Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Family

In the Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family, we hear again of God's Promises. God made a promise to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation, and God (eventually) kept that promise, though time had passed and Abraham attempted to take matters into his own hands.
In our Gospel, we hear of Simeon and Anna. Simeon had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the Messiah. While we can safely assume that he did not live another 30-plus years to see that fullness of salvation, he had seen the messiah, Jesus Christ. It was only a matter of time before the fulfillment. Anna, too, waited in fasting and prayer for the Messiah, and seeing Him, proclaimed Him to all who were also waiting. Can you imagine her joy? Can you imagine her words? "It is just a matter of time... He's here!"
God is the God of promises. He promised a savior, and He has sent Him.
Every year, the Church gives us the feast of the Holy Family to contemplate the face of Christ born to the Virgin Mary. The Holy Family is the school, as Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI proclaimed. May our families receive degrees from this school, and all priests and religious graduates of the School of Nazareth.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This weekend's readings, we hear of God's will for the Blessed Mother given to her in the message from the Angel Gabriel. She was ready and prepared, aware of her need of a savior. Remember though free from original and actual sin, she was pre-redeemed by Jesus Christ and was still in need of His life, death, and resurrection. Hearing the message of the Angel, she receives it with joy and humility. She willingly allows the will of God to be done. Not fully knowing the 'hows', she knows the why: for the her salvation, and that of the whole world and our souls. She provides the temple for the Son of God to dwell (hence the first reading). Through her, He will be born. She receives the Lord.
In addition to John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary can provide another way of living Advent. She was ready to receive the Lord! As we count and prepare for these last days before Christmas, we should remember that God has a plan for us, too. We ought to be ready to do His will, and to receive Him with joy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Messaggio Natale 2008

The Christmas message from the Congregation of the Clergy has been released. It is reproduced here for your reading and spiritual health:

To all the dear Priests, Deacons and Catechists of the Entire World

I extend my joyous and fraternal wishes for a holy and festive Christmas, and that the year 2009 be enlightened, grace filled a full of accomplishments in the service of Jesus Christ and of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor or suffering. Christmas does not confine us to a commemoration of an extraordinary event in the past, recalled with gratitude and love, but it is also an event which is actualised in the present day, in our midst.
Jesus Christ comes because he loves us and wants to save us from evil: from every evil, and even from death. He comes to welcome us, to make us experience his love, to transform us into his disciples, true sons of the heavenly Father, to invite us to proclaim in the entire world that God is Love, and that he loves us unconditionally, without measure. Jesus comes! He becomes our companion on the journey of life. Let us be gathered to him. Let us allow him to overcome us and to make his dwelling within us. He will eat with us in an unimaginable communion, in which he will have us experience the mysterious and efficacious depth of his friendship and his salvation. Enlightened and transformed by this encounter with Him we will be able to proclaim him to every man and woman of our time. Behold, such is Christmas!

Cláudio Cardinal Hummes
Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cardinal Arinze Presents "Letter to Young Priest"

A new book by Cardinal Arinze, "Letter to Young Priest", was announced by ZENIT news yesterday. The article seems to hit the highlights of the book. He addresses the priestly promises of celibacy, poverty, and obedience. It looks like an excellent book for a priest or seminarian in need of a little encouragement.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Third Sunday of Advent

Rejoice, again I say it, Rejoice! Our readings, prayers, and liturgical colors this week are ones of joy. We hear of John the Baptist, the one who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. His life was one that was marked with repentance, but also with joy. He leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as Mary and the newly conceived Christ greeted Elizabeth. His clothing were harbingers of his role as the Elijah - the one who has to prepare the way. He denied that he was Elijah, but not the one who was promised to come in the line of Elijah. He denied he was the Prophet - that title was reserved for the Messiah. He ate locusts and wild honey, ritually clean food. He would spend his life proclaiming the coming Messiah, not caught in the trappings of titles, clothing, or food. He simply proclaimed a message of repentance. The repentance is our response to God's grace, while God brings us reconciliation through the Messiah. Truly, here is reason to rejoice!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Second Sunday of Advent

Our readings this weekend provide much comfort. We hear the prophet Isaiah being told to comfort God's people. In the second reading, we are comforted to hear that the Lord is not as much delaying His return as allowing us the time to prepare our hearts and live in holiness and grow in devotion before the final dissolution of the world in the purifying fire of God. The Gospel is of the beginning of Mark's Gospel, and the preaching of John, his baptism of repentance and the prophecy of the Messiah's soon revelation.

We may not like to admit that we are sinners. Those who cannot admit they are sinners cannot admit they need a savior. The greater the sin, the greater the need for a savior, too. We live in a world that tries to explain away sin, and Christ as a result. Comfort comes not in saying we do not sin, but that we have a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are set free in Baptism, and renewed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are invited to live and conduct ourselves as if already in the new Heaven and new Earth.

Friday, December 5, 2008


To those looking for a list of our current seminarians, see the list of resources to the right hand column of this page (about quarter of the way down), or click here, remember you can download directly to your computer by Right Clicking or pressing option and clicking your mouse at the same time. Note that all of our resources are pdf's, and will require either Adobe reader or some other pdf reader.

For our current prayer calendar of priests, Seminarians, and Pastoral Administrators, click here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent, 2008

This weekend, we enter a new liturgical year. In our readings this weekend, the Church reminds us of Jesus' injunction on us to be ready. We are called to be alert, to be working until the return of Jesus. Advent is more than the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas or a shopping season. It is a season of watchful waiting, of longing, of penance, prayer, and preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. Some will point out that Advent pays attention to three comings of Christ - Christ in History (born as a child, who lived, died and rose again), Christ in Mystery (in the Sacraments), and Christ in Majesty. These first weeks of Advent, we especially focus on this - to be watchful for His return. If He comes today, would we be ready? Would we have lived our lives in such a way that we would be recognize Him immediately, and that He would recognize us?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

20 Tips For Making A Good Confession

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession at his blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say. These are especially useful as we are about to begin Advent during which we prepare our hearts and minds.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feast of Christ the King

Christ is the King of Heaven and Earth. When He returns, He will judge us but the standards of His Kingdom, not of ours. In the parable that we have been given this weekend, this judgement is placed in terms of our service to the least. Note that those condemned were not necessarily 'evil' according to the parable. Their response suggests that they served Jesus Christ when they recognized Him, but did not serve when they did not. Those that are commended served without seeing Christ. This is true character - they did the right thing without any hope of reward other than knowing it was the right thing to do.

At times, we may not be sure of our vocation, but we ought to be sure of the right thing - the works of mercy. We serve the Body of Christ hidden in those around us, nourished by the Body of Christ, the Eucharist.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend, we hear the Parable of the Talents. The servants are called before the Master who is to leave for a time. He entrusts to them his wealth, to one five talents, to another two talents, and to the third one talent. He does not tell them what to do with it - it must have been simply assumed that they were to put it to use. The first two doubled the amount, but the third in fear buried it. The servants are asked what they did with the talent they were given. The one who only made two was not critiqued for not making five - he did the best he could! The poor fool who buried it was condemned for not even trying. He knew the Master's wish, and went directly against it because of fear. One can get the sense that had he tried and lost it all, he would have not been as harshly treated. The talent is taken away, the man is condemned, and the talent is given to the one who had earned five.

This parable reminds us that what we have is God's gift to us, entrusted to us to be shared with others. We must use the gifts, we cannot bury them or hide them in fear. By using them, we may find them increased, and by not using them, we will lose them. We will be held responsible for doing our best with what we have been given.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dedication of The Basilica of Saint John Lateran

This Sunday, we celebrate the dedication of the Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran. It is the Pope's cathedral as Bishop of Rome. That this dedication is celebrated even on Sundays reminds us of the universality of the Church.

In our Gospel for this weekend, we hear of Jesus cleansing the Temple, which is early in Jesus' ministry recorded in John's Gospel. He tells them to destroy the temple and He will raise it up again. They hear it as the Temple - the center of the religious activity of the Jewish people. That temple was in the process of restoration of 46 years, and they cried foul. John redacts it for us: He was speaking of His Body. Temples are the places of encounter with God. Jesus is that place of encounter with God the Father, in the person of God the Son. Destroy that Temple, and it will be raised.

In the Second Reading form 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that we are the Temple of God, too. We are the Body of Christ. We can hear echoes from Paul's conversion from being a persecutor of the Church to hearing Christ asking why he [Paul] is persecuting Him. We are built to the building of God. Some of us are called to build, too, on that same foundation of Jesus Christ. We build, so that we can be for others a place where they can encounter God because we strive to live with Christ.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts of the Election

I am writing the following as an individual, and is not an endorsement or rejection of any party or politician.

I am truly disappointed with many in the main stream media. So many are suggesting that those who voted against President-elect Obama are either racist or uninformed. He could not (or would not because it was not politically expedient) say when life began and was afforded rights. He refused to vote for a law that would have required medical care to those born alive in the process of abortion - the difference is that the woman wanted an abortion, not a baby. He supports of abortion on demand and the Freedom of Choice Act enshrining it as a right. He promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. He supports federal funding for fetal stem cell research. Because I am an informed Catholic, he removed himself from my support and vote for him as a candidate. It was not the color of his skin that I considered - it was the content of his character. I imagine that there was a fraction of those who did not vote for him primarily because of his ancestry, the same as I would be safe to assume some voted for him simply because of it - both are equally wrong! Dr. Martin Luther King said it best - when it is what is within that matters, not what is only skin deep.

This election was disappointing on the part of the pro-life cause. Measures aimed at limiting abortions, defining the start of human life (and rights) failed, while measures to allow embryonic research and assisted suicide passed. We by-and-large elected a pro-abortion slate into federal offices. The pro-abortion battle will not and cannot win based on logic and civil discourse, so now the politicians will force it upon us.

I 'predict' that under the new administration, access to abortion will be enshrined as a 'right', the limitations of abortion (conscience clauses, limiting federal funding, waiting periods, parental notifications, and partial birth abortion bans; so many gained only in these last years) will be removed. Abortionists and abortion mills will be allowed to relax safety and reporting regulations. Overall, we will see a declining number of reported abortions; it will be seen as a drop in abortions though they will be woefully underreported. The drop will be credited to some expensive and ultimately ineffective program, just as the 'rise' of abortion rates these last 8 years were blamed on the pro-life policies being failures, but not because of the mandatory reporting laws!

We must not be deceived - even if something is legal, it is not automatically moral. Abortion, and support of abortion, is always wrong. Life does begin at conception - it is a scientific fact in addition to being affirmed by the long teaching of the Catholic Church. The pro-life movement will have an uphill battle again, because we grew complacent.

These next years, we have a task to remind our politicians in all parties of the dignity of human life. We need not resign to the fact that abortion is here to stay, anymore than those before us gave up the cause of civil rights, the recognition of women's rights to vote, and the end of slavery. May God bless us with strength to defend the defenseless, and that He would bless our politicians and fellow citizens with the truth that life begins at conception, and that every life is precious in God's eyes.

That being written, we pray for President-Elect Obama. May he see the dignity of life from conception to natural death, and unite the nation for the good of all, not just the born (and wanted).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prayer for Election Day

Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia links to a great prayer for this election day from the Concord Pastor. Hopefully, you will go to vote. Hopefully, this prayer will inspire you to vote, and to vote for life, and challenge our leaders to work for the poor and needy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Feast of All Souls

The feast of All Souls gives us the opportunity to stop and remember those who have died who have not yet been entered into their heavenly rest, but in the fullness of time will - those in purgatory. Purgatory is a state of purification where the soul of those who have died without coming to the full love of Christ are purged from their earthly attachments. Prayers will not help those who, in their sins, rejected God and chose an eternity separated from Him (in Hell), and the prayers are not needed for those who, because of their faith and fullness of Love, have already been admitted to heaven as Saints. But the souls in purgatory are the ones for whom we can, and must, pray. It is a penitent prayer, a prayer of repentance on behalf of those who are there. Even the color specified for use at Mass (violet or black, if available) is one of prayer and penance. While there is a sense of joy, it is assumed, because they know that they are bound for heaven, there is the pain of letting go of their disordered attachments. We pray for them, that they may enter that purification and that we can help express the love of God with our prayers.

For us who are alive, we need to remember that Purgatory is not a goal - only heaven ought to be. We can be come to holiness here in this life, to become living saints. We pray for the grace of conversion in our lives, that we may find freedom from all that is not of God. May we be the saints that God not only has created us to be, but given us the grace to be!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Of all the commandments of the Old Testament, the commandment to love God and our neighbor is the greatest, and also the most difficult. Love is a decision, a choice to put someone else's needs first. Love, mercy, and justice are all on the spectrum of right actions, with love being the highest. With the love of God, we respond to His love which moves us first. That love calls us to act in love with His other creatures.

Love is a choice, and it is a part of our vocation. All of us are commanded to love, but how? Is it as a spouse, meeting the needs of the other and a family? Is it as a priest who loves his parishioners and leads them in love? Is it as a religious man or woman who spends his or her life in prayer out of love for the world? We are all called to love, and in Love, let us serve Him and each other!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but to God what is God's? With these words, Jesus evades the trap that the Herodians and Pharisees try to lay for him. In doing so, Jesus calls them on their hypocrisy. They are opposite sides of the political spectrum, the first sign of trap, and the unsolicited compliments are another sign. They ask about the legality (not the politics but the morality) of paying taxes. The Roman empire required this tax of all subjects. The Pharisees saw that the Roman taxes were not legally obligated, though they most likely paid them, and the Herodians of course supported the taxes. If Jesus said no, the Herodians could have reported Him as a revolutionary. If Jesus said yes, He could have been accused of supporting the Roman regime inciting the people who hated the Roman rule. There is another level, here, too. Jesus invites them to show the coin that is used. The fact that they were able to produce the coin is a sign that they were asking a mute question. "Whose image is that..." The image of Tiberius Caesar was against Jewish sensibilities - it was a graven image of a human being, and as such would have been unlawful. Jesus continues "... and whose inscription?" The inscription would have read translated of course, "Tiberius Caesar, Son of Divine Augustus, Son of Augustus", and the back would have read "Pontificus maximus" - The High Priest. This would have been utter heresy - Tiberius' father Augustus proclaimed himself a god, and Tiberius called himself the son of a god, whose high priest he was. The onlookers answer that it is Caesar, and Jesus gives them the answer. In doing so, he is telling them to give to Caesar only what is duly his - the tax. But the glory, praise, honor, and worship belongs to God alone. Whose image, after all, is Tiberius himself in - it is the Image of God. He is not divine or the son of God. But Jesus Christ is, and He deserves the praise and honor due to such an truly August One (the quality, not the month).

Following our vocations, we give to God what is His. When we find the true balance in our vocation we find the balance of living our life for God, while living in the world (in, not of). We also take a more proper role in civic activities as God has called us as individuals.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the Gospel this weekend, we hear of the King who throws a wedding feast for his son, but those invited will not come. The reasons: Fields and business. Not a very good excuse, ultimately, and that is exactly the point. They simply reject the invitation. Some went so far as to kill the messengers. Yet the cattle are slaughtered and the feast must go on.

We are called to the feast that the Lamb of God has prepared for us. All we have to do is accept. But if we are honest, we reject the invitation, and sometimes 'kill the messenger' ourselves. The Father calls those who will respond, the good and the bad alike.

Matthew's parable adds a curious detail, though, about these who do accept. There is one man who is not dressed in a wedding garment. Perhaps he was dressed in his work clothes, still with evidence of his occupation. He was not prepared, but simply showed up. This is the key, I believe. It is not enough to hear and respond to the invitation, but to prepare our hearts for the feast.

So what is a prepared heart? It is a heart that knows God's love, and in turn beats with love with Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is a heart that knows the truth, and rejoices in it. It is a heart that has been transformed by the Sacraments, especially of Baptism, Reconciliation, and Eucharist. It is a heart not moved with the whims of the world or the emotion, but by the movement of the Holy Spirit. May we all be dressed with the proper heart, converted to Christ, celebrating the wedding of the King's Son with His bride, the Church!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus, in this parable of the vineyard, tells that the builder builds it and leaves it in charge of renters so that he can receive the fruits at their proper time. The renters had other ideas, though. They chose to ignore the owner. They became murderous, and in their twisted logic thought that if they kill the messengers and the owner's son, they would inherit the vineyard.

God is the owner, and we are the renters. Unlike the builder of a vineyard who plants for his own sake, God plants the world for the sake of love. God has no 'need' for the fruits as He in perfect. But we need to give Him the fruits. In gratitude, we give Him our service and praise. But we also pay attention to our own attitudes and assumptions. Just as illogical as thinking that we can inherit a son's wealth through his murder, it is illogical to rationalize our behavior and our sins. Yet we all do, some more than others. We think we can get away with continuing to act like we are the makers and owners of truth. We must humble ourselves, though. We bring our fruits to God, and receive from Him the truth. We let Him give us our mission.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To serve or not to serve. In today's Parable, the first son says that he will not but later repents and does the will of the Father. The second son, who initially responds with enthusiasm, but walks away. In the second reading, we hear a full example of Jesus Christ, the son of God, reduces himself to become a slave, a servant, and obediently accepted even death. Contrast this with the legend of Satan who vowed he would rather rule in hell than to serve in heaven.

We are given the choice: Serve or not serve. Do we empty ourselves, seeking to provide for another's good, or full of pride, act in a selfish manner? Hearing the call is not enough - we have to follow through, too. Let us serve the Lord, let our commitment to Him be sure and strong!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Powerful Conversion

Priests for Life Forces Members of Congress to Face Carnage of Abortion by bringing in a former abortionist. The whole article is powerful, but Dr. Levatino's testimony is especially powerful. While the goal of the campaign was simply to present the truth of what abortion truly is (the ending of a human life) and therefore based on facts and logic, it was a personal tragedy that helped him see the truth. May many more, from our lawmakers to the abortionists, hear the truth.

Despite recent 'statements' from high-ranking Catholic politicians (culturally Catholic, at least) stating that the Church has no clear teaching on this, life begins at fertilization. It is an article based on science. That life has dignity and value, this is the article of faith. The choice of abortion is a choice to kill that life. There is no wiggle room - abortion is murder. The fetus is a unique life with different DNA, eventually (still in the womb, of course) unique fingerprints, brain activity, heartbeats, fingers and toes. The child may have a different blood type than the mother, even! This is not a tumor, a mass of flesh, or a product of conception.

Dr. Levatino points this out. Warning: his descriptions are graphic, but necessary.

"Once you have grasped something inside [the uterus], squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard - really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about 4 to 5 inches long. ... Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.

"The head of a baby that age is about the size of a plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. ... You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see a pure white gelatinous material issue from the cervix. That was the baby's brains. You can then extract the skull pieces.

"If you have a really bad day like I often did, a little face may come out and stare back at you."

Dr. Levatino, while still practicing as an obstetrician-gynecologist, told that he ended his career as an abortionist after personal tragedy struck.

"My wife and I had an infertility problem," Levatino said. "We were unable to have children, and after several years of effort, we were very, very fortunate in being able to adopt a little girl whom we named Heather. As sometimes happens, after years of effort -- and I mean three surgeries on my wife's part and everything else -- we finally adopted a child, and my wife got pregnant the very next month. We ended up with two children just 10 months apart. We were very blessed that way.

"On June 23, 1984, my son was trying to cross the street, and my daughter, who was always the little mother, was running after him to tell him not to do that, and she was struck and killed by a car.

"If you haven't gone through that kind of tragedy, you don't have a clue. You may think you can imagine it, but trust me: You have no idea what it's like to lose a child, in any way.

"What do you do after a tragedy? You mourn for a while and you try to get back into your routine. I don't know how long after her death I had to do my first D&E abortion. I remember reaching in and literally ripping out an arm or a leg and looking at it in the clamp and I got sick. When you start an abortion you can't stop. If you leave anything behind, you [can] bet your patient is going to come back infected, bleeding or worse.

"I soldiered on and I finished that abortion."

But, Levatino said, something had changed.

"For the first time in my life I really looked at that pile of goo at the side of the table, and all of a sudden I didn't see her wonderful right to choose, and I didn't see the $600 wad of cash that I made in 15 minutes, and I couldn't think about what a great doctor I was because I took care of her problem. All I could see was somebody's son or daughter."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

All are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord. Whether it is in the beginning of our day, or toward evening, the Lord is searching for us, inviting us to work for Him. At the end, it really will not matter to Him when we started, the reward (eternal life) will be the same for all. On one level, it might seem unfair. But when we understand that God gives His very best to all, it reminds us it is not about us, but about Him all the time. This should not, however, delay us from responding when we hear the invitation! We work so that we may know Him. We work because we love Him! We work because we know our true worth is in being faithful servants. This is our purpose.

May we hear the Lord's invitation, and respond.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Congratulations to Bishop LeVoir

This day was a great day for the Diocese of New Ulm, as we received our fourth Bishop, ordained in our See City. It was a wonderful day of celebration and joy, and the Holy Spirit was strongly present.

May God Bless Bishop Levoir for his 'Yes' to the Holy Father's call to accept the episcopacy. May he be given the grace and strength to lead us for years to come!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feast of the Triumph of the Cross

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. This feast is a double-anniversary. It first commemorates the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena (mother of the emperor Constantine) and the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site of the Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This feast, though, is bigger. It is like a mini-Easter - it is a celebration of the Cross, a reminder of the grace that we have been given because of the Cross.

We know that our modern world is filled with so much evil. At times, it might even seem that the evil is winning. But the Cross stands as witness that there is something infinitely more powerful than evil - God. In the cross, Christ accepted what was vile, ugly, and utterly destructive. In His death, he submitted himself to the forces of evil. But His resurrection destroyed death and sin. Everything is changed, transformed, by Christ, though for now we ourselves continue to deal with evil, knowing that it is already conquered. Nothing can conquer God, nothing can overwhelm Christ and His love for us.

Understanding the love of Christ for us, and the triumph of the Cross, how can we give less than our All to Him?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus provides the model of 'conflict resolution' for dealing with a brother who is in the wrong. There is an understanding implicit, though, that there is such matters that require addressing. First, the brother is to be addressed one-on-one. If that is ignored, two or three others need to witness the confrontation to assure all that is said is true. Then the Church is to be notified, and if the brother continues to be obstinate in sin, then he is to be treated as a Gentile or tax collector. Note that this is not an abusive treatment, but one that requires separation for the worshipping community and prayer for conversion. Jesus continues to tell the Apostles that they have the authority to bind and loose. This is not an 'ontological' binding and loosing, but a juridical one. What is meant by this distinction is that Jesus does not give the ability to change 'reality' or truth, but one's conversion and forgiveness. It seems to be necessary so that gathering in Christ's name may be holy, and that He be truly present.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pope's response to the question of multiple-parish Pastors

In another Question/Answer session with His Holiness Pope Benedict on August 6, he was asked a particular question that is part of our Diocesan reality - priests with multiple parishes. The full session of the meeting in Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone can be found at this link. Here is the Question and response:

Fr Franz Pixner, dean at Kastelruth: Holy Father, I am Franz Pixner and I am the pastor of two large parishes. I myself, together with many of my confreres and lay persons, are concerned about the increasing burden of pastoral care caused by, for example, the pastoral units that are being created: the intense pressure of work, the lack of recognition, difficulties concerning the Magisterium, loneliness, the dwindling number of priests but also of communities of the faithful. Many people wonder what God is asking of us in this situation and how the Holy Spirit wishes to encourage us. In this context arise questions concerning, for example, the celibacy of priests, the ordination of viri probati to the priesthood, the involvement of charisms, particularly those of women, in pastoral care, making men and women collaborators trained in theology responsible for conferring Baptism and preaching homilies. The question is also asked how we priests, confronted by the new challenges, can help one another in a brotherly community, at the various levels of the diocese, diaconate and pastoral and parish unit. We ask you, Holy Father, to give us some good advice for all these questions. Thank you!

Pope Benedict XVI:

Dear dean, you have opened a whole series of questions that occupy and concern pastors and all of us in this age, and you certainly know that I cannot answer all of them here. I imagine that you will have repeated opportunities to consider them with your Bishop and we in turn we will speak of them at the Synod of Bishops. All of us, I believe stand in need of this dialogue with one another, of the dialogue of faith and responsibility, in order to find the straight narrow path in this era, full of difficult perspectives on faith and challenges for priests. No one has an instant recipe, we are all searching together.

With this reservation, I find myself together with all of you in the midst of this process of toil and interior struggle, I shall try to say a few words, precisely as part of a broader dialogue.

In my answer I would like to examine two fundamental aspects: on the one hand, the irreplaceableness of the priest, the meaning and the manner of the priestly ministry today; and on the other - and this is more obvious than it used to be - the multiplicity of charisms and the fact that all together they are Church, they build the Church and for this reason we must strive to reawaken charisms. We must foster this lively whole which in turn then also supports the priest. He supports others, others support him and only in this complex and variegated whole can the Church develop today and toward the future.

On the one hand, there will always be a need for the priest who is totally dedicated to the Lord and therefore totally dedicated to humanity. In the Old Testament there is the call to "sanctification" which more or less corresponds to what we mean today by "consecration", or even "priestly Ordination": something is delivered over to God and is therefore removed from the common sphere, it is given to him. Yet this means that it is now available for all. Since it has been taken and given to God, for this very reason it is now not isolated by being raised from the "for", to the "for all". I think that this can also be said of the Church's priesthood. It means on the one hand that we are consigned to the Lord, separated from ordinary life, but on the other, we are consigned to him because in this way we can belong to him totally and totally belong to others. I believe we must continuously seek to show this to young people - to those who are idealists, who want to do something for the whole - show them that precisely this "extraction from the common" means "consignment to the whole" and that this is an important way, the most important way, to serve our brethren. Part of this, moreover, is truly making oneself available to the Lord in the fullness of one's being and consequently, finding oneself totally available to men and women. I think celibacy is a fundamental expression of this totality and already, for this reason, an important reference in this world because it only has meaning if we truly believe in eternal life and if we believe that God involves us and that we can be for him.

Therefore, the priesthood is indispensable because in the Eucharist itself, originating in God, the Church is built; in the Sacrament of Penance purification is conferred; in the Sacrament, the priesthood is, precisely, an involvement in the "for" of Jesus Christ. However, I know well how difficult it is today - when a priest finds himself directing not only one easily managed parish but several parishes and pastoral units; when he must be available to give this or that advice, and so forth - how difficult it is to live such a life. I believe that in this situation it is important to have the courage to limit oneself and to be clear about deciding on priorities. A fundamental priority of priestly life is to be with the Lord and thus to have time for prayer. St Charles Borromeo always used to say: "You will not be able to care for the souls of others if you let your own perish. In the end you will no longer do anything even for others. You must always have time for being with God". I would therefore like to emphasize: whatever the demands that arise, it is a real priority to find every day, I would say, an hour to be in silence for the Lord and with the Lord, as the Church suggests we do with the breviary, with daily prayers, so as to continually enrich ourselves inwardly, to return - as I said in answering the first question - to within the reach of the Holy Spirit's breath. And to order priorities on this basis: I must learn to see what is truly essential, where my presence as a priest is indispensable and where I cannot delegate anyone else. And at the same time, I must humbly accept when there are many things I should do and where my presence is requested that I cannot manage because I know my limits. I think people understand this humility.

And I now must link the other aspect to this: knowing how to delegate, to get people to collaborate. I have the impression that people understand and also appreciate it when a priest is with God, when he is concerned with his office of being the person who prays for others: "we", they say, "cannot pray so much, you must do it for us: basically, it is your job, as it were, to be the one who prays for us". They want a priest who honestly endeavours to live with the Lord and then is available to men and women - the suffering, the dying, the sick, children, young people (I would say that they are the priorities) - but also who can distinguish between things that others do better than him, thereby making room for those gifts. I am thinking of Movements and of many other forms of collaboration in the parish. May all these things also be reflected upon in the diocese itself, new forms of collaboration should be created and interchanges encouraged. You rightly said that in this it is important to look beyond the parish to the diocesan community, indeed, to the community of the universal Church which in her turn must direct her gaze to see what is happening in the parish and what the consequences are for the individual priest.

You then touched on another point, very important in my eyes: priests, even if they live far apart are a true community of brothers who should support and help one another. In order not to drift into isolation, into loneliness with its sorrows, it is important for us to meet one another regularly. It will be the task of the diocese to establish how best to organize meetings for priests - today we have cars which make travelling easier - so that we can experience being together ever anew, learn from one another, mutually correct and help one another, cheer one another and comfort one another, so that in this communion of the presbyterate, together with the Bishop we can carry out our service to the local Church. Precisely: no priest is a priest on his own; we are a presbyterate and it is only in this communion with the Bishop that each one can carry out his service. Now, this beautiful communion recognized by all at the theological level, must also be expressed in practice in the ways identified by the local Church, and it must be extended because no Bishop is a Bishop on his own but only a Bishop in the College, in the great communion of Bishops. This is the communion we should always strive for. And I think that it is a particularly beautiful aspect of Catholicism: through the Primacy, which is not an absolute monarchy but a service of communion, that we may have the certainty of this unity. Thus in a large community with many voices, all together we make the great music of faith ring out in this world.

Let us pray the Lord to comfort us when we think we cannot manage any longer: let us support one another and then the Lord will help us to find the right paths together.

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last week's Gospel include Peter's proclamation that Jesus is the Son of the Most high, the Messiah. This week, our Gospel includes Jesus telling them what He as the messiah most do to bring salvation. Peter holds strong to his perception, and finds a reprimand. No, the Messiah most suffer, die, and rise. Peter is think by worldly standards, not by God's. In the second reading this weekend, we hear Paul telling the Romans that they (and we) must be about the transformation of our minds and the sacrifice of our bodies, to discern the will of God.

Discernment, therefore, requires the offering of our bodies and allowing the transformation of our minds. We allow God to be God, and cooperate with His action in our lives.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Good Homilies Have 2 Prerequisites

In a post at ZENIT, Father Dario Viganò, director of "Cinema" and president of Ente dello Spettacolo, an Italian foundation dedicated to the cinema, as well as president of the Redemptor Hominis Pontifical Institute at the Pontifical Lateran University, spoke with L'Osservatore Romano about the recipe for a good homily. While there are different styles and methods, he contends there are two basics that make a homily 'good': the consistency of the preacher's life and the brevity and concreteness of the message.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who is Jesus Christ? Is he just a man, or is He God-made-flesh, dwelling among us? When we can answer the question (even if it is only a start of an answer), we can move forward to serve Him as He deserves. If we see him as a nothing more than a teacher, a leader, a revolutionary, or such, we might be tempted to simply follow whatever aspect. But if we know him to be Lord and Savior, we are more apt to give Him our life!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Resources

We are adding to our resources made available to download. Please See our rooster of seminarians, as well as the list of young women discerning religious life. Also available is the newest prayer folder to print off. This lists a priest or pastoral administrator as well as a seminarian for every day for the next 6 months. Note that it should be printed off on 8.5 x 14 Paper and folded in half. It can be folded again and fits well into your Liturgy of the Hours book (hint, hint).

Prayers for Butch Hendrickson

We are asking for your prayers for one of seminarians, Butch Hendrickson. He had an accident water tubing last week and broke his nose. In the surgery to correct it, they discovered that he has also fractured his skull onto his sinus cavity. He will need further surgery, and additional time to heal and recover.

Yet Another Seminarian

We are pleased to publicly announce that we have accepted another young man as candidates for the seminary. Samuel Wagner will be in pre-Theology at St. Paul Seminary. He is from Sleepy Eye. This brings our total seminarians to 10! May God bless us with more!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Lord's ministry, there were people that He seemed to 'lead on', as in this Sunday's Gospel. This pagan women comes begging for help, and he feigns disinterest, unwillingness, and general contempt. He tells her that is is wrong to give her what she wants when there are so many Jews who need Him, but does so in analogy - it is wrong to throw the food out to the dogs while the children are still eating. She respectfully admits that she is not worthy of His help, but that even an indoor dog will accept the scraps that are given to it. Jesus sees that she is sincere with her faith, and grants her request, complimenting her on her deep faith.

In our prayer, we might feel like the Lord is not listening, that He is putting us off. We might need to consider are we asking for something that is good and holy, and if so, are we being persistent? The Lord does answer sincere prayers. Some are: Help me to know You. Show me where I can serve you. In the Sacraments, He hears and responds to the prayer, give me strength, forgive me, renew my heart... Let us be persistent in asking, but always aware that we are made worthy by the the Lord.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend, we hear the episode of Peter strolling on the water with Jesus. He musters the courage to leave the boat behind, to get out on to the waves and to walk to Jesus. Everything goes well - until he realizes the waves and the wind. Only then does he start to fall. He cries out, and the Lord grasps him, chides him for his lack of faith. But they had to get back into the boat - how did they do that? They had to walk back, with Jesus beside him, Peter was able to walk again.

So often, we find it easy to walk wherever it is. It is really not our effort, but rather that our eyes are fixed on Christ. As long as we do, we will be alright. But when we take our eyes off of Him, when we focus on the things come at us instead of to Whom we are heading, we are destined to sink. We can cry out like Peter and the saints, "Lord, save me!", and He will. He will grasp us by the hand, pull us onto the waves, and take us for a walk. That is where we need to be. There is no comfort like being in the arms of our Lord, walking with Him.

May we continue to walk with Him in the discernment of our vocations. May He speak to us what plans He has for us.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Jesus meets all human needs. While we say that, we might ask how. When He looks at us with the same mercy that He had with the crowds of His day, does He see our hunger, too? How does He meet this hunger? In the multiplication of loaves, He shows us.

He meets our needs through the Eucharist, when He takes our bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it back to his disciples (the priest) who give it to the people.

We cannot so easily dismiss this miracle without destroying our understanding of the Eucharist as Catholics. Let us remember, Christ is still multiplying the loaves in our own day, but now through the hands of the priest, taking the offering of the people of God, and making it His Body and Blood!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

Cardinal Stafford, of the Sacred Penitentiary in Rome and an American prelate, has a thought-provoking article in the California Catholic daily on his personal review of the events surrounding the publication of Humanae Vitae entitled “In 1968, something terrible happened in the Church”. While it is long, it is a well-written piece that helps to tell the history of the dissent. I will not begin to do justice to his clarity, so please take time to read it.

With the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae today (promulgation was actually on the 25th, the Feast of St. James), perhaps we ought to recapture what Pope Paul VI wrote. In Humanae Vitae, for a little review, the Pope taught that there is an inseparable, intrinsic link between union and procreation in every sexual act. He stated that acts rendered infertile by artificial means cease to honor this link, and could not be viewed as moral. He predicted that the embracing of contraception would lead to several evils: The objectification of women (and I would add men), the rift of husband and wife and weakening of family, and the intrusion of the State into other affairs (while he meant forced sterilization and abortions, I think that a good read would also include other areas).

There was an immediate outcry of dissent. Dissent, for whatever reason, is never to be taken lightly, and when that dissent is against the Vicar of Christ, one is placing oneself in judgement against the Holy Spirit. With Humanae Vitae, too many dissented without even reading this beautiful encyclical. They 'taught' that one's conscience should be the sole guide in the decision to use contraception (except of course when it was rejected, of course). They belittled the Pope's suggestion of Natural Family Planning as unscientific and unsuccessful (such as the Rhythm method which does not work well because a women's fertility is affected by many variables), and mock the successful methods. We have seen the fruits of contraception and the contraceptive mentality: an increase of 'legal' abortions on demand, at all stages of development and by any means including Partial Birth, the spread of pornography including all sorts of perversions, the rift of husband and wife and denigration of the family, the shirking of responsibility of men who father children, a raise in single mothers, cohabitation, perpetual adolescence especially of men, increase in violent crimes, etc. This is not even to delve into the homosexual agenda or the push for euthanasia. We see that our culture says that the only unsafe sexual act is one of complete openness that could result in the transmission of life. Sex is no longer a gift given among two married adults, but a means of taking pleasure. While not all of these fruits may be solely and directly caused by contraception, there are connections. These fruits of dissension, the fruits of contraception are all around us.

On the other side, though, those who embraced Humanae Vitae, have developed methods and understandings in conformity with the Church. The science behind Natural Family Planning is solid, and freeing. By teaching a woman and man the signs of fertility that can be scientifically verified, a true empowerment has occurred. First, it recognizes that God is God, we are not. For grave reason, a couple may refrain for sexual activity during their joint fertile times (about 100 hours a month). But it also can assist a couple in bearing a child. Instead of treating fertility as a disease with pills and latex, NFP treats it as a state of health, a means of being responsible for one's choices. Women are revered. Those practicing NFP have also gained fruits: open and honest dialog (after all, if you can talk about fertility, what can't you talk about), an openness to life and love, an ability to see children as gifts, an ability to see the other as a gift, a profound respect for all humans, and of generosity in other areas of life. Couples practicing NFP have a low divorce rate. In my experience, couples using NFP and their families tend to be happier.

Following the fruits, I know what tree I want for my parishioners! It makes it easy to preach Humanae Vitae, the Theology of the Body, and in reality all that the Church teaches. It makes the recommendation of NFP programs easy. It reminds me that the Holy Spirit is in charge. I believe consensus for Humanae Vitae is building, despite the critical dissenters. It is simply because 40 years of the fruits of dissent have been far too bitter for far too many, while the fruits of assent sweet and refreshing!

Bishop-Elect LeVoir's Ordination

I have received notification (though not official yet) that Bishop-Elect LeVoir's ordination is set for September 15, 2008 in New Ulm. More details will follow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary TIme

The kingdom of heaven cannot be bought or sold. It is received as a gift by those who love God and respond to His will for their lives. In this weekend's Gospel, we hear Jesus telling parables about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, or a pearl of great price, that whoever would find it can immediately recognize its value, then go and sell all that he or she has in order to purchase it. These are beautiful parables for us to mediate on, when contemplating a vocation. But Jesus does only briefly mentions a step that His hearers must have understood - the person who finds it has to be looking for it, and has to know what a treasure or pearl of great value is, in order to know that he or she is indeed in the presence of something worthy of giving everything else in order to possess.

Our society does not value a vocation to priesthood or religious life, at least as Christ and the Church define it. True, the media seems to enjoy running stories of priestly scandal, mock ceremonies, and dissenting voices. When it comes to someone embracing the vocation as it is, they simply do not know what to do, and often reduce the priest or religious to a social worker, a psychologist, or something less. But those who see the true value are willing to give it all up for this one vocation!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parable of the weeds and the wheat provides some comfort to all who deal with evil, in other words, all who are seeking good. Jesus tells this parable as an explanation of why there is evil in the world (that it was sown by the evil one), and why it continues (because it is too destructive to remove it now). Those who dwell among those who seek destruction and the ruin of souls know that his traps are all around us, that like the roots of weeds, they are intertwined. But we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus promises that they will be removed when He comes again - first those who seek evil to their destruction, then those who have responded to God's will to glory.

But there is perhaps another level here than just dealing with people who are evil. We are all plagued by sins, we all harbor destructive thoughts. We go to Confession, we seek to have them rooted from our hearts and minds, but like weeds, they keep coming back. Like weeds, the smallest part of the root may remain and allow it to sprout back. While it is minimally comfortable to understand that this is part of the human condition, we know that Jesus will remove these evils from our hearts and minds, that He can perfect us.

In discernment, there are times when we do not have a clear understanding of God's will for our lives. Like the weeds and the wheat, we pay attention to the grain, not the weeds. We nourish what is good, not seeking to destroy the doubt. We need to ask Christ to remove the doubts, certainly, but we can respond despite the doubts!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Congregation for the Clergy's Letter to Priests

On the occasion of the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests, the Congregation of the Clergy has issued a Letter to priests.

Dear brother priests,
On the occasion of the August 4th feast of St. John Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars, I greet you cordially with all my heart, and I fraternally send you this brief message.
The Church knows today that there is an urgent mission, not only “ad gentes,” but also to those Christians living in areas and regions where the Christian faith has been preached and established for centuries and where ecclesial communities already exist. Within this flock, the mission, or the missionary of evangelization, has as its target those who are baptized but who, for different circumstances, have not been evangelized sufficiently, or those who have lost their initial fervour and fallen away. The postmodern culture of contemporary society - a relativist, secular, and agnostic culture - exerts a strong erosive action on the religious faith of many people.
The Church is missionary by its very nature. Jesus told us that "the sower went out to sow" (Mt 13:3). The sower does not limit himself to throwing the seed out of the window, but actually leaves the house. The Church knows that it cannot remain inert or limit itself to receiving and evangelizing those who are seeking the Faith in its churches and communities. It is also necessary to rise up and go to where people and families dwell, live and work. We must go to everyone: companies, organizations, institutions and different fields of human society. In this mission, all members of the ecclesial community are called: pastors, religious and laity.
Moreover, the Church recognizes that priests are the great driving force behind daily life in local communities. When priests move, the Church moves. If this were not so, it would be very difficult to achieve the Church’s mission.
My dear brother priests, you are the great richness, the energy, the pastoral and missionary inspiration in the midst of the Christian faithful, wherever they are found in community. Without your crucial decision to "put out into the deep" for fish ("Duc in altum"), as the Lord himself calls us, little or nothing will happen in the urgent mission, either "ad gentes" or in the territories that have previously been evangelized. But the Church is certain that it can count on you, because it knows and explicitly recognizes that the overwhelming majority of priests - despite our weaknesses and human limitations - are worthy priests, giving their life daily to the Kingdom of God and loving Jesus Christ and the people entrusted to them. These are the priests who are sanctifying themselves in their daily ministry and who are persevering until the harvest of the Lord. Only a small minority of priests have gravely deviated from this mission, and the Church seeks to repair the harm that they have done. On the other hand, it rejoices in and is proud of the immense majority of its priests, who are good and exceedingly worthy of praise.
During this Pauline Year, and pending the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God to be held in Rome this October, we call those who are receptive to this urgent mission. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us, send us, and sustain us, so that we might go forth and proclaim once again the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected, as well as His kingdom!
I greet you again, dear brothers, remaining always at your disposal. I pray for you all, especially for those who suffer, for the sick and for the elderly.

Vatican City State, 15 July 2008

Claudio Cardinal Hummes
Emeritus Archbishop of São Paolo
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Monday, July 14, 2008

A new Bishop for New Ulm!!!

After a 14 month wait, Rome has responded and given us a Bishop: Bishop-elect John LeVoir from the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. The post in Italian can be found at the Vatican News Service, though it can be found at Whispers in the Loggia. The Diocese of New Ulm is already awake with the news: Statement by Bishop-elect by Monsignor Grams Statement by Bishop-elect
While I do not know Bishop-elect LeVoir personally, his reputation for being a wise pastor and a holy man is well-established. He is a published author on the thought of Pope John Paul II.

Welcome Bishop-elect LeVoir! Thank you for saying yes!

Here is the Official Press Release:

Pope names Minneapolis Native Reverend John M. LeVoir
as Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm
New Ulm, MN - Pope Benedict XVI has named Rev. John M. LeVoir, 62, as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, MN. The announcement was made in Washington, July 14, by Msgr. Martin Krebs, charge d'affaires of the Apostolic nunciature to the Holy See. Bishop-designate LeVoir succeeds Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, third bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, who was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on April 24, 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Nienstedt remained Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of New Ulm until December 13, 2007 and on May 2, 2008 succeeded Archbishop Harry J. Flynn as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Msgr. Douglas L. Grams has served as Diocesan Administrator since December. John M. LeVoir was born February 7, 1946 to Marvin A. and Mary A. LeVoir in Minneapolis, MN. He has two brothers and one sister. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1968 from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul; a Bachelor of Science in Business degree in accounting in 1971 from the University of Minnesota, becoming a certified public accountant in 1973; a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1974 from the University of Minnesota; and a Master of Arts degree in theology in 1981 from the St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN. Prior to his ordination, he was employed from 1971-1976 as a public accountant for several firms and also as an instructor of accounting at the University of Minnesota. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on May 30, 1981 by Archbishop John R. Roach at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Following ordination, he served as Associate Pastor of the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony from 1981-1992; Pastor of the Church of the Holy Trinity in South St. Paul from 1992-2004 Pastor of the Church of St. Augustine in South St. Paul from 2000-2004. Since 2004, he has served as Pastor of the Church of St. Michael and the Church of St. Mary in Stillwater.

His publications include: Covenant of Love: Pope John Paul II on Sexuality, Marriage and the Family; Faith for Today: Pope John Paul II’s Catechetical Teachings; and Image of God Religion Series - theological consultant and author. The Diocese of New Ulm is comprised of 15 counties in southern Minnesota, a total of 9,863 square miles. The total population is 285,338 with a Catholic population of 68,087.
On July 14, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop-designate John M. LeVoir as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota. A date for Bishop-designate John M. LeVoir’s episcopal ordination and installation has not been set.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us about the sower and the crop he reaps in various types of soil. The seed is the same for all, but in places, that seed cannot grow. So important is this that St. Matthew never used the word 'seed' in his telling of the story - it is not a variable. What is? The ground! Sometimes, the ground is packed hard. The seed cannot sink in before the birds take it away. Sometimes, the ground is shallow, and the roots cannot reach water and it dies. Sometimes the ground is covered in weeds and the seed grows but cannot grow. Sometimes, though, the seed hits good ground and sinks in roots, grows up strong and sure, and produces a bountiful crop.

We are that ground - our hearts are the place were the seed is sown. Can we allow Christ, the Sacred Sower, till our hearts, give us depth, remove the choking worries of the world, so that we can allow it to grow and flourish?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon us. Such an invitation might be seen as a burden, to take a heavy load. However, the terms seem to imply that the yoke is a two-animal yoke as in oxen. A properly-fitted yoke did not increase the load, but because it sat well on the collar of the animal and they were paired, the yoke actually made the work easier. Jesus tells us that this yoke is easy and the burden light, and when we know Him, and His infinite power, the burden on our part is almost nil - we just have to be willing to be yoked!

The yoke can be compared to the promises a priest makes. Instead of being a burden, the promise of celibacy, simplicity, and obedience frees us. Yoked to Christ, we can carry the burden, only with Christ's grace though.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

This Sunday, our Church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul. Two of the most famous apostles, St. Peter followed Christ before the Resurrection, St. Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Both Peter and Paul ended their lives and proclamation in Rome. Both gave their lives for their witness to Jesus Christ. Peter was crucified, Paul was beheaded.

As we celebrate their lives and deaths, may we recall that the Church is nourished by the blood of the martyrs, and that the Church is founded on the proclamation of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fear not... It is one of the most repeated commands. Fear is a natural feeling for humans - it helps us to be aware of dangerous situations, and prepares us for a response (flight or fight). While in the presence of God is a dangerous situation, we have nothing to fear - God loves us and in His providence provides for us.

Jesus asks us to transform that natural fear for this life and instead fear the condemnation of God. God loves us, and we ought to freely love Him. May we know this love and providence...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Beg the Harvest Master to send laborers. The harvest is abundant, but if it is not gathered soon, it will be lost. Laborers are needed and are few, and time is of the utmost importance. Jesus calls the Twelve to begin laboring.

The harvest remains abundant, and souls will be lost if there is not someone sent to tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ. We need to be laborers in the God's field, and like good farmers, we know that there are different duties for all of us. May we be good laborers!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Priest's Anniversary

This weekend, a Fr. Leonard Jenniges, a priest from Wanda, Minnesota, is celebrating his 60th anniversary of ordination. Ordained almost 10 years before the formation of the Diocese of New Ulm, he was ordained and remained a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis where he was a teacher at Nazareth Hall (the local High School and college seminary) and then a pastor. He retired a number of years ago and returned to his home town.

Some time ago, not only because I was assigned the pastor of his home town, but also because I am the Director of Vocations and we are still without a Bishop, he asked if I would preach his anniversary Mass. As I prepare, I cannot help but think of all that he has done these 60 years.

These are the hands that 60 years ago where placed into the hands of the archbishop, and therefore into the hands of the Church, as an act of obedience and submission. These are the hands that were anointed with Sacred Chrism. These are the hands that were given the chalice and paten, the offerings of the Church, to be offered to God. These are the hands that held those offerings, and received back the very Body and Blood of our Savior. These are the hands that took that Sacred Gift and gave it back to the People of God.

These are the hands that poured the water, making clean the body and soul of those washed in the sacred bath of Baptism. These are the hands that assisted at countless confirmations, seeing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out into the hearts of the faithful. These are the hands that were raised in absolution, restoring the penitent to God and the to the community. These are the hands that brought the consoling oil of Sick to those suffering from affliction and preparing for surgery. These are the hands raised in blessing, sealing the bond of husband and wife. These are the hands that were imposed in prayer and extended in peace to the newly ordained brothers in the priesthood.

These are the hands that held those who were grieving the loss of a loved one, taken in tragedy or sickness, young or old. These are the hands that comforted those weary from the battles of life, finding the strength to continue on. These are the hands that rejoiced with those receiving the gift of a child, a success, a deeper awareness of God's grace. These are the hands that modeled the need for peace and forgiveness. These are the hands that gave freely to those in need. These are the hands that loved all.

These are the hands that years have served the Church. These are the hands that have ministered to all in need without counting the cost. These are the hands of a priest. May these hands not grow weak under the burden of years, gnarled by the crippling affect of disease, and silenced by the attempts of the evil one. May the bearer of these hands be honored for his 60 years of priesthood.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer 2008 Assignments

We are pleased to announce the assignments of our Seminarians. Matt Wiering will be returning Stateside from the North American College for some family time and for 6 weeks of parish assignment in the Wabasso/Wanda/Seaforth/Lucan Area Faith community of the Light of the World (where I am pastor). Aaron Johanneck will be staying in Europe to help with a pilgrimade and for language studies. Both Matt and Aaron wiill be returning to North American College in Rome for Theo. III and Theo. II, respectively. Zach Peterson: He is in a Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) at St. Mary's Hosptial in Duluth. Jacob Niemand is in a parish assignment in the Divine Mercy Area Faith Community in Sleepy Eye/Leavenworth/Comfrey. Both will be returning to St. Meinrad's, Zach in Theo. III and Jacob in Theo. II. 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 Junior year. Paul Blaschko is working at the 10-week Summer Program offered through the Institute of Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha NE. Butch Hendrickson is at home working in his carpentry shop.
Please keep them in prayers.

More Seminarians

We are pleased to publicly announce that we have accepted two more fine young men as candidates for the seminary, both for St. John Vianney Seminary on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. Garrett Ahlers is from Marshall, MN. Andrew Illikman is from New Ulm, MN. Both will be freshmen.

We are also in process with another applicant for another program.

Please keep these men in your prayers.

Those that are counting will realize that pending the acceptance of this third candidate, we will have ten in formation, with five starting with us since July last year. Yes, that means that we will double our numbers... now only if you can get 10 candidates next year...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Reflection on the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Come, follow Me. The invitation is so simple, uncomplicated. Jesus calls to Matthew, the tax collector. He takes Matthew where he is at (literally at his tax post), and invites him. Jesus does not condemn for the past sins that Matthew must have committed. But Jesus does not say where it will end, either. He does not provide a road map, but simply an offer to let Him be the guide. Nothing in the past or the present ultimate matters, just the present. It is a moment of eternal consequence - to walk from the known, with the Savior into the unknown.

In following Him, we find happiness that lasts. May we hear this voice, and follow.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reflection on Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

As so often the case, we are good at hearing, but not so good at listening. Like children, we often balk at doing what is asked (for a multitude of reasons). However, we need to listen to God. After all, He is willing to save us, and has done all that is necessary. But it needs to applied to us. Yes, salvation is ours in Christ alone. But is not enough to simply say that Jesus is Lord and believe in the Resurrection - no, we need to respond to the will of God. We need to allow our faith to be translated into action. Not all, Jesus tells us, who call out 'Lord, Lord...' will be saved, but only the one who does the will of God the Father.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Excommunication for attempted ordination of women

In a post at at Catholic World News, the Church has formally declared that all who attempt to ordain women, or all women who attempt to be ordained, are excommunicated. This declaration comes as a definitive statement and, as the article states, clears all ambiguity. In the very act of attempting ordination, the excommunication is received. It has to do with the simulation of the sacraments.

Vatican, May. 30, 2008 ( - The Vatican has announced that any Catholic bishop who attempts the ordination of a woman to the priesthood, and any woman who participates in such a ceremony, is subject to automatic excommunication.

The decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published in the May 30 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, takes effect immediately and applies throughout the universal Church. The document was signed by Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation. ...

Sadly, I am certain that this will not quickly put an end to the 'debate', since they seem to be placing themselves at odds with the Church to begin with. The declaration of excommunication is the Church's last nail - the final attempt to bring people back into the fullness of the Church. May all come to understand the purpose of the declaration and understand the theology of the priesthood that undergirds the doctrine of the male priesthood.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reflection on Corpus Christi

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. We remind ourselves that the Eucharist makes us the Church, and that the Eucharist stands at the heart of our faith. In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ himself, who lays down His life for us. In the Eucharist, we receive what we are to be - the Body of Christ. St. Augustine in an beautiful homily on the Eucharist, told his congregation to be aware of what they receive.

We may not perceive with our senses the presence of Christ, but He is surely there. Our senses fail us, but faith informs us.

I offer the Sequence for Corpus Christi, in a a more 'exact' poetic translation that helps us to more readily see the beauty of the theolgy it contains.

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, May 18, 2008

Reflection on Trinity Sunday

God is Trinity - three Persons in one Being. It is a mystery to be sure. While we cannot understand it fully (due to the infinity of the mystery and the finiteness of our understanding), we can say some things. God the Father is eternally begetting the Son - the Son is eternally begotten. The Spirit proceeds from them both. The Trinity is not created, and there was never a 'time' when He was not. Even to say this is a confusing thing, since God exists outside of time, which He created! This doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine of who God is in Himself, His internal relationship.

In every action of God, each Person of the Trinity is at work. This is what God does for us. In Creation, the Father spoke the word, The Son was spoken, and the Spirit hovered over the waters (read Genesis in light of John 1). In redemption, Christ offers His life and death to the Father, and the Spirit assists. In the Resurrection, the Son is raised from the dead, the Father and the Spirit both assisting. In our sanctification, the Spirit lives and moves in us, bringing us the holiness given to us in Christ, and restores us to a proper relationship to the Father. This understanding influences our understanding of the Sacraments, as well.

For these two reasons, we must hold fast to the formula that we have received - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other formula (such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier) denies both who God is in Himself, or who the three Persons all work together in every act of Salvation.

Practically, what does this mean? In responding to the call of God, we are responding to the Trinity, all three are calling. We, who are created in the image and likeness of God, are called to communion, to give our lives and selves to those around us in love. May we live in Love, and know each Person of the Trinity more!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pentecost reflection

This Sunday is Pentecost - the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit. So often, the role of the Holy Spirit is overlooked. Yet, we need the Holy Spirit, and most especially to ask for His presence in our lives. We should remember that the Greek word for Spirit is pnuema and can be translated spirit, wind, air, or breath. Yes, the Spirit of God lives and moves among us! Yes, the Wind of God drives us into action! Yes, the Air of God surrounds us and sustains us. Yes, the breath of God gives us life, just as breath in the body is a sign of life. May we all grow in our love and awareness of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

For our prayer, I offer the Sequence for Pentecost:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come Father of the poor!
Come source of all our store!
Come within our bosoms shine!

Thou, of comforters the best;
Thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine
Shine within these hearts of Thine.
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, man has naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sev'nfold gift descend;

Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them Thy salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia

Sunday, May 4, 2008


In most parts of the US (with the exception of the Northeast and Nebraska), this weekend marks the Ascension of Christ, moved from its traditional Thursday. In the Gospel passage given to us for Cycle A, we hear something amazing from Matthew's Account. The Apostles are gathered on the mountain (some suggest that it is the Mount Tabor, the mount of the Transfiguration). They see Jesus, and they worship, though 'they doubted'. All the same, Jesus commissions them to go and proclaim the good news, to bring others into loving relationship through baptism. In Luke's account from Acts of the Apostles (the first reading), Jesus gives them the map for how they are to proceed - starting in Jerusalem (the city), Judea (the country/area around Jerusalem, then to Samaria (with the Samaritans), and finally the whole world. Starting 'at home', moving out.

There is comfort for us in this - we are first called to worship. Despite the doubt we may feel, we are called to be faithful. We are trusted with the same commission, even if we don't have it all figured out. If we waited until then, we may never get anything started, much less done! No, we start at home and move out, responding in love to Jesus Christ who loves us!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Update on Archbishop Nienstedt

Congratulations to Archbishop Nienstedt who is now Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis, and to Archbishop Flynn, whose retirement has been accepted. We continue to pray for a good Bishop to be appointed to our Diocese!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Jesus Christ promises that He will not leave his disciples orphan. He promises that those who respond to his loving will not only will experience His enduring presence, but that because He goes, also the presence of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is the one we can call to our side, the literal meaning of the term, Advocate.

In the second Reading today, St. Peter writes to be ready with an explanation for our Hope. What hope do we have, apart from Christ? What hope do we have without the Trinity, and the presence of God in our lives?

In love, let us respond to the will of Christ, to live the Commandments. We can live with the Holy Spirit, the departing gift of Christ, and ask His guidance for our lives.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, the only truth to believe, and the only life that is eternal. The Apostles miss the meaning of what Jesus says to them, and keep asking to be shown the way to the Father. It is simple - follow Jesus, see and believe in Him alone.

In the Second Reading, St. Peter tells us that we are living stones, built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. United with Him, we are called to put all of our talents and skills to the use of the Church. Some, of course, are called as priests and religious. Some, perhaps most, are called to live out their vocations of marriage in the world, to lead others to Christ through a faithful witness in the secular sphere. Yet, all are united in the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Shepherd Sunday (Fourth Sunday in Easter)

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, the savior who leads us into the safety of the Trinity's loving embrace. We need to listen to His voice, to know His voice through and through. If we become 'accustomed' to knowing His voice, we will be more ready to follow wherever He leads. If we are not familiar with His voice, we may find ourselves following other voices that would lead us to our destruction, whether those voices are from Satan, the world, or our malformed consciences and twisted psyches. Only the Voice of Jesus Christ will lead to lasting freedom and eternal happiness.

Prayer, as I have said before, is absolutely necessary. Prayer is the conversation we have with God, and it is not to be a one-sided affair. We must listen to Christ, to hear His voice.

Though they are not Catholic and some of their songs are from a Protestant Theology, the band Casting Crowns has a powerful song that comes to mind this Good Shepherd Sunday: The Voice of Truth. In the song, they sing about listening not to the laughter of the giant or the rumble of the waves, but to the Voice of Truth, who says do not be afraid. Let us listen well - let us know the Voice of Truth, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Message for the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations

His Holiness Pope Benedict has released a Message on the occasion of the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is to be held this weekend. The message is beautiful and worth a read. Most touching, probably because I am a farm boy at heart, was the eighth paragraph which read:

8. Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life can only flourish in a spiritual soil that is well cultivated. Christian communities that live the missionary dimension of the mystery of the Church in a profound way will never be inward looking. Mission, as a witness of divine love, becomes particularly effective when it is shared in a community, “so that the world may believe” (cf. Jn 17: 21). The Church prays everyday to the Holy Spirit for the gift of vocations. Gathered around the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, as in the beginning, the ecclesial community learns from her how to implore the Lord for a flowering of new apostles, alive with the faith and love that are necessary for the mission.

May we be that good soil!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Third Sunday of Easter

This week, we hear of the first post-Resurrection Mass. As Cloepas and his company are walking to Emmaus, they are joined by a 'stranger' who seems to have no idea of what has happened in Jerusalem in the days around that first Good Friday. He invites them to tell the story, and Jesus continues on, explaining the Scriptures to them and how they spoke of these events. Arriving at their evening lodging, they beg Him to stay. They sit down to a meal, and Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them. With this, they recognize Jesus, and he is taken from their sight. They run back to Jerusalem to share the news, to be met with the news that Jesus had also appear to Peter.

Sometimes, we too don't understand what God is doing in our lives, but we need to allow Jesus to reveal to us what He desires. Perhaps like Cleopas, we will not understand, but it is in the Eucharist that we receive the grace to continue on.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Divine Mercy

Jesus is risen, and reveals Himself to the Apostles as the Living Savior. In His love and mercy, He reveals Himself to Thomas, who was lost in doubt. Could the Apostles really have seen the Risen Lord, just as they said? Is it really Him, or just a ghost?
It is indeed Jesus, flesh and blood.
This weekend, we celebrate the mercy of Christ as directed by Pope John Paul II. It is mercy that most perfectly sums Christ's life given for us - He loves us and gives us His very self for our salvation. In the same way that He was revealed to St. Thomas, He is revealed to us, but for us, we see Him in the Eucharist.
As a priest, the most powerful thing I call to mind is that in all I do, Christ continues to express His mercy. To remember this is humbling.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, may I suggest praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?

The Chaplet is prayed on regular Rosary beads, starting with the Sign of the Cross, one Lord's Prayer, one Hail Mary, and the Apostles creed.
Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

On the Hail Mary Beads say the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

After the five decades, conclude with repeating three times:
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Often, some will add three times, Jesus, I trust in you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Praise

Alleluia, He is risen!

With the universal Church, we join the praises of all creation. With angels and archangels, we rejoice. In this vein, may we reflect on the beauty of the Resurrection, as found in the Church's liturgy from the Easter Vigil, the Exultet:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reclaiming our Priestly Character (Part 2)

In the continuation of the Interview of Fr. Toups on his recent book, Fr. Toups speaks of the 6 parts of priestly Character that are held:

The first principle is the permanence of the priesthood, namely the reminder that the priest has entered into a permanent relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church by virtue of ordination.

He receives, in ordination, an ontological character that cannot be removed or erased. This reality affects the way he prepares for the priesthood in the seminary, the way he understands himself as a chaste spouse of the Church and spiritual father of the faithful.

The second principle is that the priest acts "in persona Christi," assuring both himself and the faithful that the sacraments are efficacious "ex opere operato."

The flip side of this is that, although he has received the sacerdotal character, he is obliged to keep working on his own personal character development as a man striving for holiness in his daily life.

The third principle is a reminder that the priest is not his own, but rather he belongs to and represents the Church "in persona Ecclesiae." Thus, he prays the Liturgy of the Hours, as he promised at ordination, for the needs of the whole Church.

Likewise, he embraces and hands on the teachings of the Church as the steward, not the master, of her truths. He is also proud -- in the best sense -- to be visibly recognizable as a priest, knowing he is called to courageously be a sign and symbol pointing beyond himself to Christ.

The fourth principle is priestly presence, namely that everything the priest does is priestly and has immense value, as Christ desires to work through him at all times. This happens in a particular way when preaching, shepherding, and healing God’s people as their spiritual father.

The fifth principle is the caution for priests to avoid the trap of functionalism or activism. The priest can get so busy that he can forget who he is or for whom he is doing the work.

He must be supernaturally sensitive, grounding himself by being a man of prayer who encounters God through daily, silent meditation, desiring an ever more intimate relationship with him.

Finally, the sixth principle, which has already been discussed, is ongoing formation. These principles all find their basis in the priestly character and serve as a foundation for a priestly life lived joyfully, bearing abundant fruit.

Good Friday

This Good Friday, we spend time in fasting, abstaining, and prayer, in silence. We remember the love os Christ, that He willingly accepted the Cross for us, and lays down His life. He becomes 'sin personified' - His broken body a visible reminder of what sin does. In taking on our sin, He nails it to the Cross, putting it to death, and in His resurrection, he rises to give us life and restore us to the Father. How wondrous this love!

For your prayer, I invite you to the following Examination of Conscience (which I wrote) based on the Stations of the Cross:

Jesus is Condemned to Die.
Have I condemned others? Have I spoken poorly of others? Have I misjudged others?

Jesus Carries His Cross.
Have I refused to accept Christ and His Cross? Have I failed to pray daily? Have I missed Mass on Sundays and Holy Day of Obligations?

Jesus Falls the First Time.
Have I fallen under bad influences? Have I laughed at or made fun of those around me? Have I excluded anyone?

Jesus Meets His Mother.
Have I disobeyed my parents? Have I disobeyed the law?

Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross.
Have I failed to help those in need? Have I ignored the needs of others? Have I increased the burdens of others?

Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face.
Have I failed to be compassionate? Have I failed to visit the sick, feed the hungry, cloth the naked? Have I allowed others to be in error or fall into sin?

Jesus Falls the Second Time.
Have I been dishonest? Have I lied and failed to tell the truth? Did I cheat or steal?

Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem.
Have I used language inappropriately? Have I engaged in idle talk or telling obscene jokes or stories?

Jesus Falls the Third Time.
Have I been irreverent for the things of God? Have I dishonored the name of God?

Jesus is Stripped.
Have I misused sexuality through impure thoughts and actions with myself or others? Have I looked at pornography, or leered at others as objects of lust?

Jesus is Nailed to the Cross.
Have I acted in revenge, and not forgiven as Jesus taught? Have I been envious of others?

Jesus Dies on the Cross.
Have I killed others’ reputations through gossip? Have I spoken out of anger to others and crushed their spirits? Have I fought with others?

Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross.
Have I disrespected my body? Have I taken part in things or activities that can harm me (alcohol, tobacco)? Have I been imprudent in what I eat or drink, or the amounts, either too much or too little?

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb.
Have I lived as God desires, or have I sought my own life apart from God?