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Friday, May 29, 2009

Definitive Expert on JPII's Theology of the Body Defends West

Dr. Michael Waldstein who is the official translator of John Paul II's Theology of the Body - the guy who knows the stuff as it was written in its original language - the guy the Vatican trusted with the late Pope's archives - wrote a very strong article in support of West and his teaching of Theology of the Body which is published on today.

I will only quote a short piece of the article here, but I encourage you to go read the entire article for yourself.

I know that David Schindler is a careful scholar, but I was surprised and taken aback by his recent blanket negative statement about Christopher West in reaction to West's Nightline interview. He cites a few anecdotes, quotes some snippets of texts, recalls some discussions he had with West in the past, and then makes a number of sweeping, massive accusations against West's work as a whole.
His West is not the Christopher West I know from studying West's commentary on the Theology of the Body. - Dr. Michael Waldstein - on InsideCatholic
I am very grateful that such great people as Waldstein are standing on West's side on this issue. The reason I say this is because West's work has been pivotal in transforming the lives of so many people and it has been dishearteing to see him attacked in the way he has been.

I encourage you to read the original story on Inside Catholic here. If you are unfamiliar with the whole story and would like to catch up you can first go to this piece that I wrote a few weeks back which has a full synopsis of the story.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Christopher West’s Work is “Completely Sound,” says Dr. Janet Smith

Christopher West’s Work is “Completely Sound,” says Dr. Janet Smith

I was very excited to receive a note that Dr. Janet Smith had given her support to Christopher West and her own response to the many criticism's he has received.

Here are some great excerpts from this article by Dr. Janet Smith - a very well respected Catholic Teacher on Marriage and Contraception:

I think we should be very careful in our evaluation of the work of someone who is on the front lines and who is doing pioneer work. Virtually every pioneering author and presenter has had severe detractors in his own time. Some of them have been disciplined by the Church and eventually exonerated. I would like to give examples and mention names, but I don’t want to ignite a firestorm of “how can you compare Christopher West to X, Y or Z?”!

I want to add my voice to those who are enthusiastic about the West/Theology of the Body phenomenon. I think it is important to keep in mind, as Akin does, who West’s audience is. It is largely the sexually wounded and confused who have been shaped by our promiscuous and licentious culture. People need to think long and hard about the appropriate pedagogy for that group. Yet, as West himself knows, his approach is not for everyone. An analogy that pushes the envelope may be “offensive” to one person and may be just the hook that draws another person in. West has adopted a style that appeals to a large segment of that population — and even to some who are “pure and innocent.” It is not hard to find hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals who will testify that they have come to love Christ and his Church, and better understand and live the Church’s teaching about sex because of the work of Christopher West. Cohabiters separate, contracepters stop contracepting, and men cease looking at pornography — and that is the short list. Countless young people are now taking up the study of the Theology of the Body because of West’s work. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

My point is this: The fact that the dean of the John Paul II Institute in Washington D.C. has issues with West’s approach should not discourage anyone from reading West’s work or attending his lectures. Schindler has serious disagreements with other reputable, orthodox theologians, including professors on staff at the John Paul II Institute. West’s extensive commentary on the Theology of the Body, Theology of the Body Explained, was reviewed for the imprimatur for the Archdiocese of Boston by Prof. May, a longtime colleague of Schindler at the John Paul II Institute, who gave it a glowing endorsement. (I also reviewed and strongly endorsed it.) Several times in his piece Schindler refers to West’s “intention” to be orthodox which could imply that he has not necessarily achieved orthodoxy. We should be clear that West’s works have been given an imprimatur, an ecclesiastical judgment that a work is completely theologically sound.

Click here to go to Catholic Exchange for the full text of Dr. Janet Smith's article.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lessons from Jon and Kate

So my wife convinced me to watch a bit of reality TV last night - yes we watched the premier of Jon and Kate + 8 - or as I like to call it "The Train Wreck that is the Modern American Family".

We've watched the show before though it has been well over a year since we've seen it. Admittedly I have liked the show in the past. We decided to watch because my wife had been reading a lot of chatter over the last few weeks in the parenting forums and such and we were curious to see how this family that seemed pretty wholesome only a year ago has presumably begun to fall apart. Boy were we in for a treat. I say that with all sarcasm intended. It was as though I was watching a microscopic view of how American families fall apart.

Lesson #1 - Learn from the Ants - Ants have learned that if someone puts a magnifying glass on their back they best run for their lives or they will get burned - yes the cruelty of a five year old has taught ants the lesson that they do not want their lives under a magnifying glass - because no ant has made it out alive. Why? Because there body cannot take the excessive heat created by magnifying the sun on their small little bodies.

So the ants have learned and yet we have invented Reality TV where people voluntarily put themselves under a magnifying glass in order to make a buck. Well as Jon and Kate and their children are learning - when someone puts a magnifying glass on your life for all the world to see - you will get burned. Your family simply cannot take the public scrutiny and the heat is too much for our fragile souls to take. Certainly there are some families who have seemed to make it out okay but this is not the case for the Gosselins. I'm not sure how many times Jon said during the show that he didn't sign up for this or similar phrases - sorry buddy not only did you sign up for this you put a big sign on your back saying "point magnifying glass here!"

Lesson #1 was the least of the lessons learned by watching the above mentioned train wreck but I figured I'd include it in case any of you were considering trying to sell you family's private life to the highest bidder. $75,000 an episode sure sounds nice until you look at your family five years later and see what all you have lost.

Lesson #2 - Stop "DOING IT FOR THE CHILDREN" - I'm sorry but if Kate said "I'm doing this for the children... I wake up for the children... I'm here for the children... I'm out speaking for the children..." and so on one more time I think I may have had to go to confession.

I don't know when this disordered view of marriage and family entered the picture - but I am so tired of hearing this phrase. The children first, spouse second philosophy of family is destructive at best and a completely disordered view of marriage and family. I would argue that it is this philosophy or ideology that has been one of the leading culprits to the decay of the American family and the main reason that as generations raised under this philosophy continue to reach adulthood more and more of them have decided that marriage and family are not for them.

You do not marry for the children - in the traditional sense - most couples marry before they have children and I'm willing to bet that the reason those couples were so hot for each other in their dating and courting days is not because they thought it would be fun to live in the same house and raise some kids together. They married out of love for one another. Sure, I'm sure children was a part of the deal - something they discussed and agreed upon. But how many people do you know who looked into the love-of-their-life's eyes and said - I'm so in love with you because I know one day it will be great to be strangers living under the same roof and raising children. Marriage is first and foremost about the love of two people towards one another. Children are the fruit of that love. This is how it should always remain.

In the Catholic view of things marriage is a Vocation - a calling that is meant to be primary. Primary meaning of course what it always means - the thing that comes first (of course this would be first after of course the thing that always should come first which is God). I am nothing if I am not first a husband to my wife. My being a father is only as a result of the love I have for my wife. Together we of course should raise our children and take care of them. However, my wife must always be first - I must always seek to love her and care for her and together as the fruit of our love we should then care for our children.

People seem to get offended by this idea of loving our spouse first. But it is scriptural - remember that Jesus said "to love one another as I have loved you." - Shortly after he says "go and bear fruit that remains." (cf. John 15:9-17) He is speaking to the apostles about their vocation. Their vocation was to spread the message of the Gospel and continuing Christ's work on earth. In the vocation of marriage this command still remains - to love one another first. Then to bear fruit that remains.

We must come to understand that our vocation is not to our children - that is only secondary to our vocation to love our spouse. Raising your children is a vocation in itself but again it is the vocation that results from first loving your spouse.

When we order our marriages after "doing it for the children" it will lead to disorder for us and for our children. Our children act only in response to how we act and without seeing husband and wife love one another something is missing.

I don't know much about Jon and Kate Gosselin - only what I see on TV - but what I can tell is that they forgot to love one another first. In the proper order of love Jon and Kate should have stopped when things got rough and focused on one another. Instead they continued this path of "doing it for the children." Towards the end of the show when Jon and Kate are asked what happens from here, both of them responded with something about being in this for the children.

It was sad to see, there on that couch is your spouse dying inside over the hurt that you both have caused. This is the person you fell in love with. The person that at one point in your life you could not live without - you loved this person so much you changed your entire life to become one. Here they are sitting next to you dying inside - and all you can do is respond that you love the children. No thought that perhaps you have to save your spouse - your marriage - your primary purpose.

I pray for Jon and Kate - though they are on TV and have all that money and fame - they are still people who deserve to love and be loved in the proper way. I pray for them and for all couples that they would remember why they got married in the first place. That they would choose to love one another and lead one another to heaven.

I do not propose that I am somehow an expert at this marriage thing. Only three years into it I've made a lot of mistakes and gotten more wrong then right. But I am guided by one purpose to love my wife to heaven.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Christ Ascended to Heaven.

I thought up a blog last night that I wanted to right relating to the Ascension and waiting for Pentecost but to be honest I think today is a day to just be grateful for God's love - for his death, for his defeat of Satan, for his resurrection and of course for his Ascension.

I'm enjoying a wonderful day with my family. We're making potato salad - my family's recipe which I have missed. There is something about making family recipes that makes you feel at home. Thank you God for blessings - for food - for memories - and for a future full of hope. Thank you for my wife - who loves me despite so many failures - my daughter who is our reminder of the creative and healing power of God's love. Thank you for my ministry here in Winston and through this blog. You have chosen your unworthy for a task that is so rich with rewards and challenges and I am just so blessed to be called to this work.

Thank you readers, friends - new and old. It has been a great journey these few months sharing life with you. I have found new friends that I am very grateful for though this blog. I'm excited to meet some of you in person soon at speaking events and I'm excited to continue to share this journey together.

Today I will not offer insight or wisdom - merely gratitude. So many things to be grateful for - but I want to go eat my incredibly yummy potato salad and maybe kiss my wife.

I pray that your day and your week is full of blessings and love.

In Christ,
Chris Faddis

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Does Christopher West Misrpresent JPII's Thought?

I am including here an excerpt of David Schindler's critique of Christopher West with links to read the full story. I would love for you to come back here and comment with your own thoughts on the matter. Do you agree with Schindler and others who are critical of West? I'd love your thoughts - feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.


Christopher West's Theology of the Body

by David L. Schindler
Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

Regarding his interview on Nightline, Christopher West says that his remarks were taken out of context. In some sense, this is surely true. However, the comments as aired are the latest in a long list of statements and actions not inconsistent with the context set by the Nightline editors.

Though occasioned by West’s Nightline appearance, the present statement addresses his theology as a whole.

Let me stress that I agree with those who vigorously defend West’s intention of fidelity to the Church. Certainly he has had positive results in drawing many Catholics into a deeper understanding of their faith. As for myself, I do not initiate anything about West in my classes, but only respond when asked a question. Then I begin by emphasizing West’s intention of orthodoxy. As I have often put it, "he would throw himself in front of a bus for the Church." It is important to understand, however, that good will is not synonymous with sound thought; and I must say, not without reluctance, that West’s work seems to me to misrepresent in significant ways the thought of John Paul II. - From Headline Bistro

Go here to view the full piece

For the full story regarding the Nighline interview and my thoughts you can view this post from last week.

Please leave your comments below.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sainthood and Surrender: Kidney Transplant Fund

From Todd Lemieux:

Today I found out that I am a perfect match to donate a kidney to my brother who has been suffering from kidney failure for the past few years.

I need to make two round trips to Dallas so that he can get the kidney and get on with teaching at the University of Dallas and life with his wife and son.

Sainthood and Surrender: Kidney Transplant Fund

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Because I Said So.

Because I said so.

It has long been a favorite phrase of many parents.

For one thing it is the quickest and easiest answer to pretty much any question of authority that a child brings to the table. It is also kind of a power thing - in the end it doesn't matter what reasoning I give to my child for not allowing a certain thing - I am the authority and I do say so - and so the final answer is NO!

While "because I said so" certainly works and as the parent you have the right to make decisions for your children without having to explain yourself - there is something to be said for actually answering your child when they ask "why" you are making them do or aren't letting them do a certain thing. Parenting experts say that it is better to teach your child right from wrong and help them to understand consequences so that they can know how to make good choices in life.

The Church was the "because I said so" parent for a long time - at least on the ground level.

Faithful: "Can I have sex before marriage?"
Priest: "NO!"
Faithful: "Why not?"
Priest: "Because Mother Church says so!"

Faithful: "Can I get a divorce from my husband - we just "fell" out of love?"
Priest: "NO!"
Faithful: "But why not - everyone else is doing it?"
Priest: "I don't care what your friends are doing - Mother Church says so!"

And the list goes on. For too many years we have given the answer "No" without explaining the incredible "Yes" that is the reason for every no.

Faithful: "Can I have sex before marriage?"
Priest: "No, you can't have sex before marriage - because you will be selling yourself short. Because there is an incredible YES that God has in store for you in the Sacrament of Marriage and if you wait, if you hold out for that you will experience a joy that is better than any lustful encounter you can have today."

Faithful: "Can I divorce my husband, we just fell out of love?
Priest: "No you can't get a divorce because no man can divide what God has joined. Besides when you got married God gave you an incredible YES - in that Sacrament - that YES meant that God's grace would be available to you throughout your marriage no matter what. That Sacrament also means that God is in your marriage - an integral part of it - God is the third person in your marriage - and if you involve him in things - even the difficult things - he will give you the Grace to love each other again."

These days the Church is responding with many more reasons why and why not. The Bishops are being more forthcoming in explaining Church teaching and Priests are taking time to explain Church teaching to the faithful. Yet, still we have this childlike tantrum every time we hear anything sounding like "no".

We whine and complain about why things aren't a certain way, why we can't change things to fit our needs, desires, wants. We don't understand why our "stupid, out of touch, over-reaching" parents are getting into our business and "ruining our lives". Even now that the Church through her Bishops and Priests (our parents in the faith) is making her teachings available so that all of the faithful (her children) can know why she teaches what she teaches - Catholics continue to disobey - all the while justifying their beliefs. Even many priests and religious justify this disobedience.

While our parents (the Bishops) are clarifying the "reasons" why, her children continue to proselytize with their own "reasons" why they can do as they wish. This has led to many Catholics being "disobedient" to their parents. This disobedience is in one regard sinful - in another it is the first step away from a faithful walk with God.

As Christians, Christ calls us to put away the old self and take on a new image. - of course it is His image He is speaking of. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we have the Word of God which is the "heart of Christ" and through this Word of God we can come to know what God wills for us - what is "good and pleasing and perfect" (Romans 12:2). It is also through the teachings of the Church - guided by the Holy Spirit that we come to know this same "will of God." Through God's constant revelation - given through the Magesterium of the Church and through the inspired words of Scripture we can be transformed into this "new image" that scripture speaks of.

This happens by being obedient to God and those he has placed in authority. When St. Paul tells us "Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Romans 12:1) He is not asking us to do this in a vacuum using our own reasoning and basing it on our own wishes. We do this by submitting ourselves to God's Holy will which is understood through the Church. No single person (bishop, priest, or lay person) is capable of understanding the whole depth and mystery of God's love - nor is one person capable of discerning "what is good and pleasing and perfect" on his or her own. It is through the combined discernment and prayer of countless Bishops, Saints, Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church, and faithful over 2000 years that we come to know the Truth - through the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus tells His disciples "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." (John 16:12-13)
We, the faithful, as children of God must come to understand why obedience to God and to His Church are so important. This obedience takes on a spiritual dimension in that it requires a surrendering of our own will. When we find ourselves at odds with Church teaching we are being given an opportunity to grow deeper in understanding. If we fight it, if we ignore it, if we disobey it we will find ourselves in conflict with that "new creation" that Christ wants to make us into. In turn, rather than God making us in His image we we begin to make God in our image.

However, if we surrender our will, our desire, our own thinking and allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewal of our minds - we will grow more into that new creation. I can't tell you how many times I have had to let go of my own thinking on a certain issue and allowed myself to accept Church teaching - this surrender of my will to God's will leads to a closer walk with Him. In turn I have found that through this surrender, my own understanding becomes greater and I begin to see why the Church teaches a certain way - indeed I become a new creation.

Obedience is a difficult thing. Surrender is a difficult thing - but Christ never said that following him was easy. Think of how many times Christ's disciples must have had to surrender their own understanding to accept what Christ had to say.

Surrender your will today, be obedient always, seek to know "what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect," (Rom. 12:2) so that you too can become a new creation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Notre Dame has chosen to abandon its Catholic identity for its new identity “Secularism”

My good friend and former boss Fr. Peter Rossa, Pastor of St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Scottsdale, AZ posted today the text of his homily regarding the "Notre Dame Flap". I was very moved by the conviction of his words. By now most of you have heard of the issue and outcry that was created when Notre Dame invited Barack Obama to speak and their Commencement. However, many people are still wondering "what's the big deal?"

I have stayed out of it as I figured much more intelligent and articulate people are writing on it. But when I read Fr. Rossa's homily today I was very convicted by his words and felt he gave a very good explanation of why this Notre Dame business is such a big deal - not politically but in regards to our faith. Fr. Peter is a wonderful Priest and I am grateful that he has given me permission to share his Homily with you. Feel free to leave your comments below and I'll be sure that he get's them.

Fr. Peter Rossa - Homily - 6th Sunday of Easter

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This week, a non-parishioner and a fellow catholic, asked me a simple question. What is all the Notre Dame flap about?

I was sort of amazed. In my mind the answer was obvious. The so-called flap was all about life and our nations growing lack of respect for it.

As I thought a little more before I answered, I realized that I’ve wrestled with this flap for some time in trying to reconcile the Faith of the Church with my daily attempt to live my life in the public square.

And yet, many others have not.

Jesus tells his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

The Gospel proclaimed today goes to the heart of this persons question: what is all the Notre Dame flap about?

In case you missed it, the University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama to speak at its commencement ceremony and will be presenting him with an honorary law degree. Over 60 bishops in the United States have been united in voicing their displeasure and objection to the university’s presidents decision; many bishops have asked that the U.S. President be disinvited, some have suggested Fr. Jenkin’s, Notre Dame’s president, should resign, others have asked Fr. Jenkin’s religious superior to intervene. And now, there is a groundswell of people contemplating and encouraging the removal of the university’s privilege to call itself Catholic.

Yesterday, I was saddened at the irony unfolding before my eyes as I watched both CNN and Fox News. Truly news worthy, this story is being covered so thoroughly because it is so divisive, energy filled, and reveals an ongoing identity crisis within some Catholic Universities. Passions abound everywhere.

I sat shocked as I witnessed an 80+ year old man, an elderly woman, and even an elderly priest kneeling down praying the rosary while several police officers prepared stretchers, arrested them, and carried the faithful off with rosary beads still grasped in their hands.

The reporters stated that these people were unwelcome protesters at the university and that the police were acting under orders to arrest them from the university president-a catholic priest!

At any other time of the year that old man, elderly woman, and priest would have been welcomed on the university grounds; they would have been considered an example of prayer and maybe even a source of inspiration for a homily honoring their example.

But yesterday, because the university has chosen to separate itself from the beliefs of the Catholic faith, Catholics praying for the defense and sanctity of human life, were perceived as a disturbance, a source of civil disobedience and a threat to the commencement ceremony.

This is incredibly uncomfortable for us Catholics.

I, like many others, have spent much of my life in defense of our country, and our country’s freedom. Together, we’ve spent much of our lives so that others might live and be free to express themselves and their beliefs without fear of being arrested-especially while praying for the safety and conversion of others.

It seems that we’ve lost something as citizens. It saddens me that our president isn’t welcome at a Catholic University. Unfortunately, his legal thought and belief system cannot be reconciled with the Church’s most fundamental call to defend the most innocent and defenseless of people.

Jesus constantly reminds us in the Gospel that the ways of the world are not the ways of God; that being united to him brings division, and that the world’s hate will be levied against those who are united to Jesus and love him because the world hated Jesus first.

Jesus tells us today “It was not you who chose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” “This I command you: love one another.”

“Love one another.” “Bear fruit that will remain.” These words are at the heart of the Gospel message. The Gospel urges each of us to reflect on how we are to live out our faith in a manner that honors Jesus’ call to holiness.

The mission of a Catholic University is to hand on the faith. Faith first really matters. The university has lost its identity and its soul has been corrupted by a form of secular political correctness that has consistently and deliberately divorced faith and reason. Faith and reason are now seen as incompatible foes; secular reason has become the standard bearer and measure for truth.

The fact that God revealed to the world, through Jesus, that Jesus “is the way, the truth, and the life” has been lost.

At the university, revelation is no-longer dogma; there is a new dogma: academic freedom. In other words, freedom from religion. Not coincidentally, the secularism that has rooted itself at Notre Dame, as in other places, has provided nourishment for the growth of a second dogma: jurisprudence. This dogma, void of natural law, is what enabled the deaths of 40 million children because of Roe v. Wade. A decision supported by the President and opposed by the Church.

Secularism, void of divine revelation, is the greatest threat to the Gospel since the founding of Christianity because it deems itself to be the arbiter of truth and denies God who is the truth.

Christ, reminds us, and has warned educators through the successors of the apostles, our bishops, that academic freedom is only free so long as it remains rooted in the truth, Jesus Christ.

Some will say that there really isn’t much to this flap.

They say that it’s not such a big deal to invite the President to give the commencement speech and award him an honorary law degree. Providing an honorary law degree to a president who’s legal views are in conflict with the fundamental beliefs of the Church is a very big deal. Some say it’s not a big deal so don’t get too excited over it; if it isn’t that big a deal why wouldn’t they just disinvite the president? Why not say we can’t give you the degree?

It’s an honor to have the President speak, and it’s an honor to receive a degree.

This event has great meaning and value, and that is why the bishops are being so vocal.

The university has chosen to abandon its Catholic identity for its new identity “Secularism.” Say and think what you will, but the images on the news are the best evidence of the loss of faith at Notre Dame.

Peaceful Catholics being hauled off to jail while praying the rosary for a respect of human life by police under orders from a Catholic University President, who is a Roman Catholic Priest, reveals just how far, and what a threat secularism, indifference and complacency have become.

I pray that the university rediscovers its true identity by loving one another as Jesus loved us for it was he who chose and appointed us to go and bear much fruit. Love one another as I have loved you.

There is no greater honor and love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Faithfully in Christ,
Fr. Pete Rossa

Friday, May 15, 2009

Join the Sainthood Project

Todd Lemieux is building an army - an army of people who take sainthood seriously. He's looking for 1000 people who want to strive for Holiness - who will hold one another accountable by prayer, by sharing in the journey, and by being honest w/their struggle in seeking holiness.

Todd Lemieux is the real deal - a man after God's heart. I'm in, I'm a part of the Sainthood Project and I want you to join us. Sainthood is not easy - it will take sacrifice, it will take a willingness to struggle through the hard times and allow God to prune us. I agree with Todd that together we can find our way - together we can boldly proclaim that we are seeking sainthood. I want to encourage you to join Todd and I and the other folks who are ready to seek Holiness at all costs.

Check out Todd's post: "Now Everything Changes" for a background to what he is trying to do. Then go here to find out how to join the Sainthood project.

Be not afraid!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Theology Lived - How do you model ToB?

"Theology Lived" is a new feature that will be on my blog - on my new site which will be launched soon it will be on it's own page. It will be a weekly question regarding a theological or spiritual topic where I ask you the reader to respond and share your thoughts.

UPDATED 2:47pm 5/14/09

My wife often discuss parenting and how we are going to instill the Gospel values in our children. I have often thought about the problems of my own childhood and adolescence and oh, how I wish I had been raised with an understanding of God's plan for me and for my body. If only Theology of the Body was something my family had known about. I am also asked by parents often how they should teach the principles found in Theology of the Body to their children - young and old.

As a youth minister I have seen firsthand the wounds of a culture that is so confused by sexuality and personhood. I have watched beautiful young men and women's lives be destroyed as they fell prey to the false truth that is offered to them.

I have also watched as lives were transformed by the truth of God's divine plan for men and women. I've seen people be completely renewed as God redeemed them from their sin and they became a new creation in Christ.

I believe that our generation of Catholics - that is the generation I would call the JPII Generation is called to set a new course for future generations. (I use the term Generation loosely - as it is probably about three generations that fall into this category.) Through the work of the Church over the last twenty-five to thirty years we have been called to a new level of holiness.

Our generation still has lots of wounds - many of us were raised by parents who did not understand this truth and despite their best efforts they failed to protect us from the dangers of this destructive culture. However, John Paul II was a voice of reason in this chaos and for those of us who have heard the message of God's plan for our lives and who are trying to to answer that call - striving for holiness, being faithful to our vocation, battling sin, allowing ourselves to be transformed by the renewal of our minds - it is now up to us to raise a new generation of Catholics who have been redeemed by the truth of God's divine plan for us.

So how do we teach or model Theology of the Body for our children? A few people have asked me if there are any resources out there that parents can use to teach their children. As of yet I do not know of any. (UPDATE: A friend emailed me to say that has a curriculum that incorporates ToB in age-appropriate lessons for K-8. - check it out) I do believe however that Theology of the Body holds within it many profound truths that need to be taught to our children from a young age. I am not proposing that you teach your five year old about sex. - In fact I'm not proposing that you teach them about sex at any certain age - that is up to you and ultimately up to when your kid begins asking questions. Theology of the Body is about much more than sexuality. It is an understanding of who we are as people and who God calls us to be as redeemed people. If we understand God's plan for us and who we are meant to be and if we are raised in a way in which we live this truth - then all the questions about our sexuality will fall in line and in many ways answer themselves.

So I pose this question to you the readers. I will pose the question in a couple different ways and you can choose to answer as you like - but please do leave your comments. I will publish the comments in a follow up post.

- Should the principles of Theology of the Body be taught in the home?
- How should we instill the values of the Theology of the Body in our children?
- What principles of Theology of the Body should we teach and at what age?
- How do/have you instilled these values in your children?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Christopher West on Nightline - The FULL Story

I have compiled here the full story of Christopher West's Nightline Appearance. In the links below you will find everything you need to get a complete picture of West's appearance - and what others are saying. Then you can feel free to comment - but take the time to get the full story before making assumptions as some people have already done.

My Humble Opinion -
It seems there are differing opinions regarding Christopher West's appearance on ABC's Nightline - sharing about Theology of the Body. I wrote about it on Friday "ToB on Nightline" and shared my thoughts. As I stated some will complain that West is doing an injustice to ToB and somehow causing harm. Well the war of words has begun as a few "theologians" have come out to share their issues with West and his interpretation of JPII's ToB.

In the ABC interview West shares an overview of what this Theology of the Body is and shares a few insights. Apparently the interview that West did lasted two hours and ABC was given four hours of tape of his talks - all to make a seven-minute interview. Obviously something will get lost in that time frame.

Some have said West should not have done the interview - because he should have known that the material would be distorted and for that reason should have declined. I beg to differ greatly. How can you decline an opportunity to share this profound message with the world? Did Jesus not call us to teach and to preach to reach out? Has not the Church called us to reach out through the media to offer truth to this hurting world? Are we to recoil into our "hermitage" because of fear that our message will be misinterpreted or sensationalized? Absolutely not! Jesus did not recoil from speaking the truth even to those who would disagree with him or even who were seeking to trap him in.

I applaud West for first taking the time to discern how to break open ToB for the everyday man and woman to be able to enter in. If you've ever been to any of his presentations or watched/listened to his talks you would know that he does not stay in modern culture but merely uses the fallen nature that is expressed through modern culture to help us see the truth's presented in Theology of the Body. He may use the song "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" as an intro point into expressing man's desire for communion - but his teaching is not based in the song. I want to see one other theologian who is getting people intrigued by Theology of the Body as West is doing. His work is heroic. His appearance on ABC was heroic as well. He knew he would be misunderstood but he also knew that if even a few people decided to go deeper in the message it would be worth it. Sad that he is now being attacked by folks on the same team.

Todd Lemieux has a great post regarding West's work which you can find by clicking here.

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments section - whether you agree or disagree with me. But please be sure you check out the links below to get the full story and understand the context.

If you have not watched the ABC Interview you can view it here

- Because West knew that things would be misconstrued he also published some clarifications on his website which you can find here: West Clarifies Misconceptions in ABC Interview

- In order to understand West's references to Hugh Hefner you have to watch this video - it is quite profound and makes much more sense if you hear the context.

- West was interviewed by Catholic News Agency and answers some of the misconceptions from the article. You should read "ABC Interview 'Sensationalized' Theology of the Body"

- Catholic News Agency also printed a story with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand - Theologian - who says "Christopher West’s ideas on sexuality ignore ‘tremendous dangers'"

For more information and understanding of the Theology of the Body you can find great resources here:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Raising Gianna

On Mother's Day I spent some time reading and reflecting on John Paul II's landmark document "The Dignity of Women". In it he lays out the foundation for what is now being termed "The New Feminism". He affirms women, their role in the family, in society, and in public life. He affirms that the Church too believes women deserve a greater influence in society and are important collaborators with men to bring about the common good.

I decided to read it as an opportunity for me to spend time reflecting on how grateful I am for my wife. As I was reading JPII's beautiful words sharing about Mary's fiat in the gospel and how Mary is an archetype for women and also for men. In her service to God the Father, she became Queen of Heaven. In truth as John Paul II states, Mary taught us that "to serve is to reign." He shares how Mary understood herself as being in service to God just as Jesus said of himself that he did not come to serve but to be served.

As we spent the day enjoying time as a family and Gianna (our daughter) and I offered our gratefulness to Angela I began to think of what Angela has done for me in calling me to holiness. I began to remember how she has always called me to something greater than I limit myself to. I also thought about the gift she is to Gianna as a mother. There truly is no greater role she could play than to be a mother - both in the spiritual sense and in the temporal sense. As I watch Gianna grow into herself I am so grateful that her mother is a woman of such conviction and firm resolve.

After reading and reflecting on the Dignity of Women and on my own wife's dignity I began to think about Gianna and who she will become. I want for her to know at her core that she is of great value - that her life has more meaning than what modern culture would offer her and that she truly is the crown of creation. I thought to myself, "how will we raise her to be the woman John Paul II speaks of? How will I ensure that she does not fall prey to this over-sexualized culture that uses and objecifies women at all costs?" I bet you are expecting to tell you the answer to that question and I wish I could. Truth is I thought about it all night last night and all morning today and I found no clear answer - until...

I went home for lunch today and as I sat in the living room with Angela and Gianna eating my lunch while we talked Angela told me her head was hurting and she layed down on the couch. She has been battling a headache all day. Just then Gianna went over to Angela and began to give her a massage or to "balance" her (Balance is a massage technique that I do for Gianna to relax and calm her.). Gianna new that mommy needed rest and needed to relax and she began to take care of her mommy. It is incredibly cute to watch as she does her rendition of the technique with her small little hands. Just then I got it. Gianna was doing what she saw modeled by her parents. She was taking care of Angela and nurturing her just as Angela has done for us. She was making her feel better using the same method that she has seen her daddy use on her.

That's it! We must model what we desire for her. If we desire for her to not eat sweets and we eat sweets all day long - we will not get the desired result. However, if we snack on healthy things rather than cookies and candy she too will follow suit. Just as she knows to pray before a meal because she watched us do it, she also will behave the way we show her.

She of course has two models and in order for our modeling to be successful Angela and I must be on the same page and model complimentary behavior. If Angela models a "dignified woman" but I treat her like an object or like less than I - lesson not learned. On the contrary if I treat Angela like the "dignified woman" that she is and she acts the opposite we will only confuse Gianna and she will be forced to find her own model. However, if I treat Angela the way I know she deserves and I seek to build her up as a dignified woman and she in turn lives her call as a woman of God, Gianna will not only see how she ought to be treated and accept nothing less but she too will aspire to seek holiness at all costs.

There truly is no step-by-step guide to Catholic parenting and there is certainly no guide to raising "dignified women". However, we do find in Church teaching and the Bible everything we need to live holy lives. If we as parents strive for holiness and mutually call one another - husband and wife - to holiness than our children will follow suit. It reminds me of the best advice I got when discerning my vocation. I was lost and confused by the different urgings of my heart and a friend finally said to me, "just seek holiness and God will do the rest."

The picture above is a reminder that I must lead by example. Gianna still can't say "I love you." She tries and can say each word separately but struggles with making the sentence. She does however know the sign for "I love you." She also now understands how to use it. Over the last week we have loved watching as she decides at a random moment to tell us she loves us. For no reason other than she just wants us to know. - That behavior was modeled too - perhaps that is the key to this whole thing - "love one another as I have loved you."

OSV Daily Take: 'New Feminism' vs. old feminism

OSV Daily Take: 'New Feminism' vs. old feminism


The 12-year-old daughter of a Catholic friend of mine recently joined Facebook and "friended" me. I was stunned when, over the course of the first few hours of our "friendship," I watched as she posted a series of provocative photos that, to my mind at least, demonstrated a girl far more "worldly" than her years. Later that night, she began posting her favorite designers and her top five TV shows, which included the likes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Now, I had no idea what this show was about, so I googled it and learned, unfortunately, that its episodes include such high-brow fare as the girls going to Mexico for a Girls Gone Wild photo shoot, one of the girls posing for Playboy, the girls going to Vegas and one learning she may be pregnant, and on and on. Other favorite shows on the 12-year-old's list weren't much better.

All of this got me thinking about the strange dichotomy between secular feminists and secular culture. Why aren't secular feminists outraged by the constant portrayal of women as nothing more than objects designed for the pleasure of men? Why aren't they out on the streets protesting the rampant rise in pornography, the renewed stereotyping of females according to body measurements, the effort by the media to convince young girls that being an overtly sexual female is what will make them a successful female.

- From "New Feminism vs. Old Feminism" - Mary DeTurris Poust, OSV Daily Take - Read the full story by clicking the link

The video interview of Dr. Helen Alvare talking about "The New Feminism" that Poust mentions can be viewed here:

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The Value of Vows

The Value of Vows
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I have been thoroughly enjoying Fr. Longenecker's blog - "Standing on My Head". He has a beautiful way of sharing the truth in a convicting and inspiring manner. His latest post which you can read by clicking the link above was beautiful and inspiring. It also happened to be closely related to a topic I've been praying about writing on. For now I'll let you enjoy Fr. Longenecker's words. Click the link above and read "The Value of Vows" - read the comments too.

In Christ,
Chris Faddis

Friday, May 8, 2009

Life Imagine the Potential

Another great commercial spot in the "Life Imagine the Potential" series that gained a lot of attention during the election with their first spot that featured Barack Obama. Great work and Grassroots films.

Be sure to share this video all over!

Theology of the Body on Nightline



Christopher West was on ABC's Nightline on Thursday night in a feature about the Theology of the Body. Other than a few misquotes and misinterpretations the story was fairly well done and hopefully will open the door to allow others to peak in and see what this is all about.

I have long believed that the Theology of the Body is a avenue for evangelization. It's teachings are not merely about sex and do not only apply to married couples. It is in fact a look into the deep mystery of God's love and plan for creation. By coming to know the principles in the Theology of the Body people can come to understand and know themselves and God's plan.

I've already seen more than a few people exclaim that this story will just lead to misunderstanding and people not getting the full picture, etc. The truth is that if people leave it at what they saw on ABC they will miss 99.9 percent of what TOB teaches and what West is trying to proclaim. However, those people also will most likely forget what they saw/heard. However, I can imagine that many people were intrigued enough to take a closer look.

Once you open the door to this vault of truth that is held in the TOB, you will not be able to leave and you will walk around awhile, I believe in my heart of hearts that if you walk around this vault, conversion of heart and mind is bound to come.

Certainly, it is impossible to grow a field of grain from six minutes of planting - which is how long the story ran - however, if that six minutes of planting sprouts even one more row of crop just think of how much more seed will be scattered in the future?

I'm including here a link to the print and video story. I'm also including a link to a blog by my friend Todd Lemieux thanking West for unlocking this vault for so many of us. I also include a link from the Theology of the Body Institute which clears up some of the errors in the story in order to help clear up any misconceptions.

I encourage you to watch the story and share it with as many people as you can. Perhaps you can open the door for someone else who might be able to come inside. Or perhaps you can scatter some seed in your family or community.

Check out the links below for more and come back here to comment on the question below.

Watch the feature story here
Read the TOB Institute's Response and Clarifications here
Read Todd Lemieux's blog thanking Christopher West for his work here
For more resources on Theology of the Body check out Catholic Exchange here

Click on the comments button below and let me know your thoughts on the story... did this help or hurt in spreading the Gospel message contained in Theology of the Body?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where the Cash Flow (rubber) Meets the Road - TRUST

My wife and I live on a very meager budget. I'm a youth minister and she stays at home with our daughter. We know that she could work and we would have a lot more to go around - but we feel strongly that this is the life God is calling us to and that this is the type of lifestyle we want for our children. That being said - we live with less than most people and are fine living that way. Still, even living simply there isn't much left at the end of each month. We are constantly placing our trust in God - knowing that he will provide a way where there seems to be no way.

We believe strongly that God is calling us to trust him in all things and to know that he will indeed provide for our needs. Still, there is such difficulty in doing this when the rubber meets the road.

It is easy to place our trust in God on payday or when we get a nice tax return or I get a good speaking stipend, etc. It is when things get tight that it gets difficult. It is also ironic that it is always when things get tight that something unexpected happens and we have to rely on God to help us figure out where the funds for the latest "emergency" expenditure is going to come from.

The other irony is that every time I write or speak on Trust, I am thrown another situation in which I need to trust God even more with my life, my family, my job, or my finances. Last week I wrote a five part series on trust, based on retreats I've lead on trust.

In that series I spoke about tragedy and loss and how it teaches us to rely on God, I spoke of leaning into God more with our lives, and coming to a place of faith where - like Horatio Spafford who penned the words to the hymn "It is Well" - we can truly know that all is well in ever circumstance that we face. I shared how understanding the promise we have in God is important in order to find the hope that enables us to trust. Lastly, I shared that God only has good in mind for us and that though difficult things happen, it is never His plan to hurt us - he truly only has good in mind for us at all times.

So last night when after two days of pain my wife and I came to terms with the fact that she had to get to a dentist immediately I began to worry. Of course I was up all night trying to figure out how in the world I would pay for this. How will I cover what could be an enormous expense?

This morning I still had not put my worry to rest and I was frantically trying to figure out a solution - truth be told I still don't know the solution. I do know that my wife is feeling better after getting an emergency dental procedure that she needed. I am grateful that the procedure was done and that it didn't cost as much as I thought it might.

What I do know is that in the midst of my worry and scrambling - I heard that still small voice in my ear whispering "how much time do you add to your life by worrying?" (cf Matt 6:27) In that moment I felt as if God was saying - "go take care of your wife - get her cared for and I will do the rest."

So we took her in, she is doing much better and I feel at peace knowing that she is well - I also know in my heart of hearts that it will be well and God will figure out where the funds are coming from to pay for her care. After all - look at the birds of the air - they do not toil, right? (Matt. 6)

In our learning to trust God with our lives - we must never forget that each day we need to take one step closer and closer to trusing Him with our whole being. No matter what circumstances arise in our lives - we must not lose sight of our goal of being in complete union with God. If we are to achieve this union than indeed we must first work towards complete reliance.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Athanasius and the Incarnation

Athanasius and the Incarnation

"You can keep it all. Give me full, red blooded Catholicism. Give me the incarnation--Athanasius' incarnation, and let me be transformed right down to the very deep and dark and dirty parts of me..."

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is fast becoming one of my favorite bloggers. The depth of his words pierce through the shallow layers of my "spirituality" and open the doors to the darkest parts of my heart.
Here Fr. Longenecker gives a great reflection on the Incarnation and parallels today's pop-spirituality with the heretical claims against Christ's divinity and humanity.

Read this profound blog in its entirety here:
Athanasius and the Incarnation

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Check out what I just bought: THE iBible is Here!

Ok I have to give credit to for finding this first. I could have just put up a link back to his site but I just had to have this on my blog. So be sure to visit him after you're done watching here and checking out the rest of my blog :).

I Only Have Good in Mind for You

This is Part Five in my series on Trust - please read the rest of the posts here:

Part One - "Waking Up to our Need for God"
Part Two - "Lean Into God"
Part Three - "It is Well"
Part Four - "Understanding God's Plan"

I Only Have Good in Mind for You
If there is any obstacle to our trust in God that is universal it is that we struggle with trusting in His love for us. For some this struggle comes from their own insecurities, for others this struggle comes from their life experience of not being able to trust their parents or others in their lives, for others it is a lack of trust that comes from their experience with the Church growing up. Either way this lack of trust in God's love will undoubtedly eat away at us and in time our faith in God, ourselves, and others will decay.

The great lie that Satan has been telling us since the fall of man is that God is holding out on us, that he is hiding something from us, that he is using us, that he doesn't really care, that he wants us to suffer, that he likes seeing us struggle, and the list goes on. Picture the scene in the Garden of Eden. How did the serpent get Eve to eat the apple? The same way he gets us to sin or to stop trusting God’s will in our lives. By placing doubt there, by making us question God’s love for us.

I can imagine the conversation:

“So Eve, I see you are eating of the fruit of all of these trees but that one. Why don’t you try the fruit on that tree? It looks so good.”

Eve replies, “Because Adam said that God told us not to eat of the tree of knowledge. So we don’t eat of that one, but we can eat everything else.”

Here comes old slimy again, “How do you know that God told Adam that? Are you sure Adam is telling the truth? And even if he is telling the truth, why do you think God would want you not to eat of that tree?”

Eve retorts uncomfortably, “Well because he said it wouldn’t be good for us

Cut off by the serpent, “I see, God doesn’t want you to have it all, he doesn’t want you to be truly happy. He knows that this tree is the one that gives you power, and control, and enjoyment. I mean Eve you agree that the fruit on that tree does look really, really, really, really delectable right?”

“Well, it does look pretty good.”

“Then why would God not let you eat of it, I mean he does want you to be happy right? He does want you to enjoy things, and you agree that this fruit looks so good. The only thing I can think is that God doesn’t truly love you. If he truly loved you he wouldn’t hold out on you, he wouldn’t keep you from true enjoyment.”

And with that sin entered the world.

Man has been falling into this same trap ever since. It is our doubt in God’s true and undying love for us that causes us to mistrust him and to sin. It is the basic human condition. I can see it already in my daughter. She is only seventeen months old and yet she can’t fathom why I don’t want her to have my coffee. She’ll shout, “Hot!” but then she still reaches out for it and whines for it. I can imagine her thoughts,
“If it isn’t good for me to have then why do you and Mommy seem so happy when you are drinking it, and why are you pining for coffee the rest of the day when you don't drink it?”
Are we not the same with God?

Why can’t I have this?
Why can’t I do that?
Why don’t you let me have fun?
Why do I have to struggle?
Why am I so broke?
Why can’t I get that job?

Yet God is crying out in answer to us, “I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU! I want only good for you. I have only good things in mind for you.” When we doubt God we mistrust his love for us, we mistrust his desire for our good. Even most of our sin has to do with mistrust of God’s love for us. Since sin is basically nothing more than taking what we want rather than receiving the gift that God has for us.

Since that very moment of the fall, God has been desperately trying to join man back to himself. Look all through scripture and you will find a God saying, I love you, TRUST IN ME!

Today look at your relationship with God and your life. Are you truly trusting in His will, in His plan? Do you truly believe in your heart of hearts that God has only good in mind for you?

#1stFriday - Calling all Catholics to Prayer

Originally Posted on April 2nd, 2009 - Reposting as it is May 1st and #1stFriday again!

To My Brother's and Sisters in Christ,

I was thinking today of how we Catholics on Twitter need to unite in prayer for one another and be available for prayer for others. What a difference we could make by interceding for one another on a regular basis. As a start I propose that we take advantage of 1st Friday observances. Many of us attend Adoration, a special Mass, Rosary group, and other observances of 1st Friday in our parishes.

What I would like to propose is that on every 1st Friday we post our prayer requests/intentions with the hashtag #1stFriday - be sure to use the number 1 as #FirstFriday - spelled out is already used by other groups who do art gatherings, etc. Then when you are going to go to Adoration or whatever you do on 1stFriday you can do a search for #1stFriday to find other people's prayer requests and take them with you.

Intercessory prayer is a very powerful gift that God has given us, this is one step in allowing prayer to transform our world.

1. Each #1stFriday - post your prayer requests with the hashtag #1stFriday (anyone can do this - you do not have to be Catholic -we just want to pray for you) - Note you could add your petitions on the day before in order to ensure that early Mass attendees can take the prayers with them.
2. Before you go to 1stFriday Mass or Adoration, etc, run a search in for #1stFriday - you can either print out the prayers or just remember them as you head out. Here is a link to the RSS feed for the search

3. Offer these petitions and pray for one another.
4. Spread this message to all the Catholics you know on Twitter. If folks follow through on this I will set up a website for people who are not on Twitter to post but for now let's get #1stFriday's moving on Twitter... tell all the #catholics out there!

Your brother in Christ,
Chris Faddis