Sunday, December 23, 2012

Urgent Prayer Request for Newtown Priests

I received this urgent prayer request from a friend at our church, relaying that the priests of St Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown are in desperate need of prayers.  As we continue to mourn with and pray for the town, please include Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and all of the other spiritual care providers and first responders who are suffering as well in the aftermath of the unspeakable tragedy.

My friends,

All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.

Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now. . personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large.The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.

My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family's Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:

Father Luke Suarez

46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.

But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?
On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.

Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry-impossible on their own, but possible with God.

I read stuff like this and I think of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction telling Tim Roth, "I am the tyranny of evil men, but I'm trying, Ringo, I'm trying real hard to be a shepherd."

I'm putting cards in the mail to both priests - what a good idea - and also remembering them in my prayers. Will you, too? We forget sometimes that aside from those families directly impacted by the violence, all the people who serve them - ministers, first responders, medical personal, even the funeral support - need prayers, too. And prayer is the most subversive of powers. It knocks the hell out of things!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Renmant Theology and the Church Today

More and more frequently, thoughts inquiring into the mind of God and how he will seek to purify the cancers of dissent and relativism from his Church seem to be entering more and more into my prayer and meditation.  Many a day, in response to encounters and events epitomized by the fact that our current President, perhaps the most anti-life that we have ever seen, won the Catholic vote by 51% to 48%, I cannot help but pray, "How long, Lord, will you allow this to continue, where your people who profess to believe in you and serve you--who claim to be your body--serve you with their lips but keep their hearts far from you?" (cf Mt 15:8).  Why do the numbers of the faithful continue to decline, despite the fact that we live in a world that seems increasingly dominated by hostility to Christ and his message (as the Master himself promised it would be)? Why are we failing in swaying people away from a world that offers so much yet constantly fails to deliver and can make no assurances about eternity?

In his wonderful blog that I just discovered, Monsignor Charles Pope has offered some practical insights on this question (admittedly his own thoughts and reflections, not necessarily the dogmatic teachings of the Church).  He offers them in the context of a term that I had never heard before reading his post, Remnant Theology.  Remnant Theology reflects on the history of God and his people (first Israel, now the Church founded on Christ) from the perspective that he has time and again allowed his people to be led into exile and persecution, to remove the slough of complacency, compromise with evil, and sometimes downright disobedience and dissent that has crept in over time and distanced them from complete dependence on him.

What does Remnant Theology have to teach us about the Church Today?

His conclusion is both challenging and encouraging, echoing Christ's command to those gathered as he ascended into heaven:

Frankly it is going to take a stronger and purer Church to endure the cultural tsunami that is and has been rolling in. The first waves hit in the late 60s, and successive waves look to be even more destructive as Western culture is gradually being swept away. The Church will have to be pure and strong to endure the days ahead, to rescue those we can, and to help rebuild when the terrible waves have worked their last destruction.
I realize this post will not be without controversy. I do not propose it as the only answer to the times. Neither do I claim that fallen-away Catholics have simply been pruned as though we could know they will never return and be grafted on again. We should continue to Evangelize and seek to grow the Church by Christ’s own mandate. We cannot know the size the Lord wants us to be nor should we ever stifle the Spirit of Christ’s mandate, Go and make disciples of all the nations….

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Joyful Surprise

There are some days when it is just flat out, awesomely joyful to be Catholic.  Today was one of those days.

Just as I was looking for something positive about the prospects of the upcoming election to write about after several months away (and finding nothing but a healthy dose of political pessimism), walking into mass today left me a little...puzzled.  Initially, anyway.

Why puzzled? Because the vestments and altar cloth were all white.  I found myself thinking, "today's not a major feast..."  I hadn't gotten the memo, and didn't know that last Thursday, October 18, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the addition of October 22 as an optional memorial for the Feast of Blessed John Paul II for the Catholic Church in the U.S., with today being the first celebration.  How very awesome to be surprised by such joyous news, that the man who was such a pivotal figure in forming my generation and in giving us such a clear vision of God's plan for the dignity and power of human life and love, would now be commemorated with a memorial feast.

It was 34 years ago today that the "young" Polish cardinal was inaugurated as the 265th successor to St. Peter and spoke words that echo into eternity, and are so poignant in the present time when it seems that the faith is being threatened by dark clouds encroaching:
"Be Not Afraid! Open up, no; swing wide the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power the confines of the State, open up economic and political systems, the vast empires of culture, civilization and development. Be not afraid!"
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.


Sunday, June 3, 2012


Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

It never ceases to amaze me how, the more and more we open and entrust our hearts to God, the deeper and deeper he draws us into the infinitude of beauty and love that is his inner life, and the simplicity of his plan that we so frequently attempt to complicate and even thwart.  That is what we celebrate today, the simple and immeasurably deep truth that:

God is relationship, an everlasting relationship of unimaginable love between the Father and Son into which we are drawn by the Holy Spirit.


There is no existence--including life itself--outside of that relationship.  Without the constant, unreserved outpouring of love that exists for all time, and was poured over to us in the Incarnation, death, and Resurrection of the Son, there is nothing else.  It was in and through that relationship that creation came into being and is sustained.

It is that reality that led St. Paul to write in his letter to the Romans (11:33-35),

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"  "Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid.?"  For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Waking to New Life

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

One of the (many) things I love about being Catholic is that Easter is not just one day.  It's a whole week, followed by another six weeks of joy of the risen Christ, culminating in another celebration, the "birthday" of the Church on Pentecost.  When celebrating the single greatest event in human history, the conquering of mankind's greatest, common foes--sin and death--by the God Man who came among us, celebrating for one day, or even a few days, simply will not do.  But that is not why I wanted to write today, so I'll save a few more thoughts on that for later.

Today, Easter Monday, I wanted to share a spot that Michael Voris from did last week, reflecting on the sheer power of the Resurrection, and speculating on what Christ's personal experience must have been like as his lifeless body was reanimated to a glorified, immortal state, and the unimaginable joy that must have been shared when he first greeted his mother, whose fiat had allowed him to take on him human flesh.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Christ Descended Into Hell

Christ's Descent into Limbo by Jacopo Bellini, 15th century, Museo Civico, Padua, Italy
Holy Saturday has often left me at a loss for words.  In the time between our Lord's death on the cross and the joyful completion of his triumph over death in the Resurrection on the third day lies today, Holy Saturday.  In the words of the Credo, "he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day."  Though the absolute, full weight of the events of Good Friday and the Resurrection may escape us, the historical accounts given to us in Scripture give us something tangible to contemplate, something that we can take into our hearts and minds to begin to make real for us what Christ accomplished.  What has been more difficult for me is to imagine what took place during what we commemorate today, the time of silence that the Author of life spent in death.  This ancient homily, shared by Brandon Vogt at The Thin Veil, helped this morning to bridge that gap and imagine the powerful encounter of what happened when Christ descended to bring the Gospel to those who had been trapped in death since the original sin.

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."


Monday, March 19, 2012

Saint Joseph and Rendering Unto Caesar

"Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus," Guido Reni (c. 1635)
Today' is the feast of St Joseph, one of my personal favorite saints to whom I am devoted as the model father, leader, and guider of the Holy Family during Christ's childhood.

Today, as I was looking for some good reading about St Joseph, I came across it in what was, frankly, the least expected of places, the headlines at The New American (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite pro-Christian, pro-liberty news outlets).  The article, written by Jack Kenny, summarizes the lessons that we Christians can learn from the model of Saint Joseph about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's (our obedience to just laws and statutes) and to God what is God's (our whole selves, made in his image and likeness).

Joseph was much more than just the strong, silent, and righteous foster father of Christ; he was also the model of what it means to be a statesman and keep the proper priority in lending our allegiances.

Saint Joseph and the Rendering Unto Caesar.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Opening Volleys

In the past few weeks, we have seen opening shots in "the battle of our age," of the culture of life against the culture of death.  I haven't had as much time as I'd like to cover the events and share my thoughts, but there are two developments I couldn't go to bed tonight without asking you to continue to pray about:

1. Friday, on the eve of the Feast of Saint Patrick, the administration and HHS announced the expansion of the abortifacient and contraceptive coverage to include college students:

2. Talk show host Glenn Beck (with whom I've had differences of opinion in the past, but respect for his apparently genuine truth-seeking), returned from the Vatican with this stark warning for Catholics: Glenn Beck Talks with Vatican Officials, Warns Catholics to Prepare for Battle -

And so the volleys begin...


Monday, March 5, 2012

The Battle of Our Age

Although I'm a few days behind on the news, I was disappointed sickened today to learn that the Blunt Amendment to protect conscience rights by allowing employers to opt out of health care coverage that violates their belief failed 51-48 in the Senate and, even worse, 13 of 24 Catholic senators voted against the amendment.  That's right, over half of the Catholic senators (or so they call themselves) voted to uphold the President's attempt at circumventing First Amendment protections and silencing the voice of the Catholic Church.

The 13 Catholic Senators who voted against allowing Catholic organizations conscience rights -

What's worse--and nearly inconceivable--is that, had they voted in line with the faith that they claim to profess, they amendment would have passed with a solid margin.

My stomach almost began to wretch when I read that news...almost, that is, until I watched this inspiring video by Father John Hollowell.  We Catholics still have a say, and slowly but surely, as she has many times in her 2000 years, Holy Mother Church is rising from the devastation of recent scandals and poor catechesis to rediscover her identity and make her voice heard, a voice that speaks the unchanging and unchangeable truth about the dignity of human life with the authority of Christ himself.  As Father John quotes J.R.R. Tolkien to end his speech, "The board is set, the pieces are now in motion, at last we come to it - the great battle of our age.”

We, the faithful know how the story ends.  The question now is, will we have the strength to see our chapter of the fight through.  I, for one, agree with Father Hollowell and think that we shall.  So I end the day pitying those who know not the forces of heaven that are gathering against what they would try to accomplish.  While we fight, let us continue to pray through the intercession of St. Paul for their conversion.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Going Nowhere?...Fast

Now that we're solidly into the Lenten season, this post is finally getting out.  (Actually, I intended to jot down a few thoughts for last weekend, but haven't had the chance to sit down to it until now). As I was digging through my "archives," I came across a post from Lent two years ago, Fasting: Dispelling the Satisfaction Delusion. Now, two years later, I'm still a whimpy faster, but like all of the faith journey, improvement is made with baby steps.

Lent gives us the perfect time to step back and reconnect with Christ's perfect example of enduring a fast and temptation before even making one thought of entering into his public life of the Gospel.  It's such a perfect time that I've swung 180 degrees from a few years ago when the thought of mandating a fast, frankly, was a very big turnoff for me.  Now, it's harder to believe that the Church doesn't require us to fast on more than two days during Lent, let alone the entire liturgical year.  This seems especially true in times like these, when the one-two punch of prayer and fasting are needed to combat the particular crises facing the Church and the world.

But what does it accomplish?

In short, as I wrote about in the previous post, fasting forces us out of the illusion that we can often be tempted to accept, that life is good as long as our temporal needs are satisfied.  It seems to me that there's no coincidence that Lent takes place in the late winter and early spring, at the time when farmers are preparing their fields for the spring and summer crops.  In a similar manner, we are called to "till" the soil of our souls, to allow the Spirit to renew and strengthen the presence of God dwelling and active within us by clearing out all of the "clutter" that life tends to collect inside our minds and hearts.  We have a sublime opportunity to follow the soul's desire for rest and peace in our Exemplar and subjugate to it the body, whose natural desire is just the opposite: for motion and busyness.  As Father Andre Louf noted in his reflection quoted in the February 24th Magnificat,

Want and satisfaction, hunger and satiety, each with its characteristic aspect of pain and pleasure, are constantly alternating.
The more the adult person develops towards the ground of his existence, the deeper the need becomes and the less he is in fact satisfied by the material sustenance served up to him.  The day comes when a hunger and thirst for the living God are born within him and, over and above all earthly existence, are engraved into his body.

So, through fasting, we may begin to re-integrate the desires of the body with the desires of the soul, which all ultimately return to our desire for God.  We align our bodily hunger with our spiritual hunger, and in doing so more perfectly turn our whole self into the grace and peace of the living God.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Civil Disobedience

As I sat down to write this post, I was originally going to write a brief challenge to read an incredible book that L and I have been reading, Love and War by John and Staci Eldgredge.  But that will have to wait for a bit, perhaps next week.

For now, a much more urgent issue is at hand, that I have been thinking about earnestly despite having time to blog about it:  the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, as part of "Obamacare" that essentially guts the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.   You've no doubt seen the mandate and heard the back-and-forth (if one can even call it that), as it's been much-discussed on two of my favorite Catholic/pro-life news sources, and

I find myself thinking more and more over the last several weeks, "Is this our time?" Is this the chance for our generation of Catholics, along with our Protestant brothers and sisters who share our belief in the sanctity of human life, to demonstrate the faith that we profess by toeing the line, saying, "To hither thou shall come and no further" and be willing to face the temporal consequences of resisting, through civil disobedience if necessary, the intrusion of the Federal Government into our faith lives?  Perhaps it is the defining fight of our age, one that's been brewing in the decades since Pope Paul VI issued his dire warning about the devastating effects that contraception and a contraceptive mindset would have on a society, and more importantly the salvation of souls.  If not, we are still in for one heckuva fight.  As Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty, courageously stated as he toed the line this past week, "We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail."

If you have not yet, I encourage you to visit the "Conscience Protection" page that has been set up by the USCCB Council on Religious Liberty, which includes this quick video by cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan.  The site also includes dozens of links to get up to speed on what's going on with the fight, including Friday's attempt to "shell game" opponents into believing the insurance companies, not their customers, hold the moral responsibility for the anti-life services that are to be provided under the mandate.

It is time to pray, fast, and take courageous action in this battle, that we may celebrate eternity in praise of He Who has already won the war.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's Been A While...

...since my last post just over three months ago.  It just so happens, for those of you who haven't been following L's Blog, that we were blessed once again with a new addition just a few weeks after that.  Life was a beautiful chaos through the holidays, and now, being back, we are finally getting into something of a routine...maybe.  Anyhow, it was an email and phone call from a friend last week that prompted me to get back after it after having to retreat for a while to focus on (1) my vocation of fathering; (2) reinvigorating my prayer life through the Advent and Christmas seasons; and (3) deciding and charting a plan for our family to say farewell to military life and carry out our dream of moving back closer to L's family in God's country (aka Texas).   Proper attention has been given where attention was due, and now we are eagerly awaiting finalization and the day that we can officially welcome Gianna into the Church (hopefully on the same weekend).

So...that's all for now. More in the coming days and weeks, but for right now I just wanted to let you all know that we are indeed alive and doing our best to savor every moment and live it to the full.