Saturday, September 3, 2011

What Do Women Want...

At our ASU new student getaway, our FOCUS missionaries led a fascinating discussion on chastity. They focus (no pun intended) in their formation of college students on three areas where students often struggle: chastity, sobriety, and excellence. The missionaries are all young, attractive, and dynamic people, so they had a good hold on the students attention and they spoke about the whats, whys, and hows of chastity in campus life.

Here's what I thought fascinating. In the Q and A, I asked the men: what do you think women want from you? After all, women seem to spend significant energy on getting men's attention. But what do they want once they get men's attention?

The men's answers were interesting and the guys seemed surprisingly confident about them, along the lines of, "Women want us to love 'em," and "Women want love." After about 6-7 comments like that, there was general agreement: Yessiree, women want our love! We love 'em--them ladies--and that's what they want.

But suddenly it dawned on me that only men had answered, and the women in the room--both the FOCUS missionaries and college women--sat quietly listening. Now I'm no expert in-all-things-women-related, but I know enough to know we men don't have an immaculate track record in knowing how women think...

Then the women responded. And the results were quite different. "We want to be protected, we want to feel safe," and "We want to give our selves to you, and know that we'll be ok," and "we want to know that you'll protect us and take us in a good direction," and "We want you to pursue us, even after we get married, for the rest of our lives."

We want to you protect us, and to pursue us. The men knew the women wanted to be loved...but only the women knew how that is supposed to happen. Frankly, the guys had no idea. But it seemed to be the most obvious thing to the ladies, the most natural addendum, clarification, to what the men had said. The men's answer was correct, but vastly imprecise or incomplete.

I looked around the room. Guys were slowly but attentively nodding like they were hearing the secret location of treasure map for the first time.  Most of the women were smiling and some even had a few tears of delightful recognition--or some strange joyful delight, I don't know--in their eyes. I was flabbergasted--for us men it was like we had discovered the fountain of youth or were kids seeing the secrets of the elves in the north pole. The vibe for the men was like this: So this is how it is supposed to work! It's so simple! Why didn't some one tell us this?

For the women, it seemed to me like some lost mystical photo album of their collective mysterious shared life was open on the coffee table before everyone and we were happily flipping through it. And we all felt a flood of this soothing "memory" of simply who they are--so specific, but so mysterious!--and therefore who we are as men, as well.

Of course, we've known it forever. The Church knows it. Blessed John Paul II reminded us in his encyclical on St Joseph that every man's vocation is the dignity of woman. He told us that St Joseph's two tasks were protecting the birth of Christ and the beauty of Mary. And so it is with every man today, every day of his life, until he dies. It just something special when you see college freshmen get it, surrounded by sad sexual lies as they are. But truly, all of a sudden, to this group of students, I'd say that things like immodest clothing, promiscuity, and the like, came into sharp relief as really quite sad and empty, a pathetic decoy for the Real Thing.

Protect us and pursue us. The guys in the room didn't know that was the answer to the question, "What do women want from you?" but once they heard the women say turns out that those are the very two things they had been wanting to do all along. Just needed to ask.

Friday, August 19, 2011

virtue media...Catholics come home commercial

Just the other day I had the experience of shooting a scene for a "Catholics Come Home" commercial produced by Virtue Media and Veritas productions. I was involved in a very short clip--just a few seconds long--but it took hours to set up and shoot. It was fun, but man, it made me realize how incredibly hard it must be to shoot a full length movie...

The scene was of my doing the elevation of the host and chalice (of course in this case it was non-consecrated!) at the "This is the lamb of God..."

The cool thing was since the commercial won't run for months, I used the new translation, which took a little practice: "Behold, the lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world...." It was really powerful to say those new words again and again (and again, and again...)
The way they set up the shot, the panning of the camera, the slow-mo of the final shot, the filters used to make the afternoon light in the church (Immaculate Heart in Phoenix) look like a heavenly light-filled sunrise morning...very cool stuff. I'll post when the final project is done, and let you all know when and how it will run.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

FOCUS code names

Here's a post simply derived from the fact that you have GOT to get to know ASU's new FOCUS missionaries. They are outstanding people! (FOCUS=Fellowship of Catholic University, they are a team of four full-time Catholic missionaries to ASU)

Our four FOCUS missionaries are--as I write this--running,romping, roaming, and roaring about the campus of ASU as freshmen move in. They are, in a word, dynamos. Here's an update about who they are--with a little edge to it--I've taken the liberty of giving each one an "evangelization code name":

1. James Timberlake. Code name: Purple Lion. The fearless leader of the team of missionaries. Confident and a go-getter, he is at the same time comfortable being the last in the room to speak. I'm not joking about fearless. He is a former college football player, gave up med-school to be a missionary, and is able to catch two volleyballs thrown at him while racing down a pool slide.

2. Andrew Dennis. Code name: Uhaul. With comparable towing and hauling capacity to a small Uhaul truck, Andrew earned his name by arriving in Arizo-
na driving an actual Uhaul truck, and then promptly and generously asking me if I wanted to partake in a protein shake. In the middle of a street. At 12:45 am. He has major evangelical hauling capacity, too. Also a former college football player, he is a missionary rookie with huge potential. Recommended for your FOCUS fantasy team.

3. Sheen Byrne. Code name: Little Sparrow. Coming into her third year as a full-time Catholic missionary, Sheena has the heart of a falcon packaged in the gentleness of a spring song bird. You'll see her on the power wire outside your room
when the sun rises. She'll perch on your window-sill as you cook breakfast. Then she's on the kitchen table as you sip your coffee. Next this you know, she's on your shoulder reading the morning paper with you, and chirping about Jesus. A saavy veteran with rookie zeal. Deadly combo.

4. Jessica Petersen. Code name: Peach Eagle. Unlike Little Sparrow, capable of swooping in at high speeds...yet students find that her precise talon strikes are as easy-going and agreeable as a summer peach tea in Alabama. A
rookie who was reaching out to students within hours of her unpacking her suitcase, "JP" is a remarkably effective missionary even though in her first year of full-time mission work.

*5. Daniel Tansil. Code name: Turtle Dove. The "liason" from the Newman Center to FOCUS, Daniel is practically speaking a key element of the FOCUS team, though officially a New
man Center employee. Tough and shrewd as an old turtoise, but possessing the soft coo of the Holy Spirit, Daniel brings to ASU not only his experience as a former student but a myriad of skills, including selling real estate, frisbee, and cross country cycling. This is one turtle that
runs circles around the Hare.

The whole FOCUS, working in close collaboration with the All Saints Newman Center, has a secret code name as well: Voltron. If you we're a seven year old in 1985, you'll understand what I'm talking about. Wikipedia it. Defenders of the Universe...unite!

Friday, August 12, 2011

new missal video

Video on the Roman Missal is done!

Great feedback on the video had been pouring in. Life Teen did a great job producing the video. It's a cool experience of the amazing "ripple effect" of a piece of online media. You make it. You post it. And it keeps going, and going, and going.

Here's a link to the video as it is linked at an excellent Catholic blog:

Basic point: the new English translation is not simply about a long process of translation or some esoteric battle between "liturgists." It is about allowing the voice of Christ in the liturgy--which is the voice of the Roman Catholic Church, the Latin Rite, in this case--to resound more truly, more convincingly.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Video on new missal

GeoTagged, [N33.42391, E111.93888]

Green screen magic! Yesterday I shot a video resource in which I explained aspects of the new translation of the Roman Missal--dispelling myths, and sharing the beauty and goodness that the new translation exemplifies. The good folks at Life Teen are producing the project, so I'm sure it will be well done--despite my efforts...I'll be sure to post the video when it's finalized.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

abortion debate at ASU

Brilliant, logical arguments support pro-choice position!

Was that what I expected? Maybe fractionally--I'm not sure. But I was eager to attend and simply listen today, at ASU, to a debate between a pro-lifer and a pro-choicer on the issue of abortion. I can't say that's what I heard.

The pro-life position was represented by Scott Klusendorf, from Life Training Institute. The pro-choice position by Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU.

It was a civil and charitable debate. If I can, in fact, call it a debate. I have to say, I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that the pro-choice advocate resorted to extremely unimpressive pseudo-arguments. Either she didn't have a high opinion of logical arguments, or didn't think that her audience was sharp enough to reckon with a couple of them.

For example, she invoked the fact that some "pro-lifers" support abortion as evidence that abortion is somehow, therefore, acceptable. Let me see if I get the logic, from her perspective: some of my opponents, whom I disagree with, actually agree with my position, at least in some circumstances. Therefore, my opponents who don't agree with my position should agree with my position because...well, hey, they must have their reasons! After all, they are pro-lifers! So abortion is ok!

Any one see a problem with this logic?

Another example. She claimed that some people cite religious reasons for abortion as implicit evidence that abortion is (or at least could be) morally acceptable. A blanket assertion, based on vague religious argument. Again, big disappointment. Hey, I thought it was crazy, right wing "dangerous" pro-lifers that based their positions on dreamy, mindless, and ambiguous religious principles. I thought, "Did she just invoke the fact that some 'religious' people support abortion as evidence that it is, in fact, okay?" Since when does the mere fact that someone believes something prove that it's right to believe it?

I couldn't help but reflect: it's a brave new world! A pro-choicer is standing up in a state school and demanding blind religious assent to her explicitly religious presumption that abortion is okey-dokey.

Don't mind the man behind the curtain...(cue thunder and lightning)..."The Great and Terrible Oz!!!" I don't think too many of us in the audience were impressed.

Meanwhile, Scott said just the opposite: "I will not use religion as support for my arguments. I will use science and philosophy." Which he did, and did impressively well.

I did stand up and ask one question to Nadine in the "Q and A" session:

"Nadine, regarding the unborn, you denied a clear and rigid distinction between positing it as a totally non-human entity and a fully human entity, asserting a kind of ontological 'middle ground.' What is your logical basis for this assertion? It is something in embryology, or philosophy?"

Her answer was paper thin. She essentially re-asserted that the unborn was somehow more than a "tooth" yet less than human without any attempt to provide an argument for the assertion...other than another mere assertion that "we just don't know" and that "there is no agreement among embryologists." Ok. So we don't know. Meaning you don't know. So you're saying: you don't know. And yet you're sure that the embryo is "more than a tooth" and "less than a human." Um, I thought you don't know, like all those poor embryologists that Scott just said are in total agreement that the embryo is a fully alive human, genetically and biologically distinct from it's mother and father?

Scott's humble rebuttal: if you don't know what it is, you don't kill it. Everyone parent has answered their kids' question: "Can I kill it?" The answer depends on what the thing in question is. Is it a tomato? A fish? A cat? An ACLU president? Everything hinges on whether or not the thing in question is a human being.

To make his point, Scott cited embryologists, philosophy, logic, common sense, experience. But not baseless assertions and ambiguous reference to what "religious people believe." It was refreshing. His opponent didn't offer as much intellectual refreshment. That was disappointing but, in retrospect, not all that surprising. At least the debate happened, and students attentively considered the arguments. Another drop in the rising tide of a generation which has had enough of smoke and mirrors. Enough.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Father Valentine

Just had the privilege of an interview with Michael Dixon, host of "The Bishop's Hour," which is a local-interest radio show produced here in Phoenix by Immaculate Heart Radio.
SPOILER ALERT! If you want to wait to hear the interview afresh, it will be on Monday, February 14th, at 10 am on 1310 AM in Phoenix.
But otherwise, I'll tell you what we spoke about: Love, baby, love (In honor of Valentine's Day). He asked about my experiences working with young couples preparing for marriage, as well as my work with college students. My basic refrain was this: as a Catholic priest, I encourage young people to embrace the greatness of love. In a youth culture in which dating is non-existent because emotional and physical promiscuity is the norm, young people need great encouragement.
Of course, the greatness of love between a man and woman is demands the greatness of commitment, sacrifice, and selflessness. As I told Michael, many young people either don't know this, or fear it. I feel I spend half my time with engaged couples speaking about what marital love is...and the other half of my time telling them not to be afraid of how great love really is. When I speak to engaged couples of the Church's vision for conjugal love, I usually see on their faces equal parts hope, fascination, and fear...that it's simply too great, beyond them.
Once a young man who was considering a vocation to the priesthood said to me: "Father, don't know if I could be a priest. I love marriage too much."
My response surprised him, I think, as I shot back: "Good! Priests need to love marriage more than anyone else. I spend a great deal of my life encouraging young men and women to love marriage as much as I do."
After all, St. Valentine was a priest, wasn't he? Happy Valentine's Day, all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2011 musings

Whoa, time flies. I was hanging out this evening with some college students. One of them said that she had left some comments on my blog. My immediate thought was, "My what?" The time to blog is upon me, without a doubt.

The great tidal wave of university life has been taking me along a fascinating ride thus far. In general, I feel as though I am still getting a feel for my role as a priest in the world of ASU.

But there have been so many wonderful moments. Students react and grow so fast to things that we as priests say and do. Some students that I met in the fall, honestly, I hardly recognize, so much have they grown and changed (for the better, I think). It's less a testament to our job as priests, and more to students' malleability and God's grace at this time of their lives.

Yesterday, my day off, I was walking "incognito" around some parts of campus I had not seen yet. I was simply observing the students walk around. There is a strange sadness here, a malaise--even on a bright sunny day as students walk around the "farmer's market." A report I saw the other day said that 43% of college students struggle with depression. Wierd, that statistic kept popping into my mind as I spectated a normal Tuesday afternoon at ASU.

Then the words of Our Lord seemed to respond: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!" There is so much promise of "fun" in college, perhaps especially at this college. Is there a promise of joy, though? Does that promise mean anything to students today? Many of the students I have had the privilege of working with so far this year do, I believe, know what joy is, on some level--the joy of knowing God--and are hungry to seek and follow this joy wherever it leads them, even if the cost is great. But it must be real.