The Wisdom of the Woods

“What I know of the divine science and holy scripture, I learnt in the woods and fields.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux In southeastern Pennsylvania, USA, the leaves are falling, the wind is breathing cooler, and the air smells rich with the scent of wood fires. We have a cycle of seasons here. They rise and fall from spring to winter like the very lives we live. And every season is a chance for us…

How Do We Fix This?

“… Through some mysterious crack… the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God. There is doubt, uncertainty, problems, unrest, dissatisfaction, confrontation. The Church is no longer trusted.” – Blessed Paul VI, June 1972 I’m sure many of you reading this article have had wonderful experiences with the Church and Her good sons, just as I have. You may have a wonderful pastor, a trusted confessor, or are friends with a good priest or…

Hearkening to Humanae Vitae: Paul VI’s Prophecy #3

Part 4 of 5 This is part four of a five part series unpacking the prophetic warnings Blessed Paul VI spoke in 1968 should the contraceptive pill be permitted and encouraged. View the rest of the series here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5 Today, we look at the third warning found in section 17 of Humanae Vitae. It predicted that, with the use of contraception, man “may forget the reverence due…

Hearkening to Humanae Vitae: Paul VI’s Prophecy #2

Part 3 of 5 This is part three of a five part series unpacking the prophetic warnings Blessed Paul VI spoke in 1968 should the contraceptive pill be permitted and encouraged. View the rest of the series here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5   Today, we look at the second warning found in section 17 of Humanae Vitae. It predicted that access to contraception would facilitate “a general lowering of…

The Mindful Catholic by Dr. Greg Bottaro

Is there any man or woman alive who is not looking to be affirmed for who they are as God created them to be in their own uniqueness and unrepeatability? We all ache for the affirmation that we are “unique and unrepeatable, someone chosen by eternal Love” (TOB 15:4). This “ache” is an existential reality common to every single human person. We are all made with the need to be affirmed, and when this need…

Hearkening to Humanae Vitae: Paul VI’s Prophecy #1

Part 2 of 5 This is part two of a five part series unpacking the prophetic warnings Blessed Paul VI spoke in 1968 should the contraceptive pill be permitted and encouraged. View the rest of the series here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5 Today, we look at the first warning, found in section 17 of Humanae Vitae. It predicted that access to contraception would “open wide the way for marital infidelity,” (HV, 17). One story alone will suffice to…

Hearkening to Humanae Vitae: A 5 Part Series

This is part one of a five part series unpacking the prophetic warnings Blessed Paul VI spoke in 1968 should the contraceptive pill be permitted and encouraged. View the rest of the series here: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5   Half a century ago this summer, the world witnessed the strength and conviction of Blessed Pope Paul VI, who despite the pressure of a culture fascinated with a new contraceptive…

The Longing: 4th Week of Lent

Forgiven in Love: Adored Is there not a limit beyond which the Lord’s patience and mercy are exhausted, when we’ve used up our “one last chance”? Does He not get exasperated? Is it not reasonable to think that, at some point, the scales of Divine Justice reach a tipping point that cannot be rectified? Yes, that is reasonable! But that also isn’t how the Lord deals with us. It just isn’t, and thank God! As…

The Longing: 2nd Week of Lent

Staying in Love: Practicing Last week, we reflected on the invitation that comes to us at the start of Lent from the heart of the Bridegroom – I invite you to trust me and disrobe your heart – to take off the costume of the “self-perfected disciple”, and to stand before me in vulnerability so that you may experience the profound tsunami of my love, that it may wash over and into you, and that…

5 Ways to Heal the #MeToo Movement and Solve the Problem of #ToxicMasculinity

“Wounds need to be treated, so many wounds! So many wounds! There are so many people who are wounded by material problems, by scandals… People wounded by the world’s illusions…” – Pope Francis Since the fall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in late 2017, we’ve seen a continuous descent of men from powerful places and positions to a basically non-existent existence. Their sins of abuse, sexual harassment and the mistreatment of women have been given…

The Longing: Ash Wednesday

The Encounter with Love: Pierced Have you ever noticed at weddings, when the bride is coming down the aisle, looking radiant and joyful…have you noticed how people’s heads turn back and forth, like they’re watching a tennis match? They look at her, then up at the groom, then back at her, then back to him. She is, objectively speaking, the most beautiful one there, commanding our attention, and yet, for some reason we turn our…

Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent – Year B

On the Second Sunday of Lent, as we progress toward the sacrifice of the Cross, the Church turns our focus to Jesus as He blazes with Resurrection glory in his Transfiguration. We journey with the three Apostles to the top of the mountain, which signifies a particular closeness to God. We see the Kingdom of God has appeared in power in Jesus of Nazareth. We are all terrified at this unusual sight, at this Theophany….

How to Become “Magnificent Women” and “Phenomenal Men” in 3 Simple Steps

In a recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globes that instantly went viral, former talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey addressed the deep wound that has been exposed all over the entertainment industry, American politics, and across the spectrum of the shared civic life of man and woman. In a general sense, that wound is sin. Specifically, from Miss Winfrey’s words, it’s the sin of the lust of men against women; the sordid sexual harassment of greedy men in…

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B

I’m sure that most people have received some type of mail with “URGENT” stamped on it. Today the prophet Jonah speaks an urgent message to the people of the city of Nineveh. “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.” And the people heard it, repented of their sins and their city was spared. In the Gospel, Jesus presents an urgent message and calls his Apostles to share in spreading the news: “This is the…

Homily for the Baptism of the Lord – Year B

Water is probably to most important substances on Earth. Most of the planet and our bodies are made up of water. Water can be destructive like flash floods and tsunamis, but it also can be very beautiful and therapeutic like quiet babbling brooks, streams,and gentle waterfalls. The serenity produced by a quiet lake or pond can be healing or the awesome power of the ocean can produce great wonder and awe in the Creator. A…

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent – Year B

The moment is almost here. “The mystery kept secret for long ages… [is soon to be] manifested” (Rom 16:25). Before we race ahead, though, let us linger a bit more on today’s mystery. If we are not careful, we can overlook it. Yes, one of the greatest mysteries is that the Word became flesh. But we just heard the account of the Annunciation, the moment when this Word became flesh. Today, we’re nine months from…

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year B

The Advent Season — and the 3rd Sunday of Advent, or Rejoicing Sunday, in particular! — is both a joyful and a difficult season, a season of preparing for the Coming of the Lord. “Prepare the way of the Lord!” St. John the Baptist cries out in today’s Gospel. “Prepare for His Coming!” What is difficult about Advent is that the Church is asking us to prepare for ALL THREE of the Lord’s Comings. Two…

Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent – Year B

I would imagine that in our lives we hear numerous voices. Some voices are ones that we welcome — these would be the voices that we hear in the call of the sacraments of Matrimony or Holy Orders. “I., N., take you N. to be my husband/wife.” Or in Holy Orders: “Have you found these men worthy?” This voice is not only calling us to a vocation, but this voice is also calling us to…

Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

What Jesus actually means Sometimes a very small word can make a very large difference. We hear the word “talent” in today’s gospel, and we probably assume that Jesus meant specific gifts. Athletic ability is a talent. Beauty is a talent. Intelligence is a talent. Charisma is a talent. Cooking is a talent. But what if we don’t possess these talents? What if I feel like I’m the person who only received one talent? We…

Sex: Talking to Your Little Ones

Talking to Your Little Ones About the Big Topic of Sex A much repeated sentence we hear at our Theology of the Body retreats and courses is, “I wish I heard this when I was younger!” or “I wish my parents were able to give me such a positive and beautiful message about the gift of sexuality!” Well, we can’t change the past, but by His grace we can certainly affect the present and hopefully…

23 Keys for Unlocking the Mystery of Gender, Identity, and Human Sexuality

Who am I? This fundamental question is asked ultimately by every person ever born. What is this great mystery of human life? What is our origin, and what is our destiny? As Catholics, informed by Sacred Scripture (God’s Word) and the great gifts of reason and human experience (Man’s understanding), we propose the following points to serve as a kind of manual on this mission of self-discovery. 1. The Catholic understanding of the human person is…

Coming to Our Senses

Growing Confusion on Gender Identity I read an article recently about a gay man who met a woman at a brunch in Los Angeles. The woman had transitioned to becoming a “man” through hormone therapy (testosterone injections giving her facial hair, more muscle mass, etc), and this transgender “man” then began dating the gay man, thereby becoming a gay trans “man.” They soon got “married” in a same sex “marriage” ceremony. The gay trans “man”…

Soul Meets Body

If they knew how big they’d become on the music scene, lead singer Ben Gibbard of the band “Death Cab for Cutie” once confessed, they would’ve thought twice about picking that obscure name. In these days of an even deeper obscurity over what gender we identify as, I’d like to reflect on one of my favorite DCFC’s songs “Soul Meets Body.”   From their album, Codes and Keys, released in May 2011, “Soul Meets Body” soars as an achingly beautiful…

Theology of the Body and Human Formation of Seminarians

 THEOLOGY OF THE BODY & PRIESTLY VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT: PART 5 Using Pastores Dabo Vobis (PDV) and the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF) as the guideline for this reflection on how St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body would supplement the formation of men who are candidates for the priesthood, I intend to highlight – not exhaust – some areas of particular importance where TOB expounds upon what the Church asks for in the human…

Until Death Do Us Part

What Death Taught Me About TOB   This month, on the Feast of the Visitation, marks the fourth anniversary of my father’s death. After many years of studying St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, experiencing the death of my father gave me a deeper understanding of this beautiful teaching. Pope St. John Paul II was a phenomenologist. He approached theology from a perspective of the direct lived experience of truths. When we learn…

Theology of the Body and the Role of Our Lady in Discernment

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY & PRIESTLY VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT: PART 4 St. John Paul II had a great relationship with Mary, the Mother of God.  It is said that when his earthly mother passed away when he was 9; he went to Our Lady of Czestochowa and proclaimed her to be his mother now.  This relationship grew to be one of the most important relationships in John Paul’s life.  His papal motto of Totus Tuus (Total…

Reflection for Holy Thursday

  “This is my body that is for you.” Profoundly simply, these words of Christ relayed to us by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians claims the fundamental purpose of Christ, a perfect gift of Himself, body and soul. In the words of the Eucharist prayer for this night in the liturgical year we find the purpose of so great a gift, “On the day before he was to suffer for our salvation…

Theology of the Body and Spiritual Fatherhood

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY & PRIESTLY VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT: PART 3   At the end of the movie “Saving Private Ryan”, Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks) lies dying and says quietly and profoundly to Private Ryan (played by Matt Damon), “earn this.” Of course, he speaks of the sacrifice that he, Captain Miller, and the other members of his special team of soldiers have given of their lives to save the life of Ryan.  As…

Theology of the Body and The Gift of Celibacy

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY & PRIESTLY VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT: PART 2   Celibacy and sexuality To understand celibacy it is important to have a good understanding of human sexuality, because celibacy will call for the strength to make certain renunciations, but will also (if understood and lived correctly) provide fulfillment for one’s sexual nature.  In fact, the primary reason that people sometimes see celibacy in a negative light is that they see it as denying a…

TOB: The Right to Life and Social Justice

  While the main focus of this homily is on the relationship between St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and the Right to Life, I would also like to share some thoughts, both mine and others on the important close relationship between “social justice” issues and “right to life” issues. Actually, these issues were never treated separately, but only recently are they discussed separately, as if they do not flow from the same…

Immaculate Conception and the Theology of the Body

Dec. 8 is one of my favorite feast days. Why? Because Mary’s Immaculate Conception is the certainty that what Christ did on the Cross worked. It is the living hope of humanity’s redemption. For redemption to be complete it not only has to be perfectly given, it also has to be perfectly received. It has been perfectly given in Christ, and perfectly received in Mary, who, through “a singular grace and privilege” was “redeemed from…

The Heart of the Gospel: A Divine Marriage Proposal

At the beginning of July, having just finished five weeks of evangelization training as a FOCUS missionary, I was given the opportunity to take a “Theology of the Body 1” course in Ave Maria, Florida. My previous experience with TOB had been minimal — a few classes in high school — but I believed that being able to explain TOB would help with leading Bible studies and mentoring women on campus, not to mention it…

The Haunting of Our Hearts

“We shall be haunted by a nostalgia for divine things, by a homesickness for God which is not eased in this world even by the presence of God.” – Caryll Houselander I’m certain I’m not alone in this. In feeling this feeling, this ache, that seems to always intensify when October comes. It has many names; orenda, sehnsucht, weltschmerz, hiraeth, šākan. It’s a simultaneous dissatisfaction with the world and a soul deep attraction to the…

Ten Things That Made the 2016 TOB Congress Great

Our third Theology of the Body Congress took place September 23 – 25th in Southern California, featuring three days of workshops, panel discussions and keynotes applying the teaching of Theology of the Body to the problems that plague modern families. Here are some of the best things about the Congress weekend! 1. Nearly 1000 Attendees We were excited by a surge of registrations in the last two weeks leading up to the Congress, in addition…

Lions, Tigers & Humans (Oh My!)

I was standing in a checkout line at a grocery store not too long ago, waiting to pay for my items, when I overheard the cashier and the customer ahead of me talking.“How’s the baby?!” “Good, real good. We’re exhausted.” I smiled, thinking of our little one, who was just turning five months and starting to teethe. We were exhausted too! “Oh they’ll do that to ya!” the cashier continued. “Yeah, we just put her…

How to Burst into a Living Flame of Love 

Have you ever had that feeling, that “Groundhog Day” feeling? Like the character of Phil in the movie (Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray), you wake up every day to the same morning. You go through the same motions, you say the same things to the same people, you retrace the same steps. You’re essentially sleep-walking while you’re awake. In the words of singer-songwriter John Cougar Mellencamp, “It’s beige to beige, that’s all there is these…

TOB & a “Mid-Life Crisis”

  When I turned 50, I experienced what most people would call a “mid-life crisis.” It seemed silly to me that a woman of my maturity and life experience would be seeking answers to fundamental questions of human existence.  Don’t women my age usually have it all figured out? Was I the only one who felt that life had passed her by and she missed the boat on so many fronts? I was sitting with…

TOB, WOMANHOOD, & CONSECRATED VIRGINITY

I’ve been aware of Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body since I was a teenager, when my parents attended all three immersion courses at the Theology of the Body Institute. They encouraged me to do the same, and in 2014, I attended the first remote course offered near New Orleans where I live. I hoped that it would help me in my vocational discernment. I have always felt that God wanted me…

My Whole Self “For the Sake of the Kingdom”

I first heard the phrase “Theology of the Body” as a junior in college at the University of Cincinnati.  A woman I had met at an archdiocesan program in Cincinnati suggested that I look into it.  I picked up Christopher West’s book for “beginners” not long after, and it spoke truth to me.  The college scene today can be a tumultuous one when trying to understand our sexuality.  As a committed Catholic, it was a…