“The 2012 [Valentine’s Day] holiday is expected to generate $17.6 billion in retail sales in the United States.”*

There are 27 million people in slavery around the world right now.
Each slave costs an estimated $90-300.
It would cost around $8 billion to buy freedom for all those people, not even half of what will be spent on Valentine’s Day in the United States ALONE.
We would have nearly $10 billion left for rehabilitation of those enslaved and prosecution of those who commit this crime against humanity.

Wow. If we can spend that kind of money showing each other how much we love each other… do you think we could do a little to show solidarity for people we don’t even know?


Money won’t fix this problem. Buying freedom and persecuting criminals isn’t as black and white as the numbers. But where we put our money shows where our priorities lie: ourselves.


What can you do? What MUST you do?

  • Pressure your governmental representatives. Write, petition, demand that this be an issue that gets attention.
  • Pressure companies who may use materials produced by slave labor. Question possible issues, insist for transparent business practices, and demand that products be created by fair trade.
  • Support organizations that are fighting human slavery. Buy tshirts, products, and materials when possible. Monetary support helps them further their mission and pursue justice and freedom for all.
  • Raise awareness. Make their stories heard by making your voice heard. Choose not to close your heart or eyes to injustice. Take baby steps, and others will join you.
  • Know what is going on. There are too many resources available to learn more and spread the word to excuse yourself from the reality of this issue:
Passion 2012 FREEDOM conference


The Light has Defeated the Night

When I read this article, I thought of so many song lyrics… “the Glory of God has defeated the night” and “the light meets the dark” both seem pretty perfect.

“The Shroud is not a fake”

We can deduce that the image was not formed by contact between linen and body.

There are no signs of putrefaction near the orifices, which usually occur around 40 hours after death. Consequently, the image is not the result of putrefaction gases and the corpse was not left in the sheet for more than two days.

To summarize, the ‘hypothesis’ is that the image imprinted on the shroud is the result of short-range electromagnetic energy (atomic and ionic level) by means of extreme ultraviolet radiation (invisible light).

— The “atomic and ionic level” of this kind of energy is at the very basic elements of matter.

— This light is indirectly detectable, travels at short wavelengths, and is invisible to the human eye.

— The power of the light source that created the image on the Shroud is some 34 thousand times stronger than anything we can replicate by lasers.

This is what I get from this article and all the research about the Shroud of Turin:

Sometime, in the darkness of the tomb, a light so brilliant — so otherworldly — burst from within the linen shroud. A light… that powers the universe, that drives creation, that is more powerful than anything we can imagine, much less recreate. And it shone so fiercely and so briefly that it left a slight coloration behind. It’s beyond our comprehension, beyond science.

If I was incredibly brilliant, I would research the profound mystery of solar neutrinos and recent studies that show neutrinos can move through matter and faster than the speed of light. Something about all these light/life/matter/energy-related topics makes me wonder how it could all be connected, in strange and mysterious ways.

How incredible is our Creator?

I hope there’s a home movie in heaven of what happened in the tomb. I wonder if we would even be able to handle that kind of light…

**edit: All of the above is based on speculation, inconclusive evidence, and presumption. Dates are undetermined, science cannot contain it, and there is no such dogma or doctrine about believing in miracles. Skeptics beware.

Regardless of the scientific proof of anything, I still think it’s an incredible idea, and unless there’s proof of what actually did happen, we’re all free to imagine. So, welcome to my imagination… where God totally blows all the rules of science and physics and logic out the window.

Why it Matters

Jonah’s “Whats goin on”

This is why I love teens.
This is why I think they are absolutely incredible.

They need Christ. They need hope. They need love.
They need us more than they might ever know.

We need them more than we will ever know.

Tell me that youth ministry doesn’t matter.
Tell me that people don’t need to hear the Good News, no matter how young or old.

I won’t be able to hear you over the voice in my heart that says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40)

And Jonah,
Do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Mt 10:31), for God knows well the plans He has in mind for you — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope (Jer 29:11).

What is Discernment?

I thought this was really great and wanted to share!

What is Discernment?

Discernment is rooted in the understanding that God is ever at work in our lives — inviting, directing, guiding, drawing us into the fullness of life. Its central action is reflection on the ordinary events of our lives. It seeks to discover God’s presence in these moments and to follow the direction and guidance God gives us through grace. It is not the events themselves that are of interest, but rather the affective responses they evoke in us — feelings of joy, sorrow, peace, anxiety and all the indefinable ’somethings’ that arise and stir within us. It is precisely here that through faith we can discover God’s direction and guidance in our lives.

The process of discernment presupposes several things — that you:

  • can reflect on the ordinary events of your life;
  • can describe what you experience;
  • have a habit of personal prayer;
  • know yourself;
  • know your deepest desires; and
  • are open to God and God’s direction.

Excerpt from “Responding to God’s Love: understanding the discernment process” by Charles J. Jackson, SJ 

Purple is Back!

And no, I’m not talking about J. Beib and his fav color. I AM talking about the start of Advent and a happy, exciting New Year for the Church! Happy New Year, yall!!

Raise your hand if you were as excited about the first Mass with the New Roman Missal changes as you will be about Christmas morning…

Yeah, you better believe I was! — AM! I love the new prayers. I love how the whole church was a little vulnerable, a little unsure, laughing under their breath at themselves, trying to do their best through the whole Mass. That’s how it ought to be! That’s who we are — just trying to figure it out as we go, not taking ourselves too seriously, but doing our very best to find our place in the prayer of the Church. The new changes rock. The Church rocks!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the color purple and the penitential aspects of Advent lately. I suppose I haven’t given the purple/penance part a huge amount of thought before, but my friend Sean over at The Passionate Papist offered seven great tips for observing Advent and made me think twice. Number 5 totally hooked me, and I’m going to dive into that this year.

I’m giving up Christmas desserts for Advent. Cakes, cookies, candy, brownies, etc… oh, they look soooo good!!


Sometimes, I think I’m crazy… but it will be worth it. Giving up something that seems “necessary” to the season is going to be my way of thinking counter-culturally this year. Desserts have become just about as essential to the holidays as shopping and gifting… and I’m not sure it’s helping me focus! You see, the Christmas season is really after Christmas gets here. We should spend these four weeks in preparation, in waiting, and in repentance and sacrifice. I think we can be so consumed with the celebratory parts of the holidays that we forget that purple is for penance, in honor of the King. The celebration begins with His birth, and it is preceded by time to reflect on our humility and how much we need Him to come and save us.

We know that life begins at conception. Christ took on human flesh when He was conceived at the Annunciation — March 25. He is already with us, He has already come to us, yet we wait for Christmas to mark His triumphant arrival. Mary and Joseph knew and waited for nine months. We hold our breath for only a few weeks. Our time of preparation and patience is short compared to theirs, and shorter still compared to the waiting of generations of God’s people.

We may wait until Christmas, but He is already here. He has taken on flesh, and He chose Mary as the means to come to us. What great humility we should have in realizing that even when we were unaware, He came to us! Before angels sang or stars appeared in the sky or kings traveled to bow down, He was among us.

This Advent, I’m waiting for Him to be revealed. I’m waiting for Him to be revealed in the Church, in the world, and in my heart. I’m waiting for Him to be revealed by His Mother. Mary holds Him, carries Him, and bears Him… and at Christmas, she will bring Him into the world. She will reveal what she has known since Gabriel appeared — He has come. If we can open our hearts to her, even in the least of ways, Mary will reveal Him to us. She is the only one who can! If we spend this time with her in prayer and waiting, she will beckon us close to feel Him kicking, know her patient hope, and wait with her until His glory is made known.

Is there something you can sacrifice or add to help you focus your prayer? What will you do this season to prepare your heart?

Evangelizing Our Youth

“I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the New Evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America.”
— Pope Benedict XVI

I had the privilege of watching and listening to a friend and youth minister share the Gospel with half a dozen teenagers in the RCIT program tonight.

I’m still sort of in shock — not because I was surprised by how authentically and passionately he delivered his message, but by how blown away the teens seemed to be! They were intensely engaged in what he was describing… as if the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a new story. They had admitted less than five minutes before that it was a story they all knew, yet here they were: leaning forward in anticipation, mouths slightly open, and brows furrowed in deep thought.

We broke open Scripture — John 3:16. We discussed the four reasons for the Incarnation (CCC 457-460). He told the story — he shared the Gospel. Then, the real Truth: this is what it’s all about. There is nothing else, this is what matters. He spoke to their hearts, he spoke with authority, and he catechized.

“Authentic catechesis is always an orderly and systematic initiation into the revelation that God has given of Himself to humanity in Christ Jesus, a revelation stored in the depths of the Church’s memory and in Sacred Scripture, and constantly communicated from one generation to the next by a living, active traditio.” (Catechesi Tradendae 22)

I have never seen the faces or heard the almost inaudible gasps as people have heard such a solid Christian witness. I heard their questions and understood their desire to know indisputable Truths, the credibility of our faith, the greatness of Mysteries, and the beauty of the Passion and the Cross. They continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness, and truth.

It’s so beautiful, to see how God can open hearts. Pray that our youth will be open to hearing the Gospel anew, and that the Spirit will give us the words to share what we have been privileged to know!

Our teens are living in darkness. We’ve got work to do. Let’s go, people!!