Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The perfect carpenter?

Today I've had the occasion to spend a fair amout of time thinking about freedom for excellence in the moral life and in light of that reflection I was thinking of being conformed to Christ and in light of that reflection I was thinking about how in Christ we find the fulness of our humanity and in light of that reflection I was thinking about the perfection of Christ... (pardon the stream of consciousness)

Anyways, all that thinking got me to wondering about carpentry by the end of the day. Really, I'm a simple mind. I start out thinking about the moral life and I end up thinking about kitchen tables.

Here's my question: Since Christ is perfect would the tables and chairs he built as a carpenter reflect perfect carpentry skills? Was he incapable of messing up when building a table? Never mind... as I write this I'm thinking that I probably know the answer. Just because Christ is perfect doesn't mean he didn't trip and fall when learning to walk... Still, you'd think that a table built by Jesus would be pretty high quality.

Well, this is a very random post but that's what happens at this point in the semester. Hopefully after exams I'll get some posts up about Christmas and such, plus attack my huge 'personal' reading list that has accumulated over the course of the past few months. . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Australian Catholics

I was surfing the net tonight and looking at a census on Catholics in Australia. I know it sounds like a random thing to be doing but I came across it because I had been searching for their WYD information (WYD 2008 is in Sydney, Australia).

Anyways, I thought this was interesting:

Preferred style of music

  • Early Sunday morning attenders expressed the strongest preference for traditional hymns at Mass.
  • Sunday evening and Saturday evening attenders expressed the strongest preference for contemporary liturgical music.

Experience of liturgy

  • Sunday evening attenders were the least likely to experience joy and a sense of God's presence during Mass, and the most likely to say they experienced boredom.
  • Sunday evening attenders were also the least likely to say they found the preaching they heard at Mass helpful to them in their everyday lives.

Can you see what strikes me as interesting in that information?

Missing Pope John Paul II

Odds that this little boy has a vocation to the priesthood:
99 to 100.

I was looking through a bunch of these pictures of our dear Pope John Paul II with children and my eyes literally started to tear up. I'm so grateful to have had grown up under his guidance, influence and example. I miss him terribly. But I take comfort in knowing that he is closer to me now than he ever was before and that he is interceeding on our behalf.

Biretta Tip to Zandok the Roman


Over on the Shrine of the Holy Whapping there's been a discussion today about a statistic that showed up in an article stating that 1/3 of women will have had an abortion by the age of 45. Some posters were in disbelief at that statistic. Sadly, it's true.

According to Statistics Canada 32.1 % of pregnancies were terminated in induced abortion in 2002. 32.1 %! Do you guys realize what that means? Do you realize how many babies are killed each day? Do you realize how many women are walking around bearing the emotional, spiritual, and psychological (not to mention physical) scars of abortion? I mean, think about it, next time you're in the grocery store, for every two pregnant women you see soemone else has had an abortion. Think about it as you walk down the street. Think about it when you're in class or at work. Pray for them, their families, and their children.

It's such a huge tragedy, beyond our comprehension. These statistics aren't even taking into account the morning after pill or abortifacient oral contraceptives. I don't even know what to say. Is there anything to say?

On one hand it is so frustrating and depressing...it seems like a hopeless battle. On the other hand, we need to do what we can. I'm not saying that everyone needs to be standing in front of abortion clinics with signs, though some should. What matters is that everyone gets involved in the pro-life movement according to their gifts, talents, and vocation.

How can we be silent as more than one third of the most vulnerable persons in our countries are murdered?

I realize that the statistics I presented in this post are Canadian, but proportionally, the United States (and I would assume most European countries) is essentially the same.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Paul Martin Falls

Wow. Canada's the leading story on CNN. That must be a first.

Paul Martin's government lost the non-confidence vote. I'll get to vote in two federal elections before I even turn twenty-one. Now if only there was a party that would have a platform based on the sanctity and dignity of human life in all areas of society. . . I suppose it's a choice of the lesser of two evils. . .

We do have a chance of doing something about the 're-definition' of mariage and the 'dignity to die' bills if the Conservatives get elected though.

Regardless of who you're going to vote for, make sure that the following issues are brought to the table and that those campaigning are forced to address them:

- publicly funded abortions
- publicly funded sterilizations
- euthanasia
- the re-definition of marriage

If we make enough noise they won't be able to ignore us. Question them. Write your newspaper. Call into radio programs. Don't let these issues be pushed to the side because of the 'Gomery Inquiry' or budget planning.

According to statistics Canada there are thirteen million people who identify themselves as Catholics in Canada. That's more than a third of the population (Canada's population is around 30 million). If people are 'identifying' themselves as Catholics, let them do so in light of this coming election. If all thirteen million 'catholics' stood up and affirmed the fullness of the Catholic Faith we would see a renewal of morality and social values in our society.

If I could give two directions on how to approach the coming election as a Catholic Canadian they would be the following:
1. Pray.
2. Squawk. (Make noise)

The "New Evangelization"

I came across a great article today - well worth your time reading.

It's by William E. May. He's one of the leading contemporary moral theologians in the Catholic Church, particularly with regards to human sexuality and the theology of the body.

The article is called "The New Evangelization, Catholic Moral Life in Light of Veritatis Splendor and the Family." Don't be scared off by the long title. It's well worth the read. It speaks of the necessity of the new evangelization and virtue ethics in relation to the Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes), the Ten Commandments, and baptism. It also speaks of the universal call to holiness and the role of the Christian family. It's a great read to see how and why Veritatis Splendor is relevant to the laity and in particular the domestic Church (the Christian family).

It's also not too difficult to read (at least compared to the texts from Girez or Pinckaers, two other moral theologians who have written on this topic, that I've been reading).

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quote of the Day

"Human embryos are not potential human beings. Human embryos are human beings with potential," John Weaver, deacon of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Columbia, told worshippers Sunday.

Taken from the following article off of cnn.com: Priests urge stem cell opposition.*

*I realize the quote is not from a priest. Furthermore, I don't think it's the stem cells that the priests are opposing but rather the destruction of human life through research on embryonic stem cells. Stem cells aren't bad in and off themselves - we've all got them and we all need them.

Last Day of Classes!

Today is the last day of classes for the Fall semester.

Maybe I'm a gluton for punishment, but as the first semester comes go a close, I'm already looking forward to some of my courses for next semester. I promise I'll take a break over Christmas - no one needs to convince me of the importance of that! I did summer courses all summer this past year (except for two weeks in Germany for WYD - that doesn't constitute a "break" or "rest") so I'm about ready now to relax for a couple weeks.

But anyways, these are the upcoming courses that I'm most excited about:

1. Christian Theology in Ecumenical Dialogue: A survey and analysis of the main achievements of the ecumenical theological dialogue process among the Christian churches, and the significant challenges still facing that dialogue today. The course is taught by a Catholic instructor, utilizing texts from Catholic, Protestant Evangelical, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican sources, and guest lecturers from Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox traditions. This should be a very interesting course and I think it's pretty much an essential for having a basic understanding of how to approach apologetics in an ecumenical context (both in terms of common ground and clearly defining differences without running around in circles). The prof for this course couldn't be more appropriate. He's a former Anglican Priest, a convert to the Catholic Church, and now has his STD (Doctor of Sacred Theology...not a disease...) from the Angelicum (St. Thomas University) in Rome. He's also the Director of the Divine Mercy Institute. Anyways, this is a course I've been looking forward to for a long time.

2. Philosophy of the Human Person: This course addresses what it means to say that human beings are persons having freedom and subjectivity and examines the different powers of the human person, including the powers of understanding, willing, feeling, and loving. In this course we will study the difference between body and soul, as well as the unity of the two in humans and explore the question of the immortality of the soul. We get to read St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope John Paul II. According to the professor, this is the course you take to find out who you are. Sounds good to me. Finding out who you are is usually a good thing in the end. The prof teaching this course just received his doctorate in Thomistic Studies two weeks ago and this course is his "pet project" so it should be a lot of fun.

Young Catholics Seek to Restore Old Values

I came across this article today when I was occupying my time reading some Theology of the Body stuff online.

It's an article from the New York Times following the death of our beloved Pope John Paul II. It's a very encouraging portrayal of our generation of Catholics. There is hope for the future of the Church and we're in it for the long haul. For those of an older generation, do not despair, the generation x-ers care. Haha, so I'm not a poet, but really, this should be encouraging.

Here are some excerpts:

"At Catholic universities, these are the students studying the "theology of the body" - John Paul's theological justification for a conservative sexual ethic that includes opposition to contraception, abortion, premarital sex and some forms of assisted reproduction.

In seminaries, they are the young priests who wear the long black cassocks cast off by an earlier generation of Vatican II priests.

In their parishes, these are the youth group members who are reviving traditional spiritual practices like regular recitations of the rosary or "Eucharistic adorations" - praying for long stretches in front of the consecrated host."

"Data from the World Values Survey, gathered by researchers in 58 countries, tends to bear out impressions of a conservative trend. It shows that the "millennial generation" of young Catholics - those born in 1982 or later - has returned to the traditional religious attitudes and behavior of generations born before World War II, said Mark M. Gray, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The values survey, coordinated by the University of Michigan, has been conducted periodically since 1981 by researchers who pool their data and make it available to scholars.

Catholics in the "millennial generation" are more likely to attend Mass weekly, pray every day, feel that religion is important and have a lot of confidence in the church than Catholics in either the Vatican II generation (born 1943 to 1960) or those in the Post-Vatican II generation (1961 to 1981), he said."

"In the 1970's, in the wake of the Vatican II Council, he said, priests let many traditions fall by the wayside. Now, he said, the younger generation is reviving devotional practices more familiar to their grandparents than their parents."

Venez, divin Messie

Venez, divin Messie,
Sauvez nos jours infortunés;
Vous êtes notre vie,
Venez, venez, venez!

Ah! descendez, hâtez vous pas,
Sauvez les hommes du trépas,
Secourez nous, ne tardez pas.

Voyez couler nos larmes.
Grand Dieu! Si vous nous pardonnez,
Nous n'aurons plus d'alarmes:
Venez, venez, venez!

Ah! désarmez votre courroux,
Nous soupirons à vos genoux,
Seigneur, nous n'espérons qu'en vous.

Pour nous livrer la guerre,
Tous les enfers sont déchaînés;
Descendez sur la terre,
Venez, venez, venez!

Advent is Here

Today is the first day of Advent. I am both excited and sad. I'm excited that the new liturgical year has arrived and we can prepare ourselves for Christ's birth. I'm sadened by the fact that I'm away at school and don't get to celebrate Advent with my family...I'm sadened by the fact that I probably never will be at "home" again for Advent.

My family is rich in traditions, but I think perhaps one of my favourite family traditions has to do with Advent. Today, my dad will go outside into the back yard and gather some pine branches which he will form into a wreath. I can imagine the smell of the wet branches and picture my dad in the garage putting the wreath together.

Every night during Advent, ever since I was a child (and well before I was even born) my family gathers around the advent wreath to sing and pray together. My grandparents who live down the street walk up and join us. We turn off all the lights in the house so that it is pitch black and light only the candle(s) on the advent wreath. The wreath sits on the floor in the middle of the family room and together we kneel around it. We sing advent songs in German, French, and English (I come from a multilingual family) and pray for both our deceased relatives and those who are not with us.

These fifteen or twenty minutes we spent together every day during advent when I was growin up were such a blessing to me. To be able to pray alongside my grandparents, parents, and siblings in anticipation of the coming of Christ helped me to keep my focus off 'wish lists' and on the birth of Christ. This tradition made Advent a distinct season in our family.

I'm sad that I won't be at home tonight to share in the song and prayer. I'm worried that the Advent season will disapear in the midst of my term papers, studies, and final exams. But I'm conforted in knowing that though I'm living away from home my family will be preparing the way of the Lord and praying for me at the advent wreath tonight.

Happy New Year!!!

That's right, the New Year has arrived.

Let us prepare the way for our King!

May you all have a very blessed Advent and coming year.

And now for some New Year's resolutions:

1. Listen more.
2. Surrender.
3. Obey.

A Modesty Proposal

*This image has been adapted from its original format to conform to standards of modesty. The skirt does not necessarily have to go all the way down to the ankles, though I think this skirt is much better there than eight inches above the knees. In addition to the skirt being lengthened, a third top was added to bring the neckline up and cover the exposed mid-drift. Much better now.

I came across this article today on modesty by Fr. Morrow from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. It was very well written and thought provoking. I'd recommend that everyone take the time to read it. It has something to say for both men and women.

"Let's face it, our world has virtually lost any sense of decency. Granted, it's time for men to step forward and take part in the moral renewal of our culture. But women have their part to play as well, not only for the sake of the men who are trying to do the right thing, but for their own sakes as well. Women have the most to gain from chastity, and modesty is a good way to begin."

Litany for Priests

Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
give all priests Thy spirit of humility;
Jesus, poor and worn out for souls,
give all priests Thy spirit of zeal;
Jesus, full of patience and mercy for sinners,
give all priests Thy spirit of compassion;
Jesus, victim for the sins of the world,
give all priests Thy spirit of sacrifice;
Jesus, lover of the little and the poor,
give all priests Thy spirit of charity.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us;
and obtain for us numerous and holy
priests and religious.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sterilization Paper

Well, it's finished. Or as finished as it's going to get.

Here's the three sentence summary of a 5000 word paper.

Direct (contraceptive) sterilization is always intrinsically evil. Indirect (therapeutic) sterilization is morally permissible in accordance with the principles of totality and double effect when the immediate purpose and direct intent is to remove pathological reproductive organs or to inhibit the natural functioning of such organs when such functioning (for example, abnormal hormonal production) aggravates a pathological condition within the person. The Church condemns direct sterilization for the same reasons that she condemns all other forms of contraception, in addition to the fact that is a form of self-mutilation.

As a side-note, one of the interesting issues that came up in my research was: What is the moral response for a couple that has been sterilized but is repentent and seeks reconciliation? Obviously, the most important thing is that by the mercy and grace of God they are forgiven and can return to full communion with the Church. Secondly, if at all possible (if they have the means, the surgery does not pose a great risk, etc...) I think it would be advisable for them to pursue a reversal of the sterilization, but we need to keep in mind that reversals are only sucessful 50 - 60% of the time. The question is though, if they could pursue a reversal, would they have a moral obligation to do so? Doing so would obviously be ideal because it would restore the procreative component to the marital embrace*, yet would they have an obligation? This depends on which Catholic sexual ethics text you're reading.

Some contemporary authors on the teachings of the Church on human sexuality, such as Dr. Janet Smith and John Kippley argue that because they continue live with the effects of sterilization some sort of periodic abstinence needs to be followed in order to prevent them from assuming a mindset that takes advantage of their sterility. I can appreciate what Smith and Kippley are saying, but at the same time, I don't know if this would always be an appropriate response. I think it would depend on the couple. I can imagine that some couples who are wanting to live in accordance with the teachings of the Church but have to live with the reality of the effects of their past sin of procurring a sterilization bear a great cross already.

As I was thinking about it, trying to imagine how they'd feel, I felt great compassion rather than condemnation. Imagine coming to a point of realizing the beauty and depth of the Catholic teachings on marriage and family life and then realizing that because of a decision you made in the past you will never be able to live this message out in its fullness. Imagine reading Humanae Vitae for the first time and realizing what you jepordized in pursuing a sterilization.

Kippley argues that the practice of periodic abstinence is appropriate for a couple that has been sterilized because "even though they may have exprienced conversion of heart and sought sacramental absolution, they are still able to enjoy having sex...without having to be concerned about possible pregnancy." I can kind of see his point, but I think it isn't necessarily valid. It also applies to people who have to bear the cross of indirect sterilization or who are biologically infertile. By no fault of their own they too are "able to enjoy having sex...without having to be concerned about possible pregnancy." Would Kippley therefore argue that anyone who is not fertile should practice periodic abstinence? Kippley questions how such spouses can not be committing, at least objectively, the sin of contraceptive intercourse? He proposes that the continuing effects of the sin can be changed by having a change of heart which is reflected in a change of behaviour such as periodic or even total abstinence.

Let us remember that the Church doesn't teach that every time the couple enters into the marital embrace conception must occur, but rather that they must be open to human life. I think that a couple who is grieving the fact that they will never be able to have children is certainly open to life.

Also, we don't want to undermine the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If a person who has been sterilized has a conversion of heart and makes a sacramental confession, their sin is forgiven. We should no longer judge them for the act. Christ has forgiven them and they are restored to full union with the Church. There's a big difference between a person who confesses to using oral contraceptives and then continues that practice and a person who confesses sterilization; sterilization is a permanent mutilation of their bodies that they may not be able to change.

Some theologians I read went so far as to such total abstinence. Now this recommendation just seemed absurd since, assuming the couple was married, this would be yet another evil since it would be removing the marital embrace completely from the marriage. We need to also remember that the act can be fruitful and unitive without conception occurring. In fact, most of the time, conception doesn't occur, whether a couple is sterilized or not.

All this being said, I do see some advantages to the position which suggests the periodic practice of abstinence simply in light of the benefits of practicing natural family planning. Although periodic abstinence would really be an indefinite (and unecessary) penance for the couple, penance is a good thing and may bring about spiritual fruitfulness in the marriage. So I'm not saying that this is a bad suggestion. The question is whether it would be required. Which it isn't as of now - there is no formal recommendation on this matter. It's just a suggestion being made by some of the leading authors and theologians on the issue.

Ultimately, in recognizing the serious emotional and spiritual implications of living in a sterilized marriage I think the reaction of the Catholic faithful should be one of consolation rather than condemnation towards such couples. The only essential response for Catholics who have had sterilizations is to have true and lasting repentance (obviously through the Sacrament of Reconciliation). While there may be benefit to periodic abstinence, I think this response needs to be considered carefully by each couple. Above all else, let us not forget the mercy and grace of our Lord.

Keep in mind that these are just my thoughts and reflections and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Church...well, I actually wasn't able to find any clear directives from the Church on the specific situation of those who have been sterilized who seek reconciliation with Christ and His Church.

What are your thoughts on this issue? What do you think the moral response for couples in this situation should be?

*For those who don't know 'marital embrace' = sexual intercourse in marriage.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I'm working on a moral theology paper right now on sterilization. I just wanted to share with you some statistics I found in doing my research.

According to the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality Vol.8 (3) Fall 1999

"Two thirds of women in the 1998 Canadian Contraception Study are familiar with sterilization as a method of birth control, and they generally think highly of this method. Among women who have been sterilized or whose partners have undergone a vasectomy, rates of satisfaction are very hight. The rate of sterlization, 23% overall, includes 10% of women who have had the operation, and 14% of their partners. The increasing use of male sterilization is appropriate, given the low morbidity attached to this procedure. This operation should increase in prevelance, as 75% of women who have decided on future sterilization wish their parther to have the operation."

Other statistics, not directly relevant to my paper, but from the same study:
28% of women are using oral contraceptives
21% of women use condoms as "their form of contraceptive"

The phrase that made me the most upset from the study: "25% of Canadian women carry the misperception that monogomy and getting to know and trust your partner eliminates the need to use condoms for STD prevention." I personally find this comment very insulting. Not to mention wrong. First of all, it presupposes that there is a need to use condoms. Secondly, it seems to imply that monogomous relationships are not a way of avoiding STDs.

Well, back to my paper now.

Pregnant Teacher Fired

A pregnant teacher at a New York Catholic school has been fired because of having engaged pre-marital sex. It's not really because of the fact that she's pregnant that she's been fired, but because she broke the moral contract made with the school. Let's keep in mind the school is not condeming her pregnancy but rather her behaviour which resulted in the pregnancy. Unfortunately the fact that she's pregnant reveals the fact that she was involved in pre-marital sex. This thus poses a difficult moral dilemma. How should the school have reacted? Was it justified in its action? Was the course of action they took the best for the mother, the infant, the children of the school and the community at large?

I don't know how I feel about this one. I agree that the school had every right to fire her and that it's clear she violated the moral standards of the Church (of God!) that she agreed to abide by. At the same time, I have to agree with her that if she had had an early abortion they probably wouldn't have found out and she'd still have her job.

This is a situation I've thought about before since I attend a university that has "community standards" which all students, staff, and faculty must sign. One of the aspects of this "community standards" contract is that students, staff, and faculty are not to engage in extramarital sex. Based on this, unwed students who become pregnant are expelled from the university. I wonder though if, for a university which also professes to be pro-life, this pushes some students to have an abortion. This really concerns me.

I think that we need to focus on consolation and supporting women facing crisis pregnancies rather than condemning them. I agree that we cannot condone pre-marital sex and I'm not suggesting that we do, but the fact of the matter is that the woman is pregnant and we should do everything possible to support her in the pregnancy. Even regardless of whether she recognizes that her behaviour was immoral or not, she is still carrying a child of God and we need to do everything to protect that infant.

Now, I don't know the easy answer. I agree that being pregnant is a very obvious sign that you've rejected the moral standards of the community in these contexts (whether it be working in a Catholic institution or attending a Christian or Catholic university with "community standards"). I am somewhat sympathetic to the reasoning that men can get away with pre-marital sex while women can't because they get pregnant. But I don't want to put too much emphasis on that because focusing on this point only furthers the Culture of Death concept that becoming pregnant is an unfortunate side-effect of having intercourse. You're supposed to get pregnant! That's how it works! Pregnancy as a result of engaging in sex is a good thing!

I'm very torn on this story. Yes, I believe the school had the right to dismiss the teacher. Yes, hers is not a moral example for students. But how can the moral contract be enforced justly and more importantly in a manner which guards the sanctity of human life?

I'd hate to have been the principal for the school.

Let us pray for those involved in the decision making process on this matter at this school and in the diocese! Let us also pray for this woman and her unborn child! Let us give thanksgiving to God that she did not have an abortion!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Anyone want to hear George Weigel?

Rise up is here in Vancouver this year!


Marriott Pinnacle, Downtown Vancouver


The Cry of the Gospel

CCO's National Christmas Conference, Rise Up: The Cry of the Gospel is coming to Vancouver December 28 to January 1st. It's going to be an awesome conference filled with many great speakers like Fr. Tomas Rosica, Msgr. Gregory Smith and George Weigel. Weigel is a renowned Catholic author, a Roman Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading commentators on issues of religion and public life. He's written many books like Witness to Hope: The biography of Pope John Paul II, Letters to a Young Catholic and his latest is God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church.

You can find out more info and register online at www.cco.ca/riseup. You can attend the whole conference for the low cost of $159 for students or $209 for non-students, which includes 3 brunches and a New Years Eve dinner and bash.

But perhaps you wouldn't consider yourself a young adult or maybe for some extenuating reason you can't make it to all of the conference, but you would still love to hear George Weigel speak. Well I have good news for you! Anyone can purchase tickets for the Opening Night of the conference on December 28th, when George Weigel will be speaking, for the low price of $15. The title of his session at Rise Up is The Catholic Difference and it will begin at 7pm at the Marriott Pinnacle in downtown Vancouver.

It's a steal of a deal so purchase tickets early as there are a limited number available. Contact us at vancouver@cco.ca or 604-338-1519.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Men's D-Group Blog

The small (and I mean small) Catholic college that I attend (Redeemer Pacific College) has discipleship groups for both men and women. Unfortunately, I'm crazy busy with other stuff and not too involved in that right now. But anyways, my point is, I found the guy's "D-Group" blog today and it's definitely quality stuff.

They've got posts on the Liturgy of the Hours, the Eucharist, Von Balthasar, Pope John Paul II, fasting, apologetics, etc... I'm definitely impressed.

In other words. Go check it out. The D-Group.

So that I don't get in trouble...go check out the girls blog as well. It's amongst women. It doesn't quite have as much meat to it as the guys right now, but to give the women some credit, their leader is overdue with her first child and so has other pre-occupations besides working on a blog.

Homosexuality and the Priesthood

I was just watching an interview on CNN of an "openly gay" Catholic priest. While I disagree with much of what he said, the following quote takes the cake:

"Like any family, the Catholic Church is dysfunctional in some areas. One area that the Catholic Church is dysfunctional is in the whole area of sexuality."

Ahhhhhhh!!! Lord have mercy! I feel a sudden urge to pray for everyone who has ever been in this priest's parish. I have a feeling they're not getting the Theology of the Body.

See my venting post written yesterday about the need to get the message of the Gospel of Life out and the beauty and depth of the Church's teachings on human sexuality. I have a feeling this priest isn't on my side.

My first response to this interview on CNN was a deep need to pray for this priest. My second response was deep sorrow that the priesthood was being portrayed in this way and compassion for all our priests who are faithful to the magisterium and are sadly being associated by the media with priests like the one CNN chose to interview.


It's this time of year. I have so much to do, no motivation, and no energy. I have five papers to write within the next week and a half. Yes. Five. Granted, I've started most of them, but I don't think they're very well done. I also have final exams starting on December 7th. That's very soon when you think about it. To top it all off, I've got youth ministry event planning meetings, catechism class, Special Olympics, Big Sisters, and I'm trying to lead a normal life. Needless to say, I need to back off blogging and focus on getting things done. I have no more time to procrastinate.

One question though, why does God tend to bring everything to a head at the exact same time?!

You'd think He could work things out so that I wouldn't be challenged on all fronts at the same time. But nooooo... He likes to make life interesting and throw in spiritual struggles, academic stress, interpersonal relationships, and physical illness all at the same time. Please, please, please, can I have a break?

St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of students, pray for me!

Bill C-407 ("Dignity to Die") Responses

A few weeks ago I made a couple of posts about Bill C-407, a motion to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada. In anticipation of the parlimentary debate on the bill I had sent off about half a dozen letters to various members of parliment and ministers. I got three responses yesterday.

Here are excerpts from what they had to say...

From Honorable Mark Warawa (my local MP) [conservative]

"Please be advised that the Conservative Party has no official policy on the issue of assisted suicide. Conservative MPs would have, as a matter of conscience, the ability to vote according to their beliefs and those of their constituents on any ammendments to the Criminal Code on this matter.

As you know, assisting or counselling another person to commit suicide is a criminal offence in Canada, carrying a maximum sentence of up to fourteen years in prison.

I am very concerned about protecting the aged, the disabled, or other vulnerable people who could be at risk by a repeal of the present prohibitions against assisted suicide. I will be opposing Bill C-407 and I will recommend that my colleagues in the Conservative caucus also do not support Bill C-407."

Ok. Now for the response from the liberals. Both letters I got from liberal MPs passed the buck to Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. (note: I already had sent my letter to Mr. Irwin Cotler).

Here's what the Office of the Prime Minister had to say:

"You may be assured that the statements you offered have been carefully reviewed. Since the issue you have raised falls within the responsibilities of the Honourable Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your correspondence to him. I am certain that the Minister will give your comments every consideration."

Yeah right. Every consideration.

And from Ujjal Dosanjh, Minister of Health:

"Since the issue you raise falls within the purview of the Honourable Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, we have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your correspondence to him, for his consideration."

Well, it's nice to know that Irwin Cotler will be giving my views on euthanasia such consideration... hmmm... writing may have not made a big impact, but at least I can say in good conscience that I'm doing something to try and fight against unjust laws. If everyone kept silent because they didn't think they could make a difference the politicians would say there is little or no opposition to the bill. At least this way, whether they listen or not, they know we're not happy with the euthanasia bill.

Monday, November 21, 2005

La messe en français à Vancouver

S'il y a par chance quelqu'un qui parle français et qui vie dans le diocèse de Vancouver, je viens de découvrir cette fin de semaine qu'il y a une messe en français à 9:00 les dimanches à "Our Lady of Fatima Parish." C'est à Coquitlam. Je sais, ce n'est pas directement en ville, mais c'est mieux que rien. Je pense que je vais peut-être y aller à la fin du semestre. Si vous êtes intéressé vous pouvez trouver l'adress de l'église sur le site web pour le diocèse.

Benedictus qui venit

Dieu est bon. Benedictus qui venit vient d'annoncer que le 20 décembre 2005 (en moins qu'un mois) il sera ordonné prêtre!!!

Je vous annonce une grande joie

Par le don de l'Esprit Saint et l'imposition des mains,

le Cardinal Jean-Claude TURCOTTE
Archevêque de Montréal
ordonnera prêtre
Benoit MORRIER, diacre

stagiaire aux paroisses Saint-Antoine-Marie-Claret,
Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens et La Visitation

le mardi 20 décembre 2005, à 19h30

en la Cathédrale MARIE-REINE-DU-MONDE
1085, rue de la Cathédrale (angle René-Lévesque)

Remercions ensemble le Seigneur qui, dans sa bonté,
ne cesse d'appeler de nouveaux serviteurs à sa moisson!!!

C'est vraiment une grande joie!!! Prions pour lui.

In case you couldn't figure that out, Deacon Benoit from Benedictus qui venit has announced that his ordination to the priesthood will be on December 20th. Please keep him in your prayers!

How are we going to get the message out?

In Moral Theology today we were discussing contraception versus natural family planning. The conversation was quite tame since we were all pretty much on the same page. Well, actually, there was one married protestant sitting in the back of the class but he didn't say single word all class either (a) he was intimidated by the majority "orthodox" Catholic students in the class (b) he was writing a paper while sitting at the back of the class. It's actually kind of unfortunate because it would have been nice if we'd had more dialogue.

Anyways, we were discussing how the Church's position on contraception (for the purpose of the discussion, assuming we were discussing non-abortifacient forms of contraception) could be explained or understood by a non-Catholic. My professor was saying that among the moral theologians who are faithful to the Magisterium (which unfortunately are seemingly few and far between these days) there are some who argue that the Church's teachings on this issue can be argued strictly from a rational position and others that argue that the Church's teachings can only be adequately presented from a Catholic theological perspective, in reference to divine revelation and the authority of the Church. Obviously the first position might get you somewhere with non-Catholics while the second position won't get you anywhere.

I was thinking about it and really I'd probably side with the first group, the rationalists. While I don't think you can explain the fulness of the Church's teachings without Catholic theology, I think that reason alone can prove that the Church's teachings are valid and true. Just like Aquinas says that we can prove that God exists by reason alone, but need divine revelation to know him as a personal and affectionate God, I think we can use reason to prove that contraception is wrong, but it is only in the Church that we can find the full beauty, depth, and implications of this Truth.

In the midst of all this, as always, we need to remember that we can't view the issue of contraception in isolation from other issues surrounding the dignity and sanctity of human life such as IVF, abortions, euthanasia, and other such intrinsically evil acts. The Gospel of Life is a unitive whole. But how do we share the Gospel of Life outside of the Church? First of all, we need to remember St. Francis' call to preach the Gospel always and only when necessary use words. First we, Catholics, need to be sure that we are living the Gospel of Life in our own lives. According to statistics, ninety percent of Catholics (the same rate as the general population) contracept in North America. First we need to address that issue. And with regards to the Catholics who are contracepting we should be able to turn to divine revelation and the authority of the Church to explain the teachings of the Church.

I have many more thoughts on this issue and don't have time to get them all down, but I just feel such an urgency that we share the Gospel of Life. There is such a desperate need in our society to hear the Truth. The Culture of Death is causing decay in our society and people are unecessarily suffering because of ignorance. How are we going to get the message out that human life is sacred? There is such depth and beauty to the teachings of the Church on the sanctity of human life and on sexuality and it's a shame that it's a message that many people have never heard before. Let me restate that, it's not merely a shame, it's a tragedy.

If only people (Catholics and non-Catholics alike) could have the Church's teachings properly explained to them they would see what freedom there is in following God's plan and design for human life.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Once upon a time three young women were walking around the gardens of a Benedictine Abbey singing marian hymns in honour of their Blessed Virgin Mother. As they walked, taking in the beautiful view and in awe of God's glory, they were approached by a couple walking in the opposite direction on the same path. The couple paused. The man looked at the three young women and said, "Can I ask you ladies a question?" "Sure," the young women responded. "Are you Mennonites?" the man asked. Puzzled by this question, the girls responded, "Nope, we're all Catholic."

The girls left wondering what on earth would three Mennonite ladies be doing walking around at a Benedictine Abbey early on a Sunday morning singing songs to the Blessed Virgin Mary?

The moral of the story is, it dosen't matter where you are, if you wear a skirt below your knees you may be mistaken for a Mennonite. Regardless of the fact that you're singinging "Hail Holy Queen," have a rosary in your pocket, and are preparing to receive the real body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.

The second moral of the story is that more Catholic women and girls need to learn how to dress modestly. Maybe one day a Mennonite will get stopped in the street and asked, "Are you Catholic?" The fact that these young ladies were all wearing skirts covering their knees was the explanation given for their mistaken identity. Who would have guessed...

Liturgy of the Hours

Alright, so who knows how to figure out where to flip around in the "Christian Prayer" book that contains the Liturgy of the Hours. . . Someone gave me the book and recommended I pray the morning and evening prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours. The problem is I'm too dumb to figure it out... help?! I've never prayed the Liturgy of the Hours on my own before and I have no idea how to figure it out. How do I know what pages I should be on each day? So many pages. So many ribbons. There must be a method to this madness. Benoit? Fr. Tom? Someone out there...

Pope Benedict XVI on Christ The King

Christ's royalty remained totally hidden until he was 30 years old, spent in an ordinary life in Nazareth. Later, during his public life, Jesus inaugurated the new kingdom, which "is not of this world" (John 18:36), and he realized it fully at the end with his death and resurrection. Upon appearing, risen, to the apostles, he said to them: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). This power arises from love, which God has fully manifested in the sacrifice of his Son. The kingdom of Christ is a gift offered to people of all times so that whoever believes in the incarnate word "should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). For this reason, precisely in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, proclaims: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (22:13).

"Christ, Alpha and Omega," thus is entitled the paragraph with which the first part concludes of the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," promulgated 40 years ago. In this beautiful page, which takes up some of the words of the servant of God, Pope Paul VI, we read: "The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings."
Taken from Zenit.

I Confess Meme

My new found friend T.O. over at LAMLand memed me (new verb...).

I confess I'm usually not a sucker for forwards, memes or other such things, but I'm desperately looking for ways to procrastinate.

I confess procrastination has been a theme for the week (month).

I confess that I'm so distracted by liturgical violations that it keeps me from focusing on what's going on at Mass, Adoration, etc...

I confess that I've referred a non-Catholic to the vocations director.

I confess that I thought that travelling half way around the world to worship Christ in the Eucharist at World Youth Day when I live 500 metres from the nearest tabernacle was dumb. I confess I thought WYD was going to be a ridiculous circus.

I confess that I saw genuine 'orthodox' faith at WYD that affirmed and strengthened my own faith and that while I can go to Adoration whenever I want, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament alongside one million people is a powerful experience. I confess I'm thinking about going to WYD in Australia.

I confess that I pretend to be smarter than I really am. I confess that I need to work on humility.

I confess that I go to the chapel to do my course reading for Philosophy, Theology, and Christian History because it's the quietest place I can find and I can't get distracted.

I confess that I get bored in French class and check my e-mail, blog, read the news, etc... (wireless internet on campus).

I confess that I'm so passionate about the Theology of the Body that I grin whenever a priest dares mention the Church's teachings on human sexuality or the Theology of the Body.

I confess that half the books on my bookshelf are "acquired" from my dad's bookshelf. I confess that he's probably never going to get most of them back.

I confess that I'm clueless about my vocation. I confess that I'm scared to know. I confess I'm quite content just studying for the rest of my life.

I confess that I tell everyone that I'm going to pursue post-graduate studies just because I really don't know what I should be doing. I confess that I might pursue post-graduate studies because I don't know what else to do and it might "buy me time" to figure out my life.

I confess that I broke my arm running into a telephone pole on my bike.

That's a lot of confessing. . . I suppose I have to come up with three people to meme. . . antonia, jessica, and jesuvera.

Christ the King

Happy Solemnity of Christ the King!!!

A couple friends and I decided to go up to Westminster Abbey (where Christ the King seminary just happens to be...nice coincidence considering today's feast) for Mass this morning. It was glorious up there. It was absolutely beautiful. The valley was filled with a thick fog yet the Abbey was in glorious sunshine. It was as if the Abbey grounds were floating on clouds. It's always so nice to go to mass up there as well. So reverant. So peaceful. Such serenity. Truly holy ground.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Boy-ish or Girl-ish?

You Are 50% Boyish and 50% Girlish

You are pretty evenly split down the middle - a total eunuch.
Okay, kidding about the eunuch part. But you do get along with both sexes.
You reject traditional gender roles. However, you don't actively fight them.
You're just you. You don't try to be what people expect you to be.

This does not mean that I'm androgenous and I don't "reject traditional gender roles." Well, I guess it depends on what Tradition they're talking about. Anyways, I do pretty much get along equally with boys and girls. But shouldn't we all?

Peter Kreeft is Coming to Town

For those of you who live in the area, Peter Kreeft is coming. (Doxology, this one's for you!)

"Dr. Peter Kreeft is now scheduled to speak at Trinity Western University on January 8th, 2006 at 6:30 PM. The event is co-sponsored by TWU's Institute of Apologetics and Redeemer Pacific College (the "College in a Cottage"). Tickets will be $15 Canadian and the evening will feature a talk by Dr. Paul Chamberlain of the Institute, along with a panel that will include Dr. Robert Stackpole of RPC, Chris Morrissey (RPC) and Dr. Archie Spencer of ACTS/TWU."

For more information on this event check out Tom Hamel's blog College in a Cottage (yay for RPC!).

From the mouths of babes

This week at my Catechism class one of the kids asked if Jesus older than Mary since "there was no time when God was not." We then got into a discussion about what it means to have eternally existed. Mind you, this is with seven year olds. One of the boys in my class exclaimed, "It means that God is unlimited!" I was quite impressed by his statement and the conviction in his voice. May we all, at all times and everywhere, remember that God is unlimited.

The second quote came from mass last night. Mass was held in a side chapel and there weren't many people there. There was one mother who came though with three young children. The youngest child, who looked about two, was just so adorable. She was sweet as can be. Anyways, at the end of mass, after the final blessing and as Fr. was starting to process out she declared at the top of her voice "Thanks be to God!" as if she'd just registered what the congregation had said. Maybe she was just repeating what the rest of us had said, but for some reason this little child boldly proclaming thanksgiving to God really struck me. How many times do we go to mass, hear the priest say "Go in the peace of Christ to love and serve the Lord" respond with "Thanks be to God!" and are on our way without reflecting upon what we are giving thanksgiving for or the significance of our words?

Matrix Vocations Posters

I'm pretty sure most people have seen this poster, but for those of you haven't it's a poster made by the vocations director for the Diocese of Indianapolis. It's actually the vocations director in the picture. Anyways, these posters are being used to promote vocations to the priesthood. I doubt if they actually convince young men to become priests, but they are drawing positive attention to the priesthood and there's nothing wrong with that. My personal favourite aspect of these posters is the small print at the bottom. Unfortunately it doesn't show up in this picture but if you go and look at this article you can read it.

Really, when you think about it though, in cooperating with God and in bringing his grace to the faithful through the Sacraments, the Catholic Priest really is a modern day superhero.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Do you think they're related?

I've been tagged!

So, I know I've been "accepted" into St. Blog's when I get tagged. I feel like a little kid who has been standing on the side lines at the playground and gets invited to join in on the game. Anyways, LAMLand has invited me to play.

I've never heard of memes before, but apparently this is a meme.

This Sunday is Christ the King, which marks the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next Sunday, a whole new liturgical year commences with the first Sunday of Advent as we anticipate the coming of our Lord once again in glory, as he did so many years ago.

1. Write three things for which we are grateful to God for in this past liturgical year.
1. Giving me the opportunity to go to Daily Mass and the boundless grace I receive from the Eucharist.
2. Blessing me with the opportunity to study my Faith while going to university.
3. Being able to experience World Youth Day with my sister.

2. Write three ways in which we hope to improve our relationship with God in this coming liturgical year.
1. Learn to trust in God more.
2. Practice discernment in all the decisions I make, whether great or small, and follow that discernment through with action.
3. Talk less. Listen more. (to God that is...although, it's probably a good general rule for conversation with people too...)

3. Pass this on to three other bloggers.
Well, I'm going to have to say zadok the roman, Danny Garland Jr., and amy proctor. These are people who have checked out my blog. . . we'll have to see if they come back for another glance.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I've invited some of my evangelical protestant friends to Adoration on Saturday, and somewhat to my surprise, most of them are wanting to come. The Adoration I'm taking them to is a monthly event for young adults put on by Catholic Christian Outreach. It's about two hours long and involves both contemporary worship music and the appropriate Latin songs for Adoration, guided scriptural meditations, silent meditation, and Benediction. Anyways, I'm excited, but also nervous that my friends are coming. I don't know if they really know what to expect. I wonder how they'll react when they see two hundred of their peers kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. I think I'd probably be freaked out by that if I didn't believe that the Eucharist was the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. I gave them heads up that the focus of the evening is on the exposed Eucharist and how this is very important to Catholic worship as we believe that the consecrated host is truly Christ fully present among us. Anyways, it'll be interesting to see what they think. Keep my friends in your prayers if you remember on Saturday.

"And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst."
John 6:35

Which 20th century Pope are you?

Besides the fact that I could never be Pope, apparently my match is Pope Pius X. Ironically, of all the twentieth century popes, he's probably one of the ones that I'm most unfamiliar with. I was hoping for Paul VI or John Paul II. Oh well.

St. Pius X
You are Pope St. Pius X. You'd rather be right than

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

CWL and the United Church?

I was reading the "community news" section of the local newspaper for my childhood hometown online when I came across the following sentence which puzzled me.

The CWL celebrates its 70th anniversary with an event on Saturday, December 3 at the United Church at a cost of $15 per person. Any members past or present wishing to attend are asked call Marta Cecchi at 604.756.2686 for reservations.

Does anyone else see a problem with this? They really need to build a church hall...although, there is a Knight's of Columbus Hall... I don't know why they don't hold the event there instead. Personally, I'd be more comfortable with them holding the event in the Catholic elementary school gym than in the United Church hall.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Seal of the Confessional

I was wondering to myself today about the Seal of the Confessional when it comes to revelation of a threat to someone's life, ongoing abuse, etc...

I found my answer on the Catholic Educator's Resource Website (great website with lots of useful articles).

Conclusion: no ifs ands or buts about it - the Seal of the Confessional is absolute and binding regardless of the content of the confession.

The article I read, by Fr. William Suanders, points out that a priest cannot break the Seal of the Confessional even if put under oath in a Court of Law. Now, my question is therefore, what would they do? Can they refuse to testify in a trial? Can they refuse to answer questions? Would the judicial system put a priest in jail if he refused to break the Seal of the Confessional? Our courts don't really seem to care much for God's laws these days anyways...

The Role of the Parish Priest

I came across a great post by Fr. Tucker over at Dappled Things on the Role of the Parish Priest today. I thought it would be an appropriate follow up to my comments earlier this week about how we don't appreciate our priests enough and need to be spending more time in prayer for priests!

On the whole, it was well written and gives an overview of the life of a parish priest. If nothing else, let me say once more, they need our intercession (prayer, not us taking over) in living out their vocation.

My only hesitation/objection about his post was with a long list of various topics people come to discuss with the parish priest when the priest is viewed as a general adviser/counselor. While I can see his point that people often bring to a priest what is beyond his expertise, knowledge, or priestly role, at the same time, I think that there is also a great need for spiritual direction. This being said, I agree that a lot of the things in Fr. Tuckers litany of topics are out of the realm of spiritual direction as well. Furthermore, I know that not all priests are qualified, trained, or called to give spiritual direction. I don't mean with regards to sacramental confession, but more in terms of ongoing spiritual guidance. I don't know what the solution is because there are not enough spiritual directors and there are many people who need direction, whether it be on a particular issue or ongoing.

I would assume that Fr. Tucker doesn't object to spiritual direction, and to be fair, most of his list of topics did appear to have nothing to do with the spiritual life. But¸ then again, to quote him, "My personal favorites are the people who want appointments to discuss the messages they get in dreams and the visions they have of the Virgin Mary or Baby Jesus." I think these people definitely need to be speaking with a priest who can help them discern whether their experience is legitimate or not. By coming to a priest with this experience, they are taking a right step - if they were to simply assume that the "messages" they received were authentic their spiritual lives would be at risk.

In his book "Seeking Spiritual Direction" Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM, speaks of "Extraordinary phenomena: authentic and inauthentic" and the need for spiritual direction.

Since both types [authentic and inauthentic] of unusual experiences are more common than many people suspect, the director must have at least a basic capacity to distinguish one from the other. There are genuine visions, locutions, revelations and "spiritual feelings" (as St. John of the Cross calls them), and there are not a few illusions about all these. Hence, a spiritual guide should understand what they are and how to distinguish the valid from the valid. Likewise important is the proper advice to be given both when they seem to be authentic and when they are not. People are only too easily led off into stray paths by undue attention to what they think are direct communications from God.

In other words, in my opinion, someone who thinks they've experienced an extraordinary phenomena is doing the right thing by approaching their parish priest. If the parish priest doesn't know how to deal with, interpret, or distinguish the authentic from the false, then he should refer the parishoner to another priest he believes could help. Either way, the parishoner is doing the right thing by approaching their priest. Much more worisome in my opinion are those who believe they have experienced extraordinary phenomena and seek no spiritual guidance in the matter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mes pensées pour la journée

Souvent, quand je pense à toute la grâce que j'ai reçu (et que je reçoit) de Dieu à travers ma vie , et tout ce qu'il m'a donné (et me donne), je n'ose pas à admettre mes souffrances et mes misères. Qui suis-je à porter attention aux injustices dans ma vie quand Dieu est si juste et me donne tant? Mais je sais en même temps que je doit reconnaître ma vie en complète, les peines et les joies, pour comprendre les événements qui m'ont formés, qui je suis aujourd'hui, et ce que Dieu demande de ma part. Mais je me sens presque coupable d'être ingrat envers Dieu si j'ose admettre que les circonstances de ma vie n'ont pas toujours été parfaites (et ne le sont pas toujours, et ne le seront pas toujours non plus). Je sens que je n'ai pas le droit, ou que je ne mérite pas, d'admettre les peines dans ma vie car il y a tant de gens dans le monde qui font face à de très grandes souffrances et mes propres souffrances sont rien en comparaison.

Ce sont mes pensées pour la journée, pour le mois, pour la saison... en français bien sur, comme ça moins de gens vont comprendre; je ne comprend pas mes propres pensées, comment est-ce que les autres pourraient?

Where have all the confessors gone?

Well, they're all on retreat this week (priest study week in my diocese)...but I'm meaning in a broader sense.

I'm frustrated right now with the growing loss of accessibility to the Sacrament of Reconciliation that is plaguing parishes around the world. The parish I attend only has half an hour of confessions early on Saturday mornings, otherwise you can make an appointment I guess. Even if you show up on Saturday morning you have to go knock on Father's office door (there are no confessionals in the church) and ask if he can hear your confession. It's not so much a problem for me since I'm actively involved in both youth ministry and young adult events which often have priests who are more than willing to hear confessions, and there is a parish fifteen minutes away that has daily confessions, but just in principle, there's something wrong with the picture.

Is it that no one is coming so the priests cut back the available confession times or is it that no one is coming because the Sacrament is not being made available to them? Or have people simply forgotten about the role of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in their sacramental life?

I know that parish priests are very busy, but I think that hearing confessions should be a priority. On the other hand, maybe no one comes. But maybe no one comes because there is no priest available to hear confessions.

Sorry, this is just a late night rant that has been building up in me for weeks.

Faith Formation

I've been spending some time recently reflecting upon the role of the catechism (CCD, PREP, Religious Ed. or whatever the parish chooses to calls it) classes for children who do not attend Catholic schools.

This year I'm teaching grade two's, which happens to be a very important year. This is my first year as a catechist and I kind of got thrown into the position. I was approached by the organizer of the program, which I agreed to. Then both she and my parish priest asked if I would consider teaching a class. I'm very busy, have no experience, have no children of my own (heck, a year and a half ago I was a child myself theoretically), and I have no 'formal' qualifications. My parish priest told me that all that mattered was that I was enthusiastic about my Faith and enjoyed spending time with children. Apparently, that's all you need to be able to teach kids the Faith. Throw in a bit of pressure, a desperate need for catechists, a care and concern for the spiritual formation of children, and a homily on “serving Christ in the Church,” and I couldn't say no. Don't get me wrong, I agreed according to my own will and take for responsibility for my decision to teach. The thing is, I agreed to teach anything but a sacramental year. I definitely did not feel qualified to teach the sacraments. Low and behold, to make a complicated story short, I'm teaching a class full of nine boys and three girls preparing for first communion and first confession. That's enough about my situation right now though. The only thing I have to add is keep my class in your prayers.

My question more though is: What role does catechism class play in the faith formation of the children?

When a couple gets married in the Catholic Church they agree to raise any children they may have in the Faith. What does that mean? It obviously means much more than sending them to their local parish for catechesis once a week for an hour, eight months out of the year, and to the age of twelve (or whenever confirmation is, depending on the diocese). But do parents realize that? Do they know what they are consenting to? Do they know what it entails? On the other hand, many of them are not living in accordance with the Church's teaching themselves, so perhaps they feel hypocritical to teach the Faith they do not abide by. Perhaps they don't care. Perhaps some feel bound by their vows but have rejected the Faith themselves and thus feel that sending their kids to catechism class will fulfil their vows but allow them to ignore the Faith themselves.

How am I supposed to prepare children for the Eucharist when their parents tell them its just a symbol or when they're only taken to mass on Easter and Christmas, if that? Is it really MY obligation as a catechist to make sure that they really understand the Faith, or am I only in a supportive role?

God knows how much I desire for these children to truly understand their Faith to the best of their abilities, to see Christ in the Eucharist with the eyes of a Child and to see the great beauty of the Sacraments. But there's only so much I can do one hour a week! I can plant seeds, but the parents must nurture and water them by the grace of God for them to grow. It's extremely frustrating for me because I long to see “my kids” alive in their Faith, but I know that some are not getting the support they need at home.

On the other hand, perhaps it is good that they are getting something rather than nothing at all. I know from my own experience, I didn't get much faith formation at home in my early years. My mom was (is) a cradle Catholic but my dad was atheist (perhaps agnostic) at the time. Thanks be to God (no sarcasm intended) my mom made the effort to take all four of us young children to mass on her own every Sunday. But my dad never came. Because of their wasn't a consensus of spiritual belief between my parents, our spiritual formation was left more or less in the hands of the parish catechism program. Interestingly, I actually do remember some stuff that I learned. I also remember though being told not to ask too many questions because my questions were too complicated. That was told to me by my parish priest when I was about eleven years old. How sad. Many of the kids in my confirmation class told me that they were looking forward to confirmation because it meant they wouldn't ever have to go to mass again!!! Once they were confirmed, their parents felt they had fulfilled their obligation to raise their children in the Faith!

Thankfully, even though I took a few turns and became periously close to letting go of my Catholic Faith at one point, my story didn't end up a tragedy. My dad converted and entered the Church shortly after my confirmation and subsequently has become one of my greatest personal spiritual models in my life. He went from being a physician who volunteered with planned parenthood to entering the Church through the back door by reading Humanae Vitae, recognizing the truth this encyclical held, and therefore concluding that since the Catholic Church was the only one preaching a complete Gospel of Life, it must contain the fullness of Truth. His decision was one which transformed his life, his career, and our family. His conversion is another story entirely, but back to the issue of formation in the Faith, I eventually did get support from my dad. Unfortunately for my older siblings it was too late and the parish catechism program they received as children was not enough to keep them in the Church.

Anyways, my point is, the parish based religious education programs are not enough. And they shouldn't be expected to “be enough.” Parents have an obligation to raise their children in the Faith. That means more than sending them to catechism class and it even means more than taking them to mass on Sunday. The burden of transmitting the Faith does lie in the community, that is true, but the primary persons responsible for teaching the Faith to children are the parents.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Diary of a Suburban Priest" Closing Down

A priestly blog that I've been reading for the past few months is shutting down. Fr. Ethan over at Diary of a Suburban Priest has decided to end his blog. I am perfectly understanding and in the short time I've been blogging I've realized as well how time consuming and distracting it can be. This is an excerpt from his post on the coming end of the blog:

One last thing, I ask that everyone pray for me and my priesthood. I love Jesus Christ. If it wasn't for the faith infused within my soul by the power of the Holy Spirit when I was baptized, I never would have survived or even would have had the strength to deal with that small pathetic cross that God had given me for my very salvation. For all those times I dropped the cross and ran away, may God have mercy on my soul. And I pray to the Mother of my Savior, who is a reminder to me of what it takes to give everything to the Father. May she intercede on my behalf.

Please pray for Fr. Ethan. As I stated earlier this morning when I posted, pray for the priests! Please, please, remember to pray for our priests! It's very important. Very very very important.

In fact, to help you on your way, here is a prayer that I was given by a priest I know:

Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord, keep them, for they are Thine - Thy priests whose lives burn out before Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world, though from the world apart; when earthly pleasures tempt, allure - shelter them in Thy heart.

Keep them, and comfort them in hours of loneliness and pain, when all their life of sacrifice for souls seems but in vain.

Keep them, and O remember, Lord, they have no one but Thee, yet they have only human hearts, with human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host, that daily they caress; their every thought and word and deed, Deign dearest Lord to bless.

I try and pray this prayer every morning after I pray my morning offering. Our spiritual fathers need our prayer, support and encouragement. Please don't take your parish priest for granted. No matter how boring you find his homily, no matter how frustrated you are with him, no matter how he may have rubbed you the wrong way, no matter how much you don't like the way he may do things...still pray for him!

Not only do we need to be praying for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, but we also need to be recognizing and especially supporting in prayer those who have already responded to God's call to the priesthood.

Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for them.

Weekend with the Family

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days. I escaped for my 'reading break' to spend a few days on the Coast with my family. It was nice to be around my parents and one of my sibs (it was supposed to be all of us but two droopped out). Spending time with my parents reminds me of all that I have to be grateful for. I think sometimes I focus too much on the tough times and forget just how much my parents love me and have sacrificed for me. I am truly blessed.

My mom whipped my butt in Scrabble. She scored 470 points. If you don't know Scrabble, it's a word board game and 470 points is a lot. Needless to say, she's competitive (and smart!).

Other events of the weekend included writing a twenty page paper on the issue of sterilization for my moral theology class. That was actually very interesting and I came across some great encyclicals (not specifically on sterlization per say but that were relevant for my paper).

Anyways, not much else to say right now. I'm lamenting the fact that there is no daily mass all week because all the priests in the diocese are gone for a 'study week'. Please keep the priests of my diocese in your prayers and remember to pray for your own priests and all priests. That sentence didn't make much sense, basically, what I'm trying to say is: Pray for priests!

Sorry, today I'm in a very random (yes, one of my favourite words) kind of moods. Hopefully I'll post something a little more sane later on.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Newman Quote

This is a quote that I came across yesterday while reading a book called "Seeking Spiritual Direction" by Fr. Thomas Dubay. The author was speaking of how many of us who believe in God resist personal change and referred to this Newman quote:
"For many reasons it is very unpleasant to us to change. We cannot change ourselves; this too we know full well, or, at least, a very little experience will teach us. God alone can change us; God alone can give us the desires, affections, principles, views, and tastes which a change implies: this too we know; for I am all along speaking of men who have a sense of religion. What then is it that we who profess religion lack? I repeat it, this: a willingness to be changed, a willingness to suffer (if I may use such a word), to suffer Almight God to change us. We do not like to let go of our old selves."
I don't know about anyone else out there, but that quote certainly convicted me.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I found a great discernment story to read over at Committed to an Institute.

I found it very insightful and it certainly provided some points for reflection for anyone who is discerning their vocation in life. It was very well written and especially thought provoking with regards to our concepts of celibacy and the sacrifice of religious life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Flattery at Special Olympics

One of my highlights every week is coaching Special Olympics swimming. The athletes are all so precious and truly bring joy to my life and help me keep things in perspective.

Some of the young men have certain problems being overly flirtatious with the coaches and so sometimes coaching can be quite "interesting." I've gotta admit, some of the best lines I've heard come from my Special Olympics athletes. It would take a lot more than a good line to hook me though.

Anyways, here's the line from this evening:

I was discussing with one of my athletes the fact that I used to live in (near) Brighton, England (during my first year of university) and his response was: "You used to live in Brighton? No wonder you're so bright!" Although this particular athlete has mental disabilities, he sure knew how to come up with a context appropriate one liner!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Janet Smith at Doxology

The wonders of surfing the internet.

I came across a post over at Doxology that was on an event that I was involved in hosting last year when my college brought Janet Smith (a Catholic philosopher and founder of One More Soul) up to Canada to speak.

Rumour has it that early in this coming year Peter Kreeft may be showing up.

George Weigel is going to be the keynote speaker at the Catholic Christian Outreach conference being held in Vancouver, in December, that I'm going to. Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) is a very active outreach program for university students and young adults in several metropolitan centers in Canada. It's another vibrant expression of the JPII generation.

We're so spoiled.


I spoke today on the phone with friends of mine who's wedding I attended in July and they shared with me wonderful news. They are expecting their first child. I am very excited for them and I urge you all to keep them in your prayers. According to the father they "weren't really expecting it per say, but the timing is perfect; it's God's timing!" It's always beautiful and encouraging to see young Catholic couples following God's design for married life.

When Family and Friends Fall Away

Over the past year and a bit, as I have become increasingly involved in my Faith and realized, perhaps for the first time in my life, what it truly means to be a Catholic, I have struggled with what my reaction should be, as a practicing Catholic, to those family and friends who have left the Church.

At one point in my life, I too told my parents that I was going to leave the Catholic Faith (that's a story for another time) so I certainly cannot be the first to point the finger (or throw the stone), yet I struggle with what is the appropriate reaction.

A wise priest I know pointed out that in response to the sin we see destroying others lives we should approach these people with a spirit of consolation rather than condemnation. This has been running through my mind recently whenever I find myself slipping into a judgemental attitude...I tell myself, "Remember, be a person of consolation not condemnation." And yet, what does this mean? I find that it means, in love, showing those who have fallen away from the practice of the Faith the way to God's mercy and grace and unconditional love found in the Church. But how to live this, how to carry it out, is not so clear.

And yet, at times we are called to judge. How can we turn a blind eye to sin that is destroying the lives of our closest friends and immediate family members? Yet how do we respond to their morally self destructive behaviour without coming across as arrogant and further alienating them from the Faith? These are questions many practicing Catholics face in their day to day relations with friends and family. I know that I asks myself these very questions daily.

Where do we have the responsibility to speak up and say something and when should we keep our mouths shut? If no one speaks, than there is no accountability among the faithful. We need to help each other stay on the straight and narrow. And yet, in our culture, where we are so quick to 'tolerate' and so slow to pass 'moral judgements' there is no accountability. There must be a balance somewhere out there, a fine line that we can walk in prayer and with the Holy Spirit to remind our family and friends of the Truth of Christ without further alienating them from the Church and without being 'judgemental.'

It's one thing to see a person who has had poor catechesis or a life of turmoil turn their backs on Christ, but it is even more discouraging to see a friend or family member who has received a solid foundation in Christ's teachings reject their childhood Faith.

From the perspective of someone who cares, it is frightening to witness because we know our families and friends are held accountable to what they know (Lk 12:48). To witness a blatant and a public apostasy of a family or friend is very frightening indeed. The realities of Hell overshadow such events. On one hand we would all like to believe in a God who is perfectly merciful and loving, and that he is, yet in his perfect love he has also given us the freedom to reject or accept his mercy. This being said, while acknowledging the implications of such a rejection, it is important that we do not loose hope in the power of prayer as well as natural and divine revelation which may indeed lead those who have fallen astray back to Christ.

So as I struggle to discern the fine line to walk and long to see all those who have distanced themselves from Christ and His Church brought back into the fullness of Truth, I pray to the Lord:
"For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Women in Theology

As a female student studying theology and contemplating post-graduate studies in this domain, I thought I should post the following excerpt from Zenit.

Women in Theology: A Work in Progress
Congress at Marianum Focuses on Their Contribution

ROME, NOV. 7, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Women are increasingly present in the field of theology, but they still have a long way to go, was a consensus at a congress at the pontifical Marianum Faculty.

The weekend congress, "Women and Theology 40 Years after the Second Vatican Council," was organized by the Costanza Scelfo Institute of the Italian Society of Theological Research. Its aim was to reflect on women's contribution to theology and to study conciliar documents in the light of woman.

Donatella Scaiola, professor of Scripture at the Urbanian University, noted that women's contribution to Scripture has been above all in the field of exegesis, particularly at the methodological level.

Scaiola said that "the presence of women is a chapter of the presence of the laity within theological reflection."

The biblicist encouraged women to explore other, more general hermeneutical fields and not only those related to woman.

Sandra Mazzolini, an expert in ecclesiology, said that as a theologian she sometimes feels "uncomfortable with biblical studies, which are either very specialized or very trivial," and suggested further study of the nexus between Scripture and Tradition.

Theologian Stella Morra of the Gregorian University said that "today, learning is fragmented and theology is not immune to this fact," the reason why it is necessary to have "multidisciplinary work" among the various theological specializations.

Marinella Perroni, president of the Coordination of Italian Women Theologians, commented that curiously there are more women specialized in the Old than in the New Testament.

The symposium gathered some 100 participants, many of them young women dedicated to theology in various centers in Italy.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Day of Rest with Wojtyla

Today was one of those weird days when you have a long list of things to do, but lack motivation, and so you sit around wasting time and procrastinating. As you can tell by the number of posts I made today, part of my procrastination involved blogging. And yet, I felt justified in my procrastination since this past week I have been reading parts of Dies Domini. Not that this apostolic letter says to procrastinate, but it does remind me that Sunday should be a day of rest.

I solved my unrest and lack of motivation by starting reading a book I bought several months ago. I am now half way through "The Jeweler's Shop," a play written by the late Pope John Paul II while he was still a bishop and published under a pseudonym at the time.

This play was recommended to me by my Theology of the Body professor last year (yes, my college offers an actual upper level theology course on the Theology of the Body) and so I bought it with hopes of reading it. And then school started.

But today was the day I decided Sunday would be a day of rest and I curled up in my bed and started to read...
"A disproportion between the wish for happiness and a man's potential is unavoidable. But you try to calculate your happiness at any price, just as you calculate everything in your planning office. You lack courage and trust - in what? in whom? in life, in your own fate, in people, in God..."
And so, I read such words which speak to the reality of my own life, the reality of every life, and the reality of human life.