Boo! I’m on TV Tonight…and My Nose is Running.


Tonight, as on many Wednesday nights, I’m hosting “Catholicism Live!” the TV program (simulcast on radio) produced by The Pilgrim Center of Hope in partnership with Catholic Television of San Antonio.

Joining me as guest is the fabulous Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI. I never tire of his insight, humor and experience. (He used to host one of the very first EWTN talk shows!)

I woke up this morning with sinus problems. No surprise! We’re talking spiritual warfare and communion of saints tonight, so I’m sure someone wants to discourage me from hosting. Well, I’ll happily expose his antics tonight, whether or not my makeup hides the red nose I’ve gotten from blowing it all day.

Tune in tonight online 8pm Central / 9pm Eastern via audio stream. We’re taking your calls!

The Catholic Media Mind who was Kind. [Marshall McLuhan Monday]


Controversial author on subliminal messages Wilson Bryan Key was not a bit subliminal when describing how his friend Marshall McLuhan exercised the supernatural virtue of charity (emphasis my own):

Like many public figures, McLuhan was a magnet for the disturbed, the maladjusted, the disenfranchosed, and the idiosyncratic. They literally swarmed about him, as though he could resolve their dilemmas with a wave of his vocabulary. They intruded cruelly into his time, into his privacy, and into both his personal and professional life. McLuhan’s kindness and sympathy for the distraught was legion. I never saw or heard him turn away anyone who needed kindness, understanding, human sensitivity or simply an ear into which they could pour their perplexities. Even when exhausted or working intensely on a project, he always found the time to deal with troubled individuals, though it cost him dearly, in lost time and energy. I still envy McLuhan his humanity; perhaps, in retrospect, this was even more important than his philosophical insight, though both were inextricably interconnected.

Since I work in full-time ministry, I’ve often felt like that “magnet for the disturbed.” And I’m ashamed to admit that my patience with these individuals often comes from my being in ministry. Mornings, evenings and weekends, I know I fall short.

For all the times we Catholics don’t wear the ‘ministry hat’ we can look to McLuhan as an inspiration: yes, it can be done. We can be modern-day men and women of faith, both intellectually and interpersonally. That truth is what Key realized: McLuhan’s fides et caritas were fruits of his constant source of steady nourishment found in the Catholic Church.

Year of Faith Extravaganza: websites, media, ideas and more

The Year of Faith is in full swing, but are you in full Year of Faith mode? I know I’m not quite. So, let’s remedy that. Here are a ton of YOF resources I’ve found. Which ones will stick it out through the entire Year, and which ones will YOU stick with?

Have any to add? Contribute by adding a comment.


My Year of Faith App – online community of daily catechesis, challenges for spiritual growth and opportunities for participating in the New Evangelization

Flocknote’s Read the Catechism in a Year – Sign up for a daily chunk of the Catechism in your inbox; option also allows for users to interact with one another via a comment system

Read the Cat – Follow-up your daily Flocknote emails with these fun podcasts! Three guys read and discuss the Catechism together with you in a year. (Began prior to Year of Faith.)

Sharing My Faith (Desktop) / Sharing My Faith (Mobile)- The Diocese of Orlando’s website has a mobile-friendly place for diocesan faithful to submit a video about how they live their faith. Neat idea.

YoFtweets – The Church in England and Wales has prepared over 400 tweets for the ‘Year of Faith’. @YoFtwets will introduce followers to the inspiring documents of the Second Vatican Council looking at them in the light of Sacred Scripture and through quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from some of our great Saints.

Year of Faith Playlist – Spirit and Song offers music on-demand from its artists


LifeTeen’s Year of Faith video:

VCAT (Video Catechism) – A 48-piece series of videos produced by Outside da Box in collaboration with Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Monthly Faith Testimonies – The Church in England and Wales is on top of new media for the YOF! Archbishop Nichols has launched a monthly video series on Vimeo (look at the URL they snagged!) featuring bishops giving their personal testimony of faith.

Inspiring Faith – UK’s Southwark Catholic Youth Service will be producing weekly videos for use with Young People in Parish and School settings. The aim of the project is to inspire and encourage young people in refelcting on their own faith and life situations.

Archdiocese of Milwaukee “C4 Ignite Your Catholic Faith” videos – Short YouTube clips answer questions of faith


Vatican Official Year of Faith website – Tons of info. Go see for yourself.

The Catholic Year of Faith – Ascension Press offers articles, faith formation program trials, live events, and weekly Faith in Action emails.

Catholic Family Prayer – Website by Diocese of Phoenix offering ideas for families to pray together with Scripture and Tradition, regularly-updated videos, and more.

Archdiocese of Manila – Filipino Catholics do it right! Great site for YOF resources, news, and social media.

Diocese of Joliet – lo-fi monthly PDFs offer great tips on living the YOF

Archdiocese of Sydney’s Year of Grace – The Australian bishops called for a Year of Grace beginning Pentecost 2012 through Pentecost 2013, so they’re celebrating like crazy in the Church Down Under. Check out this beautiful website for their Year of Grace for ideas on growing in the Year of Faith.

USCCB YOF – Videos, Calendar, Saints, Family Resources and more

Year of Faith by Regnum Christi – Offers videos on faith, video series on Vatican II, downloadable posters, church documents, and podcast to cover the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church.

If you hurt, read this book. (Review: “My Peace I Give You” by Dawn Eden)

Dawn Eden's "My Peace I Give You"

Dawn Eden's "My Peace I Give You"God recently worked through a book to facilitate my journey towards healing and renewed hope.

Before dating my wonderful husband, I was involved in a poisonous relationship for over two years. That relationship still triggers painful flashbacks, and left me with fibromyalgia — the now constant physical reminder of the emotional stress I experienced for too long.

Dawn Eden’s most recent book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints attracted me merely by the title. Dawn’s name had always spelled ‘that chastity speaker’ in my mind (forgive me, Dawn!), so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. Soon after beginning to read, I discovered that Dawn had written this book specifically for victims of childhood sexual abuse. That didn’t fit my situation, so I wondered: Would the book do me any good?


If you’re hurt, you need healing. If you’ve experienced a trauma, you need peace. Dawn Eden’s My Peace shines bright lights on the Church’s rich teachings, which continue to bring wounded souls both healing and peace. In reading My Peace, I learned so much about Church teaching on topics like…

  • the healing and purification of memories
  • Christ Crucified
  • mercy and forgiveness
  • the role of the Sacraments in healing
  • saints who experienced relatable wounds and were subsequently healed

The author shares pieces of her personal story throughout the book, weaving together a beautiful tapestry with threads taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, lives of the saints, Scripture, Tradition, sacred art, contemporary Catholic voices, psychology, and more. When I began reading this book, I felt like I was fighting a solo battle to hide and forget wounds that constantly ate away at my peace. When I finished the book, I no longer felt alone. I became convicted that God wanted me to face my struggles, and that both He and His Bride the Church had victoriously preceded me in that encounter.

I strongly recommend this empowering book to anyone who has experienced pain and needs healing.

Through the Eucharist, not only is my present and future life “hidden with Christ,” but my past as well. The evil of my past is still evil, but it no longer has any power over me. All that remains of it are my wounds. Now I can look at the Crucified One — broken like me — as the priest holds the Host, and those same wounds become a point of entrance for his body, blood, soul, and divinity. (My Peace I Give You, by Dawn Eden)

Dawn is currently volunteering herself to speak on My Peace. Find her schedule and contact information at The Dawn Patrol. You can also catch her on Patheos at Feast of Eden.

Archbishop Gustavo’s Video Diaries from Synod, Accepts Prayer Intentions

Screen Shot 2012-10-15 at 12.02.53 PM

I’d just like to take this moment to gush about my shepherd, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S., and highlight the wonderful new media experiment he’s undertaking in Rome.

During each day of the Synod on the New Evangelization, Archbishop Gustavo records a video diary, one each in English and in Spanish, for the people of God – especially for his flock in San Antonio, Texas. While their production quality ain’t RomeReports, these videos have excited me about Archbishop Gustavo’s willingness to engage new media. The diaries reflect his deep love for his flock, and his desire to share the developments of the Synod with us.

Archbishop Gustavo is now also taking prayer intentions online – via a website dedicated to his time in Rome.

This has all gladdened my heart. The Archdiocese has sloooowly been rolling out official Facebook pages – first, the various archdiocesan offices and institutions (Marriage/Family/NFP, Evangelization, Vocations, Life/Justice/Peace, Campus Ministry/Young Adult, Archdiocesan Newspaper, Assumption Seminary)…

then, finally – ever so slowly – the official Archdiocese of San Antonio Facebook page. It seems that the “ground-up” approach has borne fruit in diocesan new media endeavors. Brandon Vogt might deserve some credit, too — and all the contributors to The Church and New Media, which was distributed among our diocesan offices by the wise Director of our Archdiocesan Catechetical Center, Gigi Zapiain.

What signs of hope do you see in your diocese’s engagement with new media?

Modeling Marshall McLuhan in the Year of Faith [Marshall McLuhan Monday]

Father Patrick Peyton interviews Marshall McLuhan

The Year of Faith

Have you heard? Pope Benedict XVI has called Catholics to celebrate a “Year of Faith” which began October 11, 2012 and will conclude November 24, 2013. The year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In celebrating these events, the Holy Father says, “This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith” (Porta Fidei, 4).

McLuhan’s Relationship with the Church

So, on this first Marshall McLuhan Monday of the Year of Faith, I thought we ought to look at McLuhan’s relationship with the Church. What was his “reflection and rediscovery”?

Rather, we should say his discovery, since McLuhan was a convert to the Faith. His parents were Protestants: Methodist father and Baptist mother. As a child in industrial Winnipeg, he came to loathe that environment. In a letter written later, we can see the young man McLuhan treading the path away from Protestantism:

Catholic culture produced Don Quixote and St. Francis and Rabelais . . . Everything that is especially hateful and devilish and inhuman about the conditions and strains of modern industrial society is not only Protestant in origin, but it is their boast (!) to have originated it.

Father Patrick Peyton interviews Marshall McLuhan (1971)

McLuhan cites his two main influences into Catholicism as G.K. Chesterton and St. Thomas Aquinas. His conversion story is, as one might expect, quite a long one, but suffice to say that when McLuhan was asked, “Why aren’t you a Catholic?” he had no good response. He immediately began the necessary process of coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Eric McLuhan spoke in 2011 about his father’s religious habits for a McLuhan Legacy Network celebration. Among them: daily reading the New Testament, daily Mass and Communion, keeping abreast of papal encyclicals, and leading the family in an evening Rosary. From that summary, we can see why Eric’s father told Father Patrick Peyton:

[The Catholic Church] has been to me a steady source of nutrition; a steady source of strength; a steady and unremitting source of simple, fundamental nourishment. I think of the Church as an all-nourishing Mother. You don’t need any one kind of nourishment; you need many kinds.

And so my own relation to the Church has been a very steady matter of constant appeal for daily nourishment. This is where, to me, the Church is the obvious and irreplaceable fact. I’ve never had a great deal of concern about the dogmatic problems or about the theological problems. These seem to be taken care of, quite naturally, by the steady flow of nourishment.

Modeling McLuhan in the Year of Faith

To my fellow Catholic communicators, I suggest we adopt Marshall McLuhan as a model for living this Year of Faith. Why? Because the Holy Father exhorts Catholics during this Year to profess, celebrate, and witness to our Faith. We need to look to the saints and, in this rapidly-changing world, to contemporary Catholics, who can teach us necessary and relevant lessons in walking with Christ.

Join me this Year of Faith here on the blog, discovering the remarkable and inspiring example we have in Marshall McLuhan, especially in these three areas of profession, celebration, and witness. More next Monday!

Media Make Our Brains Want More Government [Marshall McLuhan Monday]


“WOW,” I proclaimed one evening. “This explains so much!”

“What?” my husband inquired, wondering why I looked so moved.

“This explains why people want more government, why they voted in Obama, and why they won’t embrace Romney!” I exclaimed.

The “this” was a Marshall McLuhan 1978 essay called “A Last Look at the Tube.” With all the hullabaloo about elections bubbling over this week, I thought it appropriate to highlight a short bit from this impressive essay.

I’ll preface it by reminding you of McLuhan’s very Catholic term: discarnate man. It describes a humanity entrenched in electric media, which project and transmit his image, voice, and thoughts over airwaves and across oceans. Electric media leave us feeling a certain identity loss, due to separation of mind, spirit, and body from one another. Now, on to the genius of McLuhan. (The subtitles are my own.)

Step One: Explain the Brain.

Whereas the left hemisphere is sequential and logical, verbally connected and syntactic, the right hemisphere is simultaneous and acoustic, emotional and intuitive. The electric environment tends to give a lot of stress and power to the right hemisphere […] The left hemisphere had been favored by the worlds of literacy, and of market organization with its quantitative goals and specialist structure. These worlds have been increasingly obsolesced by the instant environment and instant replays that enhance the simultaneous character of the right hemisphere.

Step Two: How Do Media Affect Your Brain?

Electronic or discarnate man is automatically committed to the primacy of the right hemisphere. In political terms the instant mask, a mythic structure, gives sudden prominence to the charismatic image of the political leader. He must evoke nostalgic memories of many figures that have been admired in the past. Policies and parties yield to the magic of the leader’s image. The arguments in the Ford-Carter debates were as insignificant as the fact of their party affiliation.

Step Three: Why Does Discarnate Man Prefer More Government?

If discarnate man has a very weak awareness of the private identity and has been relieved of all commitments to law and morals, he has also moved steadily toward involvement in the occult, on one hand, and loyalty to the superstate as a substitute for the supernatural on the other hand. For discarnate man the only political regime that is reasonable or in touch with him is totalitarian — the state becomes religion. When loyalty to Natural Law declines, the supernatural remains as an anchorage for discarnate man; and the supernatural can even take the form of the sort of megamachines of the state that Mumford talks about as existing in Mesopotamia and Egypt some five thousand years ago. [..]

BINGO! I thought after reading this bit. Why does the charismatic figure touting big government win polls & votes? Because our brains now prefer emotion and instantaneous gratification. Our media-massaged brains want the hero and the champion, NOT the numbers-crunching businessman who doesn’t remind us of past socio/political champions!

And when we’ve lost “loyalty to Natural Law,” we need something to fill that vacuum.

What say you?

Catholic Rockers podcast returns!


Once upon a time, I was the Street Team President of Catholic Rockers podcast. Well, I guess I’ll have to hit the streets again!

The award-winning Catholic Rockers podcast, hosted by George Leite, has returned. CR features fresh music from a variety of Catholic musicians and the occasional interview. Having grown up with a dad involved in music ministry nearly his entire life, I’ve always enjoyed meeting musicians and learning about how and why they make music.

You can find the podcast on or subscribe on iTunes. Know of any artists George should spin? Join our Catholic Rockers Facebook group.

Brace yourself. I’ve already discovered a new favorite Catholic musician / speaker through CR episode 81: Paul J. Kim. WOW.

If you want to support Catholic musicians, listen to this podcast. If you coordinate events for your parish or diocese, listen to this podcast for potential musicians and speakers. Enjoy!!

Site Inspiration – Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philly

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul - Screen Shot i

This week in parish site inspiration, I tap into yet another brilliant cathedral website: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Too bad this parish isn’t in West Phiiladelphia, or I’d have an excuse to include the Fresh Prince theme song in here…

Speaking of music, the only thing I do not enjoy about this otherwise masterfully designed website is that music automatically begins when you navigate to this page. I understand the designers’ sentiment; we designers get so caught up in creating a beautiful ‘experience’ for users that we forget about practicality and user-friendliness. These days, I do not recommend auto-start music on parish websites.

Take note of these site highlights:

  • Gorgeousness: I firmly believe in gorgeous church websites. Beauty evangelizes. It also adds a level of professionalism that can turn site visitors into in-person (and in-pew) visitors.
  • Two Navigation Bars: The top navigation bar remains throughout the website, and is organized simply. The homepage navigation bar (Latest News, About the Cathedral, Parish Info, How Do I…) brilliantly and easily makes accessible practical info that many parish site visitors seek.
  • Multimedia: Videos, podcast, photos add to the depth – and professionalism – of this website.
  • How Do I: This section could inspire any parish website. Most people who want to know something about your parish are looking for Mass and sacrament schedules, how to get married, how to get baptized, or how to get a Mass celebrated for someone.
  • News Feeds: I genuinely admire parish websites that can successfully integrate worldwide Catholic news feeds. While the Cathedral includes their feeds in the footer, the fonts match the rest of the site, and the impression we get is that this parish realizes they are part of a worldwide faith family.
  • Exceptional Writing: Visit a second-level page on this site (try here). Admire and learn from the exceptional text. Words are often overlooked when designing websites!

Whoever wrote this website’s text has neither dumbed-down Catholic lingo nor gone over the heads of Average Joes In the Pew. In your own parish website, seek a talented writer whose style is neither too flowery and school-teacher-ish nor terse and shop-talk-y. You need a balance between explanatory and welcoming text that reflects your parish’s own unique character.

Bravo to the team that designed and maintains this inspiring website!