Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
"Can I just go ahead and clock out? I really gotta go."
"Alright, have a safe drive."
And so the conversation went as I prepared to head up to Maine overnight. I still had to pick up TJ and then make the long drive from DC to Maine for a TOB conference. Oh, man were we ever going to be late.
By the time I got to Jess's to pick up the car, the food, the money, the MOE stuff, TJ was an hour late, and our chances of making it to the Mass at the beginning of the conference seemed extremely tough. But, nonetheless, we began the 8.5 hour drive up North.
7:30 AM, Saturday
It was unbelieveable, we had actually made it to the conference on time. We checked in just before Mass. It was only due to the fact that our guardian angels must've stopped time. So the day began...with Mass celebrated by the Bishop.
5:30 PM, Saturday
After hours of talking to people and hanging out with Christopher West it was time for a rest. TJ and I spent the day bringing MOE to Maine, and had been very succesful about it. People were interested, and more importantly, the conference was packed with people seeking to learn more about the TOB. It was amazing. Christopher West, Katrina Zeno, Fr. Tom Loya...all gave talks, all were amazing. It was a conference to be remembered.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
That week, late one afternoon, a tan SUV pulled off into a parking lot directly to our left. We were near Severna Park, MD, on our way from Washington DC to Annapolis, in the final few days of our trip.
The SUV’s front window rolled down. I only remember snips from our exchange. A mom was driving. Kids were in the backseat. They had just come from the grocery store. They’d seen us tromping down the roadside – maybe seen us once earlier in the day too.
The mom decided that we should have their just-purchased box of chocolate popsicles. From the back seat, a child gave a “What?” in protest. But his mother reassured him that they could get another box.
Little kids were involuntarily sharing their summer treats with us. It would have been nice for us to save some popsicles for our Missionaries waiting in the van. But they would have been melted into chocolate syrup by the time we reached them. We had the whole box eaten in no time.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
At last we made it to 7pm Mass “on-time,” only to find that we were at the wrong church. With slumped shoulders, we started back to our Brooklyn host, only to realize that the right church was within walking distance. Our poor ladies briskly doing fifteen blocks through Spanish Harlem in high heels!
But we found it. Stuck in between blockhouses, but distinctly a church: “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary” on East 119th Street. Would the pastor mind that we were twenty-two minutes late? Would we still give our reflection after Communion?
Our band of seven slipped into a back pew, but we could have sat anywhere. The church – with its tall ceilings, sturdy pillars, and intricate murals, gorgeous! - was near-empty. Literally, we increased attendance by fifty percent. Father was giving his homily in Spanish, but he switched when he realized that there might not be any Hispanics there.
A tiny girl ran across the altar during the Consecration. Her mother, up there too as lector, was exasperated. The singing was off-key. So many things were imperfect. “Irreverent!” part of me screamed.
But my heart stood speechless and soft with compassion. These people were trying so hard! They had so little, but how strong was their faith!
After Mass, Father was so happy to see us. What a joy for him to have new folks joining them! Though we’d confirmed (we’d thought) with his pastor ahead of time, he had no idea who we were.
Father told us his story. I was surprised to learn that he'd learned all of his Spanish within the last year. Originally, he was from the Philippines. He hadn’t planned on staying in New York. He had been on his way to study in Rome. But when he was visiting his parents in New York, he’d gotten sick for a few days. That was how he’d come to know about Holy Rosary.
He saw what a beautiful church it was. But he saw its decline too. Because so few people came to Mass, they were threatening to close it down. Father didn't like the idea of that. For him, the clincher was seeing the paint flaking “off the nose of the Saint Therese statue.” The people of the parish and the neighborhood needed him. He would stay and help them. “If I do not stay, what will happen to their souls?” Just like that, he cancelled his plans for Rome.
I was so amazed, so humbled. My heart was heavy for this parish. But what a blessing to see their perseverance and their holy priest!
On the way back to the subway, we passed out bulletins from Holy Rosary parish to people that we met on the streets, telling them that there was a great church just around the corner and that they should check it out.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
So I headed out to the mill. And lo-and-behold. No abortions. This really stumped the regular pray-ers there. We even saw the doctor drive up, smoke a cigarette, get back in his car, and then leave. He didn't even go inside. Kinda weird? I don't know, but hopefully they weren't doing them later today and trying to trick us. Guess we'll find out next week.
In Christ and St. Dominic.
Friday, August 25, 2006
The two of us were hungry after a day of planning
youth ministry and wanted to find a local dive where we could eat. (We have quite an entertaining tradition of tracking down the most bizarre eateries around.) After some searching and a few U-turns, we found the "Pollo Loco" (Spanish for Crazy Chicken), and pulled into its almost vacant parking lot. There was a large shop with blackened windows next to the restaurant, and noticing the signs for the different media- videos, magazines,
etc.-for seemingly cheap prices, I peeked in the
opened door. I didn't see a lot- just the covers of two videos-but it was enough to understand what the place really was-a pornography shop. I found myself saddened by the grotesque pictures I saw of women overtly exposing themselves, knowing how much it destroyed their true dignity.
After our (very interesting) meal, Shannon and I decided that we should say a few prayers in front of the shop. Both she and I could sense the evil of the place, just being so near to the shop. We went in front of Late Night Video and said the St. Michael prayer, as well as prayers to Our Blessed Mother. Then we blessed the outside door with holy water (people on the other side must have been very puzzled), hung a rosary from the door handle, and left some Missionaries of the Eucharist literature on a ledge nearby. We left with somewhat heavy hearts as we saw more men pull up to the place.
However, as we were pulling away in our cars, two men exited from the shop. One was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a bikini clad women on it. Both looked sad, their shoulders sagging as they walked. We noticed that one of the men picked up the Missionaries literature, which made us hopeful. Then something beautiful happened. Shannon parked her car behind their big white van and approached them. One of the men saw her and gave her a double-take, even though she wasn't aware of it. I think he thought she was coming over to give her a piece of her mind, since they undoubtedly had seen us from inside the store, placing the rosary and brochures there.
However, Shannon, just extended her hand with a gift
of a rosary she had found for the young man, and said, "Sir, would you like a rosary? He looked at her with surprise and quietly said, "Yes," and took it. Shannon got back in her car and we both drove away, knowing that Mary only needs the smallest "in" to overwhelm the someone with her love and bring them to her son. Prayerfully, we hope that this small act will indeed lead to the seeking of true love found in Our Lord, through Our Blessed Mother.
I am writing this so that many may join in our prayers
to first and foremost spread the Theology of the
Body, but also more specifically, to end all
pornography and close Late Night Video, the porn shop
in Woodbridge, VA.
Please join in our efforts!!! May God Bless all who
seek the truth, may He bless the Missionaries of the
Eucharist, and may Our Blessed Mother help us to understand what true love truly is!
Towards the end of the summer, as we traveled through more urban areas, we were blessed to pass many Catholic churches. Even when we were pressed for time, we tried to make a brief stop to pray. “Two minutes,” I’d suggest to the group, “How about it? Just two minutes.” As “Missionaries to Eucharist,” how could we not pause to salute our Blessed Sacrament?
Not all of the churches had open doors. It was sad to think of Jesus being locked inside of His church. But it was encouraging to think that pastors would be treasuring Him in the Eucharist enough to take the care to protect Him.
If the doors were locked, we’d simply kneel on the outside. The sidewalk was as close as we were going to get. How mind-boggling it is to think that the Savior of the World is on the other side of those bricks!
Sometimes, the church doors would be open. Praise God! We liked the air conditioning. We liked breathing in the holy privilege of being so close to Christ.
What to pray during only a few minutes in church? I’d pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for my family. Sometimes, I’d pray for our group members by name. I’d ask the church’s patron to pray for us. I’d pray for the people of that parish.
Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, right there – wow. I’d scrunch my nose and do a double-take. What does His Presence mean to me? The Theology of the Body teaches us how Jesus’ gift of His Body shows us what it means to give. “Jesus, teach me how to give.” Pressing my forehead as if it would help me to better comprehend, whispering, slowly: “Jesus, teach me how to give.”
As we’d be on our way, often, I’d still squint forward and shake my head. How much I have left to understand!
On hot days, rainy days, grumpy days, joyful days, God would strengthen us with the mystery of His Eucharistic Presence to go and try to spread His Truth.
Monday, August 21, 2006
When you think about the story of Job, it is almost shocking that God would permit Satan to have some power over Job and to try to break him.
Consider also the vision of Pope Leo XIII where God allowed Satan to have "free reign" for 100 years.
Then you also have the case where God the Father allowed the humanity of His Son to be tested by Satan.
One premise a person could get from this is that God allows Satan to work, but it is always on His terms knowing full well that He has given us all we need to fight the attacks of the rascally one.
That being said, I find the story of our van remarkable.
We had to drive out to Denver to drop of TJ and Leslee as well as drop of the trailer that Mr. Simms graciously donated to us. I drove because I have family in Denver that I wanted to visit. Another friend came with because his family is in Denver as well and another friend came just to get out of town.
Now this van has a lot of personality. The biggest mark of strong character is the roof that is covered with holy cards. But there are other mechanical quirks that keep everyone praying. However, our van, which is called "Fides" (the trailer hitch is called "Et" and the trailer is called "Ratio") lasted the whole summer. We dropped off TJ after eating as much as we could at a great Lincoln buffet. We dropped off Et, Ratio, and Leslee with the Simms family. The Fides also made a trip up near Wyoming so a good friend could go on a nun run with some Benedictines.
There was also the matter of my mother. She has been unemployed for a long time. Also, it looks like I am going to be in the DC/VA area for quite some time. There is no other family out in Denver for her. I proposed that she come out to Virginia to look for a job and housing. Praise God, at the last minute, she was able to line up a couple job interviews and decided to pack her bag a couple hours before we left. Her most promising interview was Tuesday at 2pm.
We left for Kansas City Saturday afternoon. We got a hotel so the ladies could get a good night sleep and shower (while I slept in the van) because of my moms interview and my friend was visiting yet another religious order Sunday morning. After that we headed to Saint Louis to stay with the lovely Flanagan family. They rock! There were 14 grandkids under 7 years-old visiting their grandparents and Aunt Shannon.
We headed out for DC after breakfast on Monday.
(Preface: a car was donated to us in Denver that we picked up and drove back to DC. I was leading an drove 5 miles under the speed limit because my mom could not seem to catch up. She later told me to speed up, and I said I would if she could keep up. Then she said she does not need to be riding my bumper because we were taking I-70 all the way back.)
I was driving the donated car. I noticed that my mom was a few cars back in the van. Then a big semi got between us and I could no longer see her. A few minutes passed and I could still not see her. I decided to pull to the shoulder and see if she was just behind. She never came. Then I turned around and started to drive back. There she was, pulled off the road, smoking a cigarette. I turned around to go investigate. Sure enough, the van would start fine, but would not drive. The transmission was shot.
A sheriff came to help. He called a road-side assistance team that assessed the damage. He said the transmission was totally gone and that it created several other problems. The sheriff also appointed us Catholic chaplain to help us with whatever we needed. That is pretty sweet!
It was 8pm by this point and we still had about 10 more hours to drive.
We could do nothing at this point. Every place was closed. In fact, for some reason, we did not have any of the vans information. We made some calls and made the decision that it is not a wise fiscal decision to worry about fixing up the van. We then piled everything from the van into the 2 door car with three people in it(needless to say, it was rather cramped).
We drove to DC. It was about 2am and I could not drive any further. I asked my friend if she would like to learn how to drive a stick-shift. We has our lesson in a gas station. She drove until daylight and we made it back just in time for 9am Mass.
My mother made her job interview and got the job! Praise God!!
Satan was at work that trip. However, it was on God's terms and the Lord came out victorious!
I let the Missionaries know about this and just about every reaction was somthing like, "you have to go save that roof".
PS: The next day, my neighbors towed my van. It was not worth the fees to get it out as it also required about 2G's worth of repairs. The Missionaries are now van-less.
Monday, August 14, 2006
MOE has a strong tie with Crossroads being that we base a good deal of our summer walk on their style of walking. A few of our founding members are also Crossroads veterans. They need prayers as they continue to work through the school year in preparation for the March For Life, Spring Break evangelization, and next summer's walks. Know that they are in our prayers too. If you would like more info, please check out their website at www.crossroadswalk.com.
Above, left to right : Crossroads Central Walk Leader - Dave, MOE Walk Leader - Pat, Crossroads "Captain" - Martha
Below: MOE walking with Crossroads for the last leg of their walk from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (where we finished our walk) to the Capitol Building in the center of DC.
Monday, August 07, 2006
** STORY OF THE WEEK **
“Lift high the Cross, The love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His Sacred Name.” Block by block, all eleven of us, marched in song down Washington DC’s Monroe Street, closer and closer to the conclusion of our journey.
It was a blisteringly hot day, but seeing the spire and dome of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception brought the joyful peace of a goal nearly achieved.
Each step renewed the Theology of the Body theme of our summer. The prayer of our souls was joined by the prayer of the actions of our body.
We climbed the Shrine’s stairs in unison. What a sight we must have been, clad in our matching blue shirts (in honor of our Blessed Mother), kneeling in thanksgiving at the top! Our Vatican flag billowed in the breeze. We held our crucifix high. It was a quiet moment. We did it!
How far had we come? What difference had we made? How many people had been a part of our mission with their help along the way? How much had God been doing in our own lives?
“Tantum ergo sacramentum,” we sang, as we had in front of so many church doors. Praise God for His gift of His Body, Soul, Blood, and Divinity – a gift of Himself – in the Eucharist. Here, He has shown us how to give – showing us the meaning of our bodies and the meaning of our summer.
** THANKS TO OUR DONORS **
Three months ago, this journey still seemed improbable. Without God working through your generosity, we never could have made it. But with Him, all things are possible!
Specifically, through your contributions, we’ve been able to recently get:
- 400 Rosaries and How-to-pray-the-Rosary pamphlets (over the summer, we’ve given away thousands to folks that we meet on the streets!)
- Bags of ice to keep donated food from spoiling
- Our van’s flat tire fixed after we ran over a screw
Thanks so much for everything.
** PLEASE PRAY **
Even more than material support, your prayers keep our organization going:
Please join us in praying the Divine Mercy chaplet, which opens with this prayer.
“O blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.”
God’s mercy – explained as “God’s love in the face of our weakness” by Cardinal Rigali – is intended for all of us to embrace. We pray that the sight of us praying in front of abortion clinics may serve as an invitation to moms and dads considering or hurt by abortion to embrace His mercy too.
Moreover, may we never forget the power of Jesus’ blood: “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11).
** WHERE WE’VE BEEN **
July 23: In between Masses and a youth group visit in Linwood, NJ, we play Frisbee on the beach and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
July 24: Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali is very welcoming and encouraging during our almost hour-long meeting.
July 26: Our swing dancing keeps getting better. We use it to explain the Theology of the Body to the youth group at St. John’s in Westminster, MD.
July 28: Jess, Josh, and Phil talk about the summer walk and Theology of the Body on Philadelphia’s Holy Spirit radio.
July 29: Maryland state senator Andy Harris, his wife Cookie, and their family host us for the weekend.
July 30: Maeve, Lacy, and Pat give the feature presentation at Baltimore's Theology on Tap. Earlier, we chat with the folks after Masses at St. Joseph’s in Cockeysville, MD.
July 31: As temperatures exceed 100 degrees, a family pulls over on their way home from the grocery store to give us the box of popsicles that they’ve just bought.
August 1: Our second day-long meeting with Theology of the Body expert Christopher West affords a good chance for reflection on the summer.
August 2: While treated to a bright sunrise, we cross the Severna River into Annapolis.
August 3: We climb the steps of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, marking the conclusion of our nine-week, eleven-state, 1000-mile walk. We did it! Our spiritual director (and University of Maryland chaplain) Fr. Bill Byrne celebrates Mass for us in the Shrine’s Our Lady of the Missions chapel.
** WHAT’S AHEAD **
- Upcoming plans include a youth group visit in Maryland in September and an overnight youth retreat in Princeton, NJ, in November.
- Upon returning to our families and schools, many of us will likely give presentations to our local parishes.
- Bishops and priests along the way have offered many ideas, ranging from setting up local chapters to founding our own religious order.
- Preparations are already under way for next summer’s walk (or walks).
Please pray that we will be open to the Holy Spirit and His wisdom as we plan for the future.
** CATECHETICAL REFLECTION **
Happy Feast of the Transfiguration! (August 6) For us, this feast marks the official end of the Missionaries of the Eucharist summer project. More importantly, in this feast, Jesus shows us the glory for which we were intended: Body and soul so perfectly united that His glory can be physically seen. “We await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21).
+++ REAL LOVE REJECTS ABORTION +++
Saturday, July 29, 2006
While I was at my own local doctor's office, I picked up a brochure on Emergency Contraception that is published by Planned Parenthood. For those of you who may not know, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the country. Margaret Sanger, a woman who had close ties with Nazi Germany, and who was well known as a racist and eugenicist, founded Planned Parenthood in the early 20th century.
The front of the pamphlet says at the bottom, “Planned Parenthood: America’s most trusted name in women’s health.” Their slogan is ironic given the fact that abortion is hardly a positive woman’s service. What is so positive about having your baby killed inside of you and then removed?
Inside the pamphlet it reads, “EC (the initials commonly used as shorthand for Emergency Contraception) prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation, fertilization, or implantation. It will not effect an existing pregnancy. And it will not cause an abortion.”
(Yes, it should be “affect” not “effect” but since 'it is the most trusted name in women’s health,’ I will let it go.)
Upon examination of the statement on how EC works, it is clear that there is contradiction.
First, it states that EC “will not effect an existing pregnancy.”
However, it also states that it will prevent implantation.
If you conceive new life, and that new life travels down a woman’s fallopian tube, arrives in the uterus and then cannot implant inside the uterine wall because EC has destroyed the lining of the uterus, then the new life is affected (or effected, depending on your English teacher).
Second, since the new life cannot implant (because, as it claims, EC prevents implantation) then it does indeed cause an abortion.
Towards the end of the pamphlet, it is noted, “EC will not harm a fetus. Still, you should not use emergency contraception if you are pregnant.”
If they will not harm a fetus, why the warning?!
At another point, it reads, “Emergency contraception is meant for emergencies only.” A page later it is stated, “Take-home kits allow women to use EC in emergency situations without having to wait to see their clinicians.”
If it should be used for emergencies only, is it all that safe to be giving out take-home kits?
Besides, what qualifies as an emergency? One may assume that Planned Parenthood only intends this for women who have been brutally raped.
On the contrary, an “emergency” is any time that a woman has “unprotected sex.” (Note: if you need to protect yourself from the person you’re having sex with, that notion in itself should be a red flag that it ain’t love).
The pamphlet also states that EC, “can reduce the risk of pregnancy…”
How absolutely degrading it is to women to assert that being pregnant is some sort of abnormality that should be circumvented. Pregnancy is not a disease. Women are not broken when pregnant. The second society perpetuated the inane phrase of “risk of pregnancy” is the second that women submitted to being considered victims at the very time that they are heroes.
The topic of Emergency Contraception cannot end at the refutation a Planned Parenthood pamphlet. Truly, to give it due attention, several sources ought to be consulted and cross-referenced. While a total study of EC could fill volumes of books, it is easy enough to breakdown the essentials for this simple blog.
I just so happen to have the book, “A Consumer’s Guide to the Pill” by John Wilks lying around my house. Inside, it provides medical based descriptions and observations of the pill and it’s relatives.
Interestingly, it states that, “The drugs used after coitus are a form of the currently available formulations of the pill. To achieve a post-coital ‘contraceptive’ action, the pill is administered in high does over a period of 72 hours.” (Coitus means sex).
This means that the drug “EC” is really just a high dosage of the pill. (The pill contains either progesterone and or estrogen in synthetic form.)
It needs to be understood that “Emergency Contraception” is a MISNOMER. In order to be a contraceptive, the drug must work only to prevent con-ception. However, as “A Consumer’s Guide to the Pill” points out, “If post-coital drugs acted exclusively to inhibit ovulation, then the term ‘contraceptive’ would be accurate. But research by Grou (1994) in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has concluded that post-coital drugs act principally to terminate a viable pregnancy be interfering with the endometrium:
“…this mode of action could explain the majority of cases where pregnancies are prevented by the morning-after pill.”
Harper and co-workered, writing in Family Planning Perspective’s(1995), made the same observation:
“Emergency contraceptive pills, also known as morning-after pills, are a postcoital hormonal treatment that appears to inhibit implantation of the fertilized ovum.”
The examples go on and on.
As I read more, I came upon the side-effects. On page 155 of A Consumer’s Guide, it states,
“When estrogens alone are used as a post-coital ‘contraceptive’, the major problems related to the excessively high does given, with the attendant risks of side-effets: the presecribed regine of 5mg/day for 5 days of ethinyl estradiol or conjugated estrogens at 30mg/day for 5 days represents the equivalent of 2 years’ use of 50ug/day combined oral contraceptive.” Studies done using these high doses of estrogen found that nausea occurred in 70% and vomiting in 33% of patients. Questions of concern are also raised about the damage to a woman’s life supply of eggs occasioned by the ingestion of such a large does of female hormone.”
Can you imagine, sitting down and taking 2 years worth of the pill all at once and not thinking to yourself, hmm, maybe this could be harmful? As for the vomiting, the Planned Parenthood mentioned that vomiting is a side-effect and even suggests you may want to eat some crackers.
Contrary to what Planned Parenthood claims, Emergency Contraception does cause abortions. It does so by ruining a woman’s endometrium (the lining of a woman’s uterus…it’s what sheds when she has her period…). When a new life gets to the uterus and can’t implant, the new life dies; the son or daughter is aborted.
The next time you see an ad for Emergency Contraception, note that the only emergency is the fact that it exists.
Quotes taken from: Emergency Contraception © Revised version December 2002 Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. Original copyright 1996 PPFA. All rights reserved.
A Consumer’s Guide to the Pill and Other Drugs by John Wilks B. Pharm. M.P.S.
Published by ALL Inc. Stafford, Virginia, 1997.
Friday, July 28, 2006
During the days that we walk, the van drops off who ever wishes to walk and then it drives up three miles so that the walkers can walk to it. Once the walkers reach the van, they can refuel with water and food. Then if choose too, any walker can rest in the van for a shift or two (a shift consists of one hour, which is about three miles of walking). Many things go on in the van during this resting time. To begin we always start off with car prayers (which is a selected list of prayers that we choose too say whenever we start driving anywhere). Once stopped, sometime within that hour, those in the van, pray a rosary or chaplet together. The other random things that everyone does in the van is to sleep, eat, re-hydrate with H2O, read a book, talk with each other, do missionary work for the group, call family and friends, clean, and talk to people who stop by. Some of the times the van will stop to get gas or allow people to use the restroom.
After the walkers reach the van again, the whole process starts all over again. This continues throughout the day until evening comes and we have completed our miles for the day that needed to be walked. Then we do the same the following day.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Here's the latest issue:
** STORY OF THE WEEK **
Maybe the looks on their faces told it all – surprised, cautiously intrigued, perhaps a little uneasy. The three young women riding the NYC Metro next to us were getting Theology of the Body without us even planning it. “What is physical modesty?” En route to Mass, the six of us had wandered into a hefty conversation.
A pamphlet we’d received said that modesty consisted of concealing your body. But can it really be reduced to a set of rules about how close to your knee a skirt needs to be? Is it more about purity of heart?
As the train rattled from Brooklyn into Manhattan, questions superseded conclusions. Can what we wear affect our virtue? What effect does what we wear have on others’ virtue? Can what we wear help others to see Christ in us?
Can what we wear reveal who we are? Maybe modesty comes with attire that accentuates and celebrates our femininity and masculinity. Or maybe it’s dressing in such a way that helps others see our whole person, rather than individual parts.
Even more, maybe modesty consists not just of what not to wear, nor even of what to wear, but how we act. If our actions – complementing our outfits – show others that we respect our bodies, will that go the farthest to remind those who see us that we’re human persons, with souls linked to our bodies?
Usually we think of “evangelizing” occurring when we approach someone, but here we were just having a conversation amongst ourselves, bouncing ideas off each other, possibly making an even bigger difference.
** THANKS TO OUR DONORS **
With your generous contributions, we’ve been able to get:
- Cell phone minutes for a two-hour conversation with the National Catholic Register newspaper (look for the article!)
- An oil change for our van
- 3000 more brochures about our group to share with the folks we meet
It’s also been really neat to stay with host families for much of the past few weeks. When you’re on the road for the whole summer, there’s nothing quite like being in a home.
** PLEASE KEEP US IN PRAYER **
Even more than material support, your prayers keep us going:
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg You to spare the life and soul of the preborn child who I have spiritually adopted and who is in danger of abortion. Amen.”
Please join us in this prayer – which we include at the end of every Rosary decade – written by Bishop Fulton Sheen. Its focus on the Holy Family reminds us how important good families are to building a Culture of Life.
** WHERE WE’VE BEEN **
July 3: Lacy, Jess, and Phil appear on the “This is the Day” show on
Boston Catholic TV.
July 4: We talk to the crowds in Bristol, RI, home of the first US 4th of
July 8: We pray and counsel outside of the Hartford GYN Center (an abortion mill). Afterwards, we’re treated to muffins and donuts at the nearby St. Gerard Center.
July 9: Go Italy! Excitedly, we watch the Pope’s next-door neighbors win the Soccer World Cup. We also like that their uniforms are blue for the Blessed Mother.
July 11: In New Haven, we tour the Knights of Columbus museum and headquarters and spend two nights with the Dominicans.
July 12: Thunderstorms can’t stop us (they’re just a good excuse to take a break) as we walk past Bridgeport.
July 13: A Missionaries quartet spends the day talking to folks in NYC’s Central Park.
July 14: Marching through the “abortion capital of the world,” we pray at a half-dozen abortion mills in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
July 15: Our group nearly doubles in size as pro-life friends join us for the weekend. John, our host, doesn’t flinch when we “take over” his Brooklyn home.
July 17: Did you see us on FoxNews’ Dayside TV show? Sitting in the audience, we shared our experience with the rest of the studio. Later, we’re blessed with a Holy Hour and dinner with the Sisters of Life in the Bronx.
July 18: The pro-lifers at St. Paul’s in Princeton, NJ, are great hosts. We teach the parish’s youth group Theology of the Body through swing dancing.
July 19: Oksana and Svetlana, teenage twins from Ukraine living in NJ for the summer, walk 15 miles with us. What joy they bring!
** WHAT’S AHEAD **
July 21: Arriving in Philadelphia for the weekend.
July 23: Visiting parishes in Atlantic City, NJ.
July 24: Meeting with Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali.
July 26: Visiting the youth group at St. John’s in Westminster, MD.
July 28: Arriving in Baltimore for the weekend.
July 30: Speaking at Theology on Tap in Baltimore.
** CATECHETICAL REFLECTION **
Men and women are equal. But they are also different. Physiologically, men have been stamped as receptive givers and women as active receivers. Pope JP2 cites our sexuality as being “not just an attribute” but a “constituent part of the person” (ToB 49).
On the Cross, Jesus’ total gift of Himself is the archetype of masculinity. By receiving her son and our savior’s sufferings at the foot of the Cross, Mary, Mother of the Church, provides the model of femininity.
Men and women complement each other. By themselves, each is incomplete. But when put together – both physiologically and with their perspectives of life – they find meaning. They find unity in their distinction. “Femininity finds itself, in a sense, in the presence of masculinity, while masculinity is confirmed through femininity” (ToB 49).
Sunday, July 09, 2006
“Lord, make it new for us,” Father Jason prayed during his homily at the
We’re sometimes blessed with the chance to speak at multiple parishes, visiting all of their Masses over the weekend. This means doing three or four Masses on a given Sunday. We face a temptation to not give the due respect and prayerful intensity that the great Sacrifice of the Mass deserves. I’ve been praying a lot for the grace to not let the Mass become routine.
I pray for a short-term memory – that I might approach each sacrifice of the Mass with the freshness as if it were my first of the day.
“Behold, I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:19). There’s a similar temptation to consider each day as another itinerary to be completed. Get up. Go to
How predictable does this become? We have our setup. We mean business. We know our message. We just do it.
But how much more does God have in mind for us? “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). We’ve already gone out on a limb, giving God our summers – praying, “Here, Lord, these 1100 miles are Yours, Do with them what You please” – how much can He do if we’re open to Him exceeding the mental boxes into which we tend to put Him?
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Family Planning Association of
At the Planned Parenthood in
In front of Brooklyn’s
Outside the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Barre, VT, all the flowers were dying – an appropriate reflection of the activity inside.
Maybe it’s most abortion mills’ blending-in with their surroundings that leads me to grow distracted or bored. It helps me to realize how passing folks could be oblivious to the grave nature of the spot.
I have to remind myself: I’m standing in front of the cusp of life and death. When these moms walk into that building, they’re descending into a place that will kill their child.
I especially get frustrated with men who volunteer for abortion mills to “escort” women into the building. Do they think it’s noble, chivalrous, laudable to guide a mother to the place where her child will be killed, where she may incur lifelong physical, emotional, and spiritual scars? Ugh. They're making men look bad.
Yet I wish I held a sign that said “Our prayer is an invitation to accept God’s mercy.” Maybe that would help people not to think that our prayer amounts to condemnation. On the contrary, the onus lies on all of us.
Think about what we pray. It’s not “have mercy on them,” but “have mercy on us.” Our Father. Give us our daily bread. Pray for us sinners. Forgive us our sins. They’re all plural. In our prayer, we’re acknowledging that we’re all part of the problem. We all need to help build a Culture of Life.
Using Msgr Reilly’s stand-in-a-circle method also helps to show that we’re not praying at the folks entering the mill, but praying with them.
I think about all the other things I could be doing on a Saturday morning. I could be sleeping. Or taking a nice, fast-paced four-mile jog. Or flipping through the newspaper over a bowl of a yogurt and granola. Or playing Frisbee with my eight-year-old sister and thirteen-year-old brother. Or buying a green pepper for mom at the farmer’s market in downtown Beaver.
What difference am I making?
More than a bodily tragedy, abortion underscores a great spiritual battle: Human persons, with the dignity of being created in God’s image and likeness and a hope for Heaven, are being marginalized as expendable objects.
“For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” May God transform me and soften my heart so that I may better be an instrument of His mercy.
I pray that He might work through me, as I am spiritually and bodily prayerfully present at the height of the fight, to help bring about the triumph of a Culture of Life.
It was a wonderful day, and Sacred Heart in downtown Atlanta is really beautiful.
During the ceremony, I continued to reflect on my discernment as well as the mission for this summer. I was blessed to hold the baptismal candle during the celebration of the sacrament, and it made me remember how in the bull of confirmation of the Order of Preachers, that the Dominicans were called something like the light of truth, by His Holiness. And, it was such a great honor to be the one to hold the light of truth in Emma Cathleen's baptism.
This of course made me contemplate the Theology of the Body. Being that I was holding the light of truth, I could see an outward sign (the candle) of an inner responsibility (to bring up Emma Cate in the Catholic faith). This was really amazing. By holding the candle, the Light of Christ was made visible to all, and it was through this moment that the great responsibility of bringing up children was conveyed. Without the candle, there would still be a reality that all are called to bring their children up with a sense of hope and trust in the Lord as well as right judgment and a sense of sanctity and evil. But, the presence of the candle really conveys this message to another part of man past his intellect. It brings it to his senses. The visual of a flaming wick at the end of a candle really shows something else to man both figuratively and literally. Literally we can see the flame and the candle as a representation of something greater. And that is where the figurative comes is.
This inner reality shows that something deep is occuring. The Holy Spirit's descent on Emma Cate today was marvelous, and even though we couldn't see that happening with our eyes, we know if to be true. The chrism, the holy water, and the baptismal candle are all outward signs of this inner reality.
What a wonderful thing a Catholic baptism is.
St. John the Baptist...ora pro nobis
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
To quote a phrase very commonly used in our group, "Praise God!"
This morning I found myself nearly collapsing on the floor at Mass, as the result of 2 1/2 weeks of hobbling on leg injuries without seeing a doctor. Last year, while doing a similar pro-life walk, I watched as three girls ended up in the hospital- one of which had to sit out for a month, and another who ended up leaving us because she needed to be on bed rest for 6 weeks in order to heal. I was the lucky one last year. I didn't have a single injury. I was quite amazed, as my body is fairly fragile. I promised myself that if I ever got injuries, I wouldn't let it go for long. But I admit that I am human, and in my humanness, like all of us at some time or another, I have let an injury continue before seeking adequate and appropriate help.
So today, all of us girls embarked on a grand adventure to the emergency room at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH. This proved to be another adventure in spiritual warfare, as satan obviously did not want me to get to the hospital, because for some reason the car would not start. This resulted in an emergency novena being prayed by all, and a break down on my part- I began to cry because the prayer and the atmosphere of spiritual warfare (God's will against satan's attacks) was so emotional. Jesus and Our Blessed Mother pulled through quickly, as always, and got us to the hospital safe and sound. My legs were iced, examined, and X-rayed, and I still do not know the full diagnosis; but not to fear- it isn't anything to be worried about. For the most part it's messed up shin splints.
The past 3 weeks I have wanted so badly to walk, but God had a different plan. It's very embarrassing, annoying, frusterating, and most definitely humbling to be sitting in the van most of the day, just reading, writing, praying, and sleeping, while everyone else enjoys the sunshine and nature and gets to know one another better; to have both the guys and the girls carrying me back and forth, up and down several flights of stairs, across parking lots, and even into bathrooms (which I try to accept with a sense of humor... because... come on, you have to laugh at yourself sometimes, otherwise you will end up depressed. Plus, how many 23 year olds get several piggy-back rides per day?)
Being in pain brings a whole new perspective and dimension to understanding the Theology of the Body. In being a Catholic, and realizing the infinite value of redemptive suffering, I've offered it all up, uniting every pain and frustration to Christ's own sufferings in His great Love and Passion and Death on the Cross, hoping that something good will come out of it. After all, the purpose of the first month of this walk, in many ways, is to sacrifice for others, and offer up prayers for them constantly. God chose my body as an instrument for this mission, and perhaps this is the way He wants to work through me right now. In lifting up the pain into his hands, He can in turn bless others and convert hearts. Maybe even save babies. That is my hope. And that is why redemptive (or sacrificial) suffering rules. (Man, I love being Catholic!) When our pains are united to Christ, and we offer up prayers, suffering is not in vain. It has great purpose; much greater than we could ever imagine.
Here is a little description of redemptive suffering, taken from consecration.com:
"Theology of Redemptive Suffering:
Sacrificial suffering is a rich Christian faith expression, modeled after Christ himself. It is a partial answer to the age-old question, "Why does God allow human suffering?" The Church has always taught that physical pain, mental distress, even minor annoyances, are not meaningless but are meant to be put to valuable use. As Jesus used the anguish of his Passion and the agony of Calvary to accomplish our salvation, so do our sufferings have supernatural value when joined to the Cross. By willingly accepting our struggles and presenting them back to God as a "burnt offering" for the intentions of others, we cooperate with Christ and become real participators in the mystery of his saving act."
God bless you all; you are in my prayers. Please pray for us as we continue on this journey with Christ, walking alongside Him, both in joys and in sufferings. Pray for us to be protected against the snares of the devil. Pray that God will use each of us, and our bodies, to glorify His Kingdom, and to truly (and literally!) bring the Theology of the Body to the streets!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So, apparently Dr Alice von Hildebrand summers in Keene, New Hampshire.
As we were walking across the parking lot this morning on the way to Mass, a woman called out to us. "Are you all the theologians that are walking?"
"I suppose you could say that."
"Well, this is another theologian!"
The woman, whose name we failed to acquire, thereafter introduced us to none other than Dr Alice von Hildebrand, famous German philosopher. Her husband was the late Dietrich von Hildebrand. We love chance meetings. Hui!
After just getting finished iwht a morning shift and driving back to the place where we're sleeping, I noticed how the fog had not yet risen in the town, making it seem as if it was still sleeping. As I had walked out of the town two hours earlier to begin the shift, the fog was present, but the light of morning was quickly coming. The difference on the road and in the town was stark, and it really made me contemplate how that can be so true in our lives.
Often when we begin some sort of task, we can venture out into the unknown hoping for the best, even knowing that the Lord will provide us with what grace we need to make it through, yet when we take a break before having finished what we've set out to do, we might walk right back into the fog that we thought we had left miles ago. When this is true, we need to make sure that we keep our heads held high for the Lord will never leave us alone. Even in the midst of that fog is he ever present. We need to be docile before Him and allow him to work on us as He so wishes. It is only in the giving our ourselves that we will be able to receive, and this is no more true than in our relationship with the Lord God. Only by allowing Him to work in the midst of a foggy period will we find the light on the other side. And only through allowing ourselves to be molded will we truly appreciate the light of the new morn.
Lord, we ask that you form our hearts. May the Holy Spirit speak to us and bring us to an even greater understanding of true docility to your ways. May you shape us and mold us so that may be your emisaries to bring the light of the new day to a world still traveling through the fog. Fiat voluntas tua, semper.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Please pray for Mr. Hahr, the father of Fr. Karl Hahr of the diocese of Burlington. The funeral is this morning. In case you're wondering the connection, Fr. Karl hosted us in Vermont for a night and is a good and holy priest. Please pray for him and his large family as they go through this grieving process.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of the faithfully departed, rest in peace.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Dismas, pray for us.
St. Gertrude, pray for us.
we're Catholic, the conversation takes off.
6:30 pm, June 9. "Who goes there? My name is George, and I am keeper of the gate."
There wasn't any gate, but only the road shoulder of Route 2 West in hilly, misty,
green Vermont, flanked by a bed and breakfast and a cow pasture.
Goerge wore full fly-fishing gear, complete with a long pole and ballcap with a
feather pinned to the bill. He had long blond hair. Later, he told us he was 51. His
ex-mother-in-law, Virginia, who he called "the first woman who ever really loved
him," died a few months ago. He used to go with her to Mass.
From the start, he was probably eyeing the Jerusalem cross with the Eucharist laid
on top. Maybe he also saw "Missionaries of the Eucharist" right on top of that.
I don't remember how we got to it, but right from the start, he had off-balance edge
to his voice, "Oh, so you're Catholic?" as if to say, "Don't you know how terrible
His kids had been raised Catholic, but never really been presented with the fullness
of the Faith. Aside from Virginia, the Catholics he'd known hadn't given George a
very good impression.
Since then, he'd found Jesus in the Baptist church, through a conversion climaxed by
a jail-cell commitment. Much of his spirituality was steeped in anti-Catholic ideas
contrary to the fullness of Faith.
We talked about the Eucharist and John chapter 6 and how if Jesus had meant "eat my body"
symbolically He wouldn't have let His disciples walk away thinking that He hadn't.
About sola scriptura's inappropriateness and how it wasn't until the fourth century
that the Council of Rome formally settled the Bible's canon. About how Jesus gave
the power to forgive sins not just to the apostles but to all priests since He
intended for the Holy Spirit to work through the Church even today. We had really
good arguments. But - in hindsight - intellectually, George just wasn't ready to concede
All the while, I'd been hanging in the back, trying to come up with good responses,
but usually not being able to sneak them in. George had a habit of tailing off into
tangents about his many struggles.
At one point, Leslee suggested that he ask Virginia to pray for him, but he
immediately dismissed the possibility of someone deceased caring enough or even
having the capacity to pray for him.
After an hour, it was time for us to move on. It was nearly dark and George had
decided that we were worthy to pass "through the gate." Still, many issues felt
unresolved, and I wanted to leave George with something. I couldn't decide: one of
our Missionaries about-us brochures; or a Rosary.
I really had no reason to think that George would accept a Rosary: He'd think of it
as praying to dead people, as idolizing Mary, as depicting Jesus on the Cross
instead of as Resurrected. The brochure would still give him a good picture of our
focus; it would introduce him to Theology of the Body; he might even see the web
address and check our website. I've taken consolation with the chance to leave
brochures with plenty of folks like George.
But my light blue (blessed Mary blue) Rosary had a Miraculous Medal on it,
representing a special devotion given by Mary to St. Catherine Laboure. I remembered
my friend Kevin who would give Miraculous Medals to the most unlikely characters. I
thought of Msgr Reilly who gives Rosaries to folks leaving abortion mills with the
encouragement, "If you pray, you won't have to come back."
So I swallowed my rationale and gave George my Rosary, saying, "Here is a gift
[another Msgr Reilly line], by which you can remember to pray for us."
He took it from my closed hand, saw that it was a Rosary, and put it on the side of
the road. Hmmm, I'd been worried he might do that.
He put out his hand for a handshake, and pulled me closer. He was going to go
through the whole explanation of why a Rosary was going to spell my demise, I knew
But no! To my huge surprise, as he pulled me into a hug, and whispered with emotion,
"Thank you." Moments later, he picked up the Rosary and explained, "Yes, I'll take
it. I'll pray for you. I know what this is. It's a Rosary. Virginia used to have one
Amazing! Mary gets them every time. Jesus through His mother. So now George has our Rosary.
We pray that Jesus might work through His mother and through George's divorced wife's mother (hopefully
now in Heaven) to bring George even closer to Him.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
So, we're now in Manchester, NH, and the priests here have been so amazing. We had a great week of walking, and a very fruitful time for growth, both as a community and individually. I have two blog entries from the 10th and 12th saved on a laptop that was donated to us by "the Anne" (pray for her to conceive twins being that she recently was married). But, that is four flights of stairs and a key away right now, so I figured that at least for the time being, I'd put something up.
Just for a little more info, in the last blog posting, I forgot to put that I'd like to become a Dominican. I just graduated from college, and I'd like to enter the Dominicans of the St. Joseph (Eastern United States) Province. So please pray for my vocation.
I also mentioned Rome, in the conversion comment. Well, last summer, I was blessed to be able to travel to Rome before World Youth Day. Stunning! Totally, just a different world. If you've never been, it is probably one of the best possible things that you can do for soul (aside from going to Mass of course). Well, last weekend, we also went to Montreal for a pilgrimage, and the Cathedral of Mary Queen of the World there is modelled after St. Peter's in Rome. They did a great job of down-scaling it, but it doesn't compare to St. Peter's.
Anyway, that's just a little more about me, and the other two postings I wrote last week should be up soon.
Blessed Jordan of Saxony...pray for us
Just to be on the safe side, we interpret every horn honk as a prayer request and pray a Hail Mary for that car’s passengers’ intentions. Some honks are short, repetitive, and joyful. Others are drawn-out and indicating irritation. We figure that in both cases – whether it be in thanksgiving for their support or for the softening of whatever in them leads to disgust – our prayers are appropriate.
We get all sorts of responses from passing cars: smiles, thumbs-ups, hand waves, car honks, and only an occasional frown, thumbs-down, or growl. I wonder: What makes these people acknowledge us? For all the support we receive, can they really read “Real Love Rejects Abortion” on the back of our shirts while they’re passing at 40 mph? Do they recognize the
Some people are even excited or curious enough to stop and talk with us or to call out to us from their front yard. For instance, recently we’ve met:
- A minivan-driving Protestant minister with five kids who was thrilled to find out that we were pro-life
- Alan, a groundskeeper for the United Church of Cabot, VT, who brought us flavored water and low-card Hershey kisses and had his pastor invited us to spend the night if we needed a place
- Nancy and David, an older couple, who invited us onto their front porch for water and popsicles, and gave Vicki a pair of crutches when they heard her leg was injured
- Erin, the newspaper reporter who had interviewed Joel and Jess then drove to find us to give us blueberries and grapes
- James, a bicycler who replied to the news that we were heading to
with, “Oh, I used to be homeless there,” and then gave us ten dollars Washington DC
Admittedly, in the weeks before joining this group, I prayed, “Why, Lord, why have You give me the least functional, least rational way of serving You?” I mean, surely there could be more effective ways to spread the Gospel of Life and Theology of the Body than to amble down the side of the road for 1100 miles and nine weeks.
The beautiful thing, though, about walking is that it gives us the chance to meet people like these – regular ordinary folks – who can take hope from our message. Walking provides a medium by which we can encounter people. It gives those people who we encounter a reason to be curious about what we stand for. It gives the Holy Spirit tremendous flexibility to have us meet the people who need to hear the Gospel of Life and Theology of the Body the most.
Our aim is not to convert, but to evangelize. We seek not to change hearts – because ultimately we won’t be able to – but simply to share the great Truths we’ve discovered and to be channels through which the Holy Spirit can flow in order that He might change hearts.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
In general, I enjoy silence and solitude. i was afraid that the hardest part of community life would be that I'd have no time to myself. As it turns out, the hardest part is being away from the group. since I'm on media duty, I spend a lot of time in the car driving from town to town contacting different media outlets, trying to get the word out. I'm blessed with a different partner each day, so it's not that I'm completely isolated. That's all.
On the plus side, we have been getting a bit of good media (e.g., an hour-long interview on the radio last week). Pray that we continue to see the fruits of this particular work.
"I am deeply impressed with the Missionaries of the Eucharist. With great courage, zeal, and confidence in the Lord’s victory, they have ventured onto the front lines of a great spiritual battle. Their lives and work are rooted in prayer and sustained by the grace of the sacraments. These young men and women are on fire and they are taking that fire to the streets in very creative and engaging ways."
Fellow, Theology of the Body Institute
Everyone is alive and doing well. A couple small injuries, but nothing that you wouldn't expect from walking 20-30 miles a day.
A disc full of video's, podcasts and blogs are on the way to civilization. I will post all of them as soon as it get here.
I have heard that the bishops, priests and the laity have all been very excited and supportive of our mission. Praise God. I even heard that a moose and a turle have come out to endorse us. Let all of creation sing a hymn of praise!
The Missionaries got several media hits in local newspapers and radio stations. Praise God! You can be sure to see all the new info on the MoE Site.
Keep up the prayers. Pledge your prayers for the Missionaries at Servants of the Sorrowful Mother.
Monday, June 05, 2006
During last Thursday’s send-off Mass, Fr. Bill Byrne gave us some wise advice on being “normal." For instance, he encouraged us to “Read the sports page, or the style section.”
(My idea for getting free newspapers is to go to gas stations and ask if they have any of the previous day’s newspapers left over. They’re not going to sell them anyway, right?)
“And if you come upon a corn cob museum, go into it.”
Rather than solely being people of religion, if we are also people of culture, then we can bring religion to the culture.
Fr. Bill continued, “For God's sake, smile!"
I guess it makes a lot of sense that if we come across as “normal” and level-headed we’ll be more effective evangelists. Fr. Bill encouraged us, as Missionaries of the Eucharist, to be like the bread and wine that become the Eucharist - “down to earth” like the bread and bearing the “joy of the Lord” that the wine represents.
This reminds me of the afternoons during my senior year in high school when I’d wrestle over whether to stop at Sts. Peter and Paul – only two blocks from our house – for a quick visit with Jesus on my way home. Something inside of me was drawn to the peace of Blessed Sacrament proximity, but I agonized over whether voluntary church visits equated me with a pious freak.
But you know, stopping in for those five minutes of quality time with the Big Guy wasn’t unreasonable at all. If I believe what I say I believe - that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, of the Savior of the World resides in that Tabernacle, available for our hello – isn’t that visit a perfectly normal thing to do?
**** Also, Wednesday night, Fr. Dominic from the Dominican House of Studies, gave us a talk on spiritual warfare. At the end of a whole list of things we could do to beat the Devil was: maintain a sense of humor. Many saints were great at it – one of my patrons, St. Philip Neri, was one of the most renowned for it. Staying light-hearted can help us resist the temptations come with daily irritations.
So, we’re aiming for at least one good Catholic joke good a day. If you know any, please send them our way at contact@MissionariesOfTheEucharist.org. Thanks!
If you know that, you probably also know this is a big cross for me. Like a deer that yearns for running streams, so I yearn to serve the Lord on the streets! But alas! Like those photocopied cartoons we often see in our uncles bathroom, "the job is not finished until the paperwork is done."
A preface to this whole saga goes like this: Premise #1: Satan hates humans, especially those humans who reject him and love God. Premise #2: Satan will do anything he can (and has been given power to do by God) in order to tear us away from our Lord. Premise #3: [now this is a new one that I find interesting] Satan has a harder time attacking us directly since we are made in the image and likeness of God. So, he goes after the things we use in order to get to us. Primarily, he uses technology to separate us from God.
Now, this is not, by any means, a fundamentalist protestant condemnation of technology. The Church maintains that all the technology is morally neutral, but has the potential to be a great good or a great evil. We can see how is it used for evil by t he fact that the US brings in over 80 BILLION dollars every year from internet pornography. A positive would be films like the Passion of the Christ that has lead to countless conversions and re-conversions. In fact, the Second Vatican Council gave us an order to go out and baptize all the media in order to preach the gospel more effectively.
That is why there is such a stress in the Missionaries of the Eucharist to use techology to communicate our message. We will try to have a video entry, a blog entry, a podcast, and pictures put up on the site on a daily basis. We already have people comment to us about how touched they are about our simple witness. Over 70,000 people visited our site in the month of May. Nearly 200 people have signed up for our podcast, which was only launched about 2 weeks ago.
All this is leading up to say, Satan obviously does not like what we are doing. To prove it, he is attacking us through our techology. The most egregious thing the Trixy Father of Lies did was catch our motherboard on fire. No reason. There was plenty of room left, plenty of memory, it was not being over-used too much. The techy person from India [whom I spend 4+ hours on the phone with] was flabber-ghasted. Another thing he did was cancel all our cell phone numbers. Now, that is not too bad. We can just go and get new ones. The rub is that we had all our literature and business cards printed with those numbers. We don't have the time or the money to re-print.
However, there are two key points that we do well to keep in mind. Points that I forgot. One, Satan has no authority to act on his own. All power is from God. God grants permission, or allowance, for Satan to try to do his best, knowing all the while that His Grace is infinitely stronger than the demons tricks. Second, like any good father, the Lord wants His children to call on Him in time of need. When being attacked, the answer if prayer, faithfulness and perserverance.
Instead of this making me stronger, I gave into my temper. In fact, it was blind to my rage that I stayed home rather than going to a very good friends wedding. I retreated from the very things that would bring me out of my furry. I became apathetic spiritually, emotionally and physically lethargic .
In truth, what drove me out of it was a good hearty confession. The power of the Sacraments is amazing! God wishes to do great things through the sacraments He gave us. It was like the scales of my heart fell off and the joy of the Lord came in like a good bottle of wine.
Only by the grace of God, working especially through His Sacraments, and also in all the friends He has given me (both on earth and in heaven), am I able to keep up the good fight of Faith.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
In a moment like this, I’ve found great encouragement in thinking about how others' support.
Some have put the unconventional nature of our efforts into perspective. Fr. Paul at St. Mark’s in Hyattsville said, “In our up-side-down world sometimes doing what seems to be up-side-down is perfectly sensible.” When I’d shared my worries about the “stability” that I’d rejected by turning down a summer job, my old roommate Lowell replied: Stable plans don’t also equate with stable hearts. And if you had to pick one or the other . . .
Others have reaffirmed our efforts simply by their generosity. The Newmans (twice!), the Myers, Joey and Britt, Our Lady of the Angels youth group, the Guenthers, and the DeGances have had us over for dinner. Friday morning, the Poor Clare nuns brought out donuts and orange juice for us after Mass. Even with his wife eight months pregnant, JP DeGance – who works for the Leadership Institute – invited us over to his house and helped us refine our slogans until almost 11:00pm. The Myers didn’t flinch when we needed a place to sleep on Saturday night. Last night, Fr. Bill Byrne made us dinner and Fr. Dominic from the Dominican House of Studies joined us for four hours to be a part of our silent retreat. The list goes on and on. We haven’t even left Maryland yet. These people are amazing.
They remind me of the support I’ve received from my parishes - St. Joseph’s in Raleigh and Holy Rosary in Cleveland - and from my family in Pennsylvania. Experiences like Monsignor Williams reassuring me, “You can join the workforce later, I think you’ve made the right decision,” or Fred Karboski promising to keep a candle lit for us all summer, or my eight-year-old sister giving me five dollars right before I left - these are propelling me forward.
I think about all of their promises to pray, the energy in their voice, and the gleam in their eyes. It all says to me, “We believe in you.” Even when I don’t have confidence in myself, they have confidence in me. They have confidence in God working through me. Praise God for how He is working through them to strengthen my resolve to push forward. They believe that what we’re doing is meaningful and they haven’t been afraid to contribute what they can. They hold me accountable in a holy way that, even in tense times like these, helps me to be bold in accepting God’s grace.
So Saturday night we went to the lovely house of the Myers for a bbq. Twas a good old Catholic time with roasting marshmellows and eating delicious cake. Scrumptious. While there I became engaged in a conversation with a convert to Catholicism and he relayed a truth so profound that it touches the depths of the soul. While looking at the sins of this world we often contemplate how much Christ must have suffered because of it's godlessness and disbelief in or apathy towards all that He has given us. We also consider our own sins and the suffering He endured because of them. However I realize now that I have not held an accurate account of how much suffering we, at least I, actually cause. As this convert and I were contemplating Christ's passion he looks at me and said
It is you and I who cause Christ the most suffering because we know the Truth and yet we still fall into sin.
The train ride was long (7 hours). The belligerent man sitting in front of me didn’t help matters. Did he need to tell the train attendant she was so fat that she weighed more than his luggage? Then there was the engine dying, cutting off all electricity and therefore air to the trains cabins.
Mr. Belligerent exclaimed loud enough for everyone to hear, “This is the train ride to hell!” Other passengers and I silently exchanged looks of incredulity. I thought, “If I’d taken a plane I’d be home by now.”
But I hadn't taken a plane. At the last second, I decided to save $42.00 and took the train instead. It just felt like the missionary thing to do. I imagined Blessed Mother Theresa nodding in approval of my frugal ways. I mean, my shirt does say, “Missionary of the Eucharist.” Missionaries do things like sleep on floors, walk across countries, and pray, pray, pray. To a missionary $42.00 is a lot of Rosaries than can be handed out to people on the street. It’s $42.00’s worth of First Nine Month pamphlets that can be handed out to women contemplating abortion.
The magnitude of difference in the course of humanity that $42.00 can propel is difficult to contemplate. So I don’t contemplate it. I leave the how’s and why’s to God; myself simply praying that Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
My attachment to the world prevents me from all out embracing poverty. In the train station I betrayed my t-shirt and bought a magazine, and a piece of chocolate.
“Have pillow, will travel.” It’s one of the mantra’s I find circling my mind. Sure, train seats aren’t what one would call sanitary; but I hardly noticed as I curled up and slept like a little kid. A tap on my ankle alerted me to a train attendant seeking my ticket to punch a hole in. Where was I? Delaware? New Jersey? I looked out at the landscape of grass and trees. My location was undeterminable but my destination was assured; I was going home.
Resumes don’t send themselves. As seemingly pious being a full-out missionary may appear, I’ve come to realize that taking care of our personal responsibilities is not only pleasing to God, it is our responsibility. I have been given the gift of a formal academic education. Serving God through teaching band instruments may not be what people picture when they think of noble vocations, but it’s mine and I take it seriously.
On the train I took out a book on the life and influence of Alfred Kinsey. Basically, Kinsey was a zoologist that started studying the sexual habits of humans. His research has culminated as the source of information that has lead to the current sex-education programs in public schools as well as many legal policies regarding what is considered sexual norms versus sexual deviance in the U.S.
The problem is, the people Kinsey studied were known sexual predators, prostitutes, and inmates in jails. The validity of the raw data of his research has been extensively argued against. The book notes, “Even the a distinguished British medical journal The Lancet warned the public that Kinsey had “questioned an unrepresentative proportion of prison inmates and sex offenders in a survey of normal sexual behavior.”
The guy who was sitting diagonally across from me was clearly trying to look at the title of the book. Casually, without looking like I was trying, I positioned the book so he could read the full title: “The Kinsey Corruption: An Expose On the Most Influential ‘Scientist’ Of Our Time” by Susan Brinkmann.
I eventually took out another book, this one titled “Learn Spanish In Twenty-Lessons.” The guy spied on that book title as well. I leaned over and told him, “I’m trying to learn Spanish because I’m walking from Maine to D.C. and Spanish will be handy.”
Haha, that definitely was not what he thought I was going to say. Mr. Belligerent was glaring at us for talking. It was the official quiet section of the train and Mr. Belligerent had already taken it upon himself to chastise a woman for quietly answering her cell phone. The book-spying guy grabbed his stuff and came over to the seat beside me.
“So explain to me what you’re doing.” He inquired.
“Well, I’m part of a group of twelve college age students called the Missionaries of the Eucharist. The express purpose of this summer’s walk is to bring Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to the streets.”
He looked at me as if I’d just spoken in Swahili. Great.
“What is the Theology of the Body?” he prompted.
“It’s the explanation of God’s design for human sexuality.”
“Hmm… so tell me what the main points are.”
Brain to Elizabeth, Brain to Elizabeth: Use your words, girl.
I pictured Christ on the Cross. I pictured Mary at the foot of the Cross. Giving. Receiving. The differences between man and woman allow us able to come into complete union. It took Pope John Paul II 500 pages to tell us the TOB and theologians have taken hundreds more pages to break it down for us. What was I thinking by putting myself in situations where I’d have to summarize it in 5-second sound bites? How I wished I could just state that the Theology of the Body is the antidote to the culture of death and the theological expression for the new evangelization. I had a feeling I was to be a little more specific.
“Well, you know how there’s sex, right?”
He nodded. Great. Nothing like common ground.
“There’s this idea that sex is just about…well, all people think of when they think of good sex is the orgasm aspect. The point of the Theology of the Body is that there’s so much more to it.”
“Like bonding and babies. The marital union, so to speak, is a way of bonding, and if you give yourself completely to another person, you are open to a baby. One of the points that we want to make this summer is that if you use contraception, it’s like saying that you reject part of your spouse since you reject their fertility. You can’t bond if you’re not open to life because fertility is part of who we all are. Also, if you are just out to get a baby and aren’t interested in bonding, you are only coveting your spouses fertility and not embracing them totally; that too is not bonding.
I thought quickly. I knew I was doing a horrible job. I’d made sex sound boring. Like great, now we’re bonded and now we have a gazillion kids. Yippie.
“Think about it…if you are totally giving of yourself and your wife is totally giving of herself, you’ll both be completed satisfied sexually. Women, by anatomy are natural receivers and likewise men are natural givers; taking it further though, in giving you receive and in receiving you give. At first it may seem like we’re trying to put sex into some sort of box of meaning, but really, we’re embracing the totality of sex it all of it’s goodness. It’s not a prude message, it’s an message upholding the beauty of sex and all of its wonders.”
“Wow, well good luck with your message. I’m Paul by the way.”
We shook hands, “Hi, I’m Elizabeth.”
I asked him, “So what are you on this train, Paul?”
“I was interviewing for a job that will take place in Northern Ireland. The job is to use basketball as a way of bringing Catholic and Protestant kids together.”
“Oh wow. What’s going on there?”
“There’s complete segregation. Catholics and Protestant neighborhoods have their own schools even. The kids are growing up in an environment that fosters mindless discrimination. Just playing basketball together has proven to break down so many social barriers.”
We talked about the politics of Northern Ireland. We talked about what it means to be conservative and liberal in the U.S. He recited the Bill of Rights. I bragged that I keep a copy of the U.S. Constitution with me at all times.
The conversation digressed. We talked about expensive parking meters on college campuses and how binge drinking loses it’s glamour as you get older. We even talked about The Da Vinci Code. (Him: “It’s Fiction.” Me: “It’s crap.”) We talked about how it was so opportune to use our early twenties to skip town and in our own small ways give what we have- even if it’s just our time, even if it’s basketball to kids.
I threw into the conversation that my friends and I pray outside of abortion mills. The second I said it I clarified, “Abortion clinics.”
“Mills” is word people use after seeing women exit, with wombs empty. It’s a word you use after you’ve seen the bio-hazard truck pull up to Planned Parenthood to retrieve the “products of conception.” The positive connotation of “clinic” sounds ridiculous next to the word “abortion.” But to those who don’t know, it’s the person who uses the word “mill” who sounds ridiculous. I know this and so I conform my vocabulary.
Paul wasn’t sure what to say when I threw abortion into the dialog. I qualified the statement by adding, “It may sound crazy to pray outside abortion clinics, but when you experience girls turning around and going down the street to a real crisis pregnancy center, you stop caring that the world thinks you’re crazy. The media and movies have done a real number on the image of pro-lifers. In fact, people we talk to on the street are shocked to discover that we’re college educated. There’s a pervasive assumption that pro-lifers are profoundly ignorant.”
“Yeah, when I saw you I thought you were in high school.”
The train rolled into Paul’s stop. We shook hand and wished each other good-luck. Later on I questioned if I’d done enough service to the Theology of the Body message. There were so many good things I could have said that I’d forgotten to say. I couldn’t help but be down on myself for not being missionary of the year.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? Missionaries perhaps by definition are not experts. They simply go forth with a message. And even if at times it is imperfectly communicated, there is something to be said for the growth that takes place in learning how to articulate the mysteries of Truth.
So there you have it; I boarded a train to journey in search of job, Paul boarded a train to journey in search of a job. What a scene it was, he, 23, in his expensive suit and laptop computer and me, 24, in my shapeless blue t-shirt and draping brown scapular. We shared an hour of our lives as we made our way between two points on earth, our convergence of ideas communicated in hushed tones in the quiet section of the train.
Late that night I arrived home, took note that my car in the driveway had a flat tire, and finally headed for bed. In the morning, I had a job to find.
Who we are?
Conversion begins in our own hearts,which is why prayer is so important to our ministry. For this reason, everyday of our ten week walk begins with daily Mass. By receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are given the grace to be the Love of Christ not only to those in our community but also to those we meet in the streets.
We walk throughout the day to be a witness of love. We are grounded in prayer-we pray with our lips, our hearts, and our bodies. In walking an average of twenty-five miles per day, we offer our fatigue as a gift of love to Christ and the people we meet. Our walking is both sacrifice and prayer.