5 Marks of a Catholic Family

08/14/2015 Comments (13)

"La Sagrada Familia del pajarito" by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682)

Are Catholic families supposed to be different? What would that difference look like?

The Church has been considering these questions in earnest, especially in light of the upcoming World Meeting of Families and the 2015 Synod on the Family. While I don't presume to offer definitive answers, considering the Church's writings on the matter, here are what I would like to suggest are the five most important differences that distinguish a family committed to living the Catholic vision of family life.

1. Catholic Families Worship Together

The Eucharist is the source of the deep love and intimacy Catholic families are called to live out. To celebrate this, Catholic families attend Mass...READ MORE

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Meet the New Neighbors: Mr. and Mrs. Mouse

08/14/2015 Comments (14)

By Heinrich Modersohn (1855–1903)

Have you met the new neighbors yet?

They’re a bit shy and like to keep busy. They love cheese, even though they’re not from Wisconsin. In fact, they’re not from any state at all, really.

They’re from a laboratory.

Mr. and Mrs. Mouse are humanized mice, the product of a research project whose goal is to see what happens when mice are biologically altered using tissue from aborted human babies.

Alright. There is no Mr. and Mrs. Mouse and they’re not the new neighbors.

At least not yet.

The fifth undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress reveals that some of the aborted baby remains sold by Planned Parenthood end up being used by biotech companies for the purpose of...READ MORE

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The Shared Wound of Jesus and Mary

08/13/2015 Comments (17)

"The Heart of Mary" by Leopold Kupelwieser

When I was a new Catholic, I still retained enough of my Evangelical DNA to fret that Catholics “honor Mary too much” and that titles like “co-Mediatrix” were “unbiblical”. But of course “Bible” doesn’t appear in the Bible either and I didn’t think that unbiblical.

But, in fact, the idea of Mary as co-Mediatrix is there, and I really should have gotten the clue from Scripture itself. She is told directly by the prophet "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35). What does that mean?

Of course, Mary did not...READ MORE

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Town in Spain Attacks Problem of Hunger With Community Refrigerator

08/13/2015 Comments (36)

David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690), "The Works of Mercy"

What's the best way to feed the poor? In Spain, the small town of Galdakao has taken a very direct approach by installing a community fridge. Citizens, restaurants, and supermarkets can leave leftover food there, and anyone who wants it can simply come get it. According to a story on NPR 

There are rules: no raw meat, fish or eggs. Homemade food must be labeled with a date and thrown out after four days. But Javier Goikoetxea, one of the volunteers who cleans out the fridge, says nothing lasts that long.

"Restaurants drop off their leftover tapas at night — and they're gone by next morning," he says. "We even have grannies who cook especially for this fridge. And after weekend barbecues,...READ MORE

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How Are Contemplation and Meditation Linked?

08/13/2015 Comment

How are contemplation and meditation linked? Which is more important? How do you approach one from the vantage of the other? In our time, these two gifts of prayer are often conflated and confused by modern pop-spirituality that is all too popular in the Catholic world. The catechism brings great clarity on the distinctions in spite of the fact that these distinctions are still ignore by popular authors. These challenges are not new to our time. About 500 years ago a very holy saint had it right. He was one of St. Teresa of Avila's spiritual directors, St. Peter of Alcantara. Here's a bit of wisdom from his great work on meditation and prayer.

Counsels for Meditation, from Finding God...READ MORE

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8 Reasons Why You Should Drive Across the Country

08/12/2015 Comments (1)

Moonlight State Beach, Encinitas, California (Photo by Justin Bell)

I blame, or rather credit, my parents for instilling in me the love of a long road trip.  Growing up in the American Southwest, we took some epic trips across the land — the most Odyssean being a two-week journey from Denver to Orlando and back, the summer before my 4th grade year.  Among many memories, these trips formed significant portions of my mental map of the United States.    

Recently, I drove over 2600 miles from Watertown, Massachusetts to Scottsdale, Arizona.  After a day’s rest at the home base, I was off to a buddy’s wedding in Malibu, California and I'm now back in Arizona. 

When seeking directions for a long trip on Google Maps, the handy service also shows an arc with an...READ MORE

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Creation Is a Gift, But Heaven Is Our Home

08/12/2015 Comments (7)

Russian Space Station Mir, backdropped against Earth, taken from the Space Shuttle Atlantis following undocking from the station at the end of STS-71 on the 4th of July, 1995. (Photo by NASA)

With the recent announcement of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” we are again reminded that we have a duty to preserve what God has given to us. It reminds us that we are to be stewards of creation instead of masters, but what does that really mean? What does it mean to be a “steward?”

The typical definition of steward is, “a person who manages another's property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.” The key distinction here is that it denotes a person who is put in charge of “another’s property.” Being a steward means that we have been given the duty to manage something that is not ours.

This means that the earth is not...READ MORE

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Here's How I Battle the Depression I've Suffered For Years

08/12/2015 Comments (36)

Workshop of El Greco, "Mater Dolorosa"

I've battled depression for years.  As many fellow sufferers know, it comes on without warning and often without any obvious catalyst.  Medications only go so far.
For too long it was a vicious cycle.  I'd feel a whirlwind of sadness, grief, overwhelming sentimentality.  Energy and motivation reduced to near zero, I'd go through the motions for days just to get through the basics, looking for every possible opportunity to just lie down.  I kept thinking what a waste of time it was, accomplishing nothing, how there was simply nothing I could do about the emotional onslaught.  With a little self loathing thrown in (why did I do that ridiculously stupid thing?  how could I have thought that...READ MORE

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