Friday, June 29, 2007
This is a picture of our girls with Sr. Charlotte and Sr. Monica from the Sisters of Life, and Sr. Marie Rose and Sr. Maria Kolbe from the Nashville Dominicans. They hung this picture in there room near pictures they have of St. Therese and Bl. Kateri. What is nice about it, is that it serves as a visual reminder (in a Diocese without fully habitted women's religious orders) that young, joyful, habit wearing sisters are still out there (and God willing may come to our Diocese someday). It is not our idea to force the issue of religious or priestly vocations, but in a culture that promotes anything but, it is perhaps even more necessary to expose our children to the idea of discerning vocations at a young age.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Sorry for the construction posts, but they're all I've got at the moment. God willing I'll be back to regular posting soon!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
It is with great joy that I write this post. A former student of mine, and Godmother to our youngest son Samuel, will be entering the Sisters of Life in the fall! Stephanie (center in photo above) graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in 2003, and graduated this year from the University of Dallas (Magna Cum Laude/Theology).
It has been a blessing for me to be a small part of her discernment process throughout these years. In fact I can say that I was there when it began. In 2002 I took a group of students down to the Trappist Monastery in South Carolina, Mepkin Abbey, for an annual retreat. While there, one of the monks (Fr. Christian Kerr, OCSO for those who might know him) asked if any of the girls had considered becoming nuns. They all responded in the negative, but perhaps none more vehemently than Stephanie. And that was it. That was the beginning. Stephanie says she would hear that question everyday from then on.
In time she would speak to the vocations director for the Sisters of Life, Sr. Mary Gabriel, SV. Let me just say that Sr. Mary Gabriel (in the picture immediately to the right of Stephanie) is a force of JOY to be reckoned with. No matter my state of being going into a conversation with her, I come away feeling great. But I digress. By the end of Stephanie's first conversation with Sr. Mary Gabriel, her journey toward the Sisters of Life had begun. After four years, several visits and retreats, Stephanie applied and was accepted to enter on September 1st with as many as 15 other young women - Deo Gratias! She will be yet another incredible sister in this amazing young order dedicated to the Gospel of Life. May Almighty God bless them, and Our Lady keep them.
Please keep Stephanie, and the other women entering in your prayers!
Monday, June 25, 2007
The same room after demolition. This was originally the waiting room in the doctor's office.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
A final painting of St. Tarcisius...
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Not bad for a "mission" Diocese.
Photo credit: Jeff Bobby
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Today, May 31st, is the Feast of the Visitation. But nine years ago May 31st was Pentecost Sunday. Yesterday was the anniversary of my ordination, and today is the ninth anniversary of my first Mass as the main celebrant (technically, of course, my "first Mass" as a Priest was at the Cathedral, concelebrating with my Bishop at the ordination Mass itself). What's a newly ordained Priest's first Mass like? It's our wedding night. Let me explain.
Making the decision to ask to be accepted as a seminarian is kind of like getting up the courage asking someone out on a date. The Church accepts the candidate (the girl says "yes"), and we spend years in the seminary (in my case six years) deciding if this life is for us (in other words, deciding if this girl is "the one").
Here the smartalecks amongst you are dying to challenge me, saying the seminarian is, so to speak, "living with his girlfriend". This is not the case. While at the seminary, the seminarian is not pretending to be something he's not. He's not acting like he's ordained when he knows he's not. Every day I went to Mass and sat in the pews as a layman; I didn't presume to walk into the sacristy and put on Mass vestments, saying that I've already made enough of a commitment and that I plan on getting ordained eventually, so I might as well get used to saying Mass. Cohabitation is when a couple acts like their married even when they know they aren't. But I digressed a bit.
All the while, we can decide this isn't for us and walk away, and hopefully remain "friends". I've got more than a few friends who were seminarians with me who made such a decision and are very content living their Catholic faith as lay persons.
But if we persevere (and both the dater -the seminarian- and the datee -the Church- consent) and the relationship continues, then it's time to take it to the next level. That's our ordination to Diaconate. In my analogy, that would be akin to the proposal of marriage, the giving of the ring, etc. After that, everything points to ordination in a more urgent sense. Invitations are sent out. A party is planned.
Ordination to the Priesthood is the wedding day. Though I didn't literally say, "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life", to a physical bride, I conveyed those same feelings to my supernatural bride (the Church) in answering "I am" to the questions asked to me by my Bishop: Will I care for my bride (God's flock) as a conscientious co-worker of the bishops?; Will I celebrate the mysteries of Christ religiously and faithfully as they have been handed down by the Church for the glory of God and the sanctification of my bride?; Will I preach the Gospel and teach my bride worthily and wisely?; Will I consecrate my life to God for the salvation of my bride? Though I hadn't met them yet, I said it to my future parishioners: not only the ones I've already met in my nine years of Priestly service, but the ones I still have yet to meet.
A Priest's "first Mass"? That, my friends, brings us back to my original point: It's the wedding night. It's what he's been waiting years to do with anticipation. It's when he gets to say "This is my body, given for you" to his spouse, the Church. He's spent more than a few hours worried about his "performance", and he's probably asked for some advice from more than a few "bridegrooms" who've gone through the wedding-night jitters years before. The only difference is that a Priest's wedding night is done in the presence of his family and friends. Talk about "performance anxiety"!!! Any married couples out there had their parents watching their wedding night from front-row seats, and with a photographer and videographer looming about???
And that brings me to where I am today, nine years later. After the wedding day, the reception, and even the honeymoon, comes the tough part: actually living the vocation day-in and day-out. The same dangers are there for Priests as for married couples: We can stop communicating with our spouse (lack of prayer). We can complain we don't have enough "me-time". We can become strangers to each other. We can sometimes find our spouse asks us for things we don't necessarily want to do. And, yes, even the nuptuals can creep into routine. In either vocations, Holy Orders or Matrimony, it takes work and deliberate will to keep it new. Those can only be fed by love. Not a fleeting lust that goes away when the bride & bridegroom aren't skinny & beautiful anymore. But a deep love, like a bank account, that continually gets deposited into so that it can be withdrawn from when the need presents itself, all the while growing while gaining interest.
OK, enough rambling. Go back to your lives.
Archdiocese of St. Louis/550,000 Catholics - 4 newly ordained priests
Diocese of Knoxville/50,000 Catholics - 3 newly ordained priests
Sounds like they're doing something right in Knoxville. Don't worry though, the Diocese of Raleigh will be coming on strong in a few years. God willing we'll have at least 21 seminarians in the fall!
Monday, June 11, 2007
If you are discerning a vocation to religious life or the priesthood there is a must read post over at Adam's Ale from Bridget who was featured on the MTV video about the Sisters of Life.
Hat tip to Stephanie for bringing it to my attention!
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Once again I offer my apologies for the precipitous drop off of posts over the last weeks. As a teacher at the Diocesan High School, I was busy finishing up the school year. It was unusually busy this year, as it will be my last at the school. Beginning July 2nd I will start my new position as Assistant to the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Raleigh. I can't tell you the joy this brings me, as it seems to be both God's will and an answer to years of prayers. I would like to post in greater detail about it, but I still don't have the time at the moment. We have two Deacons being ordained to the priesthood today, and I'll be out of town for the coming week (with little to no internet access). I pray that when I get back, I will be able to post again on a daily basis.
Please keep Deacons Marco and Anthony in your prayers today.