Here I sit, before my computer. Not much happening this afternoon, and I need to come up with some ideas for the great podcast adventure. I'm thinking about some things deriving from the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire,' but at this point it is just thinking. With the snow here, it's been a crazy, goofy week. Over half of the things I had planned out fell through, and still trying to get some of them reorganized. Alas when Mother Nature interveves. At least I got some work in with the shovel this afternoon. There is a wedding here at the Mother Church tomorrow and the pastor wanted the steps cleaned off. As I trudged my way home from the office, I noticed the maintenance guys slamming away at the ice, so I came up, grabbed a quick sandwich, bundled up and headed out to join them. It's fun when you don't have to do it, I guess.
Well, homily ideas for the weekend are always appreciated, too; but I think it is the Vocation Dog and Pony Show, so don't expect too much.
The complete inaugural conference of the St. Michael Prayer Warriors from September, 2008, featuring a keynote address by Fr. Anthony Brausch, faculty member at Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio. Total play time is one hour.
We are up to 8” + and still coming down hard. Did you all notice where this email is coming from, Mike Stroh came over to the house with the backhoe and said Tom said to get it cleared so I could come into work. My response “Isn’t he nice that way !@#$@#$!@#$@!#$!
(The office is across from the house and mom's one dream is a snow day. She almost had it, until dad 'came to her rescue! (They work in the family business together.))
With the death of so many great intellectual giants, who's next to step up to the plate and lead the charge? Certainly I think Fr. Barron is doing some marvelous things, and he raises a good point in this video clip: we need to 're-sell' Catholic Christianity to the post-modern world. Towards the end of this clip, he mentions his 'You-Tube Interlocutors' who blithely criticize Christianity with arguments that are as old as the Church herself. His retort: "I've read Nietzsche, Marx, etc.; which serious Catholic theologian have you read?"
That is certainly part of the story, getting the Faith's intellectual tradition out there. But in order to do so, we must also very much engage and affirm what is true and good in this culture.
When I was in the seminary, another seminarian (not from this diocese) totally shrugged off the movie Shrek, a movie which I think is fantastic (the first, not necessarily the sequels which just went for the gags.) His response: "I reject everything that is in pop culture."
My thought continues to be that he will not be able to speak to today's young people. But the further challenge then is to engage our young people there and get them to read Aquinas, Augustine, John Paul II, Ratzinger/Benedict; etc. (I would say Balthazar, but I don't understand him!)
Part of this struggle is also revising history to understand the crucial role that the Church played. From the Deep in History Conference on the English Reformation (EXCELLENT SERIES), Joanna Bogle mentions that one of the lasting impacts from Henry's dissolution of the religious orders was the plight of the poor. No one took care of them, helped them, gave them the dignity that they had as a person. Instead, Parliament made it illegal to be poor in Britain. Great idea, and so typically British.
Why do I embrace the new technologies? To get this message out there. But it takes all comers to be able to do so.
at least what I thought would be a quiet week on the blog turns out that it won't be so quiet; thanks to Mother Nature's intervention.
I was in Columbus overnight visiting our college seminarians. They are all doing fine, more than fine actually; but still apreciate your prayers for their discernment.
This morning brought about an inch of snow in Ohio's Capital City. Not too bad, methinks. However, a quick call to the Queen City brought a much different report: close to four inches had fallen overnight. Yeah, I know you folks in Colorado and Minnessota are used to this; 'Four Inches! That's not even enough to get the snowblower out!" Yeah, well, what about the layer of ICE that came first. Hmmm, drive home could be interesting..... I was specifically thinking about that final downhill run to the Gilbert Avenue exit off of Interstate 71.
Ok, 9:00 meeting with the Vice Rector of the College, check. Run to check radar in the Library. Looks like there'll be a small window in the early afternoon. Hmm... lunch is out, need to get some info from a seminarian and hit the road.
Got it all, done and packed and ready to go.
Drive time. 315 in Columbus was all red on the traffic report, skip that. I-275 around the westside it is. No issues, roads were went, but no snow on the road itself.
I-71 was more of the same. A few places, the middle of the lane had snow in it; but not too bad at all.
Stopped for lunch at Waynesville and a period of relaxation.
back in the car, 50 some miles to go.
Hmm... is that frozen precipitation I hear hitting my window? O, boy, how can it still be rain at 25 degrees F?
Third lane, impassable, but the rest of the way was fairly good.
Parking lot in the office was less than a quarter full, when it is usually overflowing. Why did I stop at the office again?
My day long obligations for tomorrow were canceled as well. drat, just means I'll have to be in the office.
I'm heading out shortly for a two day visit to our college seminarians at the Josephinum, Wednesday is an all day at Carroll High School, Thursday AM is another 'hammer it out' meeting (which has some interesting potential, will get back to you); Friday looks like it is going to be 'slammed in the office trying in vain to catch up with 'The Pile,' and yes it has a formal name.
Watch the twitter updates on the side bar, hopefully they'll go through from the phone.
Wowsers, this new technology thing can really get you going, or trap you in the midst of quite the quagmire! I think I've got the tools now to start podcasting, I've actually got one 2:30 segment up, but it is pretty rough. I need to figure out the editing section of this whole process. It's easy when typing a blog post or newspaper column, it's that big 'BACKSPACE' key just above 'ENTER.' But with Audio files, it's a bit more complicated, to say the least. Luckily, I have a trusty assistant who works with all this stuff in her day job, so that should help tremendously. Now, we just need time, a high speed connection, and more time to get the ideas recorded and then posted. But hey, gotta start somewhere!
If anyone out there has ideas, please let me know!
All this being said, C. K. asked me just before I left on retreat to post all the reasons to became a priest. There are so many answers one can give from the sublime, to the practical, to the silly. But on this retreat I think I narrowed it down to only one: Is this the life to which you are called? Is God calling you into this particular relationship with Him and His people?
I have shared with you before the sadness of the stories I have heard over the years. Men especially who said they should have never married and how they wish they would have taken their call to the priesthood more seriously. (The converse is also true.) I cringe when I hear of a parent who tries discourage their son or daughter from the priestly or religious life. What if that is what they are called to? Despite the intention a parent might have to save their child from something that they do not value, they may be setting them up for a life of discontent. And a vocational discontentment effects not only the person, but all those who surround the person: those nearest and dearest.
So, the best reason to become a priest? Because you are called to it. I know I would not change it for the world. I wonder if I have grown to love it so or if my disposition and joy are geared toward it. That is hard to tell. But forced to start all over again, I have no doubt but that I would make the same decision if the Church would have me again, for anything else would always be second choice for me.
One good result of the bitterly cold weather of the last week, the pond behind my sister's house is frozen over! The Schnippel clan is heading over to Minster this afternoon for some family fun time, including some ice skating! Here's hoping the paramedics are on stand-by!
For those who are a little less into winter sports, The Call of the King Conference returns this evening at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Piqua. Adoration starts at 6 and the Conference starts at 7.
Tonight upwards of ten men will visit Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West with thoughts of exploring the option of the priesthood. Please pray for these men, and their safe travel as snow is expected, and their discernment of course. May Our Lord complete the good work begun in them and lead them to their true calling.
Anyway, the email reported that those present on the panel all told their vocation stories, which was very nice, but also suggested something that was new to me:
That leads to my second point- the message MOST missing from last night. And I say this as the father of two kids who have told my wife and I independent of us asking- that they feel called to religious life. They need to hear WHY vocations are important. They don't need to hear, "Vocations are down." They need a panel of married people saying, "Sr. Irene had a huge impact on me in gradeschool" and, "Fr. Matthew helped save our marriage." There was no mention of this last night. It was cute and nice to hear one nun say, "it is such a great joy to serve the Lord." And it is, but I can do that as a married man. We need vocations, because people are being taught to serve the false gods of pornography, abortion, divorce, etc.. And those people need to hear that Christ offers a peace that the world cannot give. (and he might be calling YOU to deliver that peace!"
Please keep our five college seminarians: Andrew, Adrian, David, Tim and Nick; in your prayers this week as they are on their annual canonical retreat at the Josephinum. The presenter is from the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) at Creighton in Omaha. (Don't let the Jesuit connection fool you, from all I hear IPF is a wonderful program.)
Last night, there was a vocation event 'up north' in Maria Stein. I was invited to take part, which I was glad to do (as it also gave me an excuse to drop by mom and dad's for a few hours.)
The program was fine, a good talk by Sr. Mary Garke, but the drive home was a little hair raising (which is quite the feat for me!) About an inch or snow had fallen during the early evening, covering the state routes up north, and Interstate was a little slick, but it was full eyes on attention the whole way. So of course, all amped up on adrenalin and couldn't sleep and meetings all day today.
Never a good day when the first thought is: "When can I go back to bed today?!?!"
I'm on 'The Gospel Today' on Sacred Heart Radio this weekend. The program runs at 7:30 and 11:30 Saturday and Sunday and can be heard at www.sacredheartradio.com
Also, I'm doing two interviews on Tuesday on the Son Rise Morning Show at 8:40. I'll be in the Big Chair interviewing Fr. Len Plezewski, Vocation Director for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis Schnurr for National Vocation Awareness Week, which happens next week!
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends, he died. My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted. I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away. Funeral arrangements are still being planned; more information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes. In Deepest Sorrow, Joseph BottumEditorFirst Things
My latest for the Catholic Telegraph, diocesan paper for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is published this week. Regular readers will note a strong similiarity to this post (it was too good not to share!):
Everyone's a hero in their own way, in their own not that heroic way.- Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jed Whedon, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, 2008.
In a conversation last week on things in the Vocation Office, the Fishers of Men DVD was mentioned. Stunningly, one of the group mentioned that there are priests who absolutely cannot stand the video, which I think is terrific. “It is too heroic,” they say; “it doesn't match up to reality.” (As an aside, the scene that usually elicits this response is one where a teen is severely injured in the car wreck and a priest runs up to anoint and absolve him; which is based on a real life event.)
Because so much of what we do as priests can be seen as 'humdrum,' we can sometimes forget that we are called to be living witnesses to the Gospel; that we, as priests, are called to be heroes.
It happens in my own situation at times. I sit here at my desk, in my office, writing a column, going through paperwork, waiting for a phone call, answering emails, not to mention all the things that I should be doing and am not; and I ask myself: “how is this being 'a living witness of the Gospel'?”
For priests who are pastors of parishes, it is so easy to get caught up in the business aspects of parish life: the endless meetings, the balance sheet from the bank, squabbles among the office staff; that the idea of being 'a living icon of Christ the High Priest' is great in theory, not so good in practice.
Sure, when we are preaching on Sunday, celebrating the Sacraments, or visiting the sick; yeah, we can see it then. But really, how much of our time is in that arena? As one pastor I know said: 'I would like to think that way, but I have to pay off the debt!'
The difficulty is trying to identify that even and especially in those things that are not that heroic, that doing them well, doing them with honor, doing them with prayer is exactly heroic! Reading Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek's He Leadeth Me, he was struck with the same thought when serving time in a Soviet Gulag prison camp. He was asked by fellow prisoners: “Why work your hardest? Why strive to do your best when it only serves an oppressive regime?” His response was simple, yet profound: “Because it is my way of being heroic and giving praise and glory to God!” This was his way of living out the Jesuit motto: All for the Greater Glory of God!
St. Margaret Clitherow provides a final example. During fierce persecution of Catholics after the English Reformation, she was arrested for harboring priests and having Mass said in her home; capital offenses at the time. As she was being lead to her martyrdom, she sent her shoes and stockings to her daughter as a reminder to follow her mother’s footsteps. She was an ordinary wife and mother, living her faith heroically, simply out of love for Jesus.
Let us all strive to be heroes, in our own not that heroic way.
From the hosts of Cincinnati's Eucharistic Festivals of Praise, comes the following word:
Hi everyone, As some of you know, St. Susanna requested that we reschedule the FoP at its parish for a later date. St. Gertrude Church has graciously agreed to host the FoP at short notice. So, our new location for the FoP on Friday, Feb 13, is at St. Gertrude Parish in Madeira. St. Gertrude will be our East side location, and we will look for a northern parish later in the year. The time will be the same, 7:30p-9:30p and a reception following. St. Gertrude has a great setup for the band and confession, and plenty of room in the parish center for our reception. We will have the website and flyers updated as soon as possible. Please pass this information on to your friends.
I know this is going to sound terrible, but I've finally had some more of an insight into what John is doing in this Letter that makes it so profound. He is giving a wonderful theological treatise on what it meants to be a Christian Disciple. So often, to me at least, it seems that St. Paul talks about how to live the life, but St. John seems to be talking WHY one would do so.
Also, his approach is a great rebuttal to the Modern World as well: the reason we are disciples is not by our own choice, but by God's free gift of Self to us. "God first loved us, so now we must love one another." This is not something that I choose, but rather it is something that I cooperate with the working of Grace in my life, which is a gift from God.
On Sunday, January 18th, the Vocation Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is hosting our second 'Call of the King Conference,' which is part of the St. Michael Prayer Warriors lay apostolate at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 528 Broadway Street, Piqua, Ohio, 45356. The evening begins with a Holy Hour for Vocations from 6:00 to 6:45, with the conference following from 7:00 to 8:30. Keynote speaker is Fr. Earl Fernandes, Academic Dean at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, and addresses 'Personal Holiness as an Avenue for Renewal in the Church.' Fr. Jason Bedel of Holy Angels, Sidney, and Mr. Andrew Cordonnier, 4th College Seminarian from St. Remy in Russia will give personal testimony as to how the prayers of the faithful have helped in their discernment of the priesthood.
St. Michael's Prayer Warriors is a lay apostolate in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati whose members agree to pray at least an hour a month before the Blessed Sacrament for the renewal of their priests and an increase in vocations to the priesthood for the Archdiocese. Monthly newsetters are distributed through email and are hosted on the Vocation Office website at http://cincinnativocations.org/prayerwarriors.shtml
The Call of the King Conferences occur three times per year, alternating between Cincinnati and the northern area of the Archdiocese to bring members of the Apostolate together for formation and prayer. The first conference was held at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Cincinnati and brought together over 350 members of the Archdiocese to pray for vocations.
Seminarian Matthew Robben has a Letter to the Editor in this week's Catholic Telegraph. Nice words, Matt!:
The article, “Food pantries…facing double whammy” in the November 28 issue doesn’t even come close to putting a human face on the situation. I completed a social service project at the Walnut Hills Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen this past April and try to volunteer whenever my schedule allows. This past Tuesday (before Thanksgiving), I dropped off plastic Kroger bags and empty egg cartons (usually in need), helped serve lunch, and assisted in the pantry. What I experienced was unsettling! The lunch line was longer than I had ever seen and we turned away dozens of people seeking groceries from the pantry. The look on the face of the elderly gentleman and the mother with her small child could have broken the hardest, coldest heart! While the need for money and food are great, food pantries and soup kitchens also need volunteers; volunteers who are willing to look into the eyes of those in need and offer a helping hand. Some parishes sponsor meals once a week/month and provide men and women to work the lunch lines. Where would our soup kitchens and food pantries be if every parish in the Archdiocese did the same? Remember, behind every statistic, quote, and department agency there are human beings, human faces; one look into their eyes and charity will never be the same!
May the Love of Christ always burn in your heart! Matthew J. Robben 2nd Theology- Mt St Mary Seminary
Fr. Michael Simone, Director of Vocations, highlights three aspects for their success:
Family Life, Parish Life, and Life through Education and Formation
It is not a secret that healthy vocations come from healthy families. And while God can call men from broken families, it certainly helps his vocation discernment if he has had a solid experience in a good family. As a note, it doesn't have to be the 'holy roller' family, either. My family is far from that, but the faith has to be an important aspect of life in the family: prayers at meals, evening prayers, Mass attendance every week, if not daily (especially on vacations! there is NO 'vacation exemption'!)
A cultivation of a life of stewardship is vital; where the young people of the parish recognize that they have been given gifts and talents that Our Lord asks them to share with the Church and the world. Also, it is important to form young people to have an experience of Christ in and through the community, the religious experience must be connected to the Church, otherwise it is easy to fall into the quest for 'spirituality' outside the confines of the Church. Here's a hint: spirituality outside of the Church is really just a form of narcissism!
Life through Education and Formation:
This was something that I mentioned in a short talk I gave yesterday to a men's prayer group: our Catholic Schools have to teach the fullness of the Truth, in all of it's mystery. But this is still not enough, through the retreat programs and youth ministry, the young people must have an experience of the Living and True God who has a deep and profound love for them. As in the seminary, it is not just education, but also the prayer and pastoral formation that must be constituative of the formation of our young people.
It's just that simple, no?
UPDATE to fix the Diocese source! Apologies to my Kansas reader!
So, there are many tacts that one could take for today's feast.
Certainly an important aspect is how the universal nature of Salvation is forshadowed in the coming of the Magi from the East.
The Secret (Prayer over the Gifts) hints at the symbolism contained in the gifts presented by the Magi.
I went with a slightly different tact for today:
How often do we miss the signs that God is doing around us?
King Herod was at least part Jewish, he should have known the Scriptures, he should have known the prophecies as they concerned the Christ; especially since he was the 'King' and the Messiah was reputed to be after his job, so to speak.
Yet, when these Magi show up, he acts as if he has never heard the prophecies and has to consult with the chief priests and the scribes as to where the Christ was to be born.
On the flip side, the Magi arrive being so in tune with what God is doing, even though they are outside of the Covenant, that they are able to recognize how nature, through the appearence of the start, is exulting in the coming of the New Born King of the Jews.
How often do we miss what God is revealing to us, through the Scriptures, through the leadership of the Heirarchy, through the Sacraments, and yes then even through nature. (notice the order, nature is last!)
That's at least a snapshot of my homily for today given out at St. Angela Merici Parish in Brown County, about an hour east of downtown Cincinnati.
Midnight Mass on New Year's Eve was a success, about 40 or so showed for the Mass, singing was all unaccompanied, with the priest and two seminarians present chanting the Salve Regina as a post Communion reflection.
New Year's Day was a quiet start. We only had one Mass at the Cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Pilarczyk, using the option of the World Day of Peace. (Shhh.... I skipped out!) Instead, we had a priestly formation group gathering which normally takes place on the last Wednesday of the Month on New Year's Day instead. Since we're spread through the diocese, we met this week in Sidney, up north. Seven of us gathered, as a number of the brothers had other obligations, family and stuff, but we had a grand time in their absence.
Since I had a quiet morning, I showed up wearing jeans and fleece pullover and was met at the door by the parochial vicar wearing his cassock! Boy, did I feel underdressed! Next two guys show up in clerics, hmmm..... priest number 5? Cassock! RATS! #6 had civies on as well, WHEW!!!
The tie was broken by priest #7 who had clerics on, but the collar unbuttoned. Alas.
Anyway, a good day of conversation, prayer and formation, a nice start to the year.
For those who use the four volume Liturgy of the Hours, there is a correction that needs to be made.
If you look on page 502, the header for today says 'From January 2 to Epiphany/MONDAY'. If you flip to the end of the Office of Readings on the next page, you'll see the following rubric: "If the day falls on a Sunday, the Te Deum is said."
Hmmm.... When has a Monday ever fallen on a Sunday?
The correction is to scratch out the MONDAY and replace with 'January 2' and follow on the successive days: Tuesday -> January 3; Wednesday -> January 4; etc. It was a mistake in laying out the volume for use in multiple different locales with multiple uses; ie: is Epiphany celebrated on January 6 or on the Sunday following January 1? That's the difficulty and it doesn't always match up right, but for today and tomorrow, we here in the US use the pages marked 'MONDAY' and 'TUESDAY,' with the psalms and canticles from Week I of the psalter, as follows for the week after the Feast of the Holy Family.
I am Fr. Kyle Schnippel and currently am the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. I believe there is a tide of vocations to the priesthood and religious life waiting to happen, and as the faithful continue to grow in their own pursuit of holiness, these vocations will flourish.