Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deo Gratias!

Word reached me late this afternoon that Sacred Heart Radio's attempts at a winning bid for WHSS in Hamilton have proven successful! Thanks to all who offered prayers on behalf of the radio station and to all who made pledges to help make this a reality. While there is still much work to do, it looks as good that Catholic radio continues it's expansion, here into Hamilton, Ohio.

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Prayer Bleg

As regular readers of this blog might recognize, I appear on Sacred Heart Radio somewhat frequently. During the Year for Priests, we discussed all of Pope John Paul II's Letters to Priests. I regularly have announcements and blurbs on the station for things in the Vocation Office, too.

As a point of clarification, I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Station, and in that role, I have a prayer favor to ask.

Today, we are bidding on a station in the Hamilton, Ohio, area. (Just north of Cincinnati.) We are after the former Hamilton City Schools station, and apparently there is some competition in the area. Please pray for a successful bid and auction, that if it is God's Will, we might be able to purchase the station with the amount we have pledged and collected from area donors.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To know the Shepherd

Today's Psalm, Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd...., reminded me of a story.

Both Orson Wells and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen were at a gathering. The host, recognizing two of the greatest orators to be in his midst, proposed a contest. Each of the two would recite Psalm 23, and the crowd would testify who won.

Orson Wells came first. He read with passion, zeal, power. His booming voice filled the room, holding the crowd in rapt attention. As he completed the last line, applause erupted.

Next, Archbishop Sheen stepped forward. He recited the Psalm from memory, reading it quietly, prayerfully, meditatively. Those in attention strained to hear his voice as he completed the last few lines. When he finished, silence.

The host turned to his wife: Ahh, one knew the Psalm, the other knew the Shepherd.

Are we in touch with the Shepherd of our souls, the author of the Psalm?

Monday, August 16, 2010

On Facebook?

Are you a friend of the Vocation Office?

Where do Priests Come From?

"Do they grow on a farm? No. Are they made in a factory? No. Priests come from God's people. They once were young boys, just like you.

"As children, some of these boys played baseball. Some of them climbed trees. Some of them were altar servers, helping out at Mass. They may have dreamed of becoming an astronaut, a doctor or a fire fighter. But somewhere along the way, these young boys also thought about being a priest."

(from the Introduction)

With this short intro, Elizabeth Ficocelli begins her short children's book: 'Where do Priests Come From?' Sensing a need to address this question among young readers, she walks through the discernment and training of a priest from the time he is the age of the intended readers up through his ordination and the beginning of his priestly ministry. Everything is explained in very simple terms even the youngest of readers should be able to grasp, maybe with the help of a little explanation by the parents. It is also nicely illustrated by Shannon Wirrenga, showing the priest in his day to day life, serving the people of God, but also the reality that priests do take time off to recharge their batteries and reconnect with Our Lord through the taking of his yearly retreat.

I often receive many questions about resources for young families to help form their boys for a potential vocation, or at least open them up to the idea that God might be calling them to something different and unique. (Which is true in every case!) This is a very nice resource to begin these conversations, after all, 'maybe the next young man God calls will be you!'

A special note of thanks to Elizabeth for sending me a review copy, which I will gladly pass along to my nephews.

A gracious thanks to Bezalel Books for publishing this short work, may it bear much fruit both now and in the future!

The Sacrament of Confession and Vocations

Over the weekend, Fr. Z posted a link to 'Transfiguration Today' on the impact of the Sacrament of Confession has on vocations to the prieshtood.

Fr. Bill Baer posted three ways the Sacrament helps to promote vocations:

Specifically, a good confession is the source of a good vocation in at least three ways:

1. God has forgiven me! I recognize His divine, generous, merciful love in this confession, and now my heart wishes to offer generous love toward Him in return.

2. God has forgiven me! Now I wish for others to taste and see this same mercy, perhaps by means of a priestly vocation, through which I might be a channel of God’s ministry of reconciliation to countless others.

3. God has forgiven me! Even though my sins cling to me so closely, and I consider myself far from ready to enter a vocation of celibacy, of religious poverty, chastity, and obedience … nevertheless, I have witnessed Christ Jesus beginning a good work in me in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a work that might one day be brought to perfection!

These simple statements could not be more true. Any response of a vocation has this same progression:

1) an awareness that, despite one's sins, God still has a powerful and dynamic love for you; and He calls us all to greatness, no matter the vocation.

2) a desire to share: When one experiences this deep and profound Love of God, it is, in a sense, too grand to keep to one's self, it must be shared. This is the example of the saints whose striving for holiness attracted others to imitate them.

3) perfection in Christ: perhaps the most difficult, but slowly the realization dawns, sometimes not until after one is ordained, married, professed, that God is able to marvelous things through you. Not because you are particularly talented or gifted, but rather that the desire has been fostered to echo John the Baptist: HE must increase, I must decrease. In other words, let the Spirit flow where He will, try to stay out of the way and go along for the ride.

Finally, Fr. Baer has these words of wisdom:

If your parish is attempting to promote vocations among your young people, don’t waste your time on slick and silly programs. Get the youth back into God’s good graces. Get them back within earshot of the Holy Spirit.

God does the calling, we have to provide opportunities for Him to meet these young souls, souls in growth, souls open to a unique and powerful Grace. Certainly, the Confessional (in addition to periods of Adoration) is an opportune place for this encounter to happen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Surfin' the Net

to bring stories of interest from around the World Wide InterWeb:

First, Dr. Peter Kreeft from the Integrated Catholic Life on Discernment:

Does God have one right choice for me in each decision I make?

When we pray for wisdom to discern God's will when it comes to choosing a mate, a career, a job change, a move, a home, a school, a friend, a vacation, how to spend money, or any other choice, big or little, whenever there are two or more different paths opening up before us and we have to choose, does God always will one of those paths for us? If so, how do we discern it?

Many Christians who struggle with this question today are unaware that Christians of the past can help them from their own experience. Christian wisdom embodied in the lives and teachings of the saints tells us two things that are relevant to this question.....

Secondly, Dan Egan at Bible Tidbits on 'Fishers and Shepherds in the Old Testament':

There are some phrases that we hear so often we never stop to ponder their meaning or where they come from. In the Gospel of Mark this year we will hear the phrase "fishers of men." Where does this come from and what does it mean?

The idea "fishing for men" comes originally from Jeremiah 16 - The context is that the 12 tribes of Israel are scattered among the nations and are there in bondage, just like they were in Egypt. So God is planning a new Exodus to bring them out of the nations, which will be greater than when He brought them out of Egypt....

Finally, from Fish Eaters, 'The Truth about Men and Church':

Most of us, I suspect, are not great students of "the small print." We employ lawyers and accountants because we recognize that carefully constructed small print may contain disclaimers, definitions, and information that effectively drive a coach and horses through our assumptions about the general argument and make utterly null and void the common understanding that we thought we had. Allow me to introduce you to a piece of very small print.

Not many will have whiled away the long winter evenings by reading "The demographic characteristics of the linguistic and religious groups in Switzerland" by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel. It appears in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, a book titled The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States, edited by Werner Haug and others, published by the Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, Strasbourg, January 2000. Phew!....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Calling

From 'The Power of Life, Inc.,' comes a 10:00 minute video on the calling to the priesthood:

Snow? In August?

Yep! Today is the joint feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome and of Our Lady of Snows.

Why joint?

The link above describes:

The first church here was founded in the 350's by Pope Liberius, and financed by a Roman patrician and his wife. They were childless, and had decided to leave their fortune to the Blessed Virgin. She appeared to them in a dream and told them to build a church in her honour. It lies on the summit of the Esquiline Hill, which was mainly laid out as gardens in ancient times. Legend claims that the plan of the church was outlined by a miraculous snowfall in August (possibly in 358). The legend is commemorated every year on 5 August, when white rose petals are dropped from the dome during the Mass.

Pope Sixtus III had it restored, or more likely rebuilt, to commemorate the declaration of St Mary's Divine Motherhood by the Council of Ephesus in 432.

The church was damaged in the earthquake of 1348, and restored some years later.

See video of the 'snow fall' from today's Mass:

By the by, this was the Church in which Mom stood agape by it's size and beauty. When informed 'this is the small one,' she looked at me askance. Well, at least until we entered St. Peter's. Then she knew I wasn't pulling her leg!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Many are Called

The fruits of the 'Year for Priests' continue to ripen on the vine.

One such fruit that I recently had the joy of reading is Dr. Scott Hahn's 'Many are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood.'

In his typical style of weaving both the Old and New Covenant together in a modern language, Dr. Hahn lays out the biblical perspective of the priesthood for the present day. Yet, he also covers many of the current 'hot button' issues, not shying away, but giving a beautiful interpretation of priest as father, mediator, provider, teacher, warrior, judge, bridgegroom, celibate father and brother. (To give the titles of the chapters included.)

Perhaps the best aspect of the book is his weaving together of his own story as a former Presbyterian Pastor, and the difficulties therein, and how his appreciation for a celibate priesthood has grown in his years leading up to and after his conversion. To be a father of a family is to give your life for your children; Dr. Hahn outlines the ways that the priest as celibate father gives life to his spiritual family, in both spiritual and material ways.

But at the bottom line, he articulates that which every priest recognizes: the priest is a regular man, called to something greater. Why is it that God calls certain men and not others? We will never know (at least on this side of the curtain), but yet this is how God's plan of salvation continues to be worked out in the Church and in the world.

I would highly recommend this book for those discerning a call to the priesthood, as well as for a parish adult faith formation group who would like to come to a deeper understanding of aspects of the Catholic Priesthood that so often are maligned or misunderstood.

Dr. Hahn's website is here.

Purchase the book from Barnes and Noble here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Battle for Prayer

Making a rare Monday appearance, join Son Rise Morning Show host Brian Patrick and me as we discuss my latest for both Catholic Exchange and The Catholic Telegraph tomorrow morning at 8:00. Listen in locally on 740 AM or online at

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