Showing posts with label New Ulm Diocese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Ulm Diocese. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2016

News!

I know that it has been a while since I have blogged except for the various articles that have appeared in newspapers and prayers.
Part is that my focus has been elsewhere.
Recently, though, a few have asked about recording my homilies. After doing some research into process and equipment, and after praying about it, I have decided to create a podcast. You can find it at http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:251744182/sounds.rss, or soon on iTunes (View From the Ambo).
The reason is not in pride, but rather in humility. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to proclaim the Good News, and I try to do so. I know that the first few may be rough until I get the settings right, as well as the knowledge of the software to help make things sound better.
Input is appreciated!

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.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Extraordinary Holy Year - a Year for Mercy

A few weeks ago, Pope Francis formally announced an Extraordinary Holy year starting with the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8, 2015 and ending on the Feast of Christ the King, November 20, 2016 (the start coincides with the 50th anniversary of the formal closing of the Second Vatican Council). Holy years are typically held every 25 years (2000 was the last one of the ordinary year), but extraordinary years are held at the authorization of the Pope. Holy years involve spiritual activities as well as a formal opening of certain “Holy Doors” such as one of the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This extraordinary Jubilee has the theme of “A year of mercy”, and is the Pope’s invitation to all Christians to celebrate in a special way the mercy of Christ. Pope Francis, in doing so, is asking all Christians to seek the mercy of Christ and to proclaim it to those who do not know Him. In fact, Pope Francis added a title to Jesus - The Living Face of the Mercy of the Father. Jesus reveals the mercy of God to us.
The Pope is recommending that we focus on one verse from Luke 6:36 - “Be Merciful as your Heavenly Father is Merciful” - as our theme for the year. As he and Pope Benedict XVI are fond of reminding us, God never tires of forgiving us, and this is His mercy in action. He also reminds us that no one can be excluded from the mercy of God. We are to welcome all who are seeking the Face of God. It is a message that the world needs, and a message that has power to move the world. But it is a message that needs to be properly understood, too, or else instead of reflecting on the Living Face of the Father’s mercy, we would be looking at an all too human face of failure.
Mercy is helping others live with their proper dignity. It involves an element of justice, that one is righting a wrong that the other is unable to correct him or herself. Mercy always leads to the truth and a higher human dignity. Many might mistake mercy for weakness, but it is really a strength - to right the wrong, to seek amends. It is a mistake to think that mercy allows condoning or even approving of sin - but that would lack truth and human dignity, and ultimately even charity as God is just, and while He is forgiving, it is presumptuous to assume that He will forgive one’s continuing to sin with not desire of conversion. In the end, this misguided concept is false compassion. Such false compassion denies the moral teachings of the Church and affirm an “anything goes” attitude. But it is just as equally wrong to dismiss people because they are not living a completely moral life - it lacks mercy. Instead, it invites people to come to God where they are, but challenging them in gentle and compassionate ways to living in accord with truth and justice as God would desire. Mercy is following the example of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. He forgives her, but calls her to conversion (“Go, and sin no more.”). Even Pope Francis’s often quoted sound bit - “Who am I to judge?”, needs to be seen in the context of mercy, which it is only when one reads the full statement: “[a person] who is seeking who is seeking God, who is of good will - well, who am I to judge?” takes on the element of one who is seeking a life in accord with God’s will, seeking His grace.
Such a concept is one that we need. It is for this reason that Pope Francis has invited us to this special year of Mercy - to encounter the Living Face of the Mercy of God, to hear the call to conversion and to invite others to contemplate and respond to Mercy in their lives as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Second Sunday or Lent: Adoration

The Narrative of the transfiguration is read every Second Sunday of Lent. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up Mount Tabor. The landscape is not just a nice description or mere historical fact. Mountains are places of encounter, symbolically due to their closeness with the Heavens, one was expected to encounter GOd. There, Jesus reveals Himself to the apostles,giving them a glimpse of His divinity. They are transfixed by the vision. The evangelists struggle with find the words to describe the encounter with the Lord, probably because the three witnesses struggled. Moses, the one through whom the Lord gave the Law, and Elijah, the Prophet, are speaking with Him - these two began what Jesus was going to accomplish - calling the people back to the Lord our God. The apostles were caught up in praise of the sight, and though they struggled to understand, they knew that it was good. St. Peter proclaims it, along with stating his desire to remain there. This encounter with the Transfigured Lord is one that so moved them that St. Peter writes about it years latter as giving a proof of the Gospel in his second letter (2 Peter 1;16-18): "For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” They had already encountered Him day after day, understanding Him to be human, but when He reveals His divinity, it changes them. They we in true adoration of the Lord - they were praising Him for who He truly is. That is another aspect of our prayer. Like complimenting a friend on some quality, we too need to ‘compliment’ God in who He is. It is adoration and praise. God does not need our praise, but we need to give it, because when we do, we submit ourselves in love to the our loving, all-powerful God who is three Persons in one divine being. We need to remember that just as we are loved sinners (contrition), that we are invited into a loving relationship with the Holy Trinity, and that when we truly adore the Lord, we stand humbly in His presence not by our own merits, but by the grace of God.
Added to this aspect, we have another ‘adoration’. We are so removed from the Transfiguration. We do not have the privilege of walking with Jesus in the flesh, but we know that Jesus is the Son of God because of the witness of the Apostles. Just as we know that Jesus is God, we, too, need to place our trust in the apostles in other areas - especially of the teaching on the Eucharist. We too easily see the bread and wine, but do we see the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ? Are we just as caught up in adoration when we are in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist? When we take time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, especially when He is exposed in the monstrance for our adoration, we are in the presence of the same Lord who was present on Mount Tabor. He invites us to adore Him, to praise Him for what He has done. Indeed, when we adore the Blessed Sacrament, we are drawn in to praise of God, and should declare “Look what Love has done!” by becoming food and drink for us, that we may be saved through Him!

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!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Announcement

A few weeks ago, Bishop LeVoir invited me to resign from the Office of Vocations.  Recognizing that I have served as director of Vocations for 11 years, with a year of service as director of seminarians, he reminded me that I have worked hard, and while I have served well, it is time to allow someone else serve so that I can focus on the parishes I have also been assigned to serve.  The following is adapted from my letter to Bishop LeVoir, accepting his offer to resign:

It was with humility that I accepted the position 12 years ago, understanding the onerous task that was ahead.  It is with even deeper humility that I depart, knowing that there is still so much to be done.  I take some modest pride in what has been accomplished in planting seeds of vocations awareness through out the Diocese…

I offer my support to my successor(s), whomever they may be, and would willingly offer any insight I may have if asked.  Of course, I will continue to promote a culture of vocations on the parish and Area Faith Community level, and will continue to invite young men and women to hear and respond to the call of Christ in their lives as priests, brothers, or sisters.  I remain, as always, a servant who has simply tried to do what was required of him.

 

As of July 1,  I will be released from the Office of Vocations.  It is bittersweet that I depart.  As of that time, I will change the title of this blog, and hopefully with a little more time, will blog more! Please keep my successor in prayer!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Unaware that his 'good things' were from the Lord, the greedy landowner in today's parable thinks he is the source of all that he has. He thinks he can store it all. In the end, greed is the opposite of thankfulness.
when we become aware of all that we have and in reality all that we are is from God, we avoid greed and live lives of gratitude, trying to return to the Lord with thanks for all the good that He has done.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord teaches us to pray, but in the end, seems to say it is not as much about how we say it, but rather that we be persistent and it be in line with God's will. God is good, and He desires us to be in relationship with Him, so we continue to grow in prayer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Martha and Mary are often depicted as two forms of Christians, the active and the contemplative. In reality, though, neither is sufficient on their own - the one caught in activity needs to spend time with Jesus, but the contemplative also needs to do something. In the case of Mary, however, she is active listening to Jesus! How necessary both forms (especially in Religious life) are needed!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that being a neighbor is not necessarily about sharing a language, culture, or style of dress. In fact, the Samaritan would not have lived anywhere near the (presumably) Jewish victim, but simply recognized the man as in need of help, and he acted in mercy. That's what a neighbor is - the one who is need, and the one who shows mercy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"The kingdom of God is at hand", the message that Jesus sends these 72 out to proclaim. It is a message that is still to be proclaimed. Perhaps it was because of the urgency of the message that Jesus sends them out with the instruction to take nothing with. How we can get weighted down with too much 'stuff', and perhaps we should lighten our loads and get back to the message!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Following Christ is not a part-time occupation, but something that must occupy the entirety of our lives. We cannot simply start out and keep looking back, but must move ahead, keeping our eyes on the Savior who leads us to peace.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

If Jesus is truly the Son of God (and He truly is), we must live our lives differently. We must be willing to follow Him everyday in taking up our cross. We proclaim Him savior and Lord, and so we take up the Cross of our vocations, finding there life and holiness.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus raises the widow's son and gives him back to his mother. Perhaps it was because He knew the grief that His own mother would feel as she would stand beneath His cross, and wanted to give her a sense of hope. He looked with compassion on the widow, no matter the reason. The young man must have lived his life differently because of Jesus' compassion. We, too, have been snatched from death by Jesus - do we live differently?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ reminds us of the absolute centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. Jesus Christ gives us this gift to make us the Church, and gives the priesthood to continue to offer the memorial sacrifice He initiated on the cross.

The sequence that the Church gives provides much reflection:

Sion, lift thy voice and sing;
Praise thy Savior and thy King;
Praise with hymns thy Shepherd true:
Dare thy most to praise Him well;
For He doth all praise excel;
None can ever reach His due.
Special theme of praise is thine,
That true living Bread divine,
That life-giving flesh adored,
Which the brethren twelve received,
As most faithfully believed,
At the Supper of the Lord.

Let the chant be loud and high;
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt to-day in every breast;
On this festival divine
Which recounts the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

At this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite;
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead;
Here, instead of darkness, light.

His own act, at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
In His memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We the Host of our salvation
Consecrate from bread and wine.

Hear what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending,
Leaps to things not understood.

Here in outward 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.

They too who of Him partake
Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the selfsame meat,
Nor the less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here 'tis life; and there 'tis death;
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before;
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form,
The Signified remaining One
And the Same forevermore

Lo! upon the Altar lies,
Hidden deep from human eyes,
Angels' Bread from Paradise
Made the food of mortal man:
Children's meat to dogs denied;
In old types foresignified;
In the manna from the skies,
In Isaac, and the Paschal Lamb.

Jesu! Shepherd of the sheep!
Thy true flock in safety keep.
Living Bread! Thy life supply;
Strengthen us, or else we die;
Fill us with celestial grace:
Thou, who feedest us below!
Source of all we have or know!
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the Feast of Love,
We may see Thee face to face. Amen

All are called by God to love Him.

All are called to serve Him.

Some are called to special lives of service,

to give witness to God's love through being a priest, religious brother, or sister.

Is He calling you?