Jan 26, 2006

Loving Benedict

Pope Benedict's first encyclical "God is Love" (Deus caritas est) is remarkable and should be highlighted by priests and lay ministers everywhere. IN the coming weeks I'll take a small piece of it and add my own reflections to our Holy Father's words.

Stay tuned,

Jan 25, 2006

Upcoming Appearences

I'll be hitting the road for some appearences and other gigs that I thought I'd let you know about:

Jan 28: Good Shepherd Parish Inwood (AKA Upper Manhattan):
I'll be attending a fund raiser for Fr. Greg who runs an orphanage in Guatemala. Come on by if you can.

Feb 3-5: BustedHalo's Charis Seekers Retreat- Oak Ridge NJ
I'll be facilitating a retreat for people in their 20s and 30s for the weekend. These have been highly successful for us in the past. Register online BY CLICKING HERE

Feb 20-23: Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Symposium: Burbank, CA
I will be serving as a representative of NCYAMA (National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Assosication) to this project which is exploring the models that exist in the church in Pastoral leadership. Check out the project HERE.

Feb 25: Keynote Speaker: Diocese of Richmond's Young Adult Conference
Topic: Young Adult Ministry: Past, Present, Future
Check out the Conference HERE

Hope to see y'all there.

Jan 24, 2006

Notre Dame and the Vagina Monologues

Hat tip to Amy Welborn here:

Good article from ND's President on the difference between academic study of something a promoting it as connected to Catholic institutions.

Click here for more.

I think he's on target here--although I wonder why "academic" study needs to simply be limited to "a classroom" and we cannot discuss these matters more openly and promote these events with the caveat of exploration as opposed to simply putting on a play like the Vagina Monologues because we think we should or because someone at the helm wants to promote the message it brings.

Jan 19, 2006

B16's First Encyclical

From Zenit


During today's general audience, Benedict XVI announced that his first Encyclical, the title of which is "Deus Caritas est," will made public on January 25. The official presentation of the document will take place in the Holy See Press Office at midday on the same day.

Explaining the contents of the document, the Pope said that "love today often appears as something far removed from Church teaching." Yet "It is a single movement that has various dimensions."

"Charity," the Holy Father went on, "is the love that renounces itself in favor of others. 'Eros' becomes 'agape' if one seeks the good of others, it becomes 'caritas' if it opens to one's own family and to the entire human family."

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that the forthcoming document may "illuminate our Christian life."

Sounds good so far. This guy is surprising me. I thought he'd be a nightmare but he's turning out to be a pretty cool Pope who I think has far more interesting things to say than JPII did.

Vomit and NYSC: Perfect together

Today was day one of my personal training regimen. Basically it was a series of tests to see just what I can do. Liz, my personal trainer, is awesome and is really great at adjusting and instructing me throughout the workout.

I started out on the elpitical machine as a warm up (note: usually this IS my work out so I'm taking what I usually do as a workout and it's already become the warm up--can you say "Oh shit, I'm gonna die?). Only five minutes and I probably couldn't do too much more.

We then moved to some basic yoga stretches--which were fine. I've done yoga before with my pal, Fr. Tom Ryan, who is the healthiest man alive. Check out his new site christianspracticingyoga.com.

We moved to some up/downs on the step boards which were pretty hard for me and got me sweatier than I get when I eat Kow-pung chicken. We moved on to some free weights doing curls and lat excercises. Not a huge amount of weight but man was it hard.

I got to take a water break and when I returned I thought I would puke all over the place. Liz took pity on me and had me sit for a bit on the excercise ball and stick my head between my legs and breathe deeply. I was right at that point where you feel like you're turning all kinds of colors and your tummy is jumping all over the place. I felt a lot better after about five minutes. Liz told me that since I've been so lousy to my body it's confused about what the hell I'm doing to it.

We did some calf rolls because mine are really tight next and then we did some lunges and took on some of the weight machines. Liz was really good at teaching me how to use them properly. We did some light stretching and then set a time to meet on Monday and called it a day--Thank God.

Looking back on this though--we were only at this for one hour--but man was that a workout. So I guess I'm getting what I paid for. I had checked my weight before I started and it read 222...up from 218. At the end of the workout I was curious so I hopped on the scale and girlfriend knocked my ass down to 220 AND I was soaking wet.

Monday she'll have an entire program for me to follow until we meet again. My big challenges will be keeping square and not moving my back off the bench machines.

I feel like total crap right now but the endorphins are also clearly raging in response so it evens out from time to time.

My goal is somewhere around 175 and then to gain a lot of flexibility and keep that part up along with some strength. I have a little girl coming along and daddy needs to be around to pay for all that tuition and a wedding one day. So I gotta take better care of the body God gave me.

So today, I thank God for Liz. Who's basically a nightmare in a black sweatsuit that I'll meet once a week or so to start and then move those sessions out to every other week.

Pray that I don't upchuck all over the place.

Jan 18, 2006

Working Out-The Battle of the Bulge

I joined a gym and have been working out in the early morning hours the past three days. Just some treadmill and bike work mostly--for about an hour.

I have to say I have more energy and my brain is not as foggy as it sometimes gets and I haven't come close to hitting my stride...I'm taking it slow.

Tomorrow however, I have my first session with a personal trainer. I'm afraid she's going to kill me since I'm so out of shape. And since she's a woman and presumably good-looking (I mean she is a trainer, after all) my wife is probably next on the list to kill me. But since I haven't been able to do this on my own I'm getting help. I bought a 10 session package plud the gym dues...which wasn't cheap. So now I'm committed. It was also the recommendation of the doctor I went to see when I hurt my back so badly that I thought I was having a heart attack, the pain was that intense. Turns out I'm just way too out of shape and the muscles are atrophied and need to wake up.

My goal...to go from 218lbs to 175-180. About 50lbs. I'd also like to increase my flexibility as I get tight a lot.

So pray for me this week, that I won't keel over!


Jan 11, 2006

John Paul II would've driven the getaway car

Sometimes my church makes me laugh at their marketing ineptitude

Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot John Paul II is set to be released from prison today. He stated that the Vatican secured his release and wanted to express his gratitude.

Catholic World News states:

"Vatican officials have said that the Holy See was not involved-- in fact, not consulted-- before a Turkish court ordered Agca's release. Although Pope John Paul II said that he had forgiven his assailant, Church spokesmen have stressed that the decision to pardon Agca in 2000 was made by President Ciampi himself, without interference from the Vatican."

Ok, here's where I had to laugh. One of the biggest examples of what it means to be Catholic was John Paul II's forgiveness of his attacker. He often stated that clemency should be given to the imprisoned and he had no problem with Agca's release from jail.

And now the geniuses at the Vatican shout from the rooftops that they had nothing to do with his release. Granted that Agca may indeed be lying about the Vatican's intervention (he hasn't always been the most reliable witness), but anyone could see how this looks like the Vatican is saying: "We wish you'd keep him behind bars and lose the key."

Pope John Paul II, a man I admired much for his forgiveness of his attacker, gave us an example of forgiveness that is unparrelled. How are we called to forgive? Can we even forgive those we detest most?

Agca's fear is that his life is in danger. All of his accomplices are dead. Will those who hired him (presumably the KGB) have him bumped off next? If the Vatican is not involved in securing his safety then maybe they should be. I think John Paul II would probably pick him up from the prison himself if he were alive today.

And yet I believe unfortunately that Agca's life indeed will come to an end soon. Could the Vatican have prevented this loss of life? Indeed. Only time will tell how free indeed Mehmet Ali Agca really is today.

Jan 10, 2006

BustedHalo Cast Tearing Up the Charts

Good News!

Fr. Dave (my boss) and I have been Podcasting for a bit over a month and our Podcast called the BustedHalo Cast has gone up from 131 to 66 on the podcast alley ratings for religion and spirituality casts.

You can push us into the top 30 by voting on Podcast Alley.

Also to listen to the BustedHalo cast go to this link

Or you can subscribe to the feed at feedburner and get an automatic update on your itunes or feed demon aggregators.

Jan 9, 2006

Fired for His Faith

This weekend's Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on a professor at Wheaton who was fired for his faith basically. He was teaching Aquinas to students at this Protestant university but then once he converted to Catholicism he was let go.

Now Wheaton makes all their faculty sign a letter saying that they uphold a belief in “biblical doctrine that is consonant with evangelical Christianity.” The last two words of the sentence may be most important as Wheaton has a pretty rigid "Protestants only" policy which is upheld by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which carves out an exemption for religious colleges.

I'm sort of libertarian in this mindset. I think people should be allowed to hire who they'd like. I obviously think that means that they should be mindful of diversity and that diverse minds simply make the world more interesting and make you cover all your tracks. In the academy, I think not looking at all sides of the coin leads to a self-fulfilling inner sanctum where you miss out on a good deal of the whole educational experience.

So in this instance, I think Wheaton is short-sighted but I also think they have the right to let this guy go.

By the same token--I found it interesting that Notre Dame's faculty is only 53% Catholic. I wonder much about the catholic identity of universities but I also think the adherence to that identity really resides with the Campus Ministry or Chaplancy departments and not the academic study of theology and other subjects.

A friend recently applied to a Catholic law school. He was a Jesuit school grad, did a year of the Jesuit International Volunteer Program, and had a master's in religious education. The admissions officers at the Catholic law school asked him if he thought he's fit in.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

They replied, "You do know that like nobody here believes in God, right?"

Now I'm as liberal as the next guy, but I wrote a letter to the President of the University after I heard this one.

There does seem to be a middle ground, I think. Perhaps religious schools should be "tolerant" of other traditions and open to the exploration of other traditions in fields of academic study.


They also need to unabashedly and unapologetically proclaim their own tradition well. I think that is the role of Campus Ministers--a role all too often given short-shrift in the University.

Perhaps that is where Wheaton should've concentrated their efforts.

Jan 7, 2006


So I've seen Beliefnet's Belief-o-Matic but never bothered to really take the quiz myself.

According to them and to the chagrin of people who find my thoughts to not be in line with mainstream Catholicism my results are:

1. Eastern Orthodox (100%)
2. Roman Catholic (100%)
3. Orthodox Quaker (95%)
4. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (89%)
5. Seventh Day Adventist (87%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (83%)
7. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (73%)
8. Hinduism (69%)
9. Jehovah's Witness (67%)
10. Orthodox Judaism (67%)
11. Liberal Quakers (65%)
12. Mahayana Buddhism (60%)
13. Jainism (59%)
14. Theravada Buddhism (58%)
15. Bahá'í Faith (58%)
16. Unitarian Universalism (58%)
17. Neo-Pagan (55%)
18. Islam (50%)
19. Sikhism (50%)
20. New Age (50%)
21. Secular Humanism (48%)
22. Reform Judaism (44%)
23. Taoism (36%)
24. Nontheist (34%)
25. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (26%)
26. New Thought (22%)
27. Scientology (19%)

Seems pretty accurate to me. Give it a go!

Jan 6, 2006

NBC's ER--Anti Catholic Episode?

Did any of you see ER last night? It contained two situations surrounding abortion. One, is a young girl was found to be pregnant after being raped (it sounded like gang rape too) at a party after blacking out. The second one is a 37 year old Abby Lockhart (played by the beautiful Maura Tierney) is found to be pregnant and struggles with the responsibility of motherhood and the fear that her child might suffer from bi-polar disorder.

To summarize quickly: Luka (Goran Visnjic) is the doctor in charge of the care of the young girl while Neela (Parminder Nagra) is the treating physician. The parents of the young pregnant girl intend for her to carry the child to term because of their "Christian" beliefs (it is never stated that they are Catholic). Neela, not aware initially of the rape, berates the parents for their choice and after speaking with this scared girl realizes that she has doubts about whether or not to keep the baby. Luka informs Neela to back off and she requests that another attending physician be consulted who is not Catholic.

Whoa! I had a pretty vile reaction to this. Someone over at Amy Welborn's blog made a great point how the President on the West Wing would never say, "I'd like to hear from someone who isn't Jewish about National Security." He'd be buried in the press as an anti-semite.

The writers of ER often err on the side of "what could happen in a hospital" and I would venture to say that this situation presents itself more often than not. The fact that a pro-life family was shown at all is actually a good sign. Now they made the father and mother look like unsophisticated idiots (well, the father anyway) so it's not all good news.

Still, I found that Luka (the doctor in question here) was going through the struggle that presents itself to people in both situations, which I also found to be a good thing to portray on television. Perhaps the producers were more trying to show the difference between making a personal choice and having that choice thrust upon someone else. Which is what happens to the daughter who is forced to live out the decision of her parents even if it is not her choice and the choice of Abby (Maura Tierney's character who is pregnant by Luka) who will force Luka (who is the father of her baby) to live with her choice to abort or not to abort. I was pleasently pleased with her choice not to abort-- something that wouldn't have happened in a TV series like Maude 20 years ago.

As someone who has been inside more hospitals than I care to remember these kinds of issues present themselves every day to those who work there. While I think there was a bit of anti-Catholic bias in some of the writing I would also counter that there is a lot of anti-catholic bias in the medical community. So maybe art imitates life here....

And maybe that's a good thing since it will bring to light some of this bias that exists and forces people to ask the big questions of themselves.

Besides it was a lot more balanced than 60 Minutes was in their recent story on Catholic hospitals and their policy on not giving the morning after pill to rape victims and the policy of the state that might force them to do so from now on. It was pretty anti-Catholic and reported by Leslie Stahl. Probably ran about 6 weeks or so ago.

The fact that we're all talking about this today is possibly a good result of both shows. How do we defend the vulnerable--both mother and child in these instances. It seems to me that we don't have all the bases covered with any of the choices that can be made.

Jan 5, 2006

Pilla Resigns?

Rumor has it that Bishop Anthony Pilla of the Diocese of Cleveland is set to resign allegedly for health reasons.

I've attended many conferences in Cleveland and spoke at John Carroll University and have admired Bishop Pilla for some time now. He has given his diocese a strong sense of their baptismal call and has enabled lay people to work in close collaboration with a tired and overworked clergy. I have many friends who work for the diocese and have nothing but good words to say about this man.

I'm hoping that his resignation isn't true...but if it is I also hope that Pilla gets to hand pick a replacement for his seat or at least he is in on the conversation. He's been there for 25 years and knows the diocese better than anyone.

Jan 4, 2006

Speaking Circuit

I'll be on the road in February speaking at the Diocese of Richmond's Annual Young Adult Conference on the 25th. So if you're in the Williamsburg, VA area c'mon down.

I'll be speaking with Sr. Diane Guy who is a legend in Young Adult Ministry circles and was one of the people who was a driving force behind the US Bishop's Document Sons and Daughters of the Light. She'll be handling the "Where has young adult ministry been?" while I'll take on the next two facets of the talk--namely: "Where is young adult ministry now?" and "Where is young adult ministry going in the future?" Much of the material for this talk is already in my forthcoming book, Googling God, by Paulist Press--which is coming to a bookstore near you in the coming year.

More info: http://www.richmonddiocese.org/cyam/YAMConvFlyer.pdf

Jan 3, 2006

Happy New Year

Hat Tip to Susan Rose over at Musings of a Discerning Woman for this hysterical resolution generator.

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Become one with my inner sociopath.

Get your resolution here

New Year's Resoultions often seem silly to me, but I suppose that they are worthwhile. At a time when we are filled with hope for the coming year let us be mindful of why we have that hope:

Because our God dared to become one of us.

With that in mind, I resolve this year to:

1) Be better with small details and not just the big picture.
2) Finish and publish my first book--GOOGLING GOD.
3) Become the best dad I can be and learn all I can about adoptive children.
4) Blog once per day.
5) Start a spiritual life coaching program.
6) Appreciate my co-workers more than I do.
7) Pray with gratitude and piety.
8) Do a daily examen.
9) Lose 50 lbs. and get a trainer to help me.
10) Buy my first home.
11) Be mindful of my parents and appreciate their sacrifices.
12) Love my wife more every day.
13) Take more pictures.
14) Inspire one person to do something every day.
15) Write two award winning articles.

Googling God

Googling God
Buy Your Copy Now!