232. Beyond the Blue Plaster Statue: An Advent Reflection on the Most Beautiful (and Most Fragrant!) Woman Who Ever Lived


Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God).

Creator created

God so humbled

Enclosed in the womb of a poor young girl

Crying out, God, God, you are crazy!

And with enflamed desire

I go searching for who this young woman is

Who joined the Lover to the beloved

Looking at her from her head down to her feet

So the more I look at her the more she gives me delight

Pregnant in appearance

She shows me…

(adapted from a poem of Saint Catherine of Sienna)


Who Is This Woman?

The modern mystic Caryll Houselander expresses the sentiments of Many church-going folk with regard to Mary:

“When I was a little girl, I was told …, ‘Never do anything you cannot imagine our Lady doing … If you do, she will blush.’” From then on, preventing our Lady from blushing “became an obsession … since I could only imagine our Lady leaning on a cloud-bank or being a plaster statue.” Eventually, I “broke down and sobbed with boredom and despair … Such was the conception of our Lady imposed on me by a pious upbringing.” Sadly, it’s “a very common one – to many Catholics she is unreal, and even worse, unattractive …No wonder, for nearly all we are taught of her is … the pious guess-work of [the overly sentimental]” (Mother of Christ, p. 31).

Later in life, she heard a “remarkable nun” correcting a girl who believed Mary wouldn’t even have known about sex because of her “innocence” and “purity.” The nun exclaimed, “Stuff and nonsense! When our Lady was 15 she knew the facts of life from A to Z, the gospel proves it.” That began Caryll’s search “for the real Mother of God.” What she found was a woman “consumed by the fire of love,” a woman who “is not only human; she is humanity.” She is what it means to be human …

231. Do You Know the Secrets of the Tilma? Pondering the Deep Mysteries of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Her Feast Day

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You’ve seen the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe countless times, I’m sure. But have you ever really seen it? Do you know how to read it? O the secrets it contains! (Hint: it reveals all the glory of the theology of our bodies…) And how fitting it is that we celebrate her feast during our Advent preparations for Christmas.

One year ago today, my team and I were in Mexico City leading a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on this, her glorious feast. Below are the notes of the talk I gave to the pilgrims who came with us. Specific information about the Tilma has been taken primarily from Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love by Carl Anderson and Monsignor Eduardo Chavez (OLG).

230. Don’t Miss Out on the Graces of Advent

Free Series of Advent Reflections to Prepare You for the Nuptials of Christmas

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Nuptials . . . the union of the Bridegroom and the Bride . . . It’s what Christmas is all about. And the start of Advent means these divine-human nuptials are soon upon us. What are you doing to prepare?

Advent, of course, means “coming.” It’s a time set aside for the Bride (the Church) to prepare herself for the coming of the Bridegroom (Christ). To help you enter more deeply into the Christmas nuptials, The Cor Project is offering a free series of Advent reflections called “Open Up Your Hearts.” Through the written word, through videos, music, and sacred art, these reflections are meant to prepare you for Christmas by helping you direct the deepest yearnings of your heart towards its true satisfaction: the coming of Infinite love into the womb of Mary.

This is the Christmas story in a nutshell: the Infinite One has wed himself to our finite humanityThis is what we’re preparing ourselves for during Advent. And this is why Advent is a time of desire: the Bride is longing to be filled with the eternal life of her Bridegroom. And so she cries in union with the Spirit of God: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!”

“Open Up Your Hearts” is a series of reflections that will run from Dec. 3, the first Sunday of Advent, through Jan. 1, 2018They are all about hope — hope that there is a banquet of life and love that corresponds to our yearning. And that banquet is coming in the flesh!

— Christopher West, Founder and President of The Cor Project

Image: Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Annunciation, 1898, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Please Send My 2017 Daily Advent Reflection Emails!

For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the HeartWatch the trailer below.

Watch the Short Film

229. Limiting Priestly Ordination to Men Makes No Sense … Unless …

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A friend of mine recently asked me if I had a blog post I could send him on why only a man can be a priest. I have touched on this in previous posts, but I realized I’ve never devoted a post specifically to this question, so here goes.

Without a doubt, the differences of men and women have been exaggerated in the past – typically in favor of men and to the disadvantage of women. The sexual and feminist revolutions of the 20th century were right to challenge certain roles conventionally limited to one or the other gender. However, we’ve now gone from one imbalance to the other: from wanting to exaggerate the differences of men and women to wanting to eliminate them.

Made for More: A Plea from Father Paul

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Brothers and Sisters, Husbands and Wives, Mothers and Fathers, Teachers and Catechists, Priest and Religious,

The reason why I have been so passionate about promoting the MADE FOR MORE event with Christopher West and Mike Mangione is because I honestly don’t know of another topic or presentation that gives me more zeal and passion and purpose for my life.

My main desire from the very beginning was for the people of St. Paul and our local community to learn about this life-giving teaching, and for your hearts to be touched and set ablaze with love and passionate purpose.

This evening is going to be much more than simply a “sex talk”, I assure you, however the Theology of the Body is certainly a teaching that attempts to explain the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.

As I know from personal experience, but also from my pastoral experience as a priest, this is a topic that most of us Catholics hide our heads in the sand about. We feel uncomfortable with it because we probably don’t know how to talk about it. And this is probably because it hasn’t been explained to us in a healthy, truthful, and beautiful way….not just by our parents growing up, but even by members of the Church itself. Many of us may have been forcefully told about the WHAT of the Church’s teachings on sex, but NOT the WHY behind the WHAT, and even then, perhaps not in an accurate, attractive, and appealing way.

The Church is for us, not against us. St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is absolutely revolutionary in the sense that while it builds upon the traditional teachings of the Church, it develops further some of it’s thought, but also widens our perspective and helps us to see it with new “lenses”.

You and I can continue to be afraid to talk about it, or think that its a “personal thing”, but if we don’t learn and teach this view of human sexuality, you can bet that we and our children are learning about it (wrongly) from so many other sources in our secular society today. Should MTV, Netflix, HBO, Instagram, so on and so forth really be teaching our kids about human sexuality? How has this been going so far? Do these mediums promote the respect and dignity of the female and male body, or rather the opposite?

Did you know that the pornography industry makes more money annually then the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL combined? Why is this? Because we are staying ignorant and keeping silent. We are sexually human beings…male and female…we are all born with a passionate desire to be with the opposite sex.

My point is this: this desire we all have isn’t something to be ashamed about. It’s not something that is dirty, to be kept hidden. We must “go somewhere” with this desire, but the pivotal question is “to whom or to where shall we go?”

This is where the Theology of the Body guides us. It guides us like a compass pointing to true north, but it also helps us know how to get there. Most of are are not heading in the right direction. Do you know how much it sickens and saddens my heart to hear about “rainbow parties” with junior high school kids. I also hear about “key parties” with adults. This is completely sick and twisted, only leading us towards destruction and death rather than life and freedom.

Do you want to be free? Do you want to have peace? What do you want for your children? The meaning and purpose of the human body is the most important topic that should be talked about with our kids, yet it is the number one thing that is skipped. If I only knew the truths that I know now, I may have saved myself alot of heartache and misery, and I wouldn’t have emotionally hurt and wounded my fellow female peers when I was a youth In my ignorance. Ignorance surely isn’t bliss…especially in the area of sexuality..it’s death.

If you wanna know the truth, learn about the Theology of the Body. This is why Christopher West is coming to St. Paul’s.

If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet for Made for More at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, please do so ASAP. If you believe that I love you…if you believe that I truly care about you and the human person, then trust me and attend.

You can get your tickets at the end of Masses this weekend, at our parish center, or online here. We aren’t in this for the money. In fact, St. Paul’s isn’t making one cent from these events, all ticket proceeds go to The Cor Project to further the mission of spreading the Theology of the Body throughout the world. I love you and I hope to see you there.

Let’s not be afraid…lets get our heads out of the sand…let us be revitalized and bring forth a culture of life and love…not of abuse, shame, fear, and death. Let the only rainbows we see be the ones in the sky…and the keys we use be the ones that open the doors to our hearts with the Father’s truth and love for us.

Fr. Paul