Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ZENIT - Pope's Address to German Seminarians

On his recent trip to Germany, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech to seminarians. Here are some highlights:

The seminary is therefore a time for training; also, of course, a time for discernment, for learning: does he want me for this? The mission must be tested, and this includes being in community with others and also of course speaking with your spiritual directors, in order to learn how to discern what his will is. And then learning to trust: if he truly wants this, then I may entrust myself to him.

A time for discernment, a time for learning, a time for vocation ... and then, naturally, a time for being with him [Jesus Christ], a time for praying, for listening to him. Listening, truly learning to listen to him -- in the word of sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in the liturgy of the Church -- and learning to understand the present time in his word.

Studying is essential: only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith. And it is essential that we study critically -- because we know that tomorrow someone else will have something else to say -- while being alert, open and humble as we study, so that our studying is always with the Lord, before the Lord, and for him.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Father calls us to virtue, and we have to respond. Ideally, we would say yes to the Lord, and live virtuously. But even if we initially say 'no' the Lord invites us to conversion, to say 'yes'. In the end, it is not the ones who simply say yes that will be saved, but the ones who do what He requires. While there is still breath, there is still a chance for conversion. And what does a life converted to the Lord look like? It looks like Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and set aside the rights He had a the Son of God to become a slave for us. The Lord is not calling us to abandon our humanity, but rather to embrace it as Jesus Christ embraced it. He is calling us to empty ourselves of pride, and to serve one another.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord invites us to work in the vineyard, and He is generous. Whether we start in the morning and bear the day's heat, or respond in the last hour, the reward is the same because there is nothing greater than a life with Christ in eternity. It is not when we respond to the invitation, but that we respond.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pope Benedict's Homily from Mass with Seminarians During World Youth Day

As the Pope's Custom, he offered a Mass for Seminarians at the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena - Madrid 20 August 2011
Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Priests and Religious,
Dear Rectors and Formators,
Dear Seminarians,
Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to celebrate Holy Mass with you who aspire to be Christ’s priests for the service of the Church and of man, and I thank you for the kind words with which you welcomed me. Today, this holy cathedral church of Santa María La Real de la Almudena is like a great Upper Room, where the Lord greatly desires to celebrate the Passover with you who wish one day to preside in his name at the mysteries of salvation. Looking at you, I again see proof of how Christ continues to call young disciples and to make them his apostles, thus keeping alive the mission of the Church and the offer of the Gospel to the world. As seminarians you are on the path towards a sacred goal: to continue the mission which Christ received from the Father. Called by him, you have followed his voice and, attracted by his loving gaze, you now advance towards the sacred ministry. Fix your eyes upon him who through his incarnation is the supreme revelation of God to the world and who through his resurrection faithfully fulfills his promise. Give thanks to him for this sign of favour in which he holds each one of you.

The first reading which we heard shows us Christ as the new and eternal priest who made of himself a perfect offering. The response to the psalm may be aptly applied to him since, at his coming into the world, he said to the Father, “Here I am to do your will” (cf. Ps 39:8). He tried to please him in all things: in his words and actions, along the way or welcoming sinners. His life was one of service and his longing was a constant prayer, placing himself in the name of all before the Father as the first-born son of many brothers and sisters. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews states that, by a single offering, he brought to perfection for all time those of us who are called to share his sonship (cf. Heb 10:14).

The Eucharist, whose institution is mentioned in the Gospel just proclaimed (cf. Lk 22:14-20), is the real expression of that unconditional offering of Jesus for all, even for those who betrayed him. It was the offering of his body and blood for the life of mankind and for the forgiveness of sins. His blood, a sign of life, was given to us by God as a covenant, so that we might apply the force of his life wherever death reigns due to our sins, and thus destroy it. Christ’s body broken and his blood outpoured – the surrender of his freedom – became through these Eucharistic signs the new source of mankind’s redeemed freedom. In Christ, we have the promise of definitive redemption and the certain hope of future blessings. Through Christ we know that we are not walking towards the abyss, the silence of nothingness or death, but are rather pilgrims on the way to a promised land, on the way to him who is our end and our beginning.

Dear friends, you are preparing yourselves to become apostles with Christ and like Christ, and to accompany your fellow men and women along their journey as companions and servants.

How should you behave during these years of preparation? First of all, they should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church. A Church which is community and institution, family and mission, the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins. God, who does not hesitate to make of the poor and of sinners his friends and instruments for the redemption of the human race, willed it so. The holiness of the Church is above all the objective holiness of the very person of Christ, of his Gospel and his sacraments, the holiness of that power from on high which enlivens and impels it. We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify.

Meditate well upon this mystery of the Church, living the years of your formation in deep joy, humbly, clear-mindedly and with radical fidelity to the Gospel, in an affectionate relation to the time spent and the people among whom you live. No one chooses the place or the people to whom he is sent, and every time has its own challenges; but in every age God gives the right grace to face and overcome those challenges with love and realism. That is why, no matter the circumstances in which he finds and however difficult they may be, the priest must grow in all kinds of good works, keeping alive within him the words spoken on his Ordination day, by which he was exhorted to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.

To be modeled on Christ, dear seminarians, is to be identified ever more closely with him who, for our sake, became servant, priest and victim. To be modeled on him is in fact the task upon which the priest spends his entire life. We already know that it is beyond us and we will not fully succeed but, as St Paul says, we run towards the goal, hoping to reach it (cf. Phil 3:12-14).

That said, Christ the High Priest is also the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep, even giving his life for them (cf. Jn 10:11). In order to liken yourselves to the Lord in this as well, your heart must mature while in seminary, remaining completely open to the Master. This openness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, inspires the decision to live in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and, leaving aside the world’s goods, live in austerity of life and sincere obedience, without pretence.

Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity. Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders. Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice.

Under the guidance of your formators, open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you. Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts.

With this confidence, learn from him who described himself as meek and humble of heart, leaving behind all earthly desire for his sake so that, rather than pursuing your own good, you build up your brothers and sisters by the way you live, as did the patron saint of the diocesan clergy of Spain, St John of Avila. Moved by his example, look above all to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests. She will know how to mould your hearts according to the model of Christ, her divine Son, and she will teach you how to treasure for ever all that he gained on Calvary for the salvation of the world. Amen.

September, 2011, edition of Vocations Views Online!

I have posted the newest volume of the Vocations View Newsletter. Click to go to the page, or Right click to download!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God in His justice requires perfection, but His mercy forgives us for our sins, but only if we forgive others. It is not forgetting or letting the person continue to hurt, but of letting go of the poison that we might hold. Forgiveness is a choice to let go of the pain and hurt that another has caused, a choice to let God and His Mercy guide us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Operation Andrew Dinners, 2011

As in the past 9 years, we will be offering three Operation Andrew Dinners for young men who may be (or at least you would like to invite to be) discerning a vocation. Dates, locations, and RSVP contacts are:
October 5, 2011 – Church of St. John, Appleton
RSVP to Fr. Brian Oestreich (320-598-3690)
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

October 17, 2011 – Church of St. Mary, Sleepy Eye
RSVP to Fr. Mark Steffl (507-794-4171)
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

October 26, 2011 – Church of St. Mary, Bird Island
RSVP to Fr. George Schmit (320-365-3593)
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

RSVP one week in advance to the contact person on the brochure or through me.
The events will begin with Evening Prayer, followed by a meal. We will watch a video, the Fishers of Men, produced by the USCCB, and followed by a little discussion, in addition to Bishop LeVoir sharing a message.
As in past years, priests will be asked to personally invite young men that they wish to encourage to discern a vocation to come to the meal. While not all who attended may discern to enter a seminary or religious order, it is certain that the seed of prayerful discernment of God’s will has been planted. As the Fishers of Men video so beautiful describes, it ought to be normal for every young man to prayerfully consider a vocation to the priesthood. Sometimes, all that is needed to begin that necessary discernment is an event like an Operation Andrew Dinner.
RSVP one week in advance to the contact person on the brochure or through me.
Download the brochure and Permission slip here.
For more information, email me!

New Prayer Calendar September 2011-February 2012

I have posted the new prayer calendar for September through February.

Seminarian Information 2011-2012

We have posted our newest list of Seminarian information. Download it here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus gives the model of fraternal correction, one that protects the reputation of the people involved. We have a moral obligation to call others to conversion - as we hear God telling Ezekiel in this first reading. That is a tremendous task, and requires that we ourselves are on the path to conversion, that we are living right. These readings remind us that it is not enough to have right belief orthodoxy, but we must also have right action orthopraxy.