January 30, 2009
Here are two comments from students attending my media literacy workshops:
After viewing a "mash-up" that exposes the fact that GE makes weapons, warplanes, bombs AND owns NBC (Nightly News), we discussed whether or not NBC would want the war in Iraq to continue, and how they would present the war.
5th grader: "Does that make the News terrorists?"
When asked what hurts more, bullying in person or cyberbullying, a teenage girl responded: "Cyberbullying, because it's permanent. You can read it over and over, and so can everyone else."
Given a choice whether they thought their peers were "more real," "more fake," or "just themselves" online, the teens responded overwhelmingly: "more fake." (I was really surprised at this and tried to bring out the fact that we have the potential to be "more real" online by sharing our deepest thoughts we might feel foolish saying in person, or not know how to formulate on the spot. But they felt the fact that you COULD stop and formulate your words more carefully was "fake." They felt face to face conversation was "real." As a big Theology of the Body proponent, I tend to agree with them!)
I spontaneously asked the teens: "Do you realize what you're living is bigger than Gutenberg?" They started nodding vigorously with big smiles on their faces. I told them, "You are Christian pioneers in the digital revolution!" They loved that.
January 29, 2009
January 23, 2009
“NEW IN TOWN” SYNOPSIS--Lucy Hill (Renee Zellweger), is an ambitious executive living in Miami. She loves her shoes, cars, and climbing the corporate ladder. Lucy is offered a temporary assignment to restructure a manufacturing plant—in snowy New Ulm, Minnesota. Dreading the weather but loving the fact that a big promotion is sure to follow, she takes the assignment. Lucy is not only in for a huge culture shock, but a love shock as well, when she meets Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick, Jr.).
(Opens January 30, 2009. The rating was changed from PG-13 to PG—all swear words were taken out—in order to make it completely family friendly. BTW: This was also done for “Evan Almighty.”)
THIS IS MY PHONE INTERVIEW WITH CATHOLIC ACTRESS, SIOBHAN FALLON HOGAN. SIOBHAN PLAYS BLANCHE GUNDERSON, A WORKER AT THE CHEESE FACTORY TO BE RESTRUCTURED, WHO TAKES LUCY UNDER HER WING. (Siobhan has a long list of TV and film credits, including “SNL,” “Seinfeld,” “30 Rock,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Baby Mama.”)
WHO IS YOUR CHARACTER IN “NEW IN TOWN”?
Blanche Gunderson is a Christian woman whose character is beautifully written. She’s not made fun of as a Christian. She talks the talk and walks the walk about Jesus. Being Catholic myself, I was proud and happy to play her. She is domesticated, works hard, and is the heart of her own home and the cheese factory.
WAS “NEW IN TOWN” FILMED IN MINNESOTA?
No, in Winnipeg.
THERE WILL BE THE INEVITABLE COMPARISONS TO THE MOVIE “FARGO” BECAUSE OF THE ACCENTS AND THE CLIMATE. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
Right. That can’t be helped, but “New in Town” is a beautiful story of a town trying to save their cheese factory. The filmmakers, Gold Circle Films, who brought you “Big, Fat, Greek Wedding,” wanted the whole family to feel free to see this inspirational film. In the movie, I have a daughter and son, and they’re not bratty. I sing a Christmas carol at the town Christmas Tree: “O Come, let us adore Him.” The movie rating was changed from PG-13 to PG—all swear words were taken out—in order to make it completely family friendly.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE “NEW IN TOWN,” AND WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT?
It reminds me of a Frank Capra film. It’s a beautiful, moving love story. Renee is hilarious, and she does a lot of physical comedy. Because the swear words have been taken out, there’s not that negativity that desensitizes the kids in the audience. “New in Town” should not be missed!
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I was born in Syracuse, New York, and brought up in a little town called Cazenovia, population 1,200, a lot like the Minnesota community in the movie, so I get what that’s like. I’m married, and have three teenagers, two girls and a boy.
DO YOU EVER FIND A KIND OF TENSION IN YOUR PROFESSION, WHERE HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOU AS A CATHOLIC, AND CATHOLICS WONDER WHAT YOU’RE DOING IN HOLLYWOOD?
Not at all! The tension only comes when you’re afraid to say what you believe. I’ve turned down a lot of projects. I am very clear cut and have no problem saying “no.” I tell them I’m Catholic and I have to be who I am. I try to be a good example to my own kids by the roles I choose. Producers really respect and appreciate knowing where I stand. They know I can flesh out a character that has faith. And I find that Catholics are thrilled to have a representative in Hollywood!
DO YOU DO MOSTLY COMEDY?
I’ve done both comedy and serious acting. I find that comedy bridges a lot of gaps, bridges the tension.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS FUNNY?
My father was the funniest person I ever met. My kids are funny, and they don’t even know it. The key to comedy is not playing to the funny, but playing it real. Characters are funny just by being themselves.
January 20, 2009
January 16, 2009
Sony, Samsung and LG will take back your used TVs for free
OLD CELL PHONES:
www.greenphone.com will buy (and resell) your old cellphones
Dell recycles its computers for free; Staples will accept any drop-offs.
January 15, 2009
plain old spam:
particular online companies have their own:
January 14, 2009
THEOLOGY OF THE BODY---FATHER THOMAS LOYA January 14, 2009
[Sr. Helena’s comments in brackets]
What was to be the “place of the interior gaze”—the male/female relationship became a battleground.
“Eschatalogical” means where we’re going as a human race, our ultimate destiny.
“Sacramental “ = the visible makes the invisible visible. We can participate in what’s invisible through our bodies which are gendered. The DNA of the whole created order is the “spousal mystery.” God made us as His Bride and He unites Himself intimately with us.
Theology of the Body says first: God is Trinity. We are made like the Trinity, a union and communion of persons.
Adam and Eve SAW sacramentally when they saw each other for the first time, that’s why they were “naked without shame.”
Kerry Kennedy’s (Robert Kennedy’s daughter) book, “Being Catholic Now,” sidesteps Catholic sexual morality, but embraces Catholic social teaching (social justice).
Many people were raised with guilt, sin and rules in the Catholic Church and not much else or nothing about the wonderful “why.” It’s really all about the HEART.
JP2G italicized his statement that “a wrong understanding of moral purity developed” (in the times of Jesus) and this interpretation became widespread. So all the rules even about ritual washing, etc., became applied to even biological functions! That’s why we say even today: “dirty” jokes!
2 extremes: prudishness and license.
Participant: Here’s an analogy—“anorexia” and “gluttony.” That’s why we call them eating “disorders.”
Jesus is concerned with purity of heart.
HISTORICAL—the fall & concupiscence of heart (prone to lust) THEN Jesus’ purity of heart
Who’s a better driver: the one who acquiesces to the law because they understand the law of the road, OR the one who does it only so they don’t get a ticket? The first driver is like what it means to live LIFE IN THE SPIRIT. We are honest and free because we get it.
Eastern concept of the person is body, soul and spirit. The soul is more like the life principle, and the spirit is the psychology/character of the person (and animated by God). [The soul is kind of like the material soul of the plants and animals (that we share with them). The spirit is like the “spiritual” soul of the human.]
As we mature, we should come to this mature TOB spirituality, but sometimes we need the law first to instruct us. But we ARE supposed to be maturing spiritually.
For some Catholics today, there’s a tendency to want to go backwards to an unhealthy sense of the body. “Custody of the eyes” is important, but it’s not enough. JP2G says: “Purity is seeing the glory of God in the human body.” We should keep our bodies in holiness and reverence. Purity is about how we SEE the body, not just how we AVOID it!!!!! JP2G’s “Love and Responsibility” talks a lot about this. (Father is skipping the part in TOB text on art and pornography to do at another time.)
Our obligation is to SEE and not to lust, no matter what is in front of us.
Participant: When my kids were 3 or 4 years old, I let them run around naked in the house, and looked at them with purity, not the least amount of lust. If we could see everyone that way, that would be purity of heart, right?
Fr. Loya: Yes. And let your kids do that in the privacy of your home when they’re little so they learn a degree of comfort with their bodies, and don’t get the message at a very young age that their bodies are bad and evil.
What about nudist colonies? Participant: The German nudist movement of the 20’s was all about that, but it was ruined by those who came to the colony in order to lust. It wasn’t done in a sacramental way (or at least they didn’t realize it), but they were going for the innocence of it.
Fr. Loya: Wherever there is more of a Catholic ethos (in traditionally Catholic countries), there tends to be more nudity, because true Catholic culture is more at ease with the body, that’s why the nude body was used so much in Catholic art of yesteryear. JP2G had the bodies uncovered when the Sistine Chapel was renovated. Luther objected to the Sistine Chapel’s naked bodies!! Participant: Luther said: “if all those asses farted at the same time, the roof would cave in.” He was a very crude. [ha ha]
If we could see people as PERSONS, we could see them as persons, even if they were naked.
We’re supposed to see God in people’s bodies and people’s bodies in God.
In fundamentalist Islam, the de-personalization of women is taken to the extreme. They are ONLY an object of lust. So they have to be covered from head to toe. (And therefore aren’t treated as persons who can participate in public life even—drive, vote, etc. ) [And it depersonalizes MEN, too, because women are ½ the human race, and the men think they are wild animals that can’t control themselves.]
JP2G was shot down the week between when he delivered his TOB talk on porn and art AND his announcement of the founding of the JP2 center for TOB in Rome. The missing May 13, 1981 talk is in the new translation, “Male and Female He Created Them—A Theology of the Body.”
West: Emphasizes there is no marriage(as we understand it on earth) in heaven.
East: Emphasizes that what starts on earth continues in heaven, but is transformed in heaven into its completion and fullness. We only get snatches of intimacy in this life through things like marriage, but we long for more and God will fulfill our desires!
We are united so intimately to God as to be grafted onto His nature (not His essence), body and soul.
The only reason “virginity” is considered “greater” than marriage is because it’s what we’ll be in heaven. But virginity really means “completely God’s, a singularity towards God” (it’s NOT so much about an absence of sexual relations!) (Augustine got a little hung up on the excellence of celibacy.) We can’t say one Father of Church or teacher is THE spokesperson for Catholicism. We need to listen to them all. And now we will HAVE to listen to JP2G in a big way.
We aren’t about “saving our SOULS,” but about saving our whole SELVES, as WHOLE PERSONS!
Conjugal relations are liturgical. The old English formula wedding formula was: Groom: “With my body, I thee worship.”
January 12, 2009
The movie title “Not Easily Broken” refers to the Scripture passage: “A cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Eccl. 4:12 NIV), quoted to a young couple on their wedding day. That cord is husband, wife and God. That couple is calm-demeanored David (Morris Chestnut, “Boyz in the Hood”) and fiery Clarice (Taraji P. Henson, “Benjamin Button”). Also quoted to them by their pastor is the fact that it’s going to be very hard. But of course, young love never listens.
David’s major league baseball dreams are dashed when he’s injured, but Clarice’s dreams are realized as she becomes a high-powered real estate agent and main support of the couple. However, her ambitiousness, not wanting any children yet, and high lifestyle are tearing the marriage apart. At first, the story allows Clarice (and her mother who moved in) to attack David’s faults unrelentingly. This constant barrage of criticism is reminiscent of another Scripture: “When words are many, sin is not absent” (Prov. 10:19 NIV), and we’d like to just clamp our hands over Clarice and her mother’s mouths. The audience realizes Clarice is losing David before she does. Her one pet peeve about David that we might agree with is the amount of time he spends with his buddies and the kids he coaches. (We’ll catch up to Clarice’s faults at the end.) The everyday dialogue, the fights, the nitty-grittys of relationships all ring true without being dull or melodramatic.
Unfaithfulness, affairs and divorce are commonplace in Clarice and David’s world, but neither of them really want to go there themselves. Throughout the movie is David’s contemplative commentary about how he sees life, and the wisdom he is trying to acquire. This seems to be something of a first for an African-American man in a film, and it’s wonderful. Yes, David is tough, but his inner life reveals that he wants what everyone else wants. The proverbial life of crime tempting every Black man in America is something David works against in his coaching of kids. It also makes him feel like the father he’s not.
When things are at their worst, David and Clarice turn to their pastor for marriage counseling, to no avail. They split. At this point comes a very fascinating reveal. This is not really a spoiler alert, because you will want to see the movie and follow Clarice and her mother’s conversation to get the rich fullness of it all. Here is a case of a mother’s bitter disappointment with marriage totally poisoning her daughter’s marriage. It makes us question—how much do we allow parents (or other close relatives, friends) to OVERSHAPE our lives? MAKE our decisions for us? OVERINFLUENCE us? Clarice is grateful for all her mother gave her, teaching her to be strong, but, she says, her mother never taught her how to love and care and forgive. As Clarice later admits to David: “I was never taught how to be a wife who hung on her husband’s words, or trusted him to take care of her.” She knows she’s really not that “type” anyway (and David loves her for her spunk), so she tells him she wants to be his “partner.”
Expressed in “Not Easily Broken” is a certain backlash against a feminism that urges women to be radically independent instead of interdependent, and a feeling of victimization on the part of men. A voice-over soliloquy from David about how a world where men used to be seen as workers, cultivators and protectors has changed, is very poignant. He says women started being their own heroes because a) men stopped being heroes b) women wanted to be their own heroes OR c) all the pain women endured at the hands of men. The pendulum seems to have swung.
There’s lots of great marriage advice in “Not Easily Broken,” but even more effectively, we see illustrated—with great realism—the experiences most couples go through, the traps and dead-ends many couples fall into. The pastor bided his time to ask Clarice this pointed question: “Did you really include God as that third strand in your marriage?”
MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS:
--“Not Easily Broken” is based on T. D. Jakes’ book, and he has a cameo as one of Clarice’s clients (not Billy Graham style, as Billy Graham).
--Good actors can make ANY lines good (maybe not the story, but lines, yes).
--David and Clarice both have hilarious, sidekick best friends.
--Did Taraji like this part? I can’t tell. Somehow she looks like she feels “above” it. (She stole every scene she was in in “Benjamin Button.”)
--In some sectors today, men feel/are victimized by the “strong” women in their lives. It’s odd, because male chauvinism and domestic abuse continue in other sectors. History is never a clean break.
--Loved the L.A. traffic, city and neighborhoods photography. Made me homesick.
--Brad Pitt wanted kids badly. I saw him on a talk show when he was between Jenn and Angie, and he was very candid and he was almost crying talking about the kids he wanted.
--Great Theology of the Body line: “If you want to know what something is for, you can’t ask the thing. Ask the Manufacturer.”
--We can’t go back to some 50’s ideal of male/female relationships. We must keep purifying it, to what God intended, which rocks. With a little help from Theology of the Body.
January 11, 2009
THE GOLDEN GLOBES ARE GREAT BECAUSE the stars are very candid, non-slick, and it doesn't feel like the Hollywood "machine." Also, because the Golden Globes are awards from Hollywood's foreign press, it's truly international, and 1/2 billion people are watching with you across the world. (First year for China!)
Best Actress in a movie: Sally Hawkins for "Happy-Go-Lucky" (won over Meryl Streep for "Mama Mia," among others). She was great (mostly improv, ad-libbing), but the movie was flat. Jon Hamm did NOT win for best male actor in a TV series: "Mad Man." I'm a mad woman. "Wall-E" won for best animated film. How could it not??? Tom Wilkerson won for playing Ben Franklin in "John Adams." Yipppeee! He was also HYSTERICAL. "John Addams" won best something-or-other. Justice has been served. Laura Linney won for playing Abigail Addams in "John Addams." Screenwriter from "Slumdog Millionnaire" won. The movie just wasn't THAT great, but the kid actors were FABULOUS.
Paul Giamatti won for playing John Addams. "Slumdog Millionaire" won for best soundtrack--very modern choice! It's Mumbai meets Harlem! It is quite good. "30 Rock" won big (never seen it). Steven Spielberg was so sweet and grateful and a little bit boring (for a lifetime achievement award) and talked about that in the future of movie-making, we can't forget that the audience is an audience of individuals. Danny Boyle won best director for "Slumdog Millionnaire." I think David Fincher should've gotten it for "Benjamin Button," BUT I love Danny Boyle sooooo much for "Millions," that I'm glad he got it. Kate Winslet won for "Revolutionary Road" over Meryl Streep for "Doubt." Umm...I don't know about that.... It's so funny when actors accept rewards. Are they acting or what?? Ha ha ha. Sally Hawkins and Kate Winslet seemed rather...melodramatic. OK, "Mad Men" finally won something! Hip Hip! Mickey Rourke won best actor ("The Wrestler").
Full coverage: http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=awardcentral&jump=news&id=globes
January 8, 2009
Do check this out!
January 7, 2009
Topic: "Being Catholic in a World That Is More and More Secularized"
[Sr. Helena's comments in brackets]
"Secularism" doesn't mean being against God, it means living as if God didn't exist. Maybe one of the best things we can do to "be more Catholic" is teach people to pray. If we talk to God every day, we CAN'T live as if God doesn't exist. Teach people HOW to pray, how to spend those 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each day. Prayer isn't just asking, it's adoring, it's praying memorized prayers. Prayer will help us resist social pressures and help us bring God into society.
"the secular"—"the world" that is the neutral arena where God acts, we act and love and are saved.
"the sacred"—"the world" that is entirely of God
"the profane"—"the world" that is against God, closed to the God and the sacred.
"Secularization" means making the world profane. The secular needs to be open to the transcendent. The world is not "sacred" in that it's divine or sacred like "Sacred Scripture," but it can be open to God. The Church is in the hands of clergy, but the world is in the hands of the laity who have to make sure it doesn't collapse totally into the profane.
Society becomes brittle without God (like the communist regimes).
"Freedom of religion" means you can practice your religion openly in every aspect of your life. "Freedom of worship" means you can worship in private only. There's also a third way: "religion as hobby"—you practice when you have time, when you feel like it, because you like it, when you like it.
The supreme court of California just declared that Catholic Charities is a "secular ministry" because it's helping people. But this is not true.
If we don't do His will here, we won't be happy with Him in the next life. [We'll be miserable "with Him" in the next life!...]
QUESTIONS FROM YOUNG ADULTS:
Q: Is Catholicism the only way to heaven?
A: No, but it's God's way. Otherwise, what am I doing up here? [big laughs] We will be judged on love. We have to live lives of self-gift and self-sacrifice. Other religions believe in love, but only Christianity believes that God IS love.
Q: How do we convert people?
A: Depends. Relationships are prior to individuality in Catholicism, so we need to first have a relationship with someone we want to help. We can't begin with the Bible, the Catechism or even our own personal experience. Listen. When you do talk, talk about Christ, then the Church. The Christ you know through your prayer.
People can be desperate, and thus feel their need of God. You can then say "come and see," and invite them to church with you. People can feel life is good and be good people, and they want to be grateful to Someone. People can feel empty, feel the need for forgiveness. God doesn't give us infinite happiness here, but knowing our Savior BEFORE DEATH totally increases our quality of life.
Q: Do interreligious and interracial marriages weaken the Catholic party's Catholic values?
A: The nuns in my sister's school back in the 50's told the girls: You can date a non-Catholic boy twice, but not three times. [big laughs] Interreligious marriages are hardest on the kids—they get mixed messages, and sometimes wind up with no religion. It's hard work, but it can work, sometimes beautifully. Often there is MORE respect for one another because of the difference. The Church has never not sanctioned interracial marriages. Ever. Only the State does that.
Q: Will we get together with the Orthodox soon?
A: I don't know, but we are doctrinally so similar. The problem is we don't read history the same way. We remember differently, we forget differently. Not only did the Western Crusaders crush Constantinople, the Eastern Christians slaughtered Western Christians over leavened bread used for the Eucharist. We need to not carry our wounds into our identity. Eastern Christians remember these things like they were yesterday, also because they live in these countries where it happened.
Our splits with the Protestants ARE doctrinal. It started with Luther who had a problem first with the governance of the Church, the priesthood, then, of course, with the Eucharist. (Luther and Erasmus both saw the abuses in the Church. Erasmus stayed to reform the Church, and Luther left to reform it, BUT Luther thought Jesus was coming very soon and would put it all back together!)
Q: Why is abortion so focused on of all the life issues, and not so much executions or war?
A: Because it's so widespread (death of millions), the preborn are the most innocent and threatened, if this most fundamental human right goes all our other rights go, it's changing our whole legal system (who's next?), we've declared a whole class of people unwanted so we can kill them.
Capital punishment—the government has a right and duty to protect its citizens, but now we can lock people up for life and there's no need to kill these people. The Church is working to get the States to abolish it.
Civilized society doesn't allow PRIVATE KILLING without a trial, but that's what we're doing to the preborn. We have declared that their value comes from being WILLED and WANTED [by certain individuals].
Iraq—is an unjust war (the Holy Father and U.S. bishops made that very clear). But now that we've invaded unjustly, we have a moral obligation to get out justly (without a bloodbath, protecting as many people as we can).
Q: What about nonviolence?
A: We need pacifists because that's a Gospel value, a Beatitude. But, like celibacy, we can't all be pacifists. It would be a strange world. Self-defense is a moral obligation when we or defenseless people are attacked. You can choose not to defend yourself but when you become a parent, you give up that right. You have to protect your children. [Sr. Helena prefers the term "active nonviolence" to "pacifism" because the word "pacifism" is too easily associated with "passivism." Sr. Helena has huge problems with war as a means to resolve problems, and the fact is that with modern warfare (esp. nuclear), the very conditions of a just war may be nullified (because any war can escalate out of "proportion," and large numbers of civilians are always involved/killed. Many theologians/ethicists are questioning the validity of "just war theory" in today's world.) Check out http://www.catholicpeacefellowship.com/ based in Indiana, made up of many Catholic Iraq war vets. Incidentally, the second Iraq War falls COMPLETELY outside any discussion of just war theory because it wasn't even a "pre-emptive" strike but a "preventative" strike: "Saddam MIGHT be a threat to us someday, therefore, we'll just take him out now" (not to mention all the lies, supposed bad intel, WMD, war profiteering--think "Haliburton," etc.). When Cheney was asked why we didn't just assassinate Saddam instead of invading the country, he said, "We don't do that." Putin joked: "Hmmm, the biggest military world power is the USA, maybe Russia should do a preventative strike against the US."]
Q: Are Catholic soldiers killers then?
A: WWII was a just war, but many unjust things were done: firebombing of Dresden, atomic bombs, killing lots of civilians. Iraq is an unjust war, but we are doing some good things for the people. Conscientious objection should be used [unfortunately, once you're in the military, the U.S. government doesn't allow selective c.o. for particular wars, order, conflicts, etc. If you refuse, you'll be court marshaled, jailed, or there's always Canada].
Q: How can we prevent getting brainwashed by secular university professors?
A: Know more than them. [big laughs] Not in their speciality, but about other things they're not qualified in (religion, your faith, what it means to be a person, etc.). Learn history. Learn your faith. Educate yourself. You might even take them aside and have a talk with them. Ask them why they're using their position as a professor to advance or attack ideologies (they have professional ethics). But remember, they're giving you your grade. [big laughs]. When I was doing my doctoral work, they didn't want me in the program because they believed a priest couldn't think for himself. They didn't allow me to wear my Roman collar. But in the end, they liked me so well they offered me a teaching job.
Q: What happens when your prayer life is dry?
A: It's a relationship. It won't stay the same. Dryness is normal. But we can feel God's presence by His absence. Mother Teresa spent most of her life in this dryness, feeling no emotion, not feeling God's presence, but her faith was strong. That's very unusual. Thank God He doesn't deal with most of us like this!
Q: Even if we're doubting our Catholic Faith or we can't accept all of it, shouldn't we stay in the Church out of loyalty?
A: No! It's not about loyalty. It's about truth. I didn't make this up. None of us did. If I devised my own religion, it wouldn't look like the Catholic Church. [big laughs] God is too big for us to understand, but not too big for us to love. If we don't understand/accept something in the Church, we shouldn't necessarily just leave. Make sure you really know what the Catholic Church actually teaches [and why]. But don't stay on your own terms, either. Who are you (or me) to do that?
Q: What three books should all young Catholic adults read?
A: There's so many good books! "Orthodoxy" by Chesterton, Lives of the Saints (read about your patrons saints—I read everything I can on St. Francis), a good biography of Jesus (not just wild imaginings), try Anne Rice's novels on Jesus--they're very interesting, Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict.
Q: What's the central issue for the Church today? A: It's always passing on the Faith.
Q: What about priests who don't accept the whole Catholic Faith? A: Give me their names. [huge laughs] A priest cannot define himself or his ministry. He's a man in relationship. None of us can define ourselves totally. We are all in relationship. It's all about relationship.
Q: How can Catholic girls find good Catholic guys? A: That's easy: volunteer to lector at the 7AM weekly Mass at the Cathedral. [big laughs] Most of the people there are over 75, but they have grandsons that they'll introduce you too. Who are probably sleeping.
Q: Why doesn't the Church allow IVF (in vitro fertilization)? A: Because every child has the write to be conceived in the marital embrace, not in a petri dish. But what's the difference, really? The baby is then implanted in the mother's womb? Because we are not a pragmatist Church. We have principles. It's not about the end, it's also about the means. It's not just about results. Why is there such a big push for embryonice stem research? Even though the only successful therapies have come from adult stem cells? Maybe because scientists don't want to be told no, ever--they feel there should be no limits. [Also--they want to PATENT $$$$$ whatever discoveries they make, and they can't do that without at least sharing the $$$$ with the adult whose stem cells they use. But with the little embryonic "nobodies," body parts could be owned. Even though patents aren't supposed to be owned on living things, they already are.]
Q: What should we pray for? A: Me. Often my prayers are very shabby. Peace in the world. The peace of Jerusalem. Priests.
Q: What do you pray for? A: You.
Q: Do we have to go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist? A: Only if you're in mortal sin. You have to determine that. Why go to a priest? Because we are social beings and there's no such thing as an individual sin. There are social consequences to all of our actions, even in private, because there's no such thing as an unrelated person. But we don't just share sin. We share in the virtues of each other and of the saints, too. I think that people don't go to Confession also because they don't believe in forgiveness--that it's real.
Will the Church ever become modern and conform to the world? Truth is not negotiated. The Church was born in the Roman Empire which completely approved of the gay lifestyle, abortion, exposing infants that were unwanted (if the father didn't accept them). There is nothing new about these things. Are we going to go back to the Roman Empire? We have an obligation to RELATE to a baby, a pregnant woman. We can't just say to her "don't have an abortion." We have to provide help before and after pregnancy. And we do: Catholic Charities. Now we can ALWAYS save the mother and usually the child.
If abortion is a "right," then we can't limit it, and we should celebrate it! Rights are great things! Therefore we HAVE to allow partial birth abortion, etc. In our culture of individual freedom and "modernity," rights are glorious achievements, and rightly so. We like to overcome "limits." Our modern social life was born in a Revolution which is all about throwing off limits. The medieval Church used to talk about DUTIES. Many first Americans thought we didn't need a Bill of Rights, because it was all laid out in the Constitution. But others, especially Madison, thought it should be spelled out. The French Revolution/Enlightenment was all about the "Rights of Man." It was all based on the individual, and not relationships. But when it comes to things like marriage, the Church, the State didn't make it up and can't change it. We have to respect the rights of individual gay people, but there cannot be same-sex marriage. When we think we're exercising a right, we have to ask if this "right" is good for others--how many people were people killed, disserviced by this right? America is not wrong by focusing on individual rights, just incomplete.