7 Effective Ways to Respond to Crisis in the Catholic Church

Crisis, accusation, and the revelation of sin has left a wake of sorrow and devastation in the Catholic Church over the last few weeks. Bill Donaghy and Christopher West have collaborated to write a short resource to guide us through these times. This resource intends not to fix the problems in the Church today, but rather forms a path ahead for believers who are a mixture of righteous anger, frustration, horror and hope for justice…

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…

Lent, Looking and the Lord: Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

You and I are blind. Due to the pain of sin and the fear that comes from these wounds, our perception of reality is greatly distorted. The Good News is that one of Jesus’ “job descriptions” is to give sight to the blind. That is to say, to help us see reality according to the Father’s loving gaze and His original plan for creation. This is why Jesus is a Redeemer, while creation was originally…

Virgin, Spouse, and Mother

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day that honors the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin. In 1854, with the Bull Ineffabilis, Pope Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: “…We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in…

St. Gertrude the Great & the Divine Gaze

On November 16th, the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302). In a General Audience on October 6, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of her as “one of the most famous mystics, the only German woman to be called ‘Great’, because of her cultural and evangelical stature: her life and her thought had a unique impact on Christian spirituality… She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in…

HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME – YEAR C

In today’s second reading from the second letter of Saint Paul to Timothy we hear the beautiful words that should remind everyone of us of the great gift of priesthood. Paul asks Timothy “to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (V. 6). I invite you to reflect on the amazing Church we belong to, that is the Catholic Church that is Apostolic. It is through…

TOB and the Freedom to Sip a Beer

The Theology of the Body let me order a beer. After studying TOB for two years at the suggestion of my wonderful bride Katie, I recently found myself in Germany at a restaurant nursing a traveler’s thirst. Without thinking twice, I ordered a Radler (a lager mixed with lemonade). When I say that TOB let me order a beer, perhaps I need to clarify. You see, the FIRST time I ordered a Radler in Germany was…

Homily for the Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C

  The Opening Prayer for this Sunday’s Holy Mass for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time is “pregnant” with themes from St. John Paul II’s catechesis called “Men and Women He Created Them-A Theology of the Body.” We just prayed for God to “fill our hearts” with the warmth of His love to attain the promises He has made to us “which surpass every human desire.” But, what is this “human desire” or human ache?…

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C

  Archbishop Fulton Sheen often spoke in his retreats of God’s tendency toward “love’s delays,”[1] examples by which our heart is expanded with longing as we wait patiently for the Lord to make good on His promises. Our needs are not immediately fulfilled, our desires are not immediately satisfied, and our prayers are not immediately answered. God delays his arrival while we grow more anxious for his presence. The deeper the hunger, it seems, the…

When a Rising MTV Star Discovered TOB

In the Fall of 2007, I was in the process of hitting a “bottom” of sorts. Everything seemed great – my rock band, Army Of Me, had just released our first major label album on Atlantic Records. A video was in heavy rotation on MTV, our single was playing on radio stations nationwide, and we were playing concerts with artists such as Dave Matthews, Switchfoot, and Coldplay. But just three weeks before that album release,…

Communion-cation: Say What You Need To Say

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” – C.S. Lewis Growing up, my guy cousins and I were infamous for scrutinizing our uncles. From pranks to insults, as creative pre-teens, we dished it all. One uncle in particular received the most of our harassment. I remember picking on him about the words…

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time– Year C

“How much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” asks Jesus, with a rhetorical twist, as he concludes his exhortation to pray with insistence and confidence and simplicity. And I ask myself, “When do I ever ask my Father in heaven for the Holy Spirit?” I know I ask God for many things: for health for my friends and loved ones, for solutions to difficult and painful…

Confessions of an NFP Advocate

I wear many hats. Most people know me as a wife and professional mother. To my kids, I’m the designated constructor of forts. (Okay, I will admit, the forts are really for me!) Others know me as a Zumba-loving baker, who’s happiest while dancing…regardless of whether there is music. But what few people know about me is that in my “spare” time, I am an accredited Natural Family Planning instructor—in other words, a person with…

OVER THE RAINBOW

Why are there so many songs about rainbows And what’s on the other side? – Kermit the Frog In the summer of 2014, President Barack Obama, by virtue of the power of his office, declared June to henceforth be known as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. Just a year later, in June of 2015, the campaign for same sex marriage saw a legal victory with a 5/4 vote in the Supreme Court declaring that two people of the same sex could be civilly married. The campaign…

He Moves in Mysterious Ways

I am very drawn to Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way”, which embraces cultivating love in the everyday moments of our lives.  In this way, we show our love for God and become saints.  Similarly, God uses apparent coincidence and the stuff of this world to show His love for us.  Please ponder with me the ways that God revealed and affected His love in me surrounding loss of children, Theology of the Body Institute retreats, and spiritual direction.  I pray this leads you to recognize your own unique love…

Reflection for Ash Wednesday

Read the Gospel Passage for Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday inaugurates Lent, and the Church invites us to be with Jesus in the desert. This will be my second Ash Wednesday as a priest. Last year, I was surprised to see that while most of the year the Church struggles to fill her pews, on Ash Wednesday throngs of people came out to be smeared with ashes and told to repent. The large number of people…

Will You Be Mine? TOB & Valentine’s Day

Remember Valentine’s Day in grade school, when you’d decorate a mailbox for your desk? It could either be the best day, or the worst. Maybe your mailbox would be filled with candy and a little perforated Hallmark card from your secret crush! Or maybe that secret crush would walk right past the decorated box, (that secretly symbolized your vulnerable heart) or EVEN worse – drop in a card that read “Happy Valentine’s Day, friend?” Oh,…

Free Talk by Damon Owens: “Love, Mercy & the New Evangelization”

    Theology of the Body Institute Executive Director Damon Owens gets personal in “Love Mercy & the New Evangelization”, the titular keynote address of the 2014 International Theology of the Body Congress. With humor, pathos, & humility, Damon draws on Pope Francis’ call to evangelization through encounter, and shares about his own conversion through relationship with his beloved wife Melanie. His honest reflections on family, kids, & adoption launch outward to a larger reflection…

Mary Consoles Eve – A Reflection for the Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

On a day when many Catholics are mindful of our country’s ugliest and most painful sin – legalized abortion – we offer a reflection on a piece of sacred art by Sr. Grace Remington of the Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey, titled “Mary Consoles Eve.”  This simple crayon and pencil drawing captures all the weight of humanity’s travail since Eve and Adam’s fall. With subtle gestures and iconic symbols, we see the meeting of these…

Risky Business – A Man’s Take on Risk & Relationships

To start, let’s have a basic lesson in risk and investing. Keeping it simple – when you make an investment, the rate of return is usually based on a mathematical formula with a key factor being calculated risk. Why invest? Because we seek some sort of gain or growth on what we put in. You start a business to make money, you buy stocks to be paid dividends, etc. etc.   You give something with the…

Delighted! [1 of 2] 2015 Capital Campaign Prelim Results

Dear Friends in Christ, While we wait a bit longer for remaining pledges to arrive, I could not wait any longer to share my gratitude and delight for your historic level of support for the Theology of the Body Institute’s 2015 “What if TOB?” Capital Campaign! Here are some of the amazing preliminary campaign results: Over 300 donations received* (a record high) More than half were first-time donors! $84,350 in donations received* $168,700 raised with…

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, we refer to as Gaudete Sunday. We call it this because the entrance antiphon is taken from Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always…” The Latin word for “rejoice” is “gaudete.” Sometimes, the priest wears a rose colored vestment on this day, (as I am doing now. It is not called pink, and it is not, as worthy as the cause may be, a sign…

Here’s What REALLY Happens When You Donate to TOBI…

Considering the Institute as one of the charitable organizations you support this year? Here are three goals your gift can help us achieve in 2016: 1.    INCREASED SCHOLARSHIPS In 2014 the TOB Institute offered scholarships to 122 students. These were youth ministers, religious sisters, priests, teachers and others who impact the community, who couldn’t afford to pursue immersion in TOB without financial aid. We hope to grow that number in 2016 so that ANYONE who needs assistance in attending a TOB Immersion Course can…

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

Did you ever notice the unique vesture that accompanies all the significant moments in our Christian vocation? A baby brought for baptism is clothed in a gleaming white garment, exhorted to keep unstained the newfound dignity he has received. A bride turns heads as she walks down the aisle, radiant on the day of her wedding, an image of Christ’s bride, the Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. When religious men or…

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family – Year C

Today we celebrate the Holy Family, which quite simply is a picture of a family. It is sadly ironic that sometimes our reaction to the Holy Family is discouragement. We see a Christmas card of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in which everything is perfect and beautiful, and our first thought is, “My family looks nothing like that!!” To begin with, we need to be clear – the Holy Family is not a Christmas card. This…

Part 3/3: Discerning Your Vocation

Have you ever pondered your place in the world? Asked the question, “What will I be when I grow up?” (Are some of you still asking that one?) Vocation is often a long and crooked road for many of us, especially the devout and sensitive heart seeking above all, God’s will. “What does God want me to be? What’s His will for me? How do I separate God’s will from my will?” good young people ask…

Culture Shock and the Listening Heart

We have certainly felt some dramatic shifts in the cultural tectonic plates for the United States and for the world in the last few months. The following headlines and developments from celebrities to Supreme Court justices will give us a picture of how these shifts are changing the landscape of what it means to be a human person and of the definition of marriage and family. On April 24, 2015, in a two-hour interview, former…

The Word, the Body & the Law

I was raised in Evangelical Protestantism, and formed in Natural Law as a lawyer, but Theology of the Body has transformed my work, religion, and life. My faith started with the Bible, especially Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” I heard the word of God as a child and came to believe I needed Jesus to save me from my own sinful nature. As a Protestant, I…

Detox from Do-Do

I just noticed in typing the above title that there’s a double meaning here. I meant it first as a statement about the toxic nature of our Western production-oriented-always-doing (“do-do”) mentality. But it’s also true to say that this mentality is a load of doo-doo. I sat in this week on a colleague’s class at the TOB Institute – “Theology of the Body and Art: The Way of Beauty” taught by Bill Donaghy. He stressed…

Stumbling on the Way of Beauty

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring It was a signature grace for me to teach for the first time this summer a new elective course for the Theology of the Body Institute; The Way of Beauty. This was a week…

The Holy (Refugee) Family

“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you…” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. – Matthew 2:13-14 With just weeks before the World Meeting of Families descends upon our beloved city of Philadelphia, the gaze of the world is on a different gathering of families; those clustered in shanty towns of tents and cardboard on the borders…

When a Man Loves a Woman

What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? Are there distinctions or differences? Are they merely biological concepts? Can they be manipulated and conditioned? Can we alter, recreate or refashion our bodies however we want? Is our sexual identity as male and female just like parts that can be replaced or rearranged? Or is there something more than just biology about our bodies? Is there a theology?…

Beauty, Cake & TOB

I am an artist, but not just any artist! My art looks lovely and tastes absolutely scrumptious! While cake decorating has been a passion of mine for the past ten years, it has taken on a whole new meaning through my study at the Theology of the Body Institute, particularly the course: “Theology of the Body and Art: The Way of Beauty.” Here are five things Theology of the Body has helped me understand as…

THREE THOUGHTS THAT HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE

I was asked not long ago to share what I thought might be the three most powerful thoughts from Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. These three things continually fill me with wonder and awe, and are becoming the tripod on which I stand to view God, life, and everything in between: 1.  The Body is Holy. Many of us grow up being conditioned to think that are bodies are somehow dirty, our…

3 WAYS TOB BETTER PREPARED US FOR MARRIAGE

November 7th, 2013 was a cold night, and I was street performing at an art gallery when a REALLY cute girl with a camera approached me, and asked if I would like to be in one of her films. Later that week Zoe and I met at a cafe to discuss the film but instead ended up talking about Theology of the Body. A year and a half later, we are engaged and will be married in three…

JESUS, THE X-MEN, & MY BOYHOOD DREAM OF FLYING

Flowing from the unprecedented joy and awe inspired by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in this still ongoing Easter season of the Church, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the five reasons why I believe Jesus was one of the original X-Men (If you are not familiar with the cultural phenomenon of the X-Men via graphic novel and blockbuster Marvel films over the last decade concerning people born with special powers,…

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY AND THE LIGHT OF TRUTH

I’m sure anyone reading this has already seen Fifty Shades of Grey to the point of saturation; a myriad of images, quotes, stats and rants on their Facebook and Twitter feeds about the “groundbreaking” film that has put sex toys in Target department stores (true story). In case you haven’t heard, it’s the tale of a dominating billionaire who seeks to obsessively own a college student, luring her into his sadomasochistic world where her pain brings him sexual pleasure. It…

5 WAYS THEOLOGY OF THE BODY RUINED MY LIFE

In the Old Testament, Joshua marched around Jericho and blew trumpets until the walls of the city crashed down in ruins. So too, did the teaching of Saint John Paul II cause certain walls in my life to come crumbling down. The image of the late pope shouting over the walls of the city during his visit to Poland – “You are not who they say you are!” is particularly apt. Here are some ways Theology…

THE THREE “Cs” OF TOB

Across the wide expanse of the Church, in the great diversity of her cultural incarnations, and in the varied and sometimes divisive opinions of her children, the phrase theology of the body (TOB) has been surfacing more and more. From Rome’s October synod last year and the multicultural Humanum colloquium that followed it, to articles in periodicals spanning a wide theological spectrum and apostolates incorporating its themes into their outreach, a reawakening and revisiting of St….

5 REASONS I CAN’T GET ENOUGH TOB

Student Anna Meier shares the top five reasons she keeps getting on a plane from Texas to study Theology of the Body in person with us.   5. God is Using it to Renew the Deepest Desires of my Heart Exploring who God created me to be has put me back in touch with the childhood wonder I’ve had difficulty tapping into as an adult. Studying Theology of the Body has helped me reawaken my dreams and desires,…