Make it an Active Holy Week

Holy Week is an amazing time of year. The liturgies are just so powerful. But there is a danger to all of the extra activities, and it’s an ironic one: it can lead us more in the past and into a passive faith. While the week is definitely about remembering the final days of Jesus on earth, it’s important to remember that liturgy is never about the past alone. It’s about calling our attention to how what happened long ago is still true today, still unfolding today, still bringing life today. We are not actors in a play and we are not trying to relive the past. Our goal, in the liturgy and in life, is to participate in what Christ is doing today. The paschal mystery is not that Jesus rose from the dead. It is that he is alive today.

But we can learn from the past…

That said, there are elements of the past we want to learn from so that we can turn away from. One of the main ones that is always thrown at us as Catholics is the crusades. Without denying that many things went wrong in these conquests, it’s important that we don’t accept every criticism as fact. Here are five myths about the crusades.

Top Gun: Maverick is… Extra

No movie is quite so dialed up to 11 like Top Gun: Maverick. Everything about it is pushed to the extreme, which is why is was such a fun movie to watch and exploded at the box office.

From the Vault: The Triduum Explained

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are the holiest days of the year for Christians. Together, they are called the Triduum. For a refresher on what that means and what we celebrate, here’s a video from 2018.

What a week to read the Bible

If you haven’t started praying with my guided meditation podcast The Word Became Flesh, you are going to want to start this week. In what can only be called perfect divine intervention, we have reached the story of the Passion according to Mark… right at the beginning of Holy Week. It was fate, I’m sure. Each day this week I’ll post a new meditation, reaching the crucifixion on Friday and taking Saturday off in silence.

Hope everyone has a great Holy Week!

I’ll be posting an important video about this week’s liturgy on either Wednesday or Thursday, so be sure to check the Breaking in the Habit YouTube page before the Triduum starts for that extra help in your prayer.

Peace and good,

Fr. Casey

Spring Break Ain’t What It Used to Be

This past week, the students at two of the schools where I serve had spring break. In the past, this was a time of fun and relaxation. Now I’m an adult. And so this past week I was in Atlanta, Austin, and College Station (TX) for talks and events. Was it fun? Yes, I guess it was, but it wasn’t relaxing at all!

This is also not fun…

As Christians, we stand for the inalienable human dignity of all people. Which means we must stand up and raise our voices when parts of our society try to take this away. In this video, I want to talk about an absolutely sickening feature of our world: prisons in the United States.

When Will This End?

If you’re like me, you wonder about the end times. When will it be time for the “end”? Scripture tells us that we known neither the day nor the hour, but we can know how it will happen. Sort of.

Fun, But Not as Good as the First One

Over the past two weeks, Fr. Tito and I have looked at sequels that were good, just not as good as the original. This starts with Men in Black 2:

And finishes with Toy Story 2:

“Baptizing” Some Kids.

There was no dunking, but definitely a baptism by fire on the court a few weeks ago. Take a look at these fun pics!

From the Archives

While there are official pronouncements of dogma in the Church that cannot be debated, much of theology is multi-faceted. We are blessed with multiple ways of looking at almost everything. For this reason, it’s best to talk about the Church’s theologies, and to ask what methods we are using ourselves. In this video, I suggest that there are three modes of thinking about any topic in the Church.

Can you Believe Lent is Almost Over?

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday! Wow! I hope everyone has a good time preparing for the feasts!

Peace and good,

Fr. Casey

Playing Catch-up

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles. It was a wonderful, fruitful experience, but also one that took up all of my time from Wednesday until late Sunday of my week, meaning there was no newsletter last week and little production for this week. Let’s see what we can share anyway.

Good to Have These Prerecorded

Fr. Patrick and I love to review media, and in some ways, it’s easy to make episodes of Upon Friar Review. Despite the busy weeks, we’ve continued to post new videos, mainly because we filmed them back in January!

Two weeks ago we discussed the importance of going to Mass in reviewing an episode of Modern Family, and this past Friday I showed him a number of modern video games to get his reaction.

Finally, A Pair of Great Ones

This season, Fr. Tito and I have been working our way through sequels, a task that has left us with a number of duds. Luckily, the past two weeks has been fun: Back to the Future II, and John Wick Chapter 2. The first has some major flaws, but is fun to watch, and the second is flawless, but tough to watch.

Back to the Future:

John Wick:

How Should We Read the Bible?

The ancient writers knew that there are two senses of scripture: the literal sense and the spiritual sense. In this video, learn how each is understood for Catholics and what to do with them.

From the Archives

Sometimes it’s good to go back and watch old videos again. This one wasn’t popular in its time, but it’s one I think everyone should see.

Hope Lent is Going Well!

One week down! Keep on with your penance and make sure you’re ready for Easter when it comes!

Peace and good,

Fr. Casey

See You in LA?

This week is going to be a busy one. Not only is it the start of Lent with Ash Wednesday, but many will be traveling to Los Angeles for the annual Religious Education Congress. This year I’m fortunate to be speaking, offering two talks. If you’re going, be sure to look for me!

Before then, though, we get the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time with yet another difficult passage from Jesus: Love your enemies. It’s something we hear all the time and yet I suspect many of us, deep down, don’t follow it or at least understand it. So what gives? I’d like to suggest three things.

1. An untested virtue isn’t much of a virtue at all. To love those who love us is easy. One can hardly say that we are offering self-sacrifice or charity. But when we encounter our enemies? That’s when we show our true colors.

2. It is precisely this that act of loving those who hate us that converts those who hate us. If someone hits us in the face, they expect to get hit back. But when we “turn the other cheek” that catches them off guard. “What’s wrong with you?” What’s wrong with us is that we trust in God, not ourselves. The witness of the martyrs, refusing to defend themselves, converted far more people than anyone claiming self-defense or attacking non-believers.

3. Most important of all, we seek to be like God who loves all. The Gospel ends with the line, “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This does not mean moral excellence (although that is something to strive for) nor does it mean mere adherence of the law (which, again, isn’t a bad start). More appropriately, it means “be WHOLE or COMPLETE as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Just as God loves all because he created all, so, too, must we. How can we call God our Father if we hate his sons and daughters?

Love Doesn’t Mean Endorsement

Sometimes, unfortunately, people do things that remove themselves from the life of the community. In the Catholic Church we refer to this as excommunication. Although many think they understand what this means, most actually do not. For us, it is neither permanent nor punitive.

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

The past two weeks haven’t had incredibly deep content on Upon Friar Review, but we’ve had fun making it. Sometimes it’s good to just look at the world and laugh. Not everything has to be so serious and defensive.

Finding the Best in our Enemies

Sometimes “bad people” can get things right. I, for one, like to spend my time finding the best in people rather than focus on what they do wrong. This is the case with people and it’s the case with movies. Very few things produced by Hollywood get a Catholic stamp of approval, but everything has at least something virtuous in it.

Okay, Maybe Not EVERYTHING

Going through sequels this semester, we’ve struggled to find many good ones. The last two weeks have been no exception. Reviewing Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, it was very difficult to find anything redeeming about the movie. Luckily, the next two weeks are going to be great!

A Little Reminder!

As Lent begins this week, I figured I’d offer this video from two years ago. I think it’s a helpful guide to put us in the right frame of mind for Lent!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Fr. Casey

Stumbling into the Absurd

These last two weeks have been a blur. Week-long high school mission trip. Six weekend masses, two in Spanish, an hour and a half from home. Catholic schools week. ix weekend masses, two in Spanish, an hour and a half from home. Whew. Good thing lent is around the corner… I was starting to get bored!

I’d be joking if I said it was easy to pull everything off this week, but I’m proud of what we produced… even if it is all a bit absurd.

Satire Exposes the Truth

This week’s reflection is satire. Let me make that clear. I do not espouse the beliefs I present in the first half of the video, no matter how convincing it may seem. What I’m doing (as you’ll see if you watch until the end) is highlighting the absurdity of our logic sometimes. I start with something we can all relate to, a desire deep within us, but the more I talk the more I show how illogical and unfulfilling it is. Sometimes, you have to stumble into the absurd to find the truth.

This is NOT how you do it

Sometimes, seeing the wrong answer fail is just as important as seeing the right one succeed. Such is the case of the movie Saved!, a 2004 high school comedy about a girl struggling in her faith. She’s presented with many Christians trying to help her, but as we see, it only serves to drive her away further.

Sequels: The good, the bad, and the absurd

I’m happy to say that Everyday Liminality is back with a new theme this semester: sequels. I seem to have forgotten to add our first week’s episode, so here is a double feature this week.

The Glass Onion: A Knives Out movie (and total bogus movie):

And Empire Strikes Back (leaving you seriously wondering about two friars getting this worked up about a space opera):

Nothing More Absurd Than the Gospel

At least, to the secular world, that is. If you’re looking to pray more with the Gospels, be sure to check out my daily mediation podcast, The Word Became Flesh. Here’s an episode from this week.

A Normal Week Upcoming? Never

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Peace and good,

Fr. Casey