30 April 2009
His words are a reminder to us of the redemptive power of suffering, both for ourselves and for others, if suffered well. For this reason he asked for an increase of patience.
So often we - or at least I - only want to ask the Lord for an increase of patience (which, experience has shown, can often be a dangerous request in and of itself), but to ask for an increase of sufferings? This seems contrary to reason. It is the foolishness of the Cross that is wiser than human wisdom.
To utter these words of Saint Pius takes great faith, humility and courage. May this holy Pastor obtain for us an increase in these virtues so that we might say with him, "Lord, increase my sufferings but also my patience."
I slept little through the night, in no small part because I was reading a book about Father Damien until midnight (I couldn't put it down). I awoke at 6:20 to a telephone call that should not have been made so early in the day.
The lack of sleep, combined with the heavy rain and resulting weak hips, finds me a bit irritable today, which I hope will soon pass now that the sun has peaked through the clouds and the birds are chirping.
At any rate, before I left my office to celebrate Mass, I left my Facebook status as, "Daren is celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."
When I returned to my office a few moments ago, I saw that one of my friends commented on my status, saying, "While on Facebook? I don't think the pope would like that very much." Hilarious! And probably true :)
29 April 2009
In advance of tomorrow’s memorial of Pope Saint Pius V, Godz Dogz has a post about him.
As we enter into spring and gear up for summer, Father Benjamin Sember reflects on modesty.
28 April 2009
Hence, the weather has most of us around the office and high school feeling a bit sluggish, though our humor remains. Even in the midst of a gloomy and dismal day, there are always bright moments:
The dogwood looks far more impressive and bright in person than this picture shows. The picture is taken across the street from the rectory, looking to the rear of the church. The tree covers the front entryway.
This afternoon we are supposed to have a track meet in Shelbyville, and none of us seem to keen on going. We're hoping for it to be rained out, but there is only a 30% of rain for the duration of the meet.
We will go and, in the end, we will have a good time and I'm sure our kids will compete well.
After the meet there will be another bright moment: dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. If you haven't tried that parmesan garlic chicken flatbread, you should.
On another bright note, yesterday I ordered a pair of swimming goggles that have some sort of optical strength to them; they arrived today. They aren't perfect for my vision, but, though are a bit blurry, the diopters are such that I will now at least be able to see both faces and even read some signs. Perhaps these will help spur me back into the pool and get back to exercising. I've grown a bit lazy lately.
Sr. M. Benedicta of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George disucsses postulancy within her order:
Be sure to watch the video, if only for the pictures.
Catholic World News carries a story quoting Cardinal George saying President Obama is “on the wrong side of history” when it comes to abortion. Catholic World News also carries the story.
Hearing that some in the Israeli government are urging Pope Benedict XVI not to bring the “Popemobile” with him for his pilgrimage next month, the Curt Jester has drawn up a new Popemobile for the trip.
Father Selvester discusses the value – or lack thereof – of shops that promise to give a detailed description of your "family coat of arms".
Here is the Message in full, with my comments and emphases, a la Fr. Z.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the next World Day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, which will be celebrated on 3 May 2009, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite all the People of God to reflect on the theme: Faith in the divine initiative - the human response. [So often we hear of a so-called "vocations shortage," as though the Lord somehow stopped calling men to his service as priests and men and women to consecrate themselves to him. The Holy Father is right to focus instead on the human response, which sadly so often is lacking today in the West.]The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really “have ever greater faith and hope in God's providence” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer.
The vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity [none of us is saved alone]. The Apostle Paul, whom we remember in a special way during this Pauline Year dedicated to the Two-thousandth anniversary of his birth, writing to the Ephesians says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ef 1:3-4). In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God’s initiative of choosing some to follow his Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be his privileged ministers and witnesses [we didn't make this up]. The divine Master personally called the Apostles “to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mk 3:14-15); they, in turn, gathered other disciples around them as faithful collaborators in this mission. In this way, responding to the Lord’s call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. Let us give thanks to God, because even today he continues to call together workers into his vineyard. While it is undoubtedly true that a worrisome shortage of priests is evident in some regions of the world, and that the Church encounters difficulties and obstacles along the way, we are sustained by the unshakable certitude that the one who firmly guides her in the pathways of time towards the definitive fulfilment of the Kingdom is he, the Lord, who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow him according to the mysterious plans of his merciful love [The current situation will improve, for the Lord will always give us the ministers we need].
Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer [Sadly, this is often the first thing we fail to do, though it is the first thing commended by the Lord]. We must pray that the whole Christian people grows in its trust in God, convinced that the “Lord of the harvest” does not cease to ask some to place their entire existence freely at his service so as to work with him more closely in the mission of salvation [again, the Lord has not stopped calling]. What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly reminds us that God’s free initiative requires a free response on the part of men and women; a positive response which always presupposes acceptance of and identification with the plan that God has for everyone; a response which welcomes the Lord’s loving initiative and becomes, for the one who is called, a binding moral imperative, an offering of thanksgiving to God and a total cooperation with the plan which God carries out in history (cf. n. 2062).
Contemplating the mystery of the Eucharist, which expresses in a sublime way the free gift of the Father in the Person of his Only Begotten Son for the salvation of mankind, and the full and docile readiness of Christ to drink to the dregs the “cup” of the will of God (cf. Mt 26:39), we can more readily understand how “faith in the divine initiative” models and gives value to the “human response”. In the Eucharist, that perfect gift which brings to fulfilment the plan of love for the redemption of the world, Jesus offers himself freely for the salvation of mankind. “The Church”, my beloved predecessor John Paul II wrote, “has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as a gift – however precious – among so many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of himself, of his person in his sacred humanity, as well as the gift of his saving work” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11).
It is priests who are called to perpetuate this salvific mystery from century to century until the Lord’s glorious return, for they can contemplate, precisely in the Eucharistic Christ, the eminent model of a “vocational dialogue” between the free initiative of the Father and the faithful response of Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist it is Christ himself who acts in those whom he chooses as his ministers; he supports them so that their response develops in a dimension of trust and gratitude that removes all fear, even when they experience more acutely their own weakness (cf. Rm 8:26-28), or indeed when the experience of misunderstanding or even of persecution is most bitter (cf. Rm 8:35-39).
The awareness of being saved by the love of Christ, which every Mass nourishes in the faithful and especially in priests, cannot but arouse within them a trusting self-abandonment to Christ who gave his life for us. To believe in the Lord and to accept his gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to his plan of salvation [this is the key]. When this does happen, the one who is “called” voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love, hearing the words of Jesus echoing in his soul, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16) [Go ahead, read that paragraph again].
This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life. The Second Vatican Council recalls, “The evangelical counsels of chastity dedicated to God, poverty and obedience are based upon the words and examples of the Lord. They were further commanded by the apostles and Fathers of the Church, as well as by the doctors and pastors of souls. The counsels are a divine gift, which the Church received from its Lord and which it always safeguards with the help of His grace” (Lumen Gentium, 43).
Once more, Jesus is the model of complete and trusting adherence to the will of the Father, to whom every consecrated person must look. Attracted by him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness. Today too, many undertake this same demanding journey of evangelical perfection and realise their vocation in the profession of the evangelical counsels. The witness of these our brothers and sisters, in contemplative monasteries, religious institutes and congregations of apostolic life, reminds the people of God of “that mystery of the Kingdom of God is already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven” (Vita Consecrata, 1).
Who can consider himself worthy to approach the priestly ministry? Who can embrace the consecrated life relying only on his or her own human powers? [No one, of course.] Once again, it is useful to reiterate that the response of men and women to the divine call, whenever they are aware that it is God who takes the initiative and brings His plan of salvation to fulfilment, is never patterned after the timid self-interest of the worthless servant who, out of fear, hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30), but rather expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord’s invitation, as in the case of Peter who, trusting in the Lord’ word, did not hesitate to let down the net once more even after having toiled all night and catching nothing (cf. Lk 5:5). Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes “co-responsibility”, responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of his Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:5).
An emblematic human response, full of trust in God’s initiative, is the generous and unmitigated “Amen” of the Virgin of Nazareth, uttered with humble and decisive adherence to the plan of the Most High announced to her by God’s messenger (cf. Lk 1:38). Her prompt “Yes” allowed Her to become the Mother of God, the Mother of our Saviour. Mary, after this first “fiat”, had to repeat it many times, even up to the culminating moment of the crucifixion of Jesus, when “standing by the cross of Jesus” as the Evangelist John notes, she participated in the dreadful suffering of her innocent Son [our "Yes" must also be repeated many times]. And it was from the cross, that Jesus, while dying, gave her to us as Mother and entrusted us to her as sons and daughters (cf. Jn 19:26-27); she is especially the Mother of priests and consecrated persons. I want to entrust to her all those who are aware of God’s call to set out on the road of the ministerial priesthood or consecrated life.
Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with him. Imitating the Virgin Mary whom all generations proclaim as blessed because she believed (cf. Lk 1:48), commit yourselves with every spiritual energy, to realise the heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, cultivating in your heart, like her, the ability to be astonished and to adore him who is mighty and does “great things”, for Holy is his name (cf. Lk 1:49).
- Go the usual way and preach simply from the assigned readings for the day;
- Preach from Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the day; or
- Share my own vocation story.
I don't know that I have a preference for any one option, so I'd like your input. What should I do? Simply leave a comment and, if you wouldn't mind, your rationale.
Two years ago I shared the story of my vocation on the occassion of the forty-fourth World Day of Prayer for Vocations. How often is too often? Is it too soon to share it again? Have I waited too long? Incidentally, I preached it two years ago at the same Masses (time wise) I will celebrate this weekend, so the same people might hear it again, or maybe not.
Please, what do you think?
27 April 2009
Anyone who is possessed by a similar desire will not find it enough to be loyal or obedient to perform exactly everything demanded by his profession of the Catholic faith. Such a man will have fallen in love with the beauty of the house of God; the Church will have stolen his heart.“Which is to say,” says Neuhaus, “that Christ has stolen his heart.”
Friday afternoon I celebrated Mass in the church for the high school students. It was a beautiful day Friday and the students walked the three blocks from the high school to the church at 2:00 p.m. Perhaps not the best idea before Mass.
I remember being in high school, which may have something to do with why I get along so well with the high school students. I remember the excitement of a Friday afternoon, especially so close to the end of the school day. I remember the restlessness of a beautiful spring day. But I also remember knowing the proper attitude of one inside a church in the presence of God.
Upon entering the church most of the students apparently failed to remember not only what building they had entered but also whose presence they had entered. The talked loudly, few genuflected and even fewer seemed to pray.
My blood, one might say, began to boil. I reminded them that ought to be quiet in a church, both to pray and, even should they not wish to pray, to allow others the opportunity to pray. It was an admonition that fell apparently on deaf ears.
In that moment I realized I was angry because of the tremendous lack of respect shown to the Eucharistic Lord. I was angry because of the offense given him.
I could have been angry because the students had failed to listen to or take to heart what I have so often said to them in other contexts, but I was not. I was angry on behalf of the Lord, because, as Neuhaus says, he had stolen my heart.
This afternoon before Mass in which our second graders received the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord for the first time, the situation was much the same as Friday afternoon. People were visiting loudly and the noise level was such that anyone who was able to stay focused in prayer must surely already be a Saint.
I was angry once again on behalf of the Lord.
How is this lamentable and dangerous situation to be righted when the children learn it from their parents? We try to impress upon the children – both younger and older – the great importance of the Eucharist, that the Lord is truly Risen and present among us – and the adults treat the church as a theatre, as though God were absent and irrelevant.
This morning at Mass, a young lady approached to receive Holy Communion. “The Body of Christ,” I said to her. She simply looked at me, with hands outstretched to receive the Lord. I said, “Amen?” She whispered it back and so I gave her Holy Communion. She started to walk, apparently with no intention of consuming the Eucharist. I abandoned my post in pursuit and grabbed her elbow. “Are you going to consume it,” I asked. She did so.
I realized at that moment that I would gladly give my life in defense of the Holy Eucharist. Yes, Christ has stolen my heart, and I am glad to me an ecclesiastical Christian.
From a very young age I fell in love with the beauty of the house of God. How do I help others do the same? How do I show them the beauty of the Church? How can I help them experience the wondrous love of Christ?
26 April 2009
“Lord, let your face shine on us” (Psalm 4:7).
With these words the Psalmist expresses the primordial longing of every human heart to see God. Can this desire be fulfilled? Is it possible for us to see God? Yes, it is possible, because he has shown himself to us.
The disciples first followed Jesus when he said to them, “Follow me,” because they were seeking the face of God (Matthew 4:19). Little did they know that when they looked upon Jesus they looked upon the face of God. If we have not come here today seeking the face of God, I do not know why we have come.
The human longing to see the face of God “recognizes God as a person, a being concerned about us, who hears and sees us, speaks to us, and can love us and be angry at us – as the God who is above all and yet still has a face.” It is the recognition of a relationship that we long to have with him and he with us.
It is a bold request we make today with the Psalmist, asking to see the face of God, a request that even Moses was refused.
Moses said to God, “I beg you, show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). The Lord answered his request, saying, “I will make my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim my name “The Lord”… But…you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:19-20).
As he passed by, the Lord said, “I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:22-23). So great is the Lord’s love for us that he shields us from the light of his face that burns whatever is not pure.
And yet, is this not precisely what we want, to pull back the veil, as it were, to see his glory, to see God as he really is, face to face? For this reason the Psalmist sings, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God” (Psalm 42:2)?
To look upon the face of God is to experience absolute and perfect happiness, for he is Goodness, Beauty and Truth. To see his face is to look upon “the Author of life” (Acts 3:11).
Every member of the Church must live his or her life as one "in love with Christ, attracted by him and determined to make [his or her] own life a continuous quest for his Holy Face."
Is this not, ultimately, what Saint Peter means when he says, "Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away" (Acts 3:19)?
Saint Peter knew well the face of Christ, having lived with him for three years, and he knew well the grace of repentance.
After having thrice denied knowing him, "Jesus turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord...and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:61-62). What did he see in that face?
When Peter, at that moment, looked into the eyes of Jesus, he knew that, as Saint John says, "He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world" (I John 2:2).
In that moment, Peter must have begun to realize - if only in an impartial way - the words Jesus said only the night before: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Is this not why we so often seek to hide from Jesus? We do not want to acknowledge our sins. We do not want to weep bitterly. Yet it was precisely this that Saint Peter found necessary to follow Jesus faithfully and receive his peace. For this reason he says to us, “Repent, and be converted!”
The Lord let his countenance – the light of his face - shine upon Peter and he knew the forgiveness of Jesus, the mercy for which the Lord would soon die to give to him (cf. Psalm 4:7). This is why the Risen Savior stood today in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you" (John 24:37). If we seek his face he will let the light of his face shine upon us, too, and he will say to us, “Peace be with you.”
The disciples stood before him "startled and terrified" because – although their sins were forgiven – they knew how greatly their sins had offended God and how greatly they had failed him (Luke 24:38). Even so, they did not hide from his face, but looked upon it in love and fear, and thus, contemplating his face they knew peace.
My brothers and sisters, each of us must seek his face. King David tells us that the “generation” who seeks “the face of the God of Jacob” lives rightly (Psalm 24:6). Who is the one who seeks his face? It is “he who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4). In short, the one who seeks his face keeps his commandments and “the love of God is perfected in him” (I John 2:5). We could say, “seeing happens through a manner of living that we call following after.”
This afternoon I was driving back to Effingham from a track meet in Robinson. I have never been very good with directions. I recognized little of my surroundings as I drove away from Robinson, so I asked my passengers, “Are we on the right road?” They assured me we were.
This is a good question, is it not? It presupposes that we know the destination. Are we, my friends, on the right road? Are we on the way that leads to the face of God, to the satisfaction of the deepest longing of every heart? Have we set ourselves firmly behind Jesus Christ?
“This is the path of Christ, the way of total love that overcomes death” that leads to the light of his face.
When the Lord turns his face toward us, he puts gladness into our hearts (cf. Psalm 4:8). For this reason, the Psalmist sings, “As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for you alone, O Lord, bring security to my dwelling” (Psalm 4:9).
He speaks here not of the common sleep, but of the sleep of death. He knows that the Lord will answer his deepest longing, that having sought the face of God he will behold it.
The lives of the saints “assure us that if we follow this path, the way of love, with fidelity, we too, with the Psalmist, will be satisfied with God’s presence.” Let us, too, seek his face. Amen!
 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, On the Way to Jesus Christ, Michael J. Miller, trans. (San Francisco, California: Ignatius Press, 2004), 20.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 1 September 2006.
 Ratzinger, 16.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 1 September 2006.
25 April 2009
He was appalled by the actions of his fellow lawyers and sought to leave their society in search of holiness. Before he entered the Order, he said, “Woe to me if I should prove myself but a halfhearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain.” It is as if he said, “Gather the fragments [of my life] leftover, so that nothing will be wasted” (John 6:12).
He would not allow himself to be apathetic or complacement in the faith, but would give himself wholeheartedly to the Lord. For this reason he took the name Fidelis (faithful) when he received the Fanciscan habit. Would that each of us followed his example!
Let us beg his intercession this day, that we, too, may be found wholehearted soldiers in the service of our thorn-crowned Captain. Let us heed well his advice:
We must be convinced of the necessity of havng a living, authentic, and active faith. That is all the more true today, when we face so many difficulties. It is not enough to have a vague, weak, or uncertain faith.
In the end, he was found as one "worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name" and received the martyr's crown (Acts 5:41). Let us follow him, that we may "dwell in the house of the Lord" with him (Psalm 27:4).
24 April 2009
23 April 2009
For example, we have the following signs in the chapel at the high school:
EARTHQUAKE: Drop to the floor, seek shelter, cover your headBut also in the chapel is a sign that is found in no other room, which may even have been my idea (I can't quite remember), but I only noticed it this morning after Mass:
FIRE ESCAPE: Go up the north stairs, exit the building - walk to the track, stay with your teacher
TORNADO: Proceed to the north corridor, stand facing the wall
In the event of the Second Coming... Drop to your knees and beg God's mercy.
The track at the Pana high school is surrounded by a field of grass where the various teams set up camp, as it were, with tents and blankets. The whole scene reminded me of a fair, or a battle field (I often think in medieval terms).
The whole day proved to be a most enjoyable one. There is something about simply camping out all day that adds a light-hearted feel to the day.
The tent we had could be raised to two levels, one being half-way (about 3 feet high) and the other fully extended (high enough to walk under the tent). Naturally, we initially set it up high, but about an hour later one of the boys said something to the effect that it would be more fort-like if we lowered it, so we did. It was actually a pretty good idea because it also helped keep the sun out. I didn't think to take a picture of the tent, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what we did:
I always bring a camera to long events such as this because it adds one more distraction for the boys and another way to keep occupied.
I spent a good part of the day under the tent working on my homily for the Sunday Mass. It's a process that typically takes anywhere from two to five hours, depending on the readings and when or how thoughts occur to me for it.
The work usually begins on the preceeding Sunday afternoon. I read the coming Sunday's readings and then on Monday I read them again. The readings sort of perculate in my mind for a few days as I wait for some form of inspiration to hit me as I read through a few commentaries and other books.
This particular Saturday nothing really came to mind until I was sitting under that tent. Fortunately I brought my pad with me to start writing. As I wrote the notepad was passed around a few times and the boys offered their suggestions (all of which, I think, were rejected; they kept saying something about making it shorter, and shorter, and shorter).
I usually start out jotting down a few thoughts on paper, which at some point turn into sentences and a few paragraphs. Once I have my thoughts flowing I hop onto a computer and type what I've written, adding thoughts here and there.
Once the typed version nears completion I print it out and scribble all over it. After typing the new scribbles, I print it and scribble again, which then usually leads to the final version.
Knowing that I won't get back to Quincy for some time I e-mailed a friend of mine who works for the company where I buy the sour balls (Kirlins) and asked if they might ship the sour balls to the store in Effingham because it doesn't carry them.
A few hours later I received the happy reply in the affirmative. This will not only keep the high school students happy, but the principal, guidance counselor and dean of students, as well.
21 April 2009
We've had a few track meets over the past week. Saturday we were in Pana and I had a great time with them; I have a few pictures from the day that I'll share tomorrow, I think.
Yesterday, we had a meet here in Effingham. We have a meet today in Cumberland, Thursday in Taylorville and Saturday in Robinson.
With the weather today, I'm not sure if any of our athletes want to go to the meet, but since rain doesn't seem to be in the forecast, we'll be leaving within the hour.
As I went to the rectory a short time ago for lunch I wanted a vegetable soup (a stew, really). Knowing that there is precious little food in the refrigerator today, I opened it up to see what might be inside (we all do that don't we, thinking food will somehow materialize?).
Imagine my surprise when I looked and found a large of a thick vegetable soup with beef that our housekeeper brought in! Now if only the Lord will do something about that weather...
Before we leave for the meet I have a couple of errands to run yet, chief among which is paying the bill for my cell phone.
On opening the bill I was surprised to see that it was a bit higher than it typically and wondered what might be the cause. Apparently last month I sent 415 text messages - imagine my surprise - and my limit is 250. Oops.
The majority of the text messages I send are to the high school students, who text me with requests to retrieve books from the school over the weekend, to be let in to the weight room, asking about Mass times, and even with general questions about the faith (two such questions came in last during the painfully long board of education meeting).
I don't expect the students' texting will decrease and the opportunity for catechesis and ministry is too good here to miss, so I suppose it's time to upgrade my plan to unlimited texting. I never thought I would do that. Of course, there was a day that I never thought I would use text messaging.
But You, most holy Lord,
why do You ask her why she weeps?
Surely You can see;her heart, the dear life of her soul, is cruelly slain.
O love to be wondered at;
O evil to be shuddered at;
You hung on the wood, pierced by iron nails,
stretched out like a thief for the mockery of wicked men;
and yet, "Woman," You say, "why are you weeping?"
She had not been able to prevent them from kiling You,
but at least she longed to keep Your body for a while
with ointments lest it decay.
No longer able to speak with You living,
at least she could mourn for You dead.
So, near to death and hating her own life,
she prepeats in broken tones the words of life
which she had heard from the living.
And now, besides all this,
even the body which she was glad, in a way, to have kept,
she believes to have gone.
And can You ask her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
Had she not reason to weep?
For she had seen with her own eyes
if she could be to look
what cruel men cruelly did to You;
and now all that was left of You from their hands
she thinks she has lost.
All hope of You has fled,
for now she has not even Your lifeless body
to remind her of You.
And someone asks,
"Whom are you looking for? Why are you weeping?"
You, her sole joy,
should be the last thus to increase her sorrow.
But You know it all well, and thus You wish it to be,
for only in such broken words and sighs
can she convey a cause of grief as great as hers.
The love You have inspired You do not ignore,
And indeed You know her well,
the gardener, who planted her soul in his garden.
What You plant, I think You also water.
Do You water, I wonder, or do You test her?
In fact, You are both watering and putting to the test.
She has created a post listing the nominees thus far, and invites your nominations for other blogs, as well.
Do take a look at the current nominees and add a few more.
Fr. Selvester at Shouts in the Piazza has more details about the appointment.
You have given us the privilege, as well as the responsibility, of being loving parents. In the name of Jesus, we ask you to guide us as we invite our children to hear your call to service and leadership in our Church as a priest, brother or sister.
May our children respond with deep faith and generosity to the needs of God’s people.
Help us to be a source of encouragement to our children by our own desire to be committed people who serve with love and enthusiasm.
A Prayer to Follow My Vocation
My Lord and My God,
You have created me out of love to know you, love you, and serve you in a way no one else can do. Your plans for me are far greater than any I might dare to dream for myself.
Lord, grant that I might be open to your grace to know the next good step in your plan for my life. Give me the courage and the generosity to say, “Yes!”
Show me your will for me, O Lord, and help me to say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word!”
A Prayer for Vocations
Fill the hearts and minds of your young people with the power of the Holy Spirit, so that with courage and generosity they might answer your call to serve the church in the priesthood and religious life.
Give parents the faith, love, and spirit of sacrifice which will inspire them to rejoice when a child of theirs is called to a church vocation.
May the intercession the blessed Mother and St. Joseph, your Holy Family, help us to pray: “Let not my will, but yours be done.”
The second two prayers were written by Bishop George J. Lucas. The first prayer might have also been written by His Excellency; I cannot recall where I found it.
20 April 2009
The awards are given in a number of categories:
Best Blog By a Religious Who Is Not Fr. ZYou can submit your nominations to The Crestcat by leaving or comment here or by sending her an e-mail.
Best "More Catholic Than the Pope" Blog
Best Blog By a Heretic
Best Armchair Theologian Blog
Best Under Appreciated Catholic Blog
Best "Visual Treat" Blog
Best "Spiritual Treat" Blog
Best Bat Shit Crazy Blog
Best Church Militant Blog
Best Potpourri of Popery
Snarkiest Catholic Blog
Best New Kid On the Block (less than 12 mos old)
Debra Haight not only sees President Obama as a "great leader," but she also finds it "unbelievable and incredible" that the university should "have the opportunity for the president of the United States to speak here."
Let's ignore the fact that unbelievable and incredible have the same meaning and focus on Ms. Haight's apparent lack of historical knowledge.
Can it really be said to be "unbelievable" and "incredible" for the President of the United States to speak at the commencement exercises for the University of Notre Dame when four Presidents have already done so? Presidents Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan and Bush have done so.
Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Ford also spoke at the University of Notre Dame, although not at the commencement exercises.
Statistically speaking, Ms. Haight's surprise baffles the mind. Not counting President Obama, 9% of the Presidents spoke at Notre Dame's commencement exercises; 16% of the Presidents have spoken at Notre Dame at one occassion or another. Including President Obama, these statistics will rise to 12% and 18%, respectively.
When seven Presidents have already spoken at the University of Notre Dame, it really should not come as a surprise than an eighth President should speak at the same University. In what reality does Ms. Haight find herself?
And now, the questions:
1. What are five things that you couldn't do with out on a daily basis?
This is a tricky question and depends on how your interpret "couldn't do without." On a daily basis, I couldn't do without Dr Pepper (naturally), my Breviary, a computer (I suppose I could survive without one, if I had to), sunshine and prayer.
2. What is your favorite store to shop at and why?
The House of Hansen. They make very fine vestments. If we're looking for a more common store, I've always liked candy stores and toy stores (I worked in one for seven years).
3. What would your favorite meal consist of?
That's an easy one! Anything with pasta, bread and tomatoes. And a Dr Pepper, with good friends, of course.
4. Which two of your blogging friends would you want to meet and why?
Esther, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii, because I would be in Hawaii (and I've happily already met her. As I type this, I'm watching an episode of The Antiques Roadshow, from Hawaii). I'd also like to meet you, Ellen, because we've been blogging friends for a while now.
5. If someone gave you $100,000 to spend on yourself, how would spend it?
I would begin construction of either a castle or a Roman villa. And, if possible, I'd build it in Hawaii.
19 April 2009
Divine Mercy Sunday
“Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (John 20:26).
My brothers and sisters, how often do we find ourselves behind locked doors? How often do we lock the mental, emotional or spiritual doors of our lives? The doors of the Upper Room symbolically represent these doors to our minds and hearts.
Far too often do we close these doors, both to others and to God. Those early witnesses of the Risen Lord had locked the doors for fear for their lives; we lock the doors for fear of rejection and change.
Many times we are afraid to open the doors of our lives to others, hence we neither let them enter our lives nor enter into theirs, all for fear of rejection. In this way, we become all the more isolated and less at peace.
At the same time, we are afraid to open the doors of our lives to God because we know that he will require a change in our lives as he calls us to an ever deeper and more profound conversion. Hence, we never receive the peace that he came to give us. In this way,
we continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure, to bring to us his greeting: “Peace be with you.”The Lord said to the Apostles, “Peace be with you,” three separate times in this passage of the Gospel alone, highlighting his desire to impart this gift to us (John 20:19, 21 and 26). Is this not the gift for which our hearts long so intently, peace with our neighbor, peace within our soul, and peace with God? It is this gift – this three-fold peace – which the Lord Jesus wishes us to have.
It was this gift that Thomas, too, desired. For this reason, the Lord said to him, as he extended his hands toward him with his grace and mercy, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe” (John 20:27).
It was an invitation for Thomas to open wide the door of his heart and mind to Christ. It was an invitation for Thomas to plunge himself into the sacred wounds of Christ, to immerse himself in Divine Mercy, which we celebrate in a particular way today.
The Lord continually shows his five holy wounds to us, as well, and invites us, with Thomas, to plunge ourselves into his great love.
In order to extend the outward signs of his love for us, Jesus “stands in the midst of every heart. He stands in the midst, so that from him as from a centre, all the lines of grace might radiate to us who are at the circumference, surrounding and moving around him.”
It is the Lord himself who stands in our midst, in the center of our minds and hearts. If we quiet ourselves and are still, we, too, will hear him say to us, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and it put into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
If we center our thoughts and hearts on him – as if he were the axle of all that we are and do – then we will know the depths of his Divine Mercy, and we will be at peace.
Stand, then, in the midst, and you will have peace with your neighbor [and with God]. If you do not stand in the midst you cannot have peace. There is no peace or tranquility on the circumference, only movement and noise.”It is only at the center of the wheel that there is stillness and peace. We will only know true and lasting peace when our lives revolve not around me and what I want, but around Christ and what he wants of - and for - me.
The Lord Jesus not only invites us to touch his wounds, to see and believe, but to explore the depths of these wounds that we might enter into them and abide in them. For by exploring the wounds of the Savior we find our own wounds and sufferings and are able then to unite them to his. By doing so, our own sufferings, our own wounds, receive purpose and beauty and become for us a source of peace in the same way that the five holy wounds radiate peace to us.
If we are to explore his wounds in such a manner, then we must follow the wisdom of Saint Faustina Kowalska, who said, “Jesus, I trust in you.” The more we say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” the wider we open the doors of our heart and mind.
We must not be afraid to open these doors to him, for as the Psalmist sings, “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior” (Psalm 118:14). By opening the doors to him we will come to know that “this is the day the Lord has made” and we will “be glad and rejoice in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the Universal Church. In his inaugural homily, he asked:
Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? …If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.Let us fling wide the doors of our lives to Christ in loving and confident trust, that we might cry out with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 15 May 2005.
 Saint Anthony of Padua, Homily for the First Sunday after Easter, 6. In Sermons for Sundays and Festivals, Vol. I: General Prologue, Sundays from Septuagesima to Pentecost, Pauls Spilsbury, trans. (Padua, Italy: Messaggero di Sant’ Antonio, 2007), 259.
 Ibid., 7. In Sermons for Sundays and Festivals, 260.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, April 2005.
While he stands on his head, Fr. Longenecker offers a few reflections on celibacy today and how it might be different from, say, fifty years ago that is well worth a read. And the comments are good, too.
Jonathan, over at Vinum Novum (where I really need post something soon) considers the possibility of a Divine Butler.
Over at the Hermeneutic of Continuity, Fr. Tim Finigan points us to a new blog concerning the Blesseds and Saints of the Middle Ages, with a special focus on those from England: Saints and Blesseds.
The Hawaii Catholic Herald has an article about a new book published about Blessed Father Damien of Molokai using information and stories from those who knew him. The book is called, Father Damien … ‘a Bit of Taro, a Piece of Fish, and a Glass of Water. Capello tip to A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
17 April 2009
Let me give you his article in full, with my comments and emphases:
From East to West, we must witness to the truthThank you, Your Excellency!
19 April 2009
In the third Eucharistic prayer of the Mass, poetic language is used to express the hope that the whole human family will give right worship to God through Jesus Christ: “From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name" [you'll love what he does with this].”
Our hope is founded in the power of the Lord’s death and resurrection. Until the Lord returns and final justice is established, it is the work of the church to worship God in the risen Christ on behalf of all humanity. In season and out, from east to west, we are called to witness to hope in the face of a culture that in important ways is not ordered to the justice of God.
During this Easter season here in Illinois, we have a couple of instances of the need for witness to God’s right ordering of things, as it happens, one to our east and the other to our west [a masterful play!].
All are aware by now of the invitation given by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana to President Obama to speak at the commencement later this spring and to receive the honor of a ceremonial doctoral degree. Normally the graduation program of a university in another diocese and another state will not get much attention here. But many have told me how disturbed they are at the confusion caused by a Catholic university honoring a man who as an Illinois state senator and now as president has promoted an active role for government in the destruction of innocent human life and blocked reasonable qualifications on the practice of abortion.
I am disturbed, too, at this decision by Notre Dame to sow confusion where there is clarity in Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and the evil of abortion. For some this may be one political issue among many. For Catholics it is a matter of worshiping God by the proclamation of the truth. Many students and faculty at Notre Dame know this. The university’s administration thinks it knows better. It is hard to imagine the university honoring someone, no matter his office, who had consistently spoken against the value of football [sadly, I suspect he's quite right here]. We are not being unreasonable when we expect the value of human life to be a central focus of a Catholic university.
To our west, the Supreme Court in Iowa recently nullified the age-old understanding in law of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The court’s decision has opened the door to the legal practice in Iowa of so-called same-sex marriage. We are reminded again of the importance of the appointment of good judges at all levels of the court system. We see clearly the need for witness to the right ordering that God has inscribed in the nature of human persons and relationships. No matter what human laws say about what is permissible, our neighbors need to hear from us, as well as see in our actions, the path that offers true hope for a rightly ordered life with God, that is eternal life.
The nature and purposes of marriage have been established by God. Marriage is regulated by civil laws and church laws, but it did not originate from the church or the state, but from God. So neither the church nor the state has the jurisdiction over marriage to alter its meaning and purpose [he is a fine teacher, clear, obvious and right to the point]. It is proper for the church, for Catholics, to articulate and support the true nature of this union designed by God.
Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complimentarity willed by God for marriage. The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve the transmission of life and to build up the bond between husband and wife. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1639-40.) By proclaiming this truth and by the lived witness of faithful marriages, the church participates in the just ordering of the human family and helps consecrate the world in worship of God.
16 April 2009
My dear friends,
Experience shows that personal qualities and material goods are not enough to guarantee the hope which the human spirit is constantly seeking. As I wrote in the Encyclical Spe Salvi, politics, science, technology, economics and all other material resources are not of themselves sufficient to provide the great hope to which we all aspire. This hope “can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain” (no. 31). This is why one of the main consequences of ignoring God is the evident loss of direction that marks our societies, resulting in loneliness and violence, discontent and loss of confidence that can often lead to despair. The word of God issues a warning that is loud and clear: “Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes” (Jer 17:5-6).
For Paul, hope is not simply an ideal or sentiment, but a living person: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Profoundly imbued with this certainty, he could write to Timothy: “We have set our hope on the living God” (1 Tim 4:10). The “living God” is the Risen Christ present in our world. He is the true hope: the Christ who lives with us and in us and who calls us to share in his eternal life. If we are not alone, if he is with us, even more, if he is our present and our future, why be afraid? A Christian’s hope is therefore to desire “the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1817).
Mary, Mother of hope
One of the moms last night asked me why we recall our sins at the beginning of Mass. Fr. Schnippel, over at Called By Name, has kindly posted an excellent answer to the question as his 900th post.
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto
May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed on the earth, and not hand him over to the will of his enemies.
May your hand be on the man at your right hand.
And over the son of man whom you have chosen for yourself.
Let us pray.
God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on Benedict your servant, the pastor of your Church. May his word and example inspire and guide the Church, and may he, and all those entrusted to his care, come to the joy of everlasting life. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This morning, after putting if off for several days, I went shopping for groceries. To be honest, I was out of Dr Pepper.
At the time I didn't have my clerical vest on (it's simpler that way), but I did wear black pants and shoes, a white cuff link shirt, and a black top coat. From the back, I looked like a priest. Or a funeral director.
At one point I turned my cart into the main aisle of the store (on my way to get Dr Pepper) and at the other end of the store was one of our recent high school graduates - and a member of the soccer team - coming my way. When he saw me a great smile came upon him and he greeted me most warmly. Since he seemed on his way out we did not stop and chat, but it was clear that simply seeing me was enough to brighten his day.
The recognition of this was humbling because I was not in an especially good mood this morning (I was not grumpy, though). I really do not like grocery shopping and I was also rather tired, for reasons yet unknown, though probably weather related.
It is always a comfort to know that the Lord uses his weak instruments in spite of themselves and a good reminder that the priesthood is not about me, but about him.
15 April 2009
He said of his beloved lepers, "I would gladly give my life for them," and this he did. He spent his life in their service, giving all he had to give.
Father Damien received the Sacrament of the Annointing of the Sick (then called the Extreme Unction (Annointing) and made his last Confession on April 2nd, 1889.
He said to Father Conrardy, who heard his confession, "How good God is, to have made me live long enough to see at this moment two priests at my side and the Franciscan Sisters at the settlement! ... I am no longer necessary; I am going to Heaven."
Near the end of his life, after two weeks of suffering, Father Damien said, "How sweet it is to die a child of the Sacred Hearts."
As we consider the blessed death of the Leper Priest, it is only right that we consider also our own death, whenever it might come. Father Damien taught us that if we want to obtain the happiness of heaven, we should
...begin from this very day to prepare for a happy death. Let us not lose a moment of the little time we have still to live; let us walk on in the way of holiness and justice, persuaded that at that moment we too shall have the happiness of hearing those consoling words: "Come, ye good and faithful servants, who have been faithful in small things, to take possession of the kingdom I have prepared for you."