Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday 2010

Christ arrives a king triumphant today and dies as a criminal on Friday. Christ is honored with palm branches today and crowned with thorns on Friday. Christ is adored with singing today and mocked with jeers on Friday. Christ is born in victoriously on the foal of an ass today and bears the burden of the cross on Friday.

Our Christian faith isn’t about an emotion or feeling, it isn’t about priests or people we like, and it isn’t about a guarantee of smooth sailing. It is about the fact of this week: God became man so that he could share in our life and even our death. In Jesus Christ, God has experienced the worst of human pain and suffering so that we are not alone in ours.

A priest friend of mine describes hell as “looking at your problems, your pain, your sin, your sufferings, your life, and wondering ‘What am I going to do?’ Heaven is looking at the difficulties of your life and praying, ‘My God, what can you do for me? Look and see the cross in our suffering, to see confession in our sins, to see the resurrection in your pain.’

When you are lost, when your loves are cold and gone, when you are alone- where is God? When your dreams and hopes come tumbling down, where is God? When you are gripped by pain, lost in sin, despairing innocence, drowning in shame, where was God?

He was on the cross. All along, He was on the cross. You are not abandoned, you are not alone, you are not alone. My God was on the cross.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More truth on Benedict

More responses are being made in defense of Pope Benedict. It is late and I am tired- the news of this day is exhausting. I want to be well rested for tomorrow's Masses and confessions. Three more articles well worth your read that CNN won't link for you, but I will. There is no coincidence that these attacks are being made before Holy Week when Pope Benedict has duties and is zealous to spread the faith to new hearts and reawaken it in cold hearts. We must pray.

I started with this at the end but it needs to be at the beginning. It is the best read comes from comes from Father Raymond J. de Souza in National Review Online. Father de Souza pulls no punches and gives a clear timeline:
It’s possible that bad sources could still provide the truth. But compromised sources scream out for greater scrutiny. Instead of greater scrutiny of the original story, however, news editors the world over simply parroted the New York Times piece. Which leads us the more fundamental problem: The story is not true, according to its own documentation.
This is a must read for Catholics serious about defending their faith and their pope.

A second author, John Allen, of the National Catholic Reporter sets the record straight regarding what Pope Benedict was really responsible for in his days at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This has to do with the NY Times' accusation that Benedict, then Ratzinger, was complacent in the face of an abuse case from Milwaukee. He is pointed to say blame does belong to certain leaders of the Church- and even to Benedict- but not in the way he is demonized by the NY Times.
Yet as always, the first casualty of any crisis is perspective. There are at least three aspects of Benedict's record on the sexual abuse crisis which are being misconstrued, or at least sloppily characterized, in today's discussion. Bringing clarity to these points is not a matter of excusing the pope, but rather of trying to understand accurately how we got where we are.
Finaly, if you aren't worn out, a good read is from Zenit, a news service from Rome. They have a translation from the Italian Bishops' Conference publication Avvenire.
The documentation published by The New York Times contradicts its own thesis, which accuses Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of not being sufficiently energetic in the case of an American priest who the Church punished for acts of pederasty.
Read the whole thing here.

Papal Scalps

The NY Times is hunting for a papal scalp. They want a trophy on their wall in the form of Pope Benedict and so they are throwing everything they can at him. Accusations that don't make sense, non-impartial tirades, and historical inaccuracies. You need information that ABC, CNN, and the NY Times won't give you because they don't want you to have it.

Damien Thompson, London Journalist for the Daily Telegraph in London has two articles worth reading. The first is in regard to accusations against Pope Benedict as complacent against a Wisconsin priest's abuse. Mr. Thompson raises doubts about the NY Times and other's motives:
I do, however, get the very strong feeling that the Pope’s enemies, including his enemies in the Church, are trying desperately hard to discover serious complicity on his part in a child abuse case. Because that would be just so convenient, wouldn’t it?
Read it all here.

He also makes available the statement of Archbishop Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, explaining how Pope Benedict has been of the greatest help in the past 20 years:
What of the role of Pope Benedict? When he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he led important changes made in church law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statue of limitation and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders. He is not an idle observer. His actions speak as well as his words.
Again, read it in full to arm yourself for battle.

Carl Olson, who writes for Ignatius Press, draws on some of the above sources and adds his own thoughts and a spiritual posture of how to embrace this fight:
As Mark rightly states, "Judgment begins in the household of God. Woe to you when all men speak well of you." Sin within the household of God must continually be confronted, identified, condemned. This has been a deadly serious challenge throughout the history of the Church. Note carefully the words of St. Paul, writing to the Christians in Corinth: "Come to your right mind, and sin no more. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame." (1 Cor. 15:34). And to Titus: "As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear" (Tit. 5:20). And St. James wrote, "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin" (Jam. 4:17). And the Apostle John, in his first epistle, declared, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn. 1:8).
I prayed Mass at 9am and prayed for Pope Benedict to endure this continued onslaught with grace and serenity. I prayed that Fr. Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, can keep up with modern media demands. I prayed that all Catholics will remain united around Jesus Christ through our Pope Benedict. In the week to come I will pray an extra Divine Mercy Chaplet every day for the benefit of Pope Benedict and in reparation for sins within the Church. I ask you to do something similar.

Christ became obedient for us, unto death, even to death on a cross. Because of this God exalted him and bestowed on him the name of above every other name.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vatican Fights Back

The Catholic Church, as the world's oldest institution is notoriously slow in how it adapts to the times. We are slow to embrace technology and trends. Imagine my surprise to read that L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, issued an immediate response in Friday's version to Thursday's New York Times article. Whispers Blog has the details and translation:

Clarifying an article in the New York Times
No one shelved anything
Transparency, firmness and severity in shedding light on the many cases of sexual abuse committed by priests and religious: these are the criteria that Benedict XVI has indicated with constancy and serenity to the whole Church. A way of operating -- coherent with his personal history and more than two-decade activities as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- that is evidently feared by those who don't want the truth affirmed and those who would prefer to be able to instrumentalize, without any foundation in fact, horrible episodes and sorrowful events uncovered in some cases from decades ago.

This is demonstrated, most recently, in the article published today by the American newspaper "The New York Times," together with an editorial, on the grave case of the priest Lawrence C Murphy, guilty of abuse committed on deaf boys who were patients in a Catholic institute, where he worked from 1950 to 1974. According to the reconstruction made in the article, based on ample documentation provided by lawyers for some of the victims, reports relating to the conduct of the priest were only sent in July 1996 by the then-archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert G. Weakland, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- its then prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and its secretary Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone -- to the end of obtaining indications on the correct canonical procedure to follow. The request, in fact, referred not to the accusations of sexual abuse, but to a violation of the sacrament of penance, perpetrated by an enticement in the confessional, that takes place when a priest solicits a penitent to commit a sin against the sixth commandment (canon 1387).

It is important to observe -- as the director of the Press Office of the Holy See has stated -- that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was not in any way linked with a potential civil or penal procedure against Fr Murphy. By contrast, the archdiocese had already begun a canonical procedure, its evident result the same evident documentation published online by the New York newspaper. To the request of the archbishop, the Congregation replied, with a 24 March 1997 letter signed by the then-Archbishop Bertone, with an indication to proceed according to [the procedure] established in Crimen sollicitationis (1962).

As can be easily deduced while reading the reconstruction compiled by the "New York Times" on the case of Fr Murphy, nothing was ever placed aside [insabbiamento -- shelved]. And confirmation of this comes from the documentation accompanying the article in question, in which figures the letter Fr Murphy wrote in 1998 to the then-Cardinal Ratzinger asking that the canonical procedure be interrupted for reasons of his grave health. Likewise in this case, the Congregation's response, written by Archbishop Bertone, invited the ordinary of Milwaukee to consider all the pastoral measures foreseen by canon 1341 to obtain the reparation of scandal and the restoration of justice.

Finally, these late matters have become indisputably confirmed by the Pope, as demonstrated in his recent pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland. But the prevalent tendency in the media is to obscure the facts and [instead] enforce interpretations to the end of circulating an image of the Catholic church as having been the only guilty party of sexual abuse, an image that doesn't correspond to reality. And one which instead manifests the evident and despicable intent of attacking, at whatever cost, Benedict XVI and his closest collaborators.
It is clear that there is a deliberate effort to foster division in the Church and distrust of the Holy Father. We know these tactics. Pray for Pope Benedict. He is suffering with our Lord. Pray for all victims of sexual abuse who rarely find healing in the blame game. The purpose the New York Times is to weaken the identity and unity of American Catholics, they have no desire for truth or for the healing of those wounded. We must pray.

The Attacks Keep Coming

The attacks keep coming at Pope Benedict, especially by those who do not understand nor try to understand the history going on in these instances of priestly abuse. Three resources for you:

Archbishop Dolan of New York quotes the Vatican's response to accusations made by the New York Times. It is a simple retelling, but a good one. Read it here.

Phil Lawler, a layman, outlines a prudent response to these same claims. Read it here. As always, things are not as clear as the NYTimes might want you to believe.

Finally, regarding what Pope Benedict has actually DONE in this regard, is best seen by his response to Ireland and its troubles. There is an amazing depth going on in his letter to the Irish Church: "On the one hand, the rigors of the law. The price of justice must be paid to the last penny...But at the same time, the pope is kindling the light of grace. He is opening the door of God's forgiveness even to those guilty of the worst abominations, if they sincerely repent." Read Sandro Magister's analysis here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5th Sunday of Lent

It should come as little surprise that the ways of this world and the ways of Jesus Christ are often at odds. I know that I’ve said it a few times and, of course, He has said it as well, which makes me feel better about saying it. While this tension comes as little surprise and you nod your heads to my words, if you are like me then you probably forget this tension. We must remember this tension for with this tension comes choice and choice brings destiny: to be with the world or to be with Christ.

I actually see this struggle in couples that I prepare for marriage. One of the questions asked of them says: “Under no condition could I remain married to my spouse if they were unfaithful to me.” For engaged couples, this question broaches the unthinkable but it also exposes the way of the world versus the way of Christ. Forgiveness doesn’t lessen or diminish the horror of sin; forgiveness forgives the person and not the action.

In our portion of the battle between the way of the world and the way of Christ, one preliminary point must be made. Because it is a battle and it is one we entered into at our Baptism, it is my duty as a priest to help you become aware of this battle. In doing so I may have offended you. You may have felt, whether in the past or still to come, that my words dragged you out and exposed you to shame. I apologize. I apologize for my ineffectiveness and my inexperience. I apologize for my lack of sensitivity and my lack of love. Though my intention is not always pure, it is my intention to shine light on your sins- and my own- for the sake of their forgiveness in Christ. Furthermore, if I have ever offended you outside of Church- whether through rudeness, inattentiveness, or other slights, I apologize for that as well.

Today’s famous Gospel passage clarifies this basic tension between the ways of the world and the ways of Christ. The way of the world is to accuse, isolate, and condemn. The woman—caught in the act—is dragged, berated, and belittled by the mob. Furthermore, she is a tool of their effort to isolate Jesus and separate Him from those who follow Him.

We see many of these same tactics today in news media and political efforts. There is actually a political guide called “Rules for Radicals,” that bears a dedication to Lucifer as the first and most effective radical. This thinking is imbued in conservative and liberal minded individuals who seek to win the day through accusation and isolation. If we can shun this opponent, drag them down in the polls we will win.

Opposed to the way of the world is the way of Christ. The way of Christ forgives, invites, and obeys the truth. When the woman comes before Christ, He does not deny the truth to win the crowd but rather He invites the crowd to the truth of their own sin. He invites the crowd to consider the woman as little different than they are: human sinners in need of forgiveness.

The way of Christ acknowledges her sin. This acknowledgement is not the same as the condemning way of the world. Condemnation says: “You are an adulterer and you will never change or be of any value.” Christ, who is truth in the flesh, says: “You are an adulterer, I forgive you and I call you forth to live a life transformed that will speak goodness to the world.” This transformation is the hallmark of the way of Christ.

How do we enter more deeply into this conversion to the life of Christ? Confession is always the best way, but how do we get more out of our own confession? Make sure that we forgive others- the measure with which you measure out will be the measure given back to you. Old injuries and new hurts all have to be forgiven if we are to grow into the way of Christ.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

4th Sunday of Lent

Early on in the life of the Church, a phrase developed amongst Catholic authors. We are to be in the world but not of the world. We are to be in the world: our lives, our work, our families and our responsibilities. We are to not be of the world: of its values, its vision, and its decisions. It was this vision of Catholic life that inspired Saint Paul to say: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

So the spirit of this world and the spirit of Christ are opposed and at odds. In the days of Jesus, this was seen most strikingly in the rule of the Pagan Roman Empire. The emperors ruled from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, from the Alps to the Sahara and there was an absence of fighting, peace. But this peace of the Romans was not based on reconciliation, on forgiveness, or on unity. The Pax Romana, the peace of the Romans was founded on military might and the fear of reprisal.

There was peace in the Roman Empire, but it was the stillness of fear. Fear that if you attacked Rome: whether from within or from without that you would be destroyed; your soldiers, your families, your villages would all be destroyed. This is not peace. It is in this culture that St. Paul represents himself as an emissary, an ambassador of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Do we think of the peace of Jesus Christ- Pax Christi? Look at the famous parable today of the ungrateful sons and the faithful father. When the youngest son decides to return, he is thinking in the values and visions of this world. “I cheated my father, I wished he was dead, and so he would never forgive me for that. If I wish to live,” he thinks, “I must live as his slave because I killed him as my father.” Yet this would bring the Pax Romana, the fearful peace of reprisal- what if my father will do to me what I did to him?

When we approach confession, do we approach with a vision of the Pax Romana or of the Pax Christi? Do we believe that Jesus will forgive us for doing wrong because of His own integrity of person? Or do we fear that He will yell and push and throw us out? The younger son feared his father because he didn’t know his father- his own sin blinded him to think that his father was no different than he was, eager for vengeance. The father forgives the son, not because of anything the son did but because of who the father is; and the father is love. The father “died” to let his son go free and he “dies” again to bring him back.

Because sin blinds us, we fear the Pax Christi, the Christian vision of life. We fear that there is no forgiveness for us. We fear that He who died to set us free will not set Himself aside again so we may come back. How can we speak of peace, pray for peace, work for peace unless we know peace?

Here are two ways to grow in the Peace of Christ and to leave behind the peace of this world. First, go to confession. That way we live out the petition of the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It is much easier to forgive those who hurt us if we know His forgiveness. Go to confession at least once a year if not once a month. On Psalm Sunday, there will be six priests at St. Thomas More to hear your confession.

What about our sign of peace at Mass? How do we use it? Is it a 7th inning stretch? A chance to slap our buddies on the back, make plans for Cook’s Kitchen? Or is it an extension of our prayer, an extension of the Pax Christi that was won on the cross? I urge you, don’t simply say “peace,” but say “the peace of Christ.” Remind others of their need for the peace of Christ and remind yourself that your own peace is little more than the absence of action under the threat of violence unless you too know the Pax Christi.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

3rd Sundy of Lent

On Friday, the parking lot behind the Newman Center went from full to empty in less than three hours. By Saturday morning the one or two remaining cars had left as well and it was totally empty. Except for a little snow.

Any break is a time for a retrospective, a look back on how things are going. How have we examined our own lives and efforts? Last week, before hearing Bishop Swain’s message for the CFSA collection, we talked about how Peter had an experience of gratitude as he witnessed Jesus Christ, transfigured in glory. That same gratitude that we try to foster, that same gratitude that springs up from our daily blessings, that same gratitude that moves us to be generous to God and the Church should also be a source of examination for us.

As we grow more aware of God’s blessings for us: life, family, friends, faith and more, we also become aware that these gifts are given to us to be used. This is part of our awareness of stewardship: what did God give us and how does He want us to use it?

The fig tree in today’s passage from Luke is described by St. Augustine as an image of the human race. The three years of the fig tree correspond to the three ages of faith: the first year is the time before the law of Moses- meaning the Ten Commandments, the second is the time after the law of Moses, and the third is the time of Christ. What then is the fertilizer and care that is provided in the third year?

The cultivation and fertilizer is the life of grace in Jesus Christ. The gifts of your baptism and confirmation, the privilege of Mass, the healing in frequent Confession, to name a few. The fact that we DARE to call the God of the universe such a personal and presumptuous title as “Father.” What then is the fruit we are supposed to bear?

The fruit we are to bear are more souls in the Kingdom of God- the Catholic Church. This then is our point of examination: are we living Catholics in the midst of our daily lives? Living our Catholic faith with deliberate choice as we work, play, and live has a simple title: it is the life of the Apostolate. The Apostolate is a term to describe our sending forth by Jesus Christ to be His hands, feet, and reconciliation to the world.

The life of the Apostolate is not simply a task for priests or nuns but is for all baptized Catholics. As a diocese, as we’ve gone through strategic planning, one question I don’t here parishes asking is whether they are doing enough to grow the faith through new members? More than parish sizes, traveling distance and priest numbers, what if we asked: “Who have I invited to Mass, who have I invited to become Catholic?”

If we feel to small or ill-equipped for such questions, remember the fertilizer. We have been cultivated and fed, now we need to dig our roots into the gifts God has given us so that we may bear fruit for Him at the time of harvest, the end of our lives and the judgment of our souls. Unless we be cut down and burnt as fuel in the fire.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Heart of Matters

A priest in Boulder, CO, is being attacked and bullied for obedience to his archbishop and to Church teaching. Pray for him and support him as you're able. This priest is in a very politically charged town and what is being done is a deliberate attempt to break his spirit and further normalize the idea of homosexual unions being equivalent to marriage. I think I'll even send him a card.

Read from Father Breslin's blog:
As I look around Boulder I recognize that there is ample love all around; but there is a scarcity of discipleship. I chose to be on the side of what was lacking. I chose to protect the faith over doing what would have looked like the loving thing to do. Perhaps some of you parents have been in the position to make a decision for your family that looked like the opposite of love, but was the right decision anyway.

My brothers and sisters, our school is a Catholic school and our teaching on the sanctity of marriage is as clear as a bell. So, the decision I made was based on my conviction that we needed to rest on the side of backing our beliefs and our values. We need to fight for our Catholic values because here in Boulder it seems, no one else is. In many ways, I feel quite alone, even though I know I am not alone. But I do feel like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner—“alone, alone, all, all alone- alone on a wide, wide sea.”

And then visit his site to leave an encouraging comment. He gets double props for quoting the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

If you want good advice and to mobilize some public witness, check out Father Z's blog.

I'm going to get ready to say Mass including prayers for Father Breslin and Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Wrong Thing

Sometimes we just make the wrong choices.

Two and a half years ago I weighed forty pounds heavier. There was no magic formula, no secret ingredient, and no mysterious pills from African cacti. It involved learning to discern between what my body really needed and wanted from what I am feeling at the moment. In other words, hunger can lie. What feels like hunger might really be thirst or exhaustion or dissatisfaction. I learned I could loose weight by paying attention to those little details and saying "no" to eating for the wrong reasons.

In our spiritual life things are often the same. We confuse the emotions and movements of our hearts as leading us to material comforts when they are really leading us to prayer. We're exhausted or lonely or frustrated and we turn sin in various forms: pride, greed, envy, lust, wrath, gluttony, or sloth. As you observe your Lenten penance and you struggle without pop, snacks or other things take a few moments pray and ask Christ to fulfill your needs.

That is always a good choice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2nd Sunday of Lent

“Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Peter gives us a beautiful example of gratitude, perhaps the most important aspect of Christian prayer. Gratitude is necessary for growth in the Christian life and gratitude directs us towards God. In gratitude, we remember that we have received from Go and are able to give back to him what we have received. We also call this stewardship. Since God is God and we are His creatures, then everything we have is received from Him and His goodness. When we realize that and live within that total and complete gift of God, we are able to give generously back to Him.

Peter realizes that he is at a unique and beautiful moment. Jesus appears in the glory that is proper to Him as the only Son of God. Though it takes Peter a while to wake up and realize what is happening, he soon does and has the spontaneous response of gratitude.

There are three basic ways for us to express our own gratitude: in our time, our talent, and our treasure. Fancy alliteration, huh? Simply attending Mass is hopefully a conscious act of gratitude, giving to our Lord this time because he has given life to you. People lead music at Mass because God has first blessed them. Yesterday, Derek cleaned out the Sacristy because he was grateful for what God has done for him.

Finally, we express our gratitude to God through financial support. Each year, Bishop Swain asks us to reflect on what God has given us and make a return to Him through the Catholic Family Sharing Appeal. CFSA supports Bishop’s different efforts throughout the diocese, including the Newman Center. In fact, we couldn’t be here without generosity from other people’s CFSA collections. I know you don’t have much money: you’re in college. I’d rather you study than work right now. But it is still good for us to learn gratitude by giving how we can. We have a goal for us of $1200 and I think we can do it.

Now, we’ll listen to Bishop’s message:
“This is Bishop Paul Swain.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The day I prepared this message it snowed. The day I recorded this message it snowed. In between I traveled from north to south of the diocese over icy roads through fog and sleet. This has been quite the winter. I know many of you have had a rough go with fields inaccessible, roads closed, power out and plans disrupted. That of course is part of living in South Dakota, a gift we would not trade. Yet, we will truly welcome spring this year.

The weather and the other challenges of our day, especially the economic uncertainty, can get us down and encourage us to turn in on ourselves. A better response would be to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. The theme for the Catholic Family Sharing Appeal this year is “Blessed are you.” As we reflect on the devastating impact of the earthquake in Haiti, and the fear from war and terror in which so many live, to name a few crosses, we have much about which to be grateful. Yet there are many in our own midst who suffer in public and private ways. They need our encouragement, our support and our helping hand.

One way to do so is by supporting the ministries of the diocese. These programs and the talented people who offer them reach out to both parish life and personal lives. They make available to people of all ages in all parts of the diocese spiritual, sacramental and educational opportunities. Our ministries encourage healthy family life through marriage preparation and marriage renewal, Natural Family Planning, adoption services, post abortion support and other pro-family and pro-life programs. Faith Formation helps adults understand what the Church teaches and why, allowing a deepening relationship with Christ, and teenagers to be hope-filled and seek Christ in their lives. Newman Centers offer a home away from home for college students. Chaplaincies in hospitals and prisons minister to the lonely and the anxious.

CFSA allows the Bishops Bulletin and the TV Mass, which are sources of consolation and education, to be available in all homes without personal cost. The Vocations office supports our seminarians and encourages men and women to discover what God wants for them in their lives. These are a few of the ministries you have supported over the years. Their need to continue is even greater in this day of wonder and wonderment.

You will soon receive a letter from me with a pledge card which you can return to your parish. Please prayerfully consider supporting this year’s Catholic Family Sharing Appeal. Your generosity in the past has been inspiring. Blessed are you and blessed will you be for your generosity this year.

Thank you for listening to this message. May God bless you, Our Lady watch over you, and St. Joseph guard you and those you love.

Be careful out there. And be assured, spring will come, the light will shine.

Give praise to the Lord.

Laboring for Purity

Last night, on my campus, South Dakota State University, a women's study program invited in an anti-purity speaker, Jessica Valenti. Ms. Valenti's main point is that notions of purity and virginity are means of male oppression. Very original. Her book is called: "The Purity Myth." For a soul to write that, I truly pity her worldview. Our students have a three-fold response.
  1. We organized 20-25 women who went to the talk, their report is below.
  2. We organized 20 men who remained in the chapel interceding for all women during the talk.
  3. We organized 200 roses to be given away in the student union today: telling the women that they are worth the wait and quoting John 12.
Here is the account of Jamie, mother of 3 and wife to one of our FOCUS missionaries:
Wanted to briefly share with you what happened last night as 20-25 of us women went to Jessica Valenti's talk. She spoke for about a 1/2 hour and to my surprise had questions afterward. I did agree with her some of the time about how we need to do something with the exploitation of women, unjustified rape cases, slogans on t-shirts that degrade women, etc. There was a commonality between us. She did fail to give REAL statistics, facts, that have been done. She generalized everything especially this stat of hers, "90% of Americas are sexually active and do you see 90% of us suicidal, depressed, high school drop outs?" Out of that 90%, do you know how many are married? AND, women who've had an abortion typically don't come right out and said, "hey, I've had an abortion and I'm hurting." They usually wait years and some don't even know why they're hurting. I've seen this first hand working with Rachel's Vineyard.

After leaving her talk, I was so proud. 5 people (1 i didn't know) from our group got up to ask questions! It was wonderful! We turned out to be the majority! The first question was about the modern feminist, Lila Rose ( - need to check it out!!!) and how she is going under cover in Planned Parenthood Clinics to expose the lies that they have been feeding young women including covering up rape which by law they need to report - and it's ALL on video. My friend Kathryn asked if she, Jessica, would comment on Lila's work because the majority of her stories during this talk were about unjustified rape cases. Jessica said, "no, i won't comment." So Kathryn returned to the microphone and clarified herself so Jessica had to AGAIN dodge the question by saying, "First of all, planned parenthood has done more good for women...!" The crowd started to erupt in applause. I thought it was pretty unprofessional that Jessica first declined to answer a very legit point.

My sister, Katie very boldly and courageously got up and said...I'm paraphrasing..."I'm a 24 year old conservative Catholic virgin. I find that not having to worry about contracting some disease or the fear of getting pregnant propells me in my studies and keeps my sights on my career. So what's the harm in remaining pure and being a virgin?" Jessica pulled the relativism card with Katie. She then said that by saying you're "pure" puts others down who's had pre-marital sex. ????

This was followed by another student, Emily, from the Newman Center who asked Jessica to clarify what she means in her purity myth book and it was amazing to see Emily keep Jessica to task on the question.. By this time, you could obviously hear annoyance in Jessica's voice.

The director of the education program at the local parish, Rachel, got up and told Jessica that she found that they have a lot in common and she agrees with some of what she had to say. She explained what kind of programs (theology of the body) they have going at the church for the girls AND the boys as well as those in high school. She asked her what her goal was - again, a great question! Rachel was booed by the crowd when she mentioned that aweful "a" word, "Abortion" which meant she really hit a nerve. It was great. :)

I was incredibly proud to stand among all those beautiful women last night in defense of Truth. Please pray for those who will be manning a both in the student union today. Their sign says, "Ask me about the gift of purity." As John Paul II stated via my friend Angela, "Purity is the quickness to affirm the value of another in every situation."

I went to her website ( and posted a comment about Lila Rose. We'll see if it's taken off the website after it's "moderated".

Thank you for all your prayers and especially to those who attended last night. Praise be Jesus Christ!!!
Pray for all women and for men to respect them.

St. Catherine of Sienna, pray for us.

h/t to Gustaf's Greenery for helping us get the roses. Thanks Pat!