iPod Shuffle: The Gateway To Your Soul

OK, I'm stretching a little for a discussion topic today. I apologize for not having any profound revelations to dispense at the moment, but hey...it's Friday!

In an idea I "borrowed" from Sarah Lane's blog, I decided to set my iPod to Shuffle and list the first 10 songs it plays, giving a brief explanation about each. I listen to a lot of music, and some of it isn't exactly "Catholic-friendly."

So this blog has some potential.

Here goes...

1. "Without You" by Dirty Vegas:

This is an older song, but my DJ roots are still strong. Electronica has a special place in my heart, whether its house, techno, drum & bass, or trip hop. This track is most recognized as a theme song for a Mitsubishi Eclipse years ago:

2. "Little Wing" by Stevie Ray Vaughn:

I first heard this song in high school. A friend/band mate was interning at a local radio station, and snatched up one of several CD's they were giving away. While I haven't picked up my guitar in years, hearing this song makes me sad that I stopped playing. Rest in peace, Stevie.

Fun guitar fact: SRV used extremely heavy gauge strings on his guitars, giving it that unique sound. If you're a guitar player, you know that those tricky blues bends are tough to do with heavier strings.

3. "Time" by The Dream Traveller:

The first cut from Paul Oakenfold's Tranceport CD. It took me a while to actually enjoy anything mixed by Oakey; my favorite U.K. DJ is Tony De Vit. While my skills were never as good as theirs, even a kid playing Little League knows who his idols are.

This particular track reminds me of long drives across the country, driving a van and taking pics for students at different colleges in the U.S.

4. "Holy Is the Lord (live)" by Chris Tomlin:

The first time I heard this song was with Father Andrew-Carl Wisdom, OP: Vocations Director for the Order of Preachers, Central Province. Two others with me, considering a life with the Dominicans. Father Wisdom showed a DVD made by one of the novices, chronicling their year at the novitiate. This was the theme song.

I feel a deeper connection with the live version of this song. Perhaps it reminds me of the Dominicans. Perhaps the end of the track, where the crowd continues to sing after the music ends, is something far more touching than anything produced in a recording studio.

5. "107.3" by iTrip:

Not really a song, but its listed on the iPod as a song, and unfortunately works its way into a random song shuffle. The iTrip is an inexpensive FM Transmitter for the iPod that allows you to listen without connecting anything to your car stereo. If you don't have a cassette adapter, or maybe your deck only plays CD's, you can set the channel and play your iPod through your car speakers for about 30 bucks. (iTrip at Amazon.com)

6. "Step In the Name (remix)" by R. Kelly: Yes! Yes! I admit it! I still listen to R. Kelly. Yeah yeah, I know about everything that went down, and I heard all the ugly stories about what happened, but I'm sorry...I'm a sucker for a good song.

Doesn't that make you want to get up and dance?

7. "Against All Odds" by The Postal Service:

Remember me talking about "others looking at joining the Dominicans?" One of them turned me on to The Postal Service, a pleasant cross between indie rock and minimalist techno. It's great music to relax with, although the singing is iffy at times. This is their remake of the Phil Collins hit.

8. "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor: Now we get into the edgier stuff. Anything that gets my blood moving is great. The beat, along with the words (sans all the F-bombs), is definitely invigorating:

"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill,
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will.
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain,
And 100 percent reason to Remember the Name."

9. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2:

It took me a long time to warm up to U2. Back when The Joshua Tree was released, U2 didn't have the energy I was looking for in a band. Of course, I was listening to Skid Row, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard in those days. (Yes, I had a mullet. No, I will not show a picture of it.)

Around the time How to Disarm an Atomic Bomb was released, I began to really get into their sound. And even if Bono's not ready to accept his Catholic roots, classic U2,such as this track, is simply divine.

10. "Pimpin' All Over the World" by Ludacris:

I listen to a lot of Hip Hop, and I'm not ashamed of it one bit. I might not agree with many of the hedonistic messages that are common in newer releases, but I grew up listening to rap. I grew up when Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E were still making tapes about Compton, I listened to Chuck D. talk about the oppression of blacks, and I listened to Ice-T talk bad about the cops before playing a cop on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

The music moves me, and that's why songs like this are on my iPod. For those of you who just can't tolerate Hip Hop, you'd be interested to see how similar the genre is to modern Country & Western music. (Sounds like an up-coming blog to me!)

If you can find a half hour to sit down and shuffle your iPod playlist, write down your first ten and explain why you listen to it. You might reveal more about yourself than you know.

...also I'm looking for more good music, and this is a easy way of seeing what everyone else is listening to.

Cafeteria Catholicism, Part I: Preface

Since the first time I heard the term "Cafeteria Catholic," I've fought aggressively against its use. I consider the term to be ambiguous, superficial, condescending, and an ad hominem argument for Traditionalist Catholics. I've made it a personal mission to rid the world of this nonsense. Unfortunately, my crusade is slow-going.

For those not familiar, a Cafeteria Catholic is a label given to people who either disagree or do not practice the entire doctrine of the Catholic Church. The implication is that these Catholics "pick and choose" which doctrine to follow, and therefore are not Catholic at all. A more in-depth explanation can be found here.

The term Cafeteria Catholic sprang into being after the Humanae Vitae was issued by Pope Paul VI in 1968, when many Catholics found it hard to understand the church's stance against contraception. (source) Today, the term is used to include anyone who disagrees with established Catholic doctrine. Issues that are often associated with the Cafeteria Catholic are:

  • abortion
  • contraception
  • priest ordination (proponents for female priests or married priests)
  • homosexuality
  • capital punishment

While continuing my journey of faith, I see the term used more and more, especially when debating Catholic Theology. Sadly, the term is used mostly by those that consider themselves orthodox, or in line with the teachings of Rome. In a discussion via email, I spoke with an orthodox (which I will now refer to as conservative, for reasons I'll explain later) Catholic regarding the use of the term Cafeteria Catholic:

On the contrary, what I think "Cafeteria Catholicism" does is rather stylistically describe a certain popular heresy that believes a Catholic can believe anything he wants. It is therefore not judgmentallism [sic] but right judgment and a work of spiritual mercy to call attention to this heresy.

A divine edict for name-calling, huh? I have to believe God is more mature than that.

For the next month or so, I will show how the term Cafeteria Catholic is in fact not Orthodox, but that it's use is derogatory, prideful, ignorant, and divisive. Name-calling or "calling a spade a spade" is not a work of spiritual mercy, but the act of a contemptuous dogmatist who wishes to assert their exactitude, hoping that being right will bring them closer to God's grace. I intend to show how the use of the term goes against the teachings of Christ and the Church; I guess the "I'm rubber and you're glue..." argument really holds merit.

I doubt I'll change the world with this series of blogs. More than likely, it'll just stir up the pre vs. post Vatican II debate, which is not my intention. It's my hope that people will see how we're actually hurting our own faith by dividing the faithful, and perhaps think twice before using the term again.

Besides, I'm sure Jesus had a few choice words about how we should treat each other...

Never Too Old to Come Home

I'm never surprised to hear great vocation stories, especially from people who've found their calling later in life. Each story is an inspiration to me, and the story of Father George Wilkinson is no exception.

On my drive home last night, I was listening to NPR , and heard the story of George Wilkinson: a priest who found his calling at the age of 63. Dick Gordon interviews Father George, and I guarantee his story will make you smile.

You can listen here.

Music and Spirituality: Keep On Hoping

Sometimes we read a book or hear a song and gain some understanding, but it takes a few decades before it's true meaning reveals itself. In some cases, we may pen the words ourselves, not fully aware of how we will see our work years from now.

During high school, my friends and I had a band; we called ourselves Mirror Image. I don't know that we really belonged to any genre; we were just a few guys who got together with a few ideas for music. Perhaps we might have been called emo, however none of us wore tight jeans, beat-up tennis shoes, or had really long bangs. (source)

During a "jam session" in 1991, our greatest song was written: Keep On Hoping. It started as two simple chords, but transformed into a song as my friend began to sing words as the popped into his head. What started as an improvisational experiment became our most successful project.

A year later, we entered a recording studio and recorded the song. That spring, we performed it at our High School Homecoming, earning us a standing ovation from the entire student body. Because of one song, I'd become a studio musician and stage performer at the age of 18; and I didn't even have to buy a video game.

As I grew older I realized the words my friend extemporaneously wrote years ago have told the story of my life. I remembered this song every time I dealt with heartache, I remembered the song when I felt lost or alone, I remembered the song in times of personal struggle. Even my reminiscing this event for you the reader is a fulfilled prophesy written by angsty teenagers years ago.

I still have the studio tracks that we recorded 15 years ago, and for many years I've dreamt of re-recording the song, although I'd seriously consider updating the music (I unconsciously "borrowed" the guitar rhythm from a song entitled Jane Says by Jane's Addiction).

I had the lyrics framed and hung them up on my wall. It reminds me that I've made one of my dreams come true. It also reminds me that no matter how bad things get, there's always a reason to look back and smile at life.

Walking through the empty alley
You say it's a quicker way through
And then you get the feeling that someone's watching you
You look to your right, look to your left
You see that no one's there
And then you realize even if you screamed no one would care.

And you keep on hoping
That the feelings you have
Will go away

Sitting alone in the dark
Thinking 'bout the time when you had a friend
Reminiscing the memories
You say that life was better then
Look to the present, look to the past
You wonder why things happen so fast
Try to excuse the things that you did
Listening to the wrong people again

And you keep on hoping
That the feelings you have
Will go away

Watching her turn and walk away
Leaving me all in tears
I sit and cry and call her name
Remembering the years
Look at her picture, look at her face
Can't get her out of my mind
Then I realize she'll look back one day and see me shine

And you keep on hoping
The feelings you have
Will go away

-Mirror Image

God Holding Me to My Word

Apologies for my lack of update. This week has been highly chaotic.

Yesterday was the monthly meeting with my spiritual director. Despite my initial worries of enlisting the help of a trained spiritual director, I find that she (yes, she is a woman) has a great perspective on things, and often makes me think twice about lingering ideas in my head.

Today I mentioned my standing invitation to stay at St. John's Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery in Collegeville, Minnesota. I had the privilege of visiting the abbey when I was very young, but I remember its beauty makes it an ideal vacation spot for those who really need to take a vacation.

During our session (I use the term loosely, as our discussions are very informal), she asked me why I hadn't taken advantage of the invite. She knew about my compiling issues, and she felt I was using money solely as an excuse to postpone a trip to Minnesota.

"Work's been crazy," I told her. "Sales are down. I feel like I'd be jeopardizing my job if I decided to take a vacation right now."

"What you should do," she responded, "is set a date a few months from now, when things are less hectic, and make a conscious effort to take that trip. It will do wonders for you...trust me."

Before devoting her time to Spiritual Direction and helping the church, she was a workaholic just as I am now. She knows what it's like to burn the candle at both ends, to put work before everything, and she knows what it feels like to burn out.

I told her that if things got better at the dealership, I would schedule the date and make plans for a week. My sales manager's been working us pretty hard, so I didn't expect to plan anything.

As I entered work today, a customer was already waiting for me. She found a car she liked, said she would return tomorrow. Immediately after, a couple came in, found a car they liked, and put down a deposit. No sooner had I said farewell than 2 more customers came in....both also finding vehicles.

By the end of the day, I tallied 8 customers with 7 of them committed to buying a vehicle this weekend. For a small dealership, seven cars for one salesman in a weekend is a feat. If all goes as plan, I will have sold enough cars to cover my draw and feel comfortable about my job again. It's entirely unexpected, as I had no working prospects before Wednesday.

I guess Someone decided to intervene on my behalf...

Dreams of the Cross-bearer

This morning, I woke up angry at a figment of my imagination.

As I slept, my sub-conscious turned towards the Carthusians, daily mass, and some idiot that had no clue what he was doing. In all honesty, it could have been the Dominicans (as I've attended their daily mass), however last night I'd spent some time reading about the Grand Chartreuse, and it's only on rare occasions that I've seen a Dominican actually wear the habit with the hood up.

I found myself at the rear of a small chapel, while the indistinguishable religious community stood before me, wearing pointy hoods like the Dink Dinks from the movie Spaceballs. As service continued, I noticed a glutton - some overweight, unshaven, unclean brother with stains all over his habit. He stuck out like a sore thumb, sitting unhooded as the rest of the community stood poised and solemn. No one seemed to notice how malapropos his presence was, despite his unkempt appearance.

One of the celebrants bent down to whisper something into the glutton's ear, and the brother stood. "Good," I thought. "Tell that slacker to clean up his act." Yet as he stood, I realized they hadn't scolded him...they'd involved him in part of the service!

Chanting began, and I realized that the service was at an end. They'd elected this slob to be the cross-bearer; he walked in front of the alter (without genuflecting!), pulled the processional cross out of it's base, and lead the community out of the chapel. I was ethereally speechless.

As they entered the vestibule, I saw that the ill-chosen cross-bearer was carrying the cross too high: it was going to hit the top of the archway! I quickly warned one of the brothers who calmly told the cross-bearer to lower the cross, narrowly avoiding a Catholic faux pas.
After entering the vestibule, the disheveled brother continued to walk, while the rest of the procession had stopped. Again, another brother had to get his attention as a bishop was standing to the side, bestowing a blessing unto the community. I felt confused that someone who couldn't understand the basics of Catholic etiquette was leading the procession. What does that say about the Order? About this community? I was dumb-founded!

I can't recall the rest of the dream, but I woke up rather annoyed. Here I was, doing my best to be a "good Catholic" when someone that fouled up was already accepted, vowed, and possibly ordained into a religious order.

There's a number of interpretations that I could make: it was me that was the cross-bearer, I have a deep connection to community life, I need to get off the Internet sooner before I go to bed. But I think the personal revelation that stands out most to me:

...you get the idea.

P.S. May the Schwartz be with you.

Music and Spirituality: Return to Innocence

Much of the music that I've found inspiring relates to my calling, both to the faith and the priesthood. I don't feel I ever truly "lost faith," but just last year I was far from living a Catholic life. As I journey, I carry the weight of many mistakes on my shoulders.

I've learned that this disposition is not mine alone. While others may shy away from celibacy, community life (within an Order), or a meager lifestyle, the hardest part for many discerning man and woman is answering the question: "Am I good enough?"

While I would never doubt God's intention, I fear that He may have been calling me for quite some time; but after a life of self-indulgent retardation, perhaps it's too late for someone as pathetic as myself to actually become a priest. When my thoughts become despondent, a song from the musical project Enigma helps to improve my state of mind.

If the name Enigma doesn't ring a bell, think "Gregorian Chant with Dance Music". Most known for their single "Sadeness (Part 1)," the group had great success in the early 90's. Their work is sometimes criticized as being unoriginal, siting other musicians such as Delirium and Deep Forest for already pioneering the genre.

Later Enigma would release a track entitled "Return to Innocence," featuring samples of Taiwanese Aboriginal Chant played over a drum beat taken from the group Led Zeppelin. While I always found the song to be a "catchy tune," it wasn't until years later that I heard something deeper within the song.

As I've mentioned before, I think my story is one to share...and I still work on my screenplay when i can find the time. As I think about scenes from my life, things that have happened that have pointed me in this direction, this song is the anthem for my vocation story. While the lyrics are elementary, the message reminds me that maybe, just maybe, I might be good enough to do whatever God's asking of me.

Love - Devotion
Feeling - Emotion

Don't be afraid to be weak
Don't be too proud to be strong
Just look into your heart, my friend
That will be the return to yourself
The return to innocence

If you want, then start to laugh
If you must, then start to cry
Be yourself, don't hide
Just believe in destiny

Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and lose the chance
The return to innocence

That's not the beginning of the end
It's the return to yourself
The return to innocence


Feast Day of St. Vito

June 15th is the day I get to brag about being named after a Catholic Saint. Although I usually draw some laughs when I put myself and the word "saint" in the same sentence.

From The Catholic Review:

St. Vito was born to a pagan senator, but his tutor (St. Modestus) and his nurse (St. Crescentia) converted St. Vito to Christianity when he was 12 years old. Angered, St. Vito’s father had the three arrested and imprisoned, but the saints were released by angels. After helping the emperor’s son, St. Vito refused to join in the un-Christian celebrations and he was therefore imprisoned and condemned to death. At the moment the saint died for his faith in 303, a storm blew over and destroyed some pagan temples. St. Vito therefore is patron saint against storms.

Now, for the really eerie part:

My mother named me Vito because she saw the name on a calender listing the Feast Days of all the saints. This explains why the name was given as such. St. Vito is the modernized version of the saint's true name: St. Vitus. When you discern, you often ask for the help of the saints to get you through the rough times. In my studies, I read about him and was amazed by what I found:

From Catholic Online:

A great devotion to Vitus developed in Germany when his relics were translated to Saxony in 836. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and is the patron of epileptics, those afflicted with St. Vitus' Dance (named after him}, dancers, and actors, and is a protector against storms.

There are many things that have stopped me in my tracks, but when when an epileptic as myself is named after my patron saint, long before the condition ever developed, it just kind of makes you think "Maybe I am in the right place at the right time."

If anything else, it's a reminder that I'm still learning about myself, and it's a good reason to keep following this path I'm on.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Since the end of April, after my ex turned my apartment into a money pit, I've been pulling double duty to make extra money. I still work as a car salesman, but on the weekends I found an entertaining, lucrative, and (oddly enough) charitable second job to help pay the bills...a weekend poker dealer.

On Fridays and Saturdays, I trade in the polo shirt for a deck of cards and deal cash games, tournaments, and the occasional sit-n-go at the local bowling alley. I know most of the guys that come in (and they attend quite frequently) and I honestly enjoy my time, even if I'm not doing any gambling or drinking.

Like most of my interests now, I get hesitant about being so engrossed in something. Is it right? Could I be doing something more useful with my time? Am I forgetting about what is important to me? Is this where God is leading me, or am I just spending a couple of nights out "with the guys" to keep me from sitting home alone with my thoughts?

Father Host is worried about the amount of hours I'm working because of my chronic condition.

Since that time, I've sat with it and prayed the best I could. The extra hours make me tired, and dealing poker is probably frowned upon by most seminaries, but perhaps I do have a reason for being there:
  1. It's a way for me to meet and connect with new people - not just for games, but on a personal level. Like bartenders, card dealers are privy to the private lives of many people.

  2. I am the "good guy" at the table. I don't drink, I don't curse, I don't make fun when someone chases the river, and I make sure the drinkers get a ride instead of driving home.
  3. God isn't just in church on Sundays...God's there when things are good. God's there when we've done wrong. God's there when you've lost $500 from gambling, and perhaps you need someone to talk to or help, if you feel you might have a gambling problem.

  4. Having a card dealer named "Vito" is just damn cool, and it brings people back week after week.

I don't know if I'm supposed to find someone or something while I'm dealing poker, I don't know if this job will only last until I pay off my back debts (per my vocation director), or maybe I have God's plan all messed up.

But for now, barring any flaming bush or booming voice from the sky, I'll keep dealing cards and raking in money for whatever charity sponsors the event. I'm sure there are far worse jobs that a budding priest-to-be could have....

Paris Hilton: Done Acting Dumb?

After returning to jail to finish her sentence, celeb and hieress Paris Hilton claims she's made a change of heart, and intends to change her ways. Find the full story here.

Despite the hype, I'd like to see Ms. Hilton actually change for the better, if only to show the critics that she's serious. Who knows....in 2040 we may see a Senator Hilton on C-SPAN.

Oh, it's fun to be an Optimist. =)

Music and Spirituality: It's Been Awhile

Music touches us on a level far deeper than words, pictures, or even video. As an artform, music is used to evoke every possible range of emotion, yet deliver a message that can be mundane or profoundly moving. Perhaps this is why discernment is so closely tied to music.
While we listen for the Spirit to direct us, we remember that the Spirit works in many different ways, and through many different avenues. Sometimes we're touched by someone closely associated to the Church. Sometimes, we find the Spirit in something completely different.

Every week, I will bring a set of lyrics to a song that has touched me on some spiritual level. I can't guarantee you will react the same, nor are they all Hymns or Psalms. However, in each of these lyrics, my discernment, my journey, and my dreams are written for the world to see. Music has always been a huge part of my life...it makes sense that God would use that medium to communicate to me. =)

The following song is called "It's Been Awhile" by the group Staind. The lyrics, though unconfirmed, are said to be about Aaron Lewis' battle with cocaine addiction. For me, this song describes my return to the Church, and preparing for a much-needed and long-awaiting Confession.

It's been awhile,
Since I could hold my head up high.
It's been awhile,
Since I first saw you.

It's been awhile,
Since I could stand on my own two feet again
It's been awhile,
Since I could call you.

Everything I can't remember,
As f****d up as it all may seem,
The consequences that I've rendered,
I've stretched myself beyond my means.

And it's been awhile,
Since I can say that I wasn't addicted.
And it's been awhile,
Since I can say I love myself as well.

And it's been awhile,
Since I've gone and f****d things up just like I always do.
And it's been awhile,
But all that s**t seems to disappear when I'm with you.

Everything I can't remember,
As f****d up as it all may seem.
Consequences that I've rendered,
I've gone and f****d things up again.

Why must I feel this way?
Just make this go away.
Just one more peaceful day.

It's been awhile,
Since I could look at myself straight.
And it's been awhile,
Since I said I was sorry.

And it's been awhile,
Since I've seen the way the candles light your face.
It's been awhile,
But I can still remember just the way you taste.

Everything I can't remember,
As f****d up as it all may seem, I know it's me.
I cannot blame this on my father,
He did the best he could for me.

And it's been awhile,
Since I could hold my head up high.
And it's been awhile,
Since I said I'm sorry.


What Is Discernment?

Discernment is a term used in Christian tradition to describe the process of discerning God's will for one's life. -Wikipedia

Discernment is the intentional practice by which a community or an individual seeks, recognizes, and intentionally takes part in the activity of God in concrete situations. - Practicing Our Faith

Discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. - Dictionary.com

The past few months, I've read many interpretations of what it means to discern. Each definition appears so simple, but yet none fully explain the fullness of what it means. Someone was nice enough to pass along their interpretation:

"Discernment is being open to the questions that God asks you. You don't know the question as well as you don't know the answers until they come across you in life. Discernment is about welcoming those things. Vocation is the destination point of those questions. Vocation is not somewhere you can take yourself. It is where God takes you with him. You will never have a choice in this or make a decision on it. "

Honestly, there are times I feel as if I don't know what I'm doing. I feel lost, I feel like I don't know if I'm approaching my vocation with the proper way. Sometimes I feel this is just another page of my life story. I'll look back and read: "...Chapter 6 is where I moved in with my girlfriend, Chapter 7 is where I felt I was being called to the priesthood, Chapter 8 is where I tried to make a living as a professional poker player, Chapter 9 is when I moved to Wyoming to live on a ranch..."

I want this all to mean something, yet part of me feels like it's already slipping away. Part of me wants to tell myself "OK, the charade's over! Just admit you wanted an excuse to get out of that relationship, and go on being the normal guy that you are!"

Part of me thinks that I'm stringing my family, my friends, and myself along about really seeking a vocation. Doubt...oh how it makes the stoutest man

If you want to know what discernment is, Discernment is about finding the right path among many many others, and following it the best you can. Discernment is about listening to the right spirits that guide you, and ignoring the other spirits that will try to lead you astray.

Discernment is about following your call to God and your desire to serve, and trusting that your life will be fulfilled. For me, Discernment is about hope and faith that God will take these fears and worries away.

"...doubt: proof that faith exists." Robert Browning

The Cost of Illegal Immigration

I'm not always a fan of onion.com, however as a Mexican American, this bit did strike me as funny.


Immigration: The Human Cost

Dr. Kevorkian - The Blue Cardigan versus the Black Friar

After serving 8 years, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a.k.a. "Dr. Death" walked as a free man in Coldwater, MI yesterday. Reports say his declining health condition was a significant part in his parole. Read the complete story here...

For most fence-straddling Catholics, assisted suicide is an attractive dish on the cafeteria of morality. "If God is good, why would he allow suffering? Why should someone in pain continue to live? Why should we artificially prolong the life of someone who is already going to die?" Since the question of continuing care is still new, many people are unsure where exactly the church stands on these issues.

Fr. Kevin O'Rourke, OP, JCD, STM is an author, esteemed college professor, award-winning expert in the field of bio-ethics, and he can still tell a good Irish joke at age 80. A modest Dominican friar, it's easy to see that Fr. O'Rourke knows his stuff. Starting off as dean of the Aquinas Institute of Theology, he was moved to tackle the issues of medical ethics after Roe v. Wade. Whether you're looking for the "proper Catholic position" on a medical topic or you just want to hear a good story, Fr. O'Rourke is your man.

While popular media tends to polarize the argument of continuing medicine, the question of assisted suicide is not as two-sided as the esteemed Dr. Kevorkian would have us believe. Fr. O'Rourke states that "...much of the disagreement and misunderstanding in regard to ethical decisions often seems to stem(sic) from a lack of clear distinctions."(source) In his essays, Fr. O'Rourke explains how complicated the situation actually is, and where Catholic doctrine fits in:

  • there is no difference between active or passive euthanasia. Since the purpose of both are to end human life, both forms are unethical and therefore require no distinction

  • the concepts "grave burden" and "quality of life" apply not just to a patient's physical state, but to their emotional, psychological, and spiritual state,

  • euthanasia has become more acceptable to society because of factors like prolonged medical treatment, the recognition of physiological burden only, not understanding God and suffering, and a sense of "control," that a customer has the "right" to choose if they want someone to help them die.

And that's where we must give props to Dr. Kevorkian: for packaging such a controversial topic in a way the American public likes..."It's your right to choose." In a world where we can't control the price of gas, the politicians we elect, or the popularity of Paris Hilton, someone tells us "We have the right to die!" and we cheer this new martyr before realizing how morbid the message actually is.

Before planting your foot down on either side of Dr. Kevorkian's crusade, get the straight dope from another doctorate holder.

Essays by Fr. O'Rourke, O.P.