Thursday, January 27, 2011

To Live Witness

This past weekend at the March for Life I expected to be sleepy.

Turns out, I was struck.

Over and over again my faith was reaffirmed by witnesses. 

  • First, the teens and our adult volunteers.  Their attentiveness during the weekend.  Their questioning and applying their observations to their lives.  Their desire to sacrifice sleep and showers and hot food, to witness for life.  Their faithfulness struck me. 
  • Second, the seminarians and priests.  There were so many.  What hope.  The vibrancy of the Church is young.  That is awesome.  I was joking with one of my college friends, who is now in seminary, before the basilica Vigil Mass about his cassock and being part of "the show."  A 40 minute procession really is a show.  It shows us hope.  That is its purpose.  
  • Finally, the bishops and their message of Christ.  To be pro-life is not a passive stance, nor is it an abstract one.  It is not a legal issue.  It is a matter of the heart.  This places the burden of responsibility, the work, on us.  How will we respond to Christ?  How do we respond to the one who gives us this gift of life?  More importantly, how do we respond in the mundanity of our daily lives?  How do we respond in ordinary situations at home, at work, at school, etc.?  
This weekend called me to conversion and encouraged me in my faith.  It showed me the importance of witness.

"For to me to live is Christ."  Philippians 1:21

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Video

I've been too busy this week prepping for the March.  Have not had much time to write. 

This video will have to do...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

99 Balloons

We watched this clip at our Youth Night on Sunday.  It highlights well the value of life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update Your Liturgical Calendar

Is there a liturgical calendar app?  I update my Google calendar, but usually not the liturgical variety.  

As a Youth Minister, however, I do pay more attention to the Church cal than the average person might.  The Christmas season is now officially over, and we enter Ordinary Time.  To me, Christmas sort of implies "time for conversion - time to refocus my life."  Ordinary time sounds like "time to get back into my normal, busy routine."  Ordinary means plain, undistinguished, commonplace, and can imply mediocrity. 

Yet most of the Church calendar is made up of Ordinary Time?  

I'm sure you could Google "Ordinary Time" and pull up some neat reflections on the matter.  I will offer mine here:  

Ordinary Time = Work.  

Christmas is a blessed time.  It can also be incredibly distracting.  But, in the midst of gifts, family, parties, and excited children, there is this event that keeps popping up:  The Birth of Christ.  The Church responds with the nativity scene, poinsettias everywhere, candles, incense, exuberant music and lights.  The sensory overload takes some of the burden off our shoulders.  We don't have to look too hard to pick out some really neat spiritual messages for our lives.  
But Ordinary Time = Work.  Work is hard.  It implies something I have to do on my part.  It implies showing up, being present and pouring over the everyday duties...some of which seem pretty menial.  

The work for us in Ordinary Time is a work of awareness and conversion.  How is Christ present in my daily life and what is this relationship with Him calling me to?  

A few weeks ago I had an experience that highlights these two points.  My 14 month old was learning how to crawl down stairs.  She mastered the crawling backwards thing, and quickly moved onto a backward slide on her belly.  I was very proud (as I will be when she puts a helmet-like contraption on and decides to sled down the stairs on a pillow).  

In this moment of fatherhood, looking on at my daughter's joy and being completely content with my role of watching over her safety and happiness, I realized that my heart was overflowing with joy.  The moment was complete:  love and joy shared by father and daughter.  

As her magic ride down the stairs ended, I was immediately struck by the event.  I had been so completely happy during her descent, and now the moment, the unrepeatable moment was over and I stood there in sadness.  My daughter will grow up, she will learn how to walk, how to walk down stairs, and so on.  This realization that a moment of such pure joy and happiness could never return was sadness.  

And conversion.  

Awareness of my deepest desires in the moment - to experience happiness like that forever - point me to One who promises our happiness without end.  This is the moment of conversion for all of us.  It is the point where we recognize (usually over and over again) that Christ is our happiness, our life, our hope, our joy.  

May Ordinary Time be one of extraordinary work and grace. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

K-Love Winner

Check out this article on Melissa...she just won a contest on K-Love!

Here's what she wrote:

"Christian music has helped me do a complete 180 with my life. I had been raised a Catholic, I went to church every Sunday, but it had no meaning for me. I decided to become an atheist as a rebellion against my parents, which led me into the darkest part of my life by far. I spent 5 years in that darkness, depressed and suicidal and hopeless. In the summer of 2010, I began to try to look at my life in a different light. Maybe I could give Jesus another try. A few months after I began going to youth group at my parish, I discovered K-LOVE. Hearing the words of "You Are More" drove me to tears. It was then that I really decided that I was going to live my life for God, because he truly loved me. I don't know where I would be without positive, encouraging K-LOVE. I am proud to say that I have been a constant K-LOVE listener for the last 3 months, and I will continue to be for the rest of my life. Thank you and God bless you all."

Congratulations, Melissa!

Friday, January 7, 2011


My breakfast plans at the diner were shattered this morning due to a power outage in Madeira.  While this was incredibly disappointing, it did provide an opportunity for reflection. 

Moments after the outage, I took a peek out of a window upstairs and quickly notice that the whole neighborhood was without.  Almost everything was darkness. 

This struck me. 

Darkness only wins if there is absolutely no light.  This morning at 6:15am, there must have been a trickle of light, either from the moon or the first signs of the rising sun.  The light had conquered the darkness.  Any darkness in our lives is conquered, it is no longer complete darkness, when one tiny flicker of light enters.  It may not perfectly illumine the situation, but it doesn't take long for light to triumph or for a tiny flame to turn into a blaze. 

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4-5

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sweet Baritone, Sweet Redemption

I check ESPN's website about 5 times each day.  I get most of my news just by reading the headlines, occasionally I pull up a story.  A few moments ago, I pulled up one titled "Homeless Man with Radio Voice has Offer." 

Here's the article: 

Homeless man with radio voice has offer

Associated Press
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have offered a job to a homeless Ohio man with a golden radio voice.
Ted Williams, whose deep baritone and plight have made him an online video sensation, was contacted Wednesday by the Cavs. Team spokesman Tad Carper says details are being worked out on the possible position. It could include Williams working in Quicken Loans Arena.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that video of Williams posted this week on its website has commanded millions of views.
In the clip, Williams stands near a Columbus highway ramp demonstrating his smooth, deep speaking voice. He holds a sign that asks motorists for help and says, "I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times."
Williams says he had trouble with drugs and alcohol but is two years sober.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

These stories of redemption are so cool.  Here is the Youtube video that had 4 million hits since its posting on Jan. 3...only two days, people!


Monday, January 3, 2011

The Human Experience

If you have not traveled much, or who haven't been out of the country, or who haven't been outside of our continent, it can be pretty difficult to wrap your mind around what life is like on the other side of the world. 

As I was preparing for the first semester of my Junior year of college, one that would be spent in Austria, I was instructed by many people in my small hometown to: 
  • Not drink the water there. 
  • Have plenty of hand sanitizer. 
  • Take soap with you.  
  • Always stay with Americans.  
While many of these tidbits were for my safety (because I had no idea what life was like on the other side of the world) or because I would be unable to read the ingredient lists on packages, I think there may have been some ulterior motives.

There was a sense of fear behind many of the warnings.  In my head, I thought I was going to be surrounded by barbarians for four months.  Unclean peoples who drink contaminated water and have never seen soap. 

Instead, what I found was not barbaric, but beautiful. 

It was the human person. 

Just as I walk, talk, have friends and emotions, so did the Europeans I encountered over course of the semester.  Sure, their customs and language are different (and 80% of the time while traveling I had no idea what people were saying to me or about me), but the human being, the human heart, is one and the same. 

I witnessed suffering, joy, sadness, excitement, and desire for truth, beauty and goodness.  In the process, this unfounded suspicion I somehow developed over the course of my life began to dissipate. 

The inherent goodness of the human person cannot be denied or quenched by fear. 

Grassroots Films, the company that produced the vocations video Fishers of Men, now has another DVD out.  The Human Experience is a beautiful film that highlights the points I just made.  Check out the trailer below...We will aim to show this video during a Movie Night in February.