Monday, November 28, 2011

The Hidden Sacrifice of the Priesthood

Often when I do presentations on vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the introduction includes the instruction to pray for our priests and religious because they have given up so much in order to respond to their call. While it is true that the life of a priest is a particular form of sacrificial living in giving up the good things of the natural world, there are certainly many blessings that nourish the priest both spiritually and emotionally during the course of his ministry in the Church. I would think, based on seeing so many religious who exhibit that deep seated joy in Christ, that they have a similar experience.

However, there is a sometimes hidden cost of responding to a priestly or religious vocation that becomes quite evident this time of year, but not necessarily for the priest or religious, but for his or her family. Because of our responsibilities and assignments, we often miss family gatherings during the holidays, or when we get there, we are so tired and worn down, all we want to do is sleep; yet nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, parents are all excited to see you and want to hear about what we have been doing.

But especially for members of religious communities, even this is not an option. Often stationed in houses around the globe, families have to make due with a two week ‘home visit’ at different points during the year. In between, hand written letters are often the only means of communication that goes between family and the professed. While the evident joy can temper some of the feelings of loss in the rest of the family, there is still something missing when that son or daughter’s chair remains empty during Christmas Dinner.

On the contrary, there certainly are many blessings that can come to the family of a priest or religious. I know my mother enjoys seeing people she meets make the connection that she is ‘Fr. Schnippel’s mother’ and my father’s favorite pastime is greeting me after Mass with a hearty: ‘Well done, Son!’ (and my sheepish reply: ‘Thanks, Father.’) Plus, family weddings and baptisms take on a special significance when celebrated by your brother or uncle, and it was a particular joy to me to receive my brother’s wedding vows while I was still a deacon.

Despite these great blessings, families of priests and religious can still sometimes feel left out. Perhaps with the upcoming Christmas season, it might make for an excellent awareness to thank those families from among your parishes and friends who have sacrificed in such a way in supporting a son or daughter in their call to the priesthood or religious life.

After all, priestly and religious vocations are not the product solely of one family, but naturally grow forth from a vibrant parish and school life. There is a pride that comes to the whole parish when a son is ordained or a daughter professed; helping a family who greatly loves, yet greatly misses, their child, brother or sister aunt or uncle; is certainly a great way to acknowledge that the fostering of a vocation is too important a task to be left to just one family. It is the responsibility of all.

During this Christmas Season, may Christ richly reward all those who have helped to foster a vocation!

For more on how families and parishes can foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Collin Raye, A Christmas Musical

December 7, Collin Raye will perfrom a Christmas Musical Event at the 20th Century Theatre in Cincinnati's Oakley Neighborhood, benefiting the Terri Schiavo Foundation.  Looks to be a great time.

Tickets and more information can be found here:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Miracle of Life, Mathematical Edition

At nearly ten minutes, it is a fairly long clip for a youtube video, but well worth it. He has reconstructed the conception, maturation and birth process simply by looking at the mathematical data currently available, and readily admits that this is way more complicated that we can truly understand. As my mother just quipped, how can you look at this and not be Pro-Life? Found through New Advent linking to this page at Live Action.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fr. Barron on the New Roman Missal

I've used the new translation a few times in private Masses just to prepare for the implementation.  Certainly, the new text has a greater poetry than the existing translation.  Because of this, however, there are certain parts where you expect words to be in a certain order, but they are reversed.  It is going to take a great deal of discipline to focus on the text in such a way to get the words all right, and in the correct order.

That being said, I am greatly looking forward to the implementation, as this new translation feels to be more prayerful, especially with the stronger link to quaesemus... clauses, ie: 'Grant, we pray, that...'  There is a much stronger reflection that we approach prayer in fear and trembling, that God is the author of our prayer and He draws us deeper, closer to Himself in prayer; the liturgy is not ours, but Christ's.

As a further note, I am presenting on a few thoughts about the Mass this Thursday at St. Jude's Catholic Church on Bridgetown Road, Cincinnati, at 7:30.  It would be great to have a nice crowd present.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The World is Usually in Crisis, and today is no exception

I'm a bit late on this, but please read Fr. Benedict O'Cinnsealaigh's address from his installation as President/Rector of the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary's of the West, Cincinnati, Ohio.

It really is something else, a great vision of our times and how to move forward.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Radio Double Play

Tomorrow, I'm resuming a media blitz:

7:20 AM on Sacred Heart Radio and the Son Rise Morning Show across the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network to discuss Sunday's readings. Listen online at

5:30 to 6:00 PM on Radio Maria to discuss our efforts in the Vocation Office. Listen online at, I think.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diamonds in the Rough

My latest runs in the Catholic Telegraph:

Liturgically, November is certainly my favorite month. Beginning with the two great celebrations of All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day and usually concluding with the start of the new liturgical year, there are many things to celebrate and we are naturally called to focus on the question during these last weeks of the Church year of just where we might end up in the life to come: does the pattern of my life and the way that I have cooperated with Christ indicate that I will take the elevator up or down when called to account?

While there are many criteria that are used to define who, officially, makes it into the choirs of heaven, there is one thing that unites them all. It is not that they were perfect, have a particular talent, academic ability, or lived in a particular time or location; saints have come from every land and every age of the Church. Rather, what unites all those who are venerated as saints is that they have a deep, profound and lasting love for Jesus Christ. When Jesus turns and looks at Peter towards the end of the Gospel according to St. John, it is not a question of ‘How could you betray me even after I warned you?’ Rather, Jesus looks at Peter in that deep love and asks him to simply reaffirm that love back: ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!’ Certainly our goal on this earth is to be able to echo this same statement of faith.

The challenge that this presents, however, is that it becomes very difficult to identify this deep and profound love in those we meet. While this identification will certainly manifest in outward action, it may not always be easy to spot. Among some, this manifestation will be very evident; among others, it may not be so.

In my particular work as Vocation Director, this reality has to be kept in mind, for it is easy to only keep tabs on those who manifest great talent among the Christian people, those who have that personality that simply attracts others to Christ. In working with parishioners, this is often the criteria that are used to identify potential candidates.

Yet, strangely, it is often that quieter young man, the one who is not so much for the limelight, but does the right thing anyway, especially when no one is looking, who forms the backbone of our clergy. So often, we get caught up in looking for the next Pope John Paul II that we miss the St. John Vianney in our midst.

Instead of walking the world stage, as Blessed John Paul II did so marvelously, St. John Vianney toiled in the relative obscurity of a backwoods French town for years. While he achieved a certain fame, he just toiled in the confessional for longer hours, striving only to build up his little corner of the Kingdom of God.

What is needed in our Church today is this ‘worker bee’ mentality. We need men to be priests who will do what needs to be done simply because it is there for the doing. While there are glamorous aspects of the priesthood, more often , the days (just like those of parents) are long, tiring and tedious. It is in these days that true holiness shines through.

Pray for these men to be raised up as priests. Be on the lookout for that quiet, dedicated young man who simply does what is required. These are the men who will lead not just by voice, but by their more powerful example of life. These are the diamonds in the rough who shine so brightly in the Eternal Crown of Our Lord.