CCO

Mass on Campus September 17 2013, 0 Comments

Join us Monday - Wednesday and again on Friday for 11:45am Mass at Newman House.
On Thursdays, come out for Mass at 5:30pm to be followed by dinner!
For further info, please contact the CCO Staff on Queen's Campus by clicking here.

Mass on Campus September 13 2013, 0 Comments

Join us at 11:30am,  Tuesday to Friday at St. Thomas More College Chapel for Holy Mass. *A special note - On Friday, Mass is celebrated in the Byzantine (Ukrainian) rite.

A Perception Problem September 13 2013, 0 Comments

Today I led the Discovery study with over forty students who are preparing  to become teachers in the Catholic school system.  As has been the case over the last ten years, a large majority are not practicing their faith.  Some of them actually, when asked the question, “What are you hoping to get out of this study?”, responded with, “I'm hoping I'll be given a reason to reconsider – a reason why I should come back to the Church.”   So it’s a great joy for me to lead this study with people who are far away.   But every time I lead it I learn something new, and I would like to share with you what I learned this week. In the first study, we talk about our God’s personal love.   There’s a Scripture passage I ask them to discuss in their small group - a well-known passage, Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord.  Plans for your prosperity – not for your harm– plans to give you hope and a future.” One of the participants found it hard to identify with that passage – “I know the plans I have in mind for you” - because in the back of her mind, she's thinking about how she’s heard that, in the Old Testament, God is a vengeful God, destroying cities, killing children - He seems to be angry at everybody.  She had a hard time reconciling that image of God with the passage from Jeremiah.   So to help her move beyond her perception of God and to enter into that passage, I shared with her an analogy. Imagine if you're walking by my house.   And I was on the front porch, pointing my finger and yelling at my seven year old daughter, and with great anger I’m telling her “You can never do that again.   If you ever do that again I’m going to lock you in your room for the rest of your life!”   And I'm screaming, and my daughter is crying, with her head down - and I continue to point my finger and yell.   What would be your impression of me at that particular time?   You'd probably say, "Wow, that's an angry man!  I feel sorry for that little girl.  That's not the way to treat your daughter."   So you'd leave very disillusioned with me as a father.  But you're unaware of the rest of the story, what happened earlier.   Two minutes earlier, I was on the front lawn, and told my daughter not to kick the ball into the street.   But she did – and she ran to get the ball, and a car was coming, and slammed on its breaks, and was only two inches from hitting my daughter.   So I grabbed my daughter, and said what I said.   Did I do that out of anger?   Or did I do it out of love and concern for my daughter? Sometimes when we read the Old Testament, what we see and hear appears to be the vengeance of God – or at least that’s how we perceive it.  But we rarely hear the rest of the story – “I know well the plans I have for you” or, “You are written on the palms of my hand.”   To really understand the Old Testament we have to know the Heart of the Father, and then we’ll understand why at times we’re hearing what seems like screaming, shouting, vengeance…    To understand the "vengeance" we have to understand the love and concern that the Father has for his people. I asked this girl to give the other side of the story the chance, to understand the other side of the “vengeful God”. These perception problems often affect the way people relate to the Church as well.  The reason people find it so easy to walk away from the Church is because their perception is that they're walking away from something that is not attractive or relevant - like the Sacraments, hierarchy, liturgy, or our worldview.   It isn't so much that they're angry with the Church or wish to reject it outright, but they perceive it as not having anything to do with them - or worse, as being like the so-called “vengeful God” of the Old Testament.  Our task is to communicate to them the message of our faith - the core of our faith, which is a relationship.   The Father sent his Son in order for us to have life - each individual person.   When people understand that God sent Jesus because he loves us, and that the core message of the Faith is a relationship with the Living God, they are able to perceive other things about the church - its liturgy and hierarchy - in light of this relationship. by André Regnier

Mass on Campus September 13 2013, 0 Comments

Mass is everyday at St. Mark's Parish on UBC Campus. Mass times are: Everyday at 12:10pm; on Wednesdays, there is a free soup lunch after Mass! So come on out!  

Mass on Campus September 13 2013, 0 Comments

*Please note, this is a general guideline. Times are subject to change, please check with CCO Staff  if you want more to be sure Mass is happening on a specific date. Holy Mass is celebrated in UC 374. For more info check here. Mass Times are (*please see note above): Wednesdays & Thursdays at 12:30pm   If you are interested in helping serve, set-up, or read please click here to contact CCO Staff for details!

Mass on Campus September 13 2013, 0 Comments

*Please note, this is a general guideline. Times are subject to change, please check with the Interfaith Centre if you want more to be sure Mass is happening on a specific date. Fr. Fernando Mignone, SFU Catholic Chaplain, celebrates Holy Mass with SFU students, staff, and faculty in the Interfaith Centre located at AQ 3200. Click here for more details about the Interfaith Centre. Mass times are generally as follows (*see note above): Tuesday & Thursdays - 12:30pm Wednesdays - 11:30am   If you are interested in helping serve, set-up, or read please click here to contact CCO Staff for details!

Faith Study Sign Up! September 13 2013, 0 Comments

or if you can't see the form CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A FAITH STUDY


Doing What Love Requires: Marlena Loughheed September 09 2013, 0 Comments

Today we are so fortunate to have a testimony from a former CCO staff, Marlena Loughheed. Marlena served a Vine year with CCO in 2008 and has since gone on to many new adventures including journalism school, an internship with the Holy See's Mission to the United Nations and is currently working for the Office of Public Relations and Communications for the Archdiocese of Toronto. Twitter PicI was 20 when I decided to take time off from my undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa and apply for the Campus VINE program. I was accepted and assigned to work with a team of four missionaries at Dalhousie University in Halifax. For many years, I had been living a very self-centered existence, working hard to achieve straight As in school, be highly regarded by the people around me and eventually land a successful career in media. In this pursuit of worldly success, I was constantly left feeling exhausted and empty. Although none of these goals were inherently bad, when pursued without involvement of the Lord, they had the potential to lead me down a swift path toward destruction and isolation. During my undergrad, I became very involved as a student leader in CCO and served on a CCO summer mission project. These experiences made me feel alive in a way that pursuing worldly success could not achieve. That feeling of peace I had while sharing the Gospel was irresistible. I wanted to explore this life of missionary service and VINE seemed like a great way to do so. VINE continued to teach me the joys of using my gifts for the service of others, rather than for myself. Being removed from academics for a year was a perfect opportunity to explore how the Lord could use the gifts He had given me to build the kingdom. Having left the distractions of my student life behind, I experienced freedom to truly discover the person God was calling me to be. I’ve always been struck by the story of the feeding of the five thousand. In particular, I identify with the boy who offers Jesus a meager gift of a fish and some bread. Jesus takes this gift and transforms it into enough food to feed a massive crowd. Similarly, I have been given many gifts. On their own, these gifts are small, but when offered to Jesus, they are multiplied and used for the good of all, rather than for my own gain. Early in my VINE year, my teammate Lorne Stang challenged our team to pray the words, “today I will do what love requires” every morning as soon as we woke up. This simple prayer transformed the way I lived my life. I was no longer starting my day thinking of what I could achieve by myself. Instead, I was thinking about how I could better love God and others in every word and action that lay ahead that day. I was sharing my proverbial loaves and fishes, rather than hunkering down for a less satisfying solo lunch. For many people, the VINE Program is an important part of discerning a long-term call to CCO staff. For me, VINE was integral in learning how I could more freely and fruitfully live my call to work in the world. Although I’m not working formally as a missionary, I am still called to be missionary in all that I do. Adopting the habit of doing what love requires was the push I needed to fully surrender my gifts to God and allow Him to use them in a much more significant way than I could achieve on my own. Since serving on the VINE Program, you could say that I have experienced “worldly success.” I earned two degrees, participated in a prestigious internship in New York City and eventually landed a great job in my field. Having my ambition re-directed to the source of my gifts was an essential part of my journey as a young Catholic. These pursuits would be in vain, had I have continued to chase opportunity with selfish motives. It is only when I’m pursuing my ambitions with love as my motivation that I can truly say that my life is a success. Let’s be honest: a banquet isn’t a banquet if you’re eating it alone. I look forward to one day dining at the Heavenly Banquet, knowing that sacrifices made in love are responsible for the large crowd at the table.

As Christians We Should Expect the Unexpected September 09 2013, 0 Comments

“Hello, it's Pope Francis”, was what one 19 year-old Italian student heard from the other end of the phone a few weeks ago – it wasn't a prank, it was really the pope. Stefano Cabizza had written Pope Francis a note about his life, hopes and dreams and much to his surprise, the pope called him on it, literally. I love surprises, and I believe part of the attraction is tactical advantage. It can gain one both courage and confidence, but can else enhance both pleasure and pain. Aristotle once said, “the secret to humour is surprise”. That gels well with Bishop Fulton Sheen's teaching on the Divine Sense of Humour that I wrote on previously. History, God's medium for His poetry, is full of surprises. What this sort of humour entails is that we be open to God's plan for our lives, which is our real anchor to reality. Worries and anxiety come from the “what might be's” of the future, and not from God's now, where we make our choices. It's now that we choose to trust in the Lord, and all of the surprises that He may allow to come our way. But whose plan would you rather trust? The Bible says, “'For I know the plans I have for you', says the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). As you enter into this semester, entrust yourself to God's surprises. In reality, surprises bring about both sorrow and joy, grief and happiness, but Scripture also promises is that He works all things for the good, for those who love Him (cf. Rom. 8:28). As I said, history is full of surprises. This week's Five tells of merely a sampling of those surprises (in no particular order):
  1. Pompeii and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius – We know this took everyone by surprise because historical references state that, while some minor tremors had long been experienced, no one expected the eruption that occurred in November of 79 AD. Archaeology has revealed 'fossils' of people, still about their business, covered in layers and layers of ash. Pliny the Younger, governor of a nearby town, witnessed the eruption from afar, and lost his father (Pliny the Elder) in the tragedy as he tried to help people escape.
  2. The Titanic – this is one of the obvious 'shockers' of the modern era. It had been touted as a vessel so well-made that even God couldn't sink it. It was to everyone's surprise when, on the ides of April 1912, the RMS Titanic took its final resting place at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated that at least 1500 of its 2200 passengers died during that tragic voyage.
  3. The retreat of Attila the Hun – The year: 450 AD. The scene: Italy. The situation: Attila the Hun has demanded Emperor Valentinian III's sister with a dowry (allegedly). Emissaries are sent to parley with Attila, and Pope St. Leo I meets him to beg a retreat. History does not reveal what happened to cause him to turn around, but that's exactly what happened. The Huns had the opportunity to take over all of Europe, and to everyone's surprise, they turned around and went home. Some suggest disease overtook his troops, some say a vision of a robed man with a naked sword appeared to him (angelic being), and others suggest he couldn't withstand the presence of the saintly pope. We'll never know, while he had plans to attack again, he died suddenly in 453 AD.
  4. The Flood at the time of Noah – It's always interested me that, from the famed Gilgamesh Epic in the middle East, to the tip of South America, there are legends of a major flood occurring in the history of the people where a single man (usually a priest) and his family survives to re-start the nations of the earth. What was not surprising to Noah (he knew of it and prepared for it for a approximately a century), must have come as a surprise to the rest of the people around him! Read more about this in Genesis 6-9.
  5. The Incarnation – God becoming man is by far the biggest surprise for mankind. It is the hinge upon which all of history turns, and also the meaning behind all of it. While God prepared his people to receive the Christ, nobody expected to what extent God would go to be with his people, and to be with them forever. This is why the Angelus prayer is said daily (actually recommended 3 times daily) at noon, because as the sun (Son?) is at its highest point in the day, so in the fullness of time, God brought forth a son, born of a woman (cf. Gal. 4:4-5). The whole Angelus prayer (and the “Hail, Mary” prayer) is focused upon this most unique and surprising event in history. It reveals God's initative (“The angel of the Lord declared to Mary – and she conceived by the Holy Spirit”), Man's response (“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to the word”), the effect of that faithful response in the heart of the believer (“And the Word was made flesh – and dwelt among them”), the petition of the Child of God (“Pray for us O Holy Mother of God – that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ”), and finally, the realization of the believers place in the family, the Body, Church of Jesus (“Oremus! - that is, “Let Us Pray!”). The whole of life is anchored on the fact that the God became man.
Throw in your ideas for other “surprises” in history into the comment box! The Five by Scott Roy

Focusing Merely On "What" We Do is a Recipe For Shallowness September 06 2013, 0 Comments

I’ve been the one inviting and coaxing Carleton students to submit blog entries this summer. So, as the summer comes to an end, I figured it was only fair that I should submit one myself. I’ve so enjoyed opening up my inbox each week to find a beautiful and honest story of someone’s spiritual life, in the form of a blog entry. There seems to be a crisis of shallowness in the world today. When I think of my many daily interactions with friends, family and acquaintances, most of them are comprised of the mundane details of life. We talk a lot about the “what.” We talk about what this person said, what we did, what the weather is like. It’s rare to have conversations that go deeper. But I think it’s something we all crave. The people writing the blog posts were not strangers to me. I’ve talked to them about exams and Starbucks and Ravens games. But through the blog, I’ve gotten to see something different. I’ve gotten to see their hearts. And you know what? Their hearts are beautiful! I am captivated by the real people I find when they finally let others see them. The struggles and desires they reveal show hearts beating for and with Jesus. I can see Him forming them and loving them. When we let go of fear and are vulnerable, we glorify God. It has challenged me to be more honest with those around me. I am encouraged to really let others see my struggles, hopes and dreams. Because only through this vulnerability can real relationships be formed. At some point we are going to realize that the “what” of our lives didn’t really matter, it was the “who” that made all the difference. So let us continue to reach out to one another with courage and share our hearts. We don’t need a blog to do that. We can do it every day. by Emma Brown

Life in Technicolor: Julia Bolzon September 03 2013, 0 Comments

IMG_3441 (1200x675)I’m 21 and just graduated from McMaster University. I have an awesome degree – a Bachelor of Arts and Science, with a minor in Philosophy – that allows me to pursue whatever path I wish: med school, law school, grad studies, you name it. Instead, I know with certainty that I am called to dedicate one whole year of my life to working full time as a Catholic missionary: helping university students encounter the profound and intimate love of our Creator. I want every person to experience the relationship with Jesus of Nazareth we are created to be in. I know this is what I want and that working within the movement of CCO is how I want to do it. My own experience in university was one of incredible darkness – in first year I was overwhelmed with worry and anxiety about my life, my future, and my grades, to the point where I was physically sick for months on end.  I was unhappy, fearful, and continuously desolate. Even though I knew and believed in God’s existence, I did not feel as if God was personally within reach, or that He cared about my life. Amid my constant anxiety, I opened up to a friend from my program who lived as if she KNEW God, personally. Like she would have conversations with Him or something... She spoke about Jesus as if He was a real person in her life, whom she trusted, loved, and delighted in. She had a radiant, warm, confident and contagious personality unlike ANYONE I had ever met before. I recognized that she had something in her faith that I was clearly lacking, and I wanted it. Through our friendship, over the course of that year I came to a point where I realized what I was lacking: an awareness that God had a personal love for ME in a very real way, and that I could actually have a close relationship with Him. It was at a retreat later that year where I encountered the presence of Jesus during Eucharistic Adoration in a profound way, experiencing a warmth and peace within me unlike anything I'd ever known. Since that encounter, Jesus radically changed my life. I wanted everyone to know the depths to which we can each truly know and encounter Him! He became my biggest passion. My friend had told me about a Catholic mission project called Impact that changed her life and taught her how to share her faith. I wanted both of those things, and so ended up participating on the Impact mission at the end of my second year. That summer, I was graced to experience such goodness through growing in my relationship with God – I was being exposed to a whole new threshold of happiness that I did not even know was possible. It was like being set on fire with a joy I had never experienced before - like my day to day life went from black & white to technicolour. I wanted the world to experience it with me. While listening to the speeches at the Staff Discernment Brunch during Rise Up Vancouver (CCO's National Conference), at the end of 2011 and halfway through my 3rd year of university, I thought to myself,  “This could be it. This makes so much sense.”  Everything I desired for others about Jesus was being tangibly lived out through the charism of CCO.  I kept it in the back of my mind. At the end of my third year, I went on CCO’s mission to Uganda, and for three weeks was being equipped on how to lead an entire campus ministry dedicated to evangelization and building up leaders. Coming back to McMaster for fourth year, I was so ready to work with my friends and peers to reach more souls for Christ. Everything I had learned about evangelization, sharing my faith, building into others, leading a campus movement, and raising leaders, was from CCO. As fourth year came to a close, even though I was thinking about law school, and grad studies in philosophy and ethics in order to help implement change in society, I knew that ultimately I desired to go to the root of the world’s problems: the absence of God. Being a student leader on campus in various ways for the past 3 years, I knew there was still so much work to be done, and so much more that I could do and give to others, to help more people encounter Jesus and inspire more students to become missionary themselves. I knew that CCO’s expertise in evangelization was what formed my missionary heart, and that I had long thought about giving one year of my life to working with them full-time. As I discerned this call in prayer, I came across many things that affirmed my decision to dedicate a year to working as a CCO missionary. By the end of May, that call became so loud I couldn’t deny it. I am so thrilled to be dedicating a year of my life to help bring others into an encounter with God and a personal relationship with Jesus. For those of you thinking about your own next steps, read these words of Pope John Paul II to the youth of the world, that spoke directly to my heart: “Some advice to all in the name of Jesus Christ...I would like to ask each one of you: What will you do with your life? What are your plans? Have you ever thought of committing your existence totally to Christ? Do you think that there can be anything greater than to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus?"

The Great Canadian Catholic BBQ September 03 2013, 0 Comments

profileRY profile profileCGY profileDAL   Welcome back to campus! Your friendly local Catholic missionaries are hosting a good ol' cookout at 4 campuses across Canada. Check out your local event in Calgary, Toronto, Quebec or Halifax!

Are We Friends with God, Or Do We Just Like the Idea? August 30 2013, 0 Comments

The Little Things Some of you know that I like to create odd little questions to entertain creativity. Whether it’s things like: do you think it’s possible for us to condition humans to eventually live without oxygen? Or, do you think the color green to my eyes is actually what I’d consider blue to your eyes? The point is there is no right or wrong answer, and just because I give an answer doesn’t mean you have to trust it. So this summer I explored faith using a similarly broad question. I came across two sentences that intrigued me: 1) God is Ipsum Esse 2) Calls himself Ayer Asher Ayer Now the first means ‘the one that is’ and the second ‘I am who I am’. Using these two sentences as foundation, my spiritual life continued to know that God is literally everywhere. But to be everywhere, God would have to 'be' existence itself. Which would make sense seeing how everything only exists through his will. But the big odd question that sums up my summer is why would God CHOOSE to be existence? Over the summer I was able to derive two reasons as to why He is existence. The first being that old saying: He has a plan! Bring this down to a personal level. We all know his passion for us to use his plan is beyond knowing, but if he became existence, if he was everything we came into contact with that day, isn’t that the best way to ensure we follow that plan? And if we do stray from God, by being existence, everything can be used as a method of reestablishing our relationship with God. We are always supposed to be open to God’s plan, but being open to a plan isn’t enough. We have to want it on a level that nearly matches his passion for us using it. I was dumb enough to ask a friend this summer, “are we actually friends or do we just like the idea of being friends?” I sometimes feel this is the case with God. That by being connected to something so pure is just amazing. That I don’t need to look out for other things God is doing, because I can recognize all that he is doing for me. And when I think like this, my communication with God fails. We stop being friends, and start just being that idea of friendship. The second reason I decided on was by being existence God opens himself to communication. I used to think about prayer as being on a conscious level. We mentally speak or listen for a response from our Lord through our soul. But if God was everything, then just by coming in contact with something, we are communicating with God in some way. We are unconsciously praying with God through however we interact with the object of our attention. This is why God would choose to be existence. What better way to know, communicate and always be there for us than to be existence itself? So over the summer I discovered my faith allows me to always communicate with God, and that God has fail-safes to his plans. Even should we reject his plan, he loves us enough to cushion the fall. If you feel like your faith is on pause, search the little things, find God there.

By Nic Peirson


Heresies: 'Believe it or not!' August 26 2013, 0 Comments

Our deepest identity as Catholics is missionary (for more on that, pick up this great book). That being said, as we bring the clear and simple message of the Gospel to others, we want to be communicating the fullness of truth, and not our own variation of it. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” John the Baptist remarked (John 3:30), and we would be well to adopt that attitude - but that’s easier said than done sometimes. Throughout history some crazy ideas have been hatched and presented, and only by the grace of God, working through the Church, have we weathered those storms.

Imagine this line of thinking, which runs completely contrary to the clear message of the Gospel: Maybe the snake in Eden was actually working for God, trying to help us gain knowledge! Or, maybe the snake is actually the hero in the story, while God is the villain? Sound crazy? Well there’s people who have believed this throughout history.

When we are inviting others to enter into a relationship with the Father through Jesus, we want them to truly encounter Jesus and not some counterfeit. True, Jesus can work with the most messed up situations, working all things for good (cf. Rom. 8:28), but we don’t want to be presuming upon that hope and setting up unnecessary roadblocks along the way. For some references that give the true teaching of Jesus and His Church and not our own versions of the faith, check out the last Five article (Is the Pope Really God Incarnate?) - This may help us “decrease”.

There are times when our resolve to present the pure Gospel may weaken. We may think that the Bible’s pretty clear, or that my version is more accessible for people than the Church’s. Lest we think that beliefs can’t go that far astray, here’s today's Five - heresies that reveal humanity’s weakness and limitation at its… oddest:

1. The Ophites - as mentioned above, these guys believed that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was somewhat of a hero! God was actually the nemesis, holding back mankind from the knowledge that would make them god-like. (This is early too, dating around the 2nd or 3rd century).

2.  The Sethians - similar to the Ophites, they got the idea that the snake was actually working for God, helping mankind to discover their full potential and the fullness of truth. There were also some that identified this serpent as a manifestation of the Word!! (This is also early, around the same time as the Ophites).

3. Free Spirits - I just get a kick out of the title, which has a somewhat different connotation in our day and age. Here, like an earlier group, they believed that they could reach perfection on earth by poverty, chastity, obedience, but on their own power. They figured they could commune with God through their own personal prayer, that they did not need to pray through Jesus or His Church. (some may be thinking now, that’s not necessarily so far-fetched… good thing it was to the Church).

4. The Luciferians - Now this one is amazing! Didn’t the name give this heresy away? In truth, it’s not Satan that is being referred to, but a bishop named Lucifer (if that makes things any better…) The heresy, appropriately, is ‘unforgiveness’. Bishop Lucifer fought against heretics fiercely, only to fall under excommunication because he wouldn’t forgive or associate with people who recanted of their heresy and professed the true faith. (This is around the time of the Arians, 4th century).

5. Reincarnationism - A perfect one to finish off with because it is listed as a modern heresy and has followers in Canada… They believe that individuals can be reincarnated as Old Testament personalities. Enough said.

The Five by Scott Roy *Follow-up note - The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2089 defines heresy as "the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same".   

Matthew's Fulfillment in Life Comes through Mary and Jesus August 26 2013, 0 Comments

This summer has been a time full of trials and surprises. Since my re-commitment to getting to know Jesus at the end of the winter semester, I have really tried to spend more time with Him in prayer. Through my failures He has shown me that real strength comes from Him, not from my own stubborn will. He has also shown me that I need to commit my life to Mary as well because she is my Mother and the guardian of my purity. But the most significant lesson I learned this summer is that discernment for my vocation is so much more important than I thought. I need to give my whole self, especially my heart, to Jesus because He is the one who will show me the right path for my life in all my confusion. Since my decisions will affect who I will be for the rest of my life, if I put my own plans above God's... I can't become the man He has made me to be. I'm convinced that getting to know Jesus and Mary in the coming months will teach me not only about them, but about myself too. By Matthew Lesniak

Does Grace Bring With it Privilege and Responsibility? August 21 2013, 0 Comments

“Five…four…three...two…one…HAPPY NEW YEAR”, screamed 400 wild Catholic students. It was New Years Eve at Rise Up Halifax, and I was in the midst of its heightened thrill, buzz, and excitement. In that moment, I felt more alive and closer to God than I had ever felt before. When the clock struck midnight, I remember thinking to myself “Okay, Jessie. You’ve given God your ‘yes’. It’s time to fully submit to God this year.” Unfortunately, I did not follow through with the promises I had made on New Years Eve. For the first couple weeks of January, everything was going smoothly. I was doing my morning prayer on a daily basis and attending mass multiple times a week. However, schoolwork started to pile up and I found myself chronically overworked. I started putting my faith life on the back burner and making less and less time for God. I kept telling myself that when the workload died down, I would be able to compensate for my lack of time spent with God by going to confession and by doing some extra prayer. However, the workload kept getting heavier and my spiritual life kept getting weaker. I continued to put off spending time with God. As soon as school ended I started my full-time research job at Carleton and was just as overworked as I had been during the school year. I became more and more distant from God. Eventually, my soul and faith life fell into a lull and I was not able to climb back out. I was in a dark place. For me, the most shameful part of all this is I did not even have the motivation to get my life back on track. I kept using my busyness as an excuse and I managed to continually sink deeper. About a month ago, I did something that I deeply regret, of which I would rather not share the details. To summarize, I acted in such a way that was completely incongruent with my self-identity. I did something that I would have never imagined myself doing. I know that everyone mistakes, but what I had done was the epitome of stupidity. Not to be overdramatic, but I did experience a bit of an identity crisis. I was confused with who I was and felt extremely lost. I knew that I needed some time to think and try to figure out what had happened to my sense of morality. I took a day off at work and did a bit of soul searching. That day, I turned to God for the first time in a while. Talking to God allowed me to I rediscover who I am. I learned that the reason I had acted so untypically of myself was because I had been ignoring him. God is our conscience, our moral guide for every move we make. I had given my ‘yes’ to God, but my immoral actions did not demonstrate this ‘yes’ I had said. This dissonance was why I was so confused. Saying ‘yes’ to God means putting him at the centre of my life. If God is at the centre of my life, it means that everything I do must radiate from my love for God. However, I had not even been acknowledging God in my life, which is why my actions were so out of the ordinary for me. From this experience, I learned that my relationship with God is engraved into my identity. When I ignore this relationship by not spending time God, I will lose sight of who I truly am and will naturally want to fix things to reduce the dissonance. Initially, my faith life was so damaged that I was not willing to fix anything. Either I didn’t care or I was too distracted to notice how different I had become. However, I think that through my stupid act, God gave me a wake-up call and guided me back to him. Sure, God gives all of us free will, but he also protects us. He knew that I was far off track with my faith life. I still could have freely chosen to continue walking further away from God, but he gave me a kick in the rear and I suddenly realized that there was something wrong with the life I had been living. I knew that I had to make things right. I like to use the analogy that I had fallen into a pit, like the kind they do in cartoons. For months, God stood at the top of the pit with a rope to help me up. I was sleeping in this pit, unable to see the rope. But then, God through a rock at me. I finally woke up. I could see the rope and decided to grab onto it. Through the Sacrament of Confession and prayer, I was able to quickly restore my relationship with God. I was deeply touched by his mercy. Even though I had turned away from him, he lovingly welcomed me back with open arms, just like in the parable of the prodigal son. The following passage from Luke 15:20 demonstrates that no matter how far we fall, God will continue to love us: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The whole time I had been apart from God, he had been trying to reach out to me. I was too distracted with school that I couldn’t hear his voice. Ironically, my stupid mistake is what led me back to God. That’s when God through the rock at me. It’s as if he said to me: “Jessie, wake up. What are you doing?” This allowed me to self-reflect. I realized how much I needed God and how incomplete I was without a spiritual life. If I learned one thing this summer, it’s that God is a part of me. I need to have a relationship with him in order to understand who I am. Part of him lives inside of me, because he found a way to bring me back even when it felt like I was more distant from him than I have ever been. At Rise Up, I gave God my ‘yes’. This means he became the core of my identity. It’s important for me to live a life where I am true to myself and the only way to do this is to live for God. School may be important, but self-honesty is of much higher priority. I can still be a good student, but I can’t let my pursuit for grades jeopardize my relationship with God. As I saw this summer, a relationship with God is both a beautiful and a practical investment of the heart, because God will love us unconditionally and will never give up on us. I now know why I need to follow the promises I made at Rise Up. Submitting to God will guide to me know myself and will provide me with transcending love and grace.   By Jessie Thuswaldner

Pilgrims - not Tourists August 21 2013, 0 Comments

"Pilgrims - not Tourists" This was the message of a talk given to our group of 29 university-age students by Fr. Allan MacDonald before setting off for World Youth Day in Brazil. For three weeks, we weren't going to be in control of things: we wouldn't be able to pick exactly what we’d want to eat; we might not be sleeping in beds; we might have to walk a couple of kilometers with all of our luggage on our backs. We were warned it would be hard, but that that was part of being on a pilgrimage. I hadn't fully prepared myself for all this. I knew the trip would be challenging, but not as challenging as it was... and in an extremely surprising way, wasn't. If not for the talk, I don’t know how I would've gotten through the 21-day trip. But by going into the pilgrimage with exactly that mentality – that of a pilgrim – God worked in my heart in an unforeseen way. I’m an introvert who has always needed her alone time and her space: two things I was not expecting to regularly have on this journey. I found, however, that I was much more able to cope than expected. It took me a little while to connect the dots, but I eventually figured out that it was because I was living without worldly expectations. I made a conscious decision to be a pilgrim, and it affected my entire outlook on life. This didn't mean that the trip became easy. In many ways it was became less so: I was challenged in my relationships, in my attitude, in my prayer-life, and in many other aspects of myself; it was more that those challenges were easier to face. Instead of complaining or dwelling on hardships, I genuinely offered them up, asked Jesus for help with them, and then let go of them. They were still there, but I found that I cared less about them than I ever thought I could. As the trip went on, I became more and more detached from worldly comforts, and I really liked it. And then it was over. Cue the planes. Cue the tears. Cue the friendship withdrawal. I’d grown close to some thirty-odd people in a very short amount of time – speaking to them every day, crying with them, sleeping on top of some of the girls (our accommodations were a bit cramped at the end) – and now we were travelling back to all over the country. Going from intense closeness to intense solitude (spending the long weekend at my grandparents’ cottage, which had limited cell reception and no concept of what wireless internet was) brought on a whole new set of challenges. But I was okay with that. You hear about going through culture shock when travelling to new countries. I experienced a bit of that when I arrived in Rio de Janeiro; I experienced a heap of that when I arrived back in Canada. We are a culture of opulence, and I was blessed to experience so little of that in Brazil. Living on the relatively bare necessities forces you to remember what’s important, and allows you to grow in those important things. Coming back to ease and comfort was not the relief I expected, but a wake-up call. Before the trip, I’d been living a tourist life: going through my day-to-day, expecting everything to be secure, predictable, convenient. It allowed me to become passive. It allowed me to become lazy in my spiritual life. When I returned, I chose to continue living the pilgrim life. It’s what allowed me to be okay with the new challenges of friendship withdrawal; it’s what’s now encouraging me to write this joyfully instead of dreading the responsibility; and it’s what holds me accountable to a continuous and devoted prayer-life, because Christ must be at the center of a pilgrim’s journey. I’m not saying give up most of your wardrobe and replace your bed with a decent sleeping bag, but I am challenging you to live life with the pilgrimage mentality. Don’t expect comfort. Be thankful to God for what you do get to enjoy, and offer up the things you don’t. Pray often. After all, we’re not really home yet – we’re pilgrims on the way there. By Thérèse Barrett

CCO Founder drives 600 km to help "Revive Espanola" August 15 2013, 0 Comments

I was asked earlier this week why would I (very busy schedule) travel 600 KM by car, alone to give a talk to 35 people from a small little parish in Espanola ON.  Well, let me tell you! With a mindset of spiritual multiplication I go where the one person is, not necessarily the crowds. It is in the one person that the real potential for impact is found.  I went to Espanola to support one of our students who took it upon her self to lead a summer mission “revive Espanola” (similar to impact Canada) in her home parish. She invited two other CCO students to join her for the summer.  During the day they would work and at night and weekends they would plan and lead weekly bible studies, weekend retreats, training, Eucharistic adoration and personal formation etc. Unaware of how effective the mission was, as the founder of CCO I felt the responsibility to support such a bold initiative.  After only spending two days in Espanola I can say with great joy and confidence that they have accomplished their mission to  “revive” the parish. Let me explain from my point of view, the success of this summer mission.  I saw the first fruits of the mission by spending the evening with the three students missionaries.  I asked a lot of questions not about the mission but about them personally.  What was their highlight? What was most difficult and challenging? What did theylearn about themselves? Etc.  The words of JP2 “the Church’s missionary spirituality is a journey to holiness” proved to be true for these young Catholic missionaries.   They shared with me how throughout the summer they constantly had to deal with long standing fears, doubts, and anxieties.    As they looked back on the summer they saw how God gave them the grace and courage to begin to confront these fears and anxieties as they engaged daily in the work of the mission. As I listened to there experiences I became more convinced that we need to do more then speak and challenge young people to be “Holy”.  We must make it our priority to send them out to actively share their faith with others.  It is in the mission field that God can fashion and mold them into his image and breath his Holiness into them. After spending intimate time with these young missionaries I still did not know how the summer mission turned out.  Based on how and what they were sharing my impressionwas that the summer was not as fruitful as they hoped it would be.  The next night I went to the final event that I was asked to speak at with low expectations; few people and little interest to continue the mission. The first people I meet where long standing faithful members of the parish.  They shared with me how they loved the simplicity and clarity of the discovery study.  She was most impressed with the bridge analogy that explained Jesus as savior.  She lamented on how so few Catholics would actually know and relate to Jesus in this way.  The second person I encountered described how she experienced a profound conversion as she came to understand that God loved her personally.  It does not end there, an elderly lady approached me with determination as she aggressively broke through the crowd.  Once she got my attention she shared how she has always been faithful and actively involved in the Charismatic renewal.   Going through the discovery faith study she came to understand for the first time that Jesus died for her personally and only because of him could she go to heaven. I have heard this many times from people with similar experiences of long time faithful people going through the study.   We must never assume because they are present and involved in the parish that they have experienced Jesus personally in their lives. Before I spoke they had 4 people get up and share their testimonies on how they encountered Godover the summer.  I sat in amazement as I was witnessing all around me people who were profoundly impacted by this simple summer mission led by three students. I started my talk by asking the question, how have you seen this mission impacting the parish?  “New people coming”, was the first answer.  Another was how people were “talking to each other” at Mass.    Others observed that people were singing more at mass.  Are not these signs a parish being “revived”.  Again it is amazing that this is happening over “one summer” with the work of “three young students”. However exciting it was to hear how lives have changed and the parish is coming alive, for the missionaries the job is not done.   The purpose of “revive Espanola” was to leave a legacy of missionary outreach in the parish.  The mission was only a success if what started in the summer would continue in the fall and beyond.  To do that they had to intentionally equip and empower a team that would continue the mission.    That night the parish priest blessed and commissioned three people with this responsibility.   To my further amazement there were 15 to 20 people that night ready to join the team and lead a discovery faith study in the fall. We are talking about 40 to 50 people in a small Catholic Parish in the middle of nowhere experiencing a profound encounter with Jesus Christ.  A significant number of them are ready and equipped to go get more people.  This parish has been revived. The lesson to be learned is that a long drive to speak to small group of people can prove to be worth the time and effort.  Parish renewal does not have to be a complicated and long process.  It only takes a few to impact the many. If you want to know more about the discovery study go to Leadingdiscovery.ca

A Remarkable Surprise Increases Faith and Trust in God August 13 2013, 0 Comments

This summer I've experienced God in many ways, and I realized God is love through many unexpected, surprising events. First, my mother was recently diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. I was initially frightened and scared. So, I asked for leave from work to be with her. Many family and friends have shown tremendous support and love by praying for her and my fear has turned into awe as I watch my mother calmly continue on with her life. This diagnosis has made her realize how precious and sacred life is and she truly has been spared a more serious diagnosis. She has come to trust in God in many new ways. I organized a surprise 50th birthday party for her to lift her spirits and her boyfriend (Gord) gave her a plane ticket to El Salvador to visit an orphanage for disabled people that both my mother and I have been involved with for 10 years. We have come to love the residents, the workers, the culture and people of this poor country. My mom was excited but confused as to why she was flying alone. Gord told her not to worry, that many surprises were to take place. He had given me a plane ticket as well for my birthday and we flew down together to surprise her the next day. When she saw me she was thrilled and moreover, Gord proposed to her in the chapel at the orphanage with all the residents there to cheer them on. She was in utter disbelief. Before meeting Gord mom had a shattering relationship fall out and she had said to God that if another man walks into her life he needs to be close to God, and that’s exactly what happened, in the most rare and impossible way. Gord has shown both myself and my mother how to trust and believe in God, as he has had his share of a difficult past and as a result his life is ruled by God. He knows God theologically, scripturally, Sacramentally and believes so completely in God. His life is led by the will of God and it is remarkable to see someone so joyfully happy, and calm, he does not let the slightest thing take his eyes from God. Through my summer I have witnessed a greater love between my mom and I, our family and of course the love both mom and Gord have for God. God has come into my mom's life through Gord and his love for God and through her illness has shown that life can only be led by love, faith, trust and total belief in an omniscient and all loving God. By Monique

Summit - Vancouver August 09 2013, 0 Comments

Join us for an evening of music, reflection, and prayer in Eucharistic adoration. The Summit is an opportunity to experience an ancient tradition of Catholic prayer and encounter God's love in a personal way. There will also be priests available for confession throughout the evening. Refreshments following. All are welcome! Summit is CCO’s monthly event featuring Eucharistic Adoration and Praise & Worship. Summit has been hosted in dioceses across Canada since 2002 and attracts hundreds of young adults to worship Jesus in the Eucharist. Come on out to meet the Lord in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar! There will be amazing praise and worship, confession available, and free food and fellowship afterwards. EVERY ONE is welcome. Bring friends to meet your best Friend! What an enormous privilege – the Creator of the universe wants to talk to YOU face-to-face. See you there! "One of my favourite CCO events is the Summit. The Summit is a night of encounter with Jesus through Adoration. It is so incredible to see so many students choose to spend their Friday or Saturday night at a church. Lives are changed at the Summit. I can recount countless stories of students who have had a profound encounters with Jesus at the Summit, and many of them have made radical decisions for their faith there." - Megan, Ottawa.

Is the Pope Really God Incarnate? August 09 2013, 0 Comments

“The Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon.” Oh brother, he didn’t just go there, I thought. I had heard a Catholic apologist tell a similar story about a radio preacher making the same claim. And now, a Baptist pastor was saying the same thing to me. “I don’t want to believe that,” he continued, assuring me, “but I have no reason to believe otherwise.” Fortunately, after hearing a reasonable response, he changed his mind - unfortunately, reasonable responses don’t always satisfy people. People are used to being their own pope, deciding who is an adequate teacher/author and who isn’t. Lots of different people - from Hollywood actors to authors, talk show hosts to pastors - are awarded the teacher’s cap from ordinary people like you and me. These people are influential for sure, but few, if any, are authoritative - especially when it comes to authentic Church teaching.

The sad reality is that many people are influential and yet not authoritative. Actor Hugh Jackman, best known for his role as Wolverine (X-Men Series, 2000-13), explains one reason why he doesn’t follow his parents’ Christian faith, "I couldn't get past the fact that 95 per cent of people on the planet are going to hell because they are non-Christian." Wincing, one might ask, “where does he get this impression?”, and “how many people are seeing this?” and then, “how many people are hearing this interview and thinking, ‘yeah, no kidding, he’s right!’” The same can be said for any number of Hollywood actors, TV talk show hosts, and public figures who have their opinions adopted by many people simply because they're famous. If Wolverine can't be trusted... who can be?  But what about on a more local level?

“Isn’t the Pope supposed to be God incarnate?” asked one of the two ladies holding a religious brochure at my front door. Though she was immediately corrected, for me, the scary part was to think about how many of these zealous people have been given this mis-information and how many homes do they go spreading it to? Like it or not, they have influence. Well, that’s other faiths (you might say). Certainly people in my parish know better.

During a CCO Impact mission, students conducted a survey in one of the participating parishes, to see how people felt about evangelizing (that is, sharing their faith). Apparently, at least 60% of one parish replied that it is important to share your faith. Unfortunately, only around 30% of those who answered the survey, believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist (I stress “of those polled”). This means that what they want to share with people is not the real teaching of the Church.

It seems that hollywood actors, pastors and believers of other faiths, and even Catholic parishioners are not adequate sources of authoritative teaching, but have great influence. Duh! you say? While you may know this, it’s obvious that people don’t! People trust blog posts (hey, this is getting personal), bestsellers, History Channel specials, Dan Brown novels and movies, Youtube snippets, talk show hosts, and newspaper columns (etc., etc.) for their faith formation.

“People don’t really trust those, Scott,” you reply, “everybody knows you can’t believe everything you see in the media”. I would like to believe that, but the reality is, people see or read it, they talk about it, post articles and tweet about it, get their own impression of it, hear others’ opinions about it, internalize it, then act on it and re-circulate it over and over.

In the midst of this flood of misinformation and misconception, we need an anchor. Like it or not, we have the responsibility to be informed in our faith, and must have trusted sources to go to. “The Five” for this week presents five sources of teaching that you can and should go to for certainty; they represent expressions of the Teaching Office of the Church. While God cherishes my personal response to him, others need to respond to His invitation and not my opinion of it. In this way, we become a good 'influence' by pointing to the 'true authority'.

1. Liturgy (I placed this here because it (specifically the Mass) is really the most common source of formation for the ordinary Catholic; here is presented Scripture, teaching, and spiritual food - and application of it in both action and prayer - but it is meant to also include the Sacramental life, the Liturgy of the Hours and the living out of the Church Liturgical Calendar as well)

2. Scripture (All Catholics are encouraged to read this in order to be better prepared for the teaching, prayer, and commissioning which the Church presents in the Liturgy and instructions)

3. Catechism of the Catholic Church (the Compendium of the Catechism & the YouCat have attempted to make referencing this amazing gift more accessible to the average person )

4. Council Documents (especially Vatican II, it’s goal was to clarify for the faithful who the Church truly is amid the change, and volume of information, happening throughout the world)

5. Writings of the Popes, Doctors of the Church, Saints, Church Fathers. (Okay, so I obviously smooshed all these in here to get more in... the benefit of these writings is that they can be specific to topics and more practical for applying the teachings to life, especially the lives of the Saints who demonstrate that the Christian Life can be lived authentically.)

 

***Some quick comments on these five. First, to some these may be ‘no-brainers’, but not to everyone. Second, others may like to see sou rces like Fr. Robert Barron, Dr. Peter Kreeft, Dr. Scott Hahn, or other writers. While they may be great writers, philosophers, or theologians, their ‘trustworthiness’ is based upon how well they cling to the above ‘five’. The third, is a comment to those who would say that these are too academic - that by suggesting these, it’s just intellectualizing the Faith. Not true, I’m not suggesting that to be saved everyone must be a theologian, but since we are in the midst of a so-called “Information Revolution” - which has shaken our certainty and trust, rather than enhanced it -  there is a Lighthouse available to save us from crashing upon the shore! But knowing these is not enough, as they themselves will teach. Love must inflame them, drive them, guide them, and be the goal of everything!! Don’t believe me, read this beautiful passage from the Catechism, which quotes the Roman Catechism from approximately 500 years ago:

“Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love” (CCC 25).

 

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I would love to hear them!

 

The Five by Scott Roy


Happy Are You Poor August 09 2013, 0 Comments

And one by one that closet of mine full of fashionable clothes, shoes and jewelry began to shrink. So let me guess what you are thinking, by reading the simple phrase you have concluded that I will be speaking about getting rid of my material possessions for the Glory of God. Well you are half way there but there is more to this story then it seems. This summer God has put incredible challenges on my path to spiritual growth and I can finally say that I have reached a new level of spirituality because of the challenges. When the winter term was over at Carleton University, I decided to pick up one of the books I had set aside for summer reading. Boy was I in for a surprise. I walked over to my bookshelf and realized that there was a book sticking out that I purchased not too long ago. I then decided that it was Him hinting I should read the book so I pulled it out and started reading the first chapter. I always would hear priests, Catholic leaders and fellow Christian friends speak about being humble and frugal as the Gospel teaches. Little did I know what these words actually meant? Not until I read the book by Father Thomas Dubay (Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom, Ignatius Press, 2002) did I finally begin to realize what God expected of me as a practicing Catholic. After reading the last page of the book I went to Mass the next day and prayed about what I learned from Father Dubay. In summary, Father Dubay calls all Catholics to contemplate what is meant behind the idea of Gospel poverty. He mentions that many have misunderstood this term and others have over complicated it. Yet the message is very simple and clear, when we look at Jesus Christ’s life and the lives of the Saints we then begin to understand what Gospel poverty is all about. As we are made in the image of God and strive to be more like Jesus Christ we must challenge ourselves to a more simple life to achieve spiritual freedom. And so after this revelation from God through Father Dubay, I have set for myself a routine schedule to go through all the material items I possess and ask myself, “do I really need this?” And not only do I keep my tangible possessions in check but I also, in the midst of quiet prayer, reflect on myself. I think of ways to become more ‘poor in spirit’ and offer up whatever God desires of me. Through this occurrence God has shaken my old habits and transformed my spirituality into something much more profound. by Agnieszka

Will you pick fear and defeat or trust and courage? August 07 2013, 0 Comments

“They are but food for us” Numbers 13 Fifteen years ago these words brought my family and me the courage we needed to make a decision, one that would have a significant impact on us for the rest of our lives. In the spring of 1996 Archbishop Gervais, then the Archbishop of Ottawa, invited CCO to come to his diocese. In April, two of us flew to Ottawa to meet the Bishop and visit the Carleton campus. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, stepping on a multicultural campus like Carleton, was an overwhelming experience to say the least. I felt so out of place as I walked through the halls among the students, who were speaking different languages from all over the world. This may not seem like a big deal for most, but 15 years ago coming from Saskatchewan things seemed a lot different. It was as we met with the chaplain that I began to experience a great deal of fear and doubt. It became very clear to me that I was entering into what could be perceived as an unwelcome and hostile environment. Walking back to our car I turned to the CCO staff member I was traveling with and told him that I could not be the one to bring CCO to Ottawa. It was on the drive back to where we were staying that the Lord began to speak to me. He led me to the story of Moses, where he sent the 12 men to check out the promised land, which the Lord was calling them to. When they got there they were shocked to see that the cities were well fortified. They saw giants in the land and they had great worries. Yes, the land was flowing with milk and honey, but they reported to Moses that they felt like grass hoppers in the midst of those giants. From what they saw, they would easily be defeated. I could relate to their report, and in my opinion, they had good reason to be afraid. But then in the midst of the loud cries and grumbling, Caleb and Joshua stood up and said, "Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it." Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we..." But Moses and Aaron fell prostrate before the whole assembled community of the Israelites… and said, "The country which we went through and explored is a fine, rich land. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us in and give us that land, a land flowing with milk and honey. But do not rebel against the LORD! You need not be afraid of the people of that land; they are but food for us! Their defense has left them, but the LORD is with us. Therefore, do not be afraid of them…in answer, the whole community threatened to stone them.” Sitting in the car that day, I had a decision to make, “what report would I be giving upon returning back home to Saskatchewan”? Would it be one of fear and defeat or would it be one of trust and courage? I made a conscious decision that day how I was going to respond to God’s call in my life. Five montsh later, I packed up my family and we traveled across the country to what we believed to be the promise land, a place where God asked us to go. Although Saskatchewan will always be our home, God has more than blessed us here in Ottawa. The amazing part of this whole story is that there are many CCO staff over the years who have made similar choices to leave their home and “go” where God has called them. Such obedience is pleasing to the Lord. Such obedience opens the floodgates of God’s grace, which will help bring about the renewal of the world.

Does God really have a sense of humour? August 04 2013, 0 Comments

“Everyone knows mules have a terrific sense of humour,” Brian Regan said as he related what a nature show taught him to his audience during his stand-up comedy special, The Epitome of Hyperbole (28:09). “I felt stupid. I called a friend up, like at random (y'know): 'Hey Joey, this is going to sound like a weird question but, do you know anything about mules?'... Joey responds: 'Well, I just know they have a terrific sense of humour...” Some of the comedians that I appreciate the most involve everyday, ordinary events of life in their comedy routines (y'know like bits about mules...). They take something habitual, some automatic function of the day and reveal to us the ridiculous or humorous side of humanity. Even when they're being quite elaborate in their portrayal of the event - to the point of making it unreal and unbelievable - the humour of it is grounded in the reality of the situation. "Bacon's the best. Even the frying of bacon sounds like applause...Bits of bacon are like the fairy dust of the food community," says Jim Gaffigan, "You don't want this baked potato? Brrring! Now it's your favorite part of the meal. Not interested in the salad? Bibbity bobbity BACON. I just turned it into an entree. But once you put bacon in a salad, it's no longer a salad. It just becomes a game of 'find the bacon in the lettuce'. It's like you're panning for gold. Eureka!" So, get real! The most hilarious people are in touch with reality, there's a depth to them that allows them to, while anchored in that firm foundation of truth, look beyond that to see a deeper meaning, or the lack of meaning in things we take too serious. They are able to discern appropriate things to joke about also. That's rare. I find the most annoying people to be superficial people. You'll often hear them saying things like: “Lighten up! I was just joking.” Granted, the other person may be truly a grouch, but often there's a shallowness about the so-called comedian. I am always impressed to see a talented comedian, first that I can enjoy personally without thinking: “I'm sure glad the kids aren't in the room” (although, I recognize that there are funny things that are just not appropriate for kids), and second that I can play for my kids and laugh with them. Maybe an unlikely source of understanding humor better is Bishop Fulton Sheen (1959), in his TV program about the Divine Sense of Humor he defines humour as: “The ability to see through things. A person lacks a sense of humour if he cannot see through things... the person who has a sense of humour sees the world something like a window...the words he hears and the things he sees tell him about something else... If it's a joke, a horse may hear it, but a horse will not give a horse laugh because he does not get the meaning of the words” (notice he didn't say 'mules'). He goes on to talk about how people have senses of humour in different ways. Scientists, in the numbers and letters of their formula see through the letters (etc.) to the meaning of them. Poets don't merely see mountains and sunsets, but the majesty of God and the revelation of the beauty of God. One particular poet, Francis Thompson, as Bishop Sheen describes, looked at the sun as a host and the day as a priest, who “each morning the priest goes to the orient (east) tabernacle, lifts from out of it the host, raises it in benediction over the world, and at night sets it in the flaming monstrance of the west.” The humorists, he says, “pierce our foibles, release our tensions, and take away the seriousness from even serious situations” (here giving “big picture” outlook to overwhelming circumstances). 'Seeing through' real events is necessary to authentic comedy. In the Divine sense of humour, Bishop Sheen shows how God takes one thing seriously, that is the salvation of souls, in that, all things are ordered, or constructed, towards that deeper meaning. God must have the greatest sense of humour of all. Bishop Sheen has a great sense of humor also, and he tells of a friend who transplanted a large, beautiful oak tree to his yard beside his pool so that he could relax and read in the afternoon beside his pool. “What do you think of that?” his friend asked. Sheen replied, “Well, that just goes to show you what God could do if He only had money.” I laughed hard at Gaffigan's 'McDonald's' segment is both funny and CONVICTING: "I’m tired of people acting like they are better than McDonald’s," says Jim Gaffigan. "It’s like, you may have never set a foot in McDonald’s, but you have your own McDonald’s, maybe instead of buying a Big Mac, you read 'Us Weekly'. Hey, that’s still McDonald’s. It’s just served up a little different. Maybe your McDonald’s is telling yourself that Starbucks Frappuccino is not a milk shake or maybe you watch Glee." There's a number of hilarious comedians out there, some, you may be surprised to hear that are Catholic (which may be unfortunate as well). Here's five comedians that are Catholic (not necessarily practicing*) and have some hilarious bits in their routines! *this list does not represent an endorsement of all their material 1.Jim Gaffigan 2.Brian Regan 3.Jimmy Fallon 4.Steve Carrell 5.Bob Newhart (I wanted to put something a little older, you may recognize him from Elf) Maybe you know some great Catholic comedians that you can share with others. I want to hear who your favorite are. The Five by Scott Roy