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

What a Week (and counting)!

There is nothing boring about this life. Last week I chaperoned a group of nine high schoolers on a mission trip to Philadelphia to work at the friars’ soup kitchen, St. Francis Inn. We got back in town late Friday night, and yesterday I was off to help cover a few parishes in the dioceses. Six masses later, I’m finally home, looking forward to a nice, normal, completely-unbusy Catholic Schools week as the chaplain of two Catholic schools. Life is good. Let’s recap what’s new in media.

We really need police reform

Two weeks ago, I posted a video on a topic I had been thinking about for a while. Little did I know how relevant it would become in just a week’s time. As the nation find itself still reeling from yet another example of police brutality, I offer this as a solution: learn from the mistakes the Catholic Church made and do something to fix the culture of your organization.

Catholicism in Focus Returns

After nearly two years away, Catholicism in Focus is back. In this episode, I offer a “quick” overview of Catholic Church history.

Responding to Common Misconceptions

There are legitimate criticism of the Catholic Church. These are not them. In this video, we respond to a man taking cheap shots at the Church by spreading misinformation.

Not in Good Faith Arguments

Satire is an important part of both comedy and social change. Sometimes, you need to take something to an absurd level to show how flawed the argument is. The Babylon Bee does that, but it’s also really mean in the process.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Fr. Casey

Not Quite Back Yet (But Soon)

As the year starts, I often take a few weeks to collect my thoughts, reflect on the successes and failures of the previous semester, and plan out the semester’s topics. For this reason, there’s only one thing to share this week, but there is more to come soon!

Behold the Lamb of God

In today’s Gospel, we heard from John the Baptist announcing Jesus’s arrival: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is among the most powerful statements in all the Gospel.

Behold: This is not a matter of just looking or taking a peak at. He wants us to see in a way that that captivates our attention, penetrates us, and that stays with us. It’s about seeing not only with our eyes but with our minds and hearts. Behold.

The Lamb of God: This is the first time that we see this phrase in the Bible, but it is immediately familiar. Think about how lambs are used in the Old Testament. Abraham sacrifices one in place of his son; the suffering servant is led like a lamb to be slaughtered; the lamb is sacrificed and its blood placed above the door to protect the Israelites and deliver them from slavery. This is who Jesus is: the one who is taken in our place, who sets an example for us to follow, and who saves us from the slavery of sin.

Who takes away the sin of the world: How does this happen. Why must Jesus die? In today’s homily, I gave a brief explanation, but the longer answer can be found in this video I made a few years ago.

Roasting the Church? We need a word

Recently, Trevor Noah announced that he was leaving the Daily Show. As a smart comedian, he was known to have great insight over the years while making everyone laugh. Unfortunately, he wasn’t always charitable, or accurate, when it came to the Catholic Church.

New Video Tomorrow

I’ve been working on a new video for my Breaking in the Habit channel for a few weeks now and I’m excited to post it. It’s going to be a tough one, I’m sure, but hopefully it will help bring hope to a challenging situation. Check the channel tomorrow for “Police Have Problems. The Catholic Church can help.”

Have a great week!