During the decades I was involved in the radio and TV aspect of Catholic communications, I wondered aloud why the church didn’t invest in a Super Bowl spot or two and use that time for evangelization. This was pre-2002 -- prior to the revelation of the sex abuse scandal -- when the market might have been more receptive to that message.
My contemporaries in that field didn't see it that way, nor did the Catholic decision makers, i.e., members of the U.S. bishops' communications committee. They did, however, believe there was value in having their own TV network -- the Catholic Television Network of America. It died $10 million and 13 painful years after it was launched, and without having made a positive impact on the Catholic community. An idea with merit, but poorly executed.
Since the Super Bowl is still a good place to evangelize, I’m glad Focus on the Family is investing $2.5 million for a spot that is expected to have a pro-life, pro-family message. The spot will feature Pam Tebow, who reportedly will relate how she ignored doctors’ advice and refused to abort the baby she was carrying in 1987. The healthy boy to whom she gave birth is Tim, a Heisman Trophy winner and leader on two-time national football champion University of Florida.
The purchase of time and featuring the Tebows has provided fodder for sports writers and the sports talkradio crowd. Most of their reaction has been negative, e.g., “I don’t want to be preached to by some athlete” and “Keep your religion off the playing field.”
It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Is everyone excited? Have you gotten started on sending chocolates and flowers and jewelry to your “special someone”? Have you perfected your poem and written out your card? Made reservations at a special restaurant?
No? Well, neither have I. Go figure.
It’s not as though Matt and I are “over” V-Day, but actually we kind of just ran out of ideas when it came to surprising each other. Honestly, he’s not going to buy me jewelry anymore because all I ever do is lose it, and me buying him flowers? Yeah, I’ve experienced enough ridicule from when I did that the last time.
Not only that, but saving up money for the wedding does put a damper on what you as a couple can do. It’s hard to justify going out for a $100 meal at “The Melting pot” or “Twisted Fork” when you are staring at the estimated cost of a wedding bar bill for $1,800 (boy, what a shock when you’re used to Riverwest bar prices!).
Anyway, I guess the point of this blog is that, just because you both are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate special holidays during the year. Below you can find a plethora of ideas on dating with a budget.
Another example of sports as religion comes courtesy of Peter Finney Jr, editor and general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He recently reported that less than two years after becoming archbishop of New Orleans, Archbishop Philip Hannan wrote and delivered the invocation for the Saints' first game -- Sept. 7, 1967 -- at Tulane Stadium. Here is the archbishop's "Prayer for the Saints":
"God, we ask your blessing upon all who participate in this event, and all who have supported our Saints. Our heavenly Father, who has instructed us that the 'saints by faith conquered kingdoms ... and overcame lions,' grant our Saints an increase of faith and strength so that they will not only overcome the Lions, but also the Bears, the Rams, the Giants and even those awesome people in Green Bay.
"May they continue to tame the Redskins and fetter the Falcons as well as the Eagles. Give to our owners and coaches the continued ability to be as wise as serpents and simple as doves, so that no good talent will dodge our draft. Grant to our fans perseverance in their devotion and unlimited lung power, tempered with a sense of charity to all, including the referees.
"May our beloved 'Bedlam Bowl' be a source of good fellowship, and may the 'Saints Come Marching In' be a victory march for all, now and in eternity."
And maybe next season, like the archbishop did more than 42 years ago, we'll once again be praying about "those awesome people in Green Bay."
It occurred to me after I posted my last blog that I didn’t fulfill my promise of keeping everyone up to date on my exercise/eating right promise to myself and all you readers.
Yeah, there was a reason for that. Nothing’s been happening yet.
It isn’t like I haven’t been doing the work. I cut down on my alcohol drinking and eating of fast food, I take walks outside as many times as I’m able (usually about once a day), and drink plenty of water and drink no soda. What’s the hold up?
Who knows the real truth behind weight loss and exercise. All I know is that I just finished a garden salad with Italian dressing (was it low fat? I forgot to look…) and I’m on my third bottle of water (I just buy one bottle and then refill it). How do I feel? Pretty empty, to tell you the truth. I miss that extremely full, slightly sick feeling I get after eating a Big Mac. Or a supreme beef burrito. Or a pile of hot wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.
Wait, let me elaborate on that. There is nothing more that I hate than moving someone other than myself to a new place.
Is it really almost the first of February? The time when my fiancé will finally be able to live in the brand new, spacious duplex in Bay View, mere minutes from the lake and downtown Bay View attractions, situated in a quaint, quiet neighborhood? Yay! That’s really quite exciting!
Wait, I have to help you move there?!
You know the prayer, “God, grant me the serenity”? Yup, this is one of those prayers that I’ve been mumbling under my breath since Sunday. I figured if I’m going to suffer, it might as well be for a good cause. All those souls in purgatory need all the prayers they can get.
Most priests will tell you that they already have enough to do. But in his World Communications Day message, Pope Benedict XVI suggests that they communicate via the "digital marketplace." For the May 16 observance, the pope writes, "Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, Web sites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis."
Sports as religion: No Brett Favre hating here, but I don't even get enthused about the color purple during Advent and Lent. I sure as heck wasn't going to cheer when an NFC North rival was wearing it. So yesterday I was cheering for all the Saints. Wait, I feel a hymn coming on.
Several hours after learning of the Haiti earthquake, I called my friend and former coworker, photojournalist Karen Callaway, who is the photo editor at the Catholic New World, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago. She was in a somber mood. “There’s always a place in my heart for Haiti,” she said. In the early ‘90s, Karen went to Haiti and photographed the people and conditions in which they lived. The images, shot and published in black and white, were haunting, and so powerful one could almost smell the sewage that flowed in the streets, the infection oozing from children’s open sores. I recalled the frustration she felt in wanting to “do something” to help the people she had met, but not knowing what to do and if what she would do would even be enough. She continued to show and tell the story of what she had witnessed, supported organizations that brought relief to Haiti, and always kept that place in her heart for those she had met. Many have described the desolation and destruction that engulfs Haiti, but it is Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, who provides us with an image that speaks to our faith. The archbishop noted that after he learned of the earthquake, he went to St. Peter’s Basilica where he prayed before the Pieta. “Haiti is the broken, bloody body of Jesus in the arms of his mother,” Archbishop Dolan said of why he chose to pray there. If you have ever studied the Pieta you understand the archbishop’s thinking. Haiti is about Christ’s brokenness and bloodiness. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was broken and bloody. Now, there are more breaks and more blood flowing. One is reminded of the adage that God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle. If that is true, there is no group of people handling more than the Haitians. Reading the accounts of Tuesday’s earthquake and looking at dozens of photos that have been posted from Haiti since then, the only words I could use in reply were in the form of a prayer: “God, please help them.” I have no doubt God is helping – through us. The donations that have been made and which will be made this weekend are certainly part of what God will do through us. But the value of prayer cannot be overlooked. As Archbishop Dolan put it, “It is impossible to exaggerate the high power of prayer.” Prayer forces us to focus on what we see and hear from Haiti. It is more than a mumbled “Lord, hear our prayer” to a petition in the Prayer of the Faithful. It is more than waiting for the next big news story to occupy our minds. It is connecting with the broken and the bloodied; it is making them part of our lives, being cognizant that once their story no longer garners headlines it is still our story. Our financial contributions are a short-term response; our prayers are a long-term commitment. And always, as Karen Callaway noted, a place in our hearts.
It all began today when I woke up at 6 a.m., even though my dad told me I didn’t have to come into work this morning. Which was good, because I was hung-over.
While I laid in bed, withering in pain from a massive headache, I began to think over my life this past year. While I don’t really drink as much as I should to warrant the hang-overs I’ve been getting (3 beers tops over a period of four hours, for the most part), I had to admit that something had to be done.
That’s when I turned on the television, and my life changed.
I caught the second half of the E! True Hollywood Story: Valerie Bertinelli. Much as I was currently doing, Valerie spent many years of her life on cruise control, eating what she wanted, exercising as little as possible and just letting life pass her by. However, she managed to change all that when she became the Jenny Craig spokeswomen, inspiring millions of women in the country, including yours truly. Since this morning, that is.
Holy day of obligation: Given the amount of stuff that accumulates on my desk, National Clean Off Your Desk Day should have its own season.
For the record: Home teams playing at the Bradley Center when Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki is present have each won. The Marquette men's basketball team won on Wednesday and the Milwaukee Admirals won on Saturday. Not sure if it was the archbishop or the Elvis impersonator, but Saturday night's 12,000-plus crowd was the Admirals' biggest of the season. If his presence does, in fact, help the home teams, the Brewers, Bucks and Wave might want to offer him a season ticket.
Space case: Speaking of facilities that hold a lot of people, one wonders if major archdiocesan events, e.g., the installation of an archbishop, might not be more community-friendly events if they were held in places like the Milwaukee Theatre or the U.S. Cellular Arena. The cost and potential liturgical obstacles would be offset by the fact that the former holds 4,100 people while the latter holds more than 10,000. When Archbishop Listecki was installed Jan. 4 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 1,000 people attended, including approximately 240 of whom watched the telecast in the atrium. When Bishop Paul Sirba was ordained and installed for the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., on Dec. 14, the event was carried on TV and attendees still filled all 2,300 seats in the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Sports as religion: This has nothing to do with the outcome of Sunday's Packers-Cardinals game, but in reading the book "First Things First," by Kurt and Brenda Warner, one learns that she wasn't going to marry him because he -- a Catholic who graduated from a Catholic high school -- wasn't a "Christian." And he concurs! Uh, Kurt, check out the Scripture-based Catholic "playbook" we call the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you have any doubts about Catholics being Christian. Share it with your wife, too, because I'm not sure if Brenda's spiritual diet of fundamentalism fiber is laced with anti-Catholicism, but her claim that you weren't Christian is as faulty as yesterday's Packer defense.
So last night my fiancé and I watched “500 Days of Summer,” an awesome kind-of love story with a realistic but not unkind ending. It was funny, warm-hearted, sad, and very reminiscent of my past relationships.
Can I say that, relationships? I better, because it would be kind of sad to say technically Matt was my first boyfriend. At the age of 23 (wait, 24, because he asked me after the New Year).
So. Divine plan, huh? Destiny, a path. Life is planned out, right? Let’s see how viewing my past relationships led me to Matt.
Mike: He worked for my family’s business, and I was swept away with his height, his hair and his deep brown eyes. We went on exactly three dates before he left for college an hour and a half away. Hadn’t kissed, barely hugged, grazed my hand in the popcorn bucket … let’s face it: he just wasn’t that into me.
Tim: He too worked for my family’s catering business (see a pattern here?), only we managed to hang out much more often, an entire summer in fact. We saw movies, got ice cream, drove around in his car … years later I discovered why he too never kissed me: gay.
Peter: Now this guy could actually be said to have been my first boyfriend, although when the situation came up, he always discouraged that kind of idea. I met him through my sister’s husband, learned how to flirt with him, kissed him many times, and basically gave him my heart before I knew he even wanted it. He later hinted to me that he wanted a relationship without the responsibilities (“I’m not looking for a girlfriend, but let's hang out every night”), and after three months I discovered that I gave way too much away for a guy like that. He broke up with me (yes, I’ll admit it), and left me hurting inside for too long than I care to admit. He’s the one I learned the most from, and if I want to be honest with myself, the one who led me to my future husband.
Matt: I met Matt while still going out with #3, so obviously I was so entirely infatuated with him that Matt wasn’t even on the radar, especially after we broke up and I swore off men altogether (I wasn’t going to switch to women, I was just going to head to a religious convent). I left for South Africa for school soon after, learned why I was hurting so much for a guy who didn’t care that much for me, and discovered the kind of guy I DID want.
Here’s a letter I wrote my friend before I came back from my trip: