Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family

This weekend, we continue our Christmas celebration with a contemplation of the Holy Family. The feast allows us to ponder the love and model of the Holy Family, how St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother provided a stable home for Jesus Christ.

This Feast also gives us the opportunity to thank God for our own families, in which we were raised to respond to our vocations, and to ask the Lord fro his grace in forming that safe place for those who have been placed in our care.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christ is truly born for us...

From the Christmas Proclamation:

Today, the twenty–fifth day of December,

unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth

and then formed man and woman in his own image.

Several thousand years after the flood, when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant.

Twenty–one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah;

thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges;

one thousand years from the anointing of David as king;

in the sixty–fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the one hundred and ninety–fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation of the city of Rome.

The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace,

Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,

desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,

being conceived by the Holy Spirit,

and nine months having passed since his conception,

was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.

Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Having just conceived herself, Mary rushes to Elizabeth to be with her in her pregnancy. As these women receive each others' greetings, there is a profound moment of joy. Elizabeth recognizes that the child just conceived in Mary's womb is important - in fact - is God. She praises Mary, and in humility exclaims "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" She receives Christ with joy.

These women show us an important aspect of our vocations, and of our last days of Advent: We must strive to recognize Christ in the subtle ways He comes to us, and receive Him with joy. Like Mary, having said yes to the will of God, we need to respond to the needs of those around us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Third Sunday of Advent

Rejoice, and be glad! Salvation is near. John preached the message of repentance, and gave a baptism for the repentance of sins, to prepare the people for the revelation of his divine kinsman, Jesus Christ. The people were filled with anticipation, asking what they had to do to prepare for the Messiah. Note that he does not give them something too grand - they are to do their jobs well, to produce the fruit of repentance in their lives. John witnesses this himself. St. Luke alone records (as we heard last week) that the "word" (in Greek "rhema") of God came to him. In Luke's gospel, that word seems to be used for any message of vocation. (The Blessed Mother herself received one - "Let it be done to me according to your word."

As we respond to our vocations, that is our task - to produce fruits all areas of our lives, to do our duties well. Let us respond to that word of God...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent

"Prepare the way", John the Baptist proclaims. He calls the people, and us too, to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This is how we can best prepare our hearts for the Lord's return.

We are called to look east, toward the rising sun, and to see how the Lord prepares the way for His coming. When He does, all shall see our salvation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent, 2009

As we begin a new Church year this weekend and enter into the penitential season of Advent, we hear Christ telling us to be prepared and to not grow weary. Our hearts need to be awakened, and Christ alone has the words that can rouse them. May we enter this season, opening our ears to His word, and respond to His will for us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Feast of Christ the King

Jesus Christ is the King of All, and with the feast of Christ the King, we proclaim Him and claim Him. May our lives give Him homage!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The 13th Day

Wow! That is the only word that comes close to describe the movie "The 13th Day". It is a beautiful film about the Marian Apparitions of Fatima.4178BB64-B2CE-4536-8116-8305D1602C93.jpg

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christ is the High priest, having offered Himself to the Father. He is to return and take us to the Father, and while that day is hidden it is certain. Do we shine brightly with wisdom, leading others to the Lord by the lives we lead?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

The widow gave only a few small coins, pittance compared to the extravagant gifts of the rich, yet Jesus praises her for her generosity. She understood what it meant to trust in God, and to make a full return of gratitude to Him. She does not hold on to her livelihood (and none should fault her if she would have), but gives freely. Did she experience God's presence in her life that lead her to this action? Did she experience Him sustaining her after? She simply trusted that the Lord would provide.

We must learn to be come like this widow - to learn to give without counting the cost, to give without expecting reward, and to live generously. When we do, we find responding to a vocation as natural as breathing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day 2009

The Feast of All Saints reminds us that we are called by God to be saints. In all circumstances, the saints found blessedness in God. They responded to the grace of God, and we celebrate that they are in the presence of God. They show us how to live and love so completely so as to be in His presence. They knew themselves to be the children of God, and now they are something 'more', yet to be revealed to us. They responded to the grace of God, the same grace that we are given in the Sacraments. They struggled in the same ways (certainly circumstances change, though) that we do.

We have communion with them - they assist us by their prayers, and we follow their model. May we follow them into the Kingdom of God, being filled with His love, and serve Him all of our days.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thirty Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Son of David, have mercy on me." Bartimaeus, a blind man, begs the Lord Jesus to help him. In Mark's Gospel account of the healing, there may be a play on words, highlighted that Mark repeats himself - Bartimaeus literally means (in Hebrew) Son of Timaeus, a name that in turn means 'unclean'. But St. Mark repeat the name, this time saying that he is a son of Timaeus (in Greek). Timaeus in Greek means 'honor'. Unlike a leper, Bartimaeus calls out not his name "Unclean", but rather Christ's title as the Messiah He knows not only who Christ is, but his own dignity and honor to call out despite the silencing cries of the crowd.

We out to do the same - we have been given a dignity in Christ. Do we call out of that dignity?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Twenty-ninth in Ordinary Time

"Lord, grant us our request." The brother apostles James and John ask the Lord Jesus to give them their desire. Note that Jesus does not chide them on their desire, but rather on their lack of understanding what they really were asking. Were they willing to suffer hardship, willing to serve others? They reply that they were.

Desire in and of itself is a good thing, but it must be balanced. When it is a desire for holiness and comes with not a desire for fame and power, and when it leads toward service, it is good and holy. Let us accept the cup, ultimately the Chalice of the Blood of Christ, and accept the suffering in our life as a part of the suffering of Christ, and serve one another.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vocations Views October Edition

I have just posted the latest (as of today) Vocations Views. Enjoy and pass it on!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New List of Seminarians

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

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What must we do to inherit eternal life? The Question that the rich young man is our question, too. Jesus responds to him to keep the Commandments, and then invites him to discipleship. Keeping the Commandments is important, but only a first step, a minimum step. Christ desires us to be more than minimum - we are to live life to the full, to place our trust in Him alone. So we, too, are asked to leave everything behind and to follow the Lord. When we do, we will find every need meet, and will be given everything in extravagance.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Marriage is a vocation, and as such it requires a commitment that is lifelong. Marriage, like priesthood, is under attack. So many seem to simply desire to define these sacraments their own ways, claiming a moral superiority over the Church, Tradition, and ultimately even Christ, based on their 'conscience'. Marriage is between one man and one woman, who willingly, knowingly choose to enter into the union for the good of the couple and the good of children, until death parts them. Anything else ceases to be marriage and rather a perversion of the truth. Christ gives marriage a sacramental grace, and those who enter it enter for life do so with this gift of grace. Just the same, those who are called by God to be priests and respond do so for life, and are given the grace that is needed to live it out their entire lives...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary time

There is the reality of sin - and Hell - that we sometimes forget. We are to be so radical to avoid sin that we would do whatever it takes. Christ Jesus himself speaks of the reality of condemnation and Hell, and as the savior, He comes to save us from sin. His power is shown not in simply saying "Everything is okay" but in "I forgive you". Our lives are to be able to give glory to God. Not only that, but we must remember that Jesus asks us to be so aware of our actions that we not lead others into sin by word or example. If we do, He says that we would be better to have a millstone tied around our necks and thrown into the sea (to drown). Again, we are to be so separated from sin. Christ gives us the grace to do so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A place to explore your calling to be a Catholic Priest

A great site calledA vocation to be a Priest was recently brought to my attention and seems to be a great place to start... Written by teens for teens, it seems to be pretty good.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who is the greatest? The question we hear being discussed by the apostles in this weekend's Gospel passage is one that still plagues us. We jockey for position, put just enough of a religious spin on it to make it appear that we are trying to live the Gospel out. The question is not who is the greatest, but who are we serving? Are we serving ourselves, our pride, and our own positions? Are we serving others without counting the cost or expecting repayment, simply because it is the right thing to do? We need to examine our motivations and passions and ask the Lard to purify them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

There are certain questions that every single believer needs to ask. The questions are asked by Christ throughout the Gospels, and the question in this weekend's Gospel is important: Who is Jesus Christ? Answering the question is only the beginning - what does it mean for us? Are we willing to take up our cross to follow Him. As St. James instructs us in the second reading, our faith is empty unless we are willing to do works (after all, submission of belief in Christ is also a work according to St. John). May we follow Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Msgr. Greg Schaeffer and the Mission in Guatemala

The CNS service is running a story about one of the priests of the Diocese of New Ulm. The coffee from San Lucas Tolimon is consistently the best I have . For more info, on ordering coffee, call the Diocese!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ephphatha - Be opened - Christ still speaks to us by opening our ears and mouths. We are like the deaf mute in today's readings, without Christ unable to really hear and speak of God. But Christ, God made man, speaks to us and heals us. Let Him open our ears to hear Him, our lips to praise Him, our Hearts to worship Him, and our hands to serve Him!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

From within us, from our unredeemed hearts, evil pours forth, as we hear in this weekend's Gospel. God's law is to put the limits on this evil, but more important, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, redeems us and makes us capable of true transformation. After listening to the Bread of Life discourse, it is perhaps most appropriate that we return to the Gospel accord to Mark with this passage. The Eucharist is Christ given to us, and at every Mass, we have the re-presentation of Calary - Christ's grace poured out for us, and - in our reception of Christ - in us! How great God is in giving us His Law, and that Word of God that is planted in our souls. May we allow it to grow, and in doing so, allow Him to direct us to all that is good and holy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Lord, to whom shall we go," St. Peter responds to the question of whether they, too, were going to leave. Many had stopped walking with Jesus - of course this is more than just being with Him. It meant that they no longer followed Him and allowed Him to teach them. The disciples who remain do so not simply because they understood every word of what Jesus said, but rather they knew Him and that He is God, and that His words were for eternal life.

We are asked to follow Jesus Christ, to walk with Him. We, too, might not understand every word thoroughly, but we place our faith in Jesus Christ. May we follow faithfully.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vatican to Prepare Document on Seminarians

Zenit reports that the Vatican to Prepare Document on Seminarians. Keep them in prayer as they do this - sounds like it will be timely and very much useful!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the Saints of August

On August 2, Pope Benedict spoke On the Saints of August.
"Real Models of Spirituality and Priestly Devotion"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in the courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo, on Aug. 2.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I returned a few days ago from the Val d'Aosta and it is with great pleasure that I am with you once again, dear friends of Castel Gandolfo. To the Bishop, the parish priest and the parish community, to the civil Authorities and the entire population of Castel Gandolfo, along with the pilgrims as well as the holiday-makers, I renew my affectionate greeting together with a heartfelt "thank you" for your ever cordial welcome. I also thank you for the spiritual closeness that many people expressed to me in Les Combes at the time of the small accident to my right wrist.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Year for Priests that we are celebrating is a precious opportunity to deepen our knowledge of the value of the mission of priests in the Church and in the world. In this regard, useful ideas for reflection can be found in remembering the saints whom the Church holds up to us daily.

In these first days of the month of August, for example, we commemorate some who are real models of spirituality and priestly devotion. Yesterday was the liturgical Memorial of St Alphonsus Mary de' Liguori, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, a great teacher of moral theology and a model of Christian and pastoral virtues who was ever attentive to the religious needs of the people. Today we are contemplating St Francis of Assisi's ardent love for the salvation of souls which every priest must always foster. In fact today is the feast of the "Pardon of Assisi", which St Francis obtained from Pope Honorious III in the year 1216, after having a vision while he was praying in the little church of the Portiuncula.

Jesus appeared to him in his glory, with the Virgin Mary on his right and surrounded by many Angels. They asked him to express a wish and Francis implored a "full and generous pardon" for all those who would visit that church who "repented and confessed their sins". Having received papal approval, the Saint did not wait for any written document but hastened to Assisi and when he reached the Portiuncula announced the good news: "Friends, the Lord wants to have us all in Heaven!". Since then, from noon on 1 August to midnight on the second, it has been possible to obtain, on the usual conditions, a Plenary Indulgence, also for the dead, on visiting a parish church or a Franciscan one.

What can be said of St John Mary Vianney whom we shall commemorate on 4 August? It was precisely to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his death that I announced the Year for Priests. I promise to speak again of this humble parish priest who constitutes a model of priestly life not only for parish priests but for all priests at the Catechesis of the General Audience next Wednesday. Then on 7 August it will be the Memorial of St Cajetan da Thiene, who used to like to say: "it is not with sentimental love but rather with loving actions that souls are purified".

And the following day, 8 August, the Church will point out as a model St Dominic, of whom it has been written that he only "opened his mouth either to speak to God in prayer or to speak of God". Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the great figure of Pope Montini, Paul VI, the 31st anniversary of whose death, here in Castel Gandolfo, occurs on 6 August. His life, so profoundly priestly and so rich in humanity, continues to be a gift to the Church for which we thank God. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, help priests to be totally in love with Christ, after the example of these models of priestly holiness.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the international pilgrimage group of Sisters of St Felix of Cantalice. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us to work for the food that remains unto life eternal. During these quiet days of summer, may all of us find spiritual nourishment in "the bread come down from heaven", offered to us daily in God's holy word and in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord!

[In Italian, he said:]

Lastly, I address my cordial greetings to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, and first of all to the citizens of Castel Gandolfo to which I always return joyfully and where today the traditional Peach Festival is being held. I greet in particular the young people from the parishes of San Giovanni Battista and Santa Maria Assunta in Monterosso Almo and all the parish groups and families, including those who are watching us at this moment on the screens set up in St Peter's Square, Rome. I wish you all a good Sunday and a peaceful month of August.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

On the Curé d'Ars

In his morning address on August 5th, the Pope spoke on On the Curé d'Ars.

"Since His Earthly Youth He Sought to Conform Himself to God

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2009 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Aug. 5 at his Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo, during which commented on the Holy Curé d'Ars.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today's Catechesis I would like briefly to review the life of the Holy Curé of Ars. I shall stress several features that can also serve as an example for priests in our day, different of course from the time in which he lived, yet marked in many ways by the same fundamental human and spiritual challenges.

Precisely yesterday was the 150th anniversary of his birth in Heaven. Indeed it was at two o'clock in the morning on 4 August 1859 that St John Baptist Mary Vianney, having come to the end of his earthly life, went to meet the heavenly Father to inherit the Kingdom, prepared since the world's creation for those who faithfully follow his teachings (cf. Mt 25: 34).

What great festivities there must have been in Heaven at the entry of such a zealous pastor! What a welcome he must have been given by the multitude of sons and daughters reconciled with the Father through his work as parish priest and confessor!

I wanted to use this anniversary as an inspiration to inaugurate the Year for Priests, whose theme, as is well known, is "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests". The credibility of witness depends on holiness and, once and for all, on the actual effectiveness of the mission of every priest.

John Mary Vianney was born into a peasant family in the small town of Dardilly on 8 May 1786. His family was poor in material possessions but rich in humanity and in faith. Baptized on the day of his birth, as was the good custom in those days, he spent so many years of his childhood and adolescence working in the fields and tending the flocks that at the age of 17 he was still illiterate.

Nonetheless he knew by heart the prayers his devout mother had taught him and was nourished by the sense of religion in the atmosphere he breathed at home. His biographers say that since his earthly youth he sought to conform himself to God's will, even in the humblest offices.

He pondered on his desire to become a priest but it was far from easy for him to achieve it.

Indeed, he arrived at priestly ordination only after many ordeals and misunderstandings, with the help of far-sighted priests who did not stop at considering his human limitations but looked beyond them and glimpsed the horizon of holiness that shone out in that truly unusual young man.

So it was that on 23 June 1815 he was ordained a deacon and on the following 13 August, he was ordained a priest. At last, at the age of 29, after numerous uncertainties, quite a few failures and many tears, he was able to walk up to the Lord's altar and make the dream of his life come true.

The Holy Curé of Ars always expressed the highest esteem for the gift he had received. He would say: "Oh! How great is the Priesthood! It can be properly understood only in Heaven... if one were to understand it on this earth one would die, not of fright but of love!" (Abbé Monnin, Esprit du Curé d'Ars, p. 113).

Moreover, as a little boy he had confided to his mother: "If I were to become a priest, I would like to win many souls" (Abbé Monnin, Procès de l'ordinaire, p. 1064). And so he did. Indeed, in his pastoral service, as simple as it was extraordinarily fertile, this unknown parish priest of a forgotten village in the south of France was so successful in identifying with his ministry that he became, even in a visibly and universally recognizable manner, an alter Christus, an image of the Good Shepherd who, unlike the hired hand, lays down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10: 11).

After the example of the Good Shepherd, he gave his life in the decades of his priestly service. His existence was a living catechesis that acquired a very special effectiveness when people saw him celebrating Mass, pausing before the tabernacle in adoration or spending hour after hour in the confessional.

Therefore the centre of his entire life was the Eucharist, which he celebrated and adored with devotion and respect. Another fundamental characteristic of this extraordinary priestly figure was his diligent ministry of confession.

He recognized in the practice of the sacrament of penance the logical and natural fulfillment of the priestly apostolate, in obedience to Christ's mandate: "if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (cf. Jn 20: 23).

St John Mary Vianney thus distinguished himself as an excellent, tireless confessor and spiritual director. Passing "with a single inner impulse from the altar to the confessional", where he spent a large part of the day, he did his utmost with preaching and persuasive advice to help his parishioners rediscover the meaning and beauty of the sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence (cf. Letter to Priests for the inauguration of the Year for Priests).

The pastoral methods of St John Mary Vianney might hardly appear suited to the social and cultural conditions of the present day. Indeed, how could a priest today imitate him in a world so radically changed? Although it is true that times change and many charisms are characteristic of the person, hence unrepeatable, there is nevertheless a lifestyle and a basic desire that we are all called to cultivate.

At a close look, what made the Curé of Ars holy was his humble faithfulness to the mission to which God had called him; it was his constant abandonment, full of trust, to the hands of divine Providence.
It was not by virtue of his own human gifts that he succeeded in moving peoples' hearts nor even by relying on a praiseworthy commitment of his will; he won over even the most refractory souls by communicating to them what he himself lived deeply, namely, his friendship with Christ.

He was "in love" with Christ and the true secret of his pastoral success was the fervor of his love for the Eucharistic Mystery, celebrated and lived, which became love for Christ's flock, for Christians and for all who were seeking God. His testimony reminds us, dear brothers and sisters, that for every baptized person and especially for every priest the Eucharist is not merely an event with two protagonists, a dialogue between God and me. Eucharistic Communion aspires to a total transformation of one's life and forcefully flings open the whole human "I" of man and creates a new "we" (cf. Joseph Ratzinger, La Comunione nella Chiesa, p. 80).

Thus, far from reducing the figure of St John Mary Vianney to an example albeit an admirable one of 18-century devotional spirituality, on the contrary one should understand the prophetic power that marked his human and priestly personality that is extremely timely.

In post-revolutionary France which was experiencing a sort of "dictatorship of rationalism" that aimed at obliterating from society the very existence of priests and of the Church, he lived first in the years of his youth a heroic secrecy, walking kilometers at night to attend Holy Mass. Then later as a priest Vianney distinguished himself by an unusual and fruitful pastoral creativity, geared to showing that the then prevalent rationalism was in fact far from satisfying authentic human needs, hence definitively unlivable.

Dear brothers and sisters, 150 years after the death of the Holy Curé of Ars, contemporary society is facing challenges that are just as demanding and may have become even more complex.

If in his time the "dictatorship of rationalism" existed, in the current epoch a sort of "dictatorship of relativism" is evident in many contexts. Both seem inadequate responses to the human being's justifiable request to use his reason as a distinctive and constitutive element of his own identity.

Rationalism was inadequate because it failed to take into account human limitations and claims to make reason alone the criterion of all things, transforming it into a goddess; contemporary relativism humiliates reason because it arrives de facto at affirming that the human being can know nothing with certainty outside the positive scientific field.

Today however, as in that time, man, "a beggar for meaning and fulfillment", is constantly in quest of exhaustive answers to the basic questions that he never ceases to ask himself.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council had very clearly in mind this "thirst for the truth" that burns in every human heart when they said that it is the task of priests "as instructors of the people in the faith" to see to the "formation of a genuine Christian community", that can "smooth the path to Christ for all men" and exercise "a truly motherly function" for them, "showing or smoothing the path towards Christ and his Church" for non-believers and for believers, while also "encouraging, supporting and strengthening believers for their spiritual struggles" (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 6).

The teaching which in this regard the Holy Curé of Ars continues to pass on to us is that the priest must create an intimate personal union with Christ that he must cultivate and increase, day after day.

Only if he is in love with Christ will the priest be able to teach his union, this intimate friendship with the divine Teacher to all, and be able to move people's hearts and open them to the Lord's merciful love. Only in this way, consequently, will he be able to instil enthusiasm and spiritual vitality in the communities the Lord entrusts to him.

Let us pray that through the intercession of St John Mary Vianney, God will give holy priests to his Church and will increase in the faithful the desire to sustain and help them in their ministry. Let us entrust this intention to Mary, whom on this very day we invoke as Our Lady of the Snow.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially the pilgrimage groups from England, China, Korea and the United States of America. Yesterday the Church celebrated the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, who is the patron saint of parish priests. In this Year for Priests, let us pray that through his intercession all priests will be renewed in love of the Lord, in the joyful pursuit of holiness and in generous commitment to the spread of the Gospel. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

My thoughts turn lastly to the sick, the newlyweds and the young people, especially to those participating in The Fifth International Encounter "Youth Towards Assisi". Today, the liturgical Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major, the liturgy invites us to turn our gaze to Mary, Mother of Christ. Always look to her, dear young people, imitating her in doing God's will faithfully; turn to her with trust, dear sick people, to experience the effectiveness of her protection in moments of trial; entrust your family to her, dear newlyweds, so that it may always be supported by her maternal intercession.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus Christ is Living Bread that comes from heaven. The Jews were repulsed by the idea, asking how He can give His flesh to eat. But Jesus strengthens His statement, telling them unless the eat His flesh, they cannot be truly alive. Jesus, the Son of God, gives Himself to us for the life of the world. We are invited to eat His flesh and drink His blood, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to respond to the will of our heavenly Father.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pope examines relationship of Mary to priests

Catholic News Agency reports on the Pope's Wednesday Audience in "Pope examines relationship of Mary to priests".

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 12, 2009 / 10:48 am (CNA).- During Wednesday’s general audience in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of there being a “nexus” between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the priesthood. Like St. John, he said, all priests “are called to accept her into their home.”

Pope Benedict pointed out that this nexus is rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation. “God does not act against our freedom,” he explained. “He needed the yes of his creatures.”

“St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in one of his homilies, explained in dramatic manner this decisive moment of universal history, when heaven, earth and God Himself await this creature’s response,” he added.

“Mary is truly and profoundly involved in the mystery of the Incarnation, of our salvation. … Sacrifice, the priesthood and the Incarnation go together and Mary is at the heart of this mystery,” the Pontiff said.

Pope Benedict also reflected on the tie between priests and Mary.

From the cross, Jesus sees his mother and the beloved apostle, an important individual, but more importantly a prefigurement of loved people and especially all priests.

“The Second Vatican Council invites priests to see Mary as the perfect model of their existence,” the Pope added.

“The Curé d'Ars, who we think of this year especially, loved to repeat that after Jesus Christ gave us everything he could give, he wanted to make us heirs of what was most precious to him, his holy mother,” the Pope continued. “This applies to all Christians, but especially for priests.”

"Every priest can and should truly feel himself to be the son of this most holy and most humble mother," he said.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend, we read of Elijah and his journey to Mount Horeb nourished by the bread of the angel. In our Gospel, we hear Jesus telling us that He is the Bread of life, that leads to eternal life. Without Christ, the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, we are bound to fail. We need the Eucharist to nourish us on our journey through life. At the end of Elijah's journey, he was assured that God had heard him and his plea. God hears us, too. We come to the Eucharist, to receive Christ.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Lord, Give us this bread always", we hear the people ask Jesus. It is a profound prayer of the heart, a prayer that both reveals that deep desire, but also betrays a certain sense of misunderstanding. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and we can receive Him in the Eucharist, but this is not simply for the feeding of our bodies. It nourishes our souls, and in the Eucharist, we are consumed to become the Body of Christ. Give us this Bread always, not our humanistic understanding, but Christ's understanding of what He offers.

To continue this reception of the Bread of Life, Christ has given to the Church priests, and in ordination configures them to offer the sacrifice that becomes the Eucharist, Christ truly present. We need the Eucharist, we need priests to confect the Eucharist.

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)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What kind of faith do you have? Is it the faith of Jairus, who seeks out Jesus Christ to heal his ailing daughter? The faith of the woman with the 12-year hemorrhage, without assets and long suffering at the hands of doctors? The faith of the apostles, who stand by in awe of Jesus? The faith of the mourners, ridiculing Jesus for His asking for faith? Or perhaps the faith of the daughter of Jairus - dead and apparently lifeless? It seems that no matter the type of faith, Jesus Christ can bring healing. With a strong faith, we are to ask for the healing that we need, like the woman who dares to reach out to touch Jesus' clothing. We are also to ask Jesus to help those who are lying in their faith's deathbeds. May the Lord speak the word that will rouse all of us, allowing us to respond to His voice!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Random Thought

In the first reading of the Mass this weekend, we hear:

God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.

Contrast that with the recent news story of the Episcopal priest who stated that God rejoices in abortion.:

Pregnancy-loss prayers, new church calendar proposed
From The Rev. Nina Churchman • Denver, Colorado, Jun 20, 2009
After reading the 3 June article, "Pregnancy-loss Prayers", I found the text for Rachel's Tears online and was sickened to discover that the rite for abortion is couched wholly in terms of sin and transgression. The Episcopal Church, by resolution, has long held that women have the freedom to choose an abortion. It is not considered a sin. That this new rite begins with the words, "I seek God's forgiveness..." and includes "God rejoices that you have come seeking God's merciful forgiveness..." is contrary to the resolution. Women should be able to mourn the loss of an aborted fetus without having to confess anything. God, unlike what the liturgy states, also rejoices that women facing unplanned pregnancies have the freedom to carefully choose the best option - birth, adoption or abortion - for themselves and their families. No woman makes this decision lightly or frivolously. But each needs the non-judgmental and non-coercive support of her faith community to make the best decision for her circumstances.
The wording of this liturgy focuses solely on guilt and sin instead of the grief and healing that may accompany a very difficult but appropriate decision to terminate a pregnancy. If anyone is paying attention at the General Convention, this rite should not be approved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A priest as a slave

Continuing his reflections on the year of the Priest, Pope Benedict spoke during his Wednesday Audience that the priest is a slave of Christ, who became a slave for us... From Zenit:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Friday, June 19, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the day traditionally dedicated to pray for the sanctification of priests, I had the joy of inaugurating the Year for Priests. The year was proclaimed on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the "birth into eternal life" of the Curé d'Ars, St. Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney. Entering into the Vatican basilica for the celebration of vespers, almost as a first symbolic gesture, I paused in the Choir Chapel to venerate the relic of this saintly pastor of souls: his heart. Why a Year for Priests? Why particularly in memory of the holy Curé d'Ars, who apparently did nothing extraordinary?

Divine Providence has ordained that this personage would be placed beside that of St. Paul. As the Pauline Year is concluding, a year which was dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles, the epitome of an extraordinary evangelizer who made various mission trips to spread the Gospel, this new jubilee year invites us to gaze upon a poor farmer turned humble pastor, who carried out his pastoral service in a small town.

If the two saints are quite different insofar as the life experiences that marked them -- one traveled from region to region to announce the Gospel; the other remained in his little parish, welcoming thousands and thousands of faithful -- there is nevertheless something fundamental that unites them: It is their total identification with their ministry, their communion with Christ. This brought St. Paul to say: "Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). St. John Vianney liked to repeat: "If we had faith, we would see God hidden in the priest like a light behind glass, like wine mixed with water."

The objective of this Year for Priests, as I wrote in the letter sent to priests for this occasion, is to support that struggle of every priest "toward spiritual perfection, on which the effectiveness of his ministry primarily depends." It is to help priests first of all -- and with them all of God's people -- to rediscover and reinvigorate their awareness of the extraordinary and indispensable gift of grace that the ordained ministry is for he who receives it, for the whole Church, and for the world, which would be lost without the real presence of Christ.

Undoubtedly, the historical and social conditions in which the Curé d'Ars lived have changed, and it is justifiable to ask oneself how it's possible for priests living in a globalized society to imitate him in the way he identified himself with his ministry. In a world in which the customary outlook on life comprehends less and less the sacred, and in its place "useful" becomes the only important category, the catholic -- and even ecclesial -- idea of the priesthood can run the risk of being emptied of the esteem that is natural to it.

It is not by chance that as much in theological environments as in concrete pastoral practice and the formation of the clergy, a contrast -- even an opposition -- is made between two distinct concepts of the priesthood. Some years ago, I noted in this regard that there is "on the one hand a social-functional understanding that defines the essence of the priesthood with the concept of 'service': service to the community in the fulfillment of a function. … On the other hand, there is the sacramental-ontological understanding, which naturally does not deny the servicial character of the priesthood, but sees it anchored in the being of the minister and considers that this being is determined by a gift called sacrament, given by the Lord through the mediation of the Church" (Joseph Ratzinger, Ministry and Life of the Priest, in Principles of Catholic Theology).

The terminological mutation of the word "priesthood" toward a meaning of "service, ministry, assignment" is as well a sign of this distinct understanding. The primacy of the Eucharist is linked to the sacramental-ontological conception, in the binomial "priest-sacrifice," while to the other [conception] would correspond the primacy of the word and service to the proclamation.

Considered carefully, these are not two opposing understandings, and the tension that nevertheless exists between them should be resolved from within. Thus the decree "Presbyterorum Ordinis" from the Second Vatican Council affirms: "Through the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel, the People of God are called together and assembled. All belonging to this people … can offer themselves as 'a sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God' (Rom 12:1). Through the ministry of the priests, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect in union with the sacrifice of Christ. He is the only mediator who in the name of the whole Church is offered sacramentally in the Eucharist and in an unbloody manner until the Lord himself comes" (No. 2).

We then ask ourselves, "What exactly does it mean, for priests, to evangelize? What is the so-called primacy of proclamation?" Jesus speaks of the proclamation of the Kingdom of God as the true objective for his coming to the world, and his proclamation is not just a "discourse." It includes, at the same time, his actions: His signs and miracles indicate that the Kingdom is now present in the world, which in the end coincides with himself. In this sense, one must recall that even in this idea of the "primacy" of proclamation, word and sign are inseparable.

Christian proclamation does not proclaim "words," but the Word, and the proclamation coincides with the very person of Christ, ontologically open to the relationship with the Father and obedient to his will. Therefore, authentic service to the Word requires from the priest that he strains toward a deep abnegation of himself, until being able to say with the Apostle, "It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me."

The priest cannot consider himself "lord" of the word, but rather its servant. He is not the word, but rather, as John the Baptist proclaimed, (precisely today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist), he is the "voice" of the Word: "A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'" (Mark 1:3).

Now then, to be the "voice" of the Word doesn't constitute for the priest a merely functional element. On the contrary, it presupposes a substantial "losing oneself" in Christ, participating in his mystery of death and resurrection with all of oneself: intelligence, liberty, will, and the offering of one's own body as a living sacrifice (cf. Romans 12:1-2). Only participation in the sacrifice of Christ, in his kenosis, makes the proclamation authentic! And this is the path that should be walked with Christ to the point of saying with him to the Father: Let it be done, "not what I will but what you will" (Mark 14:36). The proclamation, therefore, always implies as well the sacrifice of oneself, the condition so that the proclamation can be authentic and effective.

Alter Christus, the priest is profoundly united to the Word of the Father, who in incarnating himself, has taken the form of a slave, has made himself a slave (cf. Philippians 2:5-11). The priest is a slave of Christ in the sense that his existence, ontologically configured to Christ, takes on an essentially relational character: He is in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ at the service of man. Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of all people: He is the minister of their salvation, of their happiness, of their authentic liberation -- maturing, in this progressive taking up of the will of Christ, in prayer, in this "remaining heart to heart" with him. This is therefore the essential condition of all proclamation, which implies participation in the sacramental offering of the Eucharist and docile obedience to the Church.

The holy Curé d'Ars often repeated with tears in his eyes: "What a frightening thing to be a priest!" And he added: "How we ought to pity a priest who celebrates Mass as if he were engaged in something routine. How wretched is a priest without interior life!"

May this Year of the Priest bring all priests to identify themselves totally with Jesus, crucified and risen, so that in imitation of St. John the Baptist, we are willing to "decrease" so that he increases; so that, following the example of the Curé d'Ars, they constantly and deeply understand the responsibility of their mission, which is sign and presence of the infinite mercy of God. Let us entrust to the Virgin, Mother of the Church, this Year for Priests just begun and all the priests of the world.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then addressed the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of priests – marked the beginning of the Year for Priests commemorating the sesquicentennial of the death of the Curé of Ars, Saint John Mary Vianney, patron of parish priests. The Pauline Year now ending and the current Year for Priests invite us to consider how the Apostle Paul and the humble Curé of Ars both identified themselves completely with their ministry, striving to live in constant communion with Christ. May this Year for Priests help all priests to grow towards the spiritual perfection essential to the effectiveness of their ministry, and enable the faithful to appreciate more fully the great gift of grace which the priesthood is: for priests themselves, for the Church and for our world. Configured to Christ in the sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest is called to become an alter Christus, "another Christ". His personal union with the Lord must thus unify every aspect of his life and activity. During this Year for Priests, let us entrust all priests to Mary, Mother of the Church, and pray that they will grow in fidelity to their mission to be living signs of Christ’s presence and infinite mercy.

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Norway, Sweden, Malawi, South Africa, Indonesia and the United States. My particular greeting goes to the Catholic educators participating in the annual Rome Seminar sponsored by the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas. I also greet the many student groups present. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Year of the Priest Website

The Congregation for the Clergy has created a website with documents, biographies, and other items for the Year of the Priest.

Purpose for the Year for Priests

The Pope recently stated his reasons for the Year for Priests, as reported by Zenit


VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2009 (VIS) - During today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on the Year for Priests which he inaugurated last Friday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and day of prayer for the sanctification of the clergy, and which is intended to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney.

"Why a Year for Priests?" the Pope asked. "And why should it recall the holy 'Cure of Ars' who apparently did nothing out of the ordinary?"

The Holy Father went on to explain how "Divine Providence ordained that the figure [of St. John May Vianney] should be associated with that of St. Paul" because, "although the two saints followed very different life paths, ... these exists nonetheless a fundamental factor that unites them: their total identification with their ministry, their communion with Christ".

"The aim of this Year for Priests", he went on, "is to support each priest's struggle towards spiritual perfection, 'upon which the effectiveness of his ministry particularly depends', and to help priests, and with them the entire People of God, to rediscover and revive an awareness of the extraordinary and indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained ministry represents, for the person who receives it, for the entire Church, and for the world which would be lost without the real presence of Christ".

"Although the historical and social conditions in which the 'Cure of Ars' worked have changed, it is right to ask how priests can imitate him by identifying themselves with their ministry in modern globalised societies", said the Pope.

"In a world in which the common view of life leaves ever less space for the sacred, in place of which 'functionality' becomes the only decisive category, the Catholic concept of priesthood could risk losing its due regard, sometimes even in the ecclesial conscience".

The Holy Father identified two conceptions of the priesthood, "which do not in fact contradict one another". On the one hand "a social-functional conception which identifies the essence of priesthood with the concept of 'service'. ... On the other hand there is a sacramental-ontological conception" which sees priestly ministry "as determined by a gift called Sacrament, granted by the Lord through the mediation of the Church".

"What", the Pope asked, "does it mean for priests to evangelise? In what does the primacy of announcement exist? ... Announcement coincides with the person of Christ", he said, "a priest cannot consider himself as 'master' of the Word, but as its servant".

"Only participation in Christ's sacrifice, in His 'chenosi', [Note: This means kenosis or self-emptying]... and docile obedience to the Church ... makes announcement authentic. ... Priests are Christ's servants, in the sense that their existence, ontologically configured to Him, have an essentially relational character. The priest is in Christ, for Christ and with Christ at the service of humankind. Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of man".

Benedict XVI concluded by expressing the hope that "the Year for Priests may lead all the clergy to identify themselves completely with Christ Who died and rose again, so that, imitating St. John the Baptist, they may be ready 'to diminish' that He may grow; and that, following the example of the 'Cure of Ars', they may be constantly and profoundly aware of their mission, which is both sign and presence of the infinite mercy of God".
AG/YEAR FOR PRIESTS/...VIS 090624 (580)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Facebook items

If you use Facebook, you can view a new photo album of the Young Men's Discipleship camp. I also set my user name to fr.todd.petersen.

Tips toward vocations recruitment

The National Catholic Register posted an article How to Get More Priests by Tom Hoopes. He asked Dioceses that seemed effective 6 questions, and they all were answered yes. The questions were:

1. Is the Eucharist the center of vocation efforts?

2. Is the diocese unabashed about personally inviting men to be priests?

3. Is the seminary faithful to the magisterium of the Church?

4. Are there many strong and faithful families to draw from?

5. Do young men know and interact with priests?

6. Did young people in the area go to World Youth Day?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What drives us? That is the question that ought to be on our minds and hearts this weekend. St. Paul tells us he is compelled by the love of Christ, while the disciples were driven by fear. Certainly, the squall would have been terrible, but they should have already understood that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of the world. God the Father would not allow Him to die this way. The disciples lacked the trust that Jesus displayed - He was asleep in the middle of the storm, in a sinking boat that was rolling with the wakes. The love of Christ ought to be what drives us. This phrase, in Greek, is most interesting. It could be understood as our love for Christ, Christ's love for us, Christ's love for the Father, or Christ's love for St. Paul's audience (the Corinthians), by extension the Church. Truthfully, it is all four. We are moved to love Christ as a response of His love for us, and for the Church, that He loves the Father. Our vocation is the way we live out this love. So do we follow Him with love, or do we avoid Him out of fear?