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Teresa Tomeo is considered one of today's leading contemporary Catholic thinkers and teachers. Here you will find her popular Eye on Culture column published through Our Sunday Visitor newspaper as well as her thoughts and reflections on issues of the day.
"I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me"
If there is one message my spiritual director, Msgr. Michael Bugarin is always telling me it’s this short but oh so meaningful statement: “All things Christ, Teresa; All things Christ.” And as I look around at the increasingly frightening world we live in, I am reminded of these simple and powerful words of wisdom that always help me refocus, and keep my peace.
So how are you doing in the peace category these days? If you’re feeling a little uneasy, you’re not alone. Turn on your laptop or grab the remote, and every day it just seems to get worse in terms of unsettling updates about the Ebola situation and the shocking news about the suffering Christians in the Middle East. Threats and attacks in various parts of the world by terrorists are a regular occurrence. Disinformation about supposed "changes in the Church" are being spread about the Synod in Rome this week. And let’s not forget what is happening with morality, or a lack thereof, in our culture. A study for example, published recently in a medical journal is telling us that sexting, not just texting, but sexting - which is sending explicit photos via cell phone - is now to be considered the new normal among teens. Oh, and don’t even get me started regarding the recent and continuing attacks on marriage and life. The 24/7 bombardment of bad news makes you want to a) pull the covers over your head and never get out of bed in the morning or b) run through the streets doing your best Chicken Little imitation yelling “the sky is falling!”
Here we are in the middle of summer. The 4th of July weekend has come and gone and the season is in full swing. And for many of us it also translates into vacation time. So what kind of memories will you provide for your family this summer and what will your children be saying to their friends and classmates when they're asked the proverbial "What did you do on your summer vacation" question?
“Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
Genesis 2: 22-24
Maybe it’s because my godson is getting married today, or maybe it’s the fact that my husband Dominick and I just led a wonderful Roman Holiday marriage retreat in Italy. It could be simply because June is commonly one of the busiest months of the year for weddings. Whatever the reason, I have marriage on my mind these days.
“We are on this planet for the purpose of preparing for and attaining eternal communion with God in heaven. This should be our first and highest priority. As fathers and husbands, we have the added responsibility to lead our families to that same end.”
From “Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men” by Randy Hain
There is an awful lot I can say about Father's Day and fathers in general. I was very close to my father who passed away nearly four years ago. He was a major influence in my life and was way ahead of his time in terms of supporting and promoting a woman’s true dignity. My Dad was not only my physical father, but a spiritual father in many ways due to his strong faith in God and his love for the Church. So in honor of all fathers everywhere, I thought I would turn the blog writing over to another spiritual father; my husband Deacon Dominick for some words of wisdom and insight on his own experience also growing up with a strong father, and to share his current role as a spiritual father serving as an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church.
It's been a busy few days here in the Eternal City as we countdown to the canonizations of John Paul the Second and John XXIII. The rest of the EWTN crew has arrived, and the fine production team is busy as we speak getting ready for our live radio and TV broadcasts. I hope you can tune in and also follow us on-line through my Facebook & Pinterest pages, and through EWTN's Website, Twitter and Facebook pages as well. I will be broadcasting Catholic Connection live at our EWTN location near the Vatican and also doing three special "Countdown to Canonization" radio programs airing live tomorrow and Saturday. Also visit these social media sites to see my special on camera reports from the streets of Rome. We have an exciting line up of guests including many pilgrims braving the crowds for this historic occasion.
Blessed John Paul the Second and Blessed John XXIII Pray for Us!
I don’t know what is more amazing; the fact that we are now in the Easter season with Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II are upon us, or the fact that I am actually, praise the Lord, on my way to Rome.
As a Catholic talk show host and pilgrimage leader I have had the blessing of taking groups to some of the most sacred and beautiful places on God’s green earth. At the top of the list, of course, would be the Holy Land and Rome. Interestingly enough, I will be headed to both of these amazing places in just a few days. First, I will spend time in Rome co-hosting a pilgrimage with my friends Steve and Janet Ray, and then it is off to join the Rays in Jerusalem after the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul the Second.
Because I travel to these sights so frequently I am often asked about my favorite churches or holy sights to pray and worship. Take the city of Jerusalem, for example. Given its Biblical significance most think that number one on any Holy Land visitor’s list would be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And why not? This is after all the place that marks the spot not only of our Lord’s crucifixion, but also His resurrection. It is unbelievably moving to spend time in this church tucked deep within the historic walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. However, my favorite church in Jerusalem happens to be right outside the Jewish quarter of the old walled city; the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. It is perched on the eastern slope of Mt. Zion overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. St. Peter in Gallicantu marks the scene of Peter’s denial of Christ on Holy Thursday. “Gallicantu” is a Latin word for “cock crows”.
Do you remember Hans Christian Anderson children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes? It’s the tale of two weavers who promise an emperor a brand new supposedly stunning get-up visible only to those who are sophisticated enough and smart enough to see them. In other words they were pulling one over on the big guy. He was too prideful and embarrassed to admit that they eventually took his money and headed for the hills leaving him with literally nothing to show for their time and his gold; not even a half way decent pair of Fruit of the Looms. As the emperor is parading his new clothes before the townspeople, everyone is gushing and telling the emperor how dashing he looks. Suddenly a child snaps the foolish folks back to reality when he points out rather loudly that the emperor is quite frankly stark naked!
Given what happened with Mozilla/Firefox recently I think someone should send those folks a few copies of this story to pass around. Did you happen to catch the statement from the company following the resignation or should we say forced exit of Brendan Eich? Eich, the former CEO stepped down after a firestorm of controversy for his private donation to California’s Proposition 8 a few years ago; a measure banning same sex marriage in the state that was approved several times by voters before being tossed out by a judge. Based on the ludicrous wording, Mozilla/Firefox actually believes they are among the most tolerant and welcoming firms on planet earth. They saw themselves as intolerant by hiring and promoting Eich in the first place. But now they have seen the light and have become a bastion of fairness and decency.
One of the points I try to stress with those joining me on the many trips I host to Rome and other Christian holy places is the difference between a tour and a pilgrimage. A tour is more of a fun seeking trek to an exotic location; one filled with great photo opportunities that contain dramatic backdrops of famous landscapes or monuments. There are also long days and longer nights filled with fun activities and great food with most of the emphasis on immediate gratification. A pilgrimage on the other hand is not a tour but a journey; one that hopefully results in a deeper faith and a closer relationship with God.
Now since some of the world’s most well-known Christian pilgrimage sights, such as Italy and Israel for example, also happen to be beautiful and awe inspiring, a little bit of the tourist may also kick in from time to time. No doubt the excited traveler will want to take lots of photographs, and pick up trinkets and gifts for everyone on their shopping list. Lots of mementos will end up in the suitcase in addition to the Rosaries and the olive wood products, and in moderation this is fine. But too much shopping and sight-seeing can lead to aimless wandering or even worse; getting hopelessly lost. So I always encourage our pilgrims not to get stuck in the tourist trap. They need to back away from the postcard rack and go deeper to make their journey last long after they return home and empty the suitcases. Otherwise the experience will end up buried away somewhere in the basement of their memory, just like that old backpack and pair of walking shoes pushed to the back of the closet, unlikely to be seen or used again at least not for a while.
You’ve probably heard the news by now that yet another state has lost the latest round in the battle over marriage. On Friday, March 21st, a district judge in Michigan decided that the state’s ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional, despite a measure that was approved by a majority of voters several years ago; a vote that confirmed marriage between one man and one woman and made it part of the state constitution. The Michigan Attorney General was able to get a stay from the federal court in Cincinnati, which puts the matter on hold, but who knows how long that will last depending on what even higher courts decide.
It certainly was a blow to pro-family groups who joined together to stand up for the truth of marriage as God ordained it. The judge’s decision struck literally very close to home for me as Michigan is where my husband and I live and the trial over the same sex marriage ban took place in the Detroit area, practically right in our own backyard. Many of my listeners and guests on my daily Catholic radio program were involved in fighting for traditional marriage, and so naturally I received quite a few e-mails and was privy to many of the on-line discussions going on after the decision was announced.