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From the AP via msnbc.com:

An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s flippant comment …is taking root in the United States.

…SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.” Some women have skated around on inline skates in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts.”

Billing their event as something for the “whole family”, organizers around the country are promoting “SlutWalks” to build awareness that “sluts pay taxes too,” and to the “slut shaming” that is apparently a big problem for all the um, sluts out there.  (Slut shaming, the Associated Press helpfully explains, is “shaming women for being sexual.” Thanks AP!)  I’m grateful to msnbc and the Associated Press for making me aware of this great injustice being done to people who, through fate or poor life decisions, are sluts and are being burdened with unwelcome shame.

There have been SlutWalks throughout the country (Dallas, Philly, San Francisco, Seattle).  They originated when a Toronto police officer advised a group of university students in a safety seminar to avoid dressing like sluts so as not to be victimized.  Apparently, this was incorrect advice and the officer has been reprimanded.  However, the outrageous comments of this Neanderthal barbarian has galvanized the previously silent slut population who are taking to the streets throughout North America.

Here is the 21 year old organizer of the Boston Slut Walk, (she must be sorta like a modern Susan B. Anthony)–

It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned Saturday in that city. “So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word ‘slut.'”

Well, good luck to all the sluts out there, reclaiming the word, “slut.”  It’s a shame (no pun intended) that the word ever got hijacked and used to describe, well, sluts.

The article contrasts these nationwide events with the Take Back the Night anti-sexual violence rallies, which are rather tame lame affairs in comparison.  Apparently, modern young women want to promote anti-sexual violence by dressing and dancing as, well…sluts.  And they have support among the more enlightened young men who proudly wear teeshirts and carry signs that say, “We love sluts.”  Yes, I imagine they do.

(At Take Back the Night’s official website, they don’t even have “We love sluts” teeshirts.  All they have are some boring “empowerment” and “break the silence” graphics.  *Yawn*)

In San Francisco, where the walk just developed “organically” (of course it did; isn’t everything in San Francisco “organic”?), the organizers think this would be a swell outing for daddies and mommies to bring the kiddos.

In San Francisco, SlutWalk organizers want to make their protest a family event.

“Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends,” the SlutWalk SF BAY Facebook page announces. “Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.”

So dress up your little girls as tiny sluts, pull a “I love sluts” teeshirt on dad and sons, and stomp on out to your local SlutWalk.  Because nothing, I mean nothing, deters sexual violence like running around in lingerie. 

You Satan will be so happy that you did.

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From the Boston Herald:

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“…Meanwhile, Charles Skidmore, principal of Arlington High School, where a Maria Talks poster hangs in the nurse’s office, said, “I’m assuming because it’s from the Department of Public Health, it’s balanced information. There’s so much information available now, at least this has someone standing behind it that is a state-sponsored organization.” (emphasis mine)

I read the quote from the principal and my reaction is, “Orly?”  (that’s teenspeak for “Oh, really?” said in a sardonic and sometimes sarcastic tone.)  So what is the state doing that Principal Skidmore feels so secure in?

“The commonwealth is using taxpayer money to tell kids how to get a secret abortion, and that’s wrong,” said Linda Thayer, a former Boston schoolteacher who is vice president for educational affairs of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, which this week took aim at the site. (emphasis mine)

Ah, so let’s look again at the ‘assumption’ that Principal Skinner is making with regards to some posters hanging in his school. Scripture warns us directly to trust in God, not in earthly power, yet, we do it all the time.  Government is our friend, it’s here to protect us, we are America, we are the land of the free and the brave, the great democratic experiment.  Surely, we can trust those we elect to make the best decisions for us. Can’t we?

If that were ever true (and I doubt it were), it is far from true today.  Today, our bloated government is chockful of liberal bureaucrats who are intent on pushing an activist social agenda that you and I not only do not want, but realize is damaging to us, our children, our country and our future.

Today’s Boston Herald has a good example of the hateful activities which our government is sponsoring and funding, in the Orwellian-like insistence that this is a good thing.  In Massachusetts, the commonwealth is paying for a website to encourage teens who are sexually active.  We’re told the website is “essential” and “non-judgmental” and it has the full support of NARAL and the AIDS Action Committee:

A state-funded sex education Web site that tells teens an abortion is “much easier than it sounds” has drawn fire from outraged pro-lifers who say mariatalks.com is glossing over ugly truths, steering teens toward the controversial procedure and counseling them how to keep mom and dad in the dark.

Aren’t you glad to know that public money is being spent to tell kids how to avoid the law, skirt their parents, trash their young lives, and do longtime psychological damage to themselves?

I think Mr. Charles Skidmore is naive at best, and disingenious at worst.  He has passed the buck along and is not accepting responsibility on behalf of these kids, or just as likely, is complicit in the sexualization of our youth.  Either way, it’s not a pretty picture in Massachusetts.

Ugh.  I’d parse this article but I’m tired and discouraged.  Enough to bring it to your attention today.

Please pray for an end to abortion, and the strength to love and teach our kids in God’s ways, not the ways of earthly princes.

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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.  Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14

Yesterday, we attended the Confirmation of the oldest son of a family with whom our family is close. It struck me during Mass that this passage from the second reading applies very aptly to the young people; indeed to all of us.  This entire chapter of Ephesians gives good instruction on the importance of right thinking.  In our modern context, it is a sure shield against moral relativism.

Pray for our Confirmation recipients.

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I meant to post this closer to last weekend, but travel and illness kept me from it.  However, I am very happy that our namesake has been beatified.  Chiara “Luce” Badano was declared Blessed on Saturday, September 25, 2010.

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Young Chiara Luce Badano has been an inspiration to me for the way she wholely, unreservedly and intentionally chose to accept God’s plan for her life.  Her joy is palpable in her actions of her life, in her words passed down to us, and in the very photos of her life, especially her long terminal illness.

Blessed Chiara Luce, pray for us!

(Click here to see the very moving video on her life and cause which Rome Reports has posted.)

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This article is mostly about genetic testing–the need for, the cost of, the unavailability of and the importance of genetic testing beyond what the ultrasound picks up.  As we in the pro-life movement know, the subcurrent of this article on the fallibility of ultrasounds is that these are children who should not be born.   After all, the phrase “genetic screening” is often a code for “elective abortion”.

The mother who is the focus of this ABC News story, the one for whom we are supposed to ache that she’s been burdened by this handicapped child, is a beautiful 15 year old girl.  I think we are supposed to lament her situation and cry out for more genetic testing so that terrible things like a handicapped child being born does not happen, especially to lovely young teenagers.  (if you doubt what I’m saying, just read through the comments section of the article–but be warned, there is a lot of hate there.)

All I see is a very proud mother, smiling with joy, holding her beautiful baby and saying,

A lot of worse things could have happened and thank god they didn’t,” Garrison said. “I see her just as any other baby. She does everything any other baby would.”

 

Taylor Garrison holds her daughter, Brielle

via Ultrasounds Can Miss Babies Born With No Eyes – ABC News.

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What's wrong with this picture of Catholic youth? Answer: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

This post is about our Catholic youth.  It was inspired by reading the great article on “Catholic Subculture” that I will post below.  First, some thoughts from me.  [Warning:  Ranting to begin in 1…

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt utterly frustrated with my church, our Mother Church, pastors, DREs, leaders, fellow Catholics, church families and parish councils because so many times they simply do not get it.  I have read comments on blogs that I admire (I’m looking at you, New Liturgical Movement) that denigrate the work of youth ministers, and indeed, the whole youth group idea.  To which I reply:  PEOPLE WAKE UP!

There is a culture war going on and if we Catholics don’t engage in it at the most basic level — our kids — then we are going to lose.  We absolutely  have to get in the war, on the frontlines with our children.  Some folks are.  It’s happening in pockets around the country.  Yes, those pockets are getting bigger, but they are still pockets.  My fellow Catholics, we need to evangelize our kids.  They need CATECHISM.  They need EVANGELISM.  They need ENTHUSIASM.  They need a personal relationship with Christ.  They need to feel the Holy Spirit in their lives.  They need to put God first in all things.  And they need LOVE.  But how?  How do we do this?   What aren’t we doing and what are we doing wrong?  And what do you mean, evangelize our kids?  They’ve been baptized and confirmed, good enough, right?  If that is not enough, what should we be doing?

We need to meet our kids where they are. 

Here are the fundamentals, the building blocks if you will.  These are things that should not have to be said, but apparently, have to be said:

*Talk to your kids about God.  Make prayer a priority.  Pray with them every day, throughout the day.  Have your kids ever heard you say, “Praise God!”, or “Thanks be to God!”, “Let’s offer that up to God,” “Turn it over to Jesus,”  “Ask the Blessed Mother for her prayers,” or “I’ll pray for you”?  Have you ever shown your kids how to discern and seek God’s will?  Have you ever told them to take a problem to God in prayer?  Ever asked them or others for their prayers for your needs?  What about the Rosary, is it a part of your daily life?  By praying openly with and in front of your children, you model for them the very foundation of a relationship with God.  Your kids have to learn this from somewhere and most Catholics simply aren’t teaching this.

*The Bible.  Open it up.  Carry it around.  Read it, quote it, tote it, note it.  If you don’t own one, get one.  If you don’t own one that you can mark in, you need one.

*How about Mass?  Are you happy to be going?  Is it a priority?  Do you make it an obligation, or an event?  Do you talk about it before or after?  Do you lift your voice in song, praise and response?  Do you rush in to find whatever seats are left or do you come early enough to pray, reflect on the day’s liturgy of the word, spend time in adoration or contemplation?  Could you leave home 10 minutes earlier to do that?

*What about catechizing your kids?  No, I don’t mean dragging them off to Religious Education for ninety minutes a week.  Parents:  if you think your kids are being catechized in their ninety minutes of class every week, I, as a 5 year veteran of catechism teaching, must sadly inform you–YOUR KIDS ARE NOT BEING CATECHIZED IN NINETY MINUTES A WEEK.   Ouch.  The truth hurts, I know.  It is hard for me as a devoted catechist to write that.  But it is true.  In my classes, I have been so desperate that I have basically opened up the mouths of my middle schoolers and poured the Catechism down their throats but there is only so much they can take in, after a long day of school and homework and extracurricular activities.  In other words, there are limits to the effect your Catechist can have, no matter how faithful, learned, and sincere he or she is. If you are not reviewing, teaching, and catechising at home, then your kids are not catechized.  Period.

Those are the principle building blocks that parents provide for their child’s faith formation.  They are essential.  Do them.

Catholicism is not an adjective, a box on MySpace, the writing on the back of your dog tag, an interesting fact about yourself or an excuse to attend Mardi Gras.  Catholicism is our life, the one in this world to the one beyond.  It’s the universal church that Jesus left for us, the communion of saints. It’s our way to worship the Almighty God, our means of knowing our Lord, Jesus Christ, our conduit through which the Holy Spirit blesses us with sacramental graces.   Switchfoot sings, “This is your life.  Are you who you want to be?”  Well I tell you now:  THIS is your life.  Catholicism. 

Back to our kids.  We need to meet them where they are.  After we have invested (yes, its an investment, the best kind) in teaching the faith through example, through opportunity and through study, next we need to fill them with the Holy Spirit.  And this is where we are dropping the ball.  We need to move them.  We need to appeal to the very emotional states that they are in because if you haven’t realized it, teenagers and young adults are emotional, not altogether rational beings.  That is a scientific fact.  There is nothing wrong with that.  (There are studies on that, which I would go look up right now but I’m on a roll.)

How do we meet them where they are?  How do we appeal to their emotional side so that we can invite the Holy Spirit to work conversions in their hearts?  Simply, we minister to them.  Evangelical Protestants have been doing this since the Jesus Movement.  I am not suggesting that we completely copy the Evangelical movement.  Not at all.  I have some beefs with their approach.  But in my opinion we need to adopt the best of their ministries and bring it into our Catholic culture.   These approaches would be:

  • Vibrant and relevant youth groups
  • Music ministry for kids (no, I am not talking about a separate Mass)
  • Social activities
  • Mission activities
  • Massive youth rallies

Kids need other kids.  They need to fit in.  They want a group that reflects their interests.  Kids are interested in music and I’m sorry New Liturgical Movement, that music is NOT the Gregorian Chant.  (I think it is cool and so would a lot of kids but if that’s all we are offering to teenagers–“hellogoodbye.”)  Kids need to know where they fit into the world.  They need to feel like they are making a difference. 

Here are some Catholic groups that are “getting it”:

If the kids in your parish did not attend NCYC, why not?  do you know?  Does your priest even know that it happened?  what about the DRE?  If not, your parish probably needs a revival.  Perhaps you are the person to do that.  Perhaps I am.  Maybe I’m called.  Maybe you are.  Are we listening?

I promised you the awesome article, didn’t I.  Well, here it is.  This is speaker and author Christopher Stefanick, Director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry for the Denver Archdiocese, writing about NCYCPlease read this article!

Catholic subculture

The Gospel isn’t communicated in a vacuum.  It’s communicated through culture.  When a Catholic culture is lacking, the Church organically creates subcultures, drawing in and redeeming aspects of the culture it’s in.  This is happening among our youth today.  Youth ministry has formed a redeemed culture born out of generation MTV with its own stages, its own rock stars and its own brand of rebellion.   

The nation’s largest “concert for Jesus” happened the week before last at the National Catholic Youth Convention (NCYC).  We brought 55 youths from the Archdiocese of Denver and I was privileged to speak there.  I was blown away.  It’s rare to walk into a 20,000-person arena and be unable to find a place to sit.  A few thousand more filled an overflow arena with jumbo screens.  This event, like many of the larger events in Catholic youth ministry, had all the trappings of a high-end, secular, rock and roll production, except the packed arena was there to glorify faith, hope and charity instead of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. 

The stage was filled with Catholic “rock stars.”  Before his keynote telling teens—for the 10,000th time—to wait for sex until they are married, veteran chastity speaker Jason Evert got a standing ovation.  Matt Maher, who is probably the first Catholic to hit the top of the charts on Christian radio stations, had the teens cheering until they were hoarse.  They all knew his songs.  Steve Angrisano, Catholic of the Archdiocese of Denver and a popular speaker and singer/songwriter, hosted the conference.  None of these men could walk 10 feet at that conference without being asked for an autograph.  They are Catholic subculture rock stars, and in a culture so starved for good role models, what a wonderful thing! 
What’s even better is that the ultimate rock star being celebrated is Jesus Christ and the communion of saints.  One speaker held up a rosary and mentioned Mary’s name and it produced a deafening cheer from the crowd.  During one high point of the conference more than 20,000 teens knelt in silent adoration after which they processed behind our eucharistic Lord through the streets of Kansas City, Mo., in silence.  That image is indelibly etched into my memory.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It was a virtual army of youth following their king in the heart of the modern world! 

In MTV culture, rebellion is a virtue.  Teens born out of this Catholic subculture have a beautiful brand of rebellion all their own.  In a sex-saturated world, they wear chastity and the respect they give to the opposite sex like a badge of honor.  According to recent statistics, 95 percent of upperclassmen who are virgins are proud of it!  In a self-serving culture, devout Catholic teens want to stand out by serving the poor.  One teen from our archdiocese, Sami Freese, shared with the entire conference about the joy and freedom she found by sponsoring and then visiting a child she sponsors in the Philippines.  In an irreverent culture, teens want to stand out with ancient practices of piety.  They think it’s cool to bow, kneel, altar serve, burn incense, and sing ancient songs to God with their hands lifted in prayer.  Generation MTV teens want to rebel and make a name for themselves.  What better way to do that than by being holy!  There’s no more profound rebellion than the one given by the saints and martyrs.  

 As I looked at the sea of teens, joyful to be standing for Jesus Christ and celebrating our ancient faith, I wondered, “If our Lord can change the world with 12, what can he do with 22,000”?  Maybe we won’t be a subculture for long. 

20,000 youth following our Lord in procession through the streets of an American city.   If that doesn’t make you stop for a moment….here’s a picture that WILL make you stop:

22,000 Catholic kids in the NCYC Eucharistic Procession through downtown Kansas City

NCYC is an example of meeting kids where they are.  Evangelizing to our youth.  It can’t only happen one week a year.  We need to immerse our kids in the Catholic Subculture that Christopher talks about.  In our parishes, in our dioceses, we need to CREATE a Catholic Subculture.  It’s a mission, it’s an apostolate, it’s a calling.  It’s one heck of a great opportunity.  I hear Jesus calling.

Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.Mark 10:49

For more on NCYC:

Roman Catholic Cop

Catholic Youth Ministry Blog

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton Youth

My Catholic Voice

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"We're the kids in America" -- Only a small part of the many teen participants at the Dayton CHWC in 2009

I want to blog today about an organization that only recently came to my attention but from what I have seen looks to be something that I fully support.  The organization is Catholic HEART Workcamp.  They organize one week summer youth volunteer camps thorughout the U.S., usually in poor, urban and under-served communities.  The kids at the camp work hard and pray hard.  All the camps include spiritual dimensions.  CHWC was started by former Youth Ministers Steve and Lisa Walker, who were inspired by their participation in non-denominational workcamps, which they enjoyed but those camps lacked a Catholic spirituality and perspective.  Because the camps were nonetheless  a positive and life changing experience, Steve and Lisa were called to offer a Catholic Workcamp.  Their first year, there were only about 100 participants but it has been growing ever since.  In the summer of 2009, 450 parishes and 10,500 adult and teen campers registered!!!

Parents, Religious Educators, Catechists, Youth Directors:  I urge you to prayerfully consider becoming involved with this organization, either through inter-parish promotion, participation, volunteering yourselves, hosting a camp, leading your groups to a camp or simply sending your own kids to one.  This is the type of activity that young American Catholics have needed for a long time.  I think each of us adults would do well to support–in any way–positive, faithful activities for our teenagers and young adults.  And one of the very best parts of this particular opportunity is that by working with CHWC, we are helping our neighbors, right here in America.  (I have some opinions about that.) 

From the FAQs on the website is this nice explanation of what these camps do:

The HEART of CHWC is to gather and celebrate our Catholic faith.  Workcamp participants are inspired to grow deeper in their walk with Christ.  Through service, prayer, and the sacraments, camper participants are renewed in their love for our Catholic faith and are motivated to return to their home communities to serve on a local level. CHWC…..

  • Inspires participants to live out and answer their baptismal call to serve
  • Respects the dignity of the human person
  • Cares for the poor and elderly
  • Loves one’s neighbor
  • Responds to the Gospel

Here is the Mission Statement of CHWC, also taken from their website:

Our Mission is Twofold…..

First: To share the love of Jesus and serve the neglected,   brokenhearted and marginalized in any way needed.  The Catholic HEART Workcamp mission is to revitalize communities and beautify homes for the elderly, disabled and those who cannot afford needed repairs.  Our goal is to inspire participants to serve in their local communities.

Second: To empower participants to live as disciples of Christ through serving others.  To foster the spiritual growth of each participant through the sacraments, Catholic faith sharing and prayer.

Camps are hosted throughout the United States and are offered at levels starting with 7th grade, but the majority of camps are for high schoolers.   One director of a Catholic HEART Workcamp said in an interview with the Tennessee Register:

The Catholic HEART Workcamp gathers faithful minds and charitable hearts for the good of others. The benefit for everyone involved, said Camp Director [of the Nashville Branch] Brian Reinhart, is “to be a part of helping people put faith into action, to build relationships with people you’re not usually exposed to.”

While the kids pay for the camp and sleep in sleeping bags on gym or parish floors,  many report life-changing experiences.  It’s hard work but it is also fellowship, worship, music and fun activities.  Several Catholic musicians travel from camp to camp all summer long.

To see if there is a camp for you, click here.

Finally (I saved the best for last)– a treat for you:  a beautifully filmed video of CHWC made by the talented, young Catholic behind LikableArt, Cory Heimann.  He’s a graphic artist, videographer , and Franciscan University graduate student.  And he’s the reason I heard about Catholic HEART Workcamps in the first place.  Thanks, Cory! 

 These Hands

P.S.  Support Cory’s work!  Order graphic designs, web layouts, logos, teeshirts, mock-ups and video segments from him!

 

These could be your kids! To insert your teen into this volunteer work, visit heartworkcamp.com

 

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