Why I Tell My Sins to a Person: In Defense of Confession

Every couple of weeks I solemnly walk into a small room where another person is sitting. It kinda feels like a closet, kinda looks like the smallest grandmotherly-parlor-sitting-room you’ve ever seen (complete with appropriate seating and decoration).

We sit there, me and this other person, and have a nice little conversation that consists of me telling them all the things I’ve done wrong recently. It’s a varied, and unexciting list that doesn’t change nearly as often as I change the tone of voice I use to disguise myself. (Don’t judge me. You know you’ve done it too.)

Finding Jesus Through Mary: The Power of the Rosary

When I was in 5th grade, Beth gave me a packet of Catholic magazines that she had when she was a teenager. I responded oh-so-enthusiastically by shoving them in my closet and forgetting about them. Though I believed in God, I had rarely applied that belief to my daily tasks.

Missing – Jesus’ Mom: The Assumption Explained

About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”

He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.

“Well, first… ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.

Billy then replied, “Okay, fine… but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”

This is where the conversation got really interesting.

Billy then replied, 'Okay, fine’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_but it's still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.'

This is where the conversation got really interesting.

Rules for Freedom

Especially in high school, it sometimes seems that if you’re being a good Christian it means you constantly have to say ‘no’ to things. You might look at your friends’ weekend schedule and think, “Gosh, I can’t do this, or this, or that, and definitely not that!”

How Do I Start Reading the Bible?

I used to make fun of my neighbor behind his back. I didn't want to see him do well. I secretly hoped he would strike out or the outfielder would catch his ball. Then I could get up there and hit a home run! At last, I'd have my moment to shine. I would be considered the best. Everyone would want to be like ME! I was envious and it tore me apart. I had no character. I was a bad teammate and a bad friend.

Be Still My Heart… God is Here

God hid His glory under the appearance of bread and wine so that every week, or even every day, His grace could pulse through your veins. His grace would be in every beat of your heart, bring energy to your body, and healing to your hurts.

The Call to Greatness: Building Men of God

Greatness; that’s our goal as men, right?

Whether we want to be a scientist or a lawyer or a football player, we want to be great. That’s a good thing because we are called to greatness by God. However, every great doctor or athlete or plumber or teacher had someone coach them. If we’re going to be able to face the challenges and do what seems impossible in manhood today, we need a coach.

It is Better for You That I Go.

I sometimes wonder what the disciples felt like when Jesus told them that he had to leave them. Probably a little confused, startled, and worried. I don’t blame them, the man they came to know and love was no longer going to be by their side. In fact, Scripture says that because of this news, grief filled the disciples hearts (John 16:6), and yet Jesus still tells them that it is “better for you that I go” (John 16:7).

“Don’t Walk Into Mass Out of Shape”: What is “Mass Fitness”?

“Don’t walk into mass out of shape,” proclaims the bridge of the song “Mass Fitness” performed by some, gangly, shaved-eyebrow dude.

Well that Vanilla-Ice-looking dude is me. I love writing silly songs with catchy hooks and was asked to add a comedic spark to Life Teen’s semester on the Mass through song, dance, and video.

The original idea came from our Life Support Coordinator Joel Stepanek. He thought an 80’s style Richard Simmons workout video featuring specific movements that would get people in shape for Mass would be a fun introduction to the topic (since we all know there’s a lot of kneeling, sitting, and standing going on at Mass). I laughed just thinking about it and then suddenly got inspired to blow it up. So I wrote an original song, shot a music video (with the help of some wonderful and talented people), and decided to give it an early 90’s vibe instead.

Who Was Mary?: A Reflection on the Mother of God

This month of May, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary – offers us a unique opportunity to deepen our contemplative prayer life.

Just as Mary pondered all the early events surrounding Jesus in her heart (Luke 2:19), we are invited to contemplate what the Holy Spirit chose to inspire and share with us regarding Mary – not only as Christ’s mother – but as our own (John 19:27). Below is part of a reflection I wrote some time ago that I recently rediscovered. Perhaps it will bless your own contemplative prayer life . . .

Gifts for Days: Unpacking the Never-ending Graces of Confirmation

I’ve noticed that sometimes we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation the same way I received Mousetrap so many years ago. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation are that it “increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit” in us (#1303). The same gifts of the spirit prophesied by Isaiah in the Old Testament. The same Holy Spirit that descended on the apostles at Pentecost and empowered them to carry the news of Christ to the ends of the known world and even die martyr’s deaths.

The Original Pope Francis: St. John XXIII

Yes — he is very old but during his time, he captured the hearts of many and his goodness and simplicity took the world by storm.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know the goodness and simplicity of Pope Francis. For the past year he’s been the Catholic grandfather to billions of people all over the world. But Pope Francis wasn’t the only one seen in this light. During the early 1960’s the world fell in love with a humble man named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, also known as Pope John XIII.

While many people find Francis’ style of leadership to be new and original, here are five reasons why Pope John was indeed, the “Original Francis.”

Divine Mercy Sunday: God’s Mercy is Bigger Than Any Sin

God offers us His grace and mercy every day, especially through the Eucharist. Because the tomb is empty, we have freedom. When Jesus descended into Hell he took sin and shame with Him. He left them there, where they belong. It is because Jesus rose that we are free. God's mercy is so big. St. John Vianney put it beautifully when he said, 'Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.'

The Gentle Lion: JPII Up Close and Personal

This was the moment I’d dreamt of and prayed for since my teenage years. This was my chance to look into the eyes of my hero and say, “Thank you” for what his shepherding and pontificate had meant to me both personally and professionally. We knelt down. I clutched his hand. Fighting back overwhelming tears of joy, we kissed his ring and received his saintly blessing. He spoke to us, briefly, through muddled speech and a wide grin.

Good Pope John

He was also known as a pretty witty pope. His most famous quip came after a reporter asked “How many people work in the Vatican?” John XXIII’s answer: “About half of them.”

Another time he met a boy who introduced himself as Angelo. “That was my name,” John XXIII said, then added conspiratorially, “but then they made me change it.”

Words Worth Sharing: The Best JP2 Quotes

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” “What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without […]

Love Wins. Death No More.

What if we lived as though death no longer existed?

No, but really. What if we lived as though death was literally not an option for us? What if we chose to radically live in the newness of life that Jesus offers us through His Resurrection?

By living as if death no longer existed, I don’t mean living naively as though to ignore the reality of death. Living this way means viewing death on earth not as an end to life, but a new beginning, the start of an eternity in the presence of God.

What Makes a Saint?

To be clear, the Church doesn’t “make someone” a saint. The Church recognizes the holiness of certain individuals and honors some with the title of “saint.” If you make it to heaven, you are a saint – whether or not the Church recognizes you as one publicly.

The title of saint is conferred on someone after what is called the canonization process.

15 Logical Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection

St. Paul had to deal with a lot of 'high minded', philosophical types in his day. Most were very prideful, long on academics but short on humility. Some people back then claimed that Jesus didn't really rise from the dead (as we celebrate this weekend). Rather than mince words, Paul gave it to them straight (in the verse up above). Many people will tell you that 'based on human logic' the Resurrection makes no sense. The first thing we need to remember is that 'human logic' is not omnipotence. God makes it very clear that '(His) ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts.' (Is. 55:8-9)

Into the Garden

We are all works-in-progress. I’ve got my own weeds that need pulling, rocks that need moving, branches that need pruning. I’m a mess. And as soon as I think I’ve got one thing under control, something else pops up and knocks me down again. But God is the most patient gardener, who never stops working so that I might become what He wants me to be, and bear fruit. He doesn’t care what it costs.