Clever advice for parents of teenagers

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Hard to believe, but Nancy and I have been raising kids for nigh unto 31 years now. We’ve done our best to lovingly and prudently herd our oldest 10 children into and through their teenage years and, so far, everyone seems intact and no worse for the wear.

Nancy and I, on the other hand, while not any worse for the wear either, have come to the point in life where we can begin to savor the tantalizingly pleasant realization that our eleventh and last child, Stephen, will soon be entering teenagehood. And that means (dontchyaknow), that, for us, raising teenagers will in the not too distant future be something we wondrously behold . . . in the rearview mirror.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we haven’t loved and been grateful to God for all these years of living with a rambunctious throng of teens in our house at any given time, but we’re . . . shall we say, close to being ready, to transition to the next phase.

One of our favorite comedians, the insanely funny Tim Hawkins, delivers in this video some innovative advice on how to deal with teenagers. If only I could play the guitar and sing as well as he does, maybe I’d try it on my kids. Check it out.

Halloween time machine

October 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The other day, I was telling one of my teenage sons about what it was like when I was a kid and went out trick-or-treating, back in the 1960s and early 1970s. For one thing, Halloween was always observed on October 31st. None of this modern-day social engineering stuff where the local municipality “transfers” Halloween to a different day. Also, back in those days, it was pretty uncommon for parents to be out walking the streets as chaperons for their kids, unless, of course, they were little kids. But pretty much, if you were 7 or 8 and up, you’d be out trick-or-treating sans parents and with your neighborhood pals. Boy, have times changed. It’s the foolish parent who’d let his grammar school aged child go out unattended these days. As for hauling candy, I learned early on (like this comedian mentions) that a pillow case is a much better, more effective confectionary repository than a paper bag, and for the very reasons he talks about.

I want that

October 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Yes, this gem of a video has been around awhile, though perhaps some of you haven’t seen it yet, so I thought I’d post it for your daily dose of humor and levity. Personally, I think every guy (or at least every normal guy) would secretly like to have one of these jibs to tool around in — I know I would. Imagine showing up on a drive-through window on one.

This model doesn’t look street-legal, but it would be the perfect thing for some of the big Catholic conferences I speak at. What would really be deluxe would be if the conference organizers could have a ramp installed so I could ride up to the podium in style. Seriously, I’d add this to my Amazon Wish List, if only they carried it.

Physical Graffiti: A Catholic Perspective on Tattoos, Piercings, and “Body Art”

October 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Every day, across the United States — indeed, throughout the world — men and women, boys and girls, get themselves tattooed and pierced. And not just their ears. They are participating in the modern fad of “body art,” which has its origins in antiquity, but which in recent decades as developed into some extreme forms that are often quite disturbing.

— By Deacon Robert Lukosh, Envoy Magazine —

The intentional marking or mutilation of the human body under the guise of “body art” goes beyond simple tattoos or ear-piercing as adornment for women. For many, it is a personal expression of solidarity with a social cause, a trend that attracts predominately young people, driving them to ever wilder and more shocking expressions of what some term “personal mutilation” that includes: total-body tattoos, pierced eyelids, lips, noses, tongues, foreheads, and even disfigurement of the genitalia, in a never-ending quest for the most “outrageous” form of self-expression through what is commonly known as “body art.”

These forms of personal exhibition have spread rapidly throughout contemporary Western society, resulting in a secondary wave of participants (namely, the children of those who engaged in radical body art during 70s and 80s) who, like their parents and role models, are disfiguring their own bodies irrevocably, claiming as their justification “personal freedom” and a right to unlimited self-expression.

In earlier generations, garish tattoos and unusual piercings were found almost exclusively only among members of social groups and subcultures that lurked at the fringes of mainstream society. Aside from your relatives who served in the military (which is definitely not a fringe subculture), chances are, neither of your parents nor any of your grandparents, aunts, or uncles — in the case of those born before 1950 — have tattoos or unusual piercings. But look around today and you will see a massive number of people — especially young people — who have become enamored of extreme tattoos and unusual piercings.

This modern fad of body art permeates American society, affecting virtually every industry, age group, race, sex, and religion. Since many of these people occupy leadership and mentoring roles in the lives of children and young adults, such overt displays have an additional rebound effect by providing tacit justification sufficient to overcome the doubts of those who are unsure if they want to dabble in the body art fad themselves, resulting in yet a third generation of pierced and tattooed bodies. . .

(continue reading this article in PDF form).

Sperm donor admits: “I guess I was dumb. Maybe I’m being dumb now, I don’t know.”

September 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Nah. There’s no “maybe” about it, boyo. You were dumb then (all 70 +/- times) and you obviously are still dumb now — extra-strength dumb, if you ask me. But I will give you credit for not being so dumb that you failed to disclose your dumbness to this nice lady who seems to have been thinking, at least until this freaky moment was captured on film, that you might be a worthy candidate for husbandhood. I applaud Your Dumbness for at least letting her know about this.

(Can you imagine Ozzie & Harriet having to deal with this?)


If the @Gospels had been written in 2011

September 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Then @Jesus told his @disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his #cross and follow me. For whoever would save his #life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it …

Hey,! This is news to me!

September 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I saw the headline above on the website. And to think! I didn’t even attend the event. So, I’m guessing I should be hearing something soon from the WYD check-writers about this. Of course, a wire transfer would be  just fine, as far as I’m concerned. Guess I’d better start picking out all the worthy Catholic charities and apostolates to whom I’ll be donating all my WYD profits.

Fellowship of the Unashamed Mission Statement

September 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Here’s the text of an excellent mission statement I ran across many years ago and which I have read at various seminars I’ve given around the country. I did not write this, though I adapted it slightly, and since so many folks have expressed how much they like it, I post it here for those who would like a copy.

A few words about the importance of Catholic Radio

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Those of you who live in Central Ohio either already know and love your local Catholic radio station — Saint Gabriel Catholic Radio — or you soon will. The signal is already heard strongly across the greater Columbus area and, happily, the station is making progress toward its goal of being able to dramatically increase its reach with a planned range covering nearly the entire state of Ohio! Here’s a little video clip I recorded earlier this year in which I talk a bit about why Catholic radio is such a beneficial and important part of the Church’s outreach in a given locality. If you aren’t already supporting your local Catholic radio station, please get on board and help this very important cause. It’s well worth it, believe me.

Unpleasant product packaging

August 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

My lovely wife went shopping today and returned laden with our family’s next two weeks’ worth of victuals and delectables. This colorful package was among the items she very thoughtfully picked up, no doubt not having read the label closely. But I did. And I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. I don’t know if it properly qualifies as Engrish, or if it is just an example of crass hi-jinx from an oh-so-clever American package designer.

My advice: Keep your wits about you if you should ever venture over to World Table.


Peter Kreeft answers the question: What is love?

August 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

From Envoy Magazine:

No subject is more important, in any day. And no subject is more misunderstood, in our day.

Most mature people, if asked to choose just one word for the meaning of life, Life’s greatest value, the most important gift one can give or receive, the thing that makes us the happiest, the thing that makes one a saint, the supreme wisdom, and even the eternal inner life of God, would say that it is “love.” And they are right.

Without qualification, without any ifs, ands, or buts, God’s Word tells us, straight as a left jab, that “love is the greatest thing there is” (1 Cor 13: 13).

Scripture also tells us that “God IS love.” It never says God is justice or beauty or righteousness, though He is just and beautiful and righteous. But “God is love,” (1 John 1:8), not just loving or a lover, though He is that too. (That’s why He is a Trinity: He is Lover, Beloved, and Loving, complete love in three Persons. Love is God’s essence, His whole being. Everything in Him is love.)

Even His justice is love. Paul identifies “the justice of God” in Romans 1: 17 with the most apparently unjust event in all history: deicide, or the murder of God, the crucifixion; for that was God’s great act of love. On our part, that was the most unjust, evil, and hateful thing we ever did; but on God’s part, that was His perfect justice, because it was perfect love, and so good that we call the holiday on which we celebrate this murderous deed “Good Friday.”

But no word is more misunderstood in our society than the word love. One of the most useful books we can read is C. S. Lewis’s unpretentious little masterpiece The Four Loves. In it, Lewis clearly distinguishes supernatural love, agape (ah-gah-pay), the kind of love Christ is and lived and taught, from the natural loves: storge (natural affection or liking), eros (natural sexual desire), and philia (natural human friendship). All natural loves are good; but supernatural love, the love that God is, agape, is the greatest thing in the world. And part of the Gospel, the “good news,” is that it is available to us; that Christ is the plug that connects us to the infinite supply of divine love-electricity. . . . (continue reading)

Pope Benedict XVI rebuts criticism of World Youth Day

August 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

On one hand, I think that World Youth Day is a very good idea and has the capacity to change the lives of young Catholics for the better by guiding them to a deeper love for, knowledge of, and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve witnessed exactly that kind of positive transformation in several young people I have known who have attended WYD, and I know of several men who discovered their vocation to the priesthood as a result of attending WYD. Deo gratias.

On the other hand, though, I must admit that I have been dismayed and perplexed by some of the oddball things that have happened at past WYDs, including the three I have personally attended: Denver (1993), Manila (1995) and Paris (1997). Understandably, a good deal of criticism about WYD has been swirling around out there for years — some of it for antics that absolutely merited denunciation (e.g., when a woman portrayed Jesus Christ in a living stations of the cross in Mile High Stadium).

But some of the carping, especially that emanating from the amen corner of certain schismatic, independent-chapel types, is based mainly on an entrenched disdain for Blessed Pope John Paul II, the prime architect of WYD. “If JPII did it, I’m agin it!” is the knee-jerk attitude some of those folks display toward anything the late pontiff had a hand in.

For my part, I freely, if reluctantly, grant that there were some seriously problematic things the late Holy Father did that I dearly wish he had not done (e.g., kissing a Koran, the Assisi inter-religious prayer events, allowing altar girls), as well as one thing in particular that I dearly wish he had done but didn’t: namely, to have sacked at least a few of those notoriously malfeasant, corrupt, and publicly heterodox bishops who did such tremendous damage to the church during the wasting years of their devouring regimes.

But that’s just me.

For the record, I love and esteem Pope John Paul II and am convinced of his heroic personal sanctity. And yet, I also recognize that the variegated aspects of his pontificate are a needed reminder of the hard lesson that even good and holy and courageous popes like him, are imperfect and can make mistakes in how they govern the Church.

News flash! The pope (no pope) is perfect. Yep. The Church never said they are.

Pope Benedict XVI has been forthright about this and about his own need for God’s grace and guidance as he carries the heavy cross of the papacy. For example, he said:

“Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Pray for me that I may learn to love the Lord more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more” (Address given in St. Peter’s Square, April 25, 2005).

Far from fleeing from controversy and confrontation, Pope Benedict, ever charitable and irenic, stands up resolutely to some of the baseless criticism leveled at himself and his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, regarding World Youth Day.

The phenomenon of World Youth Days has increasingly become a subject of debate, in an attempt to understand this species, so to speak, of youth culture.

Australia had never seen so many people coming from all continents, not even during the Olympics, as it did during World Youth Day. And although fears were expressed beforehand that this mass influx of young people might create some problems for public order – clogging traffic, disrupting daily life, sparking violence and drug abuse – all these fears proved unfounded. The event was a celebration of joy, a joy that in the end spread even to the doubtful, and when all was said and done, no one was inconvenienced.

Those days were festive for everyone. Indeed, it was only then that people came to realize what a celebration really is – an event where people, so to speak, step outside themselves, beyond themselves, and thus are truly with themselves and with others.

What, then, really happens at a World Youth Day? What are the forces at play? Popular analyses tend to view these days as a variant of contemporary youth culture, a sort of rock festival in an ecclesial key, with the Pope as its main attraction. Such analyses presume that, with or without faith, these festivals would be basically the same; and thus the whole question of God can be set aside. Even some Catholics would seem to agree, seeing the whole event as a huge spectacle, magnificent perhaps, but of no real significance for the question of faith and the presence of the Gospel in our time. They might be ecstatic celebrations, but in the end they would really change nothing, nor have any deeper effect on life.

This, however, leaves completely unexplained the real nature of these Youth Days and the specific character of their joy, and their power to build communion.

First of all, it has to be realized that World Youth Days do not consist only of the one week when they are brought to the attention of the world. They are preceded by a long process of preparation both practical and spiritual. The Cross, accompanied by the icon of the Mother of the Lord, goes on pilgrimage to many countries. Faith, in its own way, needs to see and to touch. The encounter with the World Youth Day Cross, which is touched and carried, becomes an interior encounter with the One who died for us on the Cross. The encounter with the Cross awakens within the young people the remembrance of the God who chose to become man and to suffer with us. We also see the woman he gave to us as our Mother.

The solemn World Youth Days are nothing if not the culmination of a long process in which the young people turn to one another and then, together, turn to Christ. In Australia it was not by chance that the Way of the Cross, winding through the city, became the high point of those days. Once again, it summed up everything that had occurred in previous years, while pointing to the One who gathers us together: to that God who loves us all the way to the Cross. Thus, the Pope himself is not the star around which everything revolves. He is completely and solely a Vicar. He points beyond himself to the Other who is in our midst.

In the end, the solemn liturgy is the centre of the whole event, because in it there takes place something that we ourselves cannot bring about, yet something for which we are always awaiting. Christ is present. He comes into our midst. The heavens are rent and the earth filled with light. This is what makes life joyful and free, uniting people with one another in a joy that cannot be compared to the ecstasy of a rock festival. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “The important thing is not to be able to organize a party but to find people who can enjoy it”. According to Scripture, joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22). This fruit was abundantly visible during those days in Sydney.

Just as a long journey precedes the celebration of World Youth Day, a continuing journey follows it. Friendships are formed which encourage a different way of life and which give it deep support. The purpose of these great Days is, not least, to inspire such friendships and so to create places of living faith in the world, places which are, at the same time, settings of hope and practical charity. . . . (continue reading)

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