Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christ and the Ballot Box

Red vs Blue.  Because that's literally all there is.  Or not.
Well, its the day after election day, the day where 50% of the country are lividly bemoaning the death of the the free world as we know it, and the other 50% are exuberantly celebrating the bright future of the nation.  Today is a special day.  Very seldom can we accurately predict that half the country are giddy and the other half forlorn.  All joking aside, these days after the Presidential election provides an excellent opportunity for reflection.  Here we are left in the great aftermath of the quadrennial clashing of the Conservative and the Progressive.  We see, in stark detail the expose of two very old and prominent philosophic systems, the preservation of the traditional and the genesis of the new.

I hope these things go down in history
as America's greatest contribution to
I'll be honest, both are good.  Our culture has rich history and this country has been forged from generations of beautiful and diverse traditions.  It also has been a great engine of novelty, revolutionizing the global community in ways ranging from Jazz music to atomic bombs to Pillow Pets.  I'm not here to discuss whether we ought to be Republican or Democrat or just throw in the towel and vote Ron Paul next time, but I do think we had ought to ask one vital question:  Where lies the Christian in this balance?  When the society is split in great political cacophony, where is the Christian?

It's a trick question! To suggest that Christianity is invested in either one side or the other is to fundamentally misunderstand Christianity in the first place.  You see, politics is a very human creation.  At its broadest sense, politics is the attempt of imperfect beings to mitigate their imperfections.  In our political interactions, we are imperfect beings who interact with each other in order to dampen the effects of our own mutual imperfections.  These effects can be relatively simple things like hunger, lack of shelter, or territorial issues, or they can be complex, such as authoritative and ideological conflict.  Politics exist where there is lack in the world; as long as human beings have needs and wants, we will be a political species.  Christianity, being religion, differs from politics in that it is not imperfect beings interacting with imperfect beings for the purpose of mitigating imperfection, but imperfect beings interacting with Perfection Itself, with God, for the purpose of actually becoming perfect.

Politics, love them or hate them, are inevitable, given that we remain imperfect and interactive.  Unless we somehow attain perfection (yeah right) or become totally isolated from each other (this might actually be doable...), we're going to be political.  However, politics cannot achieve perfection.  Inevitable as they may be, politics are still imperfect by nature, leaving man in need of more, of religion.  Because politics can only give us strategies and systems to cope with our shared imperfections rather than attain perfection, humans are in need of religion.  When we are faced with our own imperfections, we will of course find pragmatic (political) ways of alleviating it, but we will ultimately seek, and subsequently worship, an image of perfection (preferably God, although not always).  Politics cannot solve our personal imperfection, only those imperfections that arise with  We are inherently religious.
"That's not philosophy you pansy,
suck it up and keep reading!"

Did you survive that philosophy?  Take a deep breath.  Process it all.  Heck, go grab yourself an espresso, you deserve it.  Now, where were we... That's right, Christianity's place in politics.  Moving on...

Christians must resist the urge to imprison their faith to politics.  Christianity is no political system, because at its heart, it is not man relating to man, but men relating to Son of Man.  If you seek to be a disciple of Christ, if you want to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth, you must move beyond politics.  Jesus Christ was no politician.  He had no civil office, he ran for no election, his most significant interaction with the political system resulted in his crucifixion.  Why?  Because Christianity's enemy is not political.  Because we cannot solve the problems inherent to our nature.  You and I and everyone else are imperfect beings, we are lacking, all because of Sin.  Sin is not a political problem, its a crisis of the soul.  We will never resolve Sin in the voting booth, nor can we ever expect the government to complete what we Christians have the duty to do.  Christians are tasked, not to build good government, but to build good souls.  The crux of Christianity is not in how patriotic we are, but in the extent that we have striven for holiness.

Be careful where you tread, O Christian.  "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes" (Ps. 118:9)  Our hope is not in the Elephant or the Donkey, but in the Lamb of God.  The success of Christianity doesn't rest in political hands, but in pierced hands.  Whether your guy won or lost today is irrelevant to your duty as a Christian.  You are called to be Christ to the world.  Period.  There is nothing else.  Your vote should reflect this, your actions should reflect this, your life should reflect this.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recently came across this quote and feel it is perfect inspiration for what we seek to offer at STARR. "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always starte withthe person nearest to you." Bessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No More Bad Religion

Well this is certainly a new sight...
As autumn rapidly approaches, we find ourselves rushing towards our quadrennial (once every 4 years) national ritual of vehemently  hating at least 50% of the population of the country, based almost entirely on whether they are red or blue, elephant or donkey, conservative or liberal, and so on and so forth.  Neighbor hating upon neighbor, Conservative older generations against liberal younger generations (or vice versa), everyone's barbecues and picnics ruined by squabbles until November blows over, all of which done with star-spangled hearts.  Now, far be it from me to interfere with our national tradition, but I have noticed that when we draw our political battle lines, we tend to draw them in other aspects of our lives, or at least we tend to emphasize them more... emphatically (yes, its a redundant word... just work with me here, I'm no English major).  Now, being a (mediocre) practitioner of Catholicism, I tend to ignore the battle lines drawn in realms like psychology and humanities and theatre (are there even polarizing debates in the realm of theatre?), mostly because I tend to be indifferent/ ignorant towards them.  However, whenever I find there to be these lines drawn in Holy Mother Church, I think its worth mentioning, perhaps even worth and outcry of sorts.

Now, before you scratch your head wondering why this has anything to do with STARR, or get angry because you've assumed my stance on either side of this fight (which, in this post, I have not), I ask you kindly to read on...

Now, politics are split between big government and little government (somewhat), and psychology divided between nurture vs. nature (or so I've been told), and theatre between... whatever it is that thespians debate about.  In Catholicism, the predominant polarizing debate typically lies here:  Social Justice vs. Traditional Values.  Unfortunately, it was never supposed to be a debate at all.

Let's set the stage, using a painfully rushed and stereotypical simplification of each side  On the so-called "left", you have the social justice Catholic.  These Catholics tend to place their emphasis on the issues of... you guessed it: social justice.  They wish to greatly emphasize the need for Catholics to serve the poor, to alleviate suffering, to resist greed and elitism and what not.  They aim to be accepting, inviting, and welcoming, and often find themselves at odds with some of the Church's more controversial teachings.  On the side deemed "right", you find the traditional values Catholic.  There is (stereo)typically an odor of incense surrounding these types, as their attention goes to liturgy, to moral teachings, and to near fanatical devotion to the Pope.  They have a love and affinity for the rich tradition of Catholicism, their kids are named after no less than 19 saints, and all their favorite hymns are in Latin (some of them even possibly being in Koine Greek.)  Where the left tends to be in disagreement on the controversial issues, the right is in absolute agreement with them, so much to the extent that these issues seem to dominate their focus and fill them with a horrible distaste for the current worldview.  They tend to dislike the other, with the left accusing the right of being unsympathetic, rejecting Christ's loving and welcoming nature, while the right accuses the left of being unfounded, rejecting Christ's foundation in the truth for the sake of relevancy, popularity, and fair-play.  So here's our debate.  Left vs. Right, loving acceptance vs firm truths, Social Justice vs. Traditional Values.  Its present, its widespread, and most of all, its really really really boring.

Now I'm no scholar of Sacred Scripture, I'm merely a humble commentator with little to know qualification to be commentating, but I do know this:  there was never meant to be a division in the Body of Christ.  We were never meant to be divided, to be split, to be politicized.  The conflict is a festering wound on the Body of Christ, a reminder that, though the King be perfect, the Kingdom is made up of ridiculously imperfect humans.  The main issue behind the debate is the illusion of division, brought on by the assumption that the Church is only as big as we can envision it.  Thus, when we envision Church in the streets and the slums, we wonder how any Catholic could dwell in gilded, ornate, lofty cathedrals, and we quickly conclude that they must be wrong and we must be right.  Or, when we see the great beauty and tradition of the Church's timeless and enduring tradition of faith and morals, we wonder how anyone could find themselves affirming those people living contrary to that tradition and concluded that they must be wrong and we must be right.  In truth, both are wrong and both are right, entirely because both have envisioned a Church that is too small.

Catholicism is not a religion of either one vision or the other vision.  It is a Church of both/and.  We do not all choose between lives of comfort and austerity, we are a religion in which both desert hermits and kings are saints.  We find people like St. Thomas More, a man well-off and influential who, when pressed, stood firm in his faith and paid for it with his life, yet we also find our dear St. Francis, who gave up everything to serve the poor and downtrodden.  These men are together in the Communion of Saints, not divided, but in full understanding of their roles in the Body of Christ.


Christianity is not a matter of either serving the poor or standing firm in the teachings of the Church.  Christianity is a matter of as Christ put in his own words, coming to "Love one another as I have loved you."  (John 15:12) It requires us to know how Christ loved us and to love each other in such a way.  Christianity is the inseparable bond of unstoppable Love and immovable Truth.  Our mission is to accept everyone in the truth, and we cannot sacrifice either for the advancement of the other.  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

In the midst of the political wars, it is important to avoid the temptation to politicize Christianity.  We are not about policies or platforms, we are about Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh.  The whole world, in all time and space is looking at us, silently asking us to prove all these things we claim, that God became Man, that Death is not the end, that Life can be eternal, and that the most fundamental truth behind everything is that we really are loved infinitely and eternally.  We are given the mission to let the whole world know that Jesus Christ lives, and we have no way of doing so except serving the unservable, believing the unbelievable, hoping in the hopeless, and loving the unlovable.  We're called to be Christ to the people.

STARR will only succeed to the extent that it seeks this goal.  Marian will only succeed to the extent that it seeks this goal.  You, my brother/sister in Jesus Christ, will only succeed to the extent that you achieve this goal.  In ordinary things and extraordinary things, let the world know Jesus Christ.  In great speeches and quiet words, speak of a God who loves unconditionally.  In great outreaches of relief and gentle touches, heal the wounded in His Name.  Everything you do, deeds great and deeds small, whether it be in lofty towers or the slums of the streets, let the whole world see Jesus Christ, alive in you.

You can never have enough pictures of Mother Teresa, her face
shining with a love that this world is so desperately needing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working with Marian University Students

Last Friday, over 30 students showed up for our first STARR(Students Taking Active Reflective Roles) program of the 2012 Fall Semester. It does my heart good to see our young adults gather weekly to pray, reflect and serve.  It is a source of empowerment for me to see the unselfish desire to "get dirty for a good cause," (quote from a Marian graduate) and learn more about feeding hungry people in Indianapolis.  The energy, commitment, passion that these students bring to service is a sign, to me, of God alive in our world.  I am ever grateful that I have the blessing of working with such as these!  Peace, Jeanne 

Photo Page

Welcome back to Marian University S.T.A.R.R. Be sure to check out the photo link at the top of the page. There will be weekly updates from miscellaneous sites. If you have photos you would like to contribute, see myself or Joe Gehret at any of the S.T.A.R.R. gatherings.

Peace in Christ,

Caleb Ringwald

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome to Poverty

Welcome, one and all, to another exciting semester of Marian University STARR!  For all you returning folk, welcome back, glad to have you.  For all you new folk to STARR, a hearty welcome, and thank you for responding to the call to serve.  Here at STARR, we're committed to the service of fellow man, both here at Marian and the surrounding community, and taking the time to reflect upon those experiences, understanding how they fit into our lives as Christian college students.

The little white lines are pieces of your soul,
forever lost to some bank of servers
at the Facebook headquarters.
 That's where we come in, and by we, I mean STARR blog.  We here at STARR blog understand that we live in a generation of young whippersnappers who like to use the interweb to do practically everything that used to require some form of genuine interaction.  Rather than genuinely talk, we engage in the ever-thrilling Facebook comment war.  We do our shopping on line, our socializing, our planning, our writing, etc.  Heck, even romance, which used to be done by engaging in such ancient customs as conversation, travelling, personal relationship, and self-vulnerability, is now engaged in safe behind the screen of digital glory.  These times sure are a-changing, and the STARR community is willing to change with them.  So, in order to facilitate much of the "reflecting" part of the STARR experience (STARR = Students Taking Active Reflective Roles), we've created STARR blog, using the all-powerful, soul-consuming power of the webbernet (because the word "internet" is sooo passe) to convey some good old fashion reflections on Christian service, Catholic social teaching, and other cool pertinent things.

Starting this year, we here are STARR blog want to spend good chunks reflecting on specific themes.  As our first blog theme this semester, we (and by we, we mean me) decided that the theme of poverty would be a wonderful reflection theme.  Because let's face it, if it weren't for poverty, STARR would be out of a job.  If there wasn't some sort of discrepancy in the world, if there wasn't some need that needed filled, there'd be no reason beyond sentimentality for an organization dedicated to selfless service to exist.  So we have to seek to understand what it is we're fighting.

Luckily for you, Joe's got you covered.  Besides a slew of rambling thoughts on poverty from my own skull, I've consulted with some folks who actually have experience in the realm of poverty, as in missionary work in Haiti, China, Kenya, El Salvador, and Ghana.  As the semester progresses, I will share with you their experiences and thoughts on true poverty, and we'll all learn from their wisdom and experience.

But for know, lets look at poverty on a local level.  Poverty is an important subject.  As long as man has been rich, he has also been poor, and understanding the nature of those two things is crucial to understanding the nature of man himself.  What in us drives us to be so rich, and what in us causes us to be so poor?  The great temptation is to assume that the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich and the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor, and that assisting them in any direct way would only serve to enable them.  While it may be true, this mentality all too often stems, not from concern for the person, but as a justification for our indifference.  Yes, handing money to a homeless person on the street might be patronizing or enabling, but sitting down and talking to him isn't.  Assumptions about poverty are dangerous, not just for the sake of the poor, but for our sake.  When we neglect the poor, either by ignoring them or by writing off our reluctance to aid them as being for their benefit, we risk our own soul.  We deceive ourselves, we somehow come to believe that we're any better than them, that no matter the circumstances, we'd never make the decisions that they have made to get where they are at.  Truthfully, we make them out to be less than human.  And that's wrong.
"What, give him compassion?  Nah, he'd probably spend it on booze anyways." 

So, all things considered, I'd like to make a proposal, I'm going to call it "Welcome to Poverty".  What I want all you awesome peoples to do is to carve a chunk of your time each day and find poverty in your own life.  How are you, like those without money, also poor?  Money is not the only inequality in this world, nor is it the measure of the value of a man.  So, in order to understand poverty, I want all of us to become poor, or rather, to realize that we've always been poor, making us no better than any beggar, panhandler, hobo, or what-have-you.  Think, or even better, pray that you might come to know your own poverty.  Take the time to deprive yourself for the sake of the poor, whether it be money, time, consideration, or (most importantly) pride.  Empty yourself a little bit, so that they might be full.  Step down from society's lofty heights, so that they might look a little taller.  Take the time each day to think, and welcome to Poverty.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sin, Service, and Social Justice from the Confessional

Most people, if not the overwhelming majority of people, tend to think that there is something generally dysfunctional about our world, that there's something amiss about our global culture, varying from people saying that the entire world is evil (A view I particularly dislike) to saying that all we need is world peace and everything will be spiffy (I also generally dislike this view).  Regardless of the degree or sort of malaise we might attribute our world's imperfection to, we can come to a fairly solid consensus that the world is in need of remedying.

"Oh!  There's you in the garbage heaps of Port au Prince,
cradling a starving child... Um, here I am, nicely dressed
in a massive basilica... so yeah..."
This being said, I'm finding it increasingly encouraging that more and more people (at least people that I know) are stepping up to the plate with a desire to do mission and social work (recession be damned, we've got bigger problems than securing a pension! Hoo-ah!)  Whether it be a friend of mine making trips to El Salvador, China, and Haiti (and probably Africa, eventually) every time I seem to turn around, or my little sister who shows interest in Latin America mission work, or my activist cousins, I've been seeing a rise in activists, missionaries, and social workers seeking to combat the commonly held notion that our world needs some fixing.  In truth, I feel a bit sheepish about my rather comfortable life in the seminary, working to become a Catholic priest in the ever needy region of.... Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, and God's Country.  Not exactly the slums of Haiti, as I've come to see in countless Facebook pictures.  

Don't get me wrong, I've done some pretty cool service work with STARR and the seminary, assisting the mentally handicapped, feeding several shantytowns of homeless quite literally out of the trunk of my car, raising and razing houses in the "ghettos" of Indianapolis's near East Side.  But, I also have an air-conditioned room, a car, health insurance, and a pretty secure career path, unless of course, a massive persecution breaks out, in which case, I'll live a pretty sweet life underground.  But I digress.  As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “There are 200 million poor in the world who would gladly take the vow of poverty if they could eat, dress and have a home like I do."

So what about the seminarians, priests, and religious of the world living rather nicely in the States, probably never going to set foot into true poverty?  How are we to fight the evil of the world?  Well, you see, we look at the world's evils in a bit of a different light than the missionaries and social justice heroes.  Take sexual slavery, which was front and center here in Indianapolis (The Super Bowl is one of the highest occasions for sex trafficking in the world.).  Sex trafficking is a horrible crime, absolutely devastating and disgusting, etc. etc.  In today's world, there are more slaves than there have ever been, most for sexual servitude.  In the United States alone, there are over 100,000 children forced into sexual slavery.  Yes.  Even here.

Fighting sin and evil like a boss
So what's a seminarian/future priest to do to address the problem?  Hear confessions and celebrate Mass.  No, seriously.  Those are our weapons, and many many people don't realize how potent they really are.  You see, slave traders aren't born as slave traders.  They're born as children, sons and daughters of mothers and fathers, like you and I.  Its what happens after their born and before they sell or buy their first human being that shapes them into slave traders.  They are created by a culture laced with sin, and appear as the horrifying anomalies of that culture.  Our culture, saturated with sexuality (almost exclusively unhealthy, unnatural sexuality) makes for lots and lots of sexually dysfunctional people.  People with a consumeristic view of human sexuality.  We seek, to a lesser or greater extent, to consume sexual pleasure like we consume food or entertainment.  We've made porn and strip clubs so normal in our culture, and they engender within us the notion that other people's bodies are object for consumption rather than treasures for honor and love.  Thus, we find the odd collective of people who go to horrific ends to profit from such a notion.  

The Catholic priesthood, in its own distinct way, is tasked to fight that.  Before it ever develops into sex slavery,  or starvation, or war,  or the other terrifying evils of our modern world, the priest (and every other Christian) is tasked to kill it at the root.  Priests hear confessions and celebrate Mass because, unlike any other experience known to man, it is in the Sacraments of Jesus Christ that the battle against evil becomes most sublime.  It is in the confessional that the a man's lust is combated and forgiven, before it drives him to consume another.  It is in the Mass that Jesus Christ, through the priest, compels people to abandon their selfishness and pride, before it compels them into apathy for the struggles of anyone but themselves.

As a future diocesan priest in the U.S., I may not get to feed the poorest of the poor.  But I'll fight my hardest against greed, the root of poverty.  I may not rescue the child traded in slavery, but I'll exhaust myself to the last breath to fight against the objectification and dehumanization of others.  Ultimately, I may not be the boots on the ground in the battle against poverty, starvation, and injustice, but I can guarantee that I'll be in the fight.

Learn a lesson from the priesthood.  Learn a lesson from all those invested in the battle for souls:  Not everyone is called to walk with the poor, but everyone is called to fight what makes them poor.  No matter how much aid money, how many cases of Plumpy-Nut, however many wells we drill and wars we fight, we'll never end evil unless we strike it at the root.  Our culture's greatest sins:  poverty, starvation, war, abortion, slavery, etc, are directly resulting from our own sins, no matter how small those sins may be.  We might think "My cocaine usage isn't hurting anyone," but we fail to see how Latin America has been torn to pieces by drug cartels, who are hell bent to see that you get your next gram of coke.  We might think "Its just some porn, its not that bad."  But you're only buying into a system of objectification, humiliation, and sexual consumption that's breeding some of our society's most horrific evils:  abortion, slavery, sexual abuse, gender discrimination, depression, suicide, the destruction of families, the devastation of marriages.  Our society is at the brink of nothing short of falling apart at the seams from the amount of rampant, immature, insincere sexuality.  The human heart is becoming increasingly empty and devoid from lust, because the more we feed our lustful hunger, the less capable we become of truly and genuinely loving each other.  And that, my friends, is killing us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

3 Keys to Better Ministry

Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest, university professor (Yale; Harvard School of Divinity), and the author of many books on Christian spirituality.

In Spiritual Direction he talks about developing "The 3 Disciplines of the Spiritual Life." They are:
  1. Solitude
  2. Community
  3. Ministry
Solitude is our 1-on-1 time with God. It's where we come to know ourselves as beloved by God, and created with a purpose. Spending time in communion with God fills us up and allows us to move into...

Community: This is where we encounter others and create a space of welcome between us, where all are free to love God and one another. Here, we affirm the goodness we see in one another, and the overflow of that community causes us to engage in...

Ministry: sharing our gifts and belovedness with a world in need. Ministry is the natural response of someone who knows they are blessed, and who seeks to share that with the world.

The interesting thing about the three disciplines is that, for them to work, they must be practiced in order.

To serve someone (Ministry), I must first acknowledge the goodness in that person (Community). I cannot know that my neighbor has worth and value unless I know first that I am valued by God (Solitude). Then I can recognize that my sisters and brothers are also beloved by God. It's all tied together.

Why is this important?

At STARR, we minister to our brothers and sisters in need. We have built up a community of students, in partnership with many sites throughout Indianapolis. But the thing is... if we don't spend time outside of STARR in solitude, we might not be giving our all. Taking the time to discern what your gifts are, and asking God in prayer how you are called to serve the world, will better equip you to make an impact at STARR and beyond.

Solitude. Community. Ministry. 
Do them in order!

Monday, April 9, 2012


"Alas, I've been blinded by the
Golden Rule!"
In the early years of Christianity, as a converted Paul tread his way across the eastern Mediterranean world, he carried with him what the New Testament called "dunamis", the Greek word that we distilled "dynamite" from.  "Dunamis", very roughly translated, means "power" or "excellence" and referred to Paul's good news.  Now, this was not news of "I've found this great moral teaching!  This Jesus guy has some great ideas of how to live a moral life, you should all listen!"  No, the Jews seemed pretty content with their Mosaic law, and the Greeks with their philosophy and logic. Paul barely touched on the moral teachings of Christ.  To Paul, the true dunamis, the true power of this new Christian sect was in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Paul fascinated Jew and Greek alike with the message of Jesus's death and resurrection, something that baffled and confounded all who heard it.  It was this message that had him tread all across the Roman Empire and suffer much persecution, and eventually to die a martyr's death.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Could We be Doing to Ourselves?

A psychologist on how we are becoming more connected and yet more alone. She speaks of how we need to stop concerning ourselves with being connected and begin actually communicating with live people around us and to listen to our own thoughts and hearts. “Because it’s when we stumble or hesitate or lose our words that we reveal ourselves to each other.”

It is worth watching. If you do not have much time, watch the first five minutes or so, then skip to about 16:30. Great things to consider this weekend while home with family and slowed down from classes and all...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Be a Saint!

Fr. Robert Barron, explaining sainthood and our call to holiness

Monday, March 12, 2012

PovertyCure Event

From the Office of Catholic Charities and Family Ministries, Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

"We will be privileged to host Mr. Michael Miller, one of the co-founders of PovertyCure ( at the Catholic Center on Wednesday, March 14th from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. LUNCH WILL BE INCLUDED.
I would like to personally invite you to join us on March 14th.
Mr. Miller has been traveling the world for the past 2 years and would like to share his observations about possible solutions to poverty throughout the world and hear from those who have experience working directly with the poor. Mr. Miller is interested in adding to his own observations the observations and lessons learned from others in the United States who have real-life experience in ministry on the ground around the world.
I have invited the pastors and committee members of parishes that have parish twinning relationships, and our Catholic Charities agency directors. I thought that you council and board members would also be interested in participating in this conversation.
Would you please:
I hope that you will join us!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony 2012: From a Christian Perspective

In case you happen to lack Facebook, or just haven't checked it in the past week, you've missed out on the latest and greatest viral video campaign known as KONY 2012. (Skip this paragraph if you've seen the video) In short, this 28 minute video is a campaign to bring infamy to Joseph Kony, the guerrilla leader of the LRA, a rebel army group in central Africa responsible for incredible amounts of  violence, death, and displacement.  The LRA is responsible for the abduction of 30,000 children for purpose of sex slaves and child soldiers.  The campaign calls on people to make the name of Joseph Kony known worldwide, so that the policy-makers of the western world resolve a push for the arrest and prosecution of Joseph Kony.  The video is indeed impressive, and well made, and certainly moving.  However, even more impressive to me is the battle it caused.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Name is Gabby and I'm an Artist.

“Hi. I'm John.” A slender man with a navy-blue hat introduced himself and smiled as he joined our table. “Hi John,” I replied. “I'm Gabby, and this is Michael. We're coloring pictures. Would you like some paper and crayons?” John said he would, and we fell into silence for a few moments. 

There was a kind of understanding between us; that of three weary souls who had finished a long day's work. To be sure, there are some enthusiastic folks at Noble of Indiana. But during this particular visit, I was drawn to Michael, who sat apart quietly, and was okay with moments of silence in our conversation.

As we focused on our pictures, a house began taking shape on mine, with a small tree beside it. I looked over at Michael's paper and saw that he had drawn a house, as well. I commented on his drawing; he commented on mine, and John showed us the airplane he drew, featuring himself as the pilot. Then we got busy with a second drawing.

This time, I opted for a pair of hearts, using pink, red, and orange crayons. I worked diligently shading the background and outlining the figures... Then I stopped. Looking up from my drawing, I realized that John was watching me. Before I could ask him why he was staring, John inquired, “Do you study art in college?” I blushed. He wasn't kidding. Looking down at my 4th-grade-level masterpiece, I replied, “No.” “Oh,” was the simple reply. “You're very good.”

John went back to work on his picture, and I thought about what he had just said. Heaven knows I'm no Picasso! But my crayon hearts aren't too shabby. I always thought that being an artist meant showing uniqueness in an outstanding way. But the point of this story is not that I will now switch my major, or host an upcoming exhibit in the Fisher Hall Art Gallery. On the contrary, what I learned from coloring with John and Michael is that each of us has little gifts that can make a big difference in the lives of others.

What are your gifts? What are the little talents you have that others are not so fortunate to have? How are you called to be a responsible steward of your gifts, and share them with others?

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
             – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Opportunities to Serve

If you are one with initiative, drive, and a heart for community service, I suggest you continue reading.  If you hate children, service, or anything that has to do with selfless giving or commitments to others, I suggest you stop reading.  In fact, if you are the latter, I wonder why you read this blog at all.

Anyhoo, if you're the charitable saint in the making who is torn up because there is not STARR this weekend, have I got good news for you!  This Friday, the beginning of spring break, a group of our beloved Marian University students, under the capable leadership of  Billy Thompson, are going to Miracle Place to volunteer time with children!  They depart at 3:25 from Doyle Hall Lobby, and there are only 2 seats in the car left.  So act quickly!  Email Billy at to reserve your seat on this once in a Friday opportunity.  Their time of return is up for debate.  Quite honestly, I'm not entirely convinced they are coming back at all... Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fasting and Feasting

Lent should be more than a time of fasting.
It should be a joyous season of feasting.
Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others.
It is a season in which we should:
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from thought of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on the phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on hope.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

By: William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Voices to End Hunger Conference

It's Ash Wednesday, and many of us Catholics (especially lazy Catholics like me), are fasting for the first time since Good Friday last year, and are naturally feeling pretty hungry right now.  However, there exists in our world those who are always this hungry, and our call as Christians is to seek to ease that hunger.  One of the many ways we can do that is to attend the Voices to End Hunger Conference Banquet this March 3, 2012, at the Christian Theological Seminary.  If your heart hungers for more information, please email Jeanne Hidalgo at .  In the meanwhile, good luck with the Lenten fasting and penance!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Challenges for a Holy Lent: Penance and Preparation

As Catholics, we have the age old practice of honoring the season of Lent with actions of penance, such as denying ourselves of something that gives us pleasure, pledging to do something good, or kicking a bad habit.  If you're like most people and are still uncertain of what to give up for Lent, here's 20 practical, challenging ideas for preparing your soul for Holy Week. 

  • Don’t eat the last bite of your food
  • Park at the very back of the parking lot
  • Put a popcorn kernel in your shoe every day
  • Don’t use your apps
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Pray the “Hail Mary” and do an ab crunch for every single word
  • Stop complaining and/or being negative
  • Give up texting and call whoever you need to talk to
  • Don’t use utensils
  • Give away 10 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and a pair of shoes
  • When you wake up, jump out of bed, kiss the floor, and learn humility
  • Wear the same 4 outfits for all of lent
  • Everyday do 20 (or 100) pushups and offer it up for someone who’s sick
  • Leave a post-it with a positive message on it wherever you go
  • Cut out all screen-time (phone, TV, computer) after dinner
  • Use your weekends to babysit for free
  • Send a different person an affirmation email every day of Lent
  • Don’t straighten or curl your hair
  • Sit and stand up straight – don’t slouch!
  • Every day take a picture of something or someone you’re grateful for and hang the pictures in your room

  • Like many posts recently put on here, this list was stolen.  I found it on

    I challenge you:  Do something beyond what you'd normally do for Lent.  I mean seriously, you're giving up chocolate again?  Really original.  Christ was in the desert fasting for 40 days, you can do 40 days with something a little more spiritually exerting than a chocolate fast.  Just like an athlete improves to the degree they exercise their muscles, so it is with our soul.  Do you want to be holy?  Then challenge yourself this Lent.

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    Loneliness Sucks

    This post is a guest post hijacked from the blog BadCatholic.  Originally authored by Marc Barnes. (If you happen to be said person, forgive me for hijacking your post.)

    There is nothing, for instance, particularly undemocratic about kicking your butler downstairs. It may be wrong, but it is not unfraternal. – G.K Chesterton
    There are two ways of being by yourself. One is to be alone – a fantastic and human desire – and the other is to be lonely.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Be the Change in Someone Else's Life

    Watch this video (its about  10 minutes) and see how mere pocket change and generousity can change people's lives. 

    In our lives, we are not always called to do extraordinary things.  Sometimes, we are called to do very ordinary things with extraordinary love.

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Saints Who Served: Episode the Third, St. Zita

    St. Zita was born into a poor but holy Christian family. Her older sister became a Cistercian nun and her uncle Graziano was a hermit whom the local people regarded as a saint. Zita herself always tried to do God's will obediently whenever it was pointed out to her by her mother. At the age of twelve Zita became a housekeeper in the house of a rich weaver in Lucca, Italy, eight miles from her home at Monte Sagrati.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Java for Justice THIS SAT the 28th featuring Marion student band Dreaming in Color

    Local Marion band, Dreaming in Color, will be one of the featured performers during this Saturday, Jan. 28th, Java for Justice Event: A Night with Rebuilding the Wall.

    The event will feature three local musicians, singer-songwriters and spoken word poets to include local Rtw neighborhood youth. We will also have food catered by one of our newest Rtw families and fair trade coffee will be on tap. The highlight of the eve, at 8pm, will celebrate our six construction crew members who passed national construction certification. Come celebrate with us!

    Fletcher Place Arts & Books
    642 Virginia Ave.
    Indy, 46203

    Inquiries to or 317-925-9789. Check out our Facebook event at Rebuilding the Wall's group page.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Welcome Back!

    Its a New Year, a new semester, and a new day! Welcome back to Marian University!  This is your very friendly reminder of several things: 
    1. STARR commences this Friday, January 13!  Come and join us and kick off the new semester the right way, with a few hours of service.
    2. Invite your friends to come and check out STARR blog!  With the coming semester, we hope to expand our blog and make it a service based social connection for Marian students and all interested in the spirit of service.
    3. Spread the word about STARR!  If you're like me and failed to come up with a resolution before Lady Gaga dropped the Times Square Ball, make your resolution to go to STARR as much as possible!
    That is all!  Blessings and salutations.