Friday, October 28, 2011

Twin Cities and the New Roman Missal

The First Sunday of Advent, the first day of the the Church's new year, November 27, will be the day on which the new translation of the Roman Missal will take effect.

For pewsitters, the translation involves a very few parts of the Mass calling for a congregational response. But some of those more accurate translations from the original Latin have powerful changes in meaning.

For music directors and liturgists, the new translation required all new music for the Mass. Someone has created a new blog/website that is keeping track of the Mass settings chosen by the various parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. So far, 60 of the 200 or so parishes in the archdiocese have made their choices known.

St. Agnes is not one of them, yet. But, of course, their 10:00 a.m. Sunday Masses are in Latin and there were no changes made to the Latin. Twin Cities Mass Settings

St. John’s Abbey Breuer Church at 50


St. John’s Abbey Breuer Church at 50

The St. John’s Abbey and University Church, designed by master Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, has turned 50. It was consecrated in 1961, and the feast of dedication was this past Sunday.

As a lead-up, a panel was held a few weeks ago with Thomas Fisher, Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, and Bill Franklin, Episcopal bishop of western New York and former theology professor at St. John’s. Do listen to it.

Fr. Hilary Thimmesch OSB, former president of St. John’s University and youngest member of the planning committee back in 1961, has written a delightful account of how we got the abbey church, Marcel Breuer and a Committee of Twelve Plan a Church: A Monastic Memoir. LitPress says this about the new book:

The junior member of the twelve-monk planning committee recounts in warm and frequently humorous detail how its members related to the Hungarian-born Bauhaus-trained architect who had no background in church architecture but shared their belief in the enduring quality of simple materials sympathetically used. How the strong architect-client relationship survived the strain of disagreement at a critical moment in completion of the church is the narrative high point.

The liturgy began with the chant introit Terribilis est locus iste (I think even “formal equivalence” permits us to call the place “awesome” rather than “terrible”). The opening hymn from Herman Stuempfle was perfect for the occasion:

For builders bold whose vision pure
Saw more than brick or stone,
Who laid in hope foundations sure
With Christ the corner stone;
For those who honored your commands
And trusted your strong Word,
Who offered faithful hearts and hands,
We give you thanks, O Lord.

I’m sure the development office appreciated the fourth stanza: “We come, O Lord, inheritors, / From those whose work is done. / Lord make us now contributors…” That’s university president Fr. Bob Koopmann OSB playing the Holtkamp pipe organ.

The Gloria from Mass VIII, Missa de Angelis, had been sung by the congregation in 1961 at the consecration. We did it again, but now giving the congregation a refrain and adding a bit of medieval organum. Do you know the new Missa ad Gentes by J. Michael Joncas from GIA? The Sanctus has alternation between schola (in Latin) and congregation (in English), with the congregation repeating the just-sung melody. I like Michael’s setting a lot – it’s fresh, at once light and serious, festive but not pompous. It’s our setting of choice for big days.

Master choral conductor Axel Theimer from the university music department composed a new anthem for the Men’s Chorus, Sanctum et terribile nomen eius. Here’ the text:

Sanctum et terribile nomen eius.
Initium sapientiæ timor Domini.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs and faints for the courts of the Lord.

Locus iste a Deo factus est,
inæstimabile sacramentum.
Locus iste irreprehensibilis est.
This place was made by God,
an unfathomable mystery.
This place is without blemish.

Mark your calendars: October 2061, abbey church centennial celebration.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Historian Weidenkopf wows Duluth with tour of church history

Weidenkopf wows with tour of church history

By Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross

Did you know that Marie Antoinette, the famous queen of France beheaded in the French Revolution, was a devout Catholic who helped the poor and never said the words famously attributed to her: “Let them eat cake!”?

That’s just one of a flurry of tidbits those attending the sixth annual diocesan Catechetical Assembly picked up Sept. 10 from speaker Steve Weidenkopf in a whirlwind tour of church history.

Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross

Speaker Steve Weidenkopf speaks at the Sept. 10 diocesan Catechetical Assembly in Duluth.
Weidenkopf, welcomed by Bishop Paul Sirba and by Liz Hoefferle, the interim director of religious education for the diocese, is a lecturer of church history at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as a popular author, speaker and father of six. Many at the presentation said they had encountered Weidenkopf’s “Epic” DVD series on church history in their parishes or elsewhere.

But the first-time visitor to Duluth began on an area of common ground besides the faith: hockey. Weidenkopf said he was glad to be in a state that appreciates hockey like his family, and happy to be in the home city of the national champion University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

“There’s a special place in heaven reserved for hockey moms,” he said.

Weidenkopf said church history “is our family history” as Catholics and that the proper way to approach it is through storytelling — narrative — not merely a series of names and dates. He said the purpose of studying church history and teaching it is to know Christ, the center of history, and to build Catholic identity and defend the faith.

He illustrated that narrative approach on a rapid tour of church history, divided into 12 periods beginning with the very earliest “mustard seed” of faith with Pentecost and Paul’s missionary journeys, moving through the persecutions, controversies, councils, crusades, the Catholic Reformation, world wars, the Second Vatican Council, the “Threshold of Hope,” and the papacies of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Weidenkopf told stories for most of the 12 periods of church history he identified — often stories at once familiar and alien because they are so often misrepresented in popular culture and even news reporting.

For instance, Weidenkopf said the story of the crusades is one that is often presented in a very negative light, including in a movie he described as “Osama bin Laden’s version of history,” but really, he said, there are many myths about them, and over the past 40 years there has been a flowering of new scholarship that has changed our understanding of them. “The downside of that is it’s only happening in academia,” he said.

He went on to argue that the crusades were not wars of unprovoked aggression waged for booty and plunder but defensive wars waged, the individual testimonies say, out of love for Christ and the church and concern for their salvation.

Some stories might be less familiar, such as the Christmas tree originating with St. Boniface and his miraculous felling of the “thunder oak of Thor” in what is now Germany, or the derivation of the word “diocese” from the name of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who organized the Roman Empire into regions named dioceses.

The day of lectures was punctuated with critiques of myths floated by authors like Dan Brown and suggestions for reading of Catholic writers like Hillaire Belloc.

Often the stories were also put in a modern context, as when Weidenkopf pointed out the philosophy of Roman persecutors that man is sufficient to himself and all belief is mere opinion — attitudes that are also very contemporary. “I think we can take solace in that because we can see the church has been dealing with this for a long time,” he said.

John “Teep” Schlachter, principal of Assumption School in Hibbing, said he was impressed with the presentation and that it is the sort of thing he and friends in Washington, D.C., where he lived prior to taking the job in Hibbing, used to talk about at dinner. “This is in my wheelhouse,” he said.

He compared the approach to the Catholic writer J.R.R. Tolkein. “That’s Tolkein’s view of history, that it’s a narrative, as [Weidenkopf] explained,” Schlachter said. He said about 80 percent of the faculty was at the assembly and that he thought the presentation was highly educational. Hoefferle also remarked on the importance of seeing church history as our own story.

She said she saw a lot of catechetical leaders in attendance and gave an estimated attendance of 140 to 150, comparable to last year’s event. “This is kind of our big event of the year,” she said.

Bishop Sirba had noted some were in attendance from outside the Duluth diocese as well.

Weidenkopf closed his presentation asking those in attendance to put their work at the service of the new evangelization initiated in that “Threshold of Hope” phase of church history we occupy. “The church needs great catechists,” he said.
Northern Cross

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to Pray When You're Depressed

Normally I'm not a big fan of Too "ecumenical." But they got me with this one. I'm not particularly depressed, but if I am somewhat ill, even hospitalized with pneumonia like I was 18 months ago, I find it much more difficult to pray than when I am feeling fine.

10 spiritual techniques to help Christians find your prayer voice even in your darkest hours.

By Kathryn J. Hermes, F.S.P

When you're depressed, you may discover that the shadows and tempests of that depression alter the way you look at God and the way you believe God looks at you. When you pray, you may be unable to sit still or to keep your mind focused for more than a few moments. Everything may appear to be a huge gaping hole of silence--all so useless. God may seem to be mocking your attempts to pray.

I know people who have gone three, five, ten years without "praying," though they were faithful to setting time aside for prayer regardless of its seeming uselessness. In the haunting darkness where all communication had gone silent, they found loneliness, boredom, frustration, anger. Were they praying? Yes.

If this is happening to you, try these forms of prayer and contemplative love. Belief.Net

How to Pray When You're Depressed

10 spiritual techniques to help Christians find your prayer voice even in your darkest hours.

By Kathryn J. Hermes, F.S.P

When you're depressed, you may discover that the shadows and tempests of that depression alter the way you look at God and the way you believe God looks at you. When you pray, you may be unable to sit still or to keep your mind focused for more than a few moments. Everything may appear to be a huge gaping hole of silence--all so useless. God may seem to be mocking your attempts to pray.

I know people who have gone three, five, ten years without "praying," though they were faithful to setting time aside for prayer regardless of its seeming uselessness. In the haunting darkness where all communication had gone silent, they found loneliness, boredom, frustration, anger. Were they praying? Yes.

If this is happening to you, try these forms of prayer and contemplative love.

1. Find a Quiet Place

Put on some soothing music. Keep it soft and gentle. Take a few deep breaths, holding each one for a few seconds and then slowly exhaling. Relax. Feel the chair you're sitting on, your feet on the floor. Smell the scents in the room. Imagine Jesus coming toward you with a smile on his face. Tell him how you are feeling right now-anxious, uncomfortable, fidgety, distracted, wanting to focus. Tell him what things are like for you today. Open your heart to him. Feel his presence very close to you. Let his love into your heart. Thank him for this gift.

2. Go for a Walk

Take some pleasant music with you. As you go, notice the sky, feel the season. Recognize what is around you. Feel at home right now. Offer your heart to Jesus, even if your pain is deep. Though you may be alone on your walk, Jesus is in your heart. Tell him what you see...the beauty around you. Tell him how you feel...even if it is dark. Remember he wants you to tell him everything in your life...joys and pains.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What You Won't See On-Screen in in the now showing film, "Courageous"

>by Tim Drake Wednesday, September 28

Sherwood Picture’s “Courageous” opens on 1,200 screens nationwide Friday. In the inspirational film about fatherhood – as told through the story of four police officers – you’ll find no coarse language, no gratuitous violence, no nudity or sexual innuendo. The Lord’s name is not taken in vain. In short, it’s a film you wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch with your family, your parents, your friends and neighbors, or your children.

There’s something else that you won’t see – and that is all of the work, prayer, and dedication that volunteers at Sherwood Baptist Church put in behind-the-scenes to bring this movie to fruition.

Albany, Ga. is home to seven different Baptist churches, a Methodist church, two Episcopal churches, a Catholic Church, a Presbyterian church, and at least four evangelical Christian churches, but only one of them is making movies. That’s Sherwood.

You might be asking yourself, why is a Catholic journalist pushing a film produced by a Baptist church? Would the Baptists promote a film by the Catholic Church?

I’m promoting it because I was touched not only by the dedication and faith of those who made the film, but as a father I was touched by the movie itself. It is Sherwood’s best film to-date, both in terms of cinematography and in terms of story. Like all of their films it crosses the line from story-telling to proselytizing. Some critics will attack the film for this. Yet, there’s still a place for “Courageous.” The film is at its strongest when it is telling a story, and that story will move men.

I’ve written extensively about “Courageous” because I was fortunate to be invited to be on-the-set during some of the shooting. I was able to interview the writers, director, and actors. I was able to attend the Atlanta premiere of the film. I had the opportunity to serve as an extra in the film’s 5K race scene, running beside friend and fellow Catholic writer and blogger Chris Faddis (for those who are interested, we did make the final cut. We can be seen briefly in the race scene on the right hand side of the screen). Most importantly, I was able to witness a community of faith pulling together to produce something inspirational.

While on the set, I couldn’t help but be moved by the vast number of church volunteers who pulled together to make meals, apply makeup, babysit, serve as actors and extras, create sets, deliver people and set pieces to where they needed to be, essentially made everything happen behind-the-scenes that needed to happen to schedule, produce and shoot, and edit a major film like this.

I was also eyewitness and participant in the sheer amount of prayer that went into this film. “Courageous” is surrounded and covered in prayer.

The decision to make the film and its subject is the fruit of prayer. Each day, as the shooting began, cast and crew gathered for prayer. Before meals, there was prayer. Before every scene was shot, there was prayer. I saw individual church members praying with actors before and after specific scenes were shot. At the film’s premiere in Atlanta, it opened with prayer. All along the way, church members, cast and crew have been praying not only for the film, but for all those who will see it on-screen and on DVD. They’ve been praying that the film might have a positive impact upon the viewers, upon our nation, upon fathers and mothers. They know well the power of prayer because they’ve seen the effects from their previous three films, and they’ve heard stories of how “Flywheel” led unscrupulous businessmen to change their ways, or how “Facing the Giants” led not only to prayer, but to couples conceiving children, or how “Fireproof” saved marriages in the U.S. and abroad. If “Courageous” succeeds, and I pray that it does, it will be due to prayer.

One doesn’t have to look far to see that we’re facing many crises in this country. Among them, absentee fathers and fatherlessness ranks among one of the largest. Courageous addresses that topic through its characters – a lazy father, a man who grew up without his father, an absent father. In so doing, it challenges men to embrace their responsibilities as fathers and protectors. Sherwood has partnered with a large number of Protestant and Catholic men’s ministries to provide the tools that men need to learn how to be the husbands and fathers that God intends them to be. It’s clear that the movie-makers want this film to be a movement – a movement of turning the children’s hearts to their fathers, and the father’s hearts to their children.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Go see “Courageous” this weekend and invite and encourage others to do likewise. “Courageous,” in short, is a movie that audiences want, and a film that America needs.

2 Comments out of 25

Posted by Chris Faddis on Thursday, Sep 29:@Linda - I would invite you to take a moment and reconsider the judgement you just placed on those with only two children. I am a father of two - I’m only 32 years old and while my wife and I started out with a plan to have multiple children, that weighs in the balance as my wife battles stage IV colon cancer. We converse regularly about how we hope we will still be able to have more. But the beating that my wife’s body is receiving may prevent that. We plan on trying if we are so blessed - but the truth of the matter is that it may not be in the cards for us.A dear friend of ours, Catholic author and speaker Melanie Pritchard also has two children. She and her husband Doug had also planned to have several children, but Melanie had an amniotic fluid embolism during delivery of her second child, Ella. She coded on the table three times and is a walking miracle today. Though she is alive and very well, she is no longer able to have children.Consider these two stories and ask yourself, “should I judge someone’s level of “courage” based on what I see in a 2 minute clip of their lives?” Sure, this is a movie - but your statement speaks volumes.I agree that our culture does not encourage or support large families. However, to make a judgement about the characters, about the film, or about the makers of the film based on only seeing two children is absolutely uncalled for. What Tim didn’t share in this article but did in another is that while we were on set - we were also running next to the Duggar family, you know 19 and Counting from TLC. They were on set as well at the invitation of Sherwood Pictures. All of those children ran and all of those children stood as an example of a large Christian family.Consider these things before dumping a judgement next time. Sincerely,
Chris Faddis (1 of 7 children and father of 2)

Posted by Tim Drake on Thursday, Sep 29:It’s painful for me to see that the discussion about the merits of “Courageous” got sidetracked to discussing how many children is the perfect number.

Frankly, I have little patience for the “fertility police”. It’s too easy to judge a couple by first appearances, something I humbly admit to doing earlier in my marriage - AND regretfully so. It wasn’t until my wife and I faced primary and secondary infertility, and came face-to-face with other couples facing the same issue, that I understood the tremendous pain that so many couples carry with them.

Even now people could easily look at our family (five living children, one in Heaven) and think we’re somehow complete. We’ve been unable to conceive since the birth of our nearly-nine-year-old son. What they would not see, however, is the pain of desiring additional children who never come; and the pain of having a daughter who continually prays for another baby in the home and who asks why God doesn’t answer her prayer; and the joy coupled with pain every time a friend or relative conceives. It is a pain suffered largely in silence. People do not talk about it because they fear that bringing it up will cause additional pain.

Do not judge what the perfect number is because that number, or the lack of a number, is known only by God. National Catholic Register

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Receive Holy Communion on the Tongue


I have noticed, over the past few years, an increase in the number of people who are electing to receive the Sacred Host on the tongue directly from a priest, deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at Holy Mass instead of in the hand.

My archdiocese is located in the United States of America which presently has permission in the form of an indult for communicants to receive the Sacred Host in the hand. Most people reading this in the U.S. are aware that the majority of those approaching for Holy Communion in this country receive the Sacred Host in the hand. This indult is an exception to the universal law of the Latin Rite for communicants to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. It is your right, if you are able to receive, to do so according to the universal norm on the tongue.

Unfortunately, many of those who have now elected to receive on the tongue have never been instructed as to how to properly receive Holy Communion in this manner. In the past, people received while kneeling at the communion rail. Now, for the most part, those receiving on the tongue do so while standing before the minister. This presents some challenges to the minister, but they are simple to overcome if several simple guidelines are followed by both the minister and the communicant.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful if you choose to receive on the tongue.

  1. First, regardless of how you receive, approach the Sacrament with reverence and humility; in a state of grace and properly disposed. One should never be interiorly casual or ambivalent about receiving Our Lord. One's interior disposition often manifests itself externally. If you are aware of having committed a mortal sin you have not confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, don’t receive. Instead, make an Act of Spiritual Communion (see below).

    I would suggest that you approach the priest, deacon or E.M. with your hands clasped in the prayer position, palms flat, pointed upwards, to alert them of your intention to receive on the tongue. Don't surprise them at the last second.

  2. As with any reception of Holy Communion, after the priest or other minister has said, “The Body of Christ,” respond with “Amen.”

    You do not say "Amen" in the E.F. Mass. The priest or deacon says it!

  3. Then, with head straight or tilted slightly back, open your mouth wide and extend your tongue – the tongue need not protrude far out of the mouth, but it should block the view of the lower lip. The minister will place the Sacred Host on your tongue. Two things are very important here – open wide and extend the tongue. I have noticed that many people only slightly open the mouth and others do not extend the tongue; others do both. It is difficult and sometimes impossible for the minister to safely place the host on the tongue under these circumstances.
  4. Wait until the Sacred Host is safely placed on the tongue and only then return your tongue and close your mouth. It is not proper to use your teeth to receive and it is never a good idea to bite the minister’s fingers. So wait until the Sacred Host is safely on your tongue before moving.
  5. Speaking of moving, it is also impossible for the minister to “hit” a moving target. This is where standing is at a disadvantage over kneeling at a rail. First, it is more difficult to remain motionless while standing. But secondly, I have noticed a tendency for the communicant to move their head towards the Sacred Host as if “to help” the minister to distribute. This does not work. The minister needs a stationary target, so remain motionless, head straight or tilted slightly back, mouth wide open and tongue extended. For some people, it may help to close you eyes; for others, look above the minister and don't watch the Sacred Host.
  6. On the part of the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister, it is a good idea to allow the communicant achieve this posture before attempting to place the Sacred Host on the tongue.

I mentioned above that if you are unable to receive Holy Communion (due to mortal sin, having not kept the communion fast, being non-Catholic, or some other reason) it is a good practice to make a Spiritual Communion. The following is a simple, yet profound Act of Spiritual Communion you can pray while kneeling in your pew:

An Act of Spiritual Communion

“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”

Integrated Catholic Life

Social media use, new approaches to evangelization among Communications Day topics

Archbishop John Nienstedt welcomed about 525 parish and school leaders and priests to Archdiocesan Communications Day Oct. 13 and told them the church must use all means of communication to continue its mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We are committed to embracing social media,” he said during the gathering at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie with the theme “Ever Ancient, Ever New.” He added that the archdiocese is working on unified protocols to ensure better communication with parishes, schools and parishioners.

The local church, he said, has three “high-level goals” of improved communication:

• evangelization and re-evangelization, the fundamental mission of the church;

• fostering improved communications between the chancery and parishes, schools and other organizations; and

• making a commitment “to telling our story — maintaining good public relations and providing accurate information about the events and initiatives of this local church.”

Reaching today’s Catholics

The day — a collaborative effort of The Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Coalition of Ministries Associations — included sessions featuring several national speakers.

John Allen Jr., senior National Catholic Reporter correspondent who is frequently seen on CNN addressing Catholic issues, outlined the challenges the church faces from a worldwide perspective in getting out its message. He also noted the qualities it must use to be successful, such as patience, availability, universality and humor.

Paul Henderson, director of planning and operations with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Communications Department, told participants the role of church leaders is changing.

He said developments in new media, which encourage interactive participation among users, are changing the role of leaders from being gatekeepers to facilitating and mentoring communication and dialogue.

Lino Rulli, host of “The Catholic Guy” show on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, gave the under-40 perspective. To reach people from 18 to 40, church communicators must remember what it is like to be their age, he said. Young adults need to have someone they can relate to, someone who understands their questions like, “Why is it important to go to Mass every Sunday?” and “Why should someone go to confession and tell their sins to a priest.”

Rulli’s answer: “I want to be right with God. I want to know there is a plan for my life and peace in my life.”

“Youth can relate to this,” he said.

Rules of the new media road

Blogger Lisa Hendey, founder of, and Matthew Warner, founder of, and a National Catholic Register blogger, led an afternoon session on “harnessing the power of new media in your ministry.”

Noting that 80 percent of Americans use social media like Facebook and Twitter, Hendey and Warner presented five new media rules of ministry communication:

1. The parishioner is in control.

Communicators must respect parishioners’ time and attention and make it easy for them to connect, Warner said. Church communicators must speak to people in ways they want, often through social media, and listen more than talk.

2. Your website matters.

It’s the “home base” for new media efforts and leaves a lasting first impression about a parish or school.

3. Reach people where they already are.

Having a social media presence alone is not enough. There must be engagement and dialogue with social media users to make connections and create meaningful relationships.

4. Don’t give up.

Parishes and schools should tap into local talent and resources for help and ideas, Hendey said.

5. Engage their hearts first.

Technology will not bring people back to the church, people will, Warner said. Church communicators can seek to inspire others and build meaningful relationships through social media and other means.

Lou Carbone, a leader of the experience management movement and author of “Clued In, How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again & Again” spoke about the importance of personal experience and its impact on how people feel about a business or organization like the church.

A self-identified “satellite Catholic” who has struggled with the changes in the church following the Second Vatican Council, Carbone told a heartwarming story of how a priest created a positive experience for his daughter who sought to get married in the church. Such positive experiences are what the church needs to cultivate.

The day also included a video on the theology of communication narrated by Father Jan Michael Joncas, a priest of the archdiocese and associate professor of Catholic studies and theology at the University of St. Thomas, and a social and digital media best practices panel.

For resources from Archdiocesan Communications Day, including the PowerPoint presentations of some presenters, visit the event’s web page.

You might also like:

The Catholic Spirit

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Archbishop Nienstedt: How one pro-life decision changed the world


October has been designated as Respect Life Month. As Pope Benedict XVI has so often reminded us, abortion is a violation of the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church — a lack of justice for the child who is killed; a lack of justice for the society deprived of that child’s contribution.

Here is a real story about a woman who respected life, and her choice made a difference in virtually every one of our lives:

In 1954, Joann Schiebel, a young, unmarried college student, discovered that she was pregnant. At the time, her options were very limited. She could have had an abortion — but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal.

She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and did not want to interrupt her education. Thus, Joann chose instead to give birth to the baby and put him up for adoption. And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.

Yes, this is the same Steve Jobs who died on Oct. 5 from pancreatic cancer. He was, as a reporter from the Washington Post commented, “The brilliant, material co-founder of Apple, who introduced simple, elegantly designed computers for people who were more interested in what technology could do rather than how it was done.”

If you have an iPhone or an iPad or an iPod, or anything remotely resembling these, you can thank Steve Jobs. If you have had an Apple or Macintosh computer in the past, you can thank Steve Jobs.

But at the same time, you can also thank Joann Schiebel for giving the gift of life.

The theme of this year’s Respect Life program is, “I came so that all might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Here, Jesus refers not only to the hope of eternal life, but life in this world as well.

Our culture and even our own government promote policies that are opposed to the true good of individuals and families (see my column of Sept. 15).

The media assist this agenda by promoting a distorted view of sexuality that is “free” of any commitment to the reproductive end of the act of sexual intercourse. In this view, contraceptives are promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good, and abortion becomes a necessary back-up measure when those same contraceptives fail.

While the number of abortions in the State of Minnesota continues to fall, it has consistently risen at Planned Parenthood, which now performs 35 percent of all abortions in the state.

And, unfortunately, the greatest number of Hispanic abortions has regularly occurred there as well. It has been recorded that 41 percent of abortion clients at Planned Parenthood admitted to using contraceptives at the time of conception (see Prolife Action News, October 2011). Yet, because of the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling of 1995, taxpayers like you and me continue to pay for elective abortions as well as the availability of contraceptives.

Some conscientious and courageous witnesses are making a difference in this area by joining in the 40 Days for Life campaign that began outside of Regions Hospital in St. Paul on Sept. 28 and will continue until Nov. 6. Various church groups will “Adopt-a-Day” to lead prayers and to keep vigil. I will be present for the closing hour of these 40 days on Nov. 6.

Of course, the respect we are called to show human life in the womb is the same respect we are called to show human life outside the womb.

October is also, “Bullying Awareness Month,” a time to remind ourselves and one another of the inherent dignity of each person as a son and daughter of God. We must not tolerate derogatory remarks or physical abuse of persons who are deemed “different from others.”

“Might” does not make “right” and teachers, parents as well as others in authority need to be vigilant to any signs that a young person may be bullied by another or by others.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.”

That applies so appropriately to the person of Steve Jobs, now gone to God. Who could imagine our world today, if he had never been allowed to be born?

God bless you. The Catholic Spirit

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Archbishop Vlazny of Portland: Life Matters


October 18th, 2011 by Most Rev. John Vlazny [Former Bishop of Winona]

Back when Pope John Paul II wrote his masterful encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life, he called for “a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to create a great campaign in support of life.” Here in the United States such a campaign takes such place every year during October when Catholics in the USA observe Respect Life Month. Our message this year is a simple one: life matters. Yes, every human life really and truly matters.

The theme for 2011 Respect Life Program is taken from the words of Jesus in Chapter 10 of St. John’s gospel, “I came so that all might have life and have it to the full.” Who doesn’t want to have life to the full? We all do. But today’s culture, which exalts the freedom and glamour of the rich and famous, deludes too many people about the nature of a “full life.” Again and again we learn about so many “beautiful” people whose private lives are exceedingly unhappy. We think they have it all and really and truly they have little or nothing.

The self-destructive pursuit of the good life leads far too many of us to turn our backs on an ill-timed baby or a neglected aging relative in a nursing home who longs for a visit. We Christians know that we were created to love and to be loved. Earthly things can never satisfy us fully. When Jesus walked this earth he showed us the true meaning of love by his words and actions. When we truly love God and others, then our deepest needs are fulfilled and we do have life “to the full.”

The greater the sacrifices made out of love, the greater will be our joy and peace. But the notion of sacrifice is taboo to far too many people nowadays. Yes, many will agree that my life matters, but the life of another who might inconvenience or sidetrack me in pursuit of the so-called good life is something that tends to be eliminated or ignored. That is why it is so important for us to open eyes, minds and hearts to the truth of the gospel of life.

As Catholics we see no distinction between defending human life and promoting the dignity of the human person. In his most recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict asserts that “the church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that a society lacks foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially when it is weak or marginalized.” Human life is a gift from God, sacred from conception to natural death. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights. This is why Catholics across the globe work actively to promote greater respect for human life together with greater commitment to justice and peace.

This year’s Respect Life Program focuses on some of the major attacks on human life and dignity. First and foremost we again bemoan the loss of so many innocent children because of abortion. Mothers are also harmed physically and emotionally, as well as fathers, families and society. The opposition of the Catholic Church to abortion is based on the fundamental dignity and equal value of every single human life. Opposition to abortion is the only moral choice, even for non-believers.

A more neuralgic issue is the death penalty. Back in 1995 Blessed John Paul II stated that “the nature and extent of punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of exterminating the offender except in cases of absolute necessity; in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system such cases are very rare if not practically non-existent.” Elimination of the death penalty is a goal of our Respect Life Program. It is the way of Christian mercy and reconciliation, a challenge to all of us who call ourselves Christian.

This year’s Respect Life Program also calls our attention to embryo research. There are many who support the protection of vulnerable adults and children, even animals, but they have a moral blind spot with respect to research involving human embryos. They totally disregard the fact that embryos are human beings. Human life begins with the fusion of a sperm cell and an egg. They are not simply biological material. Their use for purposes of research is absolutely immoral. Research on adult stem cells, however, is permitted since they cannot develop into mature human beings. There may very well be a sincere concern to develop new therapies and cures for diseases through such experimentation. But the end never justifies the means.

In the final months and days of a human life, life still matters. The way in which we deal with persons who are in the last stages of life speaks loudly about the kind of society we have become. Bringing death about directly goes against the fifth commandment, “You shall not kill.” On the other hand, caring for a dying person is both humane and Christian. The ethical issue is whether a dying person is killed or allowed to die. Those seeking to respect human dignity at the end of life will find true companions in the hospice movement, not the euthanasia movement. Whereas it may be possible to withhold extraordinary or expensive medical procedures in the view of a patient’s impending death, it is never allowed to “help” a person die. Ordinary care of any dying person should never be discontinued. Improvements in palliative care have been significant in recent years. The use of medications that are painkillers, not people killers, is consistent with the ethic of life that, until recent times, had been the hallmark of our human family.

On October 1st, at the Rosary Bowl in Keizer, we prayed the rosary for the success of our efforts to teach and live the gospel of life. We regret that too many of our neighbors sometimes look upon the lives of the unborn and the frail elderly as inconveniences and obstacles to their pursuit of the good life. We have waged a battle with these folks over the years with argumentative words. We need to keep speaking the truth. But this month I invite you, as I invited the people at the Rosary Bowl, to fall on your knees with your beads in your hands and to ask God to change hearts and minds so that more and more of God’s children will have life and have it to the full.

This article is courtesy of the Catholic Sentinel, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Archdiocesan Communications Day Audio clips and Resources

[Clayton Emmer] was able to attend a day-long conference last Thursday on leveraging media technologies in the service of the Church’s mission. This event, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, was very well planned, well attended, and well executed.

Matthew Warner of, who was one of the presenters and panelists, blogged about his experience here.

When I have more time, I’ll post some highlights.

[Clayton] I've recorded all of the talks using my iPhone. While the quality of some of the audio is not great — especially (and unfortunately) the lunchtime presentation by John Allen, Jr. — I’ve made all of it available as an audio podcast feed here:

The Catholic Spirit has many of the resources from the day available at the following link:

Definitely worth your time if you’re interested in ways to serve your parish or church organization with some of the new media of communication. Lots to think about.

The Feedburner talks:

  • Communion and Communication: The Work of the Church - Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 09:00:00 CDT
  • John Allen, Jr. - Church Communications: Challenges and Opportunities

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 10:00:00 CDT
  • Paul Henderson - Church Communications: Challenges and Opportunities

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 10:20:00 CDT
  • Lino Rulli - Church Communications: Challenges and Opportunities

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 10:40:00 CDT
  • Panel Discussion - Church Communications: Challenges and Opportunities

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 11:00:00 CDT
  • John Allen, Jr. - Trends in the Future Church

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 12:00:00 CDT
  • LIsa Hendey and Matthew Warner - Harnessing the Power of New Media in Your Ministry

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 13:00:00 CDT
  • Local Expert Panel - Harnessing the Power of New Media in Your Ministry

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 14:00:00 CDT
  • Lou Carbone - Managing Experience: Implications for Your Ministry

    Posted: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 15:00:00 CDT

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Priest Under Fire An Interview of Father Michael Rodriguez


Priest Under Fire

An Interview of Father Michael Rodriguez

by Michael J. Matt

Father Michael Rodriguez

Michael J. Matt (MJM): First off, Father, I'd like to thank you for the stand you've taken in recent months in defense of the Church's moral teaching, especially with respect to so-called 'gay marriage'. Catholics all across the country have been following your case, and we're delighted to have a chance today to ask you a few questions. Before we get into the "controversy", however, I wonder if you'd mind telling us a little something about your personal background?

Father Rodriguez (FR): Not at all. I was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 23, 1970, the middle child of five. Many years later my parents adopted a sixth child, my youngest sister. As I grew up in the early '70s, I was completely unaware of the disastrous post-Vatican II revolution that was sweeping throughout our beloved Catholic Church. Thanks be to God, I was raised by parents who were staunch Catholics with their childhood roots in the pre-Vatican II Catholicism of México. An example of the depth of these roots is that my maternal grandmother (born in 1906, in Aguascalientes, México) never accepted the Novus Ordo. She left this passing world in August 2002, always true to the Ancient Rite. Requiescat in pace. Even though my parents had accepted and adapted to Novus Ordo Catholicism during their post-collegiate years, they nevertheless raised us similar to how they had been raised: fidelity to Mass (albeit the Novus Ordo) and Confession, praying the Holy Rosary at home in the evenings, praying novenas and the Stations of the Cross, etc. As I reflect back on my childhood, it was a time of great grace and blessings. Even though my parents failed to hold fast to all the venerable traditions of our Faith and the Ancient Rite, they still did an excellent job of instilling the Faith in us. Interestingly enough, we four older children (born between '67 and '74) are now ardent supporters of the Traditional Latin Mass, even more so than our parents

Michael J. Matt (MJM): First off, Father, I'd like to thank you for the stand you've taken in recent months in defense of the Church's moral teaching, especially with respect to so-called 'gay marriage'. Catholics all across the country have been following your case, and we're delighted to have a chance today to ask you a few questions. Before we get into the "controversy", however, I wonder if you'd mind telling us a little something about your personal background?

Father Rodriguez (FR): Not at all. I was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 23, 1970, the middle child of five. Many years later my parents adopted a sixth child, my youngest sister. As I grew up in the early '70s, I was completely unaware of the disastrous post-Vatican II revolution that was sweeping throughout our beloved Catholic Church. Thanks be to God, I was raised by parents who were staunch Catholics with their childhood roots in the pre-Vatican II Catholicism of México. An example of the depth of these roots is that my maternal grandmother (born in 1906, in Aguascalientes, México) never accepted the Novus Ordo. She left this passing world in August 2002, always true to the Ancient Rite. Requiescat in pace. Even though my parents had accepted and adapted to Novus Ordo Catholicism during their post-collegiate years, they nevertheless raised us similar to how they had been raised: fidelity to Mass (albeit the Novus Ordo) and Confession, praying the Holy Rosary at home in the evenings, praying novenas and the Stations of the Cross, etc. As I reflect back on my childhood, it was a time of great grace and blessings. Even though my parents failed to hold fast to all the venerable traditions of our Faith and the Ancient Rite, they still did an excellent job of instilling the Faith in us. Interestingly enough, we four older children (born between '67 and '74) are now ardent supporters of the Traditional Latin Mass, even more so than our parents.

MJM: And are there one or two persons in your life that mentored you and helped you to remain open to God’s call?

FR: My parents, Ruben and Beatrice, were the ones who were most instrumental in my eventual discernment of a vocation to God's holy priesthood. Through my father, God blessed me with discipline, fortitude, perseverance, and a love for study. Through my mother, God graced me with the convictions of faith, awe for the Catholic priesthood, a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother, and a love of religion.

MJM: At what point in your life did you know you had a vocation?

FR: I was raised in El Paso, TX, but spent four years (1981-1984) living with my family in Augsburg, Germany. We returned to El Paso, and I began high school. Following my junior year, I spent the summer (1987) at M.I.T. University in Cambridge, MA. I was participating in a special program for gifted minority students from around the nation. The program was geared to recruiting us to study engineering and science at M.I.T. as undergraduates. Well, our good God had different plans for me! I left El Paso that summer thinking I'd study electrical engineering (like my father) upon graduating from high school, only to return from Boston six weeks later, announcing that I wanted to enter the seminary! My mother was overjoyed.

MJM: Clearly, someone was looking out for you. Do you have a favorite saint, by the way?

FR: My favorite saints are: St. Michael the Archangel, St. John the Baptist (largely due to my 9 1/2 years at this El Paso parish), St. Paul the Apostle, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and, to no surprise, the holy Curé of Ars. I have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under three of her specific titles: Immaculate Conception (I was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1996), Mater Dolorosa, and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

MJM: And, liturgically—where would you place yourself? I know you offer the traditional Latin Mass, but is it accurate to describe you as an outright “traditionalist”?

FR: Liturgically, I'm 100% behind the Traditional Latin Mass, which is without question the true Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. Theology, liturgy, Catholic spirituality and asceticism, and history itself all point to the obvious superiority of the Classical Roman Rite. Unfortunately, all of my seminary formation was in the Novus Ordo, and I only "discovered" the Latin Mass about six years ago, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of "real Catholicism," i.e. "traditional Catholicism."

MJM: What was it initially that led you to begin offering the old Mass?

FR: About six years ago, several members of the faithful began asking me if I would be interested in offering the Traditional Latin Mass. At the time, there was serious concern on the part "El Paso's remnant" of traditional Catholics that the Jesuit priest who was offering the Latin Mass twice a month (under the 1988 Ecclesia Dei "Indult") was going to be transferred. Thus, they were looking for another priest who would be willing to offer the Latin Mass. At first, I declined, not so much because I wasn't interested, but due to the immense workload which I was already carrying.

As the weeks passed, I began to study the prayers and theology of the Traditional Latin Mass. The more I studied, the more my awe and amazement grew. I was "discovering" not only the true Catholic theology of the Mass, but also the true Catholic theology of the priesthood, and so much more! Throughout my first nine years of priesthood, I had struggled to make sense of the very serious problems which exist in the Church. At this point, it was obvious that an extreme crisis pervaded the Church and her hierarchy, but why? I just couldn't quite understand how all of this "diabolical disorientation" had come to pass . . . until the brilliant light of the true Catholic Mass ("Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam . . .") began to penetrate my priestly soul. This "discovery" of the Traditional Latin Mass has been, by far, the greatest gift of God to my poor priesthood.

MJM: So this gives us an idea of how Pope Benedict's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum can and does impact priests who might otherwise never have had the opportunity to discover this great treasure. Given how it impacted you, how do you believe Summorum Pontificum will impact the Church long term?

FR: Unfortunately, both Summorum Pontificum and Universæ Ecclesiæ have plenty of weaknesses. Nevertheless, these documents do represent an initial step in what will probably still be a long and arduous "Calvary," i.e. the quest of traditional Catholics to restore the Cross, the Mass, the kingship of Jesus Christ, and true Catholic doctrine, outside of which there is no salvation. In Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI writes that "due honor must be given to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V for its venerable and ancient usage." This directive of our Holy Father is currently being disobeyed almost universally. In the accompanying letter to the world's bishops (July 7, 2007), Pope Benedict XVI writes, "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." These remarkable words of our Holy Father are also being disrespected and disobeyed almost universally, especially by many bishops. Finally, Universæ Ecclesiæ, No. 8, states very clearly that the Ancient Rite is a "precious treasure to be preserved" and is to be "offered to all the faithful." Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed? The same number from Universæ Ecclesiæ emphasizes that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy "is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees." This is an astounding statement. This statement from Rome means that the use of the 1962 Missal doesn't depend on a particular bishop's liturgical views, preferences, or theology. It's not about the bishops! On the contrary, it's about the faithful! Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed?

MJM: Are you now able to offer the old Mass exclusively?

FR: Since I began my new assignment (Sept. 24, 2011) out in the rural, isolated missions of the El Paso Diocese, I've offered the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. I consider this to be a marvelous and unexpected blessing from Providence in the midst of a very difficult trial. I hope to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. If it were strictly up to me, I would never celebrate the Novus Ordo Missæ again. However, the sad reality of having to "obey" in the Novus Ordo Church that has largely lost the Faith, and the need to reach out patiently to Novus Ordo faithful who have been so misled, means that I will probably be "forced" to celebrate the Novus Ordo occasionally. In these instances, however, it will be the Novus Ordo ad orientem, with the Roman Canon, the use of Latin, and Holy Communion distributed according to traditional norms.

MJM: Up until last year, I believe, things were pretty quiet in your priestly life. What happened to change all that?

FR: The local, and even national, "controversy" that has engulfed me is due to the fact that I have been vocal in promoting what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in regard to the whole issue of homosexuality. It's a disgrace, but the City Council of El Paso has been adamant in trying to legitimize same-sex unions. This goes completely contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I've made it clear to the Catholics of El Paso (and beyond) that every single Catholic has a moral obligation before God Himself to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions. A Catholic who fails to oppose this homosexual agenda, is committing a grave sin by omission. Furthermore, if a Catholic doesn't assent to the infallible moral teaching of the Church that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, then such a Catholic is placing himself / herself outside of communion with the Church. These are the Catholics who are actually excommunicating themselves, not the Society of St. Pius X!

MJM: I can understand why the civil authorities and media might find this “controversial”; but why would your ecclesial superiors find it so?

FR: The dismal response of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality demonstrates how extreme the current crisis of faith actually is. It really can't get much worse. There's hardly any faith left to lose! Even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Reason, natural law, and consideration of the male and female anatomy more than suffice to confirm this moral truth.

MJM: And yet you must go where the bishop tells you to go. Is this difficult for you?

FR: In my particular circumstances, obedience to my bishop has been incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, obedience is essential to the priesthood, and I intend to be obedient. One consoling aspect of "sacrificial," "death-to-self" obedience, is that the Holy Ghost will always come to one's assistance. I'm reminded that my poor sufferings are nothing compared to those of Mater Dolorosa and our Divine Redeemer. If I'm counted as one even slightly worthy to suffer for the Faith and the Traditional Latin Mass, I will consider myself profoundly blessed. God is so good.

MJM: As you are already living through a form of persecution, I assume you foresee more to come not only for you personally but for all Catholics who stand in defense of Church teaching. But what about the future? Any hope?

FR: Yes, I do foresee plenty of persecution still to come for all those who remain steadfast in the Faith and in their adherence to the Ancient Rite. However, the promise of our Savior cannot but fill our souls with hope, "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." (Mt 5:10-12)

MJM: How can lay Catholics best survive this crisis of faith?

FR: In order to overcome this crisis of faith, we must (1) do everything in our power to recover the Catholic Faith: the Ancient Rite, traditional Catholic teaching in doctrine and morals, the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, traditional Catholic piety and devotions, and a traditional Catholic “code of living” or “rhythm of life.” (2) On a daily basis we must strive to pray, study, fast, do penance, and practice charity with the aforementioned goal in mind. Finally, I strongly urge all faithful Catholics to (3) pray the Holy Rosary daily and heed our Blessed Mother's Message at Fatima.

One of the hallmarks of the Traditional Latin Mass is its exquisite and concentrated focus on eternity. If we are to survive and overcome this terrible crisis of faith in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, we have to keep our intellect and will focused on eternity. We cannot lose hope when, from a worldly perspective, all seems lost. Jesus Christ promises “the kingdom of heaven” to those who endure persecution, and “a great reward in heaven” to those who suffer for His sake. (Mt 5:10-12) The final goal is heaven! Like St. Paul, we must press ahead towards the ultimate “prize” (Phil 3:14) and never cease to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1)

MJM: Like so many others, Father, I find myself deeply moved by your powerful witness not only to the Faith itself but also to the Catholic priesthood, which, as you know so well, is under diabolical attack. Thank you for this example of what it means to be a Catholic in an era of persecution. May all of us have the courage to follow your lead through the rough seas still ahead. The Remnant October 16, 2011

Archdiocesan Communications Day - St. Paul & Minneapolis


I just returned from Communications Day 2011 in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was a full-day event for parish, school and ministry leaders about sharing the Good News via Social and Digital media.

I’d never been to Minnesota. Unfortunately, I was only there for one day, but I must say the weather was perfect and the people were lovely and welcoming. I was honored to be one of the presenters, along with my good friend Lisa Hendey and some other speakers you may have heard of, like Lino Rulli (The Catholic Guy), John Allen Jr. (author and journalist), Paul Henderson (USCCB) and Lou Carbone (“experience” engineer).

What I liked about the event:

1) It was a really good mix of various perspectives on communication within and as the Church.

2) It was fun.

3) It was extremely well organized, managed and emceed.

4) It was well attended. I think there were between 500-600 parish/school/ministry leaders from around the diocese and neighboring dioceses.

5) I enjoyed great conversation and a meal (or two) with some wonderful people. I also got to drink a beer (or two) with Lino Rulli and Lisa Hendey. I got to see a picture of Lino’s friend Goob.

6) I didn’t say “uhm,” too much. I don’t think. And I yammered on too long about the same thing only a few times.

7) I got to hear Lino sing.

8) I was reminded that the work of the Church is filled with messy interruptions because we’re messy people. And the only reason our Church is still here as a final bastion of truth, goodness and beauty is because God loves us enough to have made it so. And I love it.

9) I was also reminded that there are a lot of people out there who need the Church and don’t know it. And that one thoughtful gesture you make today to change that person’s “experience” of the Church could change that person’s life forever (literally).

10) I was affirmed in the fact that there are a lot of dedicated and amazing ground-level leaders in our Church who don’t get new media - but want to, because they know it will help the Church.

11) I was also affirmed in the fact that there are some diocesan leaders out there now who do get it and are working to make it better.

12) Finally, I love that the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, The Catholic Spirit and the coalition of those who put the event on are planning to continue the event in the future. They are also putting together a group of people from their diocese who want to come together, share best practices and help each other better communicate and build relationships in our Church. And particularly via the use of new and social media, of course.

I would encourage you to tell your own diocese to contact the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis and ask them how to duplicate an event like this in your own diocese (this event was done very well). Every diocese should have one every year. And every diocese should be recruiting attendees from it to build a year-round community that collaborates and shares best practices as you forge ahead as pioneers on the digital continent - together.

There are many more of these kinds of events to come in the Church. And that’s a very good thing.

You can check out the tweets from the event by clicking here (#CommDay11). And you can take a look at the setup here. National Catholic Register

Lino Rulli, the Catholic Guy, Talks of Life, Faith and His New Book - Sinner

Rulli's new book, Sinner, can encourage many who want to become Saints.

Lino Rulli, host of The Catholic Guy on SiriusXM Radio, wrote a book with an intriguing name - "Sinner." The book is not a showcase for sin but a support system for ordinary Catholics to encourage them in a life of faith in our extraordinary God. Though humorous, Lino is also a man deeply serious about his Catholic faith. The book touches people where they live and encourages them to take their faith seriously.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Lino Rulli believes that if he can live the Christian life there's hope for everyone. The daily host of The Catholic Guy on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Lino wrote a book to encourage people just like him - ordinary people - to keep going.

Raised in the Catholic Church in the heartland of the upper Midwest, his life was anything but saintly. He was, as he says without hesitation, a sinner, but a sinner who was in search of God's grace. With grace working in his life, he knew his faith can grow and, building on small personal victories, his spiritual life would deepen in devotion.

Lino's new book, "Sinner, The Catholic Guy's Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic," is not a biography. Like album of snapshots, he presents snippets of his life that reveal something about a sinner who knows he needs God's grace to grow in his faith. This handful of stories will help the reader get to know Lino Rulli just a little better.

"I probably started with a hundred stories," Lino said in a recent interview. "I think that one of the most important things that I did was say to myself, 'Who do I want to have read this book?'

"I'll get myself in trouble here. so why not start right off the bat. I don't care if some priest or archbishop or cardinal reads it. I wrote it for someone like myself, or more importantly, someone like myself before I started working in Catholic Media, in other words, just a regular person.

"I picked stories where I thought people would say, 'Oh, that's funny! Oh, that's relatable. I get that.'"

Lino writes about his life, as a "single desperately lonely human being."

"I wanted to talk about my insecurities, the things that led me to be the person I am today, in terms of not just faith, but in terms of my absolute desire to be liked. to be needed. to be wanted. The only way you can find out those things about me is to find out about some of those whacky stories about me in the past."

As you meander through his life, you'll read that, as a boy, his father wanted to be an organ grinder. Guess who had to substitute for the monkey?

You'll also learn about his dream to visit to see David Letterman tape his show, adventures in the confessional, temptation in Thailand, living in the Bahamas, working in media and much much more.

Perhaps the most controversial story involved his visit Thailand, where he was encouraged to get a prostitute and learned what it is like to experience victory over temptation.

We talked about the fact that this story puts the spotlight on the darker side of humanity and the temptations many people face.

"Maybe it's not prostitution for somebody," Lino commented, "maybe it's something else. I'm hoping someone who reads this might say, 'I'm not the only person out there who's been tempted in Thailand. or Las Vegas. or wherever. But it's a story about victory over temptation."

Written in a very honest and transparent style, he never gives you a hint at how things will turn out at the end of a chapter. You just hold on and wait for the surprise.

"There are things I didn't understand at the time but make sense now. I think it's important for everybody to look back and say, 'Now, where was God in this?'"

While Lino does a show called "The Catholic Guy," his website is entitled "Lino Rulli - A Man With a Big Nose." When you talk with him, however, you don't think about physical characteristics; however big his nose might be, his joy and enthusiasm for life as a Catholic is much bigger.

I had to confess to him I had to make one major adjustment in my thinking as I began his book. He seems so "New York," when, in fact, he grew up in Minnesota.

He laughed and said, "There's something that comes from being in what people call 'fly-over land.' I'm the regular person , I get it. I'm the guy from the Midwest. I know what it is to grow up in an average middle-income family, to have those values and roots of the Midwest.

"I approach my Catholicism the same way. I could sit here and talk about the inside things going on in the church - what about this cardinal moving, what about this bishop, what about that decision?

"It's important for me to keep those roots about where normal people are from and take an average Catholic look at life without getting swept up in the 'inside baseball' of the Church.

"For me its about I know what I want to do and I know what I should do; now, let's see what happens."

Without trying to give away too much of the book, one chapter that really sticks out deals pants - not the pants themselves but how he would just leave them around the house. By the end of the story, his pants ended up where they were supposed to be - a small victory we talked about.

"The fact that I can come home and put them away properly means I can change. Just like everything in life, you start small then ... you build up. There are victories in life and, no matter how small they are, we need to look at them and say that I can make a change in my life in the small things. Maybe God can help make the bigger changes."

Lino is a larger than life personality who fills a room the moment he enters. He is honest in his communication, whether in person or on the radio. I asked him about the writing project and how people around him responded when he mentioned he was going to do it.

"A lot of people were afraid I was going to write a crazy book glamorizing sin. I was very conscious this whole time - Am I writing a book that says 'go out, get drunk, have fun, do what you want and then later just go to confession?' No! I concerned for my soul, too, and certainly don't want to mess around with anyone else's."

Always ready to make you laugh, he is also a man deeply serious about his faith. He wants the book to have entertainment value, but, even more, that it really touches people where they live and encourage them to take their faith seriously.

We also talked about whether there would be "Sinner, Part II," coming out and whether he would do more in this medium.

"Yes, I am. I enjoyed the process of writing. especially (being) in radio where it's so fleeting. You go do your three hours and then it goes away, you know; never to be heard from again. I like doing something that can be a little more tangible and a little more concrete.

"I've been really lucky to have a couple of publishers approach me with some ideas. I don't know what I want yet and I certainly don't know what people want. I learning toward doing a second version of sinner.

"I really did pray about this for a very long time - should I write a book? So I did it. Whatever happens next I have to re-start that prayer and re-discern all these things.

"I respect other media forms and I know what it takes to be a good writer - and I don't know if I am or not - but I know what it takes for me to become a halfway decent writer, so I can't crank out another book in two months. It's gonna be awhile and I have to make the decisions.

"I really do enjoy how much people loved the book, so I'm in the business of saying, 'All right, if I can bring some sort of peace and happiness in people's lives and encouragement to Catholicism along the way; yeah, I'd better start writing."

Lino has an ability of bringing unique worlds together. He has friends like Gary Dell'Abate, the executive producer of the Howard Stern Show and others who are deeply involved in the work of the church. He knows that the only way those who walk in the one world to honestly experience the Lord is through real Catholics - honest and open Christians - connecting with them.

"For me, one of the proudest things that happened was that the two endorsements on the back of the book are from the guy in charge of the Howard Stern Show and the guy who is in charge of the bishops in the United States.

"It's important to me that guys like Gary, who I really like - I think he's just an excellent human being - and I know a lot of Catholics who can't stand him because he's associated with the (Howard) Stern Show, and maybe that's what's turning him off to religion. If a guy like Gary and (Archbishop) Dolan get together they would have nothing but fun. If I can be the bridge that brings what other people would think are two completely different worlds together I'm all for it."
Catholic Online

"Sinner," by Lino Rulli, is published by Servant Books from St. Anthony Messenger Press.