhelmed by the sheer volume of communication itself.”

Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the social communications council, explained to CNA that the Pope’s message “reminds us that the relevance of silence is equally important within the context of a digital environment.”

“Especially when we now find ourselves continually bombarded by messages, by ideas, by opinions, by news.

“And so the Pope is saying we need silence if we’re going to judge that, integrate it, make it our own and not simply be caught up in a flow of information.”

Youth a strong presence at DC March for Life

The following comes from the CNA:

Young people from across America made up a significant amount of the huge crowds that gathered in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life.

John Hughes, an 18-year-old student at Seton Hall Preparatory School in New Jersey, told CNA that he supports the event because “to not be pro-life is to be ignorant.”

“Science has shown that life begins in the womb,” he said, arguing that abortion advocates demonstrate a “lack of responsibility” in ignoring the science of fetal development.

Even most U.S. states, Hughes added, recognize an unborn baby as a living child if both mother and baby are killed in a violent crime.

The college student was among the massive crowds of young people who weathered fog and rain in the nation’s capital to attend the annual March for Life on Jan. 23.

Organizers said they believe the event attracted more participants than last year’s estimated 400,000.

The march was held one day after the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Hughes said that he is “one hundred percent” hopeful about the future of the pro-life movement, given several legislative pro-life efforts on the state level such as abortion restrictions or Planned Parenthood defunding.

“It’s a youth movement,” he said.

Kari Boyd, a student at Michigan State University, added that she believes abortion hurts women.

She explained that Planned Parenthood and other organizations that support abortion “are not telling women the truth” when they say that an unborn baby is a “blob of cells” and fail to show women that the fetus they carry is “another human being.”

Support for women’s rights does not create the “right to kill an innocent unborn child,” Boyd said. “Women don’t have the right to murder.”

Matt Menendez, age 20, is the president of Harvard right to life. He explained that although the United States is largely pro-life, there are only a small minority of students at Harvard “who are willing to speak up” in defense of life.

“We’re always fighting an uphill battle,” he said. While the work is “very difficult,” it is also “very, very rewarding.”

He said that the group regularly receives calls and emails “from people who say they’re afraid to be prolife.”

Menendez described the group’s work as “fighting an intellectual battle” in the hopes of “opening discourse” on a topic that is considered somewhat “taboo” and is “often ignored” at Harvard.

“It’s really energizing to be part of that movement,” he said.

Luciana Milano, another member of Harvard’s right to life group, attended the march for the first time this year. She explained that attending Harvard strengthened her pro-life views because she was forced to defend her beliefs to those who disagreed with her.

She said that although the experience “has been difficult,” it has made her “a stronger believer” in the dignity of all human life.”

Describing the march as “awesome,” Milano said that she was impressed and overwhelmed by the large number of people attending the event.

“The second that I saw large amounts of people, I almost cried,” she said.

Documentary remembers Archbishop Fulton Sheen as great evangelist of America


He's been called "The John the Baptist of our times," Archbishop Fulton Sheen is remembered by many as the greatest evangelist in the history of the United States.

Monday, January 23, 2012

St. Joseph's by The Avett Brothers

A Pro-life Homily by Deacon Greg

Please check out Deacon Greg's Homily for pro-life.

Cardinal DiNardo: Young people are hope of pro-life movement

The following comes from the CNA:

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston told over a thousand young people at a prayer vigil in D.C. that the pro-life movement depends on their loving witness in the face of a hostile culture.

“You are a good infection,” the cardinal told the youth gathered at the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life. “Do not underestimate your presence.”

More than 10,000 people gathered on the evening of Jan. 22 for Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, including many young people from across the country.

The date marked the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America.

Cardinal DiNardo, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass, which was followed by confessions, a rosary, Night Prayer and holy hours throughout the night.

The Catholic University of America hosted almost 1,300 pilgrims overnight.

The vigil concluded on the morning of Jan. 23 with Morning Prayer and a closing Mass, at which Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York was the principal celebrant and homilist.

Participants were then able to attend the March for Life in downtown D.C., along Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building.

In his homily, Cardinal DiNardo spoke about the call of Jonah. Although he first ran away, Jonah eventually realized “that the call of the Lord is serious.” When he finally responded to that call, his preaching converted the people of Ninevah.

“We are walking through Ninevah,” the cardinal said, emphasizing the need for “personal conversion.”

With millions of lives destroyed by abortion in the last 39 years, he noted the need for ministries of conversion, as well as compassion and mercy.

Through the work of such ministries, he said, “we witness the miracle of Christ’s mercy and healing grace” as broken hearts are “made whole” and “filled with new peace and hope.”

The cardinal also expressed grave concerns that the pro-life movement is threatened by recent attacks on religious freedom in America.

On Jan. 20, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that will require virtually all health insurance plans to include sterilization and contraception – including drugs that cause abortion – free of charge.

Cardinal DiNardo explained that this mandate violates the religious liberty and rights of conscience of Catholics and other religious employers by forcing citizens “to directly purchase what violates our beliefs.”

He called for “timely and unwavering actions” to defend religious freedom.

At the same time, the cardinal expressed hope for the future, observing signs of good news, such as the “record numbers” of pro-life laws passed on the state level in recent years.

In many ways, the youth are “weaving Christ into our culture,” he said, urging them to show the loving face of Christ to those who are hostile.

“Don’t be compromised in your dedication to the protection of life.”

A Prayer for Life

Fr. Robert Barron comments on Morality, Character and Relationships

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nick Cannon: "Can I Live?"


Wow, I never heard this song before! Nick Cannon made a fantastic song and video back in 2005! Have you ever heard this?

Life List: States listed according to their life issues


Way to go Louisiana! We are number 1! The following comes from the Life Site News:

Americans United for Life on Thursday released its seventh annual “Life List” http://www.aul.org/auls-life-list – a ranking of all 50 states based on a comprehensive list of life issues, from abortion to euthanasia. For the second time in three years, Louisiana tops the list, followed closely by Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Arkansas.

Washington, California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Montana come in as the least life-affirming states, while Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Utah rate as the “most improved.” (Click here for the entire list.)

AUL CEO and President Dr. Charmaine Yoest said that the remarkable gains for Life at the state level reveal that many state legislators are creating a blueprint for legislative changes when Roe v. Wade is ultimately overturned.

AUL called 2011 “a watershed year in the defense of life,” with 47 states considering more than 460 abortion-related measures, ultimately enacting more than 70 of them. And that, they said, is just the beginning.

Yoest also pointed out AUL’s involvement, with at least 86 bills introduced in 32 states that were based in whole or in part on AUL’s model language or on which AUL consulted and advised.

“As the legal arm of the pro-life movement, the AUL legal team has created the legal architecture for reversing Roe v. Wade,” said Dr. Yoest. “The states are preparing for the day after Roe. And as the Life List documents, we’re seeing tremendous gains in defending life in law.”

The AUL release also noted that state legislators looking for model legislation will soon see a new AUL guidebook with 43 pieces of model legislation, including legislation restricting insurance coverage of abortions within state Exchanges created pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s healthcare plan. This model has already been used by five states to opt out of Obama’s healthcare law.

Out of the Depths

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Deliverer by Rich Mullins


Rich Mullins and a ragamuffin band - My Deliverer (HD version) from Zitacity on Vimeo.
This is one of my favorite Rich Mullins songs!

Pope Benedict tells seminarians his expectations



The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI advised the seminarians of his diocese that it takes “integrity, maturity, asceticism, constancy and heroic fidelity” to be a good seminarian and become a great young priest.

As Bishop of Rome, the Pope addressed the students and staff of the Almo Collegio Capranica, one of the oldest seminaries of Rome, on Jan. 20 in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

The seminary is celebrating its 555th anniversary on Jan. 21, the Feast of St. Anges of Rome.

Pope Benedict explained that seminary life must be founded on “a solid spiritual life animated by an intense relationship with God, as individuals and in the community, with a particular care for liturgical celebrations and frequent recourse to the sacraments.”

And once ordained, he added, priestly life “requires an ever-increasing thirst for sanctity, a clear 'sensus Ecclesiae' and an openness to fraternity without exclusion or bias.”

St. Agnes was a young Roman woman who lived between the 3rd and 4th century. She chose to die, rather than surrender her virginity. The Pope pointed to her example as one for the seminarians to follow.

“For St. Agnes martyrdom meant agreeing to spend her young life, generously and freely, completely and without reserve, so that the Gospel could be announced as the truth and beauty which illuminates existence.”

As well as her piety and bravery, the Pope also praised the virginity of St. Agnes as worthy of imitation.

“Her path to the complete gift of self in martyrdom was, in fact, prepared by her informed, free and mature choice of virginity, a testimony of her desire to belong entirely to Christ.”

Pope Benedict also raised a constant them of his pontificate with the seminarians by telling them that they need to develop not only their souls but also their minds.

“Part of a priest’s journey of sanctity,” he proposed, “is his decision to develop, with God’s help, his own intellect, his own commitment: an authentic and solid personal culture which is the fruit of constant and impassioned study.”

Being at the heart of the universal Church, the Pope said, should allow them to “learn to understand the situations of the various countries and Churches of the world,” to ensure that “no culture is a barrier to the word of life, which you must announce even with your lives.”

“The Church expects a lot from young priests in the work of evangelization and new evangelization,” he said, before imparting his apostolic blessing.

“I encourage you in your daily efforts, that rooted in the beauty of authentic tradition and profoundly united to Christ, you may bring him into your communities with truth and joy.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Overcome by Jeremy Camp

Archbishop Dolan speaks out for the USCCB and the Church

Archbishop Timothy Dolan on HHS Conscience Regulation from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.


The following comes from the USCCB:
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.” He made the statement in a web video posted at:http://bcove.me/ob5itz9v. . .
“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said.
On January 20, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Health and Human Services, announced that non-profit employers will have one year to comply with the new rule.
Cardinal-designate Dolan urged Catholics and the public at large to speak out in protest.
“Let your elected leaders know that you want religious liberty and rights of conscience restored and that you want the administration’s contraceptive mandate rescinded,” he said.

Pope Benedict to US bishops: Defend the Churches’ place in public square



The following comes from the NEWS.VA site:
In his second major discourse to US bishops currently on their Ad limina pilgrimage to Rome, those from Regions IV-VI, Pope Benedict praises the USCCB’s efforts to defend the “ most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion” against “the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres”.


Below the full text and audio of Pope Benedict’s address delivered Thursday: 
Dear Brother Bishops,
I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these truths, whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God. When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey, as the late Pope John Paul II so clearly saw, to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.

With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective which links our commitment to building an authentically just, humane and prosperous society to our ultimate assurance that the cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning. The Church’s defense of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a “language” which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world. She thus proposes her moral teaching as a message not of constraint but of liberation, and as the basis for building a secure future.

The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.

In this regard, I would mention with appreciation your efforts to maintain contacts with Catholics involved in political life and to help them understand their personal responsibility to offer public witness to their faith, especially with regard to the great moral issues of our time: respect for God’s gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights. As the Council noted, and I wished to reiterate during my Pastoral Visit, respect for the just autonomy of the secular sphere must also take into consideration the truth that “there is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion” (Gaudium et Spes, 36). There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.

Dear Brother Bishops, in these brief remarks I have wished to touch upon some of the pressing issues which you face in your service to the Gospel and their significance for the evangelization of American culture. No one who looks at these issues realistically can ignore the genuine difficulties which the Church encounters at the present moment. Yet in faith we can take heart from the growing awareness of the need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as from the promise offered by a new generation of Catholics whose experience and convictions will have a decisive role in renewing the Church’s presence and witness in American society. The hope which these “signs of the times” give us is itself a reason to renew our efforts to mobilize the intellectual and moral resources of the entire Catholic community in the service of the evangelization of American culture and the building of the civilization of love. With great affection I commend all of you, and the flock entrusted to your care, to the prayers of Mary, Mother of Hope, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.

From the Vatican, 19 January 2012


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where I Belong by Building 429

Fr. Longenecker comments on the "Spiritual but not Religious"

The following comes from the Standing on my Head blog:

What's all this "spiritual but not religious" claptrap? Saying you're spiritual but not religious is like saying you love food, but hate cooking. Let's take it further. You love food but hate cooking? That means you can't be bothered to learn to cook. You can't be bothered to study food and a meal and how it all fits togethers. You can't be bothered to read cookbooks and learn how to make a recipe. You're not willing to give it a try and burn something and be embarrassed. You're not willing to burn your fingers, make a mess and have to clean it up. You're not willing to invite friends, plan a dinner party, take a risk, spend some money and cook for them.

Why is that? Because you have known some bad cooks in your day? Because you were brought up on junk food? Because you have never had a cordon bleu five course meal? Because a chef once offended you in some way? Because you tried cooking from a cook book once and you failed? Because your friends think good food is snobbish? Because how can you eat a fine meal when there are hungry children in the world? Because some people eat better than you do and they understand fine food, and it makes you look bad? All of these and many more reasons can be given.

"Spiritual but not Religious?" This just means the person is too lazy to look beyond their adolescent bias. They are too lazy to learn what it means to be truly religious. They are too smug and shallow and immature to ever regard anything greater than themselves as greater than themselves.

"Spiritual but not Religious"? They have dismissed religion before they have even seriously considered it or studied it, and even if they have had a chance to consider it, what kind of religion have they been offered to consider? The state of Christianity in the United States is so dire, I'm not surprised any kid with half a brain rejects it. The culture encourages passivity and being a spectator. No wonder they reject religion for religion requires commitment and hard work and wonder and fear and self sacrifice and guts.

"Spiritual without Religion" is subjective Protestantism taken to it's logical end point. It's where individuals in a Protestant culture will end up, and given the starting point it makes sense. Some time ago a Protestant woman came to see me about her teenaged son who was a pretty smart kid who stopped going to church. He said to his parents, "I can love Jesus without going to church. Church doesn't matter."

"What can we say to him!?" they wailed. In fact, they didn't have an answer. The kid was right. If it is only about me and Jesus; if it is only about me and my "personal relationship with my Lord" what is the point of going to church?

We should be clear: "Spirituality without Religion" is not a product of atheism or agnosticism or secular humanism. It is the product of Protestantism, for that is subjective Protestantism's logical conclusion.

Every argument is a theological argument. So what is the underlying theological problem? A distrust of the physical world. Manichaeism. The belief that the physical world is either evil or it doesn't ultimately matter. Protestantism with its denial of the visible church and it's emphasis on eternal security and salvation by faith alone (therefore what you do doesn't matter) and it's often otherworldly Puritanical denial of this world and all that is 'worldly' is Manichean, and it is no mistake that the historians of the Protestant movement see their pre cursors as the Bogomils, Paulicians and Cathars.

"Spiritual but not Religious" is therefore a denial of all that is real and physical in God's interaction with the world. It is a denial of the importance of the physical world. It is a denial of the church, a denial of the sacraments, a denial of the incarnation, and is therefore a most noxious heresy.

No. Because the Lord Jesus Christ--the only begotten son of the Father--took human flesh he therefore sanctified the physical realm. Because he took human flesh; human flesh matters. Because he on physical matter; matter matters. My body matters for it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. My Church matters. The physical church building matters. The One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church--the Catholic Church with all her institutions and history and paperwork and bureacracy and canon law and dogma--all of it matters. The incense and the candles and the books and the bells. They all matter.

The saints and their suffering matters. My rosary and my books of theology and my Infant of Prague and my plaster St Therese and my Our Lady of Lourdes--soiled and with a hole in her head because a nun from the convent where I got her dropped her once--that matters, and so does my starving neighbor and my friend with a headache and my child who needs a hug and a listening ear. They matter.

And so does the Blessed Sacrament which is the focus of the presence of God in the physical.

...and because of this I kneel to adore.

The Likeness of Christ

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron comments on "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"

Full and Visible Unity

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Your Love by Brandon Heath

Catholics Online



The following comes from the CNA:

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, emphasized that the presence of Catholics on the internet is essential.

He noted that in 2009, roughly 440 million Catholics went online.

Archbishop Celli made his comments at Mercy University in the Swiss city of Fribourg during a meeting organized by the Bishops’ Conference of Switzerland and the Swiss Press League. The event was held in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the pastoral instruction on social communications, “Communio et progressio.”

According to L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Celli said society has passed from the “era of information” to the “era of conversation,” in which the content is itself the object of dialogue.

Speaking about the social media, the archbishop said, “Language, understanding of communities and visibility are the great challenges facing those who want to be present in the new digital continent.”

He noted the important contributions to the world of communications made by Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI and said Catholics must meet the challenge of stepping into this “courtyard of the gentiles,” where God is unknown to many.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Love Religion, and Love Jesus || Spoken Word

You Never Let Go by Matt Redman

From the Deacon's Bench: Mark Wahlberg as Thomas Merton?


The following comes from the Deacon's Bench:

Several years ago, while I was on retreat at Thomas Merton’s old monastery in Kentucky, his former secretary Br. Patrick Hart mentioned to me that some movie people were going to be dropping by for a visit. He was bemused and thought they might be wanting to discuss a movie version of “The Seven Storey Mountain.” The idea resurfaces every few years, he said, but nothing ever comes of it.

Well. If anyone is still mulling that idea, and looking for a man to play a young Merton, he’s right here. See below. (He might even want to produce it. Mark Wahlberg produced and starred in “Contraband,”the #1 movie in America last weekend.)

Pope stresses spiritual guidance in discerning religious vocation



The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized need for good spiritual counsel for those who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

“I would like to emphasize the critical role of spiritual guidance in the journey of faith and, in particular, in response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and his people,” the Pope said during his Jan. 15 Sunday Angelus address.

“God’s call to follow Jesus more closely, giving up forming their own family to dedicate themselves to the great family of the Church, is normally done through the testimony and proposal from a ‘big brother,’ usually a priest.”

Also instrumental in the process, he said, were parents “who by their genuine faith and joyful married love, show children that it is beautiful and possible to build all your life on the love of God.”

Speaking from the Papal apartments to several thousand pilgrims gathered beneath the winter sun in St. Peter’s Square below, the Pope explained his point with references to today’s Scripture readings at Mass.

The Gospel tells of how John the Baptist identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God” on the banks of the River Jordan. Thus he acted in the “role of mediator,” leading two of his disciples to discern that they must now follow Christ.

Similarly in the First Reading, it is the high priest Eli who advises Samuel that it is God and not he who is calling out in the night. Samuel takes his advice and, on the fourth occasion of being called, replies “speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

The Pope concluded his comments by entrusting all educators, “especially priests and parents,” to the Virgin Mary as they help young people discern their vocation in life.

After the Angelus the Pope noted that Sunday is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. He reminded pilgrims that the millions of refugees worldwide are “not numbers” but “men and women, children, young and old looking for a place to live in peace.”

He also highlighted the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that will run Jan 18-25. He invited everyone “to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the disciples of Christ.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

If Nobody Believed in You by Joe Nichols

Father Barron Against The YouTube Heresies

Pope John Paul on Vocations



Pope John Paul II describes the vocational call as a dialogue between us and Christ:
In the hidden recesses of the human heart the grace of a vocation takes the form of a dialogue. It is a dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given. Christ calls the person by name and says: "Come, follow me." This call, this mysterious inner voice of Christ, is heard most clearly in silence and prayer. Its acceptance is an act of faith.

Heroin Addict Prays to God for a Miracle

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What are Words by Chris Medina


Chris Medina was an American Idol contestant whose fiance got into an accident that gave her a traumatic brain injury just before their wedding. Here is his heartfelt song about staying with her.

Matthew Kelly on "Is the Mass Boring?"



A Testimony of Faith from Drew Brees

Friday, January 13, 2012

Busted Heart by For King and Country

Tim Tebow Mic'd up!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Fall by The Avett Brothers and G. Love

The Fall - The Avett Brothers feat. G. Love from Joseph Kwon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Drew Brees on Faith

Fr. Robert Barron comments on the Persecuted Church


Hat tip to The AX!

George Weigel on Why Adults Become Catholics


The following comes from the Archdiocese of Denver site of George Weigel:
There are as many reasons for “converting” as there are converts. Evelyn Waugh became a Catholic with, by his own admission, “little emotion but clear conviction”: this was the truth; one ought to adhere to it.  Cardinal Avery Dulles wrote that his journey into the Catholic Church began when, as an unbelieving Harvard undergraduate detached from his family’s staunch Presbyterianism, he noticed a leaf shimmering with raindrops while taking a walk along the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass.; such beauty could not be accidental, he thought—there must be a Creator. Thomas Merton found Catholicism aesthetically, as well as intellectually, attractive: once the former Columbia free-thinker and dabbler in communism and Hinduism found his way into a Trappist monastery and became a priest, he explained the Mass to his unconverted friend, poet Robert Lax, by analogy to a ballet. Until his death in 2007, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger insisted that his conversion to Catholicism was not a rejection of, but a fulfillment of, the Judaism into which he was born; the cardinal could often be found at Holocaust memorial services reciting the names of the martyrs, including “Gisèle Lustiger, ma maman” (“my mother”).
Two of the great 19th-century converts were geniuses of the English language: theologian John Henry Newman and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. This tradition of literary converts continued in the 20th century, and included Waugh, Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, Ronald Knox and Walker Percy. Their heritage lives today at Our Savior’s Church on Park Avenue in New York, where convert author, wit, raconteur and amateur pugilist George William Rutler presides as pastor. 
In early American Catholicism, the fifth archbishop of Baltimore (and de facto primate of the United States), Samuel Eccleston, was a convert from Anglicanism, as was the first native-born American saint and the precursor of the Catholic school system, Elizabeth Anne Seton. Mother Seton’s portrait in the offices of the archbishop of New York is somewhat incongruous, as the young widow Seton, with her children, was run out of New York by her unforgiving Anglican in-laws when she became a Catholic. On his deathbed, another great 19th-century convert, Henry Edward Manning of England, who might have become the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury but became the Catholic archbishop of Westminster instead, took his long-deceased wife’s prayer book from beneath his pillow and gave it to a friend, saying that it had been his spiritual inspiration throughout his life. 
If there is a thread running through these diverse personalities, it may be this: that men and women of intellect, culture and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the “symphony of truth.” That rich and complex symphony, and the harmonies it offers, is an attractive, compelling and persuasive alternative to the fragmentation of modern and post-modern intellectual and cultural life, where little fits together and much is cacophony. Catholicism, however, is not an accidental assembly of random truth-claims; the creed is not an arbitrary catalogue of propositions and neither is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It all fits together, and in proposing that symphonic harmony, Catholicism helps fit all the aspects of our lives together, as it orders our loves and loyalties in the right direction. 
You don’t have to be an intellectual to appreciate this “symphony of truth,” however. For Catholicism is, first of all, an encounter with a person, Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And to meet that person is to meet the truth that makes all the other truths of our lives make sense. Indeed, the embrace of Catholic truth in full, as lives like Blessed John Henry Newman’s demonstrate, opens one up to the broadest possible range of intellectual encounters. 
Viewed from outside, Catholicism can seem closed and unwelcoming. As Evelyn Waugh noted, though, it all seems so much more spacious and open from the inside. The Gothic, with its soaring vaults and buttresses and its luminous stained glass, is not a classic Catholic architectural form by accident. The full beauty of the light, however, washes over you when you come in.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How He Loves Us by David Crowder Band

Fr. Barron comments on What you believe makes a difference

Monday, January 9, 2012

Holy is His Name by John Michael Talbot

The Sound of Light by David Crowder Band

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Cardinal for New York!


God bless the Archbishop Dolan! Congrats to you and the people of the Archdiocese of New York as well as to Archbishop O'Brien of Baltimore! The following comes from Archbishop Dolan's blog:

On this “Twelfth Day of Christmas” the traditional celebration of the Epiphany, I have received a gift from Pope Benedict XVI, as he announced just a couple of hours ago at the end of Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica that I would be among those to become a cardinal in Rome at the consistory of February 18th.

Yes, I am honored, humbled, and grateful, …but, let’s be frank: this is not about Timothy Dolan; this is an honor from the Holy Father to the Archdiocese of New York, and to all our cherished friends and neighbors who call this great community home.

It’s as if Pope Benedict is putting the red hat on top of the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, or on home plate at Yankee Stadium; or on the spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral or any of our other parish churches; this is the successor of Saint Peter saying to the clergy, sisters, brothers, lay faithful of this archdiocese, and to all of our friends and neighbors of New York: Thank you! Keep up the good work! You are a leader, an inspiration, to the Church and to the world.

Over the Christmas holy days I finished a biography of President Kennedy, and recalled his reply to someone who sincerely congratulated him on the honor of the presidency.

“Thanks,” John Kennedy replied, “but I don’t look at it so much as an honor as a call to higher service.”

My sentiments exactly. This is not about privilege, change of colors, hats, new clothes, places of honor, or a different title. Jesus warned us about all that stuff.

No: this is about an affirmation of love from the Pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community, and a summons to its unworthy archbishop to serve Jesus, His Church universal, His vicar on earth, and His people better.

I’ll try to do that…but I sure need your prayers.

Adding to our sense of joy, is the news that another native New Yorker, my brother bishop and good friend, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, until recently Archbishop of Baltimore and now the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, has also been elevated to the cardinalate. The Cardinal-designate was ordained a priest for this Archdiocese in 1965, and he is still warmly remembered for his service here as a priest, secretary to Cardinals Cooke and O’Connor, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary, and auxiliary bishop.

Thanks so much for your good wishes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

More on the Year of Faith from the Vatican


The following comes from the CNA:

The Vatican issued guidelines Jan. 5 for how the Church at all levels should celebrate the Year of Faith, which starts in October 2012.

A summary of the guideline document, which was produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine, was released on Jan. 5, but the full text will be published Saturday, Jan. 7.

The introduction to the guidelines explains that the Year of Faith is “intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord, capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the door of faith.”

The Year of Faith was announced by Pope Benedict XVI last year in his apostolic letter “Porta Fidei.” It will begin on October 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. It also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The year will end on November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King.

The document from the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation offers a sketch of what should take place at every level of the Church during the Year of Faith.

At the universal level, the Pope will engage in various events, including the solemn opening of the Year of Faith, the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, and World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil. There will also be “various ecumenical initiatives” aimed at “the restoration of unity among all Christians,” including “a solemn ecumenical celebration in which all of the baptized will reaffirm their faith in Christ.”

Bishops’ conferences will focus on increasing the “quality of catechesis.” Some of the efforts in this area will involve examining “local catechisms and various catechetical supplements in use in the particular Churches,” in order “to ensure their complete conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

The Vatican body also hopes that the bishops’ conferences will use the media to evangelize, such as “television and radio transmissions, films and publications focusing on the faith, its principles and content.”

At the level of dioceses, the Year of Faith is expected to provide an occasion for “renewed creative dialogue between faith and reason,” among both the academic and artistic communities. It should also be a year for “penitential celebrations” in which Catholics can “ask for God's forgiveness, especially for sins against faith.”

In local parishes, the Vatican would like to see a focus on the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, since in it the “mystery of faith and source of the new evangelization, the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened.”

Religious institutes, new communities and ecclesial movements are also expected to take their lead in celebrating the Year from the pastoral guidelines.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith hopes that the Year of Faith will make the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism “more widely and deeply known” throughout the Church.

“From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has worked decisively for a correct understanding of the Council,” says the document, “rejecting as erroneous the so-called ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’ and promoting what he himself has termed ‘the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in continuity.’”

The Vatican’s doctrinal congregation says that their pastoral recommendations are aimed at helping people encounter Christ and grow in their understanding of the Catholic faith. At the same time, it adds, the guidelines are not meant to rule out “other initiatives which the Holy Spirit will inspire among Pastors and faithful in various parts of the world.”

The document concludes by announcing the creation of a secretariat to help coordinate the Year of Faith. It will be established within the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Restless by Switchfoot

Fr. Robert Barron on Christopher Hitchens

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Starwood in Aspen by John Denver

Archbishop Sheen: How to Improve Your Mind



Monday, January 2, 2012

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Schubert's Ave Maria by Deanna Durbin


Deanna Durbin, at age 18, singing Franz Schubert's masterpiece. Here is what Schubert had to say about this song, in a letter to his father:

"My new songs from Scott's 'Lady of the Lake' especially had much success. They also wondered greatly at my piety, which I expressed in a hymn to the Holy Virgin and which, it appears, grips every soul and turns it to devotion."