“Why is it that when sin is running rampant there is always someone who wants to lower the standards and then say everything is fine?” My wife made that statement in response to an article she read from a so-called “Catholic” magazine. The article suggested that the main issue with priestly infedility was that they were not allowed to marry. The article suggested that allowing priests to marry would solve all of the sexual issues that have surfaced in the media surrounding priests.

I think that what my wife said in response to this article is dead on. The issue at hand is not priestly celibacy. Allowing priests to get married as a solution to priestly infidelity is like permitting married men (and women) to pursue sexual relations outside of marriage to solve the issue of marital infidelity. The problem is much deeper than celibacy, and it is not just an issue with priests. The issue at hand is sexuality itself.

Our culture has been in moral decline for decades. The standards are indeed being lowered. Every day we are overwhelmed with images of sexuality. Contraception, pornography, and abortion have become accepted and even encouraged. The lure of this world and sexual promiscuity is extremely strong and has eaten away at our culture. No wonder priests and married men have a hard time with their vows. The pull of this world is great.

What needs to be done is to look at the root of the problem. Allowing priests to get married is not going to solve this sexual crisis. Holding ourselves to a higher standard will. Standing up to the media outlets and telling them to stop contributing to our moral decline will. Most importantly, we need to pray. We need to pray for our priests that they may have the strength to remain true to their vow of celibacy. We need to pray for married men and women that they may remain true to their marital vows. We also need to pray for single men and women that they too may understand that sex is sacred and reserved for marriage.

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 6:48 pm  Comments (3)  

For My Wife

This post is dedicated to my wife, Kari. Her birthday is tomorrow. I know that I often do not show my love or appreciation for her and I wanted to share a few words on why I think the world of her. I have created a top ten list of things I love and appreciate about her:

10. She has stuck with me the past 12 and a half years despite my failings.
9. She makes me laugh.
8. She is willing to tell me like it is even when I don’t want to hear it (and I always need to hear it!)
7. She listens to my stupid jokes and laughs (and isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m being too much like my father, the king of stupid jokes)
6. She has supported me through some tough times in my life.
5. She’s my motivator when I don’t want to be motivated (which is most of the time).
4. She inspires me to become a better person (someday I will be!)
3. She has been willing to sacrifice herself in order to bring our five children into this world.
2. Her love for the Lord has drawn me closer to Him just by being near her.
1. She works tirelessly at keeping up the household. She is the rock of our family. None of us appreciate that as much as we should.

I love you Kari and I hope you have a wonderful birthday! May the Lord bless you on your special day!

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 5:13 pm  Comments (1)  

Right Wing Extremism

POLITICS! I normally don’t get political in my blog posts. I do have very strong political beliefs, but the purpose of my blog is to help myself and others in our “Adventure to Salvation.” As a matter of fact, I think I only referred to politics once before in my blog and it was about the elections last fall. Click here if you would like to read it. However, recent news has fueled my desire to voice my concern about the future of our country. A report from the Department of Homeland Security has been released entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” Below is a quote from a footnote on the second page of the document:

“Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

For the complete document, click here. A line has been drawn in the sand by President Obama and his administration. All Christians have been put on notice that they and their activities may be monitored. I say all Christians because most Christians oppose abortion. In addition, anyone who favors state authority over federal authority has been put on notice. In other words, if you agree with the founding fathers of our country, if you oppose abortion, and if you oppose immigration, including illegal immigration, you may be considered an extremist by the Department of Homeland Security. If you publicly stand up for those beliefs you may be monitored by the Federal Government.

So, what is the Christian response to this? Are we to remain silent in fear of the government watching our actions? Should we fear the government tapping our phone lines and listening in on our conversations? No! First of all, standing up for our beliefs is not illegal, not yet anyway. I also don’t think that the government has any interest in monitoring us at this point. They have more pressing matters to deal with right now. However, the current administration has let it known that they do not approve of our activities or beliefs.

In the event that the federal government does indeed decide to try to silence us, what are we, as Christians to do? We are to do what Peter and John did when they were brought before the Sanhedrin in Acts Chapter 4. The Sanhedrin ordered them to be silent about their beliefs in the Risen Christ. Their response was simple: “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). It is impossible for us, as Christians, to deny our faith and our beliefs. We must stand up! We must make our voices known. We must band together as the disciples did in the early Church and proclaim from the message of the Lord from the rooftops. Christ said we would be persecuted. It is all a part of the adventure of salvation. BRING IT ON!

Published in: on April 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm  Comments (1)  

The Source and Summit of Our Faith

I love the Eucharist! The older I get, the more I understand and believe in the true presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. It becomes clear to me as I read the Gospels that Christ gave the Apostles the power to change the bread and wine into His Body and Blood. You don’t need to be a biblical scholar to see what Christ did.

One of my favorite passages about the Eucharist is the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Here you have two disciples journeying from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They are probably both distraught and excited at the same time. They are distraught over the fact that Jesus was killed, yet they are excited about the reports of His resurrection. Along comes “some guy” and starts a discussion with them about the scriptures. They are enlightened by what he has to say and strengthened by his words. Then they all sit down and have a meal together. This “guy” “took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them.” (Luke 24:30). It was then, and only then, that the eyes of these two disciples were opened to who was with them. IT WAS CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST!! It was the Mass that Christ was celebrating with these two disciples–the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. Luke stated twice in his Gospel that Jesus was only made known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread, in the Eucharist. He wanted to make it clear that Christ was truly present in the Eucharist. I am truly amazed by our Catholic tradition and I see the wisdom of the Church. The fathers of the Church didn’t just make this up. There is a scriptural basis for all of it. The Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ and 2000 years later we hold true to the traditions Jesus implemented for us. No other Christian church can make that claim! Praise God for our Catholic faith.

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

I spent a lot of time over the last week reflecting on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It was, as you all know, Holy Week, and I hope and pray all of you spent some time in reflection as well. One of the things I have reflected on was Jesus’ last words.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus cries out, just before his death, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” As I was praying about this and reflecting on it, my prayer led me to God saying the same thing to me, “My son, my son, why have you forsaken me.” I have forsaken God in my life. We all have forsaken Him. Every time we turn our backs on Him and choose our will over His, we forsake our Heavenly Father. I imagine it hurts Him just as much as it hurt Christ when He felt forsaken. The difference is, Christ wasn’t really forsaken by the Father. In His Humanness Christ felt alone, but He wasn’t. The Father was with Him throughout His passion and death. When WE forsake our Father, we really do leave Him. We really do turn our backs on His love for us. And that causes Him pain. He suffers when we turn away from Him.

However, our God is a loving and merciful God. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus calls out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Our heavenly Father says the same to us: “Son, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” Despite our brokenness and sinfulness, God our Father sends us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and guide us. He has not, and will not, give up on us. We must receive the Holy Spirit. We must allow the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to give us the strength we need to overcome our sinfulness. We must use the Holy Spirit to show love and mercy to others just as God shows love and mercy to us.

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Are You Man (or Woman) Enough?

Are you strong enough? Do you think you have it in you? Do you have the guts to take it? These are questions that we hear often, aour way. So, let me ask you…Can you handle it?

Christ is the perfect picture of strength. Many thought that he was weak minded because he didn’t fight for his life in those last days. But he knew what he was doing. He had more strength than anyone could imagine.

Christ rejected the ways of this world. We called to do so as well. Christ endured ridicule. Are you willing to endure ridicule? He endured physical pain. Will you endure physical pain? He went through mental anguish beyond our imagining? Can you endure that same anguish? He suffered on the cross and died. Are you willing to suffer and die? He did all of this for you. He did it all for me. He did it because He loves us. Are you willing to sacrifice it all for your love of Him? That, my friends, is true strength.

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Holy Week Reflection

“Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness, in your abundant compassion blot out my offense. Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me” (Psalm 51:3-4)

This week we experience the passion and death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ’s ministry was one of self sacrifice, of complete and total giving. He wanted and took nothing for Himself. His whole mission and goal in life was to give to us and, more importantly, give glory to the Father. David, in the above psalm, cries out to God for mercy and forgiveness after his affair with Bathsheba. God the Father answered his prayers through sending His Son to die for us. Christ suffered for you. He suffered for me. Christ gave everything that we may be cleansed from our sins. He died a brutal death for all of us.

We to are called to die as well. Life is not about self-gratification. Life is about having the will to die to the temptations of sin. It is about rejecting this world. It will not be easy. Christ never said following Him will be easy. As a matter of fact, I believe it is the most difficult thing any of us can do–letting go, that is. We will be rejected as Christ was rejected. We will suffer as Christ suffered. We may want to turn away and reject what Christ is asking us to do. Christ didn’t want to suffer and die. In the garden of Gethsemane he cried out “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me” (Luke 22:42). None of us want to suffer either.

But Christ could see beyond the suffering. He knew that after the suffering comes the resurrection! Christ could see beyond the pain, the rejection, the anguish. Likewise, we also need to see beyond the suffering, beyond the rejection. Will this world reject us? YES! Will we be resurrected if we remain faithful to the Lord? YES! We need to focus on our own resurrection, not our own passion. Keeping our eyes focused on the resurrection will allow us to do as David says: “I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.” (Psalm 52:15)

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Renewal Begins With You!

The Catholic Church is in need of a renewal. For years now people have been leaving the Church. Some of them are going to Protestant Churches, some of them have stopped going to Church altogether. Why are so many leaving the Church? It all comes down to mission. We have lost sight of our mission as a Church–the mission of evangelization. Many of us have lost our passion for our faith, if we ever had it at all. This is the main cause, in my meager opinion, of the crisis we are in right now.

Bishops, pastors, and even the laity, across America have lost their passion for their faith. We have lost sight of the depth of our faith. There is a richness and beauty in our Catholic faith that is not present in any other faith. We need to rediscover it. We need to seek out opportunities to learn more about our faith and why the Catholic Church teaches what it does. We need to discover, on our own, the beauty of the liturgy. Why does the Church believe in the True Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the bread and wine? Why does Mass seem so formal? We need to research the issues surrounding the Church. Why is the Church against contraception, divorce, married priests, female priests, etc..? I could sit here and preach to you why the Church holds the positions it does on these matters and more. But unless you have an open mind and heart you will not understand. Instead of questioning the Church’s teachings with a closed mind or simply dismissing Her views as outdated, you should try to understand Her point of view.

I was at one time skeptical of many of the teachings of the Church. I, myself have said that the Church is closed-minded and outdated–that the Church needs to come into the 21st century–that it needs to change. But the more I research why with an open mind and heart, the more I understand the beauty of the Church. As I understand more, I become more passionate about my faith. It is that passion that will bring about the renewal that the Church is in so desperate need of.

The answer is not ordaining women or allowing priests to become married. The answer is not in relaxing the Church’s stance on contraception and divorce. The answer is in each one of us. Are we willing to change? We are the Church, and unless we are willing to change, the Church cannot change. Unless we are willing to have an open mind and open heart the Church will not be renewed. Unless we prayerfully consider why the Church teaches what it teaches we will continue to see the numbers drop; we will continue to have a shortage of priests. The renewal of the Church begins in your heart–not in the Vatican, not in the Bishop’s office, not in the pastor’s office. I truly believe that anyone who is willing to approach the teachings of the Church with an open mind and heart will be renewed spiritually. You will (re)discover your passion for your faith when you have a true understanding of it. And your passion will bring others back to the Church. There is only one question that remains: Will you have an open mind and heart?

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment