27 December 2007
Merry Christmas from the Rise of the TOB Bloggers!
May Mary and Joseph pray that this humble little blog bear much fruit!
23 December 2007
- Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
- Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
- Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
- She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
- All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
- "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
- When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
- - Matthew 1:18-24 (NAB)
Joseph was a real man. A real husband and a real dad. And Jesus wasn't even his biological son.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
18 December 2007
Every man is called to be a husband and father in some sense of the word. The married man is called to be spouse to his wife and father to their offspring. The celibate man, either through the priesthood or religious life, is called to be spouse to his bride - the Church - and father (hence a Catholic priest being know as "Fr. So-and-so") to his spiritual children throughout the world. It transcends even these distinctions though, as being a father has a specific nature that should carry out throughout our existence. We are called to protect, provide, and give of ourselves as Christ did (willing to die on a cross) in everything we do. Guys, if we're not doing this, we're part of the problem, not part of the solution. Too many of us are looking to receive, take, and let someone else suffer for us. I've been their more times than I'd like to admit.
This world is begging for all of its people to stand up and change things. I can only play my part as a man, and so I call out my fellow men to do the same. Take up your mantle. Be the "dad" God made you to be, whether you're an 18 year old or an 88 year old. Do it for the sake of our women. Do it for the sake of each other. Follow Jesus, and he'll show you exactly what needs to be done. And Saint Joseph ain't to shabby of an example himself.
Special thanks to the men who gathered for the first ever Men's Group Meeting of the Diocese of Rockville Centre last night. Good things will come!
10 December 2007
This is a health book. Every issue that Grossman confronts is backed with facts and experience. Still, she is not afraid to admit the effect that the PC world of the college campus has had on religion... and that its not good. Grossman, a Jewish woman, recognizes the great qualities of good faith and it's healthy effects on young believers. Her field has ignored this though.
I was just so totally impressed by Grossman's boldness and dedication to the truth. She pulls no punches, and yet comes off like a very concerned, professional, and absolutely brilliant psychiatrist. There are signals coming from everywhere, not just from the Church. They are telling us that something is wrong. They are telling us that we were made for more. Unprotected is one of those signals.
08 December 2007
Here's the video for "Retrospect for Life" (1997) by one of my favorite rappers, Common, featuring Lauryn Hill of the Fugees. I don't see eye to eye with Common on many issues, and I'm not sure I'm 100% on the ball with him here. Still, he makes some really profound statements that cut to the heart as he recalls his struggle to decide with his girlfriend whether or not to get an abortion. He even imagines himself feeling guilty in the future. The song is dedicated to his son, so I think we know what they decided. At least one "N-bomb" is dropped in case you might be offended.
"I'ma use self control instead of birth control
Cause $315 ain't worth your soul
$315 ain't worth your soul
$315 ain't worth it"
04 December 2007
It doesn't show signs of stopping. In fact, my guess is that the anti-religious agenda will only get worse as directors and writers push the envelope, to see how far they can go. However, it is my proposal, that again God has provided, and the Theology of the Body has come at the perfect time in history. No, it wasn't received to shatter a movie at the box office, it was received to convert hearts and awaken us. Well the wool is being pulled over our eyes, and part of that is this surge of atheism. TOB has the power to annihilate that surge. Hear me out.
The Theology of the Body is much easier to understand and accept for someone who already has faith. But, if we look at it in it's barest, simplest sense - that our bodies reveal something about who we are - I think it's a starting point that all people can catch on to.
We live in a world where the desires of the body have been given more free reign than ever. We are people controlled by our body. "Hungry? Why wait?" In pain? Pop a pill. Need sex? Well you can have that too. Forget will power. When we want something, we feel we deserve it NOW. And usually we get it. This is why the average person can't wrap their heads around the idea of abstinence until marriage. Why is my body saying now, and you're telling me to wait until later?
But what if the body was saying something different? What if all those urges were meant to point us to something else? To the greater love of God? By getting to the heart of the matter, we might find that our instincts are actually part of God's plan for us. It's just that our fallen world has given us a different explanation.
People need to know how great their bodies are. How special, and unique, and wonderfully mysterious. This is what we should be filling the minds of our children with. We need more books, stories, movies, artwork, and music that feeds our hearts with this message. This battle with atheism is not intellectual. It is an attack on personhood. They want to champion individual thought, but it comes at the expense of the body. Our bodies are too powerful though. God made them so.
JPII, pray for us.
UPDATE: Speaking of trumping Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian trailer is out and can be veiwed: HERE
Long live Aslan!
01 December 2007
Hello everyone! My name is Laura Giannuzzi and as Nolan already said, I am one of the new contributors to the "Rise of the TOB" blog. Nolan and I have known each other for a few months now through our work in youth and campus ministry in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. When we first met, I knew he was interested in the Theology of the Body and could tell he was rock solid in his faith. Since then, we have both been working in ministry but have also begun teaching for a new abstinence program called "Long Island Teen Freedom." Last week, I gave a presentation at the Life Center of Long Island on the TOB and later I got an exciting call from Nolan asking me to be a part of his blog. I had been thinking about doing something like this for a while (thanks to encouragement from Dawn Eden, Elizabeth Andrew, and Leticia Velasquez ) but I just didn't feel like I had the time to start one or keep one up. So when Nolan invited me to be part of the "Rise" team, it was what I call a "God wink" (more on that another day) and I eagerly said yes!
You can read my profile for more information about me (and of course more about me will come to our audience through future posts) but as an introductory post, I thought it would be good to start with how I even got into the TOB, as that's the main subject matter of the blog. I was introduced to the TOB almost two years ago. I was living in Pensacola, Florida at the time and was in my second year of ACE, a unique post-grad service teaching program (see ace.nd.edu). At a spring auction at Pensacola Catholic High School, I ran into Bob Blake, a family member of a neighbor of mine and moderator of the TOB study group at St. Anne's Church in Gulf Breeze. He had invited me to St. Anne's earlier that year for their Life Teen mass but at the time, I was very involved in my own parish, and frankly I didn't even know what Life Teen was. So this time, he invited me to his Theology of the Body study group. I had never heard of the TOB at this point, but he explained a little and I was intrigued. I am now eternally thankful for Bob Blake and for his invitation. This invite came at a very important time in my own faith life and in my personal life. There are no accidents!
I met with the group for the first time, discovered I was the only one not married and the only one under age 40, and liked what I heard. They informed me what books they were using and I went right home and ordered the two of them online - "Men and Women are from Eden" by Mary Healy and "Theology of the Body for Beginners" by Christopher West. I eagerly thumbed through both books, looking for the information on the issue on contraception. See, the issue of contraception is what got me interested in the TOB from the beginning. I had been involved with a variety of pro-life activities in my life and through those experiences, I had gotten more interested in the issue of contraception. No Church or biblical scholar, I started to get very intrigued why the Catholic Church taught what it did and why other Christian denominations had no official teaching on artificial contraception and if they had, why they had abandoned it over the years. As stated earlier, my introduction to the TOB came at a time in my life when I was somewhat doubting the Church. I had had some very strong evangelical Christian influences in my life and I was impressed by how on fire for Jesus they were and how they lived their lives and I was intrigued both by how involved they all were in their churches and how they could defend what they believed much better than I seemed to be able to. I still believed there was truth in the Catholic Church, but I was unsure on so many levels and if I was going to believe in this thing called the "Church" and was going to call myself "Catholic," then I needed some better background in my faith and some solid defense for what the Church taught. When it comes down to it, I was really in search of Truth, with a capital "T"...and the Lord answered my prayers with the TOB. This is why I often say, the TOB saved my life!
I have to say I was disappointed when I saw artificial contraception and natural family planning discussed at the end of both books. I liked what I read about the topic, but I was still looking for more and was certainly looking for better ways to defend the Church and her teachings. In the beginning of my study with the group, I admit, I was a little frustrated...all I wanted to do was discuss contraception with these couples and find out why or why not it was okay. But I participated patiently and the Holy Spirit began to work on my heart and open my eyes to the beauty of not only the TOB, but of the Church, again with a capital "C." I stayed in Florida and participated in the study group through December of 2006. In that time, my faith and love for Jesus was really growing. In December, I was introduced to Dawn Eden and her book, "The Thrill of the Chaste" through a random (nothing is random in life - "God wink") Google e-mail alert. I soon discovered what "chastity" really meant and boy, did this go perfectly in line with what I was learning from the TOB and what I was going through at the time. I went through a rather difficult experience during advent, which brought me back to New York a little earlier than I had planned. But one of the benefits of being back in NY was the amount of all things Catholic going on. From Young Adult groups, to Faith on Tap, to Catholic Underground, to inspiring lectures, I was overwhelmed with how much was going on. I dove right in though and kept drinking of all things good that I could. During this difficult time in my life, I was continually strengthened by my faith and the support of family and friends and I began to go deeper into Catholicism and apologetics in general (the defense of the Church). I was buying books left and right and couldn't even keep up with myself. I started going to the NYC TOB group when ever I could make it and was able to attend the Sisters of Life TOB retreat lead by Father Luke Sweeney, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of New York in February. Although much of the material was a review for me, I was excited to be in the company of others who were interested in the teaching and I began to really see the TOB as a means for evangelization. I soon heard that Christopher West was coming to LI for a weekend conference/retreat on the TOB in April. I was so excited and marked off the date on my calendar right away!
This was such an amazing experience for me - to meet Christopher West and hear him explain the TOB was such a blessing. I think I spent $300 that weekend buying TOB materials without any clear direction of what I was to do with it. I was so on fire from that weekend that I quickly signed up for the week long "Head and Heart Immersion" course/retreat with Christopher West in August. This was a real leap of faith since I didn't even have a job for the next year yet! Sometime shortly after though, I took a full-time job with the Diocese of Rockville Centre in Campus Ministry and a part-time job with The Life Center of Long Island as an instructor in their new abstinence program, "Long Island Teen Freedom." Things were starting to look better for me overall and I knew both of my new jobs would allow me to bring the TOB to more people.
The August retreat/course with Christopher West was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was a full graduate Theology course in a week as well as an in depth spiritual retreat experience. Now, this was going deeper into the TOB than I had ever gone before. It was amazing! I came back thirsty for more and with a desire to bring the TOB to everyone! Because of my new work in campus ministry, I could no longer attend the Wednesday night NYC TOB study group. I knew there was no TOB study group for the Diocese of Rockville Centre (DRVC from here on out) and I had a feeling that I was going to have to be the one to start it. And so I did! Under the spiritual direction of Father Brian Barr, Director of Campus Ministry and Vocation Director for the DRVC (who also went on the Head and Heart course back in January with Nolan), we kicked off our group on Wednesday October 24th at Hofstra University, where I work as a campus minister. With little publication, eight people showed up. With some more publication and thanks to Todd Lemieux's talk the next week at Faith on Tap, entitled "Man, Woman, What's the Difference?," the next time we met, Wednesday November 7th, we were fourteen people strong. I had to order more books and get a bigger room! I figured this was a good problem to have. We met again last Wednesday night, November 30th, and again, we were fifteen strong, with some new and old faces. I hope some of those people come to read this blog and people who read the blog will be inspired to come to our study group and/or start their own where ever they may be. You don't have to be an expert to do so...you can do it!!!
To close, Father Loya, a Byzantine priest well versed in the Theology of the Body, has been known to say (and said on our week long TOB retreat) that he thinks all of the world's problems can be solved through the TOB. The deeper I go into this material and the more I live through life, the more I believe this. If we can understand what it means to be male and female, and thus what it means to be human, and can more clearly understand the beauty of what Scripture is telling us about history and humanity, then we can indeed answer life's burning questions, especially the hot button ones! I pray you too will fall in love with the Theology of the Body as I have. And I pray your journey for Truth will lead you to a better understanding of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Scripture, Tradition, and the great Church He began on earth for all of us. Thank you to John Paul the Great for bringing the TOB to a world that desperately needs this message! God bless you all as we begin the Advent season on this beautiful yet chilly weekend!!!
28 November 2007
Rise of the TOB will now be run by a team of Theology of the Body students and enthusiasts. New contributors means more consistent updates, fresher writing styles, and a variety of experiences and stories to share. We'll also be posting writings from guests every now and then - some well known and others who haven't yet had the opportunity to share their own personal presentation of the Church's teaching on Love & Responsibility.
We are not experts. We do not have all the answers.
What is promised is this... We love Jesus Christ, we are loyal to his Church, and have all been very much inspired by the work of Pope John Paul II. There is a secret hidden behind all of the sexual sin that plagues this world. There is a yearning inside all of us that has become distorted. In our bodies lies the truth about love, sex, life, and happiness. We hope to share that truth with all who will listen.
In the next week, Laura Giannuzzi will introduce herself in her first post, so I will let her take care of that. In the coming weeks some more contributors will be brought into the fold.
We are predominantly based out of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (Long Island, NY) and so we'll naturally be speaking through that lens. Part of our intention is certainly to serve as an online hub for everything Theology of the Body on Long Island. However, our readership is intended to include all people across the globe; to point anyone looking for answers to the truth.
My prayer to the Father, through Mary the Mother of God and St. John of the Cross, who so inspired JPII, is that the Rise of the TOB Blog will be a reliable, up to date, and light-hearted center for learning and discussion. More importantly, my prayer is that His Mercy changes the lives of all who seek it.
So, one chapter is ending, but a new one begins. Thanks to to all family, friends, readers, and bloggers who have supported me to date. This is an exciting time for the Rise!
22 November 2007
Today we live in an over-sexualized world. I can no longer watch a football game with my Dad without being bombarded by commercials advertising pills for erectile dysfunction. I can't check my email without stumbling across a few e-solicitations to chat with the "one I've been longing for". I cannot browse the magazine rack of a bookstore without being drawn to covers of half-naked women in men's magazines, pointing to the more "in your face" pornography displayed just above it.
Everything is sex without consequences. But the truth is now out there and I am thankful for it.
I'm thankful that in 1968, Pope Paul VI penned his encyclical Humanae Vitae, defending human life and upholding the Catholic teaching against the use of contraception. Despite all other Christian churches changing their stance, the Pope knew that contraception would have a radical effect on the world. To separate the sexual experience from procreation was to undo the order of God.
I'm thankful that Pope John Paul II delivered a series of lectures from 1979 to 1984, cumulatively titled the Theology of the Body, which put together 2000 years of Church teaching, Holy Tradition, and perhaps the best biblical scholarship in the history of the Good Book - all on the true meaning of the human body as intended by God. The human body is good so Good that it should not be repressed, but must not be exploited. It is the antidote to the sexual revolution. And what could have been our graduation from puritanism.
I'm thankful that today, many bishops, priests, religious, and lay faithful have caught on. We aren't many, but we are growing. There is an army of believers, who will not cease fighting the lies of the culture. We are ready for a new change. We are ready to overturn the culture of death. And we will not stop until abortion, rape, sexual abuse, pornography, and all other sins of the flesh are wiped clean from this world.
Most of all, I'm thankful for a Merciful Lord. Jesus has met us where we are at. He has given us exactly what we need in the Church's teaching on love and responsibility. The power is in our hands (folded hands that is).
Let's change the world. Viva la "NEW sexual" revolucion!
21 November 2007
03 November 2007
I love my mom...
I love my friends...
I love my fiance...
I love brownie sundaes with whipped cream and hot fudge?
All of the above is true, at least for me. I've made each of these statements at certain times in my life (and no I won't disclose which one more than the others!).
LOVE - Same word in each statement, but meaning something totally different each time.
Quick Greek Lesson:
Storge - Affection, familial love
Philia - Friendship love
Eros - Physical love, object love
Agape - Unconditional love
The Greeks have FOUR different words for love. I'm not saying we need to add any more confusion to the English language (or maybe I am) but the fact that we can say "I love my wife" and "I love pizza" in the same sentence and not raise any eyebrows is a problem. The L word is completely misused today, most especially among young people.
So how about that brownie sundae? What kind of love does that fit under?
Well, no one is related to a brownie sundae, so it's not family love. There may be some pretty lonely people in this world, but even lonely people have better friends than something that melts if not consumed within ten minutes of buying it - not philia. Can you "agape" a brownie sundae? Sure, but I suggest you seriously consider counseling if you're willing to take a bullet for your dessert (even if it comes from Applebee's). That leaves one possibility - Eros. Yes, the same way of loving that is meant to go hand in hand with agape, is used to describe my feelings toward brownie sundaes.
In Deus Caritas Est, the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, the Pope brilliantly explains the intended relationship of Eros (which seeks to receive) and Agape (which seeks to give). We can see why eros would be the love of objects such as favorite games, sports teams, and food. In saying we love those things, we're expecting to get something from them. This is not a bad thing. What is bad is when we apply this to the human person, and neglect agape. What is bad is when people think that love is something they should "feel" and something that should make them happy.
Too many people out there are looking for love in order to GET, not give. And what our Holy Father would say, much more eloquently and with much deeper implications than I can convey right now, is that it is only when you love unconditionally (as Christ did on the cross) that you get anything in return. It starts with making someone else happy. Happiness comes with bringing joy to others. This is when the eros becomes a physical expression of the agape.
Jesus happily died on the cross for us. Despite His pain and suffering, He was never bitter about what He did. He understood the relationship and he knows that real love is in laying down your life for the one you love - the Church, His Bride.
30 October 2007
Some highlights from the article:
"Bella... opened solidly with $1.3 million over the weekend in a limited release in just 31 cities. Though other movies achieved higher gross sales, they needed significantly more theaters to do so."
"[Saw IV] had the highest per theater average of any in the top ten with $10,087 per theater over 3,183 theaters across the nation. Bella firmly established itself in second place with $7,784 on average at each of the 167 theaters where it opened this weekend."
"Bella opens in another 12 cities on November 9, including Albuquerque, Des Moines, Duango, Colorado, El Paso, Green Bay, Honolulu, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh and Tucson.""The sales figures could prompt its distributor to move to a larger release in the coming weeks."
24 October 2007
Another great blog from two chastity educators reaching out to the world to offer a fresh perspective on sexuality. No puritanism, no overindulgence, just the truth about life and the human body. They've got some great posts that are both informative and generate some good discussion. Make your way over there and check it out. Oh, and I'm so getting a banner like theirs for Rise of the TOB!!
23 October 2007
Theaters Showing Bella
A few weeks go I had the privilege of seeing a screening of the the Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice Award winning film, Bella. Although it has been well promoted for a very under-the-radar, independent type of film, I was still very unclear as to the type of movie it was. I can say now that I am happy I knew little about it, and I don't intend to spoil the plot here for anyone else.
What I will say is this... GO SEE IT! Storm the theaters this weekend - it opens this Friday, October 26 - and let the movie industry folks know that these are the types of movies people want to see.
It's simple, heartfelt, and down-to-earth. The acting is good and the characters are easy to love. It's not like most American movies, in fact it's quite different. I believe the difference is that its much more real that anything Hollywood has been spewing lately.
I'm a big movie fan. I like action, I like comedy, I like sci-fi. I'm critical of suspect acting and cheesiness. I like explosions and special effects, but I like it with a dose of meaning and a sound message. While Bella isn't the type of movie to warrant CGI or expert stunt men, it is a movie I fell in love with for its gripping story and brave theme. There's nothing corny about it. It's just a great all-around flick.
So, drag your friends out. Treat your parents or your kids. Take your significant other. It's a movie that all should see to remind us what we can do with the power of media.
09 October 2007
Seriously, go check out this blog. I am so excited that I came upon it! Total TOB geek out in progress! Anyways, this blog's run by a group of young men and women on fire, spreading the Gospel of Life, and giving tips for how to live it. Considered it added to the blogroll.
30 September 2007
22 September 2007
The Living Flame Of LoveSongs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.
1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
2. O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.
3. O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.
4. How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.
by St. John of the Cross
18 September 2007
So I put my champ, Natural Family Planning, to the test against the formidable foe, Contraception.
According to Googlefight, pills and latex just don't stand a chance against uncompromised one-flesh union and cooperation with God! Indeed it was a close bout but NFP just lasts longer.
Here are the results. N-F-P, Buma Ye!
17 September 2007
There is a very disturbing article about the recent news that nude photos of Vanessa Hudgens, star of Disney's "High School Musical," have surfaced on the internet. The perspective of this article should really not come as any surprise and yet it has left me quite stunned. Here are some of the "low"lights of the article...
Two decades after a nude photo scandal helped cost a Miss America her title, Americans may be adopting a more ho-hum attitude toward people who bare it all for the cameras.
This is not a huge shock. After all, movies and TV haven been relentlessly pushing the envelope for years now and will only continue to do so. More skin has become acceptable. Playboy Magazine is actually considered to be a classy publication. Top actresses, who have no need to bare anything, are willingly taking it off for the sake of "art".
"I do think that general attitudes about nudity are becoming more relaxed, but these changes take time, which is why there's still mixed responses," said Paul Levinson, communication and media professor at Fordham University. "We as a society are finally growing up and it's a healthy thing," he said.
Growing up? Hardly. More like dumbing down. Healthy? What's so healthy about an 18 year old sharing her most precious of gifts with the whole world? What's so healthy about the young boys and girls who looked up to Miss Hudgens potentially having their innocence compromised by her? What's so healthy about a society that finds little value in the human body outside of exploitation and exhibitionism?
Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, agreed attitudes about nudity had "lightened up," but said there was still a huge disconnect between how people feel and what people say. "While filling in a survey, people will always check off with one hand that there's too much sex and violence in the media, while using the other hand to search for that kind of material," he said.
I agree with this assessment. However, instead of blaming people for hypocrisy, why don't we look deeper and see what this tells us. If people are marking down that there is too much sex and violence in the media in the midst of the desensitization taking place, that's an indication that deep down we know there is something wrong. Despite our passivity when it comes to nudity on film, tv, and on the web, when we are earnestly approached with the question of "is it too much", our hearts are speaking "yes!"
"There's no doubt about it. The Web for the last 10 years, has made more nudity available," Levinson said. "I predict in the next few years, the FCC will be put in its proper place and nudity will be the norm," he said.
Quite possibly the most disturbing part of all. I never thought I'd see the day when people would champion internet pornography. I predict that if nudity becomes the norm rape, sexual abuse, STDs, and the continued oppression of women will also become the norm.
"I'm not sure if people are becoming more casual, but in the case of Vanessa (Hudgens), she comes with a lot of brand equity and this was her first strike. If she was a constant train wreck, her fans may not be as forgiving," he said.
Oh sure, let's wait until her life spirals completely out of control before we do something about it. Everyone deserves a do-over. We can forgive and forget, but it's times like these when we really need to sit back and ask ourselves what all of this means. Why have we gotten to the point where people argue that it is "healthy" for an 18 year old to pose nude in front of a camera?We're regressing. Our society has made enormous strides in science and medicine and technology, and yet has compromised it all by lowering ourselves physically, morally, and emotionally to mere animals. We're like conditioned apes who just happen to know calculus and quantum physics, but at the same time don't have a problem with flinging our own dung. This is not a grown up world. It's a world of children in adult bodies, with no self-control, no values to live by, and no guts to stand up to that which we know is wrong.
Sorry if I came off a little harsh today. This article really got to me! Check it out here.
16 September 2007
Prayer is always powerful, but when a nation comes together with the same prayer at the same time, good things happen. Miraculous things happen.
Abortion is at the heart of what Pope John Paul II called the "culture of death" - a societal acceptance and participation in those actions which lower the value of human life. It's been there throughout history waiting to seize our world. Perhaps it first came with slavery and capital punishment, when certain people were deemed not worthy of life. The poor have always been mistreated as if the amount of money in your bank account determines the significance of your existence. Abortion made it okay to take the life of a child before that child even gets to experience life outside of the womb.
Why has our culture accepted this things from time to time? Because it was easier for those in power when slavery was legal. It was easier to put criminals to death than find a jail cell to put them in and keep them alive. It's easier to ignore and belittle the less fortunate than work to get off of our high horse and find ways to better their quality of life. It's easier to murder our unwanted babies than to accept our responsibility and raise them or give them up for adoption.
It only gets worse. Euthanasia, cloning, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and who knows what else evil has up its sleeve. It comes in the guise of a great help to society. It comes proclaiming to be a savior to mankind's woes. It comes to make life "better". But evil can always be identified when death is its means of achieving its goals.
So let's start with these 40 days. Don't just do what your schedule permits. Do a little more than what your schedule permits. We never quite know just what our prayers are capable of. Maybe, just maybe, this is when the tide begins to turn on the culture of death.
For more info visit 40daysforlife.com and 40daysforlife.com/longisland for my neighbors.
11 September 2007
Here's her ten-point-five with some comments from me...
10. Find Joy in Unexpected PlacesOh, it happens! After all, dating (or courtship) is supposed to be the time where you find out how compatible you are. You discover that you like the same movies or enjoy playing the same sports. You laugh together, share stories, and build the ultimate friendship. When you get married, that love that you've been building comes to the ultimate climax in the bedroom, and continues to sustain you until death, as do all those other joys from the dating period. If we skip the dating period and go straight for the climax, your missing out on lots of happiness.
9. Experience True FreedomThere's nothing free about not being able to say no to sex. Your not free if you cannot control yourself.
8. Fornication Is a Mortal SinAnd don't you forget it! Jesus said it, his followers said it, the Church still says it to this day. Countless other religions also agree, Christianity is not alone here. Sex is reserved for marriage.
7. Annoy RelativesI'd like to add friends as well. Chastity bothers the heck out of people either because they wish they had it or because they don't want you to have it. Which is kind of the same thing. But it can also be a great teaching moment. Be a living witness to truth!
6. Be the Kind of Person You Would Want to MarryI'm yet to meet someone who dreams of marrying someone who has been around the block. It starts with us though. If we want to marry someone who has saved themselves for marriage, we also have to save ourselves (or recommit ourselves). Guys, when you date, think of your future bride. Ladies, think of your future groom. Those images can really help when remaining chaste and seeking a significant other.
5. No Foams, No Jellies, No Pills, No Shots, No Sponges, No Latex, No HIV, No STDs, No 'Honey, It's Just a Cold Sore'As Dawn put it... 'nuff said
4. Build True Intimacy, Not Forced or Premature IntimacyGood things come to those who wait. There's nothing intimate about flinging your clothes off with a stranger or even a friend who has nothing binding him/her to you. True intimacy takes time. It takes getting to know someone.
3. Deepen Your Relationship with GodLike all sacrifice, it leads us closer to Him who created us and created our sexuality. Like fasting, and prayer, our minds are locked into God while we anticipate and we are strengthened by it.
2. Dramatically Increase Your Odds of Having a Lasting MarriageThe statistics are clear. Chaste couples stay together much more often than couples who were engaged in premarital sex.
1 1/2. Fornication is Still a Mortal SinIndeed
1. Learn How to Love Others the Way God Loves YouBy dying on the cross. Except that His cross was much more difficult than ours. When we can resist our own urges, we can actually see the needs of others. By taming our desires, we make way to love like Christ, unconditionally.
Props to Dawn for a great article.
07 September 2007
The Rise of the TOB blog is guilty of all of these charges according to The Spirit of Vatican 2 "Catholic" Faith Community Blog! This uber-cool, totally hip, all inclusive new church apparently does not have room in their communion of characters for John Paul II and his crazy teachings about God's plan for human sexuality.
Seriously, this parody blog is one of my favorites. Thank the Lord this is only a joke! Check it out.
Oh, and their wrong about the funny languages.
Pax Christi :P
04 August 2007
At any rate, I don't have that kind of restraint in my make up.
So, while rocking out to the profound lyrics :P and hard hitting, dance-y beats of Mr. D (and The Boyz), I realized... he's onto something.
Now that we've found love, what are we gonna do with it?
We live in a world of Hollywood-endings and internet "soul mate" seeking . Blech! What a joke. Love is not a feeling. It's not magic. It doesn't sweep us off our feet and it certainly doesn't "have us at hello".
Emotion is a part of it for sure. And maybe there does exist that tingly feeling in our bellies when we see that special someone. Perhaps we could even feel light headed at the thought of being cared for by one who we care about. But this is not the whole of it.
Love is work. It's a choice. It's a "statement of will" (Thanks C.S.). And as Heavy D (and The Boyz) points out, when you find it, you gotta do something with it. Love is a verb. There is action involved. And it means doing something about it even when you find loving someone to be extremely difficult!
Indeed, when you find yourself very much wanting the best for your significant other, you've got a decision to make. Do I love her? Can I go on loving her? How important is her well being to me? Do I care enough for her to compromise my own fantasies and desires?
Our culture would like us to think our lives are not perfect until we find that special someone. What a lie. In fact, when we do find that someone, we realize how imperfect we are. And to the Christian, it is willfully choosing to work through that imperfection that brings us to the perfection of eternal life.
So what are you gonna do with love?
I'm not sure Heavy (and the Boyz... of course) can be considered a modern day CS Lewis, but on some level he knew there was another step to take after he "found love". I wonder which direction he went in.
11 July 2007
I always feel a long introduction is merited when I speak of Lewis but I never fail to come up short with things to say about him. At any rate, here's a couple quotables about marriage from the man himself...
If the old fairy-tale ending "They lived happily ever after" is taken to mean "They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married," then it says what probably never was nor ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years?Sadly, this is what many couples think going into marriage. They want to hold on to that initial feeling of being in love. They expect it to last forever like in the movies. Then suddenly they wake up one morning and realize that their "soulmate" is just another human being filled with flaws and prone to major error at any moment. The happy couple doesn't see eye to eye on everything and it's a shock. And love is lost. At least this is how they feel, and this why many will either leave for something (or someone) they think will be better.
That's a poor definition of love though. For it is through these awkward instances when we realize that there is no such thing as a perfect match, at least in our standards (God obviously has a perfect will that often seems far from perfect to us), that can teach us what love truly is. A decision, a choice. A pledge to lead another to holiness at whatever the cost, through bad times and good, through sickness and in health, etc.
Love as distinct from "being in love" is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself.Imagine that. Sometimes you won't even like your spouse. It's a hard thing for young couples to swallow. But this is no storybook, no romantic comedy. This is life. Real love comes from sacrificing for the benefit of another human being. Not from butterflies in the stomach.
27 June 2007
That was the first thought I had when I heard about Mr. Williams' upcoming comedy License to Wed.
Despite the fact that he's playing a Protestant Minister, it was inevitable that the movie would inspire some serious Catholic bashing. As Shelray of Cosmos~Liturgy~Sex points out, Williams himself has fired the first shot...
In refernce to his character...
"In the big picture that’s why he’s a Protestant and has been married and has
some perspective on sexuality. Because it must be very difficult being a priest
and having to talk about sex — kind of like Quasimodo is a chiropractor. I guess
Well that's certainly a Jr. High view of sexuality if I've ever heard one. If Williams had a clue, he would know that sexuality is much more than just sex. It defines us and guides us to love. It leads us to God. It emerges out of our person as either male or female and dictates our purpose in life.
A celibate man does not neglect his sexuality, he embraces it. By refraining from the intimate union of woman and man, the priest is actually living out his sexuality, recognizing that he is destined for God. His sexuality is a major part of his decision to answer the call to priesthood, and not because he must decide "to have sex, or not to have sex." He must decide to respond to God's call to love, discovered in his body, by mirroring His Love in union with a wife, or by witnessing to the eternal Love of God as a priest.
At least this is what the Church says, but they've only been around for 2,000 years. Maybe they should heed Robin's advice...
"It might be something you look at for the Catholic Church to think about –
maybe losing the whole celibacy thing. It’s a difficult thing when you realize
that first of all you have to give up sex and then they say, “Okay. We’re going
to put you in a small box and every week people are going to come and go “Bless
me father for I have sinned.” “What have you done my son?” “Last night I was
with two Philippine twins and it was slip and slide.” “Oh really? Keep going.”
And then they’re going to take you from that and then put you next to pubescent
children. It’s like getting out of Jenny Craig and saying “Where you gonna
work?” “Haagen Dazs.” "
No kidding it's difficult. That's what makes the celibate vocation so important. If it was easy than there would be no point in it. In a world where sex is thrown in our faces everywhere we go, THANK GOD that we have men (and women - God Bless our religious sisters) that live lives that literally point to us towards something greater. They are saying "Yes, I believe in God and His Eternal Kingdom. And it is so good, that I would give up the wonderful joy of marriage and sexual intercourse just to prove to people how good it is." That witness is crucial in today's world.
Of course Williams doesn't think that way though. He's too busy imagining Phillipine Twins. His words.
12 June 2007
It's a shame that so many magazines call themselves Catholic and yet print such garbage.
Cohabitation has become common place in today's culture. The Church continues to recognize the danger of a couple living together (and assumedly having sex) prior to marriage in the midst of this. And so, many people get turned off by the Church's "old fashioned" teaching. Unfortunately the response by many Catholics is to give in to society's pressure and find excuses and loopholes to justify what deep down we all know is wrong.
Let's be real, if you're living together you're having sex. There's probably 1 in every 100 cohabitating couples that isn't. And a couple might have all the best intentions in the world, but they cannot hide from the fact that if they are engaging in sexual intercourse before marriage, they are not giving of themselves fully. You cannot give yourself to someone freely, totally, faithfuly, and fruitfully if you can also leave the relationship at any time with no recourse. It's that simple.
Still, I'll play along. Say a couple is not having sex but living together, maybe for financial reasons (although most co-habitators I've met just wanted to get away from their folks). Even if they remain chaste, they're setting themselves up for a difficult time. This idea of a "trial period" in order to see if you can live with the person is ridiculous. PEOPLE ARE NOT OBJECTS TO TRY-OUT! News flash... there will never be a person you can live with in perfect harmony. The only person you are capable of living with in absolute harmony is Christ. As long as we are human beings flawed by original sin, we will always butt heads, step on toes, and rattle cages. If you think you're going to find someone to marry you who won't do all three, you're sadly mistaken.
A healthy couple knows that each is not perfect. They know there will be times when their spouse does something that just ticks them off. And they know that we all have our strange little quirks that are normal to us and yet so foreign to others. Yet the healthy couple marches down the aisle having made the decision to love this person from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part. Despite all the crazy things that come up, all the surprises, and all the "oh, you do it that way" moments.
We need to stop making excuses and call a spade a spade. I have many friends who are cohabitating. I love them each very much and pray that they are an exception to the statitics that spell doom for couples living together prior to marriage. After all, God is certainly powerful enough to work through our own errors.
Nobody is trying to condemn here. But we need to stop trying to make sins okay in order to accomodate good people. Instead, we need to love the sinner and hate the sin.
Love the cohabitator, hate the cohabitation.
26 May 2007
Hey, I loved Pete's Dragon just as much as the next child of the 80s raised on the Wonderful World of Disney, but I'm not sure the Dragon belongs in the Animal Kingdom. There is certainly one obvious omission from the silhouetted creatures on this logo, the human being.
Most people would not even blink at the fact that man was not selected to be pictured on this logo and thus considered a representative of animalia. There are some out there, however, who claim that indeed man is no more than a mere animal. According to them we are simply a more advanced creature, but a creature none the less, and certainly not any more important than any of the beasts of earth, water and sky (I was so tempted to say earth, wind and fire and leave it at that).
IN THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT SO...
- "So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man." Genesis 2:19-20
Initially it is the physical differences that strike him. There is someting peculiar about who he is, an essence that only he has. And it ain't just about having opposable thumbs. It's about his purpose, his meaning. It's about a need for a relationship with the God whose likeness he was made in. This was original solitude. Man standing alone, having dominion over all the creatures of the world.
Mankind is one of a kind. It is written into our bodies. The things we are capable of doing, the things we are drawn to, are all a sign that we were made for something bigger. All our intricacies and complexities speak volumes. And there is nothing on the planet that compares.
19 May 2007
If this is your first time at "Rise of the TOB" - WELCOME!!
I promise I will update it more than I have. I cannot promise it will be every day, but it will be often.
When I'm recovered from the long day today I will add a more proper welcome post and state more of my intention with this blog.
Please, feel free to comment or drop me a line. Let's spread the Theology of the Body together!
24 April 2007
I realize that not posting for almost 2 months is not exactly the best way to kick start a new blog. At any rate, things have been insanely busy for me with wedding plans, youth ministry, 2 classes, and, up until the end of March, finishing up work for the Theology of the Body Institute - Head and Heart Immersion Course (which everyone needs to take... now). That being said, I'm going to make a rough transistion to this past Saturday's Created and Redeemed Seminar presented by renowned TOB speaker, and teacher of Head & Heart, Christopher West, at Cure of Ars Parish in Merrick, NY.
For two years in a row Christopher has made the trip from PA to Long Island to give his unique and inspiring presentation of JPII's masterpiece. I sure hope it isn't the last. Having attended this same seminar once before and been blessed to attend the 5-day course, I can honestly say it was just as informing and moving as the first time. Christopher has dedicated his life's work to spreading this message and it shows. With the utmost humility, he shares his personal life story as well as the profound theological truth of Church teaching. Add in a few pop culture references, and you have one of the most rewarding speaking engagements available to all of the faithful in the Church today. There simply isn't a better resource for beginning the TOB journey than to attend one of Christopher's seminars.
I was pleasantly surprised that Christopher remembered me from January's course. I told him about the blog and my upcoming TOB for Teens talk (w/ Elizabeth Andrew) at the Proud2BCatholic Youth Fest in Huntington, NY. After catching up he was kind enough to take a picture with Elizabeth and I, instantly adding credibility to this very developmental blog!
05 March 2007
Just a thought I had while working on a journal entry for the Theology of the Body Institute...
When I was in High School I always found myself puzzled in health class when it came time for the teacher to discuss "safe sex". I was much too afraid to speak up, but I could never understand how involving a piece of manufactured rubber in sexual intercourse was a good thing. How could this natural act, which our bodies are clearly designed for as is, require something I could pick up at the local gas station or seven eleven. It just didn't compute. But I didn't have an answer. Had I asked a teacher or even a friend, I probably would have been told I was being immature and needed to grow-up and be thankful for man's medical advances (a piece of rubber, brilliant). Some might have even found me to be "cute", like a pre-adolescent who still believes in Santa Claus. I can only imagine the conversation in the faculty room.
Now that I am grown-up I have my answer...
"[T]he conjugal act 'means' not only love, but also potential fruitfulness, and thus it cannot be deprived of its full and adequate meaning by means of artificial interventions. In the conjugal act, it is not licit to separate artificially the unitive meaning [2 become 1] from the procreative meaning [2 create 1], because [they both] belong to the innermost truth of the conjugal act... Thus, in such a case, when the conjugal act is deprived of its inner truth because it is deprived artificially of its procreative capacity, it also ceases to be an act of love (TOB 123:6).I'm convinced now that it was nothing less than the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering to me back in health class. The reason it didn't make sense to me is because contraception takes authentic love out of sex. It makes us pleasure seekers, not givers. It says to the other person, "You are not good enough to receive all of me, but you are sufficient enough to be used for my enjoyment". Nobody likes to be used, but that's exactly what happens with contraception and birth control. The ability to express our love physically is exploited. Through God's grace I was able to recognize that on some level.
So, what is "real" safe sex. It is sex that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful (like the wedding vows). It is sex with someone you can trust your life with (kinda like a spouse). It is with someone who would be willing to sacrifice all they have for you (someone Christ-like). It is that which is protected by the sacrament of marriage.
Marriage - home free. That's being safe. Safe from being hurt. Safe from being used. Safe, in the arms of your lover and in God's hands.
24 February 2007
A few years ago a movie came out starring Josh Harnett called "40 Days and 40 Nights". I don't think I can sum it up much better than this tagline provided at imdb.com...
"One man is about to do the unthinkable. No sex. Whatsoever. For... 40 Days and 40 Nights"I just couldn't believe that when I first heard it. What are we animals? Are we so severely scarred that it has become "unthinkable" to remain chaste?
I've only seen bits and pieces of the movie, but it's a pretty predictable plot. The heart-throb guy, who used to only think with his anatomy, falls in love with some groovy chick. He can't get into bed with her because of his Lenten "dare" and in turn learns to love her for who she really is is. Yadda yadda yadda. Again, I didn't see the movie but I guess Hollywood makes some kind of attempt at explaining true love.
So I started to think about it some more and I thought maybe there is some truth to labeling chastity "unthinkable". After all, the sexual act is meant to be our slice of heaven on earth. It's meant to lead us to God and help us discover the truth about Him and our very own existence. It should be unthinkable to be able to remove ourselves from that.
Now, I don't believe Josh Hartnett had that kind of understanding of his sexuality, but he knew there was something special about it. And sure enough it is in chastity, in sacrifice that he finds true love.
Trying to live chaste lives means always trying to live chaste lives. Not just for 40 days and 40 nights. But Lent can be a great time of renewal. A time to remember why we embrace such a bold task as saving ourselves for marriage; waiting to give our bodies within circumstances that show reverence to God.
The marital act is God's plan. It's His will for the two to unite in the flesh. He made us that way. But there is a time and place that He wants it to be fulfilled, and He wants to be a part of it. Outside of marriage, we basically tell Him "we don't want you here".
And so, as with Lent where we sacrifice for 40+ days in anticipation of the Lord's resurrection, we sacrifice until our wedding night in anticipation of the Lord's coming within our marriage. And just as God took the suffering of the Cross and made it the joy and glory of the Resurrection, He takes our suffering to remain chaste and brings to us the rewards of a free, total, faithful, and fruitful marriage. Heaven kisses earth.
22 February 2007
Anyways, I have really no authority to start any kind of website that seeks to be a resource for authentic Catholic teaching. I'm just a student of theology working towards a master's degree. But JPII's Theology of the Body has truly changed my life and continues to shape me and move me closer to God through the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, I feel compelled to offer what I can.
What can I say? This is the teaching the world has been starving for. This is the message about sex and sexuality that so many people are craving. We all desire that Trinitarian love, whether we realize it or not. That desire is what wakes us up in the morning and keeps us going. We all know there is something greater out there, something we were made for.
So why so many broken hearts? That desire has been distorted. Hindered. Spun out of control. It's pointing to something much less satisfying than the love of Christ and saying, "This is what you want. This will make all the pain go away". And yet it doesn't. Enter Pope John Paul II.
The Great Pope provided us with the key to unlocking some of the world's greatest mysteries. He tells us that we can reacquire the original innocence of Adam & Eve. He tells us that we can have a glimpse of the inner life of the Holy Trinity right here on earth. He tells us that our bodies are good and reveal our very faith to us.
So, Lord willing, we'll unravel pieces of this monumental, revolutionary teaching with some cold hard facts, tender hearts, and hopefully some humor along the way.
Thanks for stopping by.
Pax Christi -
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