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Kresta in the Afternoon – March 17, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 17, 2015


Special Guest Host: Marybeth Hicks

4:00 – Danger! Danger! Be Very Afraid!

If we believe the news reports, we’re lucky to be alive. We face extraordinary danger every day in the form of fast food, playground equipment, dessert and non-hybrid cars. Alarmists leverage parents’ natural anxiety to reach their own goals. Julie Gunlock joins us to discuss how the alarmist mentality costs us unnecessary money and stress.


4:20 – St. Patrick, the Three-Leaf Clover and Irish Snakes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Philip Freeman is here to talk about the life and legacy of one of our most beloved saints.


4:40 – “One Big Happy”

NBC is about to premier another show about the new standard for an American family. “One Big Happy” is the story of a lesbian woman who conceives a child with her straight best friend…only to see him marry another woman. The show follows the threesome’s wacky adventures as “one big happy.” We’ll discuss it with Tim Winter.


5:00 – Pope Announces Jubilee: A Year of Mercy

Pope Francis has announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy. We’ll talk about it with Matthew Bunson.


5:20 – Kelleigh’s Cause: Trusting God and Battling AVM

When Kelleigh Gustafson was four years old she was diagnosed with AVM, also known as an arteriovenous malformation. AVM is a rare blood vessel condition that can put extreme strain on the heart. The causes are not known and there is no cure. Kelly has undergone several surgeries to help her condition. Through it all, she has continued to trust God. She joins us today.


What’s the Point?


In the spring of 203, a new era in human happiness began. A young North African woman was taken into custody by Roman soldiers in Carthage, in modern Tunisia. Her name? Perpetua, 22 years old, from a good family, educated, married, and nursing a child. She and a small group of companions, including her personal slave, Felicitas, defied the emperor’s decree forbidding conversion to Christ. They were promptly rewarded with a violent death.

On March 7, Perpetua, Felicity and their group was fed to wild animals, mauled, and slain by the sword before jeering spectators. Bloodsport was common in the ancient world. But these young disciples gave a performance never before witnessed in this arena.

An eyewitness recounts that Perpetua and her companions “marched from the prison to the amphitheater joyfully, as though they were going to…heaven, with calm faces…with joy rather than fear.” When they were scourged and taunted, “they rejoiced…as though they had obtained a share in the Lord’s suffering.”

They greeted death with open arms. The uncomprehending crowd was witnessing what Darrin McMahon, in his Happiness: A History, describes as “a radical new vision of human happiness.”

The Christian martyr gave the world a new vision of human happiness. Her identification with the crucified and risen Christ blazed a new trail of human blessedness and fulfillment. In the Greek New Testament, the word for “martyr” is the word for “witness”. In the midst of suffering, the martyrs bore witness to a reality that was beyond the pain and suffering of this world. They bore witness to a life obtained through the pain and suffering of this world.

A 2009 romantic comedy starring George Clooney, Up in the Air, envisions life differently. On the day of his wedding, Jim has cold feet. He tells Julie, his fiancée that he is backing out.


Julie’s Uncle Ryan, played by Clooney, must engineer Jim’s return to the altar. The problem is that Ryan is a free-wheeling bachelor who has never been married, never wants to marry and doesn’t even want a “significant other.”

Glum Jim explains that last night he laid in his bed thinking “about the wedding, the ceremony and about us buying a house and moving in together and having a kid and then another kid and Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Spring break and football games and then all of a sudden they’re graduated, they’re getting jobs and they’re getting married and I’m a grandparent and then I’m retired, I’m losing my hair, I’m getting fat and then the next thing you know I’m dead and I can’t stop from thinking, ‘What’s the point?’ I mean, ‘What is the point?’”

Ryan, taken aback, asks, “The point?” Jim replies, “Yea, what am I starting here?” Ryan concedes all leads to our demise. We’re running clocks that can’t be slowed down. We all end up in the same place and, yeah, there is no point!

Jim and Ryan never met anyone like Perpetua and Felicity even though they live in a culture filled with self-identified Christians.

Happiness isn’t natural but it is possible. It is more than engineering our feelings or arranging the perfect circumstances for our comfort. Read endless self-help books or enjoy the dizzying distractions and entertainments available to us. Ingest illicit substances and feel the god-like to power to adjust our mood with a drink, pill, injection or trip to IKEA. Happiness isn’t found therein; it is found in God’s design for human blessedness described in Scripture.

In the Psalms and the Beatitudes we hear: “Blessed is he who….” Blessed means joyful, fulfilled, satisfied, happy. Happiness is available. He turns our mourning into dancing. We might weep in the night, but joy comes in the morning. The cross is necessary but the resurrection assures us that human life can end in light, laughter, glory and triumph.

Is this promise trustworthy? “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides.” Jesus teaches that if we seek righteousness more than happiness, we’ll get both. The happy one has stopped trying so hard to be happy. He examines his conscience asking: “What am I really living for? What are my fundamental allegiances? What kind of person am I created to be? How is God guiding me?”

There is a point! Holocaust survivor and Austrian psychotherapist, the late Viktor Frankl wrote:“A man who…knows the ‘why’ for his existence… will be able to bear almost any ‘how’.” We don’t invent the meaning of our existence, we discover it. For those in Christ, our meaning is found in the promise: “When a disciple is fully trained he will be like his Master.” The baptized are called to be conformed to Christ’s character. He wants to reproduce his life in us so that we might become radiating centers of love and peace, a sign of hope demonstrating a life beyond the limitations of this world. Happiness is knowing God is at work in us fulfilling the purpose for which we were created and redeemed.

So, Jim and Ryan, what is the point? The point is Perpetua’s and Felicity’s choice to live inside the story that God has written and discover what God in Christ has called us to be. Let me paraphrase: “The only real tragedy, the only ultimate unhappiness, is to fail to become the saint we are created to be.”

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 16, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 16, 2015

4:00- Without You, there is no Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite

Suki Kim knew North Korea was a world where the elite invented their own truth. In 2011 she got a job teaching English to the teenage sons of the country’s ruling class at an exclusive university. She kept notes on her experience, saving them on portable flash drives which she carried with her everywhere lest they fall into the wrong hands. Suki joins us today with her story.


4:40 – Should a Chaste Catholic with Same-Sex Attraction “Celebrate” their Gayness?

We’re following up our open line discussion from last week on the lives of chaste Catholics who are same-sex attracted. Is it appropriate for two people who are same-sex attracted to live together chastely and offer each other support? Should a Catholic who is same-sex attracted view their orientation as a gift from God or a cross to bear? We discuss the issues with Fr. Paul Check, founder of Courage.


5:20 – When the Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers

How much do we really know about the early days of the Church? How do we know truths such as the concept of the Trinity if they don’t explicitly appear in Scripture? The answers lie in the lives of the early Church fathers. Marcellino d’Ambrosio joins us.


Kresta in the Afternoon – March 13, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 13, 2015

4:00-6:00 – Direct to My Desk: Gay Weddings and Christian Ecumenism 

We have open lines all day today and we have three topics to discuss. What should you do if a close friend or family member invites you to their gay wedding? How should you explain your decision to their family? Also, what lessons can Catholics learn from “megachurch” Protestants? And, on a related note, what bible verses make “bible only” Protestants the most nervous? Call in with your answers at 877-573-7825, participate in our survey, and join in the discussion on Facebook!

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 12, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 12, 2015

4:00 – Kresta Comments: Conversation with a Radical Islamist

Earlier today we spoke on the phone with Anjem Choudary, the British Imam who has voiced his support for ISIS and the 9/11 attacks. We replay parts of the conversation and Al gives some thoughts. We’ll have more on this interview very soon.


4:20 – Kresta Comments: Racial Bias in Ferguson + Leading Catholic News Services Unite: The Death Penalty Must End

4:40 – Finding Jesus: John the Baptist

We’re continuing our discussion on the CNN series Finding Jesus. This week’s episode focused on the life of John the Baptist and his relation to Jesus. Ben Witherington joins us.   

5:00 – Playing Jesus in a Major Television Production? No Pressure.

A new television series called AD will give us another representation of the life of Christ. What is it like to play the most famous and influential figure in world history? We’re joined by Juan Pablo di Pace

5:20 – Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery

David Gibson, co-author of Finding Jesus and a prominent figure on the CNN series, joins us.

5:40 – Two Ferguson Cops Shot: We Talk Holder, Sharpton and Race-Baiting in America

Two cops were shot last night in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident comes on the heels of a Department of Justice report suggesting institutionalized racism in the Ferguson police department and the subsequent resignation of Ferguson police Chief Tom Jackson. What racism really exists in the US? And how is it affected by people like Al Sharpton? We’ll ask Carl Horowitz to explain.


Why Ukraine Matters – Al Kresta interviews George Weigel

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 11, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 11, 2015

4:00 – Spiritual Fulfillment and the Cross

Kelly Nieto occasionally went to church growing up, but faith was not a part of her family’s daily life. Her search for spiritual fulfillment led her to the New Age arts of astrology, mediation and séance. A confrontation with her cleaning lady sparked her interest in Scripture, which eventually led her to the Catholic Church. She later founded the Cross and the Light, a Broadway-style production about Christ’s Passion and Pentecost. She joins us to tell her story.

4:40 – Disbelief in the Face of Miracles

Whether we realize it or not, we still see miracles in the modern world. Why do we fail to recognize them? Why do some people fail to believe in God even after witnessing something that could only be a miracle? We discuss this with Dr. Ray Guarendi.

5:00 – Porn: Yes, it Affects your Kids Too

Pornography is becoming an epidemic that affects even the strongest Catholic families. Brad Schmidt, Director of Youth Ministry at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, sees in in the teens he counsels. We’re opening the phone lines so Brad can take your questions and comments. Call us at 877-573-7825.

Porn: Yes, it Affects Your Kids Too

Social Media

An Urgent Appeal to Parents in the Digital Age

Your Children and Personal Electronic Devices

By Brad Schmidt

Director of Youth Ministry

Christ the King Catholic Church, Ann Arbor, MI

[email protected]



I’ve been working in youth ministry for twelve years. The teens in my parish are fantastic teens who desire to be holy, who aren’t afraid to fight for their freedom, and who really want to love the Lord.   Lately we’ve noticed a trend that more and more of our teens are engaging in risky behavior on their iPods and cell phones – behavior that isn’t just unhealthy, but behavior that’s sinful and even illegal. This problem is widespread, and it’s not new, but it’s expanding at an alarming rate. I’ve been talking to parents about the need for them to talk to their kids about sex, pornography, chastity and the like for years. I’ve given them the resources they need to help ensure that their children are protected online and on their phones, but the message just hasn’t seemed to sink in that iPods and cell phones are a major challenge to purity in our day and age.

This information was originally directed only toward parents of middle and high school students, but this topic is too important, and it is one that affects all of us – not just parents of teens and tweens. Many of your kids are using an iPod Touch, iPad, or even smart phone from a very early age. If your children use any of these devices, or if they will use these devices, it’s important for you to be aware of the precautions you absolutely must take to protect them. This topic is critical, and one which most of us haven’t noticed, or even downplayed, in the past. The age of the “smart phone” and personal electronic devices has caught all of us off guard in some sense, and I’m hoping to make clear the reality of the situation we’re now living in – which in many ways is radically different than it was even a couple of years ago. Undoubtedly the situation will get even more tricky as your children get older; the sooner you educate yourself about the issues and technology and implement appropriate parental controls the less likely your children will fall into many of the dangerous behaviors that these devices can foster.


The Situation Today


If your child has an iPod touch, smart phone, laptop, tablet (like an iPad or a Kindle Fire) or mobile video game device, your child has in his or her possession at this moment a pornography device. That’s right – even an iPod Touch. With this device, your children have access to unlimited pornographic images and movies, the ability to create and distribute their own pornography, and the ability to connect with other people for the purpose of sex – virtually or even in person. This does not have to be the case – with appropriate parental controls enabled, these devices are much safer for your children to use. It is crucial to act, today, to ensure that these devices are properly safeguarded and monitored against pornographic use, because this is becoming an increasing problem, even among good, Christian children.

Your child’s smart phone, iPod touch, tablet, or laptop computer are not in and of themselves bad things. Nor are some of the apps that they enjoy using.   Smart phones and laptops are now almost a required part of our lives, even as early as elementary and middle school, and that’s not going to change.   But they do, however, open up the possibility for the enemy to attack and enslave your children in moments of weakness if not properly safeguarded.

Many of the teens, middle school students and even younger children here have unrestricted access to problematic material and apps (apps are programs that run on their mobile devices). Typically, those that struggle with sexual sin are frustrated at their lack of self-control in this area, and the primary way most have access to pornography is on these devices. Our youth ministry team and I have talked with teens that are homeschooled, attend Catholic schools and public high schools who are struggling with this. I’ve witnessed middle school students at middle school events using Snapchat – one of the more dangerous apps kids can be using. There are teens who have admitted to us that they have engaged in sexting – sending nude photos of themselves – to their friends and to strangers (Sexting is another new problem that’s grown in the last couple of years; I found this information helpful, and you might as well: http://ow.ly/3xuGfX  and http://ow.ly/3xuGgS). We cannot afford to continue to ignore this problem or allow ourselves to be ignorant about the technology in our kids’ hands.

This, in a way, has snuck up on a lot of us unexpectedly. The vast majority of us didn’t realize what a dangerous device a simple iPod could be without jumping through some hoops to make it more safe. We as a Christian community have taken various steps over time to ensure that our kids grow up and thrive without being harmed by the overload of negative influences the culture offers – some of us don’t have cable, are discerning about the music, TV, movies and even books that are consumed in our homes. But the iPod and smart phones have, for the most part, flown under the radar. Not only do these devices offer easy access to pornography, they also offer unrestricted access to the world when parental controls are not properly engaged. This is the same thing, or worse, as putting a TV in your child’s bedroom that has access to the Playboy channel, but even more dangerous because it’s interactive and invites participation, and they’re small, private and portable. One youth ministry team member told me that a teen even admitted to using her smart phone to access pornography in the back seat of the car while with her family (yes, this problem affects both girls and boys). To get an idea about how teens’ use of media has changed over the years, check out this infographic.

(click to expand)


via teensafe.com


What Do We Do?


You have GREAT kids. My first reaction when I started learning about these things was “Thank God this isn’t a problem for solid Christian kids! Our kids are in love with Jesus and serious about their faith!” I’m sure that’s what your gut is saying too. I was wrong. Even still, scripture exhorts us to “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt 5:8). Your holy and wonderful children are prime targets for our enemy, and during this particular stage of development sexuality is their biggest weakness – the enemy is exploiting it quite freely good Christian teens. It is your responsibility as parents to assist your children in being “sober” and “watchful.” You have the most difficult – and most important – job in the world, and your influence when it comes to safeguarding technology cannot be understated. Your attention to this area of your family’s life has the power to make all the difference!

Most of these devices, even smart phones without a data plan, can access the internet through free, unfiltered wifi readily available almost anywhere. Most filtering software for phones (and iPods) require that the native web browsers be disabled – which is an essential part of the parental control options. Information about these parental controls and filtering and monitoring solutions are included at the end of this post.


No Excuses


It’s been suggested to me by some parents that the reason they don’t help their kids steer clear from these things is that they themselves struggle. I realize there may be many parents who are challenged by pornography or masturbation. This may cause you to feel you do not have the moral authority to engage your children on these issues without feeling hypocritical.   Please know that is a blatant lie of the enemy. Even if we struggle with gluttony, we still want our teach our children how to have healthy meals. Even if we struggle with anger, we still want to give our children tools for dealing with anger in their own lives. Alcoholic parents are just as responsible for making sure their kids don’t fall into drinking as non-alcoholic parents. We cannot get trapped in the lie that we can’t guide them if we struggle. The topic of sexual sin is no different. Satan wants us to think it’s hypocritical to train our kids in the areas of our lives where we struggle. But that’s a lie, and our fallen tendencies toward fear, selfishness, and laziness makes it easy to believe. You owe your children more than that, and the Lord has invested you with this grave responsibility – no one else. Thankfully, he also provides the grace to do what is difficult. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by this topic.

Trust me, believing that your kids would never engage in behavior like this is on the surface is a good thing. But at the same time, believing that your children are immune is an effective tool of the enemy to keep you from acting on this issue, and avoid having difficult – but vital – conversations with your children in the area of sexuality. Our culture is saturated with sexually charged images and messages, we must help them develop the skills to deal with the situation on our terms. That becomes impossible if you put open access to all of it in their hands through these devices. If your kids really aren’t involved in this type of behavior, then you’ve done no harm by engaging appropriate parental controls and talking to them about it. If they ARE involved, then you may well have initiated the process that leads them to freedom. Don’t allow the enemy to keep you silent for any reason.




Am I missing anything here that might be helpful? This list is in no way exhaustive. If you’ve got any suggestions, please email me at [email protected] 

Problematic Apps

Many applications seem harmless, and your teens use them for harmless reasons. Just because your son or daughter has Snapchat or Kik doesn’t’ mean that they’re sexting, so don’t come down hard on them for having them. That doesn’t change the fact that they are a door wide open to the enemy to exploit in a moment of weakness. Your children should not have access to any of these: 

Twitter: I hate to say it, but Twitter has a LOT of pornography easily accessible. Twitter doesn’t have any parental control or filters that I can find. It’s hard for me to say this, but I wouldn’t allow this app on any mobile device whatsoever. Twitter, however, is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media platforms out there. If your child has a Twitter account, it’s better to remove it from their mobile devices and only allow them to access it from a computer, where the screen is much more public.

Snapchat: Offers the illusion of a fleeting photo that disappears from both people’s phones after a limited time. Designed as a “Sexting” app. Many of your kids only use this for “safe” reasons, yet I still strongly recommend banning it from all devices in your house – the danger it poses is too great a risk.

Kik: A free messaging app, often used to exchange nude photos. No parental controls possible, and it opens up many other apps inside it, or “cards,” many of which are sexual in nature.

Tindr: A dating app designed to help adults “hook up”

Grindr: A gay “hook up” app.

Meet24: Another “hook up” app, which according to some reviews has a lot of teens participating.

Poof: Allows teens to hide apps they don’t want their parents to see with the touch of a button.

Honorable Mention: Instagram. I’m not sure that you should ban Instagram from your teens’ phones. Nude photos aren’t allowed on Instagram, but there sure are a lot of scantily clad people readily available. If your son or daughter uses it, please read through the Instagram Parents Guide: http://ow.ly/3xuGof

I recommend reading up on some of these. A simple Google search for “apps parents should watch out for” will be helpful to you. Keep in mind, technology moves quickly, so the apps you should be aware of are ever changing. Do this often. This article is pretty good, even though it’s almost a year old: http://ow.ly/3xuGoy

On an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you can see what apps your teens have downloaded, even if they’re not currently on the phone. To do so, open up the “App Store” app, go to “updates” at the bottom, and then at the top of that list, click “Purchased.” When you do that, you’ll be taken to a screen that says “all” or “Not on this iPhone (or iPod, etc.). That will give you a list of every app your son or daughter has had at one time, even if it’s been deleted.

Filtering and Monitoring Solutions

Several options are listed here, you should investigate all of them to decide which one is best for your family situation.


Accountability and filtering software for Mac, PC, Android and iOS ( iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) devices. Also includes a great blog and resources for parents to help their teens. The family plan is $13.99/month for an unlimited number of users. Accountability and filtering are both included.


TeenSafe offers smart phone monitoring for your child’s devices. It offers the opportunity to monitor text messages, Facebook and Instagram activity and more. TeenSafe works on both Apple and Android devices. TeenSafe is $14.99 a month with a discount given if you pay annually.


Accountability software that works on the PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. There’s a free version, and a more robust version for $6.99 a month or $64.99 per year for unlimited devices.

Parental Control Instructions

Generally speaking Apple products have the best parental control options out there. If you’re considering allowing your teen to get a smart phone, it may be best to stick to Apple devices for that reason.

This article has information about setting parental Controls for your teen’s device, whether it be an iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android (Galaxy, Amazon Fire, etc.), or Windows based device. If you’re not sure where to start, start here: http://ow.ly/3xuGpy

Notes on Parental Controls on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad

More detailed instructions for using parental controls are online at http://ow.ly/3xuGql.

I strongly recommend that you restrict all access to installing apps, in addition to other things you may feel are appropriate. The fact is that there are so many problematic apps, and many of them aren’t properly age-restricted in the App store. This way, when your son or daughter wants to install something new, they have to go through you so you can do a little research on the app, just as you would with a movie they wanted to see.

Similarly, you should definitely have filtering/accountability software on your teens’ devices, and only allow that web browser on the device. For this to be effective, you must restrict access to Safari in the parental control section.

Notes on Parental Controls for Android Devices

Not all Android devices are labeled that way, but if your teen doesn’t have an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Windows Phone, chances are it’s an Android Device. Native parental controls are more limited on Android Devices, so you may need to download another solution. This article has some advice about which apps might work for you. http://ow.ly/3xuGpW

Kresta in the Afternoon – March 10, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 10, 2015

SPECIAL GUEST HOSTS: Bruce and Kris McGregor

4:00 – The Moral Complexities of Marriage  

How can we deal with the complex issues of marriage in light of a Catholic heart? How can our Lenten journey aid us in reaching friends who have suffered the effects of a failed marriage? We discuss the issue with Deacon James Keating.

4:20 – Cases Piling up in Advance of SCOTUS HHS Ruling

Courts throughout the country are still handling lawsuits against the HHS Mandate. The Supreme Court recently ordered a lower court to reconsider its ruling against Notre Dame. Gregh Schleppenbach joins us with a recap of the latest developments in the fight for religious freedom.

5:00 – The Vatican, New Saints and More: A Discussion with Matthew Bunson

Matthew Bunson is here to discuss a variety of topics, including next year’s Synod, the canonization of St. Therese’s parents, reform in the Vatican and more.




Kresta in the Afternoon – March 9, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on March 9, 2015

4:00 – PTSD and Veteran Suicide

Dr. Ed Tick is back to continue our discussion on PTSD in military veterans. The topic has been given national attention with the success of American Sniper and the conviction of Eddie Ray Routh.  Dr. Tick has worked with military veterans for years and joins us to discuss his work and the effects of PTSD.

4:40 – Kresta Comments: The Incarnation, Martyrdom and Christian Happiness 

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Anniversary of Selma- How Has Race in America Changed? 

5:20 – Unite Concert Preview

In April the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist will host the Unite Concert, featuring Amy Grant, Matt Maher and other top names in Christian music. Amy and Sr. John Dominic  are here to talk about it

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