Showing posts with label Marriage/Family/Parenthood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriage/Family/Parenthood. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In - not of - the world

“In it, not of it”… These words, more than any other, capture the Christian’s attitude to this world. But there are two unfortunate errors, one from each side of the statement, that can result if we do not properly understand the statement. Since we are not ‘of’ the world, we pretend that what we do here in the world has no eternal consequence. St. Paul would be appalled to see that we let ourselves detach so easily. When we simply live in the world with no regard to the consequences of our actions, we might display a disregard for truth and acting in accord with it. We live in the world just like those who do not know the Lord live. We join in sin, and perhaps even condone it. We might fool ourselves to think that whatever we do doesn’t matter at all. In the extremes of this side of the error, we live our lives aware of Christ, but delude ourselves to think that we can live like all others in the world, as long as we are apart from it. In other words, we might even deny Christ by our worldly actions. On the other side, it is tempting to allow sin to prevail, for wrongs to be left uncorrected and for lies to stand, and justify it by saying that we are more. After all, we are not of this world, but made for eternity. We become so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good, to quote an old expression. We rightly live for Christ, but we fail to really heed His call to bring His message to the ends of the earth. As Christians, we are living in the world and and using the things that surround us, but we know that we belong somewhere else, to a world that is not here. Our world is our eternal destination - Heaven, life with God. Our hearts are to be there, even now.As Christians, we are called to be in the world, and as such called to be leaven and salt - we are called to raise the world and to give it flavor. We are in the world! But we are not transformed by the world, but the world is to be transformed by us. That is why we as Christians need to step forward and boldly proclaim the truth. That is why we as Christians need to affirm the reality of sin and to seek God’s will and avoid sin. That is why we need to use the things of the world, lived in right relationship to them as transitory and passing things, to lead others to Christ. That is why we as Christians are called to take part in politics. It is not that we are imposing our beliefs on others, but that as Christians, the truth of God has been revealed to us. It is a truth not just for us, but for all. It is a truth that will set us free. This year, especially in the area of politics and race relationships, the world needs our insight, our love, our proclamation of truth. We cannot live in this world oblivious to the consequences or completely detached from it. Rather, we place our hope in God, and change the world for the better, one person at a time.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pre-Advent reflection

After we have gathered around tables for our thanksgiving feasts, we (hopefully) will gather in our Churches this weekend to thank the Lord for His blessings. As we do so, we will enter the season of Advent, signify the end of one Church year and a beginning of the new. Typically, we might be tempted to think that the purpose of the Advent season is to prepare to celebrate its end – the celebration of the incarnation and birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas as a moment in history. But that is only one small portion of the season of Advent. The main purpose, at least in the Catholic Church, is a call to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ in glory and majesty. The season of Advent is to help us focus our hearts and minds for that great and terrible day of His return. But this message is not the mad ranting of a doom-and-gloom prophet. Rather, it is a sobering call to committing one’s life toward that end, and living in faith instead of in fear or indifference. Yes, we need to remember the end - in Greek telos - and to make all decisions in light of it. Telos also signifies purpose or goal, and we are truly focused on all these meanings. Just as St. Paul invited his readers to continue to run well the race, they are to focus on the goal, not just running aimlessly but with purpose and conviction. We grow weary and too easily forget both the purpose of our life and our end goal that we need to be roused from our slumber. We can too easily get caught up in the things of the world that many of us need to be reminded that this is not our final home. We are invited to ask ourselves if we are ready. If we are not, there is no better time than now, here, today, to respond. So, as we enter the Advent season, perhaps we need to put away our telephones and turn off our TVs. Perhaps, instead, we pull out our telos-phone – praying to the Lord to hear our purpose. Maybe we need to turn on our telos-vision – to see the end goal, and to commit to letting that end direct our choices here and now. When we do, we will take our steps with faith and purpose. Perhaps, to help us too, it will help us become truly thankful of the Lord’s blessings to us, and hopeful for His continued blessings. So, Happy Thanksgiving and blessed Advent.

Monday, September 15, 2014

End of Life Decisions

Some have recently asked about living wills. health care directives, and moral issues around end of life. The Minnesota Catholic Conference has assembled resources to aid in the process, including a sample Health Care Directive Form. Filling this out prior to need helps family to make wise decisions in consultation with doctors and medical staff regarding care.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Some Thoughts on Vocations

As I depart, I want to share some things I have learned about vocations these last years. While mostly random thoughts, I hope that these can help us continue to build a culture of vocations.
1. The New Evangelization is absolutely necessary. This New Evangelization is not a program, rather a focus on the proclamation of Jesus Christ, to re-propose to people who may have some familiarity to Him, but do not let that knowledge deepen within them. It is not about a re-invigoration of parishes or promotion of more programs. We live in a culture that is further disconnected from God and the faith. The New Evangelization sees this as a new opportunity to proclaim Christ. It is proclaiming Christ to a world that has a ‘certain forgetfulness of God’, as Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us several times. When we can share the love of Christ, tell of His mercy and forgiveness, and help others begin to live a moral life, discernment inevitably follows. True, though, that the New Evangelization will lead to vibrant parishes, but only because the faith has taken flame in the hearts of parishioners!
2. Vocations are everyone’s business. It is not just the Director of Vocations, or the Bishop, or the priest personnel board, or even only the parish pastors who are responsible for promoting vocations. It belongs to everyone, ordained, vowed, and lay men and women of all ages. The flame of faith in the hearts of the faithful lead to a desire that others be on fire with the love of God. They encourage others to respond to the promptings of the Spirit to answer a vocation, and all can personally invite a young man or woman to consider a vocation.
3. Personal Invitation is vital. We can help others hear the voice of Christ by inviting them to consider a vocation. To highlight the point of personal invitation, over 75% of seminarians state that they were encouraged and invited to discern a vocation by a priest, but only about 33% of priests are inviting young men – imagine if we could get at least another third of priests to invite! Further, imagine a parish or diocese in which a majority of the members are listening to the promptings of the Spirit and invite others to follow the Lord.
4. Fear is an obstacle to the spiritual life and to the growth of vocations. Some are afraid to invite others to consider a vocation because of a fear of rejection. Some are afraid to give their lives to God, fearing it will lead to unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Jesus assures us time and again, though, “Be not afraid!” We must also remember that perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18). We need to grow in more perfect love – something we do when we pray.
5. Prayer, even the most humble, is more powerful than any vocations program. If we are not praying, how can we expect other to pray. Recognition of a vocation is born from the silence of prayer. As one grows in relation with the Holy Trinity, one also is more able to respond to the promptings of the Spirit.
6. When we pray, we must be specific. While it sounds rather bold, it is necessary and theologically sound. Like personal goals, or even a programed GPS, when we are specific in our prayers, we might also see what we need to do to help God grant those prayers or at least be moving in the right direction. Generic prayer and sacrifice for vocations are good, but to offer specific prayers (a rosary a day or an weekly hour of adoration, for example) or specific sacrifices (like fasting from meat on Fridays) are powerful. Pray for a specific number of seminarians or religious, parishioners, pray for those discerning to come from “our parish”. Families, pray for that a son or daughter may be open to discerning! Be specific.
7. We must present vocations out of a great opportunity versus crisis. In our great Diocese of New Ulm, like many throughout the world, it is easy to focus on the need we have for priests. Some, when they do speak on vocations and the need for priests, do so from a very pessimistic perspective. Giving the impression all is lost, and that the Church as we now have it is a sinking ship, leads to despair and many who may be called to walk away in despair. While we cannot be Pollyannish – ignoring the difficulty of our current situation – we must realize that God is still God, and He continues to call men to the priesthood, and men and women to the religious life. We need to encourage them instead of discouraging. Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, so it is safe to remain in the “barque of Peter”, in fact – it is the safest place to be.
8. There is a vocations crisis, but one that is bigger than just priests. We see the deterioration of family life in divorce, the attempts to redefine family in which the nuptial meaning of procreation is questioned due to the rampant culture of death. In such a climate, making a lifelong, permanent choice is difficult, if not impossible for many. To confront this, a concerted focus needs to be made in highlight the sacrament of matrimony and those who have embraced this vocation. We can highlight those couples lovingly commit themselves to each other freely, and lovingly embrace children as an extension of their love. The majority of priesthood and religious vocations will continue to come from those (in fact, in the Diocese of New Ulm, all of our current seminarians hail from intact families, and a the large majority of priests have intact, biological families). If our youth cannot identify even one strong witness of a married couple in their lives, how can our young discern a loving vocation, and commit themselves to live such a vocation freely and permanently? This is not to say that those from other types of homes cannot hear a vocation, or do not have a vocation, but it certainly makes responding to one more difficult as I can personally testify.
9. Sadly, certain scandals have damaged the personal witness of the vast majority of good and holy priests, adding to the fuel of those who claim vocations are in crisis. As the Church roots out the perpetrators, brings healing to the victims, and reestablishes trust with parishioners and others, we need to be even more diligent in seeking holiness ourselves.
10. Personal witness is the best vocations promotion. St. John Paul II drew hundreds of thousands to World Youth Days. When he died, many expressed concern that World Youth Days would cease to draw youth. While his personality was more reserved and introspective, Pope Emeritus Benedict drew massive crowds as well. The youth expressed that he was authentic. Pope Francis draws crowds with his warmth and wit. But all three drew people for the same reason – they love Jesus Christ with their whole being, and were leading people to Him, not to themselves (as a pop star might). If we want to draw people to Christ, we must be authentic, not pretending to be something we are not. We must avail ourselves of the grace of the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist. We must be in love with Christ, and let that love permeate all that we do and say. In the end, we must all become saints!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cardinal Piacenza's Letter to Mothers of Priests and Seminarians

ZENIT - Cardinal Piacenza's Letter to Mothers of Priests and Seminarians:
ROME, January 2, 2013 (
Here is a translation of the letter sent by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, to the mothers of priests and seminarians.
* * *
Letter to Mothers of Priests and Seminarians and to all those who Exercise the Gift of Spiritual Maternity in their regard on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God
Causa nostrae Letitiae – Cause of our Joy!
The Christian People have always venerated the Blessed Virgin Mary with profound gratitude, contemplating in her the Cause of our every true Joy.
Indeed, in welcoming the Eternal Word into her immaculate womb, Mary Most Holy gave birth to the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world. In Him, God himself has come to meet man, he has lifted him up from sin and he has given him eternal life; that is, a share in his very own life. By adhering to God’s Will, Mary participated in a unique and unrepeatable way in the mystery of our redemption, thereby becoming the Mother of God, the Gate of Heaven and the Cause of our Joy.
In a similar way, the entire Church looks with admiration and deep gratitude upon all mothers of priests and of those who, having received this lofty vocation, have embarked upon the path of formation. It is therefore with deep joy that I address myself to them.
The sons whom they welcomed and educated, in fact, have been chosen by Christ from all eternity to become his “chosen friends” and living and indispensable instruments of His Presence in the world. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the lives of priests are definitively taken up by Jesus and immersed in him, such that in them it is Jesus himself who walks and works among men.
So great is this mystery that the priest is even called alter Christus – another Christ. His frail humanity, elevated by the power of the Holy Spirit to a new and higher union with the Person of Jesus, becomes a place of encounter with the Son of God who became incarnate, died and rose for us. For when a priest teaches the faith of the Church, it is Christ who speaks to the People through him. When he prudently guides the faithful entrusted to him, it is Christ who shepherds his sheep. And when he celebrates the Sacraments, in an eminent way the Most Holy Eucharist, it is Christ himself who through his ministers continues the work of man’s salvation and makes himself truly present in the world.
Normally it is in the family, in the parents’ love, and in an early education in the faith that a priestly vocation finds that rich and fertile soil in which availability to the will of God can take root and draw the nourishment it needs. At the same time, every vocation also represents for the family whence it comes an irrevocable change that exceeds all human parameters and calls everyone to conversion.
Every member of a man’s family and all those persons closest to him are involved in this change, which Christ brings about in the life of those whom he has chosen and called. But the participation given to mothers of priests is quite unique and special. For unique and special are the spiritual consolations which they derive from having carried in the womb one who has become Christ’s minister. Indeed, every mother cannot but rejoice in seeing the life of her son not only fulfilled but also clothed with a most exceptional divine favor which embraces and transforms it for all eternity.
If an unexpected “distance”, mysteriously more radical than any other natural separation, seems to be created in relation to the life of one’s son through his vocation and ordination, in reality the Church’s two thousand years of experience teaches us that when a man is ordained a priest, his mother “receives” him an a completely new and unexpected way; so much so that she is called to see in the fruit of her own womb a “father” who by God’s will is called to generate and accompany a multitude of brothers and sisters to eternal life. Every mother of a priest mysteriously becomes a "daughter of her son." Towards him, she may therefore also exercise a new motherhood through the discreet yet extremely efficacious and inestimably precious closeness of prayer, and by offering of her own life for the ministry of her son.
This new “fatherhood” - for which the Seminarian is prepared, which the priest has been given, and which benefits all God’s People - needs to be accompanied by assiduous prayer and personal sacrifice, in order that a priest’s free adherence to the divine will may continually be renewed and strengthened, that he may never tire in the battle of faith, and that he may unite his own life ever more completely to the Sacrifice of Christ the Lord.
This work of true support, which has always been essential to the life of the Church, today seems more urgent that ever, especially in the secularized West, which awaits and stands in need of a new and radical proclamation of Christ. Mothers of priests and seminarians thus represent a true and veritable “army”, which from earth offers prayers and sacrifice to heaven, and from heaven intercedes in even greater number so that every grace and blessing may be poured out upon the lives of the Church’s sacred ministers.
Therefore, with all my heart I wish to encourage and offer special thanks to all mothers of priests and seminarians - and along with them to all consecrated and lay women who have received (perhaps through the invitation addressed to them during the Year of the Priest) the gift of spiritual motherhood towards those who are called to priestly ministry. By offering their lives, their prayers, their sufferings and their hardships as well as their joys for the fidelity and sanctification of God’s ministers, they have come to share in a special way in the motherhood of Holy Church, whose model and fulfillment is found in the divine maternity of Mary Most Holy.
Lastly, we raise a special hymn of thanks to heaven - to those mothers who, having already been called from this life, now contemplate in all its fullness the splendor of Christ’s Priesthood in which their sons have become sharers, and who intercede for them in a unique and mysteriously far more efficacious manner.
With heartfelt wishes for a New Year full of grace, I warmly impart to each and every mother a most affectionate blessing, and I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of Priests, to grant you the gift of an ever more radical identification with her, the perfect disciple and Daughter of her Son.
Mauro Card. Piacenza
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
[Translation by Diane Montagna]

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

THe Feast of the Holy Family gives us reason to reflect on how important family is to God's plan of salvation. He formed a family for His Son, uniting them in chaste love, pouring His full grace on the sinless Blessed Mother, and blessed St. Joseph with the grace enough to be a husband and father. Do we ask for the grace needed to live our vocations?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings this weekend help us to reflect on the reality of marriage. Marriage is a natural institution created by God in the very beginning. He created humanity as male and female, and the complementarity of the sexes is for the continuation of the human race. The institution of marriage is given to assure the raising of children in an ideal environment. In the Gospel, Jesus is questioned about the nature of divorce, and He responds that the Law allows divorce because of the hardness of heart - because of sin. But Jesus reminds them that this is not the way it was meant to be. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus raises the institution of marriage to a sacrament. Marriage is to have five traits, and as a sacrament, those traits are strengthened by grace: Free, total, Fruitful, faithful, and permanent. The fact that we have to add that Marriage is between one man, one woman, is proof that we have fallen further away from God and His will. May we have the strength and courage to proclaim the beauty of marriage as a reflection of original justice and God's plan for the propagation and education of children.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. John asks about what to do about those that do not follow Christ and the Apostles ("us"). Jesus instructs that they are not to prevent the man, as he what he is doing is proof of his support of Jesus, at least implicitly. We can act with jealousy, too, and when we respond to Christ, we must see that we are to work together. That is the beauty of our Church and her vocations: We are not all ordained, or religious, or married, yet we are all to work together.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Parent's Guide for Vocations Update

I just got copies of my book A Parent's Guide for Vocations - I reset the price for $6, but use code 9N9MQ8XC on the check out to get it for $4.50!). I will be giving the parents of our Diocesan seminarians and young women religious a copy.
Not to boast, but the book looks great!!! It is good to see the fruits of my labor, and to hold it in my hands!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It is Finished!!!

I have just finished my book for parents entitled A Parent's Guide for Vocations, and it is available at CreateSpace and

Friday, April 6, 2012

Way of the Cross 2012

Much has been said about the selection of the writers for this year's Way of the Cross held annually on Good Friday in the Coliseum. They are beautiful, prayerful, and poignant. From the Source - Way of the Cross 2012.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Archbishop Sheehan's Document on Marriage and Cohabitation

Marriage, as a vocation, is under attack. Achbishop Sheehan of Sante Fe has released a beautifully written document on the three forms of cohabitation: Without civil marriage, married civilly, and divorced and remarried. It is worth a read; I highlight here the following:

The Church must make it clear to the faithful that these unions are not in accord with the Gospel, and to help Catholics who find themselves in these situations to do whatever they must do to make their lives pleasing to God.

First of all, we ourselves must be firmly rooted in the Gospel teaching that, when it comes to sexual union, there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for His disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. There is no “third way” possible for a Christian. The Bible and the Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and opposes same sex unions.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Father to My Mother

I have tried not to post too many personal things here, as I am trying to keep this blog general, but I know that I must write the following.
My mother is in the hospital, having had a heart attack, and she continues to have something abnormal with her heart. The doctors are going to be running an angiogram today, and possibly an angioplasty. Hopefully, nothing more drastic will be needed.
Yesterday, I visited her (she is 2 and 1/2 hours away, and with weekend Masses, it was difficult to get there earlier). I took my anointing kit in to the hospital, just in case. But I was hesitant because this was my mother. I have received so much from her: my faith, my life, and the ability to know, receive, and give love. But I could not bring myself to ask her if I could anoint her. (In the course of the conversation, however, it was revealed that the priest chaplain had been there to anoint her.) I hate to admit, but I was relieved. At the end of our visit, she asked for a prayer and a blessing, which I gave. But I struggled to find the words, to choke back the emotions, and to do my priestly duty.
As I priest, I have visited many hospital rooms, anointed countless people, given many blessings. In none have I struggled so much as I did last night. After prayer and reflection, letting the experience stir in my heart, I still do not have a full answer, but in part, it was a struggle because now the roles were reversed: I was to be her spiritual father, to bring her to the our heavenly Father and beg for her. This woman, again, gave me everything, and now I was asked to give back. It was not out of selfishness, but out of the recognition of her vulnerabilities, and my own. Certainly, I was willing to give back, but in doing so, I had to admit something that I perhaps did not realize. I do not recall having a "hero complex" with my father, but I know that I have had one (and possibly still do) with my mother. As she asked for the prayer and blessing, I had to let that go.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Baptism of the Lord

As Christ is Baptized in the Jordan, He transforms the waters so that they can transform us. He gives us the Sacrament of Baptism that we can be set free from sin and death. But Baptism also begins our Christian Vocation. When we were baptized, we rejected Satan, his works, and his promises, which means that we cannot go back, and we are emersed into Christ's life, death and resurrection.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holy Family

The feast of the Holy Family gives us the opportunity to ponder the mystery of the Incarnation, that the Son of God would submit Himself to a human father and mother. The Holy Family thereby provides a model of all families - bonded by their mutual love and obedience to the Heavenly Father's will and plan.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Prayer for Life

A beautiful prayer from Pope Benedict for Life was posted at Whispers in the Loggia. It is thought-provoking:

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you:

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of a mother's womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
make fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect
the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Gift creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children

Console married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Love,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.