Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just because....

NL Central CHAMPS!!!!

I won't say it's because we started saying Mass for the team earlier this year......... but I also won't say it didn't help......

Lend Your Voice to Christ

My latest runs in this week's Catholic Telegraph:

The middle week of September saw diocesan directors of vocations from across the country gathering in the fair city of Milwaukee for our annual convention. As we tend to be on the younger side of the clergy and dominated by extroverts, this tends to be a rather fun conference. Laughs were shared as friendships fostered in seminary and over previous conferences renewed and the frustrations of a challenging ministry were commiserated.

(A snippet:)
Amid the frivolity, there was work to be done. Perhaps the most significant piece to come out of this year’s convention is a guide for priests to help call forth men to the priesthood. “Lend Your Own Voice to Christ” is a response to the annual survey of men being ordained to the priesthood. Consistently, 80 to 88 percent of newly ordained priests report that they first considered the priesthood upon the recommendation of a priest. However, only 30 percent of priests actually make the invitation! This short booklet grew out of the question of how to encourage more priests to make this invitation to share in their life.

The invitation to consider the priesthood is not rocket science but does have some sure and certain connections with the faith. Most basic of these is that Jesus first calls a man to the priesthood through the pastor of his soul. The priesthood is the living icon of Christ, His enduring presence to the world. He uses those whom He has already chosen to select the next generation to lay down their life in service at the altar. It remains a clear fact that the witness of a joy-filled priest is the best recruitment tool for the priesthood, just as happy and fulfilled marriages beget the same in the next generation.

Also in this week's Telegraph is a report on the two new men from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who have begun studies there this fall.

Finally, now that I know how to do this, the Vocation Office has relaunched our newsletters!

September 2010 can be found here.

July/August 2010 can be found here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mary, the New Eve

Considering a few posts around on Mariology, I wanted to weigh in, too. (A prospect that gives my Mariology professor in seminary nightmares, I'm sure!)

It seems Mary is being given a new place and status that can't be found in history or in the person of Mary.

Last week, while in Milwaukee, we had the closing Mass in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist; Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Prior to the Mass, there were a number of tour guides present to show us around and give us some sense of the history and art contained there-in.

One particular statue, this of the Blessed Mother, caught our eye, especially as the tour guide described her: 'Did you notice that she has a Rabbi's stole over her left arm, signifying her teaching authority?' Um, no, I didn't notice; especially as the statue makes Mary look like more of a man than I'll ever be!

As we were leaving the Cathedral, several of the priests (and the layfolk we let tag along) were chatting about the statue, in particular, as we walked back to our hotel.

What struck me as off about it was that the artist was assigning much more to Mary than she claims for herself; and totally misunderstood the authority that Mary has: her's is not an authority claimed by power, but rather assumed by humility.

This becomes the key difference between Mary, the New Eve, and the original Eve in the Garden of Eden: what Eve stretched out her hand and took by her own initiative; Mary freely accepts as gift to her from God. In a very real sense, Mary begins the undoing of what had been caused by Eve; and Mary then gives us the model of how to relate to her Son: in openness and in receptivity, not by striving to take out of a sense of entitlement or power.

Mary is the Primordial Disciple of her Son because she freely accepts the gift of His life; she does not take it as her own. In this sense, let us all humbly open our hearts to also receive the gift of Her Son, the gift of Divine Life which brings about our salvation.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

That was surreal

Today is the national kick-off of 40 days for Life. As an advisor to Cincinnati Right to Life, I have heard about the tremendous success this program has had in helping change hearts of those who were seeking abortion and led them to embrace life; even to the point of one planned unparenthood exectuive leaving her post and joinging those who were praying in front of the mill. (She's speaking at Greater Cincinnati Right to Life's Evening for Life next month!) I have been in front of Murder, Inc., many times before, as I celebrate the Mass on first Saturday for Helpers of God's Precious Infants; which includes a Rosary procession to Cincinnati's branch of Murder, Inc.

Well, today was different.

The local chapter had heard about the start of the 40 Days for Life, and as they are wont to do, didn't want to take it quietly. We heard they were planning a rally for 12:30 this afternoon, so the Pro-Life movement rallied right on back. A few members of a local parish were to be manning the station today for, hopefully, a quiet kickoff to the fall campaign. Fearful it would be overwhelming for them, about 40 or so Pro-Lifers showed up to pray with them, to support one another, and to not let Murder, Inc., get the lead on this.

As they charged out from the back alley, waving signs, chanting slogans; we started praying the rosary, the sorrowful mysteries. We stood aside against the fence while they circled up and down the fence. I led those with us in the calm recitation of the Rosary, while routinely being bumped and chided. (My personal favorite was the guy chanting: 'Keep your Rosaries off our ovaries!' Ummm..... 'Our'?!?!?) We finished the Rosary with American Life League's prayer before a Murder, Inc., facitility and a consecration of the spot to Mary; all the while being chanted down and attempts to mute us came back our way. (One older lady proudly boasted to the other side that she has 14 children; which prompted the response: 'You could have used this place, then!')

TV news coverage was there, I will be interested to see how it is portrayed. I will post the link, if it becomes available.

As I drove back to the office, I thought: 'And we're the angry, 'anti-choice' hate-mongers?' We prayed quietly, we did not try to shove our thoughts down their throats, we stood aside as insults rained down upon us. Not in righteousness, but in offering.

As this new 40 days 4 Life campaign starts, find a center near year and go pray. Don't worry about what you are to say, Jesus promises that He will give you the words. Don't worry about trial and persecution; it is a way of embracing the Cross.

Yeah, I felt a risk, I felt adrenaline coming on as I pulled past Murder, Inc., and parked my car. But the children in those centers have no voice but ours. Who will speak for their 'choice'?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hanging with The Fonz!

Last week, diocesan vocation directors from across the country gathered in the great city of Milwaukee for our annual convention, which tends to be a great time, to say the least. (bring together 200 mostly young, extroverted priests, shake, and see what happens......)

Unique for this year was the opportunity presented by gathering with representatives from MATS (Midwest Association of Theological Schools) and NCEA Seminary Division; both sanctioning bodies for Catholic seminaries in this country. It provided a rich opportunity to discuss issues and build relationships between the two groups and to see how we can work together better.

Some of the highlights of the convetion:

1) Anecdotal reports indicate an increase in enrollment in seminaries across the board, with many seminaries reported record enrollment since the early to mid 80's. (One benefit of a continued slide in the economy???)

2) Annual reports continue to indicate that while 80-90% of men being ordained first considered the priesthood upon the recommendation of a priest; only 30% of priests actually invite men to consider it. Into this void, NCDVD has published a second discernment guide: 'Lend Your Voice to Christ.' What this space for a further review shortly.

3) Cardinal George delivered the final keynote address and gave some great points to ponder, very practical ideas in moving forward with attracting vocations.

4) finally, a reminder: It is not up to the vocation director to recruit and attract candidates for the priesthood; it is for every single Catholic! We try to assist you in that endeavor. Pray for that young man you know who might have a vocation, that he might be open to it if God calls; encourage him by word and deed; finally, ask him to consider it, and praise him while doing so. It is an honor to be considered for the priesthood; it is an honor to be used by Our Lord as a conduit for that invitation. If He is asking you to be His spokesman, you have an obligation to do so.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Martha Dinner at Immaculate Heart of Mary

Perhaps you know a young woman who might be called to Religious Life? Please consider inviting her to Immaculate Heart of Mary’s 1st Martha Dinner, providing an opportunity for those interested in Religious Life a chance to meet Sisters and others considering the Vocation.

Young, single, women interested in Religious Life are invited to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish’s first annual Martha Dinner on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 from 6 - 8:30 p.m. Immaculate Heart of Mary is proud to sponsor a night dedicated to women’s religious vocations. Women from several religious orders will make short presentations and entertain questions about their personal vocation story and everyday life as a religious sister. Please join us for this wonderful and informative night. To be a part of this evening, and dinner, please contact Fr. Robert Hadden at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish frrobert (at) ihom (dot) org or 513-388-4466.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspiring Examples of Aged Faith

Catholic Exchange was once again kind enough to run one of my articles:

Last week, I had the opportunity to con-celebrate Mass with two priests who, together, have 120 years of priestly experience. Only bringing 6 years to the Altar myself, I was somewhat in awe of the two aged servants who have toiled long in the vineyard of the Lord.

As I reflect back on this Mass, and as I have continued to grow in friendship with these two men (who are both old enough to be my grandfather!), I continue to marvel at the great gift of the priesthood for the Church. Here we are, three men from two dramatically different generations, united by a common bond of priesthood, sharing in the one Sacrifice of Our Lord.

As I stood back, I pondered what drew me to these two men. In any other profession or career, I doubt our paths would have crossed. They would both have long since been retired; yet here we were, united by the Altar. I marveled at their deep love for the Eucharist, the joy in celebrating Mass, in preaching to the people, and an obvious love for the Blessed Virgin Mary — whom we were celebrating at this Mass.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Rescuing the Miners

Mary Kochan at Catholic Exchange has an excellent article on the trapped Chilean miners:

In Chile they have started drilling operations to rescue thirty-three miners trapped after the August 5th collapse of the main exit tunnel of the San Jose gold and copper mine.

Thirty-three, 33.

Sometimes the Holy Trinity is very subtle.

This is not one of those times.

The entire world watches with interest, hoping. Because we know they are there.