Tuesday, July 29, 2014

digital revolution

Fr. Denis Lemieux's book on technology, philosophy, + theology, 2013
you say you want a [digital] revolution
well, you know
we all want to change the world
you tell me that it's evolution
well, you know
we all want to change the world (The Beatles - Revolution, 1968)
as we celebrate the feast of St. Martha today, i thought i would post my book review of Fr. Denis Lemieux's latest book, on technology and staying human, staying Christian.  as Martha was worried and distracted by many things, we too can understand what she was going through!  indeed, we are in the middle of a digital revolution.  how do we choose the better part?  of course, we do not turn our back on our responsibilities, on our ministries, our work, etc., but we need to find balance!  i enjoyed his book.  indeed, i think it is a commentary on Martha and Mary, from a technological, Christian point of view.
I always enjoyed technology – indeed, I spent five years of my life as a computer programmer staring at the blue screen of death. It was the light I needed to come to know God in Our Lord Jesus Christ. I had lost my balance and started believing that I was made for technology. However, as the Gospel of Mark reminds us, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27) Technology is made for man, not man for technology. I guess how we use this technology is always the question. 
Last year a friend of mine bought me the book from one of my seminary classmates, “The I-Choice: Staying Human in a Digital Age”, by Fr. Denis Lemieux (Justin Press, 2013).

I finished it within the week. A short book, eleven chapters helping us regain that balance à la Martha and Mary (Lc 10:38-42). I love my digital family, and the Archdiocese of the Internet is growing each and every day! But it is difficult not to get lost sometimes! Like Martha, I get distracted and worried by many things: Instagram, Twitter, facetubing, and youbooking, blogging, etc.! There are many things that push for our attention, and Fr. Denis invites us to choose the better part, an invitation at staying human! 
The book helps us realize our need to choose like Mary, to find that time of silence during the day, a silence which speaks to the heart. I enjoyed Fr. Denis' use of philosophy and theology to introduce the topic. His pop culture references often made me laugh! Like Martha we all have responsibilities, and in this context, must use technology wisely. Fr. Denis reminds us that technology is made for us. We should take time and reflect on how these technologies help us. Our choices should lead us to grow in our relationship with God, with neighbour, with self.
I recommend this book because it does help us review our use of technology, thereby allowing us to stay human. Fr. Denis Lemieux has been a member of Madonna House since 1991, and was ordained a priest in 2004. He has a licentiate in sacred theology and has written two books on Marian spirituality and theology. He currently resides in Combermere, Ontario where he divides his time between teaching, writing, and spiritual direction. 
you know Fr. Denis has a blog !!!  go check it out!  St. Martha, Martha, Martha, pray for us!  : )  peace!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

another love

(Rocky Balboa, 1976)

"i wanna cry and i wanna learn to love
but all my tears have been used up
another love, another love
all my tears have been used up."
(Tom Odell - Another Love, 2012)
what's this 'another love' which we seek?  what's wrong with the love the world has to offer?  trying to kick it up a notch in my ministry, next week i'm off to the International Conference on the Theology of the Body, in Philidelphia, PA.

as someone mentioned to me the other day, i will also seek out and eat a few Philly Cheesesteaks.  and, as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassatti (yesterday) always encourages to do, verso l'alto, always higher, i look forward in running up the Rocky stairs with Ted Hurley (who will win this race?)!

so, what is Theology of the Body?
"... Broken families, abortion, contraception, Internet pornography, clergy abuse, homosexual marriage - our Church and world is in the midst of a profound sexual crisis.  Is there a way out?" (West, 2004)
as we prepare to underline the family in a new way this year - Synod of Bishops in October on the Family -, on how to build strong families today, to support and encourage them with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ, i very much look foward in this conference!  though i lived in Pittsburgh for about 1.5 years, i have never visited Philly yet.  so, in his book (my prep for next week) - Theology of the Body for Beginners:  A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II's Sexual Revolution - Christopher West is helping us understand, is helping me understand another Love (our union with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ).  In it he explores the profound  interconnections between sex and the deepest questions of human existence, including:
  • what is the meaning of life?
  • why did God create us male and female?
  • how de we attain true happiness on earth?
  • what kind of joys await us in heaven?
  • why is there evil in the world and how do we overcome it?
  • how can we experience the love ( = another love) we long for in the depth of our hearts?
pray for us who will be attending the conference.  follow the conference via @2014TOBCongress, and, of course, stay tuned to a few pictures, and possibly some real-time tweeting (@jsblake) during the talks.

peace.

ps:  q? blogging again?  a! i hope so!  see you soon.

pss:  another love is "a song about an individual’s turmoil; wishing to show their affection to their partner, yet weighed down by lingering feelings of distrust and sadness from a previous relationship. It is implied that the relationship suffers from this constant comparison through both the rhyming couplets of the song and the building atmosphere of the music (wikipedia.org)!"  i like the Zwette remix, and there is also the American release version (2013), but the original (2012) is better.  both videos offer a different interpretation to the song.  here's the original:



Wednesday, January 01, 2014

God must have spent a little more time on you

(William Adolphe Bouguereau - Innocence, 1893)
"in all of creation, all things great and small
you are the one that surpasses them all
more precious than any diamond or pearl
they broke the mold when you came in this world

and then i'm trying hard to figure out
just how i ever did without
the warmth of your smile, the heart of a child
that's deep inside, it leaves me purified."
(*NSync - God Must Have Spent A Little More Time on You, 1997)
who knew *NSync were theologians.  wow, right, i know eh?! #bestsongevah they dedicated this song to their moms, and today, i, we, dedicate to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God!

happy holy New Year!  peace.

ps.  the video:


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

sigh no more


"Love; it will not betray you
dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
be more like the man you were made to be."
(Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, 2009)
rereading past Christmas posts, here's a gem from Fr. Michael Newman, a fellow classmate:
"today we celebrate Christmas – the feast on which God in Jesus becomes one of us to set us free from all that chains and enslaves us and through his life and example to show us how to live as sons + daugthers of God in the world. in his Christmas homily in 1620 St. Francis de Sales spoke of Jesus as 'Love coming into the world to set us free.' this Love frees us from our past and leads us into the future of 2014. or, as stated in the song, this divine Love 'will not betray you, dismay or enslave you; it will set you free. be more like the man you were meant to be.'"
Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noël!  union de prière.

peace.

ps.  the video:





Thursday, December 19, 2013

listen to your heart


"listen to your heart
when He's calling for you.
listen to your heart
there's nothing else you can do.
i don't know where you're going
and i don't know why,
but listen to your heart
before you tell Him goodbye."
(Roxette - Listen to Your Heart, 1989)
holy hashtag batman!  how can i not have quoted Roxette until now!  shame on me!  i love this song.  and, you should too!  :)

we are almost in the Fourth Week of Advent, and most people continue to echo the same things:  i am not ready.  i still have this and that to do, must call him and her, visit here, there and everywhere!  i still have homilies to write!
"How frightful it is to be a priest!  How we ought to pity a priest who celebrates the Mass as though it were a routine event!  How wretched it is to be a priest without any interior life."  (St. John Vianney)
indeed, let us continue to pray for our brothers and sisters looking for the true meaning of Christmas, that they may find Him.  and, that those who have found, may continue to search for Him.  each and every vocation should lead the other more closerly towards God in Our Lord Christ.  let's prepare our hearts together, so as not forget why and who we are celebrating on the 25 of December.
"Noise is a great obstacle to hearing Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart.  Finding time every day for silent prayer, silent listening, is critical.  Jesus' desire to tell us our vocation is much greater than our desire to know it, but we must be willing and able to hear it.  We must show the Lord through our fidelity to prayer that we desire to know his perfect will regarding our vocations." (Fr. Brannen, 2012)
however, it is hard to find that silence during each and every day, when everyone around seems to be bringing the noise (à la Public Enemy + Anthrax, yea boi!).  i remember what we read at this time last year regarding the search for balance.  here's the article from Stéphane Laporte in La Presse!  enjoy:
Q? Quel sens donnons-nous à nos actions du temps des Fêtes
Les vitrines des magasins sont toutes décorées, cadeaux qu'il nous faut acheter, cartes … , partés, décorer le sapin, recevoir toute la famille qu'il nous faut recevoir! 
Et durant ce tourbillon de figures imposées qu'on appelle le temps des Fêtes, jamais on ne prendra le temps de se demander: pourquoi on fait tout ça? On ne se pose tellement pas de question, on est tellement dressés, on est tellement programmés qu'on ne sait même plus ce que l'on fête. Pas grave... Le pape du Vatican nous dit que l'on fête Noël. Le pape de Hawkesbury nous dit que l'on fête décembre. Alors, on fête... Même si on en n'a pas vraiment envie. Les gens embarquent dans le traîneau du temps des Fêtes, en n'ayant hâte que d'une chose: que la promenade finisse au plus vite (encore des cadeaux, cartes...). Pourtant, ils vont décorer leur maison, ils vont acheter des cadeaux à tout le monde, ils vont sortir, ils vont recevoir, ils vont s'étamper un sourire dans la face mais sans que cela ne leur procure le moindre bonheur. Le temps des Fêtes est une tâche. Un mal nécessaire. Comme le dentiste et l'impôt. C'est pas joyeux Noël, ni joyeux décembre. C'est coûteux Noël, coûteux décembre. 
Il y a dans toute cette abondance de lumières, de bébelles et de bouffe, un grand absent: le sens. Quel sens donnons-nous à nos actions du temps des Fêtes? Euh... J'sais pas... Et vous? C'est plate, si on pouvait l'acheter au magasin, le sens, ce serait fait. On pourrait le cocher sur notre liste. On a trouvé un sens. Next! Mais trouver un sens, ce n'est pas aussi simple que de trouver un centre de table. C'est pour ça qu'on est si nostalgiques des Noëls de notre enfance. Des Noëls blancs, des Noëls purs. Tout avait un sens. On fêtait le petit Jésus né dans une étable, à minuit, la nuit de Noël. On avait tous une crèche dans la tête. Et on voyait la scène comme si les caméras de CNN avaient été là. Le petit bébé dans la paille, sa maman vierge qui le contemple, le père bienveillant qui les surveille, l'haleine du boeuf, de l'âne et de l'agneau qui les réchauffe et l'étoile qui brille tout en haut servant de GPS aux rois mages qui accourent porter des cadeaux. 
Et il était né pourquoi, le petit Jésus? Pour sauver le monde. Ça, c'était du sens! Fêter Noël, c'était fêter notre Sauveur. Méchante bonne raison de décorer et de faire cuire la dinde. Un sauveur, ça ne naît pas tous les jours. Bon d'accord, il ne nous avait pas sauvés au complet encore mais il était censé revenir finir la job. Alors, ... Q? Quel sens donnons-nous à nos actions du temps des Fêtes?
bonne marche d'Avent, en avant!  united in prayer.  peace.

ps:  for more on discerning the diocesan priesthood, please visit the older posts under priesthood.

pss:  the video:




Sunday, December 15, 2013

time to say goodbye

Paroisse Très-Sainte-Trinité, 2013
Rockland, On
"when you were so far away
i sit alone and dream of the horizon
then i know that you are here with me, with me
building bridges over land and sea
shine a blinding light for you and me
to see, for us to be."
(Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman - Time To Say Goodbye, 1996)
ouch!  this doesn't get any easier.  i am moving at the start of January.  yep, in 3 weeks i will be in a new parish, in Rockland.  that is the journey of a diocesan priest.

transitions are never easy, and should never be underestimated.  i am experiencing once again similar feelings to those times when God calls.  He says, "Go!", and i say, "no?"  of course, we are all afraid when He calls, when He expects something from us!  because, in our freedom, we can actually say, "no!"  we are invited on this journey of faith, to imitate Our Lady, and so many more - then, present, future - that say, "Yes!" to God with an undivided heart!  trust in God, always!  i continue to say Yes! to Him, and to love His People.  and so, when my spiritual father, ABp Prendergast, invited me to be the adminstrator for the next few months, i said yes!

Paroisse St-Pierre-Apôtre, 2013
Hawkesbury, On
my new parish as of January 6th, 2014:  Paroisse Très-Sainte-Trinité à Rockland, Ontario (or see wikipedia.org - EN, FR).  i feel joy, at the invitation to know and love my new family;  sadness at saying goodbye to my other family at Paroisse St-Pierre-Apôtre.  i have come to know a few well, and was beginning to take steps to know others better.  finally, maybe some fear + trembling?  entering into the unknown, it is natural to feel afraid.  however, "do not be afraid" is the chorus of the angels and Our Lord to his disciples.  among everything that is happening, i feel at peace, in Him!  i know the joy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and He helps me on my path, my journey.  i know He takes care of me, and i know my new family will too!

i often hear the expression, "time heals all wounds".  ah, um, how do you say, "WRONG!" (side tangent:  i'm taken back to the early '90s, and Dana Carvey yelling "wrong" at everybody (à la The McLaughlin Group)!  remember?  it is genius!  eh?)  anywho, time does not heal all wounds.  God does!  it is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ who heals us in His Word and Sacraments.  i look forward in sharing my faith in Rockland!

et deux, trois p'tit mots pour ma nouvelle communauté, ma nouvelle Famille à Rockland, je repête ce que j'ai dit ça fait deux ans et demi:
j'ai hâte a vous connaitre/aimer, et de me laisser connaitre/aimer par vous, sur ce chemin vers Dieu en Jésus! comme le Curé d'Ars, je dis, "vous m'avez montrez le chemin pour Rockland, je vous montrerai le chemin du Ciel." (moi, 2011)
of course, it is never time to say goodbye!  i am still in the diocese, and we will see each other later!  union de prière.  peace.

ps.  the video:


Thursday, December 12, 2013

let's talk about sex

Pope Francis, Person of the Year 2013,
a celibate man!
"yo, i don't think we should talk about this
come on, why not?
people might misunderstand what we're tryin' to say, you know?
no, but that's a part of life!" (Salt 'n' Pepa - Let's Talk About Sex, 1991)
"well, isn't that special" to quote Dana Carvey's character, The Church Lady.  here we are trying to prepare for Christmas, and the culture we live in produces yet another ridiculous article on celibacy.  there are so many good things to read, please don't waste your time on this article from the New York Times.  rather, read Fr. James Martin, s.j.'s reply:
Oh brother. More lazy stereotypes about celibates. Bill Keller’s op-ed today in The New York TimesSex and the Single Priest” (ha ha) says that pretty much all celibate priests are lonely and that celibacy “surely played some role” in the sexual abuse crisis. By his own admission, Mr. Keller hasn’t been an active member of the church since around high school. But that’s not the problem with his piece: former Catholics have written perceptively about the church. The problem is that Keller’s article is based largely on the opinions of two priests who left the priesthood and a sister who left her order, and his own speculation about what the celibate life must be like. That’s like writing a piece on marriage and speaking only to divorced men and women. “Yeah,” some of them might say, “married life stinks.” 
Maybe it would have been helpful to look at some actual data. Sure, there is some loneliness in the priesthood--and there are problems in married life too. But the picture that Mr. Keller paints is ridiculous. 
Ironically, Mr. Keller likes Pope Francis a great deal and speaks of his overall approach to the church approvingly. But he somehow missed the fact that Jorge Mario Bergoglio took a vow of chastity when he made his first vows as a Jesuit in 1960, and made a promise of celibacy at his ordination in 1969. In short, he has been living celibately longer than Mr. Keller has been away from the church. Does the Pope strike anyone as a sad and lonely guy?
question? today's question on discernment deals with chastity and celibacy.  how does a man discern the priesthood today knowing that he will be required to make a promise of celibacy?  our culture says it is impossible.  what do you think?

thoughts!  here are comments and concerns i often hear from men discerning a call to follow God in the priesthood:
  • "I can never become a priest because I like girls too much."
  • "I am afraid that I will be lonely and not happy without a wife."
  • "I really struggle with masturbation.  I am not holy enough to become a priest."
  • "I have a history of sexual activity:  I am not a virgin.  Can I still become a priest."
  • "It is not so much giving up sex that worries me, but not having a companion.  I don't know if I can live my life happily without the intimacy of a wife and having my own children."
"Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;  some, because they were made so by others;  some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever an accept this ought to accept it."  (Gospel of Matthew 19:12)
ask most priests about their vocation, their journey, and you can often hear the echo of these questions!  if the world says it is impossible, obviously something happened for them to choose the priesthood!  indeed, God's grace is at work, right here right now!  a good candidate for diocesan priesthood should have a healthy psycho-sexual development and orientation.  Fr. Brannen writes in chapter five, "Signs of a Vocation to the Priesthood":
"A healthy man should have a normal sexual attraction for adult females and this attraction should be under the control of the will.  It is preferable that he have some normal chaste dating experiences, though this is not absolutely required.  A man should not be addicted to pornography, masturbation, or any type of aberrant sexual behaviour.  If he has ever been sexually active with a woman, then he should have a lengthy period of sexual sobriety prior to making application to the seminary.  If a man has had some same-sex attraction, this does not automatically exclude him from becoming a priest.  However, because same-sex attraction is a disordered attraction, a more careful analysis of this man's pyschosexual development and identity is indicated.  In general, a good candidate will have shown evidence of his capacity to live a chaste, celibate life."
this could be part one of many, on this particular topic.  however, let's conclude with St. Augustine, who himself said, "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet!"  He is a good patron saint for any man discerning the priesthood, and woman discerning her vocation!
"Long-practiced chastity is comparable to virginity." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II, II, 152)
peace.

ps:  every Thursday i will reflect on a certain area of discernment.  if you have a particular question, please let me know via Twitter, Facebook, or email!  for more on discerning the diocesan priesthood, please visit the older posts under priesthood.