Tuesday, March 31, 2009


From the Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the Message of Benedict XVI for the 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is due to be celebrated on 3 May, the fourth Sunday of Easter, and which has as its theme this year: "Faith in the divine initiative - the human response". The Message has been published in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Polish.

Extracts from the text are given below:

"The exhortation of Jesus to His disciples: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest' has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting".

"The vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity".

"In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God's initiative of choosing some to follow His Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be His privileged ministers and witnesses. ... Responding to the Lord's call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. Let us give thanks to God, because even today He continues to call together workers into His vineyard.

"While it is undoubtedly true that a worrisome shortage of priests is evident in some regions of the world, and that the Church encounters difficulties and obstacles along the way, we are sustained by the unshakeable certitude that the One Who firmly guides her in the pathways of time towards the definitive fulfilment of the Kingdom is He, the Lord, Who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow Him according to the mysterious plans of His merciful love.

"Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer".

"What is asked of those who are called ... is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction".

"In the Eucharist, that perfect gift which brings to fulfilment the plan of love for the redemption of the world, Jesus offers Himself freely for the salvation of mankind. ... It is priests who are called to perpetuate this salvific mystery from century to century. ... In the celebration of the Eucharist it is Christ Himself Who acts in those whom He chooses as His ministers; He supports them so that their response develops in a dimension of trust and gratitude that removes all fear, even when they experience more acutely their own weakness, or indeed when the experience of misunderstanding or even of persecution is most bitter".

"To believe in the Lord and to accept His gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to His plan of salvation. When this does happen, the one who is 'called' voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord Who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love".

"This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life. ... Attracted by Him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness".

"The response of men and women to the divine call, whenever they are aware that it is God Who takes the initiative and brings His plan of salvation to fulfilment, ... expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord's invitation. ... Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes 'co-responsibility', responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of His Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One Who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit.

"An emblematic human response, full of trust in God's initiative, is the generous and unmitigated 'Amen' of the Virgin of Nazareth, uttered with humble and decisive adherence to the plan of the Most High. ... I want to entrust to her all those who are aware of God's call to set out on the road of the ministerial priesthood or consecrated life.

"Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with Him".

All Things Girl -- All Things Guy

I was listening to Teresa Tomeo this morning on EWTN Radio when she mentioned these two books.

I think they would be well worth checking out.

All Things Guy

Jam packed pages of Catholic stuff for boys ages 8-14.

All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters is a positive introduction for young men seeking to live out Christian virtues in the twenty-first century. It is a useful and instructive guidebook for parents and children alike.

Tarek Saab,

author of Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, & Manhood

All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters talks to kids straight on, no soft peddling, no sidestepping. It speaks to them where they live too much of the time – in the pop culture and media world. It says what good, faithful parents want to say, but may not always be able to find the words.

Dr. Ray Guarendi

Best-Selling Catholic Author and Speaker

What a find! Many fathers suspect the "feminizing of the faith" and long for a more muscular Christianity to pass along to their sons. They want something that isn't just a matter of fulfilling Mass obligation or being a "nice person." All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters speeds through the basics of the Faith always aware that boys learn to know, love and serve God in their own generation – not their grandparents. There are precious few resources out there for young men. All Things Guy is among the best. Don't let the opportunity to grow strong, faithful men slip by. Use this resource!

Al Kresta

President & CEO Ave Maria Radio

~father of four boys

Paperback. 204 pages

All Things Girl

“All Things Girl” is the new, groundbreaking book series for “tweenaged” girls by best selling Catholic author and speaker Teresa Tomeo along with the women behind the Runway to Reality Apostolate: Molly Miller and Monica Cops.

The “All Things Girl” series of five books is unlike anything found in the marketplace as it brings Faith to the real world in which young girls live.

Each unique book in the series includes:

* An Introduction to the Dignity of the Person
* A Media Chapter by Catholic Author and Media Specialist, Teresa Tomeo
* A Virtue Expanded and Explained with Practical tips on how to Live it
* A Plan of Life to help Girls Incorporate Prayer into their Daily Lives
* An Examination of Conscience unique to the Virtue in the book
* A Saint Story called “A Girl Like Me”
* Quizzes, Games, Recipes, Crafts

The first title, “Friends, Boys and Getting Along”, addresses topics of true friendship, characters in the world of girls, strategies on dealing with “mean girls,” and strategies on changing the “mean girl” who might be inside of you! Since girls grow up faster in today’s culture, there is a section pertaining to boys with age appropriate suggestions on how a boy should treat a girl and boy-girl friendships. This book’s craft project is the “Jewels in Your Crown” bracelet which girls can make to remind themselves of the virtues that belong to the daughter of the King.

By Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller and Monica Cops

You can purchase both books from Ave Maria Radio's online store.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Come Home to the Catholic Church

I posted this just over a year ago, but thought it deserved to be bumped up to the top :)

I realize that several other Catholic Blogs have made reference to this video, but it is worth sharing for those who have not seen it

If you know someone who has strayed from the church you might send them to the web site

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Inquires about Religious Life Up

I find this to be very encouraging :)

Second Annual Survey on Trends in Catholic Religious Vocations

Sixty-two percent jump in inquiries into Catholic religious life

Thirty percent increase in number of people in first stages of formation

Chicago, February 26, 2008 — Catholic religious communities reported on average a 30 percent increase this past year in the number of individuals in initial formation —the period before final vows. In addition, 62 percent of participating communities reported an increase in vocation inquiries in the past year.

The positive trends in religious vocations detected last year continue, according to the VocationMatch.com Second Annual Survey on Trends in Religious Vocation, sponsored by Vision Vocation Guide, published by TrueQuest Communications of Chicago on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference.

The majority of those who are considering religious life are under 30 and quite serious about choosing religious life—about one in five plan on entering a religious community in the next year, while another 64 percent are “seriously considering it.”

Back in the habit—for women and men

Echoing the countercultural appeal of religious life to younger Catholics, it appears that many discerners are looking for more obvious outward expressions of their commitment to religious life. Vocation directors—both men and women—commented on an increased interest among inquirers in wearing a habit or traditional religious garb.

Not surprisingly, those discerning the call to religious life also consider essential or very important: praying in community and devotional prayer (73 percent each); living in community (67 percent); peace and justice outreach (66 percent); and above all living a life of faithfulness to the church and its teachings, which was ranked as very important or essential by 90 percent of discerners.

Personal contact—real and virtual—essential
Personal contact with a religious priest, sister, or brother continues to be the most helpful source of vocation information, considered essential or very important by 82 percent of discerners. Ranking next in importance is a community’s website, with more than 70 percent rating it important or very important in gathering information about a community. In what will surely be a growing trend in our YouTube culture, several discerners even remarked on the helpfulness of videos on vocation websites. “Come and See” weekends and discernment retreats followed a close third in order of importance. Spiritual directors and vocation-related websites also ranked high in importance with more than 60 percent saying they found these resources very helpful.

It takes prayer
Prayer is far and away the most important discernment tool used by inquirers, with 97 percent ranking it as essential or very important to making a decision about their vocation. At the same time, discerners see the “discipline of prayer” as the most challenging aspect of religious life, followed by the vow of celibacy and a life of service. In what will be good news to aging communities, “living with people who are not my age” was ranked least important by discerners.

“It's nice to have women in their early 20s inquiring about our community,” commented one vocation director. A male vocation director concurred, saying he was most surprised by “the increase in inquiries from younger men, i.e., 18-22 years old.” Another vocation director added that discerners seem to be “younger in age, yet quite clear in what they are looking for and what they have to offer.”

Surprised by joy—and diversity
When discerners were asked what most surprised them about their exploration of religious life, the “diversity of communities and spiritualities” ranked high as well as the “great joy” found among religious men and women. But for some, what is most surprising is that they are even considering a religious vocation at all: “As time goes by,” said one young man, “it seems more and more likely that it is for me. A year ago I would have laughed if someone had suggested that I enter into religious life.”

While it’s true that 53 percent of religious inquirers responding to the survey were under 30 years of age, a healthy 36 percent of them were over 40, 20 percent over 50. One respondent was pleasantly surprised to learn that, “At age 54 it is still possible to live your life for God.” “My lifelong dream may finally be coming true,” added another.

In what may speak to a dearth of positive images of religious life in the wider culture, many discerners commented on how “normal” and “human” and “ordinary” those in religious life seemed.

Good news for the life of the church
The fact that discerners are finding opportunities to view realistic portraits of those in religious life is good news, says Patrice Tuohy, executive editor of VISION Vocation Guide and VocationMatch.com. “Religious vocation as a life choice has been off the radar screen for too long. What this crop of discerners is finding is that the option of life as a brother, sister, or priest may be the one that satisfies their heart’s desire above all else.”

For Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference, through which VISION Vocation Guide is published, the most promising trend is the increased numbers entering religious life. “The fact that we are seeing an increase, not just in inquirers but in those in initial formation, is very encouraging. The church has commissioned the faithful to create a culture of discernment, and it seems we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor. This is very good news for the future of consecrated life and the life of the church.”

# # #

Statistics for the Vision VocationMatch.com Survey on Trends in Religious Vocations were compiled
from the following sources:

Vision Vocation Match Discerners Online Survey, Feb. 5-22, 2008
Total unique respondents: 320 out of 1096 polled

Vision Vocation Match Vocation Directors Online Survey, Feb. 5-22, 2008
Total unique respondents: 225 out of 476 polled

2008 candidate profiles completed (6 months), Aug. 1, 2007 – Feb. 22, 2008: 3,422

2007 candidate profiles completed (12 months) Aug. 1, 2006-July 31, 2007: 5,591

Vision Vocation Guide, in print and online at www.Vocation-Network.org, is published by TrueQuest Communications, LLC, www.truequest.biz, on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference, www.nrvc.net. With its unique multimedia and interactive features, including www.VocationMatch.com, VISION is the most comprehensive resource available for those pursuing a religious vocation in the Catholic Church or interested in learning more about religious orders, religious life, or vocation-related opportunities.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Catholc Priest Today

Here is a great half hour video on the priesthood.

You can download it yourself from here for later viewing. The embedded video cuts down on the size of the screen so you are missing captions, etc. You really should go to the web site and download the full video, and maybe even make a donation :)

I did ;)


Additional story from Vatican Information Service:

VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests" is the theme of the Year for Priests announced today by the Holy Father, according to a communique issued by the Holy See Press Office.

The Pope will inaugurate the Year on 19 June, presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica where the relics of the saintly 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France. He will close the year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Supreme Pontiff on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The Congregation for the Clergy, together with diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes, will undertake to promote and co-ordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives which are being organised to highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society, and the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.


From the Vatican Information Service :)

VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".

"The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".

Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".

"The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.

"The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.

"The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".

Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".

Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".

"The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good-bye Mattel And Company

Here is a bit of humor from Catholic Exchange. Those with kids will really appreciate what's being said ;)

Dear Mattel and Company,

Our Momma is going to give away all our toys. She means it. We don’t care a whit about all the cars, blocks, stuffed animals and battery operated noisemakers that we have. So Momma is giving them all away to charity and leaving only our favorite playthings around the house.

Things like:

Clean laundry. We love to strew it all over the floor and roll in it before Momma can fold it.

The television remote. This is so much more fun than any noisemaker because it changes the channel and makes Daddy make noise!

You really need to read the whole letter :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Serve your country best by serving God first, Archbishop Chaput tells USAF cadets

I found the following on Catholic News Agency this afternoon.

What an example

Colorado Springs, Colo., Mar 10, 2009 / 10:11 pm (CNA).- Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput addressed Catholic cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Monday, telling them the military profession is “honorable” and urging them to become virtuous leaders who serve their country best by serving God first.

The archbishop discussed war, the nature of obedience, and the need to recognize that people matter more than things.

Referring to Homer, W.B. Yeats and Robert E. Lee’s comments on war, Archbishop Chaput acknowledged that war is “tragic,” “brutish,” and a sin “against our brothers, against god and against our own human dignity. The archbishop noted that despite its “hideousness” war also demands noble traits such as skill, discipline and self-sacrifice.

He said war began with “our turning away from God in Genesis,” causing a “permanent dilemma” where Christians must pray and work earnestly for peace despite knowing that wars will take place.

“Peace is not simply the absence of war. Peace is the presence of justice,” he explained. “The irony of human affairs is that sometimes evil is so pressing and so destructive that the innocent can’t be defended except through the cost of blood and lives.”

Virtuous military leaders are “vital” in defending a free people, the archbishop said, because securing peace and conducting war are “morally loaded enterprises.”

“This is also why the military profession is not simply necessary or useful, but honorable,” he told the Air Force cadets. “It’s why your vocation as future military officers matters. It’s why your lives matter – to serve God by serving other people in the vocation He calls you to.”


“A life lived honorably always bears fruit in the souls of the people who follow us,” Archbishop Chaput concluded. “So live honorably, serve unselfishly, think clearly and love your Catholic faith. We love our nation best when we offer it the best we have -- the witness of our convictions. We serve our country best when we serve God first.”

Check out the whole article

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stories from my former parish II

This past January, during Catholic Schools week I was asked to visit the kids at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Miles City. I was promised an enjoyable afternoon if I took a little time to talk about vocations before lunch.

After saying Mass in Jordan I jumped into my pickup, carrying my normal winter gear, and headed down the road. The enjoyable afternoon was to spend the time with the kids at the skating/sledding area in Miles City. It was a good thing I had my winter gear in the pickup because the cowboy boots would not have worked very well on the ice.

The newer toboggans did OK that afternoon, but I was able to find an old fashioned sled with metal runners. Taking off down the hill to get a little bit of speed allowed me to make it all the way across the frozen pond. The kids quickly learned that there is a difference between taking a toboggan on snow, and a sled on ice :) As you can see by the picture, I was enjoying the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jesus gives meaning to the life of priests, Cardinal Arinze preaches

I found the following at Catholic News Agency

Rome, Italy, Mar 3, 2009 / 03:27 pm (CNA).- “It is Jesus who gives meaning to the life of the priest. Without Him, the priesthood is not understood, it makes no sense,” Cardinal Francis Arinze said this week as he led the members of the Roman Curia and Pope Benedict in their annual spiritual exercises at the Vatican.

The cardinal recalled that when Jesus is not present in the life of the priest, “I would say his vocation becomes a farce. In whose name does he celebrate, preach or act?”

Check out the whole story