Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reflection on The Birth of John the Baptist (June 24, 2007)

This Sunday, we mark the solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, with a vigil on Saturday evening and the Mass of the day. The Church gives us this solemnity to call to mind the unique role that the Baptist had in the proclamation of Jesus Christ.

From Luke's Gospel, we hear that Zachariah, the father of John, was serving in the temple area when the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him that he and his wife Elizabeth would bear a son. He doubted it due to his old age, and was struck mute until John was named eight days after John's birth. He and Elizabeth insisted that he be named John as the Angel had proclaimed, against the Family tradition. Perhaps it had to do with the name of John meaning "God is Gracious", and that is exactly the message that John would proclaim - that God is indeed present and giving us grace through the Lamb of God - Jesus Christ.

In his life, John knew his vocation. As the last of the prophets in the biblical sense, and the forerunner of the Messiah, he was to prepare the way for his Sacred cousin. He would say that he must decrease, Christ must increase. He was content to point to Christ, and to 'to get out of the way' of people following Christ. He was unafraid to proclaim the message of repentance, and as part of that message provided a ritual (though not a sacrament in our sense) of baptism of repentance. Christ of course transformed this into our Sacrament of baptism of regeneration! In it all, John did not worry about what to eat and what to wear (though one could make the case that he should have a little more), but was anxious about the message. He did not mince words, but spoke the truth lovingly to all. Of course, he was beheaded as the cost of a dance and a pledge gone wrong.

Because of this, John provides a great model for priests especially. Are we willing to proclaim the Gospel in its fullness, even if it results in persecution? Are we willing to become less, to shrink from the limelight, to point others to Christ? Are we empty of ourselves, our desires, our preferences, to be better instruments of Christ?

Priests, especially those serving as pastors, are to bring people to Christ. The programs and policies, yes even adherence to Canon Law and Church norms, are all aimed at salvation in Christ. Obedience and humility marks John's life, and so too a priest's. John was a prayerful man, and out of that prayer, responded to the needs of the people, and so too a priest is to be. As we continue to discern a vocation, we should ask for St. John the Baptist's intercession, that we would know the virtues of obedience, humility, and prayer. We should ask him to pray for us, that if we are being called to such a great vocation as being a priest, that we would also have the ability to become less, that Christ would be proclaimed in our every action.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer assignments for the seminarians

I apologize for the late posting of this update. Even though our seminarians have been in their assignments for a few weeks already, we will 'announce' it now.

Matt Wiering: He is studying Italian in Sienna. He will be returning to North American College in Rome for Theo. II.

Zach Peterson and Jacob Niemand: Spanish studies in Guatemala offered through St. Meinrad's Seminary. Both will be returning to St. Meinrad's, Zach in Theo. II and Jacob in Theo. I.

Aaron Johanneck: the 10-week Summer Program offered through the Institute of Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha NE. Aaron will be attending North American College in Rome for Theo. I.

Anthony Mielke: He is living in the Cities and working at St. Paul Seminary. He will return to the University of St. Thomas and St. John Vianney College Seminary for his Sophomore year.

Please keep them in prayers.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reflection for the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time

There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future. Truer words could not be said about today's readings. The episode begins with a woman, a sinful woman perhaps having been caught up in adultery or some sexual sin, boldly enters the house of the Pharisee and begins to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears and anoints them with the perfume from an alabaster jar. She went through great personal expense - not only with the oil, but by entering. Simon objects, and Jesus uses it as an opportunity to teach about the power of forgiveness. The greater the sin forgiven, the great the gratitude. She has loved him greatly, and because of her love, the text tells us, she is forgiven. This woman, whoever she is, is invited to leave forgiven and in peace, in Hebrew more likely than not the word was 'shalom' which implies a full restoration of order. Simon was stuck on the woman's sins - she had violated the Mosaic Law, and as such should not be in their presence, much less touching Jesus.

She is a fine example of our second reading that we are justified not by works of the Law (the Mosaic law, that is) though we are condemned by them. No, we are justified by grace, and cooperating with it by works of faith and love. We are forgiven by the Love of Christ and live the life of Grace. So many who are called to a religious vocation are so aware of their sins. They think that those sins preclude them from responding. Honestly, there is the reality of unworthiness for all responding to a vocation. Husbands and wives often express an awareness of the unworthiness that they have the spouse that they do, and the deep love of God in bringing them to the Sacrament of Marriage. Many religious and priests, even after many years of vows and ordination, know a certain sinfulness and unworthiness. It is not our sin, but God's call, to which we should respond.

Perhaps this woman, and St. Paul's statement of faith, offers a better response. She must have known her sinfulness, but she also knew Christ's mercy. St. Paul knew he lived in Christ, because Christ loved him and died for the forgiveness of his sins. In our sins, we must trust in Christ's love and forgiveness even more. We love Christ more than our sins, and walk in His grave, peace, and love. In that love and peace, we will more readily respond to our vocation (and more freely, too), whatever it is.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Fathers day to all fathers. In the last weeks, the theme of fatherhood has rested heavy on my heart, much because of a Boys camp I and Fr. Craig Timmerman co-directed last week on the theme of authentic manhood. A couple articles from the National Catholic Register have highlighted this, too. The first is an article entitled How to Be a Father by Tom McFeely interviewing James Stenson, we hear that fathers are to protect and provide for their families. In a second and even more fascinating article, The 10 Paradoxes of Fatherhood, Donald DeMarco address true fatherhood with ten realities. Though he speaks primarily of Biological fathers, it could be extended to priesthood, too. He names ten paradoxes:
1. A leader without being a frontrunner.
2. A visionary without being arrogant.
3. A servant without being servile.
4. An authority without being authoritarian.
5. A lover without being sentimental.
6. A supporter without being subordinate.
7. A disciplinarian without being punitive.
8. Merciful without being spineless.
9. Humble without being self-deprecating.
10. Courageous without being foolhardy.

Both articles are worth reading.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Reflection on Corpus Christi

The feast of Corpus Christi gives us the chance to re-examine and to celebrate the 'source and summit of our faith' - the Eucharist. While we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, the focus of Holy Thursday is on the Last Supper and Jesus' teaching and washing of the feet of the Apostles. This feast is dedicated to help us remember the gift of the Eucharist. We remember that the Eucharist is the self-gift of Jesus to His Church. It is our entrance into the saving act of Jesus Christ on the cross, in fact, of course, our Catholic Theology teaches that the Eucharist re-presents Calvary for us, and in the Eucharist, we are made present to Calvary. In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, who gave himself for the life of the world.

We offer gifts of bread and wine, which are fully transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. As St. Augustine wrote, when we receive the Eucharist we become what we receive. We are transformed ourselves in Christ, and we are nourished to be Christ's presence in the world, to bring His saving power wherever we go, and especially wherever His presence is especially needed.

As a priest, I know that my priesthood is only as strong as my Eucharistic devotion, and my pastoral effectiveness is only as potent as my commitment to and 'performance' of the dignified and prayerful Mass. As a priest, and especially as a diocesan priest, I am more profoundly aware that my highest duty and greatest privilege is to celebrate Mass. Everything I do and say leads to and comes from the Eucharist.

For anyone considering a vocation, we need to spend time in present to Jesus by Eucharistic Adoration. We need to receive Him worthily and frequently, to grow in grace.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sequence for Corpus Christi

For your prayer, I am including this post of the translation of the Sequence, found at www.preces-latinae.org:

ZION, to Thy Savior sing,
to Thy Shepherd and Thy King!
Let the air with praises ring!
All thou canst, proclaim with mirth,
far higher is His worth
than the glory words may wing.

Lo! before our eyes and living
is the Sacred Bread life-giving,
theme of canticle and hymn.
We profess this Bread from heaven
to the Twelve by Christ was given,
for our faith rest firm in Him.

Let us form a joyful chorus,
may our lauds ascend sonorous,
bursting from each loving breast.
For we solemnly record
how the Table of the Lord
with the Lamb's own gift was blest.

On this altar of the King
this new Paschal Offering
brings an end to ancient rite.
Shadows flee that truth may stay,
oldness to the new gives way,
and the night's darkness to the light.

What at Supper Christ completed
He ordained to be repeated,
in His memory Divine.
Wherefore now, with adoration,
we, the Host of our salvation,
consecrate from bread and wine.

Words a nature's course derange,
that in Flesh the bread may change
and the wine in Christ's own Blood.
Does it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of light transcending,
leaps to things not understood.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
priceless things, to sense forbidden;
signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
yet is Christ in either sign,
all entire confessed to be.

And whoe'er of Him partakes,
severs not, nor rends, nor breaks:
all entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousand eat,
all receive the selfsame meat,
nor do less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
eat of this celestial Food:
but with ends how opposite!
With this most substantial Bread,
unto life or death they're fed,
in a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
when they break the Host in twain,
but that in each part remain
what was in the whole before;
For the outward sign alone
may some change have undergone,
while the Signified stays one,
and the same forevermore.

Hail! Bread of the Angels, broken,
for us pilgrims food, and token
of the promise by Christ spoken,
children's meat, to dogs denied!
Shown in Isaac's dedication,
in the Manna's preparation,
in the Paschal immolation,
in old types pre-signified.

Jesus, Shepherd mild and meek,
shield the poor, support the weak;
help all who Thy pardon sue,
placing all their trust in You:
fill them with Your healing grace!
Source of all we have or know,
feed and lead us here below.
grant that with Your Saints above,
sitting at the feast of love
we may see You face to face.
Amen. Alleluia.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dappled Things

Fr. Jim Tucker at Dappled Things includes a post that rates his theological World view. The 'test' takes about 5-10 minutes and is a thought-provoker. I encourage you to take a look at the bottom link of this post! I took it and managed to show that I am 100% Catholic (thank God!) Here are my results:







You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.


Roman Catholic

100%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

86%

Neo orthodox

82%

Fundamentalist

46%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

43%

Classical Liberal

36%

Reformed Evangelical

25%

Emergent/Postmodern

25%

Modern Liberal

14%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Reflection on Trinity Sunday

This weekend, we celebrate a key doctrine of our Faith - the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is the Doctrine that defines us Christian – that Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father, the Second Person of the Trinity, and that they send the Holy Spirit, the Third Person. All three Persons are one being. This is a true mystery, as our minds cannot fully grasp the fullness of the Trinity. Three distinct persons, yet perfectly united in one being! Because of their unity, the Church teaches that where one is active, all are active, each in His own way (Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶258). In Creation, all three were present and active, in Redemption, all three were present and active, and in our sanctification, all three are active. The 'differences' among the persons of the Trinity is not merely what they do, but rather their interior relationship to the other Persons. Because of this, it is insufficient to simply name the Persons of the Trinity “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier.” The only names that come close to capturing the reality of the Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed by Jesus Christ Himself. The Father is eternally begetting the Son, the Son is eternally Begotten, and the Spirit is eternally sent forth from them.

What this means for those who are discerning a vocation is that the vocation comes from all Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. Those called to be priests are called to offer sacrifice to God the Father, reconfigured in persona Christi capitis, that is, in the person of Christ as head, and finally empowered in a special way by the Holy Spirit. Priests need to be in relationship to the Persons of the Trinity, in addition to being in relationship to their diocese and parish! The Trinity is a true community, and we, being created in the image and likeness of God, are likewise called into fellowship with the Trinity. Of course, it is only the Trinity that gives us the grace to do so!

All are called by God to love Him.

All are called to serve Him.

Some are called to special lives of service,

to give witness to God's love through being a priest, religious brother, or sister.

Is He calling you?