Sunday, July 26, 2009

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our readings this weekend, we hear of the little boy who offers his lunch, but Jesus Christ accepts it, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to the crowd. It is more than enough. Without denying the miraculous multiplication of loaves, think of the generosity of that little boy, though. He must have thought, too, so little for so many. But he gives it freely and generously, and holds nothing back. Five loaves feed five thousand men (not to mention women and children).

We have been given gifts and talents. If we hoard them, focusing on our limits instead of God's generosity, we will have too little. If, instead, we return them to God, imagine the possibilities!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Blessed Virgin Mary's Role in Celibacy

In a post Ignatius Insight: The Blessed Virgin Mary's Role in the Celibate Priest's Spousal and Paternal Love, the author Carl Olson writes of the role of the Blessed Mother in the celibate priesthood, based on the book of the same title by Fr. John Cihak, STD.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our readings this weekend tells us that the shepherd will protect his flock, not take advantage of them. The shepherd will lead to peace, seeking a refuge of rest and freedom. The Lord is our shepherd, and like a shepherd, He leads us to peace. But He also calls us yet today, like He called the apostles, to follow Him to rest and to serve. Let us follow Him, finding rest and peace.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Apostles are sent without anything that would weigh them down. That is how important the message of the Kingdom of God is - let nothing hold you back. With radical abandon, they went out to preach - fishers, tax collectors, and others. Like Amos in the Old Testament, their background did not matter. The mission was what mattered.

We are also called to a great mission. Our past does not matter (if we have sinned and sought the sacrament of Reconciliation and found forgiveness for our sins). Let nothing hold us back!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Caritas in veritate

I am slowly working my way through the new encyclical "Caritas in veritate" of His Holiness Benedict XVI. So far, it provides great fruit for reflection. Especially in light of the first paragraph:

1. Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22). To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically: love and truth never abandon them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of every human person. The search for love and truth is purified and liberated by Jesus Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us. In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth (cf. Jn 14:6).

17. A vocation is a call that requires a free and responsible answer. Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility.

18. Besides requiring freedom, integral human development as a vocation also demands respect for its truth. The vocation to progress drives us to “do more, know more and have more in order to be more”

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pope Considers 2 Facets of Vocations Work

In an address to those in vocations ministries in Europe, Pope Benedict spoke of the ministers as both sowers and the seed - sowers as we are instruments to help sow the seeds, and seeds that can hide from the clamor os the world.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend, we hear Jesus mourning the lack of faith in his native place. While it is true that familiarity often breeds contempt, this passage is not merely about that. The people Nazareth thought that they knew him thoroughly - they knew his father and mother, and his relatives. They knew that he was a carpenter. They could not believe what he was saying, because what he was saying was not the typical topics of a carpenter. But Jesus Christ is no mere man - He is fully man and fully God. When we allow our pre-concieved notions of who Jesus Christ is, we do not allow Him to be God. We need to allow Jesus to be who He is - Lord, Savior, God-made-flesh. When we do, we find salvation.

When discerning a vocation, too often we approach with the same attitude. We do not let God tell us what He wants for us, but what we want. God calls, on His terms, and we must answer on those terms. We let God be God and we His humble creatures.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Two New Seminarians

We are pleased to announce that we have two new candidates for seminary as of today. They are Alex Rabaey of Minneota and James Blaschko of North Mankato. Both will be Freshmen at St. John Vianney College Seminary on the campus of the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul. James is the younger brother of Paul Blaschko, who will be a Junior next year. Please pray for these two fine candidates, for our seminarians, and for many more young men to hear and respond to the call of God to the Priesthood.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday's Audience: On Priestly Identity

Here's the link for the full text of Pope Benedict's Wednesday audience On Priestly Identity.
Some highlights:

... In truth, precisely considering the binomial "identity-mission," every priest can better see the need for this progressive identification with Christ that will guarantee him fidelity and fruitfulness in the evangelical testimony.

... The mission of every priest depends, therefore, also and above all on the awareness of the sacramental reality of his "new being." The priest's renewed enthusiasm for his mission will always depend on the certainty of his personal identity, which is not artificially constructed, but rather given and received freely and divinely. What I have written in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" is also true for priests: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (No. 1).

... Yes! The priest is a man totally belonging to the Lord, because it is God himself who calls him and who establishes him in his apostolic service. And precisely being totally of God, he is totally of mankind, for all people. During this Year for the Priest, which will continue until the next solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us pray for all priests. May there be an abundance of prayer initiatives and, in particular, Eucharistic adoration, for the sanctification of the clergy and for priestly vocations -- in dioceses, in parishes, in religious communities (especially monasteries), in associations and movements and in the various pastoral groups present in the whole world -- responding to Jesus' invitation to pray "to the lord of the harvest that he may send workers to his harvest" (Matthew 9:38).

Prayer is the first task, the true path of sanctification for priests, and the soul of an authentic "vocational ministry." The numerical scarcity of priestly ordinations in some countries should not discourage, but instead should motivate a multiplication of opportunities for silence and listening to the Word, and better attention to spiritual direction and the sacrament of confession, so that the voice of God, who always continues calling and confirming, can be heard and promptly followed by many youth.

One who prays is not afraid; one who prays is never alone; one who prays is saved! St. John Vianney is undoubtedly a model of an existence made prayer. Mary, Mother of the Church, help all priests to follow his example so as to be, like him, witnesses of Christ and apostles of the Gospel.

[Translation by ZENIT]

The Essential Elements of Priestly Ministry

In Pope Benedict XVI's weekly audience, he addressed the essential elements of Priestly Ministry: Announcement/word and Power/Sacrament. Special attention should be paid to the last paragraph of the article - it contains his prescription for vocations!


VATICAN CITY, 1 JUL 2009 (VIS) - The Year for Priests was again the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope began his remarks by expressing the hope that the Year "may be an opportunity for the inner renewal of all priests and, consequently, for the revitalisation of their commitment to the mission". He then announced that his catecheses over the next few months will focus on the figure of St. John Mary Vianney, the holy "Cure of Ars", on the 150th anniversary of his death.

What most stands out in the life of this saint, said Benedict XVI, "is his complete identification with his ministry. He used to say that a good pastor, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure the good Lord can give a parish".

"In fact, it is by considering the dual term 'identity-mission' that each priest will become better aware of the need for that progressive self identification with Christ which guarantees the faithfulness and fruitfulness of his evangelical witness. Thus, in the life of a priest, missionary announcement and worship are inseparable, just as sacramental identity and evangelising mission are likewise inseparable".

"The goal of priests' mission is, we could say, 'of worship': that all men and women may offer themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, receiving the charity which they are then called to dispense abundantly to one another. ... Love for others, concern for justice and the poor are not so much a question of social morals as the expression of a sacramental conception of Christian morality because, through priestly ministry, the spiritual sacrifice of all the faithful is accomplished, in union with the sacrifice of Christ, the only mediator. This is the sacrifice that priests offer bloodlessly and sacramentally while awaiting the second coming of the Lord".

"In the face of so many uncertainties and so much weariness, even in the exercise of priestly ministry, it is vitally important to regain a clear and unequivocal view of the absolute primacy of divine grace", said the Holy Father. "The mission of each individual priest depends, then, also and above all on an awareness of the sacramental reality of his 'new existence'. Upon the certainty of his own identity - not artificially and humanly constructed but freely and divinely given and received - depends his perennial enthusiasm for the mission".

"Having received such an extraordinary gift of grace with their consecration, priests become permanent witnesses of their own encounter with Christ", and "are able to carry out their mission to the full, announcing the Word and administering the Sacraments.

"Following Vatican Council II", Pope Benedict added, "in some places the impression arose that there were more important things in the mission of priests in our time: some people believed that the priority was to build a new society".

Yet "the two essential elements of priestly ministry" always remain "announcement and power", said the Holy Father recalling how Christ sent His disciples out to announce the Gospel giving them the power to drive out demons. "Announcement and power", in other words "Word and Sacrament, are the pillars of priestly service, over and above the many forms it can take".

The Pope continued: "When the 'diptych' of consecration-mission is not taken into due account, it becomes truly difficulty to understand the identity of priests and of their ministry in the Church. ... During this Year for Priests", he said, "let us pray for all the clergy. ... Prayer is the primary duty, the true path of sanctification for priests and the heart of authentic pastoral care of vocations".

And he concluded: "The low numbers of priestly ordinations in some countries not only must not discourage us, it should stimulate us to dedicate greater space to silence and to listening to the Word, to improving spiritual guidance and the Sacrament of Confession, so that the voice of God, which always continues to call and to confirm, may be heard and followed by many young people".
AG/YEAR FOR PRIESTS/...VIS 090701 (690)