“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.

I Killed Jesus.

I think it’s easy to read the Bible like it’s a history book. Moses parted the sea, Jesus died on a cross, Columbus sailed across the ocean. I know it’s more than an account of historic events but I often struggle to see how it applies to my life. “They” (that collective, scholarly, holy group […]

Finding Christ in a Secular Easter

I recently heard someone ranting about how commercialized Easter has become and how there is “no trace of Christ” left in His holiday. I understood the person’s concerns and agreed, in part, with their assertions. The more I got to thinking about it, though, I felt like their thoughts, while valid, were a little bit short…sighted.

Christ is everywhere. His death and resurrection are everywhere. We just need to know where to look and how to uncover them.

4 Quick-Fixes for the Lenten Drop Out

Or, maybe for some of you they don’t and you’ve been able to keep a solid Lenten journey? Regardless, there’s always room for growth, depth… and some Lenten punches of improvement.

Here are some practical suggestions to help you in the remaining time of Lent.

Take a Break. It’s Time to do Less.

I know you guys lead busy lives. Our culture, your teachers, parents, friends, yourself – there is pressure from every direction to boost your resume and increase your chances of getting into the very best college. The result of this pressure is an overwhelming schedule that includes: school, homework, time with the Lord, family, a social life, part time jobs, clubs, honor society, athletics, volunteer work and oh yeah… sleep.

There is a tremendous amount of pressure not only to participate in most, or all, of these things, but to do them all perfectly. You are expected as a freshman in high school to juggle a schedule that is four times what it should be.

This is a problem in our culture, but the bigger problem is – it has become the norm. Anything less than this business is perceived as laziness.

Walk With Me: How Praying the Stations Can Boost Your Lent

The Stations of the Cross are prayers that help us meditate on Jesus’ Passion and sacrifice for us. They incorporate the use of Scripture, prayers, meditations, and songs while traveling to 14 stations. The Stations are based upon Scriptural accounts from the time when Jesus was condemned to death until He was laid in the tomb. The practice of taking a pilgrimage to follow Jesus’ steps on the way to His crucifixion has existed since the early Church. It’s an opportunity for us to truly enter into the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ passion and death, which prepares us for His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Who is God?: The Reason for Everything

“The most important thing about you is what you think about, when you think about God.” This is one of my favorite quotes, and I think it’s so true! Since my faith is the most important thing in my life, I have noticed that how and what I think about God affects every aspect of […]

It’s Still Lent: A Necessary Reminder

I probably don’t need to remind you of this, every fast food chain flashing signs of fish sandwiches is reminder enough.

But just in case…

It is still Lent.

I would imagine this reality will either elicit two kinds of responses in you. Either you are coasting through Lent without much struggle to keep your Lenten promises, or you are wondering how in the world you are going to keep to your fasts the remainder of Lent.

The One Who Stole My Heart: My Eucharistic Love

I rode in the car for two hours with our Lord clutched to my chest. I had my knees up by my face and both my hands over Him, hugging Him tightly to myself. I could feel my heartbeat in my hands, pounding through the gold capsula. I did not speak. The hours passed like minutes as I sat there in complete awe and wonder.