Archive for March 2009

Practicing Chastity in an Unchaste Age

March 31, 2009

On my way into work this morning, I was listening to the morning show of a popular area talk radio station.  I can usually only take it in small doses, as the AM hosts typically seem to combine ignorance with bluster in an attempt to boost ratings — particularly when talking about moral issues.  Thoughtful discussion is sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism.

This morning the subject was once again, the tragedy of the teenagers in Tunkhannock sending pronographic images of themselves to each other’s cell phones.  It has even coined a new term — ‘Sext Messages’.  The discussion was focused on how the ACLU is defending the girls against the D.A.’s tactics in trying to reform the children’s attitudes.  But I was struck by the alleged attitudes of some of the parents involved,  who see nothing pornographic in what their children had done.

Coincidentally enough, Ignatius Press has just republished a pastoral letter of our Bishop, titled ‘Practicing Chastity in an Unchaste Age.’  I wish the families involved could read it.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: I write as your bishop and spiritual father on a matter of great importance and great good news: chastity. 

Why chastity? That is really two questions wrapped up in one. 

First, why do I write on this subject just now? Violations of chastity in our Church and our diocese have made some people skeptical when the Church speaks on sexual morality. But for just that reason it is more necessary, not less, to speak the truth about sexual morality. Sin and confusion cry out for honest, truthful speech. 

The Church has always taught–and I teach here–that we need to find our happiness and holiness in a commitment to the chastity lived out in marital love or the chastity of celibacy lived out either in the consecrated life or the life of a single layperson in the world. These are the two paths to happiness and eternal life. There are no others. 

Second, why is chastity so important? Is this really a virtue for our times? Don’t other subjects take priority? 

In fact, chastity is a virtue for our times, and it does take priority. That should be clear, for instance, in the wake of the scandalous events in our own Church as well as those in secular society. 

Read the rest at the Ignatius Press

Early Christianity for teens, by teens

March 31, 2009

With the recognition that our neo-pagan culture has strong resemblance to the first century’s original pagan culture; comes http://www.earlychristians.org/, a site for teens to help them learn and apply the lessons of the Early Church to today’s world.  Frankly, I could spend a decent amount of time on this interesting site myself.

Wisdom! Be attentive!

March 30, 2009

Hello Brothers! Many of you may remember me from some of our prior retreats where I had the pleasure of making many new friends. I was speaking with Walt at the Holy Hour with Bishop Martino about how I had endeavored to start my own blog exploring the permanent diaconate. Walt kindly offered me a soap box here at GOTR to post some thoughts, and I am grateful for the compliment.

In renewing some of my friendships this past weekend, I was thinking about a subject close to my heart — Wisdom and Truth. In fact, so close to my heart that my wife and I even named our daughter “Sophia”. In the Byzantine Rite, the Gospel Acclamation is “Wisdom! Be attentive!” I could not help but think about how that applied to our relationships with other Catholic men and the formation of faith. I believe that one definition of Wisdom is ‘the revelation of Truth.’

Listening to other men share their experience of the faith journey opened up revelations to new ideas in my own journey. For example, at our last retreat I was talking about how I was looking to take a page from our Protestant brothers by keeping a Bible with me, so that I could take advantage of more opportunities to read it. I talked about how I found the ‘perfect’ edition- unobtrusive and small enough to keep in my breast pocket. No sooner had I finished speaking than one of you Wise men pointed out; “Young man, you have it all wrong. You should not be concerned with how ‘obtrusive’ your Bible is. If it is so big you need a shopping bag to carry it around in, then you do it, and carry it with pride. Don’t be intimidated by the culture into hiding your faith.” And you know, sure enough, that was a factor in consideration of what Bible I was looking for. Because of this opportunity for fellowship I have had my horizons widened on a number of fronts. I hope that you have the same experience with Guardians of the Redeemer.

So, I just wanted to briefly introduce myself and to thank you all for sharing your Wisdom with me and each-other, and being the living embodiment of the proverb “As iron Sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Holy Hour recap

March 29, 2009

About 100 men, young and old, including more than a half dozen priests, from many different areas of the Diocese of Scranton assembled at the St Joseph’s Oblate Seminary in Pittston on March 28th for a Men’s Holy Hour sponsored by the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship.

 

Several priests administered the Sacrament of Penance prior to the start of the Holy Hour.  Songs accompanied the Exposition of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Fr David Betts presided over the Holy Hour, and preached a homily in which he encouraged us to reach out and touch the lives of other men, and to be creative in finding ways to make them “thirsty.”  We had a generous amount of time to worship and adore our Eucharistic Lord in silence.  Fr Betts led us in a communal prayer of entrustment to St Joseph, and Bishop Joseph Martino led us in praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  Fr Betts then led Benediction, which was also accompanied by songs.

 

After the Holy Hour, Bishop Martino was formally introduced, and received a loud and prolonged standing ovation.  He began his remarks by affirming the men for the robustness of their singing.  He then recounted how inspired he was after attending a meeting about Catholic men’s movements in Chicago (Mundelein) in 1998.  This was the meeting that spawned the National Fellowship of Catholic Men.  Bishop Martino recalled that, after being appointed Bishop of Scranton in 2003, one of the desires of his heart was to have a men’s movement in this diocese.  He described it as “a dream come true” when Glenn Yanik approached him about starting a Catholic Men’s Fellowship in our diocese, and Fr Leo McKernan agreed to be the Chaplain.

 

Bishop Martino noted that, while the feminist movement in America did indeed produce good fruit, it also yielded some confusion about men regarding their roles in our culture.  He pointed out that many women who have had bad experiences with men refuse to trust even good men or men’s groups.  This confusion has resulted in a need for Catholic men to understand their true place in the Church and society.  This is the purpose to which Catholic men’s movements can contribute greatly.

 

Remembering the insightful “Letter to Women” written by Pope John Paul II, Bishop Martino speculated that perhaps Pope Benedict XVI might write a similar “Letter to Men” one of these days.

 

Our Bishop spoke about the fact that God chose to reveal himself as “Father,” and to send us his “Son” to save us, highlighting the importance of a proper comprehension of the “male” element.  Understanding this will help us to be more loving husbands to our wives, and more protecting fathers to our daughters.

 

After Bishop Martino finished, Glenn Yanik encouraged the men to get involved in a parish-based men’s sharing group, or even to take the initiative and start one in their parish.  He assured the men that there is no intent to poach men from the Holy Name or K of C groups, but that these men’s sharing groups were meant to be a complement to those other organizations.

 

Fr Leo McKernan and Fr Michael Salvagna also gave brief exhortations prior to the men adjourning to the conviviality room.  Along the way, a room was set up in which many resources were available to help men in their spiritual growth.

 

Many, many thanks to all who were present, and especially to those, both up-front and behind-the-scenes, who helped make this day a tremendous success!!

Fr David Betts gives a homily during the Holy Hour

Fr David Betts gives a homily during the Holy Hour

 

Bishop Joseph Martino addresses the men

Bishop Joseph Martino addresses the men

Glenn Yanik - Coordinator of the Guardian of the Redeemer CMF

Glenn Yanik - Coordinator of the Guardian of the Redeemer CMF

 

Fr Leo McKernan - Chaplain of the Guardian of the Redeemer CMF

Fr Leo McKernan - Chaplain of the Guardian of the Redeemer CMF

Fr Michael Salvagna

Fr Michael Salvagna

Room of resources for Catholic men

Room of resources for Catholic men

Building relationships while breaking bread

Building relationships while breaking bread

Last call for our Men’s Holy Hour this Saturday

March 26, 2009

Our Men’s Holy Hour is this Saturday afternoon, March 28th, in the Chapel at the St Joseph’s Oblates Seminary on Route 315 in Pittston.

The schedule is:

 

1:30 to 2:00 – Doors open; Sacrament of Reconciliation available

2:00 to 3:00 – Holy Hour

3:00 to 3:30 – Remarks by Bishop Joseph Martino regarding the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship in the Diocese of Scranton

3:30 to 4:00 – Social time with refreshments

 

Please take the time to personally invite Catholic men that you know.

To become like Jesus

March 25, 2009

Yesterday’s article by Joe Difato on the “Catholic Man” Channel of the Catholic Exchange website really gets to the beef of the Gospel.

 

Christ’s call for us to repent from sin can be challenging enough.  Perhaps you’re experiencing a bit of that this Lent.  It’s certainly not easy to turn away from patterns of sin that may have become ingrained in our lives as a result of years of neglecting our spiritual life, or simply engaging in bad habits.

 

In verses like Luke 6:27, 32-35 Jesus reveals that the high calling of the Christian life is what young people today would term “extreme.”

 

Appropriately, Joe is teaching about something far beyond simply turning away from sin.  When he asserts that…

Embracing a cross with the help of God’s grace is quite different from nobly trying our best to accept a cross without grace.

 

…he is pointing us to an element of authentic Christian maturity – dependence upon God – which is diametrically opposed to the concept of self-reliance that is constantly drilled into us by our American culture.

 

When he says…

Rather than dwell on their own sufferings, they find themselves moved with compassion for other people, even as they themselves endure pain and difficulty. In short, they become more and more like Jesus.

 

…he is revealing to us our true goal:  we should want to grow closer and closer to Jesus so that we can become more and more like Jesus.

 

Extreme indeed!  So extreme, in fact, that such intensity of self-emptying and self-giving on our part can often be the catalyst that incites change in the people around us.

 

Involvement in a small group that meets regularly can give men the opportunity to support one another as we endeavor to grow in dependence on God, especially when we undergo trials in our lives.  Hearing the struggles and successes of our brothers will motivate us to press on.  Hopefully, the encouragement we can share will truly assist us as we strive toward that goal of growing closer and closer to Jesus so that we can become more and more like Jesus.

Help for parents

March 24, 2009

Recently, on C-TV, Dr. David Walsh was interviewed on “The Christopher’s Close-Up.”  He wrote a book that would be most valuable for parents raising children.  The book is titled: “NO, Why Kids—of All Ages—Need To Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It.”   I was so impressed with the interview that I am ordering the book…so more on this subject in the future.

Some St Joseph stuff

March 19, 2009

Hope everyone was able to celebrate St Joseph today, along with joining in the prayer initiative that I mentioned in this post.

 

If anyone is ever looking for some good reading material about St Joseph, some of the best books you’ll find are those written by Fr Francis Filas several decades ago.  The King’s College library has a couple of his books.  If you’re looking to purchase, I highly recommend the used book site Abe Books.  If you go to their homepage, and type in “Filas” in the Author field, and “Joseph” in the Keyword field, you’ll see that a number of booksellers have Fr Filas’ books on St Joseph available at reasonable prices.

 

For some online reading, try this article, or this encyclical by Pope Leo XIII.

 

St Joseph, guardian of the Redeemer, pray for us!

Silence

March 17, 2009

Matthew Kelly, the young writer and speaker from Sydney, Australia, invites us all to come into the “school of silence” for it is here that we will begin to hear the voice of God.  Find a quiet place and some solitude.  Perhaps for a few minutes in a church before the Blessed Sacrament, in a prayer room, at home, in the woods, on a walk, etc.  Most importantly, still your heart.  Even if you are silent for 10 minutes…God will speak!

 

As we approach the feast of St Joseph, let’s review something that Pope Benedict XVI said in the first year of his pontificate about our patron’s ‘gift’ of silence:

Beloved Pope John Paul II, who was very devoted to St Joseph, left us a wonderful meditation dedicated to him in the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, “The Guardian of the Redeemer”.

 

Among the many aspects on which this Document sheds light, the silence of St Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires.

 

In other words, St Joseph‘s silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action.

 

It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence.

 

It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his “father” Joseph that Jesus learned – at the human level – that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice, the “superior justice” which he was one day to teach his disciples (cf. Mt 5: 20).

Let us allow ourselves to be “filled” with St Joseph‘s silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God’s voice, we are in such deep need of it.

Men’s Holy Hour — March 28th

March 16, 2009

Due to an unexpected schedule conflict that arose for Bishop Martino, we have rescheduled the Men’s Holy Hour for Saturday afternoon, March 28th, in the Chapel at the St Joseph’s Oblates Seminary on Route 315 in Pittston.  The new schedule will be:

 

1:30 to 2:00 – Doors open; Sacrament of Reconciliation available

2:00 to 3:00 – Holy Hour

3:00 to 3:30 – Remarks by Bishop Joseph Martino regarding the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship in the Diocese of Scranton

3:30 to 4:00 – Social time with refreshments

 

Please take the time to personally invite Catholic men that you know.

Irish inspiration

March 16, 2009

Since I know I won’t have much time on Tuesday, I took some time yesterday (Sunday) evening to prepare for St Patrick’s Day by reading some of the works of Irish Catholic poet Joseph Mary Plunkett.  This was my favorite:

I See His Blood Upon the Rose

 

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

 

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice — and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Awesome God

March 14, 2009

Examen for men

March 13, 2009

If the novena prayers to St Joseph and your supplementary reading about his holy life aren’t challenging enough for you, then check out the article entitled “A Father’s Unity of Life” by James B. Stenson.  Addressing the issue that…

Men who are weak and ineffective fathers tend to split their lives between work and family. That is, they live as producers at work but consumers at home.

 

…Stenson first presents a list of exemplary character and leadership traits that many men exhibit in their occupations.  He then proceeds to propose a similar list of traits that should be characteristic of holy men in family life.  It makes an excellent examination of conscience for husbands and fathers.

A good read

March 12, 2009

Recently, I have been reading a book by Ann Rice [of “Interview with the Vampire” fame].  She has come back to the Church after being away for a long time.  CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT is a novel about the early life of Jesus beginning in Egypt and His coming to the Holy Land.  It is told from His perspective.  It has been a good read thus far.  Ann Rice has a good manner of talking about the humanity of Christ.  It is not perfect…but what book about Jesus Christ is, except the Scriptures?

Just a few more days until the novena begins

March 6, 2009

Here’s a little video to whet your appetite:

Heart of mercy

March 4, 2009

Misericordia University, founded by the Sisters of Mercy, found itself in the midst of controversy in mid-February having invited a pro-homosexual activist to this Catholic campus.  Bishop Martino, as the Diocesan Bishop, has the role of shepherd and teacher.  He called those in charge at Misericordia to be faithful to the Catholic character of the University.  Our first responsibility is to Christ, our Lord and Teacher.  Academic freedom is important for a university, as well.  Yet, we can examine any topic at a Catholic University, but it must be done from a Catholic perspective.  Misericordia means ‘heart of mercy.’  Jesus said: “Come to me all of you who are weary and I will give you rest…I am meek and humble of heart.”  To all those who are afflicted with a homosexual orientation the Church responds with a heart of mercy and an invitation to come for healing and strength (CCC n. 2357-2359).  Yet, so many involved in this area of sexual disorder and wounded psyches are resistant to the truth of Christ’s teaching in this area.  There is a wonderful ministry called COURAGE, run by Fr. John Harvery [based in New York City], that deals with homosexuality from a profoundly Catholic perspective.  Perhaps Misericordia University will invite Fr. Harvey to come for a visit?  The Church has been described in a papal encyclical as “Mater et Magister,” that is, as “Mother and Teacher.”  Many say “yes” to the Motherhood of the Church, but “no” to the Teacher.  Let us pray for the grace of obedience and humility, so that we may truly cry out: “Jesus is Lord!”

Respect for authority

March 3, 2009

“You who are without sins cast the first stone.”  These words of Jesus spoken to a group of elders who are eager and ready to stone a woman caught in a serious sexual sin are words worth reflecting upon.  We live in a time when our media and press are hungry for bad news. Sometimes it is called a “feeding frenzy” and it seems that our society almost takes delight in the fall and disgrace of others.  Whatever happened to the wisdom that says: “there but for the grace of God go I!”   From the time of the late 60’s till now, there seems to be an adolescent rebellion against authority that rejoices in the uncovering of the faults and failures of anyone in authority and any institutions. One can think back to Watergate and Nixon, to the sexual scandals in the Church, A-Rod and other athletes using steroids, and now, to the recent judicial scandals in Wyoming Valley.  It is, of course, important to deal with these problems and justice needs to move forward.  Still, we need an examination of conscience as a culture.  Are we rejoicing in the fall of authority?  Are we in the “spirit of the 60’s” involved with a teenage rebellion against all authority?  This problem has struck to the very roots and foundation of our culture!  Even the authority of the father and mother is not respected.  It is much easier to tear down that to build up.  The authority of the Church and the government is in constant need of reform and purification, yet like the family they are indispensable.