Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time/Conversion of St. Paul

"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Jesus invites Peter and Andrew with these words. They leave the boats and nets behind, hearing the greater mission. He invites them to follow Him so that He can call them to a new mission, to bring others into the Kingdom of God like fishers.

In His invitation to the apostles, Jesus gives us a model of spiritual life. Like the Apostles, we are invited to reform our lives by allowing Him to reform them. But we are invited to conform to Him, to follow Him and to learn from Him. This is what formation is (as in the seminary or in preparation for vows). We are following Christ, and conforming to Him. Finally, after the reformation and conforming of our wills to Christ, we are called to transform the world.

Today could also be celebrated as the Conversion of St. Paul. In this Year of St. Paul, we should spend time in prayer in thanking God for the gift of Paul, and for his conversion. St. Paul was so opposed to Christ's followers that he persecuted them until Jesus Christ directly intervened! After his conversion, he became the most ardent of supporters and preachers. St. Paul, pray for us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seminarian Information

We have just posted our current information on our 9 Seminarians.

Note that one of our previous seminarians has discerned that the Lord is not calling him to the priesthood. While saddened to see him leave formation, I know that he pleases the Lord and will use the formation he has received for the good of society and the Church. Pray for him, our seminarians, and all others that the Lord is calling to the priesthood or religious life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our Gospel reading details the first followers of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist points out Jesus to Andrew and another unnamed follower, calling Him the Lamb of God. They begin following, and Jesus invites them to stay. They get to know Him. John the Evangelist then backs up the events to say that first Andrew went to find his brother, Simon. This three-fold movement, while difficult to follow by timeline, is the progression of our lives in Christ, at least for most of us. We have someone point Christ out to us, we follow Him, spend time with Him, and then we become the one who leads to Christ.

Is this not exactly what happens in the Church? We receive the Sacraments, and while all of us are called to lead others to Christ, some are called to lead as priests, others are called to lead as religious. May we all be like St. Andrew, and be willing to not only follow, but to lead others to an encounter with Christ.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Which Church Father are you?

There is a test to see which Which Church Father you are.
It is a brief 5 question test.

You’re St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

I have long held an affinity for St. Justin Martyr.

Vocations Views Newsletter

Our new Vocations Views is out. Check it, and our other resources, out. Note that we have some updating on the lists to do soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baptism of the Lord

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the formal close of the Christmas season, and perhaps no better feast to close it. These last weeks, we have taken the time to contemplate the face of Christ, born for our redemption. In the Baptism of the Lord, Jesus, now an adult, formally begins His ministry. As He begins to proclaim the Kingdom of God, He brings the saving message of forgiveness to all. As we celebrate this feast, we move from a wonder and awe of great feasts to the 'ordinary' time in our lives where we live that wonder and awe. We live out what we have celebrated. Further, just as Jesus begins to proclaim the kingdom, we recommit ourselves to proclaiming it.

This feast also begins National Vocations Awareness Week. We all have a vocation, a mission, that has been given by Christ to spread the Gospel message. National Vocation Awareness Week serves as a good reminder that all Christians are called to live out their baptismal commitment on a daily basis.

When John objects to Jesus' baptism (according to Matthew's account), Jesus responds that it must be done to "fulfill all righteousness." His willingness to be baptized begins the fulfillment of God the Father's plan for salvation. Jesus embraces the waters of the Jordan as God-made-man, undoing the sin in the Garden of Eden as Eve and Adam took the forbidden fruit in an effort to become like gods. Jesus, as the sinless Son of God born of Mary, had no sin and no need of repentance. He identifies himself with those who recognize their sins, faults, and failings; those who know that no human being on his or her own can ever find redemption. In his baptism Jesus identifies himself with the human race as more than merely than one who shares the human nature, but as one who is bringing true change. He accepts the baptism of John the Baptist and transforms it. In doing so, he inaugurates a new baptism, though not fully enacted until his death and resurrection.

Baptism begins a real transformation in us as we are given grace to respond to God's will. While we are given the grace to contend with the effects of original sin (death, sickness, concupiscence or disordered desire and darkened intellect), we are also given the ability to be transformed and to be in relationship with our creator. Baptism creates in us the ability to respond to the voice of God in a new way. We are given the opportunity not just to go back to the Garden, but to Heaven, into the very presence of the Holy Trinity.

Our life in God begins with baptism. Thus is the first sacrament of vocation. We all have a vocation, a particular role to play in God's plan of salvation. Some are called to sacraments of service, marriage and holy orders. Some are called to profess the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and live as a priest, brother, sister, monk, or nun. But all are called!

This National Vocation Awareness Week we should call to mind the great gift of our baptism and pray that we would be able to cooperate with the grace that God gives us through it. For those who are parents with children still at home, take the time to talk to them about why you had them baptized, and also take time to pray with them and for them that they would be able to discern God's will for theirlives.

Let us pray for vocations, from our homes, our parishes, our Area Faith community, our Diocese. It is not out of a feeling of despair but of great hope: we need more priests, deacons, and religious! Yes, we need priests to feed and nourish us with the Sacraments. We need the witness of deacons, their ministry of presence in many areas. We need the witness of holiness and the various charisms in service to the Church. May all people responding to God's grace, to live God's call. May we encourage priestly, diaconal, and religious vocations, as well as support those already in the discernment process. To every young man: Consider the priesthood! To every young woman and man: Consider the religious life. We need you! The Church needs you. Christ loves you, and all of us, young and old, are called to service - may He be calling us to priesthood, deaconate, or religious life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Taipei Times - archives

The Taipei Times printed an article on the Pill, and while their take is pretty polemic, the truth of the Matter still comes to the fore.
‘HORROR SCENARIO’: The fall in the birth rate in Austria, a chemist wrote in an article, is an ‘epidemic’ far worse than obesity and represents national suicide

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009, Page 6
Roman Catholic leaders have pounced on a “confession” by one of the inventors of the birth control pill who has said the contraceptive he helped create was responsible for a “demographic catastrophe.”

In an article published by the Vatican this week, the head of the world’s Roman Catholic doctors broadened the attack on the pill, claiming it had also brought “devastating ecological effects” by releasing into the environment “tonnes of hormones” that had impaired male fertility.

The assault began with a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard by 85-year-old Carl Djerassi. The Austrian chemist was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward the earliest oral contraceptive pill.

Djerassi outlined the “horror scenario” that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.” He said: “This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete.”

He described families who had decided against reproduction as “wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it.”

The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an “epidemic” far worse — but given less attention — than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they failed to procreate. And if it were not possible to reverse the population decline they would have to understand the necessity of an “intelligent immigration policy.”

The head of Austria’s Catholics, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, told an interviewer that the Vatican had forecast 40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the west.

“Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi ... is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we’re far away from that,” he said.

Schonborn told Austrian TV that when he first read Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical condemning artificial contraception he viewed it negatively as a “cold shower.” But he said he had altered his views as, over time, it had proved “prophetic.”

Writing for the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, the president of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Jose Maria Simon, said research from his association also showed the pill “worked in many cases with a genuinely ... abortive effect.”

Angelo Bonelli, of the Italian Green party, said it was the first he had heard of a link between the pill and environmental pollution. The worst of poisons were to be found in the water supply.

“It strikes me as idiosyncratic to be worried about this,” he said.

A leading gynecologist and member of the New York Academy of Science, professor Gian Benedetto Melis, called Simon’s claims “science fiction,” saying that the pill blocked ovulation only.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Marians of the Immaculate Conception

Yesterday, I had a funeral of a man whose nephew is a novice in the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. I am very much impressed with their charism and website, and especially wish to highlight their vocations pages. There is a particularly powerful quote:
Our Congregation's Renovator, Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz, believed that a person could discern God's will by reflecting on the following:

"God draws us to Himself and guides
us to this or that way of life through
our holy desires, affections,
aspirations, propensities,
longings and so on ..."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Epiphany, 2009

This weekend, we celebrate Epiphany. It is the revelation of Jesus as the Christ to the world. The ancient Church marked three separate 'manifestations' (which is what the word epiphany means in its original language of Greek): The visit of the Magi, the baptism in the Jordan, and the wedding feast in Cana. Now, we separate them out so that we can more adequately incorporate the meaning of each into our lives. We mark the coming of the wise men, the Magi. They were not kings in the traditional sense, but rather probably men of nobility and high education. They came from most likely modern day northern Iraq (ancient Babylon and Persia had their empires in the area). They were students of the stars, convinced that the happens on earth were written in the heavens. Modern scholars suggest that the "star" they witnessed was most likely the convergence of the planets Jupiter (the father-god of roman myth) and Venus (the goddess of love) in the constellation of Leo. This alignment suggested that heaven and earth were to be united and reconciled, that the Father God would bear a son in love, and this son would become the King. The fact of it appearing in the constellation of Leo is that it was to happen to the people of Israel - the tribe of Judah as the lion had a specific connection to this tribe. The magi set forth to find this king, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts fit for a God and a King. The star led the way to the Holy Family. This feast ought to remind us that God can use whatever He wants, even the stars, to tell the world of our salvation.