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EPISODE #49
TRENDING WITH CHRIS & TIMMERIE: WHAT IS SEX FOR?

What is sex for? Young people are having less sex than ever before, yet people are starving for relationship. People are confused by mixed messages about homosexuality and wonder what the Church’s teaching on homosexuality really is. How do we respond to our loved ones who believe and even live radically opposing views on sex? Let’s share the fullness of God’s message about salvific grace.

Join Timmerie Millington on Trending as she discusses the gay issue and how to effectively share the Catholic teaching on sexuality with charity. Together we’ll look at sexuality from a theological and Biblical viewpoint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 7/1/18

EPISODE #47
TRENDING WITH CHRIS & TIMMERIE: PORN PLEASE?

75% of those who say religion is not important view porn as morally acceptable. What’s changed? A new Gallup poll reveals that the majority of Americans think porn is acceptable. On Trending this week, you’ll hear Chris Mueller and Timmerie Millington speak about how to overcome a pornography addiction, how parents can help one teacher’s plea for better discipline of children, and how Hungary’s Family Policy drastically boosted marriages and lowered abortion and divorce rates in just seven years.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 6/17/18

CULTURE CLASH

Opening our children’s eyes to the love of God and the mysteries of our Catholic faith keeps us parents plenty busy. We shuttle the family to Sunday Mass, send our kids to parochial schools and say our prayers before bed. Considering all of that, it seems sometimes that if we must add one more thing to our plates, our well-planned lives will fly into a tailspin. 

Still, Catholic parents who want to teach their children about the world God has made for us will want to make sure their kids are inspired to later visit colorful art galleries, ponder the gilded contents of museums, listen to a sublime symphony or attend a graceful ballet performance. 

Culture may be man-made, while religion is wholly associated with our Creator. Yet the world’s great religions include rituals and sermons, sacrifices and festivals, and other aspects of human culture in their practice. Often included are dancing, playing music and singing.  

Because God made us in His image and He loves beauty in all its forms, doesn’t it make sense that He wants to share it all with us? 

“Philosophy includes four transcendentals: Truth, goodness, beauty and love,” says Katie Dawson, director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. “These four things deeply resonate in the human heart. When we look at things that we are attracted to, they are always some expression of one or a combination of these. 

“Anything beautiful feeds our soul and helps us connect with the divine in some manner,” she continues. “However we can help our kids discover these four things to enrich their lives, the richer their life experience will be.” 

As we try to provide our children with various experiences, it makes sense to scan cultural opportunities in our communities and put them on our busy calendars. Central Orange County’s Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, for instance, has traveling exhibitions from all over the world as well as a vast number of art and artifacts from Orange County’s history. The Norton Simon Museum in nearby Pasadena is on a small scale, perfect for little visitors. The Pacific Symphony, South Coast Repertory Theater and Segerstrom Center all provide performances appropriate for kids, including jazz musicians, dramatic and humorous plays, and visiting acrobats and ballet companies. 

Bowers’ visiting exhibits can include the mummified kings of Egypt, temple murals from Buddhist China, or church relics from Europe. “These outings are great gifts we can share with children,” Dawson says. “The challenge is interrupting the hustle-bustle of our lives to expose to them firsthand, rather than in textbooks.” 

Planning to attend an opera, stage play, classical music performance or ballet requires lots of warning, but experiential learning sticks with a child even more than straight-A studies. “All these opportunities are meant to help them broaden their understanding of our world and where we come from,” she notes. “Diverse cultures express themselves in numerous ways.” 

At the same time, parents shouldn’t get too ambitious about exposing young children to the arts. “It’s important to pay attention to what the child responds to, and not overload them with experiences that are too sophisticated for their development stage,” Dawson warns. “Three-year-olds should not be attending the opera.” 

With small children, cultural touchstones in the home resonate best. “We have picture books iconic in family life, like ‘Goodnight Moon’ and ‘I Love You Forever,’ that are appropriate at even the earliest ages,” she notes. “That’s when kids have their first encounter with art.” 

As children get older, she says, parents can guide a museum visit by preparing their kids for what they will see. If a Van Gough self-portrait is on display, they can ask their children to look for the painting of the red-haired man, she suggests. 

Short trips can later be longer so that kids have a good time with art, Dawson says. “It’s a taste of a beautiful experience at a level they can appreciate – a lot shorter than an adult’s – but they are spending time with art. Then, you go get ice cream.”  

 

CULTURE ALONE CANNOT BE BLAMED FOR DROP IN VOCATIONS, POPE SAYS

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While there is a need to evangelize a culture that tells young people money equals success and commitments aren’t forever, stopping the “hemorrhage” of people leaving religious orders also requires changes from the orders themselves, Pope Francis said.

“Alongside much holiness — there is much holiness in consecrated life — there also are situations of counter-witness that make fidelity difficult,” the pope said Jan. 28 during a meeting with members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and representatives of religious orders.

The congregation was holding a plenary meeting focused on “fidelity and abandonment,” examining the factors that contribute to a lifelong commitment to religious vows or to leaving consecrated life.

According to the Vatican’s Central Statistics Office, from the end of 2004 to the end of 2014, the number of religious-order priests in the world declined by more than 2,500 to just under 135,000; the number of religious brothers dropped by 471 to just over 54,500; and the number of women religious fell by almost 85,000 — 11 percent — to about 683,000 religious.

Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, said that in some cases it becomes clear over time that a person never truly had a vocation to religious life and it is right for that person to follow God’s call elsewhere. But many other factors can influence a decision to leave, he said, including situations within an order or community.

“Such situations are, among others: routine, tiredness, the burden of running institutions, internal divisions, the search for power — ‘climbers’ — a worldly way of governing the institute, a service of authority that sometimes becomes either authoritarianism or a ‘live and let live’” attitude.

Pope Francis told the group that obviously it is more difficult for young people to make a lifelong commitment to a vocation when they are living in a culture where everything is provisional or temporary, where people are encouraged to pursue their dreams but leave a “door open” in case it does not work out and where “self-realization” is measured by money and power, not by fidelity to the Gospel and Gospel values.

Still, he said, the world of young people is “rich and challenging — not negative, but complex.”

“We are not lacking young people who are very generous, who act in solidarity and are involved on a religious and social level, young people who seek a real spiritual life, young people who hunger for something different than what the world offers,” he said. “There are marvelous young people and there are many.”

But the young also include “many victims of the logic of worldliness, which can be summarized this way: searching for success at any cost, for easy money and easy pleasure,” Pope Francis said.

The response of the church must be to reach out and “to infect them with the joy of the Gospel and of belonging to Christ.”

The only way to attract young people to religious life and to help members stay, he said, is to “show the beauty of following Christ and radiate hope and joy.”

“When hope diminishes and there is no joy,” he said, “it’s an ugly thing.”

The community life of religious orders is essential, he said, and it must be nourished with community prayer, celebration of the Mass, reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, sincere dialogue among members, “fraternal correction, mercy toward the brother or sister who sins,” and shared responsibility.

Perseverance in religious life, as with any vocation, requires the encouragement and support of others, the pope said, “because when a brother or sister does not find support within the community, he or she will seek it elsewhere.”

“Many times great infidelities begin with little deviations or distractions,” he said. “In this case, it is important to make St. Paul’s exhortation our own: ‘Awake, o sleeper!’”

If a vocation is a “treasure,” Pope Francis said, then it must be handled with care, cultivated with prayer and strengthened with “a good theological and spiritual formation that defends it from the culture of the ephemeral and allows it to progress solid in the faith.”

Religious orders must make a commitment to training at least some of their members in the art of “accompaniment” and spiritual direction, he said.

“We can never insist enough on this need,” he said. “It is difficult to remain faithful walking alone or walking with the guidance of brothers and sisters who are not capable of attentive and patient listening or who have not had adequate experience in religious life.”

“All of us who are consecrated, whether young or not so young, need help appropriate to the human, spiritual and vocational moment we are living,” he said.

A spiritual director or guide “must not create dependency,” control or treat the other as a child, he said, but must help the person “discover the will of God and seek in everything to do that which is most pleasing to the Lord.”

Discernment, he said, “does not only mean choosing between good and evil, but between good and better, between what is good and what leads to identification with Christ.”

 

THE CULTURE PROJECT

Several years ago, a group of friends were talking about their questions and experiences with love. What started from a simple conversation between friends has become a full-blown, global movement about protecting integrity and restoring a human culture in love.

“We are all about restoring culture through the experience of virtue. We do that by going to schools, parishes and youth groups, speaking about sexual integrity and dignity of the human person, inviting our culture to become more fully alive in Christ,” shared Tom Costello, a Culture Project California team leader and missionary from New Jersey. “As a young adult community, we are also trying to be witnesses of that mission.”

The Culture Project International is a young, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that started in Pennsylvania in July 2014, and has since expanded to over 30 dioceses across US. Rooted in the teachings of St. John Paul II, the mission focuses on engaging today’s youth to seek purity and holiness in Christ.

In the past two years, the initiative has grown to include a formative mission program with a team of 30 missionaries, and has empowered over 60,000 students nationwide to believe in a culture of love.

“We hone in on the dignity that we have as men and women, and focus on the freedom of living out and reclaiming our sexual integrity,” said Catherine Kilmer, Expansion Officer with the Culture Project. Kilmer also bravely shared her story about being caught up in her high school hookup culture, and how the message of virtue changed her life.

“I remember the late nights, the sticky beer bottles, the morning-after regret…but most of all, I remember the feeling of use. I looked in the mirror one morning and I didn’t like who I saw,” Kilmer said. “But one day, a speaker came to my high school, and he spoke about chastity. The speech absolutely revolutionized the way I thought about myself, others, and how I saw my life. It opened my eyes to the wider Gospel message of Christ and human integrity. I thought about young men and women who, just like me, were settling for less than the best God has to offer. All it took was one speech.”

With today’s high abortion and divorce rates, normalized hookup culture, a porn industry that generates billions of dollars each year, and mixed messages about love and respect, society is up against a lot in the culture.

“There has never been a civilization in the history of the world where the majority of our teachers are relativists, promoting ideas that our moral standards are up to us to decide,” Kilmer noted. “But there is hope and a better way of life, and we are dedicated to uphold that better way.”

On May 5, The Culture Project hosted its first inaugural banquet and fundraising event on the West Coast, in Newport Beach, Calif. Over 80 benefactors, friends, and those interested in the project gathered on the Newport Marina to learn more and hear stories of mission.

Christina Barba, Culture Project founder and executive director, spoke about the project’s purpose and the search for identity in today’s youth.

“Our mission is to simply remind people of who they are and what they are made for, focusing on their inherent dignity, value, and worth,” Barba, whose work has been honored by Our Sunday Visitor and the Students for Life of America, shared. “Every human person is made out of love, created for love. We at the Culture Project believe in love. We believe in the human consent, that love is a total gift of one self, and that authentic friendships are real. We believe that it is possible for two people to make a commitment of love to each other, and to have a faithful, lifelong marriage…and even a happy one, at that! In this day and age, we believe that it is possible.”

Over the past year, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and the archdiocese invited the leadership team, including five missionaries and the national committee, to come to Southern California and spread the Culture Project’s message throughout the region.

“It really started from the ground up, going from parish to parish and door to door. We always had the vision to go beyond the East Coast, beyond Philadelphia,” said Uta Trogele, president of the Culture Project’s California committee. “The diocese really loved the idea. I was traveling a lot and involved for over 10 years in the pro-life movement, and I really feel for the young people. I don’t want them to live the wrong lifestyle; I want them to believe in God and in themselves.”

Outreach missionary Josh Kilmer agreed, “Our whole mission is to tell men and women who they are in the eyes of God. Knowing our identity, we can further convict ourselves of our identity in Christ.”

Costello also talked making a full-time commitment with the Culture Project. “A lot of people think becoming a missionary is taking a year off, but it is really a stepping stone. You have to face yourself and who you are as a person, and our work is an extension of that. We get trained in theology of the body and other certifications, but we also learn how to speak well and do that effectively, and it’s a full commitment to helping young people but also growing as an individual.”

Today, missionaries with the Culture Project travel across the diocese, networking and speaking to Catholic schools, youth and young adult groups about ideals of chastity, modesty, and pure love. In its first year on the West Coast, the initiative has reached out to 83 different parishes, presented to 258 groups, and has changed the narrative on culture to over 8,700 students.

Focusing on personal encounter, faith formation, and living in community, the Culture Project is rooted in prayer and having a deep relationship with God.

“Our work is to be missionaries of encounter,” Costello shared. “Our culture can be restored through the individual encounter, meeting people where they are at.”

“When we go into these schools and remind students of their worth and dignity, how does that not bring joy to your heart?” asked another missionary, Maryrose Richards.

Kerry Ann Caswell from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Irvine applauded the initiative. “The Culture Project touches my heart. As a parent, no matter how cute I dress, I can’t talk to today’s high schoolers about chastity or natural family planning, or to celebrate the way God made their bodies. They won’t buy into the message if we’re not relatable. They need more young people to encourage them to do more than follow the crowd. The more than this is talked about, the more habits and perspectives can really be changed.”

“It’s nice to meet a group of people who share the same desire to promote living to our full potential, who aspire to something higher than what society wants to uphold,” said Ngozi Genevieve Nwosisi, a parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Angels in Irvine.

Barba also thanked the local Orange County and Los Angeles dioceses for their generous support in making the Culture Project a reality on the West Coast.

“We have a wonderful community to support building a sustainable presence here. Our core belief is community,” she said. “We aim to engage and restore the culture in love, particularly the youth, with the hope that just one talk—even just 60 minutes—can change the course of their lives.”

To learn more about the Culture Project, please visit www.restoreculture.com.

 

 

 

CATHEDRAL IN BLOOM

Not only is Christ Cathedral an important center of spiritual life for more than one million Orange County Catholics, but efforts are underway to make it one of the centers of art, music and culture for the community as well. That new life is beginning with two major events this spring, a series of carillon concerts from the 236-foot tall Crean Tower and a double-billed concert featuring music from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and a performance of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The Easter Carillon Concert Series began on March 30 and concerts will be performed from 12:40 p.m.-1 p.m. every Wednesday during the Easter Season through May 11. Despite unusually cool and blustery weather, the grounds around the stainless-steel mirrored spire adjacent to the main cathedral building were alive with people, some with their lunches, waiting for that first concert from the 52-bell carillon on March 30. The program of liturgical music played by carillonneur Melissa Weidner was met with frequent applause from the assembled audience.

On the evening of May 6 the Arboretum will host the concert of “Carmina Burana” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” Maestro Valery Ryvkin conducts and featured soloists are scheduled to include pianist Grace Fong from Chapman University, soprano Maria Cristina Navarro from the Pacific Chorale and tenor Benjamin Brecher from the New York City Opera. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are available online at cathedralproductions.com.

These events are music to the ears of Dr. John Romeri, director of Music Ministries, who knows that they hold both promise and challenge for the cathedral’s future as a cultural venue. “This can be one of the greatest cathedrals in the world,” he says, “and that means a responsibility to provide some of the greatest music in the world.”

Romeri appreciates the challenge posed by the legacy of the late Rev. Robert Schuller, founder and pastor of what was the Crystal Cathedral prior to its purchase by the Diocese of Orange in 2013. “Now the diocese must step forward,” Romeri says, to live up to the world-famous reputation that Schuller built.

Romeri isn’t daunted. He is very proud of the choral groups already in place—the 56-voice Cathedral Choir, the new 90-voice Diocesan Choir, and the Spanish Choir directed by Ricardo Soto—and he looks forward to bringing new generations into the tradition. A new children’s choir will be established by this fall and he sees a day when the Christ Cathedral Academy, a Catholic school teaching children from preschool through eighth grade, will have a choir school. It would be one of only three such schools in the country.

One endeavor that would combine one of the area’s premiere musical institutions with local youngsters is a hoped-for association between Christ Cathedral and the Pacific Symphony. Romeri envisions a time when the symphony may perform concerts with these choirs and provide educational music outreach programs.

Music alone does not a cultural center make, however. The 2016-17 season of the Christ Cathedral Drama Series is already in place. Saint Luke Productions will present four theatrical productions between August 2016 and April 2017. They depict the lives of some of the most inspirational figures in Catholic history, “Faustina,” “Saint Francis,” “Therese,” and “Vianney.” More information and tickets for these productions can be found at ccdramaseries.com.

The fine arts will also figure in the cathedral’s future. The upper floors of the Cultural Center, designed by world-renowned architect Richard Meier, will host world-class traveling artistic and spiritual exhibits. “The Vatican Splendors exhibit is on display right now at the Ronald Reagan Library,” he notes. “There’s no reason why an exhibit like that couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be on display right here.”

As with every artistic institution, Christ Cathedral needs funding for its ambitious projects. “I have great ideas,” Romeri says. “All I need is the funding to make them real.” Any business, organization or individual who wants to contribute to this part of Orange County’s cultural life can visit christcathedralcalifornia.org. He says no donation is too small. “We can find a little something for anyone to donate to.”

Exhibits at the Cultural Center depict the renovations and refurbishments taking place to transform the former Crystal Cathedral into the center for Catholic worship, showing the Christ Cathedral campus as a work of art itself.

It’s easy for visitors to run an errand only to find themselves spending time wandering the grounds, finding a new wonder around each corner.

 

CHEWED OR BREWED: A BRIEF HISTORY OF POPES AND COCA LEAVES

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2015 / 04:21 pm (CNA) – Pope Francis might chew coca leaves – or maybe sip coca tea – during his visit to Bolivia next week, the Vatican has said.

Bolivian Culture Minister Marko Machicao told local media that Francis had asked to chew coca leaves in the country, one of several stops during his visit to South America July 5-13.

The coca leaf, whose daily use and cultural importance in the Andes region rivals that of coffee in the United States, is embroiled in controversy in the international community because of its use as the main ingredient in the addictive drug, cocaine.

In 1961, the U.N. convention on narcotic drugs declared coca an illegal substance, and tried to phase out its cultural use by 1989 – but the local coca culture refused to die.

Many indigenous Bolivians believe the coca leaf to be sacred, and people of all social classes can be found either drinking the plant’s tea or chewing its leaves throughout the country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer himself, has staunchly defended the plant as a cornerstone of his country’s culture and economy, fighting for the use of the plant in its natural form.

Morales has revived the natural coca economy, and Bolivia now turns out coca products ranging from flour to toothpaste, shampoo and lotions.

“This leaf,” Morales told a 2007 U.N. General Assembly, “represents…the hope of our people.”

A number of international studies, including one published by Harvard University, found raw coca leaves to be packed with nutrients including protein, calcium, iron and other vitamins. A 1995 World Health Organisation report said there were “no negative health effects” from coca use in leaf form.

In its natural form, coca leaves have a mild stimulant effect considered similar to coffee, and they can be chewed or brewed into tea to fight hunger, exhaustion or altitude sickness – likely the reason Pope Francis might partake of the plant upon his arrival in the country.

And he’s following in his predecessor’s footsteps – Pope John Paul II drank tea made from coca leaves during his 1988 visit to Bolivia, and Pope Paul VI is reported to have drank the tea during a visit to the Andes region in 1968. Queen Sophia of Spain, and the British Princess Anne, are also said to have partaken in the plant in its natural form.

When asked if the Pope would have some coca leaves or tea in Bolivia, Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi said he couldn’t confirm what the Pope would do one way or another, though he acknowledged that Pope Francis likes to take part in local cultures.

“(I) wouldn’t be surprised because the Pope likes taking part in popular customs. The Pope will do as he sees fit. From what I know there are ways of dealing with the altitudes that form part of popular culture: some drink a sort of mate tea, others chew coca leaves. The Pope hasn’t talked to me about what he plans to do, we shall see. We’ll see if he follows local customs.”