Easter: Tomb as Womb

BY PCM | ORIGINAL SOURCE: National Catholic Register

The Resurrection is not a metaphor for the need to “rise above” life’s difficulties or a well-meaning myth about fulfillment. Rather, Christ’s resurrected body is a solid thing.

As mysteries of the Faith go, even apart from the Easter Bunnification of Easter, the Resurrection is one of the hardest to communicate. It’s not that the Resurrection is unknowable or that the Bible and the Creed are vague about it. No, it refers to the raising of Jesus from the dead. The man who said He was God had been tortured, murdered, and buried on a Friday afternoon corresponding to the Jewish Passover.

But by Sunday morning, He was alive, and not just in some spiritualized “meaning-of-Easter-message” way, but bodily. “If Christ has not been raised,” Paul asserts, “we are the most pitiable of men” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Why hard to communicate? First (forget for the moment that the thing is impossible!), we have no analogue in our experience with which to compare a resurrection. We can relate to something or someone being healed or restored, sure. But a revivified dead man?  In the account of the raising of Lazarus in John 11, the actual raising is hidden from sight until the ex-dead man steps outside, quite alive.

Christmas is much easier to relate to because, among other things, we all know what the birth of a baby is like. Christmas celebrates something seen and heard by; (obviously) His Mother; St. Joseph; the magi, and the shepherds. As Jesus’ conception was the beginning of His earthly life as our redeemer, His resurrection is the beginning of His heavenly life as our intercessor. Christmas started something visible. The Resurrection started something invisible.

The second reason is: Christmas was public, and began something visible. Easter is private, and began something invisible. The great event behind the Easter Season was directly witnessed by no one. Interestingly, while the gospels give a literal blow-by-blow account of the arrest, the trial(s), the scourging, the via dolorosa, and the passion and death on the cross, there is no New Testament account of the “moment of resurrection,” nor can you find a single icon depicting the event.

The empty tomb is a kind of womb, out of which our Lord began His return to “the right hand of the Father” as we say in the Creed. That dark hole in the earth became the secret place where Life permanently neutered the killer bee called Death.

The Father communicates the result through the personal appearances made by Son after His death, first to Mary Magdalene and the women at the tomb, and then to James and the other apostles, to the 500, and, of course, to Saul of Tarsus. So the word of God affirms the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus through the sheer variety and number of eye-witnesses.

Let’s face it, the episodes involving those who see Jesus with their own eyes until He ascends into heaven in Matthew 28, involve some weirdness. Most of the disciples don’t seem to recognize Him at first, particularly in Luke’s accounts — not Mary Magdalene, not the disciples at the Sea of Galilee, and certainly not Cleopas and the unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus. How could they not recognize the same Lord and Master with whom they spent up to three years together?

Yet they don’t. “He appeared to them in a different form” says Mark 16:12. “Their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” says Luke 24:16.

More weirdness: In Matthew 28, we read ….


Continue Reading at National Catholic Register HERE


20: The Enduring Perils of Divorce With Dr. Diane Medved


God says He “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Jesus tells his followers that “Moses only permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts,” and that divorce and remarriage constituted “adultery” (Matthew 19). Yet our culture has become more and more pro-divorce since no fault divorces laws were first passed (under Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969). Divorce has lost its stigma.

Dr. Diane Medved has written a comprehensive antidote to the “grass is greener” pro-divorce propaganda with her latest book, Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage.

Married for 30 years to nationally syndicated radio host Michael Medved (who was a guest on Episode 002 of the show, talking about his new book The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic, Dr. Medved doubles down on the message of her 1989 book The Case Against Divorce. And for good reason.

If you’re in a troubled marriage and are tempted to part ways, or you’re looking for data-driven reasons why divorce is a calamity for the whole family (not to mention the close friends of the divorcing couples), she has amassed an impressive array of evidence from the social sciences and her own clinical practice.

In this interview, the observantly Jewish clinical psychologist makes all the important distinctions and offers actionable responses for couples undergoing the sorts of trials Hallmark never told them about. This is a great one to share with them!

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#19: Smart Phones: Our Kids’ Drug of Choice With Dr. Nicholas Kardaras


Smart phones have given rise to a nation of zombies. You see them everywhere, staring vacantly at their glowing screens in restaurants, amusement park line-ups, in churches, park benches, and family dining room tables.

In his book Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras has laid his finger on a growing problem that few are willing to tackle let alone diagnose and treat. Some people even argue that glowing screens might even be good for kids as a form of interactive educational tool.

This interview will shed light on the causal connection between smart phone use and school shootings, lethargy, and general anger management issues (notice how kids react when their visual drug is taken from them!) Parents, teachers, and pastors, listen up!


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18: Father Sean Kilcawley- The Spiritual and Emotional Costs of Porn Use


Father Sean speaks with a firm, quiet authority about pornography. It’s not just because he’s a priest of the High Priest Jesus Christ, nor that he’s the Theological Advisor to Integrity Restored (www.integrityrestored.com).

It’s also because, starting at a very young age, he got ensnared by the shiny darkness of compulsive porn use. His counsel is therefore personal, experiential. In this revealing interview, he recalls the disturbing but ultimately healing experience of meeting a former porn actor – whom he (Father Sean) recognized as someone who appeared in a porn VHS he had seen countless times. Only Providence could have arranged such an encounter and produce such a strong dose of restoration…

This is a conversation laden with rich scriptural insights into the question of our deepest identity, and the irreplaceable presence of God’s love to bring full and lasting healing from any kind of addiction.



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Review: Transformed By Beauty

The good people at Covenant Eyes have produced a thought-proving four-part ebook titled Transformed By Beauty, which points toward the antidote for compulsive (or causal) porn use. Edited by Sam Guzman and Amanda Zurface and strung across four interviews, I guarantee you haven’t come across a treatment like this.  We dive deep with (in order) Father Thomas Loya; singer-songwriter Audrey Assad; historian (and ballerina) Dr. Theresa Notare; and bodybuilder-author Jared Zimmerer. Transformed By Beauty explores the source of real healing and conversion: beauty as the incarnate echo of God’s goodness. Each interview offers a very personal angle on the effects of porn use but in a fresh new light. What do I mean?

It’s easy — and all too common — to approach the topic of pornography from the point of view of morality and focus on the sundry harms it brings upon to victims, performers, users, and producers. We tend to point out the biblical injunctions against sexual sin, we quote Jesus on lust in the heart, and we cite Church documents to bring the truth home.

But what do we provide as the alternative? Alcoholics Anonymous offers sobriety and serenity to alcoholics.  What does the Christian Faith offer to those mired in porn addiction? What can draw the human eye and heart away from the shiny darkness of pornified illusions?


So simple you could miss it. Each of the interviewees comes at the fundamental significance of beauty, the forgotten Transcendent along with Goodness and Truth. Beauty is something like the Holy Spirit — it’s vital, irreplaceable, but often somewhat forgotten despite its importance. Where porn offers an airbrushed, always-pleasing, ever-serving set of promises it can never keep, the grace of God — working through art, music, dance, and even physical aesthetics — draws people into a relationship with objective Beauty, the final fulfillment of their own subjective longings.

Transformed by Beauty will give the reader plenty to think about. While I respectfully disagree with Father Loya’s assessment that “our human sexuality is what makes the human person most like God” (the common teaching of the Church is that our capacity to know and to love is what makes us most “like God,” who has no sexual longings per se.) Still, Loya’s insights into seeing aright provide rich food for thought.

One major takeaway of the ebook is that we must give the devil his due: pornography is not pure ugliness, or foulness. It’s a sparkling substitute for lasting beauty. It hooks the viewer — not all the way to the depths of true intimacy — but forever on the surface of things. Apart from damage to the dignity of the human person, pornography is essentially false intimacy. Think of a lie. The best lies are not whoppers but those that most closely resemble the truth.

The undraped human body is beautiful, for God made it. And God is a genius. The devil twists that inherent beauty so the body becomes a mere tool, an instrument of exploitation. Transformed By Beauty is not only an enjoyable (and relatively quick) read, it’s punctuated by reflection questions that are not to be skipped over. Share it with someone who’s not expecting an insight discussion of what the human heart really craves: a love that never ends.

To download a free copy of Transformed by Beauty and get 30 days free of Covenant Eyes click here.

Four Takeaways from the Holy Land

I just got back from a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land with 30 on-fire Christians including our spiritual director Monsignor Charles Pope of Washington DC. And what a trip it was. Bathed in the clement Israeli sun, we saw Magdala, Capernaum, Caesarea Maritima, Cana, Nazareth, Bethany, Calvary, Qumran, Jericho, Bethlehem – stunning and quite impossible to absorb.

Also impossible to summarize. Even a book-length treatment would only scratch the very top surface of the spiritual egg. But there are some practical lessons or takeaways. Here are four:

1. America is a newborn baby compared to the grand old man otherwise known as Israel.

Take Jerusalem, for example. Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. And that is young compared to Jericho, the oldest continually inhabited city, starting around 9000 BC, or 11,000 years removed from today. In Southern California, old means a building from the early 1950s. (The Franciscan Missions are the closest we get to “ancient.”) Our first-world, western way of reckoning time and of what counts as old gets a serious re-framing when you’re sitting in a café over there.

2. The events of our Faith are historical.

It’s become popular to reduce faith in Jesus Christ or God generally to the level of myth or nice moral lessons (“Dontcha just love the positive attitude of that Jesus?”). But being in the Holy Land offers a constant reminder that the events of salvation history are rooted in places and in objects manmade (like the Temple) and natural (like Mt. Tabor), featuring real battles led by real leaders. One may try to deny the accuracy of the biblical accounts, but it’s hard to deny the concrete proof of the details and the history of the events they describe, culminating with the Incarnation of Christ.

3. The Sea of Galilee is a teacher.

Also known as Lake Gennesaret or the Sea of Tiberias, this freshwater lake (the lowest in the world) offers a homey Sunday School lesson about the relationship between generosity and happiness. Fed by underground springs and the Jordan River flowing in from the north, the Sea of Galilee is ringed by verdant green hills, bears plenty of fish, and supplies most of Israel’s water supply. Less than 100 miles to the south, however, another lake is fed by the same Jordan after it leaves Galilee. But nothing can live beneath its waves. The Negev Desert air is hot and still over its leaden depths. As a result, this Sea is called The Dead.

The lesson?

The same Jordan fills up both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, but the Sea of Galilee shares its bounty by emptying its healthy contents southward, while the Dead Sea jealously hoards its supply, keeping every drop it gets. As a result, it’s sterile, uninhabitable, and lifeless.

4. Archeology keeps verifying the truths of the Bible.

Whether it’s the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran (which establish the Catholic biblical canon as normative, by the way), or the latest digs in and around Jerusalem, modern archeology keeps unearthing insight after insight into life in biblical times. Some believers get nervous about archeology, imagining some secular archeologist stumbling upon evidence that would demolish either the claims of the Church or the teachings of the Bible. Funny how that has never happened, not even at the hands of secular archeologists with axes to grind. Truth is truth, whether directly from God in revelation or indirectly through scientific (or archeological) inquiry.

Stay in touch – we’ll be announcing our 2018 destination(s) soon – join us!


17: Clay Olsen: Fighting the New Drug Called Porn


Clay Olsen is a man on a mission. The organization he cofounded and now leads, fightthenewdrug.org, is dedicated to educating young people of all ages understand on the nature of pornography addiction but also on the emotional and social harms occasioned by even “moderate” or “occasional” porn use.

FTND is not faith-based and doesn’t rely on religious principles to engage the phenomenon. It’s all about the science of how porn affects the brain and the quality of relationships. And it is filled with high-quality media of many different kinds.

In our interview, Clay shares many stories about the struggle toward recovery, including a heartbreaking personal anecdote about a nine-year-old girl who found hardcore porn online and ended up watching it nightly for months on end before her parents found out and intervened.

Parents: Get. A. Clue. The pornography industry never sleeps, is always on the prowl, and doesn’t negotiate with its hostages.



Good Pictures, Bad Pictures   

by Kristen Jensen and Dr. Gaily Poynter

The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography 

By Matthew Fradd


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